The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 4, by Various, Edited by Rossiter Johnson

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Title: The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 4

Author: Various

Release Date: March 12, 2005 [eBook #15345]

Language: English

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A captive's wife pleads with the barbarian chief for the life of her husband

A captive's wife pleads with the barbarian chief for the life of her husband
A captive's wife pleads with the barbarian chief for the life of her husband, Frontispiece
Painting by R. Peacock.






Our modern civilization is built up on three great corner-stones, three inestimably valuable heritages from the past. The Græco-Roman civilization gave us our arts and our philosophies, the bases of intellectual power. The Hebrews bequeathed to us the religious idea, which has saved man from despair, has been the potent stimulus to two thousand years of endurance and hope. The Teutons gave us a healthy, sturdy, uncontaminated physique, honest bodies and clean minds, the lack of which had made further progress impossible to the ancient world.

This last is what made necessary the barbarian overthrow of Rome, if the world was still to advance. The slowly progressing knowledge of the arts and handicrafts which we have seen passed down from Egypt to Babylonia, to Persia, Greece, and Rome, had not been acquired without heavy loss. The system of slavery which allowed the few to think, while the many were constrained to toil as beasts, had eaten like a canker into the heart of society. The Roman world was repeating the oft-told tale of the past, and sinking into the lifeless formalism of which Egypt was the type. Man had become wise, but worthless.

As though on purpose to prove to future generations how utterly worthless, the Roman civilization was allowed to continue uninterrupted in one unneeded corner of its former domains. For over a thousand years the successors of Theodosius and of Constantine held unbroken sway in the capital which the latter had founded. They only succeeded in emphasizing how futile their culture had become.

The entire ten centuries that followed the overthrow of Rome have long been spoken of as the "Dark Ages," but, considering how infinitely darker those same ages must have become without the intervention of the Teutons, present criticism begins to protest against the term. All that was lost with the ancient world was something of intellectual keenness, something of artistic culture, quickly regained when man was once more ripe for them. What the Teutons had to offer of infinitely greater worth, what they had developed in their cold, northern forests, was their sense of liberty and equality, their love of honesty, their respect for womankind. It is not too much to say that, without these, any higher progress was, and always will be, impossible.

In short, the Roman and Grecian races had become impotent and decrepit. The high destiny of man lay not with them, but with the younger race, for whom all earlier civilizations had but prepared the way.

Who were these Teutons? Rome knew them only vaguely as wild tribes dwelling in the gloom of the great forest wilderness. In reality they were but the vanguard of vast races of human beings who through ages had been slowly populating all Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. Beyond the Teutons were other Aryans, the Slavs. Beyond these were vague non-Aryan races like the Huns, content to direct their careers of slaughter against one another, and only occasionally and for a moment flaring with red-fire beacons of ruin along the edge of the Aryan world.

Some at least of the Teutonic tribes had grown partly civilized. The Germans along the Rhine, and the Goths along the Danube, had been from the time of Augustus in more or less close contact with Rome. Germanicus had once subdued almost the whole of Germany; later emperors had held temporarily the broad province of Dacia, beyond the Danube. The barbarians were eagerly enlisted in the Roman army. During the closing centuries of decadence they became its main support; they rose to high commands; there were even barbarian emperors at last. The intermingling of the two worlds thus became extensive, and the Teutons learned much of Rome. The Goths whom Theodosius permitted to settle within its dominions were already partly Christian.


It was these same Goths who became the immediate cause of Rome's downfall. Theodosius had kept them in restraint; his feeble sons scarce even attempted it. The intruders found a famous leader in Alaric, and, after plundering most of the Grecian peninsula, they ravaged Italy, ending in 410 with the sack of Rome itself.[1]

This seems to us, perhaps, a greater event than it did to its own generation. The "Emperor of the West," the degenerate son of Theodosius, was not within the city when it fell; and the story is told that, on hearing the news, he expressed relief, because he had at first understood that the evil tidings referred to the death of a favorite hen named Rome. The tale emphasizes the disgrace of the famous capital; it had sunk to be but one city among many. Alaric's Goths had been nominally an army belonging to the Emperor of the East; their invasion was regarded as only one more civil war.

Besides, the Roman world might yet have proved itself big enough to assimilate and engulf the entire mass of this already half-civilized people. Its name was still a spell on them. Ataulf, the successor of Alaric, was proud to accept a Roman title and become a defender of the Empire. He marched his followers into Gaul under a commission to chastise the "barbarians" who were desolating it.

These later comers were the instruments of that more overwhelming destruction for which the Goths had but prepared the way. To resist Alaric, the Roman legions had been withdrawn from all the western frontiers, and thus more distant and far more savage tribes of the Teutons beheld the glittering empire unprotected, its pathways most alluringly left open. They began streaming across the undefended Rhine and Danube. Their bands were often small and feeble, such as earlier emperors would have turned back with ease; but now all this fascinating world of wealth, so dimly known and doubtless fiercely coveted, lay helpless, open to their plundering. The Vandals ravaged Gaul and Spain, and, being defeated by the Goths, passed on into Africa. The Saxons and Angles penetrated England[2] and fought there for centuries against the desperate Britons, whom the Roman legions had perforce abandoned to their fate. The Franks and Burgundians plundered Gaul.

Fortunately the invading tribes were on the whole a kindly race. When they joyously whirled their huge battle-axes against iron helmets, smashing down through bone and brain beneath, their delight was not in the scream of the unlucky wretch within, but in their own vigorous sweep of muscle, in the conscious power of the blow. Fierce they were, but not coldly cruel like the ancients. The condition of the lower classes certainly became no worse for their invasion; it probably improved. Much the new-comers undoubtedly destroyed in pure wantonness. But there was much more that they admired, half understood, and sought to save.

Behind them, however, came a conqueror of far more terrible mood. We have seen that when the Goths first entered Roman territory they were driven on by a vast migration of the Asiatic Huns. These wild and hideous tribes then spent half a century roaming through central Europe, ere they were gathered into one huge body by their great chief, Attila, and in their turn approached the shattered regions of the Mediterranean.[3] Their invasion, if we are to trust the tales of their enemies, from whom alone we know of them, was incalculably more destructive than all those of the Teutons combined. The Huns delighted in suffering; they slew for the sake of slaughter. Where they passed they left naught but an empty desert, burned and blackened and devoid of life.

Crossing the Danube, they ravaged the Roman Empire of the East almost without opposition. Only the impregnable walls of Constantinople resisted the destruction. A few years later the savage horde appeared upon the Rhine, and in enormous numbers penetrated Gaul. No people had yet understood them, none had even checked their career. The white races seemed helpless against this "yellow peril," this "Scourge of God," as Attila was called.

Goths and Romans and all the varied tribes which were ranging in perturbed whirl through unhappy Gaul laid aside their lesser enmities and met in common cause against this terrible invader. The battle of Châlons, 451,[4] was the most tremendous struggle in which Turanian was ever matched against Aryan, the one huge bid of the stagnant, unprogressive races, for earth's mastery.

Old chronicles rise into poetry at thought of that immeasurable battle. They figure the slain by hundred thousands; they describe the souls of the dead as rising above the bodies and continuing their furious struggle in the air. Attila was checked and drew back. Defeated we can scarce call him, for only a year or so later we find him ravaging Italy. Fugitives fleeing before him to the marshes lay the first stones of Venice.[5] Leo, the great Pope, pleads with him for Rome. His forces, however, are obviously weaker than they were. He retreats; and after his death his irresponsible followers disappear forever in the wilderness.


Toward the close of this tumultuous fifth century, the various Teutonic tribes show distinct tendencies toward settling down and forming kingdoms amid the various lands they have overrun. The Vandals build a state in Africa, and from the old site of Carthage send their ships to the second sack of Rome. The Visigoths form a Spanish kingdom, which lasts over two hundred years. The Ostrogoths construct an empire in Italy (493-554), and, under the wise rule of their chieftain Theodoric, men joyfully proclaim that peace and happiness and prosperity have returned to earth. Most important of all in its bearing upon later history, the Franks under Clovis begin the building of France.[6]

Encouraged by these milder days, the Roman emperors of Constantinople attempt to reclaim their old domain. The reign of Justinian begins (527-565), and his great general Belisarius temporarily wins back for him both Africa and Italy. This was a comparatively unimportant detail, a mere momentary reversal of the historic tide. Justinian did for the future a far more noted service.

If there was one subject which Roman officials had learned thoroughly through their many generations of rule, it was the set of principles by which judges must be guided in their endeavor to do justice. Long practical experience of administration made the Romans the great law-givers of antiquity. And now Justinian set his lawyers to work to gather into a single code, or "digest," all the scattered and elaborate rules and decisions which had place in their gigantic system.[7]

It is this Code of Justinian which, handed down through the ages, stands as the basis of much of our law to-day. It shapes our social world, it governs the fundamental relations between man and man. There are not wanting those who believe its principles are wrong, who aver that man's true attitude toward his fellows should be wholly different from its present artificial pose. But whether for better or for worse we live to-day by Roman law.

This law the Teutons were slowly absorbing. They accepted the general structure of the world into which they had thrust themselves; they continued its style of building and many of its rougher arts; they even adopted its language, though in such confused and awkward fashion that Italy, France, and Spain grew each to have a dialect of its own. And most important of all, they accepted the religion, the Christian religion of Rome. Missionaries venture forth again. Augustine preaches in England.[8] Boniface penetrates the German wilds.

It must not be supposed that the moment a Teuton accepted baptism he became filled with a pure Christian spirit of meekness and of love. On the contrary, he probably remained much the same drunken, roistering heathen as before. But he was brought in contact with noble examples in the lives of some of the Christian bishops around him; great truths began to touch his mobile nature; he was impressed, softened; he began to think and feel.

Given a couple of centuries of this, we really begin to see some very encouraging results. We realize that for once we are being allowed to study a civilization in its earlier stages, to be present almost at its birth, to watch the methods of the Master-builder in the making of a race. Gazing at similar developments in the days of Egypt and Babylon, we guessed vaguely that they must have been of slowest growth. Here at last one takes place under our eyes, and it does not need so many ages after all. There is no study more fascinating than to trace the slow changes stamping themselves ineradicably upon the Teutonic mind and soul during these misty far-off centuries of turmoil.

On the whole, of course, the sixth, seventh, and even the eighth centuries form a period of strife. The Teutons had spent too many ages warring against one another in petty strife to abandon the pleasure in a single generation. Men fought because they liked fighting, much as they play football to-day. Then, too, there came another great outburst of Semite religious enthusiasm. Mahomet[9] started the Arabs on their remarkable career of conquest.


Mahomet himself died (632) before he had fully established his influence even over Arabia: his successors had practically to reconquer it. Yet within five years of his death the Arabs had mastered Syria.[10] They spread like some sudden, unexpected, immeasurable whirlwind. Ancient Persia went down before them. By 640 they had trampled Egypt under foot, and destroyed the celebrated Alexandrian library.[11] They swept over all Africa, completely obliterating every trace of Vandal or of Roman. Their dominion reached farther east than that of Alexander. They wrested most of its Asiatic possessions from the pretentious Empire at Constantinople, and reduced that exhausted State to a condition of weakness from which it never arose. Then, passing on through their African possessions, they entered Spain and overthrew the kingdom of the Visigoths.[12] It was a storm whose end no man could measure, whose coming none could have foreseen. And then, just a century after Mahomet's death, the Arabs, pressing on through Spain, encountered the Franks on the plains of France.

A thousand years had passed since Semitic Carthage had fallen before Aryan Rome. Now once again the Semites, far more dangerous because in the full tide of the religious frenzy of their race, threatened to engulf the Aryan world. They were repulsed by the still sturdy Franks under their great leader, Charles Martel, at Tours. The battle of Tours[13] was only less momentous to the human race than that of Châlons. What the Arab domination of Europe would have meant we can partly guess by looking at the lax and lawless states of Northern Africa to-day. These fair lands, under both Roman and Vandal, had long been sharing the lot of Aryan Europe; they seemed destined to follow in its growth and fortune. But the Arab conquest restored them to Semitism, made Asia the seat from which they were to have their training, attached them to the chariot of sloth instead of that of effort. What they are to-day, all Europe might have been.

Yet with the picture of these fifth and sixth and seventh centuries of battle full before us, we are not tempted to glory overmuch even in such victories as Tours and Châlons. We see war for what it has ever been—the curse of man, the hugest hinderance to our civilization. While men fight they have small time for thought or art or any soft or kindly sentiment. The survivors may with good luck develop into a stronger breed; they are inevitably more brutal.

We thus begin to recognize just how necessary for human progress was the work Rome had been engaged in. By holding the world at peace, she had given humankind at least the opportunity to grow. The moment her restraining hand was shaken off, war sprang up everywhere. Not only do we find the inheritors of her territory fighting among themselves, they are exposed to the savagery of Attila, the fury of the Arabs. New bands of more distant Teutons come, ever pushing in amid their half-settled brethren, overthrowing them in turn. The Lombards capture Northern Italy, only Venice remaining safe amid her marshes.[14] The East-Franks—that is, the semi-barbarians still remaining in the wilderness—master the more cultured West-Franks, who hold Gaul. No sooner does civilization start up than it is trodden on.


At length there arose among the Franks a series of stalwart rulers, keen-eyed, penetrating somewhat at least into the meaning of their world, determined to have peace if they must fight for it. Charles Martel was one of these. Then came his son Pépin,[15] who held out his hand to the bishops of Rome, acknowledged their vast civilizing influence, saved them from the Lombards, and joined church and state once more in harmony. After Pépin came his son, Charlemagne, whose reign marks an epoch of the world. The peace his fathers had striven for, he won at last, though only, as they had done, by constant fighting. He attacked the Arabs and reduced them to permanent feebleness in Spain. He turned backward the Teutonic movement, marching his Franks into the German forests, and in campaign after campaign defeating the wild tribes that still remained there. The strongest of them, the Saxons, accepted an enforced Christianity. Even the vague races beyond the German borders were so harried, so weakened, that they ceased to be a serious menace.

Charlemagne[16] had thus in very truth created a new empire. He had established at least one central spot, so hedged round by border dependencies that no later wave of barbarians ever quite succeeded in submerging it. The bones of the great Emperor, in their cathedral sepulchre at Aix, have never been disturbed by an unfriendly hand, Paris submitted to no new conquest until over a thousand years later, when the nineteenth century had stolen the barbarity from war. It was then no more than a just acknowledgment of Charlemagne's work when, on Christmas Day of the year 800, as he rose from kneeling at the cathedral altar in Rome, he was crowned by the Pope whom he had defended, and hailed by an enthusiastic people as lord of a re-created "Holy Roman Empire."

In England, also, the centuries of warfare among the Britons and the various antagonistic Teutonic tribes seemed drawing to an end. Egbert established the "heptarchy";[17] that is, became overlord of all the lesser kings. Truly for a moment civilization seemed reëstablished. The arts returned to prominence. England could send so noteworthy a scholar as Alcuin to the aid of the great Emperor. Charlemagne encouraged learning; Alcuin established schools. Once more men sowed and reaped in security. The "Roman peace" seemed come again.



[1] See Visigoths Pillage Rome.

[2] See The English Conquest of Britain.

[3] See Huns Invade the Eastern Roman Empire.

[4] See Attila Invades Western Europe.

[5] See Foundation of Venice.

[6] See Clovis Founds the Kingdom of the Franks.

[7] See Publication of the Justinian Code.

[8] See Augustine's Missionary Work in England.

[9] See The Hegira.

[10] See The Saracen Conquest of Syria.

[11] See Saracens Conquer Egypt.

[12] See Saracens in Spain.

[13] See Battle of Tours.

[14] See Evolution of the Dogeship in Venice.

[15] See Founding of the Carlovingian Dynasty.

[16] See Career of Charlemagne.

[17] See Egbert Becomes King of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy.


A.D. 410


Of the two great historical divisions of the Gothic race the Visigoths or West Goths were admitted into the Roman Empire in A.D. 376, when they sought protection from the pursuing Huns, and were transported across the Danube to the Moesian shore. The story of their gradual progress in civilization and growth in military power, which at last enabled them to descend with overwhelming force upon Rome itself, forms one of the romances of history.

From their first reception into Lower Moesia the Visigoths were subjected to the most contemptuous and oppressive treatment by the Romans who had admitted them into their domains. At last the outraged colonists were provoked to revolt, and a stubborn war ensued, which was ended at Adrianople, August 9, A.D. 378, by the defeat of the emperor Valens and the destruction of his army, two-thirds of his soldiers perishing with Valens himself, whose body was never found.

In 382 a treaty was made which restored peace to the Eastern Empire, the Visigoths nominally owning the sovereignty of Rome, but living in virtual independence. They continued to increase in numbers and in power, and in A.D. 395, under Alaric, their King, they invaded Greece, but were compelled by Stilicho, in 397, to retire into Epirus. Stilicho was the commander-in-chief of the Roman army, and the guardian of the young emperor Honorius. Alaric soon afterward became commander-in-chief of the Roman forces in Eastern Illyricum and held that office for four years. During that time he remained quiet, arming and drilling his followers, and waiting for the opportunity to make a bold stroke for a wider and more secure dominion.

In the autumn of A.D. 400, while Stilicho was campaigning in Gaul, Alaric made his first invasion of Italy, and for more than a year he ranged at will over the northern part of the peninsula. Rome was made ready for defence, and Honorius, the weak Emperor of the Western Empire, prepared for flight into Gaul; but on March 19th of the year 402, Stilicho surprised the camp of Alaric, near Pollentia, while most of his followers were at worship, and after a desperate battle they were beaten. Alaric made a safe retreat, and soon afterward crossed the Po, intending to march against Rome, but desertions from his ranks caused him to abandon that purpose. In 403 he was overtaken and again defeated by Stilicho at Verona, Alaric himself barely escaping capture. Stilicho, however, permitted him—some historians say, bribed him—to withdraw to Illyricum, and he was made prefect of Western Illyricum by Honorius. Such is the prelude, followed in history by the amazing exploits of Alaric's second invasion of Italy.

His troops having revolted at Pavia, Stilicho fled to Ravenna, where the ungrateful Emperor had him put to death August 23, 408. In October of that year Alaric crossed the Alps, advancing without resistance until he reached Ravenna; after threatening Ravenna he marched upon Rome and began the preparations that ended in the sack of the city.

The incapacity of a weak and distracted government may often assume the appearance, and produce the effects, of a treasonable correspondence with the public enemy. If Alaric himself had been introduced into the council of Ravenna, he would probably have advised the same measures which were actually pursued by the ministers of Honorius. The King of the Goths would have conspired, perhaps with some reluctance, to destroy the formidable adversary, by whose arms, in Italy as well as in Greece, he had been twice overthrown. Their active and interested hatred laboriously accomplished the disgrace and ruin of the great Stilicho. The valor of Sarus, his fame in arms, and his personal, or hereditary, influence over the confederate Barbarians, could recommend him only to the friends of their country, who despised, or detested, the worthless characters of Turpilio, Varanes, and Vigilantius. By the pressing instances of the new favorites, these generals, unworthy as they had shown themselves of the names of soldiers, were promoted to the command of the cavalry, of the infantry, and of the domestic troops. The Gothic prince would have subscribed with pleasure the edict which the fanaticism of Olympius dictated to the simple and devout Emperor.

Honorius excluded all persons who were adverse to the Catholic Church from holding any office in the State; obstinately rejected the service of all those who dissented from his religion; and rashly disqualified many of his bravest and most skilful officers who adhered to the pagan worship or who had imbibed the opinions of Arianism. These measures, so advantageous to an enemy, Alaric would have approved, and might perhaps have suggested; but it may seem doubtful whether the Barbarian would have promoted his interest at the expense of the inhuman and absurd cruelty which was perpetrated by the direction, or at least with the connivance, of the imperial ministers. The foreign auxiliaries who had been attached to the person of Stilicho lamented his death; but the desire of revenge was checked by a natural apprehension for the safety of their wives and children, who were detained as hostages in the strong cities of Italy, where they had likewise deposited their most valuable effects.

At the same hour, and as if by a common signal, the cities of Italy were polluted by the same horrid scenes of universal massacre and pillage which involved in promiscuous destruction the families and fortunes of the Barbarians. Exasperated by such an injury, which might have awakened the tamest and most servile spirit, they cast a look of indignation and hope toward the camp of Alaric, and unanimously swore to pursue, with just and implacable war, the perfidious nation that had so basely violated the laws of hospitality. By the imprudent conduct of the ministers of Honorius the republic lost the assistance, and deserved the enmity, of thirty thousand of her bravest soldiers; and the weight of that formidable army, which alone might have determined the event of the war, was transferred from the scale of the Romans into that of the Goths.

In the arts of negotiation, as well as in those of war, the Gothic King maintained his superior ascendant over an enemy, whose seeming changes proceeded from the total want of counsel and design. From his camp, on the confines of Italy, Alaric attentively observed the revolutions of the palace, watched the progress of faction and discontent, disguised the hostile aspect of a Barbarian invader, and assumed the more popular appearance of the friend and ally of the great Stilicho; to whose virtues, when they were no longer formidable, he could pay a just tribute of sincere praise and regret.

The pressing invitation of the malcontents, who urged the King of the Goths to invade Italy, was enforced by a lively sense of his personal injuries; and he might speciously complain that the Imperial ministers still delayed and eluded the payment of the four thousand pounds of gold which had been granted by the Roman senate, either to reward his services or to appease his fury. His decent firmness was supported by an artful moderation, which contributed to the success of his designs. He required a fair and reasonable satisfaction; but he gave the strongest assurances that, as soon as he had obtained it, he would immediately retire. He refused to trust the faith of the Romans, unless Aetius and Jason, the sons of two great officers of state, were sent as hostages to his camp; but he offered to deliver, in exchange, several of the noblest youths of the Gothic nation. The modesty of Alaric was interpreted, by the ministers of Ravenna, as a sure evidence of his weakness and fear. They disdained either to negotiate a treaty or to assemble an army; and with a rash confidence, derived only from their ignorance of the extreme danger, irretrievably wasted the decisive moments of peace and war. While they expected, in sullen silence, that the Barbarians should evacuate the confines of Italy, Alaric, with bold and rapid marches, passed the Alps and the Po; hastily pillaged the cities of Aquileia, Altinum, Concordia, and Cremona, which yielded to his arms; increased his forces by the accession of thirty thousand auxiliaries; and, without meeting a single enemy in the field, advanced as far as the edge of the morass which protected the impregnable residence of the Emperor of the West.

Instead of attempting the hopeless siege of Ravenna, the prudent leader of the Goths proceeded to Rimini, stretched his ravages along the sea-coast of the Adriatic, and meditated the conquest of the ancient mistress of the world. An Italian hermit, whose zeal and sanctity were respected by the Barbarians themselves, encountered the victorious monarch, and boldly denounced the indignation of heaven against the oppressors of the earth; but the saint himself was confounded by the solemn asseveration of Alaric, that he felt a secret and preternatural impulse, which directed, and even compelled, his march to the gates of Rome. He felt that his genius and his fortune were equal to the most arduous enterprises; and the enthusiasm which he communicated to the Goths insensibly removed the popular, and almost superstitious, reverence of the nations for the majesty of the Roman name. His troops, animated by the hopes of spoil, followed the course of the Flaminian way, occupied the unguarded passes of the Apennine, descended into the rich plains of Umbria; and, as they lay encamped on the banks of the Clitumnus, might wantonly slaughter and devour the milk-white oxen, which had been so long reserved for the use of Roman triumphs. A lofty situation, and a seasonable tempest of thunder and lightning, preserved the little city of Narni; but the King of the Goths, despising the ignoble prey, still advanced with unabated vigor; and after he had passed through the stately arches, adorned with the spoils of Barbaric victories, he pitched his camp under the walls of Rome.

By a skilful disposition of his numerous forces, who impatiently watched the moment of an assault, Alaric encompassed the walls, commanded the twelve principal gates, intercepted all communication with the adjacent country, and vigilantly guarded the navigation of the Tiber, from which the Romans derived the surest and most plentiful supply of provisions. The first emotions of the nobles and of the people were those of surprise and indignation that a vile Barbarian should dare to insult the capital of the world; but their arrogance was soon humbled by misfortune; and their unmanly rage, instead of being directed against an enemy in arms, was meanly exercised on a defenceless and innocent victim. Perhaps in the person of Serena, the Romans might have respected the niece of Theodosius, the aunt, nay, even the adoptive mother, of the reigning Emperor; but they abhorred the widow of Stilicho; and they listened with credulous passion to the tale of calumny, which accused her of maintaining a secret and criminal correspondence with the Gothic invader. Actuated or overawed by the same popular frenzy, the senate, without requiring any evidence of her guilt, pronounced the sentence of her death. Serena was ignominiously strangled; and the infatuated multitude were astonished to find that this cruel act of injustice did not immediately produce the retreat of the Barbarians and the deliverance of the city.

That unfortunate city gradually experienced the distress of scarcity, and at length the horrid calamities of famine. The daily allowance of three pounds of bread was reduced to one-half, to one-third, to nothing; and the price of corn still continued to rise in a rapid and extravagant proportion. The poorer citizens, who were unable to purchase the necessaries of life, solicited the precarious charity of the rich; and for a while the public misery was alleviated by the humanity of Læta, the widow of the emperor Gratian, who had fixed her residence at Rome, and consecrated to the use of the indigent the princely revenue which she annually received from the grateful successors of her husband. But these private and temporary donatives were insufficient to appease the hunger of a numerous people; and the progress of famine invaded the marble palaces of the senators themselves. The persons of both sexes, who had been educated in the enjoyment of ease and luxury, discovered how little is requisite to supply the demands of nature, and lavished their unavailing treasures of gold and silver to obtain the coarse and scanty sustenance which they would formerly have rejected with disdain. The food the most repugnant to sense or imagination, the aliments the most unwholesome and pernicious to the constitution, were eagerly devoured, and fiercely disputed, by the rage of hunger. A dark suspicion was entertained that some desperate wretches fed on the bodies of their fellow-creature, whom they had secretly murdered; and even mothers—such was the horrid conflict of the two most powerful instincts implanted by nature in the human breast—even mothers are said to have tasted the flesh of their slaughtered infants!

Many thousands of the inhabitants of Rome expired in their houses or in the streets for want of sustenance; and as the public sepulchres without the walls were in the power of the enemy, the stench which arose from so many putrid and unburied carcasses infected the air; and the miseries of famine were succeeded and aggravated by the contagion of a pestilential disease. The assurances of speedy and effectual relief, which were repeatedly transmitted from the court of Ravenna, supported for some time the fainting resolution of the Romans, till at length the despair of any human aid tempted them to accept the offers of a preternatural deliverance. Pompeianus, prefect of the city, had been persuaded, by the art or fanaticism of some Tuscan diviners, that, by the mysterious force of spells and sacrifices, they could extract the lightning from the clouds, and point those celestial fires against the camp of the Barbarians. The important secret was communicated to Innocent, the Bishop of Rome; and the successor of St. Peter is accused, perhaps with foundation, of preferring the safety of the republic to the rigid severity of the Christian worship. But when the question was agitated in the senate; when it was proposed, as an essential condition, that those sacrifices should be performed in the Capitol, by the authority, and in the presence, of the magistrates, the majority of that respectable assembly, apprehensive either of the divine or of the Imperial displeasure, refused to join in an act which appeared almost equivalent to the public restoration of paganism.

The last resource of the Romans was in the clemency, or at least in the moderation, of the King of the Goths. The senate, who in this emergency assumed the supreme powers of government, appointed two ambassadors to negotiate with the enemy. This important trust was delegated to Basilius, a senator of Spanish extraction, and already conspicuous in the administration of provinces; and to John, the first tribune of the notaries, who was peculiarly qualified by his dexterity in business, as well as by his former intimacy with the Gothic prince. When they were introduced into his presence, they declared, perhaps in a more lofty style than became their abject condition, that the Romans were resolved to maintain their dignity, either in peace or war; and that, if Alaric refused them a fair and honorable capitulation, he might sound his trumpets, and prepare to give battle to an innumerable people, exercised in arms, and animated by despair. "The thicker the hay, the easier it is mowed," was the concise reply of the Barbarian; and this rustic metaphor was accompanied by a loud and insulting laugh, expressive of his contempt for the menaces of an unwarlike populace, enervated by luxury before they were emaciated by famine. He then condescended to fix the ransom which he would accept as the price of his retreat from the walls of Rome: all the gold and silver in the city, whether it were the property of the State or of individuals; all the rich and precious movables; and all the slaves who could prove their title to the name of Barbarians. The ministers of the senate presumed to ask, in a modest and suppliant tone, "If such, O king, are your demands, what do you intend to leave us?"

"Your lives!" replied the haughty conqueror.

They trembled and retired. Yet, before they retired, a short suspension of arms was granted, which allowed some time for a more temperate negotiation. The stern features of Alaric were insensibly relaxed; he abated much of the rigor of his terms; and at length consented to raise the siege on the immediate payment of five thousand pounds of gold, of thirty thousand pounds of silver, of four thousand robes of silk, of three thousand pieces of fine scarlet cloth, and of three thousand pounds weight of pepper. But the public treasury was exhausted; the annual rents of the great estates in Italy and the provinces were intercepted by the calamities of war; the gold and gems had been exchanged, during the famine, for the vilest sustenance; the hoards of secret wealth were still concealed by the obstinacy of avarice; and some remains of consecrated spoils afforded the only resource that could avert the impending ruin of the city.

As soon as the Romans had satisfied the rapacious demands of Alaric, they were restored, in some measure, to the enjoyment of peace and plenty. Several of the gates were cautiously opened; the importation of provisions from the river and the adjacent country was no longer obstructed by the Goths; the citizens resorted in crowds to the free market, which was held during three days in the suburbs; and while the merchants who undertook this gainful trade made a considerable profit, the future subsistence of the city was secured by the ample magazines which were deposited in the public and private granaries.

A more regular discipline than could have been expected was maintained in the camp of Alaric; and the wise Barbarian justified his regard for the faith of treaties by the just severity with which he chastised a party of licentious Goths who had insulted some Roman citizens on the road to Ostia. His army, enriched by the contributions of the capital, slowly advanced into the fair and fruitful province of Tuscany, where he proposed to establish his winter quarters; and the Gothic standard became the refuge of forty thousand Barbarian slaves, who had broken their chains, and aspired, under the command of their great deliverer, to revenge the injuries and the disgrace of their cruel servitude. About the same time he received a more honorable reinforcement of Goths and Huns, whom Adolphus, the brother of his wife, had conducted, at his pressing invitation, from the banks of the Danube to those of the Tiber; and who had cut their way, with some difficulty and loss, through the superior numbers of the Imperial troops. A victorious leader, who united the daring spirit of a Barbarian with the art and discipline of a Roman general, was at the head of a hundred thousand fighting men; and Italy pronounced, with terror and respect, the formidable name of Alaric.

At the distance of fourteen centuries, we may be satisfied with relating the military exploits of the conquerors of Rome, without presuming to investigate the motives of their political conduct.

In the midst of his apparent prosperity, Alaric was conscious, perhaps, of some secret weakness, some internal defect; or perhaps the moderation which he displayed was intended only to deceive and disarm the easy credulity of the ministers of Honorius. The King of the Goths repeatedly declared that it was his desire to be considered as the friend of peace and of the Romans. Three senators, at his earnest request, were sent ambassadors to the court of Ravenna, to solicit the exchange of hostages and the conclusion of the treaty; and the proposals, which he more clearly expressed during the course of the negotiations, could only inspire a doubt of his sincerity as they might seem inadequate to the state of his fortune. The Barbarian still aspired to the rank of master-general of the armies of the West; he stipulated an annual subsidy of corn and money; and he chose the provinces of Dalmatia, Noricum, and Venetia for the seat of his new kingdom, which would have commanded the important communication between Italy and the Danube. If these modest terms should be rejected, Alaric showed a disposition to relinquish his pecuniary demands, and even to content himself with the possession of Noricum; an exhausted and impoverished country perpetually exposed to the inroads of the Barbarians of Germany.

But the hopes of peace were disappointed by the weak obstinacy, or interested views, of the minister Olympius. Without listening to the salutary remonstrances of the senate, he dismissed their ambassadors under the conduct of a military escort, too numerous for a retinue of honor and too feeble for an army of defence. Six thousand Dalmatians, the flower of the Imperial legions, were ordered to march from Ravenna to Rome, through an open country which was occupied by the formidable myriads of the Barbarians. These brave legionaries, encompassed and betrayed, fell a sacrifice to ministerial folly; their general, Valens, with a hundred soldiers, escaped from the field of battle; and one of the ambassadors, who could no longer claim the protection of the law of nations, was obliged to purchase his freedom with a ransom of thirty thousand pieces of gold. Yet Alarie, instead of resenting this act of impotent hostility, immediately renewed his proposals of peace; and the second embassy of the Roman senate, which derived weight and dignity from the presence of Innocent, bishop of the city, was guarded from the dangers of the road by a detachment of Gothic soldiers.

Olympius might have continued to insult the just resentment of a people who loudly accused him as the author of the public calamities; but his power was undermined by the secret intrigues of the palace. The favorite eunuchs transferred the government of Honorius, and the Empire, to Jovius, the prætorian prefect; an unworthy servant, who did not atone, by the merit of personal attachment, for the errors and misfortunes of his administration. The exile, or escape, of the guilty Olympius, reserved him for more vicissitudes of fortune: he experienced the adventure of an obscure and wandering life; he again rose to power; he fell a second time into disgrace; his ears were cut off; he expired under the lash; and his ignominious death afforded a grateful spectacle to the friends of Stilicho.

After the removal of Olympius, whose character was deeply tainted with religious fanaticism, the pagans and heretics were delivered from the impolitic proscription which excluded them from the dignities of the State. The brave Gennerid, a soldier of Barbarian origin, who still adhered to the worship of his ancestors, had been obliged to lay aside the military belt; and though he was repeatedly assured by the Emperor himself that laws were not made for persons of his rank or merit, he refused to accept any partial dispensation, and persevered in honorable disgrace till he had extorted a general act of justice from the distress of the Roman Government. The conduct of Gennerid, in the important station to which he was promoted or restored, of master-general of Dalmatia, Pannonia, Noricum, and Rhætia, seemed to revive the discipline and spirit of the republic. From a life of idleness and want, his troops were soon habituated to severe exercise and plentiful subsistence; and his private generosity often supplied the rewards which were denied by the avarice, or poverty, of the court of Ravenna.

The valor of Gennerid, formidable to the adjacent Barbarians, was the firmest bulwark of the Illyrian frontier; and his vigilant care assisted the Empire with a reinforcement of ten thousand Huns, who arrived on the confines of Italy, attended by such a convoy of provisions, and such a numerous train of sheep and oxen, as might have been sufficient, not only for the march of an army, but for the settlement of a colony.

But the court and councils of Honorius still remained a scene of weakness and distraction, of corruption and anarchy. Instigated by the prefect Jovius, the guards rose in furious mutiny, and demanded the heads of two generals and of the two principal eunuchs. The generals, under a perfidious promise of safety, were sent on shipboard and privately executed; while the favor of the eunuchs procured them a mild and secure exile at Milan and Constantinople. Eusebius the eunuch, and the Barbarian Allobich, succeeded to the command of the bed-chamber and of the guards; and the mutual jealousy of these subordinate ministers was the cause of their mutual destruction. By the insolent order of the count of the domestics, the great chamberlain was shamefully beaten to death with sticks, before the eyes of the astonished Emperor; and the subsequent assassination of Allobich, in the midst of a public procession, is the only circumstance of his life in which Honorius discovered the faintest symptom of courage or resentment.

Yet before they fell, Eusebius and Allobich had contributed their part to the ruin of the Empire, by opposing the conclusion of a treaty which Jovius, from a selfish, and perhaps a criminal, motive, had negotiated with Alaric, in a personal interview under the walls of Rimini. During the absence of Jovius, the Emperor was persuaded to assume a lofty tone of inflexible dignity, such as neither his situation nor his character could enable him to support; and a letter, signed with the name of Honorius, was immediately despatched to the prætorian prefect, granting him a free permission to dispose of the public money, but sternly refusing to prostitute the military honors of Rome to the proud demands of a Barbarian. This letter was imprudently communicated to Alaric himself; and the Goth, who in the whole transaction had behaved with temper and decency, expressed, in the most outrageous language, his lively sense of the insult so wantonly offered to his person and to his nation.

The conference of Rimini was hastily interrupted; and the prefect Jovius, on his return to Ravenna, was compelled to adopt, and even to encourage, the fashionable opinions of the court. By his advice and example, the principal officers of the State and army were obliged to swear that, without listening, in any circumstances, to any conditions of peace, they would still persevere in perpetual and implacable war against the enemy of the republic. This rash engagement opposed an insuperable bar to all future negotiation. The ministers of Honorius were heard to declare that if they had only invoked the name of the Deity they would consult the public safety, and trust their souls to the mercy of heaven; but they had sworn by the sacred head of the Emperor himself; they had touched, in solemn ceremony, that august seat of majesty and wisdom; and the violation of their oath would expose them, to the temporal penalties of sacrilege and rebellion.

While the Emperor and his court enjoyed, with sullen pride, the security of the marshes and fortifications of Ravenna, they abandoned Rome, almost without defence, to the resentment of Alaric. Yet such was the moderation which he still preserved, or affected, that, as he moved with his army along the Flaminian way, he successively despatched the bishops of the towns of Italy to reiterate his offers of peace and to conjure the Emperor that he would save the city and its inhabitants from hostile fire and the sword of the Barbarians. These impending calamities were, however, averted, not indeed by the wisdom of Honorius, but by the prudence or humanity of the Gothic King; who employed a milder, though not less effectual, method of conquest. Instead of assaulting the capital, he successfully directed his efforts against the port of Ostia, one of the boldest and most stupendous works of Roman magnificence.

The accidents to which the precarious subsistence of the city was continually exposed in a winter navigation and an open road, had suggested to the genius of the first Cæsar the useful design which was executed under the reign of Claudius. The artificial moles, which formed the narrow entrance, advanced far into the sea, and firmly repelled the fury of the waves, while the largest vessels securely rode at anchor within three deep and capacious basins, which received the northern branch of the Tiber, about two miles from the ancient colony of Ostia. The Roman port insensibly swelled to the size of an episcopal city, where the corn of Africa was deposited in spacious granaries for the use of the capital. As soon as Alaric was in possession of that important place, he summoned the city to surrender at discretion; and his demands were enforced by the positive declaration that a refusal, or even a delay, should be instantly followed by the destruction of the magazines, on which the life of the Roman people depended. The clamors of that people, and the terror of famine, subdued the pride of the senate; they listened, without reluctance, to the proposal of placing a new emperor on the throne of the unworthy Honorius; and the suffrage of the Gothic conqueror bestowed the purple on Attalus, prefect of the city. The grateful monarch immediately acknowledged his protector as master-general of the armies of the West; Adolphus, with the rank of count of the domestics, obtained the custody of the person of Attalus; and the two hostile nations seemed to be united in the closest bands of friendship and alliance.

The gates of the city were thrown open, and the new Emperor of the Romans, encompassed on every side by the Gothic arms, was conducted, in tumultuous procession, to the palace of Augustus and Trajan. After he had distributed the civil and military dignities among his favorites and followers, Attalus convened an assembly of the senate; before whom, in a formal and florid speech, he asserted his resolution of restoring the majesty of the republic, and of uniting to the Empire the provinces of Egypt and the East which had once acknowledged the sovereignty of Rome. Such extravagant promises inspired every reasonable citizen with a just contempt for the character of an unwarlike usurper, whose elevation was the deepest and most ignominious wound which the republic had yet sustained from the insolence of the Barbarians. But the populace, with their usual levity, applauded the change of masters. The public discontent was favorable to the rival of Honorius; and the sectaries, oppressed by his persecuting edicts, expected some degree of countenance, or at least of toleration, from a prince who, in his native country of Ionia, had been educated in the pagan superstition, and who had since received the sacrament of baptism from the hands of an Arian bishop.

The first days of the reign of Attains were fair and prosperous. An officer of confidence was sent with an inconsiderable body of troops to secure the obedience of Africa; the greatest part of Italy submitted to the terror of the Gothic powers; and though the city of Bologna made a vigorous and effectual resistance, the people of Milan, dissatisfied perhaps with the absence of Honorius, accepted, with loud acclamations, the choice of the Roman senate. At the head of a formidable army, Alaric conducted his royal captive almost to the gates of Ravenna; and a solemn embassy of the principal ministers, of Jovius, the prætorian prefect, of Valens, master of the cavalry and infantry, of the quæstor Potamius, and of Julian, the first of the notaries, was introduced, with martial pomp, into the Gothic camp. In the name of their sovereign, they consented to acknowledge the lawful election of his competitor, and to divide the provinces of Italy and the West between the two emperors. Their proposals were rejected with disdain; and the refusal was aggravated by the insulting clemency of Attalus, who condescended to promise that, if Honorius would instantly resign the purple, he should be permitted to pass the remainder of his life in the peaceful exile of some remote island. So desperate indeed did the situation of the son of Theodosius appear, to those who were the best acquainted with his strength and resources, that Jovius and Valens, his minister and his general, betrayed their trust, infamously deserted the sinking cause of their benefactor, and devoted their treacherous allegiance to the service of his more fortunate rival.

Astonished by such examples of domestic treason, Honorius trembled at the approach of every servant, at the arrival of every messenger. He dreaded the secret enemies who might lurk in his capital, his palace, his bed-chamber; and some ships lay ready in the harbor of Ravenna to transport the abdicated monarch to the dominions of his infant nephew, the Emperor of the East.

But there is a Providence—such at least was the opinion of the historian Procopius—that watches over innocence and folly; and the pretensions of Honorius to its peculiar care cannot reasonably be disputed. At the moment when his despair, incapable of any wise or manly resolution, meditated a shameful flight, a seasonable reinforcement of four thousand veterans unexpectedly landed in the port of Ravenna. To these valiant strangers, whose fidelity had not been corrupted by the factions of the court, he committed the walls and gates of the city; and the slumbers of the Emperor were no longer disturbed by the apprehension of imminent and internal danger. The favorable intelligence which was received from Africa suddenly changed the opinions of men and the state of public affairs. The troops and officers whom Attalus had sent into that province were defeated and slain; and the active zeal of Heraclian maintained his own allegiance and that of his people. The faithful Count of Africa transmitted a large sum of money, which fixed the attachment of the Imperial guards; and his vigilance in preventing the exportation of corn and oil introduced famine, tumult, and discontent into the walls of Rome.

The failure of the African expedition was the source of mutual complaint and recrimination in the party of Attalus; and the mind of his protector was insensibly alienated from the interest of a prince who wanted spirit to command, or docility to obey. The most imprudent measures were adopted, without the knowledge, or against the advice, of Alaric; and the obstinate refusal of the senate to allow, in the embarkation, the mixture even of five hundred Goths, betrayed a suspicious and distrustful temper, which, in their situation, was neither generous nor prudent. The resentment of the Gothic King was exasperated by the malicious arts of Jovius, who had been raised to the rank of patrician, and who afterward excused his double perfidy, by declaring, without a blush, that he had only seemed to abandon the service of Honorius, more effectually to ruin the cause of the usurper. In a large plain near Rimini, and in the presence of an innumerable multitude of Romans and Barbarians, the wretched Attalus was publicly despoiled of the diadem and purple; and those ensigns of royalty were sent by Alaric, as the pledge of peace and friendship, to the son of Theodosius.

The officers who returned to their duty were reinstated in their employments, and even the merit of a tardy repentance was graciously allowed; but the degraded Emperor of the Romans, desirous of life and insensible of disgrace, implored the permission of following the Gothic camp, in the train of a haughty and capricious Barbarian.

The degradation of Attalus removed the only real obstacle to the conclusion of the peace; and Alaric advanced within three miles of Ravenna, to press the irresolution of the Imperial ministers, whose insolence soon returned with the return of fortune. His indignation was kindled by the report that a rival chieftain, that Sarus, the personal enemy of Adolphus, and the hereditary foe of the house of Balti, had been received into the palace. At the head of three hundred followers, that fearless Barbarian immediately sallied from the gates of Ravenna; surprised, and cut in pieces, a considerable body of Goths; reëntered the city in triumph; and was permitted to insult his adversary by the voice of a herald, who publicly declared that the guilt of Alaric had forever excluded him from the friendship and alliance of the Emperor.

The crime and folly of the court of Ravenna were expiated a third time by the calamities of Rome. The King of the Goths, who no longer dissembled his appetite for plunder and revenge, appeared in arms under the walls of the capital; and the trembling senate, without any hopes of relief, prepared, by a desperate resistance, to delay the ruin of their country. But they were unable to guard against the secret conspiracy of their slaves and domestics; who, either from birth or interest, were attached to the cause of the enemy. At the hour of midnight the Salarian gate was silently opened, and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the Imperial city, which had subdued and civilized so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia.

The proclamation of Alaric, when he forced his entrance into a vanquished city, discovered, however, some regard for the laws of humanity and religion. He encouraged his troops boldly to seize the rewards of valor, and to enrich themselves with the spoils of a wealthy and effeminate people; but he exhorted them, at the same time, to spare the lives of the unresisting citizens, and to respect the churches of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul as holy and inviolable sanctuaries. Amid the horrors of a nocturnal tumult, several of the Christian Goths displayed the fervor of a recent conversion; and some instances of their uncommon piety and moderation are related, and perhaps adorned, by the zeal of ecclesiastical writers.

While the Barbarians roamed through the city in quest of prey, the humble dwelling of an aged virgin, who had devoted her life to the service of the altar, was forced open by one of the powerful Goths. He immediately demanded, though in civil language, all the gold and silver in her possession; and was astonished at the readiness with which she conducted him to a splendid hoard of massy plate, of the richest materials and the most curious workmanship. The Barbarian viewed with wonder and delight this valuable acquisition, till he was interrupted by a serious admonition, addressed to him in the following words: "These," said she, "are the consecrated vessels belonging to St. Peter; if you presume to touch them, the sacrilegious deed will remain on your conscience. For my part, I dare not keep what I am unable to defend." The Gothic captain, struck with reverential awe, despatched a messenger to inform the King of the treasure which he had discovered; and received a peremptory order from Alaric, that all the consecrated plate and ornaments should be transported, without damage or delay, to the church of the apostle.

From the extremity, perhaps, of the Quirinal hill, to the distant quarter of the Vatican, a numerous detachment of Goths, marching in order of battle through the principal streets, protected, with glittering arms, the long train of their devout companions, who bore aloft on their heads the sacred vessels of gold and silver; and the martial shouts of the Barbarians were mingled with the sound of religious psalmody. From all the adjacent houses a crowd of Christians hastened to join this edifying procession; and a multitude of fugitives, without distinction of age, or rank, or even of sect, had the good fortune to escape to the secure and hospitable sanctuary of the Vatican. The learned work, concerning the City of God, was professedly composed by St. Augustine, to justify the ways of Providence in the destruction of the Roman greatness. He celebrates, with peculiar satisfaction, this memorable triumph of Christ; and insults his adversaries by challenging them to produce some similar example of a town taken by storm, in which the fabulous gods of antiquity had been able to protect either themselves or their deluded votaries.

In the sack of Rome, some rare and extraordinary examples of Barbarian virtue have been deservedly applauded. But the holy precincts of the Vatican, and the apostolic churches, could receive a very small proportion of the Roman people; many thousand warriors, more especially of the Huns, who served under the standard of Alaric, were strangers to the name, or at least to the faith, of Christ; and we may suspect, without any breach of charity or candor, that in the hour of savage license, when every passion was inflamed, and every restraint was removed, the precepts of the Gospel seldom influenced the behavior of the Gothic Christians. The writers the best disposed to exaggerate their clemency have freely confessed that a cruel slaughter was made of the Romans; and that the streets of the city were filled with dead bodies, which remained without burial during the general consternation. The despair of the citizens was sometimes converted into fury; and whenever the Barbarians were provoked by opposition, they extended the promiscuous massacre to the feeble, the innocent, and the helpless. The private revenge of forty thousand slaves was exercised without pity or remorse; and the ignominious lashes which they had formerly received were washed away in the blood of the guilty or obnoxious families. The matrons and virgins of Rome were exposed to injuries more dreadful, in the apprehension of chastity, than death itself; and the ecclesiastical historian has selected an example of female virtue for the admiration of future ages.

A Roman lady, of singular beauty and orthodox faith, had excited the impatient desires of a young Goth, who, according to the sagacious remark of Sozomen, was attached to the Arian heresy. Exasperated by her obstinate resistance, he drew his sword, and, with the anger of a lover, slightly wounded her neck. The bleeding heroine still continued to brave his resentment and to repel his love, till the ravisher desisted from his unavailing efforts, respectfully conducted her to the sanctuary of the Vatican, and gave six pieces of gold to the guards of the church, on condition that they should restore her inviolate to the arms of her husband. Such instances of courage and generosity were not extremely common.

Avarice is an insatiate and universal passion; since the enjoyment of almost every object that can afford pleasure to the different tastes and tempers of mankind may be procured by the possession of wealth. In the pillage of Rome a just preference was given to gold and jewels, which contain the greatest value in the smallest compass and weight; but after these portable riches had been removed by the more diligent robbers, the palaces of Rome were rudely stripped of their splendid and costly furniture. The sideboards of massy plate, and the variegated wardrobes of silk and purple, were irregularly piled in the wagons, that always followed the march of a Gothic army. The most exquisite works of art were roughly handled or wantonly destroyed; many a statue was melted for the sake of the precious materials; and many a vase, in the division of the spoil, was shivered into fragments by the stroke of a battle-axe. The acquisition of riches served only to stimulate the avarice of the rapacious Barbarians, who proceeded, by threats, by blows, and by tortures, to force from their prisoners the confession of hidden treasure. Visible splendor and expense were alleged as the proof of a plentiful fortune; the appearance of poverty was imputed to a parsimonious disposition; and the obstinacy of some misers, who endured the most cruel torments before they would discover the secret object of their affection, was fatal to many unhappy wretches, who expired under the lash for refusing to reveal their imaginary treasures.

The edifices of Rome—though the damage has been much exaggerated—received some injury from the violence of the Goths. At their entrance through the Salarian gate they fired the adjacent houses to guide their march, and to distract the attention of the citizens; the flames, which encountered no obstacle in the disorder of the night, consumed many private and public buildings; and the ruins of the palace of Sallust remained, in the age of Justinian, a stately monument of the Gothic conflagration. Yet a contemporary historian has observed that fire could scarcely consume the enormous beams of solid brass, and that the strength of man was insufficient to subvert the foundations of ancient structures. Some truth may possibly be concealed in his devout assertion that the wrath of heaven supplied the imperfections of hostile rage; and that the proud Forum of Rome, decorated with the statues of so many gods and heroes, was levelled in the dust by the stroke of lightning.

Whatever might be the number of equestrian or plebeian rank who perished in the massacre of Rome, it is confidently affirmed that only one senator lost his life by the sword of the enemy. But it was not easy to compute the multitudes who, from an honorable station and a prosperous fortune, were suddenly reduced to the miserable condition of captives and exiles. As the Barbarians had more occasion for money than for slaves, they fixed a moderate price for the redemption of their indigent prisoners; and the ransom was often paid by the benevolence of their friends or the charity of strangers.

The captives, who were regularly sold either in open market or by private contract, would have legally regained their native freedom, which it was impossible for a citizen to lose or to alienate. But as it was soon discovered that the vindication of their liberty would endanger their lives; and that the Goths, unless they were tempted to sell, might be provoked to murder their useless prisoners; the civil jurisprudence had been already qualified by a wise regulation that they should be obliged to serve the moderate term of five years, till they had discharged by their labor the price of their redemption.

The nations who invaded the Roman Empire had driven before them, into Italy, whole troops of hungry and affrighted provincials, less apprehensive of servitude than of famine. The calamities of Rome and Italy dispersed the inhabitants to the most lonely, the most secure, the most distant places of refuge. While the Gothic cavalry spread terror and desolation along the sea-coast of Campania and Tuscany, the little island of Igilium, separated by a narrow channel from the Argentarian promontory, repulsed, or eluded, their hostile attempts; and at so small a distance from Rome, great numbers of citizens were securely concealed in the thick woods of that sequestered spot. The ample patrimonies, which many senatorian families possessed in Africa, invited them, if they had time, and prudence, to escape from the ruin of their country, to embrace the shelter of that hospitable province. The most illustrious of these fugitives was the noble and pious Proba, the widow of the prefect Petronius. After the death of her husband, the most powerful subject of Rome, she had remained at the head of the Anician family, and successively supplied, from her private fortune, the expense of the consulships of her three sons. When the city was besieged and taken by the Goths, Proba supported, with Christian resignation, the loss of immense riches; embarked in a small vessel, from whence she beheld, at sea, the flames of her burning palace, and fled with her daughter Læta, and her granddaughter, the celebrated virgin Demetrias, to the coast of Africa. The benevolent profusion with which the matron distributed the fruits, or the price, of her estates, contributed to alleviate the misfortunes of exile and captivity. But even the family of Proba herself was not exempt from the rapacious oppression of Count Heraclian, who basely sold, in matrimonial prostitution, the noblest maidens of Rome to the lust or avarice of the Syrian merchants.

The Italian fugitives were dispersed through the provinces, along the coast of Egypt and Asia, as far as Constantinople and Jerusalem; and the village of Bethlehem, the solitary residence of St. Jerome and his female converts, was crowded with illustrious beggars of either sex, and every age, who excited the public compassion by the remembrance of their past fortune. This awful catastrophe of Rome filled the astonished Empire with grief and terror. So interesting a contrast of greatness and ruin disposed the fond credulity of the people to deplore, and even to exaggerate, the afflictions of the queen of cities. The clergy, who applied to recent events the lofty metaphors of oriental prophecy, were sometimes tempted to confound the destruction of the capital and the dissolution of the globe.

There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times. Yet, when the first emotions had subsided, and a fair estimate was made of the real damage, the more learned and judicious contemporaries were forced to confess that infant Rome had formerly received more essential injury from the Gauls than she had now sustained from the Goths in her declining age. The experience of eleven centuries has enabled posterity to produce a much more singular parallel, and to affirm with confidence that the ravages of the Barbarians, whom Alaric had led from the banks of the Danube, were less destructive than the hostilities exercised by the troops of Charles V, a Catholic prince, who styled himself Emperor of the Romans.

The Goths evacuated the city at the end of six days, but Rome remained above nine months in the possession of the Imperialists, and every hour was stained by some atrocious act of cruelty, lust, and rapine. The authority of Alaric preserved some order and moderation among the ferocious multitude which acknowledged him for their leader and king; but the constable of Bourbon had gloriously fallen in the attack of the walls; and the death of the general removed every restraint of discipline from an army which consisted of three independent nations, the Italians, the Spaniards, and the Germans.

The retreat of the victorious Goths, who evacuated Rome on the sixth day, might be the result of prudence; but it was not surely the effect of fear. At the head of an army encumbered with rich and weighty spoils, their intrepid leader advanced along the Appian way into the southern provinces of Italy, destroying whatever dared to oppose his passage, and contenting himself with the plunder of the unresisting country.

Above four years elapsed from the successful invasion of Italy by the arms of Alaric to the voluntary retreat of the Goths under the conduct of his successor Adolphus; and during the whole time they reigned without control over a country which, in the opinion of the ancients, had united all the various excellences of nature and art. The prosperity, indeed, which Italy had attained in the auspicious age of the Antonines had gradually declined with the decline of the Empire. The fruits of a long peace perished under the rude grasp of the Barbarians; and they themselves were incapable of tasting the more elegant refinements of luxury which had been prepared for the use of the soft and polished Italians. Each soldier, however, claimed an ample portion of the substantial plenty, the corn and cattle, oil and wine that was daily collected and consumed in the Gothic camp; and the principal warriors insulted the villas and gardens, once inhabited by Lucullus and Cicero, along the beauteous coast of Campania. Their trembling captives, the sons and daughters of Roman senators, presented, in goblets of gold and gems, large draughts of Falernian wine to the haughty victors, who stretched their huge limbs under the shade of plane trees, artificially disposed to exclude the scorching rays and to admit the genial warmth of the sun. These delights were enhanced by the memory of past hardships; the comparison of their native soil, the bleak and barren hills of Scythia, and the frozen banks of the Elbe and Danube added new charms to the felicity of the Italian climate.[18]

Whether fame or conquest or riches were the object of Alaric, he pursued that object with an indefatigable ardor which could neither be quelled by adversity nor satiated by success. No sooner had he reached the extreme land of Italy than he was attracted by the neighboring prospect of a fertile and peaceful island. Yet even the possession of Sicily he considered only as an intermediate step to the important expedition which he already meditated against the continent of Africa.

The whole design was defeated by the premature death of Alaric, which fixed, after a short illness, the fatal term of his conquests. The ferocious character of the Barbarians was displayed in the funeral of a hero whose valor and fortune they celebrated with mournful applause. By the labor of a captive multitude, they forcibly diverted the course of the Busentinus, a small river that washes the walls of Consentia. The royal sepulchre, adorned with the splendid spoils and trophies of Rome, was constructed in the vacant bed; the waters were then restored to their natural channel, and the secret spot where the remains of Alaric had been deposited was forever concealed by the inhuman massacre of the prisoners who had been employed to execute the work.

The personal animosities and hereditary feuds of the Barbarians were suspended by the strong necessity of their affairs, and the brave Adolphus, the brother-in-law of the deceased monarch, was unanimously elected to succeed to his throne. The character and political system of the new King of the Goths may be best understood from his own conversation with an illustrious citizen of Narbonne; who afterward, in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, related it to St. Jerome, in the presence of the historian Orosius. "In the full confidence of valor and victory, I once aspired (said. Adolphus) to change the face of the universe; to obliterate the name of Rome; to erect on its ruins the dominion of the Goths; and to acquire, like Augustus, the immortal fame of the founder of a new empire. By repeated experiments I was gradually convinced that laws are essentially necessary to maintain and regulate a well-constituted state; and that the fierce, untractable humor of the Goths was incapable of bearing the salutary yoke of laws and civil government. From that moment I proposed to myself a different object of glory and ambition; and it is now my sincere wish that the gratitude of future ages should acknowledge the merit of a stranger who employed the sword of the Goths, not to subvert, but to restore and maintain, the prosperity of the Roman Empire." With these pacific views, the successor of Alaric suspended the operations of war, and seriously negotiated with the Imperial court a treaty of friendship and alliance. It was the interest of the ministers of Honorius, who were now released from, the obligation of their extravagant oath, to deliver Italy from the intolerable weight of the Gothic powers; and they readily accepted their service against the tyrants and Barbarians who infested the provinces beyond the Alps. Adolphus, assuming the character of a Roman general, directed his march from the extremity of Campania to the southern provinces of Gaul. His troops, either by force or agreement, immediately occupied the cities of Narbonne, Toulouse, and Bordeaux; and though they were repulsed by Count Boniface from the walls of Marseilles, they soon extended their quarters from the Mediterranean to the ocean. The oppressed provincials might exclaim that the miserable remnant which the enemy had spared was cruelly ravished by their pretended allies; yet some specious colors were not wanting to palliate, or justify, the violence of the Goths. The cities of Gaul, which they attacked, might perhaps be considered as in a state of rebellion against the government of Honorius; the articles of the treaty or the secret instructions of the court might sometimes be alleged in favor of the seeming usurpations of Adolphus; and the guilt of any irregular, unsuccessful act of hostility might always be imputed, with an appearance of truth, to the ungovernable spirit of a Barbarian host, impatient of peace or discipline. The luxury of Italy had been less effectual to soften the temper than to relax the courage of the Goths; and they had imbibed the vices, without imitating the arts and institutions, of civilized society.

The professions of Adolphus were probably sincere, and his attachment to the cause of the republic was secured by the ascendant which a Roman princess had acquired over the heart and understanding of the Barbarian king. Placidia, the daughter of the great Theodosius, and of Galla, his second wife, had received a royal education in the palace of Constantinople; but the eventful story of her life is connected with the revolutions which agitated the Western Empire under the reign of her brother Honorius. When Rome was first invested by the arms of Alaric, Placidia, who was then about twenty years of age, resided in the city; and her ready consent to the death of her cousin Serena has a cruel and ungrateful appearance, which, according to the circumstances of the action, may be aggravated, or excused, by the consideration of her tender age. The victorious Barbarians detained, either as a hostage or a captive, the sister of Honorius; but, while she was exposed to the disgrace of following round Italy the motions of a Gothic camp, she experienced, however, a decent and respectful treatment. The authority of Jornandes, who praises the beauty of Placidia, may perhaps be counterbalanced by the silence, the expressive silence, of her flatterers; yet the splendor of her birth, the bloom of youth, the elegance of manners, and the dexterous insinuation which she condescended to employ, made a deep impression on the mind of Adolphus, and the Gothic King aspired to call himself the brother of the Emperor. The ministers of Honorius rejected with disdain the proposal of an alliance so injurious to every sentiment of Roman pride, and repeatedly urged the restitution of Placidia as an indispensable condition of the treaty of peace. But the daughter of Theodosius submitted, without reluctance, to the desires of the conqueror, a young and valiant prince, who yielded to Alaric in loftiness of stature, but who excelled in the more attractive qualities of grace and beauty. The marriage of Adolphus and Placidia was consummated before the Goths retired from Italy; and the solemn, perhaps the anniversary, day of their nuptials was afterward celebrated in the house of Ingenuus, one of the most illustrious citizens of Narbonne in Gaul. The bride, attired and adorned like a Roman empress, was placed on a throne of state; and the King of the Goths, who assumed, on this occasion, the Roman habit, contented himself with a less honorable seat by her side. The nuptial gift which, according to the custom of his nation, was offered to Placidia, consisted of the rare and magnificent spoils of her country. Fifty beautiful youths, in silken robes, carried a basin in each hand; and one of these basins was filled with pieces of gold, the other with precious stones of an inestimable value. Attalus, so long the sport of fortune and of the Goths, was appointed to lead the chorus of the hymeneal song; and the degraded Emperor might aspire to the praise of a skilful musician. The Barbarians enjoyed the insolence of their triumph; and the provincials rejoiced in this alliance, which tempered, by the mild influence of love and reason, the fierce spirit of their Gothic lord.

After the deliverance of Italy from the oppression of the Goths, some secret counsellor was permitted, amid the factions of the palace, to heal the wounds of that afflicted country. By a wise and humane regulation the eight provinces which had been the most deeply injured, Campania, Tuscany, Picenum, Samnium, Apulia, Calabria, Bruttium, and Lucania, obtained an indulgence of five years; the ordinary tribute was reduced to one-fifth, and even that fifth was destined to restore and support the useful institution of the public posts. By another law, the lands which had been left without inhabitants or cultivation were granted, with some diminution of taxes, to the neighbors who should occupy or the strangers who should solicit them; and the new possessors were secured against the future claims of the fugitive proprietors. About the same time a general amnesty was published in the name of Honorius, to abolish the guilt and memory of all the involuntary offences which had been committed by his unhappy subjects during the term of the public disorder and calamity. A decent and respectful attention was paid to the restoration of the capital; the citizens were encouraged to rebuild the edifices which had been destroyed or damaged by hostile fire; and extraordinary supplies of corn were imported from the coast of Africa. The crowds that so lately fled before the sword of the Barbarians were soon recalled by the hopes of plenty and pleasure; and Albinus, prefect of Rome, informed the Court, with some anxiety and surprise, that in a single day he had taken an account of the arrival of fourteen thousand strangers. In less than seven years the vestiges of the Gothic invasion were almost obliterated, and the city appeared to resume its former splendor and tranquillity. The venerable matron replaced her crown of laurel, which had been ruffled by the storms of war; and was still amused, in the last moment of her decay, with the prophecies of revenge, of victory, and of eternal dominion.



"The prostrate South to the destroyer yields
Her boasted titles and her golden fields;
With grim delight the brood of winter view
A brighter day and skies of azure hue;
Scent the new fragrance of the opening rose,
And quaff the pendent vintage as it grows."

See Gray's Poems, published by Mr. Mason, p. 197.



A.D. 441


Beyond the Great Wall of China, erected to secure the empire from their encroachments, were numerous tribes of troublesome Hiongnou who, becoming united under one head, were successful in an invasion of that country. These confederated tribes became known as the Huns. Until the advent of M. Deguignes all was dark concerning them. That learned and laborious scholar conceived the idea that the Huns might be thus identified, and has written the history from Chinese sources, of those who since that time have poured down upon the civilized countries of Asia and Europe and wasted them. Boulger also identifies these tribes with the Huns of Attila. After driving the Alani across the Danube and compelling them to seek an asylum within the borders of the Roman Empire, the terrible Huns had halted in their march westward for something more than a generation. They were hovering, meantime, on the eastern frontiers of the empire, "taking part like other barbarians in its disturbances and alliances." Emperors paid them tribute, and Roman generals kept up a politic or a questionable correspondence with them. Stilicho had detachments of Huns in the armies which fought against Alaric, King of the Goths, the greatest Roman soldier after Stilicho—and, like Stilicho, of barbarian parentage—Aetius, who was to be their most formidable antagonist, had been a hostage and messmate in their camps. All historians agree that the influx of these barbaric peoples hastened, more than any other cause, the rapid decline of the great empire which the Romans had built up.

About A.D. 433 Attila, equally famous in history and legend, became the King of the Huns. The attraction of his daring character, and of his genius for the war which nomadic tribes delight in, gave him absolute ascendency over his nation, and over the Teutonic and Slavonic tribes near him. Like other conquerors of his race he imagined and attempted an empire of ravage and desolation, a vast hunting ground and preserve, in which men and their works should supply the objects and zest of the chase.

The gradual encroachments of the Huns on the northern frontiers of the Roman domain led to a terrific war in 441. Attila was king. His first assault upon the Roman power was directed against the Eastern Empire. The court at Constantinople had been duly obsequious to him, but he found a pretext for war. The dreadful ravages of his hordes and the shameful treaty which he forced upon the empire form a thrilling yet terrible chapter in the history of the world.

The western world was oppressed by the Goths and Vandals, who fled before the Huns; but the achievements of the Huns themselves were not adequate to their power and prosperity. Their victorious hordes had spread from the Volga to the Danube; but the public force was exhausted by the discord of independent chieftains; their valor was idly consumed in obscure and predatory excursions; and they often degraded their national dignity by condescending, for the hopes of spoil, to enlist under the banners of their fugitive enemies. In the reign of Attila the Huns again became the terror of the world; and I shall now describe the character and actions of that formidable Barbarian; who alternately insulted and invaded the East and the West, and urged the rapid downfall of the Roman Empire.

In the tide of emigration which impetuously rolled from the confines of China to those of Germany, the most powerful and populous tribes may commonly be found on the verge of the Roman provinces. The accumulated weight was sustained for a while by artificial barriers; and the easy condescension of the emperors invited, without satisfying, the insolent demands of the Barbarians, who had acquired an eager appetite for the luxuries of civilized life. The Hungarians, who ambitiously insert the name of Attila among their native kings, may affirm with truth that the hordes, which were subject to his uncle Roas, or Rugilas, had formed their encampments within the limits of modern Hungary,[19] in a fertile country, which liberally supplied the wants of a nation of hunters and shepherds. In this advantageous situation, Rugilas and his valiant brothers, who continually added to their power and reputation, commanded the alternative of peace or war with the two empires. His alliance with the Romans of the West was cemented by his personal friendship for the great Aetius, who was always secure of finding, in the Barbarian camp, a hospitable reception and a powerful support. At his solicitation, and in the name of John the Usurper, sixty thousand Huns advanced to the confines of Italy; their march and their retreat were alike expensive to the State; and the grateful policy of Aetius abandoned the possession of Pannonia to his faithful confederates.

The Romans of the East were not less apprehensive of the arms of Rugilas, which threatened the provinces, or even the capital. Some ecclesiastical historians have destroyed the Barbarians with lightning and pestilence; but Theodosius was reduced to the more humble expedient of stipulating an annual payment of three hundred and fifty pounds of gold, and of disguising this dishonorable tribute by the title of general, which the King of the Huns condescended to accept. The public tranquillity was frequently interrupted by the fierce impatience of the Barbarians and the perfidious intrigues of the Byzantine court. Four dependent nations, among whom we may distinguish the Bavarians, disclaimed the sovereignty of the Huns; and their revolt was encouraged and protected by a Roman alliance, till the just claims and formidable power of Rugilas were effectually urged by the voice of Eslaw his ambassador. Peace was the unanimous wish of the senate: their decree was ratified by the Emperor; and two ambassadors were named, Plinthas, a general of Scythian extraction, but of consular rank; and the quæstor Epigenes, a wise and experienced statesman, who was recommended to that office by his ambitious colleague.

The death of Rugilas suspended the progress of the treaty. His two nephews, Attila and Bleda, who succeeded to the throne of their uncle, consented to a personal interview with the ambassadors of Constantinople; but as they proudly refused to dismount, the business was transacted on horseback, in a spacious plain near the city of Margus, in the Upper Mæsia. The kings of the Huns assumed the solid benefits, as well as the vain honors, of the negotiation. They dictated the conditions of peace, and each condition was an insult on the majesty of the empire. Besides the freedom of a safe and plentiful market on the banks of the Danube, they required that the annual contribution should be augmented from three hundred and fifty to seven hundred pounds of gold; that a fine or ransom of eight pieces of gold should be paid for every Roman captive who had escaped from his Barbarian master; that the Emperor should renounce all treaties and engagements with the enemies of the Huns; and that all the fugitives who had taken refuge in the court or provinces of Theodosius should be delivered to the justice of their offended sovereign. This justice was rigorously inflicted on some unfortunate youths of a royal race. They were crucified on the territories of the empire, by the command of Attila: and as soon as the King of the Huns had impressed the Romans with the terror of his name, he indulged them in a short and arbitrary respite, while he subdued the rebellious or independent nations of Scythia and Germany.

Attila, the son of Mundzuk, deduced his noble, perhaps his regal, descent from the ancient Huns, who had formerly contended with the monarchs of China. His features, according to the observation of a Gothic historian, bore the stamp of his national origin; and the portrait of Attila exhibits the genuine deformity of a modern Calmuk; a large head, a swarthy complexion, small, deep-seated eyes, a flat nose, a few hairs in the place of a beard, broad shoulders, and a short square body, of nervous strength, though of a disproportioned form. The haughty step and demeanor of the King of the Huns expressed the consciousness of his superiority above the rest of mankind; and he had a custom of fiercely rolling his eyes, as if he wished to enjoy the terror which he inspired. Yet this savage hero was not inaccessible to pity; his suppliant enemies might confide in the assurance of peace or pardon; and Attila was considered by his subjects as a just and indulgent master.

He delighted in war; but, after he had ascended the throne in a mature age, his head, rather than his hand, achieved the conquest of the North; and the fame of an adventurous soldier was usefully exchanged for that of a prudent and successful general. The effects of personal valor are so inconsiderable, except in poetry or romance, that victory, even among Barbarians, must depend on the degree of skill with which the passions of the multitude are combined and guided for the service of a single man. The Scythian conquerors, Attila and Zingis, surpassed their rude countrymen in art rather than in courage; and it may be observed that the monarchies, both of the Huns and of the Moguls, were erected by their founders on the basis of popular superstition. The miraculous conception, which fraud and credulity ascribed to the virgin-mother of Zingis, raised him above the level of human nature; and the naked prophet, who in the name of the Deity invested him with the empire of the earth, pointed the valor of the Moguls with irresistible enthusiasm.

The religious arts of Attila were not less skilfully adapted to the character of his age and country. It was natural enough that the Scythians should adore, with peculiar devotion, the god of war; but as they were incapable of forming either an abstract idea or a corporeal representation, they worshipped their tutelar deity under the symbol of an iron cimeter. One of the shepherds of the Huns perceived, that a heifer, who was grazing, had wounded herself in the foot, and curiously followed the track of the blood, till he discovered, among the long grass, the point of an ancient sword, which he dug out of the ground and presented to Attila. That magnanimous, or rather that artful, prince accepted, with pious gratitude, this celestial favor, and, as the rightful possessor of the sword of Mars, asserted his divine and indefeasible claim to the dominion of the earth. If the rites of Scythia were practised on this solemn occasion, a lofty altar, or rather pile of fagots, three hundred yards in length and in breadth, was raised in a spacious plain; and the sword of Mars was placed erect on the summit of this rustic altar, which was annually consecrated by the blood of sheep, horses, and of the hundredth captive.

Whether human sacrifices formed any part of the worship of Attila, or whether he propitiated the god of war with the victims which he continually offered in the field of battle, the favorite of Mars soon acquired a sacred character, which rendered his conquests more easy and more permanent; and the Barbarian princes confessed, in the language of devotion or flattery, that they could not presume to gaze, with a steady eye, on the divine majesty of the King of the Huns. His brother Bleda, who reigned over a considerable part of the nation, was compelled to resign his sceptre and his life. Yet even this cruel act was attributed to a supernatural impulse; and the vigor with which Attila wielded the sword of Mars convinced the world that it had been reserved alone for his invincible arm. But the extent of his empire affords the only remaining evidence of the number and importance of his victories; and the Scythian monarch, however ignorant of the value of science and philosophy, might perhaps lament that his illiterate subjects were destitute of the art which could perpetuate the memory of his exploits.

If a line of separation were drawn between the civilized and the savage climates of the globe; between the inhabitants of cities, who cultivated the earth, and the hunters and shepherds, who dwelt in tents, Attila might aspire to the title of supreme and sole monarch of the Barbarians. He alone, among the conquerors of ancient and modern times, united the two mighty kingdoms of Germany and Scythia; and those vague appellations, when they are applied to his reign, may be understood with an ample latitude. Thuringia, which stretched beyond its actual limits as far as the Danube, was in the number of his provinces; he interposed, with the weight of a powerful neighbor, in the domestic affairs of the Franks; and one of his lieutenants chastised, and almost exterminated, the Burgundians of the Rhine. He subdued the islands of the ocean, the kingdoms of Scandinavia, encompassed and divided by the waters of the Baltic; and the Huns might derive a tribute of furs from that northern region, which has been protected from all other conquerors by the severity of the climate and the courage of the natives.

Toward the east, it is difficult to circumscribe the dominion of Attila over the Scythian deserts: yet we may be assured that he reigned on the banks of the Volga; that the King of the Huns was dreaded, not only as a warrior, but as a magician; that he insulted and vanquished the khan of the formidable Geougen; and that he sent ambassadors to negotiate an equal alliance with the empire of China. In the proud review of the nations who acknowledged the sovereignty of Attila, and who never entertained, during his lifetime, the thought of a revolt, the Gepidæ and the Ostrogoths were distinguished by their numbers, their bravery, and the personal merit of their chiefs. The renowned Ardaric, King of the Gepidæ, was the faithful and sagacious counsellor of the monarch, who esteemed his intrepid genius, while he loved the mild and discreet virtues of the noble Walamir, King of the Ostrogoths. The crowd of vulgar kings, the leaders of so many martial tribes, who served under the standard of Attila, were ranged in the submissive order of guards and domestics round the person of their master. They watched his nod; they trembled at his frown; and at the first signal of his will they executed, without murmur or hesitation, his stern and absolute commands. In time of peace the dependent princes, with their national troops, attended the royal camp in regular succession; but when Attila collected his military force he was able to bring into the field an army of five or, according to another account, of seven hundred thousand Barbarians.

The ambassadors of the Huns might awaken the attention of Theodosius, by reminding him that they were his neighbors both in Europe and Asia; since they touched the Danube on one hand, and reached, with the other, as far as the Tanais. In the reign of his father Arcadius, a band of adventurous Huns had ravaged the provinces of the East, from whence they brought away rich spoils and innumerable captives. They advanced, by a secret path, along the shores of the Caspian Sea; traversed the snowy mountains of Armenia; passed the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Halys; recruited their weary cavalry with the generous breed of Cappadocian horses: occupied the hilly country of Cilicia, and disturbed the festal songs and dances of the citizens of Antioch.

Egypt trembled at their approach; and the monks and pilgrims of the Holy Land prepared to escape their fury by a speedy embarkation. The memory of this invasion was still recent in the minds of the orientals. The subjects of Attila might execute, with superior forces, the design which these adventurers had so boldly attempted; and it soon became the subject of anxious conjecture whether the tempest would fall on the dominions of Rome or of Persia. Some of the great vassals of the King of the Huns, who were themselves in the rank of powerful princes, had been sent to ratify an alliance and society of arms with the Emperor, or rather with the general, of the West. They related, during their residence at Rome, the circumstances of an expedition which they had lately made into the East.

After passing a desert and a morass, supposed by the Romans to be the lake Mæotis, they penetrated through the mountains, and arrived, at the end of fifteen days' march, on the confines of Media; where they advanced as far as the unknown cities of Basic and Cursic. They encountered the Persian army in the plains of Media; and the air, according to their own expression, was darkened by a cloud of arrows. But the Huns were obliged to retire before the numbers of the enemy. Their laborious retreat was effected by a different road; they lost the greater part of their booty; and at length returned to the royal camp, with some knowledge of the country, and an impatient desire of revenge. In the free conversation of the imperial ambassadors, who discussed, at the court of Attila, the character and designs of their formidable enemy, the ministers of Constantinople expressed their hope that his strength might be diverted and employed in a long and doubtful contest with the princes of the house of Sassan.

The more sagacious Italians admonished their eastern brethren of the folly and danger of such a hope; and convinced them, that the Medes and Persians were incapable of resisting the arms of the Huns; and that the easy and important acquisition would exalt the pride, as well as power, of the conqueror. Instead of contenting himself with a moderate contribution and a military title, which equalled him only to the generals of Theodosius, Attila would proceed to impose a disgraceful and intolerable yoke on the necks of the prostrate and captive Romans, who would then be encompassed, on all sides, by the empire of the Huns.

While the powers of Europe and Asia were solicitous to avert the impending danger, the alliance of Attila maintained the Vandals in the possession of Africa. An enterprise had been concerted between the courts of Ravenna and Constantinople for the recovery of that valuable province; and the ports of Sicily were already filled with the military and naval forces of Theodosius. But the subtle Genseric, who spread his negotiations round the world, prevented their designs, by exciting the King of the Huns to invade the Eastern Empire; and a trifling incident soon became the motive, or pretence, of a destructive war. Under the faith of the treaty of Margus, a free market was held on the northern side of the Danube, which was protected by a Roman fortress surnamed Constantia. A troop of Barbarians violated the commercial security, killed or dispersed the unsuspecting traders, and levelled the fortress with the ground. The Huns justified this outrage as an act of reprisal, alleged that the Bishop of Margus had entered their territories to discover and steal a secret treasure of their kings, and sternly demanded the guilty prelate, the sacrilegious spoil, and the fugitive subjects who had escaped from the justice of Attila.

The refusal of the Byzantine court was the signal of war; and the Mæsians at first applauded the generous firmness of their sovereign. But they were soon intimidated by the destruction of Viminiacum and the adjacent towns; and the people were persuaded to adopt the convenient maxim that a private citizen, however innocent or respectable, may be justly sacrificed to the safety of his country. The Bishop of Margus, who did not possess the spirit of a martyr, resolved to prevent the designs which he suspected. He boldly treated with the princes of the Huns; secured, by solemn oaths, his pardon and reward; posted a numerous detachment of Barbarians, in silent ambush, on the banks of the Danube; and, at the appointed hour, opened, with his own hand, the gates of his episcopal city. This advantage, which had been obtained by treachery, served as a prelude to more honorable and decisive victories.

The Illyrian frontier was covered by a line of castles and fortresses; and though the greatest part of them consisted only of a single tower, with a small garrison, they were commonly sufficient to repel or to intercept the inroads of an enemy who was ignorant of the art and impatient of the delay of a regular siege. But these slight obstacles were instantly swept away by the inundation of the Huns. They destroyed, with fire and sword, the populous cities of Sirmium and Singidunum, of Ratiaria and Marcianopolis, of Naissus and Sardica; where every circumstance of the discipline of the people and the construction of the buildings had been gradually adapted to the sole purpose of defence. The whole breadth of Europe, as it extends above five hundred miles from the Euxine to the Hadriatic, was at once invaded and occupied and desolated by the myriads of Barbarians whom Attila led into the field. The public danger and distress could not, however, provoke Theodosius to interrupt his amusements and devotion or to appear in person at the head of the Roman legions.

But the troops which had been sent against Genseric were hastily recalled from Sicily; the garrisons on the side of Persia were exhausted; and a military force was collected in Europe, formidable by their arms and numbers, if the generals had understood the science of command and their soldiers the duty of obedience. The armies of the Eastern Empire were vanquished in three successive engagements; and the progress of Attila may be traced by the fields of battle. The two former, on the banks of the Utus and under the walls of Marcianapolis, were fought in the extensive plains between the Danube and Mount Hæmus. As the Romans were pressed by a victorious enemy, they gradually and unskilfully retired toward the Chersonesus of Thrace; and that narrow peninsula, the last extremity of the land, was marked by their third, and irreparable, defeat.

By the destruction of this army Attila acquired the indisputable possession of the field. From the Hellespont to Thermopylæ, and the suburbs of Constantinople, he ravaged, without resistance and without mercy, the provinces of Thrace and Macedonia. Heraclea and Hadrianople might, perhaps, escape this dreadful irruption of the Huns; but the words, the most expressive of total extirpation and erasure, are applied to the calamities which they inflicted on seventy cities of the Eastern Empire. Theodosius, his court, and the unwarlike people were protected by the walls of Constantinople; but those waits had been shaken by a recent earthquake, and the fall of fifty-eight towers had opened a large and tremendous breach. The damage indeed was speedily repaired; but this accident was aggravated by a superstitious fear, that heaven itself had delivered the imperial city to the shepherds of Scythia, who were strangers to the laws, the language, and the religion of the Romans.

In all their invasions of the civilized empires of the South, the Scythian shepherds have been uniformly actuated by a savage and destructive spirit. The laws of war, that restrain the exercise of national rapine and murder, are founded on two principles of substantial interest: the knowledge of the permanent benefits which may be obtained by a moderate use of conquest; and a just apprehension, lest the desolation which we inflict on the enemy's country may be retaliated on our own. But these considerations of hope and fear are almost unknown in the pastoral state of nations. The Huns of Attila may, without injustice, be compared to the Moguls and Tartars, before their primitive manners were changed by religion and luxury.

After the Moguls had subdued the northern provinces of China, it was seriously proposed, not in the hour of victory and passion, but in calm deliberate council, to exterminate all the inhabitants of that populous country, that the vacant land might be converted to the pasture of cattle. The firmness of a Chinese mandarin, who insinuated some principles of rational policy into the mind of Genghis, diverted him from the execution of this horrid design. But in the cities of Asia, which yielded to the Moguls, the inhuman abuse of the rights of war was exercised with a regular form of discipline, which may, with equal reason, though not with equal authority, be imputed to the victorious Huns. The inhabitants, who had submitted to their discretion, were ordered to evacuate their houses, and to assemble in some plain adjacent to the city; where a division was made of the vanquished into three parts. The first class consisted of the soldiers of the garrison, and of the young men capable of bearing arms; and their fate was instantly decided; they were either enlisted among the Moguls, or they were massacred on the spot by the troops, who, with pointed spears and bended bows, had formed a circle round-the captive multitude. The second class, composed of the young and beautiful women, of the artificers of every rank and profession, and of the more wealthy or honorable citizens, from whom a private ransom might be expected, was distributed in equal or proportionable lots. The remainder, whose life or death was alike useless to the conquerors, were permitted to return to the city; which, in the mean while, had been stripped of its valuable furniture; and a tax was imposed on those wretched inhabitants for the indulgence of breathing their native air.

Such was the behavior of the Moguls, when they were not conscious of any extraordinary rigor. But the most casual provocation, the slightest motive of caprice or convenience, often provoked them to involve a whole people in an indiscriminate massacre; and the ruin of some flourishing cities was executed with such unrelenting perseverance that, according to their own expression, horses might run, without stumbling, over the ground where they had once stood. The three great capitals of Khorassan, and Maru, Neisabour, and Herat, were destroyed by the armies of Genghis, and the exact account which was taken of the slain amounted to four million three hundred and forty-seven thousand persons. Timur, or Tamerlane, was educated in a less barbarous age, and in the profession of the Mahometan religion; yet, if Attila equalled the hostile ravages of Tamerlane,[20] either the Tartar or the Hun might deserve the epithet of the "Scourge of God."

It may be affirmed, with bolder assurance, that the Huns depopulated the provinces of the Empire, by the murder of Roman subjects whom they led away into captivity. In the hands of a wise legislator, such an industrious colony might have contributed to diffuse through the deserts of Scythia the rudiments of the useful and ornamental arts; but these captives, who had been taken in war, were accidentally dispersed among the hordes that obeyed the empire of Attila. The estimate of their respective value was formed by the simple judgment of unenlightened and unprejudiced Barbarians. Perhaps they might not understand the merit of a theologian, profoundly skilled in the controversies of the Trinity and the Incarnation; yet they respected the ministers of every religion; ind the active zeal of the Christian missionaries, without approaching the person or the palace of the monarch, successfully labored in the propagation of the Gospel.

The pastoral tribes, who were ignorant of the distinction of landed property, must have disregarded the use, as well as the abuse, of civil jurisprudence; and the skill of an eloquent lawyer could excite only their contempt or their abhorrence. The perpetual intercourse of the Huns and the Goths had communicated the familiar knowledge of the two national dialects; and the Barbarians were ambitious of conversing in Latin, the military idiom even of the Eastern Empire. But they disdained the language and the sciences of the Greeks; and the vain sophist, or grave philosopher, who had enjoyed the flattering applause of the schools, was mortified to find that his robust servant was a captive of more value and importance than himself. The mechanic arts were encouraged and esteemed, as they tended to satisfy the wants of the Huns. An architect in the service of Onegesius, one of the favorites of Attila, was employed to construct a bath; but this work was a rare example of private luxury; and the trades of the smith, the carpenter, the armorer, were much more adapted to supply a wandering people with the useful instruments of peace and war.

But the merit of the physician was received with universal favor and respect: the Barbarians, who despised death, might be apprehensive of disease; and the haughty conqueror trembled in the presence of a captive to whom he ascribed perhaps an imaginary power of prolonging or preserving his life. The Huns might be provoked to insult the misery of their slaves, over whom they exercised a despotic command; but their manners were not susceptible of a refined system of oppression; and the efforts of courage and diligence were often recompensed by the gift of freedom. The historian Priscus, whose embassy is a source of curious instruction, was accosted in the camp of Attila by a stranger, who saluted him in the Greek language, but whose dress and figure displayed the appearance of a wealthy Scythian. In the siege of Viminiacum he had lost, according to his own account, his fortune and liberty; he became the slave of Onegesius; but his faithful services, against the Romans and the Acatzires, had gradually raised him to the rank of the native Huns; to whom he was attached by the domestic pledges of a new wife and several children. The spoils of war had restored and improved his private property; he was admitted to the table of his former lord; and the apostate Greek blessed the hour of his captivity, since it had been the introduction to a happy and independent state, which he held by the honorable tenure of military service.

This reflection naturally produced a dispute on the advantages and defects of the Roman government, which was severely arraigned by the apostate, and defended by Priscus in a prolix and feeble declamation. The freedman of Onegesius exposed, in true and lively colors, the vices of a declining empire, of which he had so long been the victim; the cruel absurdity of the Roman princes, unable to protect their subjects against the public enemy, unwilling to trust them with arms for their own defence; the intolerable weight of taxes, rendered still more oppressive by the intricate or arbitrary modes of collection; the obscurity of numerous and contradictory laws; the tedious and expensive forms of judicial proceedings; the partial administration of justice; and the universal corruption, which increased the influence of the rich and aggravated the misfortunes of the poor. A sentiment of patriotic sympathy was at length revived in the breast of the fortunate exile: and he lamented, with a flood of tears, the guilt or weakness of those magistrates who had perverted the wisest and most salutary institutions.

The timid or selfish policy of the Western Romans had abandoned the Eastern Empire to the Huns. The loss of armies, and the want of discipline or virtue, were not supplied by the personal character of the monarch. Theodosius might still affect the style, as well as the title, of "Invincible Augustus"; but he was reduced to solicit the clemency of Attila, who imperiously dictated these harsh and humiliating conditions of peace:

I. The Emperor of the East resigned, by an express or tacit convention, an extensive and important territory, which stretched along the southern banks of the Danube, from Singidunum, or Belgrade, as far as Novæ, in the diocese of Thrace. The breadth was defined by the vague computation of fifteen days' journey; but, from the proposal of Attila to remove the situation of the national market, it soon appeared that he comprehended the ruined city of Naissus within the limits of his dominions.

II. The King of the Huns required and obtained that his tribute or subsidy should be augmented from seven hundred pounds of gold to the annual sum of two thousand one hundred; and he stipulated the immediate payment of six thousand pounds of gold to defray the expenses or to expiate the guilt of the war. One might imagine that such a demand, which scarcely equalled the measure of private wealth, would have been readily discharged by the opulent Empire of the East; and the public distress affords a remarkable proof of the impoverished, or at least of the disorderly, state of the finances. A large proportion of the taxes extorted from the people was detained and intercepted in their passage, through the foulest channels, to the treasury of Constantinople. The revenue was dissipated by Theodosius and his favorites in wasteful and profuse luxury, which was disguised by the name of imperial magnificence or Christian charity. The immediate supplies had been exhausted by the unforeseen necessity of military preparations. A personal contribution, rigorously but capriciously imposed on the members of the senatorian order, was the only expedient that could disarm, without loss of time, the impatient avarice of Attila; and the poverty of the nobles compelled them to adopt the scandalous resource of exposing to public auction the jewels of their wives and the hereditary ornaments of their palaces.

III. The King of the Huns appears to have established, as a principle of national jurisprudence, that he could never lose the property, which he had once acquired, in the persons who had yielded either a voluntary or reluctant submission to his authority. From this principle he concluded, and the conclusions of Attila were irrevocable laws, that the Huns, who had been, taken prisoners in war, should be released without delay and without ransom; that every Roman captive who had presumed to escape should purchase his right to freedom at the price of twelve pieces of gold; and that all the Barbarians who had deserted the standard of Attila should be restored, with out any promise or stipulation of pardon. In the execution of this cruel and ignominious treaty the imperial officers were forced to massacre several loyal and noble deserters who refused to devote themselves to certain death; and the Romans forfeited all reasonable claims to the friendship of any Scythian people, by this public confession, that they were destitute either of faith or power to protect the suppliant who had embraced the throne of Theodosius.

It would have been strange, indeed, if Theodosius had purchased, by the loss of honor, a secure and solid tranquillity, or if his tameness had not invited the repetition of injuries. The Byzantine court was insulted by five or six successive embassies, and the ministers of Attila were uniformly instructed to press the tardy or imperfect execution of the last treaty; to produce the names of fugitives and deserters, who were still protected by the Empire; and to declare, with seeming moderation, that, unless their sovereign obtained complete and immediate satisfaction, it would be impossible for him, were it even his wish, to check the resentment of his warlike tribes. Besides the motives of pride and interest, which might prompt the King of the Huns to continue this train of negotiation, he was influenced by the less honorable view of enriching his favorites at the expense of his enemies. The imperial treasury was exhausted to procure the friendly offices of the ambassadors and their principal attendants, whose favorable report might conduce to the maintenance of peace.

The Barbarian monarch was flattered by the liberal reception of his ministers; he computed, with pleasure, the value and splendor of their gifts, rigorously exacted the performance of every promise which would contribute to their private emolument, and treated as an important business of state the marriage of his secretary Constantius. That Gallic adventurer, who was recommended by Aetius to the King of the Huns, had engaged his service to the ministers of Constantinople, for the stipulated reward of a wealthy and noble wife; and the daughter of Count Saturninus was chosen to discharge the obligations of her country. The reluctance of the victim, some domestic troubles, and the unjust confiscation of her fortune cooled the ardor of her interested lover; but he still demanded, in the name of Attila, an equivalent alliance; and, after many ambiguous delays and excuses, the Byzantine court was compelled to sacrifice to this insolent stranger the widow of Armatius, whose birth, opulence, and beauty placed her in the most illustrious rank of the Roman matrons.

For these importunate and oppressive embassies Attila claimed a suitable return: he weighed, with suspicious pride, the character and station of the imperial envoys; but he condescended to promise that he would advance as far as Sardica to receive any ministers who had been invested with the consular dignity. The council of Theodosius eluded this proposal, by representing the desolate and ruined condition of Sardica, and even ventured to insinuate that every officer of the army or household was qualified to treat with the most powerful princes of Scythia. Maximin, a respectable courtier, whose abilities had been long exercised in civil and military employments, accepted, with reluctance, the troublesome, and perhaps dangerous, commission of reconciling the angry spirit of the King of the Huns.

His friend, the historian Priscus, embraced the opportunity of observing the Barbarian hero in the peaceful and domestic scenes of life: but the secret of the embassy, a fatal and guilty secret, was intrusted only to the interpreter Vigilius. The two last ambassadors of the Huns, Orestes, a noble subject of the Pannonian province, and Edecon, a valiant chieftain of the tribe of the Scyrri, returned at the same time from Constantinople to the royal camp. Their obscure names were afterward illustrated by the extraordinary fortune and the contrast of their sons: the two servants of Attila became the fathers of the last Roman Emperor of the West, and of the first Barbarian King of Italy.

The ambassadors, who were followed by a numerous train of men and horses, made their first halt at Sardica, at the distance of three hundred and fifty miles, or thirteen days' journey, from Constantinople. As the remains of Sardica were still included within the limits of the Empire, it was incumbent on the Romans to exercise the duties of hospitality. They provided, with the assistance of the provincials, a sufficient number of sheep and oxen, and invited the Huns to a splendid, or, at least, a plentiful supper. But the harmony of the entertainment was soon disturbed by mutual prejudice and indiscretion. The greatness of the Emperor and the empire was warmly maintained by their ministers; the Huns, with equal ardor, asserted the superiority of their victorious monarch: the dispute was inflamed by the rash and unseasonable flattery of Vigilius, who passionately rejected the comparison of a mere mortal with the divine Theodosius; and it was with extreme difficulty that Maximin and Priscus were able to divert the conversation, or to soothe the angry minds, of the Barbarians. When they rose from the table, the Imperial ambassador presented Edecon and Orestes with rich gifts of silk robes and Indian pearls, which they thankfully accepted.

Yet Orestes could not forbear insinuating that he had not always been treated with such respect and liberality; and the offensive distinction which was implied, between his civil office and the hereditary rank of his colleague seems to have made Edecon a doubtful friend and Orestes an irreconcilable enemy. After this entertainment they travelled about one hundred miles from Sardica to Naissus. That flourishing city, which had given birth to the great Constantine, was levelled with the ground; the inhabitants were destroyed or dispersed; and the appearance of some sick persons, who were still permitted to exist among the ruins of the churches, served only to increase the horror of the prospect. The surface of the country was covered with the bones of the slain; and the ambassadors, who directed their course to the northwest, were obliged to pass the hills of modern Servia before they descended into the flat and marshy grounds which are terminated by the Danube.

The Huns were masters of the great river: their navigation was performed in large canoes, hollowed out of the trunk of a single tree; the ministers of Theodosius were safely landed on the opposite bank; and their Barbarian associates immediately hastened to the camp of Attila, which was equally prepared for the amusements of hunting or of war. No sooner had Maximin advanced about two miles from the Danube than he began to experience the fastidious insolence of the conqueror. He was sternly forbidden to pitch his tents in a pleasant valley, lest he should infringe the distant awe that was due to the royal mansion. The ministers of Attila pressed him to communicate the business, and the instructions, which he reserved for the ear of their sovereign. When Maximin temperately urged the contrary practice of nations, he was still more confounded to find that the resolutions of the Sacred Consistory, those secrets (says Priscus) which should not be revealed to the gods themselves, had been treacherously disclosed to the public enemy. On his refusal to comply with such ignominious terms, the Imperial envoy was commanded instantly to depart; the order was recalled; it was again repeated; and the Huns renewed their ineffectual attempts to subdue the patient firmness of Maximin.

At length, by the intercession of Scotta, the brother of Onegesius, whose friendship had been purchased by a liberal gift, he was admitted to the royal presence; but, instead of obtaining a decisive answer, he was compelled to undertake a remote journey toward the north, that Attila might enjoy the proud satisfaction of receiving, in the same camp, the ambassadors of the Eastern and Western empires. His journey was regulated by the guides, who obliged him to halt, to hasten his march, or to deviate from the common road, as it best suited the convenience of the King. The Romans, who traversed the plains of Hungary, suppose that they passed several navigable rivers, either in canoes or portable boats; but there is reason to suspect that the winding stream of the Teyss, or Tibiscus, might present itself in different places under different names.

From the contiguous villages they received a plentiful and regular supply of provisions; mead instead of wine, millet in the place of bread, and a certain liquor named camus, which, according to the report of Priscus, was distilled from barley.[21] Such fare might appear coarse and indelicate to men who had tasted the luxury of Constantinople; but, in their accidental distress, they were relieved by the gentleness and hospitality of the same Barbarians, so terrible and so merciless in war. The ambassadors had encamped on the edge of a large morass. A violent tempest of wind and rain, of thunder and lightning, overturned their tents, immersed their baggage and furniture in the water, and scattered their retinue, who wandered in the darkness of the night, uncertain of their road, and apprehensive of some unknown danger, till they awakened by their cries the inhabitants of a neighboring village, the property of the widow of Bleda. A bright illumination, and, in a few moments, a comfortable fire of reeds, was kindled by their officious benevolence; the wants, and even the desires, of the Romans were liberally satisfied; and they seem to have been embarrassed by the singular politeness of Bleda's widow, who added to her other favors the gift, or at least the loan, of a sufficient number of beautiful and obsequious damsels.

The sunshine of the succeeding day was dedicated to repose, to collect and dry the baggage, and to the refreshment of the men and horses; but, in the evening, before they pursued their journey, the ambassadors expressed their gratitude to the bounteous lady of the village, by a very acceptable present of silver cups, red fleeces, dried fruits, and Indian pepper. Soon after this adventure, they rejoined the march of Attila, from whom they had been separated about six days, and slowly proceeded to the capital of an empire, which did not contain, in the space of several thousand miles, a single city.

As far as we may ascertain the vague and obscure geography of Priscus, this capital appears to have been seated between the Danube, the Teyss, and the Carpathian hills, in the plains of Upper Hungary, and most probably in the neighborhood of Jezberin, Agria, or Tokay. In its origin it could be no more than an accidental camp, which, by the long and frequent residence of Attila, had insensibly swelled into a huge village, for the reception of his court, of the troops who followed his person, and of the various multitude of idle or industrious slaves and retainers. The baths, constructed by Onegesius, were the only edifice of stone; the materials had been transported from Pannonia; and since the adjacent country was destitute even of large timber, it may be presumed that the meaner habitations of the royal village consisted of straw, or mud, or of canvas. The wooden houses of the more illustrious Huns were built and adorned with rude magnificence, according to the rank, the fortune, or the taste of the proprietors. They seemed to have been distributed with some degree of order and symmetry; and each spot became more honorable as it approached the person of the sovereign.

The palace of Attila, which surpassed all other houses in his dominions, was built entirely of wood, and covered an ample space of ground. The outward enclosure was a lofty wall, or palisade, of smooth square timber, intersected with high towers, but intended rather for ornament than defence. This wall, which seems to have encircled the declivity of the hill, comprehended a great variety of wooden edifices, adapted to the uses of royalty. A separate house was assigned to each of the numerous wives of Attila; and, instead of the rigid and illiberal confinement imposed by Asiatic jealousy, they politely admitted the Roman ambassadors to their presence, their table, and even to the freedom of an innocent embrace. When Maximin offered his presents to Cerce, the principal Queen, he admired the singular architecture of her mansion, the height of the round columns, the size and beauty of the wood, which was curiously shaped or turned, or polished or carved; and his attentive eye was able to discover some taste in the ornaments and some regularity in the proportions.

After passing through the guards, who watched before the gate, the ambassadors were introduced into the private apartment of Cerce. The wife of Attila received their visit sitting, or rather lying, on a soft couch; the floor was covered with a carpet; the domestics formed a circle round the Queen; and her damsels, seated on the ground, where employed in working the variegated embroidery which adorned the dress of the Barbaric warriors. The Huns were ambitious of displaying those riches which were the fruit and evidence of their victories; the trappings of their horses, their swords, and even their shoes were studded with gold and precious stones; and their tables were profusely spread with plates, and goblets, and vases of gold and silver, which had been fashioned by the labor of Grecian artists. The monarch alone assumed the superior pride of still adhering to the simplicity of his Scythian ancestors. The dress of Attila, his arms, and the furniture of his horse were plain, without ornament, and of a single color. The royal table was served in wooden cups and platters; flesh was his only food; and the conqueror of the North never tasted the luxury of bread.

When Attila first gave audience to the Roman ambassadors on the banks of the Danube, his tent was encompassed with a formidable guard. The monarch himself was seated in a wooden chair. His stern countenance, angry gestures, and impatient tone, astonished the firmness of Maximin; but Vigilius had more reason to tremble, since he distinctly understood the menace, that if Attila did not respect the law of nations, he would nail the deceitful interpreter to the cross, and leave his body to the vultures. The Barbarian condescended, by producing an accurate list, to expose the bold falsehood of Vigilius, who had affirmed that no more than seventeen deserters could be found. But he arrogantly declared that he apprehended only the disgrace of contending with his fugitive slaves; since he despised their impotent efforts to defend the provinces which Theodosius had intrusted to their arms: "For what fortress," added Attila, "what city, in the wide extent of the Roman Empire, can hope to exist, secure and impregnable, if it is our pleasure that it should be erased from the earth?"

He dismissed, however, the interpreter, who returned to Constantinople with his peremptory demand of more complete restitution and a more splendid embassy. His anger gradually subsided, and his domestic satisfaction in a marriage which he celebrated on the road with the daughter of Eslam, might perhaps contribute to mollify the native fierceness of his temper. The entrance of Attila into the royal village was marked by a very singular ceremony. A numerous troop of women came out to meet their hero and their King. They marched before him, distributed into long and regular files; the intervals between the files were filled by white veils of thin linen, which the women on either side bore aloft in their hands, and which formed a canopy for a chorus of young virgins, who chanted hymns and songs in the Scythian language. The wife of his favorite Onegesius, with a train of female attendants, saluted Attila at the door of her own house, on his way to the palace; and offered, according to the custom of the country, her respectful homage, by entreating him to taste the wine and meat which she had prepared for his reception. As soon as the monarch had graciously accepted her hospitable gift, his domestics lifted a small silver table to a convenient height, as he sat on horseback; and Attila, when he had touched the goblet with his lips, again saluted the wife of Onegesius, and continued his march.

During his residence at the seat of empire, his hours were not wasted in the recluse idleness of a seraglio; and the King of the Huns could maintain his superior dignity, without concealing his person from the public view. He frequently assembled his council, and gave audience to the ambassadors of the nations; and his people might appeal to the supreme tribunal, which he held at stated times, and, according to the Eastern custom, before the principal gate of his wooden palace. The Romans, both of the East and of the West, were twice invited to the banquets, where Attila feasted with the princes and nobles of Scythia. Maximin and his colleagues were stopped on the threshold, till they had made a devout libation to the health and prosperity of the King of the Huns, and were conducted, after this ceremony, to their respective seats in a spacious hall. The royal table and couch, covered with carpets and fine linen, was raised by several steps in the midst of the hall; and a son, an uncle, or perhaps a favorite king were admitted to share the simple and homely repast of Attila.

Two lines of small tables, each of which contained three or four guests, were ranged in order on either hand; the right was esteemed the most honorable, but the Romans ingenuously confess that they were placed on the left; and that Beric, an unknown chieftain, most probably of the Gothic race, preceded the representatives of Theodosius and Valentinian. The Barbarian monarch received from his cup-bearer a goblet filled with wine, and courteously drank to the health of the most distinguished guest, who rose from his seat and expressed in the same manner his loyal and respectful vows. This ceremony was successively performed for all, or at least, for the illustrious persons of the assembly; and a considerable time must have been consumed, since it was thrice repeated as each course or service was placed on the table. But the wine still remained after the meat had been removed; and the Huns continued to indulge their intemperance long after the sober and decent ambassadors of the two empires had withdrawn themselves from the nocturnal banquet. Yet before they retired, they enjoyed a singular opportunity of observing the manners of the nation in their convivial amusements. Two Scythians stood before the couch of Attila, and recited the verses which they had composed, to celebrate his valor and his victories.

A profound silence prevailed in the hall; and the attention of the guests was captivated by the vocal harmony, which revived and perpetuated the memory of their own exploits; a martial ardor flashed from the eyes of the warriors, who were impatient for battle; and the tears of the old men expressed their generous despair, that they could no longer partake the danger and glory of the field. This entertainment, which might be considered as a school of military virtue, was succeeded by a farce, that debased the dignity of human nature. A Moorish and a Scythian buffoon successively excited the mirth of the rude spectators, by their deformed figure, ridiculous dress, antic gestures, absurd speeches, and the strange, unintelligible confusion of the Latin, the Gothic, and the Hunnic languages; and the hall resounded with loud and licentious peals of laughter. In the midst of this intemperate riot, Attila alone, without a change of countenance, maintained his steadfast and inflexible gravity; which was never relaxed, except on the entrance of Irnac, the youngest of his sons: he embraced the boy with a smile of paternal tenderness, gently pinched him by the cheek, and betrayed a partial affection, which was justified by the assurance of his prophets that Irnac would be the future support of his family and empire.

Two days afterward, the ambassadors received a second invitation: and they had reason to praise the politeness, as well as the hospitality, of Attila. The King of the Huns held a long and familiar conversation with Maximin; but his civility was interrupted by rude expressions and haughty reproaches; and he was provoked, by a motive of interest, to support, with unbecoming zeal, the private claims of his secretary Constantius. "The Emperor," said Attila, "has long promised him a rich wife: Constantius must not be disappointed; nor should a Roman emperor deserve the name of liar." On the third day the ambassadors were dismissed: the freedom of several captives was granted, for a moderate ransom, to their pressing entreaties; and, besides the royal presents, they were permitted to accept from each of the Scythian nobles the honorable and useful gift of a horse. Maximin returned, by the same road, to Constantinople; and though he was involved in an accidental dispute with Beric, the new ambassador of Attila, he flattered himself that he had contributed, by the laborious journey, to confirm the peace and alliance of the two nations.[22]

But the Roman ambassador was ignorant of the treacherous design which had been concealed under the mask of the public faith. The surprise and satisfaction of Edecon, when he contemplated the splendor of Constantinople, had encouraged the interpreter Vigilius to procure for him a secret interview with the eunuch Chrysaphius,[23] who governed the Emperor and the empire. After some previous conversation, and a mutual oath of secrecy, the eunuch, who had not from his own feelings or experience imbibed any exalted notions of ministerial virtue, ventured to propose the death of Attila as an important service, by which Edecon might deserve a liberal share of the wealth and luxury which he admired. The ambassador of the Huns listened to the tempting offer; and professed, with apparent zeal, his ability, as well as readiness, to execute the bloody deed: the design was communicated to the master of the offices, and the devout Theodosius consented to the assassination of his invincible enemy. But this perfidious conspiracy was defeated by the dissimulation, or the repentance, of Edecon; and though he might exaggerate his inward abhorrence for the treason, which he seemed to approve, he dexterously assumed the merit of an early and voluntary confession.

If we now review the embassy of Maximin and the behavior of Attila, we must applaud the Barbarian, who respected the laws of hospitality, and generously entertained and dismissed the minister of a prince who had conspired against his life. But the rashness of Vigilius will appear still more extraordinary, since he returned, conscious of his guilt and danger, to the royal camp, accompanied by his son, and carrying with him a weighty purse of gold, which the favorite eunuch had furnished, to satisfy the demands of Edecon and to corrupt the fidelity of the guards. The interpreter was instantly seized, and dragged before the tribunal of Attila, where he asserted his innocence with specious firmness, till the threat of inflicting instant death on his son extorted from him a sincere discovery of the criminal transaction. Under the name of ransom, or confiscation, the rapacious King of the Huns accepted two hundred pounds of gold for the life of a traitor whom he disdained to punish. He pointed his just indignation against a nobler object. His ambassadors, Eslaw and Orestes, were immediately despatched to Constantinople, with a peremptory instruction, which it was much safer for them to execute than to disobey.

They boldly entered the Imperial presence, with the fatal purse hanging down from the neck of Orestes, who interrogated the eunuch Chrysaphius, as he stood beside the throne, whether he recognized the evidence of his guilt. But the office of reproof was reserved for the superior dignity of his colleague, Eslaw, who gravely addressed the Emperor of the East in the following words: "Theodosius is the son of an illustrious and respectable parent: Attila likewise is descended from a noble race; and he has supported, by his actions, the dignity which he inherited from his father Mundzuk. But Theodosius has forfeited his paternal honors, and, by consenting to pay tribute, has degraded himself to the condition of a slave. It is therefore just, that he should reverence the man whom fortune and merit have placed above him, instead of attempting, like a wicked slave, clandestinely to conspire against his master." The son of Arcadius, who was accustomed only to the voice of flattery, heard with astonishment the severe language of truth: he blushed and trembled, nor did he presume directly to refuse the head of Chrysaphius, which Eslaw and Orestes were instructed to demand.

A solemn embassy, armed with full powers and magnificent gifts, was hastily sent to deprecate the wrath of Attila; and his pride was gratified by the choice of Nomius and Anatolius, two ministers of consular or patrician rank, of whom the one was great treasurer, and the other was master-general of the armies of the East. He condescended to meet these ambassadors on the banks of the river Drenco; and though he at first affected a stern and haughty demeanor, his anger was insensibly mollified by their eloquence and liberality. He condescended to pardon the Emperor, the eunuch, and the interpreter; bound himself by an oath to observe the conditions of peace; released a great number of captives; abandoned the fugitives and deserters to their fate; and resigned a large territory, to the south of the Danube, which he had already exhausted of its wealth and inhabitants. But this treaty was purchased at an expense which might have supported a vigorous and successful war: and the subjects of Theodosius were compelled to redeem the safety of a worthless favorite by oppressive taxes, which they would more cheerfully have paid for his destruction.


[19] Hungary has been successively occupied by three Scythian colonies: 1. The Huns of Attila; 2. The Abares, in the sixth century; and, 3. The Turks or Magyars, A.D. 889, the immediate and genuine ancestors of the modern Hungarians, whose connection with the two former is extremely faint and remote.

[20] Cherefeddin Ali, his servile panegyrist, would afford us many horrid examples. In his camp before Delhi, Timur massacred one hundred thousand Indian prisoners who had smiled when the army of their countrymen appeared in sight. The people of Ispahan supplied seventy thousand human skulls for the structure of several lofty towers. A similar tax was levied on the revolt of Bagdad; and the exact account, which Cherefeddin was not able to procure from the proper officers, is stated by another historian (Ahmed Arabsiada) at ninety thousand heads.

[21] The Huns themselves still continued to despise the labors of agriculture: they abused the privilege of a victorious nation; and the Goths, their industrious subjects, who cultivated the earth, dreaded their neighborhood, like that of so many ravenous wolves.

[22] The curious narrative of this embassy, which required few observations, and was not susceptible of any collateral evidence, may be found in Priscus. But I have not confined myself to the same order; and I had previously extracted the historical circumstances, which were less intimately connected with the journey, and business, of the Roman ambassadors.

[23] M. de Tillemont has very properly given the succession of chamberlains who reigned in the name of Theodosius. Chrysaphius was the last, and, according to the unanimous evidence of history, the worst of these favorites. His partiality for his godfather, the heresiarch Eutyches, engaged him to persecute the orthodox party.


A.D. 449-579



If we look for the fatherland of the English race, we must, as modern historians have clearly shown, direct our search "far away from England herself." In the fifth century of the Christian era a region in what is now called Schleswig was known by the name of Anglen (England). But the inhabitants of this district are believed to have comprised only a small detached portion of the Engle (English), while the great body of this people probably dwelt within the limits of the present Oldenburg and lower Hanover.

On several sides of Anglen were the homes of various tribes of Saxons and Jutes, and these peoples were all kindred, being members of one branch (Low German) of the Teutonic family. History first finds them becoming united through community of blood, of language, institutions, and customs, although it was too early yet to justify the historian in giving to them the inclusive name of Englishmen. They all, however, had part in the conquest of England, and it was their union in that land that gave birth to the English people.

Little is known of the actual character and life of these people who made the earliest England, but their Germanic inheritance is traceable in their social and political framework, which already prefigured the national organization that through centuries of gradual development became modern England.

Out of their early modes grew the forms of English citizenship and legislation, and the individual and public freedom which has slowly broadened down from generation to generation. Later came the modifying, if not transforming, influence of Christianity, replacing the ancient nature-worship which they took with them to their new home. On these foundations the English race, as it has grown up in the land they made their own, and in other lands to which like men and institutions have been carried, has reared its various structures of nationality.


Of the three English tribes the Saxons lay nearest to the empire, and they were naturally the first to touch the Roman world; before the close of the third century indeed their boats appeared in such force in the English Channel as to call for a special fleet to resist them. The piracy of our fathers had thus brought them to the shores of a land which, dear as it is now to Englishmen, had not as yet been trodden by English feet. This land was Britain. When the Saxon boats touched its coast the island was the westernmost province of the Roman Empire. In the fifty-fifth year before Christ a descent of Julius Cæsar revealed it to the Roman world; and a century after Cæsar's landing the emperor Claudius undertook its conquest. The work was swiftly carried out. Before thirty years were over the bulk of the island had passed beneath the Roman sway, and the Roman frontier had been carried to the firths of Forth and of Clyde. The work of civilization followed fast on the work of the sword. To the last indeed the distance of the island from the seat of empire left her less Romanized than any other province of the west. The bulk of the population scattered over the country seem in spite of imperial edicts to have clung to their old law as to their old language, and to have retained some traditional allegiance to their native chiefs. But Roman civilisation rested mainly on city life, and in Britain as elsewhere the city was thoroughly Roman. In towns such as Lincoln or York, governed by their own municipal officers, guarded by massive walls, and linked together by a network of magnificent roads which reached from one end of the island to the other, manners, language, political life, all were of Rome.

For three hundred years the Roman sword secured order and peace without Britain and within, and with peace and order came a wide and rapid prosperity. Commerce sprang up in ports among which London held the first rank; agriculture flourished till Britain became one of the corn-exporting countries of the world; the mineral resources of the province were explored in the tin mines of Cornwall, the lead mines of Somerset or Northumberland, and the iron mines of the Forest of Dean. But evils which sapped the strength of the whole empire told at last, on the province of Britain.

Wealth and population alike declined under a crushing system of taxation, under restrictions which fettered industry, under a despotism which crushed out all local independence. And with decay within came danger from without. For centuries past the Roman frontier had held back the Barbaric world beyond it—the Parthian of the Euphrates, the Numidian of the African desert, the German of the Danube or the Rhine. In Britain a wall drawn from Newcastle to Carlisle bridled the British tribes, the Picts as they were called, who had been sheltered from Roman conquest by the fastnesses of the Highlands.

It was this mass of savage barbarism which broke upon the empire as it sank into decay. In its western dominions the triumph of these assailants was complete. The Franks conquered and colonized Gaul. The West Goths conquered and colonized Spain. The Vandals founded a kingdom in Africa. The Burgundians encamped in the borderland between Italy and the Rhone. The East Goths ruled at last in Italy itself.

It was to defend Italy against the Goths that Rome in the opening of the fifth century withdrew her legions from Britain, and from that moment the province was left to struggle unaided against the Picts. Nor were these its only enemies. While marauders from Ireland, whose inhabitants then bore the name of Scots, harried the west, the boats of Saxon pirates, as we have seen, were swarming off its eastern and southern coasts.

For forty years Britain held bravely out against these assailants; but civil strife broke its powers of resistance, and its rulers fell back at last on the fatal policy by which the empire invited its doom while striving to avert it, the policy of matching barbarian against barbarian. By the usual promises of land and pay a band of warriors was drawn for this purpose from Jutland in 449 with two ealdormen, Hengist and Horsa, at their head.

If by English history we mean the history of Englishmen in the land which from that time they made their own, it is with this landing of Hengist's war band that English history begins. They landed on the shores of the Isle of Thanet at a spot known since as Ebbsfleet. No spot can be so sacred to Englishmen as the spot which first felt the tread of English feet. There is little to catch the eye in Ebbsfleet itself, a mere lift of ground with a few gray cottages dotted over it, cut off nowadays from the sea by a reclaimed meadow and a sea-wall.

But taken as a whole the scene has a wild beauty of its own. To the right the white curve of Ramsgate cliffs looks down on the crescent of Pegwell Bay; far away to the left across gray marsh levels where smoke wreaths mark the site of Richborough and Sandwich the coast line trends dimly toward Deal. Everything in the character of the spot confirms the national tradition which fixed here the landing-place of our fathers; for the physical changes of the country since the fifth century have told little on its main features. At the time of Hengist's landing a broad inlet of sea parted Thanet from the mainland of Britain; and through this inlet the pirate boats would naturally come sailing with a fair wind to what was then the gravel spit of Ebbsfleet.

The work for which the mercenaries had been hired was quickly done; and the Picts are said to have been scattered to the winds in a battle fought on the eastern coast of Britain. But danger from the Pict was hardly over when danger came from the jutes themselves. Their fellow-pirates must have flocked from the channel to their settlement in Thanet; the inlet between Thanet and the mainland was crossed, and the Englishmen won their first victory over the Britons in forcing their passage of the Medway at the village of Aylesford.

A second defeat at the passage of the Cray drove the British forces in terror upon London; but the ground was soon won back again, and it was not till 465 that a series of petty conflicts which had gone on along the shores of Thanet made way for a decisive struggle at Wippedsfleet. Here however the overthrow was so terrible that from this moment all hope of saving northern Kent seems to have been abandoned, and it was only on its southern shore that the Britons held their ground. Ten years later, in 475, the long contest was over, and with the fall of Lymne, whose broken walls look from the slope to which they cling over the great flat of Romney Marsh, the work of the first English conqueror was done.

The warriors of Hengist had been drawn from the Jutes, the smallest of the three tribes who were to blend in the English people. But the greed of plunder now told on the great tribe which stretched from the Elbe to the Rhine, and in 477 Saxon invaders were seen pushing slowly along the strip of land which lay westward of Kent between the weald and the sea. Nowhere has the physical aspect of the country more utterly changed. A vast sheet of scrub, woodland, and waste which then bore the name of the Andredsweald stretched for more than a hundred miles from the borders of Kent to the Hampshire Downs, extending northward almost to the Thames and leaving only a thin strip of coast which now bears the name of Sussex between its southern edge and the sea.

This coast was guarded by a fortress which occupied the spot now called Pevensey, the future landing-place of the Norman Conqueror; and the fall of this fortress of Anderida in 491 established the kingdom of the South Saxons. "Ælle and Cissa beset Anderida," so ran the pitiless record of the conquerors, "and slew all that were therein, nor was there afterward one Briton left."

But Hengist and Ælle's men had touched hardly more than the coast, and the true conquest of Southern Britain was reserved for a fresh band of Saxons, a tribe known as the Gewissas, who landed under Cerdic and Cynric on the shores of the Southampton Water, and pushed in 495 to the great downs or Gwent where Winchester offered so rich a prize. Nowhere was the strife fiercer than here; and it was not till 519 that a decisive victory at Charford ended the struggle for the "Gwent" and set the crown of the West Saxons on the head of Cerdic. But the forest belt around it checked any further advance; and only a year after Charford the Britons rallied under a new leader, Arthur, and threw back the invaders as they pressed westward through the Dorsetshire woodlands in a great overthrow at Badbury or Mount Badon. The defeat was followed by a long pause in the Saxon advance from the southern coast, but while the Gewissas rested, a series of victories whose history is lost was giving to men of the same Saxon tribe the coast district north of the mouth of the Thames.

It is probable, however, that the strength of Camulodunum, the predecessor of our modern Colchester, made the progress of these assailants a slow and doubtful one; and even when its reduction enabled the East Saxons to occupy the territory to which they have given their name of Essex a line of woodland which has left its traces in Epping and Hainault forests checked their farther advance into the island.

Though seventy years had passed since the victory of Aylesford only the outskirts of Britain were won. The invaders were masters as yet but of Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, and Essex. From London to St. David's Head, from the Andredsweald to the Firth of Forth the country still remained unconquered, and there was little in the years which followed Arthur's triumph to herald that onset of the invaders which was soon to make Britain England. Till now its assailants had been drawn from two only of the three tribes whom we saw dwelling by the northern sea, from the Saxons and the jutes. But the main work of conquest was to be done by the third, by the tribe which bore that name of Engle or Englishmen which was to absorb that of Saxon or Jute and to stamp itself on the people which sprang from the union of the conquerors as on the land that they won.

The Engle had probably been settling for years along the coast of Northumbria and in the great district which was cut off from the rest of Britain by the Wash and the Fens, the later East Anglia. But it was not till the moment we have reached that the line of defences which had hitherto held the invaders at bay was turned by their appearance in the Humber and the Trent. This great river line led like a highway into the heart of Britain; and civil strife seems to have broken the strength of British resistance. But of the incidents of this final struggle we know nothing. One part of the English force marched from the Humber over the Yorkshire wolds to found what was called the kingdom of the Deirans.

Under the empire political power had centred in the district between the Humber and the Roman wall; York was the capital of Roman Britain; villas of rich land-owners studded the valley of the Ouse; and the bulk of the garrison maintained in the island lay camped along its northern border. But no record tells us how Yorkshire was won, or how the Engle made themselves masters of the uplands about Lincoln. It is only by their later settlements that we follow their march into the heart of Britain. Seizing the valley of the Don and whatever breaks there were in the woodland that then filled the space between the Humber and the Trent, the Engle followed the curve of the latter river, and struck along the line of its tributary the Soar. Here round the Roman Ratæ, the predecessor of our Leicester, settled a tribe known as the Middle English, while a small body pushed farther southward, and under the name of "South Engle" occupied the oölitic upland that forms our present Northamptonshire.

But the mass of the invaders seem to have held to the line of the Trent and to have pushed westward to its head-waters. Repton, Lichfield, and Tamworth mark the country of these western Englishmen, whose older name was soon lost in that of Mercians, or Men of the March. Their settlement was in fact a new march or borderland between conqueror and conquered; for here the impenetrable fastness of the Peak, the mass of Cannock Chase, and the broken country of Staffordshire enabled the Briton to make a fresh and desperate stand.

It was probably this conquest of Mid-Britain by the Engle that roused the West Saxons to a new advance. For thirty years they had rested inactive within the limits of the Gwent, but in 552 their capture of the hill fort of Old Sarum threw open the reaches of the Wiltshire downs, and a march of King Cuthwulf on the Thames made them masters in 571 of the districts which now form Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

Pushing along the upper valley of Avon to a new battle at Barbury Hill they swooped at last from their uplands on the rich prey that lay along the Severn. Gloucester, Cirencester, and Bath, cities which had leagued under their British kings to resist this onset, became in 577 the spoil of an English victory at Deorham, and the line of the great western river lay open to the arms of the conquerors. Once the West Saxons penetrated to the borders of Chester, and Uriconium, a town beside the Wrekin which has been recently brought again to light, went up in flames. The raid ended in a crushing defeat which broke the West-Saxon strength, but a British poet in verses still left to us sings piteously the death song of Uriconium, "the white town in the valley," the town of white stone gleaming among the green woodlands. The torch of the foe had left it a heap of blackened ruins where the singer wandered through halls he had known in happier days, the halls of its chief Kyndylan, "without fire, without light, without song," their stillness broken only by the eagle's scream, the eagle who "has swallowed fresh drink, heart's blood of Kyndylan the fair."

With the victory of Deorham the conquest of the bulk of Britain was complete. Eastward of a line which may be roughly drawn along the moorlands of Northumberland and Yorkshire through Derbyshire and the Forest of Arden to the Lower Severn, and thence by Mendip to the sea, the island had passed into English hands. Britain had in the main become England. And within this new England a Teutonic society was settled on the wreck of Rome. So far as the conquest had yet gone it had been complete. Not a Briton remained as subject or slave on English ground. Sullenly, inch by inch, the beaten men drew back from the land which their conquerors had won; and eastward of the border line which the English sword had drawn all was now purely English.


"They" [the Romans], says Bede, "resided within the rampart that Severus made across the island, on the south side of it; as the cities, temples, bridges, and paved ways do testify to this day." On the north of the wall were the nations that no severity had reduced to subjection, and no resistance could restrain from plunder. At the extreme west of England were the people of Cornwall, or little Wales, as it was called; having the most intimate relations with the people of Britannia Secunda, or Wales; and both connected with the colony of Armorica. The inhabitants of Cornwall and Wales, we may assume, were almost exclusively of the old British stock. The abandonment of the country by the Romans had affected them far less than that change affected the more cultivated country, that had been the earliest subdued, and for nearly four centuries had received the Roman institutions and adopted the Roman customs.

But in the chief portion of the island, from the southern and eastern coasts to the Tyne and the Solway, there was a mixed population, among whom it would be difficult to trace that common bond which would constitute nationality. The British families of the interior had become mingled with the settlers of Rome and its tributaries to whom grants of land had been assigned as the rewards of military service; and the coasts from the Humber to the Exe had been here and there peopled with northern settlers, who had gradually planted themselves among the Romanized British; and were, we may well believe, among the most active of those who carried forward the commercial intercourse of Britain with Gaul and Italy.

When, therefore, we approach the period of what is termed the Saxon invasion, and hear of the decay, the feebleness, the cowardice, and the misery of the Britons—all which attributes have been somewhat too readily bestowed upon the population which the Romans had left behind—it would be well to consider what these so-called Britons really were, to enable us properly to understand the transition state through which the country passed.

Our first native historian is Gildas, who lived in the middle of the sixth century. "From the early part of the fifth century, when the Greek and Roman writers cease to notice the affairs of Britain, his narrative, on whatever authority it may have been founded, has been adopted without question by Bede and succeeding authors, and accepted, notwithstanding its barrenness of facts and pompous obscurity, by all but general consent, as the basis of early English history." Gibbon has justly pointed out his inconsistencies, his florid descriptions of the flourishing condition of agriculture and commerce after the departure of the Romans, and his denunciations of the luxury of the people; when he, at the same time, describes a race who were ignorant of the arts, incapable of building walls of defence, or of arming themselves with proper weapons. When "this monk," as Gibbon calls him, "who, in the profound ignorance of human life, presumes to exercise the office of historian," tells us that the Romans, who were occasionally called in to aid against the Picts and Scots, "give energetic counsel to the timorous natives, and leave them patterns by which to manufacture arms," we seem to be reading an account of some remote tribe, to whom the Roman sword and buckler were as unfamiliar as the musket was to the Otaheitans when Cook first went among them.

When Gildas describes the soldiers on the wall as "equally slow to fight and ill-adapted to run away"; and tells the remarkable incident which forms part of every schoolboy's belief, that the defenders of the wall were pulled down by great hooked weapons and dashed against the ground, we feel a pity akin to contempt for a people so stupid and passive, and are not altogether sorry that the Picts and Scots, "differing one from another in manners, but inspired with the same avidity for blood," had come with their bushy beards and their half-clothed bodies, to supplant so effeminate a race. When he makes this feeble people send an embassy to a Roman in Gaul to say, "The barbarians drive us to the sea; the sea throws us back on the barbarians: thus two modes of death await us; we are either slain or drowned," we must wonder at the very straitened limits in which this unhappy people were shut up.

Surely much of this is little more than the tumid rhetoric of the cloister; for all the assumptions that have been raised of the physical degeneracy of the people are quite unsupported by any real historical evidence. M. Guizot considers it unjust and cruel to view their humble supplications, so declared by Gildas, to Rome for aid, as evidences of the effeminacy of that nation, whose resistance to the Saxons has given a chapter to history at a time when history has few traces of Italians, Spaniards, and Gauls.

That the representations of Gildas could only be partially true, as applied to some particular districts, is sufficiently proved, by the undoubted fact that within little more than twenty years from the date of these cowardly demonstrations Anthemius, the Emperor, solicited the aid of the Britons against the Visigoths; and twelve thousand men from this island, under one of the native chieftains, Rhiothimus, sailed up the Loire, and fought under the Roman command. They are described by a contemporary Roman writer as quick, well-armed; turbulent and contumacious from their bravery, their numbers, and their common agreement. These were not the people who were likely to have stood upon a wall to be pulled down by hooked weapons. They might have been the people who had clung, more than the other inhabitants of the Roman provinces, to their original language and customs; but it is not improbable that they would have been of the mixed races with whom Rome had been in more intimate relations, and to whom she continued to render offices of friendship after the separation of the island province from her empire.

Amid all this conflict of testimony there is the undoubted fact that out of the Roman municipal institutions had risen the establishment of separate sovereignties, as Procopius relates. Britain, according to St. Jerome, was "a province fertile in tyrants." The Roman municipal government was kept compact and uniform under a great centralizing power. It fell to pieces here, as in Gaul, when that power was withdrawn. It resolved itself into a number of local governments without any principle of cohesion. The vicar of the municipium became an independent ruler and head of a little republic; and that his authority was contested by some who had partaken of his delegated dignity may be reasonably inferred.

The difference of races would also promote the contests for command. If East Anglia contained a preponderance of one race of settlers, and Kent and Sussex of another, they might well quarrel for supremacy. But when all the settlers on the Saxon shore had lost the control and protection of the Count who once governed them, it may also be imagined that the more exclusively British districts would not readily coöperate for defence with those who were more strange to their kindred even than the Roman. All the European Continent was in a state of political dislocation; and we may safely conclude that when the great power was shattered that had so long held the government of the world, the more distant and subordinate branch of its empire would resolve itself into some of the separate elements of authority and of imperfect obedience by which a clan is distinguished from a nation.

Nor was the power of the Christian Church in Britain of a more united character than that of the civil rulers. No doubt a church had been formed and organized. There were bishops, so called, in the several cities; but their authority was little concentrated and their tenets were discordant. Pilgrimages were even made to the sacred places of Palestine; and at a very early period monasteries were founded. That of Bangor, or the Great Circle, seems to have had some relation to the ancient Druidical worship, upon which it was probably engrafted in that region where Druidism had long flourished. There were British versions of the Bible. But that the church had no sustaining power at the period when civil society was so wholly disorganized, may be inferred from circumstances which preceded the complete overthrow of Christian rites by Saxon heathendom.

Bede devotes several chapters of his Ecclesiastical History to the actions of St. Germanus, who came expressly to Britain to put down the Pelagian heresy; and, amid the multitude of miraculous circumstances, records how "the authors of the perverse notions lay hid, and, like the evil spirits, grieved for the loss of the people that was rescued from them. At length, after mature deliberation, they had the boldness to enter the lists, and appeared, being conspicuous for riches, glittering in apparel, and supported by the flatteries of many." The people, according to Bede, were the judges of this great controversy, and gave their voices for the orthodox belief.

Whether the Pelagians were expelled from Britain by reason or by force, it is evident that, in the middle of the fifth century, there was a strong element of religious disunion very generally prevailing; and that at a period when the congregations were in a great degree independent of each other, and therefore difficult of subjection to a common authority, the rich and the powerful had adopted a creed which was opposed to the centralizing rule of the Roman Church, and were arguing about points of faith as strongly as they were contesting for worldly supremacy. Dr. Lappenberg justly points out this celebrated controversy in our country as "indicating the weakness of that religious connection which was so soon to be totally annihilated." We may, in some degree, account for the reception of the doctrine of Pelagius by knowing that he was a Briton, whose plain unlatinized name was Morgan.

Macaulay has startled many a reader of the most familiar histories of England, in saying, "Hengist and Horsa, Vortigern and Rowena, Arthur and Mordred, are mythical persons, whose very existence may be questioned, and whose adventures must be classed with those of Hercules and Romulus." It is difficult to write of a period of which the same writer has said, "an age of fable completely separates two ages of truth." Yet no one knew better than this accomplished historian himself that an age of fable and an age of truth cannot be distinguished with absolute precision. It is not that what is presented to us through the haze of tradition must necessarily be unreal, any more than that what comes to us in an age of literature must be absolutely true. An historical fact, a real personage, may be handed down from a remote age in the songs of bards; but it is not therefore to be inferred that these national lyrics are founded upon pure invention. It is curious to observe that, wandering amid these traces of events and persons that have been shaped into history, how ready we are to walk in the footsteps of some half-fabulous records, and wholly to turn away from others which seem as strongly impressed upon the shifting sands of national existence.

We derive Hengist and Horsa from the old Anglo-Saxon authorities; and modern history generally adopts them. Arthur and Mordred have a Celtic origin, and they are as generally rejected as "mythical persons." It appears to us that it is as precipitate wholly to renounce the one as the other, because they are both surrounded with an atmosphere of the fabulous. Hengist and Horsa come to us encompassed with Gothic traditions that belong to other nations. Arthur presents himself with his attributes of the magician Merlin, and the knights of the Round Table. But are we therefore to deny altogether their historical existence? In following the ignis fatuus of tradition, the credulous annalists of the monastic age were lost in the treacherous ground over which it led them. The more patient research of a critical age sees in that doubtful light a friendly warning of what to avoid, and hence a guide to more stable pathways.

Hengist and Horsa—who, according to the Anglo-Saxon historians, landed in the year 449 on the shore which is called Ebbsfleet—were personages of more than common mark. "They were the sons of Wihtgils; Wihtgils son of Witta, Witta of Wecta, Wecta of Woden." So says the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and adds, "From this Woden sprang all our royal families." These descendants, in the third generation from the great Saxon divinity, came over in three boats. They came by invitation of Wyrtgeone—Vortigern—King of the Britons. The King gave them land in the southeast of the country, on condition that they should fight against the Picts; and they did fight, and had the victory wheresoever they came. And then they sent for the Angles, and told them of the worthlessness of the people and the excellences of the land. This is the Saxon narrative. The seductive graces of Rowena, the daughter of Horsa, who corrupted the King of the Britons by love and wine, is an embellishment of the British traditions.

Then came the great battles for possession of the land. At Aylesford and Crayford the Kentish Britons were overthrown. Before the Angles the Welsh fled like fire. These events occupy a quarter of a century. While they are going on, the Roman Emperor, as we have mentioned upon indubitable authority, receives an auxiliary force of twelve thousand men from Britain. We cannot rely upon narratives that tell us of the king of the Britons, when we learn from no suspicious sources that the land was governed by many separate chiefs; and which represent a petty band of fugitives as gaining mighty triumphs for a great ruler, and then subduing him themselves in a wonderfully short time.

The pretensions of Hengist and Horsa to be the immediate descendants of Woden would seem to imply their mythical origin. But many Saxon chiefs of undoubted reality rested their pretensions upon a similar genealogy. The myth was as flattering to the Anglo-Saxon pride of descent as the corresponding myth that the ancient inhabitants of the island were descended from the Trojan Brute was acceptable to the British race. But amid much of fable there is the undoubted fact that Germanic tribes were gradually possessing themselves of the fairest parts of Britain—a progressive usurpation, far different from a sudden conquest. Amid the wreck of the social institutions left by Rome, when all that remained of a governing power was centred in the towns, it may be readily conceived that the rich districts of the eastern and southern coasts would be eagerly peopled by new settlers, whose bond of society was founded upon the occupation of the land; and who, extending the area of their occupation, would eventually come into hostile conflict with the previous possessors.

For a century and a half a thick darkness seems to overspread the history of our country. In the Anglo-Saxon writers we can trace little, with any distinctness, beyond the brief and monotonous records of victories and slaughters. Hengist and Æsc slew four troops of Britons with the edge of the sword. Hengist then vanishes, and Ælla comes with his three sons. In 491 they besieged Andres-cester, "and slew all that dwelt therein, so that not a single Briton was there left." Then come Cerdic and Cynric his son; then Port and his two sons, and land at Portsmouth; and so we reach the sixth century. Cerdic and Cynric now stand foremost among the slaughterers, and they establish the kingdom of the West Saxons and conquer the Isle of Wight.

In the middle of the century Ida begins to reign, from whom arose the royal race of North-humbria. In 565 Ethelbert succeeded to the kingdom of the Kentish-men, and held it fifty-three years. The war goes on in the south-midland counties, where Cuthwulf is fighting; and it reaches the districts of the Severn, where Cuthwine and Ceawlin slay great kings, and take Gloucester and Cirencester and Bath. One of these fierce brethren is killed at last, and Ceawlin, "having taken many spoils and towns innumerable, wrathful returned to his own." Where "his own" was we are not informed.

We reach, at length, the year 596, when "Pope Gregory sent Augustin to Britain, with a great many monks, who preached the word of God to the nation of the Angles." Bede very judiciously omits all such details. He tells us that "they carried on the conflagration from the eastern to the western sea, without any opposition, and almost covered all the superfices of the perishing island. Public as well as private structures were overturned; the priests were everywhere slain before the altars; the prelates and the people, without any respect of persons, were destroyed with fire and sword." There is little to add to these impressive words, which no doubt contain the general truth. But if we open the British history of Geoffrey of Monmouth, we find ourselves relieved from the thick darkness of the Anglo-Saxon records, by the blue lights and red lights of the most wondrous romance. Rowena comes with her golden wine-cup. Merlin instructs Vortigern how to discover the two sleeping dragons who hindered the foundation of his tower. Aurelius, the Christian King, burns Vortigern in his Cambrian city of refuge. Eldol fights a duel with Hengist, cuts off his head, and destroys the Saxons without mercy. Merlin the magician, and Uther Pendragon, with fifteen thousand men, bring over "the Giant's Dance" from Ireland, and set it up in Salisbury Plain. Uther Pendragon is made the Christian king over all Britain.

At length we arrive at Arthur, the son of Uther. To him the entire monarchy of Britain belonged by hereditary right. Hoel sends him fifteen thousand men from Armorica, and he makes the Saxons his tributaries; and with his own hand kills four hundred and seventy in one battle. He not only conquers the Saxons, but subdues Gaul, among other countries, and holds his court in Paris. His coronation at the City of the Legions (Caer-Leon) is gorgeous beyond all recorded magnificence; and the general state of the country, in these days of Arthur, before the middle of the sixth century, is thus described: "At that time, Britain had arrived at such a pitch of grandeur that in abundance of riches, luxury of ornaments, and politeness of inhabitants, it far surpassed all other kingdoms." Mordred, the wicked traitor, at length disturbs all this tranquillity and grandeur, and brings over barbarous people from different countries. Arthur falls in battle. The Saxons prevail, and the Britons retire into Cornwall and Wales.

Amid the bewildering mass of the obscure and the fabulous which our history presents of the first century and a half of the Saxon colonization, there are some well-established facts which are borne out by subsequent investigations. Such is Bede's account of the country of the invaders, and the parts in which they settled. This account, compared with other authorities, gives us the following results. They consisted of "the three most powerful nations of Germany—Saxons, Angles, and Jutes." The Saxons came from the parts which, in Bede's time, were called the country of the Old Saxons. That country is now known as the duchy of Holstein. These, under Ella, founded the kingdom of the South Saxons—our present Sussex. Later in the fifth century, the same people, under Cerdic, established themselves in the district extending from Sussex to Devonshire and Cornwall, which was the kingdom of the West Saxons.

Other Saxons settled in Essex and Middlesex. The Angles, says Bede, came from "the country called Angelland, and it is said from that time to remain desert to this day." There is a part of the duchy of Schleswig, to the north of Holstein, which still bears the name of Anglen. These people gave their name to the whole country, Engla-land, or Angla-land, from the greater extent of territory which they permanently occupied. As the Saxons possessed themselves of the southern coasts, the Angles established themselves on the northeastern. Their kingdom of East Anglia comprised Norfolk and Suffolk, as well as part of Cambridgeshire; and they extended themselves to the north of the Humber, forming the powerful state of Northumbria, and carrying their dominion even to the Forth and the Clyde.

The Jutes came from the country north of the Angles, which is in the upper part of the present Schleswig; and they occupied Kent and the Isle of Wight, with that part of Hampshire which is opposite the island. Sir Francis Palgrave is of opinion that "the tribes by whom Britain was invaded appear principally to have proceeded from the country now called Friesland; for of all the continental dialects the ancient Frisick is the one which approaches most nearly to the Anglo-Saxon of our ancestors." Mr. Craik has pointed out that "the modern kingdom of Denmark comprehends all the districts from which issued, according to the old accounts, the several tribes who invaded Britain upon the fall of the Roman Empire. And the Danes proper (who may be considered to represent the Jutes); the Angles, who live between the Bight of Flensborg and the river Schley on the Baltic; the Frisons, who inhabit the islands along the west coast of Jutland, with a part of the bailiwick of Husum in Schleswig; and the Germans of Holstein (Bede's Old Saxons) are still all recognized by geographers and ethnographers as distinct races."



A.D. 451



After Attila had conquered and laid waste the provinces of the Eastern Empire south of the Danube and exacted heavy tribute from Theodosius II, he turned his attention to the subjugation of the Slavic and Germanic tribes who still remained independent. These, with one exception, he overcame and placed under the sovereignty of his son. He laid claim to one-half of the Western Empire, as the betrothed husband of Valentinian's sister Honoria, from whom he had years before received the offer of her hand in marriage.

In 451, with Genseric, King of the Vandals, for his ally, he invaded Gaul. Before his advance the cities hastened to capitulate, and so complete was his devastation of the country that it came to be a saying that the grass never grew where his horses had trod. But in Aetius, their commander-in-chief under Valentinian III, the Romans had an able general, who was aided by the West Gothic king Theodoric. The West Goths and the Franks, the former from the South, the latter from the North of Gaul, joined him in large numbers, and the allied forces drove the Huns from the walls of Orleans, which he had besieged. From there he retreated to Châlons, where his westward movement was to receive its final check. This decisive event was, in the words of Herbert, "the discomfiture of the mighty attempt of Attila to found a new anti-Christian dynasty upon the wreck of the temporal power of Rome, at the end of the term of twelve hundred years, to which its duration had been limited by the forebodings of the heathen."


A broad expanse of plains, the Campi Catalaunici of the ancients, spreads far and wide around the city of Châlons, in the northeast of France. The long rows of poplars, through which the river Marne winds its way, and a few thinly scattered villages, are almost the only objects that vary the monotonous aspect of the greater part of this region. But about five miles from Châlons, near the little hamlets of Chape and Cuperly, the ground is indented and heaped up in ranges of grassy mounds and trenches, which attest the work of man's hands in ages past, and which, to the practised eye, demonstrate that this quiet spot has once been the fortified position of a huge military host.

Local tradition gives to these ancient earthworks the name of Attila's Camp. Nor is there any reason to question the correctness of the title, or to doubt that behind these very ramparts it was that fourteen hundred years ago the most powerful heathen king that ever ruled in Europe mustered the remnants of his vast army, which had striven on these plains against the Christian soldiery of Toulouse and Rome. Here it was that Attila prepared to resist to the death his victors in the field; and here he heaped up the treasures of his camp in one vast pile, which was to be his funeral pyre should his camp be stormed. It was here that the Gothic and Italian forces watched, but dared not assail their enemy in his despair, after that great and terrible day of battle when

"The sound
Of conflict was o'erpast, the shout of all
Whom earth could send from her remotest bounds,
Heathen or faithful; from thy hundred mouths,
That feed the Caspian with Riphean snows.
Huge Volga! from famed Hypanis, which once
Cradled the Hun; from all the countless realms
Between Imaus and that utmost strand
Where columns of Herculean rock confront
The blown Altantic; Roman, Goth, and Hun,
And Scythian strength of chivalry, that tread
The cold Codanian shore or what far lands
Inhospitable drink Cimmerian floods,
Franks, Saxons, Suevic, and Sarmatian chiefs,
And who from green Armorica or Spain
Flocked to the work of death."

The victory which the Roman general Aetius, with his Gothic allies, had then gained over the Huns, was the last victory of imperial Rome. But among the long fasti of her triumphs, few can be found that, for their importance and ultimate benefit to mankind, are comparable with this expiring effort of her arms. It did not, indeed, open to her any new career of conquest—it did not consolidate the relics of her power—it did not turn the rapid ebb of her fortunes. The mission of imperial Rome was, in truth, already accomplished. She had received and transmitted through her once ample dominion the civilization of Greece. She had broken up the barriers of narrow nationalities among the various states and tribes that dwelt around the coasts of the Mediterranean. She had fused these and many other races into one organized empire, bound together by a community of laws, of government and institutions. Under the shelter of her full power the true faith had arisen in the earth, and during the years of her decline it had been nourished to maturity, it had overspread all the provinces that ever obeyed her sway. For no beneficial purpose to mankind could the dominion of the seven-hilled city have been restored or prolonged. But it was all-important to mankind what nations should divide among them Rome's rich inheritance of empire. Whether the Germanic and Gothic warriors should form states and kingdoms out of the fragments of her dominions, and become the free members of the Commonwealth of Christian Europe, or whether pagan savages, from the wilds of central Asia, should crush the relics of classic civilization and the early institutions of the Christianized Germans in one hopeless chaos of barbaric conquest. The Christian Visigoths of King Theodoric fought and triumphed at Châlons side by side with the legions of Aetius. Their joint victory over the Hunnish host not only rescued for a time from destruction the old age of Rome, but preserved for centuries of power and glory the Germanic element in the civilization of modern Europe.

In order to estimate the full importance to mankind of the battle of Châlons we must keep steadily in mind who and what the Germans were, and the important distinctions between them and the numerous other races that assailed the Roman Empire; and it is to be understood that the Gothic and Scandinavian nations are included in the German race. Now, "in two remarkable traits the Germans differed from the Sarmatic as well as from the Slavic nations, and, indeed, from all those other races to whom the Greeks and Romans gave the designation of barbarians. I allude to their personal freedom and regard for the rights of men; secondly, to the respect paid by them to the female sex, and the chastity for which the latter were celebrated among the people of the North. These were the foundations of that probity of character, self-respect, and purity of manners which may be traced among the Germans and Goths even during pagan times, and which, when their sentiments were enlightened by Christianity, brought out those splendid traits of character which distinguish the age of chivalry and romance."

What the intermixture of the German stock with the classic, at the fall of the Western Empire, has done for mankind may be best felt by watching, with Arnold, over how large a portion of the earth the influence of the German element is now extended.

"It affects, more or less, the whole west of Europe, from the head of the Gulf of Bothnia to the most southern promontory of Sicily, from the Oder and the Adriatic to the Hebrides and to Lisbon. It is true that the language spoken over a large portion of this place is not predominantly German; but even in France and Italy, and Spain, the influence of the Franks, Burgundians, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and Lombards while it has colored even the language, has in blood and institutions left its mark legibly and indelibly. Germany, the Low Countries, Switzerland, for the most part Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and our own islands are all in language, in blood, and in institutions German most decidedly. But all South America is peopled with Spaniards and Portuguese; all North America and all Australia with Englishmen. I say nothing of the prospects and influence of the German race in Africa and in India; it is enough to say that half of Europe and all America and Australia are German, more or less completely, in race, in language, or in institutions, or in all."

By the middle of the fifth century Germanic nations had settled themselves in many of the fairest regions of the Roman Empire, had imposed their yoke on the provincials, and had undergone, to a considerable extent, that moral conquest which the arts and refinements of the vanquished in arms have so often achieved over the rough victor. The Visigoths held the North of Spain, and Gaul south of the Loire. Franks, Alemanni, Alans, and Burgundians had established themselves in other Gallic provinces, and the Suevi were masters of a large southern portion of the Spanish peninsula. A king of the Vandals reigned in North Africa; and the Ostrogoths had firmly planted themselves in the provinces north of Italy. Of these powers and principalities, that of the Visigoths, under their king Theodoric, son of Alaric, was by far the first in power and in civilization.

The pressure of the Huns upon Europe had first been felt in the fourth century of our era. They had long been formidable to the Chinese empire, but the ascendency in arms which another nomadic tribe of Central Asia, the Sienpi, gained over them, drove the Huns from their Chinese conquest westward; and this movement once being communicated to the whole chain of barbaric nations that dwelt northward of the Black Sea and the Roman Empire, tribe after tribe of savage warriors broke in upon the barriers of civilized Europe. The Huns crossed the Tanais into Europe in 375, and rapidly reduced to subjection the Alans, the Ostrogoths, and other tribes that were then dwelling along the course of the Danube. The armies of the Roman Emperor that tried to check their progress were cut to pieces by them, and Pannonia and other provinces south of the Danube were speedily occupied by the victorious cavalry of these new invaders. Not merely the degenerate Romans, but the bold and hardy warriors of Germany and Scandinavia, were appalled at the number, the ferocity, the ghastly appearance, and the lightning-like rapidity of the Huns. Strange and loathsome legends were coined and credited, which attributed their origin to the union of

"Secret, black, and midnight hags"

with the evil spirits of the wilderness.

Tribe after tribe and city after city fell before them. Then came a pause in their career of conquest in Southwestern Europe, caused probably by dissensions among their chiefs, and also by their arms being employed in attacks upon the Scandinavian nations. But when Attila—or Atzel, as he is called in the Hungarian language—became their ruler, the torrent of their arms was directed with augmented terrors upon the West and the South, and their myriads marched beneath the guidance of one master-mind to the overthrow both of the new and the old powers of the earth.

Recent events have thrown such a strong interest over everything connected with the Hungarian name that even the terrible renown of Attila now impresses us the more vividly through our sympathizing admiration of the exploits of those who claim to be descended from his warriors, and "ambitiously insert the name of Attila among their native kings." The authenticity of this martial genealogy is denied by some writers and questioned by more. But it is at least certain that the Magyars of Arpad, who are the immediate ancestors of the bulk of the modern Hungarians, and who conquered the country which bears the name of Hungary in A.D. 889, were of the same stock of mankind as were the Huns of Attila, even if they did not belong to the same subdivision of that stock. Nor is there any improbability in the tradition that after Attila's death many of his warriors remained in Hungary, and that their descendants afterward joined the Huns of Arpad in their career of conquest. It is certain that Attila made Hungary the seat of his empire. It seems also susceptible of clear proof that the territory was then called Hungvar, and Attila's soldiers Hungvari. Both the Huns of Attila and those of Arpad came from the family of nomadic nations whose primitive regions were those vast wildernesses of High Asia which are included between the Altaic and the Himalayan mountain chains.

The inroads of these tribes upon the lower regions of Asia and into Europe have caused many of the most remarkable revolutions in the history of the world. There is every reason to believe that swarms of these nations made their way into distant parts of the earth at periods long before the date of the Scythian invasion of Asia, which is the earliest inroad of the nomadic race that history records. The first, as far as we can conjecture, in respect to the time of their descent, were the Finnish and Ugrian tribes, who appear to have come down from the Altaic border of High Asia toward the northwest, in which direction they advanced to the Uralian Mountains. There they established themselves; and that mountain chain, with its valleys and pasture lands, became to them a new country, whence they sent out colonies on every side; but the Ugrian colony which under Arpad occupied Hungary and became the ancestors of the bulk of the present Hungarian nation did not quit their settlements on the Uralian Mountains till a very late period, and not until four centuries after the time when Attila led from the primary seats of the nomadic races in High Asia the host with which he advanced into the heart of France. That host was Turkish, but closely allied in origin, language, and habits with the Finno-Ugrian settlers on the Ural.

Attila's fame has not come down to us through the partial and suspicious medium of chroniclers and poets of his own race. It is not from Hunnish authorities that we learn the extent of his might: it is from his enemies, from the literature and the legends of the nations whom he afflicted with his arms, that we draw the unquestionable evidence of his greatness. Besides the express narratives of Byzantine, Latin, and Gothic writers, we have the strongest proof of the stern reality of Attila's conquests in the extent to which he and his Huns have been the themes of the earliest German and Scandinavian lays. Wild as many of those legends are, they bear concurrent and certain testimony to the awe with which the memory of Attila was regarded by the bold warriors who composed and delighted in them.

Attila's exploits, and the wonders of his unearthly steed and magic sword, repeatedly occur in the sagas of Norway and Iceland; and the celebrated Nibelungenlied, the most ancient of Germanic poetry, is full of them. There Etsel, or Attila, is described as the wearer of twelve mighty crowns, and as promising to his bride the lands of thirty kings whom his irresistible sword had subdued. He is, in fact, the hero of the latter part of this remarkable poem; and it is at his capital city, Etselenburg, which evidently corresponds to the modern Buda, that much of its action takes place.

When we turn from the legendary to the historic Attila, we see clearly that he was not one of the vulgar herd of barbaric conquerors. Consummate military skill may be traced in his campaigns; and he relied far less on the brute force of armies for the aggrandizement of his empire than on the unbounded influence over the affections of friends and the fears of foes which his genius enabled him to acquire. Austerely sober in his private life—severely just on the judgment seat—conspicuous among a nation of warriors for hardihood, strength, and skill in every martial exercise—grave and deliberate in counsel, but rapid and remorseless in execution, he gave safety and security to all who were under his dominion, while he waged a warfare of extermination against all who opposed or sought to escape from it. He watched the national passions, the prejudices, the creeds, and the superstitions of the varied nations over which he ruled and of those which he sought to reduce beneath his sway: all these feelings he had the skill to turn to his own account. His own warriors believed him to be the inspired favorite of their deities, and followed him with fanatic zeal; his enemies looked on him as the preappointed minister of heaven's wrath against themselves; and though they believed not in his creed, their own made them tremble before him.

In one of his early campaigns he appeared before his troops with an ancient iron sword in his grasp, which he told them was the god of war whom their ancestors had worshipped. It is certain that the nomadic tribes of Northern Asia, whom Herodotus described under the name of Scythians, from the earliest times worshipped as their god a bare sword. That sword-god was supposed, in Attila's time, to have disappeared from earth; but the Hunnish King now claimed to have received it by special revelation. It was said that a herdsman, who was tracking in the desert a wounded heifer by the drops of blood, found the mysterious sword standing fixed in the ground, as if it had darted down from heaven. The herdsman bore it to Attila, who thenceforth was believed by the Huns to wield the Spirit of Death in battle, and their seers prophesied that that sword was to destroy the world. A Roman, who was on an embassy to the Hunnish camp, recorded in his memoirs Attila's acquisition of this supernatural weapon, and the immense influence over the minds of the barbaric tribes which its possession gave him. In the title which he assumed we shall see the skill with which he availed himself of the legends and creeds of other nations as well as of his own. He designated himself "ATTILA, Descendant of the Great Nimrod. Nurtured in Engaddi. By the grace of God, King of the Huns, the Goths, the Danes, and the Medes. The Dread of the World."

Herbert states that Attila is represented on an old medallion with a teraph, or a head, on his breast; and the same writer adds: "We know, from the Hamartigenea of Prudentius, that Nimrod, with a snaky-haired head, was the object of adoration of the heretical followers of Marcion; and the same head was the palladium set up by Antiochus Epiphanes over the gates of Antioch, though it has been called the visage of Charon. The memory of Nimrod was certainly regarded with mystic veneration by many; and by asserting himself to be the heir of that mighty hunter before the Lord, he vindicated to himself at least the whole Babylonian kingdom.

"The singular assertion in his style, that he was nurtured in Engaddi, where he certainly had never been, will be more easily understood on reference to the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation, concerning the woman clothed with the sun, who was to bring forth in the wilderness—'where she hath a place prepared of God'—a man-child, who was to contend with the dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and rule all nations with a rod of iron. This prophecy was at that time understood universally by the sincere Christians to refer to the birth of Constantine, who was to overwhelm the paganism of the city on the seven hills, and it is still so explained; but it is evident that the heathens must have looked on it in a different light, and have regarded it as a foretelling of the birth of that Great one who should master the temporal power of Rome. The assertion, therefore, that he was nurtured in Engaddi, is a claim to be looked upon as that man-child who was to be brought forth in a place prepared of God in the wilderness. Engaddi means a place of palms and vines in the desert; it was hard by Zoar, the city of refuge, which was saved in the Vale of Siddim, or Demons, when the rest were destroyed by fire and brimstone from the Lord in heaven, and might, therefore, be especially called a place prepared of God in the wilderness."

It is obvious enough why he styled himself "By the Grace of God, King of the Huns and Goths," and it seems far from difficult to see why he added the names of the Medes and the Danes. His armies had been engaged in warfare against the Persian kingdom of the Sassanidæ, and it is certain that he meditated the invasion and overthrow of the Medo-Persian power. Probably some of the northern provinces of that kingdom had been compelled to pay him tribute; and this would account for his styling himself king of the Medes, they being his remotest subjects to the south. From a similar cause he may have called himself king of the Danes, as his power may well have extended northward as far as the nearest of the Scandinavian nations, and this mention of Medes and Danes as his subjects would serve at once to indicate the vast extent of his dominion.[24]

The immense territory north of the Danube and Black Sea and eastward of Caucasus, over which Attila ruled, first in conjunction with his brother Bleda, and afterward alone, cannot be very accurately defined, but it must have comprised within it, besides the Huns, many nations of Slavic, Gothic, Teutonic, and Finnish origin. South also of the Danube, the country, from the river Sau as far as Novi in Thrace, was a Hunnish province. Such was the empire of the Huns in A.D. 445; a memorable year, in which Attila founded Buda on the Danube as his capital city, and rid himself of his brother by a crime which seems to have been prompted not only by selfish ambition, but also by a desire of turning to his purpose the legends and forebodings which then were universally spread throughout the Roman Empire, and must have been well known to the watchful and ruthless Hun.

The year 445 of our era completed the twelfth century from the foundation of Rome, according to the best chronologers. It had always been believed among the Romans that the twelve vultures, which were said to have appeared to Romulus when he founded the city, signified the time during which the Roman power should endure. The twelve vultures denoted twelve centuries. This interpretation of the vision of the birds of destiny was current among learned Romans, even when there were yet many of the twelve centuries to run, and while the imperial city was at the zenith of its power. But as the allotted time drew nearer and nearer to its conclusion, and as Rome grew weaker and weaker beneath the blows of barbaric invaders, the terrible omen was more and more talked and thought of; and in Attila's time, men watched for the momentary extinction of the Roman State with the last beat of the last vulture's wing. Moreover, among the numerous legends connected with the foundation of the city, and the fratricidal death of Remus, there was one most terrible one, which told that Romulus did not put his brother to death in accident or in hasty quarrel, but that

"He slew his gallant twin
With inexpiable sin,"

deliberately and in compliance with the warnings of supernatural powers. The shedding of a brother's blood was believed to have been the price at which the founder of Rome had purchased from destiny her twelve centuries of existence.

We may imagine, therefore, with what terror in this the twelve hundredth year after the foundation of Rome the inhabitants of the Roman Empire must have heard the tidings that the royal brethren Attila and Bleda had founded a new capital on the Danube, which was designed to rule over the ancient capital on the Tiber; and that Attila, like Romulus, had consecrated the foundations of his new city by murdering his brother; so that for the new cycle of centuries then about to commence, dominion had been bought from the gloomy spirits of destiny in favor of the Hun by a sacrifice of equal awe and value with that which had formerly obtained it for the Roman.

It is to be remembered that not only the pagans but also the Christians of that age knew and believed in these legends and omens, however they might differ as to the nature of the superhuman agency by which such mysteries had been made known to mankind. And we may observe with Herbert, a modern learned dignitary of our Church, how remarkably this augury was fulfilled; for "if to the twelve centuries denoted by the twelve vultures that appeared to Romulus we add, for the six birds that appeared to Remus, six lustra or periods of five years each, by which the Romans were wont to number their time, it brings us precisely to the year 476, in which the Roman Empire was finally extinguished by Odoacer."

An attempt to assassinate Attila, made, or supposed to have been made, at the instigation of Theodoric the Younger, the emperor of Constantinople, drew the Hunnish armies, in 445, upon the Eastern Empire, and delayed for a time the destined blow against Rome. Probably a more important cause of delay was the revolt of some of the Hunnish tribes to the north of the Black Sea against Attila, which broke out about this period, and is cursorily mentioned by the Byzantine writers. Attila quelled this revolt, and having thus consolidated his power, and having punished the presumption of the Eastern Roman Emperor by fearful ravages of his fairest provinces, Attila, in 450 A.D., prepared to set his vast forces in motion for the conquest of Western Europe. He sought unsuccessfully by diplomatic intrigues to detach the king of the Visigoths from his alliance with Rome, and he resolved first to crush the power of Theodoric, and then to advance with overwhelming power to trample out the last sparks of the doomed Roman Empire.

A strange invitation from a Roman princess gave him a pretext for the war, and threw an air of chivalric enterprise over his invasion. Honoria, sister of Valentinian III, the emperor of the West, had sent to Attila to offer him her hand and her supposed right to share in the imperial power. This had been discovered by the Romans, and Honoria had been forthwith closely imprisoned. Attila now pretended to take up arms in behalf of his self-promised bride, and proclaimed that he was about to march to Rome to redress Honoria's wrongs. Ambition and spite against her brother must have been the sole motives that led the lady to woo the royal Hun; for Attila's face and person had all the natural ugliness of his race, and the description given of him by a Byzantine ambassador must have been well known in the imperial courts. Herbert has well versified the portrait drawn by Priscus of the great enemy of both Byzantium and Rome:

"Terrific was his semblance, in no mould
Of beautiful proportion cast; his limbs
Nothing exalted, but with sinews braced
Of Chalybean temper, agile, lithe,
And swifter than the roe; his ample chest
Was overbrow'd by a gigantic head,
With eyes keen, deeply sunk, and small, that gleam'd
Strangely in wrath as though some spirit unclean
Within that corporal tenement install'd
Look'd from its windows, but with temper'd fire
Beam'd mildly on the unresisting. Thin
His beard and hoary; his flat nostrils crown'd
A cicatrized, swart visage; but, withal,
That questionable shape such glory wore
That mortals quail'd beneath him."

Two chiefs of the Franks, who were then settled on the Lower Rhine, were at this period engaged in a feud with each other, and while one of them appealed to the Romans for aid, the other invoked the assistance and protection of the Huns. Attila thus obtained an ally whose coöperation secured for him the passage of the Rhine, and it was this circumstance which caused him to take a northward route from Hungary for his attack upon Gaul. The muster of the Hunnish hosts was swollen by warriors of every tribe that they had subjugated; nor is there any reason to suspect the old chroniclers of wilful exaggeration in estimating Attila's army as seven hundred thousand strong. Having crossed the Rhine probably a little below Coblentz, he defeated the king of the Burgundians, who endeavored to bar his progress. He then divided his vast forces into two armies, one of which marched northwest upon Tongres and Arras and the other cities of that part of France, while the main body, under Attila himself, advanced up the Moselle, and destroyed Besançon and other towns in the country of the Burgundians.

One of the latest and best biographers of Attila well observes that, "having thus conquered the eastern part of France, Attila prepared for an invasion of the West-Gothic territories beyond the Loire. He marched upon Orleans, where he intended to force the passage of that river, and only a little attention is requisite to enable us to perceive that he proceeded on a systematic plan: he had his right wing on the north for the protection of his Frank allies; his left wing on the south for the purpose of preventing the Burgundians from rallying and of menacing the passes of the Alps from Italy; and he led his centre toward the chief object of the campaign—the conquest of Orleans, and an easy passage into the West-Gothic dominion. The whole plan is very like that of the allied powers in 1814, with this difference, that their left wing entered France through the defiles of the Jura, in the direction of Lyons, and that the military object of the campaign was the capture of Paris."

It was not until the year 451 that the Huns commenced the siege of Orleans; and during their campaign in Eastern Gaul, the Roman general Aetius had strenuously exerted himself in collecting and organizing such an army as might, when united to the soldiery of the Visigoths, be fit to face the Huns in the field. He enlisted every subject of the Roman Empire whom patriotism, courage, or compulsion could collect beneath the standards; and round these troops, which assumed the once proud title of the legions of Rome he arrayed the large forces of barbaric auxiliaries, whom pay, persuasion, or the general hate and dread of the Huns brought to the camp of the last of the Roman generals. King Theodoric exerted himself with equal energy. Orleans resisted her besiegers bravely as in after-times. The passage of the Loire was skilfully defended against the Huns; and Aetius and Theodoric, after much manoeuvring and difficulty, effected a junction of their armies to the south of that important river.

On the advance of the allies upon Orleans, Attila instantly broke up the siege of that city and retreated toward the Marne. He did not choose to risk a decisive battle with only the central corps of his army against the combined power of his enemies, and he therefore fell back upon his base of operations, calling in his wings from Arras and Besançon, and concentrating the whole of the Hunnish forces on the vast plains of Châlons-sur-Marne. A glance at the map will show how scientifically this place was chosen by the Hunnish general as the point for his scattered forces to converge upon; and the nature of the ground was eminently favorable for the operations of cavalry, the arm in which Attila's strength peculiarly lay.

It was during the retreat from Orleans that a Christian hermit is reported to have approached the Hunnish King and said to him, "Thou art the Scourge of God for the chastisement of the Christians." Attila instantly assumed this new title of terror, which thenceforth became the appellation by which he was most widely and most fearfully known.

The confederate armies of Romans and Visigoths at last met their great adversary face to face on the ample battleground of the Châlons plains. Aetius commanded on the right of the allies; King Theodoric on the left; and Sangipan, King of the Alans, whose fidelity was suspected, was placed purposely in the centre, and in the very front of the battle. Attila commanded his centre in person, at the head of his own countrymen, while the Ostrogoths, the Gepidæ, and the other subject allies of the Huns were drawn up on the wings.

Some manoeuvring appears to have occurred before the engagement, in which Aetius had the advantage, inasmuch as he succeeded in occupying a sloping hill which commanded the left flank of the Huns. Attila saw the importance of the position taken by Aetius on the high ground, and commenced the battle by a furious attack on this part of the Roman line, in which he seems to have detached some of his best troops from his centre to aid his left. The Romans, having the advantage of the ground, repulsed the Huns, and while the allies gained this advantage on their right, their left, under King Theodoric, assailed the Ostrogoths, who formed the right of Attila's army. The gallant King was himself struck down by a javelin as he rode onward at the head of his men; and his own cavalry, charging over him, trampled him to death in the confusion. But the Visigoths, infuriated, not dispirited, by their monarch's fall, routed the enemies opposed to them, and then wheeled upon the flank of the Hunnish centre, which had been engaged in a sanguinary and indecisive contest with the Alans.

In this peril Attila made his centre fall back upon his camp; and when the shelter of its intrenchments and wagons had once been gained, the Hunnish archers repulsed, without difficulty, the charges of the vengeful Gothic cavalry. Aetius had not pressed the advantage which he gained on his side of the field, and when night fell over the wild scene of havoc Attila's left was still undefeated, but his right had been routed and his centre forced back upon his camp.

Expecting an assault on the morrow, Attila stationed his best archers in front of the cars and wagons, which were drawn up as a fortification along his lines, and made every preparation for a desperate resistance. But the "Scourge of God" resolved that no man should boast of the honor of having either captured or slain him, and he caused to be raised in the centre of his encampment a huge pyramid of the wooden saddles of his cavalry; round it he heaped the spoils and the wealth that he had won; on it he stationed his wives who had accompanied him in the campaign; and on the summit Attila placed himself, ready to perish in the flames and balk the victorious foe of their choicest booty should they succeed in storming his defences.

But when the morning broke and revealed the extent of the carnage with which the plains were heaped for miles, the successful allies saw also and respected the resolute attitude of their antagonist. Neither were any measures taken to blockade him in his camp, and so to extort by famine that submission which it was too plainly perilous to enforce with the sword. Attila was allowed to march back the remnants of his army without molestation, and even with the semblance of success.

It is probable that the crafty Aetius was unwilling to be too victorious. He dreaded the glory which his allies the Visigoths had acquired, and feared that Rome might find a second Alaric in Prince Torismund, who had signalized himself in the battle, and had been chosen on the field to succeed his father Theodoric. He persuaded the young King to return at once to his capital, and thus relieved himself at the same time of the presence of a dangerous friend as well as of a formidable though beaten foe.

Attila's attacks on the Western Empire were soon renewed, but never with such peril to the civilized world as had menaced it before his defeat at Châlons; and on his death, two years after that battle, the vast empire which his genius had founded was soon dissevered by the successful revolts of the subject nations. The name of the Huns ceased for some centuries to inspire terror in Western Europe, and their ascendency passed away with the life of the great King by whom it had been so fearfully augmented.[25]


The facility with which Attila had penetrated into the heart of Gaul may be ascribed to his insidious policy as well as to the terror of his arms. His public declarations were skilfully mitigated by his private assurances; he alternately soothed and threatened the Romans and the Goths; and the courts of Ravenna and Toulouse, mutually suspicious of each other's intentions, beheld with supine indifference the approach of their common enemy. Aetius was the sole guardian of the public safety; but his wisest measures were embarrassed by a faction which, since the death of Placidia, infested the imperial palace; the youth of Italy trembled at the sound of the trumpet; and the barbarians, who, from fear or affection, were inclined to the cause of Attila, awaited with doubtful and venal faith the event of the war. The patrician passed the Alps at the head of some troops, whose strength and numbers scarcely deserved the name of an army. But on his arrival at Aries, or Lyons, he was confounded by the intelligence that the Visigoths, refusing to embrace the defence of Gaul, had determined to expect, within their own territories, the formidable invader, whom they professed to despise.

The senator Avitus, who, after the honorable exercise of the prætorian prefecture, had retired to his estate in Auvergne, was persuaded to accept the important embassy, which he executed with ability and success. He represented to Theodoric that an ambitious conqueror, who aspired to the dominion of the earth, could be resisted only by the firm and unanimous alliance of the powers whom he labored to oppress. The lively eloquence of Avitus inflamed the Gothic warriors by the description of the injuries which their ancestors had suffered from the Huns, whose implacable fury still pursued them from the Danube to the foot of the Pyrenees. He strenuously urged that it was the duty of every Christian to save from sacrilegious violation the churches of God and the relics of the saints; that it was the interest of every barbarian who had acquired a settlement in Gaul, to defend the fields and vineyards, which were cultivated for his use, against the desolation of the Scythian shepherds. Theodoric yielded to the evidence of truth, adopted the measure at once the most prudent and the most honorable, and declared that, as the faithful ally of Aetius and the Romans, he was ready to expose his life and kingdom for the common safety of Gaul. The Visigoths, who at that time were in the mature vigor of their fame and power, obeyed with alacrity the signal of war, prepared their arms and horses, and assembled under the standard of their aged King, who was resolved, with his two eldest sons, Torismond and Theodoric, to command in person his numerous and valiant people.

The example of the Goths determined several tribes or nations that seemed to fluctuate between the Huns and the Romans. The indefatigable diligence of the patrician gradually collected the troops of Gaul and Germany, who had formerly acknowledged themselves the subjects or soldiers of the republic, but who now claimed the rewards of voluntary service and the rank of independent allies; the Læti, the Armoricans, the Breones, the Saxons, the Burgundians, the Sarmatians or Alani, the Ripuarians, and the Franks who followed Meroveus as their lawful prince. Such was the various army which, under the conduct of Aetius and Theodoric, advanced, by rapid marches, to relieve Orleans and to give battle to the innumerable host of Attila.

On their approach, the king of the Huns immediately raised the siege, and sounded a retreat to recall the foremost of his troops from the pillage of a city which they had already entered. The valor of Attila was always guided by his prudence; and as he foresaw the fatal consequences of a defeat in the heart of Gaul, he repassed the Seine, and expected the enemy in the plains of Châlons, whose smooth and level surface was adapted to the operations of his Scythian cavalry. But in this tumultuary retreat, the vanguard of the Romans and their allies continually pressed, and sometimes engaged, the troops whom Attila had posted in the rear; the hostile columns, in the darkness of the night and the perplexity of the roads, might encounter each other without design; and the bloody conflict of the Franks and Gepidæ, in which fifteen thousand barbarians were slain, was a prelude to a more general and decisive action.

The Catalaunian fields spread themselves round Châlons, and extend, according to the vague measurement of Jornandes, to the length of one hundred and fifty and the breadth of one hundred miles, over the whole province, which is entitled to the appellation of a champaign country. This spacious plain was distinguished, however, by some inequalities of ground; and the importance of a height which commanded the camp of Attila was understood and disputed by the two generals. The young and valiant Torismond first occupied the summit; the Goths rushed with irresistible weight on the Huns, who labored to ascend from the opposite side; and the possession of this advantageous post inspired both the troops and their leaders with a fair assurance of victory. The anxiety of Attila prompted him to consult his priests and haruspices. It was reported that, after scrutinizing the entrails of victims and scraping their bones, they revealed, in mysterious language, his own defeat, with the death of his principal adversary; and that the barbarian, by accepting the equivalent, expressed his involuntary esteem for the superior merit of Aetius.

But the unusual despondency, which seemed to prevail among the Huns, engaged Attila to use the expedient, so familiar to the generals of antiquity, of animating his troops by a military oration; and his language was that of a king who had often fought and conquered at their head. He pressed them to consider their past glory, their actual danger, and their future hopes. The same fortune which opened the deserts and morasses of Scythia to their unarmed valor, which had laid so many warlike nations prostrate at their feet, had reserved the joys of this memorable field for the consummation of their victories. The cautious steps of their enemies, their strict alliance, and their advantageous posts he artfully represented as the effects, not of prudence, but of fear. The Visigoths alone were the strength and nerves of the opposite army; and the Huns might securely trample on the degenerate Romans, whose close and compact order betrayed their apprehensions, and who were equally incapable of supporting the dangers or the fatigues of a day of battle. The doctrine of predestination, so favorable to martial virtue, was carefully inculcated by the king of the Huns, who assured his subjects that the warriors, protected by heaven, were safe and invulnerable amid the darts of the enemy, but that the unerring Fates would strike their victims in the bosom of inglorious peace. "I myself," continued Attila, "will throw the first javelin, and the wretch who refuses to imitate the example of his sovereign is devoted to inevitable death."

The spirit of the barbarians was rekindled by the presence, the voice, and the example of their intrepid leader; and Attila, yielding to their impatience, immediately formed his order of battle. At the head of his brave and faithful Huns, he occupied in person the centre of the line. The nations subject to his empire, the Rugians, the Heruli, the Thuringians, the Franks, the Burgundians, were extended on either hand, over the ample space of the Catalaunian fields; the right wing was commanded by Ardaric, king of the Gepidæ; and the three valiant brothers who reigned over the Ostrogoths were posted on the left to oppose the kindred tribes of the Visigoths. The disposition of the allies was regulated by a different principle. Sangiban, the faithless King of the Alani, was placed in the centre, where his motions might be strictly watched, and his treachery might be instantly punished. Aetius assumed the command of the left, and Theodoric of the right wing; while Torismond still continued to occupy the heights which appear to have stretched on the flank, and perhaps the rear, of the Scythian army. The nations from the Volga to the Atlantic were assembled on the plain of Châlons; but many of these nations had been divided by faction or conquest or emigration; and the appearance of similar arms and ensigns, which threatened each other, presented the image of a civil war.

The discipline and tactics of the Greeks and Romans form an interesting part of their national manners. The attentive study of the military operations of Xenophon or Cæsar or Frederic, when they are described by the same genius which conceived and executed them, may tend to improve—if such improvement can be wished—the art of destroying the human species. But the battle of Châlons can only excite our curiosity by the magnitude of the object; since it was decided by the blind impetuosity of barbarians, and has been related by partial writers, whose civil or ecclesiastical profession secluded them from the knowledge of military affairs. Cassiodorus, however, had familiarly conversed with many Gothic warriors who served in that memorable engagement; "a conflict," as they informed him, "fierce, various, obstinate, and bloody; such as could not be paralleled either in the present or in past ages." The number of the slain amounted to one hundred and sixty-two thousand, or, according to another account, three hundred thousand persons; and these incredible exaggerations suppose a real and effective loss sufficient to justify the historian's remark that whole generations may be swept away, by the madness of kings, in the space of a single hour.

After the mutual and repeated discharge of missile weapons, in which the archers of Scythia might signalize their superior dexterity, the cavalry and infantry of the two armies were furiously mingled in closer combat. The Huns, who fought under the eyes of their King, pierced through the feeble and doubtful centre of the allies, separated their wings from each other, and wheeling, with a rapid effort, to the left, directed their whole force against the Visigoths. As Theodoric rode along the ranks to animate his troops, he received a mortal stroke from the javelin of Andages, a noble Ostrogoth, and immediately fell from his horse. The wounded King was oppressed in the general disorder and trampled under the feet of his own cavalry; and this important death served to explain the ambiguous prophecy of the haruspices.

Attila already exulted in the confidence of victory, when the valiant Torismund descended from the hills and verified the remainder of the prediction. The Visigoths, who had been thrown into confusion by the flight or defection of the Alani, gradually restored their order of battle; and the Huns were undoubtedly vanquished, since Attila was compelled to retreat. He had exposed his person with the rashness of a private soldier; but the intrepid troops of the centre had pushed forward beyond the rest of the line; their attack was faintly supported; their flanks were unguarded; and the conquerors of Scythia and Germany were saved by the approach of the night from a total defeat. They retired within the circle of wagons that fortified their camp; and the dismounted squadrons prepared, themselves for a defence, to which neither their arms nor their temper was adapted. The event was doubtful: but Attila had secured a last and honorable resource. The saddles and rich furniture of the cavalry were collected, by his order, into a funeral pile; and the magnanimous barbarian had resolved, if his intrenchments should be forced, to rush headlong into the flames, and to deprive his enemies of the glory which they might have acquired by the death or captivity of Attila.

But his enemies had passed the night in equal disorder and anxiety. The inconsiderate courage of Torismund was tempted to urge the pursuit, till he unexpectedly found himself, with a few followers, in the midst of the Scythian wagons. In the confusion of a nocturnal combat he was thrown from his horse; and the Gothic prince must have perished like his father, if his youthful strength, and the intrepid zeal of his companions, had not rescued him from this dangerous situation. In the same manner, but on the left of the line, Aetius himself, separated from his allies, ignorant of their victory and anxious for their fate, encountered and escaped the hostile troops that were scattered over the plains of Châlons, and at length reached the camp of the Goths, which he could only fortify with a slight rampart of shields till the dawn of day. The imperial general was soon satisfied of the defeat of Attila, who still remained inactive within his intrenchments; and when he contemplated the bloody scene, he observed, with secret satisfaction, that the loss had principally fallen on the barbarians. The body of Theodoric, pierced with honorable wounds, was discovered under a heap of the slain; his subjects bewailed the death of their king and father; but their tears were mingled with songs and acclamations, and his funeral rites were performed in the face of a vanquished enemy.

The Goths, clashing their arms, elevated on a buckler his eldest son Torismund, to whom they justly ascribed the glory of their success; and the new King accepted the obligation of revenge as a sacred portion of his paternal inheritance. Yet the Goths themselves were astonished by the fierce and undaunted aspect of their formidable antagonist; and their historian has compared Attila to a lion encompassed in his den and threatening his hunters with redoubled fury. The kings and nations who might have deserted his standard in the hour of distress were made sensible that the displeasure of their monarch was the most imminent and inevitable danger. All his instruments of martial music incessantly sounded a loud and animating strain of defiance; and the foremost troops who advanced to the assault were checked or destroyed by showers of arrows from every side of the intrenchments. It was determined, in a general council of war, to besiege the King of the Huns in his camp, to intercept his provisions, and to reduce him to the alternative of a disgraceful treaty or an unequal combat. But the impatience of the barbarians soon disdained these cautious and dilatory measures; and the mature policy of Aetius was apprehensive that, after the extirpation of the Huns, the republic would be oppressed by the pride and power of the Gothic nation.

The patrician exerted the superior ascendants of authority and reason to calm the passions, which the son of Theodoric considered as a duty; represented, with seeming affection and real truth, the dangers of absence and delay; and persuaded Torismond to disappoint, by his speedy return, the ambitious designs of his brothers, who might occupy the throne and treasures of Toulouse. After the departure of the Goths and the separation of the allied army, Attila was surprised at the vast silence that reigned over the plains of Châlons: the suspicion of some hostile stratagem detained him several days within the circle of his wagons, and his retreat beyond the Rhine confessed the last victory which was achieved in the name of the Western Empire. Meroveus and his Franks, observing a prudent distance, and magnifying the opinion of their strength by the numerous fires which they kindled every night, continued to follow the rear of the Huns till they reached the confines of Thuringia. The Thuringians served in the army of Attila: they traversed, both in their march and in their return, the territories of the Franks; and it was perhaps in this war that they exercised the cruelties which, about fourscore years afterward, were revenged by the son of Clovis. They massacred their hostages, as well as their captives: two hundred young maidens were tortured with exquisite and unrelenting rage; their bodies were torn asunder by wild horses or their bones were crushed under the weight of rolling wagons, and their unburied limbs were abandoned on the public roads as a prey to dogs and vultures. Such were those savage ancestors whose imaginary virtues have sometimes excited the praise and envy of civilized ages!


[24] In the Nibelungenlied, the old poet who describes the reception of the heroine Chrimhild by Attila [Etsel], says that Attila's dominions were so vast that among his subject warriors there were Russian, Greek, Wallachian, Polish, and even Danish knights.

[25] If I seem to have given fewer of the details of the battle itself than its importance would warrant, my excuse must be that Gibbon has enriched our language with a description of it too long for quotation and too splendidly for rivalry. I have not, however, taken altogether the same view of it that he has.


A.D. 452



The foundation of Venice (Venetia) is an incident in the history of Attila's incursions, at the head of his Huns, into Italy after his defeat at the battle of Châlons-sur-Marne. Venetia was then a large and fertile province of Northern Italy, and fifty Venetian cities flourished in peace and safety under the protection of the Empire. After Attila's remorseless hordes had taken and destroyed Aquileia, near the head of the Adriatic, they swept, with resistless fury, through Venetia, whose cities were so utterly destroyed that their very sites could henceforth scarcely be identified. The inhabitants fled in large numbers to the shores of the Adriatic, where, at the extremity of the gulf, a group of a hundred islets is separated by shallows from the mainland of Italy. Here the Venetians built their city on what had hitherto been uncultivated and almost uninhabited sand-banks. Under such unfavorable circumstances was started the career of that wonderful city which afterward became "Queen of the Adriatic" and mother of art, science, and learning.

The two greatest authorities on Venice are Thomas Hodgkin, who made a life study of Italy and her invaders, and the immortal Ruskin, whose grandly descriptive articles were written in the atmosphere of Venice and the Adriatic Sea.


The terrible invaders, made wrathful and terrible by the resistance of Aquileia, streamed through the trembling cities of Venetia. Each earlier stage in the itinerary shows a town blotted out by their truly Tartar genius for destruction. At the distance of thirty-one miles from Aquileia stood the flourishing colony of Tulia Concordia, so named, probably, in commemoration of the universal peace which, four hundred and eighty years before, Augustus had established in the world. Concordia was destroyed, and only an insignificant little village now remains to show where it once stood. At another interval of thirty-one miles stood Altinum, with its white villas clustering round the curves of its lagoons, and rivalling Baiæ in its luxurious charms. Altinum was effaced as Concordia and as Aquileia. Yet another march of thirty-two miles brought the squalid invaders to Patavium, proud of its imagined Trojan origin, and, with better reason, proud of having given birth to Livy. Patavium, too, was levelled with the ground. True, it has not like its sister towns remained in the nothingness to which Attila reduced it. It is now

"Many-domed Padua proud,"

but all its great buildings date from the Middle Ages. Only a few broken friezes and a few inscriptions in its museum exist as memorials of the classical Patavium.

As the Huns marched on Vicenza, Verona, Brescia, Bergamo, all opened their gates at their approach, for the terror which they inspired was on every heart. In these towns, and in Milan and Pavia (Ticinum), which followed their example, the Huns enjoyed doubtless to the full their wild revel of lust and spoliation, but they left the buildings unharmed, and they carried captive the inhabitants instead of murdering them.

The valley of the Po was now wasted to the heart's content of the invaders. Should they cross the Apennines and blot out Rome as they had blotted out Aquileia from among the cities of the world? This was the great question that was being debated in the Hunnish camp, and, strange to say, the voices were not all for war. Already Italy began to strike that strange awe into the hearts of her northern conquerors which so often in later ages has been her best defence. The remembrance of Alaric, cut off by a mysterious death immediately after his capture of Rome, was present in the mind of Attila, and was frequently insisted upon by his counsellors, who seem to have had a foreboding that only while he lived would they be great and prosperous.

While this discussion was going forward in the barbarian camp, all voices were hushed, and the attention of all was aroused by the news of the arrival of an embassy from Rome. What had been going on in that city it is not easy to ascertain. The Emperor seems to have been dwelling there, not at Ravenna. Aetius shows a strange lack of courage or of resource, and we find it difficult to recognize in him the victor of the Mauriac plains. He appears to have been even meditating flight from Italy, and to have thought of persuading Valentinian to share his exile. But counsels a shade less timorous prevailed. Some one suggested that possibly even the Hun might be satiated with havoc, and that an embassy might assist to mitigate the remainder of his resentment. Accordingly ambassadors were sent in the once mighty name of "the Emperor and the Senate and People of Rome" to crave for peace, and these were the men who were now ushered into the camp of Attila.

The envoys had been well chosen to satisfy that punctilious pride which insisted that only men of the highest dignity among the Romans should be sent to treat with the lord of Scythia and Germany. Avienus, who had, two years before, worn the robes of consul, was one of the ambassadors. Trigetius, who had wielded the powers of a prefect, and who, seventeen years before, had been despatched upon a similar mission to Genseric the Vandal, was another. But it was not upon these men, but upon their greater colleague, that the eyes of all the barbarian warriors and statesmen were fixed. Leo, bishop of Rome, had come, on behalf of his flock, to sue for peace from the idolater.

The two men who had thus at last met by the banks of the Mincio are certainly the grandest figures whom the fifth century can show to us, at any rate since Alaric vanished from the scene.

Attila we by this time know well enough; adequately to describe Pope Leo I, we should have to travel too far into the region of ecclesiastical history. Chosen pope in the year 440, he was now about half way through his long pontificate, one of the few which have nearly rivalled the twenty-five years traditionally assigned to St. Peter. A firm disciplinarian, not to say a persecutor, he had caused the Priscillianists of Spain and the Manichees of Rome to feel his heavy hand. A powerful rather than subtle theologian, he had asserted the claims of Christian common-sense as against the endless refinements of oriental speculation concerning the nature of the Son of God. Like an able Roman general he had traced, in his letters on the Eutychian controversy, the lines of the fortress in which the defenders of the Catholic verity were thenceforward to intrench themselves and from which they were to repel the assaults of Monophysites on the one hand and of Nestorians on the other. These lines had been enthusiastically accepted by the great council of Chalcedon—held in the year of Attila's Gaulish campaign—and remain from that day to this the authoritative utterance of the Church concerning the mysterious union of the Godhead and the manhood in the person of Jesus Christ.

And all these gifts of will, of intellect, and of soul were employed by Leo with undeviating constancy, with untired energy, in furthering his great aim, the exaltation of the dignity of the popedom, the conversion of the admitted primacy of the bishops of Rome into an absolute and world-wide spiritual monarchy. Whatever our opinions may be as to the influence of this spiritual monarchy on the happiness of the world, or its congruity with the character of the Teacher in whose words it professed to root itself, we cannot withhold a tribute of admiration for the high temper of this Roman bishop, who in the ever-deepening degradation of his country still despaired not, but had the courage and endurance to work for a far-distant future, who, when the Roman was becoming the common drudge and footstool of all nations, still remembered the proud words "Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento!" and under the very shadow of Attila and Genseric prepared for the city of Romulus a new and spiritual dominion, vaster and more enduring than any which had been won for her by Julius or by Hadrian.

Such were the two men who stood face to face in the summer of 452 upon the plains of Lombardy. The barbarian King had all the material power in his hand, and he was working but for a twelvemonth. The pontiff had no power but in the world of intellect, and his fabric was to last fourteen centuries. They met, as has been said, by the banks of the Mincio. Jordanes tells us that it was "where the river is crossed by many wayfarers coming and going." Some writers think that these words point to the ground now occupied by the celebrated fortress of Peschiera, close to the point where the Mincio issues from the Lake of Garda. Others place the interview at Governolo, a little village hard by the junction of the Mincio and the Po. If the latter theory be true, and it seems to fit well with the route which would probably be taken by Attila, the meeting took place in Vergil's country, and almost in sight of the very farm where Tityrus and Meliboeus chatted at evening under the beech-tree.

Leo's success as an ambassador was complete. Attila laid aside all the fierceness of his anger and promised to return across the Danube, and to live thenceforward at peace with the Romans. But in his usual style, in the midst of reconciliation he left a loophole for a future wrath, for "he insisted still on this point above all, that Honoria, the sister of the Emperor, and the daughter of the Augusta Placidia, should be sent to him with the portion of the royal wealth which was her due; and he threatened that unless this was done he would lay upon Italy a far heavier punishment than any which it had yet borne."

But for the present, at any rate, the tide of devastation was turned, and few events more powerfully impressed the imagination of that new and blended world which was now standing at the threshold of the dying empire than this retreat of Attila, the dreaded king of kings, before the unarmed successor of St. Peter.

Attila was already predisposed to moderation by the counsels of his ministers. The awe of Rome was upon him and upon them, and he was forced incessantly to ponder the question, "What if I conquer like Alaric, to die like him?" Upon these doubts and ponderings of his supervened the stately presence of Leo, a man of holy life, firm will, dauntless courage—that, be sure, Attila perceived in the first moments of their interview—and, besides this, holding an office honored and venerated through all the civilized world. The barbarian yielded to his spell as he had yielded to that of Lupus of Troyes, and, according to a tradition, which, it must be admitted, is not very well authenticated, he jocularly excused his unaccustomed gentleness by saying that "he knew how to conquer men, but the lion and the wolf (Leo and Lupus) had learned how to conquer him."

The tradition which asserts that the republic of Venice and its neighbor cities in the lagoons were peopled by fugitives from the Hunnish invasion of 452, is so constant and in itself so probable that we seem bound to accept it as substantially true, though contemporary or nearly contemporary evidence to the fact is utterly wanting.

The thought of "the glorious city in the sea" so dazzles our imaginations when we turn our thoughts toward Venice that we must take a little pains to free ourselves from the spell and reproduce the aspect of the desolate islands and far-stretching wastes of sand and sea to which the fear of Attila drove the delicately nurtured Roman provincials for a habitation.

If we examine on the map the well-known and deep recess of the Adriatic Sea, we shall at once be struck by one marked difference between its eastern and its northern shores. For three hundred miles down the Dalmatian coast not one large river, scarcely a considerable stream, descends from the too closely towering Dinaric mountains to the sea. If we turn now to the northwestern angle which formed the shore of the Roman province of Venetia, we find the coast line broken by at least seven streams, two of which are great rivers.

These seven streams, whose mouths are crowded into less than eighty miles of coast, drain an area which, reckoning from Monte Viso to the Terglon Alps—the source of the Ysonzo—must be four hundred and fifty miles in length, and may average two hundred miles in breadth, and this area is bordered on one side by the highest mountains in Europe, snow-covered, glacier-strewn, wrinkled and twisted into a thousand valleys and narrow defiles, each of which sends down its river or its rivulet to swell the great outpour.

For our present purpose, and as a worker out of Venetian history, Po, notwithstanding the far greater volume of his waters, is of less importance than the six other small streams which bear him company. He, carrying down the fine alluvial soil of Lombardy, goes on lazily adding, foot by foot, to the depth of his delta, and mile by mile to its extent. They, swiftly hurrying over their shorter course from mountain to sea, scatter indeed many fragments, detached from their native rocks, over the first meadows which they meet with in the plain, but carry some also far out to sea, and then, behind the bulwark which they thus have made, deposit the finer alluvial particles with which they, too, are laden. Thus we get the two characteristic features of the ever-changing coast line, the Lido and the Laguna. The Lido, founded upon the masses of rock, is a long, thin slip of the terra firma, which form a sort of advance guard of the land.

The Laguna, occupying the interval between the Lido and the true shore, is a wide expanse of waters, generally very few feet in depth, with a bottom of fine sand, and with a few channels of deeper water, the representatives of the forming rivers winding intricately among them. In such a configuration of land and water the state of the tide makes a striking difference in the scene. And unlike the rest of the Mediterranean, the Adriatic does possess a tide, small, it is true, in comparison with the great tides of ocean—for the whole difference between high and low water at the flood is not more than six feet, and the average flow is said not to amount to more than two feet six inches—but even this flux is sufficient to produce large tracts of sea which the reflux converts into square miles of oozy sand.

Here, between sea and land, upon this detritus of the rivers, settled the detritus of humanity. The Gothic and the Lombard invasions contributed probably their share of fugitives, but fear of the Hunnish world-waster—whose very name, according to some, was derived from one of the mighty rivers of Russia—was the great "degrading" influence that carried down the fragments of Roman civilization and strewed them over the desolate lagoons. The inhabitants of Aquileia, or at least the feeble remnants that escaped the sword of Attila, took refuge at Grado. Concordia migrated to Caprularia (now Caorle). The inhabitants of Altinum, abandoning their ruined villas, founded their new habitations upon seven islands at the mouth of the Piave, which, according to tradition, they named from the seven gates of their old city—Torcellus, Maiurbius, Boreana, Ammiana, Constantiacum, and Anianum. The representatives of some of these names, Torcello, Mazzorbo, Burano, are familiar sounds to the Venetian at the present day.

From Padua came the largest stream of emigrants. They left the tomb of their mythical ancestor, Antenor, and built their humble dwellings upon the islands of the rivers Altus and Methamaucus, better known to us as Rialto and Malamocco. This Paduan settlement was one day to be known to the world by the name of Venice. But let us not suppose that the future "Queen of the Adriatic" sprang into existence at a single bound like Constantinople or Alexandria. For two hundred and fifty years, that is to say for eight generations, the refugees on the islands of the Adriatic prolonged an obscure and squalid existence—fishing, salt manufacturing, damming out the waves with wattled vine-branches, driving piles into the sand-banks, and thus gradually extending the area of their villages. Still these were but fishing villages, loosely confederated together, loosely governed, poor and insignificant, so that the anonymous geographer of Ravenna, writing in the seventh century, can only say of them, "In the country of Venetia there are some few islands which are inhabited by men." This seems to have been their condition, though perhaps gradually growing in commercial importance, until at the beginning of the eighth century the concentration of political authority in the hands of the first doge, and the recognition of the Rialto cluster of islands as the capital of the confederacy, started the republic on a career of success and victory, in which for seven centuries she met no lasting check.

But this lies far beyond the limit of our present subject. It must be again said that we have not to think of "the pleasant place of all festivity," but of a few huts among the sand-banks, inhabited by Roman provincials, who mournfully recall their charred and ruined habitations by the Brenta and the Piave. The sea alone does not constitute their safety. If that were all, the pirate ships of the Vandal Genseric might repeat upon their poor dwellings all the terror of Attila. But it is in their amphibious life, in that strange blending of land and sea which is exhibited by the lagunes, that their safety lies. Only experienced pilots can guide a vessel of any considerable draught through the mazy channels of deep water which intersect these lagoons; and should they seem to be in imminent peril from the approach of an enemy, they will defend themselves not like the Dutch by cutting the dikes which barricade them from the ocean, but by pulling up the poles which even those pilots need to indicate their pathway through the waters. There, then, engaged in their humble, beaver-like labors, we leave for the present the Venetian refugees from the rage of Attila.

But even while protesting, it is impossible not to let into our minds some thought of what those desolate fishing villages will one day become. The dim religious light, half revealing the slowly gathered glories of St. Mark's; the Ducal Palace, that history in stone; the Rialto, with the babble of many languages; the Piazza, with its flock of fearless pigeons; the Brazen Horses, the Winged Lion, the Bucentaur, all that the artists of Venice did to make her beautiful, her ambassadors to make her wise, her secret tribunals to make her terrible; memories of these things must come thronging upon the mind at the mere mention of her spell-like name. Now, with these pictures glowing vividly before you, wrench the mind away with sudden effort to the dreary plains of Pannonia. Think of the moody Tartar, sitting in his log-hut, surrounded by his barbarous guests; of Zercon, gabbling his uncouth mixture of Hunnish and Latin; of the bath-man of Onégesh, and the wool-work of Kreka, and the reed candles in the village of Bleda's widow; and say if cause and effect were ever more strangely meted in history than the rude and brutal might of Attila with the stately and gorgeous and subtle republic of Venice.

One more consideration is suggested to us by that which was the noblest part of the work of Venice, the struggle which she maintained for centuries, really in behalf of all Europe, against the Turk. Attila's power was soon to pass away, but, in the ages that were to come, another Turanian race was to arise, as brutal as the Huns, but with their fierceness sharp-pointed and hardened into a far more fearful weapon of offence by the fanaticism of Islam. These descendants of the kinsfolk of Attila were the Ottomans, and but for the barrier which, like their own murazzi against the waves, the Venetians interposed against the Ottomans, it is scarcely too much to say that half Europe would have undergone the misery of subjection to the organized anarchy of the Turkish pachas. The Tartar Attila, when he gave up Aquileia and her neighbor cities to the tender mercies of his myrmidons, little thought that he was but the instrument in an unseen Hand for hammering out the shield which should one day defend Europe from Tartar robbers such as he was. The Turanian poison secreted the future antidote to itself, and the name of that antidote was Venice.


In the olden days of travelling, now to return no more, in which distance could not be vanquished without toil, but in which that toil was rewarded, partly by the power of deliberate survey of the countries through which the journey lay, and partly by the happiness of the evening hours, when, from the top of the last hill he had surmounted, the traveller beheld the quiet village where he was to rest, scattered among the meadows beside its valley stream; or, from the long-hoped-for turn in the dusty perspective of the causeway, saw, for the first time, the towers of some famed city, faint in the rays of sunset—hours of peaceful and thoughtful pleasure, for which the rush of the arrival in the railway station is perhaps not always, or to all men, an equivalent—in those days, I say, when there was something more to be anticipated and remembered in the first aspect of each successive halting-place, than a new arrangement of glass roofing and iron girder, there were few moments of which the recollection was more fondly cherished by the traveller than that which brought him within sight of Venice, as his gondola shot into the open Lagoon from the canal of Mestre.

Not but that the aspect of the city itself was generally the source of some slight disappointment, for, seen in this direction, its buildings are far less characteristic than those of the other great towns of Italy; but this inferiority was partly disguised by distance, and more than atoned for by the strange rising of its walls and towers, out of the midst, as it seemed, of the deep sea, for it was impossible that the mind or the eye could at once comprehend the shallowness of the vast sheet of water which stretched away in leagues of rippling lustre to the north and south, or trace the narrow line of islets bounding it to the east. The salt breeze, the white moaning sea-birds, the masses of black weed separating and disappearing gradually, in knots of heaving shoal, under the advance of the steady tide, all proclaimed it to be indeed the ocean on whose bosom the great city rested so calmly; not such blue, soft, lake-like ocean as bathes the Neapolitan promontories or sleeps beneath the marble rocks of Genoa, but a sea with the bleak power of our own northern waves, yet subdued into a strange spacious rest, and changed from its angry pallor into a field of burnished gold, as the sun declined behind the belfry tower of the lonely island church, fitly named "St. George of the Sea-weed."

As the boat drew nearer to the city, the coast which the traveller had just left sank behind him into one long, low, sad-colored line, tufted irregularly with brushwood and willows: but, at what seemed its northern extremity, the hills of Arqua rose in a dark cluster of purple pyramids, balanced on the bright mirage of the Lagoon; two or three smooth surges of inferior hill extended themselves about their roots, and beyond these, beginning with the craggy peaks above Vicenza, the chain of the Alps girded the whole horizon to the north—a wall of jagged blue, here and there showing through its clefts a wilderness of misty precipices, fading far back into the recesses of Cadore, and itself rising and breaking away eastward, where the sun struck opposite upon its snow, into mighty fragments of peaked light, standing up behind the barred clouds of evening, one after another, countless, the crown of the Adrian Sea, until the eye turned back from pursuing them, to rest upon the nearer burning of the campaniles of Murano, and on the great city, where it magnified itself along the waves, as the quick silent pacing of the gondola drew nearer and nearer. And at last, when its walls were reached, and the outmost of its untrodden streets was entered, not through towered gate or guarded rampart, but as a deep inlet between two rocks of coral in the Indian sea; when first upon the traveller's sight opened the long ranges of columned palaces—each with its black boat moored at the portal—each with its image cast down, beneath its feet, upon that green pavement which every breeze broke into new fantasies of rich tessellation; when first, at the extremity of the bright vista, the shadowy Rialto threw its colossal curve slowly forth from behind the palace of the Camerlenghi; that strange curve, so delicate, so adamantine, strong as a mountain cavern, graceful as a bow just bent; when first, before its moonlike circumference was all risen, the gondolier's cry, "Ah! Stali," struck sharp upon the ear, and the prow turned aside under the mighty cornices that half met over the narrow canal, where the plash of the water followed close and loud, ringing along the marble by the boat's side; and when at last that boat darted forth upon the breadth of silver sea, across which the front of the Ducal Palace, flushed with its sanguine veins, looks to the snowy dome of Our Lady of Salvation, it was no marvel that the mind should be so deeply entranced by the visionary charm of a scene so beautiful and so strange as to forget the darker truths of its history and its being.

Well might it seem that such a city had owed her existence rather to the rod of the enchanter than the fear of the fugitive; that the waters which encircled her had been chosen for the mirror of her state rather than the shelter of her nakedness; and that all which in nature was wild or merciless—Time and Decay, as well as the waves and tempests—had been won to adorn her instead of to destroy, and might still spare, for ages to come, that beauty which seemed to have fixed for its throne the sands of the hour-glass as well as of the sea.

And although the last few eventful years, fraught with change to the face of the whole earth, have been more fatal in their influence on Venice than the five hundred that preceded them; though the noble landscape of approach to her can now be seen no more, or seen only by a glance, as the engine slackens its rushing on the iron line; and though many of her palaces are forever defaced and many in desecrated ruins, there is still so much of magic in her aspect that the hurried traveller, who must leave her before the wonder of that first aspect has been worn away, may still be led to forget the humility of her origin and to shut his eyes to the depth of her desolation. They, at least, are little to be envied in whose hearts the great charities of the imagination lie dead, and for whom the fancy has no power to repress the importunity of painful impressions or to raise what is ignoble and disguise what is discordant in a scene so rich in its remembrances, so surpassing in its beauty. But for this work of the imagination there must be no permission during the task which is before us.

The impotent feelings of romance, so singularly characteristic of this century, may indeed gild, but never save, the remains of those mightier ages to which they are attached like climbing flowers; and they must be torn away from the magnificent fragments, if we would see them as they stood in their own strength. Those feelings, always as fruitless as they are fond, are in Venice not only incapable of protecting, but even of discerning, the objects to which they ought to have been attached. The Venice of modern fiction and drama is a thing of yesterday, a mere efflorescence of decay, a stage dream which the first ray of daylight must dissipate into dust. No prisoner, whose name is worth remembering, or whose sorrow deserved sympathy, ever crossed that "Bridge of Sighs," which is the centre of the Byronic ideal of Venice; no great merchant of Venice ever saw that Rialto under which the traveller now passes with breathless interest: the statue which Byron makes Faliero address as of one of his great ancestors was erected to a soldier of fortune a hundred and fifty years after Faliero's death; and the most conspicuous parts of the city have been so entirely altered in the course of the last three centuries that if Henry Dandolo or Francis Foscari could be summoned from his tomb, and stood each on the deck of his galley at the entrance of the Grand Canal, that renowned entrance, the painter's favorite subject, the novelist's favorite scene, where the water first narrows by the steps of the Church of La Salute—the mighty doges would not know in what spot of the world they stood, would literally not recognize one stone of the great city, for whose sake, and by whose ingratitude, their gray hairs had been brought down with bitterness to the grave.

The remains of their Venice lie hidden behind the cumbrous masses which were the delight of the nation in its dotage; hidden in many a grass-grown court and silent pathway and lightless canal, where the slow waves have sapped their foundations for five hundred years, and must soon prevail over them forever. It must be our task to glean and gather them forth, and restore out of them some faint image of the lost city, more gorgeous a thousandfold than that which now exists, yet not created in the day-dream of the prince nor by the ostentation of the noble, but built by iron hands and patient hearts, contending against the adversity of nature and the fury of man, so that its wonderfulness cannot be grasped by the indolence of imagination, but only after frank inquiry into the true nature of that wild and solitary scene whose restless tides and trembling sands did indeed shelter the birth of the city, but long denied her dominion.

When the eye falls casually on a map of Europe, there is no feature by which it is more likely to be arrested than the strange sweeping loop formed by the junction of the Alps and Apennines, and enclosing the great basin of Lombardy. This return of the mountain chain upon itself causes a vast difference in the character of the distribution of its débris on its opposite sides. The rock fragments and sediment which the torrents on the north side of the Alps bear into the plains are distributed over a vast extent of country, and, though here and there lodged in beds of enormous thickness, soon permit the firm substrata to appear from underneath them; but all the torrents which descend from the southern side of the High Alps and from the northern slope of the Apennines meet concentrically in the recess or mountain-bay which the two ridges enclose; every fragment which thunder breaks out of their battlements, and every grain of dust which the summer rain washes from their pastures, is at last laid at rest in the blue sweep of the Lombardic plain; and that plain must have risen within its rocky barriers as a cup fills with wine, but for two contrary influences which continually depress, or disperse from its surface, the accumulation of the ruins of ages.

I will not tax the reader's faith in modern science by insisting on this singular depression of the surface of Lombardy, which appears for many centuries to have taken place steadily and continually; the main fact with which we have to do is the gradual transport, by the Po and its great collateral rivers, of vast masses of the finer sediment to the sea. The character of the Lombardic plains is most strikingly expressed by the ancient walls of its cities, composed for the most part of large rounded Alpine pebbles alternating with narrow courses of brick, and was curiously illustrated in 1848 by the ramparts of these same pebbles thrown up four or five feet high round every field, to check the Austrian cavalry in the battle under the walls of Verona.

The finer dust among which these pebbles are dispersed is taken up by the rivers, fed into continual strength by the Alpine snow, so that, however pure their waters may be when they issue from the lakes at the foot of the great chain, they become of the color and opacity of clay before they reach the Adriatic; the sediment which they bear is at once thrown down as they enter the sea, forming a vast belt of low land along the eastern coast of Italy. The powerful stream of the Po of course builds forward the fastest; on each side of it, north and south, there is a tract of marsh, fed by more feeble streams, and less liable to rapid change than the delta of the central river. In one of these tracts is built Ravenna, and in the other Venice.

What circumstances directed the peculiar arrangement of this great belt of sediment in the earliest times, it is not here the place to inquire. It is enough for us to know that from the mouths of the Adige to those of the Piave there stretches, at a variable distance of from three to five miles from the actual shore, a bank of sand, divided into long islands by narrow channels of sea. The space between this bank and the true shore consists of the sedimentary deposits from these and other rivers, a great plain of calcareous mud, covered, in the neighborhood of Venice, by the sea at high water, to the depth in most places of a foot or a foot and a half, and nearly everywhere exposed at low tide, but divided by an intricate network of narrow and winding channels, from which the sea never retires.

In some places, according to the run of the currents, the land has risen into marshy islets, consolidated, some by art, and some by time, into ground firm enough to be built upon or fruitful enough to be cultivated: in others, on the contrary, it has not reached the sea-level; so that, at the average low water, shallow lakelets glitter among its irregularly exposed fields of seaweed. In the midst of the largest of these, increased in importance by the confluence of several large river channels toward one of the openings in the sea-bank, the city of Venice itself is built, on a crowded cluster of islands; the various plots of higher ground which appear to the north and south of this central cluster have at different periods been also thickly inhabited, and now bear, according to their size, the remains of cities, villages, or isolated convents and churches, scattered among spaces of open ground, partly waste and encumbered by ruins, partly under cultivation for the supply of the metropolis.

The average rise and fall of the tide are about three feet—varying considerably with the seasons—but this fall, on so flat a shore, is enough to cause continual movement in the waters, and in the main canals to produce a reflux which frequently runs like a mill-stream. At high water no land is visible for many miles to the north or south of Venice, except in the form of small islands crowned with towers or gleaming with villages; there is a channel, some three miles wide, between the city and the mainland, and some mile and a half wide between it and the sandy breakwater called the Lido, which divides the Lagoon from the Adriatic, but which is so low as hardly to disturb the impression of the city's having been built in the midst of the ocean, although the secret of its true position is partly, yet not painfully, betrayed by the clusters of piles set to mark the deep-water channels, which undulate far away in spotty chains like the studded backs of huge sea-snakes, and by the quick glittering of the crisped and crowded waves that flicker and dance before the strong winds upon the unlifted level of the shallow sea.

But the scene is widely different at low tide. A fall of eighteen or twenty inches is enough to show ground over the greater part of the Lagoon; and at the complete ebb the city is seen standing in the midst of a dark plain of sea-weed, of gloomy green, except only where the larger branches of the Brenta and its associated streams converge toward the port of the Lido. Through this salt and sombre plain the gondola and the fishing-boat advance by tortuous channels, seldom more than four or five feet deep, and often so choked with slime that the heavier keels furrow the bottom till their crossing tracks are seen through the clear sea-water like the ruts upon a wintry road, and the oar leaves blue gashes upon the ground at every stroke, or is entangled among the thick weed that fringes the banks with the weight of its sullen waves, leaning to and fro upon the uncertain sway of the exhausted tide.

The scene is often profoundly oppressive, even at this day, when every plot of higher ground bears some fragment of fair building: but, in order to know what it was once, let the traveller follow in his boat at evening the windings of some unfrequented channel far into the midst of the melancholy plain; let him remove, in his imagination, the brightness of the great city that still extends itself in the distance, and the walls and towers from the islands that are near; and so wait, until the bright investiture and sweet warmth of the sunset are withdrawn from the waters, and the black desert of their shore lies in its nakedness beneath the night, pathless, comfortless, infirm, lost in dark languor and fearful silence, except where the salt runlets plash into the tideless pools, or the sea-birds flit from their margins with a questioning cry; and he will be enabled to enter in some sort into the horror of heart with which this solitude was anciently chosen by man for his habitation.

They little thought, who first drove the stakes into the sand, and strewed the ocean reeds for their rest, that their children were to be the princes of that ocean, and their palaces its pride; and yet, in the great natural laws that rule that sorrowful wilderness, let it be remembered what strange preparation had been made for the things which no human imagination could have foretold, and how the whole existence and fortune of the Venetian nation were anticipated or compelled, by the setting of those bars and doors to the rivers and the sea. Had deeper currents divided their islands, hostile navies would again and again have reduced the rising city into servitude; had stronger surges beaten their shores, all the richness and refinement of the Venetian architecture must have been exchanged for the walls and bulwarks of an ordinary seaport. Had there been no tide, as in other parts of the Mediterranean, the narrow canals of the city would have become noisome, and the marsh in which it was built pestiferous. Had the tide been only a foot or eighteen inches higher in its rise, the water access to the doors of the palaces would have been impossible; even as it is, there is sometimes a little difficulty, at the ebb, in landing without setting foot upon the lower and slippery steps: and the highest tides sometimes enter the court-yards, and overflow the entrance halls.

Eighteen inches more of difference between the level of the flood and ebb would have rendered the doorsteps of every palace, at low water, a treacherous mass of weeds and limpets, and the entire system of water-carriage for the higher classes, in their easy and daily intercourse, must have been done away with. The streets of the city would have been widened, its network of canals filled up, and all the peculiar character of the place and the people destroyed.

The reader may perhaps have felt some pain in the contrast between this faithful view of the site of the Venetian throne, and the romantic conception of it which we ordinarily form; but this pain, if he have felt it, ought to be more than counterbalanced by the value of the instance thus afforded to us at once of the inscrutableness and the wisdom of the ways of God. If, two thousand years ago, we had been permitted to watch the slow settling of the slime of those turbid rivers into the polluted sea, and the gaining upon its deep and fresh waters of the lifeless, impassable, unvoyageable plain, how little could we have understood the purpose with which those islands were shaped out of the void, and the torpid waters enclosed with their desolate walls of sand! How little could we have known, any more than of what now seems to us most distressful, dark, and objectless, the glorious aim which was then in the mind of Him in whose hand are all the corners of the earth! How little imagined that in the laws which were stretching forth the gloomy margins of those fruitless banks, and feeding the bitter grass among their shallows, there was indeed a preparation, and the only preparation possible, for the founding of a city which was to be set like a golden clasp on the girdle of the earth, to write her history on the white scrolls of the sea-surges, and to word it in their thunder, and to gather and give forth, in world-wide pulsation, the glory of the West and of the East, from the burning heart of her Fortitude and Splendor.


A.D. 486-511


Clovis, the sturdy Frank, wrought marvellous changes in Gaul. His marriage to the Christian princess Clotilde was followed by the conversion of himself and, gradually, that of his people. With a well-disciplined army he pulled down and swept away the last pillars of Roman power out of Gaul. Guizot gives a graphic account of the transition of the Franks, during two hundred and fifty years, from being isolated wandering tribes, each constantly warring against the other, to a well-ordered Christian kingdom, which led to the establishment of the French monarchy. The climax of this period of transition came in the reign of Clovis, with whom commences the real history of France. Under his strong hand the various tribes were gradually brought under his sole rule.

When Clovis, at the age of fifteen, succeeded his father, Childeric, as king of the Salian tribe, his people were mainly pagans; the Salian domain was very limited, the treasury empty, and there was no store of either grain or wine. But these difficulties were overcome by him; he subjugated the neighboring tribes, and made Christianity the state religion. The new faith was accorded great privileges and means of influence, in many cases favorable to humanity and showing respect to the rights of individuals. So great an advance in civilization is an early milestone on the path of progress.

About A.D. 241 or 242 the Sixth Roman legion, commanded by Aurelian, at that time military tribune, and thirty years later emperor, had just finished a campaign on the Rhine, undertaken for the purpose of driving the Germans from Gaul, and was preparing for eastern service, to make war on the Persians. The soldiers sang:

"We have slain a thousand Franks and a thousand
Sarmatians; we want a thousand, thousand,
Thousand Persians."

That was, apparently, a popular burthen at the time, for on the days of military festivals, at Rome and in Gaul, the children sang, as they danced:

"We have cut off the heads of a thousand, thousand, thousand
One man hath cut off the heads of a thousand, thousand, thousand,
Thousand thousand;
May he live a thousand thousand years, he who
Hath slain a thousand thousand!
Nobody hath so much of wine as he
Hath of blood poured out."

Aurelian, the hero of these ditties, was indeed much given to the pouring out of blood, for at the approach of a fresh war he wrote to the senate:

"I marvel, conscript fathers, that ye have so much misgiving about opening the Sibylline books, as if ye were deliberating in an assembly of Christians, and not in the temple of all the gods. Let inquiry be made of the sacred books, and let celebration take place of the ceremonies that ought to be fulfilled. Far from refusing, I offer, with zeal, to satisfy all expenditure required with captives of every nationality, victims of royal rank. It is no shame to conquer with the aid of the gods; it is thus that our ancestors began and ended many a war."

Human sacrifices, then, were not yet foreign to pagan festivals, and probably the blood of more than one Frankish captive on that occasion flowed in the temple of all the gods.

It is the first time the name of Franks appears in history; and it indicated no particular, single people, but a confederation of Germanic peoplets, settled or roving on the right bank of the Rhine, from the Main to the ocean. The number and the names of the tribes united in this confederation are uncertain. A chart of the Roman Empire, prepared apparently at the end of the fourth century, in the reign of the emperor Honorius—which chart, called tabula Peutingeri, was found among the ancient MSS. collected by Conrad Peutinger, a learned German philosopher, in the fifteenth century—bears, over a large territory on the right bank of the Rhine, the word Francia, and the following enumeration: "The Chaucians, the Ampsuarians, the Cheruscans, and the Chamavians, who are also called Franks;" and to these tribes divers chroniclers added several others, "the Attuarians, the Bructerians, the Cattians, and the Sicambrians."

Whatever may have been the specific names of these peoplets, they were all of German race, called themselves Franks, that is "freemen," and made, sometimes separately, sometimes collectively, continued incursions into Gaul—especially Belgica and the northern portions of Lyonness—at one time plundering and ravaging, at another occupying forcibly, or demanding of the Roman emperors lands whereon to settle. From the middle of the third to the beginning of the fifth century the history of the Western Empire presents an almost uninterrupted series of these invasions on the part of the Franks, together with the different relationships established between them and the imperial government. At one time whole tribes settled on Roman soil, submitted to the emperors, entered their service, and fought for them even against their own German compatriots. At another, isolated individuals, such and such warriors of German race, put themselves at the command of the emperors, and became of importance. At the middle of the third century the emperor Valerian, on committing a command to Aurelian, wrote, "Thou wilt have with thee Hartmund, Haldegast, Hildmund, and Carioviscus."

Some Frankish tribes allied themselves more or less fleetingly with the imperial government, at the same time that they preserved their independence; others pursued, throughout the empire, their life of incursion and adventure. From A.D. 260 to 268, under the reign of Gallienus, a band of Franks threw itself upon Gaul, scoured it from northeast to southeast, plundering and devastating on its way; then it passed from Aquitania into Spain, took and burned Tarragona, gained possession of certain vessels, sailed away, and disappeared in Africa, after having wandered about for twelve years at its own will and pleasure. There was no lack of valiant emperors, precarious and ephemeral as their power may have been, to defend the empire, and especially Gaul, against those enemies, themselves ephemeral, but forever recurring; Decius, Valerian, Gallienus, Claudius Gothicus, Aurelian, and Probus gallantly withstood those repeated attacks of German hordes. Sometimes they flattered themselves they had gained a definitive victory, and then the old Roman pride exhibited itself in their patriotic confidence. About A.D. 278, the emperor Probus, after gaining several victories in Gaul over the Franks, wrote to the senate:

"I render thanks to the immortal gods, conscript fathers, for that they have confirmed your judgment as regards me. Germany is subdued throughout its whole extent; nine kings of different nations have come and cast themselves at my feet, or rather at yours, as suppliants with their foreheads in the dust. Already all those barbarians are tilling for you, sowing for you, and fighting for you against the most distant nations. Order ye, therefore, according to your custom, prayers of thanksgiving, for we have slain four thousand of the enemy; we have had offered to us sixteen thousand men ready armed; and we have wrested from the enemy the seventy most important towns. The Gauls, in fact, are completely delivered. The crowns offered to me by all the cities of Gaul I have submitted, conscript fathers, to your grace; dedicate ye them with your own hands to Jupiter, all-bountiful, all-powerful, and to the other immortal gods and goddesses. All the booty is retaken, and, further, we have made fresh captures, more considerable than our first losses; the fields of Gaul are tilled by the oxen of the barbarians, and German teams bend their necks in slavery to our husbandmen; divers nations raise cattle for our consumption, and horses to remount our cavalry; our stores are full of the corn of the barbarians—in one word, we have left to the vanquished naught but the soil; all their other possessions are ours. We had at first thought it necessary, conscript fathers, to appoint a new governor of Germany; but we have put off this measure to the time when our ambition shall be more completely satisfied, which will be, as it seems to us, when it shall have pleased divine Providence to increase and multiply the forces of our armies."

Probus had good reason to wish that "divine Providence might be pleased to increase the forces of the Roman armies," for even after his victories, exaggerated as they probably were, they did not suffice for their task, and it was not long before the vanquished recommenced war. He had dispersed over the territory of the empire the majority of the prisoners he had taken. A band of Franks, who had been transported and established as a military colony on the European shore of the Black Sea, could not make up their minds to remain there. They obtained possession of some vessels, traversed the Propontis, the Hellespont, and the Archipelago, ravaged the coasts of Greece, Asia Minor, and Africa, plundered Syracuse, scoured the whole of the Mediterranean, entered the ocean by the Straits of Gibraltar, and, making their way up again along the coasts of Gaul, arrived at last at the mouths of the Rhine, where they once more found themselves at home among the vines which Probus, in his victorious progress, had been the first to have planted, and with probably their old taste for adventure and plunder.

After the commencement of the fifth century, from A.D. 406 to 409, it was no longer by incursions limited to certain points, and sometimes repelled with success, that the Germans harassed the Roman provinces; a veritable deluge of divers nations forced, one upon another, from Asia, into Europe, by wars and migration in mass, inundated the empire and gave the decisive signal for its fall. St. Jerome did not exaggerate when he wrote to Ageruchia: "Nations, countless in number and exceeding fierce, have occupied all the Gauls; Quadians, Vandals, Sarmatians, Alans, Gepidians, Herulians, Saxons, Burgundians, Allemannians, Pannonians, and even Assyrians have laid waste all that there is between the Alps and the Pyrenees, the ocean and the Rhine. Sad destiny of the Commonwealth! Mayence, once a noble city, hath been taken and destroyed; thousands of men were slaughtered in the church. Worms hath fallen after a long siege. The inhabitants of Rheims, a powerful city, and those of Amiens, Arras, Térouanne, at the extremity of Gaul, Tournay, Spires, and Strasburg have been carried away to Germany. All hath been ravaged in Aquitania (Novempopulania), Lyonness, and Narbonensis; the towns, save a few, are dispeopled; the sword pursueth them abroad and famine at home. I cannot speak without tears of Toulouse; if she be not reduced to equal ruin, it is to the merits of her holy bishop Exuperus that she oweth it."

Then took place throughout the Roman Empire, in the East as well as in the West, in Asia and Africa as well as in Europe, the last grand struggle between the Roman armies and barbaric nations. Armies is the proper term; for, to tell the truth, there was no longer a Roman nation, and very seldom a Roman emperor with some little capacity for government or war. The long continuance of despotism and slavery had enervated equally the ruling power and the people; everything depended on the soldiers and their generals. It was in Gaul that the struggle was most obstinate and most promptly brought to a decisive issue, and the confusion there was as great as the obstinacy. Barbaric peoplets served in the ranks and barbaric leaders held the command of the Roman armies; Stilicho was a Goth; Arbogastes and Mellobaudes were Franks; Ricimer was a Suevian. The Roman generals, Bonifacius, Aetius, Ægidius, Syagrius, at one time fought the barbarians, at another negotiated with such and such of them, either to entice them to take service against other barbarians, or to promote the objects of personal ambition; for the Roman generals also, under the titles of patrician, consul, or proconsul, aspired to and attained a sort of political independence, and contributed to the dismemberment of the empire in the very act of defending it.

No later than A.D. 412 two German nations, the Visigoths and the Burgundians, took their stand definitively in Gaul, and founded there two new kingdoms: the Visigoths, under their kings Ataulph and Wallia, in Aquitania and Narbonensis; the Burgundians, under their kings Gundichaire and Gundioch, in Lyonnais, from the southern point of Alsatia right into Provence, along the two banks of the Saône and the left bank of the Rhone, and also in Switzerland. In 451 the arrival in Gaul of the Huns and their king Attila—already famous, both king and nation, for their wild habits, their fierce valor, and their successes against the Eastern Empire—gravely complicated the situation. The common interest of resistance against the most barbarous of barbarians, and the renown and energy of Aetius, united, for the moment, the old and new masters of Gaul; Romans, Gauls, Visigoths, Burgundians, Franks, Alans, Saxons, and Britons formed the army led by Aetius against that of Attila, who also had in his ranks Goths, Burgundians, Gepidians, Alans, and beyond-Rhine Franks, gathered together and enlisted on his road. It was a chaos and a conflict of barbarians, of every name and race, disputing one with another, pell-mell, the remnants of the Roman Empire torn asunder and in dissolution.

Attila had already arrived before Orleans, and was laying siege to it. The bishop, St. Anianus, sustained awhile the courage of the besieged by promising them aid from Aetius and his allies. The aid was slow to come; and the bishop sent to Aetius a message: "If thou be not here this very day, my son, it will be too late." Still Aetius came not. The people of Orleans determined to surrender; the gates flew open; the Huns entered; the plundering began without much disorder; "wagons were stationed to receive the booty as it was taken from the houses, and the captives, arranged in groups, were divided by lot between the victorious chieftains." Suddenly a shout reëchoed through the streets: it was Aetius, Theodoric, and Torismund, his son, who were coming with the eagles of the Roman legions and with the banners of the Visigoths. A fight took place between them and the Huns, at first on the banks of the Loire, and then in the streets of the city. The people of Orleans joined their liberators; the danger was great for the Huns, and Attila ordered a retreat.

It was the 14th of June, 451, and that day was for a long while celebrated in the church of Orleans as the date of a signal deliverance. The Huns retired toward Champagne, which they had already crossed at their coming into Gaul; and when they were before Troyes, the bishop, St. Lupus, repaired to Attila's camp, and besought him to spare a defenceless city, which had neither walls nor garrison. "So be it," answered Attila; "but thou shalt come with me and see the Rhine; I promise then to send thee back again." With mingled prudence and superstition the barbarian meant to keep the holy man as a hostage. The Huns arrived at the plains hard by Châlons-sur-Marne; Aetius and all his allies had followed them; and Attila, perceiving that a battle was inevitable, halted in a position for delivering it. The Gothic historian Jornandès says that he consulted his priests, who answered that the Huns would be beaten, but that the general of the enemy would fall in the fight. In this prophecy Attila saw predicted the death of Aetius, his most formidable enemy; and the struggle commenced. There is no precise information about the date; but "it was," says Jornandès, "a battle which for atrocity, multitude, horror, and stubbornness has not the like in the records of antiquity."

Historians vary in their exaggerations of the numbers engaged and killed: according to some, three hundred thousand, according to others one hundred and sixty-two thousand, were left on the field of battle. Theodoric, king of the Visigoths, was killed. Some chroniclers name Meroveus as king of the Franks, settled in Belgica, near Tongres, who formed part of the army of Aetius. They even attribute to him a brilliant attack made on the eve of the battle upon the Gepidians, allies of the Huns, when ninety thousand men fell according to some, and only fifteen thousand according to others. The numbers are purely imaginary, and even the fact is doubtful. However, the battle of Châlons drove the Huns out of Gaul, and was the last victory in Gaul, gained still in the name of the Roman Empire, but in reality for the advantage of the German nations which had already conquered it. Twenty-four years afterward the very name of Roman Empire disappeared with Augustulus, the last of the emperors of the West.

Thirty years after the battle of Châlons the Franks settled in Gaul were not yet united as one nation; several tribes with this name, independent one of another, were planted between the Rhine and the Somme; there were some in the environs of Cologne, Calais, Cambrai, even beyond the Seine and as far as Le Mans, on the confines of the Britons. This is one of the reasons of the confusion that prevails in the ancient chronicles about the chieftains or kings of these tribes, their names and dates, and the extent and site of their possessions. Pharamond, Clodion, Meroveus, and Childeric cannot be considered as kings of France and placed at the beginning of her history. If they are met with in connection with historical facts, fabulous legends or fanciful traditions are mingled with them; Priam appears as a predecessor of Pharamond; Clodion, who passes for having been the first to bear and transmit to the Frankish kings the title of "long-haired," is represented as the son, at one time of Pharamond, at another of another chieftain named Théodemer; romantic adventures, spoilt by geographical mistakes, adorn the life of Childeric.

All that can be distinctly affirmed is that, from A.D. 450 to 480, the two principal Frankish tribes were those of the Salian Franks and the Ripuarian Franks, settled, the latter in the east of Belgica, on the banks of the Moselle and the Rhine; the former toward the west, between the Meuse, the ocean, and the Somme. Meroveus, whose name was perpetuated in his line, was one of the principal chieftains of the Salian Franks; and his son Childeric, who resided at Tournai, where his tomb was discovered in 1655, was the father of Clovis, who succeeded him in 481, and with whom really commenced the kingdom and history of France.

Clovis was fifteen or sixteen years old when he became king of the Salian Franks of Tournai. Five years afterward his ruling passion, ambition, exhibited itself, together with that mixture of boldness and craft which was to characterize his whole life. He had two neighbors: one, hostile to the Franks, the Roman patrician Syagrius, who was left master at Soissons after the death of his father Ægidius, and whom Gregory of Tours calls "king of the Romans"; the other, a Salian-Frankish chieftain, just as Clovis was, and related to him, Ragnacaire, who was settled at Cambrai. Clovis induced Ragnacaire to join him in a campaign against Syagrius. They fought, and Syagrius was driven to take refuge in Southern Gaul, with Alaric, king of the Visigoths.

Clovis, not content with taking possession of Soissons, and anxious to prevent any troublesome return, demanded of Alaric to send Syagrius back to him, threatening war if the request were refused. The Goth, less bellicose than the Frank, delivered up Syagrius to the envoys of Clovis, who immediately had him secretly put to death, settled himself at Soissons, and from thence set on foot, in the country between the Aisne and the Loire, plundering and subjugating expeditions which speedily increased his domains and his wealth, and extended far and wide his fame as well as his ambition. The Franks who accompanied him were not long before they also felt the growth of his power; like him they were pagans, and the treasures of the Christian churches counted for a great deal in the booty they had to divide. On one of their expeditions they had taken in the church of Rheims, among other things, a vase "of marvellous size and beauty."

The bishop of Rheims, St. Remi, was not quite a stranger to Clovis. Some years before, when he had heard that the son of Childeric had become king of the Franks of Tournai, he had written to congratulate him. "We are informed," said he, "that thou hast undertaken the conduct of affairs; it is no marvel that thou beginnest to be what thy fathers ever were;" and, while taking care to put himself on good terms with the young pagan chieftain, the bishop added to his felicitations some pious Christian counsel, without letting any attempt at conversion be mixed up with his moral exhortations. The bishop, informed of the removal of the vase, sent to Clovis a messenger begging the return, if not of all his church's ornaments, at any rate of that. "Follow us as far as Soissons," said Clovis to the messenger; "it is there the partition is to take place of what we have captured; when the lots shall have given me the vase, I will do what the bishop demands."

When Soissons was reached, and all the booty had been placed in the midst of the host, the king said: "Valiant warriors, I pray you not to refuse me, over and above my share, this vase here." At these words of the king, those who were of sound mind among the assembly answered: "Glorious king, everything we see here is thine, and we ourselves are submissive to thy commands. Do thou as seemeth good to thee, for there is none that can resist thy power." When they had thus spoken, a certain Frank, light-minded, jealous, and vain, cried out aloud as he struck the vase with his battle-axe, "Thou shalt have naught of all this save what the lots shall truly give thee." At these words all were astounded; but the king bore the insult with sweet patience, and, accepting the vase, he gave it to the messenger, hiding his wound in the recesses of his heart. At the end of a year he ordered all his host to assemble fully equipped at the March parade, to have their arms inspected. After having passed in review all the other warriors, he came to him who had struck the vase. "None," said he, "hath brought hither arms so ill-kept as thine; nor lance, nor sword, nor battle-axe are in condition for service." And wresting from him his axe he flung it on the ground. The man stooped down a little to pick it up, and forthwith the King, raising with both hands his own battle-axe, drove it into his skull, saying, "Thus didst thou to the vase of Soissons!" On the death of this fellow he bade the rest begone, and by this act made himself greatly feared.

A bold and unexpected deed has always a great effect on men: with his Frankish warriors, as well as with his Roman and Gothic foes, Clovis had at command the instincts of patience and brutality in turn; he could bear a mortification and take vengeance in due season. While prosecuting his course of plunder and war in Eastern Belgica, on the banks of the Meuse, Clovis was inspired with a wish to get married. He had heard tell of a young girl, like himself of the Germanic royal line, Clotilde, niece of Gondebaud, at that time king of the Burgundians. She was dubbed beautiful, wise, and well-informed; but her situation was melancholy and perilous. Ambition and fraternal hatred had devastated her family. Her father, Chilperic, and her two brothers, had been put to death by her uncle Gondebaud, who had caused her mother, Agrippina, to be thrown into the Rhone, with a stone round her neck, and drowned. Two sisters alone had survived this slaughter: the elder, Chrona, had taken religious vows; the other, Clotilde, was living almost in exile at Geneva, absorbed in works of piety and charity.

The principal historian of this epoch, Gregory of Tours, an almost contemporary authority, for he was elected bishop sixty-two years after the death of Clovis, says simply: "Clovis at once sent a deputation to Gondebaud to ask Clotilde in marriage. Gondebaud, not daring to refuse, put her into the hands of the envoys, who took her promptly to the King. Clovis at sight of her was transported with joy, and married her." But to this short account other chroniclers, among them Frédégaire, who wrote a commentary upon and a continuation of Gregory of Tours' work, added details which deserve reproduction, first as a picture of manners, next for the better understanding of history. "As he was not allowed to see Clotilde," says Frédégaire, "Clovis charged a certain Roman, named Aurelian, to use all his wit to come nigh her. Aurelian repaired alone to the spot, clothed in rags and with his wallet upon his back, like a mendicant. To insure confidence in himself he took with him the ring of Clovis. On his arrival at Geneva, Clotilde received him as a pilgrim charitably, and while she was washing his feet Aurelian, bending toward her, said, under his breath, 'Lady, I have great matters to announce to thee if thou deign to permit me secret revelation.' She, consenting, replied, 'Say on.' 'Clovis, king of the Franks,' said he, 'hath sent me to thee: if it be the will of God, he would fain raise thee to his high rank by marriage; and that thou mayest be certified thereof, he sendeth thee this ring.' She accepted the ring with great joy, and said to Aurelian, 'Take for recompense of thy pains these hundred sous in gold and this ring of mine. Return promptly to thy lord; if he would fain unite me to him by marriage, let him send without delay messengers to demand me of my uncle Gondebaud, and let the messengers who shall come take me away in haste, so soon as they shall have obtained permission; if they haste not I fear lest a certain sage, one Aridius, may return from Constantinople, and, if he arrive beforehand, all this matter will by his counsel come to naught.'

"Aurelian returned in the same disguise under which he had come. On approaching the territory of Orleans, and at no great distance from his house, he had taken as travelling companion a certain poor mendicant, by whom he, having fallen asleep from sheer fatigue, and thinking himself safe, was robbed of his wallet and the hundred sous in gold that it contained. On awakening, Aurelian was sorely vexed, ran swiftly home, and sent his servants in all directions in search of the mendicant who had stolen his wallet. He was found and brought to Aurelian, who, after drubbing him soundly for three days, let him go his way. He afterward told Clovis all that had passed and what Clotilde suggested. Clovis, pleased with his success and with Clotilde's notion, at once sent a deputation to Gondebaud to demand his niece in marriage. Gondebaud, not daring to refuse, and flattered at the idea of making a friend of Clovis, promised to give her to him. Then the deputation, having offered the denier and the sou, according to the custom of the Franks, espoused Clotilde in the name of Clovis, and demanded that she be given up to them to be married.

"Without any delay the council was assembled at Châlons, and preparations made for the nuptials. The Franks, having arrived with all speed, received her from the hands of Gondebaud, put her into a covered carriage, and escorted her to Clovis, together with much treasure. She, however, having already learned that Aridius was on his way back, said to the Frankish lords, 'If ye would take me into the presence of your lord, let me descend from this carriage, mount me on horseback, and get you hence as fast as ye may; for never in this carriage shall I reach the presence of your lord.'

"Aridius, in fact, returned very speedily from Marseilles, and Gondebaud, on seeing him, said to him, 'Thou knowest that we have made friends with the Franks, and that I have given my niece to Clovis to wife.' 'This,' answered Aridius, 'is no bond of friendship, but the beginning of perpetual strife. Thou shouldst have remembered, my lord, that thou didst slay Clotilde's father, thy brother Chilperic, that thou didst drown her mother, and that thou didst cut off her brothers' heads and cast their bodies into a well. If Clotilde become powerful she will avenge the wrongs of her relatives. Send thou forthwith a troop in chase, and have her brought back to thee. It will be easier for thee to bear the wrath of one person than to be perpetually at strife, thyself and thine, with all the Franks.' And Gondebaud did send forthwith a troop in chase to fetch back Clotilde with the carriage and all the treasure; but she, on approaching Villers, where Clovis was waiting for her, in the territory of the Troyes, and before passing the Burgundian frontier, urged them who escorted her to disperse right and left over a space of twelve leagues in the country whence she was departing, to plunder and burn; and that having been done with the permission of Clovis, she cried aloud, 'I thank thee, God omnipotent, for that I see the commencement of vengeance for my parents and my brethren!'"

The majority of the learned have regarded this account of Frédégaire as a romantic fable, and have declined to give it a place in history. M. Fauriel, one of the most learned associates of the Academy of Inscriptions, has given much the same opinion, but he nevertheless adds: "Whatever may be their authorship, the fables in question are historic in the sense that they relate to real facts of which they are a poetical expression, a romantic development, conceived with the idea of popularizing the Frankish kings among the Gallo-Roman subjects." It cannot, however, be admitted that a desire to popularize the Frankish kings is a sufficient and truth-like explanation of these tales of the Gallo-Roman chroniclers, or that they are no more than "a poetical expression, a romantic development" of the real facts briefly noted by Gregory of Tours; the tales have a graver origin and contain more truth than would be presumed from some of the anecdotes and sayings mixed up with them. In the condition of minds and parties in Gaul at the end of the fifth century the marriage of Clovis and Clotilde was, for the public of the period, for the barbarians and for the Gallo-Romans, a great matter. Clovis and the Franks were still pagans; Gondebaud and the Burgundians were Christians, but Arians; Clotilde was a Catholic Christian. To which of the two, Catholics or Arians, would Clovis ally himself? To whom, Arian, pagan, or Catholic, would Clotilde be married?

Assuredly the bishops, priests, and all the Gallo-Roman clergy, for the most part Catholics, desired to see Clovis, that young and audacious Frankish chieftain, take to wife a Catholic rather than an Arian or a pagan, and hoped to convert the pagan Clovis to Christianity much more easily than an Arian to orthodoxy. The question between Catholic orthodoxy and Arianism was, at that time, a vital question for Christianity in its entirety, and St. Athanasius was not wrong in attributing to it supreme importance. It may be presumed that the Catholic clergy, the bishop of Rheims, or the bishop of Langres was no stranger to the repeated praises which turned the thoughts of the Frankish King toward the Burgundian princess, and the idea of their marriage once set afloat, the Catholics, priesthood or laity, labored undoubtedly to push it forward, while the Burgundian Arians exerted themselves to prevent it.

Thus there took place between opposing influences, religious and national, a most animated struggle. No astonishment can be felt, then, at the obstacles the marriage encountered, at the complications mingled with it, and at the indirect means employed on both sides to cause its success or failure. The account of Frédégaire is but a picture of this struggle and its incidents, a little amplified or altered by imagination or the credulity of the period; but the essential features of the picture, the disguise of Aurelian, the hurry of Clotilde, the prudent recollection of Aridius, Gondebaud's alternations of fear and violence, and Clotilde's vindictive passion when she is once out of danger—there is nothing in all this out of keeping with the manners of the time or the position of the actors. Let it be added that Aurelian and Aridius are real personages who are met with elsewhere in history, and whose parts as played on the occasion of Clotilde's marriage are in harmony with the other traces that remain of their lives.

The consequences of the marriage justified before long the importance which had on all sides been attached to it. Clotilde had a son; she was anxious to have him baptized, and urged her husband to consent. "The gods you worship," said she, "are naught, and can do naught for themselves or others; they are of wood or stone or metal." Clovis resisted, saying: "It is by the command of our gods that all things are created and brought forth. It is plain that your God hath no power; there is no proof even that he is of the race of the gods." But Clotilde prevailed; and she had her son baptized solemnly, hoping that the striking nature of the ceremony might win to the faith the father whom her words and prayers had been powerless to touch. The child soon died, and Clovis bitterly reproached the Queen, saying: "Had the child been dedicated to my gods he would be alive; he was baptized in the name of your God, and he could not live." Clotilde defended her God and prayed. She had a second son who was also baptized, and fell sick. "It cannot be otherwise with him than with his brother," said Clovis; "baptized in the name of your Christ, he is going to die." But the child was cured, and lived; and Clovis was pacified and less incredulous of Christ.

An event then came to pass which affected him still more than the sickness or cure of his children.

In 496 the Alemannians, a Germanic confederation like the Franks, who also had been, for some time past, assailing the Roman Empire on the banks of the Rhine or the frontiers of Switzerland, crossed the river and invaded the settlements of the Franks on the left bank. Clovis went to the aid of his confederation and attacked the Alemannians at Tolbiac, near Cologne. He had with him Aurelian, who had been his messenger to Clotilde, whom he had made duke of Melun, and who commanded the forces of Sens. The battle was going ill; the Franks were wavering and Clovis was anxious. Before setting out he had, according to Frédégaire, promised his wife that if he were victorious he would turn Christian.

Other chroniclers say that Aurelian, seeing the battle in danger of being lost, said to Clovis, "My lord King, believe only on the Lord of heaven whom the Queen, my mistress, preacheth." Clovis cried out with emotion: "Christ Jesus, thou whom my queen Clotilde calleth the Son of the living God, I have invoked my own gods, and they have withdrawn from me; I believe that they have no power, since they aid not those who call upon them. Thee, very God and Lord, I invoke; if thou give me victory over these foes, if I find in thee the power that the people proclaim of thee, I will believe on thee, and will be baptized in thy name." The tide of battle turned; the Franks recovered confidence and courage; and the Allemannians, beaten and seeing their King slain, surrendered themselves to Clovis, saying: "Cease, of thy grace, to cause any more of our people to perish; for we are thine."

On the return of Clovis, Clotilde, fearing he should forget his victory and his promise, "secretly sent," says Gregory of Tours, "to St. Remi, bishop of Rheims, and prayed him to penetrate the King's heart with the words of salvation." St. Remi was a fervent Christian and able bishop; and "I will listen to thee, most holy father," said Clovis, "willingly; but there is a difficulty. The people that follow me will not give up their gods. But I am about to assemble them, and will speak to them according to thy word." The King found the people more docile or better prepared than he had represented to the bishop. Even before he opened his mouth the greater part of those present cried out: "We abjure the mortal gods; we are ready to follow the immortal God whom Remi preacheth."

About three thousand Frankish warriors, however, persisted in their intention of remaining pagans, and deserting Clovis betook themselves to Ragnacaire, the Frankish king of Cambrai, who was destined ere long to pay dearly for this acquisition. So soon as St. Remi was informed of this good disposition on the part of king and people, he fixed Christmas Day of this year, 496, for the ceremony of the baptism of these grand neophytes. The description of it is borrowed from the historian of the church of Rheims, Frodoard by name, born at the close of the ninth century. He gathered together the essential points of it from the Life of Saint Remi, written, shortly before that period, by the saint's celebrated successor at Rheims, Archbishop Hincmar. "The bishop," says he, "went in search of the King at early morn in his bed-chamber, in order that, taking him at the moment of freedom from secular cares, he might more freely communicate to him the mysteries of the holy word. The King's chamber-people receive him with great respect, and the King himself runs forward to meet him. Thereupon they pass together into an oratory dedicated to St. Peter, chief of the apostles, and adjoining the King's apartment.

"When the bishop, the King, and the Queen had taken their places on the seats prepared for them, and admission had been given to some clerics and also some friends and household servants of the King, the venerable bishop began his instructions on the subject of salvation.

"Meanwhile preparations are being made along the road from the palace to the baptistery; curtains and valuable stuffs are hung up; the houses on either side of the street are dressed out; the baptistery is sprinkled with balm and all manner of perfume. The procession moves from the palace; the clergy lead the way with the holy gospels, the cross, and standards, singing hymns and spiritual songs; then comes the bishop, leading the King by the hand; after him the Queen, lastly the people. On the road, it is said that the King asked the bishop if that were the kingdom promised him. 'No,' answered the prelate, 'but it is the entrance to the road that leads to it.'

"At the moment when the King bent his head over the fountain of life, 'Lower thy head with humility, Sicambrian,' cried the eloquent bishop; 'adore what thou hast burned; burn what thou hast adored.' The King's two sisters, Alboflède and Lantéchilde, likewise received baptism; and so at the same time did three thousand of the Frankish army, besides a large number of women and children."

When it was known that Clovis had been baptized by St. Remi, and with what striking circumstance, great was the satisfaction among the Catholics. The chief Burgundian prelate, Avitus, bishop of Vienne, wrote to the Frankish King: "Your faith is our victory; in choosing for you and yours, you have pronounced for all; divine Providence hath given you as arbiter to our age. Greece can boast of having a sovereign of our persuasion; but she is no longer alone in possession of this precious gift; the rest of the world doth share her light." Pope Anastasius hastened to express his joy to Clovis. "The Church, our common mother," he wrote, "rejoiceth to have born unto God so great a king. Continue, glorious and illustrious son, to cheer the heart of this tender mother; be a column of iron to support her, and she in her turn will give thee victory over all thine enemies."

Clovis was not a man to omit turning his Catholic popularity to the account of his ambition. At the very time when he was receiving these testimonies of good-will from the heads of the Church he learned that Gondebaud, disquieted, no doubt, at the conversion of his powerful neighbor, had just made a vain attempt, at a conference held at Lyons, to reconcile in his kingdom the Catholics and the Arians. Clovis considered the moment favorable to his projects of aggrandizement at the expense of the Burgundian King; he fomented the dissensions which already prevailed between Gondebaud and his brother Godegisile, assured to himself the latter's complicity, and suddenly entered Burgundy with his army. Gondebaud, betrayed and beaten at the first encounter at Dijon, fled to the south of his kingdom, and went and shut himself up in Avignon. Clovis pursued, and besieged him there. Gondebaud in great alarm asked counsel of his Roman confidant Aridius, who had but lately foretold to him what the marriage of his niece Clotilde would bring upon him. "On every side," said the King, "I am encompassed by perils, and I know not what to do. Lo! here be these barbarians come upon us to slay us and destroy the land." "To escape death," answered Aridius, "thou must appease the ferocity of this man. Now, if it please thee, I will feign to fly from thee and go over to him. So soon as I shall be with him, I will so do that he ruin neither thee nor the land. Only have thou care to perform whatsoever I shall ask of thee, until the Lord in his goodness deign to make thy cause triumph." "All that thou shalt bid will I do," said Gondebaud. So Aridius left Gondebaud and went his way to Clovis, and said: "Most pious King, I am thy humble servant; I give up this wretched Gondebaud and come unto thy mightiness. If thy goodness deign to cast a glance upon me, thou and thy descendants will find in me a servant of integrity and fidelity."

Clovis received him very kindly and kept him by him, for Aridius was agreeable in conversation, wise in counsel, just in judgment, and faithful in whatever was committed to his care. As the siege continued Aridius said to Clovis: "O King, if the glory of thy greatness would suffer thee to listen to the words of my feebleness, though thou needest not counsel, I would submit them to thee in all fidelity, and they might be of use to thee, whether for thyself or for the towns by the which thou dost propose to pass. Wherefore keepest thou here thine army whilst thine enemy doth hide himself in a well-fortified place? Thou ravagest the fields, thou pillagest the corn, thou cuttest down the vines, thou fellest the olive-trees, thou destroyest all the produce of the land, and yet thou succeedest not in destroying thine adversary. Rather send thou unto him deputies, and lay on him a tribute to be paid to thee every year. Thus the land will be preserved, and thou wilt be lord forever over him who owes thee tribute. If he refuse, thou shalt then do what pleaseth thee." Clovis found the counsel good, ordered his army to return home, sent deputies to Gondebaud, and called upon him to undertake the payment every year of a fixed tribute. Gondebaud paid for the time, and promised to pay punctually for the future. And peace appeared made between the two barbarians.

Pleased with his campaign against the Burgundians, Clovis kept on good terms with Gondebaud, who was to be henceforth a simple tributary, and transferred to the Visigoths of Aquitania and their King, Alaric II, his views of conquest. He had there the same pretexts for attack and the same means of success. Alaric and his Visigoths were Arians, and between them and the bishops of Southern Gaul, nearly all orthodox Catholics, there were permanent ill-will and distrust. Alaric attempted to conciliate their good-will: in 506 a council met at Agde; the thirty-four bishops of Aquitania attended in person or by delegate; the King protested that he had no design of persecuting the Catholics; the bishops, at the opening of the council, offered prayers for the King; but Alaric did not forget that immediately after the conversion of Clovis, Volusian, bishop of Tours, had conspired in favor of the Frankish King, and the bishops of Aquitania regarded Volusian as a martyr, for he had been deposed, without trial, from his see, and taken as a prisoner first to Toulouse, and afterward into Spain, where in a short time he had been put to death. In vain did the glorious chief of the race of Goths, Theodoric the Great, king of Italy, father-in-law of Alaric, and brother-in-law of Clovis, exert himself to prevent any outbreak between the two kings. In 498 Alaric, no doubt at his father-in-law's solicitation, wrote to Clovis, "If my brother consent thereto, I would, following my desires and by the grace of God, have an interview with him."

The interview took place at a small island in the Loire, called the Ile d'Or or de St. Jean, near Amboise. "The two kings," says Gregory of Tours, "conversed, ate, and drank together, and separated with mutual promises of friendship." The positions and passions of each soon made the promises of no effect. In 505 Clovis was seriously ill; the bishops of Aquitania testified warm interest in him; and one of them, Quintian, bishop of Rodez, being on this account persecuted by the Visigoths, had to seek refuge at Clermont, in Auvergne. Clovis no longer concealed his designs. In 507 he assembled his principal chieftains; and "It displeaseth me greatly," said he, "that these Arians should possess a portion of the Gauls; march we forth with the help of God, drive we them from that land, for it is very goodly, and bring we it under our own power."

The Franks applauded their King; and the army set out on the march in the direction of Poitiers, where Alaric happened at that time to be. "As a portion of the troops was crossing the territory of Tours," says Gregory, who was shortly afterward its bishop, "Clovis forbade, out of respect for St. Martin, anything to be taken, save grass and water. One of the army, however, having found some hay belonging to a poor man, said, 'This is grass; we do not break the King's commands by taking it'; and, in spite of the poor man's resistance, he robbed him of his hay. Clovis, informed of the fact, slew the soldier on the spot with one sweep of his sword, saying, 'What will become of our hopes of victory, if we offend St. Martin?'" Alaric had prepared for the struggle; and the two armies met in the plain of Vouillé, on the banks of the little river Clain, a few leagues from Poitiers. The battle was very severe. "The Goths," says Gregory of Tours, "fought with missiles; the Franks sword in hand. Clovis met and with his own hand slew Alaric in the fray; at the moment of striking his blow two Goths fell suddenly upon Clovis, and attacked him with their pikes on either side, but he escaped death, thanks to his cuirass and the agility of his horse."

Beaten and kingless, the Goths retreated in great disorder; and Clovis, pursuing his march, arrived without opposition at Bordeaux, where he settled down with his Franks for the winter. When the war season returned he marched on Toulouse, the capital of the Visigoths, which he likewise occupied without resistance, and where he seized a portion of the treasure of the Visigothic kings. He quitted it to lay siege to Carcassonne, which had been made by the Romans into the stronghold of Septimania.

There his course of conquest was destined to end. After the battle of Vouillé he had sent his eldest son, Theodoric, in command of a division, with orders to cross Central Gaul from west to east, to go and join the Burgundians of Gondebaud, who had promised his assistance, and in conjunction with them to attack the Visigoths on the banks of the Rhone and in Narbonensis. The young Frank boldly executed his father's orders, but the intervention of Theodoric the Great, king of Italy, prevented the success of the operation. He sent an army into Gaul to the aid of his son-in-law Alaric; and the united Franks and Burgundians failed in their attacks upon the Visigoths of the eastern provinces. Clovis had no idea of compromising by his obstinacy the conquests already accomplished; he therefore raised the siege of Carcassonne, returned first to Toulouse, and then to Bordeaux, took Angoulême, the only town of importance he did not possess in Aquitania; and feeling reasonably sure that the Visigoths, who, even with the aid that had come from Italy, had great difficulty in defending what remained to them of Southern Gaul, would not come and dispute with him what he had already conquered, he halted at Tours, and stayed there some time, to enjoy on the very spot the fruits of his victory and to establish his power in his new possessions.

It appears that even the Britons of Armorica tendered to him at that time, through the interposition of Melanius, bishop of Rennes, if not their actual submission, at any rate their subordination and homage.

Clovis at the same time had his self-respect flattered in a manner to which barbaric conquerors always attach great importance. Anastasius, emperor of the East, with whom he had already had some communication, sent to him at Tours a solemn embassy, bringing him the titles and insignia of patrician and consul. "Clovis," says Gregory of Tours, "put on the tunic of purple and the chlamys and the diadem; then mounting his horse, he scattered with his own hand and with much bounty gold and silver among the people, on the road which lies between the gate of the court belonging to the basilica of St. Martin and the church of the city. From that day he was called consul and augustus. On leaving the city of Tours he repaired to Paris, where he fixed the seat of his government."

Paris was certainly the political centre of his dominions, the intermediate point between the early settlements of his race and himself in Gaul and his new Gallic conquests; but he lacked some of the possessions nearest to him and most naturally, in his own opinion, his. To the east, north, and south-west of Paris were settled some independent Frankish tribes, governed by chieftains with the name of kings. So soon as he had settled at Paris, it was the one fixed idea of Clovis to reduce them all to subjection. He had conquered the Burgundians and the Visigoths; it remained for him to conquer and unite together all the Franks. The barbarian showed himself in his true colors, during this new enterprise, with his violence, his craft, his cruelty, and his perfidy. He began with the most powerful of the tribes, the Ripuarian Franks. He sent secretly to Cloderic, son of Sigebert, their King, saying: "Thy father hath become old, and his wound maketh him to limp o' one foot; if he should die, his kingdom will come to thee of right, together with our friendship." Cloderic had his father assassinated while asleep in his tent, and sent messengers to Clovis, saying: "My father is dead, and I have in my power his kingdom and his treasures. Send thou unto me certain of thy people, and I will gladly give into their hands whatsoever among these treasures shall seem like to please thee." The envoys of Clovis came, and, as they were examining in detail the treasures of Sigebert, Cloderic said to them, "This is the coffer wherein my father was wont to pile up his gold pieces." "Plunge," said they, "thy hand right to the bottom, that none escape thee." Cloderic bent forward, and one of the envoys lifted his battle-axe and cleft his skull.

Clovis went to Cologne and convoked the Franks of the canton. "Learn," said he, "that which hath happened. As I was sailing on the river Scheldt, Cloderic, son of my relative, did vex his father, saying I was minded to slay him; and as Sigebert was flying across the forest of Buchaw, his son himself sent bandits, who fell upon him and slew him. Cloderic also is dead, smitten I know not by whom as he was opening his father's treasures. I am altogether unconcerned in it all, and I could not shed the blood of my relatives, for it is a crime. But since it hath so happened, I give unto you counsel, which ye shall follow if it seem to you good; turn ye toward me, and live under my protection." And they who were present hoisted him on a huge buckler and hailed him king.

After Sigebert and the Ripuarian Franks came the Franks of Térouanne, and Chararic, their King. He had refused, twenty years before, to march with Clovis against the Roman Syagrius. Clovis, who had not forgotten it, attacked him, took him and his son prisoners, and had them both shorn, ordering that Chararic should be ordained priest and his son deacon. Chararic was much grieved. Then said his son to him: "Here be branches which were cut from a green tree, and are not yet wholly dried up: soon they will sprout forth again. May it please God that he who hath wrought all this shall die as quickly!" Clovis considered these words as a menace, had both father and son beheaded, and took possession of their dominions. Ragnacaire, king of the Franks of Cambrai, was the third to be attacked. He had served Clovis against Syagrius, but Clovis took no account of that. Ragnacaire, being beaten, was preparing for flight, when he was seized by his own soldiers, who tied his hands behind his back, and took him to Clovis along with his brother Riquier. "Wherefore hast thou dishonored our race," said Clovis, "by letting thyself wear bonds? 'Twere better to have died," and cleft his skull with one stroke of his battle-axe; then turning to Riquier, "Hadst thou succored thy brother," said he, "he had assuredly not been bound," and felled him likewise at his feet. Rignomer, king of the Franks of Le Mans, met the same fate, but not at the hands, only by the order, of Clovis. So Clovis remained sole king of the Franks, for all the independent chieftains had disappeared.

It is said that one day, after all these murders, Clovis, surrounded by his trusted servants, cried: "Woe is me! who am left as a traveller among strangers, and who have no longer relatives to lend me support in the day of adversity!" Thus do the most shameless take pleasure in exhibiting sham sorrow after crimes they cannot disavow.

It cannot be known whether Clovis ever felt in his soul any scruple or regret for his many acts of ferocity and perfidy, or if he looked as sufficient expiation upon the favor he had bestowed on the churches and their bishops, upon the gifts he lavished on them, and upon the absolutions he demanded of them. In times of mingled barbarism and faith there are strange cases of credulity in the way of bargains made with divine justice. We read in the life of St. Eleutherus, bishop of Tournai, the native land of Clovis, that at one of those periods when the conscience of the Frankish King must have been most heavily laden, he presented himself one day at the church. "My lord King," said the bishop, "I know wherefore thou art come to me." "I have nothing special to say unto thee," rejoined Clovis, "Say not so, O King," replied the bishop; "thou hast sinned, and darest not avow it." The King was moved, and ended by confessing that he had deeply sinned and had need of large pardon. St. Eleutherus betook himself to prayer; the King came back the next day, and the bishop gave him a paper on which was written by a divine hand, he said, "the pardon granted to royal offences which might not be revealed."

Clovis accepted this absolution, and loaded the church of Tournai with his gifts. In 511, the very year of his death, his last act in life was the convocation at Orleans of a council, which was attended by thirty bishops from the different parts of his kingdom, and at which were adopted thirty-one canons that, while granting to the Church great privileges and means of influence, in many cases favorable to humanity and respect for the rights of individuals, bound the Church closely to the state, and gave to royalty, even in ecclesiastical matters, great power. The bishops, on breaking up, sent these canons to Clovis, praying him to give them the sanction of his adhesion, which he did. A few months afterward, on the 27th of November, 511, Clovis died at Paris, and was buried in the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, nowadays St. Geneviève, built by his wife, Queen Clotilde, who survived him.

It was but right to make the reader intimately acquainted with that great barbarian who, with all his vices and all his crimes, brought about, or rather began, two great matters which have already endured through fourteen centuries and still endure; for he founded the French monarchy and Christian France. Such men and such facts have a right to be closely studied and set in a clear light by history. Nothing similar will be seen for two centuries, under the descendants of Clovis, the Merovingians; among them will be encountered none but those personages whom death reduces to insignificance, whatever may have been their rank in the world, and of whom Vergil thus speaks to Dante:

"Waste we no words on them: one glance and pass thou on."


A.D. 529-534


The richest legacy ever left by one civilization to another was the Justinian Code. This compilation of the entire body of the Roman civil law (Corpus Juris Civilis), as evolved during the thousand years after the Decemvirate legislation of the Twelve Tables, comprises perhaps the most valuable historical data preserved from ancient times. It presents a vivid and authentic picture of the domestic life of the Romans and the rules which governed their relations to each other. This phase of history is considered by modern historians as of far greater importance than the chronicles of battles and court intrigues.

The importance of the Justinian Code, however, is not that of mere history. Its influence as a living force is what compels the admiration and gratitude of mankind. It forms the basis of the systems of law in all the civilized nations of the world, with the exception of those of the English-speaking peoples, and even in these the principles of the civil law—as the Roman law is called in contradistinction to the common and statute law of these nations—form the most important part of the regulations concerning personal property.

For this monumental work the world is indebted to Justinian I (Flavius Anicius Justinianus), the most famous of the emperors of the Eastern Empire since Constantine. He was born a Slavonian peasant. Uprawda, his original name, was Latinized into Justinian when he became an officer in the Imperial Guard. He was adopted, educated, and trained by Justin I, whom he succeeded as emperor. His long reign (527-565) was disturbed by the sanguinary factions of the Circus—the Greens and the Blues, so named from the colors of the competing charioteers in the games—the suppression of the schools of philosophy at Athens, and by various wars. Nevertheless it was marked by magnificent works, the administrative organization of the empire, and the great buildings at Constantinople. The Church of Santa-Sophia, the first great Christian church, although used as a Mahometan mosque since 1459, still stands at Constantinople, with its plain exterior but impressive interior, a monument of Justinian's reign.

His two great masters of war, foreigners in origin like himself, were Belisarius the Thracian and Narses the Armenian. Africa was wrested from the Vandals; Italy from the successors of Theodoric; and much of Spain from the Western Goths. Under Justinian the Byzantine or Eastern Empire resumed much of the majesty and power of ancient Rome. But the crowning glory of his career was the Code. One of the greatest historians says of his reign: "Its most instructive lesson has been drawn from the influence which its legislation has exercised on foreign nations. The unerring instinct of mankind has fixed on this period as one of the greatest eras in man's annals."

The Code was a digest of the whole mass of Roman law literature, compiled and annotated at the command of Justinian, under the supervision of the great lawyer Tribonian, who, with his helpers, reduced the chaotic mass to a logical system containing the essence of Roman law. The first part of the Codex Constitutionem, prepared in less than a year, was published in April, 529. The second part, the Digest or Pandects, appeared in December, 533. To insure conformity, both were revised and issued in November, 534, the Institutiones, an elementary text-book, founded on the Institutiones of Gaius, who lived A.D. 110-180, being added, and the whole, as a complete body of law, given to the law schools at Constantinople, Rome, Alexandria, Berytus, and Cæsarea, for use in their graduate course. Later the Novellæ Constitutione, or Novels, most of them in Greek, comprising statutes of Justinian arranged chronologically, completed the Code.

Forgotten or ignored during the lawless days of the Dark Ages, an entire copy of this famous code was discovered when Amalphi was taken by the Pisans in 1137. Its publication immediately attracted the attention of the learned world. Gratian, a monk of Bologna, compiled a digest of the canon law on the model of that work, and soon afterward, incorporating with his writings the collections of prior authors, gave his "decretum" to the public in 1151. From that time the two codes, the civil and canon laws, were deemed the principal repositories of legal knowledge, and the study of each was considered necessary to throw light on the other.

Justinian's example in the codification of laws was followed by almost every European nation after the eighteenth century; the Code Napoleon (1803-04), regulating all that pertains "to the civil rights of citizens and of property," being the most brilliant parallel to the Justinian Code. The reader familiar with the life of Napoleon will recall that all of his historians quote his frequent allusion to the Code Napoleon as the one great work which would be a living monument of his career, when the glory of all his other achievements would be dimmed by time or forgotten.

Gibbon's examination of the Justinian Code is justly regarded as one of the most important features of the historian's great work, and in several of the leading universities of Europe has long been used as a text-work on civil law.

When Justinian ascended the throne, the reformation of the Roman jurisprudence was an arduous but indispensable task. In the space of ten centuries, the infinite variety of laws and legal opinions had filled many thousand volumes, which no fortune could purchase and no capacity could digest. Books could not easily be found; and the judges, poor in the midst of riches, were reduced to the exercise of their illiterate discretion. The subjects of the Greek provinces were ignorant of the language that disposed of their lives and properties; and the barbarous dialect of the Latins was imperfectly studied in the academies of Berytus and Constantinople. As an Illyrian soldier, that idiom was familiar to the infancy of Justinian; his youth had been instructed by the lessons of jurisprudence, and his imperial choice selected the most learned civilians of the East, to labor with their sovereign in the work of reformation. The theory of professors was assisted by the practice of advocates and the experience of magistrates, and the whole undertaking was animated by the spirit of Tribonian.

This extraordinary man, the object of so much praise and censure, was a native of Side in Pamphylia; and his genius, like that of Bacon, embraced as his own all the business and knowledge of the age. Tribonian composed, both in prose and verse, on a strange diversity of curious and abstruse subjects; a double panegyric of Justinian and the life of the philosopher Theodotus; the nature of happiness and the duties of government; Homer's catalogue and the four-and-twenty sorts of metre; the astronomical canon of Ptolemy; the changes of the months; the houses of the planets; and the harmonic system of the world. To the literature of Greece he added the use of the Latin tongue; the Roman civilians were deposited in his library and in his mind; and he most assiduously cultivated those arts which opened the road of wealth and preferment. From the bar of the prætorian prefects he raised himself to the honors of quæstor, of consul, and of master of the offices: the council of Justinian listened to his eloquence and wisdom, and envy was mitigated by the gentleness and affability of his manners.

The reproaches of impiety and avarice have stained the virtues or the reputation of Tribonian. In a bigoted and persecuting court the principal minister was accused of a secret aversion to the Christian faith, and was supposed to entertain the sentiments of an atheist and a pagan, which have been imputed, inconsistently enough, to the last philosophers of Greece. His avarice was more clearly proved and more sensibly felt. If he were swayed by gifts in the administration of justice, the example of Bacon will again occur: nor can the merit of Tribonian atone for his baseness, if he degraded the sanctity of his profession; and if laws were every day enacted, modified, or repealed, for the base consideration of his private emolument. In the sedition of Constantinople his removal was granted to the clamors, perhaps to the just indignation, of the people; but the quæstor was speedily restored, and, till the hour of his death, he possessed above twenty years the favor and confidence of the Emperor. His passive and dutiful submission has been honored with the praise of Justinian himself, whose vanity was incapable of discerning how often that submission degenerated into the grossest adulation. Tribonian adored the virtues of his gracious master: the earth was unworthy of such a prince; and he affected a pious fear, that Justinian, like Elijah or Romulus, would be snatched into the air and translated alive to the mansions of celestial glory.

If Cæsar had achieved the reformation of the Roman law, his creative genius, enlightened by reflection and study, would have given to the world a pure and original system of jurisprudence. Whatever flattery might suggest, the Emperor of the East was afraid to establish his private judgment as the standard of equity; in the possession of legislative power, he borrowed the aid of time and opinion; and his laborious compilations are guarded by the sages and legislators of past times. Instead of a statue cast in a simple mould by the hand of an artist, the works of Justinian represent a tessellated pavement of antique and costly, but too often of incoherent, fragments. In the first year of his reign he directed the faithful Tribonian and nine learned associates to revise the ordinances of his predecessors, as they were contained, since the time of Adrian, in the Gregorian, Hermogenian, and Theodosian codes; to purge the errors and contradictions, to retrench whatever was obsolete or superfluous, and to select the wise and salutary laws best adapted to the practice of the tribunals and the use of his subjects. The work was accomplished in fourteen months; and the Twelve books or Tables, which the new decemvirs produced, might be designed to imitate the labors of their Roman predecessors.

The new Code of Justinian was honored with his name and confirmed by his royal signature: authentic transcripts were multiplied by the pens of notaries and scribes; they were transmitted to the magistrates of the European, the Asiatic, and afterward the African provinces; and the law of the empire was proclaimed on solemn festivals at the doors of churches. A more arduous operation was still behind—to extract the spirit of jurisprudence from the decisions and conjectures, the questions and disputes of the Roman civilians. Seventeen lawyers, with Tribonian at their head, were appointed by the Emperor to exercise an absolute jurisdiction over the works of their predecessors. If they had obeyed his commands in ten years, Justinian would have been satisfied with their diligence; and the rapid composition of the Digest or Pandects in three years will deserve praise or censure, according to the merit of the execution.

From the library of Tribonian they chose forty, the most eminent civilians of former times: two thousand treatises were comprised in an abridgment of fifty books; and it has been carefully re-reduced in this abstract to the moderate number of one hundred and fifty thousand. The edition of this great work was delayed a month after that of the Institutes, and it seemed reasonable that the elements should precede the digest of the Roman law. As soon as the Emperor had approved their labors, he ratified by his legislative power the speculations of these private citizens: their commentaries on the Twelve Tables, the perpetual edict, the laws of the people, and the decrees of the senate succeeded to the authority of the text; and the text was abandoned as a useless, though venerable, relic of antiquity. The Code, the Pandects, and the Institutes were declared to be the legitimate system of civil jurisprudence; they alone were admitted in the tribunals, and they alone were taught in the academies of Rome, Constantinople, and Berytus. Justinian addressed to the senate and provinces his eternal oracles; and his pride, under the mask of piety, ascribed the consummation of this great design to the support and inspiration of the Deity.

Since the Emperor declined the fame and envy of original composition, we can only require at his hands method, choice, and fidelity, the humble, though indispensable, virtues of a compiler. Among the various combinations of ideas it is difficult to assign any reasonable preference; but as the order of Justinian is different in his three works, it is possible that all may be wrong; and it is certain that two cannot be right. In the selection of ancient laws he seems to have viewed his predecessors without jealousy and with equal regard: the series could not ascend above the reign of Adrian; and the narrow distinction of paganism and Christianity, introduced by the superstition of Theodosius, had been abolished by the consent of mankind. But the jurisprudence of the Pandects is circumscribed within a period of a hundred years, from the perpetual edict to the death of Severus Alexander: the civilians who lived under the first Cæsars are seldom permitted to speak, and only three names can be attributed to the age of the republic. The favorite of Justinian (it has been fiercely urged) was fearful of encountering the light of freedom and the gravity of Roman sages. Tribonian condemned to oblivion the genuine and native wisdom of Cato, the Scævolas, and Sulpicius; while he invoked spirits more congenial to his own, the Syrians, Greeks, and Africans, who flocked to the imperial court to study Latin as a foreign tongue and jurisprudence as a lucrative profession. But the ministers of Justinian were instructed to labor, not for the curiosity of antiquarians, but for the immediate benefit of his subjects. It was their duty to select the useful and practical parts of the Roman law; and the writings of the old republicans, however curious or excellent, were no longer suited to the new system of manners, religion, and government.

Perhaps, if the preceptors and friends of Cicero were still alive, our candor would acknowledge that, except in purity of language, their intrinsic merit was excelled by the school of Papinian and Ulpian. The science of the laws is the slow growth of time and experience, and the advantage both of method and materials is naturally assumed by the most recent authors. The civilians of the reign of the Antonines had studied the works of their predecessors: their philosophic spirit had mitigated the rigor of antiquity, simplified the forms of proceeding, and emerged from the jealousy and prejudice of the rival sects. The choice of the authorities that compose the Pandects depended on the judgment of Tribonian; but the power of his sovereign could not absolve him from the sacred obligations of truth and fidelity. As the legislator of the empire, Justinian might repeal the acts of the Antonines, or condemn as seditious the free principles which were maintained by the last of the Roman lawyers. But the existence of past facts is placed beyond the reach of despotism; and the Emperor was guilty of fraud and forgery when he corrupted the integrity of their text, inscribed with their venerable names the words and ideas of his servile reign, and suppressed by the hand of power the pure and authentic copies of their sentiments. The changes and interpolations of Tribonian and his colleagues are excused by the pretence of uniformity: but their cares have been insufficient, and the antinomies, or contradictions, of the Code and Pandects still exercise the patience and subtlety of modern civilians.

A rumor devoid of evidence has been propagated by the enemies of Justinian, that the jurisprudence of ancient Rome was reduced to ashes by the author of the Pandects, from the vain persuasion that it was now either false or superfluous. Without usurping an office so invidious, the Emperor might safely commit to ignorance and time the accomplishment of this destructive wish. Before the invention of printing and paper, the labor and the materials of writing could be purchased only by the rich; and it may reasonably be computed that the price of books was a hundredfold their present value. Copies were slowly multiplied and cautiously renewed: the hopes of profit tempted the sacrilegious scribes to erase the characters of antiquity,[26] and Sophocles or Tacitus were obliged to resign the parchment to missals, homilies, and the Golden Legend. If such was the fate of the most beautiful compositions of genius, what stability could be expected for the dull and barren works of an obsolete science? The books of jurisprudence were interesting to few and entertaining to none: their value was connected with present use, and they sunk forever as soon as that use was superseded by the innovations of fashion, superior merit, or public authority. In the age of peace and learning, between Cicero and the last of the Antonines, many losses had been already sustained, and some luminaries of the school or Forum were known only to the curious by tradition and report. Three hundred and sixty years of disorder and decay accelerated the progress of oblivion; and it may fairly be presumed that of the writings which Justinian is accused of neglecting many were no longer to be found in the libraries of the East. The copies of Papinian or Ulpian, which the reformer had proscribed, were deemed unworthy of future notice; the Twelve Tables and prætorian edicts insensibly vanished, and the monuments of ancient Rome were neglected or destroyed by the envy and ignorance of the Greeks.

Even the Pandects themselves have escaped with difficulty and danger from the common shipwreck, and criticism has pronounced that all the editions and manuscripts of the West are derived from one original. It was transcribed at Constantinople in the beginning of the seventh century, was successfully transported by the accidents of war and commerce to Amalphi, Pisa, and Florence,[27] and is now deposited as a sacred relic in the ancient palace of the republic.[28]

It is the first care of a reformer to prevent any future reformation. To maintain the text of the Pandects, the Institutes, and the Code, the use of ciphers and abbreviations was rigorously proscribed; and as Justinian recollected, that the perpetual edict had been buried under the weight of commentators, he denounced the punishment of forgery against the rash civilians who should presume to interpret or pervert the will of their sovereign. The scholars of Accursius, of Bartolus, of Cujacius, should blush for their accumulated guilt, unless they dare to dispute his right of binding the authority of his successors and the native freedom of the mind. But the Emperor was unable to fix his own inconstancy; and while he boasted of renewing the exchange of Diomede, of transmuting brass into gold, discovered the necessity of purifying his gold from the mixture of baser alloy. Six years had not elapsed from the publication of the Code before he condemned the imperfect attempt by a new and more accurate edition of the same work, which he enriched with two hundred of his own laws and fifty decisions of the darkest and most intricate points of jurisprudence. Every year or, according to Procopius, each day of his long reign was marked by some legal innovation. Many of his acts were rescinded by himself; many were rejected by his successors; many have been obliterated by time; but the number of sixteen Edicts and one hundred and sixty-eight Novels has been admitted into the authentic body of the civil jurisprudence. In the opinion of a philosopher superior to the prejudices of his profession, these incessant and, for the most part, trifling alterations, can be only explained by the venal spirit of a prince who sold without shame his judgments and his laws.

Monarchs seldom condescend to become the preceptors of their subjects; and some praise is due to Justinian, by whose command an ample system was reduced to a short and elementary treatise. Among the various institutes of the Roman law those of Caius were the most popular in the East and West; and their use may be considered as an evidence of their merit. They were selected by the imperial delegates, Tribonian, Theophilus, and Dorotheus, and the freedom and purity of the Antonines were incrusted with the coarser materials of a degenerate age. The same volume which introduced the youth of Rome, Constantinople, and Berytus to the gradual study of the Code and Pandects is still precious to the historian, the philosopher, and the magistrate. The Institutes of Justinian are divided into four books: they proceed, with no contemptible method, from (1), Persons, to (2) Things, and from things to (3) Actions; and the Article IV of Private Wrongs is terminated by the principles of Criminal Law.[29]

I. The distinction of ranks and persons is the firmest basis of a mixed and limited government. The perfect equality of men is the point in which the extremes of democracy and despotism are confounded; since the majesty of the prince or people would be offended, if any heads were exalted above the level of their fellow-slaves or fellow-citizens. In the decline of the Roman Empire, the proud distinctions of the republic were gradually abolished, and the reason or instinct of Justinian completed the simple form of an absolute monarchy. The Emperor could not eradicate the popular reverence which always waits on the possession of hereditary wealth or the memory of famous ancestors. He delighted to honor with titles and emoluments his generals, magistrates, and senators; and his precarious indulgence communicated some rays of their glory to the persons of their wives and children. But in the eye of the law all Roman citizens were equal, and all subjects of the empire were citizens of Rome. That inestimable character was degraded to an obsolete and empty name. The voice of a Roman could no longer enact his laws or create the annual ministers of his power: his constitutional rights might have checked the arbitrary will of a master, and the bold adventurer from Germany or Arabia was admitted, with equal favor, to the civil and military command which the citizen alone had been once entitled to assume over the conquests of his fathers. The first Cæsars had scrupulously guarded the distinction of ingenuous and servile birth, which was decided by the condition of the mother; and the candor of the laws was satisfied if her freedom could be ascertained during a single moment between the conception and the delivery. The slaves who were liberated by a generous master immediately entered into the middle class of libertines or freedmen; but they could never be enfranchised from the duties of obedience and gratitude: whatever were the fruits of their industry, their patron and his family inherited the third part, or even the whole of their fortune if they died without children and without a testament.

Justinian respected the rights of patrons, but his indulgence removed the badge of disgrace from the two inferior orders of freedmen: whoever ceased to be a slave obtained without reserve or delay the station of a citizen; and at length the dignity of an ingenuous birth, which nature had refused, was created or supposed by the omnipotence of the Emperor. Whatever restraints of age, or forms, or numbers had been formerly introduced to check the abuse of manumissions and the too rapid increase of vile and indigent Romans, he finally abolished; and the spirit of his laws promoted the extinction of domestic servitude. Yet the eastern provinces were filled in the time of Justinian with multitudes of slaves, either born or purchased for the use of their masters; and the price, from ten to seventy pieces of gold, was determined by their age, their strength, and their education. But the hardships of this dependent state were continually diminished by the influence of government and religion, and the pride of a subject was no longer elated by his absolute dominion over the life and happiness of his bondsman.

The law of nature instructs most animals to cherish and educate their infant progeny. The law of reason inculcates to the human species the return of filial piety. But the exclusive, absolute, and perpetual dominion of the father over his children is peculiar to the Roman jurisprudence and seems to be coeval with the foundation of the city. The paternal power was instituted or confirmed by Romulus himself; and after the practice of three centuries it was inscribed on the fourth table of the decemvirs. In the Forum, the senate, or the camp the adult son of a Roman citizen enjoyed the public and private rights of a person: in his father's house he was a mere thing;[30] confounded by the laws with the movables, the cattle, and the slaves, whom the capricious master might alienate or destroy without being responsible to any earthly tribunal. The hand which bestowed the daily sustenance might resume the voluntary gift, and whatever was acquired, by the labor or fortune of the son was immediately lost in the property of the father. His stolen goods (his oxen or his children) might be recovered by the same action of theft; and if either had been guilty of a trespass, it was in his own option to compensate the damage or resign to the injured party the obnoxious animal.

At the call of indigence or avarice the master of a family could dispose of his children or his slaves. But the condition of the slave was far more advantageous, since he regained by the first manumission his alienated freedom: the son was again restored to his unnatural father; he might be condemned to servitude a second and a third time, and it was not till after the third sale and deliverance that he was enfranchised from the domestic power which had been so repeatedly abused. According to his discretion, a father might chastise the real or imaginary faults of his children by stripes, by imprisonment, by exile, by sending them to the country to work in chains among the meanest of his servants. The majesty of a parent was armed with the power of life and death; and the examples of such bloody executions, which were sometimes praised and never punished, may be traced in the annals of Rome beyond the times of Pompey and Augustus. Neither age nor rank, nor the consular office, nor the honors of a triumph could exempt the most illustrious citizen from the bonds of filial subjection: his own descendants were included in the family of their common ancestor; and the claims of adoption were not less sacred or less rigorous than those of nature. Without fear, though not without danger of abuse, the Roman legislators had reposed an unbounded confidence in the sentiments of paternal love, and the oppression was tempered by the assurance that each generation must succeed in its turn to the awful dignity of parent and master.

The first limitation of paternal power is ascribed to the justice and humanity of Numa, and the maid who, with his father's consent, had espoused a freeman, was protected from the disgrace of becoming the wife of a slave. In the first ages, when the city was pressed and often famished by her Latin and Tuscan neighbors, the sale of children might be a frequent practice; but as a Roman could not legally purchase the liberty of his fellow-citizen, the market must gradually fail, and the trade would be destroyed by the conquests of the republic. An imperfect right of property was at length communicated to sons; and the threefold distinction of profectitious, adventitious, and professional was ascertained by the jurisprudence of the Code and Pandects. Of all that proceeded from the father, he imparted only the use, and reserved the absolute dominion; yet if his goods were sold, the filial portion was excepted by a favorable interpretation from the demands of the creditors. In whatever accrued by marriage, gift, or collateral succession, the property was secured to the son; but the father, unless he had been specially excluded, enjoyed the usufruct during his life.

As a just and prudent reward of military virtue, the spoils of the enemy were acquired, possessed, and bequeathed by the soldier alone; and the fair analogy was extended to the emoluments of any liberal profession, the salary of public service, and the sacred liberality of the emperor or empress. The life of a citizen was less exposed than his fortune to the abuse of paternal power. Yet his life might be adverse to the interest or passions of an unworthy father: the same crimes that flowed from the corruption were more sensibly felt by the humanity of the Augustan age; and the cruel Erixo, who whipped his son till he expired, was saved by the Emperor from the just fury of the multitude. The Roman father, from the license of servile dominion, was reduced to the gravity and moderation of a judge. The presence and opinion of Augustus confirmed the sentence of exile pronounced against an intentional parricide by the domestic tribunal of Arius. Adrian transported to an island the jealous parent who, like a robber, had seized the opportunity of hunting to assassinate a youth, the incestuous lover of his step-mother. A private jurisdiction is repugnant to the spirit of monarchy; the parent was again reduced from a judge to an accuser, and the magistrates were enjoined by Severus Alexander to hear his complaints and execute his sentence. He could no longer take the life of a son without incurring the guilt and punishment of murder; and the pains of parricide, from which he had been excepted by the Pompeian law, were finally inflicted by the justice of Constantine.

The same protection was due to every period of existence; and reason must applaud the humanity of Paulus for imputing the crime of murder to the father who strangles, or starves, or abandons his new-born infant; or exposes him in a public place to find the mercy which he himself had denied. But the exposition of children was the prevailing and stubborn vice of antiquity: it was sometimes prescribed, often permitted, almost always practised with impunity by the nations who never entertained the Roman ideas of paternal power; and the dramatic poets who appeal to the human heart represent with indifference a popular custom which was palliated by the motives of economy and compassion. If the father could subdue his own feelings, he might escape, though not the censure, at least the chastisement of the laws; and the Roman Empire was stained with the blood of infants, till such murders were included by Valentinian and his colleagues in the letter and spirit of the Cornelian law. The lessons of jurisprudence and Christianity had been insufficient to eradicate this inhuman practice, till their gentle influence was fortified by the terrors of capital punishment.

Experience has proved that savage are the tyrants of the female sex, and that the condition of women is usually softened by the refinements of social life. In the hope of a robust progeny, Lycurgus had delayed the season of marriage: it was fixed by Numa at the tender age of twelve years, that the Roman husband might educate to his will a pure and obedient virgin. According to the custom of antiquity, he bought his bride of her parents, and she fulfilled the coemption by purchasing, with three pieces of copper, a just introduction to his house and household deities. A sacrifice of fruits was offered by the pontiffs in the presence of ten witnesses; the contracting parties were seated on the same sheepskin; they tasted a salt-cake of far or rice; and this confarreation, which denoted the ancient food of Italy, served as an emblem of their mystic union of mind and body.

But this union on the side of the woman was rigorous and unequal; and she renounced the name and worship of her father's house to embrace a new servitude, decorated only by the title of adoption: a fiction of the law, neither rational nor elegant, bestowed on the mother of a family (her proper appellation) the strange characters of sister to her own children, and of daughter to her husband or master, who was invested with the plenitude of paternal power. By his judgment or caprice her behavior was approved or censured or chastised; he exercised the jurisdiction of life and death, and it was allowed that in the cases of adultery or drunkenness the sentence might be properly inflicted. She acquired and inherited for the sole profit of her lord; and so clearly was woman defined, not as a person, but as a thing, that if the original title were deficient, she might be claimed, like other movables, by the use and possession of an entire year. The inclination of the Roman husband discharged or withheld the conjugal debt, so scrupulously exacted by the Athenian and Jewish laws; but as polygamy was unknown, he could never admit to his bed a fairer or more favored partner.

After the Punic triumphs the matrons of Rome aspired to the common benefits of a free and opulent republic; their wishes were gratified by the indulgence of fathers and lovers, and their ambition was unsuccessfully resisted by the gravity of Cato the Censor. They declined the solemnities of the old nuptials; defeated the annual prescription by an absence of three days; and, without losing their name or independence, subscribed the liberal and definite terms of a marriage contract. Of their private fortunes they communicated the use and secured the property; the estates of a wife could neither be alienated nor mortgaged by a prodigal husband; their mutual gifts were prohibited by the jealousy of the laws; and the misconduct of either party might afford under another name a future subject for an action of theft. To this loose and voluntary compact religious and civil rights were no longer essential; and between persons of similar rank, the apparent community of life was allowed as sufficient evidence of their nuptials.

The dignity of marriage was restored by the Christians, who derived all spiritual grace from the prayers of the faithful and the benediction of the priest or bishop. The origin, validity, and duties of the holy institution were regulated by the tradition of the synagogue, the precepts of the gospel, and the canons of general or provincial synods; and the conscience of the Christians was awed by the decrees and censures of their ecclesiastical rulers. Yet the magistrates of Justinian were not subject to the authority of the Church; the Emperor consulted the unbelieving civilians of antiquity, and the choice of matrimonial laws in the Code and Pandects is directed by the earthly motives of justice, policy, and the natural freedom of both sexes.

Besides the agreement of the parties, the essence of every rational contract, the Roman marriage required the previous approbation of the parents. A father might be forced by some recent laws to supply the wants of a mature daughter; but even his insanity was not generally allowed to supersede the necessity of his consent. The causes of the dissolution of matrimony have varied among the Romans; but the most solemn sacrament, the confarreation itself, might always be done away by rites of a contrary tendency. In the first ages the father of a family might sell his children, and his wife was reckoned in the number of his children; the domestic judge might pronounce the death of the offender, or his mercy might expel her from his bed and house; but the slavery of the wretched female was hopeless and perpetual, unless he asserted for his own convenience the manly prerogative of divorce. The warmest applause has been lavished on the virtue of the Romans, who abstained from the exercise of this tempting privilege above five hundred years; but the same fact evinces the unequal terms of a connection in which the slave was unable to renounce her tyrant, and the tyrant was unwilling to relinquish his slave.

When the Roman matrons became the equal and voluntary companions of their lords, a new jurisprudence was introduced, that marriage, like other partnerships, might be dissolved by the abdication of one of the associates. In three centuries of prosperity and corruption this principle was enlarged to frequent practice and pernicious abuse. Passion, interest, or caprice suggested daily motives for the dissolution of marriage; a word, a sign, a message, a letter, the mandate of a freedman declared the separation; the most tender of human connections was degraded to a transient society of profit or pleasure. According to the various conditions of life, both sexes alternately felt the disgrace and injury; an inconstant spouse transferred her wealth to a new family, abandoning a numerous, perhaps a spurious progeny to the paternal authority and care of her late husband; a beautiful virgin might be dismissed to the world, old, indigent, and friendless; but the reluctance of the Romans, when they were pressed to marriage by Augustus, sufficiently marks that the prevailing institutions were least favorable to the males. A specious theory is confuted by this free and perfect experiment, which demonstrates that the liberty of divorce does not contribute to happiness and virtue. The facility of separation would destroy all mutual confidence, and inflame every trifling dispute; the minute difference between a husband and a stranger, which might so easily be removed, might still more easily be forgotten; and the matron, who in five years can submit to the embraces of eight husbands, must cease to reverence the chastity of her own person.

Insufficient remedies followed with distant and tardy steps the rapid progress of the evil. The ancient worship of the Romans afforded a peculiar goddess to hear and reconcile the complaints of a married life; but her epithet of viriplaca, the appeaser of husbands, too clearly indicates on which side submission and repentance were always expected. Every act of a citizen was subject to the judgment of the censors; the first who used the privilege of divorce assigned at their command the motives of his conduct; and a senator was expelled for dismissing his virgin spouse without the knowledge or advice of his friends. Whenever an action was instituted for the recovery of a marriage portion, the prætor, as the guardian of equity, examined the cause and the characters, and gently inclined the scale in favor of the guiltless and injured party. Augustus, who united the powers of both magistrates, adopted their different modes of repressing or chastising the license of divorce.

The presence of seven Roman witnesses was required for the validity of this solemn and deliberate act: if any adequate provocation had been given by the husband, instead of the delay of two years, he was compelled to refund immediately, or in the space of six months; but if he could arraign the manners of his wife, her guilt or levity was expiated by the loss of the sixth or eighth part of her marriage portion. The Christian princes were the first who specified the just causes of a private divorce; their institutions, from Constantine to Justinian, appear to fluctuate between the custom of the empire and the wishes of the Church, and the author of the Novels too frequently reforms the jurisprudence of the Code and Pandects. In the most rigorous laws, a wife was condemned to support a gamester, a drunkard, or a libertine, unless he were guilty of homicide, poison, or sacrilege, in which cases the marriage, as it should seem, might have been dissolved by the hand of the executioner.

But the sacred right of the husband was invariably maintained, to deliver his name and family from the disgrace of adultery: the list of mortal sins, either male or female, was curtailed and enlarged by successive regulations, and the obstacles of incurable impotence, long absence, and monastic profession were allowed to rescind the matrimonial obligation. Whoever transgressed the permission of the law was subject to various and heavy penalties. The woman was stripped of her wealth and ornaments, without excepting the bodkin of her hair: if the man introduced a new bride into his bed, her fortune might be lawfully seized by the vengeance of his exiled wife. Forfeiture was sometimes commuted to a fine; the fine was sometimes aggravated by transportation to an island or imprisonment in a monastery; the injured party was released from the bonds of marriage; but the offender during life or a term of years was disabled from the repetition of nuptials. The successor of Justinian yielded to the prayers of his unhappy subjects, and restored the liberty of divorce by mutual consent: the civilians were unanimous, the theologians were divided, and the ambiguous word, which contains the precept of Christ, is flexible to any interpretation that the wisdom of a legislator can demand.

The freedom of love and marriage was restrained among the Romans by natural and civil impediments. An instinct, almost innate and universal, appears to prohibit the incestuous commerce of parents and children in the infinite series of ascending and descending generations. Concerning the oblique and collateral branches nature is indifferent, reason mute, and custom various and arbitrary. In Egypt the marriage of brothers and sisters was admitted without scruple or exception: a Spartan might espouse the daughter of his father, an Athenian that of his mother; and the nuptials of an uncle with his niece were applauded at Athens as a happy union of the dearest relations.

The profane law-givers of Rome were never tempted by interest or superstition to multiply the forbidden degrees: but they inflexibly condemned the marriage of sisters and brothers, hesitated whether first cousins should be touched by the same interdict; revered the parental character of aunts and uncles, and treated affinity and adoption as a just imitation of the ties of blood. According to the proud maxims of the republic, a legal marriage could only be contracted by free citizens; an honorable, at least an ingenuous birth, was required for the spouse of a senator: but the blood of kings could never mingle in legitimate nuptials with the blood of a Roman; and the name of Stranger degraded Cleopatra and Berenice to live the concubines of Mark Antony and Titus. This appellation, indeed, so injurious to the majesty, cannot without indulgence be applied to the manners of these oriental queens. A concubine, in the strict sense of the civilian, was a woman of servile or plebeian extraction, the sole and faithful companion of a Roman citizen, who continued in a state of celibacy. Her modest station, below the honors of a wife, above the infamy of a prostitute, was acknowledged and approved by the laws: from the age of Augustus to the tenth century, the use of this secondary marriage prevailed both in the West and East; and the humble virtues of a concubine were often preferred to the pomp and insolence of a noble matron. In this connection the two Antonines, the best of princes and of men, enjoyed the comforts of domestic love; the example was imitated by many citizens impatient of celibacy, but regardful of their families. If at any time they desired to legitimate their natural children, the conversion was instantly performed by the celebration of their nuptials with a partner whose fruitfulness and fidelity they had already tried.[31] By this epithet of natural, the offspring of the concubine were distinguished from the spurious brood of adultery, prostitution, and incest, to whom Justinian reluctantly grants the necessary aliments of life; and these natural children alone were capable of succeeding to a sixth part of the inheritance of their reputed father. According to the rigor of law, bastards were entitled to the name and condition of their mother, from whom they might derive the character of a slave, a stranger, or a citizen. The outcasts of every family were adopted without reproach as the children of the State.

The relation of guardian and ward, or in Roman words of tutor and pupil, which covers so many titles of the Institutes and Pandects, is of a very simple and uniform nature. The person and property of an orphan must always be trusted to the custody of some discreet friend. If the deceased father had not signified his choice, the agnats, or paternal kindred of the nearest degree, were compelled to act as the natural guardians: the Athenians were apprehensive of exposing the infant to the power of those most interested in his death; but an axiom of Roman jurisprudence has pronounced that the charge of tutelage should constantly attend the emolument of succession. If the choice of the father and the line of consanguinity afforded no efficient guardian, the failure was supplied by the nomination of the prætor of the city or the president of the province. But the person whom they named to this public office might be legally excused by insanity or blindness, by ignorance or inability, by previous enmity or adverse interest, by the number of children or guardianships with which he was already burdened and by the immunities which were granted to the useful labors of magistrates, lawyers, physicians, and professors.

Till the infant could speak and think he was represented by the tutor, whose authority was finally determined by the age of puberty. Without his consent no act of the pupil could bind himself to his own prejudice, though it might oblige others for his personal benefit. It is needless to observe that the tutor often gave security, and always rendered an account, and that the want of diligence or integrity exposed him to a civil and almost criminal action for the violation of his sacred trust. The age of puberty had been rashly fixed by the civilians at fourteen; but as the faculties of the mind ripen more slowly than those of the body, a curator was interposed to guard the fortunes of a Roman youth from his own inexperience and headstrong passions. Such a trustee had been first instituted by the prætor, to save a family from the blind havoc of a prodigal or madman; and the minor was compelled by the laws to solicit the same protection, to give validity to his acts till he accomplished the full period of twenty-five years. Women were condemned to the perpetual tutelage of parents, husbands, or guardians; a sex created to please and obey was never supposed to have attained the age of reason and experience. Such, at least, was the stern and haughty spirit of the law, which had been insensibly mollified before the time of Justinian.

II. The original right of property can only be justified by the accident or merit of prior occupancy; and on this foundation it is wisely established by the philosophy of the civilians. The savage who hollows a tree, inserts a sharp stone into a wooden handle, or applies a string to an elastic branch becomes in a state of nature the just proprietor of the canoe, the bow, or the hatchet. The materials were common to all, the new form, the produce of his time and simple industry, belong solely to himself. His hungry brethren cannot, without a sense of their own injustice, extort from the hunter the game of the forest overtaken or slain by his personal strength and dexterity. If his provident care preserves and multiplies the tame animals, whose nature is tractable to the arts of education, he acquires a perpetual title to the use and service of their numerous progeny, which derives its existence from him alone. If he encloses and cultivates a field for their sustenance and his own, a barren waste is converted into a fertile soil; the seed, the manure, the labor, create a new value, and the rewards of harvest are painfully earned by the fatigues of the revolving year.

In the successive states of society the hunter, the shepherd, the husbandman, may defend their possessions by two reasons which forcibly appeal to the feelings of the human mind: that whatever they enjoy is the fruit of their own industry; and that every man who envies their felicity may purchase similar acquisitions by the exercise of similar diligence. Such, in truth, may be the freedom and plenty of a small colony cast on a fruitful island. But the colony multiplies, while the space still continues the same; the common rights, the equal inheritance of mankind, are engrossed by the bold and crafty; each field and forest is circumscribed by the landmarks of a jealous master; and it is the peculiar praise of the Roman jurisprudence that it asserts the claim of the first occupant to the wild animals of the earth, the air, and the waters. In the progress from primitive equity to final injustice, the steps are silent, the shades are almost imperceptible, and the absolute monopoly is guarded by positive laws and artificial reason. The active, insatiable principle of self-love can alone supply the arts of life and the wages of industry; and as soon as civil government and exclusive property have been introduced, they become necessary to the existence of the human race.

Except in the singular institutions of Sparta, the wisest legislators have disapproved an agrarian law as a false and dangerous innovation. Among the Romans the enormous disproportion of wealth surmounted the ideal restraints of a doubtful tradition and an obsolete statute; a tradition that the poorest follower of Romulus had been endowed with the perpetual inheritance of two jugera; a statute which confined the richest citizen to the measure of five hundred jugera, or three hundred and twelve acres of land. The original territory of Rome consisted only of some miles of wood and meadow along the banks of the Tiber, and domestic exchange could add nothing to the national stock. But the goods of an alien or enemy were lawfully exposed to the first hostile occupier; the city was enriched by the profitable trade of war, and the blood of her sons was the only price that was paid for the Volscian sheep, the slaves of Britain, to the gems and gold of Asiatic kingdoms. In the language of ancient jurisprudence, which was corrupted and forgotten before the age of Justinian, these spoils were distinguished by the name of manceps or mancipium, taken with the hand; and whenever they were sold or emancipated, the purchaser required some assurance that they had been the property of an enemy and not of a fellow-citizen.

A citizen could only forfeit his rights by apparent dereliction, and such dereliction of a valuable interest could not easily be presumed. Yet, according to the Twelve Tables, a prescription of one year for movables, and of two years for immovables, abolished the claim of the ancient master, if the actual possessor had acquired them by a fair transaction from the person whom he believed to be the lawful proprietor.[32] Such conscientious injustice, without any mixture of fraud or force could seldom injure the members of a small republic; but the various periods of three, of ten, or of twenty years, determined by Justinian, are more suitable to the latitude of a great empire. It is only in the term of prescription that the distinction of real and personal fortune has been remarked by the civilians; and their general idea of property is that of simple, uniform, and absolute dominion. The subordinate exceptions of use, of usufruct, of servitudes, imposed for the benefit of a neighbor on lands and houses, are abundantly explained by the professors of jurisprudence. The claims of property, as far as they are altered by the mixture, the division, or the transformation of substances, are investigated with metaphysical subtlety by the same civilians.

The personal title of the first proprietor must be determined by his death: but the possession, without any appearance of change, is peaceably continued in his children, the associates of his toil and the partners of his wealth. This natural inheritance has been protected by the legislators of every climate and age, and the father is encouraged to persevere in slow and distant improvements, by the tender hope that a long posterity will enjoy the fruits of his labor. The principle of hereditary succession is universal; but the order has been variously established by convenience or caprice, by the spirit of national institutions, or by some partial example which was originally decided by fraud or violence. The jurisprudence of the Romans appears to have deviated from the equality of nature much less than the Jewish, the Athenian, or the English institutions. On the death of a citizen all his descendants, unless they were already freed from his paternal power, were called to the inheritance of his possessions. The insolent prerogative of primogeniture was unknown; the two sexes were placed on a just level; all the sons and daughters were entitled to an equal portion of the patrimonial estate; and if any of the sons had been intercepted by a premature death, his person was represented and his share was divided by his surviving children.

On the failure of the direct line, the right of succession must diverge to the collateral branches. The degrees of kindred are numbered by the civilians, ascending from the last possessor to a common parent, and descending from the common parent to the next heir: my father stands in the first degree, my brother in the second, his children in the third, and the remainder of the series may be conceived by fancy, or pictured in a genealogical table. In this computation a distinction was made, essential to the laws and even the constitution of Rome; the agnats, or persons connected by a line of males, were called, as they stood in the nearest degree, to an equal partition; but a female was incapable of transmitting any legal claims; and the cognats of every rank, without excepting the dear relation of a mother and a son, were disinherited by the Twelve Tables, as strangers and aliens. Among the Romans a gens or lineage was united by a common name and domestic rites; the various cognomens or surnames of Scipio or Marcellus distinguished from each other the subordinate branches or families of the Cornelian or Claudian race: the default of the agnats, of the same surname, was supplied by the larger denomination of gentiles; and the vigilance of the laws maintained in the same name the perpetual descent of religion and property.

A similar principle dictated the Voconian law, which abolished the right of female inheritance. As long as virgins were given or sold in marriage, the adoption of the wife extinguished the hopes of the daughter. But the equal succession of independent matrons supported their pride and luxury, and might transport into a foreign house the riches of their fathers. While the maxims of Cato were revered, they tended to perpetuate in each family a just and virtuous mediocrity: till female blandishments insensibly triumphed, and every salutary restraint was lost in the dissolute greatness of the republic. The rigor of the decemvirs was tempered by the equity of the prætors. Their edicts restored and emancipated posthumous children to the rights of nature; and upon the failure of the agnats they preferred the blood of the cognats to the name of the gentiles, whose title and character were insensibly covered with oblivion. The reciprocal inheritance of mothers and sons was established in the Tertullian and Orphitian decrees by the humanity of the senate. A new and more impartial order was introduced by the Novels of Justinian, who affected to revive the jurisprudence of the Twelve Tables. The lines of masculine and female kindred were confounded: the descending, ascending, and collateral series was accurately defined; and each degree, according to the proximity of blood and affection, succeeded the vacant possessions of a Roman citizen.

The order of succession is regulated by nature, or at least by the general and permanent reason of the law-giver: but this order is frequently violated by the arbitrary and partial wills, which prolong the dominion of the testator beyond the grave. In the simple state of society this last use or abuse of the right of property is seldom indulged; it was introduced at Athens by the laws of Solon; and the private testaments of a father of a family are authorized by the Twelve Tables. Before the time of the decemvirs a Roman citizen exposed his wishes and motives to the assembly of the thirty curiæ or parishes, and the general law of inheritance was suspended by an occasional act of the legislature. After the permission of the decemvirs, each private law-giver promulgated his verbal or written testament in the presence of five citizens, who represented the five classes of the Roman people; a sixth witness attested their concurrence; a seventh weighed the copper money, which was paid by an imaginary purchaser, and the estate was emancipated by a fictitious sale and immediate release.

This singular ceremony, which excited the wonder of the Greeks, was still practised in the age of Severus, but the prætor had already approved a more simple testament, for which they required the seals and signatures of seven witnesses, free from all legal exception and purposely summoned for the execution of that important act. A domestic monarch, who reigned over the lives and fortunes of his children, might distribute their respective shares according to the degrees of their merit or his affection; his arbitrary displeasure chastised an unworthy son by the loss of his inheritance, and the mortifying preference of a stranger. But the experience of unnatural parents recommended some limitations of their testamentary powers. A son or, by the laws of Justinian, even a daughter, could no longer be disinherited by their silence; they were compelled to name the criminal and to specify the offence; and the justice of the Emperor enumerated the sole causes that could justify such a violation of the first principles of nature and society. Unless a legitimate portion, a fourth part, had been reserved for the children, they were entitled to institute an action or complaint of inofficious testament; to suppose that their father's understanding was impaired by sickness or age, and respectfully to appeal from his rigorous sentence to the deliberate wisdom of the magistrate.

In the Roman jurisprudence an essential distinction was admitted between the inheritance and the legacies. The heirs who succeeded to the entire unity, or to any of the twelve fractions of the substance of the testator, represented his civil and religious character, asserted his rights, fulfilled his obligations, and discharged the gifts of friendship or liberality, which his last will had bequeathed under the name of legacies. But as the imprudence or prodigality of a dying man might exhaust the inheritance and leave only risk and labor to his successor, he was empowered to retain the Falcidian portion; to deduct, before the payment of the legacies, a clear fourth for his own emolument. A reasonable time was allowed to examine the proportion between the debts and the estate, to decide whether he should accept or refuse the testament; and if he used the benefit of an inventory, the demands of the creditors could not exceed the valuation of the effects. The last will of a citizen might be altered during his life or rescinded after his death; the persons whom he named might die before him, or reject the inheritance, or be exposed to some legal disqualification. In the contemplation of these events he was permitted to substitute second and third heirs, to replace each other according to the order of the testament; and the incapacity of a madman or an infant to bequeath his property might be supplied by a similar substitution. But the power of the testator expired with the acceptance of the testament; each Roman of mature age and discretion acquired the absolute dominion of his inheritance, and the simplicity of the civil law was never clouded by the long and intricate entails which confine the happiness and freedom of unborn generations.

Conquest and the formalities of law established the use of codicils. If a Roman was surprised by death in a remote province of the empire he addressed a short epistle to his legitimate or testamentary heir, who fulfilled with honor, or neglected with impunity, this last request, which the judges before the age of Augustus were not authorized to enforce. A codicil might be expressed in any mode, or in any language; but the subscription of five witnesses must declare that it was the genuine composition of the author. His intention, however laudable, was sometimes illegal; and the invention of fidei-commissa, or trusts, arose from the struggle between natural justice and positive jurisprudence. A stranger of Greece or Africa might be the friend or benefactor of a childless Roman, but none, except a fellow-citizen, could act as his heir.

The Voconian law, which abolished female succession, restrained the legacy or inheritance of a woman to the sum of one hundred thousand sesterces, and an only daughter was condemned almost as an alien in her father's house. The zeal of friendship and parental affection suggested a liberal artifice: a qualified citizen was named in the testament, with a prayer or injunction that he would restore the inheritance to the person for whom it was truly intended. Various was the conduct of the trustees in this painful situation; they had sworn to observe the laws of their country, but honor prompted them to violate their oath; and if they preferred their interest under the mask of patriotism, they forfeited the esteem of every virtuous mind. The declaration of Augustus relieved their doubts, gave a legal sanction to confidential testaments and codicils, and gently unravelled the forms and restraints of the republican jurisprudence. But as the new practice of trusts degenerated into some abuse, the trustee was enabled, by the Trebellian and Pegasian decrees, to reserve one-fourth of the estate, or to transfer on the head of the real heir all the debts and actions of the succession. The interpretation of testaments was strict and literal; but the language of trusts and codicils was delivered from the minute and technical accuracy of the civilians.

III. The general duties of mankind are imposed by their public and private relations: but their specific obligations to each other can only be the effect of (1) a promise, (2) a benefit, or (3) an injury; and when these obligations are ratified by law, the interested party may compel the performance by a judicial action. On this principle the civilians of every country have erected a similar jurisprudence, the fair conclusion of universal reason and justice.

1. The goddess of faith (of human and social faith) was worshipped, not only in her temples, but in the lives of the Romans; and if that nation was deficient in the more amiable qualities of benevolence and generosity, they astonished the Greeks by their sincere and simple performance of the most burdensome engagements. Yet among the same people, according to the rigid maxims of the patricians and decemvirs, a naked pact, a promise, or even an oath, did not create any civil obligation, unless it was confirmed by the legal form of a stipulation. Whatever might be the etymology of the Latin word, it conveyed the idea of a firm and irrevocable contract, which was always expressed in the mode of a question and answer. Do you promise to pay me one hundred pieces of gold? was the solemn interrogation of Seius. I do promise, was the reply of Sempronius. The friends of Sempronius, who answered for his ability and inclination, might be separately sued at the option of Seius; and the benefit of partition, or order of reciprocal actions, insensibly deviated from the strict theory of stipulation. The most cautious and deliberate consent was justly required to sustain the validity of a gratuitous promise; and the citizen who might have obtained a legal security, incurred the suspicion of fraud and paid the forfeit of his neglect. But the ingenuity of the civilians successfully labored to convert simple engagements into the form of solemn stipulations. The prætors, as the guardians of social faith, admitted every rational evidence of a voluntary and deliberate act, which in their tribunal produced an equitable obligation, and for which they gave an action and a remedy.

2. The obligations of the second class, as they were contracted by the delivery of a thing, are marked by the civilians with the epithet of real. A grateful return is due to the author of a benefit; and whoever is intrusted with the property of another has bound himself to the sacred duty of restitution. In the case of a friendly loan, the merit of generosity is on the side of the lender only; in a deposit, on the side of the receiver; but in a pledge, and the rest of the selfish commerce of ordinary life, the benefit is compensated by an equivalent, and the obligation to restore is variously modified by the nature of the transaction. The Latin language very happily expresses the fundamental difference between the commodatum and the mutuum, which our poverty is reduced to confound under the vague and common appellation of a loan. In the former, the borrower was obliged to restore the same individual thing with which he had been accommodated for the temporary supply of his wants; in the latter it was destined for his use and consumption, and he discharged this mutual engagement by substituting the same specific value according to a just estimation of number, of weight, and of measure. In the contract of sale, the absolute dominion is transferred to the purchaser, and he repays the benefit with an adequate sum of gold or silver, the price and universal standard of all earthly possessions.

The obligation of another contract, that of location, is of a more complicated kind. Lands or houses, labor or talents, may be hired for a definite term; at the expiration of the time the thing itself must be restored to the owner, with the additional reward for the beneficial occupation and employment. In these lucrative contracts, to which may be added those of partnership and commissions, the civilians sometimes imagine the delivery of the object, and sometimes presume the consent of the parties. The substantial pledge has been refined into the invisible rights of a mortgage or hypotheca; and the agreement of sale, for a certain price, imputes from that moment the chances of gain or loss to the account of the purchaser. It may be fairly supposed that every man will obey the dictates of his interest; and if he accepts the benefit, he is obliged to sustain the expense of the transaction. In this boundless subject, the historian will observe the location of land and money, the rent of the one and the interest of the other, as they materially affect the prosperity of agriculture and commerce.

The landlord was often obliged to advance the stock and instruments of husbandry, and to content himself with a partition of the fruits. If the feeble tenant was oppressed by accident, contagion, or hostile violence, he claimed a proportionable relief from the equity of the laws; five years were the customary term, and no solid or costly improvements could be expected from a farmer who at each moment might be ejected by the sale of the estate. Usury, the inveterate grievance of the city, had been discouraged by the Twelve Tables, and abolished by the clamors of the people. It was revived by their wants and idleness, tolerated by the discretion of the prætors, and finally determined by the Code of Justinian. Persons of illustrious rank were confined to the moderate profit of 4 per cent. 6 was pronounced to be the ordinary and legal standard of interest; 8 was allowed for the convenience of manufacturers and merchants; 12 was granted to nautical insurance, which the wiser ancients had not attempted to define; but, except in this perilous adventure, the practice of exorbitant usury was severely restrained.[33] The most simple interest was condemned by the clergy of the East and West; but the sense of mutual benefit, which had triumphed over the laws of the republic, had resisted with equal firmness the decrees of the Church, and even the prejudices of mankind.[34]

3. Nature and society impose the strict obligation of repairing an injury; and the sufferer by private injustice acquires a personal right and a legitimate action. If the property of another be intrusted to our care, the requisite degree of care may rise and fall according to the benefit which we derive from such temporary possession; we are seldom made responsible for inevitable accident, but the consequences of a voluntary fault must always be imputed to the author. A Roman pursued and recovered his stolen goods by a civil action of theft; they might pass through a succession of pure and innocent hands, but nothing less than a prescription of thirty years could extinguish his original claim. They were restored by the sentence of the prætor, and the injury was compensated by double, or threefold, or even quadruple damages, as the deed had been perpetrated by secret fraud or open rapine, as the robber had been surprised in the fact or detected by a subsequent research. The Aquilian law defended the living property of a citizen, his slaves and cattle, from the stroke of malice or negligence: the highest price was allowed that could be ascribed to the domestic animal at any moment of the year preceding his death; a similar latitude of thirty days was granted on the destruction of any other valuable effects. A personal injury is blunted or sharpened by the manners of the times and the sensibility of the individual: the pain or the disgrace of a word or blow cannot easily be appreciated by a pecuniary equivalent.

The rude jurisprudence of the decemvirs had confounded all hasty insults, which did not amount to the fracture of a limb by condemning the aggressor to the common penalty of twenty-five asses. But the same denomination of money was reduced in three centuries from a pound to the weight of half an ounce: and the insolence of a wealthy Roman indulged himself in the cheap amusement of breaking and satisfying the law of the Twelve Tables. Veratius ran through the streets striking on the face the inoffensive passengers, and his attendant purse-bearer immediately silenced their clamors by the legal tender of twenty-five pieces of copper, about the value of one shilling. The equity of the prætors examined and estimated the distinct merits of each particular complaint. In the adjudication of civil damages the magistrate assumed the right to consider the various circumstances of time and place, of age and dignity, which may aggravate the shame and sufferings of the injured person: but if he admitted the idea of a fine, a punishment, an example, he invaded the province, though, perhaps, he supplied the defects of the criminal law.

IV. The execution of the Alban dictator, who was dismembered by eight horses, is represented by Livy as the first and the last instance of Roman cruelty in the punishment of the most atrocious crimes. But this act of justice, or revenge, was inflicted on a foreign enemy in the heat of victory and at the command of a single man. The Twelve Tables afford a more decisive proof of the national spirit, since they were framed by the wisest of the senate, and accepted by the free voices of the people; yet these laws, like the statutes of Draco, are written in characters of blood. They approve the inhuman and unequal principle of retaliation; and the forfeit of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a limb for a limb, is rigorously exacted, unless the offender can redeem his pardon by a fine of three hundred pounds of copper. The decemvirs distributed with much liberality the slighter chastisements of flagellation and servitude; and nine crimes of a very different complexion are adjudged worthy of death.

1. Any act of treason against the state, or of correspondence with the public enemy. The mode of execution was painful and ignominious: the head of the degenerate Roman was shrouded in a veil, his hands were tied behind his back, and after he had been scourged by the lictor, he was suspended in the midst of the Forum on a cross or inauspicious tree.

2. Nocturnal meetings in the city; whatever might be the pretence, of pleasure, or religion, or the public good.

3. The murder of a citizen; for which the common feelings of mankind demand the blood of the murderer. Poison is still more odious than the sword or dagger; and we are surprised to discover in two flagitious events how early such subtle wickedness has infected the simplicity of the republic, and the chaste virtues of the Roman matrons.[35] The parricide, who violated the duties of nature and gratitude, was cast into the river or the sea, enclosed in a sack; and a cock, a viper, a dog, and a monkey were successively added as the most suitable companions. Italy produces no monkeys; but the want could never be felt till the middle of the sixth century first revealed the guilt of a parricide.[36]

4. The malice of an incendiary. After the previous ceremony of whipping, he himself was delivered to the flames; and in this example alone our reason is tempted to applaud the justice of retaliation.

5. Judicial perjury. The corrupt or malicious witness was thrown headlong from the Tarpeian Rock to expiate his falsehood, which was rendered still more fatal by the severity of the penal laws and the deficiency of written evidence.

6. The corruption of a judge who accepted bribes to pronounce an iniquitous sentence.

7. Libels and satires, whose rude strains sometimes disturbed the peace of an illiterate city. The author was beaten with clubs, a worthy chastisement, but it is not certain that he was left to expire under the blows of the executioner.

8. The nocturnal mischief of damaging or destroying a neighbor's corn. The criminal was suspended as a grateful victim to Ceres. But the sylvan deities were less implacable, and the extirpation of a more valuable tree was compensated by the moderate fine of twenty-five pounds of copper.

9. Magical incantations; which had power, in the opinion of the Latian shepherds, to exhaust the strength of an enemy, to extinguish his life, and to remove from their seats his deep-rooted plantations. The cruelty of the Twelve Tables against insolvent debtors still remains to be told; and I shall dare to prefer the literal sense of antiquity to the specious refinements of modern criticism. After the judicial proof or confession of the debt, thirty days of grace were allowed before a Roman was delivered into the power of his fellow-citizen. In this private prison twelve ounces of rice were his daily food; he might be bound with a chain of fifteen pounds weight, and his misery was thrice exposed in the market-place, to solicit the compassion of his friends and countrymen. At the expiration of sixty days the debt was discharged by the loss of liberty or life; the insolvent debtor was either put to death or sold in foreign slavery beyond the Tiber; but, if several creditors were alike obstinate and unrelenting, they might legally dismember his body and satiate their revenge by this horrid partition.

The advocates for this savage law have insisted that it must strongly operate in deterring idleness and fraud from contracting debts which they were unable to discharge; but experience would dissipate this salutary terror by proving that no creditor could be found to exact this unprofitable penalty of life or limb. As the manners of Rome were insensibly polished, the criminal code of the decemvirs was abolished by the humanity of accusers, witnesses, and judges; and impunity became the consequence of immoderate rigor. The Porcian and Valerian laws prohibited the magistrates from inflicting on a free citizen any capital, or even corporal, punishment, and the obsolete statutes of blood were artfully, and perhaps truly, ascribed to the spirit, not of patrician but of regal tyranny.

In the absence of penal laws and the insufficiency of civil actions, the peace and justice of the city were imperfectly maintained by the private jurisdiction of the citizens. The malefactors who replenish our jails are the outcasts of society, and the crimes for which they suffer may be commonly ascribed to ignorance, poverty, and brutal appetite. For the perpetration of similar enormities, a vile plebeian might claim and abuse the sacred character of a member of the republic; but on the proof or suspicion of guilt, the slave or the stranger was nailed to a cross: and this strict and summary justice might be exercised without restraint over the greatest part of the populace of Rome. Each family contained a domestic tribunal, which was not confined, like that of the prætor, to the cognizance of external actions; virtuous principles and habits were inculcated by the discipline of education, and the Roman father was accountable to the State for the manners of his children, since he disposed, without appeal, of their life, their liberty, and their inheritance. In some pressing emergencies the citizen was authorized to avenge his private or public wrongs. The consent of the Jewish, the Athenian, and the Roman laws approved the slaughter of the nocturnal thief; though in open daylight a robber could not be slain without some previous evidence of danger and complaint. Whoever surprised an adulterer in his nuptial bed might freely exercise his revenge; the most bloody and wanton outrage was excused by the provocation; nor was it before the reign of Augustus that the husband was reduced to weigh the rank of the offender, or that the parent was condemned to sacrifice his daughter with her guilty seducer.

After the expulsion of the kings the ambitious Roman who should dare to assume their title or imitate their tyranny, was devoted to the infernal gods; each of his fellow-citizens was armed with the sword of justice; and the act of Brutus, however repugnant to gratitude or prudence, had been already sanctified by the judgment of his country. The barbarous practice of wearing arms in the midst of peace, and the bloody maxims of honor were unknown to the Romans; and during the two purest ages, from the establishment of equal freedom to the end of the Punic wars, the city was never disturbed by sedition, and rarely polluted with atrocious crimes. The failure of penal laws was more sensibly felt, when every vice was inflamed by faction at home and dominion abroad. In the time of Cicero each private citizen enjoyed the privilege of anarchy; each minister of the republic was exalted to the temptations of regal power, and their virtues are entitled to the warmest praise, as the spontaneous fruits of nature or philosophy. After a triennial indulgence of lust, rapine, and cruelty, Verres, the tyrant of Sicily, could only be sued for the pecuniary restitution of three hundred thousand pounds sterling; and such was the temper of the laws, the judges, and perhaps the accuser himself, that on refunding a thirteenth part of his plunder Verres could retire to an easy and luxurious exile.[37]

The first imperfect attempt to restore the proportion of crimes and punishments was made by the dictator Sylla, who, in the midst of his sanguinary triumph, aspired to restrain the license rather than to oppress the liberty of the Romans. He gloried in the arbitrary proscription of four thousand seven hundred citizens. But in the character of a legislator he respected the prejudices of the times; and instead of pronouncing a sentence of death against the robber or assassin, the general who betrayed an army, or the magistrate who ruined a province, Sylla was content to aggravate the pecuniary damages by the penalty of exile, or, in more constitutional language, by the interdiction of fire and water. The Cornelian and afterward the Pompeian and Julian laws introduced a new system of criminal jurisprudence; and the emperors, from Augustus to Justinian, disguised their increasing rigor under the names of the original authors.

But the invention and frequent use of extraordinary pains proceeded from the desire to extend and conceal the progress of despotism. In the condemnation of illustrious Romans the senate was always prepared to confound, at the will of their masters, the judicial and legislative powers. It was the duty of the governors to maintain the peace of their province by the arbitrary and rigid administration of justice; the freedom of the city evaporated in the extent of empire, and the Spanish malefactor, who claimed the privilege of a Roman, was elevated by the command of Galba on a fairer and more lofty cross. Occasional rescripts issued from the throne to decide the questions which, by their novelty or importance, appeared to surpass the authority and discernment of a proconsul. Transportation and beheading were reserved for honorable persons; meaner criminals were either hanged, or burned, or buried in the mines, or exposed to the wild beasts of the amphitheatre. Armed robbers were pursued and extirpated as the enemies of society; the driving away of horses or cattle was made a capital offence, but simple theft was uniformly considered as a mere civil and private injury. The degrees of guilt and the modes of punishment were too often determined by the discretion of the rulers, and the subject was left in ignorance of the legal danger which he might incur by every action of his life.

A sin, a vice, a crime, are the objects of theology, ethics, and jurisprudence. Whenever their judgments agree, they corroborate each other; but as often as they differ a prudent legislator appreciates the guilt and punishment according to the measure of social injury. On this principle the most daring attack on the life and property of a private citizen is judged less atrocious than the crime of treason or rebellion, which invades the majesty of the republic; the obsequious civilians unanimously pronounced that the republic is contained in the person of its chief; and the edge of the Julian law was sharpened by the incessant diligence of the emperors. The licentious commerce of the sexes may be tolerated as an impulse of nature, or forbidden as a source of disorder and corruption; but the fame, the fortunes, the family of the husband, are seriously injured by the adultery of the wife. The wisdom of Augustus, after curbing the freedom of revenge, applied to this domestic offence the animadversion of the laws; and the guilty parties, after the payment of heavy forfeitures and fines, were condemned to long or perpetual exile in two separate islands.

Religion pronounces an equal censure against the infidelity of the husband; but, as it is not accompanied by the same civil effects, the wife was never permitted to vindicate her wrong; and the distinction of simple or double adultery, so familiar and so important in the canon law, is unknown to the jurisprudence of the Code and the Pandects. I touch with reluctance and despatch with impatience a more odious vice, of which modesty rejects the name, and nature abominates the idea. The primitive Romans were infected by the example of the Etruscans and Greeks; in the mad abuse of prosperity and power, every pleasure that is innocent was deemed insipid; and the Scatinian law, which had been extorted by an act of violence, was insensibly abolished by the lapse of time and the multitude of criminals.

By this law the rape, perhaps the seduction, of an ingenuous youth was compensated as a personal injury by the poor damages of ten thousand sesterces, or fourscore pounds; the ravisher might be slain by the resistance or revenge of chastity; and I wish to believe that at Rome, as in Athens, the voluntary and effeminate deserter of his sex was degraded from the honors and the rights of a citizen. But the practice of vice was not discouraged by the severity of opinion; the indelible stain of manhood was confounded with the more venial transgressions of fornication and adultery, nor was the licentious lover exposed to the same dishonor which he impressed on the male or female partner of his guilt. From Catullus to Juvenal the poets accuse and celebrate the degeneracy of the times; and the reformation of manners was feebly attempted by the reason and authority of the civilians till the most virtuous of the Cæsars proscribed the sin against nature as a crime against society.

A new spirit of legislation, respectable even in its error, arose in the empire with the religion of Constantine. The laws of Moses were received as the divine original of justice, and the Christian princes adapted their penal statutes to the degrees of moral and religious turpitude. Adultery was first declared to be a capital offence: the frailty of the sexes was assimilated to poison or assassination, to sorcery or parricide; the same penalties were inflicted on the passive and active guilt of pederasty, and all criminals of free or servile condition were either drowned or beheaded, or cast alive into the avenging flames. The adulterers were spared by the common sympathy of mankind; but the lovers of their own sex were pursued by general and pious indignation: the impure manners of Greece still prevailed in the cities of Asia, and every vice was fomented by the celibacy of the monks and clergy.

Justinian relaxed the punishment at least of female infidelity: the guilty spouse was only condemned to solitude and penance, and at the end of two years she might be recalled to the arms of a forgiving husband. But the same Emperor declared himself the implacable enemy of unmanly lust, and the cruelty of his persecution can scarcely be excused by the purity of his motives. In defiance of every principle of justice he stretched to past as well as future offences the operations of his edicts, with the previous allowance of a short respite for confession and pardon. A painful death was inflicted by the amputation of the sinful instrument, or the insertion of sharp reeds into the pores and tubes of most exquisite sensibility; and Justinian defended the propriety of the execution, since the criminals would have lost their hands had they been convicted of sacrilege. In this state of disgrace and agony two bishops, Isaiah of Rhodes and Alexander of Diospolis, were dragged through the streets of Constantinople, while their brethren were admonished by the voice of a crier to observe this awful lesson, and not to pollute the sanctity of their character. Perhaps these prelates were innocent. A sentence of death and infamy was often founded on the slight and suspicious evidence of a child or a servant; the guilt of the green faction, of the rich, and of the enemies of Theodora was presumed by the judges, and pederasty became the crime of those to whom no crime could be imputed. A French philosopher[38] has dared to remark that whatever is secret must be doubtful, and that our natural horror of vice may be abused as an engine of tyranny. But the favorable persuasion of the same writer, that a legislator may confide in the taste and reason of mankind, is impeached by the unwelcome discovery of the antiquity and extent of the disease.

V. The free citizens of Athens and Rome enjoyed in all criminal cases the invaluable privilege of being tried by their country.

1. The administration of justice is the most ancient office of a prince: it was exercised by the Roman kings and abused by Tarquin, who alone, without law or council, pronounced his arbitrary judgments. The first consuls succeeded to this regal prerogative; but the sacred right of appeal soon abolished the jurisdiction of the magistrates, and all public causes were decided by the supreme tribunal of the people. But a wild democracy, superior to the forms, too often disdains the essential principles of justice: the pride of despotism was envenomed by plebeian envy, and the heroes of Athens might sometimes applaud the happiness of the Persian, whose fate depended on the caprice of a single tyrant. Some salutary restraints, imposed by the people on their own passions, were at once the cause and effect of the gravity and temperance of the Romans. The right of accusation was confined to the magistrates. A vote of the thirty-five tribes could inflict a fine; but the cognizance of all capital crimes was reserved by a fundamental law to the assembly of the centuries, in which the weight of influence and property was sure to preponderate. Repeated proclamations and adjournments were interposed to allow time for prejudice and resentment to subside: the whole proceeding might be annulled by a seasonable omen or the opposition of a tribune; and such popular trials were commonly less formidable to innocence than they were favorable to guilt. But this union of the judicial and legislative powers left it doubtful whether the accused party was pardoned or acquitted; and in the defence of an illustrious client the orators of Rome and Athens address their arguments to the policy and benevolence, as well as to the justice, of their sovereign.

2. The task of convening the citizens for the trial of each offender became more difficult as the citizens and the offenders continually multiplied, and the ready expedient was adopted of delegating the jurisdiction of the people to the ordinary magistrates or to extraordinary inquisitors. In the first ages these questions were rare and occasional. In the beginning of the seventh century of Rome they were made perpetual: four prætors were annually empowered to sit in judgment on the state offences of treason, extortion, peculation, and bribery; and Sylla added new prætors and new questions for those crimes which more directly injure the safety of individuals. By these inquisitors the trial was prepared and directed; but they could only pronounce the sentence of the majority of judges. To discharge this important though burdensome office, an annual list of ancient and respectable citizens was formed by the prætor. After many constitutional struggles they were chosen in equal numbers from the senate, the equestrian order, and the people; four hundred and fifty were appointed for single questions, and the various rolls or decuries of judges must have contained the names of some thousand Romans who represented the judicial authority of the State. In each particular cause a sufficient number was drawn from the urn; their integrity was guarded by an oath; the mode of ballot secured their independence; the suspicion of partiality was removed by the mutual challenges of the accuser and defendant; and the judges of Milo, by the retrenchment of fifteen on each side, were reduced to fifty-one voices or tablets of acquittal, of condemnation, or of favorable doubt.[39]

3. In his civil jurisdiction the prætor of the city was truly a judge, and almost a legislator; but as soon as he had prescribed the action of law he often referred to a delegate the determination of the fact. With the increase of legal proceedings, the tribunal of the centumvirs in which he presided acquired more weight and reputation. But whether he acted alone, or with the advice of his council, the most absolute powers might be trusted to a magistrate who was annually chosen by the votes of the people. The rules and precautions of freedom have required some explanation; the order of despotism is simple and inanimate. Before the age of Justinian, or perhaps of Diocletian, the decuries of Roman judges had sunk to an empty title: the humble advice of the assessors might be accepted or despised, and in each tribunal the civil and criminal jurisdiction was administered by a single magistrate, who was raised and disgraced by the will of the emperor.

A Roman accused of any capital crime might prevent the sentence of the law by voluntary exile or death. Till his guilt had been legally proved his innocence was presumed, and his person was free: till the votes of the last century had been counted and declared, he might peaceably secede to any of the allied cities of Italy, or Greece, or Asia.[40] His fame and fortunes were preserved, at least to his children, by this civil death; and he might still be happy in every rational and sensual enjoyment, if a mind accustomed to the ambitious tumult of Rome could support the uniformity and silence of Rhodes or Athens. A bolder effort was required to escape from the tyranny of the Cæsars; but this effort was rendered familiar by the maxims of the Stoics, the example of the bravest Romans, and the legal encouragements of suicide. The bodies of condemned criminals were exposed to public ignominy, and their children, a more serious evil, were reduced to poverty by the confiscation of their fortunes. But if the victims of Tiberius and Nero anticipated the decree of the prince or senate, their courage and despatch were recompensed by the applause of the public, the decent honors of burial, and the validity of their testaments. The exquisite avarice and cruelty of Domitian appear to have deprived the unfortunate of this last consolation, and it was still denied even by the clemency of the Antonines.

A voluntary death which, in the case of a capital offence, intervened between the accusation and the sentence, was admitted as a confession of guilt, and the spoils of the deceased were seized by the inhuman claims of the treasury. Yet the civilians have always respected the natural right of a citizen to dispose of his life; and the posthumous disgrace invented by Tarquin,[41] to check the despair of his subjects, was never revived or imitated by succeeding tyrants. The powers of this world have indeed lost their dominion over him who is resolved on death, and his arm can only be restrained by the religious apprehension of a future state. Suicides are enumerated by Vergil among the unfortunate rather than the guilty;[42] and the poetical fables of the infernal shades could not seriously influence the faith or practice of mankind. But the precepts of the gospel, or the Church, have at length imposed a pious servitude on the minds of Christians, and condemn them to expect, without a murmur, the last stroke of disease or the executioner.

The penal statutes form a very small proportion of the sixty-two books of the Code and Pandects; and in all judicial proceeding the life or death of a citizen is determined with less caution or delay than the most ordinary question of covenant or inheritance. This singular distinction, though something may be allowed for the urgent necessity of defending the peace of society, is derived from the nature of criminal and civil jurisprudence. Our duties to the state are simple and uniform: the law by which he is condemned is inscribed not only on brass or marble, but on the conscience of the offender, and his guilt is commonly proved by the testimony of a single fact. But our relations to each other are various and infinite; our obligations are created, annulled, and modified by injuries, benefits, and promises; and the interpretation of voluntary contracts and testaments, which are often dictated by fraud or ignorance, affords a long and laborious exercise to the sagacity of the judge. The business of life is multiplied by the extent of commerce and dominion, and the residence of the parties in the distant provinces of an empire is productive of doubt, delay, and inevitable appeals from the local to the supreme magistrate. Justinian, the Greek emperor of Constantinople and the East, was the legal successor of the Latian shepherd who had planted a colony on the banks of the Tiber. In a period of thirteen hundred years the laws had reluctantly followed the changes of government and manners, and the laudable desire of conciliating ancient names with recent institutions destroyed the harmony and swelled the magnitude of the obscure and irregular system.

The laws which excuse on any occasions the ignorance of their subjects confess their own imperfections. The civil jurisprudence, as it was abridged by Justinian, still continued a mysterious science and a profitable trade, and the innate perplexity of the study was involved in tenfold darkness by the private industry of the practitioners. The expense of the pursuit sometimes exceeded the value of the prize, and the fairest rights were abandoned by the poverty or prudence of the claimants. Such costly justice might tend to abate the spirit of litigation, but the unequal pressure serves only to increase the influence of the rich, and to aggravate the misery of the poor. By these dilatory and expensive proceedings, the wealthy pleader obtains a more certain advantage than he could hope from the accidental corruption of his judge. The experience of an abuse, from which our own age and country are not perfectly exempt, may sometimes provoke a generous indignation, and extort the hasty wish of exchanging our elaborate jurisprudence for the simple and summary decrees of a Turkish cadi. Our calmer reflection will suggest that such forms and delays are necessary to guard the person and property of the citizen; that the discretion of the judge is the first engine of tyranny, and that the laws of a free people should foresee and determine every question that may probably arise in the exercise of power and the transactions of industry. But the government of Justinian united the evils of liberty and servitude; and the Romans were oppressed at the same time by the multiplicity of their laws and the arbitrary will of their master.


[26] Among the works which have been recovered, by the persevering and successful endeavors of M. Mai and his followers to trace the imperfectly erased characters of the ancient writers on these palimpsests, Gibbon at this period of his labors would have hailed with delight the recovery of the Institutes of Gaius, and the fragments of the Theodosian Code, published by M. Peyron of Turin.

[27] Pisa was taken by the Florentines in the year 1406; and in 1411 the Pandects were transported to the capital. These events are authentic and famous.

[28] They were new bound in purple, deposited in a rich casket, and shown to curious travellers by the monks and magistrates bareheaded and with lighted tapers.

[29] Gibbon, dividing the Institutes into four parts, considers the appendix of the criminal law in the last title as a fourth part.

[30] This parental power was strictly confined to the Roman citizen. The foreigner, or he who had only jus Latii, did not possess it. If a Roman citizen unknowingly married a Latin or a foreign wife, he did not possess this power over his son, because the son, following the legal condition of the mother, was not a Roman citizen. A man, however, alleging sufficient cause for his ignorance, might raise both mother and child to the rights of citizenship.

[31] The edict of Constantine first conferred this right; for Augustus had prohibited the taking as a concubine a woman who might be taken as a wife; and if marriage took place afterward, this marriage made no change in the rights of the children born before it; recourse was then had to adoption, properly called arrogation.

[32] The Roman laws protected all property acquired in a lawful manner. They imposed on those who had invaded it, the obligation of making restitution and reparation of all damage caused by that invasion; they punished it moreover, in many cases, by a pecuniary fine. But they did not always grant a recovery against the third person, who had become bona fide possessed of the property. He who had obtained possession of a thing belonging to another, knowing nothing of the prior rights of that person, maintained the possession. The law had expressly determined those cases, in which it permitted property to be reclaimed from an innocent possessor. In these cases possession had the characters of absolute proprietorship. To possess this right, it was not sufficient to have entered into possession of the thing in any manner; the acquisition was bound to have that character of publicity, which was given by the observation of solemn forms, prescribed by the laws, or the uninterrupted exercise of proprietorship during a certain time: the Roman citizen alone could acquire this proprietorship. Every other kind of possession, which might be named imperfect proprietorship, was called in bonis habere. It was not till after the time of Cicero that the general name of dominium was given to all proprietorship.

[33] Justinian has not condescended to give usury a place in his Institutes; but the necessary rules and restrictions are inserted in the Pandects and the Code.

[34] Cato, Seneca, Plutarch, have loudly condemned the practice or abuse of usury. According to etymology, the principal is supposed to generate the interest: "A breed for barren metal," exclaims Shakspeare—and the stage is an echo of the public voice.

[35] Livy mentions two remarkable and flagitious eras, of three thousand persons accused, and of one hundred and ninety noble matrons convicted, of the crime of poisoning. Hume discriminates the ages of private and public virtue. Rather say that such ebullitions of mischief (as in France in the year 1680) are accidents and prodigies which leave no marks on the manners of a nation.

[36] The first parricide at Rome was L. Ostius, after the Second Punic War. During the Cimbric, P. Malleolus was guilty of the first matricide.

[37] Verres lived near thirty years after his trial, till the Second Triumvirate, when he was proscribed by the taste of Mark Antony for the sake of his Corinthian plate.

[38] Montesquieu, that eloquent philosopher, conciliates the rights of liberty and of nature, which should never be placed in opposition to each other.

[39] We are indebted for this interesting fact to a fragment of Asconius Pedianus, who flourished under the reign of Tiberius. The loss of his Commentaries on the Orations of Cicero has deprived us of a valuable fund of historical and legal knowledge.

[40] The extension of the Empire and city of Rome obliged the exile to seek a more distant place of retirement.

[41] When he fatigued his subjects in building the Capitol, many of the laborers were provoked to despatch themselves: he nailed their dead bodies to crosses.

[42] The sole resemblance of a violent and premature death has engaged Vergil to confound suicides with infants, lovers, and persons unjustly condemned. Some of his editors are at a loss to deduce the idea or ascertain the jurisprudence of the Roman poet.


A.D. 597



St. Augustine was the first archbishop of Canterbury. He was educated in Rome under Pope Gregory I, by whom he was sent to Britain with forty monks of the Benedictine order, for the purpose of converting the English to Christianity. Bertha, wife of Ethelbert, king of Kent, was a Christian. She was a daughter of Charibert, king of Paris, and had brought her chaplain with her, who held services in the ruined church of St. Martin, near Canterbury.

There seemed little prospect, however, of the faith spreading among the wild islanders until Augustine arrived on the Isle of Thanet A.D. 596. The occasion of his being sent on this missionary errand is said to have been connected with an incident which has often been related, wherein it appears that Gregory, while yet a monk, struck with the beauty of some heathen Anglo-Saxon youths exposed for sale in the slave market at Rome, inquired concerning their nationality. Being told that they were Angles, he said: "Non Angli sed angeli ['Not Angles, but angels'], and well may, for their angel-like faces it becometh such to be coheirs with the angels in heaven. In what province of England do they live?" "Deira" was the reply. "From Dei ira ['God's wrath'] are they to be freed?" answered Gregory. "How call ye the king of that country?" "Ælla." "Then Alleluia surely ought to be sung in his kingdom to the praise of that God who created all things," said the gracious and clever monk.

"The conversion of the English to Christianity," says Freeman, "at once altered their whole position in the world. Hitherto our history had been almost wholly insular; our heathen forefathers had had but little to do, either in war or peace, with any nations beyond their own four seas. We hear little of any connection being kept up between the Angles and Saxons who settled in Britain, and their kinsfolk who abode in their original country. By its conversion England was first brought, not only within the pale of the Christian Church, but within the pale of the general political society of Europe. But our insular position, combined with the events of our earlier history, was not without its effect on the peculiar character of Christianity as established in England. England was the first great territorial conquest of the spiritual power, beyond the limits of the Roman Empire, beyond the influence of Greek and Roman civilization."

The following account from the Ecclesiastical History of the Venerable Bede, the "father of English history," and foremost scholar of England in his age, is in the modern English rendering by Thomson, of King Alfred's famous translation, made for the instruction of the English people as the best work of that period on their own history.

As a contrast John Richard Green's treatment of the same episode is appended.


When according to forthrunning time [it] was about five hundred and ninety-two years from Christ's hithercoming, Mauricius, the Emperor, took to the government, and had it two-and-twenty years. He was the fifty-fourth from Augustus. In the tenth year of that Emperor's reign, Gregory, the holy man, who was in lore and deed the highest, took to the bishophood of the Roman Church, and of the apostolic seat, and held and governed it thirteen years and six months and ten days. In the fourteenth year of the same Emperor, about a hundred and fifty years from the English nation's hithercoming into Britain, he was admonished by a divine impulse that he should send God's servant Augustine, and many other monks with him, fearing the Lord, to preach God's word to the English nation.

When they obeyed the bishop's commands, and began to go to the mentioned work, and had gone some deal of the way, then began they to fear and dread the journey, and thought that it was wiser and safer for them that they should rather return home than seek the barbarous people, and the fierce and the unbelieving, even whose speech they knew not; and in common chose this advice to themselves; and then straightway sent Augustine (whom they had chosen for their bishop if their doctrines should be received) to the Pope, that he might humbly intercede for them, that they might not need to go upon a journey so perilous and so toilsome, and a pilgrimage so unknown.

Then St. Gregory sent a letter to them, and exhorted and advised them in that letter: that they should humbly go into the work of God's word, and trust in God's help; and that they should not fear the toil of the journey, nor dread the tongues of evil-speaking men; but that, with all earnestness, and with the love of God, they should perform the good things which they by God's help had begun to do; and that they should know that the great toil would be followed by the greater glory of everlasting life; and he prayed Almighty God that he would shield them by his grace; and that he would grant to himself that he might see the fruit of their labor in the heavenly kingdom's glory, because he was ready to be in the same labor with them, if leave had been given him.

Then Augustine was strengthened by the exhortation of the blessed father Gregory, and with Christ's servants who were with him returned to the work of God's word, and came into Britain. Then was at that time Ethelbert king in Kent, and a mighty one, who had rule as far as the boundary of the river Humber, which sheds asunder the south folk of the English nation and the north folk. Then [there] is on the eastward of Kent a great island [Thanet by name], which is six hundred hides large, after the English nation's reckoning. The isle is shed away from the continuous land by the stream Wantsum, which is three furlongs broad, and in two places is fordable, and either end lies in the sea. On this isle came up Christ's servant Augustine and his fellows—he was one of forty. They likewise took with them interpreters from Frankland [France], as St. Gregory bade them; and he sent messengers to Ethelbert, and let him know that he came from Rome, and brought the best errand, and whosoever would be obedient to him, he promised him everlasting gladness in heaven, and a kingdom hereafter without end, with the true and living God.

When [he then] the King heard these words, then ordered he them to abide in the isle on which they had come up; and their necessaries to be there given them until he should see what he would do to them. Likewise before that a report of the Christian religion had come to him, for he had a Christian wife, who was given to him from the royal kin of the Franks—Bertha was her name; which woman he received from her parents on condition that she should have his leave that she might hold the manner of the Christian belief, and of her religion, unspotted, with the bishop whom they gave her for the help of that faith; whose name was Luidhard.

Then [it] was after many days that the King came to the isle, and ordered to make a seat for him out [of doors], and ordered Augustine with his fellows to come to his speech (a conference). He guarded himself lest they should go into any house to him; he used the old greeting, in case they had any magic whereby they should overcome and deceive him. But they came endowed—not with devil-craft, but with divine might. They bore Christ's rood-token—a silvern cross of Christ and a likeness of the Lord Jesus colored and delineated on a board; and were crying the names of holy men; and singing prayers together, made supplication to the Lord for the everlasting health of themselves and of those to whom they come.

Then the King bade them sit, and they did so; and they soon preached and taught the word of life to him, together with all his peers who were there present. Then answered the King, and thus said: Fair words and promises are these which ye have brought and say to us; but because they are new and unknown, we cannot yet agree that we should forsake the things which we for a long time, with all the English nation, have held.

But because ye have come hither as pilgrims from afar, and since it seems and is evident to me that ye wished to communicate to us also the things which ye believed true and best, we will not therefore be heavy to you, but will kindly receive you in hospitality, and give you a livelihood, and supply your needs. Nor will we hinder you from joining and adding to the religion of your belief all whom you can through your lore.

Then the King gave them a dwelling and a place in Canterbury, which was the chief city of all his kingdom, and as he had promised to give them a livelihood and their worldly needs, he likewise gave them leave that they might preach and teach the Christian faith. It is said that when they went and drew nigh to the city, as their custom was, with Christ's holy cross, and with the likeness of the great King our Lord Jesus Christ, they sung with a harmonious voice this Litany and Antiphony: Deprecamur te, etc. "We beseech thee, Lord, in all thy mercy, that thy fury and thy wrath be taken off from this city and [from] thy holy house, because we have sinned. Alleluia."

Then it was soon after they had entered into the dwelling place which had been granted to them in the royal city, when they began to imitate the apostolic life of the primitive church—that is, served the Lord in constant prayers, and waking and fasting, and preached and taught God's word to whom they might, and slighted all things of this world as foreign; but those things only which were seen [to be] needful for their livelihood they received from those whom they taught; according to that which they taught, they [themselves] through everything lived; and they had a ready mind to suffer adversity, yea likewise death [it] self, for the truth which they preached and taught. Then was no delay that many believed and were baptized. They also wondered at the simplicity of [their] harmless life and the sweetness of their heavenly lore.

There was by east well-nigh the city a church built in honor of St. Martin long ago, while the Romans yet dwelt in Britain [in which church the Queen (was) wont to pray, of whom we said before that she was a Christian]. In this church at first the holy teachers began to meet and sing and pray, and do mass-song, and teach men and baptize, until the King was converted to the faith, and they obtained more leave to teach everywhere, and to build and repair churches.

Then came it about through the grace of God that the King likewise among others began to delight in the cleanest life of holy [men] and their sweetest promises, and they also gave confirmation that those were true by the showing of many wonders; and he then, being glad, was baptized. Then began many daily to hasten and flock together to hear God's word, and to forsake the manner of heathenism, and joined themselves, through belief, to the oneness of Christ's holy Church. Of their belief and conversion [it] is said that the King was so evenly glad that he, however, forced none to the Christian manner [of worship], but that those who turned to belief and to baptism he more inwardly loved, as they were fellow-citizens of the heavenly kingdom. For he had learnt from his teachers and from the authors of his health that Christ's service should be of good will, not of compulsion. And he then, the King, gave and granted to his teachers a place and settlement suitable to their condition, in his chief city, and thereto gave their needful supplies in various possessions.

During these things the holy man Augustine fared over sea, and came to the city Arles, and by Ætherius, archbishop of the said city, according to the behest and commandment of the blessed father St. Gregory, was hallowed archbishop of the English people, and returned and fared into Britain, and soon sent messengers to Rome, that was Laurence a mass-priest and Peter a monk, that they should say and make known to the blessed St. Gregory that the English nation had received Christ's belief, and that he had been consecrated as bishop. He likewise requested his advice about many causes and questions which were seen by him [to be] needful; and he soon sent suitable answers of them.

Asked by St. Augustine, bishop of the church of Canterbury: First, of bishops, how they shall behave and live with their fellows. Next, on the gifts of the faithful which they bring to holy tables and to God's churches—how many doles of them shall be?

Answered by Pope St. Gregory: Holy writ makes it known, quoth he, which I have no doubt thou knowest, and sunderly the blessed Paul's epistle, which he wrote to Timothy, in which he earnestly trained and taught him how he should behave and do in God's house. For it is the manner of the apostolic seat, when they hallow bishops, that they give them commandments, and that of all the livelihood which comes in to them there shall be four doles. One, in the first place, to the bishop and his family for food, and entertainment of guests and comers; a second dole to God's servants; a third to the needy; the fourth to renewing and repair of God's church. But because thy brotherliness has been trained and taught in monastic rules, thou shalt not, however, be asunder from thy fellows in the English church, which now yet is newly come and led to the faith of God. This behavior and this life thou shalt set up, which our fathers had in the beginning of the new-born church, when none of them said aught of that which they owned was his in sunder; but they all had all things common. If, then, any priests or God's servants are settled without holy orders, let those who cannot withhold themselves from women take them wives, and receive their livelihood outside. For of the same fathers, of whom we spoke before, [it] is written that they dealt their worldly goods to sundry men as every [one] had need.

Likewise concerning their livelihood it is to be thought and foreseen (i.e., provided) that they live in good manners under ecclesiastical rules, and sing psalms and keep wakes and hold their hearts and tongues and bodies clean from all forbidden [things] to Almighty God. But, as to those living in common life, what have we to say how they deal their alms, or exercise hospitality, and fulfil mercy? since all that is left over in their worldly substance is to be reached and given to the pious and good, as the master of all, our Lord Christ, taught and said: Quod superest, etc. "What is over and left, give alms, and to you are all [things] clean."

Asked by St. Augustine: Since there is one faith, and are various customs of churches, there is one custom of mass-song in the holy Roman Church, and another is had in the kingdom of Gaul.

Answered by Pope St. Gregory: Thou thyself knowest the manner and custom of the Roman Church, in which thou wert reared; but now it seems good, and is more agreeable to me, that whatsoever thou hast found either in the Roman Church or in Gaul, or in any other [church], that was more pleasing to Almighty God, thou should carefully choose that, and set it to be held fast in the Church of the English nation, which now yet is new in the faith. For the things are not to be loved for places; but the places for good things. Therefore what things thou choosest as pious, good, and right from each of sundry churches, these gather thou together, and settle into a custom in the mind of the English nation.

Asked by Augustine: I pray thee, what punishment shall he suffer—whosoever takes away anything by stealth from a church?

Answered by Gregory: This may thy brotherliness determine from the thief's condition, how he may be corrected. For there are some who have worldly wealth, and yet commit theft; there are some who are in this wise guilty through poverty. Therefore need is that some be corrected by waning of their worldly goods, some by stripes; some more sternly, some more mildly. And though the punishment be inflicted a little harder or sterner, yet it is to be done of love, not of wrath nor of fury; because through the throes of this is procured to the man that he be not given to the everlasting fires of hell-torments. For in this manner we ought to punish men, as the good fathers are wont [to do] their fleshly children, whom they chide and swinge for their sins; and yet those same whom they chide and chastise by these pains they also love, and wish to have for their heirs, and for them hold their worldly goods which they possess, whom they seem in anger to persecute and torment. For love is ever to be held in the mind, and it dictates and determines the measure of the chastisement, so that the mind does nothing at all beside the right rule. Thou likewise addest in thy inquiry, how those things should be compensated which have been taken away from a church by theft. But, oh! far be it that God's Church should receive with increase what she seems to let alone of earthly things, and seek worldly gain by vain things.

Asked by Bishop St. Augustine: At what generation shall Christian people be joined among themselves in marriage with their kinsfolk?... Answered by St. Gregory: ... But because there are many in the English nation [who], while they were then yet in unbelief, are said to have been joined together in this sinful marriage,[44] now they are to be admonished, since they have come to the faith, that they hold themselves off from such iniquities, and understand that it is a heavy sin, and dread the awful doom of God, lest they for fleshly love receive the torments of everlasting death. They are not, however, for this cause to be deprived of the communion of Christ's body and blood, lest this thing may seem to be revenged on them, in which they through unwittingness sinned before the bath of baptism. For at this time the Holy Church corrects some things through zeal, bears with some through mildness, overlooks some through consideration, and so bears and overlooks that often by bearing and overlooking she checks the opposing evil. All those who come to the faith of Christ are to be reminded that they may not dare to commit any such thing. But, if any shall commit them, then are they to be deprived of Christ's body and blood; for, as some little is to be borne with in regard to those men who through unwittingness commit sin, so on the other hand it is to be strongly pursued in those who dread not to sin wittingly.

Asked by Bishop St. Augustine: If a great distance of journey lies between, so that bishops may not easily come, whether may a bishop be hallowed without the presence of other bishops.

Answered by Gregory: In the English Church, indeed, in which thou alone as yet art found a bishop, thou canst not hallow a bishop otherwise than without other bishops; but bishops must come to thee out of the kingdom of Gaul, that they may stand as witness at the bishop's hallowing, for the hallowing of bishops must not be otherwise than in the assembling and witnessing of three or four bishops, that they may send [up] and pour [forth] their petitions and prayers to the Almighty God for his favor.

Asked by Augustine: How must we do with the bishops of Gaul and Britain?

Answered by Pope Gregory: Over the bishops of Gaul we give thee no authority, because from the earlier times of my predecessors the bishop of the city Arles received the pallium, whom we ought not to degrade nor to deprive of the received authority. But, if thou happen to go into the province of Gaul, have thou a conference and consultation with the said bishop what is to be done, or, if any vices are found in bishops, how they shall be corrected and reformed; and if there be a supposition that he is too lukewarm in the vigor of his discipline and chastisement, then is he to be inflamed and abetted by thy brotherliness's love,[45] that he may ward off those things which are contrary to the behest and commands of our Maker, from the manners of the bishops. Thou mayest not judge the bishops of Gaul without their own authority; but thou shalt mildly admonish them, and show them the imitation of thy good works. All the bishops of Britain we commend to thy brotherliness, in order that the unlearned may be taught, the weak strengthened by thy exhortation, and the perverse corrected by thy authority.[46]

Augustine likewise bade [his messengers] acquaint him that a great harvest was here present and few workmen. And he then sent with the aforesaid messengers more help to him for divine learning, among whom the first and greatest were Mellitus and Justus and Paulinus and Rufinianus, and by them generally all those things which were needful for the worship and service of the Church—communion vessels, altar-cloth, and church ornaments, and bishops' robes, and deacons' robes, as also reliques of the apostles and holy martyrs, and many books. He likewise sent to Augustine the bishop a pallium, and a letter in which he intimated how he should hallow other bishops, and in what places [he should] set them in Britain.

The blessed Pope Gregory likewise at the same time sent a letter to King Ethelbert, and along with it many worldly gifts of diverse sorts. He wished likewise by these temporal honors to glorify the King, to whom he had, by his labor and by his diligence in teaching, opened and made known the glory of the heavenly kingdom.

And then St. Augustine, as soon as he received the bishop-seat in the royal city, renewed and wrought, with the King's help, the church which he had learnt was wrought long before by old Roman work, and hallowed it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; and he there set a dwelling-place for himself and all his after-followers. He likewise built a monastery by east of the city, in which Ethelbert the King, by his exhortation and advice, ordered to build a church worthy of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and he enriched it with various gifts, in which church the body of Augustine, and of all the Canterbury bishops together, and of their kings, might be laid. The church, however, not Augustine, but Bishop Laurentius, his after-follower, hallowed.

The first abbot at the same monastery was a mass-priest named Peter, who was sent back as a messenger into the kingdom of Gaul, and then was drowned in a bay of the sea, which was called Amfleet, and was laid in an unbecoming grave by the inhabitants of the place. But the Almighty God would show of what merit the holy man was, and every night a heavenly light was made to shine over his grave, until the neighbors, who saw it, understood that it was a great and holy man who was buried there; and they then asked who and whence he was: they then took his body, and laid and buried it in a church in the city of Boulogne, with the honor befitting so great and so holy a man.

Then it was that Augustine, with the help of King Ethelbert, invited to his speech the bishops and teachers of the Britons, in the place which is yet named Augustine's Oak, on the borders of the Hwiccii and West Saxons. And he then began, with brotherly love, to advise and teach them, that they should have right love and peace between them, and undertake, for the Lord, the common labor of teaching divine lore in the English nation. And they would not hear him, nor keep Easter at its right tide, and also had many other things unlike and contrary to ecclesiastical unity. When they had held a long conference and strife about those things, and they would not yield any things to Augustine's instructions, nor to his prayers, nor to his threats, and [those] of his companions, but thought their own customs and institutions better than [that] they should agree with all Christ's churches throughout the world; then the holy father Augustine put an end to this troublesome strife, and thus spoke:

"Let us pray Almighty God, who makes the one-minded to dwell in his Father's house, that he vouchsafe to signify to us by heavenly wonders which institution we ought to follow, by what ways to hasten to the entrance of his kingdom. Let an infirm man be brought hither to us, and, through whose prayer soever he be healed, let his belief and practice be believed acceptable to God, and to be followed by all."

When his adversaries had hardly granted that, a blind man of English kin was led forth: he was first led to the bishops of the Britons, and he received no health nor comfort through their ministry. Then at last Augustine was constrained by righteous need, arose and bowed his knees, [and] prayed God the Almighty Father that he would give sight to the blind man, that he through one man's bodily enlightening might kindle the gift of ghostly light in the hearts of many faithful Then soon, without delay, the blind man was enlightened, and received sight; and the true preacher of the heavenly light, Augustine, was proclaimed and praised by all. Then the Britons also acknowledged with shame that they understood that it was the way of truth which Augustine preached; they said, however, that they could not, without consent and leave of their people, shun and forsake their old customs. They begged that again another synod should be [assembled], and they then would attend it with more counsellors.

When that accordingly was set, seven bishops of the Britons came, and all the most learned men, who were chiefly from the city Bangor: at that time the abbot of that monastery was named Dinoth. When they then were going to the meeting, they first came to a [certain] hermit, who was with them holy and wise. They interrogated and asked him whether they should for Augustine's lore forsake their own institutions and customs. Then answered he them, "If he be a man of God, follow him." Quoth they to him, "How may we know whether he be so?" Quoth he: "[Our] Lord himself hath said in his gospel, Take ye my yoke upon you, and learn from me that I am mild and of lowly heart. And now if Augustine is mild and of lowly heart, then it is [to be] believed that he bears Christ's yoke and teaches you to bear it. If he then is unmild and haughty, then it is known that he is not from God, nor [should] ye mind his words." Quoth they again, "How may we know that distinctly?" Quoth he, "See ye that he come first to the synod with his fellows, and sit; and, if he rises toward you when ye come, then wit ye that he is Christ's servant, and ye shall humbly hear his words and his lore. But if he despise you, and will not rise toward you since there are more of you, be he then despised by you." Well, they did so as he said.

When they had come to the synod-place, the archbishop Augustine was sitting on his seat. When they saw that he rose not for them, they quickly became angry, and upbraided him [as being] haughty, and gainsaid and withstood all his words. The archbishop said to them: "In many things ye are contrary to our customs and so to [those] of all God's churches; and yet if ye will be obedient to me in these three things—that first ye celebrate Easter at the right tide; that ye fulfil the ministry of baptism, through which we are born as God's children, after the manner of the holy Roman and apostolic Church; and that, thirdly, ye preach the word of the Lord to the English people together with us—we will patiently bear with all other things which ye do that are contrary to our customs." They said that they would do none of these things, nor would have him for an archbishop; they said among themselves, "If he would not now rise for us, much more, if we shall be subjected to him, will he contemn us for naught." It is said that the man of God, St. Augustine, in a threatening manner foretold, "if they would not receive peace with men of God, that they should receive unpeace and war from their foes; and, if they would not preach among the English race the word of life, they should through their hands suffer the vengeance of death."

And through everything, as the man of God had foretold, by the righteous doom of God it came to pass; and very soon after this Ethelfrith, king of the English, collected a great army, and led it to Legcaster, and there fought against the Britons, and made the greatest slaughter of the faithless people. While he was beginning the battle, King Ethelfrith saw their priests and bishops and monks standing aloof in a safer place, that they should pray and make intercession to God for their warriors: he inquired and asked what that host was, and what they were doing there. When he understood the cause of their coming, then said he, "So! I wot if they cry to their God against us, though they bear not a weapon, they fight against us, for they pursue us with their hostile prayers and curses." He then straightway ordered to turn upon them first, and slay them. Men say that there were twelve hundred of this host, and fifty of them escaped by flight; and he so then destroyed and blotted out the other host of the sinful nation, not without great waning of his [own] host; and so was fulfilled the prophecy of the holy bishop Augustine, that they should for their trowlessness suffer the vengeance of temporal perdition, because they despised the skilful counsel of their eternal salvation.

After these things Augustine, bishop [of Britain], hallowed two bishops: the one was named Mellitus, the other Justus. Mellitus he sent to preach divine lore to the East Saxons, who are shed off from Kentland by the river Thames, and joined to the east sea. Their chief city is called Lundencaster (now London), standing on the bank of the foresaid river; and it is the market-place of land and sea comers. The King in the nation at that time was Seabright (or Sabert), Ethelbert's sister-son, and his vassal. Then he and the nation of the East Saxons received the word of truth and the faith of Christ through Mellitus, the bishop's lore. Then King Ethelbert ordered to build a church in London, and to hallow it to St. Paul the apostle, that he and his after-followers might have their bishop-seat in that place. Justus he hallowed as bishop in Kent itself at Rochester, which is four-and-twenty miles right west from Canterbury, in which city likewise King Ethelbert ordered to build a church, and to hallow it to St. Andrew the apostle; and to each of these bishops the King gave his gifts and bookland and possessions for them to brook with their fellows.

After these things, then, Father Augustine, beloved of God, departed [this life], and his body was buried without [doors], nigh the church of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, which we mentioned before, because it was not then yet fully built nor hallowed. As soon as it was hallowed, then his body was put into it, and becomingly buried in the north porch of the church, in which likewise the bodies of all the after-following archbishops are buried but two; that is, Theodorus and Berhtwald, whose bodies are laid in the church itself, because no more might [be so] in the foresaid porch. Well-nigh in the middle of the church is an altar set and hallowed in name of St. Gregory, on which every Saturday their memory and decease are celebrated with mass-song by the mass-priest of that place. On St. Augustine's tomb is written an inscription of this sort: Here resteth Sir[47] Augustine, the first archbishop of Canterbury, who was formerly sent hither by the blessed Gregory, bishop of the Roman city; and was upheld by God with working of wonders. King Ethelbert and his people he led from the worship of idols to the faith of Christ, and, having fulfilled the days of his ministry in peace, departed on the 26th day of May in the same King's reign.


Years had passed by since Gregory pitied the English slaves in the market-place of Rome. As bishop of the imperial city he at last found himself in a position to carry out his dream of winning Britain to the faith, and an opening was given him by Ethelbert's marriage with Bertha, a daughter of the Frankish king Charibert of Paris. Bertha, like her Frankish kindred, was a Christian; a Christian bishop accompanied her from Gaul; and a ruined Christian church, the church of St. Martin beside the royal city of Canterbury, was given them for their worship.

The King himself remained true to the gods of his fathers; but his marriage no doubt encouraged Gregory to send a Roman abbot, Augustine, at the head of a band of monks to preach the Gospel, to the English people. The missionaries landed in 597 in the Isle of Thanet, at the spot where Hengist had landed more than a century before; and Ethelbert received them sitting in the open air, on the chalk-down above Minster where the eye nowadays catches miles away over the marshes the dim tower of Canterbury.

The King listened patiently to the long sermon of Augustine as the interpreters the abbot had brought with him from Gaul rendered it in the English tongue. "Your words are fair," Ethelbert replied at last with English good sense, "but they are new and of doubtful meaning." For himself, he said, he refused to forsake the gods of his fathers, but with the usual religious tolerance of his race he promised shelter and protection to the strangers.

The band of monks entered Canterbury bearing before them a silver cross with a picture of Christ, and singing in concert the strains of the litany of their church. "Turn from this city, O Lord," they sang, "thine anger and wrath, and turn it from thy holy house, for we have sinned." And then in strange contrast came the jubilant cry of the older Hebrew worship, the cry which Gregory had wrested in prophetic earnestness from the name of the Yorkshire king in the Roman market-place, "Alleluia!"[48]

It was thus that the spot which witnessed the landing of Hengist became yet better known as the landing-place of Augustine. But the second landing at Ebbsfleet was in no small measure a reversal and undoing of the first. "Strangers from Rome" was the title with which the missionaries first fronted the English King. The march of the monks as they chanted their solemn litany was in one sense a return of the Roman legions who withdrew at the trumpet-call of Alaric. It was to the tongue and the thought not of Gregory only, but of the men whom his Jutish fathers had slaughtered or driven out that Ethelbert listened in the preaching of Augustine.

Canterbury, the earliest royal city of German England, became a centre of Latin influence. The Roman tongue became again one of the tongues of Britain, the language of its worship, its correspondence, its literature. But more than the tongue of Rome returned with Augustine. Practically his landing renewed that union with the western world which the landing of Hengist had destroyed. The new England was admitted into the older commonwealth of nations. The civilization, art, letters, which had fled before the sword of the English conquerors returned with the Christian faith. The great fabric of the Roman law indeed never took root in England, but it is impossible not to recognize the result of the influence of the Roman missionaries in the fact that codes of the customary English law began to be put in writing soon after their arrival.

A year passed before Ethelbert yielded to the preaching of Augustine. But from the moment of his conversion the new faith advanced rapidly and the Kentish men crowded to baptism in the train of their King. The new religion was carried beyond the bounds of Kent by the supremacy which Ethelbert wielded over the neighboring kingdoms. Sebert, king of the East Saxons, received a bishop sent from Kent, and suffered him to build up again a Christian church in what was now his subject city of London, while the East Anglian king Redwald resolved to serve Christ and the older gods together.


[43] Translated by King Alfred the Great.

[44] That is, with their near kinsfolk.

[45] A brother is here styled "his brotherliness," as a pope "his holiness."

[46] The remainder of this is not translated here.

[47] "Sir" in English (Schir, Scottish) equal to Dominus, Latin, was five or six centuries ago prefixed to the name of every ordained priest.

[48] See introduction to Augustine's Missionary Work in England.



A.D. 622



The flight of Mahomet from Mecca to Medina occurred June 20, 622, and was called the hegira, or departure of the prophet. That event marks the commencement of the Mahometan era, which is called there-from the Hegira. According to the civil calculation it is fixed at Friday, July 16th, the date of the Mahometans, although astronomers and some historians assign it to the day preceding. While primarily referring to the flight of Mahomet, the term is applied also to the emigration to Medina, prior to the capture of Mecca (630) of those of Mahomet's disciples, who henceforth were known as Mohajerins—- Emigrants or Refugees—which became a title of honor.

A scion of the family of Hashem and of the tribe of Koreish, the noblest race in Arabia, and the guardians of the ancient temple and idols of the Kaaba, Mahomet was born at Mecca, August 20, A.D. 570. He acquired wealth and influence by his marriage with Kadijah, a rich widow, but, about his fortieth year, by announcing himself as an apostle of God, sent to extirpate idolatry and to restore the true faith of the prophets Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, he and his converts were exposed to contumely and persecution.

It was, as Irving's recital shows, necessary for the preservation of his life—- which was threatened by his own tribe, the Koreishites—that Mahomet should leave Mecca, and he escaped none too soon. It must also be observed that by this going out he found ampler means for the spread of his doctrine and the increase of his followers. His very presence among strangers drew multitudes to the support of his cause, and the enthusiasm aroused by the prophet at Medina made that city the centre of his first great propaganda. There Mahomet died; in the Great Mosque is his tomb, and Medina is sometimes called the "City of the Prophet." From this centre began the development and spread of Islam into a world-religion, which has flourished to the present day, when its followers are estimated at nearly two hundred millions, having large empire and still wider influence among some of the most important races of the East.


The fortunes of Mahomet were becoming darker and darker in his native place. Kadijah, his original benefactress, the devoted companion of his solitude and seclusion, the zealous believer in his doctrines, was in her grave; so also was Abu-Taleb, once his faithful and efficient protector. Deprived of the sheltering influence of the latter, Mahomet had become, in a manner, an outlaw in Mecca; obliged to conceal himself, and remain a burden on the hospitality of those whom his own doctrines had involved in persecution. If worldly advantage had been his object, how had it been attained? Upward of ten years had elapsed since first he announced his prophetic mission; ten long years of enmity, trouble, and misfortune. Still he persevered, and now, at a period of life when men seek to enjoy in repose the fruition of the past, rather than risk all in new schemes for the future, we find him, after having sacrificed ease, fortune, and friends, prepared to give up home and country also, rather than his religious creed.

As soon as the privileged time of pilgrimage arrived, he emerged once more from his concealment, and mingled with the multitude assembled from all parts of Arabia. His earnest desire was to find some powerful tribe, or the inhabitants of some important city, capable and willing to receive him as a guest, and protect him in the enjoyment and propagation of his faith.

His quest was for a time unsuccessful. Those who had come to worship at the Kaaba[49] drew back from a man stigmatized as an apostate; and the worldly-minded were unwilling to befriend one proscribed by the powerful of his native place.

At length, as he was one day preaching on the hill Al Akaba, a little to the north of Mecca, he drew the attention of certain pilgrims from the city of Yathreb. This city, since called Medina, was about two hundred and seventy miles north of Mecca. Many of its inhabitants were Jews and heretical Christians. The pilgrims in question were pure Arabs of the ancient and powerful tribe of Khazradites, and in habits of friendly intercourse with the Keneedites and Naderites, two Jewish tribes inhabiting Mecca, who claimed to be of the sacerdotal line of Aaron. The pilgrims had often heard their Jewish friends explain the mysteries of their faith and talk of an expected messiah. They were moved by the eloquence of Mahomet, and struck with the resemblance of his doctrines to those of the Jewish law; insomuch that when they heard him proclaim himself a prophet, sent by heaven to restore the ancient faith, they said, one to another, "Surely this must be the promised messiah of which we have been told." The more they listened, the stronger became their persuasion of the fact, until in the end they avowed their conviction, and made a final profession of their faith.

As the Khazradites belonged to one of the most powerful tribes of Yathreb, Mahomet sought to secure their protection, and proposed to accompany them on their return; but they informed him that they were at deadly feud with the Awsites, another powerful tribe of that city, and advised him to defer his coming until they should be at peace. He consented; but on the return home of the pilgrims, he sent with them Musab Ibn Omeir, one of the most learned and able of his disciples, with instructions to strengthen them in the faith, and to preach it to their townsmen.

Thus were the seeds of Islamism first sown in the city of Medina. For a time they thrived but slowly. Musab was opposed by the idolaters, and his life threatened; but he persisted in his exertions and gradually made converts among the principal inhabitants. Among these were Saad Ibn Maads, a prince or chief of the Awsites, and Osaid Ibn Hodheir, a man of great authority in the city. Numbers of the Moslems of Mecca also, driven away by persecution, took refuge in Medina, and aided in propagating the new faith among its inhabitants, until it found its way into almost every household.

Feeling now assured of being able to give Mahomet an asylum in the city, upward of seventy of the converts of Medina, led by Musab Ibn Omeir, repaired to Mecca with the pilgrims in the holy month of the thirteenth year of "the mission," to invite him to take up his abode in their city. Mahomet gave them a midnight meeting on the hill Al Akaba. His uncle Al Abbas, who, like the deceased Abu-Taleb, took an affectionate interest in his welfare, though no convert to his doctrines, accompanied him to this secret conference, which he feared might lead him into danger. He entreated the pilgrims from Medina not to entice his nephew to their city until more able to protect him; warning them that their open adoption of the new faith would bring all Arabia in arms against them.

His warnings and entreaties were in vain; a solemn compact was made between the parties. Mahomet demanded that they should abjure idolatry, and worship the one true God openly and fearlessly. For himself he exacted obedience in weal and woe; and for the disciples who might accompany him, protection; even such as they would render to their own wives and children. On these terms he offered to bind himself to remain among them, to be the friend of their friends, the enemy of their enemies.

"But, should we perish in your cause," asked they, "what will be our reward?"

"Paradise," replied the prophet.

The terms were accepted; the emissaries from Medina placed their hands in the hands of Mahomet, and swore to abide by their compact. The latter then singled out twelve from among them, whom he designated as his apostles; in imitation, it is supposed, of the example of our Saviour. Just then a voice was heard from the summit of the hill, denouncing them as apostates and menacing them with punishment. The sound of this voice, heard in the darkness of the night, inspired temporary dismay. "It is the voice of the fiend Iblis," said Mahomet scornfully; "he is the foe of God; fear him not." It was probably the voice of some spy or eavesdropper of the Koreishites; for the very next morning they manifested a knowledge of what had taken place in the night, and treated the new confederates with great harshness as they were departing from the city.

It was this early accession to the faith, and this timely aid proffered and subsequently afforded to Mahomet and his disciples, which procured for the Moslems of Medina the appellation of Ansarians, or auxiliaries, by which they were afterward distinguished.

After the departure of the Ansarians, and the expiration of the holy month, the persecutions of the Moslems were resumed with increased virulence, insomuch that Mahomet, seeing a crisis was at hand, and being resolved to leave the city, advised his adherents generally to provide for their safety. For himself he still lingered in Mecca with a few devoted followers.

Abu Sofian, his implacable foe, was at this time governor of the city. He was both incensed and alarmed at the spreading growth of the new faith, and held a meeting of the chief of the Koreishites to devise some means of effectually putting a stop to it. Some advised that Mahomet should be banished the city; but it was objected that he might gain other tribes to his interest, or perhaps the people of Medina, and return at their head to take his revenge. Others proposed to wall him up in a dungeon, and supply him with food until he died; but it was surmised that his friends might effect his escape. All these objections were raised by a violent and pragmatical old man, a stranger from the province of Nedja, who, say the Moslem writers, was no other than the devil in disguise, breathing his malignant spirit into those present.

At length it was declared by Abu-Jahl that the only effectual check on the growing evil was to put Mahomet to death. To this all agreed, and as a means of sharing the odium of the deed, and withstanding the vengeance it might awaken among the relatives of the victim, it was arranged that a member of each family should plunge his sword into the body of Mahomet.

It is to this conspiracy that allusion is made in the eighth chapter of the Koran:

"And call to mind how the unbelievers plotted against thee, that they might either detain thee in bonds, or put thee to death, or expel thee the city; but God laid a plot against them; and God is the best layer of plots."

In fact, by the time the murderers arrived before the dwelling of Mahomet, he was apprised of the impending danger. As usual, the warning is attributed to the angel Gabriel, but it is probable it was given by some Koreishite, less bloody-minded than his confederates. It came just in time to save Mahomet from the hands of his enemies. They paused at his door, but hesitated to enter. Looking through a crevice they beheld, as they thought, Mahomet wrapped in his green mantle, and lying asleep on his couch. They waited for a while, consulting whether to fall on him while sleeping or wait until he should go forth. At length they burst open the door and rushed toward the couch. The sleeper started up; but, instead of Mahomet, Ali stood before them. Amazed and confounded they demanded, "Where is Mahomet?" "I know not," replied Ali sternly, and walked forth; nor did anyone venture to molest him. Enraged at the escape of their victim, however, the Koreishites proclaimed a reward of a hundred camels to anyone who should bring them Mahomet alive or dead.

Divers accounts are given of the mode in which Mahomet made his escape from the house after the faithful Ali had wrapped himself in his mantle and taken his place upon the couch. The most miraculous account is, that he opened the door silently, as the Koreishites stood before it, and, scattering a handful of dust in the air, cast such blindness upon them that he walked through the midst of them without being perceived. This, it is added, is confirmed by the verse of the thirtieth chapter of the Koran: "We have thrown blindness upon them, that they shall not see." The most probable account is that he clambered over the wall in the rear of the house, by the help of a servant, who bent his back for him to step upon it.[50]

He repaired immediately to the house of Abu-Bekr, and they arranged for instant flight. It was agreed that they should take refuge in a cave in Mount Thor, about an hour's distance from Mecca, and wait there until they could proceed safely to Medina; and in the mean time the children of Abu-Bekr should secretly bring them food. They left Mecca while it was yet dark, making their way on foot by the light of the stars, and the day dawned as they found themselves at the foot of Mount Thor. Scarce were they within the cave when they heard the sound of pursuit. Abu-Bekr, though a brave man, quaked with fear.

"Our pursuers," said he, "are many, and we are but two."

"Nay," replied Mahomet, "there is a third; God is with us!"

And here the Moslem writers relate a miracle, dear to the minds of all true believers. By the time, say they, that the Koreishites reached the mouth of the cavern, an acacia-tree had sprung up before it, in the spreading branches of which a pigeon had made its nest and laid its eggs, and over the whole a spider had woven its web. When the Koreishites beheld these signs of undisturbed quiet, they concluded that no one could recently have entered the cavern; so they turned away, and pursued their search in another direction.

Whether protected by miracle or not, the fugitives remained for three days undiscovered in the cave, and Asama, the daughter of Abu-Bekr, brought them food in the dusk of the evenings.

On the fourth day, when they presumed the ardor of pursuit had abated, the fugitives ventured forth, and set out for Medina, on camels which a servant of Abu-Bekr had brought in the night for them. Avoiding the main road usually taken by the caravans, they bent their course nearer to the coast of the Red Sea. They had not proceeded far, however, before they were overtaken by a troop of horse headed by Soraka Ibn Malec. Abu-Bekr was again dismayed by the number of their pursuers; but Mahomet repeated the assurance, "Be not troubled; Allah is with us." Soraka was a grim warrior, with shagged iron-gray locks and naked sinewy arms rough with hair. As he overtook Mahomet, his horse reared and fell with him. His superstitious mind was struck with it as an evil sign. Mahomet perceived the state of his feeling, and by an eloquent appeal wrought upon him to such a degree that Soraka, filled with awe, entreated his forgiveness, and turning back with his troop suffered him to proceed on his way unmolested.

The fugitives continued their journey without further interruption, until they arrived at Kobe, a hill about two miles from Medina. It was a favorite resort of the inhabitants of the city, and a place to which they sent their sick and infirm, for the air was pure and salubrious. Hence, too, the city was supplied with fruit; the hill and its environs being covered with vineyards and with groves of the date and lotus; with gardens producing citrons, oranges, pomegranates, figs, peaches, and apricots, and being irrigated with limpid streams.

On arriving at this fruitful spot Al Kaswa, the camel of Mahomet, crouched on her knees, and would go no farther. The prophet interpreted it as a favorable sign, and determined to remain at Koba, and prepare for entering the city. The place where his camel knelt is still pointed out by pious Moslems, a mosque named Al Takwa having been built there to commemorate the circumstance. Some affirm that it was actually founded by the prophet. A deep well[51] is also shown in the vicinity, beside which Mahomet reposed under the shade of the trees, and into which he dropped his seal ring. It is believed still to remain there, and has given sanctity to the well, the waters of which are conducted by subterraneous conduits to Medina. At Koba he remained four days, residing in the house of an Awsite named Colthum Ibn Hadem. While at this village he was joined by a distinguished chief, Boreida Ibn al Hoseib, with seventy followers, all of the tribe of Saham. These made profession of faith between the hands of Mahomet.

Another renowned proselyte who repaired to the prophet at this village was Salman al Parsi—or the Persian. He is said to have been a native of a small place near Ispahan, and that, on passing one day by a Christian church, he was so much struck by the devotion of the people, and the solemnity of the worship, that he became disgusted with the idolatrous faith in which he had been brought up. He afterward wandered about the East, from city to city and convent to convent, in quest of a religion, until an ancient monk, full of years and infirmities, told him of a prophet who had arisen in Arabia to restore the pure faith of Abraham.

This Salman rose to power in after years, and was reputed by the unbelievers of Mecca to have assisted Mahomet in compiling his doctrine. This is alluded to in the sixteenth chapter of the Koran: "Verily, the idolaters say, that a certain man assisted to compose the Koran; but the language of this man is Ajami—or Persian—and the Koran is indited in the pure Arabian tongue."

The Moslems of Mecca, who had taken refuge some time before in Medina, hearing that Mahomet was at hand, came forth to meet him at Koba; among these were the early convert Talha, and Zobeir, the nephew of Kadijah. These, seeing the travel-stained garments of Mahomet and Abu-Bekr, gave them white mantles, with which to make their entrance into Medina. Numbers of the Ansarians, or auxiliaries, of Medina, who had made their compact with Mahomet in the preceding year, now hastened to renew their vow of fidelity.

Learning from them that the number of proselytes in the city was rapidly augmenting, and that there was a general disposition to receive him favorably, he appointed Friday, the Moslem Sabbath,[52] the sixteenth day of the month Rabi, for his public entrance.

Accordingly on the morning of that day he assembled all his followers to prayer; and after a sermon, in which he expounded the main principles of his faith, he mounted his camel Al Kaswa, and set forth for that city, which was to become renowned in after ages as his city of refuge.

Boreida Ibn al Hoseib, with his seventy horsemen of the tribe of Saham, accompanied him as a guard. Some of the disciples took turns to hold a canopy of palm leaves over his head, and by his side rode Abu-Bekr. "O apostle of God!" cried Boreida, "thou shalt not enter Medina without a standard"; so saying, he unfolded his turban, and tying one end of it to the point of his lance, bore it aloft before the prophet.

The city of Medina was fair to approach, being extolled for beauty of situation, salubrity of climate, and fertility of soil; for the luxuriance of its palm-trees, and the fragrance of its shrubs and flowers. At a short distance from the city a crowd of new proselytes to the faith came forth in sun and dust to meet the cavalcade. Most of them had never seen Mahomet, and paid reverence to Abu-Bekr through mistake; but the latter put aside the screen of palm leaves, and pointed out the real object of homage, who was greeted with loud acclamations.

In this way did Mahomet, so recently a fugitive from his native city, with a price upon his head, enter Medina, more as a conqueror in triumph than an exile seeking an asylum. He alighted at the house of a Khazradite, named Abu-Ayub, a devout Moslem, to whom moreover he was distantly related; here he was hospitably received, and took up his abode in the basement story.

Shortly after his arrival he was joined by the faithful Ali,[53] who had fled from Mecca, and journeyed on foot, hiding himself in the day and travelling only at night, lest he should fall into the hands of the Koreishites. He arrived weary and way-worn, his feet bleeding with the roughness of the journey.

Within a few days more came Ayesha, and the rest of Abu-Bekr's household, together with the family of Mahomet, conducted by his faithful freedman Zeid, and by Abu-Bekr's servant Abdallah.


Mahomet had hitherto propagated his religion by fair means only. During his stay at Mecca he had declared his business was only to preach and admonish; and that whether people believed or not was none of his concern. He had hitherto confined himself to the arts of persuasion, promising, on the one hand, the joys of paradise to all who should believe in him, and who should, for the hopes of them, disregard the things of this world, and even bear persecution with patience and resignation; and, on the other, deterring his hearers from what he called infidelity, by setting before them both the punishments inflicted in this world upon Pharaoh and others, who despised the warnings of the prophets sent to reclaim them; and also the torments of hell, which would be their portion in the world to come. Now, however, when he had got a considerable town at his command, and a good number of followers firmly attached to him, he began to sing another note. Gabriel now brings him messages from heaven to the effect that, whereas other prophets had come with miracles and been rejected, he was to take different measures, and propagate Islamism by the sword. And accordingly, within a year after his arrival at Medina he began what was called the holy war. For this purpose he first of all instituted a brotherhood, joining his Ansars or helpers, and his Mohajerins or refugees together in pairs; he himself taking Ali for his brother. It was in allusion to this that Ali, afterward when preaching at Cufa, said, "I am the servant of God, and brother to his apostle."

In the second year of the Hegira, Mahomet changed the Kebla of the Mussulman, which before this time had been toward Jerusalem, ordering them henceforth to turn toward Mecca when they prayed. In the same year he also appointed the fast of the month Ramadan.

Mahomet having now a pretty large congregation at Medina found it necessary to have some means of calling them to prayers; for this purpose he was thinking of employing a horn, or some instrument of wood, which should be made to emit a loud sound by being struck upon. But his doubts were settled this year by a dream of one of his disciples, in which a man appearing to him in a green vest recommended as a better way, that the people should be summoned to prayers by a crier calling out, "Allah acbar, Allah acbar," etc.; "God is great, God is great, there is but one God, Mahomet is his prophet;[54] come to prayers, come to prayers." Mahomet approved of the scheme, and this is the very form in use to this day among the Mussulmans; who, however, in the call to morning prayers, add the words, "Prayer is better than sleep, prayer is better than sleep"—a sentiment not unworthy the consideration of those who are professors of a better religion.

The same year the apostle sent some of his people to plunder a caravan going to Mecca; which they did, and brought back two prisoners to Medina. This was the first act of hostility committed by the Mussulmans against the idolaters. The second was the battle of Beder. The history of the battle is thus given by Abulfeda: "The apostle, hearing that a caravan of the Meccans was coming home from Syria, escorted by Abu Sofian at the head of thirty men, placed a number of soldiers in ambuscade to intercept it. Abu Sofian, being informed thereof by his spies, sent word immediately to Mecca, whereupon all the principal men except Abu Laheb—who, however, sent Al Asum son of Hesham in his stead—marched out to his assistance, making in all nine hundred and fifty men, whereof two hundred were cavalry. The apostle of God went out against them with three hundred and thirteen men, of whom seventy-seven were refugees from Mecca, the rest being helpers from Medina; they had with them only two horses and seventy camels, upon which they rode by turns. The apostle encamped near a well called Beder, from the name of the person who was owner of it, and had a hut made where he and Abu-Bekr sat. As soon as the armies were in sight of each other, three champions came out from among the idolaters, Otha son of Rabia, his brother Shaiba, and Al Walid son of Otha; against the first of these, the prophet sent Obeidah son of Hareth, Hamza against the second, and Ali against the third: Hamza and Ali slew each his man and then went to the assistance of Obeidah, and having killed his adversary, brought off Obeidah, who, however, soon after died of a wound in his foot.

"All this while the apostle continued in his hut in prayer, beating his breast so violently that his cloak fell off his shoulders, and he was suddenly taken with a palpitation of the heart; soon recovering, however, he comforted Abu-Bekr, telling him God's help was come. Having uttered these words, he forthwith ran out of his hut and encouraged his men, and taking a handful of dust threw it toward the Koreishites, and said, 'May their faces be confounded,' and immediately they fled. After the battle, Abdallah, the son of Masud, brought the head of Abu Jehel to the apostle, who gave thanks to God; Al As, brother to Abu Jehel, was also killed; Al Abbas also, the prophet's uncle, and Ocail son of Abu Taleb, were taken prisoners. Upon the news of this defeat Abu Laheb died of grief within a week."

Of the Mussulmans died fourteen martyrs (for so they call all such as die fighting for Islamism). The number of idolaters slain was seventy; among whom my author names some of chief note, Hantala son of Abu Sofian, and Nawfal, brother to Kadijah. Ali slew six of the enemy with his own hand.

The prophet ordered the dead bodies of the enemy to be thrown into a pit, and remained three days upon the field of battle dividing the spoil; on occasion of which a quarrel arose between the helpers and the refugees, and to quiet them the eighth chapter of the Koran was brought from heaven. It begins thus, "They will ask thee concerning the spoils: say, The spoils belong to God and his apostle": and again in the same chapter, "And know that whenever ye gain any, a fifth part belongeth to God, and to the apostle, and his kindred, and the orphans, and the poor." The other four-fifths are to be divided among those who are present at the action. The apostle, when he returned to Safra in his way to Medina, ordered Ali to behead two of his prisoners.

The victory at Beder was of great importance to Mahomet; to encourage his men, and to increase the number of his followers, he pretended that two miracles were wrought in his favor, in this, as also in several subsequent battles: first, that God sent his angels to fight on his side; and second, made his army appear to the enemy much greater than it really was. Both these miracles are mentioned in the Koran, chapter viii. Al Abbas said he was taken prisoner by a man of a prodigious size (an angel, of course); no wonder, then, he became a convert.

As soon as the Mussulmans returned to Medina the Koreishites sent to offer a ransom for their prisoners, which was accepted, and distributed among those who had taken them, according to the quality of the prisoners. Some had one thousand drachms for their share. Those who had only a small or no part of the ransom Mahomet rewarded with donations, so as to content them all.

The Jews had many a treaty with Mahomet, and lived peaceably at Medina; till a Jew, having affronted an Arabian milk-woman, was killed by a Mussulman. In revenge for this the Jews killed the Mussulman, whereupon a general quarrel ensued. The Jews fled to their castles; but after a siege of fifteen days were forced to surrender at discretion. Mahomet ordered their hands to be tied behind them, determined to put them all to the sword, and was with great difficulty prevailed upon to spare their lives and take all their property. Kaab, son of Ashraf, was one of the most violent among the Jews against Mahomet. He had been at Mecca, and, with some pathetic verses upon the unhappy fate of those who had fallen at Beder, excited the Meccans to take up arms. Upon his return to Medina he rehearsed the same verses among the lower sort of people and the women. Mahomet, being told of these underhand practices, said, one day, "Who will rid me of the son of Ashraf?" when Mahomet, son of Mosalama, one of the helpers, answered, "I am the man, O apostle of God, that will do it," and immediately took with him Salcan son of Salama, and some other Moslems, who were to lie in ambush. In order to decoy Kaab out of his castle, which was a very strong one, Salcan, his foster-brother, went alone to visit him in the dusk of the evening; and, entering into conversation, told him some little stories of Mahomet, which he knew would please him. When he got up to take his leave, Kaab, as he expected, attended him to the gate; and, continuing the conversation, went on with him till he came near the ambuscade, where Mahomet and his companions fell upon him and stabbed him.

Abu Sofian, meditating revenge for the defeat at Beder, swore he would neither anoint himself nor come near his women till he was even with Mahomet. Setting out toward Medina with two hundred horse, he posted a party of them near the town, where one of the helpers fell into their hands and was killed. Mahomet, being informed of it, went out against them, but they all fled; and, for the greater expedition, threw away some sacks of meal, part of their provision. From which circumstance this was called the meal-war.

Abu Sofian, resolving to make another and more effectual effort, got together a body of three thousand men, whereof seven hundred were cuirassiers and two hundred cavalry; his wife Henda, with a number of women, followed in the rear, beating drums, and lamenting the fate of those slain at Beder, and exciting the idolaters to fight courageously. The apostle would have waited for them in the town, but as his people were eager to advance against the enemy, he set out at once with one thousand men; but of these one hundred turned back, disheartened by the superior numbers of the enemy. He encamped at the foot of Mount Ohud, having the mountain in his rear. Of his nine hundred men only one hundred had armor on; and as for horses, there was only one besides that on which he himself rode. Mosaab carried the prophet's standard; Kaled, son of Al Walid, led the right wing of the idolaters; Acrema, son of Abu Jehel, the left; the women kept in the rear, beating their drums. Henda cried out to them: "Courage, ye sons of Abdal Dari; courage! smite with all your swords."

Mahomet placed fifty archers in his rear, and ordered them to keep their post. Then Hamza fought stoutly, and killed Arta, the standard-bearer of the idolaters; and as Seba, son of Abdal Uzza, came near him, Hamza struck off his head also; but was himself immediately after run through with a spear by Wabsha, a slave, who lurked behind a rock with that intent. Then Ebn Kamia slew Mosaab, the apostle's standard-bearer; and taking him for the prophet cried out, "I have killed Mahomet!" When Mosaab was slain the standard was given to Ali.

At the beginning of the action the Mussulmans attacked the idolaters so furiously that they gave ground, fell back upon their rear, and threw it into disorder. The archers seeing this, and expecting a complete victory, left their posts, contrary to the express orders that had been given them, and came forward from fear of losing their share of the plunder. In the mean time Kaled, advancing with his cavalry, fell furiously upon the rear of the Mussulmans, crying aloud at the same time that Mahomet was slain. This cry, and the finding themselves attacked on all sides, threw the Mussulmans into such consternation that the idolaters made great havoc among them, and were able to press on so near the apostle as to beat him down with a shower of stones and arrows. He was wounded in the lip, and two arrow-heads stuck in his face. Abu Obeidah pulled out first one and then the other; at each operation one of the apostle's teeth came out. As Sonan Abu Said wiped the blood from off his face, the apostle exclaimed, "He that touches my blood, and handles it tenderly, shall not have his blood spilt in the fire" (of hell). In this action, it is said, Telhah, while he was putting a breast-plate upon Mahomet, received a wound upon his hand, which maimed it forever. Omar and Abu-Bekr were also wounded. When the Mussulmans saw Mahomet fall, they concluded he was killed and took to flight; and even Othman was hurried along by the press of those that fled. In a little time, however, finding Mahomet was alive, a great number of his men returned to the field; and, after a very obstinate fight, brought him off, and carried him to a neighboring village. The Mussulmans had seventy men killed, the idolaters lost only twenty-two.

The Koreishites had no other fruit of their victory but the gratification of a poor spirit of revenge. Henda, and the women who had fled with her upon the first disorder of the idolaters, now returned, and committed great barbarities upon the dead bodies of the apostle's friends. They cut off their ears and noses, and made bracelets and necklaces of them; Henda pulled Hamza's liver out of his body, and chewed and swallowed some of it. Abu Sofian, having cut pieces off the cheeks of Hamza, put them upon the end of his spear, and cried out aloud, "The success of war is uncertain; after the battle of Beder comes the battle of Ohud; now, Hobal,[55] thy religion is victorious!" Notwithstanding this boasting, he decamped the same day. Jannabi ascribes his retreat to a panic; however that may have been, Abu Sofian sent to propose a truce for a year, which was agreed to.

When the enemy were retreated toward Mecca, Mahomet went to the field of battle to look for the body of Hamza. Finding it shamefully mangled, in the manner already related, he ordered it to be wrapped in a black cloak, and then prayed over it, repeating seven times, "Allah acbar," etc. ("God is great," etc.). In the same manner he prayed over every one of the martyrs, naming Hamza again with every one of them; so that Hamza had the prayers said over him seventy-two times. But, as if this were not enough, he declared that Gabriel had told him he had been received into the seventh heaven, and welcomed with this eulogium, "Hamza, the lion of God, and the lion of his prophet."

The Mussulmans were much chagrined at this defeat. Some expressed a doubt of the prophet being as high in the divine favor as he pretended, since he had suffered such an overthrow by infidels. Others murmured at the loss of their friends and relations. To pacify them he used various arguments, telling them the sins of some had been the cause of disgrace to all; that they had been disobedient to orders, in quitting their post for the sake of plunder; that the devil put it into the minds of those who turned back; their flight, however, was forgiven, because God is merciful; that their defeat was intended to try them, and to show them who were believers and who not; that the event of war is uncertain; that the enemy had suffered as well as they; that other prophets before him had been defeated in battle; that death is unavoidable. And here Mahomet's doctrine of fate was of as great service to him as it was afterward to his successors, tending as it did to make his people fearless and desperate in fight. For he taught them that the time of every man's death is so unalterably fixed that he cannot die before the appointed hour; and, when that is come, no caution whatever can prolong his life one moment;[56] so that they who were slain in battle would certainly have died at the same time, if they had been at home in their houses; but, as they now died fighting for the faith, they had thereby gained a crown of martyrdom, and entered immediately into paradise, where they were in perfect bliss with their Lord.

In the beginning of the next year the prophet had a revelation, commanding him to prohibit wine and games of chance. Some say the prohibition was owing to a quarrel occasioned by these things among his followers.[57]

In the fifth year of the Hegira, Mahomet, informed by his spies of a design against Medina, surrounded it with a ditch, which was no sooner finished than the Meccans, with several tribes of Arabs, sat down before it, to the number of ten thousand men. The appearance of so great a force threw the Mussulmans into a consternation. Some were ready to revolt; and one of them exclaimed aloud, "Yesterday the prophet promised us the wealth of Khusrau (Cosroes) and Cæsar, and now he is forced to hide himself behind a nasty ditch." In the mean time Mahomet, skilfully concealing his real concern, and setting as good a face upon the matter as he could, marched out with three thousand Mussulmans, and formed his army at a little distance behind the intrenchment. The two armies continued facing each other for twenty days, without any action, except a discharge of arrows on both sides. At length some champions of the Koreishites, Amru son of Abdud, Acrema son of Abu Jehel, and Nawfal son of Abdallah, coming to the ditch leaped over it; and, wheeling about between the ditch and the Moslem army, challenged them to fight. Ali readily accepted the challenge, and came forward against his uncle Amru, who said to him, "Nephew, what a pleasure am I now going to have in killing you." Ali replied, "No; it is I that am to have a much greater pleasure in killing you." Amru immediately alighted, and, having hamstrung his horse, advanced toward Ali, who had also dismounted and was ready to receive him. They immediately engaged, and, in turning about to flank each other, raised such a dust that they could not be distinguished, only the strokes of their swords might be heard. At last, the dust being laid, Ali was seen with his knee upon the breast of his adversary, cutting his throat. Upon this, the other two champions went back as fast as they came. Nawfal, however, in leaping the ditch, got a fall, and being overwhelmed with a shower of stones, cried out, "I had rather die by the sword than thus." Ali hearing him, leaped into the ditch and despatched him. He then pursued after Acrema, and having wounded him with a spear, drove him and his companions back to the army. Here they related what had happened; which put the rest in such fear that they were ready to retreat; and when some of their tents had been overthrown by a storm, and discord had arisen among the allies, the Koreishites, finding themselves forsaken by their auxiliaries, returned to Mecca. Mahomet made a miracle of this retreat; and published upon it this verse of the Koran, "God sent a storm and legions of angels, which you did not see."

Upon the prophet's return into the town, while he was laying by his armor and washing himself, Gabriel came and asked him, "Have you laid by your arms? we have not laid by ours; go and attack them," pointing to the Koraidites, a Jewish tribe confederated against him. Whereupon Mahomet went immediately, and besieged them so closely in their castles that after twenty-five days they surrendered at discretion. He referred the settlement of the conditions to Saad, son of Moad; who being wounded by an arrow at the ditch, had wished he might only live to be revenged. Accordingly, he decreed that all the men, in number between six and seven hundred, should be put to the sword, the women and children sold for slaves, and their goods given to the soldiers for a prey. Mahomet extolled the justice of this sentence, as a divine direction sent down from the seventh heaven, and had it punctually executed. Saad, dying of his wound presently after, Mahomet performed his funeral obsequies, and made a harangue in praise of him.

One Salam, a Jew, having been very strenuous in stirring up the people against the prophet, some zealous Casregites desired leave to go and assassinate him. Permission being readily granted, away they went to the Jew's house, and being let in by his wife, upon their pretending they were come to buy provisions, they murdered him in his bed, and made their escape.

Toward the end of this year Mahomet, going into the house of Zaid, did not find him at home, but happened to espy his wife Zainab so much in dishabille as to discover beauties enough to touch a heart so amorous as his was. He could not conceal the impression made upon him, but cried out, "Praised be God, who turneth men's hearts as he pleases!" Zainab heard him, and told it to her husband when he came home. Zaid, who had been greatly obliged to Mahomet, was very desirous to gratify him, and offered to divorce his wife. Mahomet pretended to dissuade him from it, but Zaid easily perceiving how little he was in earnest, actually divorced her. Mahomet thereupon took her to wife, and celebrated the nuptials with extraordinary magnificence, keeping open house upon the occasion. Notwithstanding, this step gave great offence to many who could not bring themselves to brook that a prophet should marry his son's wife; for he had before adopted Zaid for his son. To salve the affair, therefore, he had recourse to his usual expedient: Gabriel brought him a revelation from heaven, in which God commands him to take the wife of his adopted son, on purpose that forever after believers might have no scruple in marrying the divorced wives or widows of their adopted sons; which the Arabs had before looked upon as unlawful. The apostle is even reproved for fearing men in this affair, whereas he ought to fear God. (Koran, chapter xxxiii.)

In the sixth year he subdued several tribes of the Arabs. Among the captives was a woman of great beauty, named Juweira, whom Mahomet took to wife and, by way of dowry, released all her kindred that were taken prisoners.

When Mahomet went upon any expedition, it was generally determined by lots which of his wives should go with him; at this time it fell to Ayesha's lot to accompany him. Upon their return to Medina, Ayesha was accused of intriguing with one of the officers of the army, and was in great disgrace for about a month. The prophet was exceedingly chagrined to have his best-beloved wife accused of adultery; but his fondness for her prevailed over his resentment, and she was restored to his favor, upon her own protestation of her innocence. This, however, did not quite satisfy the world, nor, indeed, was the prophet's mind perfectly at ease on the subject, until Gabriel brought him a revelation, wherein Ayesha is declared innocent of the crime laid to her charge; while those who accuse believers of any crime, without proof, are severely reproved, and a command given, that whosoever accuses chaste women, and cannot produce four eye-witnesses in support of the charge, shall receive eighty stripes. (Koran, chapter xxiv.) In obedience to this command, all those who had raised this report upon Ayesha were publicly scourged, except Abdallah, son of Abu Solul, who was too considerable a man to be so dealt with, notwithstanding he had been particularly industrious in spreading the scandal.[58]

Mahomet, being now increased in power, marched his army against Mecca, and a battle being fought on the march, wherein neither side gaining the advantage, a truce was agreed upon for ten years, on the following conditions: All within Mecca, who were disposed, were to be at liberty to join Mahomet; and those who had a mind to leave him and return to Mecca, were to be equally free to do so; but, for the future, if any Meccans deserted to him, they should be sent back upon demand; and that Mahomet or any of the Mussulmans might come to Mecca, provided they came unarmed, and tarried not above three days at a time.

Mahomet was now so well confirmed in his power that he took upon himself the authority of a king, and was, by the chief men of his army, inaugurated under a tree near Medina; and having, by the truce obtained for his followers, free access to Mecca, he ordained they should henceforward make their pilgrimages thither.[59] Among the Arabs it had been an ancient usage to visit the Kaaba once a year, to worship there the heathen deities. Mahomet, therefore, thought it expedient to comply with a custom with which they were pleased, and which, besides, was so beneficial to his native place, by bringing a great concourse of pilgrims to it, that when he afterward came to be master of Mecca, he enforced the pilgrimage with most of the old ceremonies belonging to it, only taking away the idols and abolishing this worship. Though he now took upon himself the sovereign command and the insignia of royalty, he still retained the sacred character of chief pontiff of his religion, and transmitted both these powers to his caliphs or successors, who, for some time, not only ordered all matters of religion, but used, especially upon public occasions, to officiate in praying and preaching in their mosques. In process of time this came to be all the authority the caliphs had left, for, about the year of the Hegira 325, the governors of provinces seized the regal authority and made themselves kings of their several governments. They continued, indeed, to pay a show of deference to the caliph, who usually resided at Bagdad, whom, however, they occasionally deposed. At this present time most Mahometan princes have a person in their respective dominions who bears this sacred character, and is called the mufti in Turkey, and in Persia the sadre. He is often appealed to as the interpreter of the law; but, as a tool of state, usually gives such judgment as he knows will be most acceptable to his prince.

Mahomet used at first, when preaching in his mosque at Medina, to lean upon a post of a palm-tree driven into the ground; but being now invested with greater dignity, by the advice of one of his wives he had a pulpit built, which had two steps up to it and a seat within. When Othman was caliph he hung it with tapestry, and Moawiyah raised it six steps higher, that he might be heard when he sat down, as he was forced to do, being very fat and heavy; whereas his predecessors all used to stand.

Mahomet had now a dream that he held in his hand the key of the Kaaba, and that he and his men made the circuits round it and performed all the ceremonies of the pilgrimage. Having told his dream next morning, he and his followers were all in high spirits upon it, taking it for an omen that they should shortly be masters of Mecca. Accordingly, great preparations were made for an expedition to this city. The prophet gave it out that his only intent was to make the pilgrimage. He provided seventy camels for the sacrifice, which were conducted by seven hundred men, ten to each camel; as, however, he apprehended opposition from the Koreishites, he took with him his best troops, to the number of fourteen hundred men, besides an incredible number of wandering Arabs from all parts. The Koreishites, alarmed at the march of the Mussulmans, got together a considerable force and encamped about six miles from Mecca. Mahomet continued his march, but finding, by his spies, the enemy had posted their men so as to stop the passes in his feints and counter-marches, came to a place where his camel fell upon her knees. The people said she was restive, but the prophet took it for a divine intimation that he should not proceed any farther in his intended expedition, but wait with resignation till the appointed time. He therefore turned back, and encamped without the sacred territory, at Hodaibia. The Koreishites sent three several messengers, the two last men of consequence, to demand what was his intention in coming thither. He answered that it was purely out of a devout wish to visit the sacred house, and not with any hostile design. Mahomet also sent one of his own men to give them the same assurance; but the Koreishites cut the legs of his camel, and would also have killed the man had not the Ahabishites interposed and helped him to escape. Upon this he wished Omar to go upon the same errand; but he excused himself, as not being upon good terms with the Koreishites. At last Othman was sent; who delivered his message, and was coming away, when they told him he might, if he wished, make his circuits round the Kaaba. But upon his replying he would not do so until the apostle of God had first performed his vow to make the holy circuits, they were so greatly provoked that they laid him in irons. In the Mussulman army it was reported that he was killed, at which Mahomet was much afflicted and said aloud, "We will not stir from hence till we have given battle to the enemy." Thereupon the whole army took an oath of obedience and fealty to the prophet, who, on his part, by the ceremony of clapping his hands one against the other, took an oath to stand by them as long as there was one of them left.

The Koreishites sent a party of eighty men toward the camp of the Mussulmans to beat up their quarters. Being discovered, by the sentinels, they were surrounded, taken prisoners, and brought before Mahomet; who, thinking it proper at that time to be generous, released them. In return, Sohail son of Amru was sent to him with proposals of peace, which he agreed to accept.

Mahomet, pretending he had a divine promise of a great booty, returned to Medina and, having concluded a peace for ten years with the Koreishites, was the better enabled to attack the Jews, his irreconcilable enemies. Accordingly, he went to Khaibar, a strong town about six days' journey northeast of Medina, and took that and several other strong places, whereto the Jews had retired, and carried a vast deal of treasure; this all fell into the hands of the Mussulmans. Being entertained at Khaibar, a young Jewess, to try, as she afterward said, whether he were a prophet or not, poisoned a shoulder of mutton, a joint Mahomet was particularly fond of. One of those who partook of it at the table, named Basher, died upon the spot; but Mahomet, finding it taste disagreeable, spat it out, saying, "This mutton tells me it is poisoned." The miracle-mongers improve this story, by making the shoulder of mutton speak to him; but if it did, it spoke too late, for he had already swallowed some of it; and of the effects of that morsel he complained in his last illness, of which he died three years after.

In this year, Jannabi mentions Mahomet's being bewitched by the Jews. Having made a waxen image of him, they hid it in a well, together with a comb and a tuft of hair tied in eleven knots. The prophet fell into a very wasting condition, till he had a dream that informed him where these implements of witchcraft were, and accordingly had them taken away. In order to untie the knots Gabriel read to him the two last chapters of the Koran, consisting of eleven verses; each verse untied a knot, and, when all were untied, he recovered.[60]

This year Mahomet had a seal made with this inscription, "Mahomet, the apostle of God." This was to seal his letters, which he now took upon him to write to divers princes, inviting them to Islamism. His first letter to this effect was sent to Badham, viceroy of Yemen, to be forwarded to Khusrau, king of Persia. Khusrau tore the letter, and ordered Badham to restore the prophet to his right mind or send him his head. Khusrau was presently after murdered by his son Siroes; Badham with his people turned Mussulmans, and Mahomet continued him in his government.

He also sent a letter of the same purport to the Roman emperor Heraclius. Heraclius received the letter respectfully, and made some valuable presents to the messenger. He sent another to Makawkas, viceroy of Egypt, who returned in answer he would consider of the proposals, and sent, among other presents, two young maidens. One of these, named Mary, of fifteen years of age, Mahomet debauched. This greatly offended two of his wives, Hafsa and Ayesha, and to pacify them he promised, upon oath, to do so no more. But he was soon taken again by them transgressing in the same way. And now, that he might not stand in awe of his wives any longer, down comes a revelation which is recorded in the sixty-sixth chapter of the Koran, releasing the prophet from his oath, and allowing him to have concubines, if he wished.[61] And the two wives of Mahomet, who, upon the quarrel about Mary, had gone home to their fathers, being threatened in the same chapter with a divorce, were glad to send their fathers to him to make their peace with him, and obtain his permission for their return. They were fain to come and submit to live with him upon his own terms.

Mahomet, preaching the unity of God, enters Mecca at the head of his victorious followers,
Painting by A. Mueller.

Mahomet, preaching the unity of God, enters Mecca at the head of his victorious followers,
Painting by A. Mueller.
Mahomet, preaching the unity of God, enters Mecca at the head of his victorious followers,
Painting by A. Mueller.

Mahomet sent letters at the same time to the king of Ethiopia, who had before professed Islamism, and now in his answer repeated his profession of it. He wrote to two other Arabian princes, who sent him disagreeable answers, which provoked him to curse them. He sent also to Al Mondar, king of Bahrain, who came into his religion, and afterward routed the Persians and made a great slaughter of them. And now all the Arabians of Bahrain had become converts to his religion.

Among the captives taken at Khaibar was Safia, betrothed to the son of Kenana, the king of the Jews. Mahomet took the former to wife, and put Kenana to the torture to make him discover his treasure. In the action at Khaibar, it is said, Ali, having his buckler struck out of his hand, took one of the gates off its hinges, and used it for a buckler till the place was taken. The narrator of this story asserts that he and seven men tried to stir the gate, and were not able.

One of the articles of the peace being, that any Mussulman might be permitted to perform his pilgrimage at Mecca, the prophet went to that city to complete the visitation of the holy places, which he could not do as he intended when at Hodaiba. Hearing, upon this occasion, the Meccans talking of his being weakened by the long marches he had made, to show the contrary, in going round the Kaaba seven times, he went the first three rounds in a brisk trot, shaking his shoulders the while, but performed the four last circuits in a common walking pace. This is the reason why Mussulmans always perform seven circuits round the Kaaba in a similar manner.

In the eighth year of the Hegira, Kaled son of Al Walid, Amru son of Al As, and Othman son of Telha, who presided over the Kaaba, became Mussulmans; this was a considerable addition to Mahomet's power and interest. The same year Mahomet, having sent a letter to the governor of Bostra in Syria, as he had to others, and his messenger being slain there, sent Zaid, son of Hareth, with three thousand men to Muta in Syria, against the Roman army, which, with their allies, made a body of nearly one hundred thousand men. Zaid being slain, the command fell to Jaafar, and, upon his death, to Abdallah son of Rawahas, who was also killed.[62] Thereupon the Mussulmans unanimously chose Kaled for their leader, who defeated the enemy, and returned to Medina with a considerable booty, on which account Mahomet gave him the title of the "Sword of God."

The same year the Koreishites assisted some of their allies against the Kozaites, who were in alliance with Mahomet. This the latter resented as an infraction of the peace. Abu Sofian was sent to try to make up matters, but Mahomet would not vouchsafe to receive his explanation. But having made his preparation to fall upon them before they could be prepared to receive him, he advanced upon Mecca with about ten thousand men. Abu Sofian having come out of the town in the evening to reconnoitre, he fell in with Al Abbas, who, out of friendship to his countrymen, had ridden from the army with the hope of meeting some straggling Meccans whom he might send back with the news of Mahomet's approach, and advise the Meccans to surrender. Al Abbas, recognizing Abu Sofian's voice, called to him, and advised him to get up behind him, and go with him, and in all haste make his submission to Mahomet. This he did, and, to save his life, professed Islamism, and was afterward as zealous in propagating as he had hitherto been in opposing it.

Mahomet had given orders to his men to enter Mecca peaceably, but Kaled meeting with a party who discharged some arrows at him, fell upon them, and slew twenty-eight of them. Mahomet sent one of his helpers to bid him desist from the slaughter; but the messenger delivered quite the contrary order, commanding him to show them no mercy. Afterward, when Mahomet said to the helper, "Did not I bid you tell Kaled not to kill anybody in Mecca?"

"It is true," said the helper, "and I would have done as you directed me, but God would have it otherwise, and God's will was done."

When all was quiet, Mahomet went to the Kaaba, and rode round it upon his camel seven times, and touched with his cane a corner of the black stone with great reverence. Having alighted, he went into the Kaaba, where he found images of angels, and a figure of Abraham holding in his hand a bundle of arrows, which had been made use of for deciding things by lot. All these, as well as three hundred and sixty idols which stood on the outside of the Kaaba, he caused to be thrown down and broken in pieces. As he entered the Kaaba, he cried with a loud voice, "Allah acbar," seven times, turning round to all the sides of the Kaaba. He also appointed it to be the Kebla, or place toward which the Mussulmans should turn themselves when they pray. Remounting his camel, he now rode once more seven times round the Kaaba, and again alighting, bowed himself twice before it. He next visited the well Zem-zem, and from thence passed to the station of Abraham. Here he stopped awhile, and ordering a pail of water to be brought from the Zem-zem, he drank several large draughts, and then made the holy washing called wodhu. Immediately all his followers imitated his example, purifying themselves and washing their faces. After this, Mahomet, standing at the door of the Kaaba, made a harangue to the following effect: "There is no other god but God, who has fulfilled his promise to his servant, and who alone has put to flight his enemies, and put under my feet everything that is visible, men, animals, goods, riches, except only the government of the Kaaba and the keeping of the cup for the pilgrims to drink out of. As for you, O ye Koreishites, God hath taken from you the pride of paganism, which caused you to worship as deities our fathers Abraham and Ishmael, though they were men descended from Adam, who was created out of the earth." Having a mind to bestow on one of his own friends the prefecture of the Kaaba, he took the keys of it from Othman the son of Telha, and was about to give them to Al Abbas, who had asked for them, when a direction came to him from heaven, in these words, "Give the charge to whom it belongs." Whereupon he returned the keys by Ali to Othman, who, being agreeably surprised, thanked Mahomet, and made a new profession of his faith. The pilgrim's cup, however, he consigned to the care of Al Abbas, in whose family it became hereditary.

The people of Mecca were next summoned to the hill Al Safa, to witness Mahomet's inauguration. The prophet having first taken an oath to them, the men first, and then the women, bound themselves by oath to be faithful and obedient to whatsoever he should command them. After this he summoned an extraordinary assembly, in which it was decreed that Mecca should be henceforward an asylum or inviolable sanctuary, within which it should be unlawful to shed the blood of man, or even to fell a tree.

After telling the Meccans they were his slaves by conquest, he pardoned and declared them free, with the exception of eleven men and six women, whom, as his most inveterate enemies, he proscribed, ordering his followers to kill them wherever they should find them. Most of them obtained their pardon by embracing Islamism, and were ever after the most zealous of Mussulmans. One of these, Abdallah, who had greatly offended Mahomet, was brought to him by Othman, upon whose intercession Mahomet pardoned him. Before he granted his pardon, he maintained a long silence, in expectation, as he afterward owned, that some of those about him would fall upon Abdallah and kill him. Of the women, three embraced Islamism and were pardoned, the rest were put to death, one being crucified.

Mahomet now sent out Kaled and others to destroy the idols which were still retained by some of the tribes, and to invite them to Islamism. Kaled executed his commission with great brutality. The Jodhamites had formerly robbed and murdered Kaled's uncle as he journeyed from Arabia Felix. Kaled having proposed Islamism to them, they cried out, "they professed Sabæism." This was what he wanted. He immediately fell upon them, killing some, and making others prisoners: of these, he distributed some among his men, and reserved others for himself. As for the latter, having tied their hands behind them, he put them all to the sword. On hearing of this slaughter Mahomet lifted up his eyes and protested his innocence of this murder, and immediately sent Ali with a sum of money to make satisfaction for the bloodshed, and to restore the plunder. Ali paid to the surviving Jodhamites as much as they demanded, and generously divided the overplus among them. This action Mahomet applauded and afterward reproved Kaled for his cruelty.

Upon the conquest of Mecca, many of the tribes of the Arabs came and submitted to Mahomet; but the Hawazanites, the Thakishites, and part of the Saadites, assembled to the number of four thousand effective men, besides women and children, to oppose him. He went against them at the head of twelve thousand fighting men. At the first onset the Mussulmans, being received with a thick shower of arrows, were put to flight; but Mahomet, with great courage, rallied his men, and finally obtained the victory. The next considerable action was the siege of Taif, a town sixty miles east from Mecca. The Mussulmans set down before it and, having made several breaches with their engines, marched resolutely up to them, but were vigorously repulsed by the besieged. Mahomet, having by a herald proclaimed liberty to all the slaves who should come over to him, twenty-three deserted, to each of whom he assigned a Mussulman for a comrade. So inconsiderable a defection did not in the least abate the courage of the besieged; so that the prophet began to despair of reducing the place, and, after a dream, which Abu-Bekr interpreted unfavorably to the attempt, determined to raise the siege. His men, however, on being ordered to prepare for a retreat, began to murmur; whereupon he commanded them to be ready for an assault the next day. The assault being made the assailants were beaten back with great loss. To console them in their retreat, the prophet smiled, and said, "We will come here again, if it please God." When the army reached Jesana, where all the booty taken from the Hawazanites had been left, a deputation arrived from that tribe to beg it might be restored. The prophet having given them their option between the captives or their goods, they chose to have their wives and children again. Their goods being divided among the Mussulmans, Mahomet, in order to indemnify those who had been obliged to give up their slaves, gave up his own share of the plunder and divided it among them. To Malec, however, son of Awf, the general of the Hawazanites, he intimated that if he would embrace Islamism he should have all his goods as well as his family, and a present of one hundred camels besides. By this promise Malec was brought over to be so good a Mussulman that he had the command given him of all his countrymen who should at any time be converts, and was very serviceable against the Thakishites.

The prophet, after this, made a holy visit to Mecca, where he appointed Otab, son of Osaid, governor, though not quite twenty years of age; Maad, son of Jabal, imam, or chief priest, to teach the people Islamism, and direct them in solemnizing the pilgrimage. Upon his return to Medina his concubine, Mary, brought him a son, whom he named Ibrahim, celebrating his birth with a great feast. The child, however, lived but fifteen months.

In the ninth year of the Hegira envoys from all parts of Arabia came to Mahomet at Medina, to declare the readiness of their several tribes to profess his religion.

The same year Mahomet, with an army of thirty thousand men, marched toward Syria, to a place called Tobuc, against the Romans and Syrians, who were making preparation against him, but, upon his approach, retreated. The Mussulmans, in their march back toward Medina, took several forts of the Christian Arabs, and made them tributaries. Upon his return to Medina the Thakishites, having been blockaded in the Taif by the Mussulman tribes, sent deputies offering to embrace Islamism, upon condition of being allowed to retain a little longer an idol to which their people were bigotedly attached. When Mahomet insisted upon its being immediately demolished, they desired to be at least excused from using the Mussulmans' prayers, but to this he answered very justly, "That a religion without prayers was good for nothing." At last they submitted absolutely.

During the same year Mahomet sent Abu-Bekr to Mecca, to perform the pilgrimage, and sacrifice in his behalf twenty camels. Presently afterward he sent Ali to publish the ninth chapter of the Koran, which, though so placed in the present confused copy, is generally supposed to have been the last that was revealed. It is called "Barat," or Immunity; the purport of it is that the associators with whom Mahomet had made a treaty must, after four months' liberty of conscience, either embrace Islamism or pay tribute. The command runs thus: "When those holy months are expired, kill the idolaters wherever ye shall find them." Afterward come these words, "If they repent, and observe the times of prayer and give alms, they are to be looked upon as your brethren in religion." The same chapter also orders, "That nobody should, not having on the sacred habit, perform the holy circuits round the Kaaba; and that no idolater should make the pilgrimage to Mecca." In consequence, no person except a Mahometan may approach the Kaaba, on pain of death.

The following account of Mahomet's farewell pilgrimage is from Jaber, son of Abdallah, who was one of the company: "The apostle of God had not made the pilgrimage for nine years (for when he conquered Mecca he only made a visitation). In the tenth year of the Hegira, he publicly proclaimed his intention to perform the pilgrimage, whereupon a prodigious multitude of people (some make the number near one hundred thousand) flocked from all parts to Medina. Our chief desire was to follow the apostle of God, and imitate him. When we came to Dhul Holaifa, the apostle of God prayed in the mosque there; then mounting his camel he rode hastily to the plain Baida, where he began to praise God in the form that professes his unity, saying, 'Here I am, O God, ready to obey thee; thou hast no partner,' etc. When he came to the Kaaba, he kissed the corner of the black stone, went seven times round—three times in a trot, four times walking—then went to the station of Abraham, and coming again to the black stone, reverently kissed it. Afterward he went through the gate of the sons of Madhumi to the hill Safa, and went up it till he could see the Kaaba; when, turning toward the Kebla, he professed again the unity of God, saying, 'There is no God but one, his is the kingdom, to him be praises, he is powerful above everything,' etc. After this profession he went down toward the hill Merwan, I following him all the way through the valley; he then ascended the hill slowly till he came to the top of Merwan; from thence he ascended Mount Arafa. It being toward the going down of the sun, he preached here till sunset; then going to Mosdalefa, between Arafa and the valley of Mena, he made the evening and the late prayers, with two calls to prayer, and two risings up. Then he lay down till the dawn, and, having made the morning prayer, went to the enclosure of the Kaaba, where he remained standing till it grew very light. Hence he proceeded hastily, before the sun was up, to the valley of Mena; where, throwing up seven stones, he repeated at each throw, 'God is great,' etc. Leaving now the valley, he went to the place of sacrifice. Having made free sixty-three slaves, he slew sixty-three victims[63] with his own hand, being then sixty-three years old, and then ordered Ali to sacrifice as many more victims as would make up the number to one hundred. The next thing the apostle did was to shave his head, beginning on the right side of it, and finishing it on the left. His hair, as he cut it off, he cast upon a tree, that the wind might scatter it among the people. Kaled was fortunate enough to catch a part of the fore-lock, which he fixed upon his turban; the virtue whereof he experienced in every battle he afterward fought. The limbs of the victims being now boiled, the apostle sat down with no other companion but Ali to eat some of the flesh and drink some of the broth. The repast being over, he mounted his camel again and rode to the Kaaba; where he made the noon-tide prayer, and drank seven large draughts of the well Zem-zem, made seven circuits round the Kaaba, and concluded his career between the hills Safa and Merwan.

"The ninth day of the feast he went to perform his devotions on Mount Arafa. This hill, situated about a mile from Mecca, is held in great veneration by the Mussulmans as a place very proper for penitence. Its fitness in this respect is accounted for by a tradition that Adam and Eve, on being banished out of paradise, in order to do penance for their transgression were parted from each other, and after a separation of sixscore years met again upon this mountain."

At the conclusion of this farewell pilgrimage, as it was called, being the last he ever made, Mahomet reformed the calendar in two points: In the first place, he appointed the year to be exactly lunar, consisting of twelve lunar months; whereas before, in order to reduce the lunar to the solar year, they used to make every third year consist of thirteen months. And secondly, whereas the ancient Arabians held four months sacred, wherein it was unlawful to commit any act of hostility, he took away that prohibition, by this command, "Attack the idolaters in all the months of the year, as they attack you in all." (Koran, ix.)

In the eleventh year of the Hegira there arrived an embassy from Arabia Felix, consisting of about one hundred who had embraced Islamism. The same year Mahomet ordered Osama to go to the place where Zaid his father was slain at the battle of Muta, to revenge his death. This was the last expedition he ever ordered, for, being taken ill two days after, he died within thirteen days. The beginning of his sickness was a slow fever, which made him delirious. In his frenzy he called for pen, ink, and paper, and said he "would write a book that should keep them from erring after his death." But Omar opposed it, saying the Koran is sufficient, and that the prophet, through the greatness of his malady, knew not what he said. Others, however, expressing a desire that he would write, a contention arose, which so disturbed Mahomet that he bade them all begone. During his illness he complained of the poisoned meat he had swallowed at Khaibar. Some say, when he was dying, Gabriel told him the angel of death, who never before had been, nor would ever again be, so ceremonious toward anybody, was waiting for his permission to come in. As soon as Mahomet had answered, "I give him leave," the angel of death entered and complimented the prophet, telling him God was very desirous to have him, but had commanded he should take his soul or leave it, just as he himself should please to order. Mahomet replied, "Take it, then." [According to the testimony of all the Eastern authors Mahomet died on Monday the 12th Reby 1st, in the year 11 of the Hegira, which answers in reality to the 8th of June, A.D. 632.]

His grave was dug under the bed whereon he lay, in the chamber of Ayesha. The Arabian writers are very particular to tell us everything about the washing and embalming his body; who dug his grave, who put him in, etc.[64]

The person of Mahomet is minutely described by Arabian writers. He was of a middle stature, had a large head, thick beard, black eyes, hooked nose, wide mouth, a thick neck, flowing hair. They also tell us that what was called the seal of his apostleship, a hairy mole between his shoulders, as large as a pigeon's egg, disappeared at his death. Its disappearance seems to have convinced those who would not before believe it that he was really dead. His intimate companion Abu Horaira said he never saw a more beautiful man than the prophet. He was so reverenced by his bigoted disciples they would gather his spittle up and swallow it.

The same writers extol Mahomet as a man of fine parts and a strong memory, of few words, of a cheerful aspect, affable and complaisant in his behavior. They also celebrate his justice, clemency, generosity, modesty, abstinence, and humility. As an instance of the last virtue, they tell us he mended his own clothes and shoes. However, to judge of him by his actions as related by these same writers, we cannot help concluding that he was a very subtle and crafty man, who put on the appearance only of those good qualities, while the governing principles of his soul were ambition and lust. For we see him, as soon as he found himself strong enough to act upon the offensive, plundering caravans, and, under a pretence of fighting for the true religion, attacking, murdering, enslaving, and making tributaries of his neighbors, in order to aggrandize and enrich himself and his greedy followers, and without scruple making use of assassination to cut off those who opposed him. Of his lustful disposition we have a sufficient proof, in the peculiar privileges he claimed to himself of having as many wives as he pleased, and of whom he chose, even though they were within forbidden degrees of affinity. The authors who give him the smallest number of wives own that he had fifteen; whereas the Koran allows no Mussulman more than four. As for himself, Mahomet had no shame in avowing that his chief pleasures were perfumes and women.


The Koran is held by the Mahometans in the greatest veneration. The book must not be touched by anybody but a Mussulman, nor even by a believer except he be free from pollution. Whether the Koran be created or uncreated has been the subject of a controversy fruitful of the most violent persecutions. The orthodox opinion is that the original has been written from all eternity on the preserved table. Of this they believe a complete transcript was brought down to the lower heaven (that of the moon) by the angel Gabriel, and thence taken and shown to Mahomet, once every year of his mission, and twice in the last year of his life. They assert, however, that it was only piecemeal, that the several parts were revealed by the angel to the prophet, and that he immediately dictated what had been revealed to his secretary, who wrote it down. Each part, as soon as it was thus copied out, was communicated to his disciples, to get by heart, and was afterward deposited in what he called the chest of his apostleship. This chest the prophet left in the custody of his wife Hafsa.

When we consider the way in which the Koran was compiled, we cannot wonder that it is so incoherent a piece as we find it. The book is divided into chapters; of these some are very long; others again, especially a few toward the end, very short. Each chapter has a title prefixed, taken from the first word, or from some one particular thing mentioned in it, rarely from the subject-matter of it; for if a chapter be of any length, it usually runs into various subjects that have no connection with each other. A celebrated commentator divides the contents of the Koran into three general heads: 1. Precepts or directions, relating either to religion, as prayers, fasting, pilgrimages, or to civil polity, as marriages, inheritances, judicatures. 2. Histories—whereof some are taken from the Scriptures, but falsified with fabulous additions; others are wholly false, having no foundation in fact. 3. Admonitions: under which head are comprised exhortations to receive Islamism; to fight for it, to practise its precepts, prayers, alms, etc.; the moral duties, such as justice, temperance, etc., promises of everlasting felicity to the obedient, dissuasives from sin, threatenings of the punishments of hell to the unbelieving and disobedient. Many of the threatenings are levelled against particular persons, and those sometimes of Mahomet's own family, who had opposed him in propagating his religion.

In the Koran God is brought in saying, "We have given you a book." By this it appears that the impostor published early, in writing, some of his principal doctrines, as also some of his historical relations. Thus, in his life of himself we find his disciples reading the twentieth chapter of the Koran, before his flight from Mecca; after which he pretended many of the revelations in other chapters were brought to him. Undoubtedly, all those said to be revealed at Medina must be posterior to what he had then published at Mecca; because he had not yet been at Medina. Many parts of the Koran he declared were brought to him by the angel Gabriel, on special occasions, of which we have already met with several instances in his biography. Accordingly, the commentators on the Koran often explain passages in it by relating the occasion on which they were first revealed. Without such a key many of them would be perfectly unintelligible.

There are several contradictions in the Koran. To reconcile these, the Mussulman doctors have invented the doctrine of abrogation, i.e., that what was revealed at one time was revoked by a new revelation. A great deal of it is so absurd, trifling, and full of tautology that it requires no little patience to read much of it at a time. Notwithstanding, the Koran is cried up by the Mussulmans as inimitable; and in the seventeenth chapter of the Koran Mahomet is commanded to say, "Verily if men and genii were purposely assembled, that they might produce anything like the Koran, they could not produce anything like unto it, though they assisted one another." Accordingly, when the impostor was called upon, as he often was, to work miracles in proof of his divine mission, he excused himself by various pretences, and appealed to the Koran as a standing miracle.[65] Each chapter of the Koran is divided into verses, that is, lines of different length, terminated with the same letter, so as to make a different rhyme, but without any regard to the measure of the syllables.

The Mahometan religion consists of two parts, faith and practice. Faith they divide into six articles: 1. A belief in the unity of God, in opposition to those whom they call associators; by which name they mean not only those who, besides the true God, worship idols or inferior gods or goddesses, but the Christians also, who hold our blessed Saviour's divinity and the doctrine of the Trinity. 2. A belief of angels, to whom they attribute various shapes, names, and offices, borrowed from the Jews and Persians. 3. The Scriptures. 4. The prophets: on this head the Koran teaches that God revealed his will to various prophets, in divers ages of the world, and gave it in writing to Adam, Seth, Enoch, Abraham, etc.; but these books are lost: that afterward he gave the Pentateuch to Moses, the Psalms to David, the Gospel to Jesus, and the Koran to Mahomet. The Koran speaks with great reverence of Moses and Jesus, but says the Scriptures left by them have been greatly mutilated and corrupted. Under this pretence it adds a great many fabulous relations to the history contained in those sacred books, and charges the Jews and Christians with suppressing many prophecies concerning Mahomet (a calumny easily refuted, the Scriptures having been translated into various languages long before Mahomet was born). 5. The fifth article of belief is the resurrection and day of judgment, while about the intermediate state Mahometan divines have various opinions. The happiness promised to the Mussulmans in paradise is wholly sensual, consisting of fine gardens, rich furniture sparkling with gems and gold, delicious fruits, and wines that neither cloy nor intoxicate; but above all, affording the fruition of all the delights of love in the society of women having large black eyes and every trait of exquisite beauty, who shall ever continue young and perfect. Some of their writers speak of these females of paradise in very lofty strains; telling us, for instance, that if one of them were to look down from heaven in the night she would illuminate the earth as the sun does; and if she did but spit into the ocean, it would be immediately turned as sweet as honey. These delights of paradise were certainly, at first, understood literally; however Mahometan divines may have since allegorized them into a spiritual sense. As to the punishments threatened to the wicked, they are hell-fire, breathing hot winds, the drinking of boiling and stinking water, eating briers and thorns, and the bitter fruit of the tree Zacom, which in their bellies will feel like boiling pitch. These punishments are to be everlasting to all except those who embrace Islamism; for the latter, after suffering a number of years, in proportion to their demerits, will then, if they have had but so much faith as is equal to the weight of an ant, be released by the mercy of God, and, upon the intercession of Mahomet, admitted into paradise.

The sixth article of belief is that God decrees everything that is to happen, not only all events, but the actions and thoughts of men, their belief or infidelity; that everything that has or will come to pass has been, from eternity, written in the preserved or secret table, which is a white stone of an immense size, preserved in heaven, near the throne of God. Agreeable to this notion one of their poets thus expresses himself: "Whatever is written against thee will come to pass; what is written for thee shall not fail; resign thyself to God, and know thy Lord to be powerful; his decrees will certainly take place; his servants ought to be silent."

Of their four fundamental points of practice, the first is prayer. This duty is to be performed five times in the twenty-four hours: 1. In the morning before sunrise. 2. When noon is past. 3. A little before sunset. 4. A little after sunset. 5. Before the first watch of the night. Previous to prayer they are to purify themselves by washing. Some kinds of pollution require the whole body to be immersed in water, but commonly it is enough to wash some parts only—the head, the face and neck, hands and feet. In the latter ablution, called wodhu, fine sand or dust may be used when water cannot be had; in such case the palm of the hand, being first laid upon the sand, is then to be drawn over the part required to be washed. The Mahometans, out of respect to the divine Majesty before whom they are to appear, are required to be clean and decent when they go to public prayers in their mosques; but are yet forbidden to appear there in sumptuous apparel, particularly clothes trimmed with gold or silver, lest they should make them vain and arrogant. The women are not allowed to be in their mosques at the same time with the men; this they think would make their thoughts wander from their proper business there. On this account they reproach the Christians with the impropriety of the contrary usage. The next point of practice is alms-giving, which is frequently enjoined in the Koran and looked upon as highly meritorious. Many of them have been very exemplary in the performance of this duty. The third point of practical religion is fasting the whole month Ramadan, during which they are every day to abstain from eating or drinking, or touching a woman, from daybreak to sunset; after that they are at liberty to enjoy themselves as at other times. From this fast an exception is made in favor of old persons and children. Those also that are sick or on a journey, and women pregnant or nursing, are also excused in this month. But then, the person making use of this dispensation must expiate the omission by fasting an equal number of days in some other month and by giving alms to the poor. There are also some other days of fasting, which are, by the more religious, observed in the manner above described. The last practical duty is going the pilgrimage to Mecca, which every man who is able is obliged to perform once in his life. In the ceremonies of it they strictly copy those observed by Mahomet. A pilgrimage can be made only in the month Dulhagha; but a visitation to Mecca may be made at any other time of the year.


As an illustration of the Mahometan creed and practice I have thought it advisable to insert their famous Dr. Al-Gazali's interpretation of the two articles of their faith, viz., "There is no God but God; Mahomet is the apostle of God":

"Praise be to God the Creator and Restorer of all things: who does whatsoever he pleases, who is master of the glorious throne and mighty force, and directs his sincere servants into the right way and the straight path; who favoreth them who have once borne testimony to the unity, by preserving their confessions from the darkness of doubt and hesitation; who directs them to follow his chosen apostle, upon whom be the blessing and peace of God; and to go after his most honorable companions, to whom he hath vouchsafed his assistance and direction which is revealed to them in his essence and operations by the excellences of his attributes, to the knowledge whereof no man attains but he that hath been taught by hearing. To these, as touching his essence, he maketh known that he is one, and hath no partner: singular, without anything like him: uniform, having no contrary: separate, having no equal. He is ancient, having no first: eternal, having no beginning: remaining forever, having no end: continuing to eternity, without any termination. He persists, without ceasing to be, remains without failing, and never did cease, nor ever shall cease, to be described by glorious attributes, nor is subject to any decree so as to be determined by any precise limits or set times, but is the First and the Last, and is within and without.

"What God is not.] He (glorified be his name) is not a body endued with form, nor a substance circumscribed with limits or determined by measure; neither does he resemble bodies, as they are capable of being measured or divided. Neither is he a substance, neither do substances exist in him; neither is he an accident, nor do accidents exist in him. Neither is he like to anything that exists, neither is anything like to him; nor is he determinate in quantity nor comprehended by bounds, nor circumscribed by the differences of situation nor contained in the heavens. He sits upon the throne, after that manner which he himself hath described, and in that same sense which he himself means, which is a sitting far removed from any notion of contact, or resting upon, or local situation; but both the throne itself, and whatsoever is upon it, are sustained by the goodness of his power, and are subject to the grasp of his hand. But he is above the throne, and above all things, even to the utmost ends of the earth; but so above as at the same time not to be a whit nearer the throne and the heaven; since he is exalted by (infinite) degrees above the throne no less than he is exalted above the earth, and at the same time is near to everything that hath a being; nay, nearer to men than their jugular veins, and is witness to everything; though his nearness is not like the nearness of bodies, as neither is his essence like the essence of bodies. Neither doth he exist in anything, neither doth anything exist in him; but he is too high to be contained in any place, and too holy to be determined by time; for he was before time and place were created, and is now after the same manner as he always was. He is also distinct from the creatures by his attributes, neither is there anything besides himself in his essence, nor is his essence in any other besides him. He is too holy to be subject to change, or any local motion; neither do any accidents dwell in him nor any contingencies befall him, but he abides through all generations with his glorious attributes, free from all danger of dissolution. As to the attribute of perfection, he wants no addition of his perfection. As to being, he is known to exist by the apprehension of the understanding; and he is seen as he is by an ocular intuition, which will be vouchsafed out of his mercy and grace to the holy in the eternal mansion, completing their joy by the vision of his glorious presence.

"His Power.] He, praised be his name, is living, powerful, mighty, omnipotent, not liable to any defect or impotence, neither slumbering nor sleeping, nor being obnoxious to decay or death. To him belong the kingdom, and the power, and the might. His is the dominion, and the excellency, and the creation, and the command thereof. The heavens are folded up in his right hand, and all creatures are crouched within his grasp. His excellency consists in his creating and producing, and his unity in communicating existence and a beginning of being. He created men and their works, and measured out their maintenance and their determined times. Nothing that is possible can escape his grasp, nor can the vicissitudes of things elude his power. The effects of his might are innumerable, and the objects of his knowledge infinite.

"His Knowledge.] He, praised be his name, knows all things that can be understood, and comprehends whatsoever comes to pass, from the extremities of the earth to the highest heavens, even the weight of a pismire could not escape him either in earth or heaven; but he would perceive the creeping of the black pismire in the dark night upon the hard stone, and discern the motion of an atom in the open air. He knows what is secret and conceals it, and views the conceptions of the minds, and the motions of the thoughts, and the inmost recesses of secrets, by a knowledge ancient and eternal, that never ceased to be his attribute from eternal eternity, and not by any new knowledge, superadded to his essence, either inhering or adventitious.

"His Will.] He, praised be his name, doth will those things to be that are, and disposes of all accidents. Nothing passes in the empire, nor the kingdom, neither little nor much, nor small nor great, nor good nor evil, nor profitable nor hurtful, nor faith nor infidelity, nor knowledge nor ignorance, nor prosperity nor adversity, nor increase nor decrease, nor obedience nor rebellion, but by his determinate counsel and decree, and his definite sense and will. Nor doth the wink of him that seeth, nor the subtlety of him that thinketh, exceed the bounds of his will: but it is he who gave all things their beginning; he is the creator and restorer, the sole operator of what he pleases; there is no reversing his decree nor delaying what he hath determined, nor is there any refuge to man from his rebellion against him, but only his help and mercy; nor hath any man any power to perform any duty toward him, but through his love and will. Though men and genii, angels and devils, should conspire together either to put one single atom in motion, or cause it to cease its motion, without his will and approbation they would not be able to do it. His will subsists in his essence among the rest of his attributes, and was from eternity one of his eternal attributes, by which he willed from eternity the existence of those things that he had decreed, which were produced in their proper seasons according to his eternal will, without any before or after, and in agreement both with his knowledge and will, and not by methodizing of thoughts, nor waiting for a proper time, for which reason no one thing is in him a hinderance from another.

"His Hearing and Sight.] And he, praised be his name, is hearing and seeing, and heareth and seeth. No audible object, how still soever, escapeth his hearing; nor is anything visible so small as to escape his sight; for distance is no hinderance to his hearing, nor darkness to his sight. He sees without pupil or eyelids, and hears without any passage or ear, even as he knoweth without a heart, and performs his actions without the assistance of any corporeal limb, and creates without any instrument, for his attributes (or properties) are not like those of men, any more than his essence is like theirs.

"His Word.] Furthermore, he doth speak, command, forbid, promise, and threaten by an eternal, ancient word subsisting in his essence. Neither is it like to the word of the creatures, nor doth it consist in a voice arising from the commotion of the air and the collision of bodies, nor letters which are separated by the joining together of the lips or the motion of the tongue. The Koran, the Law, the Gospel, and the Psalter, are books sent down by him to his apostles, and the Koran, indeed, is read with tongues, written in books, and kept in hearts; yet as subsisting in the essence of God, it doth not become liable to separation and division while it is transferred into the hearts and the papers. Thus Moses also heard the word of God without voice or letter, even as the saints behold the essence of God without substance or accident. And that since these are his attributes, he liveth and knoweth, is powerful and willeth and operateth, and seeth and speaketh, by life and knowledge, and will and hearing, and sight and word, not by his simple essence.

"His Works.] He, praised be his name, exists after such a manner that nothing besides him hath any being but what is produced by his operation, and floweth from his justice after the best, most excellent, most perfect, and most just model. He is, moreover, wise in his works and just in his decrees. But his justice is not to be compared with the justice of men. For a man may be supposed to act unjustly by invading the possession of another; but no injustice can be conceived of God, inasmuch as there is nothing that belongs to any other besides himself, so that wrong is not imputable to him as meddling with things not appertaining to him. All things, himself only excepted, genii, men, the devil, angels, heaven, earth, animals, plants, substance, accident, intelligible, sensible, were all created originally by him. He created them by his power out of mere privation, and brought them into light, when as yet they were nothing at all, but he alone existing from eternity, neither was there any other with him. Now he created all things in the beginning for the manifestation of his power, and his will, and the confirmation of his word, which was true from all eternity. Not that he stood in need of them, nor wanted them; but he manifestly declared his glory in creating, and producing, and commanding, without being under any obligation, nor out of necessity. Loving-kindness, and to show favor, and grace, and beneficence, belong to him; whereas it is in his power to pour forth upon men a variety of torments, and afflict them with various kinds of sorrows and diseases, which, if he were to do, his justice could not be arraigned, nor would he be chargeable with injustice. Yet he rewards those that worship him for their obedience on account of his promise and beneficence, not of their merit nor of necessity, since there is nothing which he can be tied to perform; nor can any injustice be supposed in him, nor can he be under any obligation to any person whatsoever. That his creatures, however, should be bound to serve him, ariseth from his having declared by the tongues of the prophets that it was due to him from them. The worship of him is not simply the dictate of the understanding, but he sent messengers to carry to men his commands, and promises, and threats, whose veracity he proved by manifest miracles, whereby men are obliged to give credit to them in those things that they relate.

"The signification of the second article; that is, the testimony concerning the Apostle.] He, the Most High, sent Mahomet, the illiterate prophet of the family of the Koreish, to deliver his message to all the Arabians and barbarians and genii and men; and abrogated by his religion all other religions, except in those things which he confirmed; and gave him the preëminence over all the rest of the prophets, and made him lord over all mortal men. Neither is the faith, according to his will, complete by the testimony of the unity alone; that is, by simply saying, There is but one God, without the addition of the testimony of the apostle; i.e., without the further testimony, Mahomet is the apostle of God. And he hath made it necessary to men to give credit to Mahomet in those things which he hath related, both with regard to this present world and the life to come. For a man's faith is not accepted till he is fully persuaded of those things which the prophet hath affirmed shall be after death. The first of these is the examination of Munkir and Nakir. These are two angels, of a most terrible and fearful aspect, who shall place [every] man upright in his grave, consisting again both of soul and body, and ask him concerning the unity and the mission [of the apostle], saying, Who is thy Lord? and, What is thy religion? and, Who is thy prophet? For these are the searchers of the grave, and their examination the first trial after death. Everyone must also believe the torment of the sepulchre, and that it is due and right and just, both upon the body and the soul, being according to the will of God.

"He shall also believe in the balance with two scales and a beam, that shall equal the extent of the heavens and the earth; wherein the works [of men] shall be weighed by the power of God. At which time weights not heavier than atoms, or mustard-seeds, shall be brought out, that things may be balanced with the utmost exactness, and perfect justice administered. Then the books of the good works, beautiful to behold, shall be cast into the balance of light, by which the balance shall be depressed according to their degrees, out of the favor of God. But the books of evil deeds, nasty to look upon, shall be cast into the balance of darkness, with which the scale shall lightly ascend by the justice of the most high God.

"He must also believe that there is a real way, extended over the middle of hell, which is sharper than a sword and finer than a hair, over which all must pass. In this passage of it, while the feet of the infidels, by the decree of God, shall slip, so as they shall fall into hell-fire, the feet of the faithful shall never stumble, but they shall arrive safely into the eternal habitation.

"He shall also believe the pond where they go down to be watered, that is the pond of Mahomet (upon whom be the blessing and peace of God), out of which the faithful, after they have passed the way, drink before they enter into paradise; and out of which whosoever once drinketh shall thirst no more forever. Its breadth is a month's journey, it is whiter than milk and sweeter than honey. Round about it stand cups as innumerable as the stars, and it hath two canals, by which the waters of the [river] Cauthar flow into it.

"He shall also believe the [last] account, in which men shall be divided into those that shall be reckoned withal with the utmost strictness, and those that shall be dealt withal more favorably, and those that shall be admitted into paradise without any manner of examination at all; namely, those whom God shall cause to approach near to himself. Moreover, he shall believe that God will ask any of his apostles, whomsoever he shall please, concerning their mission; of the infidels, and whomsoever he shall please, what was the reason why, by their unbelief, they accused those that were sent to them of lying. He will also examine the heretics concerning tradition, and the faithful concerning their good works.

"He shall also believe that all who confess one God shall, upon the intercession of the prophets, next of the doctors, then of the martyrs, and finally of the rest of the faithful—that is, everyone according to his excellency and degree—at length go out of the fire after they have undergone the punishment due to their sins.

"And if besides these remain any of the faithful, having no intercessor, they shall go out by the grace of God; neither shall any one of the faithful remain forever in hell, but shall go out from thence though he had but so much faith in his heart as the weight of an atom. And thus, by the favorable mercy of God, no person shall remain in hell who in life acknowledge the unity of the Godhead.

"It is also necessary that every true believer acknowledge the excellency of the companions [of Mahomet] and their degrees; and that the most excellent of men, next to Mahomet, is Abu-Bekr, then Omar, then Othman, and then Ali. Moreover, he must entertain a good opinion of all the companions, and celebrate their memories, according as God and his apostles hath celebrated them. And all these things are received by tradition, and evinced by evident tokens; and he that confesseth all these things, and surely believeth them, is to be reckoned among the number of those that embrace truth, and of the congregation of those that walk in the received way, separated from the congregation of those that err, and the company of heretics.

"These are the things that everyone is obliged to believe and confess that would be accounted worthy of the name of a Mussulman; and that, according to the literal meaning of the words, not as they may be made capable of any sounder sense; for, says the author of this exposition, some pretending to go deeper have put an interpretation upon those things that are delivered concerning the world to come, such as the balance, and the way, and some other things besides, but it is heresy."


[49] This famous structure (in the Arabic, Kef'bah—a square building) for over twelve hundred years has been the cynosure of the Moslem peoples. It is undoubtedly of great antiquity, being mentioned by Diodorus the historian in the latter part of the first century, at which time its sanctity was acknowledged and its idols venerated by the Arabians and kindred tribes who paid yearly visits to the shrine to offer their devotions.

According to the Arabian legend Adam, after his expulsion from the Garden, worshipped Allah on this spot. A tent was then sent down from heaven, but Seth substituted a hut for the tent. After the Flood, Abraham and Ishmael rebuilt the Kaaba.

At present it is a cube-shaped, flat-roofed building of stone in the Great Mosque at Mecca. In its southeast corner next to the silver door is the famous black stone "hajar al aswud," dropped from paradise. It was said to have been originally a white stone (by other accounts a ruby), but the tears—or more probably the kisses—of pilgrims have turned it quite black.

[50] Palmer has it: "In the mean time Mahomet and Abu-Bekr escaped by a back window in the house of the latter."

[51] Zem-sem, the name of this well, is said by the Moslems to be the spring which Hagar had revealed to her when driven into the wilderness with her son, Ishmael.

[52] Friday remains the Sabbath of the Moslems.

[53] His nephew and son-in-law, surnamed "the Lion-hearted."

[54] The Persians add these words, "and Ali is the friend of God." Kouli Khan, having a mind to unite the two different sects, ordered them to be omitted.—Fraser's Life of Kouli Khan, p. 124.

[55] An Arab of Kossay, named Ammer Ibn Lahay, is said to have first introduced idolatry among his countrymen; he brought the idol called Hobal, from Hyt in Mesopotamia, and set it up in the Kaaba. It was the Jupiter of the Arabians, and was made of red agate in the form of a man holding in his hand seven arrows without heads or feathers, such as the Arabs use in divination. At a subsequent period the Kaaba was adorned with three hundred and sixty idols, corresponding probably to the days of the Arabian year.—Burckhardt's Arabia, pp. 163, 164.

[56] An opinion as ancient as Homer.—Iliad, vi. 487.

[57] Several stories have been told as the occasion of Mahomet's prohibiting the drinking of wine. Busbequius says: "Mahomet, making a journey to a friend at noon, entered into his house, where there was a marriage feast; and sitting down with the guests, he observed them to be very merry and jovial, kissing and embracing one another, which was attributed to the cheerfulness of their spirits raised by the wine; so that he blessed it as a sacred thing in being thus an instrument of much love among men. But returning to the same house the next day, he beheld another face of things, as gore-blood on the ground, a hand cut off, an arm, foot, and other limbs dismembered, which he was told was the effect of the brawls and fightings occasioned by the wine, which made them mad, and inflamed them into a fury, thus to destroy one another. Whereon he changed his mind, and turned his former blessing into a curse, and forbade wine ever after to all his disciples." (Epist. 3.) "This prohibition of wine hindered many of the prophet's contemporaries from embracing his religion. Yet several of the most respectable of the pagan Arabs, like certain of the Jews and early Christians, abstained totally from wine, from a feeling of its injurious effects upon morals, and, in their climate, upon health; or, more especially, from the fear of being led by it into the commission of foolish and degrading actions. Thus Keys, the son of Asim, being one night overcome with wine, attempted to grasp the moon, and swore that he would not quit the spot where he stood until he had laid hold of it. After leaping several times with the view of doing so, he fell flat upon his face; and when he recovered his senses, and was acquainted with the cause of his face being bruised, he made a solemn vow to abstain from wine ever after."—Lane's Arab. Nights, vol. i. pp. 217, 218.

[58] The following elucidation of the above circumstance is given by Sale: "Mahomet having undertaken an expedition against the tribe of Mostalek, in the sixth year of the Hegira, took his wife Ayesha with him. On their return, when they were not far from Medina, the army removing by night, Ayesha, on the road, alighted from her camel, and stepped aside on a private occasion; but on her return, perceiving she had dropped her necklace, which was of onyxes of Dhafar, she went back to look for it; and in the mean time her attendants, taking it for granted that she was got into her pavilion, set it again on the camel, and led it away. When she came back to the road and saw her camel was gone, she sat down there, expecting that when she was missed some would be sent back to fetch her; and in a little time she fell asleep. Early in the morning, Safwan Ebu al Moattel, who had stayed behind to rest himself, coming by, perceived somebody asleep, and found it was Ayesha; upon which he awoke her, by twice pronouncing with a low voice these words, 'We are God's, and unto him must we return.' Ayesha immediately covered herself with her veil; and Safwan set her on his own camel, and led her after the army, which they overtook by noon, as they were resting. This accident had like to have ruined Ayesha, whose reputation was publicly called in question, as if she had been guilty of adultery with Safwan."—Sale's Koran, xxiv. note.

[59] He once thought to have ordered the pilgrimage to Jerusalem; but finding the Jews so inveterate against him, thought it more advisable to oblige the Arabs.

[60] "An implicit belief in magic is entertained by almost all Mussulmans. Babil, or Babel, is regarded by the Mussulmans as the fountain-head of the science of magic, which was, and, as most think, still is, taught there to mankind by two fallen angels, named Haroot and Maroot, who are there suspended by the feet in a great pit closed by a mass of rock."—Lane's Arab. Nights, vol. i. pp. 66, 218.

"From another fable of these two magicians, we are told that the angels in heaven, expressing their surprise at the wickedness of the sons of Adam, after prophets had been sent to them with divine commissions, God bid them choose two out of their own number, to be sent down to be judges on earth. Whereupon they pitched upon Haroot and Maroot, who executed their office with integrity for some time, in the province of Babylon; but while they were there, Zohara, or the planet Venus, descended, and appeared before them in the shape of a beautiful woman, bringing a complaint against her husband. As soon as they saw her they fell in love with her, whereupon she invited them to dinner, and set wine before them, which God had forbidden them to drink. At length, being tempted by the liquor to transgress the divine command, they became drunk, and endeavored to prevail on her to satisfy their desires; to which she promised to consent upon condition that one of them should first carry her to heaven, and the other bring her back again. They immediately agreed to do so, but directly the woman reached heaven she declared to God the whole matter, and as a reward for her chastity she was made the morning star. The guilty angels were allowed to choose whether they would be punished in this life or in the other; and upon their choosing the former, they were hung up by the feet by an iron chain in a certain pit near Babylon, where they are to continue suffering the punishment of their transgression until the day of judgment. By the same tradition we also learn that if a man has a fancy to learn magic, he may go to them and hear their voice, but cannot see them."—Sale's Koran, ii. and notes

[61] Moore thus alludes to the circumstance in Lalla Rookh:—

"And here Mahomet, born for love and guile,
Forgets the Koran in his Mary's smile,
Then beckons some kind angel from above,
With a new text to consecrate their love!"
Veiled Prophet of Khorassan.

[62] "The death of Jaafar was heroic and memorable; he lost his right hand, he shifted the standard to his left, the left was severed from his body, he embraced the standard with his bleeding stumps, till he was transfixed to the ground with fifty honorable wounds. 'Advance,' cried Abdallah, who stepped into the vacant place, 'advance with confidence; either victory or paradise is our own.' The lance of a Roman decided the alternative; but the falling standard was rescued by Kaled, the proselyte of Mecca; nine swords were broken in his hand; and his valor withstood and repulsed the superior numbers of the Christians. To console the afflicted relatives of his kinsman Jaafar, Mahomet represented that, in paradise, in exchange for the arms he had lost, he had been furnished with a pair of wings, resplendent with the blushing glories of the ruby, and with which he was become the inseparable companion of the archangel Gabriel, in his volitations through the regions of eternal bliss. Hence, in the catalogue of the martyrs he has been denominated Jaaffer teyaur ('the winged Jaaffer')."—Milman's Gibbon, 1.

[63] Mahomet's victims were camels; they may, however, be sheep or goats, but in this case they must be male; if camels or kine, female.—Sale, Prelim. Dis., p. 120.

[64] There are many ridiculous stories told of Mahomet, which, being notoriously fabulous, are not introduced here. Two of the most popular are: That a tame pigeon used to whisper in his ear the commands of God. [The pigeon is said to have been taught to come and peck some grains of rice out of Mahomet's ear, to induce people to think that he then received by the ministry of an angel the several articles of the Koran.] The other is that after his death he was buried at Medina, and his coffin suspended, by divine agency or magnetic power, between the ceiling and floor of the temple.

[65] Mirza Ibrahim (translated by Lee) states, however, that the miracles recorded of Mahomet almost exceed enumeration. "Some of the doctors of Islamism have computed them at four thousand four hundred and fifty, while others have held that the more remarkable ones were not fewer than a thousand, some of which are almost universally accredited: as his dividing the moon into two parts; the singing of the gravel in his hand; the flowing of the water from between his fingers; the animals addressing him, and complaining before him; his satisfying a great multitude with a small quantity of food, and many others. The miracle of the speaking of the moon is thus related by Gagnier: On one occasion Mahomet accepted a challenge to bring the moon from heaven in presence of the whole assembly. Upon uttering his command, that luminary, full-orbed, though but five days old, leaped from the firmament, and, bounding through the air, alighted on the top of the Kaaba, after having encircled it by seven distinct evolutions. It is said to have paid reverence to the prophet, addressing him in elegant Arabic, in set phrase of encomium, and concluding with the formula of the Mussulman faith. This done, the moon is said to have descended from the Kaaba, to have entered the right sleeve of Mahomet's mantle, and made its exit by the left. After having traversed every part of his flowing robe, the planet separated into two parts, as it mounted to the air. Then these parts reunited in one round and luminous orb as before."


A.D. 636


Abu-Bekr was chosen caliph, or khalif (signifying successor) to Mahomet, but died after a reign of two years. His successor, Caliph Omar, continued with unabated ardor the efforts for the spread of Islam which Abu-Bekr had initiated by sending an invading expedition into Persia, and another into the Roman provinces of Syria.

The victorious armies of the Crescent were by this time far advanced beyond the frontiers of Arabia, and with fanatic zeal endeavoring to obey the prophet's injunction to Islamize mankind. "Allah il Allah!" ("God is God!") was their inspiring war-cry, and "Mahomet is the prophet of God" their watchword. With cimeter and Koran in either hand they offered the conquered "Infidels" "Islam or the sword."

The Oxus, which alone separated Saracen territory from that of Syria, was easily passed. Damascus was conquered, and the impetuous spirit of the Moslems led them rapidly on to Heliopolis, then to Hems or Emesa. In subtlety they were no less practised than they were well proved in courage, and by many arts they succeeded in creating diversions among their adversaries, and often in enlisting them under the Saracen standard. By making the Syrians understand something of their language, customs, and religion, they prepared them for assimilation when once subjected. In some cases dissensions among the Syrians led them to invoke the intervention of those who came to subjugate them.

In less than two years the Saracens had conquered the Syrian plain and valley, but still they reproached themselves for loss of time, and with redoubled zeal pressed on to new victories. The forces arrayed against them were greatly augmented both from Asia and Europe, but the disciplined veterans of the Roman emperor Heraclius, and the recruits from the provinces, vainly confronted the Arabs, whose valor was of the nature of religious frenzy, which no assault could cause to quail. They won, at fearful cost to themselves, but with greater loss to their enemies at the battle of Yermouk, and there caused the Roman army to abandon active warfare against them.

It was then open to the victors to select their own objective among the Syrian cities, and following the counsel of Ali, they entered at once upon the siege of Jerusalem, although they held that city next to Mecca and Medina in veneration.

After a siege of four months Jerusalem capitulated, her defenders having no rest from the ceaseless assaults of the besiegers. Hard work still lay before the Saracens in Syria; but after the reduction of Aleppo, which cost several months' siege, with great loss of lives to the invaders, they passed on to Antioch and other strongholds, until, one by one, all had been subdued; the surrender of Cæsarea completing the great conquest and the subjection of Syria to the rule of the Caliph.

Heraclius, wearied with a constant and uninterrupted succession of ill news, which like those of Job came every day treading upon the heels of each other, grieved at the heart to see the Roman Empire, once the mistress of the world, now become the scorn and spoil of barbarian insolence, resolved, if possible, to put an end to the outrages of the Saracens once for all. With this view he raised troops in all parts of his dominions, and collected so considerable an army as since the first invasion of the Saracens had never appeared in Syria—not much unlike one engaged in single combat who, distrustful of his own abilities and fearing the worst, summons together his whole strength in hopes of ending the dispute with one decisive blow. Troops were sent to every tenable place which this inundation of the Saracens had not as yet reached, particularly to Cæsarea and all the sea-coast of Syria, as Tyre and Sidon, Accah, Joppa, Tripolis, Beyrout, and Tiberias, besides another army to defend Jerusalem. The main body, which was designed to give battle to the whole force of the Saracens, was commanded by one Mahan, an Armenian, whom I take to be the very same that the Greek historians call Manuel. To his generals the Emperor gave the best advice, charging them to behave themselves like men, and especially to take care to avoid all differences or dissensions. Afterward, when he had expressed his astonishment at this extraordinary success of the Arabs, who were inferior to the Greeks, in number, strength, arms, and discipline, after a short silence a grave man stood up and told him that the reason of it was that the Greeks had walked unworthily of their Christian profession, and changed their religion from what it was when Jesus Christ first delivered it to them, injuring and oppressing one another, taking usury, committing fornication, and fomenting all manner of strife and variance among themselves. The Emperor answered, that he was "too sensible of it." He then told them that he had thoughts of continuing no longer in Syria, but, leaving his army to their management, he purposed to withdraw to Constantinople. In answer to which they represented to him how much his departure would reflect upon his honor, what a lessening it would be to him in the eyes of his own subjects, and what occasion of triumph it would afford to his enemies the Saracens. Upon this they took their leave and prepared for their march. Besides a vast army of Asiatics and Europeans, Mahan was joined by Al Jabalah Ebn Al Ayham, King of the Christian Arabs, who had under him sixty thousand men. These Mahan commanded to march always in the front, saying that there was nothing like diamond to cut diamond. This great army, raised for the defence of Christian people, was little less insupportable than the Saracens themselves, committing all manner of disorder and outrage as they passed along; especially when they came to any of those places which had made any agreement with the Saracens, or surrendered to them, they swore and cursed and reviled the inhabitants with reproachful language, and compelled them by force to bear them company. The poor people excused their submission to the Saracens by their inability to defend themselves, and told the soldiers that if they did not approve of what they had done, they ought themselves to have come sooner to their relief.

The news of this great army having reached the Saracens while they were at Hems, filled them full of apprehensions, and put them to a very great strait as to the best course to pursue in this critical juncture. Some of them would very willingly have shrunk back and returned to Arabia. This course, they urged, presented a double advantage: on the one hand they would be sure of speedy assistance from their friends; and on the other, in that barren country the numerous army of the enemy must needs be reduced to great scarcity. But Abu Obeidah, fearing lest such a retreat might by the Caliph be interpreted cowardice in him, durst not approve of this advice. Others would rather die in the defence of those stately buildings, fruitful fields, and pleasant meadows they had won by the sword, than voluntarily to return to their former starving condition. They proposed therefore to remain where they were and wait the approach of the enemy. But Kaled disapproved of their remaining in their present position, as it was too near Cæsarea, where Constantine, the Emperor's son, lay with forty thousand men; and recommended that they should march to Yermouk, where they might reckon on assistance from the Caliph. As soon as Constantine heard of their departure, he sent a chiding letter to Mahan, and bade him mend his pace. Mahan advanced, but made no haste to give the Saracens battle, having received orders from the Emperor to make overtures of peace, which were no sooner proposed than rejected by Abu Obeidah. Several messages passed between them. The Saracens, endeavoring to bring their countryman Jabalah Ebn Al Ayham, with his Christian Arabs, to a neutrality, were answered that they were obliged to serve the Emperor, and resolved to fight. Upon this Kaled, contrary to the general advice, prepared to give him battle before Mahan should come up, although the number of his men—who, however, were the élite of the whole army—was very inconsiderable, urging that the Christians, being the army of the devil, had no advantage by their numbers against the Saracens, the army of God. In choosing his men, Kaled had called out more Ansers[66] than Mohajerins,[67] which, when it was observed, occasioned some grumbling, as it then was doubted whether it was because he respected them most or because he had a mind to expose them to the greater danger, that he might favor the others. Kaled told them that he had chosen them without any such regard, only because they were persons he could depend upon, whose valor he had proved, and who had the faith rooted in their hearts. One Cathib, happening to be called after his brother Sahal, and looking upon himself to be the better man, resented it as a high affront, and roundly abused Kaled. The latter, however, gave him very gentle and modest answers, to the great satisfaction of all, especially of Abu Obeidah, who, after a short contention, made them shake hands. Kaled, indeed, was admirable in this respect, that he knew no less how to govern his passions than to command the army; though, to most great generals, the latter frequently proves the easier task of the two. In this hazardous enterprise his success was beyond all expectation, for he threw Jabalah's Arabs into disorder and killed a great many, losing very few of his own men on the field, besides five prisoners, three of whom were Yezid Ebn Abu Sofian, Rafi Ebn Omeira, and Derar Ebn Al Alzwar, all men of great note. Abu Obeidah sent Abdallah Ebn Kort with an express to Omar, acquainting him with their circumstances, begging his prayers and some fresh recruits of Unitarians, a title they glory in, as reckoning themselves the only asserters of the unity of the Deity. Omar and the whole court were extremely surprised, but comforted themselves with the promises made to them in the Koran, which seemed now to be all they had left to trust to. To encourage the people, he went into the pulpit and showed them the excellency of fighting for the cause of God, and afterward returned an answer to Abu Obeidah, full of such spiritual consolation as the Koran could afford. Omar commanded Abdallah, as soon as ever he came near the camp and before he delivered the letter, to cry out, "Good news!" in order to comfort the Mussulmans and ease them in some measure of the perplexing apprehensions they labored under. As soon as he received this letter and message, together with Omar's blessing, he prepared to set out on his return to the army; but suddenly he remembered that he had omitted to pay his respects at Mahomet's tomb, which it was very uncertain whether he should ever see again. Upon this he hastened to Ayesha's house (the place where Mahomet was buried), and found her sitting by the tomb with Ali and Abbas, and Ali's two sons, Hasan and Hosein, one sitting upon Ali's lap, the other upon Abbas'. Ali was reading the chapter of beasts, being the sixth of the Koran, and Abbas the chapter of Hud, which is the eleventh. Abdallah, having paid his respects to Mahomet, Ali asked him whether he did not think of going? He answered, "Yes," but he feared he should not get to the army before the battle, which yet he greatly wished to do, if possible. "If you desired a speedy journey," answered Ali, "why did not you ask Omar to pray for you? Don't you know that the prayers of Omar will not be turned back? Because the apostle of God said of him: 'If there were a prophet to be expected after me, it would be Omar, whose judgment agrees with the book of God.' The prophet said of him besides, 'If an [universal] calamity were to come from heaven upon mankind, Omar would escape from it.' Wherefore, if Omar prayed for thee, thou shalt not stay long for an answer from God." Abdallah told him that he had not spoken one word in praise of Omar but what he was very sensible of before. Only he desired to have not only his prayers but also those of all the Mussulmans, and especially of those who were at the tomb of the prophet. At these words all present lifted up their hands to heaven, and Ali said, "O God, I beseech thee, for the sake of this chosen apostle, in whose name Adam prayed, and thou answeredst his petition and forgavest his sins, that thou wouldst grant to Abdallah Ebn Kort a safe and speedy return, and assist the followers of thy prophet with help, O thou who alone art great and munificent!" Abdallah set out immediately, and afterward returned to the camp with such incredible speed that the Saracens were surprised. But their admiration ceased when he informed them of Omar's blessing and Ali's prayers at Mahomet's tomb.

Recruits were instantly raised in every part of Arabia to send to the army. Said Ebn Amir commanded them, having received a flag of red silk at the hands of Omar, who told him that he gave him that commission in hopes of his behaving himself well in it; advising him, among other things, not to follow his appetites, and not forgetting to put him in hopes of further advancement if he should deserve it. Said thanked him for his advice, adding that if he followed it he should be saved. "And now," said Said, "as you have advised me, so let me advise you." "Speak on," said Omar. "I bid you then [added the other] fear God more than men, and not the contrary; and love all the Mussulmans as yourself and your family, as well those at a distance as those near you. And command that which is praiseworthy, and forbid that which is otherwise." Omar, all the while he spoke, stood looking steadfastly upon the ground, leaning his forehead upon his staff. Then he lifted up his head, and the tears ran down his cheeks, and he said, "Who is able to do this without the divine assistance?" Ali bade Said make good use of the Caliph's advice and dismissed him. Said, as he marched toward the army, lost his way, which turned out very unfortunate for the Christians, for by that means he fell in with the prefect of Amman with five thousand men. Said having cut all the foot to pieces, the prefect fled with the horse, but was intercepted by a party which had been sent out under Zobeir from the Saracen camp to forage. Said at first thought they had fallen together by the ears, and were fighting among themselves, but when he came up and heard the techir, he was well satisfied. Zobeir ran the prefect through with a lance; of the rest not a single man escaped. The Saracens cut off all their heads, then flayed them, and so carried them upon the points of their lances, presenting a most horrible spectacle to all that part of the country, till they came to the army, which received fresh courage by the accession of this reinforcement, consisting of eight thousand men.

However, their satisfaction was greatly lessened by the loss of the five prisoners whom Jabalah Ebn Al Ayham had taken. Now it happened that Mahan desired Abu Obeidah to send one of his officers to him for a conference. This being complied with, Kaled proffered his services, and being accepted by Abu Obeidah, by his advice he took along with him a hundred men, chosen out of the best soldiers in the army. Being met and examined by the out-guards, the chief of whom was Jabalah Ebn Al Ayham, they were ordered to wait till the general's pleasure should be known. Mahan would have had Kaled come to him alone and leave his men behind him. But as Kaled refused to hear of this, they were commanded as soon as they came near the general's tent to alight from their horses and deliver their swords; and when they would not submit to this either, they were at last permitted to enter as they pleased. They found Mahan sitting upon a throne, and seats prepared for themselves. But they refused to make use of them, and, removing them, sat down upon the ground. Mahan asked them the reason of their doing so, and taxed them with want of breeding. To which Kaled answered that that was the best breeding which was from God, and what God has prepared for us to sit down upon is purer than your tapestries, defending their practice from a sentence of their prophet Mahomet, backed with this text of the Koran, "Out of it [meaning the earth] we have created you, and to it we shall return you, and out of it we shall bring you another time." Mahan began then to expostulate with Kaled concerning their coming into Syria, and all those hostilities which they had committed there. Mahan seemed satisfied with Kaled's way of talking, and said that he had before that time entertained a quite different opinion of the Arabs, having been informed that they were a foolish, ignorant people. Kaled confessed that that was the condition of most of them till God sent their prophet Mahomet to lead them into the right way, and teach them to distinguish good from evil, and truth from error. During this conference they would argue very coolly for a while, and then again fly into a violent passion. At last it happened that Kaled told Mahan that he should one day see him led with a rope about his neck to Omar to be beheaded. Upon this Mahan told him that the received law of all nations secured ambassadors from violence, which he supposed had encouraged him to take that indecent freedom; however, he was resolved to chastise his insolence in the persons of his friends, the five prisoners, who should instantly be beheaded. At this threat Kaled, bidding Mahan attend to what he was about to say, swore by God, by Mahomet, and the holy temple of Mecca, that if he killed them he should die by his hands, and that every Saracen present should kill his man, be the consequences what they might, and immediately rose from his place and drew his sword. The same was done by the rest of the Saracens. But when Mahan told him that he would not meddle with him for the aforesaid reasons, they sheathed their swords and talked calmly again. And then Mahan made Kaled a present of the prisoners, and begged of him his scarlet tent, which Kaled had brought with him, and pitched hard by. Kaled freely gave it him, and refused to take anything in return (though Mahan gave him his choice of whatever he liked best), thinking his own gift abundantly repaid by the liberation of the prisoners.

Both sides now prepared for that fight which was to determine the fate of Syria. The particulars are too tedious to be related, for they continued fighting for several days. Abu Obeidah resigned the whole command of the army to Kaled, standing himself in the rear, under the yellow flag which Abu-Bekr had given him at his first setting forth into Syria, being the same which Mahomet himself had fought under at the battle of Khaibar. Kaled judged this the most proper place for Abu Obeidah, not only because he was no extraordinary soldier, but because he hoped that the reverence for him would prevent the flight of the Saracens, who were now like to be as hard put to it as at any time since they first bore arms. For the same reason the women were placed in the rear. The Greeks charged so courageously and with such vast numbers that the right wing of the Saracen horse was quite borne down and cut off from the main body of the army. But no sooner did they turn their backs than they were attacked by the women, who used them so ill and loaded them with such plenty of reproaches that they were glad to return every man to his post, and chose rather to face the enemy than endure the storm of the women. However, they with much difficulty bore up, and were so hard pressed by the Greeks that occasionally they were fain to forget what their generals had said a little before the fight, who told them that paradise was before them and the devil and hell-fire behind them. Even Abu Sofian, who had himself used that very expression, was forced to retreat, and was received by one of the women with a hearty blow over the face with a tent-pole. Night at last parted the two armies at the very time when the victory began to incline to the Saracens, who had been thrice beaten back, and as often forced to return by the women. Then Abu Obeidah said at once those prayers which belonged to two several hours. His reason for this was, I suppose, a wish that his men, of whom he was very tender, should have the more time to rest. Accordingly, walking about the camp he looked after the wounded men, oftentimes binding up their wounds with his own hands, telling them that their enemies suffered the same pain that they did, but had not that reward to expect from God which they had.

Among other single combats, of which several were fought between the two armies, it chanced that Serjabil Ebn Shahhnah was engaged with an officer of the Christians, who was much too strong for him. The reason which our author assigns for this is, because Serjabil was wholly given up to watching and fasting. Derar, thinking he ought not to stand still and see the prophet's secretary killed, drew his dagger, and while the combatants were over head and ears in dust, came behind the Christian and stabbed him to the heart. The Saracens gave Derar thanks for his service, but he said that he would receive no thanks but from God alone. Upon this a dispute arose between Serjabil and Derar concerning the spoil of this officer. Derar claimed it as being the person that killed him; Serjabil as having engaged him and tired him out first. The matter being referred to Abu Obeidah, he proposed the case to the Caliph, concealing the names of the persons concerned, who sent him word that the spoil of any enemy was due to him that killed him. Upon which Abu Obeidah took it from Serjabil and adjudged it to Derar.

Another day the Christian archers did such execution that besides those Saracens which were killed and wounded in other parts there were seven hundred which lost each of them one or both of their eyes, upon which account the day in which that battle was fought is called Yaumo'ttewir, "The Day of Blinding." And if any of those who lost their eyes that day were afterward asked by what mischance he was blinded, he would answer that it was not a mischance, but a token of favor from God, for they gloried as much in those wounds they received in the defence of their superstition as our enthusiasts do in what they call persecution, and with much the same reason. Abdallah Ebn Kort, who was present in all the wars in Syria, says that he never saw so hard a battle as that which was fought on that day at Yermouk; and though the generals fought most desperately, yet after all they would have been beaten if the fight had not been renewed by the women. Caulah, Derar's sister, being wounded, fell down; but Opheirah revenged her quarrel and struck off the man's head that did it. Upon Opheirah asking her how she did, she answered, "Very well with God, but a dying woman." However, she proved to be mistaken, for in the evening she was able to walk about as if nothing had happened, and to look after the wounded men.

In the night the Greeks had another calamity added to their misfortune of losing the victory in the day. It was drawn upon them by their own inhuman barbarity. There was at Yermouk a gentleman of a very ample fortune, who had removed thither from Hems for the sake of the sweet salubrity of its air. When Mahan's army came to Yermouk this gentleman used to entertain the officers and treat them nobly. To requite him for his courtesy, while they were this day revelling at his house, they bade him bring out his wife to them, and upon his refusing they took her by force and abused her all night, and to aggravate their barbarity they seized his little son and cut his head off. The poor lady took her child's head and carried it to Mahan, and having given him an account of the outrages committed by his officers, demanded satisfaction. He took but little notice of the affair, and put her off with a slight answer; upon which her husband, resolved to take the first opportunity of being revenged, went privately over to the Saracens and acquainted them with his design. Returning back to the Greeks, he told them it was in his power to do them singular service. He therefore takes a great number of them, and brings them to a great stream, which was very deep, and only fordable at one place. By his instructions five hundred of the Saracen horse had crossed over where the water was shallow, and after attacking the Greeks, in a very little time returned in excellent order by the same way they came. The injured gentleman calls out and encourages the Greeks to pursue, who, not at all acquainted with the place, plunged into the water confusedly and perished in great numbers. In the subsequent engagements before Yermouk (all of which were in November, 636), the Christians invariably were defeated, till at last, Mahan's vast army being broken and dispersed, he was forced to flee, thus leaving the Saracens masters of the field, and wholly delivered from those terrible apprehensions with which the news of his great preparations had filled them.

A short time after Abu Obeidah wrote to the Caliph the following letter:

"In the name of the most merciful God, etc.

"This is to acquaint thee that I encamped at Yermouk, where Mahan was near us with such an army as that the Mussulmans never beheld a greater. But God, of his abundant grace and goodness, overthrew this multitude and gave us the victory over them. We killed of them about a hundred and fifty thousand, and took forty thousand prisoners. Of the Mussulmans were killed four thousand and thirty, to whom God had decreed the honor of martyrdom. Finding some heads cut off, and not knowing whether they belonged to the Mussulmans or Christians, I prayed over them and buried them. Mahan was afterward killed at Damascus by Nooman Ebn Alkamah. There was one Abu Joaid that before the battle had belonged to them, having come from Hems; he drowned of them a great number unknown to any but God. As for those that fled into the deserts and mountains, we have destroyed them all, and stopped all the roads and passages, and God has made us masters of their country, and wealth, and children. Written after the victory from Damascus, where I stay expecting thy orders concerning the division of the spoil. Fare thee well, and the mercy and blessing of God be upon thee and all the Mussulmans."

Omar, in a short letter, expressed his satisfaction, and gave the Saracens thanks for their perseverance and diligence, commanding Abu Obeidah to continue where he was till further orders. As Omar had mentioned nothing concerning the spoil, Abu Obeidah regarded it as left to his own discretion and divided it without waiting for fresh instructions. To a horseman he gave thrice as much as to a footman, and made a further difference between those horses which were of the right Arabian breed (which they looked upon to be far the best) and those that were not, allowing twice as much to the former as to the latter. And when they were not satisfied with this distribution, Abu Obeidah told them that the prophet had done the same after the battle of Khaibar; which, upon appeal made to Omar, was by him confirmed. Zobeir had at the battle of Yermouk two horses, which he used to ride by turns. He received five lots, three for himself and two for his horses. If any slaves had run away from their masters before the battle, and were afterward retaken, they were restored to their masters, who nevertheless received an equal share of the spoil with the rest.

The Saracens having rested a month at Damascus, and refreshed themselves, Abu Obeidah sent to Omar to know whether he should go to Cæsarea or Jerusalem. Ali being present when Omar was deliberating, said, to Jerusalem first, adding that he had heard the prophet say as much. This city they had a great longing after, as being the seat and burying place of a great many of the ancient prophets, in whom they reckoned none to have so deep an interest as themselves. Abu Obeidah having received orders to besiege it, sent Yezid Ebn Abu Sofian thither first with five thousand men; and for five days together sent after him considerable numbers of men under his most experienced and trustworthy officers. The Ierosolymites expressed no signs of fear, nor would they vouchsafe so much as to send out a messenger to parley; but, planting their engines upon the walls, made preparation for a vigorous defence. Yezid at last went near the walls with an interpreter, to know their minds, and to propose the usual terms. When these were rejected, the Saracens would willingly have assaulted the town forthwith, had not Yezid told them that the general had not commanded them to make any assault, but only to sit down before the city; and thereupon sent to Abu Obeidah, who forthwith gave them order to fight. The next morning the generals having said the morning prayer, each at the head of his respective division, they all, as it were with one consent, quoted this versicle out of the Koran, as being very apposite and pertinent to their present purpose: "O people! enter ye into the holy land which God hath decreed for you," being the twenty-fourth verse of the fifth chapter of the Koran, where the impostor introduces Moses speaking to the children of Israel, and which words the Saracens dexterously interpreted as belonging no less to themselves than to their predecessors, the Israelites. Nor have our own parts of the world been altogether destitute of such able expositors, who apply to themselves, without limitation or exception, whatever in Scripture is graciously expressed in favor of the people of God; while whatever is said of the wicked and ungodly, and of all the terrors and judgments denounced against them, they bestow with a liberal hand upon their neighbors. After their prayers were over, the Saracens began their assault. The Ierosolymites never flinched, but sent them showers of arrows from the walls, and maintained the fight with undaunted courage till the evening. Thus they continued fighting ten days, and on the eleventh Abu Obeidah came up with the remainder of the army. He had not been there long before he sent the besieged the following letter:

"In the name of the most merciful God.

"From Abu Obeidah Ebn Aljerahh, to the chief commanders of the people of Ælia and the inhabitants thereof, health and happiness to everyone that follows the right way and believes in God and the apostle. We require of you to testify that there is but one God, and Mahomet is his apostle, and that there shall be a day of judgment, when God shall raise the dead out of their sepulchres; and when you have borne witness to this, it is unlawful for us either to shed your blood or meddle with your sustenance or children. If you refuse this, consent to pay tribute and be under us forthwith; otherwise I shall bring men against you who love death better than you do the drinking of wine, or eating hogs' flesh: nor will I ever stir from you, if it please God, till I have destroyed those that fight for you and made slaves of your children."

The eating swine's flesh and drinking wine are both forbidden in the Koran, which occasioned that reflection of Abu Obeidah upon the practice of the Christians. The besieged, not a whit daunted, held out four whole months entire, during all which time not one day passed without fighting; and it being winter time, the Saracens suffered a great deal of hardships through the extremity of the weather. At last, when the besieged had well considered the obstinacy of the Saracens; who, they had good reason to believe, would never raise the siege till they had taken the city, whatever time it took up or whatever pains it might cost them, Sophronius the patriarch went to the wall, and by an interpreter discoursed with Abu Obeidah, telling him that Jerusalem was the holy city, and whoever came into the Holy Land with any hostile intent would render himself obnoxious to the divine displeasure. To which Abu Obeidah answered: "We know that it is a noble city, and that our prophet Mahomet went from it in one night to heaven, and approached within two bows' shot of his Lord, or nearer; and that it is the mine of the prophets, and their sepulchres are in it. But we are more worthy to have possession of it than you are; neither will we leave besieging it till God delivers it up to us, as he hath done other places before it." At last the patriarch consented that the city should be surrendered upon condition that the inhabitants received the articles of their security and protection from the Caliph's own hands, and not by proxy. Accordingly, Abu Obeidah wrote to Omar to come, whereupon he advised with his friends. Othman, who afterward succeeded him in the government, dissuaded him from going, in order that the Ierosolymites might see that they were despised and beneath his notice. Ali was of a very different opinion, urging that the Mussulmans had endured great hardship in so long a siege, and suffered much from the extremity of the cold; that the presence of the Caliph would be a great refreshment and encouragement to them, and adding that the great respect which the Christians had for Jerusalem, as being the place to which they went on pilgrimage, ought to be considered; that it ought not to be supposed that they would easily part with it, but that it would soon be reinforced with fresh supplies. This advice of Ali being preferred to Othman's, the Caliph resolved upon his journey; which, according to his frugal style of living, required no great expense or equipage. When he had said his prayers in the mosque and paid his respects at Mahomet's tomb, he appointed Ali his substitute, and set forward with a small retinue, the greatest part of which, having kept him company a little way, returned back to Medina.

Omar, having all the way he went set things aright that were amiss, and distributed justice impartially, for which he was singularly eminent among the Saracens, came at last into the confines of Syria; and when he drew near Jerusalem he was met by Abu Obeidah, and conducted to the Saracen camp, where he was welcomed with the liveliest demonstrations of joy.

As soon as he came within sight of the city he cried out, "Allah acbar [O God], give us an easy conquest." Pitching his tent, which was made of hair, he sat down in it upon the ground. The Christians hearing that Omar was come, from whose hands they were to receive their articles, desired to confer with him personally; upon which the Mussulmans would have persuaded him not to expose his person for fear of some treachery. But Omar resolutely answered, in the words of the Koran: "Say, 'There shall nothing befall us but what God hath decreed for us; he is our Lord, and in God let all the believers put their trust.'" After a brief parley the besieged capitulated, and those articles of agreement made by Omar with the Ierosolymites are, as it were, the pattern which the Mahometan princes have chiefly imitated.

The articles were these: "1. The Christians shall build no new churches, either in the city or the adjacent territory. 2. They shall not refuse the Mussulmans entrance into their churches, either by night or day. 3. They should set open the doors of them to all passengers and travellers. 4. If any Mussulman should be upon a journey, they shall be obliged to entertain him gratis for the space of three days. 5. They should not teach their children the Koran, nor talk openly of their religion, nor persuade anyone to be of it; neither should they hinder any of their relations from becoming Mahometans, if they had an inclination to it. 6. They shall pay respect to the Mussulmans, and if they were sitting rise up to them. 7. They should not go like the Mussulmans in their dress, nor wear the same caps, shoes, nor turbans, nor part their hair as they do, nor speak after the same manner, nor be called by the names used by the Mussulmans. 8. They shall not ride upon saddles, nor bear any sort of arms, nor use the Arabic tongue in the inscriptions of their seals. 9. They shall not sell any wine. 10. They shall be obliged to keep to the same sort of habit wheresoever they went, and always wear girdles upon their waists. 11. They shall set no crosses upon their churches, nor show their crosses nor their books openly in the streets of the Mussulmans. 12. They shall not ring, but only toll their bells; nor shall they take any servant that had once belonged to the Mussulmans. 13. They shall not overlook the Mussulmans in their houses: and some say that Omar commanded the inhabitants of Jerusalem to have the foreparts of their heads shaved, and obliged them to ride upon their pannels sideways, and not like the Mussulmans."

Upon these terms the Christians had liberty of conscience, paying such tribute as their masters thought fit to impose upon them; and Jerusalem, once the glory of the East, was forced to submit to a heavier yoke than ever it had borne before. For though the number of the slain and the calamities of the besieged were greater when it was taken by the Romans, yet the servitude of those that survived was nothing comparable to this, either in respect of the circumstances or the duration. For however it might seem to be utterly ruined and destroyed by Titus, yet by Hadrian's time it had greatly recovered itself. Now it fell, as it were, once for all, into the hands of the most mortal enemies of the Christian religion, and has continued so ever since, with the exception of a brief interval of about ninety years, during which it was held by the Christians in the holy war.

The Christians having submitted on these terms, Omar gave them the following writing under his hand:

"In the name of the most merciful God.

"From Omar Ebn Al Khattab, to the inhabitants of Ælia. They shall be protected and secured both in their lives and fortunes, and their churches shall neither be pulled down nor made use of by any but themselves."

Upon this the gates were immediately opened, and the Caliph and those that were with him marched in. The Patriarch kept them company, and the Caliph talked with him familiarly, and asked him many questions concerning the antiquities of the place. Among other places which they visited, they went into the Temple of the Resurrection, and Omar sat down in the midst of it. When the time of prayers was come (the Mahometans have five set times of prayer in a day), Omar told the patriarch that he had a mind to pray, and desired him to show him a place where he might perform his devotion. The Patriarch bade him pray where he was; but this he positively refused. Then taking him out from thence, the Patriarch went with him into Constantine's Church, and laid a mat for him to pray there, but he would not. At last he went alone to the steps which were at the east gate of St. Constantine's Church, and kneeled by himself upon one of them. Having ended his prayers, he sat down and asked the Patriarch if he knew why he had refused to pray in the church. The Patriarch confessed that he could not tell what were his reasons. "Why, then," says Omar, "I will tell you. You know I promised you that none of your churches should be taken away from you, but that you should possess them quietly yourselves. Now If I had prayed in any one of these churches, the Mussulmans would infallibly take it away from you as soon as I had departed homeward. And notwithstanding all you might allege, they would say, This is the place where Omar prayed, and we will pray here, too. And so you would have been turned out of your church, contrary both to my intention and your expectation. But because my praying even on the steps of one may perhaps give some occasion to the Mussulmans to cause you disturbance on this account, I shall take what care I can to prevent that." So calling for pen, ink, and paper, he expressly commanded that none of the Mussulmans should pray upon the steps in any multitudes, but one by one. That they should never meet there to go to prayers; and that the muezzin, or crier, that calls the people to prayers (for the Mahometans never use bells), should not stand there. This paper he gave to the patriarch for a security, lest his praying upon the steps of the church should have set such an example to the Mussulmans as might occasion any inconvenience to the Christians—a noble instance of singular fidelity and the religious observance of a promise. This Caliph did not think it enough to perform what he engaged himself, but used all possible diligence to oblige others to do so too. And when the unwary patriarch had desired him to pray in the church, little considering what might be the consequence, the Caliph, well knowing how apt men are to be superstitious in the imitation of their princes and great men, especially such as they look upon to be successors of a prophet, made the best provision he could, that no pretended imitation of him might lead to the infringement of the security he had already given.

In the same year that Jerusalem was taken, Said Ebn Abi Wakkas, one of Omar's captains, was making fearful havoc in the territories of Persia. He took Madayen, formerly the treasury and magazine of Khusrau (Cosroes), King of Persia; where he found money and rich furniture of all sorts, inestimable. El-makin says that they found there no less than three thousand million of ducats, besides Khusrau's crown and wardrobe, which was exceedingly rich, his clothes being all adorned with gold and jewels of great value. Then they opened the roof of Khusrau's porch, where they found another considerable sum. They also plundered his armory, which was well stored with all sorts of weapons. Among other things they brought to Omar a piece of silk hangings, sixty cubits square, all curiously wrought with needle-work. That it was of great value appears from the price which Ali had for that part of it which fell to his share when Omar divided it; which, though it was none of the best, yielded him twenty thousand pieces of silver. After this, in the same year, the Persians were defeated by the Saracens in a great battle near Jaloulah.

Omar, having taken Jerusalem, continued there about ten days to put things in order.

Omar now thought of returning to Medina, having first disposed his affairs after the following manner: Syria he divided into two parts, and committed all that lies between Hauran and Aleppo to Abu Obeidah, with orders to make war upon it till he had completely subdued it. Yezid Ebn Abu Sofian was to take the charge of all Palestine and the sea-shore. Amrou Ebn Al Aas was sent to invade Egypt, no inconsiderable part of the Emperor's dominions, which were now continually mouldering away. The Saracens at Medina had almost given Omar over, and began to conclude that he would never stir from Jerusalem, but be won to stay there from the richness of the country and the sweetness of the air; but especially by the thought that it was the country of the prophets and the Holy Land, and the place where we must all be summoned together at the resurrection. At last he came, the more welcome the less he had been expected. Abu Obeidah, in the mean time, reduced Kinnisrin and Alhadir, the inhabitants paying down five thousand ounces of gold, and as many of silver, two thousand suits of clothes of several sorts of silk, and five hundred asses' loads of figs and olives. Yezid marched against Cæsarea in vain, that place being too well fortified to be taken by his little army, especially since it had been reinforced by the Emperor, who had sent a store of all sorts of provision by sea, and a reinforcement to the garrison of two thousand men. The inhabitants of Aleppo were much disheartened by the loss of Kinnisrin and Alhadir, well knowing that it would not be long before their turn would come to experience themselves what, till then, they had known only by report. They had two governors, brothers, who dwelt in the castle (the strongest in all Syria), which was not at that time encompassed by the town, but stood out of it, at a little distance. The name of one of these brethren, if my author mistakes not, was Youkinna, the other John. Their father held of the emperor Heraclius all the territory between Aleppo and Euphrates, after whose decease Youkinna managed the affairs; John, not troubling himself with secular employments, did not meddle with the government, but led a monkish life, spending his time in retirement, reading, and deeds of charity. He tried to persuade his brother to secure himself, by compounding with the Arabs for a good round sum of money; but he told him that he talked like a monk, and did not understand what belonged to a soldier; that he had provisions and warlike means enough, and was resolved to make the best resistance he could. Accordingly the next day he called his men together, among whom there were several Christian Arabs, and having armed them, and for their encouragement distributed some money among them, told them that he was fully purposed to act offensively, and, if possible, give the Saracens battle before they should come too near Aleppo. He was informed that the Saracen army was divided and weakened, a part being gone to Cæsarea, another to Damascus, and a third into Egypt. Having thus inspirited his men, he marched forward with twelve thousand. Abu Obeidah had sent before him Kaab Ebn Damarah with one thousand men, but with express orders not to fight till he had received information of the strength of the enemy. Youkinna's spies found Kaab and his men resting themselves and watering their horses, quite secure and free from all apprehension of danger; upon which Youkinna laid an ambuscade, and then, with the rest of his men, fell upon the Saracens. The engagement was sharp, and the Saracens had the best of it at first; but the ambuscade breaking in upon them, they were in great danger of being overpowered with numbers; one hundred and seventy of them being slain, and most of the rest being grievously wounded that they were upon the very brink of despair, and cried out, "Ya Mahomet! Ya Mahomet!" ("O Mahomet! O Mahomet!") However, with much difficulty they made shift to hold up till night parted them, earnestly expecting the coming of Abu Obeidah.

In the mean time while Youkinna was going out with his forces to engage the Saracens, the wealthy and trading people of Aleppo, knowing very well how hard it would go with them if they should stand it out obstinately to the last and be taken by storm, resolved upon debate to go and make terms with Abu Obeidah, that, let Youkinna's success be what it would, they might be secure.

As they were going back they chanced to meet with one of Youkinna's officers, to whom they gave an account of the whole transaction. Upon this he hastened with all possible speed to his master, who was waiting with impatience for the morning, that he might despatch Kaab and his men, whom the coming of the night had preserved; but hearing this news he began to fear lest an attempt should be made upon the castle in his absence, and thought it safest to make the best of his way homeward. In the morning the Saracens were surprised to see no enemy, and wondered what was the matter with them. Kaab would have pursued them, but none of his men had any inclination to go with him; so they rested themselves, and in a little time Kaled and Abu Obeidah came up with the rest of the army.

Abu Obeidah reminded Kaled of the obligation they were under to protect the Aleppians, now their confederates, who were likely to be exposed to the outrage and cruelty of Youkinna, for, in all probability, he would severely resent their defection. They therefore marched as fast as they could, and when they drew near Aleppo found that they had not been at all wrong in their apprehensions. Youkinna had drawn up his soldiers with the design to fall upon the townsmen, and threatened them with present death unless they would break their covenant with the Arabs and go out with him to fight them, and unless they brought out to him the first contriver and proposer of the convention. At last he fell upon them in good earnest and killed about three hundred of them. His brother John, who was in the castle, hearing a piteous outcry and lamentation, came down from the castle and entreated his brother to spare the people, representing to him that Jesus Christ had commanded us not to contend with our enemies, much less with those of our own religion. Youkinna told him that they had agreed with the Arabs and assisted them; which John excused, telling him, "That what they did was only for their own security, because they were no fighting men." In short, he took their part so long till he provoked his brother to that degree that he charged him with being the chief contriver and manager of the whole business; and at last, in a great passion, cut his head off. While he was murdering the unhappy Aleppians, Kaled (better late than never) came to their relief. Youkinna, perceiving his arrival, retired with a considerable number of soldiers into the castle. The Saracens killed that day three thousand of his men. However, he prepared himself to sustain a siege, and planted engines upon the castle walls.

Abu Obeidah next deliberated in a council of war what measures were most proper to be taken. Some were of opinion that the best way would be to besiege the castle with some part of the army, and let the rest be sent out to forage. Kaled would not hear of it, but was for attacking the castle at once with their whole force; that, if possible, it might be taken before fresh supplies could arrive from the Emperor. This plan being adopted, they made a vigorous assault, in which they had as hard fighting as any in all the wars of Syria. The besieged made a noble defence, and threw stones from the walls in such plenty that a great many of the Saracens were killed and a great many more maimed. Youkinna, encouraged with his success, determined to act on the offensive and turn everything to advantage. The Saracens looked upon all the country as their own, and knowing that there was no army of the enemy near them, and fearing nothing less than an attack from the besieged, kept guard negligently. In the dead of night, therefore, Youkinna sent out a party who, as soon as the fires were out in the camp, fell upon the Saracens, and having killed about sixty, carried off fifty prisoners. Kaled pursued and cut off about a hundred of them, but the rest escaped to the castle with the prisoners, who by the command of Youkinna were the next day beheaded in the sight of the Saracen army. Upon this Youkinna ventured once more to send out another party, having received information from one of his spies (most of which were Christian Arabs) that some of the Mussulmans were gone out to forage. They fell upon the Mussulmans, killed a hundred and thirty of them, and seized all their camels, mules, and horses, which they either killed or hamstrung, and then they retired into the mountains, in hopes of lying hid during the day and returning to the castle in the silence of the night. In the mean time some that had escaped brought the news to Abu Obeidah, who sent Kaled and Derar to pursue the Christians. Coming to the place of the fight, they found their men and camels dead, and the country people making great lamentation, for they were afraid lest the Saracens should suspect them of treachery, and revenge upon them their loss. Falling down before Kaled, they told him they were altogether innocent, and had not in any way, either directly or indirectly, been instrumental in the attack; but that it was made solely by a party of horse that sallied from the castle. Kaled, having made them swear that they knew nothing more, and taking some of them for guides, closely watched the only passage by which the sallying party could return to the castle. When about a fourth part of the night was passed, they perceived Youkinna's men approaching, and, falling upon them, took three hundred prisoners and killed the rest. The prisoners begged to be allowed to ransom themselves, but they were all beheaded the next morning in front of the castle.

The Saracens pressed the siege for a while very closely, but perceiving that they made no way, Abu Obeidah removed the camp about a mile's distance from the castle, hoping by this means to tempt the besieged to security and negligence in their watch, which might eventually afford him an opportunity of taking the castle by surprise. But all would not do, for Youkinna kept a very strict watch and suffered not a man to stir out.

The siege continued four months, and some say five. In the mean time Omar was very much concerned, having heard nothing from the camp in Syria. He wrote, therefore, to Abu Obeidah, letting him know how tender he was over the Mussulmans, and what a great grief it was to him to hear no news of them for so long a time. Abu Obeidah answered that Kinnisrin, Hader, and Aleppo were surrendered to him, only the castle of Aleppo held out, and that they had lost a considerable number of men before it; that he had some thoughts of raising the siege, and passing forward into that part of the country which lies between Aleppo and Antioch; but only he stayed for his answer. About the time that Abu Obeidah's messengers reached Medina, there also arrived a considerable number of men out of the several tribes of the Arabs, to proffer their service to the Caliph. Omar ordered seventy camels to help their foot, and despatched them into Syria, with a letter to Abu Obeidah, in which he acquainted him "that he was variously affected, according to the different success they had met, but charged them by no means to raise the siege of the castle, for that would make them look little, and encourage their enemies to fall upon them on all sides. Wherefore," adds he, "continue besieging it till God shall determine the event, and forage with your horse round about the country."

Among those fresh supplies which Omar had just sent to the Saracen camp, there was a very remarkable man, whose name was Dames, of a gigantic size, and an admirable soldier. When he had been in the camp forty-seven days, and all the force and cunning of the Saracens availed nothing toward taking the castle, he desired Abu Obeidah to let him have the command of thirty men, and he would try his best against it. Kaled had heard much of the man, and told Abu Obeidah a long story of a wonderful performance of this Dames in Arabia, and that he looked upon him as a very proper person for such an undertaking. Abu Obeidah selected thirty men to go with him, and bade them not to despise their commander because of the meanness of his condition, he being a slave, and swore that, but for the care of the whole army which lay upon him, he would be the first man that should go under him upon such an enterprise. To which they answered with entire submission and profound respect. Dames, who lay hid at no great distance, went out several times, and brought in with him five or six Greeks, but never a man of them understood one word of Arabic, which made him angry and say: "God curse these dogs! What a strange, barbarous language they use."

At last he went out again, and seeing a man descend from the wall, he took him prisoner, and by the help of a Christian Arab, whom he captured shortly afterward, examined him. He learned from him that immediately upon the departure of the Saracens, Youkinna began to ill use the townsmen who had made the convention with the Arabs, and to exact large sums of money of them; that he being one of them had endeavored to make his escape from the oppression and tyranny of Youkinna, by leaping down from the wall. Upon this the Saracens let him go, as being under their protection by virtue of the articles made between Abu Obeidah and the Aleppians, but beheaded all the rest.

In the evening, after having sent two of his men to Abu Obeidah, requesting him to order a body of horse to move forward to his support about sunrise, Dames has recourse to the following stratagem: Taking out of a knapsack a goat's skin, he covered with it his back and shoulders, and holding a dry crust in his hand, he crept on all-fours as near to the castle as he could. When he heard a noise, or suspected anyone to be near, to prevent his being discovered he began to make a noise with his crust, as a dog does when gnawing a bone; the rest of his company came after him, sometimes skulking and creeping along, at other times walking. When they came near to the castle, it appeared almost inaccessible. However Dames was resolved to make an attempt upon it. Having found a place where the walls seemed easier to scale than elsewhere, he sat down upon the ground, and ordered another to sit upon his shoulders; and so on till seven of them had mounted up, each sitting upon the other's shoulders, and all leaning against the wall, so as to throw as much of their weight as possible upon it. Then he that was uppermost of all stood upright upon the shoulders of the second, next the second raised himself, and so on, all in order, till at last Dames himself stood up, bearing the weight of all the rest upon his shoulders, who however did all they could to relieve him by bearing against the wall. By this means the uppermost man could just make a shift to reach the top of the wall, while in an undertone they all cried, "O apostle of God, help us and deliver us!" When this man had got up on the wall, he found a watchman drunk and asleep. Seizing him hand and foot, he threw him down among the Saracens, who immediately cut him to pieces. Two other sentinels, whom he found in the same condition, he stabbed with his dagger and threw down from the wall. He then let down his turban, and drew up the second, they two the third, till at last Dames was drawn up, who enjoined them to wait there in silence while he went and looked about him. In this expedition he gained a sight of Youkinna, richly dressed, sitting upon a tapestry of scarlet silk flowered with gold, and a large company with him, eating and drinking, and very merry. On his return he told his men that because of the great inequality of their numbers, he did not think it advisable to fall upon them then, but had rather wait till break of day, at which time they might look for help from the main body. In the mean time he went alone, and privately stabbing the sentinels, and setting open the gates, came back to his men, and bade them hasten to take possession of the gates. This was not done so quietly, but they were at last taken notice of and the castle alarmed. There was no hope of escape for them, but everyone expected to perish. Dames behaved himself bravely, but, overpowered by superior numbers, he and his men were no longer able to hold up, when, as the morning began to dawn, Kaled came to their relief. As soon as the besieged perceived the Saracens rushing in upon them, they threw down their arms, and cried, "Quarter!" Abu Obeidah was not far behind with the rest of the army. Having taken the castle, he proposed Mohametanism to the Christians. The first that embraced it was Youkinna, and his example was followed by some of the chief men with him, who immediately had their wives and children and all their wealth restored to them. Abu Obeidah set the old and impotent people at liberty, and having set apart the fifth of the spoil (which was of great value), divided the rest among the Mussulmans. Dames was talked of and admired by all, and Abu Obeidah, in order to pay him marked respect, commanded the army to continue in their present quarters till he and his men should be perfectly cured of their wounds.

Obeidah's next thoughts, after the capture of the castle of Aleppo, were to march to Antioch, then the seat of the Grecian Emperor. But Youkinna, the late governor of the castle of Aleppo, having, with the changing of his religion, become a deadly enemy of the Christians, persuaded him to defer his march to Antioch, till they had first taken the castle of Aazaz.

The armies before Antioch were drawn out in battle array in front of each other. The Christian general, whose name was Nestorius, went forward and challenged any Saracen to single combat. Dames was the first to answer him; but in the engagement, his horse stumbling, he was seized before he could recover himself, and, being taken prisoner, was conveyed by Nestorius to his tent and there bound. Nestorius, returning to the army and offering himself a second time, was answered by one Dehac. The combatants behaved themselves bravely, and, the victory being doubtful, the soldiers were desirous of being spectators, and pressed eagerly forward. In the jostling and thronging both of horse and foot to see this engagement, the tent of Nestorius, with his chair of state, was thrown down. Three servants had been left in the tent, who, fearing they should be beaten when their master came back, and having nobody else to help them, told Dames that if he would lend them a hand to set up the tent and put things in order they would unbind him, upon condition that he should voluntarily return to his bonds again till their master came home, at which time they promised to speak a good word for him. He readily accepted the terms; but as soon as he was at liberty he immediately seized two of them, one in his right hand, the other in his left, and dashed their two heads so violently against the third man's that they all three fell down dead upon the spot. Then opening a chest and taking out a rich suit of clothes, he mounted a good horse of Nestorius', and having wrapped up his face as well as he could he made toward the Christian Arabs, where Jabalah, with the chief of his tribe, stood on the left hand of Heraclius. In the mean time Dehac and Nestorius, being equally matched, continued fighting till both their horses were quite tired out and they were obliged to part by consent to rest themselves. Nestorius, returning to his tent, and finding things in such confusion, easily guessed that Dames must be the cause of it. The news flew instantly through all the army, and everyone was surprised at the strangeness of the action. Dames, in the mean time, had gotten among the Christian Arabs, and striking off at one blow the man's head that stood next him, made a speedy escape to the Saracens.

Antioch was not lost without a set battle; but through the treachery of Youkinna and several other persons of note, together with the assistance of Derar and his company, who were mixed with Youkinna's men, the Christians were beaten entirely. The people of the town, perceiving the battle lost, made agreement and surrendered, paying down three hundred thousand ducats; upon which Abu Obeidah entered into Antioch on Tuesday, being the 21st day of August, A.D. 638.

Thus did that ancient and famous city, the seat of so many kings and princes, fall into the hands of the infidels. The beauty of the site and abundance of all things contributing to delight and luxury were so great that Abu Obeidah, fearing his Saracens should be effeminated with the delicacies of that place, and remit their wonted vigor and bravery, durst not let them continue there long. After a short halt of three days to refresh his men, he again marched out of it.

Then he wrote a letter to the Caliph, in which he gave him an account of his great success in taking the metropolis of Syria, and of the flight of Heraclius to Constantinople, telling him withal what was the reason why he stayed no longer there, adding that the Saracens were desirous of marrying the Grecian women, which he had forbidden. He was afraid, he said, lest the love of the things of this world should take possession of their hearts and draw them off from their obedience to God.

Constantine, the emperor Heraclius' son, guarded that part of the country where Amrou lay, with a considerable army. The weather was very cold, and the Christians were quite disheartened, having been frequently beaten and discouraged with the daily increasing power of the Saracens, so that a great many grew weary of the service and withdrew from the army. Constantine, having no hopes of victory, and fearing lest the Saracens should seize Cæsarea, took the opportunity of a tempestuous night to move off, and left his camp to the Saracens. Amrou, acquainting Abu Obeidah with all that had happened, received express orders to march directly to Cæsarea, where he promised to join him speedily, in order to go against Tripoli, Acre, and Tyre. A short time after this, Tripoli was surprised by the treachery of Youkinna, who succeeded in getting possession of it on a sudden, and without any noise. Within a few days of its capture there arrived in the harbor about fifty ships from Cyprus and Crete, with provisions and arms which were to go to Constantine. The officers, not knowing that Tripoli was fallen into the hands of new masters, made no scruple of landing there, where they were courteously received by Youkinna, who proffered the utmost of his service, and promised to go along with them, but immediately seized both them and their ships, and delivered the town into the hands of Kaled, who was just come.

With these ships the traitor Youkinna sailed to Tyre, where he told the inhabitants that he had brought arms and provisions for Constantine's army; upon which he was kindly received, and, landing, he was liberally entertained with nine hundred of his men. But being betrayed by one of his own soldiers, he and his crew were seized and bound, receiving all the while such treatment from the soldiers as their villanous practices well deserved. In the mean time Yezid Ebn Abu Sofian, being detached by Abu Obeidah from the camp before Cæsarea, came within sight of Tyre. The governor upon this caused Youkinna and his men to be conveyed to the castle, and there secured, and prepared for the defence of the town. Perceiving that Yezid had with him but two thousand men in all, he resolved to make a sally. In the mean time the rest of the inhabitants ran up to the walls to see the engagement. While they were fighting, Youkinna and his men were set at liberty by one Basil, of whom they give the following account, viz.: That this Basil going one day to pay a visit to Bahira the monk, the caravan of the Koreishites came by, with which were Kadija's camels, under the care of Mahomet. As he looked toward the caravan, he beheld Mahomet in the middle of it, and above him there was a cloud to keep him from the sun. Then the caravan having halted, as Mahomet leaned against an old, withered tree, it immediately brought forth leaves. Bahira, perceiving this, made an entertainment for the caravan, and invited them into the monastery. They all went, leaving Mahomet behind with the camels. Bahira, missing him, asked if they were all present. "Yes," they said, "all but a little boy we have left to look after their things and feed the camels." "What is his name?" says Bahira. They told him, "Mahomet Ebn Abdallah." Bahira asked if his father and mother were not both dead, and if he was not brought up by his grandfather and his uncle. Being informed that it was so, he said: "O Koreish! Set a high value upon him, for he is your lord, and by him will your power be great both in this world and that to come; for he is your ornament and glory." When they asked him how he knew that, Bahira answered, "Because as you were coming, there was never a tree nor stone nor clod but bowed itself and worshipped God." Moreover, Bahira told this Basil that a great many prophets had leaned against this tree and sat under it since it was first withered, but that it never bore any leaves before. And I heard him say, says this same Basil: "This is the prophet concerning whom Isa (Jesus) spake. Happy is he that believes in him and follows him and gives credit to his mission." This Basil, after the visit to Bahira, had gone to Constantinople and other parts of the Greek Emperor's territories, and upon information of the great success of the followers of this prophet was abundantly convinced of the truth of his mission. This inclined him, having so fair an opportunity offered, to release Youkinna and his men; who, sending word to the ships, the rest of their forces landed and joined them. In the mean time a messenger in disguise was sent to acquaint Yezid with what was done. As soon as he returned, Youkinna was for falling upon the townsmen upon the wall; but Basil said, "Perhaps God might lead some of them into the right way," and persuaded him to place the men so as to prevent their coming down from the wall. This done, they cried out, "La Ilaha," etc. The people, perceiving themselves betrayed and the prisoners at liberty, were in the utmost confusion, none of them being able to stir a step or lift up a hand. The Saracens in the camp, hearing the noise in the city, knew what it meant, and, marching up, Youkinna opened the gates and let them in. Those that were in the city fled, some one way and some another, and were pursued by the Saracens and put to the sword. Those upon the wall cried, "Quarter!" but Yezid told them that since they had not surrendered, but the city was taken by force, they were all slaves. "However," said he, "we of our own accord set you free, upon condition you pay tribute; and if any of you has a mind to change his religion, he shall fare as well as we do." The greatest part of them turned Mahometans. When Constantine heard of the loss of Tripoli and Tyre his heart failed him, and taking shipping with his family and the greater part of his wealth he departed for Constantinople. All this while Amrou ben-el-Ass lay before Cæsarea. In the morning when the people came to inquire after Constantine, and could hear no tidings of him nor his family, they consulted together, and with one consent surrendered the city to Amrou, paying down for their security two thousand pieces of silver, and delivering into his hands all that Constantine had been obliged to leave behind him of his property. Thus was Cæsarea lost in the year of our Lord 638, being the seventeenth year of the Hegira and the fifth of Omar's reign, which answers to the twenty-ninth year of the emperor Heraclius. After the taking of Cæsarea all the other places in Syria which as yet held out, namely, Ramlah, Acre, Joppa, Ascalon, Gaza, Sichem (or Nablos), and Tiberias, surrendered, and in a little time after the people of Beiro Zidon, Jabalah, and Laodicea followed their example; so that there remained nothing more for the Saracens to do in Syria, who, in little more than six years from the time of their first expedition in Abu-Beker's reign, had succeeded in subduing the whole of that large, wealthy, and populous country.

Syria did not remain long in the possession of those persons who had the chief hand in subduing it, for in the eighteenth year of the Hegira the mortality in Syria, both among men and beasts, was so terrible, particularly at Emaus and the adjacent territory, that the Arabs called that year the year of destruction. By that pestilence the Saracens lost five-and-twenty thousand men, among whom were Abu Obeidah, who was then fifty-eight years old; Serjabil Ebn Hasanah, formerly Mahomet's secretary; and Yezid Ebn Abu Sofian, with several other officers of note. Kaled survived them about three years, and then died; but the place of his burial—consequently of his death, for they did not use in those days to carry them far—is uncertain; some say at Hems, others at Medina.


[66] Those of Medina are called by that name because they helped Mahomet in his flight from Mecca.

[67] Those that fled with him are called Mohajerins; by these names the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina are often distinguished.



A.D. 640


Who shall estimate the loss to civilization and the world that has been caused by the destruction of accumulated stores of books, through the crass ignorance or stupid bigotry of benighted rulers? The chronicles record a number of such vandal acts. Hwangti, one of China's greatest monarchs, he who built the Great Wall of China, attempted the complete extinction of literature in that country, B.C. 213. That prince, being at one time strongly opposed by certain men of letters, expressed his hatred and contempt, not only of the literary class, but of literature itself, and resorted to extreme measures of coercion. All books were proscribed, and orders issued to burn every work except those relating to medicine, agriculture, and science. The destruction was carried out with terrible completeness. The burning of the books was accompanied by the execution of five hundred of the literati and by the banishment of many thousands.

The destruction of the Alexandrian Library, by command of Omar, was as complete as the extinction of literature in China by Hwangti, as head of the Moslem religion.

Omar, using the intrepid Amru, was vicariously proselyting in true Mahometan style—in one hand offering the Koran, the while the other extended the sword.

After a successful campaign in Palestine, Omar's victorious banners were planted in the historic soil of the Pharaohs. A protracted siege of seven months found Amru master of the royal city of Alexandria. The library there was famed as the greatest magazine of literature. But this availed nothing with the ruthless Omar, for he doomed it to annihilation.

Prof. Thomas Smith says: "The library had been collected at fabulous expense of labor and money, from all countries of the world. Its destruction was a wanton act; but its perpetrator showed, like the loving spouse 'of another noted personage, that 'though on pleasure he was bent, he had a frugal mind.' He did not consume the books on their shelves, or in whatever repositories contained them, although doubtless they would have made a beautiful blaze. He utilized them as fuel for heating the baths of the city; and we are told that they sufficed to heat the water for four thousand such baths for six months. With an average share of persuasibility, when it is not against our will to be convinced, we stagger at the statement that seven hundred and thirty thousand furnaces could have been supplied with fuel from the contents of even that magnificent palace, and therefore venture to suggest that the papyri and palm-leaf manuscripts were used rather as fire-lighters than as fuel. Even this is a rather large order; but undoubtedly the collection was enormous. The reason tradition ascribes to Omar for this act has never, so far as we know, been disputed till quite recently, when 'historical criticism' has taken it in hand. 'The contents of these books are either in accordance with the teaching of the Koran or they are opposed to it. If in accord, then they are useless, since the Koran itself is sufficient; and if in opposition, they are pernicious and must be destroyed.'

"But the piecemeal destruction of many hundreds of thousands of manuscripts was no trifling task, even for a despotic caliph. A few escaped their doom; how, we do not know. Perhaps some officer annexed for himself some manuscript that struck him as specially beautiful; or perhaps some stoker at some bath rejected one as slow of ignition. At all events a few—probably very few—were preserved, and among them must have been copies of the writings of Euclid and Ptolemy, the Elements of the one, the Almagest of the other."

A proof of the religious infatuation, or the blind confidence in destiny, which hurried the Moslem commanders of those days into the most extravagant enterprises, is furnished in the invasion of the once proud empire of the Pharaohs, the mighty, the mysterious Egypt, with an army of merely five thousand men. The caliph Omar himself, though he had suggested this expedition, seems to have been conscious of its rashness, or rather to have been chilled by the doubts of his prime counsellor Othman; for, while Amru was on the march, he despatched missives after him to the following effect: "If this epistle reach thee before thou hast crossed the boundary of Egypt, come instantly back; but if it find thee within the Egyptian territory, march on with the blessing of Allah, and be assured I will send thee all necessary aid."

The bearer of the letter overtook Amru while yet within the bounds of Syria; that wary general either had secret information or made a shrewd surmise as to the purport of his errand, and continued his march across the border without admitting him to an audience. Having encamped at the Egyptian village of Arish, he received the courier with all due respect, and read the letter aloud in the presence of his officers. When he had finished, he demanded of those about him whether they were in Syria or Egypt. "In Egypt," was the reply. "Then," said Amru, "we will proceed, with the blessing of Allah, and fulfil the commands of the Caliph."

The first place to which he laid siege was Farwak, or Pelusium, situated on the shores of the Mediterranean, on the isthmus which separates that sea from the Arabian Gulf, and connects Egypt with Syria and Arabia. It was therefore considered the key to Egypt. A month's siege put Amru in possession of the place; he then examined the surrounding country with more forethought than was generally manifested by the Moslem conquerors, and projected a canal across the isthmus, to connect the waters of the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. His plan, however, was condemned by the Caliph as calculated to throw open Arabia to a maritime invasion of the Christians.

Amru now proceeded to Misrah, the Memphis of the ancients, and residence of the early Egyptian kings. This city was at that time the strongest fortress in Egypt, except Alexandria, and still retained much of its ancient magnificence. It stood on the western bank of the Nile, above the Delta, and a little east of the pyramids. The citadel was of great strength and well garrisoned, and had recently been surrounded with a deep ditch, into which nails and spikes had been thrown, to impede assailants.

The Arab armies, rarely provided with the engines necessary for the attack of fortified places, generally beleaguered them, cut off all supplies, attacked all foraging parties that sallied forth, and thus destroyed the garrison in detail or starved it to a surrender. This was the reason of the long duration of their sieges. This of Misrah, or Memphis, lasted seven months, in the course of which the little army of Amru was much reduced by frequent skirmishings. At the end of this time he received a reinforcement of four thousand men, sent to him at his urgent entreaties by the Caliph. Still his force would have been insufficient for the capture of the place had he not been aided by the treachery of its governor, Mokawkas.

This man, an original Egyptian, or Copt, by birth, and of noble rank, was a profound hypocrite. Like most of the Copts, he was of the Jacobite sect, who denied the double nature of Christ. He had dissembled his sectarian creed, however, and deceived the emperor Heraclius by a show of loyalty, so as to be made prefect of his native province and governor of the city. Most of the inhabitants of Memphis were Copts and Jacobite Christians, and held their Greek fellow-citizens, who were of the regular Catholic Church of Constantinople, in great antipathy.

Mokawkas, in the course of his administration, had collected, by taxes and tribute, an immense amount of treasure, which he had deposited in the citadel. He saw that the power of the Emperor was coming to an end in this quarter, and thought the present a good opportunity to provide for his own fortune. Carrying on a secret correspondence with the Moslem general, he agreed to betray the place into his hands on condition of receiving the treasure as a reward for his treason. He accordingly, at an appointed time, removed the greater part of the garrison from the citadel to an island in the Nile. The fortress was immediately assailed by Amru, at the head of his fresh troops, and was easily carried by assault, the Copts rendering no assistance.

The Greek soldiery, on the Moslem standard being hoisted on the citadel, saw through the treachery, and, giving up all as lost, escaped in their ships to the mainland; upon which the prefect surrendered the place by capitulation. An annual tribute of two ducats a head was levied on all the inhabitants of the district, with the exception of old men, women, and boys under the age of sixteen years. It was further conditioned that the Moslem army should be furnished with provisions, for which they would pay, and that the inhabitants of the country should forthwith build bridges over all the streams on the way to Alexandria. It was also agreed that every Mussulman travelling through the country should be entitled to three days' hospitality, free of charge.

The traitor Mokawkas was put in possession of his ill-gotten wealth. He begged of Amru to be taxed with the Copts and always to be enrolled among them, declaring his abhorrence of the Greeks and their doctrines; urging Amru to persecute them with unremitting violence. He extended his sectarian bigotry even into the grave, stipulating that at his death he should be buried in the Christian Jacobite church of St. John at Alexandria.

Amru, who was politic as well as brave, seeing the irreconcilable hatred of the Coptic or Jacobite Christians to the Greeks, showed some favor to that sect, in order to make use of them in his conquest of the country. He even prevailed upon their patriarch Benjamin to emerge from his desert and hold a conference with him, and subsequently declared that "he had never conversed with a Christian priest of more innocent manners or venerable aspect." This piece of diplomacy had its effect, for we are told that all the Copts above and below Memphis swore allegiance to the Caliph.

Amru now pressed on for the city of Alexandria, distant about one hundred and twenty-five miles. According to stipulation, the people of the country repaired the roads and erected bridges to facilitate his march; the Greeks, however, driven from various quarters by the progress of their invaders, had collected at different posts on the island of the Delta and the channels of the Nile, and disputed with desperate but fruitless obstinacy the onward course of the conquerors. The severest check was given at Keram al Shoraik, by the late garrison of Memphis, who had fortified themselves there after retreating from the island of the Nile. For three days did they maintain a gallant conflict with the Moslems, and then retired in good order to Alexandria. With all the facilities furnished to them on their march, it cost the Moslems two-and-twenty days to fight their way to that great city.

Alexandria now lay before them, the metropolis of wealthy Egypt, the emporium of the East, a place strongly fortified, stored with all the munitions of war, open by sea to all kinds of supplies and reinforcements, and garrisoned by Greeks, aggregated from various quarters, who here were to make the last stand for their Egyptian empire. It would seem that nothing short of an enthusiasm bordering on madness could have led Amru and his host on an enterprise against this powerful city.

The Moslem leader, on planting his standard before the place, summoned it to surrender on the usual terms, which being promptly refused, he prepared for a vigorous siege. The garrison did not wait to be attacked, but made repeated sallies and fought with desperate valor. Those who gave greatest annoyance to the Moslems were their old enemies, the Greek troops from Memphis. Amru, seeing that the greatest defence was from a main tower, or citadel, made a gallant assault upon it and carried it, sword in hand. The Greek troops, however, rallied to that point from all parts of the city; the Moslems, after a furious struggle, gave way, and Amru, his faithful slave Werdan, and one of his generals, named Moslema Ibn al Mokalled, fighting to the last, were surrounded, overpowered, and taken prisoners.

The Greeks, unaware of the importance of their captives, led them before the governor. He demanded of them, haughtily, what was their object in thus overrunning the world and disturbing the quiet of peaceable neighbors. Amru made the usual reply that they came to spread the faith of Islam; and that it was their intention, before they laid by the sword, to make the Egyptians either converts or tributaries. The boldness of his answer and the loftiness of his demeanor awakened the suspicions of the governor, who, supposing him to be a warrior of note among the Arabs, ordered one of his guards to strike off his head. Upon this Werdan, the slave, understanding the Greek language, seized his master by the collar, and, giving him a buffet on the cheek, called him an impudent dog, and ordered him to hold his peace, and let his superiors speak. Moslema, perceiving the meaning of the slave, now interposed, and made a plausible speech to the governor, telling him that Amru had thoughts of raising the siege, having received a letter to that effect from the Caliph, who intended to send ambassadors to treat for peace, and assuring the governor that, if permitted to depart, they would make a favorable report to Amru.

The governor, who, if Arabian chronicles may be believed on this point, must have been a man of easy faith, ordered the prisoners to be set at liberty; but the shouts of the besieging army on the safe return of their general soon showed him how completely he had been duped.

But scanty details of the siege of Alexandria have reached the Christian reader, yet it was one of the longest, most obstinately contested, and sanguinary in the whole course of the Moslem wars. It endured fourteen months with various success; the Moslem army was repeatedly reinforced and lost twenty-three thousand men. At length their irresistible ardor and perseverance prevailed; the capital of Egypt was conquered and the Greek inhabitants were dispersed in all directions. Some retreated in considerable bodies into the interior of the country, and fortified themselves in strongholds; others took refuge in the ships and put to sea.

Amru, on taking possession of the city, found it nearly abandoned; he prohibited his troops from plundering, and, leaving a small garrison to guard the place, hastened with his main army in pursuit of the fugitive Greeks. In the mean time the ships, which had taken off a part of the garrison, were still lingering on the coast, and tidings reached them that the Moslem general had departed and had left the captured city nearly defenceless. They immediately made sail back for Alexandria, and entered the port in the night. The Greek soldiers surprised the sentinels, got possession of the city, and put most of the Moslems they found there to the sword.

Amru was in full pursuit of the Greek fugitives when he heard of the recapture of the city. Mortified at his own negligence in leaving so rich a conquest with so slight a guard, he returned in all haste, resolved to retake it by storm. The Greeks, however, had fortified themselves strongly in the castle and made stout resistance. Amru was obliged, therefore, to besiege it a second time, but the siege was short. The castle was carried by assault; many of the Greeks were cut to pieces, the rest escaped once more to their ships and now gave up the capital as lost. All this occurred in the nineteenth year of the Hegira, and the year 640 of the Christian era.

On this second capture of the city by force of arms, and without capitulation, the troops were clamorous to be permitted to plunder. Amru again checked their rapacity, and commanded that all persons and property in the place should remain inviolate, until the will of the Caliph could be known. So perfect was his command over his troops that not the most trivial article was taken. His letter to the Caliph shows what must have been the population and splendor of Alexandria, and the luxury and effeminacy of its inhabitants at the time of the Moslem conquest. It states the city to have contained four thousand palaces, five thousand baths, four hundred theatres and places of amusement, twelve thousand gardeners which supply it with vegetables, and forty thousand tributary Jews. It was impossible, he said, to do justice to its riches and magnificence. He had hitherto held it sacred from plunder, but his troops, having won it by force of arms, considered themselves entitled to the spoils of victory.

The caliph Omar, in reply, expressed a high sense of his important services, but reproved him for even mentioning the desire of the soldiery to plunder so rich a city, one of the greatest emporiums of the East. He charged him, therefore, most rigidly to watch over the rapacious propensities of his men; to prevent all pillage, violence, and waste; to collect and make out an account of all moneys, jewels, household furniture, and everything else that was valuable, to be appropriated toward defraying the expenses of this war of the faith. He ordered the tribute also, collected in the conquered country, to be treasured up at Alexandria for the supplies of the Moslem troops.

The surrender of all Egypt followed the capture of its capital. A tribute of two ducats was laid on every male of mature age, besides a tax on all lands in proportion to their value, and the revenue which resulted to the Caliph is estimated at twelve millions of ducats.

It is well known that Amru was a poet in his youth; and throughout all his campaigns he manifested an intelligent and inquiring spirit, if not more highly informed, at least more liberal and extended in its views than was usual among the early Moslem conquerors. He delighted, in his hours of leisure, to converse with learned men, and acquire through their means such knowledge as had been denied to him by the deficiency of his education. Such a companion he found at Alexandria in a native of the place, a Christian of the sect of the Jacobites, eminent for his philological researches, his commentaries on Moses and Aristotle, and his laborious treatises of various kinds, surnamed Philoponus, from his love of study, but commonly known by the name of John the Grammarian.

An intimacy soon arose between the Arab conqueror and the Christian philologist; an intimacy honorable to Amru, but destined to be lamentable in its result to the cause of letters. In an evil hour, John the Grammarian, being encouraged by the favor shown him by the Arab general, revealed to him a treasure hitherto unnoticed, or rather unvalued, by the Moslem conquerors. This was a vast collection of books or manuscripts, since renowned in history as the Alexandrian Library. Perceiving that in taking an account of everything valuable in the city, and sealing up all its treasures, Amru had taken no notice of the books, John solicited that they might be given to him. Unfortunately the learned zeal of the Grammarian gave a consequence to the books in the eyes of Amru, and made him scrupulous of giving them away without permission of the Caliph. He forthwith wrote to Omar, stating the merits of John, and requesting to know whether the books might be given to him. The reply of Omar was laconic, but fatal. "The contents of those books," said he, "are in conformity with the Koran, or they are not. If they are, the Koran is sufficient without them; if they are not, they are pernicious. Let them, therefore, be destroyed."

Amru, it is said, obeyed the order punctually. The books and manuscripts were distributed as fuel among the five thousand baths of the city; but so numerous were they that it took six months to consume them. This act of barbarism, recorded by Abulpharagius, is considered somewhat doubtful by Gibbon, in consequence of its not being mentioned by two of the most ancient chroniclers, Elmacin in his Saracenic history, and Eutychius in his annals, the latter of whom was patriarch of Alexandria and has detailed the conquest of that city. It is inconsistent, too, with the character of Amru as a poet and a man of superior intelligence; and it has recently been reported, we know not on what authority, that many of the literary treasures thus said to have been destroyed do actually exist in Constantinople. Their destruction, however, is generally credited and deeply deplored by historians. Amru, as a man of genius and intelligence, may have grieved at the order of the Caliph, while, as a loyal subject and faithful soldier, he felt bound to obey it.

The fall of Alexandria decided the fate of Egypt and likewise that of the emperor Heraclius. He was already afflicted with a dropsy, and took the loss of his Syrian and now that of his Egyptian dominions so much to heart that he underwent a paroxysm, which ended in his death, about seven weeks after the loss of his Egyptian capital. He was succeeded by his son Constantine.

While Amru was successfully extending his conquests, a great dearth and famine fell upon all Arabia, insomuch that the caliph Omar had to call upon him for supplies from the fertile plains of Egypt; whereupon Amru despatched such a train of camels laden with grain that it is said, when the first of the line had reached the city of Medina, the last had not yet left the land of Egypt. But this mode of conveyance proving too tardy, at the command of the Caliph he dug a canal of communication from the Nile to the Red Sea, a distance of eighty miles, by which provisions might be conveyed to the Arabian shores. This canal had been commenced by Trajan, the Roman emperor.

The able and indefatigable Amru went on in this manner, executing the commands and fulfilling the wishes of the Caliph, and governed the country he had conquered with such sagacity and justice that he rendered himself one of the most worthily renowned among the Moslem generals.

The life and reign of the caliph Omar, distinguished by such great and striking events, were at length brought to a sudden and sanguinary end. Among the Persians who had been brought as slaves to Medina, was one named Firuz, of the sect of the Magi, or fire-worshippers. Being taxed daily by his master two pieces of silver out of his earnings, he complained of it to Omar as an extortion. The Caliph inquired into his condition, and, finding that he was a carpenter, and expert in the construction of windmills, replied that the man who excelled in such a handicraft could well afford to pay two dirhems a day. "Then," muttered Firuz, "I'll construct a windmill for you that shall keep grinding until the day of judgment." Omar was struck with his menacing air. "The slave threatens me," said he, calmly. "If I were disposed to punish anyone on suspicion, I should take off his head"; he suffered him, however, to depart without further notice.

Three days afterward, as he was praying in the mosque, Firuz entered suddenly and stabbed him thrice with a dagger. The attendants rushed upon the assassin. He made furious resistance, slew some and wounded others, until one of his assailants threw his vest over him and seized him, upon which he stabbed himself to the heart and expired. Religion may have had some share in prompting this act of violence; perhaps revenge for the ruin brought upon his native country. "God be thanked," said Omar, "that he by whose hand it was decreed I should fall was not a Moslem!"

The Caliph gathered strength sufficient to finish the prayer in which he had been interrupted; "for he who deserts his prayers," said he, "is not in Islam." Being taken to his house, he languished three days without hope of recovery, but could not be prevailed upon to nominate a successor. "I cannot presume to do that," said he, "which the prophet himself did not do." Some suggested that he should nominate his son Abdallah. "Omar's family," said he, "has had enough in Omar, and needs no more." He appointed a council of six persons to determine as to the succession after his decease, all of whom he considered worthy of the caliphate; though he gave it as his opinion that the choice would be either Ali or Othman. "Shouldst thou become caliph," said he to Ali, "do not favor thy relatives above all others, nor place the house of Haschem on the neck of all mankind "; and he gave the same caution to Othman in respect to the family of Omeya.

Ibn Abbas and Ali now spoke to him in words of comfort, setting forth the blessings of Islam, which had crowned his administration, and that he would leave no one behind him who could charge him with injustice. "Testify this for me," said he, earnestly, "at the day of judgment." They gave him their hands in promise; but he exacted that they should give him a written testimonial, and that it should be buried with him in the grave.

Having settled all his worldly affairs, and given directions about his sepulture, he expired, the seventh day after his assassination, in the sixty-third year of his age, after a triumphant reign of ten years and six months.

Three days after the death of Omar, Othman Ibn Affan was elected as his successor. He was seventy years of age at the time of his election. He was tall and swarthy, and his long gray beard was tinged with henna. He was strict in his religious duties, but prone to expense and lavish of his riches.

"In the conquests of Syria, Persia, and Egypt," says a modern writer, "the fresh and vigorous enthusiasm of the personal companions and proselytes of Mahomet was exercised and expended, and the generation of warriors whose simple fanaticism had been inflamed by the preaching of the pseudo-prophet was in a great measure consumed in the sanguinary and perpetual toils of ten arduous campaigns."

We shall now see the effect of those conquests on the national character and habits; the avidity of place and power and wealth superseding religious enthusiasm; and the enervating luxury and soft voluptuousness of Syria and Persia sapping the rude but masculine simplicity of the Arabian desert. Above all, the single-mindedness of Mahomet and his two immediate successors is at an end. Other objects besides the mere advancement of Islamism distract the attention of its leading professors; and the struggle for worldly wealth and worldly sway, for the advancement of private ends, and the aggrandizement of particular tribes and families, destroy the unity of the empire, and beset the caliphate with intrigue, treason, and bloodshed.

It was a great matter of reproach against the caliph Othman that he was injudicious in his appointments, and had an inveterate propensity to consult the interests of his relatives and friends before that of the public. One of his greatest errors in this respect was the removal of Amrou ben-el-Ass from the government of Egypt, and the appointment of his own foster-brother, Abdallah Ibn Saad, in his place. This was the same Abdallah who, in acting as amanuensis to Mahomet, and writing down his revelations, had interpolated passages of his own, sometimes of a ludicrous nature. For this and for his apostasy he had been pardoned by Mahomet at the solicitation of Othman, and had ever since acted with apparent zeal, his interest coinciding with his duty.

He was of a courageous spirit, and one of the most expert horsemen of Arabia; but what might have fitted him to command a horde of the desert was insufficient for the government of a conquered province. He was new and inexperienced in his present situation; whereas Amru had distinguished himself as a legislator as well as a conqueror, and had already won the affections of the Egyptians by his attention to their interests, and his respect for their customs and habitudes. His dismission was, therefore, resented by the people, and a disposition was manifested to revolt against the new governor.

The emperor Constantine, who had succeeded to his father Heraclius, hastened to take advantage of these circumstances. A fleet and army were sent against Alexandria under a prefect named Manuel. The Greeks in the city secretly cooperated with him, and the metropolis was, partly by force of arms, partly by treachery, recaptured by the imperialists without much bloodshed.

Othman, made painfully sensible of the error he had committed, hastened to revoke the appointment of his foster-brother, and reinstated Amru in the command in Egypt. That able general went instantly against Alexandria with an army, in which were many Copts, irreconcilable enemies of the Greeks. Among these was the traitor Mokawkas, who, from his knowledge of the country and his influence among its inhabitants, was able to procure abundant supplies for the army.

The Greek garrison defended the city bravely and obstinately. Amru, enraged at having thus again to lay siege to a place which he had twice already taken, swore, by Allah, that if he should master it a third time, he would render it as easy of access as a brothel. He kept his word, for when he took the city he threw down the walls and demolished all the fortifications. He was merciful, however, to the inhabitants, and checked the fury of the Saracens, who were slaughtering all they met. A mosque was afterward erected on the spot at which he stayed the carnage, called the Mosque of Mercy. Manuel, the Greek general, found it expedient to embark with all speed with such of his troops as he could save, and make sail for Constantinople.

Scarce, however, had Amru quelled every insurrection and secured the Moslem domination in Egypt, when he was again displaced from the government, and Abdallah Ibn Saad appointed a second time in his stead.

Abdallah had been deeply mortified by the loss of Alexandria, which had been ascribed to his incapacity; he was emulous, too, of the renown of Amru, and felt the necessity of vindicating his claims to command by some brilliant achievement. The north of Africa presented a new field for Moslem enterprise. We allude to that vast tract extending west from the desert of Libya or Barca to Cape Non, embracing more than two thousand miles of sea-coast; comprehending the ancient divisions of Mamarica, Cyrenaica, Carthage, Numidia, and Mauritania; or, according to modern geographical designations, Barca, Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco.

Toward this rich land of promise, yet virgin of Islamitish seed, Abdallah, at the head of the victorious Saracens, now hopefully bent his ambitious steps.


A.D. 697


The early authentic history of Venice is intimately connected with that of the Lombards, of whom the first mention is made by Paterculus, the Roman historian, who wrote during the first quarter of the first century of our era. He speaks of the Langobardi[68] (Lombards) as dwelling on the west bank of the Elbe. Tacitus also mentions them in his Germany. From the Elbe they wandered to the Danube, and there encountered the Gepidæ, a branch of the Goths. The Lombards subdued this tribe, after a contest of thirty years.

By this victory Alboin, the young Lombard King, rose to great power and fame. His beauty and renown were sung by German peasants even in the days of Charlemagne. His name "crossed the Alps and fell, with a foreboding sound, upon the startled ears of the Italians," and toward Italy he turned for conquest. From Scythia and Germany adventurous youth flocked to his standard. Many clans and various religions were represented in his ranks, but these diversities were overshadowed by a common devotion to the hero-leader.

In 568 the Lombards marched from Pannonia into Italy, conquered the northern part, still called Lombardy, and founded the kingdom of that name, which was afterward greatly extended, and existed until overthrown by Charlemagne in 774.

Before the invading hosts of Alboin, wealthy inhabitants of the larger cities of the province of Venetia fled to the islands of Venice, where earlier fugitives had sought shelter from King Attila and his Huns. A thriving maritime community had been established, which about this time had developed into a semi-independent protectorate of the Byzantine or Eastern Empire, attached to the exarchate of Ravenna.

Afterward Venice underwent many political changes, among which one of the most interesting to students of history is that of the institution of the dogeship, as hereafter related. This step was taken for more than one reason of internal organization and policy, and it was also made urgent by the encroachments of the Lombards, which had become a menace to Venetian territory and commerce.

The republic (Venetian) on her part contemplated with inquietude the rise of one monarchy after another on the skirts of the Lagoon, for the Venetians not unnaturally feared that as soon as these fresh usurpers had established themselves, they might form the design of adding the islands of the Adriatic to their dominion, and of acquiring possession of the commercial advantages which belonged to the situation held by the settlers. For the Lombards, though not ranking among maritime communities, were not absolutely strangers to the laws of navigation, or to the use of ships, which might place them in a position to reduce to their control a small, feeble, and thinly peopled area, separated from their own territories only by a narrow and terraqueous strait. Moreover, the predatory visits of Leupus, duke of Friuli, whose followers traversed the canals at low tide on horseback, and despoiled the churches of Heraclia, Equilo, and Grado, soon afforded sufficient proof that the equestrian skill of the strangers was capable of supplying to some extent any deficiency in nautical knowledge.

Venice at present formed a federative state, united by the memory of a common origin and the sense of a common interest; the arrengo, which met at Heraclia, the parent capital, at irregular intervals to deliberate on matters of public concern, was too numerous and too schismatical to exercise immediate control over the nation; and each island was consequently governed, after the abolition of the primeval consulate, in the name of the people, by a gastaldo or tribune, whose power, nominally limited, was virtually absolute. This administration had lasted nearly two centuries and a half, during which period the republic passed through a cruel ordeal of anarchy, oppression, and bloodshed. The tribunes conspired against each other; the people rebelled against the tribunes. Family rose against family, clan against clan. Sanguinary affrays were of constant occurrence on the thinly peopled lidi, and amid the pine-woods, with which much of the surface was covered; and it is related that in one instance at least the bodies of the dead were left to be devoured by beasts and birds of prey, which then haunted the more thickly afforested parts.

Jealousy and intolerance of the pretensions of Heraclia to a paramount voice in the policy of the community may be securely assigned as the principal and permanent source of friction and disagreement; but the predominance of that township seems to have resisted every effort of the others to supplant its central authority and wide sphere of influence; and during centuries it preserved its power, through its ostensible choice as the residence of the most capable and influential citizens.

The scandalous and destructive outrages attendant on the rule of the tribunes had become a vast constitutional evil. They sapped the general prosperity; they obstructed trade and industries; they made havoc on public and private property; they banished safety and repose, and they impoverished and scandalized the Church.

The depredations of the Lombards, which grew in the course of time bolder and more systematic in their character, certainly indicated great weakness on the part of the government. Yet it was equally certain that the weakness proceeded less from the want than from the division of strength.

The sacrilegious inroads were not without their beneficial result; for they afforded those who might be disposed to institute reforms an admirable ground not only for bringing the matter more closely and immediately under the public observation, but they enlisted in the cause the foremost ecclesiastics, who might recognize in this internal disunion a danger of interminable attacks and depredations from without, if not an eventual loss of political independence; and, accordingly, in the course of the spring of 697-698, the patriarch of Grado himself submitted to the arrengo at Heraclia a scheme, which had been devised by him and his friends, for changing the government. The proposal of the metropolitan was to divest the tribunes of the sovereignty, and to have once more a magistrate (capo dei tribuni), in whom all power might be concentrated. His title was to be duke. His office was to be for life. With him was to rest the whole executive machinery. He was to preside over the synod as well as the arrengo, either of which it was competent for him to convoke or dissolve at pleasure; merely spiritual matters of a minor nature were alone, in future, to be intrusted to the clergy; and all acts of convocations, the ordination of a priest or deacon, the election of a patriarch or bishop, were to be subject to the final sanction of the ducal throne. In fact, the latter became virtually, and in all material respects, autocrat of Venice, not merely the tribunes, but even the hierarchy, which was so directly instrumental in creating the dignity, having now no higher function than that of advisers and administrators under his direction; and it was in matters of general or momentous concern only that the republic expected her First Magistrate to seek the concurrence or advice of the national convention.

In a newly formed society, placed in the difficult situation in which the republic found herself at the close of the seventh century, and where also a superstitious reverence for the pontiff might at present exist, apart from considerations of interest, it ought to create no surprise that the patriarch and his supporters should have formed a unanimous determination, and have taken immediate steps to procure the adhesion of the Holy See, before the resolutions of the popular assembly were definitively carried into effect.

This measure simply indicates the character of the opinions which were received at the time in Europe, as well as the strong consciousness on the part of the patriarch, and those who acted with him, of the expediency of throwing the voice and countenance of the Church into the scale alike against the tribunitial oligarchy and against local jealousies and prejudices. There was perhaps in this case the additional inducement that the proposal to invest the doge with supreme power and jurisdiction over the Church, as well as over the state, might seem to involve an indirect surrender, either now or hereafter, on the part of the Holy See of some of its power, as a high-priest or grand pontiff, who was also a secular prince, might prove less pliant than an ordinary liegeman of the Church. But the men of 697 acted, as we must allow, sagaciously enough, when they presented their young country to the consideration of the papacy as possessing a party of order, into which the Church entered, and from which it now stood conspicuously and courageously out to take this very momentous initiative.

The creation of an ecclesiastical system had been one of the foremost aims of the first founders, who discerned in the transplantation of the churches of the terra firma, and their familiar pastors to the islands the most persuasive reconcilement of the fugitives to a hard and precarious lot; and after all the intervening years it was the elders of the Church who once more stepped forward and delivered their views on the best plan for healing discord, and making life in the lagoons tolerable for all. They sought some system of rule, after trying several, which would enable them to live in peace at home, and to gain strength to protect themselves from enemies. They would have been the most far-seeing of human beings if they had formed a suspicion of what kind of superstructure they were laying on the foundation. The nearest model for their adoption or imitation was the Lombard type of government almost under their very eyes; and so far as the difference of local postulates suffered, it was that to which they had recourse, when they vested in their new chieftain undivided jurisdiction, but primarily military attributes and a title then recognized as having, above all, a military significance.

On the receipt of the desired reply, the patriarch lost no time in calling on the national assembly to follow up their late vote to its legitimate consequences; and the choice of the people fell on Pauluccio Anafesto, a native of Heraclia, whose name occurs here for the first time, but who may be supposed to have had some prominent share in promoting the late revolution. Anafesto was conducted to a chair which had been prepared for him in his parish church, and solemnly invested by the metropolitan with the insignia of authority, one of which is said to have been an ivory sceptre—a symbol and a material borrowed from the Romans.

It is not an unusual misconception that this organic change in the government involved the simultaneous extinction of the tribunitial office and title. But the truth is that the tribunes continued to exercise municipal and subordinate functions many generations after the revolution of 697; each island of importance, such as Malamocco and Equilo, had its own tribune, while of the smaller islands several contributed to form a tribunate or governorship; and office, though neither strictly nor properly hereditary, still preserved its tendency to perpetuate itself in a limited number of families. It is only subsequently to the twelfth century that less is heard of the tribunes; and the progress of administrative reform led to the gradual disappearance of this old feudal element in the constitution.

In the time of Anafesto, the larger islands of the dogado formed the seats of powerful factions; the disproportion in point of influence between the Crown and the tribune of Malamocco or the tribune of Equilo was but slightly marked; and the abolition of that magistracy was a much more sweeping measure than the first makers of a doge would have dared to propose.

The military complexion of the ducal authority was not confined to the personal character of the supreme officer of state, for under him, not as a novel element in the constitution, but as one which preëxisted side by side with the tribunitial system, served a master of the soldiers, whom there is a fairly solid ground for regarding as second to the doge or duke in precedence, and above the civil tribunes of the respective townships.

To find in so small and imperfectly developed a state the two leading functionaries or ingredients deriving their appellations from a command and control over the rude feudal militia, might alone warrant the conclusion that the most essential requirement of Venice, even when it had so far modified the form of administration, was felt to be the possession, under responsible direction, of a means of securing internal order and withstanding external aggression, if it were not the case that from the Gothic era onward we hear of scholæ militiæ cum patronis, manifestly the schools of instruction for the body over which the magister militum presided. These seminaries existed in the days of the exarch Narses, generations before a doge was given to Venice. Yet, through all the time which has now elapsed since the first erection of a separate political jurisdiction, not only the Church, on which such stress was at the very outset laid, but a civil government, and regulations for trade and shipping, must have been active forces, always tending to grow in strength and coherence.

The Venetians, in constructing by degrees, and even somewhat at random, a constitutional fabric, very naturally followed the precedents and models which they found in the regions which bordered on them, and from which their forefathers had emigrated. The Lombard system, which was of far longer duration than its predecessors on the same soil, borrowed as much as possible from that which the invaders saw in use and favor among the conquered; and the earliest institutions of the only community not subjugated by their arms were counterparts either of the Lombard, the Roman, or the Greek customary law. The doge, in some respects, enjoyed an authority similar to that which the Romans had vested in their ancient kings; but, while he was clothed with full ecclesiastical jurisdiction, he did not personally discharge the sacerdotal functions or assume a sacerdotal title. The Latins had had their magistri populi; and in the Middle Ages they recognized at Naples and at Amalfi a master of the soldiers; at Lucca, Verona, and elsewhere, a captain of the people. But all these magistrates were in possession of the supreme power, were kings in everything save the name; and the interesting suggestion presents itself that in the case of Venice the master of the soldiers had been part of the tribunitial organization, if not of the consular one, and that one of the tribunes officiated by rotation, bearing to the republic the same sort of relationship as the bretwalda bore to the other Anglo-Saxon reguli. There can be no doubt that Venice kept in view the prototypes transmitted by Rome, and learned at last to draw a comparison between the two empires; and down to the fifteenth century the odor of the Conscript Fathers lingered in the Venetian fancy.

Subsequently to the entrance of the dux, duke, or doge on the scene, and the shrinkage of the tribunitial power to more departmental or municipal proportions, the master of the soldiers, whatever he may have been before, became a subordinate element in the administration. His duties must have certainly embraced the management of the militia and the maintenance of the doge's peace within the always widening pale of the ducal abode. He was next in rank to the crown or throne.

Thus we perceive that, after a series of trials, the Venetians eventually reverted to the form of government which appeared to be most agreeable, on the whole, to their conditions and genius.

The consular triumviri, not perhaps quite independent of external influences, were originally adopted as a temporary expedient. The tribunes, who next succeeded, had a duration of two hundred and fifty years. Their common fasti are scanty and obscure; and we gain only occasional glimpses of a barbarous federal administration, which barely sufficed to fulfil the most elementary wants of a rising society of traders. They were alike, more or less, a machinery of primitive type, deficient in central force, and without any safeguards against the abuse of authority, without any definite theory of legislation and police. The century and a half which intervened between the abrogation of monarchy in the person of a tribune, and its revival in the person of a doge (574-697), beheld the republic laboring under the feeble and enervating sway of rival aristocratic houses, on which the sole check was the urban body subsequently to emerge into importance and value as the militia of the six wards, and its commandant, the master of the soldiers.

But while the institution of the dogeship brought with it a certain measure of equilibrium and security, it left the political framework in almost every other respect untouched. The work of reform and consolidation had merely commenced. The first stone only had been laid of a great and enduring edifice. The first permanent step had been taken toward the unification of a group of insular clanships into a homogeneous society, with a sense of common interests.

The late tribunitial ministry has transmitted to us as its monument little beyond the disclosure of a chronic disposition to tyranny and periodical fluctuations of preponderance. The so-called chair of Attila at Torcello is supposed to have been the seat where the officer presiding over that district long held his court sub dio.

The doge Anafesto appears to have pacified, by his energy and tact, the intestine discord by which his country had suffered so much and so long, and the Equilese, especially—who had risen in open revolt, and had refused to pay their proportion of tithes—were persuaded, after some fierce struggles in the pineto or pine woods, which still covered much of the soil, to return to obedience. The civil war which had lately broken out between Equilo and Heraclia was terminated by the influential mediation of one of the tribunes, and the Lombards now condescended to ratify a treaty assigning to the Venetians the whole of the territory lying between the greater and lesser Piave, empowering the republic to erect boundary lines, and prohibiting either of the contracting parties from building a stronghold within ten miles of those lines. A settlement of confines between two such close neighbors was of the highest importance and utility. But a still more momentous principle was here involved.

The republic had exercised a clear act of sovereign independence. It had made its first Italian treaty. This was a proud step and a quotable precedent.


[68] Some modern writers question the etymology which in the name of the Langobardi finds a reference to the length of their beards. Sheppard thinks that "long-spears," rather than "long-beards" was the original signification. Since, on the banks of the Elbe, Börde or Bord still means "a fertile plain beside a river," others derive their name from the district they inhabited. Langobardi would thus signify "people of the long bord of the river."


A.D. 711


When assailed by the Saracen power, the Gothic kingdom in Spain, which had endured for three centuries, had long been suffering a decline. Political disorders and social demoralization had made its condition such as might well invite the Moslem armies, flushed with victories on the African side, to cross the narrow Strait of Gibraltar for new conquests.

The final subjection of North Africa had been accomplished by the Arab general, Musa Ibn Nosseyr, only the fortress of Ceuta, on the shore of the strait, still remaining in possession of the Goths. The Saracens knew that a fresh revolution in Spain had placed on the throne Roderic—who proved to be the last of the Gothic kings. At Ceuta the commandant, Count Ilyan (Julian), when he was attacked, made a feeble defence, virtually betraying the post into the hands of the Moslems. The reason, according to some authorities, for the defection of Ilyan was his desire to avenge an injury inflicted upon him by Roderic, who is said to have dishonored Ilyan's daughter, the Lady Florinda. Others attribute the treason of Ilyan to his real loyalty to the rivals of Roderic, the latter being regarded by him as a usurper.

It is recorded that Ilyan proposed to Musa the conquest of Andalusia, whose wealth in productiveness and other natural attractions he glowingly described. The people, Ilyan declared, were enervated by reason of prolonged peace, and were destitute of arms. He was induced entirely to desert the Gothic cause and join the Moslems, and made a successful incursion into the country of his former friends, returning to Africa loaded with spoil. From this time Ilyan served under the Moslem standard.

Another invasion was made by the Saracens with like results, and then Musa, having received authority from the Caliph, prepared to enter upon the conquest of Spain. The events which followed were not only of great moment in the affairs of that country, but foreshadowed others which seemed to involve the fate of Europe and of Christendom in the outcome of the Mahometan advance.

Musa strengthened himself in his intention of invading Andalusia; to this effect he called a freed slave of his, to whom he had on different occasions intrusted important commands in his armies, and whose name was Tarik Ibn Zeyad Ibn Abdillah, a native of Hamdan, in Persia, although some pretend that he was not a freedman of Musa Ibn Nosseyr, but a free-born man of the tribe of Sadf, while others make him a mauli of Lahm. It is even asserted that some of his posterity, who lived in Andalusia, rejected with indignation the supposition of their ancestor having ever been a liberated slave of Musa Ibn Nosseyr. Some authors, and they are the greatest number, say that he was a Berber.

To this Tarik, therefore, the Arabian governor of Africa committed the important trust of conquering the kingdom of Andalusia, for which end he gave him the command of an army of seven thousand men, chiefly Berbers and slaves, very few only being genuine Arabs. To accompany and guide Tarik in this expedition, Musa sent Ilyan, who provided four vessels from the ports under his command, the only places on the coast where vessels were at that time built. Everything being got ready, a division of the army crossed that arm of the sea which divides Andalusia from Africa, and landed with Tarik at the foot of the mountain, which afterward received his name, on a Saturday, in the month of Shaban, of the year [of the Hegira] 92 (July, 711), answering to the month of Agosht (August); and the four vessels were sent back, and crossed and recrossed until the rest of Tarik's men were safely put on shore.

It is otherwise said that Tarik landed on the 24th of Rejeb (June 19th, A.D. 711), in the same year. Another account makes the number of men embarked on this occasion amount to twelve thousand, all but sixteen, a number consisting almost entirely of Berbers, there being but few Arabs among them; but the same writer agrees that Ilyan transported this force at various times to the coast of Andalusia in merchant vessels—whence collected, it is not known—and that Tarik was the last man on board.

Various historians have recorded two circumstances concerning Tarik's passage, and his landing on the coast of Andalusia, which we consider worthy of being transcribed. They say that while he was sailing across that arm of the sea which separates Africa from Andalusia, he saw in a dream the prophet Mahomet, surrounded by Arabs of the Muhajirm and Anssar, who with unsheathed swords and bended bows stood close by him, and that he heard the prophet say: "Take courage, O Tarik! and accomplish what thou art destined to perform"; and that having looked round him he saw the messenger of God, who with his companions was entering Andalusia. Tarik then awoke from his sleep, and, delighted with this good omen, hastened to communicate the miraculous circumstance to his followers, who were much pleased and strengthened. Tarik himself was so much struck by the apparition that from that moment he never doubted of victory.

The same writers have preserved another anecdote, which sufficiently proves the mediation of the Almighty in permitting that the conquest of Andalusia should be achieved by Tarik. Directly after his landing on the rock Musa's freedman brought his forces upon the plain, and began to overrun and lay waste the neighboring country. While he was thus employed, an old woman from Algesiras presented herself to him, and among other things told him what follows: "Thou must know, O stranger! that I had once a husband, who had the knowledge of future events; and I have repeatedly heard him say to the people of this country that a foreign general would come to this island and subject it to his arms. He described him to me as a man of prominent forehead, and such, I see, is thine; he told me also that the individual designated by the prophecy would have a black mole covered with hair on his left shoulder. Now, if thou hast such a mark on thy body, thou art undoubtedly the person intended."

When Tarik heard the old woman's reasoning, he immediately laid his shoulder bare, and the mark being found, as predicted, upon the left one, both he and his companions were filled with delight at the good omen.

Ibnu Hayyan's account does not materially differ from those of the historians from whom we have quoted. He agrees in saying that Ilyan, lord of Ceuta, incited Musa Ibn Nosseyr to make the conquest of Andalusia; and that this he did out of revenge, and moved by the personal enmity and hatred he had conceived against Roderic. He makes Tarik's army amount only to seven thousand, mostly Berbers, which, he says, crossed in four vessels provided by Ilyan. According to his account, Tarik landed on a Saturday, in the month of Shaban, of the year 92, and the vessels that brought him and his men on shore were immediately sent back to Africa, and never ceased going backward and forward until the whole of the army was safely landed on the shores of Andalusia.

On the other side, Ibnu Khaldun reckons the army under the orders of Tarik at three hundred Arabs and ten thousand Berbers. He says that before starting on his expedition, Tarik divided his army into two corps, he himself taking the command of one, and placing the other under the immediate orders of Tarif An-najai. Tarik, with his men, landed at the foot of the rock now called Jebalu-l-fatah, "the mountain of the entrance," and which then received his name, and was called Jebal-Tarik, "the mountain of Tarik"; while his companion, Tarif, landed on the island afterward called after him Jezirah-Tarif, "the island of Tarif." In order to provide for the security of their respective armies, both generals selected, soon after their landing, a good encampment, which they surrounded with walls and trenches, for no sooner had the news of their landing spread than the armies of the Goths began to march against them from all quarters.

No sooner did Tarik set his foot in Andalusia than he was attacked by a Goth named Tudmir (Theodomir), to whom Roderic had intrusted the defence of that frontier. Theodomir, who is the same general who afterward gave his name to a province of Andalusia, called Belad Tudmir, "the country of Theodomir," having tried, although in vain, to stop the impetuous career of Tarik's men, despatched immediately a messenger to his master, apprising him how Tarik and his followers had landed in Andalusia. He also wrote him a letter thus conceived: "This our land has been invaded by people whose name, country, and origin are unknown to me. I cannot even tell whence they came—whether they fell from the skies or sprang from the earth."

When this news reached Roderic, who was then in the country of the Bashkans (Basques), making war in the territory of Banbilonah (Pamplona), where serious disturbances had occurred, he guessed directly that the blow came from Ilyan. Sensible, however, of the importance of this attack made upon his dominions, he left what he had in hand, and, moving toward the south with the whole of his powerful army, arrived in Cordova, which is placed in the centre of Andalusia. There he took up his abode in the royal castle, which the Arabs called after him Roderic's castle. In this palace Roderic took up his residence for a few days, to await the arrival of the numerous troops which he had summoned from the different provinces of his kingdom.

They say that while he was staying in Cordova he wrote to the sons of Wittiza to come and join him against the common enemy; for, although it is true that Roderic had usurped the throne of their father, and persecuted the sons, yet he had spared their lives; since these two sons of Wittiza are the same who, when Tarik attacked the forces of King Roderic on the plains of Guadalete, near the sea, turned back and deserted their ranks, owing to a promise made them by Tarik to restore them to the throne of their father, if they helped him against Roderic. However, when Roderic arrived in Cordova, the sons of Wittiza were busily engaged in some distant province collecting troops to march against the invaders, and he wrote to them to come and join him with their forces, in order to march against the Arabs; and, cautioning them against the inconvenience and danger of private feuds at that moment, engaged them to join him and attack the Arabs in one mass. The sons of Wittiza readily agreed to Roderic's proposition, and collecting all their forces, came to meet him, and encamped not far from the village of Shakandah, on the opposite side of the river, and on the south of the palace of Cordova.

There they remained for some time, not daring to enter the capital or to trust Roderic, until at last, having ascertained the truth of the preparations, and seeing the army march out of the city and him with it, they entered Cordova, united their forces to his, and marched with him against the enemy, although, as will be seen presently, they were already planning the treachery which they afterward committed. Others say that the sons of Wittiza did not obey the summons sent them by the usurper Roderic; on the contrary, that they joined Tarik with all their forces.

When Tarik received the news of the approach of Roderic's army, which is said to have amounted to nearly one hundred thousand men, provided with all kinds of weapons and military stores, he wrote to Musa for assistance, saying that he had taken Algesiras, a port of Andalusia, thus becoming, by its possession, the master of the passage into that country; that he had subdued its districts as far as the bay; but that Roderic was now advancing against him with a force which it was not in his power to resist, except it was God Almighty's will that it should be so. Musa, who since Tarik's departure for this expedition had been employed in building ships, and had by this time collected a great many, sent by them a reinforcement of five thousand Moslems, which, added to the seven thousand of the first expedition, made the whole forces amount to twelve thousand men, eager for plunder and anxious for battle. Ilyan was also sent with his army and the people of his states to accompany this expedition, and to guide it through the passes in the country, and gather intelligence for them.

In the mean while Roderic was drawing nearer to the Moslems, with all the forces of the barbarians, their lords, their knights, and their bishops; but the hearts of the great people of the kingdom being against him, they used to see each other frequently, and in their private conversations they uttered their sentiments about Roderic in the following manner: "This wretch has by force taken possession of the throne to which he is not justly entitled, for not only he does not belong to the royal family, but he was once one of our meanest menials; we do not know how far he may carry his wicked intentions against us. There is no doubt but that Tarik's followers do not intend to settle in this country; their only wish is to fill their hands with spoil, and then return. Let us then, as soon as the battle is engaged, give way, and leave the usurper alone to fight the strangers, who will soon deliver us from him; and, when they shall be gone, we can place on the throne him who most deserves it."

In these sentiments all agreed, and it was decided that the proposed plan should be put into execution; the two sons of Wittiza, whom Roderic had appointed to the command of the right and left wings of his army, being at the head of the conspiracy, in the hope of gaining the throne of their father.

When the armies drew nearer to each other, the princes began to spin the web of their treason; and for this purpose a messenger was sent by them to Tarik, informing him how Roderic, who had been a mere menial and servant to their father, had, after his death, usurped the throne; that the princes had by no means relinquished their rights, and that they implored protection and security for themselves. They offered to desert, and pass over to Tarik with the troops under their command, on condition that the Arab general would, after subduing the whole of Andalusia, secure to them all their father's possessions, amounting to three thousand valuable and chosen farms, the same that received after this the name of Safaya-l-moluk, "the royal portion." This offer Tarik accepted; and, having agreed to the conditions, on the next day the sons of Wittiza deserted the ranks of the Gothic army in the midst of battle, and passed over to Tarik, this being, no doubt, one of the principal causes of the conquest.

Roderic arrived on the banks of the Guadalete with a formidable army, which most historians compute at one hundred thousand cavalry; although Ibnu Khaldun makes it amount to forty thousand men only. Roderic brought all his treasures and military stores in carts: he himself came in a litter placed between two mules, having over his head an awning richly set with pearls, rubies, and emeralds. On the approach of this formidable host the Moslems did not lose courage, but prepared to meet their adversary. Tarik assembled his men, comforted them by his words, and after rendering the due praises to the Almighty God, and returning thanks for what had already been accomplished, proceeded to implore his mighty help for the future. He then encouraged the Moslems, and kindled their enthusiasm with the following address:

"Whither can you fly?—the enemy is in your front, the sea at your back. By Allah! there is no salvation for you but in your courage and perseverance. Consider your situation: here you are on this island, like so many orphans cast upon the world; you will soon be met by a powerful enemy, surrounding you on all sides like the infuriated billows of a tempestuous sea, and sending against you his countless warriors, drowned in steel, and provided with every store and description of arms. What can you oppose to them? You have no other weapons than your swords, no provisions but those that you may snatch from the hands of your enemies; you must therefore attack them immediately, or otherwise your wants will increase; the gales of victory may no longer blow in your favor, and perchance the fear that lurks in the hearts of your enemies may be changed into indomitable courage.

"Banish all fear from your hearts, trust that victory shall be ours, and that the barbarian king will not be able to withstand the shock of our arms. Here he comes to make us the master of his cities and castles, and to deliver into our hands his countless treasures; and if you only seize the opportunity now presented, it may perhaps be the means of your becoming the owners of them, besides saving yourselves from certain death. Do not think that I impose upon you a task from which I shrink myself, or that I try to conceal from you the dangers attending this our expedition. No; you have certainly a great deal to encounter, but know that if you only suffer for a while, you will reap in the end an abundant harvest of pleasures and enjoyments. And do not imagine that while I speak to you I mean not to act as I speak; for as my interest in this affair is greater, so will my behavior on this occasion surpass yours. You must have heard numerous accounts of this island, you must know how the Grecian maidens, as handsome as houris, their necks glittering with innumerable pearls and jewels, their bodies clothed with tunics of costly silks, sprinkled with gold, are waiting your arrival, reclining on soft couches in the sumptuous palaces of crowned lords and princes.

"You know well that the caliph Abdu-l-Malek Ibnu-l-walid has chosen you, like so many heroes, from among the brave; you know that the great lords of this island are willing to make you their sons and brethren by marriage, if you only rush on like so many brave men to the fight, and behave like true champions and valiant knights; you know that the recompenses of God await you if you are prepared to uphold his words, and proclaim his religion in this island; and, lastly, that all the spoil shall be yours, and of such Moslems as may be with you.

"Bear in mind that God Almighty will select, according to this promise, those that distinguish themselves most among you, and grant them due reward, both in this world and in the future; and know likewise that I shall be the first to set you the example, and to put in practice what I recommend you to do; for it is my intention, on the meeting of the two hosts, to attack the Christian tyrant Roderic, and kill him with my own hand, if God be pleased. When you see me bearing against him, charge along with me; if I kill him, the victory is ours; if I am killed before I reach him, do not trouble yourselves about me, but fight as if I were still alive and among you, and follow up my purpose; for the moment they see their King fall, these barbarians are sure to disperse. If, however, I should be killed, after inflicting death upon their King, appoint a man from among you who unites both courage and experience and may command you in this emergency and follow up the success. If you attend to my instructions, we are sure of the victory."

When Tarik had thus addressed his soldiers and exhorted them to fight with courage and to face the dangers of war with a stout heart—when he had thus recommended them to make a simultaneous attack upon Roderic's men, and promised them abundant reward if they routed their enemies—their countenances were suddenly expanded with joy their hopes were strengthened, the gales of victory began to blow on their side, and they all unanimously answered him: "We are ready to follow thee, O Tarik! We shall all, to one man, stand by thee and fight for thee; nor could we avoid it were we otherwise disposed—victory is our only hope of salvation."

After this Tarik mounted his horse, and his men did the same; and they all passed that night in constant watch for fear of the enemy. On the following morning, when day dawned, both armies prepared for battle; each general formed his cavalry and his infantry, and, the signal being given, the armies met with a shock, similar to that of two mountains dashing against each other.

King Roderic came, borne on a throne, and having over his head an awning of variegated silk to guard him from the rays of the sun, surrounded by warriors, cased in bright steel, with fluttering pennons and a profusion of banners and standards.

Tarik's men were differently arrayed; their breasts were covered with mail armor; they wore white turbans on their heads, the Arabian bow slung across their backs, their swords suspended in their girdles, and their long spears firmly grasped in their hands.

They say that when the two armies were advancing upon each other, and the eyes of Roderic fell upon the men in the first ranks, he was horror-stricken, and was heard to exclaim: "By the faith of the Messiah! These are the very men I saw painted on the scroll found in the mansion of science at Toledo;" and from that moment fear entered his heart; and when Tarik perceived Roderic, he said to his followers, "This is the King of the Christians," and he charged with his men, the warriors who surrounded Roderic being on all sides scattered and dispersed; seeing which, Tarik plunged into the ranks of the enemy until he reached the King, and wounded him with his sword on the head and killed him on his throne; and when Rodericks men saw their King fall, and his bodyguard dispersed, the rout became general, and victory remained with the Moslems.

The rout of the Christians was complete, for instead of rallying on one spot, they fled in all directions, and, their panic being communicated to their countrymen, cities opened their gates, and castles surrendered without resistance.

The preceding account we have borrowed from a writer of great note, but we deem it necessary to warn the readers that the assertion that Roderic died by the hands of Tarik has been contradicted by several historians, since his body, although diligently sought on the field of battle, could nowhere be found.

We shall proceed to recount in detail that memorable battle, when Almighty God was pleased to put King Roderic's army to flight and grant the Moslems a most complete victory. Several authors who have described at large this famous engagement state that Tarik encamped near Roderic, toward the middle of the month of Ramadan of the year 92 (September, A.D. 711), and although there is some difference as to the dates, all agree that the battle was fought on the banks of the Guadalete. They say also that while both armies were encamped in front of each other, the barbarian King, wishing to ascertain the exact amount of Tarik's forces, sent one of his men, whose valor and strength he knew, and in whose fidelity he placed unbounded confidence, with instructions to penetrate into Tarik's camp, and bring him an account of their number, arms, accoutrements, and vessels.

The Christian proceeded to execute his commission, and reached a small elevation, whence he had a commanding view of the whole camp. However, he had not remained long in his place of observation before he was discovered by some Moslems, who pursued him; but the Christian fled before them, and escaped through the swiftness of his horse.

Arrived at the Christian camp, he addressed Roderic in the following words: "These people, O King! are the same that thou sawest painted on the scroll of the enchanted palace. Beware of them! for the greatest part of them have bound themselves by oath to reach thee or die in the attempt; they have set fire to their vessels, to destroy their last hope of escape; they are encamped along the sea-shore, determined to die or to vanquish, for they know well that there is not in this country a place whither they can fly." On hearing this account, King Roderic was much disheartened, and he trembled with fear. However, the two armies engaged near the lake or gulf; they fought resolutely on both sides till the right and left wings of Roderic's army, under the command of the sons of Wittiza, gave way. The centre, in which Roderic was, still held firm for a while, and made the fate of the battle uncertain for some time; they fled at last, and Roderic before them. From that moment the rout became general, and the Moslems followed with ardor the pursuit of the scattered bands, inflicting death wherever they went.

Roderic disappeared in the midst of the battle, and no certain intelligence was afterward received of him. It is true that some Moslems found his favorite steed, a milk-white horse, bearing a saddle of gold, sparkling with rubies, plunged in the mud of the river, as also one of his sandals, adorned with rubies and emeralds, but the other was never found; nor was Roderic, although diligently searched for, ever discovered either dead or alive, a circumstance which led the Moslems to believe that he perished in the stream, the weight of his armor preventing him from struggling against the current, and he was drowned; but God only knows what became of him.

According to Ar-razi, the contest began on Sunday, two days before the end of Ramadan, and continued till Sunday, the 5th of Shawal; namely, eight whole days; at the end of which God Almighty was pleased to put the idolaters to flight, and grant the victory to the Moslems; and he adds that so great was the number of the Goths who perished in the battle that for a long time after the victory the bones of the slain were to be seen covering the field of action.

They say also that the spoil found by the Moslems in the camp of the Christians surpassed all computation, for the princes and great men of the Goths who had fallen were distinguished by the rings of gold they wore on their fingers, those of an inferior class by similar ornaments of silver, while those of the slaves were made of brass. Tarik collected all the spoil and divided it into five shares or portions, when, after deducting one-fifth, he distributed the rest among nine thousand Moslems, besides the slaves and followers.

When the people on the other side of the straits heard of this success of Tarik, and of the plentiful spoils he had acquired, they flocked to him from all quarters, and crossed the sea on every vessel or bark they could lay hold of. Tank's army being so considerably reinforced, the Christians were obliged to shut themselves up in their castles and fortresses, and, quitting the flat country, betake themselves to their mountains.


A.D. 732


When the Saracens had completed the conquest of Spain and all that country was wholly under their dominion, they determined to extend their authority over the neighboring country of the Franks.

Having crossed the Pyrenees they met with but slight opposition and soon succeeded in making themselves masters of Southern France, thereby furthering and encouraging their boastful ambition to conquer and Islamize the whole world.

Already had Africa, Asia Minor, and Eastern Europe acknowledged their rule, and the final subjugation of all Christendom by the Mahometan sword seemed certain and imminent.

Their long and uninterrupted career of success had fed their arrogance and filled them with a proud confidence in the invincibility of their arms, and their farther advance into the heart of Europe seemed, in the eyes of Christian and pagan alike, to be the irresistible march of destiny.

The Saracen host had not penetrated far into the Frankish territory when they encountered "a lion in the path," in the person of Charles (or Karl), the great palace-mayor—so called, but who was in reality the defacto sovereign of the Frankish kingdoms.

To Charles, famous for his military skill and prestige, came the recently defeated Eudes, the count of Aquitaine, and the remnant of his force, craving his protection and leadership against the advancing Saracen horde.

Charles' signal victory over the Saracen invaders proved to be the turning-point in the Moslem career of conquest. The question whether the Koran or the Bible, the Crescent or the Cross, Mahomet or Christ, should rule Europe and the western world was decided forever upon the bloody field of Tours.

The broad tract of champaign country which intervenes between the cities of Poitiers and Tours is principally composed of a succession of rich pasture lands, which are traversed and fertilized by the Cher, the Creuse, the Vienne, the Claine, the Indre, and other tributaries of the river Loire. Here and there the ground swells into picturesque eminences, and occasionally a belt of forest land, a brown heath, or a clustering series of vineyards breaks the monotony of the widespread meadows; but the general character of the land is that of a grassy plain, and it seems naturally adapted for the evolutions of numerous armies, especially of those vast bodies of cavalry which principally decided the fate of nations during the centuries that followed the downfall of Rome and preceded the consolidation of the modern European powers.

This region has been signalized by more than one memorable conflict; but it is principally interesting to the historian by having been the scene of the great victory won by Charles Martel over the Saracens, A.D. 732, which gave a decisive check to the career of Arab conquest in Western Europe, rescued Christendom from Islam, preserved the relics of ancient and the germs of modern civilization, and reëstablished the old superiority of the Indo-European over the Semitic family of mankind.

Sismondi and Michelet have underrated the enduring interest of this great Appeal of Battle between the champions of the Crescent and the Cross. But, if French writers have slighted the exploits of their national hero, the Saracenic trophies of Charles Martel have had full justice done to them by English and German historians. Gibbon devotes several pages of his great work[69] to the narrative of the battle of Tours, and to the consideration of the consequences which probably would have resulted if Abderrahman's enterprise had not been crushed by the Frankish chief. Schlegel speaks of this "mighty victory" in terms of fervent gratitude, and tells how "the arm of Charles Martel saved and delivered the Christian nations of the West from the deadly grasp of all-destroying Islam"; and Ranke points out, as "one of the most important epochs in the history of the world, the commencement of the eighth century, when on the one side Mahometanism threatened to overspread Italy and Gaul, and on the other the ancient idolatry of Saxony and Friesland once more forced its way across the Rhine. In this peril of Christian institutions, a youthful prince of Germanic race, Charles (or Karl) Martel, arose as their champion, maintained them with all the energy which the necessity for self-defence calls forth, and finally extended them into new regions."

Arnold ranks the victory of Charles Martel even higher than the victory of Arminius, "among those signal deliverances which have affected for centuries the happiness of mankind." In fact, the more we test its importance, the higher we shall be led to estimate it; and, though all authentic details which we possess of its circumstances and its heroes are but meagre, we can trace enough of its general character to make us watch with deep interest this encounter between the rival conquerors of the decaying Roman Empire. That old classic world, the history of which occupies so large a portion of our early studies, lay, in the eighth century of our era, utterly exanimate and overthrown. On the north the German, on the south the Arab, was rending away its provinces. At last the spoilers encountered one another, each striving for the full mastery of the prey. Their conflict brought back upon the memory of Gibbon the old Homeric simile, where the strife of Hector and Patroclus over the dead body of Cebriones is compared to the combat of two lions, that in their hate and hunger fight together on the mountain tops over the carcass of a slaughtered stag; and the reluctant yielding of the Saracen power to the superior might of the northern warriors might not inaptly recall those other lines of the same book of the Iliad, where the downfall of Patroclus beneath Hector is likened to the forced yielding of the panting and exhausted wild boar, that had long and furiously fought with a superior beast of prey for the possession of the scanty fountain among the rocks at which each burned to drink.

Although three centuries had passed away since the Germanic conquerors of Rome had crossed the Rhine, never to repass that frontier stream, no settled system of institutions or government, no amalgamation of the various races into one people, no uniformity of language or habits had been established in the country at the time when Charles Martel was called to repel the menacing tide of Saracenic invasion from the south. Gaul was not yet France. In that, as in other provinces of the Roman Empire of the West, the dominion of the Cæsars had been shattered as early as the fifth century, and barbaric kingdoms and principalities had promptly arisen on the ruins of the Roman power. But few of these had any permanency, and none of them consolidated the rest, or any considerable number of the rest, into one coherent and organized civil and political society.

The great bulk of the population still consisted of the conquered provincials, that is to say, of Romanized Celts, of a Gallic race which had long been under the dominion of the Cæsars, and had acquired, together with no slight infusion of Roman blood, the language, the literature, the laws, and the civilization of Latium. Among these, and dominant over them, roved or dwelt the German victors; some retaining nearly all the rude independence of their primitive national character, others softened and disciplined by the aspect and contact of the manners and institutions of civilized life; for it is to be borne in mind that the Roman Empire in the West was not crushed by any sudden avalanche of barbaric invasion. The German conquerors came across the Rhine, not in enormous hosts, but in bands of a few thousand warriors at a time. The conquest of a province was the result of an infinite series of partial local invasions, carried on by little armies of this description. The victorious warriors either retired with their booty or fixed themselves in the invaded district, taking care to keep sufficiently concentrated for military purposes, and ever ready for some fresh foray, either against a rival Teutonic band or some hitherto unassailed city of the provincials.

Gradually, however, the conquerors acquired a desire for permanent landed possessions. They lost somewhat of the restless thirst for novelty and adventure which had first made them throng beneath the banner of the boldest captains of their tribe, and leave their native forests for a roving military life on the left bank of the Rhine. They were converted to the Christian faith, and gave up with their old creed much of the coarse ferocity which must have been fostered in the spirits of the ancient warriors of the North by a mythology which promised, as the reward of the brave on earth, an eternal cycle of fighting and drunkenness in heaven.

But, although their conversion and other civilizing influences operated powerfully upon the Germans in Gaul, and although the Franks—who were originally a confederation of the Teutonic tribes that dwelt between the Rhine, the Maine, and the Weser—established a decisive superiority over the other conquerors of the province, as well as over the conquered provincials, the country long remained a chaos of uncombined and shifting elements. The early princes of the Merovingian dynasty were generally occupied in wars against other princes of their house, occasioned by the frequent subdivisions of the Frank monarchy; and the ablest and best of them had found all their energies tasked to the utmost to defend the barrier of the Rhine against the pagan Germans who strove to pass that river and gather their share of the spoils of the Empire.

The conquests which the Saracens effected over the southern and eastern provinces of Rome were far more rapid than those achieved by the Germans in the North, and the new organizations of society which the Moslems introduced were summarily and uniformly enforced. Exactly a century passed between the death of Mahomet and the date of the battle of Tours. During that century the followers of the prophet had torn away half the Roman Empire; and besides their conquests over Persia, the Saracens had overrun Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain, in an unchecked and apparently irresistible career of victory. Nor, at the commencement of the eighth century of our era, was the Mahometan world divided against itself, as it subsequently became. All these vast regions obeyed the Caliph; throughout them all, from the Pyrenees to the Oxus, the name of Mahomet was invoked in prayer and the Koran revered as the book of the law.

It was under one of their ablest and most renowned commanders, with a veteran army, and with every apparent advantage of time, place, and circumstance, that the Arabs made their great effort at the conquest of Europe north of the Pyrenees. The victorious Moslem soldiery in Spain,

"A countless multitude,
Syrian, Moor, Saracen, Greek renegade,
Persian, and Copt, and Tartar, in one bond
Of erring faith conjoined—strong in the youth
And heat of zeal—a dreadful brotherhood,"

were eager for the plunder of more Christian cities and shrines, and full of fanatic confidence in the invincibility of their arms.

"Nor were the chiefs
Of victory less assured, by long success
Elate, and proud of that o'erwhelming strength
Which, surely they believed, as it had rolled
Thus far unchecked, would roll victorious on,
Till, like the Orient, the subjected West
Should bow in reverence at Mahomet's name;
And pilgrims from remotest arctic shores
Tread with religious feet the burning sands
Of Araby and Mecca's stony soil."
Southey's Roderick,

It is not only by the modern Christian poet, but by the old Arabian chroniclers also, that these feelings of ambition and arrogance are attributed to the Moslems who had overthrown the Visigoth power in Spain. And their eager expectations of new wars were excited to the utmost on the reappointment by the Caliph of Abderrahman Ibn Abdillah Alghafeki to the government of that country, A.D. 729, which restored them a general who had signalized his skill and prowess during the conquests of Africa and Spain, whose ready valor and generosity had made him the idol of the troops, who had already been engaged in several expeditions into Gaul, so as to be well acquainted with the national character and tactics of the Franks, and who was known to thirst, like a good Moslem, for revenge for the slaughter of some detachments of the "true believers," which had been cut off on the north of the Pyrenees.

In addition to his cardinal military virtues Abderrahman is described by the Arab writers as a model of integrity and justice. The first two years of his second administration in Spain were occupied in severe reforms of the abuses which under his predecessors had crept into the system of government, and in extensive preparations for his intended conquest in Gaul. Besides the troops which he collected from his province, he obtained from Africa a large body of chosen Berber cavalry, officered by Arabs of proved skill and valor; and in the summer of 732 he crossed the Pyrenees at the head of an army which some Arab writers rate at eighty thousand strong, while some of the Christian chroniclers swell its numbers to many hundreds of thousands more. Probably the Arab account diminishes, but of the two keeps nearer to the truth.

It was from this formidable host, after Eudes, the count of Aquitaine, had vainly striven to check it, after many strong cities had fallen before it, and half the land had been overrun, that Gaul and Christendom were at last rescued by the strong arm of Prince Charles, who acquired a surname (Martel, the "Hammer") like that of the war-god of his forefathers' creed, from the might with which he broke and shattered his enemies in the battle.

The Merovingian kings had sunk into absolute insignificance, and had become mere puppets of royalty before the eighth century. Charles Martel, like his father, Pépin Héristal, was duke of the Austrasian Franks, the bravest and most thoroughly Germanic part of the nation, and exercised, in the name of the titular king, what little paramount authority the turbulent minor rulers of districts and towns could be persuaded or compelled to acknowledge. Engaged with his national competitors in perpetual conflicts for power, and in more serious struggles for safety against the fierce tribes of the unconverted Frisians, Bavarians, Saxons, and Thuringians, who at that epoch assailed with peculiar ferocity the Christianized Germans on the left bank of the Rhine, Charles Martel added experienced skill to his natural courage, and he had also formed a militia of veterans among the Franks.

Hallam has thrown out a doubt whether, in our admiration of his victory at Tours, we do not judge a little too much by the event, and whether there was not rashness in his risking the fate of France on the result of a general battle with the invaders. But when we remember that Charles had no standing army, and the independent spirit of the Frank warriors who followed his standard, it seems most probable that it was not in his power to adopt the cautious policy of watching the invaders, and wearing out their strength by delay. So dreadful and so widespread were the ravages of the Saracenic light cavalry throughout Gaul that it must have been impossible to restrain for any length of time the indignant ardor of the Franks. And, even if Charles could have persuaded his men to look tamely on while the Arabs stormed more towns and desolated more districts, he could not have kept an army together when the usual period of a military expedition had expired. If, indeed, the Arab account of the disorganization of the Moslem forces be correct, the battle was as well timed on the part of Charles as it was, beyond all question, well fought.

The monkish chroniclers, from whom we are obliged to glean a narrative of this memorable campaign, bear full evidence to the terror which the Saracen invasion inspired, and to the agony of that great struggle. The Saracens, say they, and their King, who was called Abdirames, came out of Spain, with all their wives, and their children, and their substance, in such great multitudes that no man could reckon or estimate them. They brought with them all their armor, and whatever they had, as if they were thenceforth always to dwell in France.

"Then Abderrahman, seeing the land filled with the multitude of his army, pierces through the mountains, tramples over rough and level ground, plunders far into the country of the Franks, and smites all with the sword, insomuch that when Eudes came to battle with him at the river Garonne, and fled before him, God alone knows the number of the slain. Then Abderrahman pursued after Count Eudes, and while he strives to spoil and burn the holy shrine at Tours he encounters the chief of the Austrasian Franks, Charles, a man of war from his youth up, to whom Eudes had sent warning. There for nearly seven days they strive intensely, and at last they set themselves in battle array, and the nations of the North, standing firm as a wall and impenetrable as a zone of ice, utterly slay the Arabs with the edge of the sword."

The European writers all concur in speaking of the fall of Abderrahman as one of the principal causes of the defeat of the Arabs; who, according to one writer, after finding that their leader was slain, dispersed in the night, to the agreeable surprise of the Christians, who expected the next morning to see them issue from their tents and renew the combat. One monkish chronicler puts the loss of the Arabs at three hundred and seventy-five thousand men, while he says that only one thousand and seven Christians fell; a disparity of loss which he feels bound to account for by a special interposition of Providence. I have translated above some of the most spirited passages of these writers; but it is impossible to collect from them anything like a full or authentic description of the great battle itself, or of the operations which preceded and followed it.

Though, however, we may have cause to regret the meagreness and doubtful character of these narratives, we have the great advantage of being able to compare the accounts given of Abderrahman's expedition by the national writers of each side. This is a benefit which the inquirer into antiquity so seldom can obtain that the fact of possessing it, in the case of the battle of Tours, makes us think the historical testimony respecting that great event more certain and satisfactory than is the case in many other instances, where we possess abundant details respecting military exploits, but where those details come to us from the annalist of one nation only, and where we have, consequently, no safeguard against the exaggerations, the distortions, and the fictions which national vanity has so often put forth in the garb and under the title of history. The Arabian writers who recorded the conquests and wars of their countrymen in Spain have narrated also the expedition into Gaul of their great Emir, and his defeat and death near Tours, in battle with the host of the Franks under "King Caldus," the name into which they metamorphose Charles Martel.

They tell us how there was war between the count of the Frankish frontier and the Moslems, and how the count gathered together all his people, and fought for a time with doubtful success. "But," say the Arabian chroniclers, "Abderrahman drove them back; and the men of Abderrahman were puffed up in spirit by their repeated successes, and they were full of trust in the valor and the practice in war of their Emir. So the Moslems smote their enemies, and passed the river Garonne, and laid waste the country, and took captives without number. And that army went through all places like a desolating storm. Prosperity made these warriors insatiable. At the passage of the river Abderrahman overthrew the count, and the count retired into his stronghold, but the Moslems fought against it, and entered it by force and slew the count; for everything gave way to their cimeters, which were the robbers of lives.

"All the nations of the Franks trembled at that terrible army, and they betook them to their king 'Caldus,' and told him of the havoc made by the Moslem horsemen, and how they rode at their will through all the land of Narbonne, Toulouse, and Bordeaux, and they told the King of the death of their count. Then the King bade them be of good cheer, and offered to aid them. And in the 114th year[70] he mounted his horse, and he took with him a host that could not be numbered, and went against the Moslems. And he came upon them at the great city of Tours. And Abderrahman and other prudent cavaliers saw the disorder of the Moslem troops, who were loaded with spoil; but they did not venture to displease the soldiers by ordering them to abandon everything except their arms and war-horses. And Abderrahman trusted in the valor of his soldiers, and in the good fortune which had ever attended him. But, the Arab writer remarks, such defect of discipline always is fatal to armies.

"So Abderrahman and his host attacked Tours to gain still more spoil, and they fought against it so fiercely that they stormed the city almost before the eyes of the army that came to save it, and the fury and the cruelty of the Moslems toward the inhabitants of the city were like the fury and cruelty of raging tigers. It was manifest," adds the Arab, "that God's chastisement was sure to follow such excesses, and Fortune thereupon turned her back upon the Moslems.

"Near the river Owar,[71] the two great hosts of the two languages and the two creeds were set in array against each other. The hearts of Abderrahman, his captains, and his men, were filled with wrath and pride, and they were the first to begin the fight. The Moslem horsemen dashed fierce and frequent forward against the battalions of the Franks, who resisted man-fully, and many fell dead on either side, until the going down of the sun. Night parted the two armies, but in the gray of the morning the Moslems returned to the battle. Their cavaliers had soon hewn their way into the centre of the Christian host. But many of the Moslems were fearful for the safety of the spoil which they had stored in their tents, and a false cry arose in their ranks that some of the enemy were plundering the camp; whereupon several squadrons of the Moslem horsemen rode off to protect their tents. But it seemed as if they fled, and all the host was troubled.

"And while Abderrahman strove to check their tumult and to lead them back to battle, the warriors of the Franks came around him, and he was pierced through with many spears, so that he died. Then all the host fled before the enemy and many died in the flight. This deadly defeat of the Moslems, and the loss of the great leader and good cavalier Abderrahman, took place in the hundred and fifteenth year."[72]

It would be difficult to expect from an adversary a more explicit confession of having been thoroughly vanquished than the Arabs here accord to the Europeans. The points on which their narrative differs from those of the Christians—as to how many days the conflict lasted, whether the assailed city was actually rescued or not, and the like—are of little moment compared with the admitted great fact that there was a decisive trial of strength between Frank and Saracen, in which the former conquered. The enduring importance of the battle of Tours in the eyes of the Moslems is attested not only by the expressions of "the deadly battle" and "the disgraceful overthrow" which their writers constantly employ when referring to it, but also by the fact that no more serious attempts at conquest beyond the Pyrenees were made by the Saracens.

Charles Martel and his son and grandson were left at leisure to consolidate and extend their power. The new Christian Roman Empire of the West, which the genius of Charlemagne founded, and throughout which his iron will imposed peace on the old anarchy of creeds and races, did not indeed retain its integrity after its great ruler's death. Fresh troubles came over Europe, but Christendom, though disunited, was safe. The progress of civilization, and the development of the nationalities and governments of modern Europe, from that time forth went forward in not uninterrupted, but ultimately certain, career.


[69] Gibbon remarks that if the Saracen conquests had not then been checked, "perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet."

[70] Of the Hegira.

[71] Probably the Loire.

[72] An. Heg.



A.D. 751


The Merovingians, the first dynasty of the Frankish kings in Gaul, was founded by the greatest of their kings, Clovis, who in 486 overthrew the Gallo-Roman sway under Syagrius, near Soissons. After his death in 511 his kingdom was divided among four sons who were mere boys ranging from twelve to eighteen years of age. The young princes extended the conquests of their father until they had secured from the emperor Justinian title to the whole of Gaul. The last survivor of the brother-kings was Clotaire I. Under his rule the whole Frankish empire had been united in one; but on his decease it was again divided among sons. This division cut the kingdom into three separate sovereignties.

The reign of these brothers was one of horrible cruelty and bloodshed. A second Clotaire survived them and brought the monarchy under one sceptre. But power slipped fast from this royal representative of the Merovingian race, and the mayor of the palace (major-domus) began to exercise an authority which in time resulted in supremacy. When Pépin of Héristal, the greatest territorial lord of Austrasia, took upon himself the office of major-domus, he compelled the Merovingian King, at the battle of Testry in 687, to invest him with the powers of that office in the three Frankish states, Neustria, Austrasia, and Burgundy. This being accomplished Pépin was practically dictator, and the Merovingians, though allowed to remain on the throne, were simply figure-heads from that time forth. Charles Martel was a son worthy of Pépin of Héristal. His most notable achievement was the defeat of the Saracen invaders at the battle of Tours, A.D. 732, which ended the advance of Mahometanism through Western Europe.

Charles Martel died October 22, 741, at Kiersey-sur-Oise, aged fifty-two years, and his last act was the least wise of his life. He had spent it entirely in two great works: the reëstablishment throughout the whole of Gaul of the Franco-Gallo-Roman Empire, and the driving back, from the frontiers of his empire, of the Germans in the North and the Arabs in the South. The consequence, as also the condition, of this double success was the victory of Christianity over paganism and Islamism.

Charles Martel endangered these results by falling back into the groove of those Merovingian kings whose shadow he had allowed to remain on the throne. He divided between his two legitimate sons, Pépin, called the Short, from his small stature, and Carloman, this sole dominion which he had with so much toil reconstituted and defended. Pépin had Neustria, Burgundy, Provence, and the suzerainty of Aquitaine; Carloman, Austrasia, Thuringia, and Alemannia. They both, at their father's death, took only the title of mayor of the palace, and, perhaps, of duke. The last but one of the Merovingians, Thierry IV, had died in 737. For four years there had been no king at all.

But when the works of men are wise and true, that is, in conformity with the lasting wants of peoples and the natural tendency of social facts, they get over even the mistakes of their authors. Immediately after the death of Charles Martel, the consequences of dividing his empire became manifest. In the North, the Saxons, the Bavarians, and the Alamannians renewed their insurrections. In the South, the Arabs of Septimania recovered their hopes of effecting an invasion; and Hunald, duke of Aquitaine, who had succeeded his father Eudes after his death in 735, made a fresh attempt to break away from Frankish sovereignty and win his independence. Charles Martel had left a young son, Grippo, whose legitimacy had been disputed, but who was not slow to set up pretensions and to commence intriguing against his brothers.

Everywhere there burst out that reactionary movement which arises against grand and difficult works when the strong hand that undertook them is no longer by to maintain them; but this movement was of short duration and to little purpose. Brought up in the school and in the fear of their father, his two sons, Pépin and Carloman, were inoculated with his ideas and example; they remained united in spite of the division of dominions, and labored together, successfully, to keep down, in the North the Saxons and Bavarians, in the South the Arabs and Aquitanians, supplying want of unity by union, and pursuing with one accord the constant aim of Charles Martel—abroad the security and grandeur of the Frankish dominion, at home the cohesion of all its parts and the efficacy of its government.

Events came to the aid of this wise conduct. Five years after the death of Charles Martel, in 746 in fact, Carloman, already weary of the burden of power, and seized with a fit of religious zeal, abdicated his share of sovereignty, left his dominions to his brother Pépin, had himself shorn by the hands of Pope Zachary, and withdrew into Italy to the monastery of Monte Cassino. The preceding year, in 745, Hunald, duke of Aquitaine, with more patriotic and equally pious views, also abdicated in favor of his son Waifre, whom he thought more capable than himself of winning the independence of Aquitaine, and went and shut himself up in a monastery in the island of Rhé, where was the tomb of his father Eudes. In the course of divers attempts at conspiracy and insurrection, the Frankish princes' young brother, Grippo, was killed in combat while crossing the Alps. The furious internal dissensions among the Arabs of Spain, and their incessant wars with the Berbers, did not allow them to pursue any great enterprise in Gaul. Thanks to all these circumstances, Pépin found himself, in 747, sole master of the heritage of Clovis, and with the sole charge of pursuing, in state and church, his father's work, which was the unity and grandeur of Christian France.

Pépin, less enterprising than his father, but judicious, persevering, and capable of discerning what was at the same time necessary and possible, was well fitted to continue and consolidate what he would, probably, never have begun and created. Like his father, he, on arriving at power, showed pretensions to moderation or, it might be said, modesty. He did not take the title of king; and, in concert with his brother Carloman, he went to seek, heaven knows in what obscure asylum, a forgotten Merovingian, son of Childéric II, the last but one of the sluggard kings, and made him king, the last of his line, with the title of Childéric III, himself, as well as his brother, taking only the style of mayor of the palace. But at the end of ten years, and when he saw himself alone at the head of the Frankish dominion, Pépin considered the moment arrived for putting an end to this fiction. In 751 he sent to Pope Zachary at Rome Burchard, bishop of Wuerzburg, and Fulrad, abbot of St. Denis, "to consult the pontiff," says Eginhard, "on the subject of the kings then existing among the Franks, and who bore only the name of king without enjoying a tittle of royal authority."

The Pope, whom St. Boniface, the great missionary of Germany, had prepared for the question, answered that "it was better to give the title of king to him who exercised the sovereign power "; and next year, in March, 752, in the presence and with the assent of the general assembly of "leudes" and bishops gathered together at Soissons, Pépin was proclaimed king of the Franks, and received from the hand of St. Boniface the sacred anointment. They cut off the hair of the last Merovingian phantom, Childéric III, and put him away in the monastery of St. Sithiu, at St. Omer. Two years later, July 28, 754, Pope Stephen II, having come to France to claim Pépin's support against the Lombards, after receiving from him assurance of it, "anointed him afresh with the holy oil in the church of St. Denis, to do honor in his person to the dignity of royalty," and conferred the same honor on the king's two sons, Charles and Carloman. The new Gallo-Frankish kingship and the papacy, in the name of their common faith and common interests, thus contracted an intimate alliance. The young Charles was hereafter to become Charlemagne.

The same year, Boniface, whom six years before Pope Zachary had made archbishop of Mayence, gave up one day the episcopal dignity to his disciple Lullus, charging him to carry on the different works himself had commenced among the churches of Germany, and to uphold the faith of the people. "As for me," he added, "I will put myself on my road, for the time of my passing away approacheth. I have longed for this departure, and none can turn me from it; wherefore, my son, get all things ready, and place in the chest with my books the winding-sheet to wrap up my old body." And so he departed with some of his priests and servants to go and evangelize the Frisons, the majority of whom were still pagans and barbarians. He pitched his tent on their territory, and was arranging to celebrate their Lord's supper, when a band of natives came down and rushed upon the archbishop's retinue. The servitors surrounded him, to defend him and themselves, and a battle began.

"Hold, hold, my children!" cried the archbishop; "Scripture biddeth us return good for evil. This is the day I have long desired, and the hour of our deliverance is at hand. Be strong in the Lord: hope in him, and he will save your souls." The barbarians slew the holy man and the majority of his company. A little while after, the Christians of the neighborhood came in arms and recovered the body of St. Boniface. Near him was a book which was stained with blood and seemed to have dropped from his hands; it contained several works of the fathers, and among others a writing of St. Ambrose, On the Blessing of Death. The death of the pious missionary was as powerful as his preaching in converting Friesland. It was a mode of conquest worthy of the Christian faith, and one of which the history of Christianity had already proved the effectiveness.

St. Boniface did not confine himself to the evangelization of the pagans; he labored ardently in the Christian Gallo-Frankish Church to reform the manners and ecclesiastical discipline, and to assure, while justifying, the moral influence of the clergy by example as well as precept. The councils, which had almost fallen into desuetude in Gaul, became once more frequent and active there: from 742 to 753 there may be counted seven, presided over by St. Boniface, which exercised within the Church a salutary action. King Pépin, recognizing the services which the archbishop of Mayence had rendered him, seconded his reformatory efforts at one time by giving the support of his royal authority to the canons of the councils, held often simultaneously with and almost confounded with the laic assemblies of the Franks; at another by doing justice to the protests of the churches against the violence and spoliation to which they were subjected.

"There was an important point," says M. Fauriel, "in respect of which the position of Charles Martel's sons turned out to be pretty nearly the same as that of their father: it was touching the necessity of assigning warriors a portion of the ecclesiastical revenues. But they, being more religious, perhaps, than Charles Martel, or more impressed with the importance of humoring the priestly power, were more vexed and more anxious about the necessity under which they found themselves of continuing to despoil the churches and of persisting in a system which was putting the finishing stroke to the ruin of all ecclesiastical discipline. They were more eager to mitigate the evil and to offer the Church compensation for their share in this evil to which it was not in their power to put a stop. Accordingly, at the March parade, held at Leptines in 743, it was decided, in reference to ecclesiastical lands applied to the military service: 1st, that the churches having the ownership of those lands should share the revenue with the lay holder; 2d, that on the death of a warrior in enjoyment of an ecclesiastical benefice, the benefice should revert to the Church; 3d, that every benefice, by deprivation whereof any church would be reduced to poverty, should be at once restored to her.

"That this capitular was carried out, or even capable of being carried out, is very doubtful; but the less Carloman and Pépin succeeded in repairing the material losses incurred by the Church since the accession of the Carlovingians, the more zealous they were in promoting the growth of her moral power and the restoration of her discipline ... That was the time at which there began to be seen the spectacle of the national assemblies of the Franks, the gatherings at the March parades transformed into ecclesiastical synods under the presidency of the titular legate of the Roman pontiff, and dictating, by the mouth of the political authority, regulations and laws with the direct and formal aim of restoring divine worship and ecclesiastical discipline, and of assuring the spiritual welfare of the people."

Pépin, after he had been proclaimed king and had settled matters with the Church as well as the warlike questions remaining for him to solve permitted, directed all his efforts toward the two countries which, after his father's example, he longed to reunite to the Gallo-Frankish monarchy, that is, Septimania, still occupied by the Arabs, and Aquitaine, the independence of which was stoutly and ably defended by Duke Eudes' grandson, Duke Waifre. The conquest of Septimania was rather tedious than difficult. The Franks, after having victoriously scoured the open country of the district, kept invested during three years its capital, Narbonne, where the Arabs of Spain, much weakened by their dissensions, vainly tried to throw in reinforcements. Besides the Mussulman Arabs, the population of the town numbered many Christian Goths, who were tired of suffering for the defence of their oppressors, and who entered into secret negotiations with the chiefs of Pépin's army, the end of which was that they opened the gates of the town. In 759, then, after forty years of Arab rule, Narbonne passed definitively under that of the Franks, who guaranteed to the inhabitants free enjoyment of their Gothic or Roman law and of their local institutions. It even appears that, in the province of Spain bordering on Septimania, an Arab chief, called Soliman, who was in command at Gerona and Barcelona, between the Ebro and the Pyrenees, submitted to Pépin, himself and the country under him. This was an important event, indeed, in the reign of Pépin, for here was the point at which Islamism, but lately aggressive and victorious in Southern Europe, began to feel definitively beaten and to recoil before Christianity.

The conquest of Aquitaine and Vasconia was much more keenly disputed and for a much longer time uncertain. Duke Waif re was as able in negotiation as in war; at one time he seemed to accept the pacific overtures of Pépin, or, perhaps, himself made similar, without bringing about any result; at another, he went to seek and found even in Germany allies who caused Pépin much embarrassment and peril. The population of Aquitaine hated the Franks; and the war, which for their duke was a question of independent sovereignty, was for themselves a question of passionate national feeling.

Pépin, who was naturally more humane and even more generous, it may be said, in war than his predecessors had usually been, was nevertheless induced, in his struggle against the Duke of Aquitaine, to ravage without mercy the countries he scoured, and to treat the vanquished with great harshness. It was only after nine years' war and seven campaigns full of vicissitudes that he succeeded, not in conquering his enemy in a decisive battle, but in gaining over some servants who betrayed their master. In the month of July, 759, "Duke Waifre was slain by his own folk, by the King's advice," says Frédégaire; and the conquest of all Southern Gaul carried the extent and power of the Gallo-Frankish monarchy farther and higher than it had ever yet been, even under Clovis.

In 753 Pépin had made an expedition against the Britons of Armorica, had taken Vannes and "subjugated," add certain chroniclers, "the whole of Brittany." In point of fact, Brittany was no more subjugated by Pépin than by his predecessors; all that can be said is that the Franks resumed under him an aggressive attitude toward the Britons, as if to vindicate a right of sovereignty.

Exactly at this epoch Pépin was engaging in a matter which did not allow him to scatter his forces hither and thither. It has been stated already, that in 741 Pope Gregory III had asked aid of the Franks against the Lombards who were threatening Rome, and that, while fully entertaining the Pope's wishes, Charles Martel had been in no hurry to interfere by deed in the quarrel. Twelve years later, in 753, Pope Stephen, in his turn threatened by Astolphus, King of the Lombards, after vain attempts to obtain guarantees of peace, repaired to Paris, and renewed to Pépin the entreaties used by Zachary. It was difficult for Pépin to turn a deaf ear; it was Zachary who had declared that he ought to be made king; Stephen showed readiness to anoint him a second time, himself and his sons; and it was the eldest of these sons, Charles, scarcely twelve years old, whom Pépin, on learning the near arrival of the Pope, had sent to meet him and give brilliancy to his reception.

Stephen passed the winter at St. Denis, and gained the favor of the people as well as that of the King. Astolphus peremptorily refused to listen to the remonstrances of Pépin, who called upon him to evacuate the towns in the exarchate of Ravenna, and to leave the Pope unmolested in the environs of Rome as well as in Rome itself. At the March parade held at Braine, in the spring of 754, the Franks approved of the war against the Lombards; and at the end of the summer Pépin and his army descended into Italy by Mount Cenis, the Lombards trying in vain to stop them as they debouched into the valley of Suza. Astolphus, beaten, and, before long, shut up in Pavia, promised all that was demanded of him; and Pépin and his warriors, laden with booty, returned to France, leaving at Rome the Pope, who conjured them to remain awhile in Italy, for to a certainty, he said, King Astolphus would not keep his promises. The pope was right. So soon as the Franks had gone, the King of the Lombards continued occupying the places in the exarchate and molesting the neighborhood of Rome.

The Pope, in despair and doubtful of his auxiliaries' return, conceived the idea of sending "to the King, the chiefs, and the people of the Franks, a letter written, he said, by Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, to announce to them that, if they came in haste, he would aid them as if he were alive according to the flesh among them, that they would conquer all their enemies and make themselves sure of eternal life!" The plan was perfectly successful: the Franks once more crossed the Alps with enthusiasm, once more succeeded in beating the Lombards, and once more shut up in Pavia King Astolphus, who was eager to purchase peace at any price. He obtained it on two principal conditions: (1) That he would not again make a hostile attack on Roman territory, or wage war against the Pope or people of Rome; (2) that he would henceforth recognize the sovereignty of the Franks, pay them tribute, and cede forthwith to Pépin the towns and all the lands belonging to the jurisdiction of the Roman Empire, which were at that time occupied by the Lombards. By virtue of these conditions Ravenna, Rimini, Pesaro, that is to say, the Romagna, the duchy of Urbino, and a portion of the Marches of Ancona, were at once given up to Pépin, who, regarding them as his own direct conquest, the fruit of victory, disposed of them forthwith in favor of the popes, by that famous deed of gift which comprehended pretty nearly what has since formed the Roman States, and which founded the temporal independence of the papacy, the guarantee of its independence in the exercise of the spiritual power.

At the head of the Franks as mayor of the palace from 741, and as king from 752, Pépin had completed in France and extended in Italy the work which his father, Charles Martel, had begun and carried on, from 714 to 741, in state and church. He left France reunited in one and placed at the head of Christian Europe. He died at the monastery of St. Denis, September 18, 768, leaving his kingdom and his dynasty thus ready to the hands of his son, whom history has dubbed Charlemagne.


A.D. 772-814


In Charles, the son of Pépin the Short, later known as Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, the Carlovingians saw the culminating glory of their line, while in French history the splendor of his name outshines that of all other rulers. It seemed an act of fate that his brother and joint heir to the Frankish kingdom should die and leave the monarchy wholly in his hands, for his genius was to prove equal to its field of action.

The kingdom which Charlemagne inherited was great in extent, lying mainly between the Loire and the Rhine, including Alemannia and Burgundy, while his sphere of influence—to use the modern phrase—covered many provinces and districts over which his rule was wholly or in part acknowledged—Aquitaine, Bavaria, Brittany, Frisia, Thuringia, and others.

To enlarge still further the bounds of his kingdom was the task to which the young monarch at once addressed himself, and upon which he entered with all the advantages of family prestige, a commanding and engaging personality, proven courage and skill in war, as well as talent and accomplishments in civil affairs.

The central purpose of Charlemagne, to the service of which all his policies and his conduct were directed, was the maintenance of the Christian religion as embodied in the Western Church, whose great champion he became, and in that character occupies his lofty place in the history of Europe and of the world. At this period the two great powers in the Christian world were the Roman pontiff and the Frankish king; and when, on Christmas Day, A.D. 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans, and in the Holy Roman Empire restored the Western Empire, extinct since 476, he welded church and state in what long proved to be indissoluble bonds, somewhat—it must be added—to the chagrin of the Byzantine emperors of the Eastern Roman Empire at Constantinople. This was an event the significance of which only later times could learn to estimate. The Holy Roman Empire henceforth held a leading part in the world's affairs, the influence of which is still active in the survivals of its power among nations.

Charlemagne served the Church and fulfilled his own purposes through the military subjugation of all whom he could overcome among the barbarians and heathens of his time. And the powers which he gained as conqueror he exercised with equal ability and steadfastness of purpose in his capacity as foremost secular ruler in the world. By the union of the Teutonic with the Roman interests, and of northern vigor with the culture of the South, it is considered by the historians of our own day that Charlemagne proved himself the beginner of a new era—in fact, as Bryce declares, of modern history itself.

Gibbon has said that of all the heroes to whom the title of "the Great" has been given, Charlemagne alone has retained it as a permanent addition to his name.

The most judicious minds are sometimes led blindly by tradition and habit, rather than enlightened by reflection and experience. Pépin the Short committed at his death the same mistake that his father, Charles Martel, had committed: he divided his dominions between his two sons, Charles and Carloman, thus destroying again that unity of the Gallo-Frankish monarchy which his father and he had been at so much pains to establish. But, just as had already happened in 746 through the abdication of Pépin's brother, events discharged the duty of repairing the mistake of men. After the death of Pépin, and notwithstanding that of Duke Waifre, insurrection broke out once more in Aquitaine; and the old duke, Hunald, issued from his monastery in the island of Rhé to try and recover power and independence. Charles and Carloman marched against him; but, on the march, Carloman, who was jealous and thoughtless, fell out with his brother, and suddenly quitted the expedition, taking away his troops. Charles was obliged to continue it alone, which he did with complete success. At the end of this first campaign, Pépin's widow, the queen-mother Bertha, reconciled her two sons; but an unexpected incident, the death of Carloman two years afterward in 771, reëstablished unity more surely than the reconciliation had reëstablished harmony. For, although Carloman left sons, the grandees of his dominions, whether laic or ecclesiastical, assembled at Corbény, between Laon and Rheims, and proclaimed in his stead his brother Charles, who thus became sole king of the Gallo-Franco-Germanic monarchy. And as ambition and manners had become less tinged with ferocity than they had been under the Merovingians, the sons of Carloman were not killed or shorn or even shut up in a monastery: they retired with their mother, Gerberge, to the court of Didier, King of the Lombards. "King Charles," says Eginhard, "took their departure patiently, regarding it as of no importance." Thus commenced the reign of Charlemagne.

The original and dominant characteristic of the hero of this reign, that which won for him, and keeps for him after more than ten centuries, the name of great, is the striking variety of his ambition, his faculties, and his deeds. Charlemagne aspired to and attained to every sort of greatness—military greatness, political greatness, and intellectual greatness; he was an able warrior, an energetic legislator, a hero of poetry. And he united, he displayed all these merits in a time of general and monotonous barbarism when, save in the church, the minds of men were dull and barren. Those men, few in number, who made themselves a name at that epoch, rallied round Charlemagne and were developed under his patronage. To know him well and appreciate him justly, he must be examined under those various grand aspects, abroad and at home, in his wars and in his government.

From 769 to 813, in Germany and Western and Northern Europe, Charlemagne conducted thirty-one campaigns against the Saxons, Frisians, Bavarians, Avars, Slavons, and Danes; in Italy, five against the Lombards; in Spain, Corsica, and Sardinia, twelve against the Arabs; two against the Greeks; and three in Gaul itself, against the Aquitanians and the Britons; in all, fifty-three expeditions; among which those he undertook against the Saxons, the Lombards, and the Arabs were long and difficult wars. It were undesirable to recount them in detail, for the relation would be monotonous and useless; but it is obligatory to make fully known their causes, their characteristic incidents, and their results.

Under the last Merovingian kings, the Saxons were, on the right bank of the Rhine, in frequent collision with the Franks, especially with the Austrasian Franks, whose territory they were continually threatening and often invading. Pépin the Short had more than once hurled them back far from the very uncertain frontiers of Germanic Austrasia; and, on becoming king, he dealt his blows still farther, and entered, in his turn, Saxony itself. "In spite of the Saxon's stout resistance," says Eginhard, "he pierced through the points they had fortified to bar entrance into their country, and, after having fought here and there battles wherein fell many Saxons, he forced them to promise that they would submit to his rule; and that every year, to do him honor, they would send to the general assembly of Franks a present of three hundred horses. When these conventions were once settled, he insisted, to insure their performance, upon placing them under the guarantee of rites peculiar to the Saxons; then he returned with his army to Gaul."

Charlemagne did not confine himself to resuming his father's work; he before long changed its character and its scope. In 772, being left sole master of France after the death of his brother Carloman, he convoked at Worms the general assembly of the Franks, "and took," says Eginhard, "the resolution of going and carrying war into Saxony. He invaded it without delay, laid it waste with fire and sword, made himself master of the fort of Ehresburg, and threw down the idol that the Saxons called Irminsul." And in what place was this first victory of Charlemagne won? Near the sources of the Lippe, just where, more than seven centuries before, the German Arminius (Herman) had destroyed the legions of Varus, and whither Germanicus had come to avenge the disaster of Varus. This ground belonged to Saxon territory; and this idol, called Irminsul, which was thrown down by Charlemagne, was probably a monument raised in honor of Arminius (Hermann-Seule, or Herman's pillar), whose name it called to mind. The patriotic and hereditary pride of the Saxons was passionately roused by this blow; and, the following year, "thinking to find in the absence of the King the most favorable opportunity," says Eginhard, they entered the lands of the Franks, laid them waste in their turn, and, paying back outrage for outrage, set fire to the church not long since built at Fritzlar, by Boniface, martyr. From that time the question changed its aspect; it was no longer the repression of Saxon invasions of France, but the conquest of Saxony by the Franks that was to be dealt with; it was between the Christianity of the Franks and the national paganism of the Saxons that the struggle was to take place.

For thirty years such was its character. Charlemagne regarded the conquest of Saxony as indispensable for putting a stop to the incursions of the Saxons, and the conversion of the Saxons to Christianity as indispensable for assuring the conquest of Saxony. The Saxons were defending at one and the same time the independence of their country and the gods of their fathers. Here was wherewithal to stir up and foment, on both sides, the profoundest passions; and they burst forth, on both sides, with equal fury. Whithersoever Charlemagne penetrated he built strong castles and churches; and, at his departure, left garrisons and missionaries. When he was gone the Saxons returned, attacked the forts, and massacred the garrisons and the missionaries. At the commencement of the struggle, a priest of Anglo-Saxon origin, whom St. Willibrod, bishop of Utrecht, had but lately consecrated—St. Liebwin, in fact—undertook to go and preach the Christian religion in the very heart of Saxony, on the banks of the Weser, amid the general assembly of the Saxons. "What do ye?" said he, cross in hand; "the idols ye worship live not, neither do they perceive: they are the work of men's hands; they can do naught either for themselves or for others. Wherefore the one God, good and just, having compassion on your errors, hath sent me unto you. If ye put not away your iniquity, I foretell unto you a trouble that ye do not expect, and that the King of Heaven hath ordained aforetime: there shall come a prince, strong and wise and indefatigable, not from afar, but from nigh at hand, to fall upon you like a torrent, in order to soften your hard hearts and bow down your proud heads. At one rush he shall invade the country; he shall lay it waste with fire and sword, and carry away your wives and children into captivity." A thrill of rage ran through the assembly; and already many of those present had begun to cut, in the neighboring woods, stakes sharpened to a point to pierce the priest, when one of the chieftains, named Buto, cried aloud: "Listen, ye who are the most wise. There have often come unto us ambassadors from neighboring peoples, Northmen, Slavons, or Frisians; we have received them in peace, and when their messages had been heard, they have been sent away with a present. Here is an ambassador from a great God, and ye would slay him!" Whether it were from sentiment or from prudence, the multitude was calmed, or, at any rate, restrained; and for this time the priest retired safe and sound.

Just as the pious zeal of the missionaries was of service to Charlemagne, so did the power of Charlemagne support and sometimes preserve the missionaries. The mob, even in the midst of its passions, is not throughout or at all times inaccessible to fear. The Saxons were not one and the same nation, constantly united in one and the same assembly, and governed by a single chieftain. Three populations of the same race, distinguished by names borrowed from their geographical situation, just as had happened among the Franks in the case of the Austrasians and Neustrians, to wit, Eastphalian or Eastern Saxons, Westphalian or Western, and Angrians, formed the Saxon confederation. And to them was often added a fourth people of the same origin, closer to the Danes, and called North-Albingians, inhabitants of the northern district of the Elbe. These four principal Saxon populations were subdivided into a large number of tribes, who had their own particular chieftains, and who often decided, each for itself, their conduct and their fate. Charlemagne, knowing how to profit by this want of cohesion and unity among his foes, attacked now one and now another of the large Saxon peoplets or the small Saxon tribes, and dealt separately with each of them, according as he found them inclined to submission or resistance. After having, in four or five successive expeditions, gained victories and sustained checks, he thought himself sufficiently advanced in his conquest to put his relations with the Saxons to a grand trial. In 777, he resolved, says Eginhard, "to go and hold, at the place called Paderborn (close to Saxony) the general assembly of this people. On his arrival he found there assembled the senate and people of this perfidious nation, who, conformably to his orders, had repaired thither, seeking to deceive him by a false show of submission and devotion.... They earned their pardon, but on this condition, however, that, if hereafter they broke their engagements, they would be deprived of country and liberty. A great number among them had themselves baptized on this occasion; but it was with far from sincere intentions that they had testified a desire to become Christians."

There had been absent from this great meeting a Saxon chieftain, called Wittikind, son of Wernekind, King of the Saxons at the north of the Elbe. He had espoused the sister of Siegfried, King of the Danes; and he was the friend of Ratbod, King of the Frisians. A true chieftain at heart as well as by descent, he was made to be the hero of the Saxons just as, seven centuries before, the Cheruscan Herman (Arminius) had been the hero of the Germans. Instead of repairing to Paderborn, Wittikind had left Saxony, and taken refuge with his brother-in-law, the King of the Danes. Thence he encouraged his Saxon compatriots, some to persevere in their resistance, others to repent them of their show of submission. War began again; and Wittikind hastened back to take part in it. In 778 the Saxons advanced as far as the Rhine; but, "not having been able to cross this river," says Eginhard, "they set themselves to lay waste with fire and sword all the towns and all the villages from the city of Duitz (opposite Cologne) as far as the confluence of the Moselle. The churches as well as the houses were laid in ruins from top to bottom. The enemy, in his frenzy, spared neither age nor sex, wishing to show thereby that he had invaded the territory of the Franks, not for plunder, but for revenge!" For three years the struggle continued, more confined in area, but more and more obstinate. Many of the Saxon tribes submitted; many Saxons were baptized; and Siegfried, King of the Danes, sent to Charlemagne a deputation, as if to treat for peace. Wittikind had left Denmark; but he had gone across to her neighbors, the Northmen; and, thence reëntering Saxony, he kindled there an insurrection as fierce as it was unexpected. In 782 two of Charlemagne's lieutenants were beaten on the banks of the Weser, and killed in the battle, "together with four counts and twenty leaders, the noblest in the army; indeed, the Franks were nearly all exterminated. At news of this disaster," says Eginhard, "Charlemagne, without losing a moment, reassembled an army and set out for Saxony. He summoned into his presence all the chieftains of the Saxons, and demanded of them who had been the promoters of the revolt. All agreed in denouncing Wittikind as the author of this treason. But as they could not deliver him up, because immediately after his sudden attack he had taken refuge with the Northmen, those who, at his instigation, had been accomplices in the crime, were placed, to the number of four thousand five hundred, in the hands of the King; and, by his order, all had their heads cut off the same day, at a place called Werden, on the river Aller. After this deed of vengeance the King retired to Thionville to pass the winter there."

But the vengeance did not put an end to the war. For three years Charlemagne had to redouble his efforts to accomplish in Saxony, at the cost of Frankish as well as Saxon blood, his work of conquest and conversion: "Saxony," he often repeated, "must be Christianized or wiped out." At last, in 785, after several victories which seemed decisive, he went and settled down in his strong castle of Ehresburg, "whither he made his wife and children come, being resolved to remain there all the bad season," says Eginhard, and applying himself without cessation to scouring the country of the Saxons and wearing them out by his strong and indomitable determination. But determination did not blind him to prudence and policy. "Having learned that Wittikind and Abbio, another great Saxon chieftain, were abiding in the part of Saxony situated on the other side of the Elbe, he sent to them Saxon envoys to prevail upon them to renounce their perfidy, and come, without hesitation, and trust themselves to him. They, conscious of what they had attempted, dared not at first trust to the King's word; but having obtained from him the promise they desired of impunity, and, besides, the hostages they demanded as guarantee of their safety, and who were brought to them, on the King's behalf, by Amalwin, one of the officers of his court, they came with the said lord and presented themselves before the King in his palace of Attigny [Attigny-sur-Aisne, whither Charlemagne had now returned], and there received baptism."

Charlemagne did more than amnesty Wittikind; he named him Duke of Saxony, but without attaching to the title any right of sovereignty. Wittikind, on his side, did more than come to Attigny and get baptized there; he gave up the struggle, remained faithful to his new engagements, and led, they say, so Christian a life that some chroniclers have placed him on the list of saints. He was killed in 807, in a battle against Gérold, Duke of Suabia, and his tomb is still to be seen at Ratisbon. Several families of Germany hold him for their ancestor; and some French genealogists have, without solid ground, discovered in him the grandfather of Robert the Strong, great-grandfather of Hugh Capet. However that may be, after making peace with Wittikind, Charlemagne had still, for several years, many insurrections to repress and much rigor to exercise in Saxony, including the removal of certain Saxon peoplets out of their country, and the establishment of foreign colonists in the territories thus become vacant; but the great war was at an end, and Charlemagne might consider Saxony incorporated in his dominions.

He had still, in Germany and all around, many enemies to fight and many campaigns to reopen. Even among the Germanic populations, which were regarded as reduced under the sway of the King of the Franks, some, the Frisians and Saxons, as well as others, were continually agitating for the recovery of their independence. Farther off, toward the north, east, and south, people differing in origin and language—Avars, Huns, Slavons, Bulgarians, Danes, and Northmen—were still pressing or beginning to press upon the frontiers of the Frankish dominion, for the purpose of either penetrating within or settling at the threshold as powerful and formidable neighbors. Charlemagne had plenty to do, with the view at one time of checking their incursions, and at another of destroying or hurling back to a distance their settlements; and he brought his usual vigor and perseverance to bear on this second struggle. But by the conquest of Saxony he had attained his direct national object: the great flood of population from east to west came, and broke against the Gallo-Franco-Germanic dominion as against an insurmountable rampart.

This was not, however, Charlemagne's only great enterprise at this epoch, nor the only great struggle he had to maintain. While he was incessantly fighting in Germany, the work of policy commenced by his father Pépin in Italy called for his care and his exertions. The new King of the Lombards, Didier, and the new Pope, Adrian I, had entered upon a new war; and Didier was besieging Rome, which was energetically defended by the Pope and its inhabitants. In 773, Adrian invoked the aid of the King of the Franks, whom his envoys succeeded, not without difficulty, in finding at Thionville. Charlemagne could not abandon the grand position left him by his father as protector of the papacy and as patrician of Rome. The possessions, moreover, wrested by Didier from the Pope were exactly those which Pépin had won by conquest from King Astolphus, and had presented to the Papacy. Charlemagne was besides, on his own account, on bad terms with the King of the Lombards, whose daughter, Désirée, he had married, and afterward repudiated and sent home to her father, in order to marry Hildegarde, a Suabian by nation. Didier, in dudgeon, had given an asylum to Carloman's widow and sons, on whose intrigues Charlemagne kept a watchful eye. Being prudent and careful of appearances, even when he was preparing to strike a heavy blow, Charlemagne tried, by means of special envoys, to obtain from the King of the Lombards what the Pope demanded. On Didier's refusal he at once set to work, convoked the general meeting of the Franks, at Geneva, in the autumn of 773, gained them over, not without encountering some objections, to the projected Italian expedition, and forthwith commenced the campaign with two armies. One was to cross the Valais and descend upon Lombardy by Mount St. Bernard; Charlemagne in person led the other, by Mount Cenis. The Lombards, at the outlet of the passes of the Alps, offered a vigorous resistance; but when the second army had penetrated into Italy by Mount St. Bernard, Didier, threatened in his rear, retired precipitately, and, driven from position to position, was obliged to go and shut himself up in Pavia, the strongest place in his kingdom, whither Charlemagne, having received on the march the submission of the principal counts and nearly all the towns of Lombardy, came promptly to besiege him.

To place textually before the reader a fragment of an old chronicle will serve better than any modern description to show the impression of admiration and fear produced upon his contemporaries by Charlemagne, his person and his power. At the close of this ninth century a monk of the abbey of St. Gall, in Switzerland, had collected, direct from the mouth of one of Charlemagne's warriors, Adalbert, numerous stories of his campaigns and his life. These stories are full of fabulous legends, puerile anecdotes, distorted reminiscences and chronological errors, and they are written sometimes with a credulity and exaggeration of language which raise a smile; but they reveal the state of men's minds and fancies within the circle of Charlemagne's influence and at the sight of him. This monk gives a naïve account of Charlemagne's arrival before Pavia, and of the King of the Lombard's disquietude at his approach. Didier had with him at that time one of Charlemagne's most famous comrades, Ogier the Dane, who fills a prominent place in the romances and epopæias, relating to chivalry, of that age. Ogier had quarrelled with his great chief and taken refuge with the King of the Lombards. It is probable that his Danish origin and his relations with the King of the Danes, Gottfried, for a long time an enemy of the Franks, had something to do with his misunderstanding with Charlemagne. However that may have been, "when Didier and Ogger (for so the monk calls him) heard that the dread monarch was coming, they ascended a tower of vast height whence they could watch his arrival from afar off and from every quarter. They saw, first of all, engines of war such as must have been necessary for the armies of Darius or Julius Cæsar. 'Is not Charles,' asked Didier of Ogger, 'with his great army?' But the other answered, 'No.' The Lombard, seeing afterward an immense body of soldiery gathered from all quarters of the vast empire, said to Ogger, 'Certes, Charles advanceth in triumph in the midst of this throng.' 'No, not yet; he will not appear so soon,' was the answer. 'What should we do, then,' rejoined Didier, who began to be perturbed, 'should he come accompanied by a larger band of warriors?' 'You will see what he is when he comes,' replied Ogger, 'but as to what will become of us, I know nothing.' As they were thus parleying appeared the body of guards that knew no repose; and at this sight the Lombard, overcome with dread, cried, 'This time 'tis surely Charles.' 'No,' answered Ogger, 'not yet.' In their wake came the bishops, the abbots, the ordinaries of the chapels royal, and the counts; and then Didier, no longer able to bear the light of day or to face death, cried out with groans, 'Let us descend and hide ourselves in the bowels of the earth, far from the face and the fury of so terrible a foe.' Trembling the while, Ogger, who knew by experience what were the power and might of Charles, and who had learned the lesson by long consuetude in better days, then said, 'When ye shall behold the crops shaking for fear in the fields, and the gloomy Po and the Ticino overflowing the walls of the city with their waves blackened with steel (iron), then may ye think that Charles is coming.' He had not ended these words when there began to be seen in the west, as it were a black cloud, raised by the northwest wind or by Boreas, which turned the brightest day into awful shadows. But as the Emperor drew nearer and nearer, the gleam of arms caused to shine on the people shut up within the city a day more gloomy than any kind of night. And then appeared Charles himself, that man of steel, with his head encased in a helmet of steel, his hands garnished with gauntlets of steel, his heart of steel and his shoulders of marble protected by a cuirass of steel, and his left hand armed with a lance of steel which he held aloft in the air, for as to his right hand he kept that continually on the hilt of his invincible sword. The outside of his thighs, which the rest, for their greater ease in mounting a-horseback, were wont to leave unshackled even by straps, he wore encircled by plates of steel. What shall I say concerning his boots? All the army were wont to have them invariably of steel; on his buckler there was naught to be seen but steel; his horse was of the color and the strength of steel. All those who went before the monarch, all those who marched at his side, all those who followed after, even the whole mass of the army had armor of the like sort, so far as the means of each permitted. The fields and the high-ways were covered with steel: the points of steel reflected the rays of the sun; and this steel, so hard, was borne by a people with hearts still harder. The flash of steel spread terror throughout the streets of the city. 'What steel! alack, what steel!' Such were the bewildered cries the citizens raised. The firmness of manhood and of youth gave way at sight of the steel; and the steel paralyzed the wisdom of graybeards. That which I, poor tale-teller, mumbling and toothless, have attempted to depict in a long description, Ogger perceived at one rapid glance, and said to Didier, 'Here is what ye have so anxiously sought': and while uttering these words he fell down almost lifeless."

The monk of St. Gall does King Didier and his people wrong. They showed more firmness and valor than he ascribes to them; they resisted Charlemagne obstinately, and repulsed his first assaults so well that he changed the siege into an investment, and settled down before Pavia, as if making up his mind for a long operation. His camp became a town; he sent for Queen Hildegarde and her court; and he had a chapel built where he celebrated the festival of Christmas. But on the arrival of spring, close upon the festival of Easter, 774, wearied with the duration of the investment, he left to his lieutenants the duty of keeping it up, and, attended by a numerous and brilliant following, set off for Rome, whither the Pope was urgently pressing him to come.

On Holy Saturday, April 1, 774, Charlemagne found, at three miles from Rome, the magistrates and the banner of the city, sent forward by the Pope to meet him; at one mile all the municipal bodies and the pupils of the schools carrying palm branches and singing hymns; and at the gate of the city, the cross, which was never taken out save for exarchs and patricians. At sight of the cross Charlemagne dismounted, entered Rome on foot, ascended the steps of the ancient basilica of St. Peter, repeating at each step a sign of respectful piety, and was received at the top by the Pope himself. All around him and in the streets a chant was sung, "Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord!" At his entry and during his sojourn at Rome, Charlemagne gave the most striking proofs of Christian faith and respect for the head of the Church. According to the custom of pilgrims he visited all the basilicas, and in that of Sta. Maria Maggiore he performed his solemn devotions. Then, passing to temporal matters, he caused to be brought and read over, in his private conferences with the Pope, the deed of territorial gift made by his father Pépin to Stephen II, and with his own lips dictated the confirmation of it, adding thereto a new gift of certain territories which he was in course of wresting by conquest from the Lombards. Pope Adrian, on his side, rendered to him, with a mixture of affection and dignity, all the honors and all the services which could at one and the same time satisfy and exalt the King and the priest, the protector and the protected. He presented to Charlemagne a book containing a collection of the canons written by the pontiffs from the origin of the Church, and he put at the beginning of the book, which was dedicated to Charlemagne, an address in forty-five irregular verses, written with his own hand, which formed an anagram: "Pope Adrian to his most excellent son, Charlemagne, king" (Domino excellentissimo filio Carolo Magno regi, Hadrianus papa). At the same time he encouraged him to push his victory to the utmost and make himself king of the Lombards, advising him, however, not to incorporate his conquest with the Frankish dominions, as it would wound the pride of the conquered people to be thus absorbed by the conquerors, and to take merely the title of "King of the Franks and Lombards." Charlemagne appreciated and accepted this wise advice; for he could preserve proper limits in his ambition and in the hour of victory. Three years afterward he even did more than Pope Adrian had advised. In 777 Queen Hildegarde bore him a son, Pépin, whom in 781 Charlemagne had baptized and anointed King of Italy at Rome by the Pope, thus separating not only the two titles, but also the two kingdoms, and restoring to the Lombards a national existence, feeling quite sure that so long as he lived the unity of his different dominions would not be imperilled. Having thus regulated at Rome his own affairs and those of the Church, he returned to his camp, took Pavia, received the submission of all the Lombard dukes and counts, save one only, Aregisius, Duke of Beneventum, and entered France again, taking with him, as prisoner, King Didier, whom he banished to a monastery, first at Liège and then at Corbie, where the dethroned Lombard, say the chroniclers, ended his days in saintly fashion.

The prompt success of this war in Italy, undertaken at the appeal of the head of the Church, this first sojourn of Charlemagne at Rome, the spectacles he had witnessed and the homage he had received, exercised over him, his plans and his deeds, a powerful influence. This rough Frankish warrior, chief of a people who were beginning to make a brilliant appearance upon the stage of the world, and issue himself of a new line, had a taste for what was grand, splendid, ancient, and consecrated by time and public respect; he understood and estimated at its full worth the moral force and importance of such allies. He departed from Rome in 774, more determined than ever to subdue Saxony, to the advantage of the Church as well as of his own power, and to promote, in the South as in the North, the triumph of the Frankish Christian dominion.

Three years afterward, in 777, he had convoked at Paderborn, in Westphalia, that general assembly of his different peoples at which Wittikind did not attend, and which was destined to bring upon the Saxons a more and more obstinate war. "The Saracen Ibn-al-Arabi," says Eginhard, "came to this town, to present himself before the King. He had arrived from Spain, together with other Saracens in his train, to surrender to the King of the Franks himself and all the towns which the King of the Saracens had confided to his keeping." For a long time past the Christians of the West had given the Mussulmans, Arab or other, the name of Saracens. Ibn-al-Arabi was governor of Saragossa, and one of the Spanish-Arab chieftains in league against Abdel-Rhaman, the last offshoot of the Ommiad caliphs, who, with the assistance of the Berbers, had seized the government of Spain. Amid the troubles of his country and his nation, Ibn-al-Arabi summoned to his aid, against Abdel-Rhaman, the Franks and the Christians, just as, but lately, Maurontius, Duke of Arles, had summoned to Provence, against Charles Martel, the Arabs and the Mussulmans.

Charlemagne accepted the summons with alacrity. With the coming of spring in the following year, 778, and with the full assent of his chief warriors, he began his march toward the Pyrenees, crossed the Loire, and halted at Casseneuil, at the confluence of the Lot and the Garonne, to celebrate there the festival of Easter, and to make preparations for his expedition thence. As he had but lately done for his campaign in Italy against the Lombards, he divided his forces into two armies: one composed of Austrasians, Neustrians, Burgundians, and divers German contingents, and commanded by Charlemagne in person, was to enter Spain by the valley of Roncesvalles, in the western Pyrenees, and make for Pampeluna; the other, consisting of Provençals, Septimanians, Lombards, and other populations of the South, under the command of Duke Bernard, who had already distinguished himself in Italy, had orders to penetrate into Spain by the eastern Pyrenees, to receive on the march the submission of Gerona and Barcelona, and not to halt till they were before Saragossa, where the two armies were to form a junction, and which Ibn-al-Arabi had promised to give up to the King of the Franks. According to this plan, Charlemagne had to traverse the territories of Aquitaine and Vasconia, domains of Duke Lupus II, son of Duke Waifre, so long the foe of Pépin the Short, a Merovingian by descent, and, in all these qualities, little disposed to favor Charlemagne. However, the march was accomplished without difficulty. The King of the Franks treated his powerful vassal well; and Duke Lupus swore to him afresh, "or for the first time," says M. Fauriel, "submission and fidelity; but the event soon proved that it was not without umbrage or without all the feelings of a true son of Waifre that he saw the Franks and the son of Pépin so close to him."

The aggressive campaign was an easy and a brilliant one. Charles with his army entered Spain by the valley of Roncesvalles without encountering any obstacle. On his arrival before Pampeluna the Arab governor surrendered the place to him, and Charlemagne pushed forward vigorously to Saragossa. But there fortune changed. The presence of foreigners and Christians on the soil of Spain caused a suspension of interior quarrels among the Arabs, who rose in mass, at all points, to succor Saragossa. The besieged defended themselves with obstinacy; there was more scarcity of provisions among the besiegers than inside the place; sickness broke out among them; they were incessantly harassed from without; and rumors of a fresh rising among the Saxons reached Charlemagne. The Arabs demanded negotiation. To decide the King of the Franks upon an abandonment of the siege, they offered him "an immense quantity of gold," say the chroniclers, hostages, and promises of homage and fidelity. Appearances had been saved; Charlemagne could say, and even perhaps believe, that he had pushed his conquests as far as the Ebro; he decided on retreat, and all the army was set in motion to recross the Pyrenees. On arriving before Pampeluna Charlemagne had its walls completely razed to the ground, "in order that," as he said, "that city might not be able to revolt." The troops entered those same passes of Roncesvalles which they had traversed without obstacle a few weeks before; and the advance-guard and the main body of the army were already clear of them. The account of what happened shall be given in the words of Eginhard, the only contemporary historian whose account, free from all exaggeration, can be considered authentic. "The King," he says, "brought back his army without experiencing any loss, save that at the summit of the Pyrenees he suffered somewhat from the perfidy of the Vascons (Basques). While the army of the Franks, embarrassed in a narrow defile, was forced by the nature of the ground to advance in one long close line, the Basques, who were in ambush on the crest of the mountain—for the thickness of the forest with which these parts are covered is favorable to ambuscade—descend and fall suddenly on the baggage-train and on the troops of the rear-guard, whose duty it was to cover all in their front, and precipitate them to the bottom of the valley. There took place a fight in which the Franks were killed to a man. The Basques, after having plundered the baggage-train, profited by the night which had come on to disperse rapidly. They owed all their success in this engagement to the lightness of their equipment and to the nature of the spot where the action took place; the Franks, on the contrary, being heavily armed and in an unfavorable position, struggled against too many disadvantages. Eginhard, master of the household of the King; Anselm, count of the palace; and Roland, prefect of the marches of Brittany, fell in this engagement. There were no means, at the time, of taking revenge for this check; for, after their sudden attack, the enemy dispersed to such good purpose that there was no gaining any trace of the direction in which they should be sought for."

History says no more; but in the poetry of the people there is a longer and a more faithful memory than in the court of kings. The disaster of Roncesvalles and the heroism of the warriors who perished there, became in France the object of popular sympathy and the favorite topic for the exercise of the popular fancy. The Song of Roland, a real Homeric poem in its great beauty, and yet rude and simple as became its national character, bears witness to the prolonged importance attained in Europe by this incident in the history of Charlemagne. Four centuries later the comrades of William the Conqueror, marching to battle at Hastings for the possession of England, struck up The Song of Roland, "to prepare themselves for victory or death," says M. Vitel in his vivid estimate and able translation of this poetical monument of the manners and first impulses toward chivalry of the Middle Ages. There is no determining how far history must be made to participate in these reminiscences of national feeling; but, assuredly, the figures of Roland and Oliver, and Archbishop Turpin, and the pious, unsophisticated, and tender character of their heroism are not pure fables invented by the fancy of a poet or the credulity of a monk. If the accuracy of historical narrative must not be looked for in them, their moral truth must be recognized in their portrayal of a people and an age.

The politic genius of Charlemagne comprehended more fully than would be imagined from his panegyrist's brief and dry account all the gravity of the affair of Roncesvalles. Not only did he take immediate vengeance by hanging Duke Lupus of Aquitaine, whose treason had brought down this mishap, and by reducing his two sons, Adalric and Sancho, to a more feeble and precarious condition; but he resolved to treat Aquitaine as he had but lately treated Italy, that is to say, to make of it, according to the correct definition of M. Fauriel, "a special kingdom, an integral portion, indeed, of the Frankish empire, but with an especial destination, which was that of resisting the invasions of the Andalusian Arabs, and confining them as much as possible to the soil of the peninsula." This was, in some sort, giving back to the country its primary task as an independent duchy; and it was the most natural and most certain way of making the Aquitanians useful subjects, by giving play to their national vanity, to their pretensions of forming a separate people, and to their hopes of once more becoming, sooner or later, an independent nation. Queen Hildegarde, during her husband's sojourn at Casseneuil, in 778, had borne him a son whom he called Louis, and who was afterward Louis the Debonair. Charlemagne, summoned a second time to Rome, in 781, by the quarrels of Pope Adrian I with the imperial court of Constantinople, brought with him his two sons, Pépin, aged only four years, and Louis, only three years, and had them anointed by the Pope—the former King of Italy, and the latter King of Aquitaine. On returning from Rome to Austrasia, Charlemagne sent Louis at once to take possession of his kingdom. From the banks of the Meuse to Orleans the little prince was carried in his cradle; but once on the Loire, this manner of travelling beseemed him no longer; his conductors would that his entry into his dominions should have a manly and warrior-like appearance; they clad him in arms proportioned to his height and age; they put him and held him on horseback; and it was in such guise that he entered Aquitaine. He came thither accompanied by the officers who were to form his council of guardians, men chosen by Charlemagne, with care, among the Frankish Leudes, distinguished not only for bravery and firmness, but also for adroitness, and such as they should be to be neither deceived nor scared by the cunning, fickle, and turbulent populations with whom they would have to deal. From this period to the death of Charlemagne, and by his sovereign influence, though all the while under his son's name, the government of Aquitaine was a series of continued efforts to hurl back the Arabs of Spain beyond the Ebro, to extend to that river the dominion of the Franks, to divert to that end the forces as well as the feelings of the populations of Southern Gaul, and thus to pursue, in the South as in the North, against the Arabs as well as against the Saxons and Huns, the grand design, of Charlemagne, which was the repression of foreign invasions and the triumph of Christian France over Asiatic paganism and Islamism.

Although continually obliged to watch, and often still to fight, Charlemagne might well believe that he had nearly gained his end. He had everywhere greatly extended the frontiers of the Frankish dominions and subjugated the populations comprised in his conquests. He had proved that his new frontiers would be vigorously defended against new invasions or dangerous neighbors. He had pursued the Huns and the Slavons to the confines of the Empire of the East, and the Saracens to the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. The centre of the dominion was no longer in ancient Gaul; he had transferred it to a point not far from the Rhine, in the midst and within reach of the Germanic populations, at the town of Aix-la-Chapelle, which he had founded, and which was his favorite residence; but the principal parts of the Gallo-Frankish kingdom, Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgundy, were effectually welded in one single mass. What he had done with Southern Gaul has just been pointed out; how he had both separated it from his own kingdom, and still retained it under his control. Two expeditions into Armorica, without taking entirely from the Britons their independence, had taught them real deference, and the great warrior Roland, installed as count upon their frontier, warned them of the peril any rising would encounter. The moral influence of Charlemagne was on a par with his material power; he had everywhere protected the missionaries of Christianity; he had twice entered Rome, also in the character of protector, and he could count on the faithful support of the Pope at least as much as the Pope could count on him. He had received embassies and presents from the sovereigns of the East, Christian and Mussulman, from the emperors of Constantinople and the caliphs of Bagdad. Everywhere, in Europe, in Africa, and in Asia, he was feared and respected by kings and people. Such, at the close of the eighth century, were, so far as he was concerned, the results of his wars, of the superior capacity he had displayed, and of the successes he had won and kept.

In 799 he received, at Aix-la-Chapelle, news of serious disturbances which had broken out at Rome; that Pope Leo III had been attacked by conspirators, who, after pulling out, it was said, his eyes and his tongue, had shut him up in the monastery of St. Erasmus, whence he had with great difficulty escaped, and that he had taken refuge with Winigisius, Duke of Spoleto, announcing his intention of repairing thence to the Frankish King. Leo was already known to Charlemagne; at his accession to the pontificate, in 795, he had sent to him, as to the patrician and defender of Rome, the keys of the prison of St. Peter, and the banner of the city. Charlemagne showed a disposition to receive him with equal kindness and respect. The Pope arrived, in fact, at Paderborn, passed some days there, according to Eginhard, and returned to Rome on the 30th of November, 799, at ease regarding his future, but without knowledge on the part of anyone of what had been settled between the King of the Franks and him. Charlemagne remained all the winter at Aix-la-Chapelle, spent the first months of the year 800 on affairs connected with Western France, at Rouen, Tours, Orleans, and Paris, and, returning to Mayence in the month of August, then for the first time announced to the general assembly of Franks his design of making a journey to Italy. He repaired thither, in fact, and arrived on the 23d of November, 800, at the gates of Rome. The Pope "received him there as he was dismounting; then, the next day, standing on the steps of the basilica of St. Peter and amid general hallelujahs, he introduced the King into the sanctuary of the blessed apostle, glorifying and thanking the Lord for this happy event." Some days were spent in examining into the grievances which had been set down to the Pope's account, and in receiving two monks arrived from Jerusalem to present to the King, with the patriarch's blessing, the keys of the Holy Sepulchre and Calvary, as well as the sacred standard. Lastly, on the 25th of December, 800, "the day of the Nativity of our Lord," says Eginhard, "the King came into the basilica of the blessed St. Peter, apostle, to attend the celebration of mass. At the moment when, in his place before the altar, he was bowing down to pray, Pope Leo placed on his head a crown, and all the Roman people shouted, 'Long life and victory to Charles Augustus, crowned by God, the great and pacific Emperor of the Romans!' After this proclamation the Pontiff prostrated himself before him and paid him adoration, according to the custom established in the days of the old emperors; and thenceforward Charles, giving up the title of patrician, bore that of emperor and augustus."

Eginhard adds, in his Life of Charlemagne: "The King at first testified great aversion for this dignity, for he declared that, notwithstanding the importance of the festival, he would not on that day have entered the church if he could have foreseen the intentions of the sovereign Pontiff. However, this event excited the jealousy of the Roman emperors (of Constantinople), who showed great vexation at it; but Charles met their bad graces with nothing but great patience, and thanks to this magnanimity which raised him so far above them, he managed, by sending to them frequent embassies and giving them in his letters the name of brother, to triumph over their conceit."

No one, probably, believed, in the ninth century, and no one, assuredly, will nowadays believe that Charlemagne was innocent beforehand of what took place on the 25th of December, 300, in the basilica of St. Peter. It is doubtful, also, if he were seriously concerned about the ill-temper of the emperors of the East. He had wit enough to understand the value which always remains attached to old traditions, and he might have taken some pains to secure their countenance to his title of emperor; but all his contemporaries believed, and he also undoubtedly believed, that he had on that day really won and set up again the Roman Empire.

What, then, was the government of this empire of which Charlemagne was proud to assume the old title? How did this German warrior govern that vast dominion which, thanks to his conquests, extended from the Elbe to the Ebro, from the North Sea to the Mediterranean; which comprised nearly all Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the north of Italy and of Spain, and which, sooth to say, was still, when Charlemagne caused himself to be made emperor, scarce more than the hunting-ground and the battle-field of all the swarms of barbarians who tried to settle on the ruins of the Roman world they had invaded and broken to pieces? The government of Charlemagne in the midst of this chaos is the striking, complicated, and transitory fact which is now to be passed in review.

A word of warning must be first of all given touching this word government with which it is impossible to dispense. For a long time past the word has entailed ideas of national unity, general organization, and regular and efficient power. There has been no lack of revolutions which have changed dynasties and the principles and forms of the supreme power in the State; but they have always left existing, under different names, the practical machinery whereby the supreme power makes itself felt and exercises its various functions over the whole country. Open the Almanac, whether it be called the Imperial, the Royal, or the National, and you will find there always the working system of the government of France; all the powers and their agents, from the lowest to the highest, are there indicated and classed according to their prerogatives and relations. Nor have we there a mere empty nomenclature, a phantom of theory; things go on actually as they are described—the book is the reflex of the reality. It were easy to construct, for the empire of Charlemagne, a similar list of officers; there might be set down in it dukes, counts, vicars, centeniers, and sheriffs (scabini), and they might be distributed, in regular gradation, over the whole territory; but it would be one huge lie, for most frequently, in the majority of places, these magistracies were utterly powerless and themselves in complete disorder. The efforts of Charlemagne, either to establish them on a firm footing or to make them act with regularity, were continual but unavailing. In spite of the fixity of his purpose and the energy of his action the disorder around him was measureless and insurmountable. He might check it for a moment at one point; but the evil existed wherever his terrible will did not reach, and wherever it did the evil broke out again as soon as it had been withdrawn. How could it be otherwise? Charlemagne had not to grapple with one single nation or with one single system of institutions; he had to deal with different nations, without cohesion, and foreign one to another. The authority belonged, at one and the same time, to assemblies of free men, to landholders over the dwellers on their domains, and to the king over the leudes and their following. These three powers appeared and acted side by side in every locality as well as in the totality of the State. Their relations and their prerogatives were not governed by any generally recognized principle, and none of the three was invested with sufficient might to habitually prevail against the independence or resistance of its rivals. Force alone, varying according to circumstances and always uncertain, decided matters between them. Such was France at the accession of the second line. The coexistence of and the struggle between the three systems of institutions and the three powers just alluded to had as yet had no other result. Out of this chaos Charlemagne caused to issue a monarchy, strong through him alone and so long as he was by, but powerless and gone like a shadow when the man was lost to the institution.

Whoever is astonished either at this triumph of absolute monarchy through the personal movement of Charlemagne, or at the speedy fall of the fabric on the disappearance of the moving spirit, understands neither what can be done by a great man, when, without him, society sees itself given over to deadly peril, nor how unsubstantial and frail is absolute power when the great man is no longer by, or when society has no longer need of him.

It has just been shown how Charlemagne by his wars, which had for their object and result permanent and well-secured conquests, had stopped the fresh incursions of barbarians, that is, had stopped disorder coming from without. An attempt will now be made to show by what means he set about suppressing disorder from within and putting his own rule in the place of the anarchy that prevailed in the Roman world which lay in ruins, and in the barbaric world which was a prey to blind and ill-regulated force.

A distinction must be drawn between the local and central governments.

Far from the centre of the State, in what have since been called the provinces, the power of the Emperor was exercised by the medium of two classes of agents, one local and permanent, the other despatched from the centre and transitory.

In the first class we find:

1st. The dukes, counts, vicars of counts, centeniers, sheriffs (scabini), officers or magistrates residing on the spot, nominated by the Emperor himself or by his delegates, and charged with the duty of acting in his name for the levying of troops, rendering of justice, maintenance of order, and receipt of imposts.

2d. The beneficiaries or vassals of the Emperor, who held of him, sometimes as hereditaments, more often for life, and more often still without fixed rule or stipulation, lands; domains, throughout the extent of which they exercised, a little bit in their own name and a little bit in the name of the Emperor, a certain jurisdiction and nearly all the rights of sovereignty. There was nothing very fixed or clear in the position of the beneficiaries and in the nature of their power; they were at one and the same time delegates and independent owners and enjoyers of usufruct, and the former or the latter character prevailed among them according to circumstances. But, altogether, they were closely bound to Charlemagne, who, in a great number of cases, charged them with the execution of his orders in the lands they occupied.

Above these agents, local and resident, magistrates or beneficiaries, were the missi dominici, temporary commissioners, charged to inspect, in the Emperor's name, the condition of the provinces; authorized to penetrate into the interior of the free lands as well as of the domains granted with the title of benefices; having the right to reform certain abuses, and bound to render an account of all to their master. The missi dominici were the principal instruments Charlemagne had, throughout the vast territory of his empire, of order and administration.

As to the central government, setting aside for a moment the personal action of Charlemagne and of his counsellors, the general assemblies, to judge by appearances and to believe nearly all the modern historians, occupied a prominent place in it. They were, in fact, during his reign, numerous and active; from the year 770 to the year 813 we may count thirty-five of these national assemblies, March-parades and May-parades, held at Worms, Valenciennes, Geneva, Paderborn, Aix-la-Chapelle, Thionville, and several other towns, the majority situated round about the two banks of the Rhine. The number and periodical nature of these great political reunions are undoubtedly a noticeable fact. What, then, went on in their midst? What character and weight must be attached to their intervention in the government of the State? It is important to sift this matter thoroughly.

There is extant, touching this subject, a very curious document. A contemporary and counsellor of Charlemagne, his cousin-german Adalbert, abbot of Corbie, had written a treatise entitled "Of the Ordering of the Palace" (de Ordine Palatii), and designed to give an insight into the government of Charlemagne, with especial reference to the national assemblies. This treatise was lost; but toward the close of the ninth century Hincmar, the celebrated archbishop of Rheims, reproduced it almost in its entirety, in the form of a letter of instructions, written at the request of certain grandees of the kingdom who had asked counsel of him with respect to the government of Carloman, one of the sons of Charles the Stutterer. We read therein:

"It was the custom at this time to hold two assemblies every year.... In both, that they might not seem to have been convoked without motive, there was submitted to the examination and deliberation of the grandees ... and by virtue of orders from the King, the fragments of law called capitula, which the King himself had drawn up under the inspiration of God or the necessity for which had been made manifest to him in the intervals between the meetings."

Two striking facts are to be gathered from these words: the first, that the majority of the members composing these assemblies probably regarded as a burden the necessity for being present at them, since Charlemagne took care to explain their convocation by declaring to them the motive for it, and by always giving them something to do; the second, that the proposal of the capitularies, or, in modern phrase, the initiative, proceeded from the Emperor. The initiative is naturally exercised by him who wishes to regulate or reform, and, in his time, it was especially Charlemagne who conceived this design. There is no doubt, however, but that the members of the assembly might make on their side such proposals as appeared to them suitable; the constitutional distrusts and artifices of our time were assuredly unknown to Charlemagne, who saw in these assemblies a means of government rather than a barrier to his authority. To resume the text of Hincmar:

"After having received these communications, they deliberated on them two or three days or more, according to the importance of the business. Palace messengers, going and coming, took their questions and carried back the answers. No stranger came near the place of their meeting until the result of their deliberations had been able to be submitted to the scrutiny of the great prince, who then, with the wisdom he had received from God, adopted a resolution which all obeyed."

The definite resolution, therefore, depended upon Charlemagne alone; the assembly contributed only information and counsel.

Hincmar continues, and supplies details worthy of reproduction, for they give an insight into the imperial government and the action of Charlemagne himself amid those most ancient of the national assemblies:

"Things went on thus for one or two capitularies, or a greater number, until, with God's help, all the necessities of the occasion were regulated.

"While these matters were thus proceeding out of the King's presence, the prince himself, in the midst of the multitude, came to the general assembly, was occupied in receiving the presents, saluting the men of most note, conversing with those he saw seldom, showing toward the elder a tender interest, disporting himself with the youngsters, and doing the same thing, or something like it, with the ecclesiastics as well as the seculars. However, if those who were deliberating about the matter submitted to their examination showed a desire for it, the King repaired to them and remained with them as long as they wished; and then they reported to him, with perfect familiarity, what they thought about all matters, and what were the friendly discussions that had arisen among them. I must not forget to say that, if the weather were fine, everything took place in the open air; otherwise, in several distinct buildings, where those who had to deliberate on the King's proposals were separated from the multitude of persons come to the assembly, and then the men of greater note were admitted. The places appointed for the meeting of the lords were divided into two parts, in such sort that the bishops, the abbots, and the clerics of high rank might meet without mixture with the laity. In the same way the counts and other chiefs of the State underwent separation, in the morning, until, whether the King was present or absent, all were gathered together; then the lords above specified, the clerics on their side, and the laics on theirs, repaired to the hall which had been assigned to them, and where seats had been with due honor prepared for them. When the lords laical and ecclesiastical were thus separated from the multitude, it remained in their power to sit separately or together, according to the nature of the business they had to deal with, ecclesiastical, secular, or mixed. In the same way, if they wished to send for anyone, either to demand refreshment or to put any question, and to dismiss him after getting what they wanted, it was at their option. Thus took place the examination of affairs proposed to them by the King for deliberation.

"The second business of the King was to ask of each what there was to report to him or enlighten him touching the part of the kingdom each had come from. Not only was this permitted to all, but they were strictly enjoined to make inquiries during the interval between the assemblies, about what happened within or without the kingdom; and they were bound to seek knowledge from foreigners as well as natives, enemies as well as friends, sometimes by employing emissaries, and without troubling themselves much about the manner in which they acquired their information. The King wished to know whether in any part, in any corner, of the kingdom, the people were restless, and what was the cause of their restlessness; or whether there had happened any disturbance to which it was necessary to draw the attention of the council-general, and other similar matters. He sought also to know whether any of the subjugated nations were inclined to revolt; whether any of those who had revolted seemed disposed toward submission; and whether those that were still independent were threatening the kingdom with any attack. On all these subjects, whenever there was any manifestation of disorder or danger, he demanded chiefly what were the motives or occasion of them."

There is need of no great reflection to recognize the true character of these assemblies: it is clearly imprinted upon the sketch drawn by Hincmar. The figure of Charlemagne alone fills the picture: he is the centre-piece of it and the soul of everything. 'Tis he who wills that the national assemblies should meet and deliberate; 'tis he who inquires into the state of the country; 'tis he who proposes and approves of, or rejects the laws; with him rest will and motive, initiative and decision. He has a mind sufficiently judicious, unshackled, and elevated to understand that the nation ought not to be left in darkness about its affairs and that he himself has need of communicating with it, of gathering information from it, and of learning its opinions. But we have here no exhibition of great political liberties, no people discussing its interests and its business, interfering effectually in the adoption of resolutions, and, in fact, taking in its government so active and decisive a part as to have a right to say that it is self-governing, or, in other words, a free people. It is Charlemagne and he alone who governs; it is absolute government marked by prudence, ability, and grandeur.

When the mind dwells upon the state of Gallo-Frankish society in the eighth century, there is nothing astonishing in such a fact. Whether it be civilized or barbarian, that which every society needs, that which it seeks or demands first of all in its government, is a certain degree of good sense and strong will, of intelligence and innate influence, so far as the public interests are concerned; qualities, in fact, which suffice to keep social order maintained or make it realized, and to promote respect for individual rights and the progress of the general well-being. This is the essential aim of every community of men; and the institutions and guarantees of free government are the means of attaining it. It is clear that, in the eighth century, on the ruins of the Roman and beneath the blows of the barbaric world, the Gallo-Frankish nation, vast and without cohesion, brutish and ignorant, was incapable of bringing forth, so to speak, from its own womb, with the aid of its own wisdom and virtue, a government of the kind. A host of different forces, without enlightenment and without restraint, were everywhere and incessantly struggling for dominion, or, in other words, were ever troubling and endangering the social condition. Let there but arise, in the midst of this chaos of unruly forces and selfish passions, a great man, one of those elevated minds and strong characters that can understand the essential aim of society, and then urge it forward, and at the same time keep it well in hand on the roads that lead thereto, and such a man will soon seize and exercise the personal power almost of a despot, and people will not only make him welcome, but even celebrate his praises, for they do not quit the substance for the shadow, or sacrifice the end to the means. Such was the empire of Charlemagne. Among annalists and historians, some, treating him as a mere conqueror and despot, have ignored his merits and his glory; others, that they might admire him without scruple, have made of him a founder of free institutions, a constitutional monarch. Both are equally mistaken: Charlemagne was, indeed, a conqueror and a despot; but by his conquests and his personal power he, so long as he was by, that is, for six-and-forty years, saved Gallo-Frankish society from barbaric invasion without and anarchy within. That is the characteristic of his government and his title to glory.

What he was in his wars and his general relations with his nation has just been seen; he shall now be exhibited in all his administrative activity and his intellectual life, as a legislator and as a friend to the human mind. The same man will be recognized in every case; he will grow in greatness, without changing, as he appears under his various aspects.

There are often joined together, under the title of Capitularies (capitula—small chapters, articles) a mass of acts, very different in point of dates and objects, which are attributed indiscriminately to Charlemagne. This is a mistake. The Capitularies are the laws or legislative measures of the Frankish kings, Merovingian as well as Carlovingian. Those of the Merovingians are few in number, and of slight importance, and among those of the Carlovingians, which amount to 152, 65 only are due to Charlemagne. When an attempt is made to classify these last according to their object, it is impossible not to be struck with their incoherent variety; and several of them are such as we should nowadays be surprised to meet with in a code or in a special law. Among Charlemagne's 65 Capitularies, which contain I,151 articles, may be counted 87 of moral, 293 of political, 130 of penal, no of civil, 85 of religious, 305 of canonical, 73 of domestic, and 12 of incidental legislation. And it must not be supposed that all these articles are really acts of legislation, laws properly so called; we find among them the texts of ancient national laws revised and promulgated afresh; extracts from and additions to these same ancient laws, Salic, Lombard, and Bavarian; extracts from acts of councils; instructions given by Charlemagne to his envoys in the provinces; questions that he proposed to put to the bishops or counts when they came to the national assembly; answers given by Charlemagne to questions addressed to him by the bishops, counts, or commissioners (missi dominici); judgments, decrees, royal pardons, and simple notes that Charlemagne seems to have had written down for himself alone, to remind him of what he proposed to do; in a word, nearly all the various acts which could possibly have to be framed by an earnest, far-sighted, and active government. Often, indeed, these Capitularies have no imperative or prohibitive character; they are simple counsels, purely moral precepts. We read therein, for example:

"Covetousness doth consist in desiring that which others possess, and in giving away naught of that which oneself possesseth; according to the apostle, it is the root of all evil."


"Hospitality must be practised."

The Capitularies which have been classed under the heads of political, penal, and canonical legislation are the most numerous, and are those which bear most decidedly an imperative of prohibitive stamp; among them a prominent place is held by measures of political economy, administration, and police; you will find therein an attempt to put a fixed price on provisions, a real trial of a maximum for cereals, and a prohibition of mendicity, with the following clause:

"If such mendicants be met with, and they labor not with their hands, let none take thought about giving unto them."

The interior police of the palace was regulated thereby, as well as that of the empire:

"We do will and decree that none of those who serve in our palace shall take leave to receive therein any man who seeketh refuge there and cometh to hide there, by reason of theft, homicide, adultery, or any other crime. That if any free man do break through our interdicts and hide such malefactor in our palace, he shall be bound to carry him on his shoulders to the public quarter, and be there tied to the same stake as the malefactor."

Certain Capitularies have been termed religious legislation, in contradistinction to canonical legislation, because they are really admonitions, religious exhortations, addressed not to ecclesiastics alone, but to the faithful, the Christian people in general, and notably characterized by good sense and, one might almost say, freedom of thought.

For example:

"Beware of venerating the names of martyrs falsely so called, and the memory of dubious saints."

"Let none suppose that prayer cannot be made to God save in three tongues [probably Latin, Greek, and Germanic, or perhaps the vulgar tongue; for the last was really beginning to take form], for God is adored in all tongues, and man is heard if he do but ask for the things that be right."

These details are put forward that a proper idea may be obtained of Charlemagne as a legislator, and of what are called his laws. We have here, it will be seen, no ordinary legislator and no ordinary laws: we see the work, with infinite variations and in disconnected form, of a prodigiously energetic and watchful master, who had to think and provide for everything, who had to be everywhere the moving and the regulating spirit. This universal and untiring energy is the grand characteristic of Charlemagne's government, and was, perhaps, what made his superiority most incontestable and his power most efficient.

It is noticeable that the majority of Charlemagne's Capitularies belong to that epoch of his reign when he was Emperor of the West, when he was invested with all the splendor of sovereign power. Of the 65 Capitularies classed under different heads, 13 only are previous to the 25th of December, 800, the date of his coronation as Emperor at Rome; 52 are comprised between the years 801 and 804.

The energy of Charlemagne as a warrior and a politician having thus been exhibited, it remains to say a few words about his intellectual energy. For that is by no means the least original or least grand feature of his character and his influence.

Modern times and civilized society have more than once seen despotic sovereigns filled with distrust toward scholars of exalted intellect, especially such as cultivated the moral and political sciences, and little inclined to admit them to their favor or to public office. There is no knowing whether, in our days, with our freedom of thought and of the press, Charlemagne would have been a stranger to this feeling of antipathy; but what is certain is that in his day, in the midst of a barbaric society, there was no inducement to it, and that, by nature, he was not disposed to it. His power was not in any respect questioned; distinguished intellects were very rare; Charlemagne had too much need of their services to fear their criticisms, and they, on their part, were more anxious to second his efforts than to show, toward him, anything like exaction or independence. He gave rein, therefore, without any embarrassment or misgiving, to his spontaneous inclination toward them, their studies, their labors, and their influence. He drew them into the management of affairs. In Guizot's History of Civilization in France there is a list of the names and works of twenty-three men of the eighth and ninth centuries who have escaped oblivion, and they are all found grouped about Charlemagne as his own habitual advisers, or assigned by him as advisers to his sons Pépin and Louis in Italy and Aquitaine, or sent by him to all points of his empire as his commissioners, or charged in his name with important negotiations. And those whom he did not employ at a distance formed, in his immediate neighborhood, a learned and industrious society, a school of the palace, according to some modern commentators, but an academy and not a school, according to others, devoted rather to conversation than to teaching.

It probably fulfilled both missions; it attended Charlemagne at his various residences, at one time working for him at questions he invited them to deal with, at another giving to the regular components of his court, to his children, and to himself lessons in the different sciences called liberal: grammar, rhetoric, logic, astronomy, geometry, and even theology, and the great religious problems it was beginning to discuss. Two men, Alcuin and Eginhard, have remained justly celebrated in the literary history of the age. Alcuin was the principal director of the school of the palace, and the favorite, the confidant, the learned adviser of Charlemagne. "If your zeal were imitated," said he one day to the Emperor, "perchance one might see arise in France a new Athens, far more glorious than the ancient—the Athens of Christ."

Eginhard, who was younger, received his scientific education in the school of the palace, and was head of the public works to Charlemagne, before becoming his biographer, and, at a later period, the intimate adviser of his son Louis the Debonair. Other scholars of the school of the palace, Angilbert, Leidrade, Adalhard, Agobard, Theodulph, were abbots of St. Riquier or Corbie, archbishops of Lyons, and bishops of Orleans. They had all assumed, in the school itself, names illustrious in pagan antiquity: Alcuin called himself Flaccus; Angilbert, Homer; Theodulph, Pindar. Charlemagne himself had been pleased to take, in their society, a great name of old, but he had borrowed from the history of the Hebrews—he called himself David; and Eginhard, animated, no doubt, by the same sentiments, was Bezaleel, that nephew of Moses to whom God had granted the gift of knowing how to work skilfully in wood and all the materials which served for the construction of the ark and the tabernacle. Either in the lifetime of their royal patron or after his death all these scholars became great dignitaries of the Church, or ended their lives in monasteries of note; but, so long as they lived, they served Charlemagne or his sons not only with the devotion of faithful advisers, but also as followers proud of the master who had known how to do them honor by making use of them.

It was without effort and by natural sympathy that Charlemagne had inspired them with such sentiments; for he, too, really loved sciences, literature, and such studies as were then possible, and he cultivated them on his own account and for his own pleasure, as a sort of conquest. It has been doubted whether he could write, and an expression of Eginhard's might authorize such a doubt; but, according to other evidence, and even according to the passage in Eginhard, one is inclined to believe merely that Charlemagne strove painfully, and without much success, to write a good hand. He had learned Latin, and he understood Greek. He caused to be commenced, and, perhaps, himself commenced the drawing up of the first Germanic grammar. He ordered that the old barbaric poems, in which the deeds and wars of the ancient kings were celebrated, should be collected for posterity. He gave Germanic names to the twelve months of the year. He distinguished the winds by twelve special terms, whereas before his time they had but four designations. He paid great attention to astronomy. Being troubled one day at no longer seeing in the firmament one of the known planets, he wrote to Alcuin: "What thinkest thou of this Mars, which, last year, being concealed in the sign of Cancer, was intercepted from the sight of men by the light of the sun? Is it the regular course of his revolution? Is it the influence of the sun? Is it a miracle? Could he have been two years about performing the course of a single one?"

In theological studies and discussions he exhibited a particular and grave interest. "It is to him," say Ampere and Hauréau, "that we must refer the honor of the decision taken in 794 by the council of Frankfort in the great dispute about images; a temperate decision which is as far removed from the infatuation of the image-worshippers as from the frenzy of the image-breakers." And at the same time that he thus took part in the great ecclesiastical questions, Charlemagne paid zealous attention to the instruction of the clergy whose ignorance he deplored. "Ah," said he one day, "if only I had about me a dozen clerics learned in all the sciences, as Jerome and Augustin were!" With all his puissance it was not in his power to make Jeromes and Augustins; but he laid the foundation, in the cathedral churches and the great monasteries, of episcopal and cloistral schools for the education of ecclesiastics, and, carrying his solicitude still further, he recommended to the bishops and abbots that, in those schools, "they should take care to make no difference between the sons of serfs and of free men, so that they might come and sit on the same benches to study grammar, music, and arithmetic." Thus, in the eighth century, he foreshadowed the extension which, in the nineteenth, was to be accorded to primary instruction, to the advantage and honor not only of the clergy, but also of the whole people.

After so much of war and toil at a distance, Charlemagne was now at Aix-la-Chapelle, finding rest in this work of peaceful civilization. He was embellishing the capital which he had founded, and which was called the king's court. He had built there a grand basilica, magnificently adorned. He was completing his own palace there. He fetched from Italy clerics skilled in church music, a pious joyance to which he was much devoted, and which he recommended to the bishops of his empire. In the outskirts of Aix-la-Chapelle "he gave full scope," says Eginhard, "to his delight in riding and hunting. Baths of naturally tepid water gave him great pleasure. Being passionately fond of swimming, he became so dexterous that none could be compared with him. He invited not only his sons, but also his friends, the grandees of his court, and sometimes even the soldiers of his guard, to bathe with him, insomuch that there were often a hundred and more persons bathing at a time."

When age arrived, he made no alteration in his bodily habits; but, at the same time, instead of putting away from him the thought of death, he was much taken up with it, and prepared himself for it with stern severity. He drew up, modified, and completed his will several times over. Three years before his death he made out the distribution of his treasures, his money, his wardrobe, and all his furniture, in the presence of his friends and his officers, in order that their voice might insure, after his death, the execution of this partition, and he set down his intentions in this respect in a written summary, in which he massed all his riches in three grand lots. The first two were divided into twenty-one portions, which were to be distributed among the twenty-one metropolitan churches of his empire. After having put these first two lots under seal, he willed to preserve to himself his usual enjoyment of the third so long as he lived. But after his death, or voluntary renunciation of the things of this world, this same lot was to be subdivided into four portions. His intention was that the first should be added to the twenty-one portions which were to go to the metropolitan churches; the second set aside for his sons and daughters, and for the sons and daughters of his sons, and redivided among them in a just and proportionate manner; the third dedicated, according to the usage of Christians, to the necessities of the poor; and, lastly, the fourth distributed in the same way, under the name of alms, among the servants, of both sexes, of the palace for their lifetime. As for the books which he had amassed, a large number in his library, he decided that those who wished to have them might buy them at their proper value, and that the money which they produced should be distributed among the poor.

Having thus carefully regulated his own private affairs and bounty, he, two years later, in 813, took the measures necessary for the regulation, after his death, of public affairs. He had lost, in 811, his oldest son, Charles, who had been his constant companion in his wars, and, in 810, his second son, Pépin, whom he had made King of Italy; and he summoned to his side his third son, Louis, King of Aquitaine, who was destined to succeed him. He ordered the convocation of five local councils which were to assemble at Mayence, Rheims, Châlons, Tours, and Aries, for the purpose of bringing about, subject to the King's ratification, the reforms necessary in the Church. Passing from the affairs of the Church to those of the State, he convoked at Aix-la-Chapelle a general assembly of bishops, abbots, counts, laic grandees, and of the entire people, and, holding council in his palace with the chief among them, "he invited them to make his son Louis king-emperor; whereto all assented, saying that it was very expedient, and pleasing, also, to the people. On Sunday in the next month, August, 813, Charlemagne repaired, crown on head, with his son Louis to the cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle, laid upon the altar another crown, and, after praying, addressed to his son a solemn exhortation respecting all his duties as king toward God and the Church, toward his family and his people, asked him if he were fully resolved to fulfil them, and, at the answer that he was, bade him take the crown that lay upon the altar, and place it with his own hands upon his head, which Louis did amid the acclamations of all present, who cried, 'Long live the emperor Louis!' Charlemagne then declared his son emperor jointly with him, and ended the solemnity with these words: 'Blessed be thou, O Lord God, who hast granted me grace to see with mine own eyes my son seated on my throne!'" And Louis set out again immediately for Aquitaine.

He was never to see his father again. Charlemagne, after his son's departure, went out hunting, according to his custom, in the forest of Ardenne, and continued during the whole autumn his usual mode of life. "But in January, 814, he was taken ill," says Eginhard, "of a violent fever, which kept him to his bed. Recurring forthwith to the remedy he ordinarily employed against fever, he abstained from all nourishment, persuaded that this diet would suffice to drive away or at the least assuage the malady; but added to the fever came that pain in the side which the Greeks call pleurisy; nevertheless the Emperor persisted in his abstinence, supporting his body only by drinks taken at long intervals; and on the seventh day after that he had taken to his bed, having received the holy communion," he expired about 9 A.M., on Saturday, the 28th of January, 814, in his seventy-first year.

"After performance of ablutions and funeral duties, the corpse was carried away and buried, amid the profound mourning of all the people, in the church he had himself had built; and above his tomb there was put up a gilded arcade with his image and this superscription: 'In this tomb reposeth the body of Charles, great and orthodox Emperor, who did gloriously extend the kingdom of the Franks, and did govern it happily for forty-seven years. He died at the age of seventy years, in the year of the Lord 814, in the seventh year of the Indiction, on the 5th of the Kalends of February.'"

If we sum up his designs and his achievements, we find an admirably sound idea and a vain dream, a great success and a great failure.

Charlemagne took in hand the work of placing upon a solid foundation the Frankish Christian dominion by stopping, in the North and South, the flood of barbarians and Arabs, paganism and Islamism. In that he succeeded; the inundations of Asiatic populations spent their force in vain against the Gallic frontier. Western and Christian Europe was placed, territorially, beyond reach of attacks from the foreigner and infidel. No sovereign, no human being, perhaps, ever rendered greater service to the civilization of the world.

Charlemagne formed another conception and made another attempt. Like more than one great barbaric warrior, he admired the Roman Empire that had fallen, its vastness all in one, and its powerful organization under the hand of a single master. He thought he could resuscitate it, durably, through the victory of a new people and a new faith, by the hand of Franks and Christians. With this view he labored to conquer, convert, and govern. He tried to be, at one and the same time, Cæsar, Augustus, and Constantine. And for a moment he appeared to have succeeded; but the appearance passed away with himself. The unity of the empire and the absolute power of the emperor were buried in his grave. The Christian religion and human liberty set to work to prepare for Europe other governments and other destinies.


A.D. 827


From the time that the Britons called upon the Saxons to assist them against the Picts and Scots, about A.D. 410, the domination of the hardy Teutonic people in England was a foregone conclusion. The Britons had become exhausted through their long exposure to Roman influences, and in their state of enfeeblement were unable to resist the attacks of the rude highland tribes.

The Saxons rescued the Britons from their plight, but themselves became masters of the country which they had delivered. They were joined by the Angles and Jutes, and divided the territory into the kingdoms known in history as the Saxon Heptarchy,[73] which had an existence of about two hundred and fifty years. The various members were involved in endless controversies with each other, often breaking out into savage wars, and the Saxons were also exposed to conflicts with their common enemies, the Britons. Their power was greatly impaired by the civil strifes which distracted them.

This condition continued until it became essential that under a strong hand a more solid union of the Saxons should be formed. And it was to Egbert, King of the West Saxons, the son of Ealhmund, King of Kent, that this great constructive task was committed. He took the throne of Wessex in 802, for twelve years enjoyed a peaceful reign, then became involved in wars, first with the Cornish and afterward with the Mercians. His victories in these wars resulted in the final establishment of his authority over the entire heptarchy, and this made him in fact, though not in name, the first real king of England.

When Brithric obtained possession of the government of Wessex, he enjoyed not that dignity without inquietude. Eoppa, nephew to King Ina, by his brother Ingild, who died, before that prince, had begot Eata, father to Alchmond, from whom sprung Egbert, a young man of the most promising hopes, who gave great jealousy to Brithric, the reigning prince, both because he seemed by his birth better entitled to the crown and because he had acquired, to an eminent degree, the affections of the people. Egbert, sensible of his danger from the suspicions of Brithric, secretly withdrew into France, where he was well received by Charlemagne. By living in the court, and serving in the armies of that prince, the most able and most generous that had appeared in Europe during several ages, he acquired those accomplishments which afterward enabled him to make such a shining figure on the throne. And familiarizing himself to the manners of the French, who, as Malmesbury observes, were eminent both for valor and civility above all the western nations, he learned to polish the rudeness and barbarity of the Saxon character; his early misfortunes thus proved of singular advantage to him.

It was not long ere Egbert had opportunities of displaying his natural and acquired talents. Brithric, King of Wessex, had married Eadburga, natural daughter of Offa, King of Mercia, a profligate woman, equally infamous for cruelty and for incontinence. Having great influence over her husband, she often instigated him to destroy such of the nobility as were obnoxious to her; and where this expedient failed, she scrupled not being herself active in traitorous attempts against them. She had mixed a cup of poison for a young nobleman, who had acquired her husband's friendship, and had on that account become the object of her jealousy; but unfortunately the King drank of the fatal cup along with his favorite, and soon after expired. This tragical incident, joined to her other crimes, rendered Eadburga so odious that she was obliged to fly into France; whence Egbert was at the same time recalled by the nobility, in order to ascend the throne of his ancestors. He attained that dignity in the last year of the eighth century.

In the kingdoms of the heptarchy, an exact rule of succession was either unknown or not strictly observed; and thence the reigning prince was continually agitated with jealousy against all the princes of the blood, whom he still considered as rivals, and whose death alone could give him entire security in his possession of the throne. From this fatal cause, together with the admiration of the monastic life, and the opinion of merit attending the preservation of chastity even in a married state, the royal families had been entirely extinguished in all the kingdoms except that of Wessex; and the emulations, suspicions, and conspiracies, which had formerly been confined to the princes of the blood alone, were now diffused among all the nobility in the several Saxon states. Egbert was the sole descendant of those first conquerors who subdued Britain, and who enhanced their authority by claiming a pedigree from Woden, the supreme divinity of their ancestors. But that prince, though invited by this favorable circumstance to make attempts on the neighboring Saxons, gave them for some time no disturbance, and rather chose to turn his arms against the Britons in Cornwall, whom he defeated in several battles. He was recalled from the conquest of that country by an invasion made upon his dominions by Bernulf, King of Mercia.

The Mercians, before the accession of Egbert, had very nearly attained the absolute sovereignty in the heptarchy: they had reduced the East Angles under subjection, and established tributary princes in the kingdoms of Kent and Essex. Northumberland was involved in anarchy; and no state of any consequence remained but that of Wessex, which, much inferior in extent to Mercia, was supported solely by the great qualities of its sovereign. Egbert led his army against the invaders; and encountering them at Ellandun, in Wiltshire, obtained a complete victory, and, by the great slaughter which he made of them in their flight, gave a mortal blow to the power of the Mercians. While he himself, in prosecution of his victory, entered their country on the side of Oxfordshire, and threatened the heart of their dominions, he sent an army into Kent, commanded by Ethelwulf, his eldest son, and, expelling Baldred, the tributary King, soon made himself master of that country.

The kingdom of Essex was conquered with equal facility, and the East Angles, from their hatred of the Mercian government, which had been established over them by treachery and violence, and probably exercised with tyranny, immediately rose in arms and craved the protection of Egbert. Bernulf, the Mercian King, who marched against them, was defeated and slain; and two years after, Ludican, his successor, met with the same fate. These insurrections and calamities facilitated the enterprises of Egbert, who advanced into the centre of the Mercian territories and made easy conquests over a dispirited and divided people. In order to engage them more easily to submission, he allowed Wiglef, their countryman, to retain the title of king, while he himself exercised the real powers of sovereignty. The anarchy which prevailed in Northumberland tempted him to carry still further his victorious arms; and the inhabitants, unable to resist his power, and desirous of possessing some established form of government, were forward, on his first appearance, to send deputies, who submitted to his authority and swore allegiance to him as their sovereign. Egbert, however, still allowed to Northumberland, as he had done to Mercia and East Anglia, the power of electing a king, who paid him tribute and was dependent on him.

Thus were united all the kingdoms of the heptarchy in one great state, near four hundred years after the first arrival of the Saxons in Britain; and the fortunate arms and prudent policy of Egbert at last effected what had been so often attempted in vain by so many princes. Kent, Northumberland, and Mercia, which had successfully aspired to general dominion, were now incorporated in his empire; and the other subordinate kingdoms seemed willingly to share the same fate. His territories were nearly of the same extent with what is now properly called England; and a favorable prospect was afforded to the Anglo-Saxons of establishing a civilized monarchy, possessed of tranquillity within itself, and secure against foreign invasion. This great event happened in the year 827.

The Saxons, though they had been so long settled in the island, seem not as yet to have been much improved beyond their German ancestors, either in arts, civility, knowledge, humanity, justice, or obedience to the laws. Even Christianity, though it opened the way to connections between them and the more polished states of Europe, had not hitherto been very effectual in banishing their ignorance or softening their barbarous manners. As they received that doctrine through the corrupted channels of Rome, it carried along with it a great mixture of credulity and superstition, equally destructive to the understanding and to morals. The reverence toward saints and relics seems to have almost supplanted the adoration of the Supreme Being; monastic observances were esteemed more meritorious than the active virtues; the knowledge of natural causes was neglected, from the universal belief of miraculous interpositions and judgments; bounty to the Church atoned for every violence against society; and the remorses for cruelty, murder, treachery, assassination, and the more robust vices, were appeased, not by amendment of life, but by penances, servility to the monks, and an abject and illiberal devotion.[74] The reverence for the clergy had been carried to such a height that wherever a person appeared in a sacerdotal habit, though on the highway, the people flocked around him, and, showing him all marks of profound respect, received every word he uttered as the most sacred oracle. Even the military virtues, so inherent in all the Saxon tribes, began to be neglected; and the nobility, preferring the security and sloth of the cloister to the tumults and glory of war, valued themselves chiefly on endowing monasteries, of which they assumed the government. The several kings, too, being extremely impoverished by continual benefactions to the Church, to which the states of their kingdoms had weakly assented, could bestow no rewards on valor or military services, and retained not even sufficient influence to support their government.

Another inconvenience which attended this corrupt species of Christianity was the superstitious attachment to Rome, and the gradual subjection of the kingdom to a foreign jurisdiction. The Britons, having never acknowledged any subordination to the Roman pontiff, had conducted all ecclesiastical government by their domestic synods and councils; but the Saxons, receiving their religion from Roman monks, were taught at the same time a profound reverence for that see, and were naturally led to regard it as the capital of their religion. Pilgrimages to Rome were represented as the most meritorious acts of devotion. Not only noblemen and ladies of rank undertook this tedious journey, but kings themselves, abdicating their crowns, sought for a secure passport to heaven at the feet of the Roman pontiff. New relics, perpetually sent from that inexhaustible mint of superstition, and magnified by lying miracles, invented in convents, operated on the astonished minds of the multitude. And every prince has attained the eulogies of the monks, the only historians of those ages, not in proportion to his civil and military virtues, but to his devoted attachment toward their order, and his superstitious reverence for Rome.

The sovereign pontiff, encouraged by this blindness and submissive disposition of the people, advanced every day in his encroachments on the independence of the English churches. Wilfrid, bishop of Lindisferne, the sole prelate of the Northumbrian kingdom, increased this subjection in the eighth century, by his making an appeal to Rome against the decisions of an English synod, which had abridged his diocese by the erection of some new bishoprics. Agatho, the pope, readily embraced this precedent of an appeal to his court; and Wilfrid, though the haughtiest and most luxurious prelate of his age, having obtained with the people the character of sanctity, was, thus able to lay the foundation of this papal pretension.

The great topic by which Wilfrid confounded the imaginations of men was that St. Peter, to whose custody the keys of heaven were intrusted, would certainly refuse admittance to everyone who should be wanting in respect to his successor. This conceit, well suited to vulgar conceptions, made great impression on the people during several ages, and has not even at present lost all influence in the Catholic countries.

Had this abject superstition produced general peace and tranquillity, it had made some atonement for the ills attending it; but besides the usual avidity of men for power and riches, frivolous controversies in theology were engendered by it, which were so much the more fatal as they admitted not, like the others, of any final determination from established possession. The disputes, excited in Britain, were of the most ridiculous kind, and entirely worthy of those ignorant and barbarous ages. There were some intricacies, observed by all the Christian churches, in adjusting the day of keeping Easter, which depended on a complicated consideration of the course of the sun and moon; and it happened that the missionaries who had converted the Scots and Britons had followed a different calendar from that which was observed at Rome, in the age when Augustine converted the Saxons.

The priests also of all the Christian churches were accustomed to shave part of their head; but the form given to this tonsure was different in the former from what was practised in the latter. The Scots and Britons pleaded the antiquity of their usages; the Romans and their disciples, the Saxons, insisted on the universality of theirs. That Easter must necessarily be kept by a rule which comprehended both the day of the year and age of the moon, was agreed by all; that the tonsure of a priest could not be omitted without the utmost impiety was a point undisputed; but the Romans and Saxons called their antagonists schismatics, because they celebrated Easter on the very day of the full moon in March, if that day fell on a Sunday, instead of waiting till the Sunday following; and because they shaved the fore part of their head from ear to ear, instead of making that tonsure on the crown of the head, and in a circular form. In order to render their antagonists odious they affirmed that once in seven years they concurred with the Jews in the time of celebrating that festival: and that they might recommend their own form of tonsure they maintained that it imitated symbolically the crown of thorns worn by Christ in his passion; whereas the other form was invented by Simon Magus, without any regard to that representation.

These controversies had from the beginning excited such animosity between the British and Romish priests that, instead of concurring in their endeavors to convert the idolatrous Saxons, they refused all communion together, and each regarded his opponent as no better than a pagan. The dispute lasted more than a century, and was at last finished, not by men's discovering the folly of it, which would have been too great an effort for human reason to accomplish, but by the entire prevalence of the Romish ritual over the Scotch and British. Wilfrid, bishop of Lindisferne, acquired great merit, both with the court of Rome and with all the southern Saxons, by expelling the "quartodeciman" schism, as it was called, from the Northumbrian kingdom, into which the neighborhood of the Scots had formerly introduced it.

Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, called, in the year 680, a synod at Hatfield, consisting of all the bishops in Britain, where was accepted and ratified the decree of the Lateran council, summoned by Martin, against the heresy of the Monothelites. The council and synod maintained, in opposition to these heretics, that, though the divine and human nature in Christ made but one person, yet had they different inclinations, wills, acts, and sentiments, and that the unity of the person implied not any unity in the consciousness. This opinion it seems somewhat difficult to comprehend; and no one, unacquainted with the ecclesiastical history of those ages, could imagine the height of zeal and violence with which it was then inculcated. The decree of the Lateran council calls the Monothelites impious, execrable, wicked, abominable, and even diabolical, and curses and anathematizes them to all eternity.

The Saxons, from the first introduction of Christianity among them, had admitted the use of images; and perhaps that religion, without some of those exterior ornaments, had not made so quick a progress with these idolaters; but they had not paid any species of worship or address to images; and this abuse never prevailed among Christians till it received the sanction of the second council of Nice.

The kingdoms of the heptarchy, though united by so recent a conquest, seemed to be firmly cemented into one state under Egbert; and the inhabitants of the several provinces had lost all desire of revolting from that monarch or of restoring their former independent governments. Their language was everywhere nearly the same, their customs, laws, institutions, civil and religious; and as the race of the ancient kings was totally extinct in all the subjected states, the people readily transferred their allegiance to a prince who seemed to merit it by the splendor of his victories, the vigor of his administration, and the superior nobility of his birth. A union also in government opened to them the agreeable prospect of future tranquillity; and it appeared more probable that they would thenceforth become formidable to their neighbors than be exposed to their inroads and devastations. But these flattering views were soon overcast by the appearance of the Danes, who, during some centuries, kept the Anglo-Saxons in perpetual inquietude, committed the most barbarous ravages upon them, and at last reduced them to grievous servitude.


[73] The seven kingdoms founded in England by seven different Saxon invaders. They were Kent, Sussex, Wessex, Essex, Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia.

[74] These abuses were common to all the European churches; but the priests in Italy, Spain, and Gaul made some atonement for them by other advantages which they rendered society. For several ages they were almost all Romans, or, in other words, the ancient natives; and they preserved the Roman language and laws, with some remains of the former civility. But the priests in the heptarchy, after the first missionaries, were wholly Saxons, and almost as ignorant and barbarous as the laity. They contributed, therefore, little to the improvement of society in knowledge or the arts.



A.D. 410-842


Events treated at length are here indicated in large type; the numerals following give volume and page.

Separate chronologies of the various nations, and of the careers of famous persons, will be found in the INDEX VOLUME, with volume and page references showing where the several events are fully treated.


410. Britain is abandoned by the Roman Empire. Franks join in the Barbarian attack on Gaul.

Siege, capture, and pillage of Rome by Alaric; he dies and is succeeded by Adolphus. See VISIGOTHS PILLAGE ROME, iv, I.

411. Count Gerontius makes Constans prisoner and slays him; he besieges Constantine in Aries, where he, is put to flight by Constantius, Honorius' general, and, after being deserted by his soldiers, he stabs himself. Constantine surrenders to Constantius, is sent to Ravenna and beheaded.

Jovinus revolts at Mainz.

Conference between Catholics and Donatists at Carthage, after which more severe laws are enacted against the latter.

412. Jovinus makes his brother Sebastian his colleague. The Visigoths enter Gaul.

413. Adolphus overcomes Jovinus and Sebastian and sends their heads to Honorius.

Title of augusta taken by Pulcheria at Constantinople; she governs in the East in the name of her brother Theodosius.

415. Adolphus lays the foundation of the Visigoth dominion in Spain.

Brutal murder of Hypatia, a lovely woman and a Neo-Platonic philosopher of Alexandria.

Persecution of Jews at Alexandria.

Adolphus assassinated at Barcelona by Sigeric, who usurps the throne, but is killed seven days afterward, and Wallia chosen king by the Visigoths.

418. Wallia relinquishes a part of his conquests in Spain to Honorius, and receives the province of Aquitaine in Gaul.

420. St. Jerome dies in Palestine.

A persecution of the Christians in Persia leads to war between that nation and the Eastern Empire.

422. Peace concluded with Persia. Incursion of the Huns into Thrace.

423. Death of Honorius; usurpation of Joannes the Notary.

425. Joannes is beheaded. The young Valentinian is proclaimed emperor, and his mother, Placidia, regent.

A synod at Carthage forbids appeals to the Bishop of Rome. The revenues of the Church are become very large.

428. Conquests of the Vandals in Spain.

Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, founds the sect of Nestorians, which still subsists in Persia and Turkey.

429. Wild Moors join the Vandals who have invaded Africa.

430. Bonifacius unsuccessfully opposes the Vandals in Africa; they besiege Hippo Regius. St. Augustine dies there in the third month of the siege.

431. Hippo Regius falls.

Third general council of the Church, held at Ephesus; one of the most turbulent in history.

432. Bonifacius, although victorious, perishes in the conflict with his rival Aetius.

433. Attila, King of the Huns, begins his reign.[75] St. Patrick preaches in Ireland.

435. Nestorius exiled to the Libyan desert.

439. The Vandals, under Genseric, take Carthage.

440. Leo the Great elected pope.

441. Attila and his Huns pass the Danube; they invade Illyricum. See HUNS INVADE THE EASTERN ROMAN EMPIRE, iv, 28.

442. Valentinian by a treaty of peace cedes Africa to Genseric. A comet is visible.

444. Attila murders his brother, Bleda, and rules alone over the Huns.

446. Britons in vain apply to Aetius for aid against the Picts and Scots.

Thermopylæ passed by the Huns; the Eastern Emperor makes humiliating terms of peace with Attila. See HUNS INVADE THE EASTERN ROMAN EMPIRE, iv, 28.

Pope Leo assumes a tone of high authority, and asserts the supremacy of the Roman Pontiff over all other bishops.

449. Landing of the Jutes under Hengist and Horsa in Britain, called there to repel the Picts and Scots. See THE ENGLISH CONQUEST OF BRITAIN, iv, 55.

The "Robber Synod" meets at Ephesus. It reinstates Eutyches in the office of priest and archimandrite, from which he had been expelled, and exposes Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, who is so roughly attacked that he dies soon afterward of his injuries.

A synod at Rome reverses the acts at Ephesus.

450. Death of Theodosius II; by a nominal marriage his sister Pulcheria raises Marcian to the throne.

Attila demands the princess Honoria in marriage.

451. Gaul invaded by Attila; battle of Châlons. See ATTILA INVADES WESTERN EUROPE, iv, 72.

Fourth general council of the Church, held at Chalcedon; the acts of the "Robber Synod" are annulled.

452. Attila, after withdrawing from Gaul, ravages Italy; he besieges and destroys Aquileia; its inhabitants flee to the marshes; Rome is saved by its Bishop, Leo the Great. Venice is founded. See FOUNDATION OF VENICE, iv, 95.

453. Death of Attila; dissolution of his empire. Death of the empress Pulcheria.

454. Hengist founds the kingdom of Kent.

455. Maximus murders Valentinian III and usurps the throne of the Western Empire; at the end of three months Maximus is killed by the people.

The Vandals pillage Rome. Avitus is proclaimed emperor of the West.

456. Ricimer, commander of the Barbarian mercenaries in the West, destroys a Vandal fleet near Corsica; he declares against Avitus, who abdicates.

457. Majorian placed on the throne of the West by Ricimer and the senate.

Leo I ascends the throne in the East.

460. Genseric destroys Majorian's fleet at Carthagena. Peace is made between them.

461. Majorian is assassinated by Ricimer, who places his puppet Severus on the throne, exercising the Imperial power himself.

465. Death of Severus; Ricimer still wields the supreme power in Rome.

467. Anthemius made emperor of the West.

The Vandals ravage the coasts of Italy and Sicily.

468. Leo I, Emperor of the East, aided by the Western Empire, makes an earnest but ineffectual effort against the Vandals under Genseric.

472. Ricimer besieges and storms Rome; death of Ricimer and of Anthemius; Olybrius and Glycerius are emperors successively.

473. Invasion of Italy by the Ostrogoths diverted to Gaul. Glycerius emperor of the West.

474. Julius Nepos becomes emperor of the West. Zeno rules the Eastern Empire.

475. Romulus Augustulus emperor of the West. Zeno and his wife flee to Isauria.

476. Odoacer, a leader of German mercenaries, dethrones Augustulus and puts an end to the Western Empire for three centuries. The title of king of Italy assumed by Odoacer.

486. Clovis founds the kingdom of the Franks. He defeats Syagrius at Soissons, and thus puts an end to Roman dominion in Gaul. See CLOVIS FOUNDS THE KINGDOM OF THE FRANKS, iv, 113.

488. The Eastern Emperor commissions Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, to invade Italy.

489. Theodoric defeats Odoacer at Verona.

490. Odoacer is again defeated; he retires to Ravenna.

491. Anastasius becomes emperor of the East by marrying the widow of Zeno, who had recently died.

The South Saxons capture Anderida.

492. Anastasius grants liberty of conscience and remits oppressive taxes.

493. Theodoric besieges Odoacer in Ravenna; he is captured and murdered; Theodoric becomes king of the whole of Italy.

494. An earthquake overthrows the cities of Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Tripolis.

Pope Gelasius makes the distinction between the canonical and apocryphal books of the Scriptures. He asserts his divine right, as Bishop of Rome, to universal supremacy.

495.[76] Cerdic and his band of Saxons, who sail in five ships, land in Britain.

496. Clovis vanquishes the Alemanni; he is baptized. See CLOVIS FOUNDS THE KINGDOM OF THE FRANKS, iv, 113.

497. The Arabs (Saracens) invade Syria; they are repulsed by Eugenius.

Many Athanasian bishops are banished from Africa to Sardinia.

498. Publication of the Babylonian Talmud or Gemaras.

Violent contest between Symmachus and Laurentius for the episcopal throne at Rome, decided by Theodoric in favor of the former.

500. Clovis, King of the Franks, defeats the Burgundians near Dijon.

502. Syria and Palestine ravaged by the Saracens. The Bulgarians again devastate Thrace.

504. Expulsion by the Franks of the Alemanni from the Middle Rhine. Theodoric defeats the Bulgarians and retakes Sirmium, which they had captured.

505. Peace is declared between the Eastern Empire and Persia, ending desultory conflicts that had continued some years.

507. Clovis overthrows the Visigoths near Poitiers; he becomes master of nearly the whole of Aquitania. See CLOVIS FOUNDS THE KINGDOM OF THE FRANKS, iv, 113.

Amalarich, Alaric's infant son, and Giselich, his natural son, are proclaimed joint kings of the Visigoths by Theodoric; he preserves for them all Spain and a part of Gaul.

508. Natanleod, a British prince, is defeated and slain, in a desperate battle, by Cerdic the Saxon.

510. Clovis adds the territory of certain minor Frank princes to his own territory; he makes Paris his capital. See CLOVIS FOUNDS THE KINGDOM OF THE FRANKS, iv, 113.

511. Death of Clovis; the Frankish kingdom is divided equally among his four sons: Theodoric I (Thierry), Metz; Clodomir, Orleans; Childebert I, Paris; and Clotair, Soissons.

Monophysite riot at Constantinople, caused by the controversy respecting the nature of Christ.

512. Second Monophysite riot at Constantinople.

515. A body of Huns breaks through the Caspian gates and invades Cappadocia.

Publication of St. Benedict's monastic rule.

518. Death of Anastasius, the Eastern Emperor, and accession of Justin I.

519. Cerdic gives the name of Wessex to that part of Britain conquered by him; he assumes the title of king; Cynric is his coadjutor.

523. Sigismund, the Burgundian King, assumes the monastic habit, but is betrayed into the hands of the Franks, who throw him, with his wife and children, into a well at Orleans. His brother, Gondemar, is elected king.

525. Theodoric, King of Italy, orders the execution of Boethius and Symmachus.

526. Death of Theodoric and accession of Athalaric.

Great earthquake at Antioch, which destroys the city; 250,000 persons perish.

The Eastern Empire begins war with Persia.

527. Justinian proclaimed joint augustus, soon after which, by the death of Justin, he becomes sole emperor.

Use of the Christian era introduced by Dionysius Exiguus.

528. Thuringia conquered by the Franks.

529. Julian, leader of a Jewish and Samaritan revolt, is made prisoner and beheaded.

Justinian issues edicts against philosophers, heretics, and pagans. See PUBLICATION OF THE JUSTINIAN CODE, iv, 138. Closing of the schools at Athens.

530. Benedict founds his new monastic order; the principal seat is Monte Casino, Campania.[77]

Belisarius, the greatest general of the Byzantine empire, defeats the Persians at Dara.

531. Alamundarus, at the head of the Persians and Saracens, defeats Belisarius, who maintains his ground against their nearly overwhelming force.

Accession of Khusrau to the throne of Persia.

532. End of the war between the Eastern Empire and Persia.

533. Justinian's general, Belisarius, destroys the Vandal kingdom in Africa.

Publication of the Pandects and Institutes of Justinian. See PUBLICATION OF THE JUSTINIAN CODE, iv, 138.

Philosophers, who were driven from Constantinople by Justinian's orders, return disappointed from Persia.

534. Overthrow of the Burgundian kingdom by the Franks, who divide the dominions between the three Frankish kings.

Solomon, left by Belisarius to command in Africa, defeats the Moors.

535. Belisarius is sent by Justinian to recover Italy from the Ostrogoths; he occupies Sicily.

536. Rome is occupied by Belisarius.

537. Vitiges unsuccessfully besieges Belisarius in Rome; great distress in the city.

538. Vitiges retreats from before Rome and takes shelter in Ravenna.

539. The Franks, under Theodebert, invade Italy and plunder Genoa; attacked by disease they return into Gaul.

540. Vitiges surrenders Ravenna and is sent a prisoner to Constantinople. Justinian recalls Belisarius from Italy.

Khusrau, King of Persia, invades Syria and takes Antioch.

A total eclipse of the sun, June 20th.

Justinian makes a formal relinquishment of Gaul to the Franks.

541. Belisarius takes the command of the Roman forces against the Persians; he defeats Khusrau.

Totila, King of the Ostrogoths, is successful in Italy. End of the succession of Roman consuls.

542. Belisarius compels the Persians to recross the Euphrates.

The great plague spreads from Egypt and rages for many years in Asia and Europe.

543. Naples surrenders to Totila, who then advances against Rome. Belisarius recalled from the East, after which the Persians again advance and defeat the Romans.

Moors renew the war in Africa; Solomon is slain in battle against them; Sergius, his successor, is incompetent.

Spain invaded by the Franks.

544. Again Belisarius is sent into Italy, but without supplies and with very inadequate forces.

Stotzas, leader of the Moors, defeats the Romans, but is slain in the battle.

545. While Belisarius awaits reinforcements Totila takes Asculum and Spoletum, and lays siege to Rome.

546. Rome is betrayed to Totila; Belisarius is joined by fresh troops, but arrives too late to prevent the capture and pillage.

547. Rome is utterly deserted for six weeks; it is retaken by Belisarius, who repairs the walls.

Ida founds the kingdom of Bernicia, in Northumberland, and builds Bamborough.

Bavaria becomes subject to the Franks.

548. Death of Theodora, Empress of the East.

Crotona and Tarentum are captured by Belisarius, after which he is recalled to the East.

549. Second siege and capture of Rome by Totila.

The Lazic War begins—a contest of Rome and Persia on the Phasis; called Lazic from the Lazi, a tribe which still subsists.

550. Vigilius, at Constantinople, urges Justinian to rescue Italy from the dominion of Arians.

Illyrium is freed of the Slavonians.

551. Totila restores the senate at Rome.

Silkworms said to have been first reared in Europe from eggs brought out of the East.

552. Totila defeated and slain by Narses, Belisarius' successor, to whom the greater part of Italy submits.

Teias is appointed their king by the Ostrogoths.

Cyric puts the Britons to flight at the battle of Searobyrig (Sarum).

553. Narses puts an end to the power of the Ostrogoths in Italy, and annexes it to the Eastern Empire.

Fifth general council of the Church at Constantinople. The exarch is established at Ravenna, representing the Emperor of the East.

554. Italy is invaded by the Franks and Alemanni; they are defeated by Narses.

555. Tzathes declared king of the Lazi; the Persians are defeated by the Romans at Phasis.

War between Clotaire and the Saxons.

558. Death of Childebert; the Salic Law prevents his daughters reigning; their brother, Clotaire, becomes sole king of the Franks.

559. Belisarius' last achievement is to expel the Bulgarians, who advanced to within twenty miles of Constantinople.

561. Death of Clotaire; the Frankish kingdom again divided.

The services of Belisarius excite the jealousy of Justinian and his courtiers.

562. Conspiracy of Marcellus and Sergius against Justinian; Belisarius unjustly accused of having taken part in the plot.

563. Belisarius is acquitted of the charges brought against him; he is restored to his honors.

St. Columba founds the monastery of Iona in Scotland.

565. Death of Belisarius, also of the emperor Justinian. Justin II succeeds to the throne.

566.[78] Alboin, at the head of the Lombards, and aided by the Avars, destroys the kingdom of the Gepidæ in Pannonia.

War in Britain between the kings of Kent and Wessex.

567. Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgundy formed by the division of the Frankish kingdom.

568. Invasion of Italy by the Lombards; Pavia besieged. Longinus, the successor of Narses, is styled the exarch of Ravenna by the Byzantines.

570.[79] Birth of Mahomet. See THE HEGIRA, iv, 198. Death of Narses.

571. Khusrau persecuting the Armenians, they place themselves under the protection of Justin; this leads to war between the Persians and Romans.

Uffa founds the kingdom of East Anglia in Britain.

572. Marcianus is sent by Rome to conduct the war against the Persians.

Alboin, Lombardy, grants allotments of territory to his chief captains, with titles of princes or dukes, for which they are to render military service.

573. Alboin, King of the Lombards, is murdered by Rosamond, his wife; she flees to Ravenna with her lover Helmichis, where she poisons him; before he dies he compels her to drain the cup. Cleoph is elected king of Lombardy.

The Visigoths subjugate the Suevi in Spain.

574. Tiberius is appointed Cæsar at Rome; he concludes a peace with the Persians. He is defeated by the Avars on the Danube.

Cleoph, the Lombard King, is slain; his son being a child, many of the dukes assume royal power and great anarchy prevails.

575. Justinian, son of Germanus, defeats the Persians and advances to the Araxes.

576. Armenia is occupied by the Persians; Justinian arrives too late to prevent it.

578. Death of Justin. Accession of the emperor Tiberius Constantinus in the East.

579. Maurice, commanding the Romans, is victorious over the Persians.

580. Further successes of Maurice in Mesopotamia.

582. Death of Tiberius and accession of Maurice, Emperor in the East.

584. Many native Gauls retire into Armorica, where they preserve their Celtic tongue.

586. Cridda founds the last Saxon kingdom of Mercia. The Britons retire to the western side of the island, unite in a general league, and call themselves Cymri.

588. Northumberland is founded by the union of the kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira, under Ethelric.

589. Arianism is abandoned by the Visigoths in Spain. 591. Peace between Persia and the Eastern Empire.

597. Augustine sent by Gregory the Great to preach Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons. See AUGUSTINE'S MISSIONARY WORK IN ENGLAND, iv, 182.

602. Revolt in Constantinople; Phocas is proclaimed emperor; flight of Maurice with his family; they are taken and put to death.

603. Khusrau, the Persian ruler, declares war against Phocas to revenge the death of his benefactor, Maurice.

605. Phocas begins his cruelties; Constantina, the widow of Maurice, is tortured and afterward beheaded with her daughters; Narses is decoyed to Constantinople and there burned alive. The hippodrome is defaced by the heads and mangled remains of the tyrant's victims.

607. Phocas concedes to Boniface III the supremacy of Rome over all Christian churches.

608. Boniface IV consecrates the Pantheon—built by Agrippa to the memory of his divine ancestors B.C. 27—as the Church of Santa Maria Rotunda.

Khusrau II, King of Persia, invades Asia Minor.

610. Phocas is given up to Heraclius and beheaded; Heraclius declared emperor of the East.

Venetia has an incursion of the Avars.

612. Cæsarea, Cappadocia, taken by the Persians.

Syria is invaded by the Saracens.

613. Clotaire unites under his rule all the territories of the Franks.

The youthful Ali becomes Mahomet's vizier.

614. Damascus and Jerusalem are taken by the Persians under Khusrau II.

616. Alexandria and Egypt conquered by the Persians; another army encamps at Chalcedon. Their general, Saen, introduces to Khusrau an embassy from Heraclius, for which he is flayed alive, and the ambassador imprisoned.

Death of Ethelbert; his son Eadbald succeeds him and restores the pagan worship to England; he is afterward converted to Christianity.

First expulsion of the Jews from Spain.

619. Heraclius, while holding a conference with Baian, is treacherously attacked by the Avars; he escapes with difficulty.

622. Roused from his apathy, Heraclius leaves Constantinople and lands at Alexandria; he defeats the Persians, recovers Cilicia, and places his army in secure winter quarters.

Flight of Mahomet from Mecca to Medina: the era of the Hegira commences, July 16th. See THE HEGIRA, iv, 198.

623. Heraclius occupies Armenia, takes Thebarma (Ooramiah), the birthplace of Zoroaster, reconquers Colchis and Iberia, and winters in Albania, having released 50,000 captives.

Suintilla takes the few remaining places in Spain that were still held by the Greek empire.

624. Ispahan, Persia, is taken by Heraclius; he defeats Sarbaraza at Salban.

625. Heraclius carries away an immense booty from Persia; he recovers Amida and Samosata.

626. Constantinople is besieged by the Persians and Avars; the siege fails. The emperor Heraclius contracts an alliance with the Turks, who, passing the Caspian gates, invade Persia.

627. Khusrau II is overwhelmed by Heraclius and his Turkish allies.

King Edwin, of Northumberland, embraces Christianity and builds the first minster of wood, at York.

628. Recovery of Jerusalem and of the presumed true Cross by Heraclius from the Persians.

Khusrau 11 deposed and slain; by treaty all the possessions captured by the Persians are restored to Rome.

630 (629). Mecca surrenders to Mahomet; he invades Palestine.

631. After many revolutions in Persia, Cesra is made king.

Dagobert I reunites the Frankish empire.

632. Death of Mahomet; his successor, Abu-Bekr, sends an army into Syria. See THE SARACEN CONQUEST OF SYRIA, iv, 247.

Oswald builds the first minster of stone at York.

634. Death of Abu-Bekr; accession of Omar as head of the Saracens.

635. Defeat of the Welsh by the English at Heavenfield.

636. The Roman army is overcome by the Saracens. See THE SARACEN CONQUEST OF SYRIA, iv, 247.

637. Emesa, Balbec, and Jerusalem taken by the Saracens.

638. Heraclius, unable to resist the Mahometans, retires to Constantinople, where he publishes his Ecthesis.

Death of Dagobert; his two sons succeed, Clovis to Neustria and Burgundy, Sigebert to Austrasia.

640. Capture of Cæsarea. Invasion of Egypt by Amru, the general of Omar. See SARACENS CONQUER EGYPT, iv, 278.

641. Death of Heraclius, Emperor of the East; three rival emperors succeed; accession of Constans II.

The Sassanian kingdom ends.

642. Victory at Nehavend by the Saracens; this places Persia in their power.

Istria and Dalmatia invaded by the Slavonians.

643. Rotharis publishes the Lombard code of laws.

644. Assassination of Omar; Othman succeeds. See SARACENS CONQUER EGYPT, iv, 278.

646. Alexandria recaptured by the Greeks and again lost.

647. Abdallah advances, at the head of the Saracens, from Egypt to Roman Africa.

648. Constans II issues his Type, or model of faith.

649. Constans II orders the new exarch Olympius to enforce the adoption of his Type by the Western Church; it is rejected by the First Lateran Council.

650. The Moslems conquer Merv, Balkh, and Herat.[80]

Many orthodox churches are plundered by Constans II.

651. Death of Yezdejerd and end of the Persian kingdom.

652. Conversion of the East Saxons in England.

653. Pope Martin I is seized and banished by Constans II.

654. Martin, in Constantinople, is stripped of his pontifical robes and imprisoned; after long hesitation Eugenius is elected pope in his stead.

656. Assassination of Caliph Othman; Ali succeeds; Moawiyah revolts against him; he is supported by Ayesha the widow of Mahomet, Amru, Telhar, and Zobeir. These dissensions suspend the conquests of the Saracens. Ali is victorious on "the Day of the Camel"; Telhar and Zobeir are slain; Ayesha is made prisoner and sent to Medina.

657. Kufa is made the seat of government by Caliph Ali.

658. Constans takes the field against the Slavonians and repulses them.

Amru is sent by Moawiyah into Egypt and expels Ali's partisans. The two caliphs publicly pray for each other while waging fierce war.

660. Ali is assassinated; Hasan, his eldest son, is elected caliph.

661. Hasan resigns the caliphate; Moawiyah, the first of the Ommiads, becomes undisputed ruler of the Moslems; he makes Damascus his capital.

Death of Aribert; Lombardy is divided between his two sons. Constans, detested by all classes, leaves Constantinople and goes to Italy; the senate detains the Empress and his sons.

663. Constans visits Rome and carries away much spoil and retires to Syracuse.

664. Caliph Moawiyah appoints as his lieutenant in Persia, India, and the East his half-brother, Ziyad, "the greatest man of the age."

668. Constans is assassinated in a bath at Syracuse; Constans IV succeeds to the throne of the Eastern Empire.

The Sicilians set up Mecezius as emperor. Constantinople is first besieged by the Saracens.

669. Sicily is invaded by the Saracens, who capture Syracuse.

670. Kairwan, or Kayrawan, a holy Mahometan city in Northern Africa, founded.

Death of Clotaire III; Theodoric, or Thierry III, becomes king of Neustria and Burgundy.

671. Ebroin and Thierry are compelled by the Franks to retire into a monastery; Childeric for a time reigns alone.

672. Death of Ziyad; his son, appointed by Caliph Moawiyah lieutenant of Khorassan, penetrates into Bokhara and defeats the Turks.

673. First council of the Anglo-Saxon Church, at Hereford.

Year after year the Saracens repeat their attacks on Constantinople; Callinicus invents the Greek fire used successfully in its defence.

Thierry III and Ebroin leave their monastery and resume the government of Neustria.

Birth of the Venerable Bede.[81]

674. Revolts of the Gascons and Duke Paulus repressed by Wamba, King of the Visigoths in Spain.

The Bavarians, Thuringians, and other German subjects of Austrasia regain their independence.

677. Siege of Constantinople raised by the Mahometans; peace concluded.[82]

Domnus restores the authority of Rome over the Church at Ravenna.

678. Bulgarians establish themselves in the north of Thrace. Egfrid expels Wilfrid from York and divides his diocese; Wilfrid goes to Rome and obtains from Pope Agatho an order for his restoration. Egfrid resists the papal interference. A large comet visible for three months.

679. A council held at Rome for the reunion of the Greek and Latin churches.

680. Sixth general council of the Church, at Constantinople; Monothelite heresy condemned.

Establishment of a kingdom in Mæsia (modern Bulgaria) by the Bulgarians.[83]

Hoseyn, son of Ali, and his followers massacred at Kerbela.

Murder of Dagobert II, after which Pépin of Héristal and Martin rule Austrasia with the title of dukes.

Attempt to poison Wamba; he resigns his crown and retires into a monastery; Ervigius succeeds him as king of the Visigoths.

683. For twelve months the papacy is vacant after the death of Leo II.

684. Constantine sends to Rome locks of the hair of his two sons, in token of their adoption by the Church.

Egfrid sends Beort with an army into Ireland and lays waste the country.

685. Justinian II becomes emperor of the East on the death of Constantine IV.

The Picts defeat the Angles of Northumbria under King Ecgfrith, at Nactansmere.

687. Battle of Testri; the victory of Pépin of Héristal gives him the sway over the whole Frankish empire.

688. Cædwalla resigns the crown of Wessex to Ina and goes to Rome; he dies there one year later.

690. On the death of Theodore, Berthwald becomes the first archbishop of Canterbury.

Two Anglo-Saxon bishops, Kilian and Wilbrord, preach in Germany. Pépin allows Clovis III to succeed Thierry III as nominal ruler of Neustria.

691. Council of Constantinople, called "Quinisextum in Trullo"; not acknowledged by the Western Church.

692. The Mahometans defeat the army collected by Justinian at Sebastopolis.

Armenia is conquered by the Mahometans.

694. Justinian's two ministers provoke his subjects by their oppressions; Leontius imprisoned.

695. Leontius, released from prison, is proclaimed emperor of the East; Justinian, with his nose cut off, is banished.

696. Pépin favors the preaching of the Anglo-Saxon missionaries among the Franks and Frisians; he appoints Wilbrord, under the name of Clemens, bishop of Utrecht.

697. Election of the first doge, with a council of tribunes and judges, in Venice. See EVOLUTION OF THE DOGESHIP IN VENICE, iv, 292.

698. Hasan, at the head of the Saracens, storms and destroys Carthage.

699. At Mount Atlas the Berbers, or wild shepherds, successfully resist the advance of the Mahometans.

705. An army of Bulgarians, under Terbelis, restores Justinian to his throne; he inflicts bloody vengeance for his expulsion.

Accession of Caliph Welid.

706. Pope John VII refuses to accept, or even revise, the acts of the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 691, which Justinian requires him to adopt.

707. The Mahometans, under Musa, overcome the Berbers and are masters of all Northern Africa; they establish themselves in the valley of the Indus and conquer Karisme, Bokhara, and Samarkand, whence they introduce the manufacture of paper.

708. Justinian, unmindful of his obligations to Terbelis, attacks the Bulgarians, but is defeated.

709. Roderic ascends the Gothic throne in Spain.

Theodorus, by order of the Emperor Justinian, plunders Ravenna and sends the principal inhabitants to Constantinople, where they are cruelly murdered.

711. Tarik, with a large force of Arab-Moors, lands in Spain. See SARACENS IN SPAIN, iv, 301.

Justinian's continued cruelties provoke a revolt at Ravenna; he sends a fleet and army to destroy Cherson and massacre its inhabitants. The citizens of Cherson proclaim Bardanes emperor, under the name of Philippicus; his cause is espoused by both the fleet and army, which conduct him to Constantinople, where he is acknowledged, and Justinian is put to death.

713. Musa, at the head of the Saracens, crosses the Pyrenees.

715. Charles Martel gains the ascendency in Austrasia; he contends against Chilperic II, the successor of Dagobert in Neustria.

717. Leo the Isaurian ascends the throne of the Eastern Empire. Constantinople is again besieged by the Moslems.

The Saracens suffer a disastrous defeat at the Cave of Covadonga, Spain.

718. Charles Martel is victorious at Soissons; both Frankish kingdoms acknowledge him.

719. Narbonne is captured and occupied by the Saracens under Zana.

721. Zana defeated and slain at the battle of Toulouse. Egbert, Abbot of Iona, translates the four gospels into Anglo-Saxon.

726. Iconoclastic edicts by Leo the Isaurian, against the worship of images, causes tumult and insurrection in Constantinople.

730. Image worship prohibited throughout the Eastern Empire.

731. Last confirmation of a papal election by the Eastern Emperor, the occasion being the election of Gregory III.

732. Battle of Tours, when Charles Martel utterly routs the Saracens and saves the empire of the Franks. See BATTLE OF TOURS, iv, 313.

Pope Gregory III calls a council at Rome; an edict is issued against the iconoclasts.

733. Emperor Leo marries his son Constantine to a Tartar or Turkish princess, who at her baptism takes the name of Irene.

740. The Saracens are expelled from the greater part of France by Charles Martel and his ally, Lieutprand.

Death of Leo the Isaurian; accession of Constantine V as emperor of the East.

742. Birth of Charlemagne.

744. Carloman defeats the Saxons; they are forced into baptism.

746. King Carloman relinquishes the throne of the Franks, and retires into a monastery. See FOUNDING OF THE CARLOVINGIAN DYNASTY, iv, 324.

747. Great plague in Constantinople.

748. Venetian merchants having purchased slaves to be sold in Africa to the Saracens, Pope Zachary forbids the traffic.

Virgilius, a priest, convicted of heresy for believing in the existence of the antipodes.

750. End of the Ommiad and rise of the Abbasside dynasty of caliphs; all the family of the former, except Abderrahman, put to death.

751. Pépin the Short founds the Carlovingian dynasty of the Franks. See FOUNDING OF THE CARLOVINGIAN DYNASTY, iv, 324.

752. Extinction of the exarchate of Ravenna by the Lombards under Astolphus.

753. Pope Stephen II journeys to France.

754. Pépin the Short is crowned by Stephen II. See FOUNDING OF THE CARLOVINGIAN DYNASTY, iv, 324.

755. Pépin the Short defeats Astolphus, King of the Lombards, and invests Pope Stephen II with Ravenna, and other places taken from the Lombards. The Papal States founded.

St. Boniface is martyred in Germany.

756. Abderrahman founds the kingdom of the Ommiads at Cordova.

757. Emperor Constantine courts the favor of Pépin; among other presents he sends him the first organ known in France.

759. Pépin conquers Narbonne and expels the last Saracens from France.

762.[84] Founding of Bagdad, the capital of the eastern caliphs.

767. Death of Pope Paul I; usurpation of Constantine, antipope.

768. Pépin dies and is succeeded by his sons Charles (Charlemagne) and Carloman. See CAREER OF CHARLEMAGNE, iv, 334.

769. Council of Rome annuls all acts of the deposed pope Constantine; he, although blinded by the populace, is led into the assembly, insulted, and beaten. Laymen are declared incapable of being made bishops.

771. Death of Carloman; Charlemagne becomes sole king of the Franks. See CAREER OF CHARLEMAGNE, iv, 334.

772. Charlemagne begins his long war against the Saxons.

774. Charlemagne visits Rome; he captures Pavia after a siege of eight months; and also puts an end to the kingdom of Lombardy. The papal temporalities are increased by Charlemagne. Forgery of the "Donation of Constantine" used as a plea to urge Charlemagne still more to aggrandize the see of Rome.

778. Spain is invaded by Charlemagne; on his return to repel the Saxons his rear-guard is surprised; there ensues the "Dolorous Rout" of Roncesvalles. See CAREER OF CHARLEMAGNE, iv, 334.

780. The government of the Eastern Empire is assumed by Irene in the name of her son, Constantine VI.

781. Charlemagne visits Rome; his two sons are crowned by the Pope—one king of Italy, the other of Aquitaine.

785. Irene proposes a general council to establish the worship of images.

Fierce struggle of the Saxons against Charlemagne; Wittikind and Alboin submit and profess Christianity.

786. On the death of Al Hadi, the famous Harun-al-Rashid succeeds to the eastern caliphate.

787. Second Council of Nice—- the seventh general council of the Church; it decrees the worship of images.

788. Bavaria is brought completely under the sway of Charlemagne.

789.[85] The first recorded inroad of the Northmen (Danes) into England.

790.[86] Publication of the Caroline Books, being the judgments of the general council of the bishops of the West on certain religious dogmas.

791. First campaign of Charlemagne against the Avars or Huns; they are defeated.

792. King Offa murders Ethelbert and annexes East Anglia to Mercia; in atonement for his crime he levies a tax on his subjects to support the school founded at Rome by Ina; this is afterward converted into "Peter's pence."

797. Irene deposes and puts out the eyes of her son, Emperor Constantine VI of the Eastern Empire.

799. Charlemagne finally conquers the Avars or Huns.

800. Pope Leo III presides at the coronation of Charlemagne as emperor of the West. See CAREER OF CHARLEMAGNE, iv, 334.

Egbert is recalled from France by the West Saxons, who make him their king; the name of England is given to his dominions.

801. Barcelona is conquered from the Moors by the Franks.

802. Harun-al-Rashid murders the Barmecides, a powerful Persian family of high renown.

807. Harun-al-Rashid founds public schools; he sends an embassy to Charlemagne with rich presents, among which is a curious clock of brass.

The Saracens of Spain repulsed in their attempt on Sardinia and Corsica.

812. Civil war ensues between the sons of Harun-al-Rashid, who had died three years previously.

813. Constantinople menaced by the Bulgarian khan Krumn.

814. Death of Charlemagne; Louis le Débonnaire, his only surviving son, succeeds.

815. Louis exacts an apology from Pope Leo for having exercised civil judicial power at Rome.

817. Partition of the Frankish empire by Louis le Débonnaire.

826. Harold of South Jutland baptized; he receives from Louis a grant of land in Friesland.

827. The Saxon heptarchy founded by Egbert, King of Wessex. See EGBERT BECOMES KING OF THE ANGLO-SAXON HEPTARCHY, iv, 372.

Beginning of the Saracen conquest of Sicily.

828. Syracuse and a great part of Catalonia captured by the Saracens.

829. North Wales submits to Egbert. Dungallo, a monk who had written a book in defence of image-worship, is placed over the school of Pavia.

830. First rebellion of the sons of Louis le Débonnaire.

832. Danes land on the Isle of Sheppey, England.

833. Louis is a prisoner in the hands of his son Lothair, who assumes full imperial power after the "Field of Lies."

Danes land in Wessex from thirty-five ships, and defeat Egbert.

The regular succession of Scottish kings begins with Alpine.

834. Continuance of the differences between the Anglo-Saxon and Roman clergy in England. See EGBERT BECOMES KING OF THE ANGLO-SAXON HEPTARCHY, iv, 372.

Lothair compelled by his brother to restore their father, Louis, to his throne.

835. Egbert defeats a combined army of Danes and Cornish Britons at Hengston.

Danes invade the Netherlands and sack Utrecht.

836. Antwerp is burned and Flanders ravaged by the Danes.

Death of the first English king, Egbert.

837. First incursion of the Danes up the Rhine.

838. The Danes sail up the Loire and ravage the country as far as Tours.

Caliph Montassem invades Asia Minor.

839. Venetians repress the piracy of the Dalmatians, but lose their ships in an attack on the Saracens at Tarento.

840. Death of Louis le Débonnaire at Ingelheim; his empire divided into three separate states: Lothair (Emperor), taking Italy; Charles, France; Louis, Bavaria or Germany. Disputes follow.

841. Louis and Charles unite to resist the pretensions of Lothair; he is defeated at the battle of Fontenailles (Fontenay).

Rouen plundered by the Danes under Hastings.

842. A final sanction to image-worship is given by the Council of Constantinople.

The "Oath of Strasburg," a valuable matter of philology and history, which shows that in 841 the distinctions of race and language were beginning to make themselves felt. It sealed the pact made between Louis of Austrasia and Charles of Neustria.


[75] Date uncertain.

[76] Date uncertain.

[77] Date uncertain.

[78] Date uncertain.

[79] Date uncertain.

[80] Date uncertain.

[81] Date uncertain.

[82] Date uncertain.

[83] Date uncertain.

[84] Date uncertain.

[85] Date uncertain.

[86] Date uncertain.




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