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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume
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Title: The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 4

Author: Various

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Language: English

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E-text prepared by David Kline, Martin Pettit, and the Project Gutenberg
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With a staff of specialists


The National Alumni




An Outline Narrative of the Great Events,

Visigoths Pillage Rome (A.D. 410),

Huns Invade the Eastern Roman Empire
Attila Dictates a Treaty of Peace (A.D. 441),

The English Conquest of Britain (A.D. 449-579),

Attila Invades Western Europe
Battle of Chalons (A.D. 451),

Foundation of Venice (A.D. 452),

Clovis Founds the Kingdom of the Franks
It Becomes Christian (A.D. 486-511),

Publication of the Justinian Code (A.D. 529-534),

Augustine's Missionary Work in England (A.D. 597),

The Hegira: Career of Mahomet
The Koran: and Mahometan Creed (A.D. 622),

The Saracen Conquest of Syria (A.D. 636),

Saracens Conquer Egypt
Destruction of the Library at Alexandria (A.D. 640),

Evolution of the Dogeship in Venice (A.D. 697),

Saracens in Spain
Battle of the Guadalete (A.D. 711),

Battle of Tours (A.D. 732),

Founding of the Carlovingian Dynasty
Pepin the Short Usurps the Frankish Crown (A.D. 751),

Career of Charlemagne (A.D. 772-814),

Egbert Becomes King of the Anglo-Saxon
Heptarchy (A.D. 827),

Universal Chronology (A.D. 410-842),



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

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

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

Painting by R. Peacock.]





Our modern civilization is built up on three great corner-stones, three
inestimably valuable heritages from the past. The Graeco-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

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
Chalons, 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
Chalons. 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 Chalons. 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 Pepin,[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 Pepin 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 reestablished. 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_, page 1.

[2] See _The English Conquest of Britain_, page 55.

[3] See _Huns Invade the Eastern Roman Empire_, page 28.

[4] See _Attila Invades Western Europe_, page 72.

[5] See _Foundation of Venice_, page 95.

[6] See _Clovis Founds the Kingdom of the Franks_, page 113.

[7] See _Publication of the Justinian Code_, page 138.

[8] See _Augustine's Missionary Work in England_, page 182.

[9] See _The Hegira_, page 198.

[10] See _The Saracen Conquest of Syria_, page 247.

[11] See _Saracens Conquer Egypt_, page 278.

[12] See _Saracens in Spain_, page 301.

[13] See _Battle of Tours_, page 313.

[14] See _Evolution of the Dogeship in Venice_, page 292.

[15] See _Founding of the Carlovingian Dynasty_, page 324.

[16] See _Career of Charlemagne_, page 334.

[17] See _Egbert Becomes King of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy_, page 372.


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

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

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

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 Laeta,
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

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 praetorian 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 Rhaetia, 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 praetorian 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

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 Caesar 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

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 praetorian prefect, of
Valens, master of the cavalry and infantry, of the quaestor 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; reentered
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

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

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 Laeta,
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 quaestor
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 Maesia. 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 Gepidae
and the Ostrogoths were distinguished by their numbers, their bravery,
and the personal merit of their chiefs. The renowned Ardaric, King of
the Gepidae, 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 Maeotis, 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
Maesians 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 Haemus.
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 Thermopylae, 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 Novae, 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

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

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

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

[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 Caesar revealed it
to the Roman world; and a century after Caesar'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

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

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. "AElle 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 AElle'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 Ratae, 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 ooelitic upland that forms our present

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 cooeperate 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 AEsc slew four troops of Britons
with the edge of the sword. Hengist then vanishes, and AElla 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

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 Chalons,
     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 Chalons, 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 Chalons, 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 Chalons 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
Chalons 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

"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 Sassanidae, 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

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

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 cooeperation
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 Besancon 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

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

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 Besancon, and
concentrating the whole of the Hunnish forces on the vast plains of
Chalons-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 Chalons 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 Gepidae, 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
Chalons; 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 praetorian
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 Laeti, 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 Chalons, 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 Gepidae, in which
fifteen thousand barbarians were slain, was a prelude to a more general
and decisive action.

The Catalaunian fields spread themselves round Chalons, 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

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 Gepidae; 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
Chalons; 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 Caesar 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 Chalons 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 Chalons, 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 Chalons: 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 Chalons-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 Baiae 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 Onegesh, 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

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
_debris_ 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


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

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

    "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

"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

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, Terouanne, 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

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, AEgidius, 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 Saone 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 reechoed 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 Chalons-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
Jornandes 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 Jornandes, "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 Chalons
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 Chalons 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 Theodemer; 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

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 AEgidius, 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

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 Fredegaire, 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 Fredegaire, "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 Chalons, 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 Fredegaire 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 Fredegaire 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 Fredegaire,
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

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, Alboflede and Lantechilde, 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

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 Vouille, 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

There his course of conquest was destined to end. After the battle of
Vouille 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 Angouleme, 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

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 Terouanne,
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.
Genevieve, 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 Caesarea, for use in
     their graduate course. Later the _Novellae 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 praetorian prefects he raised himself to the honors
of quaestor, 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 quaestor 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 Caesar 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 Caesars 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 Scaevolas, 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 praetorian
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 Caesars
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

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

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
praetor, 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

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 praetor 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 praetor, 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

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

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 praetors. 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 curiae 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 praetor 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 praetors, 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

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 praetors, 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 praetor, 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 praetors
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

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

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 praetor, 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 Caesars 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 praetors were annually empowered to sit in
judgment on the state offences of treason, extortion, peculation, and
bribery; and Sylla added new praetors 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 praetor. 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 praetor 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 Caesars; 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

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

     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?" "AElla."
     "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

     "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


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

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 AEtherius, 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

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

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,

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

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

[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

     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

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

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

"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

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

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

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

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 Caesar, 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

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

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

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.

[Illustration: 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

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

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 Sabaeism." 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

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

"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


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 preeminence 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

     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 Caesarea 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 Caesarea 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 Caesarea, 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
_elite_ 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
Caesarea 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 AElia 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

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

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 AElia. 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 Caesarea
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 Caesarea, 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

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

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

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

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

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 Caesarea, 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 Caesarea, 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 Caesarea, 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 Caesarea. 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 Caesarea 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 Caesarea 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


[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

     "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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Gepidae, 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

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

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 preexisted 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

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 _scholae militiae 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

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


[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, _Boerde_ 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

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

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

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

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

"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

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


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

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 reestablished 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 Caesars 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 Caesars, 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

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

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, Pepin Heristal, 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

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

"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

"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

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 Pepin of Heristal, 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 Pepin 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 Pepin of Heristal. 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 reestablishment 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, Pepin, called the
Short, from his small stature, and Carloman, this sole dominion which he
had with so much toil reconstituted and defended. Pepin 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, Pepin 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 Pepin, 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 Rhe, 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,
Pepin 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.

Pepin, 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 Childeric II, the last but one of the
sluggard kings, and made him king, the last of his line, with the title
of Childeric 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, Pepin 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, Pepin
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, Childeric 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 Pepin'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

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 Pepin, 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 Pepin 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."

Pepin, 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 Pepin'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 Pepin,
himself and the country under him. This was an important event, indeed,
in the reign of Pepin, 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 Pepin, or, perhaps, himself made similar, without bringing
about any result; at another, he went to seek and found even in Germany
allies who caused Pepin 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.

Pepin, 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 Fredegaire; 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

In 753 Pepin 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 Pepin
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 Pepin 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 Pepin the entreaties used by Zachary. It was difficult
for Pepin 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 Pepin, on learning the near
arrival of the Pope, had sent to meet him and give brilliancy to his

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 Pepin, 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 Pepin 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 Pepin 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 Pepin 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 Pepin, 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, Pepin 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 Pepin 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. Pepin 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 Pepin's brother, events discharged the duty of repairing
the mistake of men. After the death of Pepin, 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 Rhe 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, Pepin's widow, the
queen-mother Bertha, reconciled her two sons; but an unexpected
incident, the death of Carloman two years afterward in 771,
reestablished unity more surely than the reconciliation had
reestablished harmony. For, although Carloman left sons, the grandees of
his dominions, whether laic or ecclesiastical, assembled at Corbeny,
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. Pepin 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 reentering 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 Gerold, 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 Pepin 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 Pepin 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, Desiree, 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 naive 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 _epopaeias_, 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 Caesar. '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 Pepin 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, Pepin, 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
Liege 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 Provencals, 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 Pepin 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
Pepin 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, Pepin, 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

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

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

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

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

"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

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

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

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 Pepin 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

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 Haureau, "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

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

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, Pepin, 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, Chalons, 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, Caesar,
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thermopylae 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 Chalons. See "ATTILA INVADES

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

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

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

457. Majorian placed on the throne of the West by Ricimer and the

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

475. Romulus Augustulus emperor of the West. Zeno and his wife flee to

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

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

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

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

496. Clovis vanquishes the Alemanni; he is baptized. See "CLOVIS FOUNDS

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

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

Publication of St. Benedict's monastic rule.

518. Death of Anastasius, the Eastern Emperor, and accession of Justin

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

525. Theodoric, King of Italy, orders the execution of Boethius and

526. Death of Theodoric and accession of Athalaric.

Great earthquake at Antioch, which destroys the city; 250,000 persons

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

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

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

Publication of the _Pandects_ and _Institutes_ of Justinian. See

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

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

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

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

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

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 Gepidae 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

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 Caesar 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

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

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. Caesarea, 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

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

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

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

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 Caesarea. Invasion of Egypt by Amru, the general of Omar.

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

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

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

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

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,

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

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

680. Sixth general council of the Church, at Constantinople; Monothelite
heresy condemned.

Establishment of a kingdom in Maesia (modern Bulgaria) by the

Hoseyn, son of Ali, and his followers massacred at Kerbela.

Murder of Dagobert II, after which Pepin of Heristal 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

687. Battle of Testri; the victory of Pepin of Heristal gives him the
sway over the whole Frankish empire.

688. Caedwalla 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

Two Anglo-Saxon bishops, Kilian and Wilbrord, preach in Germany. Pepin
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

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. Pepin 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,

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

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

711. Tarik, with a large force of Arab-Moors, lands in Spain. See

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

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

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. Pepin the Short founds the Carlovingian dynasty of the Franks. See

752. Extinction of the exarchate of Ravenna by the Lombards under

753. Pope Stephen II journeys to France.

754. Pepin the Short is crowned by Stephen II. See "FOUNDING OF THE

755. Pepin 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 Pepin; among other presents
he sends him the first organ known in France.

759. Pepin 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. Pepin 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

771. Death of Carloman; Charlemagne becomes sole king of the Franks. See

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

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

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

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 Debonnaire_, 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 Debonnaire_.

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

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 Debonnaire_.

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
HEPTARCHY," iv, 372.

Lothair compelled by his brother to restore their father, Louis, to his

835. Egbert defeats a combined army of Danes and Cornish Britons at

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 Debonnaire_ 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

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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