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rAopnR  I 

Presented  to  the 

LIBRARY  of  the 





PERIOD  I.,  476-918 


Periods  of  European  History 

General  Editor,  ARTHUR  H  ASS  ALL,  M.A., 

Student  of  Christ  Church,  Oxford, 

Crown  ^vo.      With  Maps  and  Plans. 

The  object  of  this  series  is  to  present  in  separate  Volumes  a 
comprehensive  and  trustworthy  account  of  the  general  develop- 
ment of  European  History,  and  to  deal  fully  and  carefully  with  the 
more  prominent  events  in  each  century. 

It  is  believed  that  no  such  attempt  to  place  the  History  of 
Europe  before  the  English  Public  has  yet  been  made,  and  it  is 
hoped  that  the  Series  will  form  a  valuable  continuous  History  of 
Mediaeval  and  Modern  Europe. 

Period  I .  —The  Dark  Ages.    a.  d.  476-9 1 8.    By  C.  W.  C.  Oman,  M.  A. , 

Fellow  of  All  Souls  College,  Oxford.     Js.  6d.     {^Already published. 

Period  IL — The  Empire  and  the  Papacy,     a.d.  918-1273. 

By  T.  F.  Tout,  M.A.,  Professor  of  History  at  the  Owens  College, 
Victoria  University,  Manchester,     "js.  6d.  {Already  published. 

Period  IIL — The  Close  of  the  Middle  Ages.    a.d.  1272-1494. 

By  R.   Lodge,  M.A.,  Professor  of  History  at  the  University  of 
Glasgow.  [In  preparation. 

Period  IV. — Europe  in  the  i6th  Century,     a.d.  1494-1598. 

By  A.  H.  Johnson,  M.A.,  Historical  Lecturer  to  Merton,  Trinity, 
and  University  Colleges,  Oxford,     ^js.  6d.  {Already  published. 

Period  V. — The  Ascendancy  of  France,     a.d.  1598- 17 15. 

By   H.    O.    Wakeman,    M.A.,    Fellow    of  All    Souls    College, 
and  Tutor  of  Keble  College,  Oxford.     6s.  {Already  published. 

Period  VL— The  Balance  of  Power,     a.d.  17 15- 1789. 

By  A.  Hassall,  M.A.,  Student  of  Christ  Church,  Oxford.     6s. 

{Already  published. 

Period  VIL— Revolutionary  Europe,     a.d.  1789-1815. 

By  H.  Morse  Stephens,  M.A.,  Professor  of  History  at  Cornell 
University,  Ithaca,  U.S.A.     6^-.  {Already published. 

PeriodVIII.  — Modern  Europe.    A.D.1815-1878.  By  G.  W.  Prothero, 

Litt.D. ,  Professor  of  History  at  the  University  of  Edinburgh. 

{In  preparation. 




CHARLES   OMAN,    M.A,    F.S.A. 


'the   art    of   WAR    IN    THE   MIDDLE   AGES,'    ETC. 






Thii'd  Edition 

All  rights  reso-ved 


In  spite  of  the  very  modest  scale  on  which  this  book 
has  been  written,  I  trust  that  it  may  be  of  some  use 
to  students  of  European  History.  Though  there  are 
several  excellent  monographs  in  existence  dealing  with 
various  sections  of  the  period  476-918,  there  is  no  con- 
tinuous general  sketch  in  English  which  covers  the  whole 
of  it.  Gibbon's  immortal  work  is  popularly  supposed 
to  do  so,  but  those  who  have  read  it  most  carefully 
are  best  aware  that  it  does  not.  I  am  not  acquainted 
with  any  modern  English  book  where  the  inquirer 
can  find  an  account  of  the  Lombard  kings,  or  of  the 
Mohammedan  invasions  of  Italy  and  Sicily  in  the  ninth 
century,  or  of  several  other  not  unimportant  chapters  in 
the  early  history  of  Europe.  I  am  in  hopes,  therefore, 
that  my  attempt  to  cover  the  whole  field  between  476 
and  918  may  not  be  entirely  useless  to  the  reading 

I  must  acknowledge  my  indebtedness  to  two  living 
authors,  whose  works  have  been  of  the  greatest  possible 
help  to  me  in  dealing  with  two  great  sections  of 
this  period,  Doctor  Gustav  Richter,  whose  admirable 
collection  of  original  authorities  in  his  Annalen  des 
Frdnkischen  Reichs  makes  such  an  excellent  intro- 
duction to  the  study  of  Merovingian  and   Carolingian 

vi  Preface 

times,  and  Professor  Bury  of  Dublin,  whose  History  of 
the  Later  Roman  Empire  has  done  so  much  for  the 
knowledge  of  East- Roman  affairs  between  476  and  800. 
Nor  must  I  omit  to  express  my  indebtedness  to  the 
kindly  and  diligent  hands  which  spent  so  many  summer 
hours  in  the  laborious  task  of  compiling  my  index. 

A  word  ought,  perhaps,  to  be  added  on  the  vexed 
question  of  the  spelling  of  proper  names.  I  have 
always  chosen  the  most  modern  form  in  speaking  of 
places,  but  in  speaking  of  individuals  I  have  employed 
that  used  by  contemporary  authorities,  save  in  the  case 
of  a  few  very  well  known  names,  such  as  Charles, 
Henry,  Gregory,  Lewis,  where  archaism  would  savour 
of  pedantry. 

Oxford,  November  1893. 


The  author  has  to  acknowledge  much  kind  help  in  the 
revision  of  this  second  edition  given  him  by  the  Rev. 
Dr.  Bright,  Regius  Professor  of  Ecclesiastical  History ; 
by  Mr.  C.  H.  Turner,  Fellow  of  Magdalen  College ;  by 
the  Rev.  F.  E.  Brightman,  of  University  College ;  and 
by  the  unwearied  compiler  of  the  index.  They  have 
materially  improved  the  accuracy  of  the  book  by  their 

October  30,  1894. 



I.  Odoacer  and  Theodoric,  476-493,        .  .  .1 

II.  Theodoric  King  of  Italy,  493-526,       .  .  .19 

III.  The  Emperors  at  Constantinople,  476-527,  .  .     33 

IV.  Chlodovech  and  the  Franks  in  Gaul,  481-5 ii,  .     55 
V.  Justinian  and  his  Wars,  528-540,          .            .  '    ^S 

VI.  Justinian — {continued)^  540-565,  .  .  .89 

VII.  The  Earlier  Frankish  Kings  and  their  Organisa- 
tion of  Gaul,  511-561,  .  .  .  .Ill 
VIII.  The  Visigoths  IN  Spain,  531-603,           .            .  .128 
IX.  The  Successors  of  Justinian,  565-610,            .  .  145 
X.  Decline  and  Decay  of  the  Merovingians,  561-656,     158 
XI.  The  Lombards    in  Italy    and    the  Rise    of  the 

Papacy,  568-653,  .  .  .  .  .181 

XII.  Heraclius  AND  Mohammed,  610-641,    .  .  .  204 

XIII.  The  Decline  and  Fall  of  the  Visigoths,  a.d.  603- 

711,  .......  220 

XIV.  The  Contest   of   the  Eastern  Empire  and   the 

Caliphate,  641-717,        .....  234 

XV.  The  History  of  the  Great  Mayors  of  the  Palace, 

656-720,    .......  256 

XVI.  The  Lombards  and  the  Papacy,  653-743,        .  .  272 

XVII.  Charles  Martel  and  HIS  Wars,  720-41,  .  .  289 

XVIII.  The  Iconoclast  Emperors — state  of  the  Eastern 

Empire  in  the  Eighth  Century,  717-802,      .  .  300 

XIX.  Pippin  the  Short — Wars  of  the  Franks  and  Lom- 
bards, 741-768,    ......  322 

XX.  Charles    the  Great — early    years    768-785 — Con- 
quest OF  Lombardy  and  Saxony,        .  .  .  335 
XXI.  The  later  Wars  and  Conquests  of  Charles  the 

Great,  785-814, 357 

XXII.  Charles  the  Great  and  the  Empire,  .  .  369 

XXIII.  Lewis  the  Pious,  814-840,  ....  383 




C 071  tents 


Disruption  of  the  Frankish  Empire— the  coming 
OF  THE  Vikings,  840-855,  ....  405 

XXV.  The   Darkest    hour,  855-887.      From    the    Death 
OF  Lothair  I.  to  the  Deposition  of  Charles  the 
Fat,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .424 

XXVI.  Italy  and  Sicily  in  the  Ninth  Century,  827-924,    .  446 

XXVII.  Germany,  888-918, 468 

XXVIII.  The  Eastern  Empire  in  the  Ninth  Century,  802- 

912, 478 

XXIX.  The  end  of  the  Ninth  Century  in  Western  Europe. 

Conclusion,        .  .  ....  496 



1.  The  Perso-Roman  Frontier  under  Justiniai 

2.  The  Frankish  Kingdoms  in  511 

3.  The  Frankish  Kingdoms  in  575, 

4.  Italy  in  590, 

5.  The  Asiatic  Themes, 

6.  Saxony  in  the  Ninth  Century, 

7.  The  Partition  Treaty  of  Verdun,  853, 

8.  Western  Europe  in  890, 





1.  The  Vandal  Kings, 

2.  The  Eastern  Emperors,  457-51! 

3.  The  House  of  the  Merovings, 

4.  The  Lombard  Kings, 

5.  The  House  of  Heraclius, 

6.  The  Mayors  of  the  Palace  of  the  House  of  St. 

7.  The  Descendants  of  Charles  the  Great, 





Names  and  Dates  of  the  Emperors  at  Constantinople,  the  Ostrogothic 

and  Visigothic  Kings,  the  Popes,  and  the  Cal  phs,   .  .  S^S-Si? 




6  476-493 

Importance  of  the  year  476— The  Emperor  Zeno  recognises  Odoacer  as 
Patrician  in  Italy — Odoacer's  position — Divisions  of  Europe  in  476 — 
The  Vandals  in  Africa  and  King  Gaiseric — Rule  of  Odoacer  in  Italy — His 
war  with  Theodoric,  and  fall. 

In  the  summer  of  477  a.d.  a  band  of  ambassadors,  who 
claimed  to  speak  the  will  of  the  decayed  body  which  still 
called  itself  the  Roman  senate,  appeared  before  the  judgment- 
seat  of  the  emperor  Zeno,  the  ruler  of  Constantinople  and 
the  Eastern  Empire.  They  came  to  announce  to  him  that 
the  army  of  the  West  had  slain  the  patrician  Orestes,  and 
deposed  from  his  throne  the  son  of  Orestes,  the  boy-emperoi 
Romulus.  But  they  did  not  then  proceed  to  inform  Zeno 
that  another  Caesar  had  been  duly  elected  to  replace  their 
late  sovereign.  Embassies  with  such  news  had  been  common 
of  late  years,  but  this  particular  deputation,  unlike  any  other 
which  had  yet  visited  the  Bosphorus,  came  to  announce  to 
the  Eastern  emperor  that  his  own  mighty  name  sufficed  for 
the  protection  of  both  East  and  West.  They  laid  at  his  feet 
the  diadem  and  purple  robe  of  Romulus,  and  professed  to 
transfer  their  homage  and  loyalty  to  his  august  person.  Then, 
as  if  by  way  of  supplement  and  addendum,  they  informed 
Zeno  that  they  had  chosen  Flavius  Odoacer  for  their  governor, 
and  trusted  that  their  august  master  would  deign  to  ratify 
the  choice,  and  confer  on  Odoacer  the  title  of  Patrician. 


2  European  History,  476-918 

It  has  often  been  repeated  of  late  years  that  this  date,  476 
A.D.,  does  not  form  a  very  notable  landmark  in  the  history  of 
the  world,  that  its  sole  event  was  the  transfer  of  the  nominal 
supremacy  of  the  Western  World  from  a  powerless  Caesar  who 
lived  at  Ravenna  to  a  powerless  Caesar  who  lived  at  Con- 
stantinople. We  are  reminded  that  the  patrician  Odoacer 
and  the  deputies  of  the  Roman  Senate  assured  the  Eastern 
Emperor  not  that  they  had  cast  off  allegiance  to  the  imperial 
name,  but  that  Italy  no  longer  needed  a  separate  Augustus, 
and  that  a  single  ruler  might  once  more  rule  East  and  West, 
Odoacer  Pat-  ^s  in  the  days  of  Constantine  and  Theodosius. 
rician  in  Italy.  And  if  the  representatives  of  the  western  realm 
then  proceeded  to  recommend  Zeno  to  appoint  as  his  vice- 
gerent among  them  '  Odoacer,  a  mighty  man  of  war,  and  a 
person  well  skilled  in  political  matters,  whom  they  had 
selected  to  defend  their  interests,'  they  were,  in  truth,  making 
no  new  or  startling  proposition;  for  similar  embassies  had 
often  arrived  at  Constantinople  to  announce,  not  the  choice 
of  a  mere  patrician,  but  the  election  of  an  independent 

In  a  purely  formal  way  all  this  is  true  enough,  and  we  must 
concede  that  the  permanent  establishment  of  a  Teutonic 
ruler  in  Italy  v»'as  only  another  instance  of  what  had  already 
occurred  in  Spain  and  Africa.  As  yet  nobody  in  either  of 
the  three  countries  had  asserted  that  the  Roman  Empire  had 
died  out  and  been  replaced  for  all  purposes  by  a  Teutonic 
kingship.  Documents  were  still  dated  and  coins  still  struck 
with  the  name  of  a  Roman  Emperor  upon  them  alike  in  Spain, 
Africa,  and  Italy.  After  476  the  subjects  of  the  Visigoth 
Euric,  no  less  than  those  of  the  Scyrrian  Odoacer,  proceeded 
to  grave  a  rude  portrait  of  Zeno  on  their  moneys,  just  as  they 
had  done  a  few  years  earlier  with  a  rude  portrait  of  Valen- 
tinian  in.  What  mattered  it  to  them  that  the  one  dwelt  east 
of  the  Adriatic  and  the  other  west  ? 

But  if  the  historians  of  the  last  century  were  too  neglectful 
of  the  constitutional  and  theoretical  aspect  of  affairs,  when 

Odoacer  and  Theodoric  3 

they  bluntly  asserted  that  the  Roman  Empire  ceased  in  the 
West  in  476,  there  is  a  danger  that  our  own  generation  may 
become  too  much  imbued  with  the  formal  aspect  of  things, 
and  too  little  conscious  of  the  real  change  which  took  place 
in  that  obscure  year.  The  disappearance  of  the  Roman 
Empire  of  the  West  was,  in  truth,  a  long  process,  which 
began  as  early  as  411  when  Britain — first  of  all  the  Occidental 
'dioceses' — was  abandoned  to  the  barbarian,  and  did  not, 
perhaps,  end  till  Francis  11.  of  Austria  laid  down  the  title  of 
Emperor  in  the  year  1806.  Yet  if  we  must  choose  a  point 
at  which,  rather  than  at  any  other,  we  are  to  put  the  breach 
between  the  old  and  the  new,  if  we  must  select  any  year  as 
the  dividing-line  between  ancient  history  and  the  Middle 
Ages,  it  is  impossible  to  choose  a  better  date  than  476. 

Down  to  the  day  on  which  Flavins  Odoacer  deposed 
Augustulus  there  was  always  at  Rome  or  Ravenna  a  prince 
who  represented  in  clear  heritage  the  imperial  succession  that 
descended  from  Octavian  and  Trajan  and  Constantino.  His 
crown  might  be  fragile,  his  life  in  constant  danger ;  his  word 
might  be  less  powerful  in  Italy  than  that  of  some  barbarian 
Ricimer  or  Gundobad  who  stood  behind  the  throne.  Never- 
theless, he  was  brought  into  real  contact  with  his  subjects, 
and  was  a  visible,  tangible  personage  whose  will  and  character 
still  made  some  difference  in  the  governance  of  the  state. 
The  weakest  Glycerius  or  Olybrius  never  sank  into  being  a 
mere  puppet,  like  an  eighth  century  king  of  the  Franks,  or  a 
seventeenth  century  Mikado.  Moreover,  there  was  till  the 
last  a  possibility — even,  perchance,  a  probability — that  there 
would  arise  some  strong  emperor  who  would  free  himself 
from  the  power  of  his  German  prime  minister.  Majorian 
nearly  succeeded  in  doing  so ;  and  the  stories  of  the  falls  of 
the  Goths,  Gainas  and  Aspar,  in  the  East  show  that  such  an 
attempt  was  not  a  hopeless  undertaking. 

But  when  Odoacer  seized  the  throne  from  the  boy  Augus- 
tulus, and  became  with  the  consent,  if  not  the  good-will,  of 
the  Constantinopolitan  Caesar,  the  sole  representative  in  the 

4  European  History,  476-918 

West  of  the  imperial  system,  a  very  grave  change  took  place 
in  the  status  of  the  empire.  Flavins  Odoacer  was  something 
Practical  far  more  than  a  patrician  ruling  as  the  repre- 
Odoacef's°^  scntativc  of  an  absentee  emperor.  He  was  not 
position.  only  the  successor  of  Ricimer,  but  the  predecessor 
of  Theodoric  and  Alboin.  For,  beside  being  a  Roman 
official,  he  was  a  German  king,  raised  on  the  shield  and 
hailed  as  *  Thiudans '  by  the  whole  Teutonic  horde  who  now 
represented  the  old  legions  of  the  West.  If  he  never  took 
the  title  of  '  king  of  Italy,'  it  was  because  territorial  appella- 
tions of  the  kind  were  not  yet  known.  Euric  and  Gaiseric, 
his  contemporaries,  called  themselves  Kings  of  the  Visigoths 
and  Vandals,  not  of  Spain  and  Africa.  And  so  Odoacer 
being  king  of  a  land  and  an  array,  but  not  of  a  nation,  may 
have  been  somewhat  at  a  loss  how  to  set  forth  his  royal 
appellation.  He  would  not  have  deigned  to  call  himself 
'king  of  the  Italians;'  to  call  himself  king  of  the  Scyrri  or 
Turcilingi,  or  any  other  of  the  tribes  who  furnished  part  of 
his  host,  would  have  been  to  assume  an  inadequate  name. 
Puzzled  contemporary  chroniclers  sometimes  called  him  king 
of  the  Goths,  though  he  himself  never  used  such  a  title. 

Still  he  was  a  king,  and  a  king  with  a  settled  territory  and 
an  organised  host ;  not  a  migratory  invader  of  Italy,  as  Alaric 
had  been,  but  a  permanent  ruler  of  the  land.  In  this  way 
he  was  undoubtedly  the  forerunner  of  the  Ostrogoths  and 
Lombards  who  took  his  place,  and,  though  the  title  would 
have  sounded  strange  in  his  own  ears,  we  may  fairly  style 
him  king  of  Italy,  as  we  so  style  Theodoric,  or  Berengar,  or 
Victor  Emmanuel.  For  it  was  the  will  of  Odoacer  that  was 
obeyed  in  the  land,  and  not  the  will  of  his  titular  superior 
at  Constantinople.  It  was  Odoacer  who  appointed  taxes  and 
chose  officials,  and  interfered  in  the  election  of  bishops  of 
Rome,  and  declared  war  on  the  Rugians  or  the  Vandals.  In 
the  few  documents  of  his  time  that  have  survived,  the  name 
of  Zeno  is  seldom  mentioned,  and  in  signing  grants  he 
styles  himself  Odovacar  Rex,  and  not  Odovacar  Patricius,  as 

Odoacer  and  Theodoric  5 

strict  Roman  usage  should  have  prescribed.  Similarly,  an 
Italian  official  acknowledges  his  regia  largitas^  not  \ivs,  patricia 
magnitudo.  It  is,  then,  in  every  way  correct,  as  well  as 
convenient,  to  style  him  the  first  German  king  of  Italy,  and 
to  treat  his  reign  as  the  commencement  of  a  new  era.  If  we 
hesitate  to  do  this,  we  are  logically  bound  to  refuse  to  recog- 
nise the  Visigothic  or  Frankish  kings  in  Spain  and  Gaul  as 
independent  sovereigns  till  the  middle  of  the  sixth  century, 
and  to  protract  the  Roman  Empire  of  the  West  till  Leovigild 
and  Theudebert  formally  disclaimed  the  imperial  supremacy 

In  the  year  476  the  greater  parts  of  the  lands  which  had 
formerly  composed  the  Roman  Empire  of  the  West  had 
taken  new  forms  in  the  shape  of  six  large  Teutonic  kingdoms. 
Italy  and  Noricum  formed  the  kingdom  of  Odoacer ;  North 
Africa  the  dominions  of  the  Vandal  Gaiseric.  The  Visigothic 
realm  of  Euric  extended  from  the  Loire  to  the  Straits  of 
Gibraltar.  King  Gundobad  the  Burgundian  occupied  the 
valleys  of  the  Rhone  and  Saone,  as  far  as  their  extreme 
head-waters.  The  Princes  of  the  Franks  reigned  on  the 
Meuse,  Moselle,  and  lower  Rhine.  Last  and  smallest  of  the 
six  Teutonic  States  was  the  kingdom  of  the  Suevi  in  what 
would  now  be  called  north  Portugal  and  Galicia.  Inter- 
spersed among  these  German  kingdoms  were  three  or  four 
remnants  of  the  old  Roman  Empire,  which  had  not  yet  been 
submerged  by  the  rising  flood  of  Teutonism,  though  they 
were  destined  ere  long  to  disappear  beneath  its  surface.  The 
province  of  Britain  had  become  a  group  of  small  state  of  West- 
and  unhappy  Celtic  kingdoms,  on  whose  borders  ern  Europe  in 
the  Angle  and  Saxon  had  not  yet  made  any  ^^^' 
appreciable  encroachment.  Armorica,  the  modern  Brittany, 
was  also  a  rough  confederacy  of  Celtic  states.  The  Seine 
valley  and  the  middle  Loire  formed  a  Romano-Gallic  kingdom 
under  Syagrius,  the  last  governor  who  had  acknowledged  the 
supremacy  of  the  empire  beyond  the  Alps.  The  Cantabrians 
and   Basques  in   their   hills   above  the  Bay  of  Biscay  had 

6  European  History,  476-918 

preserved  their  independence  against  the  Visigoths,  just  as 
their  ancestors,  five  centuries  before,  had  held  out  against  the 
Roman  conquerors  of  Spain.  Lastly,  there  was  still  a  frag- 
ment of  territory  on  the  Adriatic  which  claimed  to  represent 
the  legitimate  Empire  of  the  West.  The  emperor  Julius 
Nepos,  when  driven  from  Rome  and  Ravenna,  had  fled  to 
Dalmatia,  where  he  contrived  to  keep  together  a  small 
kingdom  around  his  capital  of  Salona.  Of  these  five  scattered 
remnants  of  territory  which  had  not  yet  fallen  into  the  hands 
of  the  Germans,  there  were  two,  the  kingdoms  of  Syagrius 
and  Nepos,  which  were  doomed  to  a  speedy  fall ;  for  the  other 
three  a  longer  and  more  chequered  career  was  reserved. 

Around  the  solid  block  of  land,  which  had  once  formed 
the  Western  Empire,  were  lying  a  ring  of  German  tribes,  who 
had  worked  forward  from  the  North  and  East  into  the  deserted 
dwellings  of  the  races  who  had  already  passed  on  within  the 
Roman  border.  The  Frisians  lay  about  the  mouths  of  the 
Waal  and  Lech,  north  of  the  land  lately  won  by  the  Franks. 
The  Alamanni,  a  confederacy  of  Suevian  tribes,  had  possession 
of  the  valleys  of  the  Main  and  Neckar,  the  Black  Forest,  and 
the  banks  of  the  upper  Danube.  East  of  them  again  lay  the 
Thuringians  and  Rugians,  in  the  lands  which  we  should  now 
call  northern  Bavaria  and  Bohemia.  Beyond  them  came  the 
Lombards  in  Moravia  and  northern  Hungary,  and  the  Herules 
and  Gepidae  on  the  middle  Danube  and  the  Theiss.  All  these 
tribes,  like  their  brethren  who  had  gone  before  them,  were 
showing  a  general  tendency  to  press  West  and  South,  and  take 
their  share  in  the  plunder  of  the  dismembered  Empire. 

The  history  of  the  Teutonic  kingdoms  of  the  later  fifth 
and  earlier  sixth  century  falls  into  two  distinct  halves.  The 
tale  of  the  doings  of  Frank,  Visigoth,  Burgundian,  and  Suevian 
in  the  West  forms  one.  Very  slightly  connected  with  it  do 
we  find  the  other,  the  story  of  the  doings  of  Odoacer  in  Italy, 
and  of  the  Vandal  kings  in  Africa,  whose  connections  and 
interests  are  far  more  with  the  Eastern  Empire  than  with  the 
Transalpine  khigdoms.     It  is  with  these  two  states  that  we 

Odoacer  and  Theodoric  7 

shall  first  have  to  deal^  leaving  the  discussion  of  the  affairs  of 
the  Teutons  of  Gaul  and  Spain  for  another  chapter. 

Gaiseric,  or  Genseric  as  the  Romans  sometimes  called  him, 
first  of  the  Vandal  kings  of  Africa,  was  still  reigning  at  Car- 
thage in  the  year  when  Odoacer  became  ruler  of  Italy.  For 
forty-eight  years  did  this  first  of  the  Teutonic  sea-kings  bear 
sway  in  the  land  which  he  had  won,  and  hold  the  naval 
supremacy  in  the  central  Mediterranean.  The  creation  of 
the  Vandal  kingdom  had  been  one  of  the  most  extraordinary 
feats  of  the  time  of  the  great  migrations,  and  must  be  attri- 
buted entirely  to  the  personal  energy  of  their  long-Hved  king. 
His  tribe  was  one  of  the  least  numerous  of  the  many  wan- 
dering hordes  which  had  trespassed  within  the  bounds  of 
the  empire,  no  more  than  80,000  souls,  men,  women,  and 
children  all  counted,  when  they  first  invaded  ^j^^  vandais 
Africa.  That  such  a  small  army  should  have  in  Africa, 
overrun  a  province  a  thousand  miles  long,  and  '^^^'^^^ 
should  have  become  the  terror  of  the  whole  seaboard  of  the 
Western  Empire  was  the  triumph  of  Gaiseric's  ability.  He 
was  not  one  of  the  stalwart,  hard-fighting,  brainless  chiefs  who 
were  generally  to  be  found  at  the  head  of  a  German  horde, 
but  a  man  of  very  moderate  stature,  limping  all  his  life  through 
from  a  kick  that  he  got  from  a  horse  in  early  youth.  His 
mental  powers  alone  made  him  formidable,  for  he  was  not  only 
a  general  of  note,  but  a  wily  politician,  faithless  not  with  the 
light  and  heady  fickleness  of  a  savage,  but  with  the  deliberate 
and  malicious  treachery  of  a  professional  intriguer.  He  was 
one  of  those  not  uncommon  instances  of  a  Teuton,  who,  when 
brought  into  contact  with  the  empire,  picked  up  all  the  vices 
of  its  decaying  civilisation  without  losing  those  of  his  original 
barbarism.  It  is  not  without  some  reason  that  the  doings  of 
Gaiseric  have  left  their  mark  on  the  history  of  language  in 
the  shape  of  the  modern  word  '  Vandalism.'  The  sufferings 
of  Italy  and  Africa  at  his  hands  were  felt  more  deeply  than  the 
woes  they  had  endured  at  the  hands  of  other  invaders,  because 
of  the  treachery  and  malice  which  inspired  them.     Compared 

8  European  History,  476-918 

with  Gaiseric,  Alaric  the  Goth  seemed  a  model  of  knightly 
courtesy,  and  Attila  the  Hun  a  straightforward,  if  a  brutal, 
enemy.  The  Vandal  king's  special  foibles  were  the  conclusion 
of  treaties  and  armistices  which  he  did  not  intend  to  keep,  and 
a  large  piratical  disregard  for  the  need  of  any  pretext  or 
justification  for  his  raids,  save  indeed  the  single  plea  that  the 
city  or  district  that  he  attacked  was  at  that  particular  moment 
not  in  a  good  position  to  defend  itself. 

From  his  contact  with  the  empire,  Gaiseric  had  picked  up 
the  characteristics  of  the  two  most  odious  types  of  the  day — 
the  tax-collector  and  the  persecuting  ecclesiastical  bigot. 
There  was  more  systematic  financial  oppression  in  Africa 
than  in  any  of  the  other  new  Germanic  kingdoms,  and  far 
more  spiteful  persecution  of  religious  enemies. 

The  system  on  which  the  Vandal  organised  his  realm  was 
not  the  comparatively  merciful  '  thirding  of  the  land '  that 
Odoacer  and  Theodoric  introduced  into  Italy.  He  confiscated 
all  the  large  estates  of  the  great  African  landowners,  and  turned 
them  into  royal  domains,  worked  by  his  bailiffs.  Of  the 
smaller  estates,  tilled  by  the  provincials  who  owned  them,  he 
made  two  parts ;  those  in  the  province  of  Africa  proper  and 
the  best  of  those  beyond  it,  were  appropriated  and  made  into 
Vandal  military  fiefs  for  his  Teutonic  followers.     These 

Oppression,  sortes  Vandalorum,  as  they  were  called,  were 
hereditary  and  free  from  all  manner  of  taxation.  The  royal 
revenue  was  raised  entirely  from  those  of  the  poorer  and 
more  remote  provincial  proprietors,  who  had  not  been  ex- 
propriated, and  from  them  Gaiseric,  by  pitiless  taxation,  drew 
a  very  large  revenue. 

But  it  was  for  his  persecution,  far  more  than  his  fiscal  oppres- 
sion, that  Gaiseric  was  hated.  The  Vandals,  like  most  of 
the  other  Teutons,  had  embraced  Arianism  when  they  were 
converted,  and  Gaiseric — evil-liver  as  he  was — had  set  his 
mind  on  forcing  his  subjects  to  conform  to  the  religion  of 
their  masters.  He  confiscated  all  the  Catholic  churches  in 
Africa,  and  either  handed  them  over  to  the  Arians  or  destroyed 

Odoacer  and  Theodoric  g 

them.  He  forbade  the  consecration  of  new  Catholic  bishops, 
and  banished  or  imprisoned  all  whom  he  found  already  exist- 
ing in  his  dominions.  Occasionally  he  put  to  death,  and 
frequently  he  imprisoned  or  sold  as  slaves,  prominent  supporters 
of  the  orthodox  faith.  If  martyrdoms  were  few,  '  Dragonnades ' 
were  many,  and,  by  their  systematic  cruelty,  the  Vandal  king 
and  people  have  gained  for  themselves  an  ill  name  for  ever  in 
the  pages  of  history. 

Their  hateful  oppression  of  the  provincials  made  the  Vandals' 
power  in  Africa  very  precarious.  They  were  far  too  few  for 
the  mighty  land  they  had  conquered,  even  when  Gaiseric  had 
attracted  adventurers  of  all  sorts  to  his  banner,  and  had  even 
enlisted  the  savage  Moors  of  Atlas  to  serve  on  his  fleet.  The 
fanatical  Africans,  the  race  who  had  produced  the  turbulent 
Donatist  sectaries  and  the  wild  Circumcelliones,  were  not  likely 
to  submit  with  meekness  to  their  new  masters.  They  only 
waited  for  a  deliverer  in  order  to  rise  against  the  Vandals,  and 
twice,  during  the  reign  of  Gaiseric,  it  seemed  as  if  the  deliverer 
were  at  hand.  On  each  occasion,  the  Vandal  snatched  a 
success  by  his  cunning  and  promptitude,  when  all  the  pro- 
babilities of  success  were  against  him.  In  460,  the  Emperor 
Majorian  had  collected  a  fleet  of  overwhelming  strength  at 
Carthagena,  and  was  already  gathering  the  army  that  was  to 
be  conveyed  in  it.  But  warned  and  helped  by  traitors,  Gaiseric 
came  down  on  the  ships  before  they  were  manned  or  equipped, 
and  carried  ofl"  or  burnt  them  all.  In  468,  a  Gaiseric  in 
still  greater  danger  had  threatened  the  Vandal ;  the  danger. 
Emperors  of  East  and  West,  Leo  and  Anthemius,  had  joined 
their  forces  to  crush  the  nest  of  pirates  at  Carthage.  They 
actually  sent  to  Africa  an  army  that  is  said  to  have  amounted 
to  nearly  100,000  men,  and  overran  the  whole  country  from 
Tripoli  to  the  gates  of  Carthage.  In  the  hour  of  danger 
Gaiseric's  courage  and  treachery  were  both  conspicuous. 
After  deluding  the  imbecile  Roman  general  Basiliscus,  by 
asking  and  gaining  a  five  days'  truce  for  settling  terms  of  sub- 
mission, he  sent  fire-ships  by  night  against  the  hostile  fleet, 

10  European  History^  476-918 

and,  while  the  Roman  troops  were  endeavouring  to  save  their 
vessels,  attacked  their  unguarded  camp.  After  suffering  a 
defeat,  the  coward  Basiliscus  drew  off  his  armament,  and  the 
Vandal,  saved  as  by  a  miracle,  could  breathe  again. 

The  last  ten  years  of  Gaiseric's  reign  were  filled  with  count- 
less pirate  raids  on  Italy  and  Sicily,  unopposed  by  the  five 
puppet-emperors  who  ruled  at  Rome  and  Ravenna  in  those 
evil  days.  Gaiseric  survived  the  fall  of  Romulus  Augustulus 
just  long  enough  to  enable  him  to  make  a  treaty  with  Odoacer. 
By  this  agreement  the  Vandal,  always  more  greedy  for  money 
than  for  land,  gave  up  his  not  inconsiderable  conquests  in 
Sicily  in  return  for  an  annual  payment  from  the  newly-enthroned 
king  of  Italy. 

Gaiseric  died  in  477,  and  with  him  the  greatness  of  the 
Vandals,  though  their  kingdom  was  to  endure  fifty  years  more. 
He  left  behind  him  a  fine  fleet  and  a  full  treasury,  and  a  palace 
resplendent  with  the  spoils  taken  at  the  great  sack  of  Rome 
in  455.  But  the  dominion  of  his  handful  of  Vandal  followers 
in  Africa  was  still  as  precarious  as  ever;  their  one  security 
had  been  the  cunning  and  courage  of  their  aged  king,  and 
when  he  was  gone  there  was  no  defence  left  to  prevent  the 
Vandal  dominion  from  falling,  the  moment  that  it  should  be 
attacked.  Dreading  rebellion  among  the  provincials,  Gaiseric 
had  dismantled  the  walls  and  gates  of  every  African  town  save 
Carthage.  One  battle  lost  would  place  the  whole  country-side 
in  the  hands  of  an  assailant,  and  at  no  very  distant  day  the 
assailant  was  to  come,  to  avenge  the  sufferings  of  three  unhappy 
generations  of  the  oppressed  subjects  of  the  Vandals. 

Gaiseric  was  succeeded  by  his  son,  Hunneric,  a  man  already 
Hunneric,  advanced  in  years,  who  w^as,  like  his  father,  an 
477-84.  Arian  and  a  bitter  persecutor.     He  was  married 

to  Eudocia,  the  daughter  of  the  emperor  Valentinian  iii.,  a 
prisoner  of  the  sack  of  Rome  in  455.  But  his  wife  did  not 
much  influence  him  ;  he  drew  from  her  no  tincture  of  Roman 
civilisation,  nor  did  her  persistent  orthodoxy  wean  him  from 
his  Arianism.     After  living  with  him  for  sixteen  unhappy  years 

Odoacer  and  Theodoric  1 1 

and  bearing  him  two  sons,  she  at  last  contrived  to  escape 
secretly  from  Carthage,  fled  to  Jerusalem,  and  died  there 
enjoying  once  more  the  Catholic  communion  of  which  she 
had  been  so  long  deprived. 

Hunneric  was  a  tyrant  of  the  worst  type.  His  dealings  with 
his  family  are  a  sufficient  proof  of  his  character.  Gaiseric,  to 
avoid  the  danger  of  a  minority — a  contingency  which  would 
have  been  fatal  to  his  precarious  monarchy— had  prescribed 
that  each  Vandal  king  should  be  succeeded,  not  by  his  next-of- 
kin,  but  by  his  eldest  relative.  Such  successions  were  very  usual 
among  the  Teutonic  tribes,  though  they  had  never  before  been 
formally  made  into  a  rule.  Now  Hunneric  had  a  grown-up 
son,  Hildecat,  whom  he  destined  for  his  successor ;  but  the 
prince  was,  of  course,  younger  than  the  king's  own  brothers. 
Instead  of  cancelling  his  father's  law,  Hunneric  set  to  work  to 
exterminate  his  brothers,  and  slew  them  with  all  their  children, 
save  two  youths,  the  sons  of  his  next  brother,  Genzo,  who 
saved  themselves  by  timely  flight. 

During  the  seven  years  of  his  reign  (477-484)  Hunneric 
waged  no  wars ;  his  fleet  could  no  longer  prey  on  the  dying 
carcase  of  the  Western  Empire.  The  two  formidable  king- 
doms of  the  Visigoth  Euric  and  the  Scyrrian  Odoacer  could 
not  be  ravaged  like  the  realm  of  a  Maximus  or  a  Glycerins. 
They  were  left  alone,  while  the  energies  of  Hunneric  were  de- 
voted to  persecution  of  the  Catholics  in  his  own  realm.  The 
orthodox  declared  that  he  from  first  to  last  caused  the  death 
of  40,000  persons,  a  hyperbolical  exaggeration  which  half 
causes  us  to  doubt  the  reality  of  what  was  in  truth  a  very  cruel 
and  severe  persecution.  Hunneric  delighted  more  in  muti- 
lation of  hands  and  eyes  and  tongues  than  in  death  given  by 
the  sword  and  the  rope,  but  there  is  no  doubt  that,  in  a 
considerable  number  of  cases,  he  punished  Catholics  with  the 
extreme  penalty. 

While  Hunneric  was  thus  employed  it  is  not  strange  to  hear 
that  he  was  vexed  by  rebellions.  The  Moors  of  Mount  Atlas 
rose  against  him,  and,  by  no  means  to  the  grief  of  the  Latin 


European  History,  476-918 

speaking  provincials,  encroached  on  the  Southern  border  of 
the  Vandal  kingdom,  and  pushed  their  incursions  as  far  as  the 
Mons  Aurasius  in  Numidia.  While  preparing  to  attack  them 
the  king  died,  smitten,  if  the  Catholic  chroniclers  are  to  be 
believed,  by  the  same  horrid  disease  which  made  an  end  of 
Herod  Agrippa.  His  eldest  and  only  grown-up  son,  Hildecat, 
had  died  before  him,  and  the  Vandals  at  once  placed  on  the 
throne  Gunthamund,  the  eldest  of  his  two  surviving  nephews, 
a  prince  who  showed  great  forbearance,  when  the  circum- 
stances are  considered,  in  imprisoning  instead  of  murdering 
Hunneric's  two  younger  children. 

While  we  turn  from  the  Vandal  kingdom  in  Africa  to  the 
dominions  of  Odoacer  in  Italy,  we  are  struck  at  once  by  the 
Internal  contrast  between  the  methods  of  government  em- 
ployed in  the  two  countries.  While  Gaiseric  and 
Hunneric  ruled  as  mere  barbarians,  and  cast  away 
all  the  ancient  Roman  machinery  of  administration,  king 
Odoacer  kept  up  the  whole  system   as  he  found  it.      He 

of  Odoacer 
in  Italy. 

THE  VANDAL  KINGS,  427-530. 

[The  names  of  kings  in  Capital  letters.] 


King,  427  ;  reigned  at 

Carthage,  439-477- 

Eudocia,  ==  HUNNERIC,     Genzo. 

of  Valen- 
tinian  in. 








GEILAMIR,    Ammatas.     Tzaza 

Odoacer  and  Theodoric  1 5 

appointed  praetorian  prsefects,  and  magisiri  militum^  and  counts 
of  the  sacred  largesses,  just  as  the  Emperors  before  him  had 
done.  The  senate  still  sat  at  Rome  and  passed  otiose  decrees, 
the  consuls  still  gave  their  names  to  the  year.  But  his  great 
scheme  of  expropriation,  by  which  one-third  of  the  land  of 
each  of  the  richer  proprietors  of  Italy  was  confiscated  for  the 
benefit  of  his  mercenary  troops,  must  have  caused  much 
trouble  and  heart-burning.  It  is  curious  that  we  find  so  little 
complaint  made  about  it  in  the  historians  of  the  time.  Pro- 
bably Odoacer's  wisdom  in  letting  the  smaller  proprietors 
alone  has  preserved  his  name  from  the  abuse  which  still 
clings  to  the  reputations  of  many  of  the  Teutonic  conquerors 
of  the  empire. 

On  the  whole  the  provincials  of  Italy  must  have  felt 
comparatively  little  change,  when  they  began  to  be  governed 
by  a  barbarian  king,  instead  of  by  a  barbarian  patrician,  such 
as  Ricimer  or  Gundobad  had  been.  Odoacer  appears  to  have 
been  one  of  those  wise  men  who  can  let  well  alone.  Though 
an  Arian  himself,  he  refrained  from  all  religious  persecution ; 
and,  if  he  firmly  asserted  his  right  to  confirm  the  election  of 
bishops  of  Rome,  we  do  not  find  that  he  ever  forced  his  own 
nominees  on  the  clergy  and  people.  Indeed,  he  was  noted 
as  a  repressor  of  the  alienation  of  church  lands  and  of 

Odoacer's  foreign  policy  seems  to  have  been  limited  in  its 
scope  to  the  design  of  keeping  together  the  old  '  Diocese  of 
Italy,'  that  is,  the  peninsula  with  its  mainland  appendages  of 
Noricum  and  north  Illyria.  He  ceded  to  the  Visigoth 
Euric  the  coastland  of  Provence,  which  he  had  found  still  in 
Roman  hands,  and  made  no  attempt  to  establish  relations  with 
the  Romano-Gallic  governor  Syagrius,  who  held  Mid-Gaul, 
pressed  in  between  Visigoth  and  Frank.  On  the  other  hand, 
he  pursued  a  firm  policy  on  his  north-east  frontier.  When 
Julius  Nepos  was  murdered  by  rebels  in  480,  Odoacer  at 
once  invaded  and  subdued  the  Dalmatian  kingdom,  which 
the  ex-emperor  had  till  the  last  contrived  to  retain.     Further 

14  European  History^  476-918 

north,  in  Noricum,  the  Rugians  had  for  many  years  been 
molesting  the  Roman  provincials  and  pushing  across  the 
Danube.  Odoacer  sent  against  them  his  brother  Hunwulf, 
who  drove  them  back  over  the  river,  and  took  prisoner  Feva 
their  king.  But,  when  freed  for  a  moment  from  their 
Rugian  oppressors,  the  Roman  provincials  took  the  oppor- 
tunity, not  of  repairing  their  ruined  cities,  but  of  migrating 
Evacuation  ^^  massc  to  Italy.  Protected  by  the  army  of 
of  Noricum  Hunwulf,  the  whole  population  of  Noricum, 
^^'^'  bearing    all    their    goods    and    chattels,    their 

treasures,  and  even  the  exhumed  bodies  of  their  saints, 
poured  southward  over  the  Alps,  and  obtained  from  Odoacer 
a  settlement  on  the  waste  lands  of  Italy,  which  the  Vandals 
had  ruined.  Only  in  the  Rhaetian  valleys  did  some  remnants 
of  the  Latin-speaking  population  linger  behind.  Hence  it 
comes  that  south  Bavaria  and  archducal  Austria  are  not  at 
this  day  speaking  Roumansh,  like  the  Engadine,  but  the 
German  tongue  of  the  Rugians  and  Herules  who  passed  into 
the  deserted  province  of  Noricum,  when  it  was  abandoned  a 
few  years  later  by  the  armies  of  Odoacer. 

For  thirteen  years,  476-489,  the  Scyrrian  king  bore  rule 
over  Italy,  Noricum,  and  Dalmatia  with  very  considerable 
success.  As  the  years  rolled  on  without  any  disaster,  with 
the  army  in  good  temper,  and  the  Italians  fairly  content  at 
being  at  last  freed  from  Vandal  and  Gothic  raids,  Odoacer 
must  have  begun  to  believe  that  he  had  established  a  king- 
dom as  well  founded  as  those  of  his  Burgundian  or  Visigothic 
neighbours.  But  there  was  one  fatal  weakness  in  his  position  : 
he  depended  not  on  the  loyalty  of  a  single  compact  tribe,  but 
on  the  fidelity  of  a  purely  mercenary  army,  made  up  of  the 
remnants  of  a  dozen  broken  Teutonic  clans,  which  looked 
upon  him  as  a  general  and  a  paymaster,  and  not  as  a  legiti- 
mate hereditary  prince,  descended  from  the  gods  and  heroes. 
The  regiments  of  Foederati,  who  had  proclaimed  him  king, 
were  in  no  sense  a  nation ;  it  would  have  taken  many  gene- 
rations to  weld   them  into   one,   and  the  fabric  of  the  new 

Odoacer  and  Theodoric  1 5 

kingdom  was  to  be  tried  by  the  roughest  of  shocks  before 
it  was  even  half  a  generation  old. 

In  489  there  came  against  Odoacer  from  the  Danube  and 
the  Illyrian  Alps,  Theodoric,  son  of  Theodemir,  the  king  of 
the  Ostrogoths,  with  all  the  people  of  his  race  behind  him — a 
vast  host  with  their  wives  and  children,  their  slaves  and  their 
cattle,  blocking  all  the  mountain-passes  of  the  north-east  with 
the  twenty  thousand  ox-waggons  that  bore  their  worldly 

Theodoric,  the  king  of  that  half  of  the  Gothic  race  which 
had  lingered  behind  in  the  Balkan  peninsula,  when  Alaric 
led  the  other  half  westward,  was  just  at  the  end  of  a  long 
series  of  rebellions  and  ravages  by  which  he  had  reduced 
Thrace  and  Moesia  to  a  condition  even  more  miserable  than 
that  in  which  they  had  been  left  by  the  hordes  of  Attila.^ 
Having  failed,  like  all  his  forerunners,  to  take  Constantinople, 
and  having  concluded  his  fourth  peace  with  the  emperor 
Zeno,  he  found  himself  left  with  a  half-starved  army  in  a  land 
which  had  been  harried  quite  bare.  He  had  tried  his  best 
to  reduce  the  Eastern  empire  to  the  condition  to  which  Rici- 
mer  had  brought  the  Western,  but  the  impregnable  walls  ot 
Byzantium  had  foiled  him.  Young,  capable,  and  ambitious, 
he  was  yearning  for  new  and  more  profitable  fields  to  conquer ; 
while,  at  the  same  time,  the  emperor  of  the  East  was  casting 
about  for  all  possible  means  to  get  the  Goths  as  far  away  from 
his  gates  as  could  be  managed.  Both  Zeno  and  Theodoric 
had  their  reasons  for  wishing  ill  to  Odoacer:  the  emperor 
beheved  him  to  have  fostered  or  favoured  a  late  rebellion  in 
Asia  which  had  shaken  his  throne ;  ^  the  Ostrogothic  king 
was  being  stirred  up  by  Rugian  exiles  who  had  fled  before 
the  conquering  arm  of  the  king  of  Italy. 

Neither  party  then  needed  much  persuasion  when  a  scheme 

was  broached   for  an   invasion  of  Odoacer's   realm  by  the 

Ostrogoths.     Zeno,  taking   the   formal   ground   that,  by  the 

admission  of  Odoacer  and  the  Italians,  he  was  emperor  as 

*  See  pp.  40-3.  2  See  p.  44. 

1 6  European  History,  476-918 

well  of  West  as  ot  East,  proceeded  to  decree  the  deposition  of 
the  patrician  who  now  ruled  at  Rome,  and  his  supersession 
by  a  new  patrician,  the  king  of  the  Ostrogoths.  Theodoric, 
in  return  for  his  investiture  with  his  new  title,  and  the  grant 
of  the  dominion  of  Italy,  made  a  loosely-worded  promise  to 
hold  his  future  conquests  as  the  emperor's  representative. 
How  far  such  homage  would  extend  neither  party  much 
cared  ;  the  emperor  only  wanted  to  get  rid  of  the  king  of 
the  Goths ;  the  king  of  the  Goths  knew  that  once  master  of 
Italy  he  could  pay  the  emperor  just  as  much  or  as  little 
deference  as  he  might  choose. 

In  the  autumn  of  488  Theodoric  called  together  the  whole 
Ostrogothic  people  to  a  camp  on  the  middle  Danube,  and 
bade  them  prepare  for  instant  migration.  The  inclement 
season  of  the  year  that  he  chose  for  this  march  seems  to  have 
been  dictated  by  fear  of  famine,  for  the  war  had  so  ravaged 
Moesia  that  the  Goths  had  not  provisions  enough  to  last  till 
next  spring.  So,  in  the  October  of  488,  the  Ostrogoths,  a 
great  multitude  of  200,000  or  300,000  souls,  followed  the 
Roman  road  along  the  Danube,  crossed  at  Singidunum  and 
set  out  to  march  across  Pannonia.  But  they  soon  met  with 
opposition;  Traustila,  king  of  the  Gepidae,  who  now  occupied 
both  banks  of  the  mid-Danube,  came  out  against  them  with 
his  host  to  prevent  them  from  passing  through  his  land. 
Theodoric  defeated  him,  but  found  such  difficulty  in  pressing 
on  through  the  hostile  country  that  he  had  to  winter  on  the 
Save,  supporting  all  his  host  on  the  plunder  of  the  farms  of 
Theodoric  ^^  Gepidac.  In  the  spring  of  489  he  moved  on, 
invades  Italy,  and  pressing  through  the  passes  of  the  Julian 
^^'  Alps,  without  meeting  any  opposition  from  the 

troops  of  the  king  of  Italy,  came  out  at  last  to  the  spot  where 
the  gorge  of  Schonpass  leads  down  into  the  plain  of  Venetia. 
Here,  on  the  banks  of  the  Isonzo,  Odoacer  was  waiting  for 
him  with  all  his  host  of  Foederati,  and  there  was  a  mighty 
battle.  The  result  was  not  doubtful ;  the  Ostrogoths,  a  single 
people,  fighting  for  their  wives  and  families,  who  lay  behind 

Odoacer  and  Theodoric  \J 

them  in  the  crowded  pass,  led  by  their  hereditary  king,  the 
heaven-born  Amal,  and  knowing  that  defeat  meant  destruc- 
tion, were  too  desperately  fierce  to  be  stopped  by  the  mixed 
multitude  of  mercenaries  that  followed  Odoacer.  The  king 
of  Italy  was  routed,  his  camp  stormed,  his  army  scattered. 
It  was  only  beneath  the  walls  of  Verona  that  he  could  rally 
it  for  a  second  stand.  Just  a  month  after  the  battle  of  the 
Isonzo,  Theodoric  appeared  again  in  front  of  his  enemy,  and 
again  won  a  prompt  victory.  Here  perished  most  of  the  old 
regiments  of  Foederati  that  had  been  wont  to  defend  Italy,  for 
Odoacer  had  fought  with  the  rapid  Adige  behind  him,  and 
the  greater  part  of  his  army  was  rolled  back  into  the  fierce 

Abandoning  north  Italy  Odoacer  now  fell  back  on  the 
marsh-girt  fortress  of  Ravenna,  which  had  baffled  so  many 
invaders  of  the  peninsula.  Theodoric  meanwhile  pressed 
forward  and  occupied  Milan  and  all  the  valley  of  the  Po ;  his 
triumph  was  apparently  made  complete  by  the  surrender  of 
Tufa,  the 'Magisfer  militum  of  Odoacer's  host,  who  submitted 
to  the  Ostrogoth  with  the  wreck  of  the  Italian  army. 
(Autumn,  489.) 

But  the  war  was  destined  to  endure  for  three  years  more : 
Ravenna  was  impregnable  and  Theodoric  was  thrice  diverted 
from  its  siege  by  disturbances  from  outside.     First  Tufa,  with 
the  remnant  of  the  Foederati,  broke  faith  and  rejoined  his  old 
master  Odoacer.     Then,  in  the  next  year,  Gundobad,  king  of 
the  Burgundians,  came  over  the  Alps  and  had  to  be  turned 
back.      Last  Frederic,  king  of  the  Rugians,  the  first  of  the 
many  Frederics  of  German  history,  took  arms  in  favour  of 
Odoacer,  though   Theodoric   had  sheltered  him  three  years 
before,  when  he  had  fled  from  the  armies  of  the  king  of  Italy. 
It   was  not  till  July  491  that  Odoacer  was  for 
the  last  time  driven  back  within  the  shelter  of  Ravenna, 
the  marshes  of  Ravenna.     For  twenty  months  491-93. 
more  he  maintained  himself  within  its  impregnable  walls,  till 
sheer  famine  drove  him  to  ask  for  peace  in  February  493. 


1 8  European  History^  476-918 

Theodoric  proffered  his  vanquished  enemy  far  better  terms 
than  he  could  have  expected — that  he  should  retain  his 
kingly  title  and  a  share  in  the  rule  of  Italy.  But,  when 
Odoacer  had  laid  down  his  arms  and  came  to  his  conqueror's 
camp,  he  was  treacherously  slain  at  a  banquet,  only  ten  days 
after  Ravenna  fell.  This  was  almost  the  only  base  and  mean 
crime  in  Theodoric's  long  and  otherwise  glorious  career :  his 
whole  conduct  at  the  time  of  the  surrender  seems  to  prove 
that  he  deliberately  lured  his  rival  to  visit  him,  with  the  fixed 
intention  of  putting  him  to  death.     (March,  493.) 

So  died  Odoacer  in  the  sixtieth  year  of  his  age ;  seventeen 
years  after  he  had  slain  Orestes,  he  met  the  same  fate  that  he 
had  inflicted  on  his  predecessor. 




The  Ostrogothic  race — Character  of  Theodoric — His  Adniinislration  of  Italy — 
Theodoric  in  Rome — Foreign  Policy  of  Theodoric — His  wars  with  the 
Franks  and  Burgundians — His  supremacy  ifl  Western  Europe— Misfor- 
tunes of  his  later  years — Death  of  Boethius— Failure  of  Theodoric's  great 

From  the  formal  and  constitutional  point  of  view  the  substi- 
tution of  king  Theodoric  for  king  Odoacer,  as  ruler  in  Italy, 
made  no  change  in  the  position  of  affairs.  From  the  practical 
point  of  view  the  change  was  important,  for  the  new  Teutonic 
kingdom  was  very  much  stronger  than  the  old.  Its  ruler  was 
a  younger  and  a  far  abler  man^  the  wisest  and  most  far-sighted 
of  all  the  Germans  of  the  fifth  and  sixth  centuries.  Moreover, 
the  military  power  of  the  Ostrogoths  was  far  greater  than  that 
of  the  mixed  multitude  of  Foederati  who  had  followed 
Odoacer.  They  were  a  numerous  tribe,  confident  of  their 
own  valour  after  a  century  of  successful  war,  and  devotedly 
attached  to  the  king,  who,  for  the  last  twenty  years,  had  never 
failed  to  lead  them  to  victory.  While  they  preserved  their 
ancient  courage,  they  had  acquired,  by  a  stay  of  three  genera- 
tions within  the  bounds  of  the  empire,  a  higher  level  of 
civilisation  than  any  other  of  the  Teutonic  tribes.  Their 
dress,  their  armour,  their  manner  of  life,  showed  traces  of 
their  intercourse  with  Rome;  they  had  been  Christians  for 
a  century,  and  had  forgotten  many  of  the  old  heathen  and 

20  European  History^  476-918 

barbarous  customs  of  their  ancestors.  They  possessed,  too, 
first  of  all  Teutonic  peoples,  the  germ  of  a  written  literature 
in  the  famous  Gothic  Bible  of  Ulfilas.  There  are  documents 
surviving,  written  in  the  character  which  Ulfilas  had  devised 
for  his  people,  which  show  that  there  were  Gothic  clergy  and 
even  laymen  who  could  commit  their  contracts  to  paper  in 
their  own  tongue.  Theodoric  himself  never  learnt  to  write, 
but  there  must  have  been  many  among  his  subjects  who  could 
do  so.  Though  the  king  actually  discouraged  the  Goths  from 
giving  themselves  up  to  book-learnings  yet  in  the  generation 
which  followed  him  there  were  Goths  skilled  both  in  Roman 
and  Greek  literature, — some  even  who  called  themselves 
philosophers  and  claimed  to  follow  Plato. 

Of  all  the  German  nations  it  seemed  that  the  Ostrogoths 
were  the  most  suited  to  form  the  nucleus  for  a  new  kingdom, 
which  should  grow  up  a  young  and  strong  yet  civilised  state 
on  the  ruins  of  the  Roman  empire.  And  if  any  one  man  could 
have  brought  such  a  consummation  to  pass,  Theodoric  was 
certainly  the  most  fitted  for  the  task.  Ten  years  spent  as  a 
hostage  at  Constantinople  had  shown  him  the  strong  and  the 
weak  points  in  the  Roman  system  of  administration ;  twenty 
Character  of  ycars  Spent  in  the  field  at  the  head  of  his  tribes- 
Theodoric.  j^icu  had  won  him  an  experience  in  war,  both 
with  Roman  and  barbarian,  that  made  him  unequalled  as  a 
general.  Italian  statesmen  found  him  a  master-mind  who 
could  comprehend  all  difficulties  of  the  administration  of  an 
empire.  Gothic  warriors  looked  up  to  him  not  only  as  the 
most  skilful  marshaller  of  a  host,  but  also  as  the  stoutest  lance 
in  his  own  army.  Alike  when  he  smote  the  Gepidae  by  the 
Danube,  and  when  he  drove  the  Foederati  of  Odoacer  into  the 
Adige,  the  king  had  himself  headed  the  final  and  decisive 
charge  that  broke  the  shield-wall  of  the  enemy.  But  Theo- 
doric was  even  more  than  a  great  statesman  and  warrior :  he 
was  a  man  of  wide  mind  and  deep  thought.  His  practical 
wisdom  took  shape  in  numerous  proverbs  which  his  subjects 
long  treasured.     And,  in  spite  of  one  or  two  deep  stains  on  his 

Theodoric  king  of  Italy  2 1 

character,  we  may  say  that  his  brain  was  inspired  by  a  sound 
and  righteous  heart.  The  essential  justice  and  fairness  of  his 
mind  shines  out  in  his  official  correspondence,  even  when 
enveloped  in  the  obscure  and  grandiloquent  verbiage  of  his 
secretary  Cassiodorus.  Among  all  the  Teutonic  kings  he  was 
the  justissimus  unus  et  servantissimus  aeqiii^  who  set  him- 
self to  curb  the  violence  of  the  Goth,  no  less  than  the 
chicanery  of  the  Roman,  and  taught  both  that  he  was  no 
respecter  of  persons,  but  a  judge  set  upon  the  throne  to  deal 
out  even-handed  justice.  Alone  among  all  rulers,  Roman  or 
German,  in  his  day,  he  was  a  believer  without  tending  in  the 
least  to  become  a  persecutor.  No  monarch  for  a  thousand 
years  to  come  could  have  been  found  to  echo  Theodoric's 
magnificent  declaration  that  'religion  is  a  thing  which  the 
king  cannot  command,  because  no  man  can  be  compelled  to 
believe  against  his  will.'  Though  an  Arian  himself  he 
employed  Catholics,  Gothic  and  Roman,  as  freely  Theodoric's 
as  those  of  his  own  sect.  Even  the  Jews  got  religious 
strict  justice  from  him,  when  every  other  state  in  ^^^^^' 
the  world  dealt  hardly  with  them.  The  abuse  which  he  won 
from  fanatical  Christians  for  resenting  the  mobbing  of  a 
Rabbi,  or  the  profanation  of  a  synagogue,  is  one  of  the 
highest  testimonies  in  his  praise.  'The  benefits  of  justice,'  he 
said,  'must  not  be  denied  even  to  those  who  err  from  the 
faith.'  Yet  he  was  not,  as  were  some  others  who  tolerated  Jews, 
a  semi-pagan  or  an  agnostic ;  the  very  rescripts  which  grant 
temporal  justice  to  the  oppressed  Hebrews  end  with  an 
appeal  to  them  to  leave  their  hard-heartedness  and  flee  from 
the  wrath  to  come. 

In  managing  the  settlement  of  his  victorious  tribesmen  on 
the  soil  of  Italy,  Theodoric  showed  much  ability.  The  third 
of  the  land,  which  Odoacer  had  confiscated  seventeen  years 
before,  seems  to  have  sufficed  for  their  estabhshment.  The 
greater  part  of  the  Foederati  who  had  been  holding  this  third, 
had  fallen  in  battle,  and  those  who  escaped  the  Gothic  sword 
seem  paostly  to  have  perished  in  a  simultaneous  outbreak  of 

22  European  History,  476-918 

riot  and  murder,  by  which  the  Italians  celebrated  the  down- 
fall of  Odoacer,  when  they  heard  that  he  had  finally  been  shut 
Settlement  of  ^P  ^^  Ravenna.  Hence  Theodoric  was  able  to 
the  Ostro-  provide  for  his  countrymen  without  further  spolia- 
^°^  ^*  tion  of  the  native  proprietors.     He  threatened 

indeed  for  a  moment  to  deprive  of  their  lands  and  rights  those 
Italians  who  adhered  too  long  to  Odoacer,  but  better  counsel 
prevailed,  and  even  those  men  were  spared.  So  the  Goths 
settled  down  with  little  friction  among  their  new  subjects  : 
they  lay  thickly  along  the  valley  of  the  Po,  and  in  Picenum, 
more  sparsely  scattered  in  Tuscany  and  central  Italy;  into 
the  south  few  seem  to  have  penetrated.  Nearly  all  settled 
down  to  farm  the  country-side;  only  in  the  royal  towns  of 
Ravenna,  Pavia,  and  Verona  did  the  Goths  become  an 
appreciable  element  in  the  urban  population. 

Theodoric's  plan  for  dealing  with  the  government  of  con- 
quered Italy  deserves  careful  study.  He  did  not  abolish  the 
remains  of  the  Roman  administrative  system  which  he  found 
still  existing,  nor  did  he,  on  the  other  hand,  endeavour  to 
subject  the  Goths  to  Roman  law.  He  was  content  that,  for  a 
time,  two  systems  of  administration  should  go  on  side  by  side. 
The  Goths  were  to  be  ruled  and  judged  by  his  '  counts,'  the 
Gothic  governors  whom  he  set  over  each  Italian  province,  his 
ealdormen,  as  an  Anglo-Saxon  would  have  called  them, 
according  to  the  traditional  folk-right  of  their  tribe.  The 
Romans  looked  for  justice  to  magistrates  of  their  own  race. 
If  a  Goth  and  a  Roman  went  to  law,  the  case  was  heard  before 
the  count  and  the  Italian  judge,  sitting  together  on  the  same 

In  the  central  administration  the  same  mixture  of  systems 
was  seen.  Theodoric's  court  was  like  that  of  another  German 
king  in  many  ways ;  he  had  about  him  his  personal  retinue  of 
military  retainers,  the  king's  men,  whom  the  Goths  called  by 
the  name  of  Saiones,  but  whom,  in  writing  our  own  English 
history  we  should  call  thegns  or  gesiths.  The  Saiones  went 
on   the  king's   errands,  served  him  in  bower  and  hall,  and 

Theodoric  king  of  Italy  23 

acted  as  his  body-guard  on  the  battle-field.  Above  their 
rank  and  file  rose  two  or  three  more  prominent  followers 
who  seem  to  represent  the  great  officers  of  the  central 
household  of  the  later  Middle  Ages ;  such  were  Government, 
the  chamberlain,  regiae  praepositus  domus,  and  the  great  cap- 
tains who  in  Roman  usage  were  styled  magistri  militum^  and 
the  king's  high-butler  and  steward. 

But  beside  his  Teutonic  court — '  the  hounds  of  the  royal 
hall,'  as  Boethius  called  them — Theodoric  kept  up  a  full 
establishment  of  Roman  officials,  bearing  the  old  titles  that 
had  been  used  under  the  empire — praetorian  praefects,  masters 
of  the  offices,  quaestors,  and  notaries.  He  showed  great  skill  and 
discretion  in  choosing  the  most  honest  among  his  Italian  subjects 
for  these  posts,  so  that  his  courtiers  never  became  an  oppressive 
official  clique,  as  had  habitually  been  the  case  under  the  later 
emperors.  He  even  chose  as  his  praetorian  praefect  Liberius, 
who  had  adhered  to  Odoacer  to  the  last,  and  told  him  that  he 
esteemed  him  all  the  more  for  his  fidelity  to  his  first  master. 
The  best  men  in  Italy  were  undoubtedly  set  to  administer  the 
central  government ;  but  it  was  Theodoric's  misfortune  that 
the  better  the  man  the  more  likely  he  was  to  indulge  in  vain 
dreams  of  old  Roman  glory,  and  to  resent  in  his  heart  the 
wise  rule  of  the  Ostrogoth.  Boethius,  the  last  of  the  Romans 
as  he  may  be  called,  served  Theodoric  all  his  life  without 
learning  true  loyalty  to  him. 

We  have  not  space  to  notice  half  of  Theodoric's  reforms  in 
the  administration  of  Italy.  Most  wise  among  them  was  the 
careful  restoration  of  the  old  roads,  aqueducts,  and  drainage 
canals,  which  had  been  the  glory  of  the  early  empire.  He 
was  himself  a  great  builder,  and  erected  royal  palaces  at 
Verona  and  Ravenna,  of  which,  alas  !  only  the  smallest  frag- 
ments survive.  But  he  spent  even  greater  care  in  keeping  up 
ancient  edifices.  In  Rome  he  set  apart  every  year  two  hun- 
dred pounds  weight  of  gold  pieces  for  the  repair  of  palaces 
and  public  buildings.  He  took  under  his  protection  even 
statues  and  monuments,  and  added  representations  of  himself 

24  European  History^  476-918 

to  the  crowd  of  effigies  which  adorned  Rome.  So  thoroughly 
did  he  put  himself  in  the  place  of  the  Caesars  that  he  even 
took  care  to  celebrate  games  in  the  circus,  and  harangued  the 
Theodoric  assembled  people  in  the  Forum.  He  attended 
in  Rome.  ^.xvA  took  part  in  the  debates  of  the  Senate,  and 
endeavoured  to  strengthen  it  by  the  appointment  of  a  few 
Gothic  senators.  If  he  showed  some  unwisdom  in  arranging 
for  the  resumption  of  the  bread-dole,  which  had  been  such  a 
curse  to  Rome,  he  atoned  for  it  by  a  liberal  scheme  for  the 
rearrangement  of  taxes,  which  at  once  relieved  the  people  and 
filled  the  treasury.  At  his  death  the  royal  hoard  at  Ravenna 
amounted  to  no  less  than  40,000  pounds  weight  of  gold, 
;,£'i, 600,000  in  hard  cash. 

Theodoric's  wise  administration  at  home  was  accompanied 
by  an  equally  firm  and  able  foreign  policy.  His  first  care  was 
to  establish  friendly  relations  with  the  Eastern  Empire.  Even 
before  Odoacer  had  met  his  death,  he  despatched  an  embassy 
to  report  to  Zeno  that  he  had  carried  out  his  commission  of 
conquering  Italy,  and  claimed  an  imperial  confirmation  of  his 
title.  But  the  embassy  found  Zeno  just  dead,  and  his  suc- 
cessor, Anastasius,  engrossed  in  the  suppression  of  riots  and 
rebellions.  It  was  not  till  497  that  the  emperor  recognised 
the  king  of  the  Goths  as  ruler  in  Italy.  Then,  however, 
Anastasius  made  up  for  his  tardy  recognition  by  sending  to 
Theodoric  the  regalia  which  Odoacer  had  forwarded  to  Zeno 
twenty  years  before,  the  robes  and  palace  ornaments,  which 
had  last  been  used  by  the  boy  Romulus  Augustulus. 

During  the  thirty-three  years  of  the  Amal's  reign  in  Italy  he 
had  only  one  dispute  with  the  emperor  :  this  was  a  frontier 
quarrel  in  505,  caused  by  troubles  in  Illyricum.  Theodoric 
had  taken  in  hand  the  restoration  of  the  bounds  of  the 
Western  Empire  towards  the  East,  and  his  generals,  having  sub- 
dued Pannonia  as  far  as  Sirmium  and  Singidunum,  trespassed 
on  to  Moesian  soil,  and  came  into  contact  with  the  East- 
Roman  armies.  There  was  some  trouble  for  three  years,  but 
no  great  war,  though  in  508  two  of  Anastasius'  generals  made 

Theodoric  king  of  Italy  25 

a  destructive  raid  on  Apulia.  But  peace  was  ultimately  made 
on  the  terms  that  the  boundary  should  be  drawn,  as  in  the 
days  of  the  Western  Empire,  at  the  Save  and  Danube. 

Much  more  important  were  Theodoric's  dealings  with  his 
neighbours  to  west  and  north.  He  took  over  the  task  of 
Odoacer  in  guarding  the  old  Roman  districts  beyond  the  Alps, 
which  had  once  composed  the  provinces  of  Rhaetia  and 
Noricum.  Both  were  now  becoming  Teutonic  rather  than 
Latin-speaking  lands.  Into  Rhaetia  had  fled  many  of  the 
Alamanni,  or  Suabians,  when  Chlodovech  the  Frank  in  496 
drove  them  out  of  their  lands  on  the  Main  and  Neckar. 
This  people  gladly  acknowledged  Theodoric  as  over-lord,  in 
return  for  his  protection  against  the  pursuing  Franks,  whom 
the  Ostrogoth  bade  halt  at  the  line  of  the  upper  Rhine, 
between  Basel  and  Constanz.  Farther  east,  in  Noricum,  the 
place  of  the  emigrant  Roman  provincials  had  now  been 
taken  by  a  mixed  Teutonic  population,  the  remnant  of  the 
broken  clans  of  the  Rugians,  Scyrri,  and  Turcilingi,  who  were 
just  beginning  to  call  themselves  by  the  common  name  of 
Bavarians,  under  which  we  know  them  so  well  a  few  years 
later.  They,  too,  like  the  Alamanni,  were  glad  to  acknowledge 
Theodoric  as  suzerain,  and  pay  him  tribute. 

To  the  west,  Theodoric  at  his  accession  found  his  kingdom 
bounded  by  the  Alps,  for  Odoacer  had  given  up  to  the  Visi- 
goths Marseilles,  and  the  other  towns  which  had  obeyed  the 
emperor  down  to  the  year  476.  Beyond  the  Alps,  Alaric  the 
Visigoth  now  held  the  mouths  of  the  Rhone  and  the  Provengal 
Coast,  while  Gundobad  the  Burgundian  ruled  on  the  middle 
and  upper  Rhone,  from  Avignon  as  far  as  Besangon  and 
Langres.  North  of  both  Burgundian  and  Visigoth,  and  far 
from  the  Alpine  borders  of  Theodoric,  lay  the  new  Frankish 
kingdom  of  Chlodovech,  now  reaching  as  far  as  the  Loire  and 
the  upper  Seine. 

With  all  these  three  monarchs  the  king  of  the  Ostrogoths 
had  many  dealings.  At  the  very  beginning  of  his  reign  he 
asked  for  the  hand  of  Augofleda,  the  sister  of  Chlodovech, 

26  European  History,  476-918 

and  hoped  that  by  this  alHance  he  had  bound  the  clever  and 
unscrupulous  Frank  to  himself.  By  Augofleda  he  became  the 
father  of  Amalaswintha,  the  only  child  born  to  him  in  lawful 
wedlock,  though  he  had  two  elder  daughters  by  a  concubine 
ere  he  came  to  Italy.  Soon  after  his  own  marriage  with  the 
Marriages  of  ^^'^'^'^kish  princcss,  Thcodoric  wedded  one  of 
Theodoric's  thesc  natural  children  to  Sigismund,  the  son  and 
family.  j^^-j.  ^^  ^^  Burgundian  Gundobad,  and  the  other 

to  Alaric  the  Visigoth.  Thus  all  his  neighbours  became  his 

But  this  did  not  secure  peace  between  the  new  kinsmen  of 
Theodoric.  In  499  Chlodovech  fell  on  Gundobad,  to  strip  him 
of  his  realm,  routed  him,  and  shut  him  up  in  Avignon,  the 
southernmost  of  his  strongholds;  but  after  many  successes  the 
Frank  lost  all  that  he  had  gained,  and  turned  instead  to 
attack  the  king  of  the  Visigoths.  Theodoric  strove  unsuc- 
cessfully to  prevent  both  wars,  and  was  not  a  little  displeased 
when,  in  507,  his  brother-in-law  Chlodovech  overran  southern 
Gaul,  and  slew  his  son-in-law  Alaric  in  battle.  Burgundian 
and  Frank  then  united  to  destroy  the  Visigoths,  and  might 
have  done  so  had  not  Theodoric  intervened.  The  heir  of  the 
Visigothic  throne  was  now  Amalric,  the  son  of  Alaric  and  of 
the  king  of  Italy's  daughter.  To  defend  his  grandson's 
realm  Theodoric  declared  war  both  on  Chlodovech  and  on 
Gundobad,  and  sent  his  armies  over  the  Alps  to  save  the 
remnants  of  the  Visigothic  possessions  in  Gaul.  One  host 
crossed  the  Cottian  Alps,  and  fell  on  Burgundy;  another 
entered  Provence,  and  smote  the  Frank  and  Burgundian 
besiegers  of  Aries.  With  his  usual  good  fortune,  Theodoric 
recovered  all  Gaul  south  of  the  Durance  and  the  Cevennes 
(509),  so  that  the  conquests  of  Chlodovech  were  confined  to 
Aquitaine.  The  way  was  now  clear  for  the  Ostrogothic  armies 
to  march  into  Spain,  to  support  the  claims  of  the  child 
Amalric  against  Gesalic,  a  bastard  son  of  Alaric  11.,  who  had 
been  proclaimed  king  of  the  Visigoths  at  Barcelona.  After 
two  years  of  guerilla  fighting,  the  pretender  was  hunted  down 

Theodoric  king  of  Italy  27 

and  slain,  though  he  had  sought  and  obtained  some  help  from 
the  Vandal  king  Thrasamund  (511). 

For  the  next  fourteen  years,  till  Amalric  reached  manhood, 
Theodoric  ruled  Spain  in  his  grandson's   behalf.     He  was 
recognised  as  king  of  the  Visigoths,  in  common   theodoric 
with  Amalric,  and  ruled  both  halves  of  the  Gothic  king  of  the 
race — reunited  after  an  interval  of  two  hundred  Visigoths, 
years — with  equal  authority,  and  his  royal  mandates  ran  in 
Spain  as  well  as  in  Italy.     His  delegate  was  Count  Theudis, 
an   Ostrogothic   noble,  who  was  made  regent,  and  ruled  at 
Narbonne  over  all  the  Visigothic  realm  west  of  the  Rhone ; 
while  the   Roman   Liberius,  named   praetorian   praefect  of 
Gaul,  administered  Visigothic  Provence  from  the  ancient  city 
of  Aries. 

Theodoric's  power  was  now  supreme  from  Sirmium  to 
Cadiz,  and  from  the  upper  Danube  to  Sicily.  He  ruled  the 
larger  half  of  the  old  Roman  Empire  of  the  West,  and  exer- 
cised much  influence  in  Gaul  and  Africa,  the  two  parts  of  it 
that  were  not  absolutely  in  his  hands.  After  the  war  of  507-10 
Clodovech  the  Frank  had  died,  and  his  four  sons,  who  parted 
his  realm,  made  peace  with  the  Ostrogoth ;  while  Gundobad, 
the  Burgundian  king,  had  been  fain  to  follow  their  example 
even  earlier. 

Twelve  years  of  peace  followed  (511-523)  before  Theodoric, 
now  in  extreme  old  age,  had  occasion  to  interfere  in  Gaul. 
Sigismund,  the  husband  of  Theodoric's  elder  natural  daughter, 
was  now  king  of  the  Burgundians.  He  was  a  gloomy  and 
suspicious  tyrant,  and  drew  down  the  wrath  of  Theodoric  by 
murdering  his  own  heir,  Sigeric,  who  was  the  Gothic  king's 
eldest  grandson.  To  punish  this  crime  Theodoric  leagued 
himself  with  the  Franks,  and  attacked  Burgundy.  He  con- 
quered, and  took  as  his  share  of  the  spoil  the  lands  between 
Durance  and  Drome,  with  the  cities  of  Avignon,  Orange,  and 
Viviers,  the  farthest  extension  to  the  north-west  of  the  Ostro- 
gothic empire. 

The  circle  of  family  alliances  which  Theodoric  had  made 

28  European  History,  476-918 

with  his  European  neighbours  was  extended  even  beyond  the 
Mediterranean.  He  married  his  sister,  Amalafrida,  a  widowed 
princess,  no  longer  in  her  first  youth,  to  Thrasamund,  the  old 
king  of  the  Vandals.  In  virtue  of  this  connection  he  seems 
to  have  treated  Thrasamund  as  a  younger  brother,  if  not  as  a 
vassal.  When  the  Vandal  dared  to  help  the  usurper  Gesalic 
in  Spain,  Theodoric  imposed  a  tribute  on  him,  and  bade 
him  for  the  future  do  nothing  without  the  counsel  of  his  wife 
Amalafrida.  Thrasamund  did  not  resent  this  treatment,  and 
for  the  future  did  all  he  could  to  propitiate  his  brother-in-law. 
The  Vandal  state,  indeed,  was  not  in  a  condition  to  risk  a 
quarrel  with  Theodoric.  Ever  since  the  death  of  Hunneric  it 
had  been  steadily  on  the  decline.  In  the  reigns  of  Guntha- 
mund  (484-496)  and  Thrasamund  himself  (496-523)  it  was 
continually  losing  ground  to  the  insurgent  Moors  of  Atlas. 
Gunthamund,  who  was  not  a  persecutor  like  his  predecessor 
Hunneric,  had  endeavoured  to  win  the  favour  of  the  Catholics 
by  allowing  them  to  recall  their  exiled  bishops  and  open  their 
churches.  But  these  boons  did  not  check  the  falling  away 
of  his  subjects,  and  during  his  reign  the  Moors  conquered 
from  him  the  whole  sea-coast  from  Tangiers  to  the  gates  of 
Caesarea.  His  brother  Thrasamund  tried  the  opposite  policy, 
Vandal  Per-  ^^sumed  the  persecutions,  deported  two  hundred 
secutions  in  CathoHc  bishops  to  Sardinia,  and  renewed  the 
Africa.  horrors  of  the  days  of  Hunneric.     Naturally,  he 

was  no  more  fortunate  in  dealing  with  the  native  rebels  than 
his  brother  had  been.  A  quarrel  with  Theodoric  would  have 
meant  ruin,  so  he  kept  himself  from  all  foreign  war.  He 
died  in  523  at  a  great  age,  killed,  it  is  said,  by  the  news  of  a 
great  defeat  which  his  armies  had  suffered  at  the  hands  of  the 
Moors.  His  successor  was  his  cousin  Hilderic,  the  son  of 
Hunneric  and  the  Roman  princess  Eudocia,  the  last  scion  of 
the  house  of  Theodosius  the  Great.  Educated  by  a  Catholic 
mother,  Hilderic  was  himself  the  first  orthodox  Vandal  king, 
and  ended  the  long  African  persecutions.  But  his  reign  was 
not  happier  than  those  of  his  two  cousins.     His  enthusiastic 

Theodoric  king  of  Italy  29 

championship  of  the  CathoHc  cause  brought  him  into  colHsion 
with  the  bulk  of  his  Vandal  subjects,  and  he  was  attacked  by 
a  rebelHous  party,  headed  by  Theodoric's  sister,  the  queen- 
dowager  Amalafrida,  who  wished  to  proclaim  as  king  of  Africa 
one  of  her  late  liusband's  nephews.  Hilderic  had  the  better 
of  the  fighting,  defeated  the  rebels,  and  captured  Amalafrida, 
whom  he  consigned  to  a  dungeon,  to  the  great  wrath  of  her 
brother,  the  king  of  the  Goths  (523).  As  long  as  Theodoric 
lived  he  merely  kept  her  in  close  confinement,  but  the  moment 
he  heard  of  the  old  man's  death,  in  526,  he  had  the  cruelty  to 
slay  the  aged  queen,  a  deed  which  alienated  for  ever  the 
Vandals  and  the  Ostrogoths. 

The  captivity  of  his  sister  was  not  the  only  sorrow  which 
clouded  the  last  few  years  of  Theodoric  s  long  life.  He  was 
left  in  some  trouble  as  to  the  succession  to  his  crown.  He 
had  married  his  only  legitimate  child,  Amalaswintha,  to  a 
Visigothic  prince  named  Eutharic,  of  whose  prudence  and 
valour  much  was  expected.  Theodoric  intended  him  to 
reign  with  his  daughter  as  colleague  and  king-consort,  but  in 
522  Eutharic  died,  leaving  as  his  heir  a  boy  of  only  five  years 
of  age.  Theodoric  could  not  but  see  that  on  his  death  the 
accession  of  a  woman  and  a  child  to  the  throne  would  be 
fraught  with  the  gravest  danger,  more  especially  as  his  nephew 
Theodahat,  the  nearest  male  heir  of  the  Amal  house,  was 
known  to  be  an  unscrupulous  intriguer. 

It  was  perhaps  owing  to  a  temper  embittered  by  these 
family  troubles  that  Theodoric  was  led,  during  the  last  few 
years  of  his  life,  into  an  unhappy  quarrel  with  some  of  the 
best  of  his  Itahan  subjects.  Rightly  or  wrongly,  he  had 
imbibed  a  notion  that  the  Italians  would  take  advantage  of 
his  death  to  stir  up  the  emperor  at  Constantinople  against 
his  infant  heir.  The  idea  was  very  justifiable ;  for,  in  spite  of 
all  Theodoric's  wisdom  and  goodness,  most  of  his  Roman 
subjects  never  learnt  to  look  kindly  upon  a  ruler  who  was  at 
once  an  Arian  and  a  Goth,  and  it  seems  that  some,  at  least, 
of  the  Senaie  were  secretly  corresponding  with  the  emperor 

30  European  History,  476-918 

Justin.  That  monarch,  the  first  Eastern  Emperor  for  fifty 
years  who  was  undisputedly  orthodox,  had  fired  the  enthu- 
siasm of  Catholics  all  over  the  world  by  his  attempts  to 
suppress  Arianism,  and  the  faithful  in  Italy  were  undoubtedly 
contrasting  his  action  with  the  strict  impartiality  of  Theodoric, 
to  the  latter's  disadvantage.  In  524  the  patrician  Albinus 
was  accused  by  Cyprian,  the  magister  officiorum,  of  sending 
The  Misfor-  ^^^^loyal  letters  to  Constantinople.  At  his  trial  he 
tunes  of  was  defended  by  the  Consular  Boethius,  at  once  a 

Boethius.  gj.g^^  official  and  the  best-known  author  of  the 
day,  noted  as  philosopher,  theologian,  astronomer,  and  me- 
chanist— in  short,  the  chief  representative  of  the  intellect  of 
Italy.  Boethius  resented  the  impeachment  of  Albinus  in  the 
most  fiery  terms.  '  If  this  man  is  guilty,'  he  cried,  '  then  both 
I  and  all  the  Senate  are  guilty  too.'  The  accuser,  Cyprian, 
proceeded  to  take  him  at  his  word,  and  brought  forward 
further  evidence  to  prove  that  Boethius  himself  had  been 
one  of  the  senators  in  correspondence  with  Justin,  or  had,  at 
least,  done  his  best  to  suppress  evidence  against  those  who 
actually  were  so  engaged.^  Such  an  accusation,  even  if  not  fully 
proved,  seems  to  have  fired  the  anger  of  the  old  king.  He 
could  not  tolerate  disloyalty  in  a  man  whom  he  had  always 
distinguished  by  his  favour,  and  preferred  to  the  highest 
offices.  By  his  orders  Boethius  was  put  on  his  trial  before 
the  Senate,  and  there  condemned.  For  a  year  Theodoric 
kept  him  in  prison — a  year  invaluable  to  future  ages,  for  in 
it  the  captive  composed  his  Consolation  of  Philosophy ,  a  work 
which  was  to  be  the  comfort  of  many  a  noble  but  unhappy 
soul  in  the  Middle  Ages,  and  to  find  countless  readers  from 
King  Alfred  down  to  Sir  Thomas  More.  At  the  end  of  a 
year's  confinement  Boethius  was  tortured  and  put  to  death. 
Possibly  he  was  altogether  innocent  of  the  charge  laid  to  his 
account,  that  of  secret  correspondence  with  Constantinople ; 

^  This  would  seem  to  have  been  the  charge  which  Boethius  himself 
expressed  by  saying  that  he  was  accused  of  '  having  endeavoured  to  pre- 
serve Ih-j  sen:\tors.' 

Theodoric  king  of  Italy  3 1 

but  more  probably  he  had  actually  written  harmless  letters 
into  which  a  treasonable  purpose  was  read  by  the  malice  of 
his  accusers  and  the  fears  of  the  king. 

The  death  of  Boethius  was  followed  by  another  execution, 
that  of  his  aged  father-in-law,  Symmachus,  the  chief  of  the 
senate,  whom  Theodoric  put  to  death  on  the  mere  suspicion 
that  he  resented  his  son-in-law's  cruel  end.  There  seems  to 
have  been  no  further  charge  laid  against  him,  and  no  formal 
trial,  so  that  this  action  ranks  with  the  murder  of  Odoacer  as 
the  second  unpardonable  sin  of  Theodoric's  Ufe  (525), 

Others  also  suffered  during  the  last  two  years  of  the  old 
king's  reign.  In  anger  at  Justin's  persecution  of  the  Arians,  he 
threatened  reprisals  against  the  Catholics  of  Italy,  and  charged 
John  the  bishop  of  Rome  to  sail  at  once  to  Constantinople, 
and  inform  the  emperor  that  further  persecution  would  mean 
war  with  the  Goths,  and  involve  an  attack  on  the  orthodox 
throughout  the  Ostrogothic  dominions.  Moved  by  these 
threats,  Justin  suspended  his  harrying  of  the  Arians,  and 
treated  the  Pope  with  such  respect  and  distinction  that  he 
roused  the  suspicions  of  the  king  of  Italy.  Theodoric 
thought  that  John  had  been  too  friendly  with  the  emperor, 
and  suspected  that  the  honours  and  reverence  shown  him  at 
Constantinople  were  part  of  a  plan  for  seducing  away  the 
allegiance  of  his  Roman  subjects.  When  the  Pope  returned 
he  was  thrown  into  prison,  where,  being  already  in  ill-health, 
he  soon  died.  He  was  at  once  hailed  as  a  martyr  by  all  the 
Western  Church  (526). 

The  Italians  thought  that  the  execution  of  Symmachus  and 
the  imprisonment  of  Pope  John  foreboded  a  general  persecu- 
tion throughout  Italy.  It  was  rumoured  that  the  Arians  had 
won  from  the  king  his  consent  to  an  edict  closing  the 
Cathohc  Churches,  and  that  the  Goths  were  to  take  arras 
against  their  fellow-subjects.  Considering  the  tenor  of  the 
whole  of  Theodoric's  previous  life,  it  is  most  improbable  that 
he  had  any  such  wild  scheme  of  intolerance  in  hand.  But  he 
had  certainly  grown    gloomy,  suspicious,  and   hard   in    hi«5 

32  European  History,  476-918 

declining  days,  and  it  was  well  for  his  own  fame,  as  well  as 

De  th  of      ^^^  ^^^  subjects,  that  he  was  carried  off  by  dysen- 

Theodoric,    tcry  HOt  long  after  the  death  of  Pope  John.     It 

5=^^-  would  have  been  still  better,  both  for  king  and 

people,  had  the  end  come  three  years  earlier,  before  his  first 

harsh    dealings   with    Boethius.      His    unpopularity   at    the 

moment  of  his   death   is   shown  by  the   survival  of  several 

curious  legends,  which  tell  how  holy  hermits   saw  his  soul 

dragged  down   to   hell  by  the  injured  ghosts  of  John  and 

Symmachus,  or  carried  off  by  the  fiend  himself 

So,  after  reigning  thirty-three  years  over  Italy,  and  twelve 
years  over  Spain,  Theodoric  died,  aged  seventy-two,  and  was 
buried  by  the  Goths  in  the  round  mausoleum  outside  the  gate 
of  Ravenna,  which  he  had  built  for  himself  many  years  before. 
His  body  has  long  disappeared,  but  his  empty  tomb  still  sur- 
vives, well-nigh  the  only  perfect  and  unbroken  monument 
that  recalls  the  sixty  years  of  Gothic  dominion  in  Italy. 




Contrast  between  the  fates  of  the  Eastern  and  Western  Empires — The  East 
recovers  its  strength — Leo  I.  and  the  Isaurians — The  Emperor  Zeno  and 
the  rebelHon  against  him — Wars  of  Zeno  with  the  two  Theodorics,  478- 
483— The  '  Henoticon  ' — Character  of  the  Emperor  Anastasius — RebeUion 
of  the  Isaurians — War  with  Persia,  503-5 — The  '  Bhie  and  Green ' 
Factions — RebeUion  of  Vitalian— Accession  of  Justin  i. 

At  Rome  the  emperors  of  the  third  quarter  of  the  fifth 
century — all  the  ephemeral  Caesars  whose  blood-stained 
annals  fill  the  space  between  the  death  of  Valentinian  111.  and 
the  usurpation  of  Odoacer — had  been  the  mere  creatures  of 
the  barbarian,  or  semi-barbarian,  '  patricians '  and  '  masters 
of  the  soldiers,'  to  whom  they  owed  alike  their  elevations 
and  their  untimely  ends.  The  history  of  those  troubled  years 
would  be  more  logically  arranged  under  the  names  of  the 
Caesar-makers,  Ricimer,  Gundobad,  Orestes,  than  under  those 
of  the  unhappy  puppets  whom  they  manipulated. 

But,  when  we  turn  our  eyes  eastward  to  Constantinople, 
we  are  surprised  to  find  how  entirely  different  was  the  aspect 
of  affairs.  The  Western  Empire  was  rapidly  falling  to  pieces, 
province  after  province  dropping  out  of  the  power  of  the 
emperor,  and  becoming  part  of  the  realm  of  some  Gothic, 
Burgundian,  or  Vandal  prince,  who  paid  the  most  shadowy 
homage,   or  no  homage  at  all,  to  the  ephemeral  Caesar  at 

PERIOD  I.  c 

34  European  History,  476-918 

Rome.  The  Eastern  Empire,  on  the  other  hand,  maintained 
Contrast  be-  its  boundaries  intact,  and  was  slowly  building 
I^d  wfstem "  ^P  ^^^  Strength  for  renewed  activity  in  the  next 
Empires.  ccntury.     While  nine  emperors'  reigns  filled  no 

more  than  twenty-one  years  at  Rome  (455-476),  two  emperors 
were  reigning  for  thirty-four  years  (457-491)  on  the  Bosphorus. 
And  the  character  of  the  rulers  of  East  and  West  was  as 
different  as  their  fates  :  the  short-lived  Roman  Caesars  were 
either  impotent  nobodies  raised  to  the  throne  by  the  caprice 
of  the  barbarian,  or  ambitious  young  soldiers  who  vainly 
dreamed  that  they  might  yet  redeem  the  evil  day,  and  save 
the  State.  Their  contemporaries  in  the  East,  Leo,  Zeno,  and 
Anastasius,  were  three  elderly  officials,  men  of  experience, 
if  not  of  great  ability,  who  followed  each  other  in  peaceable 
succession,  and  devoted  their  declining  years  to  a  cautious 
defensive  policy,  with  the  result  that  they  left  a  full  treasury, 
a  strong  and  loyal  army,  and  an  intact  realm  behind  them. 

At  the  beginning  of  the  fifth  century  the  eastern  half  of  the 
Empire  had  seemed  no  less  likely  than  the  western  to  fall 
under  the  dominion  of  the  barbarian,  and  crumble  to  pieces. 
The  Goths  were  cantoned  all  over  Thrace,  Moesia,  and  Asia 
Minor,  and  the  Gothic  general  Gainas  had  taken  possession 
of  the  person  and  authority  of  the  Emperor  Arcadius.  Had 
he  been  a  man  of  greater  ability  he  might  have  made  and 
unmade  emperors,  as  Ricimer  afterwards  did  in  the  West. 
But  the  schemes  of  Gainas  were  wrecked,  and  the  Empire 
saved  by  the  great  riot  at  Constantinople  in  401,  when  the 
Qo\k\\Q,  foederati  v^^xQ  massacred,  and  their  leader  chased  away 
by  the  infuriated  populace,  who  thus  saved  not  only  their 
own  homes,  but  the  whole  East,  from  the  danger  of  Gothic 

Though  the  European  provinces  of  the  Eastern  Empire 
suffered  grievously  from  Teutonic  ravages  during  the  first 
eighty  years  of  the  century,  there  was  never  again  any  danger 
that  the  barbarians  would  get  hold  of  the  machinery  of 
government,  and  subvert  the  Empire  from  within.      In  the 

The  Emperors  at  Constantinople,  476-527  35 

long  reign  of  Theodosius  11.  (406-450),  if  no  progress  was 
made  in  strengthening  the  realm,  at  least  no  ground  was  lost. 

Two  external  causes  were,  during  this  time,  operating  in 
favour  of  the  Eastern  Empire.  The  first  was  the  absolute 
impregnability  of  Constantinople  against  any  invader  who 
could  only  assault  it  from  the  land  side :  the  town  could  not 
be  starved  out, — as  Rome  was  starved  by  Alaric, — and  its 
walls  could  laugh  to  scorn  all  such  siege  appliances  as  that 
age  knew.  Though  Goth  and  Hun  pushed  their  ravages  far 
and  wide  in  the  Balkan  peninsula,  they  never  seriously 
attempted  to  molest  the  great  central  place  of  arms  on  which 
the  East-Roman  power  based  itself.  The  Western  Empire 
had  no  such  stronghold— capital,  arsenal,  har-  importance  of 
bour,  and  centre  of  commerce  all  in  one.  Constanti- 
Ravenna,  where  the  Western  Caesars  took  refuge  "°^  ^' 
in  times  of  storm  and  stress,  was  in  every  way  inferior  to 
Constantinople  as  a  base  of  armed  resistance  to  the  invader. 
Though  its  marshes  made  it  strong,  it  did  not  cover  or  protect 
any  considerable  tract  of  country,  and  it  was  just  far  enough 
from  its  harbour  to  allow  of  an  enemy  cutting  off  its  supplies. 

The  second  great  factor  in  the  vitality  of  the  Eastern 
Empire  was  the  prolonged  freedom  from  foreign  war  enjoyed 
by  its  Asiatic  provinces.  After  the  revolt  of  Gainas  in  401, 
the  Goths  disappeared  from  Asia  Minor,  and  no  other 
invaders  made  any  serious  breach  into  that  peninsula,  into 
Syria,  or  into  Egypt,  for  a  hundred  and  forty  years.  Two 
short  Persian  wars,  in  420-421  and  502-505,  led  to  nothing 
worse  than  partial  ravages  on  the  Mesopotamian  frontier.  It 
is  true  that  the  Asiatic  provinces  of  the  empire  were  not 
altogether  spared  by  the  sword  in  the  fifth  century,  but  such 
troubles  as  they  suffered  were  due  to  native  revolts,  chiefly 
of  the  Isaurians  among  the  mountains  of  southern  Asia 
Minor.  These  risings  were  local,  and  led  to  no  very  wide- 
spread damage,  nor  was  the  fighting  caused  by  the  revolts  of 
the  rebel-emperors  Basiliscus  and  Leontius,  in  the  reign  of 
Zeno,  much  more  destructive.    On  the  whole,  the  four  oriental 

36  European  History,  476-918 

'dioceses'  of  the  Eastern  Empire  must  have  enjoyed  in  the 
Prosperity  of  fifth  century  a  far  greater  measure  of  peace  and 
the  East.  prosperity  than  they  had  known,  or  were  to  know, 
in  the  previous  and  the  succeeding  ages.  It  was  their  wealth, 
duly  garnered  into  the  imperial  treasury,  that  made  the 
emperors  strong  to  defend  their  European  possessions.  We 
shall  soon  see  that  their  military  resources  also  were  to  count 
in  a  most  effective  way  in  the  reorganisation  of  the  East- 
Roman  army. 

But  the  strength  of  Constantinople  and  the  wealth  of  Asia 
might  have  proved  of  no  avail  had  they  fallen  into  the  hands 
of  a  series  of  emperors  like  Honorius  or  Valentinian  in.  We 
must  in  common  fairness  grant  that  the  personal  characters  of 
the  Emperors  Leo  i.,  Zeno,  and  Anastasius  i.  had  also  the 
most  important  influence  on  the  empire.  These  three  cautious, 
persistent,  and  careful  princes,  who  neither  endangered  the 
empire  by  over-great  enterprise  and  ambition,  nor  let  it  fall 
to  pieces  by  want  of  energy,  were  exactly  the  men  most  fitted 
to  tide  over  a  time  of  transition. 

Leo,  the  first  of  these  three  emperors,  was  already  dead 
when  Romulus  Augustulus  was  deposed  in  the  West.  He  had 
left  his  mark  on  Constantinopolitan  history  by  his  summary 
execution  of  Aspar,  the  last  of  the  great  barbarian  '  masters 
of  the  soldiers,'  who  rose  to  a  dangerous  height  of  power  in 
the  East;  and  still  more  by  his  very  important  scheme  for 
reorganising  the  army,  by  enrolling  a  large  proportion  of 
native-born  subjects  of  the  empire  in  its  ranks.  Recognising 
the  peril  of  trusting  entirely  to  Teutonic  mercenaries, — the 
fatal  error  that  had  ruined  the  Western  Empire, — Leo  had 
enlisted,  in  as  great  numbers  as  he  could  obtain,  the  hardy 
Leo  and  the  mountaiucers  of  Asia  Minor,  more  especially  the 
isaurians.  Isaurians.  His  predecessors  had  distrusted  their 
unruly  and  predatory  habits,  but  Leo  saw  that  they  supplied 
good  and  trustworthy  fighting  material,  and  dealt  with  them 
as  the  elder  Pitt  dealt  with  the  Highlanders  after  the  rebellion 
of  1745,  teaching  them  to  use  in  the  service  of  the  govern- 

The  Emperors  at  Constantinople^  476-527  37 

ment  the  wild  courage  that  had  so  often  been  turned  against 
it.  Leo  had  indeed  done  all  that  he  could  for  the  Isaurians, 
and  had  at  last  married  his  elder  daughter  Ariadne  to  Zeno, 
an  Isaurian  by  birth,  and  one  of  the  chief  officers  of  his  court. 

It  was  this  Zeno  who  was  seated  on  the  throne  of  the 
Eastern  realm  at  the  moment  that  Odoacer  made  himself 
ruler  of  Italy,  and  to  him  was  addressed  the  celebrated  petition 
of  the  Roman  Senate  which  besought  him  to  allow  East  and 
West  alike  to  repose  under  the  shadow  of  his  name,  but  to 
confide  the  practical  governance  of  Italy  to  the  patrician 
Odoacer.  Zeno  was  neither  so  able  nor  so  respectable  a 
sovereign  as  his  father-in-law :  two  faults,  a  caution  which 
verged  on  actual  cowardice  and  a  taste  for  low  debauchery, 
have  blasted  his  reputation.  His  enemies  were  never  tired  of 
taunting  him  with  his  Isaurian  birth,  and  recalling  The  Emperor 
to  memory  that  his  real  name  was  Tarakodissa,  Zeno,  475-491. 
the  son  of  Rusumbladeotus,  for  he  had  only  taken  the  Greek 
appellation  of  Zeno  when  he  came  to  court.  But  though  he 
was  by  birth  an  obscure  provincial,  and  by  nature  something 
of  a  coward  and  a  free  liver,  Zeno  had  his  merits.  He  was  a 
mild  and  not  an  extortionate  administrator,  had  a  liberal 
hand,  a  good  eye  for  picking  out  able  servants,  was  sanguine 
and  persevering  in  all  that  he  undertook,  and  pursued  in 
Church  matters  a  policy  of  moderation  and  conciliation, 
which  may  bring  him  credit  now,  though  in  his  own  time  it 
provoked  many  strictures  from  the  orthodox.  The  worst 
charges  that  can  be  laid  to  his  account  were  acts  that  were 
prompted  by  his  timidity  rather  than  by  any  other  motive, — 
two  or  three  arbitrary  executions  of  officers  whom  he  rightly 
or  wrongly  suspected  of  plotting  against  his  life.  After  three 
rebellions  which  came  within  an  ace  of  success,  it  is  not 
unnatural  that  he  grew  somewhat  nervous  about  his  own  safety. 

Zeno's  reign  was  more  troubled  in  this  way  than  those  of 
his  predecessor  and  successor.  His  well-known  lack  of  daring 
tempted  men  to  conspire  against  him,  but  they  reckoned 
without  his  cunning  and  his  perseverance,  and  in  every  case 

3  8  Eu ropean  History,  476-918 

came  to  an  evil  end.  Zeno  could  count  on  the  active  support 
of  his  countrymen  the  Isaurians,  who  now  formed  the  most 
trustworthy  part  of  the  army,  and  on  the  passive  obedience, 
or  at  worst  the  neutraUty,  of  the  mercantile  classes  and  the 
bureaucracy,  who  disliked  all  change  and  disorder.  Hence  it 
came  to  pass  that  court  conspiracies,  or  local  revolts  of 
divisions  of  the  army,  were  not  enough  to  shake  his  throne. 

The  first  half  of  Zeno's  reign  may  be  divided  into  three 
parts  by  these  three  conspiracies.  The  emperor  had  hardly 
ascended  the  throne  when  the  first  of  them  broke  out :  it  was 
a  palace  intrigue  hatched  by  the  Empress-Dowager  Verina, 
who  detested  her  son-in-law.  The  conspirators  took  Zeno 
quite  by  surprise,  they  failed  to  catch  him,  for  he  fled  from 
Constantinople  at  the  first  alarm,  but  they  got  possession  of 
the  capital,  and  proclaimed  Basiliscus,  the  brother  of  Verina, 
as  Augustus.  The  mob  of  the  city,  with  whom  Zeno  was  very 
unpopular,  joined  the  rising,  and  massacred  the  Isaurian  troops 
who  were  within  the  walls ;  their  leader's  absence  seems  to 
Revolt  of  Basi-  havc  paralysed  the  resistance  of  the  soldiery, 
liscus,  475-477-  Zcuo  mcauwhile  escaped  to  his  native  country, 
and  raised  an  Isaurian  army :  Syria  and  the  greater  part  of 
Asia  Minor  remained  faithful  to  him,  and  he  prepared  to 
make  a  fight  for  his  throne.  Luckily  for  him,  Basiliscus  was 
a  despicable  creature, — it  was  he  who  had  wrecked  the  great 
expedition  against  the  Vandals  which  Leo  i.  had  sent  out 
seven  years  before.  He  soon  became  far  more  hated  by  the 
Constantinopolitans  than  Zeno  had  ever  been;  it  is  doubtful 
whether  his  arrogance,  his  financial  extortions,  or  his  addiction 
to  the  Monophysite  heresy  made  him  most  detested.  The 
army  which  he  sent  out  against  Zeno  was  intrusted — very 
unwisely — to  a  general  of  Isaurian  birth,  the  magister  7nilitum 
Illus,  who  allowed  himself  to  be  moved  by  the  prayers  and 
bribes  of  the  legitimate  emperor,  and  finally  went  over  to  him. 
Having  recovered  all  Asia  Minor,  Zeno  then  stirred  up  in 
Europe  Theodoric  the  Amal  against  his  rival,  and  induced 
the  Goth  to  beset  Constantinople  from  the  West,  while  he 

The  Emperors  at  Constantinople,  476-527  39 

himself  blockaded  it  on  the  Eastern  side.  The  town  threw 
open  its  gates,  and  Basiliscus,  after  a  reign  of  twenty  months, 
was  dragged  from  sanctuary  and  brought  before  his  nephew's 
tribunal.  Zeno  promised  him  that  his  blood  should  not 
be  shed,  but  sent  him  and  his  sons  to  a  desolate  castle  in 
Cappadocia  among  the  mountain-snows,  where  they  were  given 
such  scanty  food  and  raiment  in  their  solitary  confinement, 
that  ere  long  they  died  of  privation  (477). 

It  was  just  after  his  triumph  over  Basiliscus  that  Zeno 
received  the  ambassadors  of  Odoacer,  and  was  saluted  as 
Emperor  of  West  and  East  alike,  in  spite  of  his  advice  to  the 
Romans  to  take  back  as  their  Caesar  their  old  ruler,  Julius 
Nepos,  who  was  still  in  possession  of  part  of  Dalmatia,  though 
he  had  lost  Italy  three  years  before.  Perhaps  Zeno  might 
have  been  tempted  to  interfere  with  something  more  than 
advice  in  the  affairs  of  the  West,  if  his  second  batch  of  troubles 
had  not  fallen  upon  him,  in  the  form  of  his   long  Gothic 

THE   EASTERN   EMPERORS,  457-518, 


[Names  of  Emperors  in  Capitals.] 

the  Isaurian. 

LEO  I., 



usurper,  475-477- 

Flavius  of  Dyrrhachium. 


Emperor  of 

the  West, 

Longinus,  Arcadia=ZENO,=Ariadne=ANASTASIUS  I.,  Caesaria=Secun-  Leontia=Marci 

rebel  in 


Zeno,         LEO, 
d.  480.        d.  474. 


Hypatius,        Pompeius, 
rebels  in  532 

in  479 

40  European  History,  476-918 

war  with  the  two  Theodorics — the  sons  of  Theodemir  and 
Triarius — which  began  in  the  year  following  his  restoration. 

The  Ostrogoths  had  never  gone  westward,  like  their 
kinsmen  the  Visigoths.  They  had  lingered  on  the  Danube, 
first  as  members  of  the  vast  empire  of  Attila  the  Hun,  then 
as  occupying  Pannonia  in  their  own  right.  But,  in  the  reign 
of  Leo  I.,  they  had  moved  across  the  Save  into  the  territory  of 
the  Eastern  Emperors,  and  had  permanently  established  them- 
selves in  Moesia.  There  they  had  settled  down  and  made 
terms  with  the  Constantinopolitan  Governmient.  But  they 
were  most  unruly  vassals,  and,  even  in  full  time  of  peace, 
could  never  be  trusted  to  refrain  from  raids  into  Thrace  and 
Macedonia.  The  main  body  of  their  tribe  now  acknowledged 
as  its  chief  Theodoric  the  son  of  Theodemir,  the  representative 
Early  life  of  of  the  heavcn-bom  race  of  the  Amals,  the  kings 
Theodoric.  Qf  |-j^g  Goths  from  time  immemorial.  Theodoric 
was  now  a  young  man  of  twenty-three,  stirring  and  ambitious, 
who  had  already  v/on  a  great  military  reputation  by  victories 
over  the  Bulgarians,  the  Sarmatians,  and  other  tribes  who 
dwelt  across  the  Danube.  He  had  spent  ten  years  of  his 
boyhood  as  a  hostage  at  Constantinople,  where  he  had  learnt 
only  too  well  the  weak  as  well  as  the  strong  points  of  the 
P2ast-Roman  Empire.  His  after-life  showed  that  he  had  there 
imbibed  a  deep  respect  for  Roman  law,  order,  and  adminis- 
trative unity ;  but  he  had  also  come  to  entertain  a  contempt 
for  the  timid  Zeno,  and  a  conviction  that  his  bold  tribesmen 
vvere  more  than  a  match  for  the  motley  mercenary  army  of 
the  emperor,  of  which  so  large  a  proportion  was  still  com- 
posed of  Goths  and  other  Teutons,  who  could  not  be  trusted 
to  fight  with  a  good  heart  against  their  Ostrogothic  kinsmen. 

But  Theodoric  the  Amal  was  not  the  only  chief  of  his  race 
in  the  Balkan  peninsula.  He  had  a  namesake,  Theodoric  the 
son  of  Triarius,  better  known  as  Theodoric  the  One-eyed,  who 
had  long  served  as  a  mercenary  captain  in  the  imperial  army, 
and  had  headed  the  Teutonic  auxiliaries  in  the  camp  of  the 
usurper  Basiliscus.     When  Basiliscus  fell,  Theodoric  the  One- 

The  Emperors  at  Constantinople^  476-527  41 

eyed  collected  the  wrecks  of  the  rebel  forces,  strengthened 
them  with  broken  bands  of  various  races,  many  of  whom  were 
Ostrogoths,  and  kept  the  field  against  Zeno.  He  retired  into 
the  Balkans,  and  occasionally  descended  to  ravage  the  Thracian 
plains ;  but  meanwhile  he  sent  an  embassy  to  Zeno,  offering 
to  submit  if  he  were  given  the  title  of  magister  militum^ 
which  he  had  held  under  Basiliscus,  and  taken  with  all  his 
army  into  the  imperial  pay. 

Zeno  indignantly  refused  to  entertain  such  terms,  and 
resolved  to  take  in  hand  the  destruction  of  the  rebel.  He 
sent  an  Asiatic  army  into  Thrace  to  beset  the  son  of  Triarius 
from  the  south,  and  bade  his  warlike  vassal  the  The  two 
son  of  Theodemir  to  attack  his  namesake  from  the  Theodoncs. 
north,  on  the  Moesian  side.  The  younger  Theodoric 
Tagerly  consented,  for  he  grudged  to  see  any  other  Gothic 
chief  than  himself  powerful  in  the  peninsula,  and  looked 
down  on  the  son  of  Triarius  as  a  low-born  upstart,  because  he 
did  not  come  like  himself  from  the  royal  blood  of  the  Amals.^ 

The  campaign  against  Theodoric  the  One-eyed  turned  out 
disastrously  for  the  imperial  forces.  The  Roman  army  in  the 
south  missed  the  track  of  the  rebel,  whether  by  accident  or 
design,  while  Theodoric  the  Amal  with  his  forces  got  entangled 
in  the  defiles  of  the  Balkans,  and  surrounded  by  the  army 
of  his  rival.  He  had  been  promised  the  co-operation  of  the 
army  of  Thrace,  but  no  Romans  appeared,  and  his  projects 
began  to  look  dark.  His  one-eyed  rival,  riding  to  within  ear- 
shot of  his  camp,  taunted  him  with  his  folly  in  listening  to  the 
orders  and  promises  of  the  emperor.  *  Madman,'  he  cried, 
'  betrayer  of  your  own  race,  do  you  not  see  that  the  Roman 
plan  is  always  to  destroy  Goths  by  Goths  ?  Whichever  of  us 
falls,  they,  not  we,  will  be  the  stronger.  They  never  will  give 
you  real  help,  but  send  you  out  against  me  to  perish  here 

1  By  his  name  (Triarius)  the  father  of  Theodoric  the  One-eyed  must  have 
been  a  Roman  or  a  Romanised  Goth,  but  the  One-eyed  had  himself 
married  a  wife  who  was  close  akin  to  Theodoric  the  Amal,  for  his  son 
Recitach  is  called  the  Amal's  cousin. 

42  European  History^  476-918 

in  the  desert.'  Then  all  the  warriors  of  the  Amal  shouted 
that  the  One-eyed  was  right,  and  that  they  would  not  fight 
against  their  brethren  in  the  other  camp.  The  son  of  Theo- 
demir  bowed  to  their  will  and  joined  himself  to  the  son  of 
Triarius.  Uniting  their  armies,  they  moved  down  into  the 
valley  of  the  Hebrus,  and  advanced  toward  Constantinople. 
They  sent  Zeno  an  ultimatum,  in  which  the  Amal  demanded 
more  territory  for  his  tribe,  and  a  supply  of  corn  and  money, 
while  the  One-eyed  stipulated  for  the  post  of  magistermilitum^ 
and  an  annual  payment  of  2000  pounds  of  gold.  Zeno,  who 
was  very  anxious  to  keep  the  younger  Theodoric  on  his  side, 
proffered  him  a  great  sum  of  money,  and  the  hand  of  the 
daughter  of  the  patrician  Olybrius,  if  he  would  abandon  his 
namesake  the  rebel.  But  the  Amal  refused  to  break  the 
oath  that  he  had  sworn  to  his  ally,  and  marched  westward  to 
ravage  Macedonia  up  to  the  very  gates  of  Thessalonica.  Zeno 
sent  his  troops  into  winter-quarters,  as  the  season  was  late, 
and  made  one  final  attempt  to  stave  off  the  impending  danger 
by  offering  terms  to  Theodoric  the  One-eyed.  Less  true  to 
his  word  than  the  Amal,  the  elder  Theodoric  listened  to  the 
emperor's  offer,  and,  on  being  promised  the  title  of  magister 
viilitiun  and  all  the  revenues  that  he  had  enjoyed  under 
Basiliscus,  led  his  troops  over  into  the  imperial  camp  (479). 

For  the  next  two  years  the  son  of  Theodemir  ranged  over  the 
whole  Balkan  peninsula  from  Dyrrhachium  to  the  gates  of  Con- 
stantinople, plundering  and  burning  those  parts  of  Macedonia 
and  Thrace  which  had  hitherto  escaped  the  ravages  of  the  Huns 
of  Attila  and  the  Ostrogoths  of  the  previous  generation.  The 
generals  of  Zeno  met  with  little  good  fortune  in  their  attempts 
to  check  him,  the  only  success  they  obtained  being  a  victory 
-  won  bv  a  certain  Sabinianus  in  480,  who  cut  off 

Wars  of  '  .  . 

Zeno  and  the  rear-guard  of  Theodoric  as  it  was  crossing  the 
'h^^Amir  Albanian  mountains,  and  captured  2000  waggons 
and  5000  Gothic  warriors.  But  Sabinianus  made 
himself  too  much  feared  by  Zeno,  who,  on  a  suspicion  of 
treachery,  had  him  executed  in  the  following  year.    It  was  not 

The  Emperors  at  Constantinople^  476-527  43 

till  483  that  the  Amal,  having  wasted  Thrace  and  Macedon 
so  fiercely  that  even  his  own  army  could  no  longer  find  food, 
at  last  came  to  terms  with  Zeno,  on  being  made  magister 
militum^  and  granted  additional  lands  in  Moesia  and  Dacia  for 
his  tribesmen.  The  son  of  Triarius  had  died  a  year  earlier : 
he  had  again  burst  out  into  insurrection  against  the  emperor, 
and  was  mustering  an  army  on  the  Thracian  coast  when  he 
was  slain  in  a  strange  manner.  A  restive  horse  threw  him 
against  a  spear  which  was  standing  by  the  door  of  his  tent, 
and  he  was  pierced  to  the  heart.  His  son  Recitach  continued 
his  rebellion,  but  Theodoric  the  Amal,  who  wished  to  see  no 
other  Gothic  chief  but  himself  in  the  Balkan  peninsula,  slew 
the  young  man,  and  incorporated  his  warriors  with  the  main 
body  of  the  Ostrogoths. 

The  utter  helplessness  which  Zeno  showed  in  dealing  with 
the  two  Theodorics  may  be  attributed  in  a  large  measure  to 
his  troubles  at  home.  In  479,  the  year  when  he  had  failed 
to  support  Theodoric  the  Amal  in  the  Balkans,  his  throne 
had  nearly  been  overturned  by  a  rising  in  Constantinople. 
Marcianus  and  Procopius,  the  two  sons  of  Anthemius,  the 
late  emperor  of  the  West,  who  were  popular  with  the  citizens 
of  the  capital,  formed  a  plot  for  overthrowing  the  emperor, 
in  which  they  enlisted  many  men  of  importance.  They 
surprised  the  palace  and  massacred  the  body-guard,  but  Zeno 
escaped,  brought  over  his  faithful  Isaurians  from  Asia,  and 
crushed  the  rebellion  after  a  vigorous  street  fight.  In  482-3 
he  had  a  prolonged  misunderstanding  with  his  commander- 
in-chief  Illus,  the  Isaurian  general  who  had  put  down  the 
rebellion  of  Basiliscus  five  years  before.  Zeno  neither 
banished  nor  fully  trusted  him.  He  left  him  in  office,  but 
was  nervously  on  his  guard,  and  always  thwarting  his  Minister. 
It  is  said  that,  with  or  without  his  consent,  the  Empress 
Ariadne  endeavoured  to  procure  the  assassination  of  Illus. 

In  483,  the  year  in  which  Theodoric  the  Amal  made  his 
peace  with  Zeno,  a  certain  Leontius  raised  a  rebellion  in 
Syria.     Illus,  who  was  sent  to  put  him  down,  had  grown  tired 

44  European  History,  476-918 

of  serving  his  suspicious  and  ungrateful  master,  and  joined  in 

the   revolt.      He  and    Leontius   seized   Antioch,  where  the 

latter  was  proclaimed  emperor,  and  got  posses- 

Revoltof  .  r   r^  ^       '       ^-t    •  j  .u  o      •  t«. 

Leontius, 483.  sion  of  Cappadocia,  Cilicia,  and  north  byria.  It 
is  said  that  they  designed  to  re-establish  paganism, 
a  project  which  seems  absolutely  incredible  in  the  very  end 
of  the  fifth  century,  when  the  heathen  were  no  more  than  a  for- 
lorn remnant  scattered  among  a  zealous  Christian  population. 
The  empress-dowager  Verina,  who  was  living  in  exile  in 
Cappadocia,  joined  herself  to  them,  and  adopted  Leontius  as  her 
son.  But  the  rebels  took  more  practical  measures  to  support 
their  cause  when  they  applied  for  aid  to  Odoacer  the  king 
in  Italy,  and  to  the  Persian  monarch  Balas.  Both  promised 
aid,  but,  before  they  could  send  it,  Zeno  had  put  the  rebellion 
down.  He  induced  his  late  enemy  Theodoric  to  join  his 
army,  and  the  Goths  and  Isaurians  combined  easily  got  the 
better  of  Leontius.  Syria  submitted,  and  the  rebel  emperor 
and  Illus,  after  a  long  and  desperate  defence  in  a  castle  in 
Cappadocia,  were  taken  and  slain. ^ 

Zeno  enjoyed  comparative  peace  after  Leontius'  rebellion 
had  been  crushed,  and  was  still  more  fortunate  when,  in  488, 
he  induced  Theodoric  the  Amal  to  move  his  Ostrogoths  out 
of  Moesia  and  go  forth  to  conquer  Italy.  How  Theodoric 
fared  in  Italy  we  have  already  related.  His  departure  was  of 
enormous  benefit  to  the  empire,  and,  for  the  first  time  since 
his  accession,  Zeno  was  now  able  to  exercise  a  real  authority 
over  his  European  provinces.  They  were  left  to  him  in  a 
most  fearful  state  of  desolation :  ten  years  of  war,  ranging 
over  the  whole  tract  south  of  the  Danube  and  north  of  Mount 
Olympus,  had  reduced  the  land  to  a  wilderness.  Whole  dis- 
tricts were  stripped  bare  of  their  inhabitants,  and  great  gaps 
of  waste  territory  were  inviting  new  enemies  to  enter  the 
Balkan   peninsula,    and    occupy   the    deserted    country-side. 

1  This  fort — it  was  called  Castellum  Papirii — is  said  to  have  held  out 
for  the  incredibly  long  period  of  four  years  after  all  the  rest  of  the 
rebellious  districts  had  been  subdued,  and  only  to  have  fallen  by  treachery. 

The  Emperors  at  Constantinople,  476-527  45 

North  of  the  Balkans  the  whole  provincial  population  seems 
to  have  been  well-nigh  exterminated.     When  the  Ostrogoths 
abandoned   the  country  there  was  nothing  left    state  of  the 
between  the  mountains  and   the  Danube  but  a  Balkan 
few  military  posts  and  their  garrisons,  nor  was  Peninsula, 
the  country  replenished  with  inhabitants  till  the  vSlavs  spread 
over  the  land  in  the  succeeding  age.     lUyria  and  Macedonia 
had  not  fared  so  badly,  but  the   net  result  of  the  century 
of  Gothic  occupation  in  the  Balkan  peninsula  had  been  to 
thin  down  to  a  fearful  extent  the  Latin-speaking  population  of 
the  Eastern  Empire.     All  the  inland  of  Thrace,  Moesia,  and 
Illyricum  had  hitherto  employed  the  Latin  tongue  :  with  the 
thinning  out  of  its  inhabitants  the  empire  became  far  more 
Asiatic  and  Greek  than  it  had  before  been. 

When  the  Ostrogoths  migrated  to  Italy,  the  empire  acquired 
a  new  set  of  neighbours  on  its  northern  frontier,  the  nomad 
Ugrian  horde  of  the  Bulgarians  on  the  lower  Danube,  and 
the  Teutonic  tribes  of  the  Gepidae,  Heruli,  and  Lombards  on 
the  middle  Danube  and  the  Theiss  and  Save.  Contrary  to 
what  might  have  been  expected,  none  of  these  races  pushed 
past  the  barrier  of  Roman  forts  along  the  river  to  occupy 
Moesia.  They  vexed  the  empire  with  nothing  worse  than 
occasional  raids,  and  did  not  come  to  settle  within  its 

Zeno's  ecclesiastical  policy  demands  a  word  of  notice.  He 
was  himself  orthodox,  but  not  fanatical :  the  Church  being  at 
the  moment  grievously  divided  by  the  Monophysite  schism, 
to  which  the  Churches  of  Egypt  and  Palestine  had  attached 
themselves,  he  thought  it  would  be  possible  and  expedient  to 
lure  the  heretics  back  within  the  fold  by  slightly  modifying  the 
Catholic  statement  of.  doctrine.  In  482,  though  he  was  in 
the  midst  of  his  struggle  with  Theodoric  the  Amal,  he  found 
time  to  draft  his  '  Henoticon,'  or  Edict  of  Comprehension. 
The  Monophysites  held  that  there  was  but  one  nature  in  our 
Lord,  as  opposed  to  the  orthodox  view,  that  both  the  human 
and  the  divine  element  were  fully  present  in   His  person. 

46  European  History,  476-918 

Zeno  put  into  his  '  Henoticon '  a  distinct  statement  that 
Christ  was  both  God  and  man,  but  did  not  insert  the  words 
'  two  natures,'  which  formed  the  orthodox  shibboleth.  But 
his  well-meant  scheme  fell  utterly  flat.  The  heretics  were  not 
satisfied,  and  refused  to  conform,  while  the  Catholics  held  that 
zeno's  it  was  a  weak  concession  to  heterodoxy,  and  con- 

Henoticon.  dcmncd  Zcno  for  playing  with  schism.  The 
patriarch,  Acacius,  who  had  assisted  him  to  draft  the  'Heno- 
ticon,' was  excommunicated  by  the  Bishop  of  Rome,  and  the 
churches  of  Italy  and  Constantinople  were  out  of  communion 
for  more  than  thirty  years,  owing  to  an  edict  that  had  been 
intended  to  unite  and  not  to  divide. 

The  last  years  of  Zeno's  reign  were  far  more  undisturbed 
by  war  and  rebellion  than  its  earlier  part.  He  survived  till 
491,  when  he  died  of  epilepsy,  leaving  no  heir  to  inherit  his 
throne.  He  had  had  two  sons,  named  Leo  and  Zeno :  the 
first  had  died,  while  still  a  child,  in  474 ;  the  second  killed 
himself  by  evil  hving,  when  on  the  threshold  of  manhood,  long 
ere  his  father's  death. 

The  right  of  choosing  Zeno's  successor  fell  nominally  into 
the  hands  of  the  Senate  and  people,  really  into  those  of  the 
widowed  Empress  Ariadne  and  the  Imperial  Guard.  The 
daughter  of  Leo  made  a  wise  choice  in  recommending  to  the 
suffrages  of  the  army  and  people  Anastasius  of  Dyrrhachium, 
an  officer  of  the  sileiitiarii}  who  was  universally  esteemed  for 
his  piety  and  virtue. 

Anastasius  was  a  man  of  fifty-two  or  fifty-three,  who  had 
spent  most  of  his  life  in  official  work  in  the  capital,  and  was 
specially  well  known  as  an  able  and  economical  financier.  He 
was  sincerely  religious,  and  spent  many  of  his  leisure  hours  as  a 
lay  preacher  in  the  church  of  St.  Sophia,  till  he  was  inhibited 
from  giving  instruction  by  the  Patriarch  Euphemius,  who  de- 
tected Monophysitism  in  his  sermons.  He  had  once  proposed 
to  take  orders,  and  had  been  spoken  of  as  a  candidate  for  the 

^  A  body-guard,  whose  duly  it  was  to  preserve  silence  around  the 
emperor's  private  apartments. 

The  Emperors  at  Constantinople,  476-527  47 

bishopric  of  Antioch.  Yet,  in  spite  of  his  religious  fervour, 
he  was  never  accused  of  being  unworldly  or  unpractical. 
Anastasius  was  a  man  of  blameless  life,  learned  character  of 
and  laborious,  slow  to  anger,  a  kind  and  liberal  Anastasius. 
master,  and  absolutely  just  in  all  his  dealings.  '  Reign  as  you 
have  lived,'  was  the  cry  of  the  people  when  he  first  presented 
himself  to  them  clad  in  the  imperial  purple.  Only  two  ob- 
jections were  ever  made  to  him — the  first,  that  he  leaned 
towards  the  Monophysite  heresy ;  the  second,  that  his  court 
was  too  staid  and  puritanical  for  the  taste  of  the  multitude, 
who  had  loved  the  pomp  and  orgies  of  the  dissolute  Zeno. 
He  earned  unpopularity  by  suppressing  gladiatorial  combats 
with  wild  beasts,  and  licentious  dances. 

Six  weeks  after  his  accession  the  new  emperor  married  the 
Empress-Dowager  Ariadne,  who  had  been  the  chief  instru- 
ment in  his  election.  She  was  a  princess  of  blameless  life, 
and  had  done  much  in  the  previous  reign  to  redeem  the  ill- 
repute  of  her  first  husband.  It  was  a  great  misfortune  for  the 
empire  that  she  bore  her  second  spouse  no  heir  to  inherit  his 

The  commencement  of  the  reign  of  Anastasius  was  troubled 
by  a  rebellion  of  the  Isaurians.  Zeno  had  not  only  formed 
an  Imperial  Guard  of  his  countrymen,  but  had  filled  the  civil 
service  with  them,  and  encouraged  them  to  settle  as  mer- 
chants and  traders  in  Constantinople.  They  had  been  much 
vexed  when  the  sceptre  passed  to  the  Illyrian  Anastasius,  and 
entered  into  a  conspiracy  to  seize  his  person,  and  proclaim 
Zeno's  brother,  Longinus,  as  emperor.  A  few  months  after 
his  accession  they  rose  in  the  capital  and  obtained  possession 
of  part  of  the  city  near  the  palace,  but  the  majority  of  the 
people  and  array  were  against  them,  and  they  were  put  down 
after  a  sharp  street  fight,  in  which  the  great  Hippodrome  was 
burnt.  Longinus  was  captured,  and  compelled  to  take 
orders.  He  died  long  after  as  a  priest  in  Egypt.  Anastasius, 
after  this  riot,  dismissed  all  the  Isaurian  officers  from  the 
public  service.     They  returned  to  their  homes  in  Asia  Minor, 

48  European  History,  476-918 

and  organised  a  rebellion  in  their  native  hills.  A  second 
Longinus,  who  had  been  magister  7nilitum  in  Thrace,  put 
himself  at  the  head  of  the  insurrection,  which  lingered  on  for 
five  years  (491-496),  but  was  never  a  serious  danger  to  the 
empire.  The  rebels  were  beaten  whenever  they  ventured  into 
Rebellions  ^^  plains,  and  only  maintained  themselves  so 
in  isauria,  long  by  the  aid  of  the  mountain-castles  with  which 
492-496.  their  rugged  land  was  studded.     In  496  their  last 

fastnesses  were  stormed,  and  their  chief,  the  ex-inagtster,  taken 
and  executed.  Anastasius  punished  the  communities  which 
had  been  most  obstinate  in  the  rebellion  by  transferring  them 
to  Thrace,  and  settling  them  on  the  wasted  lands  under  the 
Balkans,  where  he  trusted  that  these  fearless  mountaineers 
would  prove  an  efficient  guard  to  keep  the  passes  against  the 
barbarians  from  beyond  the  Danube. 

The  Asiatic  provinces  of  the  empire  had  no  further  troubles 
till  502,  when  a  war  broke  out  between  Anastasius  and  Kobad 
king  of  Persia.  The  Mesopotamian  frontier  had  been  singu- 
larly quiet  for  the  last  century  ;  there  had  been  no  serious  war 
with  the  great  Oriental  monarchy  to  the  East  since  Julian's 
unfortunate  expedition  in  362.  The  same  age  which  had  seen 
the  Teutonic  migrations  in  Europe  had  been  marked  in  inner 
Asia  by  a  great  stirring  of  the  Huns  and  other  Turanian 
tribes  beyond  the  Caspian,  and  while  the  Roman  emperors 
had  been  busy  on  the  Danube,  the  Sassanian  kings  had  been 
hard  at  work  defending  the  frontier  of  the  Oxus.  In  a  respite 
from  his  Eastern  troubles  Kobad  made  some  demands  for 
money  on  Anastasius,  which  the  emperor  refused,  and  war 
soon  followed.  It  began  with  several  disasters  for  the 
Romans,  and  Amida,  the  chief  fortress  of  Mesopotamia,  was 
stormed  in  503.  Nisibis  fell  later  in  the  same  year,  and  when 
War  with  Anastasius  sent  reinforcements  to  the  East  he 
Persia,  appointed   so    many  generals   with   independent 

503-505-  authority  that  the  whole  Roman  army  could  never 

be  united,  and  the  commanders  allowed  themselves  to  be 
taken  in  detail  and  defeated  in  succession.     In  504,  however, 

The  Emperors  at  Constantinople^  476-527         49 

the  fortune  of  war  turned,  when  the  supreme  authority  in  the 
field  was  bestowed  on  Celer,  the  magister  officiorum ;  he  re- 
covered Amida  after  a  long  siege,  and  began  to  press  forward 
beyond  the  Persian  frontier.  Kobad  was  at  the  same  time 
assailed  by  the  Huns  from  beyond  the  Oxus,  and  gladly  made 
peace,  on  terms  which  restored  the  frontier  of  both  parties  to 
the  line  it  had  occupied  in  502.  Anastasius  provided  against 
future  wars  by  building  two  new  fortresses  of  the  first  class 
on  the  Persian  frontier,  Daras  in  Mesopotamia,  and  Theo- 
dosiopolis  farther  north  on-  the  borders  of  Armenia.  These 
places  served  to  break  the  force  of  the  Persian  attack  thirty 
years  later,  when  the  successors  of  Kobad  and  Anastasius 
again  fell  to  blows.  The  Persian  war,  like  the  Isaurian,  had 
only  afflicted  a  very  limited  district, — the  province  beyond  the 
Euphrates, — and  no  raids  had  penetrated  so  far  as  Syria. 
Indeed,  during  the  whole  reign  of  Anastasius,  the  only  serious 
trouble  to  which  the  Asiatic  half  of  the  empire  was  exposed 
was  a  Hunnish  raid  from  beyond  the  Caucasus,  which  in  515 
caused  grave  damage  in  Pontus^,  Cappadocia,  and  Lycaonia. 
This  invasion,  however,  was  an  isolated  misfortune,  followed 
by  no  further  incursions  of  the  nomads  of  the  Northern 

The  European  provinces — now  as  in  the  time  of  Zeno — had 
a  far  harder  lot.  The  Slavs  and  Bulgarians  repeatedly  crossed 
the  Danube  and  pressed  over  the  desolated  plains  of  Moesia 
to  assail  Thrace.  More  than  once  the  Bulgarians  defeated  a 
Roman  army  in  the  field,  and  their  ravages  were  at  last  pushed 
so  far  southward  that  Anastasius  built  in  512  the  celebrated 
wall  which  bears  his  name,  running  from  the  Black  Sea  to 
Propontis,  thirty-five  miles  west  of  Constantinople.  These 
lines,  extending  for  more  than  fifty  miles  across  the  eastern 
projection  of  Thrace,  served  to  defend  at  least  the  immediate 
neighbourhood  of  the  capital  against  the  restless  horsemen 
from  beyond  the  Danube.  Macedonia  and  Illyricum  seem  to 
have  suffered  much  less  than  Thrace  during  this  period ;  the 
Slavs  who  bordered  on  them  were  as  yet  not  nearly  such  a 


50  European  History,  476-918 

dangerous  enemy  as  the  Bulgarians,  while  the  Ostrogoths  of 
Italy,  on  reconquering  Pannonia,  proved  more  restful  neigh- 
bours to  the  north-western  provinces  of  the  empire  than  they 
had  been  in  the  previous  century. 

It  was  in  the  reign  of  Anastasius  that  one  of  the  most  char- 
acteristic features  in  the  social  life  of  Constantinople  is  brought 
forward  into  prominence  for  the  first  time.  This  was  the  grow- 
ing turbulence  of  the  '  Blues  and  Greens,'  the  factions  of  the 
Circus.  From  the  very  beginning  of  the  Roman  Empire  these 
clubs  had  existed,  but  it  was  only  at  Constantinople  that 
they  became  institutions  of  high  political  importance.  There 
the  rivalry  of  the  Blues  and  Greens  was  not  confined  to 
the  races  of  the  Circus,  but  was  carried  into  every  sphere 
of  life.  Nor  was  it  any  longer  only  the  young  men  of  sporting 
and  fashionable  proclivities  that  joined  the  'factions.'  They 
served  as  clubs  or  political  associations  for  all  classes,  from 
the  ministers  of  state  down  to  the  poorest  mechanics,  and 
formed  bonds  of  union  between  bodies  of  churchmen  or 
supporters  of  dynastic  claims.  It  is  hard  for  an  Englishman 
The  Blues  to  realise  this  extraordinary  development  of  what 
and  Greens.  [^^^  Qx\zQ  been  a  mere  rivalry  of  the  Hippodrome. 
To  make  a  parallel  to  it  we  should  have  to  suppose  that  all 
who  mount  the  light  or  the  dark  blue  on  the  day  of  the 
Oxford  and  Cambridge  boat  race  were  bitterly  jealous  of  each 
other — let  us  say,  for  example,  that  all  Dark  Blues  were  Con- 
servatives and  Anglicans,  and  all  Light  Blues  were  Radicals 
and  Dissenters.  If  this  were  so,  we  can  imagine  that  in  times 
of  political  stress  every  boat  race  might  be  followed  by  a 
gigantic  free-fight.  This,  however,  was  exactly  what  occurred 
at  Constantinople ;  the  '  Blue '  faction  had  become  identified 
with  Orthodoxy,  and  with  a  dislike  for  the  family  of  Anastasius. 
The  '  Green '  faction  included  all  the  Monophysites  and  other 
heterodox  sects,  and  was  devoted  to  the  person  and  dynasty 
of  Anastasius.  In  any  time  of  trouble  the  celebration  of 
games  in  the  Hippodrome  ended  with  a  fierce  riot  of  the  two 
factions.      No  wonder  that  the  just  and  peaceable  emperor 

The  Emperors  at  Constantinople y  476-527  51 

strove  to  suppress  shows  of  all  sorts,  and  in  especial  showed  a 
dislike  for  the  disloyal  '  Blue  '  faction. 

The  worst  of  Anastasius'  domestic  troubles  were  due  to  the 
suspicion  of  heterodoxy  that  clung  to  him.  In  511  when  he 
added  to  the  hymn  called  the  Trisagion  the  line  6  a-rav/ow^ei's 
Zi  Yjiia^  in  a  context  which  seemed  to  refer  to  the  whole  Trinity, 
the  orthodox  populace  of  Constantinople  headed  by  the  Blue 
faction  burst  out  into  sedition.  It  was  only  quelled  by  the 
old  Emperor  presenting  himself  before  the  people  in  the  Hippo- 
drome, without  crown  or  robe,  and  announcing  his  intention 
of  abdicating.  So  great  was  the  confidence  which  his  justice 
and  moderation  had  inspired  in  all  ranks  and  classes,  that 
the  proposal  filled  the  whole  multitude  with  dismay,  and  they 
rose  unanimously  to  bid  him  resume  his  diadem. 

But  the  grievance  against  the  Monophysite  tendencies  of 
Anastasius  was  not  destined  to  be  forgotten.  In  514  an 
ambitious  general  named  Vitalian,  who  held  a  Rebellion  of 
command  in  Moesia,  rose  in  arms,  alleging  as  vitaiian,  514. 
the  cause  of  his  rebellion,  not  only  certain  misdeeds  com- 
mitted in  that  province  by  the  emperor's  nephew  Hypatius, 
but  also  the  dangerous  heterodoxy  of  Anastasius'  religious 
opinions.  When  Hypatius  was  removed  from  his  office  the 
greater  part  of  Vitalian's  army  returned  to  its  allegiance,  and 
the  rebel  then  shewed  how  much  importance  was  to  be 
attached  to  his  religious  scruples,  by  calling  in  the  heathen 
Bulgarians  and  Huns  to  his  aid.  At  the  head  of  an  army 
composed  of  these  barbarians  he  maintained  himself  in  Moesia 
for  some  time.  The  emperor,  somewhat  unwisely,  replaced 
his  nephew  Hypatius  in  command,  and  sent  him  with  a  large 
army  to  put  down  the  rebel ;  but,  while  the  Romans  lay  en- 
camped on  the  sea-shore  near  Varna,  they  were  surprised  by  a 
night  attack  of  the  enemy  and  completely  scattered.  Many 
thousand  men  were  driven  over  the  cliffs  into  the  sea  and 
crushed  or  drowned,  while  Hypatius  himself  was  taken 
prisoner  (514).  The  old  emperor  was  driven,  by  concern  for 
his  nephew's  life,  to  make  peace.     He  ransomed  Hypatius  for 

52  European  History,  476-918 

15,000  lbs.  of  gold,  and  granted  Vitalian  the  post  of  magister 
viilitum  in  Thrace.  The  pardoned  rebel  for  the  remainder  of 
Anastasius'  reign  occupied  himself  in  strengthening  his  posi- 
tion on  the  Danube,  being  determined  to  make  a  bold  stroke 
for  the  imperial  throne  when  old  age  should  remove  the 
octogenarian  ruler  of  Constantinople. 

In  spite  of  all  his  troubles  with  the  two  Longini,  king 
Kobad  and  Vitalian,  Anastasius  may  be  called  a  successful 
and  prosperous  ruler.  All  these  rebellions  had  been  of  mere 
local  import,  and  for  the  whole  twenty-seven  years  of  his  reign 
the  greater  part  of  the  empire  had  enjoyed  peace  and  plenty. 
The  best  testimony  to  his  good  administration  is  the  fact  that 
at  his  accession  he  found  the  treasury  emptied  by  the  waste- 
ful Zeno,  and  that  at  his  death  he  left  it  filled  with  320,000 
lbs.  weight  of  gold,  or  ^15,000,000  in  hard  cash.  This  was 
in  spite  of  the  fact  that  he  was  a  merciful  and  lenient  adminis- 
trator, and  had  actually  abolished  several  imports  including 
the  odious  Chrysargyron  or  income-tax.  Nor  was  the  money 
collected  at  the  cost  of  neglecting  proper  expenditure.  Ana- 
stasius had  erected  many  military  works, — in  especial  his 
great  wall  in  Thrace,  and  the  strong  fortress  of  Daras — and 
restored  many  ruined  cities.  '  He  never  sent  away  petitioners 
empty,  whether  they  represented  a  city,  a  fortress,  or  a  sea- 
port.' He  left  an  army  of  150,000  men  in  a  good  state 
of  discipline  and  composed  for  its  larger  half  of  native 
troops,  with  a  frontier  intact  alike  on  east  and  west  and 

The  good  old  man  died  in  518  ;  his  wife  Ariadne  had  pre- 
ceded him  to  the  grave  three  years  before.  He  had  refrained 
from  appointing  as  his  colleague  his  nephew  Hypatius,  whom 
many  had  expected  him  to  adopt,  and  the  empire  was  left 
absolutely  masterless.  The  great  State  officials,  the  Imperial 
Guard,  and  the  Senate  had  the  election  of  a  new  Caesar  thrown 
upon  their  hands.  The  most  obvious  candidates  for  the  throne 
were  Hypatius,  whom  the  Green  faction  should  have  supported, 
and  the  magister  miliiuni  Vitalian,  who  at  once  to  okarms  to 

The  Emperors  at  Constantinople,  476-527  53 

march  on  the  capital.  But  neither  of  them  was  destined  to 
succeed.  The  sinews  of  war  lay  in  the  hands  of  the  treasurer 
Amantius ;  he  himself  could  not  hope  to  reign,  for  he  was  a 
eunuch,  but  he  had  a  friend  whom  he  wished  to  crown. 
Accordingly  he  sent  for  Justinus,  the  commander  Accession  of 
of  the  Imperial  Guard,  and  made  over  to  him  a  Justin  i.,  518. 
great  sum  to  buy  the  aid  of  the  soldiery.  Justinus,  an  elderly 
and  respectable  personage  whom  no  one  suspected  of  ambi- 
tion, quietly  took  the  gold,  distributed  it  in  his  own  name,  and 
was  saluted  as  Augustus  by  his  delighted  guardsmen.  The 
Senate  acquiesced  in  the  nomination,  and  he  mounted  the 
throne  without  a  blow  being  struck. 

Justinus  was  an  Illyrian  by  birth,  and  had  spent  fifty  years 
in  the  imperial  army ;  he  had  won  his  promotion  by  good  ser- 
vice in  the  Isaurian  and  Persian  wars.  He  was  very  illiterate — 
we  are  told  that  he  could  barely  sign  his  own  name — and  knew 
nothing  outside  his  tactics  and  his  drill-book.  He  had  the 
reputation  of  being  quiet,  well-behaved,  and  upright ;  no  one 
had  anything  to  say  against  him,  and  he  was  rigidly  orthodox 
in  matters  of  faith.  He  was  sixty-eight  years  of  age,  fifteen 
years  older  than  even  the  elderly  Anastasius  had  been  at  the 
moment  of  his  accession. 

Justinus  seated  himself  firmly  on  the  throne ;  he  executed 
the  treasurer  Amantius,  but  made  terms  with  the  two  men 
who  might  have  been  his  rivals.  Hypatius  remained  a  simple 
senator ;  Vitalian  was  confirmed  in  his  command  in  Moesia 
and  given  a  consulship.  While  holding  this  office  and  dwell- 
ing in  the  capital  he  was  assassinated  ;  rumour  ascribed  the 
crime  to  the  emperor's  nephew  Justinian,  who  thought  the 
turbulent  magister  too  near  the  throne. 

There  is  very  little  to  record  of  the  nine  years  of  Justinus' 
reign,  save  that  he  healed  the  forty  years'  schism  which  had 
separated  the  churches  of  Rome  and  Constantinople  since  the 
publication  of  Zeno's  'Henoticon.'  Being  undisputedly  ortho- 
dox, he  withdrew  that  document,  and  the  schism  disappeared 
with  its  cause.     The  only  real  importance  of  Justinus  is  that 

54  European  History, /\y6-gi^ 

he  prepared  the  way  for  his  famous  nephew  and  successor, 
Justinian,  whom  he  adopted  as  colleague,  and  intrusted  with 
those  matters  of  civil  administration  with  which  he  was  him- 
self incompetent  to  deal.  He  died  and  left  the  throne  to 
Justinian  in  a.d.  528. 




The  Franks  in  Northern  Gaul— Their  early  conquests— State  of  Gaul  in  481— 
Chlodovech  conquers  Northern  Gaul,  486 — He  subdues  the  Alamanni, 
495-6 — Conversion  of  Chlodovech,  496 — He  conquers  Aquitaine  from  the 
Visigoths,  507 — He  unites  all  the  Frankish  Kingdoms,  511. 

While  Odoacer  was  still  reigning  in  Italy,  and  Theodoric  the 
Amal  had  not  yet  left  the  Balkans,  or  the  banks  of  the  Danube, 
the  foundations  of  a  great  kingdom  were  being  laid  upon  the 
Scheldt  and  the  Meuse.  Early  in  the  fifth  century  the  con- 
federacy of  marsh-tribes  on  the  Yssel  and  Lech  who  had 
taken  the  common  name  of  Franks,  had  moved  southward 
into  the  territory  of  the  Empire,  and  found  themselves  new 
homes  in  the  provinces  which  the  Romans  called  Belgica  and 
Germania  Inferior.  For  many  years  the  hold  of  the  legions 
on  this  land  had  been  growing  weaker  ;  and,  long  ere  it  became 
a  Frankish  kingdom,  it  had  been  largely  sprinkled  with  Frankish 
colonists,  whom  the  emperors  had  admitted  as  military  settlers 
on  the  waste  lands  within  their  border.  In  the  lowlands  of 
Toxandria,  which  after-ages  called  Brabant  and  Guelders, 
there  were  no  large  cities  to  be  protected,  no  great  fortresses 
to  be  maintained,  and,  while  the  Romans  still  exerted  them- 
selves to  hold  Treveri  and  Colonia  Agrippina  and  Moguntia- 
cum,^  they  allowed  the  plains  more  to  the  north  and  west  to 
1  Trier,  Koln,  and  Mainz. 

56  European  History ^  476-918 

slip  out  of  their  hands.  By  the  second  quarter  of  the  fifth 
century  the  Franks  were  firmly  established  on  the  Scheldt 
The  Franks  ^^^  Meuse  and  lowcr  Rhine,  where  the  Roman 
in  Lower  garrisons  never  reappeared  after  the  usurper 
Germany.  Constantinc  had  carried  off  the  northern  frontier 
legions  to  aid  him  in  his  attack  on  Italy  (406).  By  this  time, 
too,  Colonia  Agrippina,  first  of  the  great  Roman  cities  of  the 
Rhineland,  seems  to  have  already  fallen  into  the  hands  of  the 
Franks.  Between  430  and  450  they  continued  to  push 
forward  as  far  as  the  Somme  and  the  Moselle,  and  when, 
at  the  time  of  Attila's  great  invasion  of  Gaul,  the  last  imperial 
garrisons  in  the  Rhineland  were  exterminated;  and  the  last 
governors  driven  forth  by  the  Huns  from  Treveri  and 
Moguntiacum  and  Mettis,  it  was  the  Franks  who  profited. 
After  the  Huns  had  rolled  back  again  to  the  East,  Frankish 
kings,  not  Roman  officials,  took  possession  of  the  ravaged 
land  along  the  Moselle  and  Rhine,  and  the  surviving  provin- 
cials had  for  the  future  to  obey  a  Teutonic  master  near  home, 
not  a  governor  despatched  from  distant  Ravenna. 

The  Franks  were  now  divided  into  two  main  hordes ;  the 
Salians — who  took  their  name  from  Sala,  the  old  name  of  the 
river  Yssel — dwelt  from  the  Scheldt-mouth  to  the  Somme,  and 
from  the  Straits  of  Dover  to  the  Meuse.  The  Ripuarians, 
whose  name  is  drawn  from  the  fact  that  they  inhabited  the 
bank  {ripa)  of  the  Rhine,  lay  along  both  sides  of  the  great 
river  from  its  junction  with  the  Lippe  to  its  junction  with 
the  Lahn,  and  extended  as  far  east  as  the  Meuse.  Each 
of  these  two  tribes  was  ruled  by  many  kings,  all  of  whom 
claimed  to  descend  from  the  house  of  the  Merovings,  a  line 
lost  in  obscurity,  whose  original  head  may,  perhaps,  have  been 
the  chief  who  in  the  third  century  first  taught  union  to  the 
various  tribes  who  formed  the  Frankish  confederacy. 

The  Franks  were  one  of  the  more  backward  of  the  Teutonic 
races,  in  spite  of  their  long  contact  with  Roman  civilisation 
along  the  Rhine.  Kings  and  people  were  still  heathens.  They 
had  not   learnt  like  the  Goths  to  wear  armour  or  fight  on 

Chlodovech  and  the  Franks  m  Gaul  57 

horseback,  but  went  to  war  half-naked,  armed  only  with  a 
barbed  javelin,  a  sword,  and  a  casting-axe  or  tomahawk, 
called  the  Francisca  after  the  name  of  its  users.  Unlike  Goth 
and  Vandal  they  had  not  learnt  the  advantages  of  political 
union,  but  obeyed  many  petty  princes  instead  of  one  great 
lord.  All  Roman  writers  reproach  them  for  a  perfidy  which 
exceeded  that  of  the  other  barbarians.  The  Saxons,  we  are 
told,  were  cruel,  the  Alamanni  drunken,  the  Alans  rapacious, 
the  Huns  unchaste,  but  the  special  sin  of  the  Frank  was 
treachery  and  perjury. 

At  the  time  of  the  deposition  of  Romulus  Augustulus  by 
Odoacer,  the  Salian  Franks  held  the  old  Roman  towns  of 
Cambrai,  Arras,  Tournay,  and  Tongern,  while  the  Ripuarians 
occupied  Koln,  Trier,  Mainz,  and  Metz.  South  of  the 
Ripuarians  lay  the  new  Burgundian  kingdom  Divisions  of 
which  Gundobad  had  founded  in  the  valleys  of  Gauiin48i. 
the  Rhone  and  Saone.  South  of  the  Salians  was  a  district 
of  Roman  Gaul  which  had  to  the  last  acknowledged  the 
supremacy  of  the  ephemeral  emperors  of  the  West,  and  kept 
itself  free  from  barbarian  invaders  under  the  patrician 
^gidius.  After  his  death  in  463  his  son  Syagrius  succeeded 
to  his  power,  and  ruled  at  Suessiones  (Soissons)  over  the 
whole  Seine  valley,  and  the  plain  of  central  Gaul  as  far  as 
Troyes  and  Orleans.  After  the  disappearance  of  the  last 
Western  Emperor,  Syagrius  had  no  over-lord,  but  was  so  much 
his  own  master  that  the  Franks  called  him  'king  of  the 
Romans,'  though  he  himself  took  no  title  but  that  of  patrician. 
South  of  the  realm  of  Syagrius  lay  the  Visigothic  kingdom  of 
Euric,  a  vast  state  extending  from  the  Loire  to  Gibraltar,  and 
from  the  Bay  of  Biscay  to  the  Maritime  Alps.  Its  king  dwelt 
at  Toulouse,  and  the  Gaulish  rather  than  the  Spanish  half  of 
his  dominion  was  considered  the  more  important.  Indeed 
his  rule  in  Spain  was  still  incomplete,  as  the  Suevi  held  its 
north-western  corner,  the  land  which  we  now  call  Galicia  and 
north  Portugal,  and  the  Basques  maintained  their  indepen- 
dence in  the  western  Pvrenees. 

58  European  History^  476-918 

In  the  third  quarter  of  the  fifth  century  the  most  important 
of  the  Frankish  chiefs  of  the  Merovingian  line  was  a  prince  of 
the  Sahans,  named  Childerich,  who  dwelt  at  Tournay,  and 
ruled  in  the  valley  of  the  upper  Scheldt.  He  died  in  481, 
leaving  his  throne  to  his  sixteen-year-old  son  and  heir,  a 
prince  named  Chlodovech  or  Chlodwig,  who  was  destined  to 
found  the  great  Frankish  kingdom,  by  extinguishing  the  other 
Frankish  principalities,  and  conquering  southern  and  central 

Such  an  event  seemed  most  unlikely  at  the  time  of  Chlo- 
dovech's  accession,  when  the  dominant  power  in  the  land  was 
that  of  the  fierce  and  able  king  Euric  the  Visigoth.  It  was 
Euric  who  had  brought  the  Visigothic  kingdom  up  to  its 
largest  extent,  by  driving  the  Sueves  into  a  corner  of  Spain, 
conquering  the  last  Roman  provinces  in  central  Gaul,  and 
receiving  Provence  from  the  hands  of  Odoacer,  king  of  Italy. 
He  was  the  first  Visigothic  king  to  publish  a  code  of  laws, 
and  would  have  left  a  good  name  in  history  but  for  his  assas- 
sination of  his  brother  Theodoric,  and  his  persecutions  of  the 
Catholics.  Though  not  such  an  oppressor  as  the  Vandals 
Gaiseric  and  Hunneric,  he  had  made  himself  hated  by  refus- 
ing to  allow  the  election  of  Catholic  bishops,  and  by  closing 
or  handing  over  to  his  favourites,  the  Arians,  many  of  the 
churches  of  the  orthodox.  Euric  died  in  485,  just  as  Chlo- 
dovech was  about  to  commence  his  conquering  career  in 
northern  Gaul,  a  career  which  the  Visigoth  would  probably 
have  checked  if  a  longer  life  had  been  granted  him.  He  was 
succeeded  by  his  son  Alaric,  a  boy  of  only  sixteen  or  seven- 
teen years. 

It  was  in  the  very  year  of  Euric's  death  that  Chlodovech,  now 
aged  twenty-one,  set  out  on  the  first  of  his  warlike  expeditions. 
In  company  with  his  kinsman  Ragnachar,  king  of  Cambrai,  he 
invaded  the  realm  of  the  Roman  patrician  Syagrius.  The 
Gaulish  troops  were  unable  to  resist  the  onset  of  the  Franks, 
and  their  leader,  after  a  short  struggle,  abandoned  his  home, 
and  fled  for  safety  to  the  court  of  Alaric  the  Visigoth.     The 

Chlodovech  and  the  Franks  in  Gaul  59 

councillors  of  Alaric,  either  wishing  to  gratify  their  Teutonic 
neighbours,  or  fearing  the  event  of  a  war  while  their  king 
was  yet  so  young,  threw  the  patrician  into  bonds,  cwodovech 
and  sent  him  back  to  Chlodovech,  who  promptly  syagrfus, 
put  him  to  death.  The  Seine  valley  and  the  486. 
great  towns  of  Soissons,  Paris,  Rouen,  and  Rheims  now  fell 
into  the  hands  of  the  Frankish  king,  and,  in  the  course  of  the 
next  three  years,  he  extended  his  power  up  to  the  Loire  and 
boundary  of  Armorica,  where  the  Romano-Celts  of  the  extreme 
west  still  succeeded  in  holding  out.  Chlodovech  took  all  the 
spoils  for  himself,  none  fell  to  his  neighbours,  the  other  kings 
of  the  Salian  Franks.  It  was  these  princes  who  were  next 
to  feel  the  force  of  his  arm.  He  picked  quarrels  with  his 
kinsmen  the  kings  of  Cambrai  and  Terouanne,  the  one  for 
not  helping  him  against  Syagrius,  the  other  for  claiming  part 
of  the  spoil  of  the  Roman,  and  slew  them  both,  the  one  by 
treachery,  the  other  in  open  battle.  The  remaining  Merovin- 
gian princes  of  the  Belgic  plains  soon  shared  their  fate ;  then 
Chlodovech  pressed  eastward  against  the  Ripuarian  Franks, 
and  conquered  the  Thoringi,  their  chief  tribe,  in  the  year  491 
In  a  short  time  he  had  won  all  the  Frankish  kingdoms  save 
that  of  his  ally  Sigebert  the  Lame,  king  of  Koln.  He 
remorselessly  slew  every  prince  of  Meroving  blood  who  fell 
into  his  hands,  and  did  his  best  to  exterminate  all  the  rival 
lines.  When  he  could  find  no  more  to  kill,  he  is  said  to  have 
made  open  lamentation  that  he  was  left  alone  in  the  world, 
and  that  the  royal  house  of  the  Franks  was  threatened  with 
extinction ;  he  then  bade  any  kinsman  who  might  yet  survive 
come  to  him  without  fear.  But  it  was  cruelty,  not  remorse, 
that  moved  him,  for  his  only  object  was  to  catch  and  slay  any 
Meroving  who  might  yet  survive. 

His  conquests  in  Ripuaria  brought  Chlodovech  into  touch 
with  new  neighbours,  the  Burgundians  to  the  south,  and  the 
confederacy  of  the  Alamanni  to  the  east,  along  the  Main  and 
Neckar.  With  the  first  named  he  entered  into  friendly 
relations,  and  married  Chrotechildis  (Clotilde),  niece  of  King 

6o  European  History,  476-918 

Gundobad,  in  492.  The  princess,  unlike  her  uncle  and  most 
of  her  tribe,  was  a  devout  Catholic,  and  much  was  destined  to 
chiodovech's  fo^low  from  her  alliance  with  the  pagan  Frank, 
wars  with  the  With  the  Alamanni  the  relations  of  Chlodovech 
Aiamanni  ^^^^^  ^^^^^^  ^j^^  ^^^^  hostile;  in  fact,  when  he  brought 
his  frontier  up  to  the  middle  Rhine,  he  was  constrained  to 
take  up  an  already  existing  feud  between  the  Ripuarians  and 
their  eastern  neighbours.  For  several  years  he  was  engaged 
in  a  struggle  with  this  confederacy,  who  held  the  east  bank 
of  the  Rhine  from  Coblenz  upwards,  the  valleys  of  the  Main 
and  Neckar,  and  all  the  Black  Forest.  At  last,  in  496,  he  got 
the  better  of  them  in  a  decisive  battle — apparently  near 
Strasburg — and  forced  the  main  body  of  the  confederacy  to 
do  him  homage  and  acknowledge  him  as  over-lord.  An 
obstinate  remnant  retired  over  the  Rhine,  and  took  refuge  in 
Rhaetia  under  the  protection  of  the  great  Theodoric,  but  all 
the  rest  became  Frankish  vassals.  As  a  result  of  this  war 
the  Alamanni  were  driven  southward  out  of  the  Main  valley, 
which  was  seized  and  settled  by  Ripuarian  settlers,  and  be- 
came a  Frankish  country  under  the  name  of  East  Francia,  or 

A  suggestive  legend  and  an  important  fact  are  connected 
with  these  campaigns  of  Chlodovech  against  the  Alamanni. 
The  ecclesiastic  writers  of  the  next  century  state  that,  in  his 
decisive  battle  with  the  confederates,  Chlodovech  was  driven 
back  and  almost  routed.  Then,  recalling  the  words  of  his 
wife  Chrotechildis,  '  who  never  ceased  to  persuade  him  that 
he  should  serve  the  true  God.'  that  the  Lord  was  the  Lord  of 
Hosts  and  the  arbiter  of  battles,  he  cried  aloud,  '  O  Christ 
Jesu,  I  crave  as  a  suppliant  Thy  glorious  aid ;  and  if  Thou 
grantest  me  victory  over  these  enemies  I  will  believe  in  Thee, 
and  be  baptized  in  Thy  name.'  At  once  the  Alamanni  began 
to  give  back,  and  the  king  obtained  a  complete  triumph. 

Whether  this  was  the  manner  of  his  conversion  or  not,  it  is 
at  any  rate  certain  that  Chlodovech,  on  returning  from  his 
Alamannic   campaign,  had  himself  baptized   at   Rheims   on 

Chlodovech  and  the  Franks  i7t  Gaul  6i 

Christmas  Day,  496.  His  sister  and  3000  of  his  warriors 
followed  him  to  the  font.  Every  reader  of  history  knows  the 
famous  tale  how  Archbishop  Remigius  hailed  the  king  with  the 
words,  '  Bow  thy  neck  Sigambrian,  adore  that  which  thou  hast 
burnt,  and  burn  that  which  thou  hast  adored.'  First  among 
the  converted  Teutonic  kings  Chlodovech  was  received  into 
the  Catholic  Church,  and  did  not  become  an  Arian  like  his 
neighbours.  In  this  we  may,  no  doubt,  trace  the  influence  of 
his  orthodox  queen  Chrotechildis.  The  conse-  conversion 
quences  of  his  conversion  to  the  orthodox  ofchio- 
faith  were  most  important ;  he  was  the  only  ^°^^'^^'  ^96- 
Teutonic  king  who  adopted  the  faith  of  his  Roman  subjects, 
and  was  therefore  served  by  them,  and  more  especially  by 
their  clergy,  with  a  loyalty  which  no  Goth,  Vandal,  or  Bur- 
gundian  prince  could  ever  win.  Not  least  among  the  causes 
of  Chlodovech's  easy  triumphs  and  of  the  permanence  of  his 
kingdom  may  be  reckoned  his  adherence  to  Catholicism. 

It  cannot  be  said  that  the  king's  conversion  made  any 
favourable  change  in  his  character  or  his  conduct.  He  still 
remained  the  cruel,  unscrupulous,  treacherous  tyrant  that  he 
had  always  been.  It  will  be  seen  that  his  last  recorded  action 
was  an  elaborate  incitement  to  parricide  followed  by  a  horrid 
murder.  Yet  he  was  granted  a  measure  of  success  that  was 
refused  to  kings  of  far  better  disposition  and  far  stronger  intel- 
lect, such  as  Theodoric  the  Ostrogoth,  or  Ataulf  the  Visigoth. 

After  their  king's  conversion  the  Franks,  both  Salian  and 
Ripuarian,  hastened  to  follow  him  to  the  fold  of  the  Church, 
and  in  a  single  generation  the  old  Frankish  paganism  disap- 
peared. But,  as  with  king  so  with  people,  the  change  was 
almost  entirely  superficial  j  it  is  long  before  we  trace  the 
influence  of  any  Christian  graces  on  the  ungodly  and  per- 
fidious race  of  the  Franks. 

After  subduing  the  Alamanni,  Chlodovech's  next  war  was 
with  the  people  of  his  wife's  uncle,  Gundobad,  the  king  of 
Burgundy.  He  made  a  secret  agreement  with  Godegisl, 
Gundobad's  younger  brother,  to  invade  and  divide  the  Bur- 

62  European  History^  476-918 

gundian  realm.  While  the  treacherous  brother  raised  war  in 
Helvetia,  where  he  possessed  an  appanage,  the  king  of  the 
Franks  attacked  Gundobad  from  the  front,  and  invaded  the 
valley  of  the  Saone.  It  appeared  as  if  here,  as  well  as  in  the 
lands  farther  north,  Chlodovech  would  sweep  all  before  him. 
The  Burgundian  king  was  beaten  and  driven  out  of  Dijon, 
Lyons,  and  Valence  into  Avignon,  the  southernmost  fortress 
of  his  realm,  while  his  brother  was  made  king  by  the  Frank, 
and  became  his  vassal.  But,  in  the  next  year,  Gundobad 
recovered  all  he  had  lost,  slew  Godegisl  at  Vienne,  and  drove 
the  Franks  out  of  Burgundy  with  such  success  that  Chlo- 
dovech ere  long  made  peace  with  him  (501). 

But  the  next  campaign  of  the  Frankish  king  was  one  of  far 
greater  importance  and  success.  He  was  set  on  trying  his 
fortune  against  the  young  king  of  the  Visigoths,  whose 
personal  weakness  and  unpopularity  with  his  Roman  subjects 
tempted  him  to  an  invasion  of  Aquitaine.  It  would  seem 
that  Chlodovech  carefully  chose  as  a  casus  belli  the  Arian 
persecutions  of  Alaric,  who,  like  his  father  Euric,  was  a  bad 
Chlodovech  master  to  his  Catholic  subjects.  A  first  quarrel 
conquers  -^^  ^^^  ^^g  composcd  by  the  great  Theodoric, 
507.  '       who,  as  father-in-law  of  the  Visigoth  and  brother- 

in-law  of  the  Frank,  could  appeal  with  authority  to  each  of 
the  rivals.  But  in  507  Chlodovech  declared  war  on  the 
Visigoths.  '  I  cannot  bear,'  he  said,  '  that  those  Arians 
should  hold  any  part  of  Gaul.  With  God's  aid  we  will  go 
against  them,  and  subdue  their  land  beneath  our  sway.' 
Knowing  the  strength  of  the  Visigothic  realm,  Chlodovech 
allied  to  himself  for  the  struggle  his  old  enemy  Gundobad 
the  Burgundian,  and  Sigebert  of  Koln,  the  last  surviving 
Ripuarian  king. 

Advancing  from  Paris  Chlodovech  crossed  the  Loire,  and 
met  the  Visigoths  and  their  king  on  the  Campus  Vocladensis, 
the  plain  of  Vougle,  near  Poictiers.  Whether  from  cowardice, 
or  from  distrust  of  his  own  generalship,  Alaric  held  back  from 
fighting,  but  his  army  forced  him  to  give  battle.     He  attacked 

Chlodovech  and  the  Franks  in  Gaul  63 

the  Franks,  was  utterly  defeated,  and  fell  with  the  greater 
part  of  his  men.  So  crushed  were  the  Visigoths  by  the  dis- 
aster that  Chlodovech  was  able  to  overrun  all  the  provinces 
between  the  Loire  and  the  Garonne  without  striking  another 
blow.  He  entered  Bordeaux  in  triumph,  and  there  spent  the 
winter.  Next  spring  he  marched  against  Toulouse,  the  Gothic 
capital,  and  took  it,  and  with  it  the  great  hoard  of  the  Visi- 
gothic  kings,  including  many  of  the  Roman  trophies  that 
Alaric  and  Ataulf  had  carried  off  from  Italy  a  hundred  years 
before.  Meanwhile,  Chlodovech's  Burgundian  allies  overran 
Provence,  and  captured  all  its  cities  save  Aries.  To  add  to 
the  troubles  of  the  Visigoths  they  were  distracted  by  civil 
strife ;  one  party  recognised  as  king  Amalric,  the  infant  son 
of  Alaric,  by  Theodoric's  daughter,  his  lawful  queen ;  the 
other  elected  Gesalic,  a  bastard  son  of  Alaric,  who  had 
fortified  himself  in  Narbonne  and  Barcelona.  But  the  Franks 
and  Burgundians  drove  Gesalic  over  the  Pyrenees,  and  it 
appeared  as  if  there  was  about  to  be  an  end  of  all  Visigothic 
power  north  of  those  mountains. 

Meanwhile,  Chlodovech  returned  from  Toulouse  to  Tours, 
where  he  found  awaiting  him  ambassadors  from  the  Emperor 
Anastasius,  who  saluted  him  by  their  master's  command  with 
the  titles  of  proconsul  and  patrician,  and  presented  him  with 
a  diadem  and  purple  robe.  Anastasius  sought  by  these  honours 
to  win  an  ally  against  Theodoric  the  Ostrogoth,  with  whom 
he  had  lately  quarrelled.  Chlodovech  accepted  them  with 
alacrity,  because  of  the  prestige  they  gave  him  in  the  eyes  of 
his  Roman  subjects,  who  saw  his  power  over  them  formally 
legalised  by  the  grant  of  the  Emperor. 

This  was  the  culminating  scene  of  Chlodovech's  life  ;  for,  in 
the  next  year,  fortune  turned  somewhat  against  him.  The  great 
Theodoric  interfered  in  the  Gothic  War  as  the  guardian  and 
protector  of  his  grandson,  Amalric.  His  armies  routed  the 
united  Franks  and  Burgundians  near  Aries,  where  they  are 
said  to  have  slain  30,000  men.  They  then  reconquered 
Narbonne  and  all  the  Mediterranean  coast  as  far  as  Spain. 

64  European  History,  ^^^-(^xZ 

Chlodovech's  conquests  were  thus  restricted  to  the  land  west  of 
the  Cevennes,  but  still  comprised  the  greater  bulk  of  Visi- 
gothic  Gaul,  with  the  three  great  cities  of  Poictiers,  Bordeaux, 
and  Toulouse  (510).  Only  the  Narbonensis  and  Provence 
were  saved  from  him  by  Theodoric,  who  now  chased  away  the 
usurper  Gesalic,  and  ruled  all  Spain  and  south  Gaul  till  his 
grandson  Amalric  came  of  age. 

Checked  on  the  south  by  the  great  Ostrogoth,  Chlodovech 
turned  north  to  round  off  his  dominions  by  the  acquisition  of 
the  last  independent  Frankish  state.  Sigebert  of  Koln  was 
now  very  old,  and  his  ambitious  son  Chloderich  was  per- 
suaded by  Chlodovech  not  only  to  dethrone,  but  to  slay  his 
father.  When  he  had  seized  the  kingdom  Chlodovech  affected 
great  wrath  and  indignation  against  him,  procured  his  death 
at  the  hands  of  assassins,  and  then  annexed  his  kingdom.  All 
the  Frankish  states  were  now  united  under  one  hand,  but 
Chlodovech  Chlodovcch  did  not  long  survive  this  last  success, 
theVranks  though,  according  to  the  strange  words  of  his 
510.  admirer,  Bishop   Gregory  of  Tours,   'The   Lord 

cast  his  enemies  under  his  power  day  after  day,  and  increased 
his  kingdom,  because  he  walked  with  a  right  heart  before 
Him,  and  did  that  which  was  pleasing  in  His  sight ! ' 

In  511  this  sanguinary  ruffian,  murderer,  and  traitor  died, 
just  after  he  had  presided  at  Orleans  over  a  synod  of  thirty-two 
Gaulish  bishops  who  were  anxious  to  repress  Arianism,  and 
gladly  called  in  the  secular  arm  of  their  orthodox  lord  to 
their  aid.  Chlodovech  was  morally  far  the  worst  of  all  the 
Teutonic  founders  of  kingdoms  :  even  Gaiseric  the  Vandal 
compares  favourably  with  him.  Yet  his  work  alone  was 
destined  to  stand,  not  so  much  from  his  own  abilities,  though 
these  were  considerable  enough,  as  from  the  happy  chance 
which  put  his  successors  in  religious  sympathy  with  their  sub- 
jects, and  preserved  the  young  kingdom,  during  the  following 
generation,  from  any  conflict  with  such  powerful  foes  as  those 
who  were  destined  to  overthrow  the  monarchies  of  the  Ostro- 
goths, the  Visigoths,  and  the  Vandals. 


A.D.   528-540 

Character  of  Justinian — His  marriage  with  Theodora— His  first  War  with 
Persia,  528-31 — Rise  of  Belisarius— Justinian  suppresses  the  '  Nika '  sedi- 
tion, 532 — His  foreign  policy — BeHsarius  conquers  the  Vandals,  533-4 — 
Decay  of  the  Ostrogoths  in  Italy — Justinian  attacks  Theodahat — Belisarius 
conquers  Sicily,  Naples,  and  Rome— Siege  of  Rome  by  the  Ostrogoths 
[537-8] — Belisarius  defeats  the  Ostrogoths  and  captures  Ravenna  [540]. 

For  three  quarters  of  a  century,  during  the  reigns  of  the 
four  cautious  and  elderly  Caesars,  whose  annals  fill  the  space 
between  457  and  527,  the  East-Roman  Empire  had  been 
recovering  its  strength,  and  storing  up  new  energy  for  a 
sudden  outburst  of  vigour  under  the  able,  restless,  and 
ambitious  sovereign  who  followed  the  aged  Justinus  i. 
Justinian — the  son  of  Sabatius  the  brother  of  Justinus — was 
nearly  forty  years  old  when  he  became,  by  his  uncle's  death, 
sole  ruler  of  the  empire.  He  was  no  mere  uncultured  soldier 
like  his  predecessor;  when  he  obtained  promotion  in  the 
army,  Justinus  sent  for  his  nephew  from  the  Dardanian  village 
where  his  family  dwelt,  and  had  him  reared  in  the  capital  in 
all  the  accomphshments  which  befitted  the  heir  of  a  great 
fortune.     By  the  acknowledarment  of  his  bitterest 

T    -^  .    .         ,      ,  ,.  r   Character  of 

enemies  Justmian  had  an  extraordmary  power  of  justinian. 
assimilating  knowledge  of  all  kinds  :    he  took  a 
keen  interest  alike  in  statecraft  and  architecture,  in  theology 
and  law,  in  finance  and  music.     When  his  uncle  came  to  the 


66  European  history,  476-918 

throne,  the  student  soon  developed  into  the  practical  adminis- 
trator, for  Justinus  trusted  him  with  all  those  details  of  civil 
government  which  he  himself  was  unable  to  understand  or 
to  manage.  It  soon  became  known  that  the  heir  of  Justinus 
was  a  man  of  extraordinary  ability  and  untiring  thirst  for  work. 
At  an  age  when  most  young  men  would  have  been  tempted 
by  their  sudden  elevation  to  plunge  into  the  enjoyments  that 
lay  open  to  an  imperial  prince,  Justinian  applied  himself  to 
mastering  all  the  tiresome  details  of  the  administration  of  the 
empire.  Men  noted  with  surprise  that  he  never  seemed  happy 
save  when  he  was  in  his  cabinet,  surrounded  by  his  secretaries, 
his  registers,  his  files  of  reports,  and  despatches.  He  was  like 
the  Aristotelian  character  who  was  '  too  indifferent  to  things 
pleasurable,'  for  nothing  save  work  appeared  to  have  any 
attraction  for  him.  He  rose  early,  spent  his  day  in  adminis- 
trative duties,  and  his  night  in  reading  and  writing.  As  he 
grew  older  he  seemed  to  dispense  with  sleep  altogether,  as  if 
he  had  become  free  from  the  common  necessities  of  man's 
nature.  There  was  something  strange  and  horrible  in  his 
cold-blooded,  untiring  energy ;  superstitious  men  whispered 
that  he  was  inspired  by  a  restless  demon  who  gave  him  no 
peace,  or  that  he  was  actually  a  demon  himself  Had  not  a 
belated  courtier  met  him  after  midnight  pacing  the  dark 
corridors  of  the  palace  with  a  fearful  and  changed  countenance 
that  was  no  longer  human,  or  even — as  the  story  grew — 
with  no  face  at  all,  a  shapeless  monstrous  shadow  ? 

But  that  Justinian  was  a  man,  with  all  a  man's  waywardness 
and  recklessness,  was  proved  ere  long.  To  the  surprise  of  the 
whole  population  of  the  empire,  and  the  utter  horror  and 
confusion  of  all  respectable  persons,  it  was  suddenly  noised 
abroad  that  the  heir  of  the  empire  had  announced  his  intention 
of  marrying  Theodora  the  dancer,  the  chief  star  of  the  Byzan- 
tine comic  stage.  The  staid  passionless  bureaucrat  was  con- 
templating a  step  from  which  Nero  or  Heliogabalus  would 
have  shrunk  with  dismay. 

We  have  elaborate  but  untrustworthy  details  of  the  scandalous 

J'tistinian  and  his  Wars  67 

early  life  of  Theodora  in  a  book — the  'Secret  History' — 
which  bears  the  name  of  the  historian  Procopius,  but  was 
in  all  probability  no  work  of  his.^  She  was  the  daughter  of 
Acacius  the  Cypriot,  an  employe  of  the  *  Green  Faction '  at 
the  Hippodrome,  and  had  for  some  years  appeared  on  the 
stage  as  an  actress  and  dancer.  So  much  we  may  take  for  truth ; 
knowing  the  general  character  of  Roman  actresses  we  may 
assume  that  there  was  some  foundation  for  the  stories  over 
which  the  '  Secret  History '  gloats.  As  to  the  particular  facts 
alleged,  we  may  conclude  that  they  are  untrust-  Theodora 
worthy — among  those  which  the  '  Secret  History ' 
gives  as  most  certain  are  the  statements  that  she  was  a  vampire, 
and  often  held  intercourse  with  evil  spirits ;  the  rest  is  written 
in  the  same  spirit  of  silly  and  superstitious  malignity.  But  we 
may  fairly  conclude  that  the  marriage  of  Justinian  was  a 
scandal  and  a  wonder.  His  mother  and  his  aunt  the  Empress 
Euphemia,  as  we  know,  set  their  faces  against  it;  but  he 
went  on  in  his  usual  steady  persistence,  gradually  warred  down 
the  will  of  his  old  uncle  Justinus,  and  formally  took  Theodora 
to  wife.  The  emperor  was  even  induced  to  bestow  upon  her 
the  high  title  of  Patrician. 

In  brains  and  power  of  will  Theodora  was  a  fit  enough 
occupant  for  the  imperial  throne,  whatever  her  past  history 
may  have  been.  She  was  as  ambitious,  restless,  and  capable 
as  her  husband,  and  acted  as  much  as  his  colleague  as  his 
consort.  We  shall  see  how  on  one  occasion  of  crisis  she  stood 
boldly  forward  and  interposed  between  him  and  destruction. 
Her  worst  enemies  do  not  suggest  that  she  was  an  unfaithful 
or  profitless  spouse  to  him ;  the  '  Secret  History '  itself  calls 
her  after  her  marriage  luxurious,  cruel,  capricious,  arrogant,  but 
does  not  accuse  her  of  evil-living  or  folly.  Against  this  we 
may  set  the  well-ascertained  facts  that  she  was  devoted  to  the 
exercises  of  religion,  and  founded  many  charitable  institutions. 

^  For  a  discussion  of  this  print  see  Mr.  Bury's  Later  Roman  Empire^ 
vol.  i.  p.  359,  where  he  concludes — with  Ranke — that  the  work  is  the 
forged  compilation  of  a  personal  enemy. 

68  European  History,  4;  6-91 8 

Remembering  the  dangers  of  her  own  youth,  she  built  a 
great  institution  for  the  reclaiming  of  fallen  women— the  first 
of  the  kind  known  in  Christendom.  She  was  zealous  in  buying 
and  freeing  slaves,  and  in  caring  for  the  bringing  up  of 
orphans  and  the  marriage  of  dowerless  girls. 

Theodora  was  by  all  accounts  the  most  beautiful  woman 
of  her  age.  Even  the  '  Secret  History '  allows  this,  adding  only 
that  she  was  rather  below  the  middle  stature,  that  her  com- 
plexion was  somewhat  pale,  and  that  she  devoted  untold  hours 
to  the  mysteries  of  the  toilet.  Two  portraits  of  her  have 
survived,  one  at  the  monastery  on  Mount  Sinai,  the  other  in  the 
Church  of  San  Vitale  at  Ravenna — two  spots  so  far  apart  as  to 
call  up  vividly  to  our  memory  the  wide  extent  of  her  influence. 
Unfortunately  the  hieratic  style  of  art  into  which  Roman 
portraiture  had  long  sunk,  and  the  intractable  nature  of 
mosaic  as  a  material  do  not  allow  us  to  judge  from  these 
representations  what  was  her  actual  appearance. 

Justinian  has  left  behind  him  an  almost  unparalleled  repu- 
tation as  a  conqueror,  a  builder,  and  a  lawgiver,  besides  a  less 
happy  record  of  theological  activity.  It  is  mainly,  however, 
with  his  foreign  policy  that  we  shall  have  to  concern  our- 
selves :  the  other  spheres  of  his  labour  are  better  fitted  for 
another  work.  But  his  dealings  with  Africa,  Italy,  and  Spain 
form  a  great  landmark  and  turning-point  in  the  history  of 
southern  Europe,  and  their  results  were  not  entirely  ex- 
hausted till  the  eleventh  century.  His  long  struggles  with 
Persia  are  less  interesting  and  less  important,  but  they  filled 
a  great  space  in  the  view  of  contemporary  observers,  and 
were  not  without  their  moment. 

Justinian's  reign  opened  with  a  fierce  war  with  the  old  Persian 
king  Kobad.  The  struggle  which  this  monarch  had  waged 
with  Anastasius,  twenty-five  years  before,  had  been  so  indecisive 
that  the  Sassanian  longed  for  a  new  trial  of  arms.  Almost 
immediately  on  Justinian's  accession  he  issued  his  declaration 
of  war,  using  as  a  pretext  the  erection  of  some  fortifications 
near   Nisibis,  which   were    being    constructed  by  Belisarius, 

Justinian  and  his  Wars  69 

governor  of  Daras,  a  young  officer  whose  name  was  destined 
to  be  intimately  associated  with  the  whole  history  of  Justinian's 
reign.  The  war  opened  with  a  defeat  in  the  open  ^.^^^  ^^^ 
field,  suffered  by  the  Roman  army  of  Mesopo-  with  Persia, 
tamia;  but  when  reinforcements  came  up  the  ^^^2^* 
Persians  retreated  beyond  their  frontier.  After  the  winter  of 
528-29  was  over  neither  side  advanced  in  force,  and  all  that 
occurred  was  a  flying  Roman  raid  into  Assyria,  and  an  equally 
hasty  Persian  incursion  into  Syria,  both  of  which  did  some 
harm,  but  had  no  practical  result  on  the  fate  of  the  war. 
Things  went  far  otherwise  in  the  next  year,  530:  the  Persians 
crossed  the  frontier  in  full  force,  and  marched  on  Daras,  where 
they  were  met  by  Belisarius,  who  had  lately  been  appointed 
commander-in-chief  in  the  East.  Under  the  walls  of  Daras 
the  decisive  battle  of  the  war  was  fought,  in  which  Belisarius, 
with  25,000  men,  defeated  40,000  Persians  by  means  of  his 
tactical  skill.  The  plan  which  he  worked  was  to  draw  back 
his  centre,  containing  all  the  Roman  infantry,  and  when  the 
Persians  followed  it,  to  launch  against  their  exposed  flanks 
all  his  cavalry,  a  miscellaneous  gathering  of  Hunnish  light 
horse,  Teutonic  Heruli  from  the  Danube,  and  Roman  Cata- 
phracii  or  cuirassiers.  This  plan,  much  resembling  Hannibal's 
manoeuvre  at  Cannae,  and  perhaps  consciously  copied  from 
it,  resulted  in  the  complete  rout  of  the  Sassanian  host. 

After  this  defeat  Kobad  commenced  abortive  negotiations 
for  peace,  but  the  war  was  protracted  into  the  next  year,  and 
Belisarius  did  not  fare  so  well  in  531.  In  stopping  a  Persian 
raiding  force  on  the  middle  Euphrates,  which  aimed  at 
Syria,  and  had  turned  the  southern  flank  of  the  Mesopotamian 
fortresses,  he  suffered  serious  loss  at  the  affair  of  Callinicum. 
Though  he  was  defeated,  his  resistance  had  yet  turned  and 
frustrated  the  Persian  expedition.  Four  months  later  king 
Kobad  died,  and  his  successor  Chosroes  i.  made  peace  on  the 
base  of  the  sfahis  quo  ante,  fearing  to  continue  the  Roman 
war  while  his  throne  was  insecure.     (September,  531.) 

The  end  of  the  Persian  war  left  Justinian  free  to  cast  his 

yo  European  History,  476-918 

eyes  on  the  affairs  of  his  neighbours  to  the  West.  Though  so 
indecisive,  it  had  not  been  without  its  uses,  for  it  had  permitted 
him  to  test  the  solidity  of  his  army,  and  to  discover  several 
officers  of  merit,  and  one  general  of  commanding  ability — 
the  young  victor  of  Daras.  Belisarius  was  now  twenty-six  years 
of  age :  he  was,  like  his  master,  a  native  of  the  borderland 
between  Thrace  and  Illyricum,  bred  at  an  unknown 
village  named  Germania,  but  not,  as  the  name  of 
his  birthplace  might  seem  to  suggest,  of  Teutonic  but  of 
Thracian  blood.^  He  had  entered  the  army  at  a  very  early 
age,  and  had  fought  his  way  up  to  the  post  of  governor  of  the 
great  fortress  of  Daras  before  he  was  twenty-four.  His  favour 
with  Justinian  had  been  confirmed  by  his  marriage  with 
Antonina,  the  friend  and  confidante  of  the  empress  Theodora. 
She  was  a  clever,  unscrupulous,  domineering  woman,  several 
years  older  than  her  husband,  and  exercised  over  him  a 
domestic  tyranny  which  any  man  less  easy  tempered  than 
the  young  general  would  have  found  unbearable.  The  posi- 
tion of  Belisarius  and  Antonina  at  the  Court  of  Justinian  has 
been  not  unaptly  compared  to  that  of  Marlborough  and  his 
imperious  wife  at  the  court  of  Queen  Anne ;  but  it  is  only 
fair  to  the  East-Roman  to  say  that  he  was  in  every  way  a 
better  man  than  the  Englishman,  while  his  wife  had  all  the 
faults  of  Duchess  Sarah,  without  her  one  redeeming  virtue  of 
fidelity  to  her  spouse. 

Before  he  was  able  to  turn  his  attention  to  the  West,  and 
just  after  the  crisis  of  the  Persian  war  had  passed,  Justinian 
was  exposed  to  a  sharp  and  sudden  danger,  the  most  perilous 
experience  of  his  whole  career.  We  have  already  spoken  at 
some  length  of  the  rivalries  of  the  Blue  and  Green  factions,^ 
and  explained  how,  in  the  early  sixth  century,  the  Greens  were 
reckoned  heterodox  and  supporters  of  the  house  of  Anastasius, 
while  the  Blues  were  orthodox  and  favoured  Justinus  and  his 

1  There  seems  no  reason  to  make  him  a  Slav,  as  some  have  done  on 
accomit  of  his  rather  Slavonic-looking  name. 
^  See  page  50. 

Justinian  and  his  Wars  7 1 

nephew.  Accident  conspired  with  the  innate  turbulence  of 
the  factions  to  stir  them  up  into  fierce  disorder  in  the  year 
532,  and  brought  about  the  celebrated  'Nika'  sedition.  To 
provide  for  the  expenses  of  the  Persian  war,  Justinian  had  not 
only  drawn  upon  the  hoarded  wealth  of  Anastasius,  but  had 
imposed  heavy  additional  taxation.  This  act  made  his  in- 
struments the  Quaestor  Tribonian  and  the  Praetorian  Prefect 
John  of  Cappadocia  very  unpopular.  Both  of  them  were 
suspected — and  not  incorrectly — of  having  used  the  opportunity 
to  fill  their  pockets  at  the  expense  of  the  public,  and  John  the 
Cappadocian  had  made  himself  particularly  odious  by  his 
cruel  treatment  of  defaulting  debtors.  In  January  532  there 
were  riotous  scenes  in  the  circus,  caused  by  the  protests  of 
the  Greens  against  the  oppression  they  were  suffering.  There 
soon  followed  tumults  in  the  streets,  and  the  factions  settled 
their  grievances  with  bludgeon  and  knife.  Justinian  ^he « Nika  • 
often  allowed  the  Blues  a  free  hand  in  dealing  with  sedition,  532. 
their  adversaries,  but,  on  this  occasion,  his  supporters  had  gone 
too  far.  The  police  seized  many  ring-leaders  of  both  factions, 
and  seven  of  the  chiefs  were  condemned  to  the  axe  or  the 
cord.  While  an  angry  crowd  stood  round,  five  of  the  rioters 
were  put  to  death,  but  when  the  last  two,  a  Blue  and  a  Green, 
were  being  hung,  the  cord  slipped  twice,  owing  to  the  nervous- 
ness of  the  executioner,  and  the  criminals  fell  to  the  ground. 
The  populace  then  burst  through  the  police  and  hurried  off 
the  men  to  sanctuary  in  a  neighbouring  monastery.  This 
incident  proved  the  beginning  of  a  fearful  uproar.  Instead  of 
dispersing,  the  mobs  paraded  the  place  shouting  for  the  dis- 
missal of  the  unpopular  ministers  John  and  Tribonian.  Blues 
and  Greens  united  in  the  cry,  the  whole  city  poured  out  into 
the  streets,  and  the  police  were  trampled  down  and  driven 

Frightened  by  the  storm  Justinian  had  the  weakness  to 
yield ;  instead  of  sending  out  the  imperial  guard  to  clear  the 
streets,  he  announced  that  he  had  determined  to  remove  the 
obnoxious  Quaestor  and   Prefect.      This  only  made  matters 

72  European  History,  476-918 

worse;  after  burning  the  official  residence  of  the  prefect  of 
the  city,  the  mob  mustered  in  a  most  threatening  attitude  out- 
side the  palace.  This  constrained  the  emperor  to  use  force, 
but  he  happened  to  be  very  short  of  soldiery  at  the  moment. 
All  the  garrison  of  Constantinople  save  3500  of  the  scholarii, 
or  imperial  guard,  had  been  sent  off  to  the  Persian  war.  Only 
two  regiments  had  as  yet  returned,  a  corps  of  500  cuirassiers 
under  Belisarius,  and  a  body  of  Heruli  of  about  the  same 
number.  Five  thousand  men  were  hardly  enough  to  cope 
with  an  angry  populace  of  half-a-million  souls  in  the  narrow 
streets  of  the  capital. 

When  attacked  by  the  troops  the  rioters  set  fire  to  the  city, 
and  an  awful  conflagration  ensued.  The  great  church  of  St. 
Sophia  perished  among  the  flames,  together  with  all  the  houses 
and  public  buildings  to  the  north  and  east  of  it.  Blood  having 
once  flowed,  the  mob  were  set  upon  something  more  than  a 
riot — a  revolution  was  in  the  air,  and  the  Greens,  who  took 
the  lead  in  the  struggle,  sought  about  for  their  favourite  the 
Hypatius  patrician  Hypatius,  the  nephew  of  their  old  patron 
proclaimed  Auastasius  I.  But  Hypatius  was  a  prudent  and 
mperor.  cautious  pcrson,  with  no  ambition  to  risk  his  head  ; 
he  had  entered  the  palace  and  put  himself  in  Justinian's  hands 
to  keep  out  of  harm's  way.  It  was  not  till  the  emperor,  w4io 
feared  traitors  about  him,  ordered  all  senators  to  retire  to  their 
homes  that  Hypatius  fell  into  the  hands  of  his  own  partisans. 
The  unhappy  rebel  in  spite  of  himself  was  at  once  hurried  off 
to  the  Hippodrome,  placed  on  the  imperial  seat,  and  crowned 
with  a  diadem  extemporised  from  his  wife's  gold  necklace. 

It  was  in  vain  that  Justinian  issued  from  the  palace  next 
day,  and  proclaimed  an  amnesty ;  he  was  chased  back  with 
insulting  cries.  Losing  heart  he  summoned  the  chief  of  his 
The  Counsel  courticrs  and  guards,  and  proposed  to  them  to 
of  Theodora,  abandon  Constantinople  and  take  refuge  in  Asia, 
as  Zeno  had  done  in  a  similar  time  of  trouble.  John  of 
Cappadocia  and  many  of  the  ministers  advised  him  to  fly ; 
but   the    intrepid   Theodora   stepped    forward    to    save    her 

Justinian  and  his  Wars  73 

husband  from  destruction.  '  It  has  been  said,'  she  cried, 
'  that  the  voice  of  a  woman  should  not  be  heard  among  the 
councils  of  men.  But  those  whose  interests  are  most  con- 
cerned have  the  best  right  to  speak.  To  death  the  inevitable 
we  must  all  submit,  but  to  survive  dignity  and  honour,  to 
descend  from  empire  to  exile,  to  such  shame  there  is  no 
compulsion.  Never  shall  the  day  come  when  I  put  off  this 
purple  robe  and  am  no  more  hailed  as  sovereign  lady.  If  you 
wish  to  protract  your  life,  O  Emperor,  flight  is  easy ;  there  are 
your  ships  and  there  is  the  sea.  But  consider  whether,  if  you 
escape  to  exile,  you  will  not  wish  every  day  that  you  were  dead. 
As  for  me,  I  hold  with  the  ancient  saying  that  the  imperial 
purple  is  a  glorious  shroud.' 

Spurred  on  by  the  fiery  words  of  his  wife  Justinian  tried  the 
fortune  of  war  once  more.  A  few  reinforcements  had  arrived ; 
with  these,  and  the  harassed  troops  who  had  already  faced 
five  days'  street-fighting,  Belisarius  once  more  sallied  forth  from 
the  palace.  The  rebels  were  off  their  guard,  for  a  false  rumour 
had  got  about  that  Justinian  was  already  fled.  At  this  moment 
the  mob  was  crowding  the  Hippodrome  and  saluting  their 
creature  with  shouts  of  Hypatie  Auguste  tu  vincas.  After 
a  vain  attempt  to  break  in  by  the  imperial  stair-  suppression 
case,  Belisarius  assaulted  the  main  side  gate  of  the  of  the 
circus,  and  burst  in  at  a  point  where  the  con-  ^^'^^*^°"' 
flagration  had  three  days  before  made  a  breach  in  the  wall. 
Penned  into  the  great  amphitheatre,  and  taken  by  surprise,  the 
rebels  made  a  weak  resistance.  Soon  they  turned  to  fly,  but 
all  the  issues  were  choked,  and  the  victims  of  the  sword  of 
Belisarius  were  numbered  by  the  ten  thousand.  Hypatius  and 
his  brother  were  caught  alive  and  brought  to  Justinian,  who 
ordered  them  to  be  beheaded.  The  next  day  he  heard  of  all 
the  facts  concerning  the  unwillingness  of  Hypatius,  and  gave 
his  body  honourable  burial.  It  was  many  years  before  the 
Blues  and  Greens  ever  vexed  him  by  another  riot.  The  awful 
carnage  in  the  circus  kept  the  city  quiet  for  a  whole  generation. 

Justinian  was  now  free  from  trouble  at  home  and  abroad, 

74  European  History^  476-918 

and  turned  to  those  ambitious  schemes  of  foreign  policy  which 
were  to  occupy  the  rest  of  his  reign.  The  dream  of  his  heart 
was  to  reunite  the  Roman  Empire,  by  bringing  once  more 
under  his  sceptre  all  those  western  provinces  which  were 
occupied  by  Teutonic  kings,  and  paid  only  the  shadow  of 
homage  to  the  imperial  name.  A  few  years  before,  the  dream 
would  have  seemed  fantastically  overweening,  but  of  late 
matters  had  been  growing  more  and  more  promising.  Justinian 
was,  compared  with  his  four  predecessors,  young  and  vigor- 
ous; he  had  an  immense  store  of  treasure,  all  the  hoard  of 
Anastasius,  a  large  and  efficient  army,  and  at  least  one  general 
of  first-rate  ability.  His  throne  was  firmly  rooted  ;  his  eastern 
frontier  secure ;  nothing  now  prevented  him  from  undertaking 
wars  of  aggression. 

Meanwhile,  everything  in  the  West  favoured  his  projects. 
In  Italy  the  great  Theodoric  was  dead,  and,  since  his  death, 
the  Ostrogothic  kingdom  had  been  faring  ill.  The  old  hero 
had  left  his  realm  to  his  grandson  Athalaric,  a  boy  of  eight 
years  old,  under  the  guardianship  of  his  mother  Amalaswintha, 
the  widow  of  Eutharic.  The  daughter  of  Theodoric  was  a 
clever  and  masterful  woman,  but  she  had  a  difficult  task  in 
teaching  the  turbulent  Ostrogoths  to  obey  a  female  regent. 
Minority  of  They  murmurcd  at  all  her  doings,  and  most  espe- 
Athaiaric,  cially  at  her  taste  for  Roman  and  Greek  letters,  and 
526-34-  j^gj.  frequent  promotions  of  Roman  officials.     She 

strove  to  bring  up  her  son,  it  was  said,  more  as  an  Italian  than 
a  Goth,  placing  him  under  Roman  tutors  and  keeping  him 
tight  to  the  desk,  in  spite  of  the  saying  of  Theodoric  that  '  he 
who  has  trembled  before  the  pedagogue's  rod  will  not  face 
the  spear  willingly.'  It  was  as  much  as  Amalaswintha  could 
do  to  keep  the  Goths  in  their  obedience  while  her  son  was 
young,  but  when  he  had  attained  the  age  of  twelve  or  thirteen, 
and  began  to  show  some  will  of  his  own,  the  murmurs  of  the 
people  grew  louder.  At  last,  when  he  had  one  day  been 
chastised  by  his  mother,  he  burst  into  the  guard-room,  and 
bade  his  subjects  take  note  how  a  king  of  the  Goths  was 

Justinian  and  his  Wars  75 

treated  worse  than  a  slave.  This  scene  produced  a  tumult, 
and  the  chiefs  of  the  Goths  took  the  education  of  the  boy  out 
of  his  mother's  hands,  though  they  left  her  the  regency. 
Handed  over  to  unsuitable  companions  Athalaric  grew  idle, 
drunken,  and  reckless;  he  was  of  a  weakly  habit  of  body, 
and,  before  he  reached  manhood,  had  developed  the  symptoms 
of  consumption.  Meanwhile,  Amalaswintha  was  contending 
for  power  with  the  chiefs  of  the  Goths,  and  had  earned  much 
unpopularity  by  putting  to  death,  without  form  of  trial,  the 
three  heads  of  the  party  which  opposed  her.  So  uncertain 
was  her  position  that  she  sent  secretly  to  Justinian  in  533  to 
beg  him  to  give  her  refuge  at  Dyrrhachium  if  she  should  be 
forced  to  fly.  The  emperor  soon  grasped  the  position — a 
divided  people,  an  unpopular  regent,  a  boy-king  sinking  into 
his  grave  invited  him  to  active  interference  in  Italy. 

In  Africa  the  condition  of  affairs  was  equally  tempting.  We 
have  already  mentioned  how,  on  the  death  of  king  Thrasamund, 
the  Vandal  throne  had  fallen  to  his  kinsman  Hiideric's 
Hilderic,  the  son  of  king  Hunneric  and  the  Reign,  523-30. 
Roman  princess,  Eudocia.  Hilderic  was  elderly,  unversed 
in  affairs  of  state,  and  a  conscientious  Catholic,  inheriting  from 
his  Roman  mother  that  orthodoxy  which  his  Arian  subjects 
detested.  He  had  but  a  short  reign  of  seven  years,  but  in  it 
he  succeeded  in  alienating  the  affections  of  the  Vandals  in 
every  way.  He  incurred  great  odium  for  putting  to  death 
his  predecessor's  widow  Amalafrida,  the  sister  of  the  great 
Theodoric,  because  he  found  her  conspiring  against  him.  His 
wars  were  uniformly  unsuccessful,  the  Moors  of  Atlas  cut  to 
pieces  a  whole  army,  and  pushed  their  incursions  close  to  the 
gates  of  Carthage.  Probably  his  open  confession  of  Catholi- 
cism, and  promotion  of  Catholics  to  high  office,  were  even 
greater  sources  of  wrath.  In  530  his  cousin  Geilamir  organ- 
ised a  conspiracy  against  him,  overthrew  him  with  ease,  and 
plunged  him  into  a  dungeon.  Justinian  professed  great  indig- 
nation at  this  dethroning  of  an  orthodox  and  friendly  sovereign, 
and  resolved  to  make  use  of  it  as  a  grievance  against  the  new 

j6  European  History^  476-918 

king  of  the  Vandals.  Just  before  the  '  Nika '  sedition  broke 
out  he  had  sent  an  embassy  to  Carthage  to  bid  Geilamir 
replace  his  cousin  on  the  throne,  and  be  contented  with  the 
place  of  regent.  The  usurper  answered  rudely  enough:  'King 
Geilamir  wishes  to  point  out  to  king  Justinian  that  it  is  a 
good  thing  for  rulers  to  mind  their  own  business. '^  He 
trusted  to  the  remoteness  of  his  situation  and  the  domestic 
troubles  of  Justinian,  and  little  thought  that  he  was  drawing 
down  the  storm  on  his  head. 

For  Justinian  had  fully  made  up  his  mind  to  begin  his 
attack  on  the  West  by  subduing  the  Vandals.  All  things  were 
in  his  favour,  notably  the  facts  that  an  Arian  king  was  once 
more  making  life  miserable  to  the  African  Catholics,  and  that 
Vandal  and  Ostrogoth  had  been  completely  estranged  by 
the  murder  of  Amalafrida  nine  years  before.  Amalaswintha 
favoured  rather  than  discouraged  the  emperor's  attack  on 
her  nearest  Teutonic  neighbours.  There  was  yet  one  more 
piece  of  good  fortune  :  king  Geilamir  had  just  sent  off  the 
flower  of  the  Vandal  troops  to  an  expedition  against  Sar- 

Encouraged  by  these  considerations,  Justinian  prepared  an 
army  for  the  invasion  of  Africa  in  the  summer  of  533,  though 
some  of  his  ministers,  and  above  all  the  financier,  John  of 
Cappadocia,  warned  him  against  *  attacking  the  ends  of  the 
earth,  from  which  a  message  would  hardly  reach  Byzantium  in 
a  year,'  a  ridiculous  plea  to  any  one  who  remembered  the 
ancient  organisation  of  the  empire.  The  army  was  not  very 
large :  it  consisted  of  10,000  foot  and  5000  horse,  half  regular 
troops  from  the  Asiatic  provinces,  half  Hunnish  and  Herulian 
„  ,.     .  auxiliaries.     But  its  commander,  BeHsarius,  was  a 

Belisanus  ' 

invades  host  in  himsclf,  and  confidence  in  him  buoyed 

Africa,  533.  ^jp  i^-iany  who  would  otherwise  have  despaired. 
The  voyage  was  protracted  by  contrary  winds  to  the  unpre- 
cedented length  of  eighty  days,  but  at  last  the  armament  cast 

^  There  was  deliberate  insult  in  the  use  of  the  word  /3a<rtXei5s  for  both 
monarchs,  as  if  they  were  equal  and  bore  the  same  \S.\\o 

Justinian  and  his  Waj'S  77 

anchor  at  Caput  Vada,  on  the  cape  which  faces  Sicily,  in  the 
beginning  of  September.  The  Vandals  were  caught  wholly 
unprepared :  their  king  was  absent  in  Numidia,  their  best 
troops  were  in  Sardinia,  their  fleet  had  not  been  even 
launched.  A  blind  confidence  in  their  remoteness  from  Con- 
stantinople had  led  them  to  despise  all  Justinian's  threats,  and 
no  preparation  whatever  had  been  made  against  an  invasion. 
Geilamir  hurried  down  to  the  coast,  put  his  prisoner  Hilderic 
to  death,  and  summoned  in  his  warriors  from  every  side ;  but 
it  was  eleven  days  before  he  mustered  in  sufficient  force  to 
attack  the  Romans,  and  meanwhile  Belisarius  had  advanced 
unopposed  to  within  ten  miles  of  the  gates  of  Carthage.  The 
provincials  received  him  everywhere  with  joy;  for  he  pro- 
claimed that  be  came  to  deliver  them  from  Arian  oppression, 
and  kept  his  soldiery  in  such  good  order  that  not  a  field  or  a 
cottage  was  plundered. 

Belisarius  had  reached  the  posting-station  of  Ad  Decimum, 
and  was  advancing  cautiously  with  strong  corps  of  observation 
securing  his  flank  and  front,  when  suddenly  he  was  assailed 
by  the  whole  force  of  the  Vandals,  who  outnumbered  him  in 
at  least  the  proportion  of  two  to  one.  He  was  beset  on  three 
sides  at  once ;  one  corps  of  Vandals  under  the  king's  brother 
Ammatas  issued  from  Carthage  to  attack  him  in  front ;  another 
body  beset  his  left  flank;  the  main  army  under  Geilamir 
himself  assailed  the  rear  of  his  long  column  of  march.  But 
the  Vandals  mismanaged  their  tactics,  and  failed  to  combine 
the  three  attacks.  First  the  troops  from  Carthage  came  out, 
and  were  beaten  off  with  the  loss  of  their  leader;  then  the 
turning  corps  was  driven  back  by  the  Hunnish  cavalry,  whom 
Belisarius  had  kept  lying  out  on  his  flank.  When  the  main 
Vandal  army  came  up  there  was  more  serious  fighting  with 
the  centre  and  rear  of  the  Roman  column.  Geilamir  furiously 
burst  through  the  line  of  march,  and  cleft  the  Roman  army 
in  twain,  but  he  did  not  know  how  to  use  his  advantage. 
Instead  of  improving  his  first  success,  he  halted  his  troops, 
and  allowed  Belisarius  to  rally  and  re-form  his  men.      It  is 

yS  European  History^  476-918 

said  that  he  was  so  transported  with  grief  at  finding  the  corpse 
of  his  brother,  who  had  fallen  in  the  earlier  engagement,  that 
he  gave  no  more  orders,  and  cast  himself  weeping  on  the 
ground.  Presently,  the  Romans  were  in  good  array  again ; 
their  victorious  vanguard  had  returned  to  aid  the  centre,  and 
they  fell  once  more,  as  the  evening  closed  in,  on  the  stationary 
masses  of  the  Vandals.  The  conquerors  of  Africa  must  have 
forgotten  their  ancient  valour,  for,  after  a  very  paltry  resistance, 
they  turned  and  fled  westward  under  cover  of  the  night. 

Carthage  at  once  threw  open  its  gates,  and  Belisarius  dined 
next  day  in  the  royal  palace  on  the  meal  that  had  been  pre- 

Carthage  p^rcd  for  the  Vandal  king.  Geilamir  reaped  now 
taken.  \^q  reward  for  the  hundred  years  of  persecution 
to  which  his  forefathers  had  subjected  the  Africans.  Every 
town  that  was  not  garrisoned  opened  its  gates  to  the 
Romans,  and  the  provincials  hastened  to  place  everything 
they  possessed  at  the  disposal  of  Belisarius.  His  entry  into 
Carthage  was  like  the  triumph  of  a  home-coming  king,  and 
the  order  and  discipline  of  his  troops  was  so  great  that  none 
even  of  the  Vandal  and  Arian  citizens  suffered  loss. 

Geilamir  meanwhile  retired  into  the  Numidian  hills,  with 
an  army  that  had  suffered  more  loss  of  morale  than  loss  of 
numbers.  He  was  soon  joined  by  the  troops  whom  he  had 
sent  to  Sardinia ;  having  subdued  that  island  they  returned, 
and  raised  his  forces  to  nearly  50,000  men.  Finding  that 
Belisarius  was  repairing  the  walls  of  Carthage  before  marching 
out  to  finish  the  campaign,  Geilamir  resolved  to  take  the 
offensive  himself.  Descending  from  the  hills  he  marched  on 
Carthage,  and  met  the  Roman  army  at  Tricameron,  twenty 
miles  westward  of  the  city. 

Here  Belisarius  won  a  pitched  battle  after  a  struggle  far 
more  severe  than  that  he  had  gone  through  at  Ad  Decimum. 
Thrice  the  Romans  were  beaten  back,  but  their  gallant  leader 
rallied  them,  and  at  last  his  cuirassiers  burst  through  the 
Vandal  ranks  and  slew  Tzazo,  the  king's  brother.  Geilamir 
turned  to  fly,  though  his  men  fought  on  until  their  retreat  was 

Justinian  and  his  Wars  79 

cut  off.  Almost  the  whole  Vandal  race  perished  in  this  fight 
and  the  bloody  pursuit  which  followed.  Geilamir  himself 
took  refuge  in  the  heights  of  Mount  Atlas  among  the  Moors, 
and  dwelt  among  them  miserably  enough  for  a  few  months. 

Discovering  that  he  could  not  raise  a  third  army,  and  that 
life  was  unendurable  among  the  filthy  barbarians,    End  of  the 
he  determined  to  surrender,  and  yielded  himself   Vandai 
and  his  family  to  Belisarius,  on  the  assurance  that     *"^  °*"' 
he  should  receive  honourable  treatment,  in  spite  of  the  fact 
that  he  had  murdered  the  emperor's  friend  Hilderic. 

In  the  spring  of  534  BeHsarius  was  able  to  return  in 
triumph  to  Constantinople,  bringing  with  him  the  king  and 
most  of  the  surviving  Vandals  as  captives.  His  ships  were 
loaded  with  all  the  plunder  of  the  palace  of  Carthage,  the 
trophies  of  a  century  of  successful  pirate  raids,  including  the 
plate  and  ornaments  which  Gaiseric  had  carried  off  from 
Rome  in  455.  It  is  said  that  the  emperor  recognised  among 
this  store  the  seven-branched  candlestick  and  golden  vessels 
of  the  temple  of  Jerusalem,  which  Titus  Caesar  had  taken 
to  Rome  when  he  conquered  Judea  four  hundred  years 
back.  He  sent  them  to  be  placed  in  the  Church  of  the  Holy 
Sepulchre,  in  the  Holy  City  where  they  had  been  first  conse- 
crated. Belisarius  was  allowed  the  honours  of  an  ancient 
Roman  triumph,  a  privilege  denied  to  a  subject  for  four 
centuries ;  he  entered  the  Hippodrome  in  state,  and  laid  his 
prisoners  and  his  booty  at  Justinian's  feet,  while  senate  and 
people  saluted  him  as  the  new  Scipio  Africanus,  a  title  which 
he  had  fairly  earned.  Next  year  he  was  promoted  to  the 
consulship,  and  given  every  honour  that  the  emperor  could 
devise.  His  captive,  king  Geilamir,  was  kindly  treated,  and 
presented  with  a  great  estate  in  Phrygia,  where  he  and  his 
family  long  dwelt  in  ease. 

The  year  of  the  triumph  of  Belisarius  saw  new  opportunities 
arising  for  him  and  for  his  master.  In  the  autumn  of  534  died 
the  sickly  and  debauched  youth  who  held  the  title  of  king 
of  the  Ostrogoths;  he  had  not  yet  attained  his  eighteenth 

8o  European  History,  476-918 

birthday.  His  mother,  Amalaswintha,  was  now  left  face  to 
face  with  the  wild  Goths,  stripped  of  the  protection  of  the 
royal  name,  and  exposed  to  the  enmity  of  the  families  of  the 
chiefs  whom  she  had  executed.  In  despair  of  inducing  the 
Goths  to  endure  the  rule  of  a  queen-regnant,  she  determined 
to  choose  a  colleague,  and  confer  on  him  the  title  of  king. 
Theodoric's  next  male  heir  after  Athalaric  was  a  certain  Theo- 
dahat,  the  son  of  his  sister  Amalaberga.  This  prince  had 
been  excluded  by  his  uncle  from  all  affairs  of  state  for  his 
Amaia-  notorious  cowardicc,  covetousness,  and  duplicity, 

swintha  and  He  was  a  Romaniscd  Teuton  of  the  worst  type, 
Theodahat.     ^^^^    ^^   ^^g    ^^^^^    g^-j^    y^^^    Gothus  ifnitatur 

Romafmm ;  he  had  pronounced  literary  tastes,  called  himself 
a  Platonic  philosopher,  and  showed  some  care  for  the  arts, 
but  was  wholly  mean  and  corrupt.  Amalaswintha  thought  to 
presume  on  the  cowardice  of  her  cousin,  and  to  force  him  to 
become  her  tool ;  she  forgot  that  even  a  coward  may  be 
ambitious.  At  the  queen's  behest  the  assembly  of  the  warriors 
of  Italy  hailed  Theodahat  and  Amalaswintha  joint  rulers  of 
the  Ostrogoths,  But  in  less  than  six  months  the  intriguing 
king  had  suborned  his  partisans  to  seize  and  imprison  his 
unfortunate  cousin.  She  was  cast  into  a  castle  on  the  lake  of 
Bolsena,  and  shortly  afterwards  murdered,  with  Theodahat's 
connivance,  by  some  of  the  kinsfolk  of  the  nobles  whom  she 
executed  five  years  before.     (May,  535.) 

Justinian  had  now  an  even  better  casus  belli  in  Italy  than 
he  had  possessed  in  Africa.  His  ally  had  been  dethroned 
and  murdered,  and  her  crown  was  possessed  by  a  creature  far 
inferior  to  Geilamir,  who  was  at  least  a  warrior  if  an  unfortu- 
nate one.  The  miserable  Theodahat  grovelled  with  fear  when 
he  received  the  angry  ultimatum  of  Justinian.  He  even  made 
secret  proposals  to  the  emperor's  ambassadors  to  the  effect 
that  he  would  abandon  his  crown  and  betray  his  people,  if 
only  he  were  granted  his  life  and  a  suitable  maintenance. 
When  even  this  did  not  avail,  he  took  to  consulting  sooth- 
sayers and   magicians.     We    are    told   that   a    Jewish   seer 

Justinian  and  kis  Wars  8 1 

bade  him  pen  up  thirty  pigs — to  represent  unclean  Gentiles, 
we  must  suppose — in  three  sties,  calling  ten  *  Goths,'  ten 
*  Italians,'  and  ten  *  Imperialists.'  He  was  to  leave  them 
ten  days  without  food  or  water,  and  then  take  augury  from 
their  condition.  When  Theodahat  looked  in  at  the  appointed 
hour,  he  found  all  the  *  Goth '  pigs  dead  save  two,  and  half  of 
the  'Italians,'  but  the  'Imperialists,'  though  gaunt  and  wasted, 
were  all,  or  almost  all,  alive.  This  the  Jew  told  the  downcast 
king  would  portend  a  war  in  which  the  Gothic  race  was  to 
be  well-nigh  exterminated,  and  the  Italians  to  be  terribly  cut 
down,  while  the  Imperial  armies  would  conquer  after  much 
toil  and  privation ! 

While  Theodahat  was  vainly  busy  with  his  soothsayers,  the 
Roman  armies  had  already  attacked  the  Gothic  province  in 
Dalmatia.  The  wretched  usurper  had  to  face  war,  whether 
he  willed  it  or  no.  Justinian  had  determined,  as  was  but 
natural,  to  intrust  the  Ostrogothic  war  to  the  conqueror  of 
Africa,  and,  in  the  autumn  of  the  year  of  his  consulship, 
Belisarius  sailed  for  the  West  with  a  small  army  of  7500  men, 
of  whom  3000  were  Isaurians,  and  the  rest  equally  divided 
between  Roman  regulars  and  Hunnish  and  Herule  auxiliaries. 
It  was  a  small  force  with  which  to  attack  a  king  who  com- 
manded the  swords  of  a  hundred  thousand  gallant  Germans, 
but  reinforcements  were  to  follow,  and  Theodahat's  cowardice 
and  incapacity  were  well  known. 

In  September  535  Belisarius  fell  on  Sicily ;  here  as  in  Africa 
the  provincials  hastened  to  throw  open  the   gates  of  their 
cities  to  the  invader.     There  were  few  Goths  in  Sicily ;  they 
garrisoned  Palermo,  but  Belisarius  took  the  place  by  a  sudden 
assault,  after  lying  only  a  few  days  before  its  walls.    By  the 
approach  of  winter  the  whole  island  was  in  his    Belisarius 
hands.     He  would  have  hastened  on   to  attack    conquers 
Italy,  but  for  a  mutiny  which  broke  out  in  Africa    ^*^*^y'  535- 
and  compelled  him  to  cross  the  sea  and  spend  some  time  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  Carthage. 

Meanwhile  the   poor   craven   Theodahat  did  nothing  but 


82  European  History^  476-918 

besiege  the  ears  of  Justinian  with  more  fruitless  proposals  for 
peace.  He  was  as  unprepared  as  ever  for  resistance  when 
Belisarius  crossed  over  the  straits  of  Messina,  in  April  536, 
and  overran  Bruttium  and  Lucania.  So  greatly  were  the  Goths 
of  the  south  discouraged  by  his  helplessness,  that  Ebermund, 
the  Count  of  Lucania,  surrendered  to  Belisarius,  and  entered 
the  imperial  service  with  all  his  followers.  It  was  not  till  he 
had  pushed  on  to  Naples  that  Belisarius  met  with  any  opposi- 
tion ;  all  through  southern  Italy  the  city  gates  swung  open  the 
moment  that  he  touched  them  with  his  spear.  The  old  Greek 
city  of  Naples,  however,  held  by  a  strong  Gothic  garrison, 
made  a  very  obstinate  defence,  and  held  out  for  many  weeks, 
awaiting  the  arrival  of  a  relieving  army.  King  Theodahat  had 
gathered  a  great  army  at  Rome,  but  the  coward  dared  not 
close,  and  kept  50,000  men  idle,  while  7000  Romans  were 
beleaguering  Naples.  At  last  the  city  fell,  a  party  of  Isaurian 
soldiers  having  found  their  way  up  a  disused  aqueduct,  and 
stormed  one  of  the  gates  from  within.  The  news  of  the  fall 
of  Naples  raised  the  wrath  of  the  Goths  against  their  wretched 
king  to  boiling  point.  At  a  great  folkmoot  at  Regeta  in 
the  Pomptine  Marshes  the  army  solemnly  deposed  Theodahat, 
and,  as  no  male  Amal  was  left,  raised  on  the  shield  Witiges, 
an  elderly  warrior  of  respectable  character,  who  had  won 
credit  in  the  old  wars  of  Theodoric.  The  dethroned  king  fled 
away  to  seek  refuge  at  Ravenna,  but  a  private  enemy  pursued 
him  and  cut  his  throat  '  like  a  sheep '  long  ere  he  had  reached 
the  City  of  the  Marshes. 

The  choice  of  Witiges  was  a  fearful  error  on  the  part  of  the 
Goths ;  they  had  mistaken  respectability  for  talent,  and  paid 
the  penalty  in  seeing  the  stupid  veteran  wreck  all  their  hopes. 
The  first  blunder  on  the  part  of  the  new  king  was  to  draw  his 
army  northward  on  the  news  that  the  Franks  were  crossing 
the  Alps  to  ravage  the  valley  of  Po.  He  left  only  4000  men 
in  Rome,  and  marched  on  Ravenna  with  all  the  rest.  The 
moment  that  he  was  departed  Belisarius  moved  northward  to 
attack  the  imperial  city.    It  fell  into  his  hands  without  a  blow ; 

Justinian  and  his  Wars  S3 

the  Gothic  garrison  felt  that  they  were  left  deserted  among  a 
populace  ready  to  betray  them  to  the  enemy;  indeed  Pope 
Silverius  and  the  Senate  had  already  written  to  Beiisarius 
pray  Beiisarius  to  deliver  them.  When  the  Im-  takes  Rome, 
perialists  appeared  before  the  southern  gate,  the  ^^  " 
Goths  fled  out  of  the  northern,  in  a  panic  that  was  inexcus- 
able, for  they  were  well-nigh  as  numerous  as  the  5000  men 
that  Beiisarius  brought  with  him.     (December  9,  536.) 

Beiisarius  was  now  master  of  Rome,  but  he  knew  that  his 
hold  on  it  was  precarious.  Witiges  had  settled  matters  with 
the  Franks  by  paying  them  130,000  gold  solidi  and  ceding  his 
Transalpine  dominions  in  Provence.  After  marrying  Mata- 
swintha,  the  sister  of  the  late  king  Athalaric,  and  the  last 
scion  of  the  house  of  the  Amals,  he  resolved  to  return  and 
deliver  Rome,  All  north  Italy  had  sent  him  its  Gothic 
warriors,  and  100,000  men  marched  under  his  banner  to 
besiege  Rome  in  the  spring  of  537. 

The  defence  of  Rome  is  the  greatest  of  all  the  titles  to  glory 
that  Beiisarius  won.  The  walls  of  Aurelian  were  strong,  but 
there  were  only  5000  men  to  defend  their  vast  circuit,  and 
within  was  an  unruly  mass  of  cowardly  citizens,  liable  to  all 
sorts  of  panic  fears — mouths  to  be  fed  without  hands  to  strike, 
for  hardly  a  Roman  took  arms  to  aid  the  imperial  troops.  In 
the  middle  of  March  the  Goths  appeared  before  the  walls,  and 
pitched  seven  camps  opposite  the  northern  and  eastern  gates 
of  the  city.  They  then  cut  all  the  aqueducts  which  supplied 
Rome  with  water,  and  commenced  the  construction  of  siege- 
engines  for  a  great  assault.  With  the  want  of  thoroughness 
that  he  always  displayed,  king  Witiges  made  no  adequate 
preparation  for  blockading  the  southern  side  of  the  city,  or  for 
stopping  its  communications  with  Ostia  and  Naples.  All 
through  the  siege  convoys  of  provisions  and  reinforcements 
were  frequently  able  to  creep  into  Rome  by  night,  eluding  the 
outposts  which  were  all  that  Witiges  placed  on  the  side  of  the 
Tiber  and  the  Campagna. 

A  fortnight  after  arriving  in  front  of  the  walls  Witiges  had 

84  European  History,  476-918 

his  engines  ready,  and  delivered  his  great  assault  on  the 
northern  and  north-eastern  fronts  of  the  city.  Everywhere  the 
attack  failed ;  the  towers  and  rams  which  the  Goths  had 
drawn  forward  never  reached  the  walls ;  the  oxen  which  drew 
them  were  shot  down  before  they  neared  the  ditch.  But 
thousands  of  wild  warriors  with  scaling-ladders  delivered 
assaults  against  innumerable  portions  of  the  enceinte.  In 
most  cases  they  failed  entirely ;  the  walls  of  Aurelian  were  too 
strong;  but  at  two  points,  at  opposite  ends  of  the  city,  they 
nearly  won  success.  At  the  Praenestine  gate  a  battering-ram 
broke  in  the  outer  bulwarks,  and  a  swarm  of  Goths  was  only 
held  back  by  an  inner  entrenchment  till  the  reinforcements  of 
Belisarius  arrived.  But  greater  danger  still  was  encountered 
at  the  Mausoleum  of  Hadrian  (castle  of  St.  Angelo),  just 
Belisarius  bcyond  the  ^lian  Bridge.  There  the  Goths 
defends  filled  the  ditch,  overwhelmed  the  defenders  with 
°"^^'^^  "^'^' arrows,  and  were  fitting  their  ladders  to  the 
embrasures,  when  they  were  at  last  checked  by  a  strange 
expedient.  The  walls  of  the  mausoleum  were  lined  with 
dozens  of  splendid  statues,  some  of  them  figures  of  emperors, 
others  the  ancient  spoils  of  Greece.  At  the  supreme  moment 
the  desperate  garrison  flung  these  colossal  figures  on  the 
besiegers  below,  and  drove  them  off  by  the  hail  of  marble 

At  the  end  of  the  day  Belisarius  was  everywhere  suc- 
cessful ;  20,000  Goths  had  fallen,  and  the  self-confidence  of 
Witiges  was  so  broken  that  he  never  again  tried  a  general 
assault.  He  relied  instead  on  a  blockade,  but,  though  he 
inflicted  great  misery  on  the  garrison,  and  still  more  on  the 
populace,  he  never  closed  the  roads  or  the  river  sufficiently 
to  exclude  occasional  convoys  of  provisions.  He  did  not 
prevent  Belisarius  from  transferring  to  Campania  the  greater 
part  of  the  women,  aged  men,  and  slaves  in  the  city.  Mean- 
while the  summer  drew  on,  and  the  Gothic  hosts  began  to 
suffer  from  malaria,  and  from  the  filthy  state  of  the  crowded 
camps.    On  the  other  hand,  Belisarius  at  last  began  to  receive 

Jusfiyiian  and  his  Wars  85 

reinforcements  from  Constantinople,  and  was  able  to  make 
sallies,  in  which  his  horsemen  handled  the  Gothic  outposts 
very  roughly. 

When  both  assault  and  blockade  had  been  proved  in- 
effectual, and  when  an  attempt  to  creep  into  the  city  through 
the  empty  aqueducts  had  been  foiled,  Witiges  would  probably 
have  done  well  to  raise  the  siege,  and  throw  on  Belisarius,  whose 
army  was  still  very  small,  the  burden  of  taking  the  offensive. 
Instead  of  doing  this  he  lay  obstinately  in  his  camp  for  a  year 
and  nine  days,  watching  his  army  melt  away  under  the  scourge 
of  pestilence,  and  allowing  the  numbers  and  boldness  of  the 
Imperialists  to  increase.  At  last  Belisarius  had  been  so 
strongly  reinforced  that  he  was  able,  while  still  holding  Rome, 
to  put  a  second  force  in  the  field.  This  he  sent,  under  an 
officer  named  John  the  Bloody,  through  the  Sabine  hills  to 
make  a  dash  into  Picenum  and  menace  Ravenna.  John,  a 
very  able  officer,  seized  the  important  town  of  g.^  ^^^ 
Rimini,  only  thirty-three  miles  from  Ravenna,  in  Rome  raised, 
February  538.  The  news  that  his  capital  was  ^'^^' 
being  threatened,  and  that  the  enemy  was  in  his  rear,  at  last 
forced  the  sluggish  king  of  the  Goths  to  move.  He  set  his 
seven  camps  on  fire,  and  retired  up  the  Flaminian  Way  into 
Picenum.  Thus  the  prudence  and  valour  of  Belisarius  were 
at  last  vindicated,  and  the  Romans,  after  a  siege  of  374  days, 
could  once  more  breathe  freely. 

Middle  Italy  was  now  lost  to  the  Goths,  and  the  scene  of 
operations  shifted  into  Picenum,  north  Etruria,  and  the  valley 
of  the  Po,  where  the  war  was  to  endure  for  two  years  more 
(538-40).  It  resolved  itself  into  a  struggle  for  the  coast  towns 
between  Ravenna  and  Ancona,  and  for  the  command  of  the 
passes  of  the  Apennines.  One  half  of  the  Roman  army  was 
concentrated  at  Rimini  and  Ancona,  while  Belisarius  himself 
with  the.  other  was  occupied  in  clearing  the  Gothic  garrisons 
out  of  northern  Etruria.  Two  Gothic  armies  at  Ravenna  and 
Auximum  penned  the  northern  Roman  force  into  the  narrow 
sea-coast  plain,  and  at  last  laid  siege  to  both  Rimini  and 

86  European  History^  476-918 

Ancona.  Here  Witiges  seemed  for  once  likely  to  succeed, 
but,  when  the  garrisons  had  been  brought  to  the  last 
extremity,  they  were  relieved  by  new  forces  from  Constanti- 
nople commanded  by  the  eunuch  Narses  iho.  praepositiis  sacri 

Thrown  on  the  defensive  Witiges  drew  back  to  Ravenna, 
and  allowed  the  Romans  to  overrun  the  province  of  Emilia, 
and  even  to  cross  the  Po,  and  raise  an  insurrection  in  the 
great  city  of  Milan.  There  now  followed  a  long  pause : 
Jiehsarius  found  that  Narses  was  set  on  asserting  an  inde- 
pendent authority  over  the  newly-arrived  army,  and  had  to 
send  to  the  emperor  to  beg  him  to  recall  the  eunuch.  Mean- 
while he  laid  siege  to  the  last  two  Gothic  fortresses  south 
of  Ravenna,  the  towns  of  Fiesole  in  Etruria  and  Auximum 
(Osimo)  in  Picenum.  Both  cities  made  a  gallant  resistance, 
and  wliile  Belisarius  was  at  a  standstill  Uraias,  the  warlike 
nephew  of  Witiges,  stormed  and  sacked  Milan,  and  restored 
the  Gothic  dominion  north  of  the  Po  (539).  Meanwhile  the 
king  took  the  only  wise  step  which  occurred  to  him  during 
the  whole  war  :  he  sent  ambassadors  to  the  East  to  inform 
Chosroes,  king  of  Persia,  that  well-nigh  the  whole  Roman 
army  was  occupied  in  Italy,  and  that  he  might  overrun  Syria 
and  Mesopotamia  with  ease.  Taken  two  years  earlier,  this 
step  might  have  saved  the  Goths,  but  now  it  was  too  late : 
Chosroes  moved,  but  moved  only  in  time  to  hear  that  Witiges 
was  dethroned  and  a  captive. 

After  holding  out  seven  months,  Auximum  surrendered  to 
Belisarius  at  mid-winter,  539-40.  Witiges  had  done  nothing 
to  save  the  gallant  garrison,  alleging  that  a  Frankish  raid  into 
the  valley  of  the  Po  prevented  him  from  moving.  The  excuse 
was  true  but  insufficient,  for  when  the  Franks  of  Theudebert, 
thinned  by  disease,  turned  home  again,  the  Gothic  king  did 
not  stir  any  the  more. 

At  last,  in  the  spring  of  540,  Narses  had  been  recalled,  and 
Belisarius  had  full  possession  of  all  Picenum  and  Etruria,  and 
could  safely  advance  on  Ravenna.     After  posting  a  covering 

Justinian  and  his  Wars  87 

force  to  ward  off  any  attempt  to  relieve  the  town  by  the  Goths 
of  northern  Italy,  he  drew  his  main  army  round  the  great 
fortress  in  the  marshland,  the  chosen  home  of  Theodoric,  the 
storehouse  of  the  hoarded  wealth  of  the  Amals.  The  defence 
was  weak,  far  weaker  than  that  of  the  smaller  stronghold  of  Auxi- 
mum.  Witiges  seemed  to  have  the  power  of  communicating 
his  sloth  and  hesitation  to  all  who  came  near  him.  He  listened 
first  to  offers  fromTheudebert  the  Frank,  then  to  proposals  for 
surrender  sent  in  by  Belisarius.  At  last  he  determined  to  close 
with  the  terms  offered  by  Justinian,  that  he  should  resign  all  Italy 
south  of  the  Po,  give  up  half  the  royal  hoard,  and  reign  in  the 
Transpadane  as  the  emperor's  vassal.  The  terms  were  not 
hard,  for  Justinian  had  just  been  attacked  by  Persia,  and 
wished  to  end  his  Italian  war  at  once.  It  would  have  been 
well  for  all  parties  if  they  had  been  carried  out ;  but  two  wills 
intervened :  the  Gothic  nobles  were  wildly  indignant  at  their 
master's  cowardice :  Belisarius,  looking  at  his  military  advan- 
tages, thought  the  terms  too  liberal.  From  this  . 
discontent  came  an  extraordinary  result :  the  renders 
Teutonic  chiefs  boldly  proposed  to  the  imperial  ^^^enna,  540. 
general  that  he  should  reign  over  them, — whether  as  king  of 
the  Goths  or  Roman  Caesar  they  cared  not, — but  their  swords 
should  be  his,  and  the  craven  Witiges  should  be  cast  away, 
if  he  would  take  them  as  his  vassals  and  administer  Italy. 
Belisarius  temporised,  and  the  simple  Goths,  believing  that  no 
man  could  resist  such  an  offer,  threw  open  the  gates.  But 
the  great  general  was  loyal  to  the  core :  instead  of  proclaiming 
himself  emperor,  he  took  over  the  town  in  Justinian's  name, 
bade  the  Gothic  warriors  disperse  each  to  his  own  home,  and 
shipped  all  the  golden  stores  of  Ravenna  off  to  Constantinople. 
It  seemed  as  if  the  monarchy  of  the  Goths  was  ended  : 
nothing  remained  to  them  save  Pavia,  Verona,  and  a  few 
more  north  Italian  cities.  Justinian  resolved  to  recall  Belisarius 
before  these  places  should  fall ;  meaner  generals  would  suffice 
to  take  them.  Two  motives  stirred  the  emperor:  his  great 
captain  was  wanted   on  the  eastern   frontier   to   keep   back 

88  European  History,  476-918 

the  advancing  Persian ;  but  suspicion  also  played  its  part : 
Justinian  was  not  too  well  pleased  that  Belisarius  had  over- 
ruled his  project  of  making  peace  with  Witiges,  and  he  had 
been  somewhat  frightened  by  the  Gothic  proposal  to  make 
Belisarius  emperor.  It  had  been  declined,  it  is  true,  but  might 
not  the  seeds  of  disloyalty  have  sunk  into  the  heart  of  the 
general?  It  would  be  safer  to  bring  him  away  from  the 

So,  by  the  imperial  mandate,  Belisarius  sailed  for  the 
Bosphorus,  taking  with  him  the  captive  Witiges,  and  all  the 
gold  and  gems  of  the  great  hoard  of  the  Amals.  He  was 
denied  a  formal  triumph  such  as  he  had  won  by  his  Vandal 
victory,  but  none  the  less  his  reception  was  magnificent.  His 
personal  body-guard  of  7000  chosen  men  had  followed  him 
to  the  capital,  and,  as  they  passed  through  the  streets,  the 
populace  exclaimed  '  the  household  of  one  man  has  destroyed 
the  kingdom  of  the  Goths.'  Happy  would  it  have  been  for  the 
great  general  if  he  had  died  at  the  moment  of  this  his  grandest 
success.  He  was  reserved  for  lesser  wars  and  years  of 
chequered  fortune  (540). 


J  U  S  T I N I A  ^—{continued) 

540-565    A.D. 

Justinian  as  builder — His  ruinous  financial  policy — His  second  Persian  war — 
Chosroes  takes  Antioch,  540— Campaigns  of  Belisarius  and  Chosroes— 
The  Great  Plague  of  542— Peace  with  Persia— Baduila  restores  the 
Ostrogothic  kingdom  in  Italy— His  campaign  against  Belisarius— Two 
sieges  of  Rome — Success  and  greatness  of  Baduila — Narses  invades 
Italy — Baduila  slain  at  Taginae,  552 — End  of  the  Ostrogothic  kingdom— 
Narses  defeats  the  Franks— Justinian  attacks  Southern  Spain— Third 
Persian  War,  549-55 — Justinian  as  Theologian — Belisarius  defeats  the 
Huns — Later  years  of  Justinian — His  legal  reforms. 

The  year  540  was  the  last  of  Justinian's  years  of  unbroken 
good  fortune.  For  the  rest  of  his  long  life  he  was  to  experience 
many  vicissitudes,  and  see  some  of  his  dearest  schemes  frus- 
trated, though,  on  the  whole,  the  dogged  perseverance  which 
was  his  most  notable  characteristic  brought  him  safely  through 
to  the  end. 

The  first  difficulty  which  was  destined  to  trouble  him,  in  the 
latter  half  of  his  reign,  was  a  financial  one.  He  had  now 
come  to  the  end  of  the  hoarded  wealth  of  Anastasius ;  the 
military  budget  of  his  increased  empire  required  more  money, 
for  Africa  and  Italy  did  not  pay  their  way,  and  now  a  new 
Persian  war  was  upon  his  hands.  In  addition,  his 
magnificent   court  and    his   insatiable   thirst  for    Justinian 

°   .  as  builder. 

buildmg  called  for  huge  sums  year  after  year.     It 
is  impossible  to  exaggerate  Justinian's  expenditure  on  bricks 
and  mortar :  not  only  did  he  rebuild  in  his  capital,  on  a  more 
magnificent  scale,  all  the  public  edifices  that  had  been  burnt 
in  the  *  Nika '  riot,  but  he  filled  every  corner  of  his  empire, 

90  European  History,  476-918 

from  newly-conquered  Ravenna  to  the  Armenian  frontier, 
with  splendid  forts,  churches,  monasteries,  hospitals,  and 
aqueducts.  Whenever  a  Byzantine  ruin  is  found  in  the  wilds 
of  Syria  or  Asia  Minor  it  turns  out,  in  one  case  out  of  every 
two,  to  be  of  Justinian's  date.  In  the  Balkan  peninsula  alone 
we  learn  to  our  surprise  that  he  erected  more  than  300  forts 
and  castles  to  defend  the  line  of  the  Danube  and  the  Haemus, 
the  side  of  the  empire  which  had  been  found  most  open  to 
attacks  of  the  barbarian  during  the  last  century.  The  build- 
ing of  his  enormous  cathedral  of  St.  Sophia  alone  cost  several 
milHons,  an  expenditure  whose  magnificent  result  quite  justifies 
itself,  but  one  which  must  have  seemed  heartrending  to  the 
financiers  who  had  to  find  the  money  at  a  moment  when  the 
emperor  was  involved  in  two  desperate  wars. 

Justinian  poured  forth  his  treasures  with  unstinting  hand 
in  the  arts  both  of  war  and  of  peace.     But  to  replenish  his 
treasury — that  jar   of  the   Danaides — he   had   to   impose  a 
crushing  taxation  on  the  empire.     His  finance  minister,  John 
of  Cappadocia,  was  the  most  unscrupulous  of  men,  one  who 
never  shrank  from  plying  extortion  of  every  kind  upon  the 
wretched  tax-payers :    as  long  as  he  kept  the  exchequer  full 
Justinian  winked  at  his  iniquitous  and  often  illegal  proceed- 
ings.   It  was  only  when  he  chanced  to  quarrel  with  the  empress 
Theodora  that  John  was  finally  disgraced.      His  successors 
were  less  capable,  but  no  less  extortionate  :  ere  ten  years  had 
passed  the  Africans  and  Italians,  groaning  under  the  yoke  of 
Ruinous       ^^^  Greek  Logofhetes,  were  cursing  their  stars  that 
finance  of    ever  they  had  aided  Belisarius  to  drive  out  the 
Justinian.     ^^.-^^  q^^j^   ^^^  Vandal.      As   Justinian's  reign 

went  on  the  state  of  matters  grew  worse  and  worse ;  for  a 
crushing  taxation  tends  to  drain  the  resources  of  the  land,  and 
at  last  renders  it  unable  to  bear  even  a  burden  that  would 
have  once  been  light.  Historians  recapitulate  twenty  new 
taxes  that  Justinian  laid  upon  the  empire,  yet  at  the  end  of 
his  reign  they  were  bringing  in  far  less  than  the  old  and 
simpler  imposts  of  Anastasius  and  Justin  had  produced. 



This  ruinous  draining  of  the  vital  power  of  the  empire  only 
began  to  be  seriously  felt  after  540,  when,  for  the  first  time, 
Justinian  was  compelled  to  wage  war  at  once  in  East  and  West, 
and  yet  refused  to  slacken  from  his  building.  The  Gothic 
war — contrary  to  all  probability  and  expectation — was  still 
destined  to  run  on  for  thirteen  years  more ;  the  Persian  lasted 
for  sixteen,  and,  when  they  were  over,  the  emperor  and  the 
empire  alike  were  but  the  shadow  of  their  former  selves  :  they 
were  unconquered,  but  drained  of  all  their  strength  and  marrow. 

We  have  already  mentioned  that  the  young  king  Chosroes  of 
Persia,  stirred  up  by  the  embassy  of  Witiges,  and  dreading  lest 
the  power  which  had  subdued  Carthage  and  Rome  should  ere 






o  Chalcis 

S     \Y      R       I 

p^^  tPApamea 

TyyoEtching  Co.Sc 

long  stretch  out  its  hand  to  Ctesiphon,  had  found  a  casus 
belli,  and  crossed  the  Mesopotamian  frontier.  Some  blood- 
feuds  between  Arab  hordes  respectively  subject  to  Persia  and 

92  European  History,  476-918 

Constantinople,  and  a  dispute  about  the  suzerainty  of  some 
tribes  in  the  Armenian  highlands  formed  a  good  enough  ex- 
cuse for  renewing  the  war  at  a  moment  when  Justinian's  best 
general  and  50,000  of  the  flower  of  his  troops  were  absent 
in  Italy  and  Africa. 

In  the  spring  of  540,  at  the  very  moment  when  Belisarius 
Second  ^^^^  reducing  Ravenna,  Chosroes  marched  up  the 

Persian  war,  Euphrates,  leaving  the  frontier  fortresses  of  Daras 
540-545-  and  Edessa  on  his  flank,  and  launched  a  sudden 

attack  on  north  Syria.  He  had  been  expected  not  there  but 
in  Mesopotamia,  and  all  preparations  for  defence  were  out  of 
gear.  Before  any  resistance  was  organised  Chosroes  had 
crossed  the  Euphrates,  sacked  Beroea,  and  ransomed  Hierapohs 
for  2000.  lbs.  of  gold.  But  it  was  at  Antioch,  the  third  city 
of  the  Roman  Empire,  and  the  seat  of  the  Praetorian  Prefect 
of  the  East  that  the  Persian  monarch  was  aiming.  It  was 
more  than  two  centuries  and  a  half  since  the  city  of  the 
Orontes  had  seen  a  foreign  foe,  and  its  walls  were  old  and 
dilapidated.  A  garrison  of  6000  men  was  thrown  in,  and  the 
Blues  and  Greens  of  the  city  armed  themselves  to  guard  the 
ramparts.  But  there  was  no  Roman  army  in  the  field  to 
protect  the  city  from  the  approach  of  the  Persian  : 
An'tioch  540.  Buzes,  the  general  of  the  East,  refused  to  risk  his 
small  army  in  a  general  engagement,  and  had 
retired  no  one  knew  whither.  The  siege  of  Antioch  was 
short,  for  the  defence  was  ill-managed :  the  garrison  cut  its 
way  out  when  the  walls  were  forced,  but  the  town,  with  all  its 
wealth,  and  a  great  number  of  its  inhabitants  who  had  not 
found  time  to  fly,  became  the  prize  of  Chosroes.  The 
Persian  plundered  the  churches,  burnt  the  private  houses,  and 
drove  away  a  herd  of  captives,  whom  he  took  to  his  home, 
and  established  in  a  new  city  near  Ctesiphon,  which  he  called 

The  great  king  then  ransomed  the  neighbouring  cities  of 
Chalcis  and  Apamea,  and  recrossed  the  Euphrates  into 
Mesopotamia.     Here,  where  strong  and  well-armed  fortresses 

Justinian  93 

blocked  his  way,  Chosroes  found  that  he  could  effect  nothing ; 
after  looking  at  Edessa  he  found  it  too  strong,  and  made  his 
way  to  Daras.  To  this  town  he  laid  siege,  but  was  beaten  off 
without  much  difficulty,  and  then  returned  home  for  the 
winter  (540). 

The  Persians  were  never  destined  to  win  again  such 
successes  as  had  fallen  to  them  in  this  the  first  year  of  thg 
war.  By  the  next  spring  Justinian  had  reinforced  the  eastern 
frontier  with  all  his  disposable  troops,  and  the  mighty  Belisarius 
himself  had  arrived  to  take  command  of  the  army  of  Meso- 
potamia. But  it  was  not  fated  that  the  great  king  and  the 
great  captain  should  ever  measure  themselves  against  each 
other.  Hearing  that  the  frontier  to  the  south  was  now  well 
guarded,  the  Persian  had  resolved  to  make  a  dash  at  a  new 
point  of  the  Roman  line  of  defence.  While  expected  on  the 
Euphrates  he  quietly  marched  north  through  the  Median 
and  Iberian  mountains,  crossed  many  obscure  passes,  and 
appeared  on  the  Black  Sea  coast  by  the  river  Phasis.  The 
Romans  here  held  the  shore  by  their  great  castle  of  Petra, 
while  the  Lazi,  the  tribes  of  inland  Colchis,  were  Roman 
vassals.  Chosroes  overran  the  land,  constrained  the  Lazi  to 
do  him  homage,  and,  after  a  short  siege,  took  Petra. 

Meanwhile  Behsarius,  on  finding  the  Persian  invasion  of 
Mesopotamia  delayed,  had  crossed  the  frontier  in  the  far 
south,  beaten  a  small  Persian  force  in  the  field,  and  ravaged 
Assyria  from  end  to  end,  though  he  could  not  take  the  great 
fortress  of  Nisibis.  On  hearing  of  this  raid  Chosroes  returned 
from  Colchis  with  his  main  army,  whereupon  Belisarius 
retired  behind  the  ramparts  of  Daras.  The  campaign  had 
not  been  eventful,  but  the  balance  of  gain  lay  on  the  side  of 
the  Persians,  whose  frontier  now  touched  the  Black  Sea. 

Nor  was  the  next  year  (542)  destined  to  see  any  decisive 
fighting.  Belisarius  had  concentrated  his  army  at  Europus 
on  the  Euphrates  and  waited  to  be  attacked,  but  save  one  raid 
no  attack  came,  though  Chosroes  had  brought  the  full  force 
of  his  empire  up  to  Nisibis.     The  Roman  chronicles  ascribe 

94  European  History,  476-918 

his  sluggishness  to  a  fear  of  the  reputation  of  Belisarius,  but 
another  cause  seems  to  have  been  more  operative.  The  great 
plague  of  542  had  just  broken  out  in  Persia,  and  its  ravages 
were  probably  the  real  cause  of  the  retreat  and  disbanding  of 
the  army  of  Chosroes,  much  as  in  1348  the  'black  death' 
caused  English  and  French  to  drop  for  a  time  their  mutual 

This  awful  scourge  merits  a  word  of  notice.  It  broke  out 
in  Egypt  early  in  the  year,  and  spread  like  wildfire  over  Syria, 
the  lands  of  the  Euphrates  valley,  and  Asia  Minor,  thence 
making  its  way  to  Constantinople  and  the  West.  It  is  impos- 
sible to  make  out  its  exact  nature,  but  we  know  that  it  was 
accompanied  by  ulcers,  and  by  a  horrible  swelling  of  the  groin. 
Few  whom  it  struck  down  ever  recovered,  but  of 
Plague  of  542.  these  few  was  Justinian  himself,  who  rose  from  his 
bed  when  the  rumour  of  his  death  was  already 
abroad  and  a  fight  for  the  succession  imminent.  At  Constanti- 
nople the  plague  raged  with  such  violence  that  5000,  and  even 
10,000  persons  are  said  to  have  died  in  a  single  day.  The 
historian  Procopius  marvelled  at  its  universal  spread.  'A 
man  might  climb  to  the  top  of  a  hill,  and  it  was  there,  or 
retire  to  the  depths  of  a  cavern,  but  it  was  there  also.  It 
took  no  note  of  north  or  south,  Greek  or  Persian,  washed  or 
unwashed,  winter  or  summer  :  in  all  alike  it  was  deadly.'  This 
awful  scourge,  which  is  thought  to  have  carried  off  a  third  of 
the  population  of  the  empire,  was  not  the  least  of  the  causes 
of  that  general  decay  which  is  found  in  the  later  years  of 
Justinian's  reign.  It  swept  away  tax-payers,  brought  commerce 
to  a  standstill,  and  seems  to  have  left  the  emperor  himself  an 
old  man  before  his  time. 

The  plague  then  sufficiently  accounts  for  the  stagnation  of 
the  war  in  542.  Perhaps  we  may  also  allow  something  for  the 
personal  troubles  of  Belisarius,  who,  in  the  previous  winter, 
had  fallen  on  evil  times.  He  had  detected  his  intriguing 
wife  Antonina  in  unfaithfulness,  and,  for  throwing  her  into 
a  dungeon,  and  kidnapping  her  paramour,  had  incurred  the 

Justinian  95 

wrath  of  Theodora,  which  seriously  handicapped  him  in  the 
rest  of  his  career,  so  great  was  her  influence  with  her  imperial 
spouse.  He  was  no  longer  supported  from  Constantinople 
as  he  had  once  been,  and  was  at  last  compelled  to  disarm 
Theodora's  displeasure  by  liberating  his  wife.  The  imperial 
ill-humour  may,  perhaps,  have  stinted  his  resources  during 
the  summer  that  followed  his  domestic  misfortune. 

In  543,  the  plague  having  somewhat  abated,  Chosroes  once 
more  assumed  the  offensive,  and  moved  towards  Roman 
Armenia,  following  the  valley  of  the  upper  Euphrates ;  but  a 
fresh  outbreak  of  pestilence  forced  him  to  turn  back,  and  the 
Romans  were  consequently  enabled  to  invade  Persarmenia. 
Belisarius  was  not  with  them,  and  they  suffered  a  serious 
defeat  from  an  inferior  force,  and  returned  with  discredit  to 
their  old  cantonments.  The  great  general  had  been  recalled 
with  ignominy  to  Constantinople.  Justinian  had  heard  that, 
when  the  news  of  his  supposed  death  had  reached  the  army 
of  the  Euphrates,  Belisarius  had  shown  some  signs  of  arrang- 
ing for  a  military  pronunciamento.  He  did  not  make  this  his 
pretext  for  recall,  but  dwelt  on  some  unsettled  charges  of 
money  lost  from  the  Vandal  and  Gothic  treasures,  for  which 
there  was  some  foundation,  for  Belisarius,  like  Marlborough, 
had  an  unhappy  taste  for  hoarding.  For  some  months  the 
general  was  in  disgrace  :  his  body-guard  was  dispersed — 7000 
men  was  too  large  a  comitatus  for  even  the  most  loyal  of 
men — and  much  of  his  wealth  confiscated,  but,  on  his  consent- 
ing to  be  reconciled  to  his  wife,  and  to  depart  for  Italy,  the 
empress  Theodora  consented  to  forget  her  displeasure  and 
allow  Justinian  to  give  Belisarius  the  charge  of  a  new  war  (543). 

But,  before  relating  the  doings  of  the  humbled  and  heart- 
broken Belisarius  in  the  West,  we  must  finish  the  Persian  war. 
In  544  Chosroes,  freed  alike  from  the  plague  and  from  the 
fear  of  Belisarius,  invaded  Mesopotamia  and  laid  siege  to  its 
capital  Edessa.  After  a  siege  of  many  months,  in  which  the 
gallant  garrison  beat  off  every  effort  both  of  open  force  and 
of  military  engineerings, — mounds,  mines,  rams,  and  towers 

g6  European  History,  476-918 

availed  nothing  against  them, — Chosroes  withdrew  humbled  to 
Nisibis,  and  began  to  negotiate  for  a  truce ;  it  was  successfully 
made  on  the  terms  that  the  Persians  should  retain  the  homage 
of  their  conquests  in  Colchis,  and  receive  2000  lbs.  of  gold  on 
evacuating  their  other  conquests — which  were  of  small  value. 
On  the  all-important  Mesopotamian  frontier  the  great  fortresses 
had  held  good,  and  there  was  nothing  of  importance  for  the 
king  to  restore.  This  truce  was  concluded  for  five  years,  at 
the  end  of  which  the  war  was  renewed  (545-550). 

Meanwhile  all  Italy  was  once  more  aflame  with  war.  After 
Ravenna  surrendered,  and  Witiges  was  led  captive  to  Byzan- 
tium, all  the  Gothic  fortresses  surrendered  save  tv/o,  Verona 
and  Pavia,  the  only  towns  of  northern  Italy  in  which  the 
Teutonic  element  seems  to  have  outnumbered  the  Roman. 
The  remnant  of  the  Ostrogoths  in  Pavia,  though  they  did  not 
Hiidibad  number  2000  men,  took  the  bold  step  of  proclaim- 
kingofthe  ing  a  new  king,  a  warrior  named  Hiidibad,  who 
Goths,  540-41.  ^^g  ^i^g  nephew  of  Theudis,  king  of  Spain,  and 
who  promised  his  uncle's  help  to  his  followers.  Hildibad's 
resistance  might  have  been  crushed  if  he  had  been  promptly 
attacked,  but  the  Roman  commanders  were  occupied  in  taking 
over  the  towns  that  made  no  resistance,  and  in  quelling  some 
disorders  among  their  own  men.  After  Belisarius  left,  there 
were  five  generals  in  the  peninsula  of  whom  none  was  trusted 
with  supreme  authority  over  the  rest.  Each  left  to  another 
the  task  of  treading  out  the  last  sparks  of  Gothic  resistance, 
and  gradually  Hiidibad  grew  stronger  as  the  scattered  remnants 
of  the  army  of  Witiges  made  their  way  to  his  camp.  When 
he  recovered  most  of  Venetia,  the  Romans  thought  him 
worthy  of  notice,  but  he  won  a  battle  near  Treviso  over  the 
army  that  came  against  him.  The  Italians  were  now  far  from 
showing  the  devotion  to  the  imperial  cause  that  they  had  once 
displayed.  The  Logothetes  from  Constantinople  were  harass- 
ing them  with  new  imposts,  and  most  especially  with  the 
preposterous  attempt  to  gather  the  arrears  of  taxation  for 
the  years  during  which  i-he  war  had  raged,  a  time  at  which 

Justinian  97 

the  emperor  had,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  no  firm  hold  on  the 

In  541  Hildibad  was  murdered  by  a  private  enemy  ere  yet 
he  had  succeeded  in  freeing  all  the  land  north  of  the  Po. 
But  this  hero  of  the  darkest  hour,  who  had  saved  the  Goths 
from  extinction  when  salvation  seemed  impossible,  found  a 
still  worthier  successor.  After  a  few  months,  during  which 
a  certain  Rugian,  named  Eraric,  ruled  at  Pavia,  Hildibad's 
nephew,  Baduila,  was  raised  on  the  shield  and  saluted  as  king. 
Baduila  ^  was,  after  Theodoric,  the  greatest  of  all  the  Goths  of 
East  or  West :  he  showed  a  moral  elevation,  a  single-hearted 
purity  of  purpose,  a  chivalrous  courtesy,  a  justice  and  piety 
worthy  of  the  best  of  the  knights  of  the  Middle  Ages.  As  a 
warrior  his  feats  were  astonishing :  he  out-generalled  even  the 
great  Belisarius  himself.  The  only  stain  on  his  character, 
during  eleven  years  of  rule,  are  one  or  two  unjustifiable  execu- 
tions of  prisoners  of  war  who  had  roused  his  wrath,  and  caused 
the  old  Gothic  fury  to  blaze  forth. 

From  the  first  moment  of  his  accession  Baduila  went  forth 
conquering  and  to  conquer.  The  Roman  generals  frightened 
by  his  first  successes  were  at  last  induced  to  combine:  he 
foiled  them  at  Verona,  followed  them  across  the  Baduila 
Po,  and  inflicted  on  them  at  Faenza  in  Emilia  king  of  the 
a  decisive  defeat  in  the  open  field,  though  they  °°^^S' 541-53- 
had  12,000  men  to  his  5000.  Then  crossing  the  Apennines 
he  won  all  Tuscany  by  a  second  battle  on  the  Mugello  near 
Florence.  By  these  two  victories  all  Italy  north  of  Rome,  save 
the  great  fortresses,  fell  into  his  hands :  Rome  and  Ravenna, 
with  Piacenza  in  the  valley  of  the  Po,  and  Ancona  and  Perugia 
in  the  centre,  were  left  as  isolated  garrisons,  rising  above  the 
returning  tide  of  Gothic  conquest.  All  the  surviving  Goths  had 
rallied  under  Baduila's  banner,  and  many  of  the  imperial 
mercenaries  of  Teutonic  blood  took  service  with  him  when 
the  cities  which  they  garrisoned  were  subdued.    After  conquer- 

^  This,  as  his  coins  show,  was  his  real  name,  but  the  Constantino- 
politan  historians  call  him  Totila. 


98  European  History,  476-918 

ing  Tuscany  and  Picennm,  Baduila  left  Rome  to  itself  for  a 
space — the  memories  of  its  last  siege  were  too  discouraging 
— and  spent  the  year  542  in  overrunning  Campania  and 
Apulia.  The  Italians  kept  apathetically  quiet,  while  the 
imperial  garrisons  were  few  and  scattered.  In  six  months 
south  Italy  was  once  more  Gothic  up  to  the  gates  of  Otranto, 
Reggio,  and  Naples.  The  siege  of  the  last-named  town  was 
Baduila's  first  exercise  in  poliorcetics :  the  place  was  very 
gallantly  defended,  and  only  surrendered  when  famine  had 
done  its  work,  and  after  an  armament  sent  from  Constanti- 
nople to  its  relief  had  been  shattered  by  a  storm  almost  in  sight 
of  the  walls,  along  the  rocks  of  Capri  and  Sorrento.  In  spite 
of  this  desperate  resistance,  it  was  noted  with  surprise  that 
Baduila  treated  both  garrison  and  people  vvith  kindness,  send- 
ing the  one  away  unharmed,  and  preserving  the  other  from 
plunder.  It  was  at  the  time  of  the  fall  of  Naples  that  an 
event  occurred  which  was  long  remembered  as  a  token  of  the 
justice  of  Baduila.  A  Gothic  warrior  had  violated  the 
daughter  of  a  Calabrian  :  the  king  cast  the  man  into  bonds 
and  ordered  his  death.  But  many  of  the  Goths  besought 
him  not  to  slay  a  brave  warrior  for  such  an  offence.  Baduila 
heard  them  out,  and  replied  that  they  must  choose  that  day 
whether  they  preferred  to  save  one  man's  life,  or  to  save  the 
whole  Gothic  nation.  At  the  beginning  of  the  war  they  would 
remember  how  they  had  great  hosts,  famous  generals,  vast 
treasure,  splendid  arms,  and  all  the  castles  of  Italy.  But  under 
king  Theodahat^  a  man  who  loved  gold  better  than  justice, 
they  had  so  moved  God's  anger  by  their  unrighteous  lives 
that  everything  had  been  taken  from  them.  But  the  divine 
grace  had  given  the  Goths  one  more  chance  of  working  out 
their  salvation :  God  had  opened  a  new  account  with  them, 
and  so  must  they  do  with  him,  by  following  justice  and 
righteousness.  The  ravisher  must  die,  and  as  to  being  a 
brave  warrior,  they  should  remember  that  the  cruel  and  unjust 
were  never  finally  successful  in  war,  for  as  was  a  man's  life, 
such  was  his  fortune  in  battle.      The  officers  caught  their 

Justinian  99 

sovereign's  meaning  and  withdrew,  and  the  criminal  was  duly 

In  542,  the  year  of  the  plague,  Justinian  had  been  able  to 
do  little  for  Italy,  but  in  that  which  followed,  when  he  heard 
that  Naples  had  fallen,  he  determined  to  send  the  newly- 
pardoned  Belisarius  back  to  the  scene  of  his  former  glories. 
Denied  the  services  of  his  own  body-guard  the  great  general 
recruited  4000  raw  troops  in  Thrace,  and  made  ready  to 
return.  Baduila  meanwhile  was  besieging  Otranto,  and  clear- 
ing Apulia  of  the  Imperialists. 

In  the  next  year  the  Gothic  king  and  the  Roman  general 
came  for  the  first  time  into  contact ;  contrary  to  expectation 
it  was  not  Belisarius  who  had  the  better  of  the  struggle : 
broken  in  spirit,  badly  served  by  his  raw  recruits,  and  by  the 
demoralised  army  of  Italy,  and  unaided  by  Justinian,  who  was 
straining  every  nerve  to  keep  up  the  Persian  War,  he  accom- 
plished little  or  nothing.  Based  on  the  impreg-  campaign  of 
nable  fortress  of  Ravenna  he  was  able  to  seize  Belisarius 
Pesaro,  and  to  relieve  the  garrisons  of  Osimo  and 
of  Otranto,  but  that  was  all.  Baduila  ravaged  Italy  unmo- 
lested, and  began  to  make  preparations  for  the  siege  of  Rome  : 
if  he  was  to  be  checked — as  Belisarius  wrote  to  his  master — 
more  men  and  money  to  pay  them  were  urgently  needed. 

Justinian  could  not,  or  would  not,  send  either  men  or 
money  in  adequate  quantity,  and  Baduila  was  able  to  invest 
Rome.  Unlike  Witiges,  he  succeeded  in  barring  all  the  roads, 
and  in  blocking  the  Tiber  by  a  boom  of  spars.  Famine  was 
soon  within  the  walls,  but  the  Goths  made  no  attempt  at  a 
storm,  leaving  hunger  to  do  its  work.  Bessas,  the  governor 
of  Rome,  sought  for  aid  from  all  sides,  and  corn  ships  were 
sent  him  from  Sicily,  but  Baduila  seized  them  all  as  they  were 
tacking  up  the  Tiber  channel.  Then  Belisarius  came  round  to 
Portus,  at  the  mouth  of  the  river,  with  all  the  men  he  could 
muster,  a  very  few  thousands,  and  endeavoured  to  force  his 
way  to  Rome  by  breaking  Baduila's  boom,  and  bringing  his 
lighter  war-vessels  up  the  Tiber.     He  left  his  wife,  his  stores, 

100  European  History ^  476-918 

and  his  reserves  at  Portus,  sailed  up  the  river,  and  succeeded, 
after  a  hot  engagement,  in  burning  the  towers  which  guarded 
the  boom.  But,  in  the  moment  of  success,  news  came  to  him 
that  the  Goths  were  attacking  Portus  in  his  rear,  and  that  his 
wife  and  camp  were  in  danger.  He  turned  back,  found  that 
the  fighting  at  Portus  was  only  an  insignificant  skirmish 
brought  on  by  the  rashness  of  the  ofificer  in  command  there, 
and  so  missed  his  chance  of  forcing  the  boom.  Disappoint- 
ment, or  the  malarial  fever  of  the  marshy  Tiber-mouth,  laid 
him  on  a  bed  of  sickness  next  day,  and,  before  he  was  re- 
covered, Rome  had  fallen.  Some  of  the  famished  garrison  threw 
open  the  Asinarian  Gate  at  midnight,  and  admitted  the 
Goths,  after  the  siege  had  lasted  thirteen  months  (545-546). 
The  blame  of  the  fall  of  the  city  rested  mainly  on  the  governor 
Bessas,  who  doled  out  his  stores  with  a  sparing  hand  to 
soldiery  and  people  alike,  while  he  was  secretly  selling  the 
corn  at  exorbitant  prices  to  the  richer  citizens.  The  troops 
were  starving,  yet  vast  quantities  of  provisions  were  found 
concealed  in  the  general's  praetorium. 

Baduila  gave  up  the  plunder  of  the  city  to  his  long-tried 
troops,  but  sternly  prohibited  murder,  rape,  or  violence.  By 
Baduila  takes  ^^  confession  of  his  cnemics  themselves  only 
Rome,  546.  twenty-six  Romans  lost  their  lives,  though 
20,000  war-worn  troops  had  poured  into  the  city  at  mid- 
night, wald  for  plunder  and  revenge.  The  king  made  the 
churches  into  sanctuaries,  and  the  multitudes  that  gathered 
in  them  suffered  no  harm. 

Baduila  looked  upon  Rome  as  the  chief  lair  of  his  enemies, 
the  home  of  a  faithless  people,  and  the  snare  of  the  Goths. 
He  resolved  neither  to  make  it  his  capital  nor  to  garrison  it, 
but  to  make  a  desert  of  it.  The  people  were  driven  out,  the 
gates  burnt,  and  great  breaches  were  made  all  round  the  walls 
of  Aurelian.  Then  he  harangued  his  army,  bidding  them 
remember  how,  in  the  days  of  Witiges,  7000  Imperialists  had 
robbed  of  power  and  wealth  and  liberty  100,000  rich  and  well- 
armed  Goths.  But  now  that  the  Goths  were  become  poor,  and 

Justinian  lOl 

few,  and  war-worn,  they  had  discomfited  more  than  20,000 
Greeks.  The  reason  was  that  in  the  old  days  they  had 
angered  God  by  their  pride  and  evil  living ;  now  they  were 
humbled  and  chastened  in  spirit,  and  therefore  they  were  vic- 
torious. For  the  future  they  must  remember  that  if  just  they 
would  have  God  with  them ;  but,  if  they  fell  back  into  their 
former  ways,  the  hand  of  Heaven  would  work  their  down- 

This  done,  he  drew  off  with  his  army,  leaving  Rome  deso- 
late, and  without  a  living  soul  within  its  walls.  For  forty  days 
the  imperial  city  was  given  up  to  the  wolf  and  the  owl,  but  at 
last  Belisarius,  who  still  lay  at  Portus  with  his  small  army, 
marched  within  the  walls,  hurriedly  barricaded  the  breaches 
and  the  gateless  portals,  and  prepared  to  hold  Rome  for  a 
third  siege.  The  Goths  had  been  too  slack  in  casting  down 
the  walls,  and  the  hasty  repairs  of  Belisarius  made  the  city 
once  more  tenable  against  any  coiip-de-rnain.  In  Belisarius  re- 
great  disgust  Baduila  rushed  back  from  Cam-  covers  Rome, 
pania,  and  tried  to  force  the  barricades.  After  three  assaults 
he  recognised  that  they  were  too  strong,  and  retired  to  central 
Italy,  leaving,  however,  a  strong  corps  of  observation  at  Tivoli, 
to  keep  Belisarius  from  issuing  out  of  the  city  for  further  oper- 

For  two  years  more  Belisarius  and  Baduila  fought  up  and 
down  the  peninsula,  but  the  Goth  kept  the  superiority ;  though 
sometimes  foiled,  he  had,  on  the  whole,  the  advantage.  Beli- 
sarius, like  Hannibal  during  the  later  years  of  his  sojourn  in 
Italy,  flitted  from  point  to  point  with  his  small  army,  looking 
for  opportunities  to  strike  a  blow,  but  seldom  finding  them. 
Justinian,  though  now  freed  from  the  Persian  War,  sent  no 
adequate  supplies  or  reinforcements,  and  seemed  content  that 
his  general  should  hold  no  more  than  Rome  and  Ravenna. 
In  548  Belisarius  was  recalled  on  his  own  or  his  wife's  re- 
quest. He  felt  that  he  could  do  no  more  with  his  inadequate 
resources,  he  had  outlived  the  desire  of  glory,  and  his  old 
age  was  at  hand.    Justinian  received  him  with  kindness,  made 

102  European  History,  d^']6-(^\Z 

him  inagisier  militum  and  chief  of  the  Imperial  Guard,  and 
bade  him  Hve  in  peace  in  Constantinople. 

The  sole  check  on  Baduila  was  now  removed,  and,  in  the 
four  years  that  followed,  the  gallant  Goth  cleared  the  whole 
country,  save  Ravenna,  of  the  presence  of  the  imperialist 
soldiery.  He  retook  Rome  in  549,  and  captured  or  slew 
the  whole  garrison.  This  time,  instead  of  dismantling  the  city, 
he  determined  to  make  it  his  capital.  He  reorganised  the 
Successes  of  Senate,  bade  the  palace  be  repaired,  and  celebrated 
Baduila.  gamcs  in  the  circus  as  his  great  predecessor, 
Theodoric,  had  done.  It  would  seem  that  he  now  felt  him- 
self so  strong  that  he  feared  no  return  of  the  imperialist 
armies,  and  lost  his  old  dread  of  walled  towns.  He  sent 
embassies  to  Justinian,  bidding  the  emperor  recognise  accom- 
plished facts,  and  return  to  the  old  relations  that  had  subsisted 
between  the  Goths  and  the  emperor  in  the  happy  days  of 
Anastasius  and  Theodoric.  But  the  stern  ruler  of  the  East 
was  immovable.  He  quietly  persisted  in  the  war,  and  merely 
began  to  collect  once  more  an  army  for  the  invasion  of  Italy. 
The  first  expedition  he  placed  under  count  Germanus,  his  own 
nephew,  who  was  looked  upon  as  the  destined  heir  to  the 
empire.  But  a  sudden  invasion  of  Macedonia  by  the  Slavs 
drew  aside  Germanus  to  Thessalonica.  He  achieved  a  success 
over  the  invaders,  but  died  soon  after,  and  his  army  never 
crossed  the  Adriatic.  Baduila  meanwhile  was  in  full  posses- 
sion of  Italy.  When  he  found  that  the  armament  of  Germanus 
had  dispersed,  he  built  a  fleet,  conquered  Sardinia,  and  then 
crossed  into  Sicily,  and  ravaged  that  island,  against  whose 
people  the  Goths  bore  an  especial  grudge  for  their  rebellion 
and  eager  reception  of  Belisarius  fifteen  years  before. 

It  was  not  till  552  that  Baduila  was  forced  to  fight  on  the 

defensive  once  more,  and  protect  Italy  from  the  last  of  the 

armies  of  Justinian.     This  time  the  emperor  had 

Narses  in-  -'  ^ 

vades  Italy,  choscn  a  Strange  commander-in-chief,  the  eunuch 
552-  Narses,    his    chamberlain,    or  praepositus    sacri 

ciibiciili^  who  had  once  before  been  seen  in  Italy,  in  538,  when 

Justinian  I03 

he  had  intrigued  against  Belisarius.  Narses  was  known  as 
clever,  pushing,  and  persistent,  but  his  choice  as  a  general-in- 
chief  was  one  of  those  strange  appointments  of  Justinian's 
which  looked  like  freaks  of  folly,  but  turned  out  to  have  been 
guided  by  the  deepest  knowledge  of  character.  Being  better 
trusted  than  Belisarius,  he  was  better  equipped  for  war.  Be- 
sides a  large  detachment  of  the  regular  troops  of  the  East,  he 
was  allowed  to  hire  no  less  than  10,000  German  auxiliaries 
from  the  Danube — Herules,  Lombards,  and  Gepidae.  His 
whole  force  must  have  been  more  than  20,000  strong,  thrice 
the  size  of  the  army  that  had  followed  Belisarius.  Narses  had 
resolved  to  turn  the  head  of  the  Adriatic  and  advance  through 
Venetia,  but,  while  he  was  executing  this  long  march,  he  sent 
a  fleet  to  threaten  the  east  coast  of  Italy.  Off  Ancona  his 
armada  met  and  defeated  the  Gothic  ships,  which  Baduila 
had  brought  round  to  watch  the  Adriatic.  This  engagement 
seems  to  have  induced  the  Goths  to  expect  a  Roman  landing 
in  Picenum,  and  only  a  small  portion  of  Baduila's  army  was 
sent  into  Venetia,  under  count  Tela,  to  watch  the  passes  of 
the  Carnic  Alps.  Narses  succeeded  in  eluding  this  force  by 
hugging  the  sea-coast,  and  using  his  ships  to  ferry  him  over 
the  Po-mouth.  He  reached  Ravenna  without  striking  a  blow, 
and  there  was  joined  by  such  Roman  troops  as  were  already 
in  Italy. 

Then,  neglecting  all  the  Gothic  fortresses,  he  marched 
straight  on  Rome  :  not  by  the  Flaminian  Way,  the  great  road 
between  north  and  south — for  that  was  held  by  the  Goths — 
but  by  following  a  minor  pass  up  the  valley  of  the  river  Sena. 
He  had  just  crossed  the  Apennines  when  Baduila  met  him  at 
Taginae,  in  Umbria,  under  the  very  shadow  of  the  mountains. 
The  Gothic  king  had  called  up  all  his  forces  from  central 
Italy,  and  was  joined  by  Teia  and  the  northern  army  on  the 
eve  of  the  fight,  but  he  was  still  inferior  in  numbers  to  the 
Imperialists.  Narses  showed  himself  an  able  general.  Know- 
ing that  the  Goths  mainly  trusted  to  the  wild  rush  of  their 
heavy  cavalry,  he  dismounted  all   his   barbarian   auxiliaries, 

104  European  History,  476-918 

and  formed  them  in  a  serried  mass  in  his  centre ;  8000  Roman 
archers  flanked  them,  and  1500  chosen  Roman  cavalry  were 
teld  in  reserve  on  his  left  wing.  Baduila  bade  his  men  use 
the  lance  alone,  and  himself  led  the  horsemen  of  his  comitatus 
in  a  gallant  charge  on  the  enemy's  centre.  From  noon  till 
dusk  the  Gothic  knights  dashed  again  and  again  at  the 
Battle  of  phalanx  in  the  middle  of  the  Roman  line :  they 
Taginae.  could  not  break  it,  and  meanwhile  they  were 
shot  down  in  hundreds  by  the  archers  on  the  wings.  The 
battle,  in  fact,  was  much  like  the  English  fight  at  Cressy ;  at 
both  the  archery  and  dismounted  horsemen  beat  back  the 
unsupported  cavalry  of  the  assailant.  At  last,  towards  dusk, 
the  wrecks  of  the  Gothic  cavalry  reeled  back  in  disorder  upon 
their  infantry,  and  Narses  bade  the  1500  cuirassiers  of  his 
reserve  to  strike  at  the  hostile  flank. 

All  was  over  with  the  Goths.  Their  line  broke  and  fled, 
their  gallant  king  was  mortally  wounded  in  the  pursuit,  and 
darkness  alone  saved  the  army  from  annihilation.  So  perished 
Baduila,  last  Ostrogothic  king  of  Italy,  and  'first  of  the 
Knights  of  the  Middle  Ages,'  as  he  has  been  not  inaptly 
styled.  There  was  still,  however,  fighting  to  be  done.  The 
warriors  who  had  escaped  from  Taginae  proclaimed  count 
Teia  king,  and  though  most  of  the  Italian  towns  accepted  the 
death  of  Baduila  as  ending  the  war,  a  few  still  held  out. 
Rome,  manned  by  an  inadequate  garrison,  was  stormed  with 
ease,  and  its  keys  sent,  now  for  the  third  time,  to  Justinian. 
King  Teia,  after  ranging  up  and  down  the  land  in  a  vain 
attempt  to  keep  up  the  war,  was  brought  to  bay  in  Campania. 
His  little  army,  penned  up  in  the  hills  above  Sorrento,  made 
a  sudden  dash  to  catch  the  eunuch-general  unprepared.  But 
Narses  was  ready  for  them,  and  on  the  banks  of  the  Sarno  the 
The  Goths  ^^^^  ^^  ^^  Goths  wcrc  Overwhelmed  with  numbers, 
leave  Italy,  and  saw  their  king  slain  in  the  forefront  of  the 
5^3'  battle.     Then  the  poor  remnants  of  the  rulers  of 

Italy  sent  to  offer  submission.     They  would  leave  the  penin- 
sula, with  bag  and  baggage,  wife  and  child,  and  betake  them- 

Justinian  105 

selves  beyond  the  Alps,  if  only  a  free  passage  were  granted  to 
them.  So,  in  the  autumn  of  553,  the  few  remaining  Gothic 
garrisons  laid  down  their  arms,  gathered  together,  and  disap- 
peared over  the  passes  of  the  Alps  into  the  northern  darkness. 
We  have  no  tidings  of  the  fate  of  these  last  survivors  of  the 
great  Ostrogothic  race.  Whether  they  became  the  vassals  of 
the  Frank,  or  mingled  with  the  Bavarians,  or  sought  their 
kinsmen,  the  Visigoths  of  Spain,  no  man  can  tell. 

So  perished  the  Gothic  kingdom,  which  had  been  erected 
by  the  genius  of  Theodoric,  by  the  same  fate  which  had 
smitten  the  pirate-realm  of  the  Vandals  seventeen  years 
before.  Both  fell  because  the  ruling  race  was  too  small 
to  hold  down  the  vast  territory  that  it  had  overrun,  unless 
it  could  combine  frankly  and  freely  with  the  conquered 
Roman  population.  But  the  fatal  bar  of  Arianism 
lay  m  each  case  between  masters  and  servants,  Gothic 
and  when  the  orthodox  armies  of  Constantinople  ^^i^asters. 
appeared,  nothing  could  restrain  the  Africans  and  Italians 
from  opening  their  gates  to  the  invader.  The  Ostrogoths  had 
been  wise  and  tolerant,  the  Vandals  cruel  and  persecuting, 
but  the  end  was  the  same  in  each  kingdom.  It  was  only  in 
the  measure  of  the  resistance  that  the  difference  between  Goth 
and  Vandal  appeared.  Sunk  in  coarse  luxury,  and  enervated 
by  the  African  sun,  the  Vandals  fell  in  one  year  before  a 
single  army.  The  Ostrogoths,  the  noblest  of  the  Teutons, 
made  a  splendid  fight  for  seventeen  years,  beat  off  the  great 
Belisarius  himself,  and  only  succumbed  because  the  incessant 
fighting  had  drained  off  the  whole  manhood  of  the  tribe.  If 
Baduila  could  have  mustered  at  Taginae  the  100,000  men  that 
Witiges  had  once  led  against  Rome,  he  would  never  have  been 
beaten.  It  is  one  of  the  saddest  scenes  in  history  when  we  see 
the  well-ordered  realm  of  Theodoric  vanish  away,  and  Italy  is 
left  an  unpeopled  desert,  to  be  disputed  between  the  savage 
Lombard,  the  faithless  Frank,  and  the  exarchs  of  distant 

The  conquest  of  Italy  by  Narses  was  destined  to  have  one 

io6  European  History^  476-918 

further  episode  ere  it  was  yet  complete.  When  Teia's  fate 
was  known,  the  ministers  of  the  young  Frankish  king  Theude- 
bald  of  Metz  launched  a  great  army  into  the  peninsula,  under 
two  Suabian  dukes  Chlothar  and  Buccelin.  Their  hosts  pressed 
down  the  peninsula,  following  the  one  the  western  coast,  the 
other  the  eastern.  But  Chlothar's  army  was  destroyed  by 
famine  and  pestilence,  and  Buccelin's  was  annihilated  at 
Casilinum,  in  Campania,  by  Narses,  Against  the  mass  of 
Frankish  foot-soldiers,  with  spear  and  battle-axe,  Narses  em- 
ployed the  same  tactics  as  against  the  Gothic  horse.  A  solid 
centre  of  dismounted  Teutons,  Lombards,  and  Heruli,  kept  the 
Frankish  column  in  check,  while  wings  of  Roman  archers  and 
cuirassiers  swung  round  the  flanks  of  the  invader,  enveloped 
him,  and  destroyed  him.  Of  40,000  of  Buccelin's  men  it  is 
said  that  not  a  hundred  escaped,  so  far  worse  did  they  fare 
than  the  Goths  had  fared  at  Taginae  in  the  previous  year. 
The  Frankish  ravages  put  the  last  finishing  touch  to  the 
Desolation  misery  of  Italy.  Alike  in  the  northern  plain,  in 
in  Italy.  Picenum  and  Emilia,  and  in  the  neighbourhood 
of  Rome,  the  whole  population  had  disappeared.  Justinian 
and  Narses  had  restored  peace,  but  it  was  the  best  example 
ever  seen  of  the  adage,  solitudinem  f admit pacem  appellant. 

To  these  same  years  belongs  the  story  of  Justinian's  invasion 
of  southern  Spain,  an  episode  which  will  be  found  narrated  at 
full  length  in  the  chapter  dealing  with  the  Visigoths. 

We  must  now  turn  back  to  Justinian's  fortunes  in  the  East. 
It  will  be  remembered  that  his  Second  Persian  War  had  been 
ended  by  a  five  years'  truce  in  545,  after  the  great  plague  and 
gallant  defence  of  Edessa.  The  five  years  of  peace  that  fol- 
lowed were  not  very  notable  in  the  history  of  the  empire  save 
for  one  important  event.  Theodora,  the  colleague  and  other 
self  of  Justinian,  died  of  cancer  in  548,  and  with  her  death 
much  of  her  husband's  vigour,  if  not  of  his  persistence,  seems 
to  have  vanished.  Deprived  of  his  councillor  and  helpmate 
the  emperor  became  gloomy  and  morbid.  His  midnight 
studies  took  the  direction  of  theology  alone,  and  he  launched 

Justinian^ s  Later  Years  107 

out  into  a  futile  ecclesiastical  controversy  on  '  The  Three  Chap- 
ters.' This  was  a  wholly  unnecessary  dispute  as  to  whether 
three  documents  of  three  patristic  writers,  Theodore,  Ibas,  and 
Theodoret — all  long  dead — contained  heretical  matter  or  not. 
But  it  succeeded  in  convulsing  the  whole  Eastern  Church,  and 
led  Justinian  into  a  quarrel  with  the  Roman  see,  which  refused 
to  condemn  the  'Three  Chapters.'  He  seized  Pope  Vigilius,  and 
brought  him  to  Constantinople,  to  compel  him  to  fall  in  with 
his  own  views.  After  detaining  the  unfortunate  justinian  and 
pontiff  in  the  East  for  six  years,  and  even  drag-  Pope  vigiiius. 
ging  him  from  sanctuary  and  imprisoning  him  in  an  island,  the 
emperor  succeeded  in  inducing  him  to  declare  that  Theodore 
and  the  two  other  theologians  had  indeed  fallen  into  grievous 
heresy  (a.d.  553).  Justinian  was  triumphant,  but  Vigilius  found 
that  he  had  thereby  introduced  schism  into  Italy  and  Africa, 
where  many  bishops  stood  by  the  'Three  Chapters.'  An 
African  council  went  so  far  as  to  excommunicate  Vigilius,  and 
for  a  century  some  of  the  north  Italian  churches  were  out  of 
communion  with  the  Roman  see. 

But  long  ere  Vigilius  had  yielded  Justinian  was  once  more  at 
war  with  Persia.  When  the  five  years'  truce  ran  out  at  the  end 
of  549,  the  imperial  troops  advanced  to  recover  the  suzerainty 
of  Colchis,  the  one  point  that  had  been  yielded  to  Chosroes  in 
the  treaty  of  545.  But  strangely  enough,  while  the  war  was 
renewed  on  the  Black  Sea,  it  did  not  recommence  on  the 
Mesopotamian  frontier.  Both  parties  concurred  Third  Persian 
to  renew  the  truce  for  everything  except  Colchis,  ^^^'  549-55- 
and  on  that  limited  arena  alone  the  hostilities  proceeded. 
The  struggle  recalls,  in  this  curious  feature,  the  way  in  which 
the  French  and  English  fought  in  India  in  the  eighteenth 
century,  while  in  Europe  they  were  at  peace.  The  conditions 
of  the  war  were  favourable  to  Justinian,  whose  armies  had 
free  access  by  sea  to  the  Colchian  coast,  while  the  Persians 
had  to  reach  it  by  the  wild  passes  over  the  Armenian  and 
Iberian  mountains.  The  dreary  but  very  bloody  Colchic  or 
Lazic  war  went  on  for  six  years,  draining  alike  the  Persian 

io8  European  History^  476-918 

and  the  imperial  treasuries;  but  at  last  the  Romans  had  the 
better  in  the  struggle,  secured  the  homage  of  the  Lazic  king, 
and  drove  the  Persians  far  back  into  the  interior  (555). 
Finally,  after  interminable  negotiations  Chosroes  made  peace, 
surrendering  his  claim  on  Colchis  in  consideration  of  an 
indemnity  of  30,000  solidi  (;£"i 8,000)  per  annum. 

This  was  the  last  of  Justinian's  great  wars  \  but  the  end  of 
his  reign  was  far  from  being  peaceful  or  prosperous.  It  was 
especially  noteworthy  for  the  repeated  inroads  of  the  Huns 
and  Slavs  into  the  Balkan  peninsula.  The  greatest  raid  was 
in  558,  when  the  Cotrigur  Huns  under  their  khan  Zabergan 
eluded  the  garrisons  on  the  Danube,  crossed  the  Balkans,  and 
rode  at  large  over  the  whole  of  Thrace.  One  body  of  4000 
Beiisarius  borse  pushcd  their  incursions  up  to  the  very  gates 
defeats  the      of  Constantinople,  and  so  alarmed  Justinian  that 

""^'  he  bade  the  aged  Beiisarius  to  buckle  on  his  arms 

once  more,  and  save  the  capital.  The  military  resources  of 
the  empire  were  so  scattered  that  Beiisarius  could  only  count 
on  300  of  his  own  veterans,  on  the  *  Scholarian  Guards '  ^  and 
a  levy  of  half-armed  Thracian  rustics.  By  skilfully  posting  this 
small  force,  and  inducing  the  Huns  to  attack  his  line  exactly 
where  it  was  strongest,  he  routed  the  barbarians,  and  returned 
in  triumph  from  this  his  last  campaign. 

After  this  final  feat  of  the  old  general  it  is  sad  to  learn  that 
his  master  had  not  even  yet  learned  to  trust  him.  Four  years 
later  there  was  a  futile  conspiracy  against  Justinian,  and 
Beiisarius  was  accused  of  having  known  of  it.  He  was  dis- 
graced, and  put  under  ward  for  eight  months,  before  the 
emperor  convinced  himself  that  the  charge  was  false.  Re- 
stored at  last  to  favour,  he  lived  two  years  more  in  possession 
of  his  riches  and  honours,^  and  died  in  March  565.     His 

^  A  body  of  local  troops  raised  in  the  city,  who  formed  part  of  the 
imperial  guard. 

2  It  is  now  fully  recognised,  as  Finlay  and  Bury  have  proved,  that  there 
is  no  truth  in  the  legend  that  Beiisarius  was  blinded,  and  became  a  beggar 
crying  to  the  people,  Date  obolum  Belisario. 

Justinian's  Later  Years  109 

thankless  master  followed  him  to  the  grave  before  the  end  of 
the  same  year.  On  the  i  ith  of  December  565,  Justinian,  after 
living  more  than  seventy  years,  and  reigning  for  thirty-eight, 
descended  to  the  tomb. 

We  have  spoken  of  Justinian's  wars,  of  his  buildings,  of  his 
financial  policy,  of  his  ecclesiastical  controversies.  But  for 
none  of  these  is  he  so  well  remembered  as  for  his  activity  in 
yet  another  sphere.  It  is  by  his  great  work  of  codifying  the 
Roman  law,  and  leaving  it  in  a  complete  and  Legal  reforms 
orderly  form  as  a  heritage  to  the  jurists  of  the  of  Justinian, 
modern  world  that  he  earned  his  greatest  title  to  immortality. 
This  was  an  achievement  of  the  first  half  of  his  reign,  carried 
out  with  the  aid  of  the  best  lawyers  of  Constantinople,  headed 
by  Tribonian,  the  able  but  greedy  quaestor  against  whom  the 
rioters  in  the  '  Nika '  sedition  had  raged  so  furiously. 

Roman  law  had  hitherto  consisted  of  two  elements — the 
constitutions  and  edicts  of  the  emperors,  and  the  decisions  of 
the  great  lawyers  of  the  past.  Both  these  elements  were 
somewhat  chaotic.  Five  centuries  of  imperial  edicts  over- 
ruled and  contradicted  each  other  in  the  most  hopeless  con- 
fusion ;  Pagan  and  Christian  ideas  were  intermixed  in  them, 
many  had  gone  completely  out  of  date,  and  new  conditions  of 
society  had  made  others  impossible  to  work.  Nor  were  the 
responsa  prudentum  or  decisions  of  the  ancient  jurisconsults 
any  less  chaotic ;  in  modern  England  the  difficulties  of  '  case 
made  law,'  as  it  has  been  happily  called,  are  perplexing  enough 
to  enable  us  to  understand  the  troubles  of  a  Constantinopolitan 
judge,  confronted  with  a  dozen  precedents  of  contradictory 

Justinian  removed  all  this  confusion  by  producing  three 
great  works.  His  Code  collected  the  imperial  constitutions 
into  a  manageable  shape,  striking  out  all  the  obsolete  edicts, 
and  bringing  the  rest  up  to  the  requirements  of  a  Christian 
state  of  the  sixth  century.  His  Digest  or  Pandects  did  the 
same  for  the  decisions  of  the  ancient  lawyers,  laying  down  the 
balance  of  authority,  and  specifying  the  precedents   which 

no  European  History,  ^^6-^1^ 

were  to  be  accepted.  Lastly,  the  Institutes  gave  a  general 
sketch  of  Roman  law  in  the  form  of  a  commentary  on  its 
principles  for  the  use  of  students.  These  volumes  were 
destined  to  be  the  foundation  of  all  systematic  jurisprudence 
in  modern  Europe ;  their  compilation  was  the  last,  and  not  the 
least,  of  the  works  of  the  ancient  Roman  spirit  of  law  and 
order,  incarnate  in  the  last  great  emperor  of  Roman  speech, 
for  none  of  Justinian's  successors  could  say,  as  could  he  him- 
self, that  Latin  was  his  native  tongue.  After-ages  remembered 
him,  above  all  things,  as  the  compiler  of  the  Code^  and  it  was 
as  its  framer  that  he  is  set  by  Dante  in  one  of  the  starry 
thrones  of  the  Christian  paradise. 

In  spite  of  all  his  great  achievements  it  cannot  be  disputed 
that  Justinian  left  the  empire  weaker  than  he  found  it.  Its 
territorial  expansion  in  Italy,  Africa,  and  Spain  did  not  com- 
pensate for  the  exhaustion  of  the  Eastern  provinces.  By  his 
ruthless  taxation  Justinian  had  drained  off  their  vital  energies, 
and  left  them  poorer  and  weaker  than  they  had  ever  been 
before.  Even  his  armies  felt  the  reaction ;  at  the  end  of  his 
reign  we  read  that  they  were  sinking  both  in  numbers  and 
efficiency  ;  the  new  and  extended  frontiers  were  more  than 
they  could  guard,  and  the  old  race  of  generals  who  had  fol- 
lowed Belisarius  was  dead.  Justinian  himself  is  said  to  have 
neglected  their  pay  and  maintenance,  while  he  set  his  aged 
brains  to  wrestle  with  the  problem  of  the  '  Three  Chapters '  or 
the  heresy  of  Aphthartodocetism.  Like  Louis  xiv.  of  France, 
whom  he  resembles  in  many  other  respects,  Justinian  closed  a 
reign  of  unparalleled  magnificence  as  a  gloomy  pietist,  whose 
despotism  drained  and  crushed  a  people  who  had  grown  to 
abhor  his  very  name. 




The  Sons  of  Cblodovech — Theuderich  conquers  Thuringia,  531— Childebeit 
and  Chlothar  conquer  Burgundy,  532 — Their  war  with  the  Visigoths — 
Theudebert  invades  Italy — Chlothar  reunites  the  Frankish  kingdoms,  558 
— Organisation  of  the  Frankish  realm — The  great  officials — Mayors  of 
the  Palace — Counts  and  Dukes— Local  government,  the  Mallus — Legal 
and  financial  arrangement. 

Chlodovech  left  four  sons  :  one,  Theuderich,  borne  to  him  by 
a  Frankish  wife  in  early  youth ;  three,  Chlodomer,  Childebert, 
and  Chlothar,  the  offspring  of  his  Burgundian  spouse,  Chro- 
techildis.  In  accordance  with  the  old  Teutonic  custom  of 
heritage-partition,  the  four  young  men  divided  among  them- 
selves their  father's  newly-won  realms,  though  the  division 
threatened  to  wreck  the  Frankish  power  in  its  earliest  youth. 
Theuderich,  the  eldest  son,  took  the  most  compact  and  most 
Teutonic  of  the  parts  of  Chlodovech's  realm,  the  old  kingdom 
of  the  Ripuarian  Franks  along  the  Rhine  bank  from  Koln  as 
far  south  as  Basle,  with  the  new  Frankish  settle-  The  sons  of 
ments  east  of  the  Rhine  in  the  valley  of  the  Main,  chiodovech. 
He  fixed  his  residence,  however,  not  at  Koln,  the  old  Ripu- 
arian capital,  but  in  the  more  southerly  town  of  Metz  on  the 
Moselle,  an  ancient  Roman  city,  though  one  less  hitherto 
famous   than   its   greater  neighbour  Trier.      In  addition   to 

Ripuaria  Theuderich  took  a  half  share  of  the  newly-conquered 



European  History,  476-918 

Aquitaine,  its  eastern  half  from  Clermont  and  Limoges  to 








While  Ripuaria  was  given  to  Theuderich,  his  brother  Chlothar 
obtained  the  other  old  Frankish  realm,  the  ancient  territory  of 
the  Salian  Franks  from  the  Scheldt-mouth  to  the  Somme, 
together  with  his  father's  first  conquests  from  the  Gallo- 
Romans  in  the  valley  of  the  Aisne.  His  capital  was  Soissons, 
the  old  stronghold  of  Syagrius,  in  the  extreme  southern  angle 
of  his  realm.  The  remaining  two  brothers,  Chlodomer  and 
Childebert,  reigned  respectively  at  Orleans  and  Paris,  and 
ruled  the  lands  on  the  Seine,  Loire,  and  Garonne  which 
Chlodovech  had  won  from  Syagrius  and  Alaric.  Their  king- 
doms must  have  been  far  less  strong,  because  far  less  thickly 
settled  by  the  Franks,  than  those  of  Theuderich  and  Chlothar. 

The  Early  Prankish  Kings  113 

Chlodomer's  dominion  comprised  the  whole  valley  of  the 
middle  and  lower  Loire,  and  Western  Aquitaine,  including 
Bordeaux  and  Toulouse.  Childebert  had  a  smaller  share— 
the  Seine  valley  and  the  coasts  of  the  Channel  from  the  mouth 
of  the  Somme  westward. 

The  four  brother  kings  were  all  worthy  sons  of  their  wicked 
father — daring  unscrupulous  men  of  war,  destitute  of  natural 
affection,  cruel,  lustful,  and  treacherous.  But  they  were  emi- 
nently suited  to  extend,  by  the  same  means  that  Chlodovech 
had  used,  the  realms  that  he  had  left  them.  The  times,  too, 
were  propitious,  for  during  their  lives  was  removed  the  single 
bar  that  hindered  the  progress  of  the  Franks,  the  power  of 
the  strong  Gothic  realm  that  obeyed  Theodoric  the  Great. 

Although  the  sons  of  Chlodovech  not  unfrequently  plotted 
each  other's  deposition  or  murder,  yet  they  generally  turned 
their  arms  against  external  enemies,  and  even  on  occasion 
joined  to  aid  each  other.  The  object  which  each  set  before 
himself  was  the  subjection  of  the  nearest  independent  state. 
Theuderich  therefore  looked  towards  inner  Germany  and  the 
kingdom  of  the  Thuringians,  on  the  Saal  and  upper  Weser ; 
Childebert  and  Chlodomer  turned  their  attention  towards 
their  southern  neighbours  the  Burgundians. 

Both  these  states  were  destined  to  fall  before  the  sons  of 
Chlodovech,  but  neither   of  them  without  a  hardly  fought 
struggle.     Theuderich  was  distracted  from  his  first  attempts 
against  Thuringia  by  a  great  piratical  invasion  of  the  Lower 
Rhineland   by   predatory   bands    from   Scandinavia,    led    by 
the   Danish  king   Hygelac   (Chrocholaicus),    who   is   mainly 
remembered  as  the  brother  of  that  Beowulf  whom  the  earliest 
Anglo-Saxon  epic  celebrates  (515).     The  son  of    Theuderich 
the  king  of  the  Ripuarians  slew  the  pirate,  and    conquers 
next  year  the  Thuringian  war  began.     It  did  not    "^^"""S'^- 
terminate  till  531,  when  Theuderich,  calling  in  the  aid  of  his 
brother  Chlothar,  utterly  destroyed  the  Thuringian  realm,  and 
made  it   tributary   to   himself.      The   Frank  celebrated   his 
victory  first  by  an  unsuccessful  attempt  to  murder  his  brother 


114  European  History^  476-918 

and  helper  Chlothar,  who  was  fain  to  fly  home  in  haste,  and 
next  by  the  treacherous  murder  of  Hermanfrid,  the  vanquished 
Thuringian  king,  who  had  surrendered  on  promise  of  hfe. 
Theuderich  led  him  in  conversation  around  the  walls  of  the 
city  of  Zulpich,  and  suddenly  bade  his  servants  push  him  over 
the  rampart,  so  that  his  neck  was  broken.  Southern  Thur- 
ingia,  the  region  on  the  Werra  and  Unstrut,  was  for  the  future 
a  tributary  province  of  the  Franks.  Northern  Thuringia, 
between  Elbe  and  Werra,  was  overrun  by  the  Saxons,  and 
never  came  under  Theuderich's  power. 

While  the  king  of  Ripuaria  was  warring  in  Germany,  his 
younger  brothers  had  assaulted  Burgundy.  In  523  Childebert 
and  Chlodomer  attacked  the  unpopular  king  Sigismund,  the 
slayer  of  his  own  son,  as  we  have  elsewhere  related.^  They 
beat  him  in  battle,  took  him  prisoner,  and  threw  him  with  his 
wife  and  son  down  a  well.  But  Gondomar,  brother  of  Sigis- 
Frankish  mund,  restored  the  fortune  of  war  in  the  next  year, 
invasion  of  and  routcd  the  Franks  at  Veseronce,  in  a  battle 
Burgundy,  ^y^gj-g  Chlodomer  was  slain  (524).  Before  pur- 
suing the  Burgundian  war  the  brothers  of  the  dead  man 
resolved  to  plunder  his  realm.  The  king  of  Orleans  had 
only  left  infant  children,  so  Childebert  and  Chlothar  found 
no  difficulty  in  overrunning  his  lands  on  the  Loire.  The 
three  young  boys,  to  whom  the  realm  should  have  fallen,  were 
captured  and  brought  before  their  uncles.  Childebert,  the 
ruffian  who  was  of  a  milder  mood,  proposed  to  spare  their 
lives,  but  Chlothar  actually  dragged  them  away  while  they 
clung  to  his  brother's  knees,  and  cut  the  throats  of  the  two 
eldest  with  his  own  hands.  The  youngest  was  snatched 
up  arid  hidden  by  a  faithful  servant,  and  lived  to  become  a 
monk,  and  leave  his  name  to  the  *  monastery  of  Chlodovald ' 
(St.  Cloud). 

Of  Chlodomer's  realm  Childebert  took  the  lands  on  the 
upper  Loire  and  the  capital  city  Orleans,  Chlothar  the  Loire- 
mouth  and  the  part  of  Aquitaine  south  of  it.  Hearing  a  false 
^  See  p.  27. 

The  Early  Prankish  Kings  115 

report  that  his  eldest  brother,  Theuderich  had  fallen  in  battle 
with  the  Thuringians,  Childebert  now  invaded  East  Aquitaine, 
a  part  of  his  brother's  heritage.  But  Theuderich  returned  in 
wrath,  and  the  king  of  Paris  and  Orleans  resolved  to  go 
instead  against  the  Visigoths,  and  to  drive  them  from  the 
land  between  the  Cevennes  and  the  Pyrenees.  The  great 
Theodoric  was  just  dead,  so  no  help  from  Italy  could  be 
expected  by  the  Visigothic  king  Amalric,  the  grandson  of  the 
departed  hero.  Childebert  found  his  pretext  in  the  complaint 
that  his  sister  Chrotechildis,  the  wife  of  Amalric,  had  been 
debarred  from  the  exercise  of  the  Catholic  religion  and  cruelly 
ill  treated  by  her  Arian  husband.  With  this  holy  plea  as  his 
casus  belli  he  marched  against  Narbonne,  defeated  war  with  the 
Amalric  in  battle,  and  drove  him  over  the  Pyrenees  visigoths.sai. 
to  the  gates  of  Barcelona.  There  he  was  slain,  either  by  the 
sword  of  the  pursuing  Franks,  or  by  the  Visigothic  army, 
enraged  at  the  cowardice  which  he  had  displayed  in  the 
struggle.  On  his  death  the  Goths  raised  on  the  shield  and 
saluted  as  king  the  aged  count  Theudis,  the  regent  who  had 
ruled  Spain  for  Theodoric  the  Great  during  the  minority  of 
Amalric.  Thus  ended  the  race  of  the  Baitings  as  rulers  of 
the  Visigoths;  their  succeeding  kings  were  not  of  the  old 
royal  house.  Theudis,  who  was  suspected  of  having  had 
some  hand  in  his  late  pupil's  murder,  soon  justified  the  choice 
of  the  Goths,  by  recovering  Narbonne  and  the  other  cities  of 
Septimania  from  the  Franks.  Childebert  had  turned  off  to 
another  quest,  and  the  old  Visigothic  possessions  north  of  the 
Pyrenees  were  retaken  without  much  trouble  (531). 

The  enterprise  which  had  called  away  Childebert  was  a  new 
attempt  to  conquer  Burgundy,  in  which  his  brother  Chlothar 
had  promised  to  join  him.     In  the  spring  of  532    Burgundy 
the  kings  of  Paris  and  Soissons  united  their  forces,    conquered, 
and  marched  up  the  valley  of  the  Yonne.     They   ^^^* 
laid  siege  to  Autun,  and  when  Gondomar  the  Burgundian 
monarch  came  to  its  relief,  beat  him  with  such  decisive  results 
that  he  fled  into  Italy  and  abandoned  his  kingdom.     A  few 

1 1 6  European  History,  476-9 1 8 

sieges  put  the  victorious  Frankish  brethren  in  possession  of 
the  whole  Burgundian  realm  as  far  as  the  borders  of  the 
Ostrogoths  on  the  Alps  and  the  Drome. 

When  Burgundy  had  been  conquered,  the  Franks  began  to 
prepare  for  a  new  campaign  against  the  Visigoths,  in  which 
Theuderich  intended  to  share  no  less  than  his  brothers.  But 
this  scheme  was  frustrated  by  the  death  of  the  king  of 
Ripuaria  early  in  the  year  533.  He  left  a  son,  Theudebert, 
already  a  grown  man  and  a  good  warrior,  but  in  true  Mero- 
vingian fashion  the  uncles  of  the  heir  made  a  vigorous  attempt 
to  seize  and  divide  his  realm.  It  was  only  the  prompt  and 
enthusiastic  way  in  which  the  Ripuarians  rallied  around  their 
young  king  that  saved  him  from  the  fate  of  his  cousins,  the 
princes  of  Orleans.  Not  merely,  however,  did  Theudebert 
hold  his  own,  but  he  compelled  his  uncles  to  give  him  a 
share  of  the  newly-conquered  Burgundy,  v/hen  the  partition 
of  that  country  was  finally  made. 

Theudebert  was,  in  fact,  well  able  to  take  care  of  himself, 
and  soon  showed  that  he  was  as  unscrupulous  and  enterpris- 
ing, if  not  quite  so  bloodthirsty,  as  his  father  and  uncles.  Yet 
he  was,  for  a  Meroving,  not  an  unfavourable  specimen  of  a 
monarch,  and  the  chroniclers  tell  us  that  he  ruled  his  kingdom 
with  justice,  venerated  the  clergy,  built  churches,  and  gave 
much  alms  to  the  poor.  That  as  a  politician  he  was  shifty 
and  treacherous  was  soon  to  be  shown  by  his  dealings  with 
Theudebert  ^^^^^y*  ^"  535  the  cmpcror  Justinian,  on  the  eve 
invades  of  his  invasiou  of  the  Ostrogothic  kingdom,  bribed 

Italy,  535.  ^^  three  Frankish  monarchs,  by  a  gift  of  50,000 
solidi,  to  attack  Italy  from  the  rear.  Uncles  and  nephew 
alike  were  ready  to  take  the  money  and  join  in  the  plunder  of 
the  peninsula.  But  in  the  next  year  the  Gothic  king  Witiges, 
eager  to  free  himself  from  a  second  war,  offered  to  cede 
Provence  and  Rhaetia  to  the  Franks  if  they  would  make  peace 
with  him,  and  grant  him  the  aid  of  their  arms.  The  three 
kings  gladly  agreed,  and  lent  him  an  auxiliary  force  of  10,000 
men,  who  joined  the  Goths  in  recovering  Milan.     Theudebert 

The  Early  Prankish  Kings  117 

and  Childebert  are  said  to  have  cheated  Chlothar  of  his  third 
of  the  gains,  the  former  having  got  the  money  and  the  latter 
the  land  which  Witiges  made  over. 

In  539  Witiges  and  Belisarius  were  locked  in  such  deadly 
conflict  that  the  Franks  thought  it  a  good  opportunity  to  en- 
deavour to  invade  Italy  on  their  own  behalf.  Theudebert 
came  over  the  Alps  in  person,  with  an  army  of  100,000 
men,  all  footmen  armed  with  lance  and  axe,  save  300 
nobles  who  rode  around  the  king  with  shield  and  spear. 
First  falling  on  his  friends  the  Goths,  then  attacking  the 
East-Romans  in  turn,  Theudebert  drove  across  the  north  of 
Italy,  sacking  Genoa,  and  wasting  all  the  valley  of  the  Po  as 
far  as  Venetia.  All  the  open  country  was  in  his  hands,  and 
the  Goths  and  Romans  had  to  shut  themselves  up  in  their 
fortresses.  But  a  disease  brought  on  by  foul  living  fell  upon 
the  Franks,  and  so  thinned  their  ranks  that  Theudebert  had 
to  retire  homeward,  relinquishing  all  he  had  gained  save  the 
possession  of  the  passes  of  the  Cottian  Alps.  It  was,  how- 
ever, with  his  Italian  plunder  that  he  struck  the  first  gold 
money  which  any  barbarian  king  coined  in  his  own  name. 
Instead  of  placing  the  head  of  the  emperor  on  his  solidi,  as 
had  hitherto  been  the  practice  of  Goth,  Frank,  and  Bur- 
gundian,  he  represented  his  own  image  with  shield  and 
buckler,  and  the  inscription  Domimis  Noster  Theudebertus 
Victor^  without  any  reference  to  Justinian  as  emperor  or  over- 
lord. Some  of  the  pieces  make  him  assume  the  more  start- 
ling .title  of  Doniinus  Theudebertus  Augustus,  as  if  he  had 
aimed  at  uniting  Gaul  and  Italy,  and  taking  the  style  of 
Western  Emperor ;  and,  strange  as  this  design  may  appear,  it 
receives  some  countenance  from  a  chronicler  who  declares 
that,  after  his  Italian  conquests,  Theudebert  was  so  uplifted  in 
spirit  that  he  designed  to  march  against  Constantinople,  and 
make  himself  lord  of  the  world  (539). 

When  in  the  next  year  the  faithless  Theudebert  planned 
another  expedition  to  reconquer  north  Italy,  and  had  the 
effrontery  to  offer  his  alliance  once  more  to  king  Witiges,  we 

1 1 8  European  History,  476-9 1 8 

need  not  marvel  that  the  Ostrogoth  refused  to  listen  for  a 
moment  to  the  overture,  and  chose  rather  to  open  negotiation 
with  his  East-Roman  foes.  The  surrender  of  Ravenna  and 
the  triumph  of  Belisarius  followed,  and  Theudebert  found  that, 
in  invading  the  peninsula,  he  would  have  the  emperor  as  his 
foe  rather  than  the  king  of  the  Goths.  He  refrained  for  the 
time  from  following  up  his  first  successes,  but  it  is  strange  to 
find  that  when  the  Gothic  cause  had  again  triumphed  in 
the  hands  of  king  Baduila,  and  north  Italy  was  once  more 
torn  asunder  between  Roman  and  Teuton,  the  Frank  did  not 
take  advantage  of  the  renewed  troubles  to  make  a  second 
expedition.  It  is  probable  that  in  these  years,  541-45,  he  was 
Conquest  of  occupied  in  another  conquest,  that  of  the  land 
Bavaria.  between  the  Danube  and  the  Noric  Alps,  which 
now  bore  the  name  of  Bavaria.  The  German  tribes  in  the 
ancient  Noricum,  who  had  been  subject  to  Theodoric  in  the 
great  days  of  the  Gothic  Empire,  the  remnant  of  the  Rugians, 
Scyrri,  Turcilingi,  and  Herules,  had  lately  formed  themselves 
into  a  federation  under  the  name  of  Bavarians,  and  had  chosen 
a  duke  Garibald  as  their  prince.^  We  have  no  details  of 
Theudebert's  wars  against  them,  but  merely  know  that  by  the 
end  of  his  reign  he  had  made  the  Bavarians  tributary  to  the 
Franks.  Their  conquest  in  all  probability  fills  the  unrecorded 
time  between  Theudebert's  expedition  to  Italy  and  his  death 
in  548.  For  some  years  at  the  end  of  this  period  we  know 
that  he  was  sick  and  bedridden,  so  that  it  is  fair  to  put  the 
subjection  of  Bavaria  somewhere  about  543,  five  years  before 
the  death-date  of  the  Ripuarian  king.  Theudebert  left  his 
kingdom  to  his  young  son,  Theudebald,  a  weak  and  sickly 
boy,  whose  accession,  knowing  the  character  of  his  great- 
uncles,  we  are  surprised  to  hear  was  not  troubled  by  any 

While  Theudebert  had  been  busied  in  Italy,  the  other  two 

^  This  seems  the  best  way  of  accounting  for  the  obscure  beginnings  of 
the  Bavarian  duchy.  The  derivation  of  the  word  Bavaria  is  hard  to 

The  Early  Prankish  Kings  119 

Frankish  kings,  Childebert  and  Chlothar,  though  now  they 
were  both  advanced  in  years,  had  made  a  second  expedition 
against  the  Visigoths,  and  in  542  overran  the  Gothic  province 
north  of  the  Pyrenees,  and  then  crossed  into  the  valley  of  the 
Ebro.  They  took  Pampeluna,  and  advanced  as  far  as  Sara- 
gossa,  to  which  they  laid  siege,  but  in  front  of  that  city  they 
received  a  crushing  defeat  from  Theudigisel,  the  g'eneral  of  the 
old  Gothic  king,  Theudis,  and  were  driven  back  into  Gaul 
without  retaining  one  foot  of  their  conquests.  Narbonne  and 
the  Mediterranean  shore  still  remained  an  appendage  of  the 
kingdom  of  Spain. 

A  similar  fate  to  that  which  attended  the  armies  of  his 
great-uncles  in  Spain  was  destined  to  befall  the  first  expedi- 
tion which  Theudebald  of  Ripuaria  despatched  to  Italy.  The 
boy-king  was  too  young  to  head  the  army,  but  the  Eastern 
Frankish  magnates  who  governed  in  his  name  had  resolved 
to  renew  the  enterprise  of  king  Theudebert.  Two  dukes  of 
Alamannian  race,  Buccelin  and  Chlothar,  who  seemed  to  have 
possessed  the  chief  influence  at  the  court  of  Metz,  set  out  in 
551,  while  King  Baduila  was  engaged  in  his  last  desperate 
struggle  with  the  East-Romans,  and  overran  part  of  Venetia. 
Holding  to  the  alliance  of  neither  Roman  nor  Goth,  they 
threatened  to  attack  both;  but  Narses,  when  he  marched 
into  Italy  from  Illyria,  left  them  alone,  and  proceeded  to 
assault  king  Baduila,  without  paying  attention  to  the  northern 
invaders.  It  was  only  in  the  next  year,  when  Baduila  and  his 
successor  Teia  had  both  been  slain,  that  the  Battle  of 
armies  of  the  Franks  broke  up  from  their  en-  Casiiinum,553. 
campments  in  northern  Italy,  and  marched  down  to  chal- 
lenge the  supremacy  of  the  victorious  Narses  in  the  desolated 
peninsula.  How  they  fared  we  have  had  to  relate  in  the  pre- 
ceding chapter.  Chlothar  and  his  division  perished  of  want, 
or  plague,  in  Apulia.  Buccelin  and  the  main  body  were 
defeated  and  exterminated  by  Narses  at  the  battle  of  Casi- 
linum.  By  the  end  of  553  all  the  gains  of  the  Franks  in  Italy 
were  gone,  and  75,000  Frankish  corpses  had  been  buried  in 
Italian  soil  or  left  to  the  Italian  vultures. 

120  European  History^  476-918 

Less  than  two  years  after  the  armies  of  his  generals  had 
been  exterminated  by  Narses  the  weakly  Theudebald  died, 
and,  as  he  left  no  brother  or  uncle,  the  East-Frankish  realm 
was  heirless.  It  fell  by  the  choice  of  the  Ripuarian  folk-moot 
to  Theudebald's  great-uncle,  the  aged  Chlothar,  king  of 
Soissons,  who  thus  became  possessed  of  three-fourths  of  the 
Frankish  Empire.  As  his  brother,  the  still  older  Childebert, 
king  of  Paris,  was  childless,  it  was  now  certain  that  after  fifty 
years  of  division  the  empire  of  Chlodovech  was  about  to  be 
once  more  reunited  (555). 

Though  verging  on  his  seventieth  year,  Chlothar  was  still 
energetic  enough  to  go  forth  to  war.  When  the  dominions  of 
Theudebald  passed  into  his  hands,  he  took  up  the  scheme 
which  his  brother  Theuderich,  now  twenty  years  dead,  had 
once  entertained,  of  subduing  all  the  nations  of  inner  Ger- 
many. Beyond  the  vassal  Thuringians  lay  the  independent 
Saxons,  and  against  them  Chlothar  led  out,  in  555,  the  full 
force  of  both  the  Ripuarian  and  the  Salian  Franks.  The 
Saxons,  on  the  other  hand,  induced  many  of  the  Thuringians 
to  rise  in  rebellion,  and  endeavour  to  shake  off  the  Frankish 
yoke.  The  fortune  of  war  was  at  first  favourable  to  Chlothar, 
who  put  down  the  Thuringian  insurrection  without  much 
difficulty,  but  when,  in  the  next  year,  he  led  his  host  into  the 
unexplored  woods  and  moors  of  Saxony,  he  suffered  such  a 
terrible  defeat  that  he  was  fain  to  flee  behind  the  Rhine,  and 
cover  himself  by  the  walls  of  Koln.  The  pursuing  Saxons 
devastated  the  Trans-Rhenane  possessions  of  the  Franks  up 
to  the  gates  of  Deutz.  They  were  not  destined  to  become 
the  vassals  of  their  western  neighbours  for  another  two  hun- 
dred years. 

The  news  of  Chlothar's  disaster  in  Germany,  and  the  false 
report  of  his  death,  which  rumour  added  to  the  news,  brought 
on  trouble  in  Gaul.  Chramn,  the  eldest  son  of  Chlothar,  and 
Childebert  of  Paris,  his  aged  brother,  at  once  took  arms  to 
divide  his  kingdom.  Nor  when  the  news  came  that  he  still 
lived  did  they  desist  from  their  attempt.     They  sent  to  stir 

The  Early  Prankish  Kings  I2T 

up  the  Saxons,  and  persisted  in  the  war.  But,  before  they 
had  actually  crossed  swords  with  Chlothar,  the  old  king  of 
Paris  died,  and  Chramn,  reduced  to  his  own  resources,  was 
fain  to  throw  himself  on  his  father's  mercy  (558). 

Thus  Chlothar,  by  Childebert's  death,  gathered  in  the  last 
independent  fragment  of  his  father's  vast  heritage,  and  reigned 
for  three  years  (558-561)  over  the  realm  of  Chlo-  chiotharsoie 
dovech,  swelled  by  the  conquests  of  Burgundy,   ^^^"&'  558. 
Thuringia,  Provence,  and  Bavaria,  made  since  the  division  of 
the  Frankish  Empire. 

Chlothar  was  the  worst  of  his  house.  It  will  be  remem- 
bered how  his  career  had  begun  by  the  brutal  murder  of  his 
nephews.  It  was  destined  to  end  by  an  even  greater  atrocity. 
His  undutiful  son,  Chramn,  though  pardoned  in  558,  rebelled 
again  in  560,  with  the  aid  of  the  Bretons  of  Armorica. 
Chlothar  pursued,  defeated,  and  caught  the  rebellious  prince. 
Then  he  bound  him,  with  his  wife  and  his  young  sons,  to 
pillars  of  a  wooden  house,  and  burnt  them  alive  by  firing  the 
building.  This  shocking  deed  roused  even  the  brutal  Franks 
to  horror,  and  it  was  noted  as  the  judgment  of  heaven  that 
the  king  died  exactly  a  year  after  he  had  given  his  heir  to  the 
flames.  The  wicked  old  man's  body,  however,  was  buried  in 
great  state  in  the  church  of  St.  Medard,  as  though  he  had 
been  the  best  of  sovereigns  (561).  His  kingdom  fell  to  his 
four  sons,  destined  to  a  new  division  just  fifty  years  after  its 
first  partition  among  the  sons  of  Chlodovech. 

The  realm  of  the  Merovings  having  now  attained  to  its  full 
growth,  and  assumed  the  shape  which  it  was  to  keep  till  the 
fall  of  the  dynasty,  we  may  proceed  to  give  the  chief  facts 
concerning  its  social  and  political  organisation. 

Like  all  the  other  Teutonic  stafes  which  were  erected  on 

the  ruins  of  the  western  provinces  of  the  Roman  ^       ,.  , . 

^  Despotic  king- 

Empire,  it  possessed  a  political  constitution  which  ship  of  the 

had  advanced  very  far  beyond  the  simple  state  of  Merovings. 

things  described  in  the  Germania  of  Tacitus.     The  conquests 

of  the  Franks   had  resulted  in   the   increase   of  the  kingly 

122  European  History,  476-918 

power  to  a  height  which  it  had  never  reached  in  earlier 
days.  As  the  permanent  war-chief,  in  a  time  when  war  was 
incessant,  the  king  had  gradually  extended  his  power  from 
supreme  command  in  the  field  into  supreme  command  in  all 
things.  He  and  his  war-band  of  sworn  followers  had  borne 
the  brunt  of  the  fighting,  and  naturally  reaped  the  greater  part 
of  the  profit.  The  check  exercised  by  popular  assemblies  on 
the  royal  power  seems  almost  to  have  disappeared  after  the 
first  days  of  the  conquest.  In  the  time  of  Chlodovech  him- 
self we  find  some  traces  of  them  still  remaining.  Once  or  twice 
the  army,  in  the  capacity  of  public  assembly  of  the  manhood 
of  all  the  Franks,  seems  to  assert  itself  against  the  king,  but 
even  this  check  gradually  disappeared.  The  Frankish  Empire 
grew  too  broad  for  any  public  folk-moot  of  the  nation  to  be 
able  to  meet,  and  the  king  only  took  counsel  of  such  magnates 
— high  officers  of  the  household,  bishops,  and  provincial 
governors — as  he  chose  to  summon  to  his  presence.  Two 
additional  factors  gave  increased  strength  to  the  monarch. 
The  first  was  the  high  respect  paid  to  the  supreme  power  by 
the  conquered  Gallic  provincials,  men  long  habituated  to  the 
despotic  government  of  Rome — a  respect  far  greater  than  any 
that  the  Franks  had  been  accustomed  to  give  their  kings. 
The  habit  of  obedience  of  the  Gallo-Roman  was  soon  copied 
by  the  Frank.  The  second  factor  was  the  enriching  of  the 
king  by  the  vast  extent  of  the  old  imperial  domain  land  in 
Gaul,  which  was  transferred  at  the  conquest  to  the  Frankish 
king,  and  became  his  private  property,  placing  a  vast  store 
both  of  land  and  money  at  his  disposal. 

The  Merovings,  then,  were  despotic  rulers,  little  controlled 
by  any  constitutional  checks,  and  only  liable  to  be  deposed  by 
their  subjects  if  their  conduct  became  absolutely  unbearable. 
Their  worst  danger  was  always  from  their  ambitious  relatives, 
not  from  their  people. 

The  Frankish  king  was  distinguished  from  his  followers  by 
the  regal  privilege  of  wearing  long  hair, — to  shear  a  king's 
head  was  the  best   token   of  deposing   him, — by  his   royal 

The  Early  Prankish  Kings  123 

diadem,  and  kingly  spear.  Occasionally  he  borrowed  trap- 
pings from  the  Romans,  as  when,  for  example,  Chlodovech 
was  invested  with  the  robes  of  Patrician  after  his  Gothic  War.^ 
But  the  national  dress  was  generally  adhered  to. 

The  government  of  the  realm  was  managed  by  two  groups 
of  ministers — the  royal  household,  or  palatium^  and  the  pro- 
vincial governors.  The  household  followed  the  The  Royal 
person  of  the  king  in  all  his  movements.  It  Household, 
was  mainly  composed  of  personal  companions,  bound  by 
the  oath  of  fidelity,  the  comites  of  earlier  days,  who  had 
once  formed  the  king's  war-band,  but  now  constituted  his 
ministers  and  officials.  These  personal  adherents  were  called 
by  the  Franks  antrustions.  We  have  already  seen  that  the 
Goths  called  the  same  class  saiojies,  and  the  English  gesiths. 

The  chief  of  the  royal  household,  or  palaftum,  was  the 
official  whom  later  generations  usually  called  the  Major  Falatii, 
or  *  Mayor  of  the  Palace.'  He  was  the  king's  first  servant, 
charged  with  the  overseeing  of  the  rest  of  the  household 
officials,  and  ready  to  act  at  need  as  the  king's  other  self  in 
matters  of  war,  justice,  or  administration.  In  the  days  of  the 
first  warlike  Frankish  kings  the  Mayor  of  the  Palace  was  kept 
in  his  place  by  the  activity  of  his  master,  and  was  no  more 
than  an  important  official.  But,  as  the  Merovings  decayed  in 
personal  vigour,  their  mayors  grew  more  and  more  important, 
till  at  last  we  shall  see  them  taking  the  place  of  regent  and 
practical  substitute  for  the  king.  The  old  English  monarchies 
had  no  officials  who  can  be  compared  in  importance  to  them, 
but,  under  the  Anglo-Normans,  the  position  of  the  Justiciar 
was  much  like  that  occupied  by  the  Frankish  Major 

After  the  Mayor  of  the  Palace,  the  chief  ministers  of  the 
royal  household  were  the  Marshall  {comes  stabuli\  charged  with 
the  oversight  of  the  royal  stables ;  the  Comes  Palatii^  who 
acted  as  legal  adviser  and  assessor  to  the  king;  the  Trea- 
surer; and  the  Refer endarius^  or  royal  secretary.  Though 
^  See  p.  63. 

124  European  History y  476-918 

primarily  household  officials,  all  these  are  occasionally  found 
detached  from  the  court  on  external  business,  commanding 
armies,  or  sent  on  embassies. 

At  first  all  the  posts  were  given  to  Franks,  save  that  of  the 
Referendarius,  to  fill  which  it  would  have  been  hard  to  find  an 
educated  man  of  Teutonic  blood.  But,  by  the  end  of  the 
sixth  century,  men  of  Gallo-Roman  origin  were  occasionally 
found  in  occupation  of  them,  and  in  the  seventh  century 
this  became  quite  common.  In  605  we  find  even  the  office  of 
Major  Falatii,  the  most  important  of  them  all,  in  the  hands 
of  the  Gallo-Roman  Protadius. 

The  provincial,  as  distinguished  from  the  central,  govern- 
ment of  the  Frankish  realm  was  exercised  by  officers  who  bore 
the  names  of  Count  and  Duke  {cojnes,  dux,  Graf,  Herzog), 
The  whole  realm  was  divided  into  countships.  In  the  purely 
Teutonic  half  the  unit  was  the  old  tribal  district,  which  the 
The  Counts  Roman  called  Pagiis  and  the  Frank  Gau.  A 
and  Dukes.  count  was  appointed  to  each  of  these  tribal  units. 
In  the  Romano-Gallic  half  of  the  kingdom  the  countship  was 
composed  of  the  civitas,  or  city  with  its  dependent  district, 
which  had  survived  from  the  times  of  the  Western  Empire, 
and  often  represented  the  original  Celtic  tribe.  The  count 
was  both  a  military  and  civil  official.  He  administered 
justice,  led  the  armed  levy  of  his  district,  and  saw  to  the 
raising  of  taxes. 

Several  countships  were  often  united  and  placed  under  a 
single  official  of  higher  rank,  the  dux,  when  the  counts  had  to 
follow  and  obey.  These  unions  of  countships  were  most 
common  on  the  frontier,  where  a  strong  and  united  defence 
against  foreign  enemies  would  be  needed,  and  where  it  would 
have  been  unsafe  to  leave  the  charge  of  the  border  to  half  a 
dozen  counts,  who  might  or  might  not  co-operate  willingly  with 
each  other.  In  Provence  and  Burgundy  the  dux  was  also 
known  by  the  Roman  title  of  Patrician. 

The  provincial  no  less  than  the  household  officials  of  the 
Frankish  kings  were  originally  all  of  Teutonic  birth.     But,  in 

The  Early  Prankish  Kings  125 

the  sixth  century  Gallo-Romans  are  found  intrusted  with  both 
the  lesser  and  the  greater  charges.  We  shall  have  to  make 
mention  of  one  of  these  native  dukes,  the  Burgundian  Eunius 
Mummolus,  more  than  once,  when  recounting  the  history  of 
the  last  years  of  the  sixth  century. 

The  provincial  governor,  count  or  duke,  was  assisted  by  a 
deputy,  or  vicarius,  whom  he  nominated  to  fill  his  place  during 
his  absence  at  the  court  or  the  wars,  or  while  he  Local 
was  engaged  in  some  specially  absorbing  task  at  Government, 
home.  The  minor  administration  of  the  countship  was  carried 
out  by  centenarii^  or  hundred-men,  called  also  on  occasion 
tribuni.  The  countship  was  divided  into  hundreds,  and  over 
each  of  these  there  presided  a  hundred-man,  who  was  ap- 
pointed by  the  count  to  act  as  a  police  magistrate  in  time  of 
peace,  and  to  head  the  men  of  his  district  in  time  of  war.  Petty 
law  cases  came  before  him,  but  at  stated  periods  the  count 
went  round  all  the  hundreds  in  his  countship,  and  administered 
justice  at  a  public  assembly  of  the  inhabitants. 

The  count's  tribunal  was  called  the  Mallus.  He  sat  in 
company  with  a  few  assessors,  chosen  from  the  chief  men  of 
the  district.  These  magnates  were  called  Rachimburgi,  or 
Boni  Homines.  They  were  summoned  by  the  count,  and  had 
no  authority  independent  of  his,  but  by  ancient  custom — both 
Roman  and  Teutonic — assessors  had  always  been  called  in  to 
aid  the  chief  judge.  The  system  is  found  alike  at  the  tribunal 
of  the  Roman  provincial  magistrate  presiding  in  his  conventus^ 
and  in  the  primitive  German  law  courts  described  by  Tacitus. 
The  count,  sitting  in  his  Mallus^  had  full  power  of  life  and 
death,  and  authority  in  all  cases,  save  where  the  persons  con- 
cerned were  so  great  that  the  case  might  be  called  before 
the  King's  High  Court,  and  tried  by  the  king  himself  and  the 
Comes  Palatinus. 

The  Franks  not  unfrequently  enforced  the  death  penalty 
for  murder,  arson,  brigandage,  and  other  great  crimes.  But 
they  used  also  the  system  of  weregeld,  like  our  own  Anglo- 
Saxon  forefathers.      With  the  consent  of  the  family  of  the 

126  European  History ^  476-918 

victim,  almost  every  murder  could  be  condoned  on  the  pay- 
ment  of  sums  varying  from  30  gold  solidi  for  a  slave  to  t8oo 
for  a  freeman  of  high  rank.  In  cases  when  the 
proof  of  a  crime  was  difficult  on  the  evidence  pro- 
duced, the  Franks  often  made  use  of  oaths  and  compurga- 
tions. The  accused  for  himself,  or  a  body  of  his  supporters 
in  his  behalf,  made  a  solemn  oath  that  he  was  innocent,  and 
this  sufficed  to  acquit  him  if  no  further  evidence  was  pro- 
duced. Judicial  combats  were  also  not  unfrequent.  They 
appear  among  the  Burgundians,  however,  before  they  were 
taken  up  by  the  Franks.  Nor  was  the  custom  unknown  of 
submitting  criminals  whose  conviction  was  difficult  to  the 
ordeal :  that  by  boiling  water,  where  the  accused  plunged  his 
hand  into  a  caldron,  was  the  one  most  frequently  used. 

It  will  be  noticed  that  there  was  no  trace  of  popular 
government  in  this  Frankish  administration.  The  king  chose 
the  count  and  the  count  the  hundred-man.  The  king  was  not 
controlled  or  checked  by  any  popular  assembly  of  the  nation, 
nor  the  count  or  hundred-man  by  any  meeting  of  the  people 
of  his  district.  The  king  promulgated  edicts  and  laws  on  his 
own  responsibility,  and  similarly  the  count  administered  his 
countship  without  any  thought  of  rendering  account  to  any 
one  save  the  king.  Such  assemblies  as  took  place  were  sum- 
moned to  hear  the  decisions  of  king  or  count,  not  to  debate 
upon  them,  or  recommend  their  modification.  The  ancient 
German  freedom  had  disappeared,  to  give  place  to  an  auto- 
cracy as  well  defined  as  that  of  the  vanished  Roman  empire. 

Besides  dukes  and  counts,  the  king  kept  other  officials  in 
the  provinces.  These  were  the  domestici,  who  were  charged 
with  the  control  of  the  royal  domain-land  throughout  the  king- 
dom. They  were  the  king's  private  bailiffs  for  his  own  pos- 
sessions, acting  much  as  the  '  Procurators  of  the  Fiscus '  had 
once  acted  for  the  Roman  emperors  in  the  ancient  provinces. 
There  were  other  domestici  in  the  palace,  whose  offices  were 
also  financial,  and  who  must  apparently  have  served  as  under- 
lings to  the  high  treasurer. 

The  Early  Prankish  Kings  1 27 

The  revenue  of  the  Merovings  seems  chiefly  to  have  fallen 
under  four  heads.  The  first  was  the  profits  of  the  royal 
domain,  worked  by  the  domestici.  The  second  was  the  pro- 
duce of  custom  dues,  levied  both  on  the  land  and 

/-  •  /■     1  •  rrii         1  •    -1  Revenue. 

the  sea-frontier  of  the  empire.  The  third  was  the 
produce  of  fines  and  compositions  in  the  law  courts,  of  which 
one-third  always  went  to  the  king.  But  the  fourth,  and  most 
important,  was  the  regular  annual  tribute  of  the  countships. 
Each  district  was  assessed  in  the  king's  books  for  a  defined 
sum,  and  this  the  count  had  to  raise  and  send  in,  on  his  own 
responsibility.  It  seems  that  at  first  only  the  Gallo-Roman 
districts  were  charged  with  tribute.  Theudebert,  the  grandson 
of  Chlodovech,  we  are  told,  first  subjected  the  native  Prankish 
districts  to  the  impost,  a  grievance  so  deeply  felt  that,  when 
he  died,  the  Austrasians  rose,  and  slew  Parthenius,  the  minister 
who  had  suggested  to  the  king  this  method  of  increasing  his 

From  this  short  sketch  of  the  constitution  of  the  Frankish 
realm  it  will  be  seen  that  its  organisation  lay  half-way  between 
the  almost  purely  Teutonic  forms  of  the  government  of  early 
England  and  the  almost  purely  Roman  methods  employed  by 
Theodoric  the  Great  in  Italy.  This  is  what  might  have  been 
expected.  The  Frankish  kingdom  was  by  no  means  a  primi- 
tive Teutonic  state,  but  it  was  far  more  so  than  the  Ostro- 
gothic  realm  in  Italy. 




Weakness  of  the  Visigothic  kingdom— Civil  wars  and  murders  of  Kings — 
The  Romans  invade  Andalusia,  554 — Reign  of  Leovigild — He  restores  the 
power  of  the  Visigoths — His  conquests — Rebellion  and  death  of  his  son 
Hermenegild — Reign  of  Reccared — He  converts  the  Goths  to  Catholicism 
— Consequences  of  this  conversion. 

We  have  already,  while  dealing  with  the  fortunes  of  Chlodo- 
vech  the  Frank  and  Theodoric  the  Great,  related  the  story  of 
the  expulsion  of  the  Visigoths  from  Aquitaine,  and  of  the 
extinction  of  their  royal  house — the  heaven-born  Baits — by 
the  deaths  of  Alaric  11.  and  Amalric,  both  slain  by  the  sword 
of  the  Franks. 

In  531  the  Visigoths,  deprived  of  all  their  dominions  north 
of  the  Pyrenees,  and  followed  into  the  Iberian  peninsula  by 
the  victorious  Franks,  found  themselves  without  any  prince  of 
the  old  royal  line  who  could  be  raised  to  the  throne,  and 
Election  of  deliver  them  from  their  enemies.  The  host  pro- 
Theudis,  531.  cecdcd,  according  to  Teutonic  custom,  to  elect  a 
king,  and  chose  the  old  count  Theudis,  the  Ostrogothic  noble 
who  had  acted  as  regent  for  Amalric  during  the  long  years  of 
his  minority.  The  veteran  justified  their  choice  by  recovering 
part  of  the  lost  lands  beyond  the  Pyrenees — the  rich  province 
of  Septimania,  with  its  cities  of  Narbonne,  Nismes,  and  Car- 
cassonne. Ten  years  later  Theudis  had  to  face  another 
Prankish    invasion,    and    again    succeeded    in    repelling    his 


The  Visigoths  in  Spain  129 

adversaries,   after    a    bloody  battle    in    front   of   Saragossa 


Preserved  from  the  danger  of  Frankish  conquest,  the  Visi- 
gothic  nation  had  to  face  the  problem  of  reorganising  its  con- 
stitution under  the  new  conditions  of  its  existence.  It  had 
previously  looked  on  Gaul  rather  than  on  Spain  as  its  home. 
Toulouse  had  been  the  favourite  abode  of  its  kings,  not  Bar- 
celona or  Toledo.  Gaul  was  now  lost,  save  one  province,  and 
it  was  in  Spain  alone  that  the  Visigothic  name  was  to  survive. 
But  even  worse  than  the  loss  of  its  ancient  home  was  the  loss 
of  its  ancient  royal  house.  Nothing  could  be  more  ruinous  to 
a  Teutonic  tribe  in  those  days  than  the  extinction  of  the  line 
of  its  old  heaven-descended  kings.  When  it  had  become 
necessary  to  choose  a  ruler  from  among  the  ranks  of  the 
nobility,  every  ambitious  count  and  duke  could  aspire  to  the 
throne.  Each  election  was  bitterly  contested,  and  the  candi- 
dates who  had  failed  to  win  the  favour  of  the  host  retired  to 
plot  and  intrigue  against  their  more  fortunate  rival.  When 
no  one  had  any  prescriptive  hereditary  right  to  the  succession 
on  the  reigning  king's  death,  the  temptation  to  make  away 
with  him  by  violence,  and  endeavour  to  seize  his  heritage,  was 
irresistible.  Hence  it  came  to  pass  that  of  the  twenty-three 
Visigothic  kings  of  Spain — from  Theudis  to  Roderic — no  less 
than  nine  were  deposed,  and  of  these  seven  were  murdered  by 
their  successors.  The  average  length  of  their  reigns  was  less 
than  eight  years,  and  only  in  eight  instances  did  a  son  succeed 
a  father  on  the  throne.  There  was  but  one  single  case  of 
grandfather,  father,  and  son  following  each  other  in  undisputed 

In  relating  the  history  of  the  Franks  in  Gaul,  we  have  had 
occasion  to  point  out  the  comparative  ease  with  which  the  Frank 
and  the  Roman  provincial  coalesced  to  form  a  new  weakness  of 
nation.  We  have  seen  how  from  the  first  the  Gaulish  *^^  Visigoths, 
bishops  were  employed  as  ministers  and  confidants  by  the 
Merovings,  and  how,  in  a  short  time,  Gallo-Roman  counts  and 

^  See  p.  133. 

130  European  History^  476-918 

dukes  were  preferred  to  high  places  in  the  Frankish  palace 
and  army.  In  Spain  no  such  easy  union  between  the 
Teutonic  conquerors  and  the  provincials  was  possible,  because 
the  great  bar  of  religion  lay  between  them.  Unlike  the  Franks, 
the  Visigoths  were  Arians,  having  preserved  the  heretical 
form  of  Christianity  which  their  forefathers  had  learnt  beyond 
the  Danube  in  the  fourth  century.  The  Spanish  provincials, 
on  the  other  hand,  were  almost  to  a  man  fanatically  orthodox. 
The  Goths  formed  a  religious  community  of  their  own,  quite 
apart  from  the  Spaniards,  with  Arian  bishops  and  priests  to 
minister  to  them  :  and  their  kings  could  not  acknowledge  or 
utilise  the  native  bishops  as  the  Merovings  had  done  in  Gaul. 
The  provincials  hated  their  rulers  as  heretics  as  well  as  bar- 
barians, and  never  acquiesced  willingly  in  their  domination. 
They  were  not  indisposed  to  favour  the  advance  of  the 
orthodox  Frank,  and  welcomed  the  coming  of  the  troops  of 
the  East-Roman  emperors  to  their  shores  in  the  sixth  century. 
While  the  Visigoths  remained  Arian  they  raised  no  Spaniard 
to  power  or  ofhce ;  it  was  not  till  they  became  Catholic,  in  the 
very  end  of  the  sixth  century,  that  the  first  Roman  names  are 
found  among  the  servants  of  the  king.^  For  the  first  seventy 
years  of  their  rule  in  Spain  the  Visigoths  were  completely 
estranged  from  their  subjects  (511-587). 

The  masters  of  Spain,  then,  were  a  not  very  numerous 
tribe,  scattered  thinly  among  masses  of  an  oppressed  subject 
population.  They  were  masters  by  the  power  of  the  sword 
alone,  but  their  military  force  was  crippled  by  the  weakness 
of  their  elective  kings,  who  were  too  much  occupied  in  main- 
taining their  precarious  authority  over  the  discontented  chiefs 
to  allow  of  their  making  their  arms  felt  abroad.  Nearly  all 
the  wars  of  the  Visigoths  were  either  civil  broils  between  rival 
kings,  or  defensive  campaigns  against  the  intrusive  Frank  from 
beyond  the  Pyrenees. 

^  The  earliest  notable  case  is  duke  Claudius,  the  general  of  king 
Reccared  i.,  the  first  orthodox  ruler  of  Spain.  He  commanded  vic- 
toriously against  the  Franks  of  Guntram  of  Burgundy  in  589. 

The  Visigoths  in  Spain  131 

There  is  yet  one  more  point  to  add  to  this  picture  of  ihe 
distracted  realm  of  the  Visigoths ;  they  were  not  even  masters 
of  the  whole  of  the  Iberian  peninsula,  but  had  to  contend 
with  fierce  and  watchful  enemies  within  its  limits.  In  the 
western  Pyrenees,  and  on  the  shores  of  the  Gulf  of  Biscay, 
the  Basques  preserved  a  precarious  independence,  and 
descended  from  their  fastnesses  to  plunder  the  valley  of  the 
Ebro,  whenever  the  Goths  were  engaged  in  civil  discords. 
Farther  to  the  west  there  still  subsisted  in  the  ancient  Ga- 
Hcia  and  Lusitania  the  kingdom  of  the  Suevi — the  original 
Teutonic  conquerors  of  Spain.  The  early  Visigothic  kings 
had  driven  them  into  the  mountains  of  the  West,  but  had 
never  followed  them  into  their  last  retreats,  to  compel  them 
to  make  complete  submission.  Suevic  kings  reigned  at  Braga 
over  the  country  north  of  the  Tagus  and  west  of  the  Esla 
and  Tormes  till  the  last  years  of  the  sixth  century.  When- 
ever a  favourable  opportunity  occurred,  they  took  part  in  the 
civil  wars  of  the  Visigoths,  and  harried  the  valley  of  the  upper 
Douro  and  the  lower  Tagus. 

The  inner  organisation  of  the  Visigothic  realm  presents  a 
very  different  picture  from  the  centraHsed  despotism,  with 
everything  depending  on  the  king,  which  we  have  described 
as  existing  among  the  early  Franks  in  Gaul.  Like  the  Franks 
the  Visigoths  had  divided  their  conquest  into  districts,  go- 
verned by  counts  or  dukes,  generally  using  as  the  unit  of 
division  the  old  Roman  boundaries  of  provinces  and  civitates. 
But  the  Visigothic  governors  were  far  less  under  the  control 
of  their  elective  kings  than  were  the  Frankish  counts  under 
the  hand  of  the  despotic  Merovingians.  Each  of  them  kept 
a  bodyguard  of  personal  dependants  called — as  among  the 
Ostrogoths — saiones^  or  sometimes  bucellarii^  whom  he  could 
trust  to  follow  him  even  against  the  king.  It  was  the  pos- 
session of  this  armed  following  among  a  helpless,  ^^^  g  . 
weaponless  mass  of  provincials  which  enabled  any 
count  or  duke  who  was  popular  and  ambitious  to  dare  an  at- 
tempt at  rebellion,  whenever  his  master  was  weak  or  unfortunate. 

132  European  History,  476-918 

There  seems  to  have  been  a  comparatively  small  body  of  lesser 
freeholders — ceorls  as  they  would  have  been  called  in  England 
— among  the  Visigoths.  There  is  little  trace  of  any  intermediate 
class  between  the  nobles — whether  official  nobles,  palatini,  or 
nobles  of  birth — and  their  sworn  followers  the  saiones.  In 
fact,  the  kingdom  might  fairly  be  called  feudal  in  its  organisa- 
tion, consisting  as  it  did  of  a  servile  population  of  Hispano- 
Roman  blood,  held  down  by  a  sprinkling  of  Gothic  men-at- 
arms,  each  bound  by  oath  to  follow  some  great  noble,  who 
considered  himself  the  equal  of  his  king,  and  vouchsafed  him 
only  the  barest  homage.  As  yet  the  king  had  no  opportunity 
of  supporting  himself  by  calling  in  to  his  aid  either  the  Church 
or  the  subject  Roman  population;  his  Arianism  prevented 
him  from  having  recourse  to  any  such  expedient. 

The  difference  between  Roman  and  Goth  was  indeed  ac- 
centuated in  every  way.  There  were  different  codes  of  law 
for  subject  and  master,  the  former  using  a  local  adaptation  of 
the  Theodosian  code  known  as  the  Breviarium  Alarici,  while 
the  latter  was  judged  by  old  Gothic  customary  law  not  yet 
reduced  into  written  form.^  Even  marriage  between  the  two 
races  was  illegal,  till  about  570  king  Leovigild  broke  the 
prohibition  by  taking  to  wife  Theodosia,  the  daughter  of 
Severianus.  Spain  sadly  needed  some  ruler  like  Theodoric 
the  Great,  to  act  as  a  mediator  and  redresser  of  wrongs  be- 
tween the  two  nations  who  dwelt  within  its  borders. 

An  evil  end  fell  upon  all  the  first  three  Visigothic  kings 
who  ruled  in  Spain.  The  aged  Theudis  enjoyed  seventeen 
years  of  power,  and,  as  we  have  already  related,  was  successful 
in  beating  off  three  successive  attacks  of  the  Franks  on 
the  peninsula.  But  the  end  of  his  reign  was  clouded  by 
disaster  \  frightened  by  the  rapidity  with  which  the  armies  of 
Justinian  had  crushed  Vandal  and  Goth,  he  resolved  to  create 
a  diversion  in  favour  of  his  own  Italian  kinsmen,  by  attacking 
the  newly-created  imperial  province  of  Africa.  But  his  army 
was  almost  annihilated  in  front  of  the  fortress  of  Septa  (Ceuta), 
^  The  Gothic  law  was  probably  written  down  about  587  by  Reccared. 

The  Visigoths  in  Spain  133 

the  westernmost  bulwark  of  the  African  province,  and  he 
himself  returned  to  Spain  with  his  military  reputation  wrecked 
in  his  extreme  old  age.  Four  years  later  he  was  murdered  at 
Seville  by  an  unknown  assassin,  who  either  was,  or  feigned  to 
be,  insane  (548). 

The  Visigothic  chiefs  then  elected  as  their  king,  Theudigisel, 
the  general  who  had  beaten  the  Franks  at  Saragossa  in  542, 
and  had  ever  since  been  reckoned  the  best  warrior  of  their 
race.  But  the  new  king  was  brutal  and  debauched;  his 
excesses  provoked  the  anger  of  the  nobles,  and  only  seventeen 
months  after  his  accession  he  was  murdered.  *  While  he  sat 
at  supper  with  his  friends,  and  waxed  merry  over  the  wine,  the 
lamps  were  extinguished,  and  he  was  slain  on  his  couch  by 
the  sword  of  his  enemies.' 

The  majority  of  the  Visigoths  then  chose  Agila  as  their 
ruler,  but,  though  he  was  acknowledged  as  king  at  Toledo  and 
Barcelona,  the  counts  of  the  South  refused  to  recognise  him. 
When  he  invaded  Andalusia  he  suffered  a  fearful  defeat  in 
front  of  Cordova,  and  saw  his  son  and  heir  slain  before  his 
eyes.  But  he  still  held  all  Spain  north  of  the  Sierra  Morena, 
and  seemed  so  strong  that  the  chief  of  the  rebels,  count 
Athanagild,  resolved  to  call  in  to  his  aid  the  arms  of  the 
East-Romans.  Justinian  embraced  with  joy  this  opportunity 
of  getting  a  footing  in  Spain,  and  by  his  orders  Liberius, 
governor  of  Africa,  crossed  the  Straits,  and  landed  at  Cadiz. 
Many  towns  at  once  opened  their  gates  to  the  Roman  troops, 
for  the  oppressed  provincials  thought  that  Liberius  would 
deliver  them  for  ever  from  the  Goths,  and  restore  the  imperial 
authority  in  the  whole  peninsula.  Roused  to  desperation, 
Agila  summoned  up  all  his  forces,  crossed  the  The  Romans 
Sierra  Morena  for  a  second  time,  and  engaged  ^^"^  ^"  Spain, 
the  armies  of  Athanagild  and  Liberius  in  front  of  Seville. 
Again  he  suffered  a  disastrous  defeat,  and  was  constrained  to 
fly  to  Merida.  Then  his  soldiery,  seeing  that  the  Gothic  race 
was  ruining  itself  by  fratricidal  strife,  while  the  Romans  were 
occupying  town  after  town,  suddenly  ended  the  civil  war  by 

134  European  History,  476-918 

murdering  their  chief,  and  saluting  the  rebel  Athanagild  as 
king  of  the  Visigoths.  For,  as  a  Frankish  chronicler  ob- 
served, *  the  Goths  have  long  had  the  evil  custom  of  slaying 
with  the  sword  any  king  who  does  not  please  them,  and  of 
choosing  in  his  stead  some  one  who  better  suits  their  incHna- 
tion.'  The  Franks,  on  the  other  hand,  boasted  of  their 
unshaken  fidelity  to  the  house  of  Chlodovech,  outside  whose 
limits  they  never  looked  when  a  king  had  to  be  chosen. 

Athanagild  was  now  king  of  Spain,  but  he  soon  found  that 
by  calHng  in  the  Romans  he  had  raised  up  a  demon  whom  he 
was  not  strong  enough  to  control.  The  generals  of  Justinian 
utterly  refused  to  evacuate  the  towns  they  had  seized  during 
the  civil  war.  They  were  in  possession  of  the  majority  of  the 
harbours  of  the  south  coast  of  the  peninsula,  on  both  sides  of 
the  Strait  of  Gibraltar,  from  the  promontory  of  St.  Vincent  on 
the  Atlantic  to  the  mouth  of  the  Sucre  on  the  Mediterranean. 
x\nd  not  only  were  Cadiz,  Malaga,  and  Carthagena  in  their 
hands,  but  also  many  of  the  inland  towns  of  Andalusia, 
including  the  great  city  of  Cordova.  Athanagild  never 
succeeded  in  evicting  them  from  these  conquests;  for  thirty 
years  the  Constantinopolitan  Caesars  were  acknowledged  as 
rulers  at  Cordova  and  Granada,  and  it  was  fully  sixty  years 
before  the  sea-coast  towns  were  all  won  back  by  the  Goths. 
Although  defeated  in  the  open  field  by  Athanagild,  the 
generals  of  Justinian  clung  successfully  to  their  walled  towns, 
till  at  last  the  Gothic  king  was  forced  to  make  a  truce  with 
them,  and  leave  them  unsubdued. 

Although  Athanagild  maintained  himself  on  the  throne  for 
thirteen  years,  and  died  a  natural  death — unlike  his  five  pre- 
decessors on  the  Visigothic  throne — he  does  not  seem  to 
Athanagild,  havc  been  a  very  powerful  or  successful  monarch. 
555-568.  Tphe  scanty  annals  of  the  century  preserve  few 

facts  about  him,  and  he  is  best  remembered  as  the  father  of 
the  two  unhappy  sisters,  Brunhildis  and  Galswintha,  *  the 
pearls  of  Spain,'  whom  he  gave  in  marriage  to  the  Frankish 
kings,  Sigibert  and  Chilperich.     These  alliances  were  founded 

The  Visigoths  in  Spain  13:5 

on  political  needs ;  the  marriage  of  Brunhildis — the  first  wed 
of  the  two  princesses — was  destined  to  secure  the  aid  of  the 
king  of  Austrasia  against  any  attempts  of  his  brothers  of  Paris, 
Soissons,  and  Burgundy  against  Spain.  The  fame  of  the 
beauty  and  wealth  of  Brunhildis  then  led  the  wicked  Chil- 
perich  of  Soissons  to  ask  and  obtain  her  sister's  hand,  which 
Athanagild  granted  in  order  to  secure  another  ally.  Luckily 
for  himself  the  old  Gothic  king  died  soon  after,  before  he  had 
time  to  hear  of  Galswintha's  troubled  wedlock  and  miserable 
end  (568). 

The  death  of  Athanagild  was  followed  by  five  months  of 
anarchy;  the  Visigothic  nobles  could  not  agree  to  choose 
^ny  king;  each  took  arms,  assaulted  his  neighbours,  and  did 
Ml  that  was  right  in  his  own  eyes,  for  the  *  king's  peace '  died 
with  the  king.  At  last  the  governors  of  Septimania  agreed 
to  elect  Leova,  duke  of  Narbonne,  as  their  ruler;  but  the 
counts  who  dwelt  south  of  the  Pyrenees  refused  to  accept  the 
nominee  of  the  Gallic  province.  After  some  fighting,  how- 
ever, Leova  proposed  to  them  to  take  as  his  colleague  his 
brother  Leovigild,  who  was  well  known  and  popular  in  the 
south,  and  the  majority  of  the  nobles  of  Spain  agreed  to 
accept  him.  Leova  retained  his  kingly  title  and  his  own 
Septimanian  realm,  while  Leovigild  reigned  in  the  peninsula  as 
king  of  Spain.  The  division  of  the  kingdom,  however,  only 
lasted  four  years,  as  Leova  died  without  issue  in  572,  and  his 
brother  then  united  Septimania  to  Spain. 

Leovigild  was  the  first  man  of  mark  who  had  reigned  over 
the  Visigoths  for  a  hundred  years;  he  may  be  styled  the 
second  founder  of  the  Visigothic  kingdom,  for  he  dragged  it 
out  of  the  depths  of  anarchy  and  weakness,  gave  it  a  new 
organisation,  and  smote  down  its  enemies  to  east  and  west. 
Without  his  strong  hand  it  seems  possible  that  the  realm 
would  have  gone  to  pieces,  and  become  the  prey  of  the 
Franks  and  the  East-Romans. 

For  the  first  eight  years  of  his  reign  Leovigild  was  forced  to 
fight  hard  with  enemies  on  all  sides,  before  he  could  win  a 

136  European  History,  476-918 

moment  for  repose.     His  first  blows  were  struck  against  the 
Imperialists,  who  had  gone  forth  from  Cordova  and  Cadiz 
Wars  of       ^^^   conquered   the  whole  of  Andalusia.     After 
Leovigiid,     winning   several   battles  in   the   open   field,  and 
^^°"  °'  storming    Baza    and    Assidonia,    he    drove    the 

Romans  within  the  walls  of  Cordova.  This  great  city,  de- 
fended by  a  strong  garrison  and  a  fanatically  Catholic  popula- 
tion, kept  the  king  at  bay  for  a  whole  year ;  but  in  571  it  was 
betrayed  to  him  by  its  Gothic  inhabitants  and  fell,  after  having 
been  more  than  twenty  years  in  the  hands  of  the  Imperialists. 
The  East-Roman  power  now  shrank  back  behind  the  Sierra 
Nevada,  and  comprised  nothing  more  than  the  coast-strip 
from  Lagos  to  Carthagena. 

Leovigiid  then  turned  against  the  Suevi,  who  had  seized  the 
valley  of  the  middle  Douro,  and  were  pushing  into  the  very 
heart  of  the  peninsula.  They  had  lately  been  converted  to 
Catholicism,  and  were  welcomed  by  the  provincials  of  central 
Spain,  who  hoped  to  gain  an  orthodox  instead  of  an  Arian 
master.  But  Leovigiid  beat  the  Suevic  king  Theodemir  in 
the  field,  stormed  his  fortress  of  Senabria,  and  compelled  him 
to  do  homage. 

For  two  years  more  Leovigiid  was  occupied  in  putting  down 
sporadic  rebellions  of  the  Roman  provincials  in  all  the  more 
remote  and  mountainous  corners  of  Spain — especially  in  Can- 
tabria,  on  the  shores  of  the  Gulf  of  Biscay,  and  among  the 
Murcian  mountains  in  the  South.  He  captured  and  put  to 
death  Aspidius  and  Abundantius,  the  chief  leaders  of  these 
revolts,  and  punished  their  followers  by  wholesale  executions. 
At  last,  after  eight  years  of  war,  the  whole  of  the  ancient  Visi- 
gothic  dominions,  save  the  towns  on  the  Andalusian  coast, 
were  once  more  subdued  and  under  control  (576). 

The  hand  of  Leovigiid  was  no  less  hard  upon  the  factious 
nobility  of  his  own  nation  than  upon  the  foreign  enemies  of 
Spain.  He  sought  out  and  executed,  one  after  another,  all 
the  more  unruly  of  the  Visigothic  chiefs — 'all  the  race  of 
men  who  had  been  wont  to  slay  their  kings,'  as  a  Frankish 

The  Visigoths  in  Spain  1 37 

chronicler  styled  them.  In  their  stead  he  appointed  counts  and 
dukes  from  among  his  own  comitatus,  whom  he  thought  that 
he  could  trust.  At  last  the  king's  mandate  was  obeyed  through 
all  the  realm,  from  Nismes  to  Seville,  as  it  had  never  been  obeyed 
before,  and  it  seemed  likely  that  a  strong  autocratic  royalty 
would  prevail  among  the  Visigoths  as  it  did  among  the  Franks. 
Leovigild  now  fixed  his  court  permanently  at  Toledo,  and 
assumed  all  the  splendour  and  state  of  the  ancient  Roman 
Caesars — the  diadem,  the  sceptre,  the  purple  robe,  and  golden 
throne.  Before  him  the  kings  of  the  Visigoths  had  been  in- 
distinguishable in  manners  and  apparel  from  their  own  nobles ; 
they  only  differed  from  them  by  bearing  the  royal  name, 
and  keeping  up  a  larger  body  of  oath-bound  saiones.  At  the 
same  tim'e  that  he  fixed  his  seat  at  Toledo,  Leovigild  took 
another  opportunity  of  asserting  his  power  and  independence. 
The  coinage  of  the  Visigoths  had  hitherto  been  a  mere  bar- 
barous imitation  of  the  imperial  currency  of  Rome  and  Con- 
stantinople, but  from  henceforth  the  name  of  the  Gothic  king 
was  placed  upon  all  the  gold /remisses  of  Spain.  For  a  few 
years  Leovigild  added  the  name  of  Justin  11.  to  his  own,  but 
he  soon  cast  away  the  last  sign  of  the  old  dependence  on  the 
empire,  and  the  inscription,  livigildvs  inclitvs  rex,  was  the 
sign  of  the  disavowal  of  the  last  nominal  connection  of  Spain 
with  the  heirs  of  Constantine. 

The  troubles  of  Leovigild,  however,  had  not  yet  come  to  an 
end.  His  worst  enemies  were  to  be  those  of  his  own  house. 
Before  his  accession  to  the  throne  he  had  married,  contrary  to 
Gothic  custom,  a  noble  Roman  lady**  named  Theodosia, 
daughter  of  Severianus,  sometime  governor  of  Carthagena. 
By  her  he  had  two  sons,  Hermenegild  and  Reccared.  When 
she  died  he  endeavoured  to  strengthen  his  position  by  marrying 
Godiswintha,  the  widow  of  his  predecessor  Athanagild ;  and 
some  years  later,  when  his  son  Hermenegild  reached  manhood, 
he  determined  to  seek  for  him  another  bride  from  the  family  of 
Athanagild.  Accordingly  he  asked  for,  and  obtained  the  hand 
of  his  wife's  granddaughter,  Ingunthis,  the  daughter  of  Sigibert 

1 3  8  European  History,  476-9 1 8 

of  Austrasia  and  Brunhildis.  At  the  age  of  thirteen  she  was 
wedded  to  Hermenegild.  This  marriage  was  destined  to  have 
the  most  unhappy  results.  The  daughter  of  Brunhildis  was 
fated  to  be  as  much  the  cause  of  woe  to  Spain  as  her  mother 
had  been  to  Gaul.  She  had  been  reared  in  Austrasia  as  a 
Catholic,  and,  in  spite  of  her  tender  age,  refused  to  conform 
to  the  Arian  creed  of  the  Visigoths.  If  the  Frankish  chronicles 
are  to  be  believed,  she  was  subjected  to  the  most  violent 
treatment  by  her  grandmother  Godiswintha,  to  force  her  to 
abandon  the  orthodox  faith.  But  though  beaten,  starved,  and 
flung  into  a  fish-pond,  she  still  refused  to  renounce  the  faith 
of  her  childhood.  At  last  Leovigild,  tired  of  the  perpetual 
disputes  between  his  wife  and  his  daughter-in-law,  which  made 
his  palace  unbearable,  sent  off  Hermenegild  to  Seville  to 
govern  part  of  Andalusia. 

This  step  proved  most  unfortunate.  The  young  prince  fell  en- 
tirely under  the  influence  of  his  wife  and  of  his  mother's  brother, 
Leander  bishop  of  Seville.  Won  over  by  their  pleadings,  he 
Rebellion  of  declared  himself  a  Catholic,  and  was  rebaptized, 
Hermenegild,  and  received  into  the  orthodox  church.  He 
^^°"  knew  that  his  conversion  would  bring  on   him 

his  father's  wrath,  and  the  loss  of  his  prospect  of  succeeding 
to  the  Visigothic  crown.  But  he  v/as  unwilling  to  suffer 
degradation  meekly,  and  promptly  proclaimed  himself  king, 
allied  himself  with  the  Suevi  and  the  East-Romans,  and 
called  the  orthodox  to  arms  all  over  Spain. 

Leovigild  had  never  had  to  face  a  more  dangerous  crisis. 
The  rebellion  of  his  son  had  called  out  against  him  all  the 
elements  of  disorder  in  the  peninsula.  The  Suevi  swarmed 
down  the  Douro;  the  Imperialists  reoccupied  Cordova; 
Merida,  Seville,  and  Evora  hailed  Hermenegild  as  king; 
and  the  discontented  provincials,  headed  by  their  bishops, 
began  to  stir  all  over  the  country.  It  is  the  greatest  testi- 
monial to  Leovigild's  abilities  that  he  knew  how  to  deal 
with  all  these  dangers.  First,  he  turned  against  the  incipient 
rebellion   in   the   north,    and  put   it   down   by  banishing   or 

The  Visigoths  i?i  Spain  139 

imprisoning  some  dozen  bishops,  and  by  defeating  in  battle 
the  Basques,  who  had  come  down  from  their  hills  to  join 
in  the  struggle.  After  beating  them,  he  founded  on  their 
border  the  town  of  Vittoria  as  a  memorial  of  his  success — 
a  town  destined  to  be  better  remernbered  for  the  great  Eng- 
lish victory  of  181 3  than  for  this  ancient  triumph. 

Hermenegild  was  nearly  two  years  in  possession  of  the  valley 
of  the  Guadalquivir,  but  in  582  his  father  suddenly  descended 
upon  him,  and  drove  him  within  the  walls  of  Seville.  The 
Suevi  came  up  to  raise  the  siege,  but  Leovigild  routed  their  king 
Miro,  and  returned  to  resume  his  leaguer.  After  many  months 
of  blockade  he  stormed  the  town,  but  Hermenegild  and  his 
wife  escaped  to  the  Romans.  The  rebel  prince  took  refuge  in 
the  castle  of  Osset,  whither  the  king  followed  him,  and,  by  the 
huge  bribe  of  30,000  solidi,  induced  the  Imperialist  Govern- 
ment to  sell  the  town.  Hermenegild  was  dragged  from  sanc- 
tuary, and  brought  before  his  father,  who  pardoned  his  rebel- 
lion, but  stripped  him  of  his  princely  insignia,  and  sent  him 
to  live  in  honourable  confinement  at  Valencia  as  a  private 

Leovigild  then  turned  against  the  Suevi,  overran  their  whole 
country,  and  captured  their  last  king,  Andica,  whom  he  interned 
in  a  monastery.  Thus  the  rebellion  of  Hermenegild  had 
not  only  failed  to  ruin  the  Gothic  state,  but  had  actually  led 
to  the  subjection  of  the  troublesome  neighbour-kingdom  in 
the  north-west,  which  had  hitherto  escaped  the  Visigothic 

Hermenegild's  fate  was  destined  to  be  a  sad  one.  His 
father  promised  to  restore  him  to  his  former  place  if  he 
would  abandon  the  orthodox  faith,  but  he  steadfastly  refused, 
and  was  presently  cast  into  prison.  But  chains  had  no  more 
effect  on  his  constancy  than  prayers  and  promises.  His  father 
grew  angry,  and  bade  him  expect  the  worst  if  he  persisted  in 
his  obstinacy.  On  Easter  Day  585,  he  sent  an  Arian  bishop 
to  administer  the  sacrament  to  the  prisoner.  Hermenegild 
drove  the   heretical   prelate    from    his    cell   with   cries  and 

140  European  History^  476-918 

imprecations.  The  news  was  brought  to  his  father,  who,  in 
a  moment  of  ungovernable  rage,  hke  that  which  induced  our 
Execution  of  °^^  Henry  II.  to  order  the  death  of  Becket,  bade 
Hermenegiid,  his  guards  seize  and  behead  his  inflexible  son. 
5^5"  So   perished    Hermenegiid,   whom    after-genera- 

tions, forgetting  his  undutiful  rebellion,  and  remembering  only 
his  constancy  in  the  orthodox  faith,  saluted  as  a  saint.  His 
wife  and  infant  son  were  sent  to  Constantinople  by  the  Roman 
governor  of  Malaga.  Ingunthis  died  on  the  voyage,  but  the 
boy,  Athanagild,  lived  and  died  obscurely  at  the  court  of  the 
emperor  Maurice. 

Leovigild  had  now  to  face  the  wrath  of  the  Franks.  Gun- 
tram,  the  uncle,  and  Theudebert,  the  brother  of  Ingunthis,  took 
arms  to  avenge  her  husband's  execution.  They  sent  a  fleet  to 
land  a  force  in  Galicia,  and  raise  the  newly-conquered  Suevi, 
while  a  Burgundian  army  entered  Septimania,  and  attacked 
Nismes  and  Carcassonne.  But  Leovigild's  military  skill  and 
constant  good  fortune  in  war  did  not  fail  him.  While  he 
himself  cut  to  pieces  the  army  which  had  landed  in  Galicia, 
his  son,  Reccared,  drove  the  Burgundians  out  of  Septimania, 
with  the  loss  of  their  general  and  half  their  army.  Father  and 
son  met  in  triumph  at  Toledo,  but  the  hardships  of  a  winter 
campaign  had  been  too  much  for  Leovigild,  who  died  soon 
after  his  return  to  his  capital,  on  the  13th  of  April  586,  a  year 
to  the  very  day  from  the  date  of  his  eldest  son's  execution,  a 
coincidence  which  the  orthodox  did  not  fail  to  point  out  as 
marking  the  wrath  of  heaven. 

Leovigild,  some  time  before  his  death,  had  induced  the 
Visigoths  to  elect  his  second  son,  Reccared,  as  his  colleague, 
and  to  salute  him  as  king.  There  was,  therefore,  no  tumultuous 
election  or  civil  war  when  the  old  king  died,  and  his  heir 
quietly  took  his  place.  Reccared  was  destined  to  set  his 
mark  on  the  history  of  the  Visigothic  kingdom  no  less  firmly 
than  his  father  had  done.  If  Leovigild  saved  the  state  from 
anarchy  by  his  strong  arm,  Reccared  set  it  on  a  new  and 
altered  course  of  existence,  and  introduced  a  new  element 

The  Visigoths  in  Spain  141 

into  its  political  and  religious  life  by  the  great  change  which 
is  connected  with  his  name — the  conversion  of  the  Visigoths 
to  the  orthodox  faith.  Reccared  was  the  son  Reccared, 
of  a  Roman  mother,  but,  unlike  his  brother  586-601. 
Hermenegild,  he  never  showed  any  discontent  with  Arianism 
in  his  father's  lifetime.  No  sooner,  however,  was  the  old 
man  dead  than  his  successor  began  to  take  steps  which  threw 
the  Arians  into  a  state  of  excitement  and  apprehension.  He 
summoned  Catholic  and  Arian  bishops  before  him,  and  many 
times  bade  them  dispute  in  his  presence  on  the  mysteries  of 
the  Trinity.  This  he  did  more  to  prepare  the  people  for  the 
coming  change  than  because  he  was  himself  in  any  doubt  as 
to  his  future  conduct. 

Reccared  thoroughly  grasped  the  fact  that  the  Visigothic 
state  would  never  be  established  on  a  really  firm  basis  as  long 
as  the  governing  caste  were  separated  from  the  bulk  of  their 
subjects  by  the  fatal  barrier  of  religion.  The  Goths  were  too 
few  to  amalgamate  the  provincials  with  themselves,  and  had 
shown  no  signs  of  wishing  to  do  so.  But  if  no  such  amal- 
gamation took  place,  the  Gothic  monarchy  was  doomed  to 
disappear  some  day  in  a  political  convulsion,  when  the 
moment  should  come  that  found  no  strong  and  capable 
ruler  on  the  throne.  Leovigild  had  only  staved  off  such  a 
crisis  by  prodigies  of  activity  and  courage.  Now  Reccared 
had  made  up  his  mind  that  the  Arianism  of  the  Goths  was 
more  a  matter  of  conservative  adherence  to  ancestral  pre- 
judices and  of  race-pride,  than  of  real  conviction  or  fanatical 
faith.  He  thought  that  if  the  king  led  the  way,  and  if  mild 
and  cautious  changes  were  made,  without  any  sudden  blow 
or  attempt  at  enforced  conformity,  his  countrymen  might  in- 
sensibly be  led  within  the  pale  of  the  Catholic  church.  The 
course  of  events  proved  that  he  was  entirely  right ;  and  the 
conversion  of  the  nation  was  managed  all  the  more  surely 
because  it  was  carried  out  by  a  cautious  and  unemotional 
statesman,  and  not  by  an  enthusiastic  saint. 

The  completion  of  Reccared's  scheme  occupied  the  years 

142  European  History,  476-918 

586-88.  When  he  declared  himself  a  Catholic,  and  accepted 
the  solemn  blessing  of  his  uncle,  the  Metropolitan  of  Seville, 
the  greater  part  of  his  comitatus  followed  his  example.  In 
quick  succession  many  Gothic  counts,  and  a  large  portion  of 
The  Goths  ^^  Arian  episcopate  conformed  to  orthodoxy, 
turn  Catholic,  The  Church  on  its  side  made  the  change  easy, 
5^7"  by  not  insisting  on  any  new  baptism  of  the  con- 

verts.    It  was  enough  if  they  attended  a  Catholic  place  of 
worship,  and  received  the  blessing  of  an  orthodox  priest. 

It  was  not  to  be  expected,  however,  that  so  momentous  a 
change  would  pass  over  the  country  without  provoking  trouble. 
There  were  many  Goths,  both  clergy  and  laymen,  who  viewed 
Arianism  as  the  sacred  religion  of  their  ancestors,  and  the 
badge  of  their  conquering  race.  Three  rebellions  broke  out 
in  quick  succession,  in  regions  as  far  apart  as  Septimania  and 
Lusitania,  while  the  king's  step-mother  Godiswintha  and 
bishop  Athaloc,  the  chief  of  the  Arian  clergy,  placed  them- 
selves at  the  head  of  the  rising.  But  the  greater  part  of  the 
Visigoths  looked  on  in  apathy,  and  allowed  a  small  body  of 
fanatics  to  fight  out  the  question  of  religion  with  the  king. 
The  Arians  were  put  down,  and  gave  no  further  trouble. 
The  whole  sect  seems  to  have  melfeed  away  in  a  few  years, 
and  ere  long  the  Visigoths  were  as  proud  of  their  Catholicism 
as  they  had  once  been  of  their  heterodoxy. 

While  Reccared  was  busy  with  the  suppression  of  the  Arian 
rebels,  the  Frankish  king  Guntram  of  Burgundy  thought  that 
a  good  opportunity  had  arisen  for  conquering  Septimania.  He 
sent  a  great  army  down  the  Rhone,  but  near  Narbonne  it  was 
completely  defeated  by  Reccared's  general,  duke  Claudius, 
the  first  man  of  Roman  blood  who  had  ever  been  promoted 
to  high  rank  by  a  Visigothic  king.  This  was  the  last  time 
that  a  Frankish  conquest  of  Septimania  was  ever  seriously 
attempted  (589). 

Reccared  reigned  for  twelve  years  more,  with  great  good 
fortune  both  at  home  and  abroad.  He  subdued  the  Basques, 
kept  the  Imperialists  penned  in  to  their  line  of  harbours  along 

The  Visigoths  in  Spain  143 

the  south  coast,  and  repressed  several  minor  tumults  raised  by 
discontented  Gothic  nobles.  In  every  crisis  he  found  the 
Catholic  bishops  his  best  support,  and  must  have  constantly 
congratulated  himself  on  having  turned  his  most  dangerous 
enemies  into  the  strongest  bulwark  of  his  throne.  But  by 
placing  himself  in  their  hands  he  had  begun  to  expose  Gothic 
royalty  to  a  new  danger,  that  of  too  great  dependence  on  the 
Church.  The  National  Council — the  Witan  as  it  would  have 
been  called  in  England — was  completely  swamped  by  the 
churchmen.  There  were  more  than  sixty  bishops  in  Spain, 
while  the  number  of  dukes  and  counts  who  were  usually  sum- 
moned to  the  Assembly  was  considerably  less.  The  bishops 
— men  more  clever,  more  wise,  and  better  organised  than  their 
lay  colleagues — soon  came  to  exercise  a  dominating  influence 
in  the  council.  The  spiritual  pressure  which  they  could  bring 
to  bear  on  the  king  was  too  great  to  be  disregarded.  Hence 
it  came  to  pass  that  ere  the  end  of  his  reign  Reccared,  though 
peaceful  and  tolerant  himself,  was  urged  into  acts  of  persecu- 
tion, not  only  against  his  old  co-religionists,  the  Arians,  but 
against  the  Jews — a  race  who  had  hitherto  prospered  in 
Spain,  and  who  had  gathered  in  a  very  considerable  por- 
tion of  its  wealth  and  commerce.  Formerly  the  Visigothic 
kings,  like  the  great  Theodoric  in  Italy,  had  been  very 
tolerant,  and  had  not  seldom  employed  Jews  as  collectors  of 
revenue  and  in  minor  official  posts.  All  this  came  to  an  end 
with  the  conversion  of  Reccared,  though  in  his  day  the  dis- 
couragement alike  of  Arian  and  Jew  went  no  further  than 
making  them  incapable  of  holding  any  office,  and  prohibiting 
the  public  exercise  of  their  worship. 

After  a  reign  of  fifteen  years,  king  Reccared  died  in  601, 
leaving  the  throne  to  his  son,  Leova  11.,  the  only  instance  in 
Gothic  Spain  of  a  succession  of  three  generations  of  the  same 
house  on  the  throne.  The  new  monarch  was  just  twenty.  He 
was  a  devoted  admirer  and  follower  of  the  Catholic  bishops, 
and,  by  all  accounts,  showed  more  piety  than  capacity.  The 
accession    of   a    weak    and    inexperienced   youth    was   the 

144  European  History,  476-918 

opportunity  for  which  the  unruly  Visigothic  nobles,  crushed 
for  thirty  years  under  the  strong  hands  of  Leovigild  and  Rec- 
cared,  had  been  long  waiting.  In  the  second  year  of  his 
reign  Leova  was  surprised  and  murdered  by  conspirators 
under  the  guidance  of  a  certain  count  Witterich,  who  had 
headed  an  Arian  rising  in  588,  but  had  been  spared  on  con- 
forming to  Catholicism.  He  now  repaid  Reccared's  clemency 
by  murdering  his  son  (603). 

After  thirty-three  years  of  strong  government,  Spain  once 
more  fell  back  into  the  state  of  civil  strife  from  which  it  had 
been  rescued  by  Leovigild.  But  the  character  of  the  struggle 
was  now  changed ;  for  the  future  it  was  a  contest  between  the 
Catholic  hierarchy  and  the  Visigothic  nobles,  as  to  which 
should  appoint  and  control  the  king. 




Justin  ir.  and  his  unhappy  financial  policy — His  troubles  with  the  Persians 
and  Avars — Reign  of  Tiberius  Constantinus — Accession  of  Matu-ice — 
His  victory  over  Persia — His  failure  against  the  Slavs  and  Avars— Disasters 
in  the  Balkan  Peninsula — Fall  of  Maurice — Tyranny  of  Phocas — His 
unfortunate  war  with  Persia — He  is  dethroned  and  slain  by  Heraclius, 

The  forty  years  which  followed  the  death  of  Justinian  were  a 
period  of  rapid  decline  and  decay  for  the  East-Roman  world. 
The  empire  was  paying,  by  exhaustion  within  and  the  loss  of 
provinces  without,  for  the  spasmodic  outburst  of  energy  into 
which  it  had  been  galvanised  by  the  great  emperor.  He  left  to 
his  heirs  broad  and  dangerous  frontiers  in  his  newly-acquired 
provinces,  with  an  army  which  had  got  somewhat  out  of  hand, 
and  a  civil  population  shorn  to  the  skin  by  the  excessive 
taxation  of  the  last  twenty  years. 

Justinian's  heirs  were,  unhappily  for  the  empire,  princes  who 
tried  to  maintain  their  great  predecessor's  ambitious  policy,  at 
a  moment  when  the  less  brilliant,  but  more  cautious  and 
economical,  rule  of  a  second  Anastasius  would  have  been  the 
best  thing  for  the  East-Roman  world.  The  Emperor's  nephew, 
Justinus,  son  of  his  sister  Vigilantia,  mounted  the  throne  on 
his  decease  without  meeting  with  any  opposition.  He  had 
served  his  uncle  as  Curopalata,  or  Master  of  the  Palace,  for 
the  last  ten  years,  and  had  been  able  to  make  things  ready 
for  his  own  peaceful  succession,  though  Justinian  had  never 


146  European  History,  476-918 

consented  to  allow  him  to  be  crowned  as  his  colleague  as  long 
Justin  II.,        ^s  he  lived.      Justin  was  married  to  Sophia,  the 
565-78.  niece   of   the   empress   Theodora,    a   lady   who 

resembled  her  aunt  in  her  masterful  spirit,  but  was  far  from 
rivalling  her  abilities.  Justin  and  his  wife  had  led  a  somewhat 
repressed  and  constrained  existence  during  the  old  emperor's 
life,  and  were  set  upon  asserting  their  individuality  the  moment 
that  Justinian  was  buried.  Justin  had  high  ideas  of  the 
dignity  of  the  imperial  name  and  the  majesty  of  the  empire, 
and  had  determined  to  inaugurate  a  spirited  foreign  policy 
when  he  seized  the  helm  of  affairs.  His  first  measure  was  to 
refuse  to  continue  any  of  the  comparatively  trifling  subsidies 
to  barbarian  princes  on  the  frontier,  which  Justinian  had  been 
content  to  pay  in  order  to  keep  them  from  petty  raids — much 
as  the  Indian  Government  to-day  subsidises  the  chiefs  of  the 
Khyber  Pass.  This  involved  him  in  a  long  and  ultimately 
dangerous  war  with  the  Chagan  of  the  Avars,  a  Tartar  tribe 
newly  established  on  the  north  bank  of  the  lower  Danube, 
whom  Justinian  had  paid  to  keep  off  the  Huns  and  other 
troublesome  neighbours.  The  Avars,  originally  a  race  of  no 
great  miportance,  obtained  at  this  moment  a  great  extension 
of  power  and  territory  by  allying  themselves  with  the  Lom- 
bards, in  order  to  destroy  the  Gepidae,  the  Gothic  tribe  who 
dwelt  north  of  Sirmium  on  the  middle  Danube.  After  exter- 
minating their  Teutonic  neighbours,  the  Lombards  passed  on 
to  invade  Italy,i  and  left  the  Avars  in  possession  of  the  whole 
line  of  the  Danube,  from  Vienna  to  its  mouth.  Thenceforth 
the  Avars  were  a  scourge  to  the  already  half-desolate  pro- 
vinces of  Moesia  and  lllyricum.  They  ranged  over  the  whole 
territory  up  to  the  Balkans,  in  spite  of  the  innumerable  for- 
tresses which  Justinian  had  built  and  garrisoned  to  defend 
the  Danube  bank.  This  trouble  was  continually  growing 
worse  all  through  the  reign  of  Justin  11.,  and  became  an 
actual  source  of  danger,  as  well  as  of  mere  annoyance,  in  the 
time  of  his  successors. 

^  See  p.  181. 

The  Successors  of  Justinian  147 

Another  refusal  of  Justin  to  make  a  payment  of  money, 
which  he  considered  degrading  to  his  majesty,  was  destined 
to  bring  on  a  struggle  even  more  ruinous  than  that  with  the 
Avars.  It  will  be  remembered  that  the  peace  between  Jus- 
tinian and  Chosroes  of  Persia,  concluded  in  562,  had  stipu- 
lated for  some  payments  from  the  East-Romans  to  the  king., 
In  5  7 1  Justin  refused  to  fulfil  his  obligations,  and  plunged  the 
empire  into  a  wholly  unnecessary  war  with  his  great  Oriental 
neighbour.  Several  causes  conspired  to  induce  Justin  to 
undertake  this  struggle.  He  was  implored  by  the  Christian 
population  of  Persian  Armenia  to  deliver  them  from  the 
fire-worshipping  Sassanians,  and  the  Turks  of  the  Oxus  had 
sent  an  embassy  to  promise  him  help  from  the  East  if  he 
would  assault  Chosroes.  Dizabul,  their  great  Khan,  engaged 
to  distract  the  forces  of  the  enemy  by  crossing  the  Oxus  and 
invading  northern  Persia,  while  Justin's  generals  were  to  cross 
the  Tigris  and  attack  Media. 

This  war,  which  the  emperor  undertook  with  such  a  light 
heart,  was  destined  to  last  no  less  than  nineteen  years  (572- 
591),  and  to  drag  on  into  the  reigns  of  two  of  his  successors. 
It  was  quite  as  inconclusive,  and  quite  as  costly  in  men  and 
money,  as  had  been  the  previous  struggle  in  the  Persian  war 
reign  of  Justinian.  On  the  whole,  the  Romans  of  Justin, 
lost  no  territory  during  its  course.  Their  farthest  frontier 
stronghold  of  Daras  was  the  only  place  of  importance  that 
fell  into  Persian  hands  in  the  earlier  years  of  the  war,  and  the 
secondary  fortress  of  Martyropolis,  in  the  Armenian  Highlands, 
the  only  loss  of  its  later  years.  Both  were  destined  to  be 
recovered,  and  the  second  Roman  line  of  defence,  based  on 
Edessa  and  Amida,  held  good.  If  the  armies  of  Chosroes 
once  succeeded  in  penetrating  into  Syria,  it  is  only  fair  to  add 
that  the  imperial  troops  made  several  incursions  into  the  Persian 
border-lands  of  Arzanene  and  Corduene.  It  was  not  so  much 
by  the  loss  of  fortresses  or  the  ravaging  of  territory  that  the 
war  was  harmful  to  the  empire,  as  by  the  long,  fruitless  drain 
of  taxation  that  it  brought  about.     Where  the  tax-gatherer 

148  European  History^  476-918 

of  Justinian's  time  had  shorn  the  population  close,  the  tax- 
gatherer  of  Justin's  was  obliged  to  flay  them,  in  order  to  wring 
out  the  necessary  solidi.  Having  begun  the  war  at  his  own 
pleasure,  Justin  found  that  he  could  not  conclude  it  in  a  similar 
way.  The  Persians  hoped  to  win  by  exhausting  the  empire's 
resources,  and  were  set  on  protracting  the  weary  game. 

In  the  ninth  year  after  his  succession  to  the  throne,  Justin 
was  seized  with  suicidal  mania,  and  had  to  be  placed  in  close 
restraint  for  all  the  rest  of  his  life.  On  his  first  lucid  interval 
he  nominated  as  his  colleague,  and  crowned  as  Caesar,  a 
respectable  military  officer,  named  Tiberius  Constantinus, 
who,  in  conjunction  with  the  empress  Sophia,  acted  as 
regent  for  the  demented  emperor  till  578.  Sophia,  a  proud 
and  restless  woman,  kept  most  of  the  power  in  her  own  hands, 
for  Tiberius  was  not  of  a  pushing  or  ambitious  disposition. 
His  accession  to  power  made  little  or  no  difference  in  the 
policy  of  the  court,  which  was  still  guided  by  the  empress. 

While  Justin  saw  the  Balkan  peninsula  ravaged  by  the 
Avars,  and  the  Mesopotamian  frontier  beset  by  the  Persians, 
he  was  destined  to  suffer  a  still  more  grievous  loss  in  another 
region  of  his  empire.  The  Lombards,  emigrating  from  the 
middle  Danube,  followed  the  track  that  the  Ostrogoths  had 
taken  eighty  years  before,  and  threw  themselves  on  the  newly- 
recovered  province  of  Italy,  only  fifteen  years  after  it  had  been 
finally  secured  to  the  empire  by  the  victories  of  Narses  at 
Taginae  and  Casilinum.  Their  fortunes  will  be  described  in 
another  chapter.  Here  it  must  suffice  to  say  that  ere  the  end 
of  the  reign  of  Justin  11.  they  had  torn  two-thirds  of  the 
peninsula  from  the  grasp  of  the  East-Roman  governors. 

In  578,  four  years  after  he  had  fallen  into  a  state  of 
lunacy,  Justin  11.  died,  and  his  colleague,  Tiberius  Constan- 
tinus, became  sole  ruler  of  the  empire.  Tiberius  11.  was  a 
thoroughly  upright  and  well-intentioned  man,  who  had  been 
chosen  as  heir  by  his  predecessor  solely  on  the  ground  of  his 
merits,  and  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  Justin  had  a  son-in-law 
and  several  cousins  to  whom  he  might  have  left  the  legacy  of 

The  Successors  of  Jtistinian  149 

power.  Like  Titus  in  an  earlier  age,  Tiberius  11.  was  the 
darling  and  hope  of  the  whole  population  of  the  xiberius 
empire,  and,  like  Titus,  he  was  cut  off  in  the  flower  Constantinus. 
of  his  years  after  a  very  short  reign.  He  had  time,  578-582. 
however,  to  give  some  earnest  of  his  good  intentions  by  cut- 
ting down  the  grinding  taxation  of  Justin  11.  by  a  fourth,  and 
remitting  all  arrears  owed  to  the  state.  But  he  was  unable  to 
do  away  with  the  cause  which  made  taxation  so  heavy,  the 
wretched  lingering  Persian  war,  and,  till  the  empire  could 
obtain  peace  within  and  without,  the  remission  of  taxation 
only  meant  the  inadequate  performance  of  the  duties  of  the 
state,  and  the  rapid  accumulation  of  public  debt.  Tiberius 
succeeded,  however,  in  making  a  truce  with  the  Avars,  though 
to  obtain  it  he  had  to  give  up  the  great  border-fortress  of 
Sirmium,  the  central  point  for  the  defence  of  the  line  of  the 
Danube  and  Save,  and  also  to  promise  to  make  one  of  those 
payments  of  money  which  his  predecessor  had  regarded  as 
degrading  the  majesty  of  the  empire.  Being  free  from  war  in 
the  Balkans,  Tiberius  concentrated  no  less  than  200,000  men 
on  the  Persian  frontier,  and  his  troops,  under  the  general 
Maurice,  won  many  successes,  and  invaded  Media.  But  the 
obstinate  king  Hormisdas,  who  had  now  succeeded  Chosroes 
on  the  throne,  refused  to  listen  to  any  proposals  for  peace, 
and  the  war  dragged  on. 

In  the  fourth  year  of  his  reign  Tiberius  was  suddenly 
stricken  down  by  disease,  and  died  while  only  on  the  thres- 
hold of  middle  age.  Like  his  predecessor,  he  chose  as  his 
heir  not  any  relative,  but  the  best  man  that  he  knew.  Eight 
days  before  his  death  he  invested  with  the  royal  diadem  his 
general  Maurice,  who  had  lately  distinguished  himself  by  a 
great  victory  in  Mesopotamia,  and  was  universally  respected 
for  his  sterling  merit  and  modesty.  Maurice  immediately 
married  his  benefactor's  daughter,  Constantina,  and  ascended 
the  vacant  throne  in  peace. 

Like  Tiberius  Constantinus,  Maurice  was  an  eminently 
well-meaning  ruler,  and  a  man  not  destitute  of  ability,  but 

150  European  History^  ^y6-gi^ 

the  times  were  too  hard  for  him,  and  his  very  virtues  often 
Maurice,  conspired  to  lead  him  into  unfortunate  actions. 

582-602.  jjig  reign  of  twenty  years  (582-602),  though  not 

wanting  in  successes,  was  still  a  continuation  of  the  unhappy 
period  of  decline  and  decay  which  had  set  in  since  the  year  of 
the  great  plague  of  542.  The  worst  of  the  troubles  of  Maurice 
was  the  complete  exhaustion  of  the  imperial  finances.  The 
liberality  of  Tiberius  11.  had  drained  out  the  last  solidus  from 
the  already  depleted  treasury,  and  the  new  emperor  started 
with  a  deficit,  which  remained  as  a  perpetual  nightmare  to 
him  all  through  his  reign.  Maurice  was  of  a  prudent  and 
economical  disposition ;  the  adverse  balance  cut  him  to  the 
heart,  and  he  adopted  all  sorts  of  schemes — wise  and  unwise 
— to  make  receipts  and  expenditure  balance.  The  war  ex- 
penses were,  of  course,  the  main  disturbing  element,  and 
Maurice  went  so  far  in  his  zeal  for  retrenchment  that  while 
hostilities  were  still  in  progress  he  endeavoured,  on  more  than 
one  occasion,  to  cut  down  the  soldiers'  pay,  and  economise 
the  expenditure  of  provisions  and  military  stores.  This  policy 
had  the  most  disastrous  results.  Several  times  it  led  to 
mutiny,  and  at  last  it  cost  Maurice  his  throne  and  life. 

The  Persian  war  continued  through  the  first  nine  years  of 
Maurice's  reign,  as  long  as  the  reckless  and  obstinate  king 
Hormisdas  remained  in  power.  On  the  whole  it  was  for- 
tunately conducted.  Two  able  officers,  named  Heraclius  and 
Philippicus,  obtained  the  mastery  over  the  Persians,  and  won 
several  battles.  They  would  have  done  even  more  if  Maurice's 
policy  of  '  economy  at  any  price '  had  not  led  to  mutinies 
among  the  soldiery,  who  struck  work,  and  retired  behind  the 
border  when  they  heard  that  their  pay  was  to  be  reduced.  It 
is  hard  to  conceive  how  Maurice  could  be  so  unwise ;  for  he 
had  considerable  military  experience,  and  wrote  an  excellent 
book  on  tactics.  The  Strategicon,  which  served  for  three 
hundred  years  as  the  manual  of  all  Byzantine  officers. 
Apparently  the  economist  prevailed  over  the  soldier  in  his 

The  Successors  of  Jtistinian  1 5  r 

Luckily  the  mutiny  of  588  did  not  ruin  the  empire;  the 
troops  returned  to  duty  when  their  grievance  was  removed, 
and  won  more  victories  over  the  Persians.  Hormisdas  grew 
unpopular  with  his  subjects,  and  was  deposed  and  slain  by  a 
usurper  named  Varahnes.  His  young  son,  Chosroes,  fled  to 
the  Roman  camp,  and  threw  himself  on  the  mercy  of  his 
hereditary  foe.  This  led  to  the  end  of  the  war ;  Maurice  lent 
the  young  prince  supplies  and  auxiliaries  to  start  a  rebellion 
against  Varahnes.  The  rising  succeeded,  and  the  grateful 
Chosroes  made  peace  with  the  empire  the  moment  Persian  war 
that  he  was  restored  to  his  father's  throne  (591).  ended,  591. 
The  terms,  like  those  of  the  peaces  of  532  and  562,  amounted 
to  little  more  than  the  restoration  of  the  state  of  things  which 
had  preceded  hostilities.  Maurice  recovered  the  lost  fortresses 
of  Daras  and  Martyropolis,  and  gained  the  Christian  districts 
of  Persarmenia,  a  new  acquisition  to  the  empire,  but  not  one 
of  much  importance. 

But  the  troubles  of  Maurice,  military  and  financial  alike, 
did  not  cease  with  the  end  of  the  Persian  war.  The  faithless 
Avars,  disregarding  the  terms  of  peace  which  they  had  sworn 
to  Tiberius  11.  in  581,  were  once  more  ravaging  the  Balkan 
peninsula.  In  the  second  year  of  Maurice's  reign  they  burst 
over  the  Danube,  and  seized  the  fortresses  of  Singidunum  and 
Viminacium,  whose  garrisons  had  been  reduced  by  the  needs 
of  the  Persian  war.  Unable  to  raise  a  new  army,  Maurice 
sent  them  a  subsidy  which  kept  them  quiet  for  two  years,  but 
in  585  the  Tartar  horde  took  arms  once  more,  and  threw 
themselves  upon  Thrace.  Nor  was  it  only  with  the  wild 
Avars  that  Maurice  had  to  deal.  We  now  hear  of  the  Slavs  as 
becoming  for  the  first  time  a  serious  danger  to  the  empire. 
Their  tribes  had  for  some  time  dwelt  in  obscurity  along  the 
lower  Danube  and  in  the  South-Russian  plains,  having  flooded 
in  to  occupy  the  void  space  left  by  the  migration  of  the  Goths 
in  the  fourth  century.  At  the  accession  of  Maurice  some  of 
them  were  subject  to  the  Avars,  others  were  still  independent, 
but  all   showed   a   tendency   to   move   southward   over   the 

1 5  2  European  History,  476-g  1 8 

Danube.  The  Slavs  were  individually  not  very  dangerous 
enemies  to  the  empire ;  they  were  in  the  very  lowest  stage  of 
civilisation,  hardly  yet  accustomed  to  till  the  soil,  and  living 
the  precarious  life  of  fishers  and  hunters.  They  did  not  fight 
in  the  open  field,  but  lurked  in  forests  and  morasses,  issuing 
forth  to  plunder  by  night,  and  only  attacking  their  foes  when 
they  could  take  them  by  surprise.  It  is  said  that  they 
practised  the  curious  stratagem  of  lying  hid  in  shallow  pools, 
showing  nothing  above  the  surface  of  the  water  save  the  point 
of  a  hollow  reed,  through  which  they  breathed.  The  story 
sounds  improbable,  but  Byzantine  authors  quote  several  occa- 
sions on  which  it  was  actually  used. 

Many  Slav  tribes,  seeking  refuge  from  the  domination  of 
the  Avars,  crossed  the  Danube  in  their  light  canoes,  and 
established  themselves  in  the  wooded  slopes  of  the  Balkans, 
or  the  marshes  of  the  Dobrudscha,  where  they  found  the  cover 
that  they  loved.  The  Moesian  provincials  had  been  so  thinned 
by  two  hundred  years  of  raiding  suffered  at  the  hands  of  Goth, 
Hun,  and  iVvar,  that  the  Slavs  found  the  land  almost  wholly 
uninhabited.  Outside  the  great  Danube  fortresses,  and  the 
large  towns  like  Naissus  or  Sardica,  the  population  had  almost 
entirely  disappeared.  Avoiding  battles  with  the  garrisons  of 
the  towns,  the  Slavs  slipped  between  them,  and  spread  over 
The  Slavs  ^^^  ^^^^  °^  ^^^  dcscrted  land,  pitching  their  rude 
cross  the  huts  in  the  most  secluded  spots  that  they  could 
Danu  e.  ^^^^  They  were  not  only  intruders,  but  enemies, 
for  they  were  keenly  set  on  plunder,  waylaid  every  party  of 
travellers  that  strove  to  pass  from  town  to  town,  and  laid 
ambuscades  for  every  body  of  soldiers  that  was  not  too 
numerous  for  them  to  cope  with. 

From  585  to  the  very  end  of  his  reign  Maurice  was  engaged 
in  a  desperate  struggle  against  Slav  and  Avar,  which  raged 
over  the  whole  of  the  Balkan  peninsula.  The  invaders 
gradually  pressed  southwards,  though  they  suffered  many 
defeats,  and  though  whole  tribes  of  Slavs  were  sometimes 
exterminated.     The  enemy,  though  individually  contemptible, 

The  Successors  of  Justinian  153 

seemed  to  draw  on  endless  reserves  of  strength,  as  horde  after 
horde  slipped  across  the  Danube,  and  threw  itself  into  the 
glens  of  the  Balkans.  The  effect  of  these  invasions  is  well 
described  by  a  contemporary  chronicler,  John  of  Ephesus : 
'  The  first  years  of  Maurice  were  famous  for  the  invasion  of  the 
accursed  people  called  Slavonians,  who  overran  Greece  and  all 
the  lands  about  Thessalonica  and  Thrace,  plundering  many 
towns,  and  devastating  and  burning,  and  reducing  the  people 
to  slavery.  They  have  made  themselves  masters  of  the  whole 
country,  and  settled  in  it  by  main  force,  and  dwell  in  it  as 
though  it  were  their  own.  Four  years  have  now  passed,  and 
still  they  live  at  their  ease  in  the  land,  and  spread  themselves 
abroad,  as  far  as  God  permits  them,  and  ravage  and  burn  and 
take  captive,  and  still  they  encamp  and  dwell  there.' 

Ever  since  the  Persian  war  ended,  the  reign  of  Maurice  had 
been  one  unbroken  series  of  misfortunes ;  the  only  remedy 
that  the  emperor  could  find  for  the  evil  times  was  an  economy 
that  verged  on  avarice.  This  foible  at  last  caused  his  ruin. 
In  599  the  Chagan  of  the  Avars  demanded  of  him  ransom- 
money  for  12,000  Roman  prisoners  who  had  fallen  into  his 
hands ;  the  emperor  refused  to  pay  it,  though  he  had  the 
required  sum  of  solidi  ready  at  hand.  The  Chagan  thereupon 
massacred  the  whole  body  of  prisoners.  The  Roman  world 
raised  a  cry  of  horror,  and  threw  the  blame  upon  the  avarice 
of  Maurice,  not  the  savagery  of  the  Avars.  Henceforth  his 
throne  was  unsafe ;  but  the  crowning  blow  to  his  power  was 
given  by  another  piece  of  unwise  economy.  After  a  success- 
ful campaign  against  the  Slavs  in  601,  the  army  of  the 
Balkans  had  pursued  them  across  the  Danube.  Maurice 
sent  orders  that  the  victorious  troops  should  winter  in  the 
open  field,  upon  the  bleak  townless  plains  of  Wallachia,  in 
order  to  save  supplies. 

Instead  of  obeying,  the  soldiery  drove  away  their  generals, 
placed  a  Thracian  centurion  named  Phocas  at  their  head,  and 
marched  on  Constantinople,  loudly  proclaiming  that  they  were 
coming  to  depose  the  emperor.     So  unpopular  had  Maurice 

1 5 4  European  History,  4y6-g 1 8 

made  himself  with  the  army,  that  he  found  that  he  could  not 
trust  even  his  household  troops,  and  in  despair  armed  the 
Blue  and  Green  factions,  and  set  them  to  guard  the  city  walls. 
But  the  factions  were  a  broken  reed  when  disciplined  troops 
Rebellion  had  to  bc  faccd,  and  Maurice  soon  found  himself 
ofPhocas  deserted  by  every  one.  He  fled  to  Chalcedon, 
hoping  to  raise  aid  in  the  Asiatic  provinces,  where  he  was  less 
unpopular  than  in  Europe.  Meanwhile,  the  army  entered  the 
capital,  and  proclaimed  Phocas  as  emperor,  though  he  was 
but  a  rough  uncultured  boor,  who  had  headed  the  mutineers 
simply  in  virtue  of  having  louder  lungs  and  a  heavier  hand 
than  his  comrades.  The  usurper  sent  officers  to  seize  his 
unfortunate  predecessor,  and  caused  him  to  be  beheaded, 
along  with  his  four  sons,  the  youngest  of  whom  was  a  mere 
infant  in  arms.  Maurice  met  his  death  with  a  courage  and 
dignity  that  moved  the  hearts  of  those  who  had  so  lately 
reviled  him.  '  Just  art  Thou,  O  Lord  God,  and  just  are  Thy 
judgments,'  he  exclaimed  as  the  executioner  raised  his  sword, 
and  died  with  a  prayer  on  his  lips. 

From  the  foundation  of  Constantinople  down  to  the  death 
of  Maurice  the  Eastern  crown  had  never  before  been  the  prize 
of  successful  rebellion,  nor  had  any  legitimate  emperor  fallen 
by  the  hands  of  his  subjects.  Revolts  there  had  been,  but 
they  had  never  gained  permanent  success.  It  was  an  evil  day 
for  the  empire  when  the  army  found  that  they  could  make 
an  emperor,  and  the  orderly  succession  of  elective  Caesars, 
chosen  by  their  predecessors  or  by  the  Senate,  came  to  an 

The  new  ruler  of  Constantinople  proved  to  be  a  brutal 
ruffian,  beside  whose  vices  the  faults  of  Maurice  seemed  shin- 
ing virtues.  Ignorant,  cruel,  licentious,  and  thriftless,  he 
made  his  lusts  his  masters,  and  soon  became  the  detestation 
of  all  his  subjects.  Phocas  showed  ability  in  one  thing  only, 
he  was  most  successful  in  tracking  out  and  frustrating  the 
numerous  conspiracies  which  were  ere  long  framed  against  his 
life.     All  whom  he  rightly  or  wrongly  suspected  were  visited 

The  Successors  of  Justinian  155 

with  cruel  deaths;  among  others  he  slew  his  predecessor's 
widow,  Constantina,  and  her  three  little  daughters,  because  he 
found  that  their  names  were  often  used  as  a  rallying  cry  by 
plotters.  On  mere  suspicion  he  seized  and  burnt  alive 
Narses,  the  general  of  the  East,  the  most  distinguished  officer 
in  the  army.  Other  objects  of  his  dread  were  flogged  to 
death,  strangled,  or  cruelly  mutilated. 

Meanwhile,  the  reign  of  terror  at  home  was  accompanied 
by  disaster  without.  The  decaying  military  and  financial 
strength  of  the  empire  suddenly  collapsed  into  utter  ruin 
under  the  rule  of  the  vicious  boor  who  had  replaced  the 
economic  Maurice.  The  Slavs  and  Avars  wrought  their  wicked 
will  unhindered  on  the  European  provinces,  and  pushed  their 
ravages  up  to  the  wall  of  Anastasius.  In  the  East  matters 
fared  even  worse.  The  young  and  able  king  of  Persia  made 
the  murder  of  his  benefactor  Maurice  a  casus  belli,  and  took 
arms  to  avenge  his  '  friend  and  father.'  From  the  first  open- 
ing of  the  war  the  Romans  fared  badly ;  never  had  such  an 
unbroken  series  of  disasters  met  their  arms.  Early  in  the 
struggle  Phocas  had  provoked  the  Eastern  army  by  recalling 
and  burning  alive  their  commander  Narses.  They  fought 
feebly,  were  ill-supplied  by  the  incapable  tyrant,  and  badly  led 
by  his  creatures  who  were  placed  at  their  head.  In  606  there 
came  a  sudden  collapse;  the  great  frontier  fortress  of  Daras 
fell,  and  from  that  moment  the  Persians  pushed  on  without 
meeting  a  check.  They  overran  all  Mesopotamia,  Disastrous 
ravaged  northern  Syria,  and  pushed  their  incur-  Persian  War, 
sions  into  Asia  Minor,  where  no  enemy  had  been  ^'^°* 
seen  for  a  century.  The  armies  of  Phocas  seem  to  have 
dispersed,  or  shut  themselves  up  within  city  walls,  for  we  hear 
of  no  resistance  to  the  invader.  In  608  matters  grew  worse 
still;  from  their  base  in  Mesopotamia  and  north  Syria  the 
Persians  struck  out  boldly  towards  Constantinople.  Overrun- 
ning Cappadocia,  Galatia,  and  Bithynia  their  raiding  bands 
crossed  the  whole  peninsula,  and  even  penetrated  to  Chalcedon 
and  eyed  the  imperial  city  across  the  Bosphorus.      Phocas, 

1 56  Ejiropean  History,  476-g  1 8 

instead  of  hastening  to  organise  new  troops,  contented  him- 
self with  ordering  a  persecution  of  the  Jews,  whom  he 
accused  of  having  betrayed  to  the  Persians  some  of  the  towns 
of  Syria. 

In  609  the  enemy  once  more  overran  Asia  Minor,  capturing 
among  other  places  the  great  city  of  Caesarea  in  Cappadocia. 
Again  they  met  with  little  or  no  opposition;  the  emperor's 
attention  was  entirely  taken  up  with  real  or  imaginary  plots  in 
the  capital.  It  seemed  that  he  would  allow  the  empire  to  be 
torn  from  him  piecemeal,  without  striking  a  blow. 

But  relief  was  at  last  about  to  come  to  the  suffering  people 
of  New  Rome.  In  Africa  there  ruled  as  exarch  Heraclius, 
the  veteran  officer  whose  victories  had  closed  the  old  Persian 
wars  of  the  time  of  Maurice.  He  was  capable  and  much 
beloved  both  by  the  provincials  and  by  his  army ;  under  his 
able  rule  Africa,  alone  among  the  provinces  of  the  empire, 
enjoyed  peace  and  prosperity.  In  609  Heraclius  received 
emissaries  from  Priscus,  the  commander  of  the  imperial  guard, 
one  of  the  innumerable  persons  who  had  fallen  under  the 
suspicion  of  Phocas.  The  messengers  bade  Heraclius  strike 
boldly  at  Constantinople,  for  Phocas  was  universally  detested, 
and  no  one  would  raise  an  arm  in  his  defence.  At  the  same 
moment  the  exarch  learnt  that  his  tyrannical  master  had 
already  conceived  doubts  of  his  loyalty,  and  had  thrown 
his  wife  and  daughter  into  prison. 

Seeing  that  he  must  strike  hard  or  be  crushed,  Herachus 
determined  to  rebel.  He  spent  the  winter  of  609-10  in  fitting 
out  a  fleet,  and  launched  it  against  Constantinople  before 
Rebellion  of  Phocas  had  learnt  of  his  revolt.  The  command 
Heraclius.  ^^s  given  to  his  eldest  son,  who  also  bore  the 
name  of  Heraclius,  for  the  exarch  himself  was  old  and  ailing. 
At  the  same  time,  to  make  a  diversion,  he  sent  a  body  of 
cavalry  under  his  nephew,  Nicetas,  to  invade  Egypt  by  land; 
they  were  to  follow  the  line  of  the  long  coast-road  through 
Tripoli  and  Cyrene. 

When  the  fleet  of  the  younger  Heraclius  reached  the  Dar- 

The  Successors  of  Justinian  157 

danelles  it  met  with  no  resistance ;  on  the  news  of  its  arrival, 
Priscus  brought  the  imperial  guard  to  join  the  rebels,  and  the 
emperor  found  himself  deserted  by  all  his  soldiery.  He  strove, 
like  his  predecessor  Maurice,  to  arm  the  factions  of  the  Blues 
and  Greens;  but  no  one  would  strike  a  blow  in  behalf  of 
such  a  worthless  tyrant.  Heraclius  sailed  unopposed  to  the 
Bosphorus,  and  as  he  arrived  off  the  palace  he  met  a  boat 
containing  the  wretched  Phocas,  whom  a  private  enemy  had 
seized  and  cast  into  chains.  The  prisoner  was  brought  on 
deck  and  cast  at  the  feet  of  his  conqueror.  '  Is  it  thus/  cried 
Heraclius,  '  that  you  have  governed  the  empire  ? '  '  Will  you,' 
the  fallen  tyrant  replied,  '  govern  it  any  better  ? '  Heraclius 
spurned  him  with  his  foot,  and  promptly  consigned  him  to 
the  headsman. 

Thus  perished  the  first,  but  by  no  means  the  last,  military 
usurper  who  sat  on  the  Constantinopolitan  throne,  overthrown, 
as  he  had  been  elevated,  by  an  armed  rebellion.  All  the 
world  with  singular  unanimity  testified  to  the  worthlessness  of 
Phocas,  save  one  single  adherent;  but  this  was  no  less  a 
person  than  Pope  Gregory  the  Great.  Much  to  his  discredit 
the  great  pontiff  had  been  a  supporter,  nay,  even  a  flatterer, 
of  the  Thracian  boor  who  wore  the  eastern  diadem  with  such 
ill  grace.  But  Gregory  had  been  an  enemy  of  the  unfortunate 
Maurice,  because  that  prince — though  orthodox  in  matters 
of  doctrine — had  shown  scant  respect  to  the  See  of  Rome. 
He  had  called  some  of  Gregory's  epistles  '  fatuous,'  and  had 
allowed  John  'the  Faster,'  patriarch  of  Constantinople,  to 
assume  the  title  of  '  oecumenical  bishop,'  a  style  which  filled 
Gregory  with  horror,  and  caused  him  to  exclaim  that  the  times 
of  Antichrist  were  at  hand.  Gregory  therefore  looked  on 
Maurice's  murderer  as  the  avenger  of  the  outraged  dignity  of 
the  See  of  Rome,  and  did  not  shrink  from  heaping  upon  him 
epithets  of  unseemly  adulation ;  the  choirs  of  angels,  he  said, 
sang  with  joy  in  heaven  at  the  accession  of  such  a  worthy 
Caesar !  Truly  this  was  a  painful  episode  in  the  life  of  a  man 
who,  in  spite  of  all  his  faults,  has  been  justly  hailed  as  a  saint. 



The  sons  of  Chlothar  divide  the  Prankish  reahn — Wars  of  Sigibert  and  Chil- 
perich— The  fortunes  of  Brunhildis — Continued  wars  of  Neustria  and 
Austrasia — Tyranny  of  Chilperich  and  Fredegundis— Decay  of  the  Royal 
Power  among  the  Franks — The  House  of  St.  Arnulf  and  Pippin — Brun- 
hildis regent  in  Austrasia  —  Wars  of  her  grandsons — Pier  death — 
Chlothar  ii.  sole  king — His  weakness — His  successor  Dagobert  I.  last 
free  king  of  the  Merovingian  line — Rise  of  the  Mayors  of  the  Palace. 

After  the  first  eighty  years  of  its  existence,  the  P'rankish 
kingdom,  which  under  three  generations  of  warhke  monarchs 
had  continued  to  extend  its  borders  so  fast  and  so  far,  ceased 
suddenly  to  grow,  and  was  given  up  for  a  century  and  a  half 
to  ruinous  civil  wars,  as  objectless  as  they  were  tedious  and 
confused.  In  surrendering  their  primitive  Teutonic  freedom 
to  their  royal  house,  in  return  for  the  glory  and  aggrandise- 
ment which  union  under  a  single  despotic  hand  gave  to  their 
hitherto  weak  and  scattered  tribes,  the  Franks  had  bartered 
away  their  future.  As  long  as  the  house  of  Chlodovech  were 
able  and  active,  their  subjects  could  console  themselves  for 
submitting  to  an  autocrat  by  sharing  in  the  power  and  plunder 
which  a  century  of  successful  war  brought  in  to  them.  But 
when  the  Merovings,  though  still  retaining  their  despotic 
authority,  grew  weak  and  incapable,  showing  no  trace  of  their 
ancestor's  qualities,  save  an  inveterate  tendency  to  treachery 


Decline  and  Decay  of  the  Merovingians  1 59 

and  fratricide,  an  evil  time  came  upon  the  Frankish  race. 
They  paid  for  their  early  aggrandisement  by  being  condemned 
to  five  generations  of  useless  civil  wars  at  home,  and  power- 
lessness  abroad,  while  their  hereditary  monarchs  sacrificed 
everything  to  their  unending  family  feuds.  Nothing  more 
could  be  hoped  for  the  Franks  till  they  had  rid  themselves  of 
the  nightmare-incubus  of  this  wicked  house,  whose  repulsive 
annals  are,  on  the  whole,  the  most  hopeless  and  depressing 
page  in  the  history  of  Europe.^  From  generation  to  genera- 
tion their  story  reeks  with  blood;  there  is  nothing  that  can 
be  compared  to  it  for  horror  in  the  records  of  any  nation  on 
this  side  of  the  Mediterranean.  We  have  to  search  the 
histories  of  the  courts  of  Mohammedan  Asia  to  discover  a 
parallel.  The  Franks  only  found  salvation  in  the  growth  of 
checks  on  the  royal  power  by  the  development  of  the  great 
provincial  governors,  and  by  the  final  deposition  of  the 
Merovings  in  favour  of  the  great  house  of  the  descendants 
of  St.  Arnulf,  the  Mayors  of  the  Palace,  whose  strong  hand  at 
last  stayed  the  fratricidal  wars  of  the  seventh  century.  And 
even  when  the  new  dynasty  had  mounted  the  throne,  the 
Frankish  realm  showed  fatal  signs  of  the  demoralisation  it 
had  suffered  under  the  old  royal  house.  The  tendency  of 
the  race  to  acquiesce  in  the  unwise  habit  of  heritage-partition, 
and  the  unhappy  grudge  between  the  eastern  and  the  western 
Franks,  were  direct  legacies  of  the  Merovings. 

We  left  the  whole  ^  Frankish  realm  concentrated  in  the  hands 
of  the  aged  Chlothar,  last  surviving  son  of  Chlodovech.  When, 
however,  this  hoary  ruffian,  fresh  from  the  murder  of  his  eldest 
son,  sank  into  his  grave,  in  the  year  561,  his  four  surviving 

^  In  spite  of  the  wickedness  of  the  house  of  the  Merovings,  the  Franks 
were  very  loyal,  even  in  the  days  of  the  decay  of  the  royal  race.  We  find 
their  chroniclers  repeatedly  contrasting  the  fidelity  of  the  Franks  with 
the  fickleness  of  their  Visigothic  neighbours,  who,  having  lost  their 
ancient  royal  house,  were  continually  making  and  unmaking  sovereigns 
from  among  the  ranks  of  their  counts  and  dukes. 

^  For  genealogy  of  the  house  of  Chlodovech  see  page  166. 


European  History,  476-918 

children  parted  the  kingdom  once  more  among  themselves, 
Second  parti-  not  without  a  preliminary  fight,  in  which  Chil- 
Frrn°kish^  perich,  the  youngest  of  the  four,  having  laid 
Realm,  561.  hands  on  his  father's  treasures,  and  raised  an 
army  with  their  aid,  tried  to  put  down  his  kinsmen,  but  failed. 
When  he  had  been  defeated  and  brought  to  submission,  the 
realm  was  made  into  four  shares.  Charibert,  the  eldest  son, 
took  Paris  and  Aquitaine  ;  Guntram  the  Burgundian  kingdom  ; 

Sigibert  the  Ripuarian  land  on  the  Rhine,  and  the  tributary 
Thuringian  and  Bavarian  lands  beyond  it ;  lastly,  the  restless 
Chilperich  was  given  his  father's  original  share,  the  old  Salian 
land  between  Meuse  and  Somme,  with  certain  districts  farther 
south  added  to  it,  so  that  it  extended  nearly  as  far  as  the  gates 
of  Rouen  and  Rheims. 

Of  these  four  brothers,  Charibert  died  young,  in  567.     He 

Decline  and  Decay  of  the  Merovingians         16 1 

is  only  remembered  because  his  daughter  Bertha  married 
Ethelbert,  the  king  of  Kent,  and  was,  twenty  years  later,  the 
protector  of  the  mission  of  St.  Augustine.  Charibert's  lands 
on  the  Seine  and  Loire  were  parted  among  his  three  brothers, 
Guntram  and  Chilperich  each  taking  the  part  that  lay  nearest 
to  his  own  frontier,  while  their  distant  Ripuarian  brother, 
Sigibert,  had  Tours,  Poictiers,  and  Bordeaux,  separated  from 
his  other  dominions  by  the  whole  breadth  of  Burgundy. 

The  tale  of  the  wars  and  tumults  which  the  three  surviving 
sons  of  Chlothar  i.  raised  against  each  other  is  a  long  recital 
of  objectless  strife  and  treachery.  The  uneasiest  spirit  of  the 
three  was  the  wicked  Chilperich,  '  the  Nero  and  Herod  of  his 
time,'  as  Gregory  of  Tours  very  rightly  styles  him.  The 
usual  fraternal  hatred  of  the  Merovings  was  embittered  be- 
tween him  and  Sigibert  by  an  additional  grievance.  While 
Sigibert  was  away  beyond  the  Rhine  striving  with  the  wild 
Avars,  who  had  pushed  their  incursions  along  the  Danube  into 
Bavaria  and  Suabia,  his  brother,  the  king  of  Soissons,  invaded 
Ripuaria,  and  tried  to  seize  it  for  himself.  Sigibert  returned 
in  haste,  and  succeeded  in  driving  Chilperich  back  beyond  the 
Meuse,  and  preserving  his  eastern  border. 

This  would  have  been  cause  enough  for  revenge,  but  a 
worse  was  to  follow.  Chilperich  and  Sigibert  had  married 
two  sisters,  the  daughters  of  the  Visigothic  king,  Athanagild. 
Galswintha  was  the  spouse  of  Chilperich,  Brunhildis  of  Sigi- 
bert. They  were  princesses  famed  all  over  the  Western  world 
for  their  beauty  and  abilities  no  less  than  for  the  enormous 
dowries  which  their  father  had  bestowed  upon   ,.    ^      , 

^  Murder  of 

them.  Before  his  marriage  Chilperich  had  kept  Galswintha, 
a  perfect  harem  of  concubines,  though  on  the  s^^' 
arrival  of  Galswintha  he  had  for  the  moment  banished  them. 
But  Fredegundis,  the  chief  among  his  former  favourites, 
retained  such  an  empire  over  him  that  after  a  few  months 
he  openly  brought  her  back  to  the  palace,  and  insulted  the 
queen  by  her  presence.  When  Galswintha  indignantly  de- 
clared that  she  should  return  to  her  father,  the  wicked  king 


1 62  European  History ,  476-918 

had  her  murdered,  and  publicly  married  Fredegundis  within  a 
few  days  (567). 

Brunhildis,  the  sister  of  the  murdered  queen,  and  the 
spouse  of  Chilperich's  elder  brother  the  king  of  Ripuaria, 
devoted  the  rest  of  her  life  to  the  task  of  avenging  Gal- 
swintha's  death  on  the  king  of  Soissons  and  his  paramour. 
She  was  a  strong-willed,  fearless,  able  woman,  and  her  in- 
fluence over  her  husband  was  unbounded.  For  forty  years 
the  houses  of  Sigibert  and  Chilperich  and  their  unhappy  sub- 
jects were  destined  to  shed  their  blood  on  the  battle-field 
that  the  slaughter  of  Galswintha  might  be  atoned  for. 

It  is  in  these  wars  that  the  final  partition  of  the  Frankish 
realm  into  its  two  permanent  divisions  took  shape,  and  that 
new  names  for  these  divisions  came  into  use.  The  Ripuarian 
realm  of  king  Sigibert,  from  the  borders  of  Bavaria  and 
Thuringia  as  far  as  the  Meuse  and  Scheldt,  is  for  the  future 
known  as  Austrasia — the  Eastern  kingdom  ;  Chilperich's  less 
purely  Teutonic  realm,  from  the  Meuse  and  Scheldt  as  far  as 
the  Loire,  gets  the  name  of  Neustria,  the  New  kingdom,  or  the 
New  West  kingdom,  as  others  interpret  it.^ 

The  beginning  of  the  wars  of  Neustria  and  Austrasia  follows 
immediately  on  the  death  of  Galswintha.  As  the  avenger  of 
blood,  king  Sigibert  entered  his  brother's  kingdom,  and  drove 
him  westward.  But  the  hostilities  were  suspended  by  a  great 
Lombard  invasion  of  Gaul.  The  new  conquerors  of  Italy  had 
passed  the  Alps,  and  thrown  themselves  upon  the  Frankish 
realm.  Guntram  of  Burgundy,  whose  kingdom  bore  the 
brunt  of  the  assault,  prevailed  upon  his  brothers  to  cease 
their  struggles  and  unite  to  cast  out  the  Lombards  from  Pro- 

1  Neustria,  Neuster,  Neustrasia,  Neutrasia,  Niwistria  are  all  found  as 
forms  of  the  name.  It  is  disputed  whether  it  means  merely  the  realm  of 
the  *  New  Franks  '  in  Gaul  as  opposed  to  the  *  Old  Franks '  on  Meuse  and 
Rhine,  or  whether  New  and  West  are  compressed  together  in  the  word. 
The  Annals  of  Metz  say,  *  Occidentales  Franci  qui  Niwistrii  dicuntur. '  Its 
boundaries  were  the  Scheldt,  the  Silva  Carbonaria  about  Namur  and 
Mons,  and  the  Upper  Meuse.  Verdun  is  the  westernmost  Austrasian 
town  ;  Langres  the  northernmost  Burgundian  town. 

Decline  and  Decay  of  the  Merovingians  163 

vence  and  the  Rhone  valley.  By  his  decision  Chilperich  gave 
up  as  weregeld  for  his  wife's  murder,  her  dowry  and  five 
Aquitanian  cities,  which  had  been  bestowed  upon  her  at  the 
marriage.  These  were  made  over  to  Brunhildis,  who  took 
them,  but  nevertheless  bided  her  time  for  a  fuller  revenge 


.  Four  years  of  Lombard  wars  kept  the  Frankish  kings  en- 
gaged on  their  southern  borders,  and  they  were  at  last  success- 
ful in  forcing  the  invaders  beyond  the  Alps,  in  a  series  of 
campaigns  in  which  the  chief  glory  was  gained  by  the  Romano- 
Gallic  duke,  Eunius  Mummolus,  who  led  the  armies  of  Guntram 
of  Burgundy.  But  in  573  the  civil  war  between  ^^^^  ^^  g.  .^ 
Sigibert  and  Chilperich  burst  forth  again.  It  bert  and  chii- 
spread  at  once  over  the  whole  of  the  Frankish  p^"<=^' 573-75. 
realm ;  for  Chilperich  attacked  his  brother's  dominions  in  Aqui- 
taine,  while  Sigibert  pressed  on  beyond  Meuse  and  Scheldt. 
There  followed  two  years  of  fierce  fighting,  attended  by  the 
most  barbarous  wasting  of  the  land.  Chilperich's  sons  burnt 
every  open  town  between  Tours  and  Limoges ;  Sigibert's 
troops  from  beyond  the  Rhine  devastated  the  valley  of  the 
Meuse.  The  Austrasians  had  the  better  in  the  struggle,  and 
Chilperich  sued  for  peace,  offering  large  territorial  concessions. 
But  it  was  his  life  and  not  his  lands  that  Brunhildis  wanted. 
Her  husband  was  induced  to  decline  his  brother's  proposals, 
and  pushed  his  victorious  arms  into  the  heart  of  Neustria, 
after  a  battle  in  which  Chilperich's  son  and  heir,  Theudebert, 
was  slain.  The  king  of  the  West  abandoned  his  capital, 
and  fled  north  to  hide  himself  and  his  wife  behind  the  walls 
of  Tournay.  Most  of  the  Neustrian  counts  came  to  do 
homage  to  Sigibert  at  Paris,  and  when  he  had  chased  his 
brother  behind  the  Scheldt,  the  Austrasian  had  himself  lifted 
on  the  shield,  according  to  old  Frankish  custom,  and  saluted 
as  King  of  all  the  Franks  at  Vitry,  near  Arras.  He  sent  for 
his  wife  and  children  to  Paris  to  share  in  his  Murder  of 
triumph,  and  determined  to  end  the  war  by  the  sigibert,  575. 
siege  of  Tournay.     But,  when  all  Gaul  seemed  at  his  command, 

164  European  History^  476-918 

two  murderers,  hired  by  queen  Fredegundis,  came  before  him 
with  a  pretended  message,  and  stabbed  him  while  he  Hstened 
to  their  words  (575). 

The  death  of  Sigibert  changed  the  whole  aspect  of  affairs 
in  Gaul,  and  raised  his  assassin  from  the  depth  of  despair 
to  the  height  of  fortune.  The  Austrasian  army  dispersed  when 
its  commander  was  slain,  and  the  Neustrian  counts  flocked  to 
Tournay  to  do  homage  again  to  Chilperich.  Queen  Brun- 
hildis,  who  lay  at  Paris  with  Sigibert's  infant  son  and  heir 
Childebert,  was  seized  and  imprisoned  by  the  partisans  of  the 
Neustrian  king.  Her  little  four-year-old  son  only  escaped 
from  his  uncle's  clutches  by  being  let  down  in  a  basket  from 
his  mother's  prison  window,  and  received  by  a  faithful  ad- 
herent, who  rode  away  with  him  to  Metz.  If  Chilperich  had 
laid  hands  on  the  boy,  the  Austrasian  royal  house  would  have 
been  ended  in  the  promptest  way. 

The  East-Frankish  counts  and  dukes,  when  the  news  of 
Sigibert's  death  reached  them,  resolved  not  to  submit  to  his 
murderer,  but  to  take  a  step  unheard  of  heretofore  in  the  annals 
of  the  Merovings.  When  they  found  that  the  boy  Childebert 
had  escaped,  they  bound  his  father's  diadem  about  his  brows, 
and  saluted  him  as  king.  Hitherto  the  Franks  had  always 
lived  under  the  strong  hands  of  a  grown  man,  and  the  provin- 
cial governors  had  been  as  powerless  as  the  meaner  people 
under  the  autocratic  sway  of  the  ruler;  but  in  the  long 
minority  that  would  follow  the  accession  of  a  four-year-old 
child,  they  found  their  opportunity  for  lowering  the  royal 
power,  and  dividing  many  of  its  privileges  among  themselves. 
From  this  point  begins  the  degradation  of  the  kingly  office, 
which  was  to  be  the  rule  henceforth  among  them ;  and  the 
counts  and  dukes,  as  well  as  the  great  officers  of  the  palace, 
were  destined  to  acquire,  in  the  early  years  of  Childebert,  a 
control  over  the  central  power  which  they  had  never  hitherto 

Meanwhile  the  fate  of  the  little  king's  mother,  Brunhildis, 

Decline  and  Decay  of  the  Merovingians         165 

had  been  a  strange  one.  Chilperich  had  seized  her  treasures, 
and  thrown  her  into  prison  at  Rouen.  There  she  caught  the 
eye  of  Merovech,  her  captor's  eldest  surviving  son,i  who  was 
charged  by  his  father  with  the  command  of  an  Adventures  of 
army  destined  to  attack  the  Austrasian  king's  Brunhiidis. 
dominions  beyond  the  Loire.  Merovech  was  so  infatuated 
by  the  beauty  of  the  captive  queen  that,  braving  his  father's 
displeasure,  he  delivered  her  from  her  dungeon,  and  induced 
Praetextatus,  bishop  of  Rouen,  to  marry  them  in  his  cathedral. 
King  Chilperich  immediately  flew  to  Rouen  in  great  wrath, 
and  at  his  approach  the  newly-married  pair  took  sanctuary 
under  the  bishop's  protection.  After  some  hesitation  the 
king  of  Neustria  promised  to  spare  their  lives,  but,  when  his 
son  surrendered  himself,  he  took  him  away  to  Soissons,  and 
shortly  afterwards  tonsured  him,  and  compelled  him  to  become 
a  monk.  Brunhiidis  escaped  to  Austrasia,  whither  her  hus- 
band strove  to  follow  her.  He  f!ed  from  his  monastery,  and 
had  almost  reached  the  frontier,  when  the  emissaries  of 
his  stepmother,  Fredegundis,  caught  him,  and  murdered 
him  (577). 

In  Austrasia  there  now  commenced  a  struggle  between  the 
liberated  queen-mother  and  the  great  ofiicers  of  state,  for  the 
guardianship  of  the  little  six-year-old  king.  The  struggle  was 
an  obstinate  one ;  for  if  the  Frankish  nobles  were  hampered 
by  the  autocratic  traditions  of  the  kingship,  Brunhiidis,  on 
the  other  hand,  was  a  foreigner,  and  met  with  little  support 
save  among  the  Gallo-Roman  clergy  and  officials,  who  found 
some  protection,  under  the  shield  of  the  king,  from  the 
arrogance  and  violence  of  their  Frankish  fellow-subjects.  In 
Neustria  or  Aquitaine,  where  the  Roman  elements  were 
stronger,  Brunhiidis  might  have  done  more,  but  her  lot 
was  cast  in  Austrasia,  where  the  Germans  were  entirely  pre- 

^  Theudebert,  the  eldest,  had  fallen  in  battle  in  the  preceding 


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1 68  European  History,  476-918 

To  protect  the  young  Childebert  against  the  attacks  of 
Chilperich,  his  mother  alHed  herself  with  the  boy's  uncle, 
Guntram,  king  of  Burgundy.  Guntram,  who  had  no  children 
of  his  own,  designated  Childebert  heir  to  all  his  dominions, 
and  took  up  his  cause  with  vigour.  But  he  was  not  a  very 
warlike  prince,  and  it  was  as  much  as  he  could  do  to  protect 
his  own  realm  against  the  active  and  ruthless  king  of  Neustria. 
Though  Burgundy  and  Austrasia  were  allied,  Chilperich  suc- 
ceeded in  conquering  their  united  armies,  under  the  Burgun- 
dian  general,  Mummolus,  and  seizing  Tours,  Poictiers,  and  all 
the  north  of  Aquitaine.  He  would  probably  have  carried  his 
arms  further  if  internal  troubles  had  not  arisen  to  check  him. 
The  Bretons  of  Armorica  burst  into  rebellion,  and  had  to  be 
put  down,  and  other  risings  were  excited  by  his  ruthless  and 
excessive  taxation.  But  his  worst  vexations  were  those  of  his 
own  household,  caused  by  the  strife  of  his  elder  sons  with 
Atrocities  of  their  Stepmother,  Fredegundis.  All  through  these 
Fredegundis.  years  the  wickcd  queen  had  been  fearfully  active. 
Theudebert  and  Merovech,  the  eldest  of  her  husband's  family, 
were  dead,  but  their  brother,  Chlodovech,  still  stood  between 
Fredegundis'  children  and  the  throne.  In  580  the  plague 
swept  all  over  Gaul,,  and  two  sons  of  Fredegundis'  were  carried 
off  by  it.  She  accused  their  step-brother  of  having  caused 
their  death  by  witchcraft,  and  got  her  husband  to  permit  her 
to  execute  him.  But  when  her  last  child  died,  two  years  later, 
the  wretched  woman's  rage  and  grief  led  her  into  the  wildest  out- 
bursts of  cruelty.  She  accused  numbers  of  persons  about  the 
court  of  magic  arts  practised  against  her  boy,  and  burnt  them 
alive,  or  broke  them  on  the  wheel.  Many  other  acts  of  murder 
and  treachery  are  attributed  to  her,  notably  the  death  of 
Praetextatus,  bishop  of  Rouen,  whom  she  detested  for  the 
part  he  had  taken  in  the  marriage  of  Merovech  and  Brun- 
hildis,  and  her  crimes  fill  many  a  page  in  the  gloomy  annals 
of  Gregory  of  Tours.  A  legend  tells  how  two  holy  bishops  once 
stood  before  the  gate  of  the  palace  at  Soissons.  '  What  seest 
thou  over  this  house  ? '  said  one.     '  I  see  nothing  but  the  red 

Decline  and  Decay  of  the  Merovingians  169 

standard  which  Chilperich  the  king  has  ordered  to  be  set 
up  on  its  topmost  gable.'  '  But  /  see,'  said  the  first,  '  the 
sword  of  God  raised  above  that  wicked  house  to  destroy  it 

Meanwhile,  Chilperich's  wars  with  his  brother  of  Burgundy 
and  his  nephew  of  Austrasia  continued  to  fill  central  Gaul 
with  blood  and  ashes.  They  ceased  for  a  moment  when  the 
Austrasian  nobles,  against  the  will  of  Brunhildis,  forced  their 
little  king  to  make  peace  and  alliance  with  his  father's  mur- 
derer. But  no  one  could  long  trust  Chilperich,  and  after  less 
than  a  year  the  old  league  between  Austrasia  and  Burgundy 
was  renewed. 

In  584  Chilperich,  to  the  great  joy  of  all  Gaul,  was  murdered 
by  an  unknown  hand  : — '  As  he  was  returning  from  the  hunt 
to  his  royal  manor  of  Chelles,  a  certain  man  struck  him 
with  a  knife  beneath  the  shoulder,  and  pierced  his  belly 
with  a  second  stroke,  whereupon  he  fell  down  and  j^^^^j^  ^^ 
breathed  out  his  foul  soul,'  says  the  chronicler.  Chilperich  i., 
He  was  perhaps  the  worst  of  the  wicked  Merov-  ^  "*' 
ings — cruel,  unjust,  gluttonous,  and  drunken,  vain,  boastful, 
and  irreligious,  the  worthy  son  of  the  ruffian  Chlothar,  and 
grandson  of  the  murderer  Chlodovech.  But  his  untiring 
energy  and  reckless  courage  bore  him  safely  through  many  an 
evil  day,  and  he  died  leaving  the  kingdom  he  had  inherited 
in  561  increased  to  three  times  its  original  bulk. 

Queen  Fredegundis  had  borne  one  more  son,  named  Chlo- 
thar, to  her  husband  just  four  months  before  his  murder,  so 
that  Neustria  was  not  left  altogether  without  an  heir.  But 
Fredegundis  feared  that  Guntram  and  his  nephew  would  now 
seize  the  whole  realm,  and  slay  her  with  her  infant.  She  took 
sanctuary  at  Paris ;  but  when  the  king  of  Burgundy  arrived 
he  showed  his  superiority  to  the  morals  of  his  family  by 
sparing  the  life  of  the  wicked  queen,  and  recognising  her  son 
as  king  of  Neustria.  Brunhildis  sought  in  vain  to  induce 
Guntram  to  give  over  to  her  the  murderess  of  her  husband ; 
he  refused,  and  Fredegundis  took  advantage  of  his  kindness 

I/O  European  History^  476-918 

to  hire  assassins  to  make  attempts  on  the  lives  both  of 
Brunhildis  and  her  son  the  young  king  of  Austrasia.  Luckily 
the  project  failed  in  both  cases. 

The  civil  wars  of  the  Franks  now  ceased  for  a  moment. 
Guntram,  a  mild  and  not  unamiable  character,  controlled  both 
his  nephews,  the  fifteen-year-old  Childebert  of  Austrasia,  and 
the  one-year-old  Chlothar  11. ;  and  for  nine  years  the  three 
kingdoms  had  a  certain  measure  of  peace,  broken  only  by 
wars  with  the  Lombards  and  Visigoths.  Guntram  seems  to 
have  hoped  that  the  fratricidal  wars  of  his  family  might  be 
staved  off  for  a  space  by  turning  the  energy  of  the  Franks 
Wars  with  against  their  southern  neighbours,  and  engaged 
Goths  and  himsclf  in  a  war  with  Reccared,  king  of  Spain, 
om  ar  s.  ^j^jjg  ^^  Austrasian  nobles  were  induced  by  the 
gifts  of  the  emperor  Maurice  to  assist  the  Byzantines  in  their 
struggle  against  the  Lombards.  Both  wars  were  long  and 
fruitless.  In  the  West,  the  repeated  attacks  of  the  Burgundian 
armies  on  Septimania  were  all  beaten  back.  In  the  East,  the 
Austrasians  twice  crossed  the  Alps,  and  wasted  the  valley  of 
the  Po,  but  in  588  they  received  such  a  defeat  at  the  hands  of 
king  Authari  that  they  made  peace  with  him  and  withdrew 
across  the  Alps.  In  590  Childebert,  who  had  now  attained 
his  twentieth  year,  and  was  governing  for  himself,  renewed  the 
struggle  j  but  his  army  was  thinned  by  famine  and  pestilence 
before  the  walls  of  Verona,  and  he  was  finally  fain  to  renew 
the  peace  with  Agilulf,  the  successor  of  Authari. 

Unfortunate  foreign  wars,  however,  were  better  than  strife 
in  the  heart  of  Gaul,  and  the  last  years  of  Guntram  were  fairly 
free  from  this  pest.  He  was  only  troubled  by  one  rebellion  : 
a  conspiracy  between  his  illegitimate  brother,  Gundovald,  and 
two  great  Romano-Gallic  dukes,  Mummolus  and  Desiderius, 
who  were  apparently  wishing  to  become  king-makers,  and  rule 
under  the  name  of  an  obscure  and  incapable  pretender.  But 
the  day  of  the  complete  triumph  of  the  great  State  officials 
over  the  kingship  had  not  yet  come,  and  though  he  was  for 
a  moment  master  of  all  Aquitaine,  Gundovald  was  easily  put 

Decline  and  Decay  of  the  Merovingians         171 

down,  and   executed   in   company  with   his   chief  supporter 
Mummolus  (585). 

Guntram  died  in  593,  and  his  nephew  Childebert  received 
his  dominions  in  Burgundy  and  Aquitaine,  thus  becoming 
ruler  of  four-fifths  of  the  whole  Frankish  kingdom  in  his 
twenty-third  year.  Under  his  nominal  sway  Austrasia  had 
been  the  theatre  of  a  long  struggle  between  his  mother 
Brunhildis  and  the  great  counts  and  dukes,  whose  plots  and 
riots  were  secretly  abetted  by  Fredegundis.  From  her  home 
in  Neustria  the  ruthless  widow  of  Chilperich  did  her  best  to  set 
her  nephew's  kingdom  in  disorder,  and  promised  lands  and 
titles  to  the  Austrasian  chiefs  if  they  would  murder  Brunhildis 
and  Childebert,  and  proclaim  her  own  son,  Chlothar,  king  of 
Austrasia.  But  the  stern  and  able  Brunhildis  unravelled  and 
crushed  all  these  conspiracies,  and  had  the  triumph  of  seeing 
her  son  attain  his  majority,  and  assume  the  rule  in  his  own 

The  moment  that  the  pacific  Guntram  was  dead,  Brunhildis 
and  her  son,  freed  from  all  restraint,  set  out  to  punish  the  in- 
trigues of  Fredegundis,  and  by  invading  Neustria  to  make  an  end 
of  her  and  her  boy  Chlothar.  But  the  fortune  of  war  declared 
in  favour  of  the  Western  Franks.  At  Droisy,  near  Brunhildis 
Soissons,  the  army  of  Childebert  was  defeated  with  attacks 
the  loss  of  no  less  than  30,000  men,  and  Neustria  ^"^tna. 
was  saved  from  conquest.  The  war  continued  without  definite 
result,  for  Childebert  was  prevented  from  using  his  full 
strength  by  a  rebellion  beyond  the  Rhine,  among  the  Warni 
in  Suabia.  Probably  his  superior  force  must  in  the  end  have 
carried  the  day,  but  the  entire  aspect  of  affairs  was  suddenly 
changed  by  his  unexpected  death  in  596,  at  the  early  age  of 
twenty-six.  He  left  two  infant  sons,  Theudebert  and  Theu- 
derich,  to  the  care  of  their  grandmother,  who  found  herself, 
though  she  was  now  verging  on  old  age,  once  more  called 
upon  to  assume  the  regency. 

The  death  of  Childebert  was  to  the  kingly  authority  a  fatal 
blow,  from  which  it  never  recovered.     His  own  long  minority 

172  European  History^  476-918 

had  raised  the  counts  and  dukes  to  a  pitch  of  power  which 
they  had  never  gained  before,  and  all  the  efforts  of  Brunhildis 
had  not  succeeded  in  fully  holding  them  down.  The  equally 
long  minority  of  his  sons  was  the  last  blow  to  the  kingship. 
Their  grandmother  struggled  with  all  her  might  to  retain  the 
power  for  the  kingly  race,  and  to  curb  her  unruly  subjects. 
But  though  she  worked  with  untiring  energy  and  zeal,  and 
kept  the  reins  of  government  in  her  own  grasp  for  some  time, 
the  treacherous  nobles,  bent  on  their  own  aggrandisement  at  the 
expense  of  the  royal  authority,  were  at  last  too  much  for  her. 

Of  the  two  sons  of  Childebert  11.  Theudebert,  the  elder, 
became  king  of  Austrasia,  Theuderich,  the  younger,  king  of 
Second  Burgundy,  the  legacy  of  his  uncle  Guntram.     It 

Regency  of  was  an  uncasy  inheritance  to  which  they  suc- 
Brunhiidis.  cccded,  for  Fredegundis  saw  her  opportunity,  and 
urged  the  Neustrians  forward  against  her  great-nephews.  At 
Lafaux  near  Laon  the  Austrasians  suffered  a  great  defeat,  and 
all  the  lands  as  far  as  the  Meuse  fell  into  the  hands  of  the 
queen  of  Neustria.  But  in  the  moment  of  triumph,  her  son's 
throne  being  now  firmly  established,  and  her  rival's  power  on 
the  decline,  the  wicked  Fredegundis  died  at  Rouen.  Her 
countless  murders  and  cruelties  met  no  chastisement  on  earth, 
and  the  son  for  whom  she  had  risked  so  much  was  destined 
to  carry  out  to  a  successful  end  the  schemes  in  pursuit  of 
which  she  had  so  long  striven,  and  to  unite  all  the  Frankish 
realms  under  his  sceptre  (597). 

The  death  of  Fredegundis  brought  no  relief  to  Brunhildis. 
For  two  years  more  she  struggled  on  against  the  intrigues  of 
the  Austrasian  nobility;  duke  Wintrio,  who  led  the  opposi- 
tion against  her,  was  seized  and  executed  in  598.  But  in  599 
Exile  of  a  final  rising  took  her  by  surprise,  and  she  was 

Brunhildis.  forced  to  fly  alonc  and  unaccompanied  from  Metz 
to  save  her  life.  She  escaped  to  Burgundy,  where  she  took 
refuge  with  her  younger  grandson  Theuderich,  and  was  there 
received  with  all  honour.  Two  successive  Mayors  of  the 
Palace,  Protadius  and  Claudius,  both  of  Romano-GaUic  blood, 

Decline  and  Decay  of  the  Merovingians  173 

lent  themselves  to  her  schemes,  and  the  royal  power  in  Bur- 
gundy was  still  upheld  by  her  strong  hand. 

The  curse  of  fratricidal  wars  was  never  to  depart  from  the 
house  of  the  Merovings.  When  Theudebert  11.  and  Theu- 
derich  11.  grew  up  and  reached  early  manhood,  they  united  for 
a  moment  to  attack  their  cousin  Chlothar,  and  to  recover 
from  him  the  lands  between  the  Meuse,  the  Seine,  and  the 
Loire,  with  Paris,  Rouen,  and  Tours.  But  soon  after  they 
fell  to  strife,  and  it  would  seem  that  the  old  Brunhildis  was 
greatly  to  blame  for  its  outbreak.  She  was  burning  to  revenge 
herself  on  the  Austrasian  nobles  for  the  banishment  she  had 
endured  at  their  hands,  and  stirred  up  the  Burgundians  to 
war.  She  and  the  Mayor  Protadius  were  far  more  eager 
than  the  counts  and  dukes  of  Burgundy  to  begin  the  strife, 
and  when  the  two  armies  came  in  sight  of  each  other,  the 
soldiers  of  Theuderich  lowered  their  weapons,  slew  Protadius 
when  he  strove  to  force  them  on,  and  compelled  their  young 
king  to  make  peace  with  his  brother.  But  the  curse  that 
rested  on  the  Merovings  was  not  so  easily  to  be  exorcised ; 
Brunhildis  and  Theuderich  were  determined  to  have  their 
way,  and  ere  very  long  the  war  was  renewed.  The  Austrasians 
were  beaten  at  Toul,  their  lands  wasted,  and  the  victorious 
Theuderich  forced  his  way  as  far  as  Ziilpich,  in  the  very  heart 
of  his  brother's  realm.  Here  Theudebert  with-  wars  of 
stood  him  for  a  second  time,  was  again  beaten,  Theudebert 
and  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  Burgundians.  He  Theuderich 
was  led  before  his  grandmother,  who  assailed  him  ii-»  6"- 
with  bitter  reproaches,  and  bade  him  be  tonsured  and  become 
a  monk.  But  this  did  not  content  the  king  of  Burgundy ;  a 
few  days  later  he  had  his  brother  dragged  out  of  his  monastery 
and  put  to  death  (612). 

The  revenge  of  heaven  seemed  to  be  called  down  by  the 
wicked  deed  of  the  young  king  of  Burgundy.  Only  five 
months  after  his  brother's  murder  he  was  smitten  down  by  an 
attack  of  dysentery,  and  died  at  Metz  in  the  very  prime  of  his 
early  manhood  (613). 

174  European  History,  476-918 

Now  for  the  third  time  the  unhappy  Brunhildis  was  left 
alone,  with  a  helpless  child  as  her  only  stay.  Once  more  she 
steeled  her  heart  and  faced  the  situation  ;  she  led  her  great- 
grandson  Sigibert,  the  eldest  son  of  Theuderich,  before  the 
assembly  of  the  East  Franks,  and  bade  them  do  homage  to 
him  as  king  of  Austrasia  and  Burgundy.  For  a  moment 
they  bent  before  her,  and  Sigibert  11.  was  acknowledged  as 
ruler  of  the  East  Franks.  But  the  Austrasians  were  deter- 
mined to  have  no  more  of  Brunhildis'  rule ;  they  sent  secretly 
to  Chlothar,  king  of  Neustria,  and  bade  him  arm  and  invade 
his  cousin's  realm,  for  no  hand  should  be  raised  against  him. 
When  the  Neustrian  king  marched  into  Austrasia,  Warnachar, 
the  mayor  of  the  palace,  and  most  of  the  nobles  of  the  land 
took  arms  and  joined  him.  Brunhildis  with  her  great-grand- 
son fled  to  Burgundy,  and  raised  an  army  there,  with  which 
she  faced  the  Neustrians  near  the  headwaters  of  the  Aisne. 
But  when  Chlothar's  army  came  in  sight,  the  Burgundian 
patrician  Aletheus  and  the  dukes  Rocco  and  Sigvald  led  off 
their  troops,  and  joined  the  invader.  In  a  moment  the  whole 
of  Sigibert's  army  had  deserted  or  dispersed.  Brunhildis  and 
the  little  king  fled  away  as  far  as  Orbe,  hard  by  the  lake  of 
Neuchatel,  where  the  emissaries  of  Chlothar  overtook  and 
Death  of  Captured  them.  They  were  led  before  the  king 
Brunhildis,  of  Neustria,  the  worthy  son  of  Fredegundis. 
^^*"  '  Here  is  the  woman,'  he  cried,  '  by  whose  intrigues 

and  wars  ten  princes  of  the  Franks  have  come  to  their  deaths,'^ 
and  he  bade  his  soldiers  scourge  the  old  queen,  and  then 
bind  her  by  hands  and  feet  to  the  heels  of  a  wild  horse, 
who  dragged  her  among  stones  and  rocks  till  her  body  was 
torn  limb  from  limb.  The  boy  Sigibert  and  his  younger 
brother  Corbo  were  strangled. 

^  We  can  reckon  Theudebert,  son  of  Chilperich,  and  Theudebert,  son 
of  Childebert,  slain  in  battle ;  Chilperich,  whose  murder  was  sometimes 
put  down  to  Brunhildis  by  her  enemies  ;  Sigibert,  who  was  murdered  in  a 
war  to  which  Brunhildis  had  urged  him  ;  Merovech,  who  was  murdered 
for  marrying  her.     But  who  were  the  other  five  ? 

Decline  and  Decay  of  the  Merovingians         175 

Thus  perished  Brunhildis,  and  with  her  the  greatness  of  the 
house  of  the  Merovings.  For  the  future  it  was  the  counts 
and  the  mayors  of  the  palace  who  were  to  exercise  real 
power  among  the  Franks,  and  not  the  kings.  Chlothar,  who 
had  conquered  only  by  the  treachery  of  the  nobles,  was,  with 
all  his  descendants,  to  be  their  servant,  not  their  master. 
Considering  that  she  was  a  woman  and  a  foreigner,  it  is  won- 
derful that  Brunhildis  continued  for  so  long  to  sway  the  councils 
of  Austrasia.  Save  her  abiHties  and  her  force  of  character, 
she  had  no  advantage,  yet  she  not  only  dominated  in  suc- 
cession her  husband,  her  son,  and  her  grandson,  but  held 
down  the  unruly  counts  and  dukes,  who  were  neither  allied 
to  her  by  blood  nor  constantly  under  her  eye  and  influence. 
The  tale  of  her  life  has  sufficiently  shown  her  qualities  and 
defects.  That  she  was  something  more  than  a  fury  stirring 
up  war  and  strife  from  personal  revenge  for  the  character  of 
blood  of  her  sister  and  her  husband  is  clear  Brunhildis. 
enough.  She  was  an  administrator  of  marked  ability.  Almost 
alone  among  the  rulers  of  the  Franks,  she  is  noted  as  a  builder 
and  a  founder.  Churches,  hospitals,  and  monasteries  she 
erected  in  great  numbers.  The  old  Roman  fortresses  and 
military  roads  were  also  her  care.  To  this  day  some  of  the 
high  roads  of  Belgium  still  bear  her  name,  and  as  the 
*  Chaussees  de  Brunehaute '  preserve  her  memory  as  the  first 
potentate  who  cared  for  them  after  the  Franks  came  into  the 
land.  That  she  was  a  sincerely  religious  woman  would  seem 
to  be  vouched  for  by  the  series  of  her  letters  to  Gregory  the 
Great,  which  moved  the  good  pontiff"'s  admiration.  But  sin- 
cere piety  was  not  in  those  days,  any  more  than  in  our  own, 
inconsistent  with  a  headstrong  impatience  of  opposition,  and 
an  unscrupulous  readiness  to  sweep  obstacles  out  of  the  way. 
There  is  no  doubt  that  Brunhildis  struck  down  the  Austrasian 
counts  by  the  dagger,  as  well  as  by  the  sword,  when  they  in- 
trigued against  her.  She  never  forgave  her  own  grandson  Theu- 
debert  11.  for  allowing  her  to  be  driven  out  of  his  realm,  and  was 
not  satisfied  till,  ten  years  after  his  offence,  she  caught  him, 

176  European  History ^  476-918 

and  forced  him  to  become  a  monk.  Her  enmity  pursued  not 
only  Fredegundis  and  Chilperich,  the  murderers  of  her  sister 
and  husband,  but  their  young  son  and  their  subjects  long  years 
after  they  themselves  were  dead.  Yet,  if  she  was  relentless 
and  unforgiving,  we  must  remember  that  few  rulers  in  history 
have  suffered  such  wrongs  and  faced  such  odds.  Compared 
with  her  contemporaries,  Brunhildis  might  almost  pass  for  a 
heroine  and  a  saint. 

Chlothar  11.,  though  he  became  king  of  all  the  Frankish 
realms  by  the  murder  of  Brunhildis  and  her  great-grand- 
children, acquired  little  real  power  thereby.  The  Austrasians 
and  Burgundians,  who  had  combined  with  him  to  destroy  the 
old  queen,  wrung  terms  from  him  which  deprived  him  of  many 
undoubted  regal  rights.  The  dukes  Warnachar  and  Ratho, 
who  were  made  mayors  of  the  palace  of  the  two  realms. 
Decay  of  Stipulated  that  they  were  to  hold  their  offices  for 

Royal  power.  Hfe^  not  at  the  king's  pleasure.  For  the  future 
the  mayorship  became  an  office  of  far  greater  importance  than 
it  had  yet  been.  Another  step  in  the  weakening  of  the  king- 
ship is  shown  by  the  fact  that  the  legislation  of  the  Franks 
from  this  time  forward  is  always  noted  as  being  done  by  the 
king,  with  the  counsel  and  consent  of  his  bishops,  counts,  and 
dukes.  A  code  of  laws  which  Chlothar  11.  put  forth  for  the 
Suabians,  somewhere  about  the  year  620,  is  indorsed  not 
merely  with  his  own  authority,  but  with  that  of  thirty-three 
bishops,  thirty-four  dukes,  and  sixty-five  counts.  The  fact  that 
the  reign  of  Chlothar  was  exceptionally  fertile  in  legislation  is 
probably  to  be  accounted  for  by  the  fact  that  he  was  compelled 
to  listen  to  the  demands  of  his  nobles,  and  grant  redress  to 
their  grievances,  rather  than  by  any  particular  taste  of  his  own 
for  the  enacting  of  laws.  When,  for  example,  we  hear  that  he 
'  met  the  mayor  Warnachar,  and  all  the  bishops,  and  great 
men  of  Burgundy  at  Bonneuil,  and  there  assented  to  all  their 
just  petitions,'  we  must  remember  that  he  was  facing  an  irre- 
movable mayor  of  the  palace,  and  a  nation  who  had  freely 
given  themselves  into  his  hands  on  stated  terms,  and  had  no 

Decline  and  Decay  of  the  Merovingians  177 

longer  over  them  the  unlimited  authority  that  a  Chlodovech 
or  a  Theuderich  had  owned  a  hundred  years  before  Nothing 
can  show  more  clearly  the  growing  weakness  of  Troubles  of 
the  king  than  an  incident  which  occurred  at  a  chiotharii. 
great  national  gathering  of  Neustrians  and  Burgundians,  at 
Clichy,  towards  the  end  of  his  reign.  In  the  midst  of  the 
council  a  brawl  arose,  and  the  followers  of  a  duke  named 
^gyna,  slew  Ermenhar,  the  steward  of  the  palace  of  the 
king's  son.  At  once  all  the  Neustrians  seized  their  arms,  and 
drew  apart  into  two  bands.  While  ^gyna  and  his  friends 
seized  the  hill  of  Montmartre,  and  formed  their  array  on  its 
brow,  the  larger  party,  headed  by  Brodulf,  a  kinsman  of  the 
slain  man,  started  off  to  storm  the  position.  The  king  was 
only  able  to  keep  the  peace  by  inducing  the  Burgundians, 
who  were  not  interested  in  the  quarrel,  to  follow  him,  and  to 
promise  to  attack  whichever  of  the  two  sides  should  strike 
the  first  blow.  He  dismissed  the  assembly,  and  was  unable 
to  punish  any  one,  either  for  the  murder  or  for  the  riot  which 
had  ensued. 

Chlothar,  with  his  diminished  royal  prerogative,  seems  to 
have  had  neither  the  opportunity  nor  the  power  to  engage  in 
wars  of  conquest  beyond  the  bounds  of  his  realm.  He  had  to 
look  on,  without  stirring,  while  a  great,  if  ephemeral,  kingdom 
was  built  up  beyond  his  eastern  frontier.  Behind  samo  and 
the  Thuringians  and  Bavarians,  on  the  Elbe  and  *^^  siavs. 
Oder,  there  had  dwelt  for  the  last  two  hundred  years,  since  the 
German  races  had  migrated  westward,  a  group  of  small  and 
disunited  Slavonic  tribes,  calling  themselves  Wiltzes,  Sorbes, 
Abotrites,  and  Czechs.  Their  dissensions  had  kept  them  from 
being  dangerous  neighbours  till  the  time  of  Chlothar.  But 
about  620  a  Frankish  adventurer,  named  Samo,  who  had 
gone  eastward,  half  as  trader  half  as  buccaneer,  united  many 
of  the  Slavonic  tribes,  and  became  their  king.  He  gradually 
extended  his  power  all  down  the  valley  of  the  Elbe,  on  both 
sides  of  the  Bohemian  mountains,  and  was  soon  to  prove  him- 
self a  serious  trouble  to  the  realm  of  the  Merovings. 


1/8  European  History,  476-918 

Towards  the  end  of  his  reign,  Chlothar  11.  made  his  son 
Dagobert  king  of  Austrasia,  while  he  was  still  a  very  young 
man.  The  chief  councillors  by  whose  aid  Dagobert  adminis- 
tered his  realm  were  two  men  whose  names  form  a  landmark 
in  Frankish  history  —  Arnulf,  bishop  of  Metz,  and  count 
Pippin  the  elder,  the  ancestors  of  the  great  house  of  the 
Karlings.  Bishop  Arnulf  was  the  wisest  and  best  of  the 
prelates  of  Austrasia,  and,  after  a  long  life  of  usefulness  in 
_^   .      ,.      church  and  state,  won  the  name  of  saint  by  lay- 

St.  Arnulf         _  _  '  ■'        ■' 

and  Pippin  ing  down  his  crozier  and  ring  and  retiring  to  a 
the  elder.  hermitage,  to  spend  his  last  fifteen  years  in  the 
solitudes  of  the  Vosges.  Count  Pippin,  a  noble  from  the  land 
between  Meuse  and  Mosel,  whose  ancestral  abodes  are  said  to 
have  been  the  manors  of  Hersthal  and  Landen,  was  appointed 
mayor  of  the  palace,  and  lived  in  the  closest  concord  and 
amity  with  Arnulf.  They  cemented  their  alliance  by  a  mar- 
riage, Begga,  the  daughter  of  Pippin,  being  wedded  to  Ansi- 
gisel,  the  son  of  the  bishop ;  for  Arnulf,  like  many  of  the 
Frankish  clergy,  lived  in  lawful  wedlock.  From  these  parents 
sprang  the  whole  of  the  line  of  mayors,  kings,  and  emperors 
whose  mighty  deeds  were  to  make  their  comparatively  unim- 
portant ancestors  famous  in  history. 

King  Chlothar  11.  died  in  628,  and  his  son,  Dagobert  i., 
became  ruler  of  all  the  Frankish  realms.  He  was,  for  a 
Meroving,  a  very  creditable  ruler,  though  he  lived  with  three 
wives  at  once,  and  indulged  in  occasional  outbursts  of  wrong- 
headedness.  For  the  two  first  years  of  his  reign  he  chose  to 
share  the  sovereign  power  with  his  brother  Charibert,  whom 
he  made  king  of  Aquitaine  out  of  pure  fraternal  affection. 
But  when  Charibert  died,  in  630,  he  resumed  his  southern 
dominions,  disregarding  Charibert's  three  sons.  Dagobert 
„  .       ,         was  the  last  of  the  Merovings  whose  will  was  of 

Reign  of  ° 

Dagobert  I.,    much  importance  in  the  ordering  of  the  Frankish 
628-38.  realms ;  his  successors  were  to  be  mere  shadows. 

Even  in  his  own  time  the  royal  power  was  already  of  little  force 
in  Austrasia,  where  the  king  leant  entirely  upon  the  support  of 

Decline  and  Decay  of  the  Merovingians  1 79 

Pippin,  who,  with  his  son-in-law,  Ansigisel,  held  the  post  of 
mayor  of  the  palace  for  the  whole  sixteen  years  of  Dagobert's 
reign.  His  loyalty  to  the  king  concealed  the  fact  that  he  was 
far  more  powerful  in  the  eastern  kingdom  than  Dagobert  him- 
self. The  king  had  several  sharp  quarrels  with  him,  but  never 
dared  to  depose  him  from  his  post  lest  trouble  should  ensue. 
In  Neustria  no  great  mayor  of  the  palace  had  yet  arisen,  and 
there  Dagobert  was  ruler  in  fact  as  well  as  name.  Hence  it 
is  not  surprising  that  he  always  dwelt  west  of  the  Meuse,  and 
made  Paris  his  favourite  residence. 

Dagobert  was  the  last  Meroving  who  took  arms  to  extend 
the  limits  of  the  Frankish  power.  He  supported  the  pretender 
Sisinand  in  Spain,  by  the  aid  of  a  Burgundian  army,  made  an 
alliance  with  the  emperor  Heraclius  against  the  Lombards, 
and  entered  into  a  protracted  war  with  the  Slavonic  tribes  of 
the  East.  On  the  Elbe,  the  kingdom  of  Samo  the  Frank  was 
now  at  the  height  of  its  power.  Dagobert  took  alarm  at  its 
rapid  growth,  and  when  the  Wends  plundered  part  of  Thur- 
ingia,  in  630,  sent  against  them  three  great  armies,  comprising 
the  whole  military  force  of  Austrasia.  Two  of  these  expe- 
ditions fared  well,  but  the  third  suffered  complete  annihila- 
tion at  Wogastisburg,  in  Bohemia,  and  the  victorious  Slavs 
ravaged  Thuringia  and  Bavaria,  from  Saal  to  Danube,  with  fire 
and  sword,  till  Radulf,  duke  of  Thuringia,  at  last  checked 
them,  in  633. 

Dagobert  i.  died  in  638,  He  left  two  sons,  Sigibert  iii., 
aged  nine,  and  Chlodovech  11.,  aged  six.  It  was  the  long 
minority  of  these  two  boys  which  finally  achieved  the  ruin 
of  the  Merovingian  house.  While  Sigibert  and  Chlodovech 
were  growing  up  to  manhood,  the  future  of  the  Frankish 
realms  was  being  settled  by  the  sword,  the  all-important  issue 
at  stake  being  the  question  whether  the  house  of  Pippin  and 
Arnulf  should  retain  permanent  possession  of  the  Austrasian 
mayorship  of  the  palace  or  should  sink  out  of  sight.  Pippin 
the  Old  died  in  639,  the  second  year  of  Sigibert's  reign.  His 
son  Grimoald  at  once  proclaimed  himself  heir  to  his  father's 

i8o  European  History^  476-918 

office.  But  a  great  part  of  the  Austrasian  nobles,  headed  by 
Otto,  the  foster-father  of  the  young  king,  refused  to  acknow- 
Grimoaid  ledge  his  right  to  the  mayorship,  and  a  fierce 
Mayor  of  War  of  three  years  was  required  to  settle  the  dis- 
the  Palace,      p^^^^     ^^  j^^^  ^^^  ^^^  ^^  Pippin  conqucred,  and 

for  fourteen  years  (642-56)  was  undisputed  master  of  Austrasia. 
King  Sigibert,  indeed,  grew  up  to  man's  estate,  but  he  was 
completely  dominated  by  his  servant,  and  never  made  any 
endeavour  to  take  the  power  out  of  his  hands.  Hence  he  is 
known  as  the  first  of  the  Rois  Faineants^  or  do-nothing  kings, 
who  were  from  henceforth  to  be  the  rule  among  the  house  of 
the  Merovings. 

In  Neustria,  meanwhile,  the  royal  power  was  saved  for  a 
time  by  the  cleverness  of  queen  Nanthildis,  a  lady  of  great 
piety,  the  widow  of  Dagobert,  who  acted  as  guardian  for  her 
younger  son  Chlodovech.  She  enlisted  in  her  cause  the 
Neustrian  mayor  of  the  palace,  Erchinoald,  who  was  akin  to 
the  royal  house  himself,^  and  therefore  not  unfavourable  to 
its  dominance.  Not  till  these  two  passed  away  was  the 
Western  realm  to  sink  into  the  same  state  as  the  Eastern. 
But  the  fall  of  royalty  here,  too,  was  now  imminent. 

^  He  was  brother  of  Dagobert's  mother,  it  would  appear,  and  therefore 
great-uncle  to  the  little  king. 




The  Wanderings  of  the  Lombards — Alboin  conquers  Northern  Italy— His 
tragic  end — Anarchy  among  the  Lombard  dukes — Reign  of  Authari,  and 
Prankish  wars — Conquest  and  conversion  of  Agihilf— Rothari  the  Law- 
giver— State  of  Rome  and  Italy — Career  of  St.  Gregory — He  founds  the 
temporal  power  of  the  Papacy. 

In  the  third  year  of  Justin  11.,  and  only  fifteen  years  after 
Narses  had  swept  the  Goth  and  Frank  out  of  Italy,  a  new 
horde  of  barbarians  came  pouring  down  on  that  unhappy 
land.  The  ravages  of  eighteen  years  of  war,  and  a  terrible 
pestilence  which  supervened,  had  left  all  the  northern  parts  of 
the  peninsula  desolate,  and  well-nigh  uninhabited,  —  'the 
land  seemed  to  have  sunk  back  into  primeval  silence  and 
soHtude.'^  The  imperial  troops  held  a  few  strong  places 
beyond  the  Po,  such  as  Verona  and  Pavia,  but  had  made  no 
effort  to  restore  the  military  frontier  along  the  Alps,  and  the 
land  lay  open  to  the  spoiler.  Southern  Italy  had  suffered  less, 
and  Ravenna  was  still  strong  and  well  guarded,  but  the  Trans- 
padane  lowlands — destined  ere  long  to  change  their  name  to 
the  'Lombard  plain' — were  as  destitute  of  civil  population  as 
they  were  of  military  resources. 

The  new  invaders  of  Italy  were  the  Lombards  (Langobardi), 
a  Teutonic  people,  who,  according  to  their  ancient  tribal 

1  Paulus  Diaconus.  ii.  5. 


1 82  European  History,  476-918 

legends,  had  once  dwelt  in  Scandinavia,  but  had  descended 
ten  generations  before  into  northern  Germany,  and  from 
thence  had  slowly  worked  their  way  down  to  the  Danube. 
They  had  only  come  into  touch  with  the  frontier  of  the  em- 
pire when  Odoacer  smote  the  Rugii,  in  487.  After  that  tribe 
had  been  scattered,  they  moved  into  its  abiding  place  on  the 
mid-Danube,  and  became  the  neighbours  of  the  Ostrogoths 
and  the  Gepidae. 

The  Lombards  were  the  least  tinctured  with  civilisation  of 
all  the  Teutonic  tribes,  even  more  barbarous,  it  would  seem, 
The  than  our  own  Saxon  forefathers.     Living  far  back 

Lombards,  fn  the  darkncss  of  the  North,  they  had  been  kept 
from  any  knowledge  of  Roman  culture,  and  did  not  even 
approach  the  boundaries  of  the  empire  till  it  had  already 
been  broken  up  and  laid  desolate.  They  were  still  heathen, 
and  still  living  in  the  stage  of  primitive  tribal  life  which 
Tacitus  painted  in  the  Germania.  They  were  divided  into 
many  tribal  families,  or  clans,  which  they  called  '  faras,'  and 
their  subdivisions  were  ruled  by  elective  aldermen^  or  dukes, 
but  the  whole  nation  chose  its  king  from  among  the  royal 
houses  of  the  Lethings  and  Gungings,  who  claimed  to  descend 
from  Gambara,  the  wise  queen  who  had  led  the  race  across 
the  Baltic  from  Scandinavia  ten  generations  back. 

During  the  times  of  Justinian's  Ostrogothic  war  the  Lom- 
bards were  under  the  rule  of  Audoin,  whom  Narses  bribed 
wdth  great  gifts  to  aid  him  against  Baduila.  Five  thousand 
warriors,  under  the  command  of  their  king  himself,  joined 
Narses  in  the  invasion  of  Italy  in  552,  and  took  a  distinguished 
part  in  the  victory  of  Taginae.  It  must  have  been  in  this 
campaign  that  the  Lombards  learnt  of  the  fertility  and  the 
weakness  of  Italy ;  but  they  were  still  engaged  in  wars  with 
their  neighbours  on  the  Danube,  and  their  king  was  an  old 
man,  wherefore  we  need  not  think  it  strange  that  they  waited 
fifteen  years  before  they  turned  their  knowledge  to  account. 

^  The  Lombards  seem  to  have  called  them  *  Aldones ' — cf.  Ealderman 
in  English  antiquity. 

The  Lombards  in  Italy.  183 

The  Lombards  were  the  close  neighbours  and  the  bitter 
foes  of  the  Gepidae,  the  Gothic  tribe  who  had  remained 
behind  in  the  Hungarian  plains  when  the  other  sections  of 
the  Goths  moved  westward  to  Spain  and  Italy.  The  long 
struggle  between  Lombard  and  Gepid  only  came  to  an  end 
in  567,  when  the  Lombards  called  in  to  their  aid  wars  of 
the  Tartar  race  of  the  Avars,  and  by  their  assist-  Aiboin. 
ance  almost  entirely  exterminated  the  Gepidae,  whose  scat- 
tered remnant  only  survived  as  slaves  of  the  conquering 
horde.  By  this  time  Alb  oin,  the  son  of  Audoin,  was  reign- 
ing over  the  Lombards.  He  it  was  who  slew  with  his  own 
hand  Cunimund,  the  king  of  the  Gepidae.  The  barbarous 
victor  struck  off  the  head  of  his  enemy,  and  had  the  skull 
mounted  in  gold,  and  fashioned  into  a  drinking-cup,  as  the 
supreme  token  of  his  triumph.  Yet,  but  a  short  time  before, 
ere  the  last  struggle  had  begun  between  the  Lombards  and 
the  Gepidae,  he  had  taken  to  wife  Rosamund,  the  daughter  of 
the  man  whom  he  now  slew  and  beheaded. 




Garibald,  Duke  of 

2.  CLEPHO  Bavaria. 

572-73-  I . 

I  I  I 

3.  AUTHARI=Theodelinda  =4.  AGILULF       Gundoald 
583-90.  I         590-615. 

5.  ADALOALD     Gundiberga  =  6.  ARIOALD     9.  ARIBERT 

615-25.  625-36.  653-62. 

10.  GODEBERT  12.  BERTHARI  A  daughter  =  11.  GRIMOALD 

662.  672-88.  I  662-71. 

Reginbert,  duke  of  13.  CUNIBERT  Garibald. 

Turin.  688-700. 


701-11.  700-701. 

Kings  not  connected  with  this  House  were  (7)  Rothari,  636-52 ; 
(8)  Rodoald,  652-53;  (16)  Ansprand,  712;  (17)  Liutprand,  712-43; 
(18)  Hildebrand,  743-44;  (19)  Ratchis,  744-49  5  (20)  Aistulf,  749-5^  5 
(21)  Desiderius,  756-74. 

184  European  History,  476-918 

Having  ended  this  great  national  feud  by  the  extermination 
of  the  Gepidae,  Alboin  determined  to  put  into  effect  a  scheme 
which  must  have  been  long  maturing  in  his  brain,  the  con- 
quest of  Italy.  The  Lombard  historian  of  a  later  day  asserted 
that  he  had  been  tempted  to  the  invasion  by  the  treachery  of 
Narses,  who,  in  discontent  with  Justin  11.,  had  urged  Alboin 
to  invade  the  peninsula,  and  sent  him  as  gifts  samples  of  all 
the  generous  fruits  and  wines  that  Italy  produces.  But  this 
is  the  mere  echo  of  a  Lombard  saga.  Narses,  now  over 
eighty  years  of  age  and  on  his  death-bed,  had  other  matters  to 
think  about  than  the  spiting  of  his  new  master.  Nor  did  the 
Lombards,  who  had  ridden  all  over  Italy  in  552,  need  to  be 
reminded  of  its  existence  or  its  fertility. 

Before  leaving  Pannonia,  Alboin  made  over  his  old  kingdom 
to  his  allies  the  Avars,  only  stipulating  that  it  should  be 
restored  to  him  if  ever  he  returned  from  Italy ;  a  rather  futile 
compact  to  make  with  such  a  faithless  race  as  this  Tartar 
horde.  Crossing  the  Carinthian  Alps,  in  the  summer  of  568, 
the  whole  Lombard  nation — men,  women,  and  children,  with 
their  cattle  and  slaves — descended  into  the  Venetian  plains, 
and  spread  themselves  over  the  deserted  lands.  There  was 
hardly  any  opposition.  In  cities  that  had  once  been  great,  like 
Aquileia  and  Milan,  the  scanty  population  did  not  even  close 
the  gates,  but  awaited  the  invader  with  apathy.  Only  the 
places  where  there  was  an  Imperial  garrison  offered  resistance. 
Verona,  protected  by  the  rushing  Adige,  Padua  in  its  marshes, 
and  Pavia,  the  ancient  royal  city  of  the  Goths,  were  among  the 
^,^  .  few  towns  that  refused  to  admit  the  Lombards. 

Alboin  con- 
quers North-  The  newcomers  spread  themselves  over  the  whole 
em  Italy.  valley  of  the  Po,  as  far  as  the  Tuscan  Apennines 
and  the  gates  of  Ravenna,  and  begun  to  settle  down  on  the 
fairest  spots  among  the  ruined  Roman  villages.  They  divided 
themselves,  like  the  Franks  in  Gaul  or  the  East-Angles  in 
Britain,  into  two  folks,  the  Neustrian,  or  Western,  and  the 
Austrian,  or  Eastern,  Lombards.  The  former  stretched  from 
the  Cottian  Alps  to  the  Adda,  the  latter  from  the  Adda  to  the 

The  Lombards  in  Italy.  185 

Julian  Alps.  Piedmont  formed  the  bulk  of  Neustria ;  Venetia 
the  bulk  of  Austria.  Many  scattered  portions  of  tribes  came 
to  join  Alboin  in  his  new  conquest.  Not  only  did  he  grant 
lands  to  broken  bands  of  Saxons  and  Suabians,  but  even 
foreigners,  such  as  Bulgarians  and  Slavs,  found  shelter  with 

While  Alboin  was  founding  the  new  kingdom  of  Lombardy, 
the  cities  which  at  first  resisted  began  to  drop  into  his  hands. 
Verona  fell  early,  but  Pavia  made  a  long  defence.  So  despe- 
rately did  it  hold  out  against  the  host  left  to  blockade  it 
that  the  king  swore,  in  his  wrath,  to  slay  every  living  thing 
within  its  walls.  But  when,  after  three  years,  the  starving 
citizens  threw  open  their  gates,  he  relented  of  his  hard  vow, 
*  because  there  was  much  Christian  folk  in  that  city,'  and 
made  Pavia  his  capital  and  royal  stronghold. 

In  the  next  year,  however,  he  came  to  his  end.  The  Lom- 
bard chronicler,  Paul  the  Deacon,  repeating  some  familiar 
Lombard  saga,  tells  the  grim  tale  of  his  death  thus  : — '  King 
Alboin  sat  over  long  at  the  wine  in  his  city  of  Verona,  so  that 
he  grew  boisterous,  and  he  sent  for  the  cup  which  he  had 
made  from  the  skull  of  king  Cunimund,  his  father-in-law,  and 
forced  his  queen,  Rosamund,  to  drink  from  it,  bidding  her 
drink  joyfully  with  her  father.  Then  the  queen  conceived  a 
deep  grief  and  anger  in  her  heart,  and  questioned  with  herself 
how  she  might  avenge  her  father  by  slaying  her  husband.  So 
she  strove  to  persuade  Helmichis,  the  king's  armour-bearer, 
who  was  also  his  foster-brother,  to  slay  his  lord.  And 
Helmichis  would  not,  but  counselled  her  to  win  Peredeo, 
the  strongest  champion  of  the  Lombards,  to  do  the  deed. 
Then  Rosamund  sold  her  honour  to  Peredeo,  and  became  his 
mistress,  and  said  to  him,  "  Now  hast  thou  done  a  thing  for 
which  either  thou  must  kill  Alboin,  or  he  thee."  So  he 
unwillingly  consented  to  the  deed,  and  at  mid-day,  when  all 
the  palace  lay  asleep,  Rosamund  bound  the  king's  sword  so 
tightly  to  the  bed-head  that  it  could  not  be  drawn,  and  then 
bid  Peredeo  go  in  and  slay  her  husband.    When  Alboin  heard 

1 86  European  History,  476-918 

an  armed  man  enter,  he  sprang  from  his  couch,  and  strove  to 
Murder  ot  draw  his  sword  without  avail.  For  some  space 
Aiboin.  he  fought  hard  for  his  Hfe  with  a  stool  that  he 
caught  up,  but  what  could  the  best  of  warriors  do  without 
arms  against  an  armed  champion  ?  He  was  slain  like  a 
weakling,  and,  after  passing  unharmed  through  so  many 
battles,  died  by  the  counsel  of  one  woman,  and  she  his 
own  wife.  So  the  Lombards  took  up  his  body,  with  much 
weeping,  and  buried  it  beneath  the  great  flight  of  steps  over 
against  the  palace,  where  it  lay  till  my  own   days.'     (May 


Helmichis  strove  in  vain  to  make  himself  king  in  his 
master's  room,  but  the  Lombards  would  have  none  of  him, 
and  he  was  forced  to  fly  with  Rosamund  and  the  murderer 
Peredeo,  to  take  shelter  with  the  Romans  at  Ravenna.  There 
all  three  of  them  came  to  evil  ends,  '  for  the  hand  of  Heaven 
was  upon  them  for  doing  such  a  foul  deed.' 

Meanwhile  the  Lombards  crowned  as  king,  in  the  room  of 
Aiboin,  Clepho,  one  of  the  mightiest  of  their  dukes,  though 
not  of  the  royal  blood  \  for  Aiboin  had  no  son,  and  was  the 
last  of  the  Lethings.  Clepho  completed  the  conquest  of  all 
northern  Italy,  as  far  as  the  southern  limits  of  Tuscany  and 
the  gates  of  Ravenna.  But  ere  he  had  reigned  a  year  he  was 
slain  by  one  of  his  own  slaves,  whom  he  had  wronged.  After 
he  was  dead  the  Lombards  chose  no  more  kings  to  reign  over 
them  for  ten  years,  but  each  tribe  went  forth  conquering  and 
plundering  under  its  own  elective  duke.  It  is  said  that  no 
less  than  thirty-five  of  these  chiefs  were  ranging  over  Italy  at 
Anarchy,  the  Same  time  (573-83).  Nothing  can  show  better 
573-83-  the  survival  of  primitive  Teutonic  ideas  among  the 
Lombards  than  this  period  of  anarchy.  They  had  not  yet 
learned  to  look  upon  the  king  as  a  necessary  part  of  the  con- 
stitution of  the  tribe,  but,  like  the  Germans  of  the  first  century, 
regarded  him  as  a  war-chief,  to  be  followed  in  time  of  peril 
alone.  The  Goths  or  the  Franks,  who  had  advanced  to  a  further 
stage,  could  not  have  borne  to  live  kingless  for  ten  whole  years, 

The  Lombards  in  Italy.  187 

Strangely  enough,  the  loss  of  their  supreme  head  seems  to 
have  detracted  in  no  wise  from  the  warlike  vigour  of  the 
Lombards.  In  the  ten  kingless  years  they  went  on  subduing 
the  land,  and  pushed  their  incursions  farther  to  the  west  and 
south.  Three  dukes  of  Neustria  crossed  the  Alps  and  harried 
Provence,  then  in  the  hands  of  king  Guntram  the  Frank,  the 
peaceful  brother  of  the  warlike  Sigibert  and  the  wicked  Chil- 
perich.  They  took  many  cities,  and  were  only  driven  out  of 
the  land,  after  much  fighting,  by  Mummolus,  the  great  Gallo- 
Roman  general,  who  served  king  Guntram  so  well ;  but  for 
him,  Provence  might  have  become  part  of  Lombardy.  Mean- 
while other  Lombard  dukes  were  pressing  southward  down  the 
Italian  peninsula.  They  did  not  act  on  any  combined  plan  of 
invasion,  but  each  passed  on  with  his  war-band,  leaving  to 
right  and  to  left  many  cities  held  by  Imperialist  garrisons,  till 
he  found  a  place  of  settlement  that  pleased  his  eye.  Hence  it 
came  to  pass  that  Lombard  duchies  and  Roman  cities  were 
curiously  intermixed.  In  central  Italy,  Faroald,  the  first  duke 
of  Spoleto,  left  Ravenna  and  Ancona  to  tlie  north,  and  estab- 
lished himself  in  the  central  valley  of  the  Tiber,  with  Im- 
perialist garrisons  all  around  him.  Zotto,  the  first  duke  of 
Benevento,  passed  even  farther  to  the  south,  and  founded  a 
realm  in  the  Samnite  valleys,  which  was  almost  entirely  out 
of  touch  with  the  other  Lombard  states.  It  was  hemmed  in 
to  east  and  west  by  the  Roman  garrisons  of  Rome,  Naples,  and 
Calabria.  The  dukes  of  Lucca  and  Chiusi,  who  held  the 
bulk  of  Tuscany,  did  not  push  their  limits  down  to  the  Tiber, 
but  stopped  short  at  the  Ciminian  hills,  leaving  a  considerable 
district  north  of  Rome  in  the  hands  of  the  Imperialists.  Even 
in  northern  Italy  the  dukes  of  Neustria  left  Genoa  and  the 
Ligurian  coast  alone,  and  those  of  Austria  did  not  subdue  the 
marshland  of  Mantua  and  Padua,  nor  follow  the  fugitive  in- 
habitants of  Venetia  into  the  islands  where  Venice  and  Grado 
were  just  beginning  to  grow  up  in  the  security  of  the  lagoons. 
All  over  Italy  Lombard  and  Roman  districts  were  hopelessly 
confused,  and,  save  that  the  Po  valley  was  wholly  Lombard, 

1 88  European  History,  476-918 

and  Bruttium  and  Calabria  wholly  Roman,  there  was  no  part 
of  the  land  that  was  not  shared  between  the  invader  and  the 
old  Imperial  Government. 

Coming  into  a  country  already  desolate  and  well-nigh  dis- 
peopled, and  bringing  with  them  the  customs  of  primitive 
Germany,  untinctured  with  any  Roman  intermixture,  the  Lom- 
bards established  a  polity  even  less  centralised  than  that  of  the 
Visigoths,  and  infinitely  below  the  standard  of  government 
The  Lombard  which  Thcodoric  had  once  set  up  in  Italy  eighty 
Monarchy.  years  bcforc.  When  the  nation  once  more  chose  a 
king,  his  power  was  hopelessly  circumscribed  by  the  authority  of 
the  great  hereditary  dukes.  Spoleto  and  Benevento  hardly  paid 
even  a  nominal  homage  to  the  king  who  reigned  at  Pavia. 
Only  when  he  presented  himself  with  a  large  army  in  central 
Italy  could  he  hope  to  win  attention  for  his  orders.  Even  in 
the  valley  of  the  Po,  and  in  Tuscany,  his  power  was  very  im- 
perfect. The  authority  of  the  royal  name  had  been  fatally 
injured  by  the  extinction,  with  Alboin,  of  the  ancient  kingly 
house  of  the  Lethings.  The  Lombard  monarchs,  like  their 
Visigothic  contemporaries  in  Spain,  only  held  their  crown, 
when  once  they  had  been,  elected,  by  the  right  of  the  sword. 
In  a  short  history  of  two  hundred  years  the  Lombard  kingdom 
saw  nine  successive  races  of  kings  mount  the  throne.  x\ll 
represented  old  ducal  families.  The  rulers  of  Turin,  Brescia, 
Benevento,  Friuli,  and  Istria  all,  at  one  time  or  another, 
won  the  royal  crown,  besides  two  or  three  kings  who  were 
not  even  Lombards  by  birth,  but  strangers  from  the  neigh- 
bouring land  of  Bavaria. 

In  the  wasted  regions  of  northern  Italy,  it  would  seem  that 
the  Lombards  formed  for  some  time  the  large  majority  of  the 
population.  Unlike  the  Goths  in  Spain,  or  the  Franks  in 
central  Gaul,  they  did  not  merely  consist  of  a  few  scattered 
families  lost  among  the  masses  of  the  old  inhabitants.  There 
is  a  greater  breach  in  the  old  Roman  traditions  of  municipal 
and  social  life  in  the  valley  of  the  Po  than  in  most  of  the  other 
lands  of  the  Western  Empire.     In  the  seventh  century  Lom- 

The  Lombards  in  Italy. 


bardy  must  have  preserved  less  traces  of  its  ancient  imperial 
organisation  than  Spain,  Gaul,  or  Burgundy,  and  must  have 
presented  a  much  more  primitive  and  Teutonic  aspect.  This 
is  as  we  should  expect,  from  the  fact  that  the  Lombards  came 

from  the  very  back  of  Germany,  and  first  met  with  the  in- 
fluence of  the  older  world  of  Rome  when  they  moved  into  Italy. 
Outside  the  Po  valley,  however,  Italy  was  in  a  very  different 
state ;  southern  Italy  and  much  of  central  Italy  preserved  its 
ancient  organisation  almost  undisturbed ;  the  Exarchate  of 
Ravenna,  the  Diicatus  Fomanus^  and  the  southern  peninsulas 

I90  European  History,  476-918 

of  Apulia  and  Bruttium  remained  unchanged  down  to  the 
ninth  century.  Records  show  us  in  the  neighbourhood  of 
Rome  the  old  social  organisation  of  the  land,  in  domains 
inhabited  by  coloni,  and  owned  by  Roman  church  corpora- 
tions, or  absentee  proprietors,  at  a  time  when  in  the  northern 
plains  the  feudal  system  of  the  semi-independent  dukes,  each 
surrounded  by  their  land-holding  comttes,  was  in  full  operation. 
In  organisation,  no  less  than  in  blood,  northern  Italy  and 
southern  Italy  were  fatally  sundered,  and  two  nations  differ- 
ing in  all  their  usages  of  life  and  manners  of  thought  were 
growing  up. 

The  parts  of  Italy  which  remained  under  the  imperial 
sceptre  and  preserved  their  ancient  social  and  political  organ- 
isation were  strangely  scattered.  In  the  reign  of  Maurice 
(582-602)  the  emperor  was  still  obeyed  in  eight  regions.  First 
was  the  Istrian  peninsula,  and  the  marsh  and  lagoon  islands 
of  the  Venetian  coast,  with  the  strong  cities  of  Padua  and 
Mantua  thrust  inland  like  a  wedge  into  the  side  of  Lombardy. 
Second  came  the  Ligurian  coast  with  the  city  of  Genoa, 
crushed  in  between  the  Apennines  and  the  sea;  its  rugged 
valleys  and  cliffs  did  not  yet  tempt  the  Lombards  out  of  their 
smiling  plain  to  court  the  neighbourhood  of  the  sea,  for  the 
Lombards  were  essentially  unmaritime.  Third  is  found  the 
tract  of  land  round  Ravenna,  the  Exarchate,  as  it  now  became 
Imperial  Called — a  title  which  it  shared  for  a  space  with 
possessions  Africa,  where  exarchs  also  reigned.  The  Exarchate 
in  Italy.  stretched  along  the  coast  of  the  Adriatic,  from  the 

delta  of  the  Po  up  to  the  gates  ot  Rimini,  reaching  as  far 
inland  as  the  Apennines,  and  comprising  the  whole  southern 
half  of  the  ancient  province  of  Emilia.  Farther  down  the 
coast  lay  the  fourth  imperial  district,  from  Rimini  to  Ancona, 
which  was  often  called  the  Pentapolis  and  the  Decapolis,  from 
two  groups  of  five  and  ten  cities  respectively  which  it  con- 
tained.^    In  Umbria  lay  a  fifth  detached  district  where  the 

^  The  '  five  cities  '  were  Rimini,  Pesaro,  Fano,  Sinigaglia,  Ancona ; 
the  '  ten  cities' — Osimo,  Umana,  Jesi,  Fossombrone,  Montefeltro,  Urbino, 

The  Lombards  in  Italy.  191 

emperor  was  still  acknowledged ;  it  centred  around  Peiugia, 
and  was  much  hemmed  in  by  the  Lombard  duchies  of  Chiusi 
and  Spoleto,  but  it  stretched  out  one  horn  tow^ard  the  Penta- 
polis  on  the  north,  and  the  other  toward  Rome  on  the  south. 
The  sixth  district  was  the  Roman  territory,  now  known  as  the 
Ducatus  jRomanus,  from  the  dux  who  acted  as  civil  governor 
in  the  ancient  city  in  subordination  to  the  exarch  at  Ravenna. 
The  Roman  duchy  reached  from  Civita  Vecchia  to  Terracina, 
and  from  the  Apennines  to  the  sea,  taking  in  the  southern 
corner  of  Etruria,  and  well-nigh  the  whole  of  Latium.  It  was 
cut  off  by  the  Lombard  town  of  Capua  from  the  duchy  of 
Naples,  a  narrow  coast-strip  containing  the  towns  of  Naples 
and  Amalfi,  and  ruled  by  a  duke  resident  in  the  larger  place. 
Lastly,  all  the  toe  and  heel  of  Italy,  Calabria  Bruttium 
and  southern  Lucania,  the  whole  coast  line'  from  Brindisi  to 
Policastro,  formed  the  eighth  Roman  district.  It  was  evident 
that  the  administration  of  such  a  number  of  fragmentary 
possessions  would  be  a  hard  task  for  the  exarch,  cut  off  as  he 
was  from  access  by  land  to  the  greater  part  of  the  regions  for 
which  he  was  responsible.  It  was  not  so  easy  to  foresee  that  the 
main  result  of  the  scission  of  Italy  by  the  Lombard  conquests 
was  destined  to  be  the  rise  of  the  temporal  power  of  the 
Papacy,  that  most  unexpected  of  the  developments  of  the 
seventh  century. 

After  the  anarchy  under  the  tribal  dukes  had  lasted  ten 
years,  the  Lombards  chose  them  another  king.  The  election 
seems  to  have  been  made  mainly  under  the  pressure  of  the 
war  with  the  Franks,  which  they  had  brought  upon  themselves 
by  their  reckless  invasion  and  ravaging  of  Provence  in  574-75. 
Guntram  of  Burgundy  induced  his  Austrasian  kinsman  to  help 
him,  and  the  Lombards  were  attacked  by  the  Austrasians,  who 
descended  the  valley  of  the  Adige  and  attacked  Trent,  as  well 
as  by  the  Burgundians.  Moreover,  Tiberius  11.  of  Con- 
stantinople had  sent  gifts  to  the  kings  of  the  Franks  in  order 

Cagli,  Gubbio,  Pontericcioli,  and  the  Territorium  Valvense.  Bury's  Later 
Roman  Empire^  vol.  ii.  p.  146. 

192  European  History,  47^-9^^ 

to  induce  them  to  aid  him  in  Italy,  and  had  done  what  he 
could,  while  the  Persian  and  Avaric  wars  still  dragged  on,  to 
send  help  to  the  exarch  of  Ravenna. 

The  new  Lombard  king  was  Authari,  the  son  of  that  Clepho 
whose  murder  had  left  the  throne  vacant  in  573.  So  greatly 
was  the  need  of  providing  for  the  maintenance  of  the  central 
power  felt,  that  the  dukes  not  only  did  him  homage,  and 
ceded  him  the  royal  city  of  Pavia,  but  promised  him  a  half  of 
all  the  lands  that  were  in  their  hands  as  a  royal  domain  to 
maintain  him,  his  comitafus,  and  his  officers.  We  may  doubt 
if  the  promise  was  very  exactly  kept.  Nor  did  all  the  dukes 
unite  in  the  election.  The  first  act  of  king  Authari  had  to  be 
to  subdue  and  expel  duke  Droctulf,  who  had  called  in  the 
Romans,  and  fortified  himself  in  Brescello  to  defend  the 
middle  valley  of  the  Po  against  the  king.  For  the  whole  of 
his  reign  Authari  was  involved  in  recurring  struggles  with  the 
Franks,  whose  young  and  warlike  king,  Childebert  11.,  the  son 
of  Brunhildis,  was  set  on  resuming  the  schemes  of  his  cousin 
Theudebert  for  conquering  Italy.  The  seven  years'  reign  of 
Authari  was  mainly  occupied  in  warding  off  Prankish  attacks 
Wars  of  °^  -^^^^y  ^  Guntram  and  Childebert,  stirred  up  by 

Authari,  Smaragdus,  the  exarch  of  Ravenna,  threatened 
^  ^"^°'  three  or  four  times  to  cross  the  Alps,  and  twice 

actually  invaded  Lombardy.  The  more  dangerous  assault 
was  in  590,  when  two  great  armies  advanced  simultaneously, 
the  one  from  Burgundy  over  the  Cenis  against  Milan,  the 
other  from  Austrasia  over  the  Brenner  against  Trent  and 
Verona.  Both  forced  their  way  to  their  goal,  and  did  much 
damage  to  the  Lombards,  but  they  failed  to  meet  with  each 
other,  or  with  the  Roman  troops  which  the  exarch  had 
promised  to  bring  to  their  aid.  Famine  and  pestilence 
thinned  their  ranks,  and  they  could  not  reach  the  Lombard 
king,  who  had  shut  himself  up  in  the  impregnable  Pavia.  At 
last  they  returned  each  to  their  own  land,  without  profiting  in 
the  least  by  their  great  expedition.^ 
^  See  p.  170. 

The  Lombards  in  Italy  193 

In  the  intervals  between  the  Frankish  invasions  Authari 
had  done  something  to  consoHdate  the  Lombard  power  in 
north  Italy,  by  capturing  the  great  lagoon-fortress  of  Com- 
macchio,  whose  seizure  cut  the  communication  between 
Padua  and  Ravenna.  At  about  the  same  time  Faroald,  duke 
of  Spoleto,  took  Classis,  the  seaport  of  Ravenna,  and  com- 
pletely destroyed  the  city,  whose  only  surviving  remnant,  the 
solitary  church  of  St.  ApoUinare  in  Classe,  stands  up  in  such 
forlorn  grandeur  in  the  Ravennese  marshes.  Authari  is  said 
to  have  pushed  one  plundering  expedition  through  Benevento 
into  Bruttium,  to  have  ridden  to  the  extreme  south  point  of  the 
Italian  peninsula,  and  to  have  touched  with  his  spear  a  sea- 
swept  pillar  near  R.eggio,  crying,  '  Here  shall  be  the  boundary 
of  the  kingdom  of  the  Lombards.'  A  vain  boast,  if  it  was 
ever  made,  for  Bruttium  was  not  destined  to  fall  at  any  time 
into  Lombard  hands. 

Authari  married  Theodelinda,  the  daughter  of  Garibald  duke 
of  Bavaria,  a  pious  Christian  and  a  Catholic,  whose  coming 
seems  to  have  led  the  wild  Lombards  to  Christianity,  much  as 
the  influence  of  queen  Bertha  worked  on  the  Jutes  of  Kent. 
She  had  not  been  long  wedded  to  him  when  he  died ;  the 
Lombard  witan,  who  had  formed  a  high  idea  of  her  wisdom 
and  virtue,  consulted  her  as  to  the  choice  of  a  new  king. 
She  recommended  to  them  Agilulf,  duke  of  Turin,  a  cousin 
of  Authari.  To  him  she  gave  her  hand,  and  he  was  at 
the  same  time  raised  on  the  shield  at  Milan  as  king  of  the 
Lombards  (590). 

Agilulf  was  led  by  his  wife's  persuasion  to  be  baptized,  and 
ere  long  the  greater  part  of  the  nation  followed  his  example. 
The  majority  of  the  Lombards,  hke  most  of  the  other  Teutonic 
races,  adopted  Arianism,  and  only  conformed  to  orthodoxy  in 
the  seventh  century.  It  was  Agilulf  and  Theodelinda  who 
built  the  famous  Basilica  of  Monza,  where  the  iron  crown  of 
Lombardy  is  even  now  preserved.  In  its  sacristy  are  still 
shown  many  relics  of  the  pious  queen  ;  most  curious  among 
them  is  a  hen  and  chickens  of  gold  of  the  most  quaint  and 


194  European  History,  476-918 

archaic  workmanship,  a  marvellous  example  of  the  earliest  art 
of  a  Teutonic  people  just  emerging  from  barbarism.  With  it 
is  preserved  the  crown  of  Agilulf,  which  he  dedicated  to  St. 
John,  and  which  bears  the  inscription  :  agilulf  gratia  dei 


The  first  three  kings  of  the  Lombards  had  been  short-lived, 
but  Agilulf  survived  for  the  respectable  term  of  twenty-five 
years  (591-616),  and  reigned  long  enough  to  see  his  son  grow 
up  and  become  his  colleague  on  the  throne.  More  fortunate 
than  his  predecessor  Authari,  he  was  delivered  from  the 
danger  of  Frankish  invasions  by  the  series  of  wars  between 
the  sons  of  Brunhildis  and  Fredegundis,  which  broke  out  in 
593,  and  afterwards  by  the  home  troubles  of  Austrasia  and 
Burgundy,  caused  by  the  strife  between  Brunhildis  and  the 
great  nobles.  Agilulf  was,  therefore,  enabled  to  lop  away 
from  the  empire  several  of  the  detached  districts  which  had 
hitherto  adhered  to  it.  For  the  greater  part  of  his  reign  he 
was  in  constant  war  with  the  Romans,  and  stripped  the 
Conquests  cxarchs  of  Sutrium,  Orte,  Tuder,  Perugia,  and 
of  Agilulf.  other  south-Tuscan  and  Umbrian  towns  (598). 
By  the  mediation  of  Pope  Gregory  the  Great  a  treaty  was,  for 
the  first  time,  concluded  between  the  Lombards  and  the 
empire  in  599,  but  the  exarch  Gallicinus  broke  the  peace,  by 
seizing  the  person  of  Agilulf's  daughter  as  she  chanced  to  be 
passing  through  imperial  territory.  This  second  Lombard  war, 
jwhich  fell  into  the  reign  of  Phocas,  proved  most  disastrous 
for  the  Romans.  Agilulf  began  by  capturing  Padua,  the 
great  fortress  of  the  Venetian  marshes  (602).  The  fall  of 
Padua  cut  off  Mantua  from  succour,  and  that  city,  the  last 
stronghold  of  the  empire  in  the  interior  of  Lombardy,  also 
fell  in  602.  The  ministers  of  Phocas  only  obtained  a  final 
pacification  in  605  by  promising  to  pay  an  annual  tribute  of 
1200  gold  solidi,  and  ceding  the  south-Tuscan  strongholds  of 
Orvieto  and  Bagnarea. 

There  was  no  more  fight  left   in  emperor  or  exarch  for 

The  Lombards  in  Italy  195 

many  a  year ;  in  the  throes  of  the  disastrous  Persian  war, 
Phocas  and  Heraclius  were  unable  to  send  aid  to  Rome  or 
Ravenna.  The  opportunity  afforded  to  Agilulf  of  completing 
the  conquest  of  Italy  was  such  as  never  occurred  again. 
But  contented  with  his  annual  tribute,  and  perhaps  tamed 
down  by  approaching  old  age,  the  Lombard  king  remained 
quiescent.  Apparently  he  preferred  to  give  his  realm  peace, 
and  to  occupy  himself  in  keeping  down  his  unruly  dukes.  In 
the  course  of  his  reign  there  were  three  or  four  dangerous 
rebellions  of  these  chiefs,  but  Agilulf  put  them  all  down, 
apparently  without  much  difficulty.  There  was  also  trouble 
on  the  north-eastern  frontier  from  the  Avars  and  Slavs,  the 
same  foes  who  were  so  grievously  afflicting  the  Roman  empire 
at  this  time.  The  Slavs  made  their  way  into  Istria  and  Cilly, 
and  became  troublesome  neighbours  to  Italy,  though  some  of 
their  nearest  tribes  were  reduced  to  pay  tribute  by  the  dukes 
of  Friuli.  The  Avars  were  more  active  and  more  dangerous ; 
in  spite  of  repeated  treaties  with  Agilulf,  their  Chagan  burst 
into  north  Italy  in  610,  slew  Gisulf,  duke  of  Friuli,  in  battle, 
ravaged  all  Venetia,  and  carried  off  many  captives.  Fortu- 
nately for  the  Lombards  these  invasions  were  not  continued, 
as  the  Avars  found  better  prey  and  less  fighting  in  the  Balkan 

In  spite  of  such  troubles,  the  reign  of  Agilulf  was  a  time  of 
growth,  expansion,  and  ripening  civilisation  for  the  Lombards. 
They  had  all,  by  the  end  of  his  reign,  received  Christianity, 
had  settled  down  in  their  new  home,  and  were  beginning  to 
build  churches  and  palaces,  instead  of  confining  their  attention 
to  destroying  them.  Agilulf  had  found  a  modus  vivendi  with 
Gregory  the  Great  and  the  Papacy,  and  taught  his  subjects  to 
live  in  some  sort  of  peace  with  their  neighbours,  instead  of 
persisting  in  the  unending  war  which  had  filled  the  first  thirty 
years  of  Lombard  dominion  in  Italy. 

Agilulf  was  succeeded  by  his  only  son,  Adaloald,  a  boy  of 
fourteen,  whom  he  had  induced  the  Lombard  witan  to  salute  as 
his  colleague,  and  raise  on  the  shield  some  years  before.     The 

196  European  History,  476-918 

regency  was  held  by  queen  Theodelinda,  who  was  both  pious 
and  popular,  till  the  young  king  came  of  age ;  but  soon  after 
he  had  attained  his  majority,  Adaloald  was  stricken  with  mad- 
ness, and  the  nation  chose  in  his  stead  Arioald,  duke  of 
Turin,  who  appears  to  have  been  no  kinsman  of  the  royal 
house,  but  had  married  the  young  king's  sister,  Gundiberga 
(626).  Little  is  known  of  this  king's  reign  of  twelve  years; 
we  hear  neither  of  wars  with  the  Franks,  nor  of  conquests 
from  the  Roman ;  we  only  read  that  he  was,  unlike  his  pre- 
decessor, an  Arian.  When  he  died,  however,  he  was  suc- 
ceeded by  a  ruler  of  far  greater  mark,  'Duke  Rothari  of 
Brescia,  of  the  race  of  Arod,  a  strong  man,  and  one  who 
walked  in  the  paths  of  justice,  though  he  was  not  an  orthodox 
Christian,  but  followed  the  deceitful  heresy  of  the  Arians.' 

Rothari  finally  completed  the  conquest  of  northern  Italy, 
by  taking  the  two  districts  which  had  still  remained  in  the 
hands  of  the  Imperialists  down  to  his  day.  He  subdued 
the  whole  Ligurian  coast  from  Nice  to  Luna,  with  the  great 
city  of  Genoa  its  capital  (641).  He  also  took  the  city  of 
Conquests  Odcrzo,  the  last  mainland  possession  of  the  Romans 
of  Rothari,  in  Vcuetia.  After  this  time  the  lagoon  islands 
^^  '^^*  alone  acknowledged  the  eastern  Caesar  as  their 

suzerain,  and  their  homage  was  formal  rather  than  real. 
Rothari's  conquests  were  not  won  without  severe  fighting. 
His  greatest  victory  was  won  on  the  Scultenna,  not  far  from 
Modena,  over  the  exarch  Plato,  who  had  invaded  Lombard 
territory,  but  was  defeated  with  a  loss  of  8000  men,  and  driven 
back  into  Ravenna.  The  new  activity  of  the  Romans,  to 
which  this  battle  bears  witness,  may  be  attributed  to  the  fact 
that  the  Persian  and  Saracen  wars  of  Heraclius  were  at  last 
ended,  and  under  his  grandson,  Constans  11.,  the  Eastern 
empire  was  beginning  to  recover  some  measure  of  strength 


But  Rothari  is  better  remembered  as  the  framer  of  the 
Lombard  Code  of  Laws  than  as  the  conqueror  of  Liguria. 
In  643  he  published  the  compilation  of  the  traditional  usages 

The  Lombards  in  Italy  197 

of  the  nation,  which  had  hitherto  never  been  committed  to 
writing.  It  is  noticeable  that  the  code  is  promul-  Laws  of 
gated,  not  on  the  king's  personal  authority,  but,  Rothari. 
like  the  English  laws  of  Ine,  '  Pro  comT7iuni  gentis  nostrae  uiili- 
tate,  pari  consilio  parique  consensu  aim  priinatis  jtidicibus 
nostris  cwictoque  felicissimo  exercitu  7iostro ' — that  is  to  say, 
by  the  king,  with  the  counsel  of  his  witan^  and  the  assent  of 
the  armed  folk-moot  of  the  Lombard  nation.  The  Edictujn 
Rotharis  is  a  very  primitive  body  of  legislation,  such  as  might 
have  been  promulgated  in  the  depths  of  the  German  forests, 
instead  of  in  the  heart  of  Italy.  It  is  mainly  composed  of 
elaborate  lists  of  weregelds,  of  laws  against  armed  violence, 
of  rules  of  inheritance,  of  statements  concerning  the  obliga- 
tion of  the  follower  towards  his  lord,  of  provisions  for  judicial 
duels,  per  campionem.  There  is  hardly  any  mention  either  of 
things  ecclesiastical  or  of  city  life,  merely  a  provision  against 
breach  of  peace  in  a  church,  and  some  rules  about  magistri 
comacenses^  or  skilled  Roman  artisans.  We  have  from  the  laws 
a  picture  of  a  people  dwelling  apart  by  families,  ox  far  as  ^  each 
in  its  own  farm-clearing,  surrounded  by  woods  or  open  pasture 
land.  Some  are  '  free  Lombards,'  called  even  thus  early 
^baronesj'  others  the  'men'  of  a  duke  or  of  the  king. 
Below  them  are  aldii^  who  correspond  to  mediaeval  villeins, 
the  half-free  occupiers  of  the  land  of  the  Lombard  master. 
These,  no  doubt,  are  the  remains  of  the  old  Roman  popula- 
lation,  coloni  who  had  once  cultivated  the  tnassa  of  a  Roman 
ciirialis.  The  royal  authority  is  found  relegated  to  the  local 
dukes  in  all  military  matters,  while  civil  affairs  are  dealt  with 
by  the  king's  schulthais^  or  reeve  (as  the  old  English  would 
have  called  him),  or  to  the  castaldus^  who  seems  to  have  been 
the  king's  representative  in  the  city,  as  opposed  to  the  country- 
side. It  is  noticeable,  as  showing  the  extremely  un-Roman 
character  of  the  Lombard  laws,  that  they  are  drawn  up  by  a 
German  official,  the  notary  Ansoald,  not  by  a  Roman  bishop 
or  lawyer,  as  would  certainly  have  been  the  case  in  Gaul 
or  Spain.     Their  execrable  Latin,  which  makes  light  of  all 

198  European  History^  476-918 

concords,  or  rules  of  government  of  prepositions,  could  not 
have  been  the  work  of  any  educated  Italian. 

With  the  death  of  Rothari  in  652,  began  a  time  of  trouble 
and  confusion  for  the  Lombards,  in  which  they  ceased  to  win 
ground  from  the  Romans,  and  fell  into  civil  strife  and  anarchy. 
It  commenced  by  the  murder  of  Rothari's  son,  Rodoald,  after 
he  had  reigned  less  than  six  months.  He  was  a  prince  of 
licentious  manners,  and  fell  a  victim  to  the  dagger  of  an  out- 
raged husband  (653). 

The  eighty  years  of  Italian  history  during  which  the  Lom- 
bards were  settling  down  in  the  valley  of  the  Po,  and  along 
the  Umbrian  and  Samnite  slopes  of  the  Apennines,  have  won 
their  chief  importance  in  the  story  of  the  world,  not  from  the 
doings  of  Agilulf  or  Rothari,  but  from  the  events  that  were 
taking  place  in  Rome.  To  these  years  we  may  ascribe  the 
foundation  of  the  temporal  power  of  the  Papacy,  and  the  de- 
velopment of  the  oecumenical  position  of  the  bishop  of  Rome 
to  an  extent  whieh  had  hitherto  been  uncontemplated.  These 
movements  owe  most  of  their  strength  to  a  single  man.  Pope 
Gregory  the  Great. 

After  the  first  shock  of  the  Lombard  invasion  had  rent  Italy 
in  twain,  the  Imperial  governors  resolved  to  take  up  their  resi- 
dence in  Ravenna,  not  in  Rome — in  the  capital  of  the  Italy  of 
Theodoric,  not  that  of  the  Italy  of  Augustus.  They  chose  the 
strong  marsh-fortress  close  to  the  Lombard  border,  not  the 
decayed  city  of  the  Tiber,  still  scarred  by  the  traces  of 
Rise  of  the  Baduila's  harrying.  The  exarch  stationed  himself 
Papacy.  at  Ravcnna,  and  delegated  his  civil  and  military 

authority  in  the  scattered  portions  of  Imperial  Italy  to  minor 
officials,  of  whom  the  duces  of  Rome  and  Naples  were  the 
chief.  This  removal  of  the  seat  of  the  viceroy  from  the 
ancient  metropolis  was  destined  to  have  the  most  far-reach- 
ing results.  Its  first  was  that  the  chief  lay  official  in  Rome 
was  an  individual  of  far  less  authority  and  prestige  than  the 
chief  ecclesiastical  personage  there  resident.  The  bishops  of 
Rome  had  always  been  men  of  importance ;  their  claim  to  a 

The  Lombards  in  Italy  199 

patriarchal  primacy  over  all  the  Western  sees  of  Europe  had 
already  been  formulated.  In  the  ancient  civil  'prefecture'  of 
Italy — that  is,  in  the  Italian  peninsula,  Africa,  and  lUyricum — 
it  had  much  reality.  The  African  and  Dalmatian  churches 
referred  matters  of  difficulty  to  Rome  for  decision,  no  less  than 
did  the  church  of  Italy.  We  find  Gregory  the  Great  exercis- 
ing a  real  influence  in  places  as  distant  as  Salona,  Larissa,  and 
Carthage.  During  the  existence  of  the  kingdom  of  the  Ostro- 
goths, the  Popes  had  obtained  a  kind  of  recognition  from  the 
Teutonic  kings,  as  the  accredited  representatives  of  the  Catholic 
and  Roman  population  of  Italy.  They  were  certainly  the  most 
important  subjects  of  the  realm  outside  the  ranks  of  the  Gothic 
conquerors,  and  were  allowed  to  petition  or  plead  with  the  king 
in  behalf  of  all  the  Catholic  Italians.  The  reconquest  of  Italy 
by  Justinian  had  threatened  to  lower  the  prestige  and  power  of 
the  Popes,  by  placing  them  once  more  under  a  master  who 
was  both  the  legitimate  ruler  of  the  whole  empire  and  an 
orthodox  Catholic.  Justinian  had  dealt  in  a  very  autocratic 
manner  with  the  Roman  bishops,  as  the  tales  of  the  woes  of 
Vigilius  and  Silverius  show.  He  summoned  them  to  Con- 
stantinople, bullied,  imprisoned,  or  tried  them  at  his  good 
pleasure.  The  continued  survival  of  the  Imperial  power  in 
Italy  would  have  checked  the  growth  of  Papal  authority  in 
a  great  measure. 

But  the  Lombard  invasion  changed  the  aspect  of  affairs. 
The  Imperial  governors  and  garrisons  were  swept  into  corners 
of  the  peninsula,  and  the  Popes  left  without  any  master  on  the 
spot  to  curb  them.  The  unfortunate  Eastern  wars  of  Maurice, 
Phocas,  and  Heraclius  prevented  them  from  turning  any  ade- 
quate attention  to  Italy.  They  sent  the  exarchs  over  to  make 
what  fight  they  could,  without  giving  them  adequate  supplies, 
either  of  men  or  money.  The  exarchs,  penned  up  in  Ravenna, 
could  only  communicate  with  Rome  with  the  greatest  diffi- 
culty :  the  land-route  of  communication  was  almost  cut  by  the 
Lombards  of  Spoleto ;  the  sea-route  was  long  and  difficult. 
Hence  Rome  was  left  to  itself,  to  fall  or  stand  by  its  own 

200  European  History,  476-918 

strength  and  its  own  counsel.  The  Pope  and  the  'Duke'  of 
Rome  were  continually  thrown  upon  their  own  resources, 
without  the  power  of  asking  advice  or  aid,  either  from  the  em- 
peror or  the  exarch.  For  twenty-seven  years,  as  Pope  Gregory 
once  wrote,  Rome  was  continually  in  imminent  peril  of  Lom- 
bard conquest  (572-599),  and  obliged  to  provide  for  itself.  In 
this  time  of  stress  and  storm  the  Popes  won  their  first  secular 
authority  over  Rome  and  its  vicinity,  and  reduced  the  civil 
magistrates  to  a  place  of  quite  secondary  importance. 

The  man  to  whom  the  increase  in  the  power  of  the  Papacy 
was  mainly  due  was  Pope  Gregory  the  Great,  whose  sway  of 
fourteen  years  (590-604)  covers  the  second  half  of  the  reign 
of  Maurice  and  the  first  two  years  of  Phocas.  Gregory  was 
a  man  of  exceptional  capacity,  and  of  exceptional  opportuni- 
ties, at  once  administrator,  diplomatist,  monk,  and  saint.  He 
was  a  noble  Roman,  who  had  spent  his  early  manhood  in  the 
civil  service,  and  had  risen  to  the  rank  of  prefect  of  the  city. 
In  early  middle  age  he  suddenly  cast  secular  things  aside, 
employed  his  wealth  to  found  monasteries,  and  entered  one 
Gregory  the  himsclf  as  a  simple  monk.  He  plunged  into 
Great,  590-604.  the  most  rigid  extremes  of  asceticism,  and 
almost  killed  himself  by  his  perpetual  macerations  of  the 
flesh.  Ere  long  he  became  abbot,  and  signalised  himself  by 
the  stringent  discipline  which  he  maintained  over  his  monks, 
as  well  as  by  his  fiery  zeal  and  untiring  charity.  It  was  at  this 
time  of  his  life  that  there  occurred  the  scene  so  well  known  to 
all  English  readers.  When  he  found  the  Northumbrian  boys 
exposed  for  sale  in  the  market-place  of  Rome,  he  conceived 
pity  in  his  heart  for  the  uncared-for  heathen  of  Britain,  and 
determined  to  cross  the  northern  seas,  and  bear  the  Gospel  to 
the  Saxon  and  Angle.  But  Pope  Pelagius  ii.  interfered  to  pre- 
vent the  most  able,  as  well  as  the  most  saintly,  of  his  clergy 
from  leaving  the  service  of  the  Roman  See,  and  risking  his 
life  among  the  Pagans.  He  forbade  Gregory's  departure  for 
England,  and  sent  him  instead  to  represent  the  Papacy  at  the 
court  of  Constantinople.     A  few  years  after  his  return  from 

The  Lombards  in  Italy  201 

this  mission,  which  was  long  enough  to  enable  him  to  get  a 
clear  view  of  the  weakness  of  the  emperor  Maurice,  and  of  his 
impotence  to  interfere  in  Italian  matters,  Gregory  was  chosen 
bishop  of  Rome,  when  Pelagius  died  of  the  plague  (590). 

Gregory  was  elected  without  the  Imperial  sanction.  Rome 
was  so  closely  beset  by  the  Lombards  that  there  was  neither 
time  nor  means  for  asking  Maurice's  consent,  but  the  emperor 
afterwards  confirmed  the  elevation  of  the  saintly  abbot.  All 
Italy — nay,  even  the  whole  of  the  Christian  West — knew  of 
him  already  as  the  most  prominent  of  the  Roman  clergy,  and 
he  was  able  at  once  to  assume  a  position  of  great  independence 
and  authority.  Gregory's  most  striking  feature  was  his  extra- 
ordinary self-confidence  and  conviction  in  the  absolute  wisdom 
and  righteousness  of  his  own  ideas.  The  legend,  started  by 
his  admirers  not  long  after  his  death,  to  the  effect  that  he 
was  actually  inspired  by  the  Holy  Ghost,  who  visited  him  in 
the  form  of  a  dove,  very  adequately  represents  his  own  notion 
of  his  infallibility.  It  was  this  self-confidence  which  enabled 
him  to  take  up  the  line  of  stern  and  unbending  autocracy 
which  he  always  adopted.  Other  men  were  mute  and  obedient 
before  the  imperious  saint,  in  whom  they  recognised  their 
moral  superior.  Few,  save  the  emperor  Maurice  and  the  fana- 
tical John  the  Faster,  patriarch  of  Constantinople,  ever  ven- 
tured to  confront  or  withstand  him.  Unquestionably  he  was 
the  most  able,  and  one  of  the  best-intentioned,  men  of  his  age. 
He  left  his  mark  on  all  that  he  touched,  from  the  conversion 
of  the  EngHsh  and  the  Lombards  down  to  the  official  music  of 
the  Western  Church — the  Gregorian  chants  that  still  preserve 
his  name.  Although  posterity  enshrined  him  as  one  of  the 
four  great  doctors  of  the  Latin  Church,  his  theological  work 
was  the  weakest  part  of  his  activity.  His  writings  are  full  of 
tropes,  far-fetched  conceits,  misinterpretation  of  Scripture  (he 
was  ignorant  of  Hebrew  and  even  of  Greek),  and  pedantic 
arguments  from  analogy. 

It  was  as  statesman  and  administrator,  and  fosterer  of 
missionary  work  that  Gregory  was  truly  great.     In  Rome  he 

202  European  History,  476-918 

ruled  as  a  temporal  governor  rather  than  a  bishop.  It  was  he 
who  provided  against  the  attacks  of  the  Lombards,  arrayed 
soldiers  for  the  defence  of  the  walls,  fed  the  starving  people 
from  the  funds  of  the  church,  and  negotiated  with  the  chiefs 
of  the  enemy  in  behalf  of  the  people  of  the  Ducatus  Romanus. 
In  592  he  concluded,  on  his  own  authority,  a  truce  with  the 
duke  of  Spoleto,  while  the  exarch  was  set  on  continuing  the 
war.  Maurice  stigmatised  this  conduct  as  '  fatuous ; '  but,  as 
the  emperor  left  Rome  to  provide  for  itself,  he  should  hardly 
have  complained.  In  another  crisis,  Gregory  appointed, 
on  his  own  authority,  a  tribune  to  command  the 

Secular  ac-  •' ' 

tivity  of  garrison  of  Naples  and  a  governor  for  the  Tuscan 
Gregory,  town  of  Ncpi.  Finally,  it  was  he  who,  in  599, 
negotiated  the  treaty  of  peace  with  king  Agilulf,  which  ended 
the  thirty  years  of  continuous  war  which  had  followed  the  first 
coming  of  the  Lombards  to  Italy.  When  rebuked  by  the 
exarch,  he  claimed  to  take  precedence  of  him,  not  only  in 
virtue  of  his  priestly  office,  but  also  in  place  and  dignity.  In 
short,  for  all  practical  purposes,  Gregory  made  himself  the 
half-independent  governor  of  Rome. 

But  Gregory's  progress  in  asserting  his  authority  as  Patriarch 
of  the  West  was  even  more  important  than  his  advances 
toward  temporal  power.  He  it  was  who  recovered  Spain  and 
Britain  for  the  Catholic  Church — the  former  by  the  conversion 
of  Reccared  from  Arianism,^  the  latter  by  sending  the  mission 
of  St.  Augustine  to  Kent,  and  obtaining  the  baptism  of  king 
Ethelbert.  Through  the  influence  of  queen  Theodelinda,  he 
obtained  control  over  the  Lombard  king  Agilulf,  and  induced 
him  to  bring  up  his  son  Adaloald  as  a  Catholic. ^  He  could 
claim,  in  short,  that  he  had  reunited  Italy,  Spain,  and  Britain 
to  the  body  of  the  Church  of  Christ.  He  also  exercised  con- 
internationai  ^iderable  influence  in  Gaul,  mainly  through  the 
authority  of  influence  of  the  great  queen-mother  Brunhildis, 
Gregory.  ^  favourcr  of  all  things  Roman,  with  whom  he 

maintained  a   long  and  friendly   correspondence.     We  have 
^  See  pp.  141,  142.  2  ggg  p^  jp^^ 

The  Lombards  in  Italy  203 

already  shown  how  the  bishops  of  the  Imperial  provinces  of 
Africa  and  Illyricum  deferred  to  his  judgment  and  decisions. 
Justly,  then,  may  Gregory  be  styled  the  first  Patriarch  of  the 
united  West. 

His  successors  were,  for  many  generations,  not  men  of 
mark.  But  by  his  work  he  had  gained  for  them  a  temporal 
authority  and  a  spiritual  precedence  which  they  were  never 
again  to  lose.  When  he  died,  in  604,  he  left  the  Roman  See 
exalted  to  a  pitch  of  greatness  which  it  had  never  before 
known,  revered  by  all  the  Teutonic  peoples  of  Europe,  and 
half-freed  from  its  allegiance  to  the  rulers  of  Constantinople. 



Distress  of  the  Empire  in  the  early  years  of  Heraclius — The  letter  of  Chosroes — 
Treachery  of  the  Avars — Heraclius  preaches  a  Crusade— His  six  victori- 
ous Campaigns  —  Great  Siege  of  Constantinople — Persia  vanquished — 
Triumph  of  Heraclius — Rise  and  Character  of  Mohammed — The  Creed  of 
Islam— Conquests  of  the  Caliphs  in  Syria  and  Persia— Troubled  old  age 
of  Heraclius. 

When  the  tyrant  Phocas  had  been  handed  over  to  the  execu- 
tioner to  pay  the  penalty  for  his  innumerable  misdeeds,  the 
Senate  and  army  joined  in  offering  the  crown  to  the  young 
Heraclius,  the  saviour  whose  advent  had  delivered  them  from 
such  a  depth  of  misery.  He  was  duly  crowned  by  the 
patriarch,  and  acclaimed  by  the  people  in  the  Hippodrome. 
But  when  the  first  rejoicings  were  over,  and  he  turned  to 
contemplate  the  state  of  the  empire  which  he  had  just  won, 
the  prospect  was  not  a  very  reassuring  one.  The  Slavs  were 
spreading  all  over  the  Balkan  peninsula,  as  far  as  the  gates  of 
Thessalonica  and  the  pass  of  Thermopylae.  The  Persian, 
securely  established  in  northern  Syria  and  Mesopotamia,  was 
advancing  to  permanently  reduce  the  lands  of  Asia  Minor, 
which  he  had  ravaged  so  fiercely  in  the  two  preceding  years. 
The  treasury  was  empty,  and  the  army  scattered  and  dis- 
organised ;  for  some  years  it  had  not  dared  to  meet  the 
Persian  in  the  open  field,  and  the  officers  whom  Phocas  had 
kept  in  command  had  never  won  its  confidence. 

The  first  ten  years  of  the  reign  of  Heraclius  seemed  little 
better  than  a  continuation  of  the  miseries  of  the  time  of 


Heraclius  and  Mohammed  205 

Phocas.  The  empire  had  gained,  indeed,  a  good  man  instead 
of  a  bad  as  its  ruler,  but  a  change  of  fortune  had  not  come 
with  the  change  of  sovereigns.  It  seemed  that  HeracHus 
would  not  be  able  to  cope  with  the  legacy  of  accumulated  ills 
that  had  been  left  him.  His  predecessor's  dying  taunt,  *  Will 
you  rule  the  empire  any  better  than  I  have  done  ? '  must  often 
have  rung  in  his  ears,  when  the  never-ending  tidings  of  battles 
lost,  towns  stormed,  revenues  decreasing,  and  starving  pro- 
vinces kept  coming  in  to  him.  The  imperial  etiquette  which 
had  prevailed  for  the  last  two  hundred  years  prescribed  that 
the  Augustus  should  never  take  the  field  in  person,  and  this 
rule  seems  to  have  prevented  Heraclius  from  heading  his 
own  armies.^  The  generals  to  whom  he  delegated  his  power 
were  uniformly  unfortunate,  and  occasionally  disloyal.  He 
was  obliged  to  depose  Priscus,  the  ofliicer  who  had  betrayed 
Phocas,  for  arrogant  disobedience  to  his  orders.  The  absence 
of  the  emperor  from  the  field  was  a  grave  misfortune ;  for  he 
was  much  less  of  an  administrator  than  of  a  fighting  man. 
His  form  and  face  betrayed  the  warrior.  *  He  was  of  middle 
stature,  strongly  built,  and  broad-chested,  with  a  fair  com- 
plexion, grey  eyes,  and  yellow  hair.  He  wore  a  bushy  beard 
till  he  ascended  the  throne,  when  he  shaved  it,  and  did  not 
let  it  grow  again  till  he  went  to  the  wars  ten  years  later.' 

The  military  disasters  of  the  first  eight  years  of  Heraclius' 
reign  were  terrible.  In  613  the  armies  of  Chosroes  began  to 
attack  central  Syria :  Damascus  fell,  and  then  Persian  suc- 
the  general  Shahrbarz  pushed  southward  into  cesses,  613-17. 
Palestine.  In  614  the  whole  Christian  world  was  seized  with 
horror  at  learning  that  Jerusalem  had  been  captured.  Not 
only  were  90,000  Christians  slain  in  the  Holy  City,  but — 
what  was  reckoned  far  worse — all  the  treasures  of  the  church 
of  the  Holy  Sepulchre  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  fire-wor- 
shippers. Chief  of  them  was  the  *  Sacred  Wood,'  the  '  True 
Cross,'  which  the  empress  Helena,  the  mother  of  the  great 

^  Since  Theodosius  I.,  who  died  in  395,  no  reigning  emperor  had  ever 
led  an  army  in  the  field. 

2o6  European  History,  476-918 

Constantine,  bad  discovered  in  327,  and  placed  in  her  magni- 
ficent church.  It  was  now  carried  into  Persia,  to  be  mocked 
by  the  blasphemous  king  Chosroes.  This  was  not  the  end 
of  the  disasters  of  the  empire.  In  6 1 6  Shahrbarz  forced  his  way 
across  the  sands  of  the  isthmus  of  Suez,  and  attacked  Egypt,  the 
one  Roman  province  which  had  not  seen  the  horrors  of  war 
for  three  centuries.  The  unwarlike  Egyptians  submitted  with 
hardly  a  blow ;  many  of  the  heretical  sects  that  swarmed  in 
the  Nile  valley  even  welcomed  the  Persians  as  friends  and 
deliverers.  The  loss  of  Egypt  seemed  a  deathblow  to  the 
empire.  It  had  been  of  late  the  chief  source  of  revenue  to 
the  dwindling  treasury  of  Heraclius,  and  on  its  corn  the 
multitude  of  Constantinople  had  been  wont  to  depend  for  their 
free  dole  of  bread.  This  had  now  to  be  cut  off,  for  the  State 
finances  did  not  permit  of  the  provision  being  purchased  else- 
where. In  617  the  invasion  of  Asia  Minor  was  resumed,  and 
a  Persian  force  seized  Chalcedon,  in  very  sight  of  the  walls  of 

The  darkest  hour  had  arrived.  It  is  a  great  testimonial 
to  the  popularity  of  Heraclius  that  the  series  of  misfortunes 
which  we  have  related  did  not  cost  him  his  throne.  Any 
sovereign  less  well-intentioned,  and  less  esteemed,  would  have 
lost  life  and  crown.  The  direst  moment  of  his  humiliation 
The  Letter  of  arrived  when,  after  the  loss  of  Egypt,  the  over- 
chosroes.  weening  Chosroes  sent  him  a  formal  letter,  in- 
viting him  to  lay  down  the  sceptre  which  he  could  not  wield. 
In  language  of  arrogant  condescension,  which  almost  seems 
to  have  been  borrowed  from  the  letter  of  king  Sennacherib 
in  the  Book  of  Kings,  the  Persian  wrote  : — 

'  Chosroes,  greatest  of  gods,  and  master  of  the  whole  earth, 
to  Heraclius,  his  vile  and  insensate  slave.  Why  do  you  still 
refuse  to  submit  to  our  ruk,  and  call  yourself  a  king  ?  Have 
I  not  destroyed  the  Greeks  ?  You  say  that  you  trust  in  your 
God.  Why  has  he  not  delivered  out  of  my  hand  Caesarea, 
Jerusalem,  and  Alexandria?  And  shall  I  not  also  destroy 
Constantinople?     But  I  will  pardon  your  faults  if  you  will 

Heraclius  qnd  Mohammed  207 

submit  to  me,  and  come  hither  with  your  wife  and  children ; 
and  I  will  give  you  lands,  vineyards,  and  olive  groves,  and 
look  upon  you  with  a  kindly  aspect.  Do  not  deceive  yourself 
with  vain  hope  in  that  Christ,  who  was  not  able  even  to  save 
himself  from  the  Jews,  who  killed  him  by  naihng  him  to  a 
cross.  Even  if  you  take  refuge  in  the  depths  of  the  seas,  I 
shall  stretch  out  my  hand  and  take  you,  so  that  you  shall  see 
me,  whether  you  will  or  no.' 

For  a  moment  it  is  said  that  Heraclius  contemplated 
abandoning  Constantinople,  and  taking  refuge  in  his  father's 
old  stronghold  of  Carthage.  But  the  very  desperateness  of 
the  state  of  affairs  brought  its  own  remedy.  Incensed  at  the 
arrogance  of  Chosroes,  smarting  under  the  loss  of  the  Holy 
Cross,  and  pinched  for  every  necessary  of  life,  the  crusade  of 
East-Romans  were,  ready  to  strike  one  wild  blow  Heraclius. 
for  existence.  The  Church  took  the  lead,  and  declared  the 
war  to  be  a  holy  duty  for  all  Christian  men,  the  first  of  the 
Crusades.  The  patriarch  Sergius  bound  the  emperor  by  an 
oath  not  to  abandon  his  people,  and  the  clergy  offered,  as  a 
war-loan,  all  the  gold  and  silver  plate  of  the  churches  of  Con- 
stantinople. Heraclius  took  heart,  and,  casting  aside  the 
trammels  of  imperial  etiquette,  swore  that  he  would  himself  lead 
his  army  in  the  field.  Thousands  of  volunteers  were  collected, 
and  the  treasures  of  the  Church  lavished  on  their  equipment. 
By  the  end  of  618  this  effort  of  despair  had  given  the  empire 
once  more  a  general,  an  army,  and  a  military  chest. 

But  an  attack  on  the  Persian  host  in  Asia  Minor  did  not 
turn  out  to  be  at  once  feasible.  A  sudden  danger  at  home 
obliged  Heraclius  to  delay  his  crusade.  The  Avars  concen- 
trated their  ravages  on  Thrace,  and  their  hordes  rode  up 
almost  to  the  gates  of  Constantinople.  It  was  necessary  at 
all  costs  to  free  the  city  from  the  danger  of  attack  in  the  rear 
before  the  army  crossed  over  into  Asia.  Accord-  Treachery  of 
ingly  the  emperor  sent  to  offer  a  subsidy  to  the  the  Avars. 
Chagan  of  the  Avars  if  he  would  withdraw  beyond  the 
Danube.     The  Chagan  proposed  a  conference  at  Heraclea, 

2o8  European  History^  476-918 

forty  miles  west  of  Constantinople,  the  point  to  which  he  had 
advanced  his  army.  Heraclius  consented  to  the  meeting,  and 
rode  out  in  royal  state,  with  all  his  court.  But  the  faithless 
Avar  was  meditating  treachery.  He  concealed  troops  of  his 
horsemen  in  the  hills,  with  the  object  of  waylaying  Hera- 
clius on  his  way  to  Heraclea,  and  of  holding  him  to  ransom. 
The  emperor  was  warned  just  in  time  to  escape  from  the 
ambush.  Throwing  off  his  long  purple  robe,  and  tucking  his 
diadem  under  his  arm,  he  rode  hard  for  Constantinople,  with 
the  Avars  close  at  his  heels.  Many  of  his  court,  and  thousands 
of  the  Thracian  peasantry,  who  had  turned  out  to  witness 
the  meeting,  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  enemy.  Heraclius  had 
just  time  to  order  the  gates  to  be  closed  before  the  pursuers 
swept  through  the  suburbs,  and  up  to  the  walls. 

In  spite  of  this  piece  of  abominable  treachery,  the  emperor 
was  still  fain  to  conclude  a  peace  with  the  Avars,  as  an  abso- 
lutely necessary  preHminary  before  attacking  the  Persian.  In 
620  a  peace  of  some  sort  was  patched  up,  in  return  for  a  pay- 
ment of  money,  but  even  then  Heraclius  Avas  not  able  to  start 
on  his  projected  campaign.  Some  desultory  Persian  attacks  on 
Constantinople,  and  notably  an  attempt  to  build  a  fleet  at 
Chalcedon,  and  cross  the  strait,  had  first  to  be  frustrated. 

It  was  not  till  622  that  the  emperor  was  finally  enabled  to 
take  the  offensive.  But  all  preparations  being  complete,  after 
solemnly  keeping  the  Lenten  Fast,  and  receiving  the  benedic- 
tion of  the  Church  for  himself  and  his  army,  he  set  sail  for 
Asia  on  Easter  Day.  He  left  his  young  son,  Heraclius  Con- 
stantinus,  regent  in  his  stead,  und  r  the  charge  of  the 
patriarch  Sergius  and  the  patrician  Bonus,  the  commander 
of  the  garrison  of  Constantinople. 

In  the  six  campaigns  which  followed,  Heraclius  displayed 
an  energy  and  an  ability  which  no  one,  judging  from  his 
quiescence  during  the  last  ten  years,  would  have  expected  him 
to  possess.  Historians  only  doubt  whether  to  praise  the  more 
his  strategical  talents  or  his  personal  bravery.  From  the  very 
first  he  showed  his  ascendency  over  the  enemy,  taking  the 

Heraclius  and  Mohammed  209 

offensive,  and  turning  the  course  of  the  war  wherever  he  chose 
to  direct  it.  At  his  first  departure  from  Constantinople  he 
did  not  attack  the  Persian  in  the  front,  but  boldly  sailed  round 
the  southern  capes  of  Asia  Minor,  and  landed  his  army  in 
Cilicia,  on  the  gulf  of  Issus,  a  position  from  which  he  threat- 
ened both  Asia  Minor  and  northern  Syria.  Marching  up  into 
Cappadocia,  he  cut  the  communications  between  the  Persian 
army  in  Asia  Minor  and  the  Euphrates  valley.  This  move- 
ment had  the  result  that  he  expected.  Hastily  evacuating 
Bithynia  and  Galatia,  the  Persian  general  Shahrbarz  drew 
back  eastward,  in  order  to  regain  touch  with  his  country. 
Ere  a  blow  was  struck  Heraclius  had  cleared  western  Asia 
Minor  of  the  enemy  ;  but  he  finished  the  campaign  by  inflict- 
ing a  crushing  defeat  on  Shahrbarz  in  Cappadocia,  and  thus 
recovered  eastern  Asia  Minor  also  (622). 

After  in  vain  offering  terms  of  peace  to  Chosroes,  Heraclius 
took  effective  means  in  the  next  year  to  bring  the  Persian  to 
reason.  Syria,  Egypt,  and  Mesopotamia  were  still  in  the 
hands  of  the  enemy :  he  resolved  to  deliver  them  in  the  same 
manner  that  he  had  saved  Asia  Minor,  by  striking  so  hard  at 
the  enemy's  base  of  operations  that  he  should  be  compelled 
to  call  in  all  his  outlying  troops  in  order  to  de-  victorious 
fend  Persia  proper.  In  623  Heraclius,  abandon-  H«ac/S^°^ 
ing  his  communication  with  the  sea,  plunged  622-27. 
boldly  inland,  and  fell  on  Media.  For  two  whole  years  he  is 
lost  to  sight  in  the  regions  of  the  extreme  East,  subduing 
lands  where  no  Roman  army  had  ever  been  seen  before, 
where,  indeed,  no  European  conqueror  had  ever  penetrated 
since  Alexander  the  Great.  We  hear  of  his  winning  three 
pitched  battles,  and  of  his  storming  two  great  Median  towns, 
Gandzaca  and  Thebarmes,  the  latter  the  reputed  birthplace  of 
Zoroaster,  the  prophet  of  the  Persians.  It  was  some  satisfac- 
faction  to  the  army  to  destroy  their  magnificent  temples 
in  revenge  for  the  sack  of  Jerusalem.  To  defend  Media, 
Chosroes  had  to  draw  back  his  outlying  armies  from  the 
West,  and  so  far  the  purpose  of  Heraclius  was  served ;  but 

PERIOD  I.  o 

2IO  European  History,  476-918 

the  emperor  was  still  too  weak  to  attack  Persia  proper,  or 
besiege  Chosroes'  capital  of  Ctesiphon. 

After  wintering  at  Van,  in  the  Armenian  highlands,  Hera- 
clius  dropped  southward,  in  625,  and  came  into  regions  more 
within  the  ken  of  Western  historians.  He  recovered  the  long- 
lost  fortresses  of  Amida  and  Martyropolis,  the  ancient  bul- 
warks of  the  empire  on  the  upper  Tigris,  which  had  been 
for  nearly  twenty  years  in  Persian  hands,  and  once  more 
picked  up  his  communication  with  Constantinople,  which  had 
almost  lost  sight  of  him  during  the  two  last  campaigns.  The 
year  ended  with  a  fourth  crushing  defeat  of  Shahrbarz,  who 
had  endeavoured  to  throw  himself  between  the  emperor  and 
his  homeward  path  by  defending  the  passage  of  the  Sarus, 
near  Germanicia. 

But  626  was  destined  to  be  the  decisive  year  of  the  war. 
Before  acknowledging  himself  beaten,  the  obstinate  Chosroes 
was  determined  to  make  one  final  effort.  Drawing  every  man 
that  he  could  together,  for  the  Persian  empire  was  now  grow- 
ing exhausted,  the  old  king  made  two  armies  of  them.  While 
the  larger  was  left  in  Mesopotamia  and  Armenia,  to  endeavour 
to  keep  Heraclius  employed,  a  great  body  under  Shahrbarz 
slipped  southward,  round  the  emperor's  flank,  and  marched 
for  the  Bosphorus.  Chosroes  had  concerted  measures  with 
the  treacherous  Chagan  of  the  Avars  for  a  combined  attack  on 
Constantinople,  from  both  the  European  and  the  Asiatic  side 
of  the  strait.  When  Shahrbarz  appeared  at  Chalcedon,  he 
found  the  Avars  already  masters  of  Thrace,  and  preparing  to 
beleaguer  Byzantium.  The  two  armies  could  see  each  other 
across  the  water,  but  they  were  wholly  unable  to  communicate 
^       _.  with  each  other:  for  the  Roman  fleet  kept  such 

Great  Siege  ^  _  ^^ 

ofConstan-  excellent  guard  in  the  straits  that  no  boat  could 
tinopie,626.  ^^.^gg^  The  patrician  Bonus  made  a  most  gal- 
lant defence,  the  garrison  was  adequate,  and  the  population 
kept  a  good  heart,  for  they  knew  that  the  Persian  was 
striking  his  last  desperate  blow.  Heraclius  himself  was  so 
well  satisfied  with  the  impregnability  of  his  capital  that  he  only 

Heraclius  and  Mohammed  211 

sent  a  few  veteran  troops  by  sea  to  co-operate  in  the  defence, 
and  kept  the  greater  part  of  his  army  in  hand  for  an  attack  on 
the  heart  of  the  dominions  of  Chosroes.  Meanwhile,  the  host 
of  Shahrbarz  had  to  look  on  in  helpless  impotence,  while  the 
Avars,  on  the  other  side  of  the  Bosphorus,  made  their  attempt 
on  Constantinople.  On  the  night  of  the  3d  of  August  626 
the  Chagan  gave  the  signal  for  the  assault.  A  body  of  Slavs, 
in  small  boats,  attempted  to  storm  the  sea-wall  from  the 
side  of  the  Golden  Horn,  while  the  main  body  of  the  Avars 
moved  against  the  land-wall.  But  the  galleys  of  Bonus  rammed 
and  sunk  the  light  vessels  of  the  Slavs,  and  the  assault  of  the 
Avars  miscarried  entirely.  Thereupon  the  Chagan  hastily 
broke  up  his  camp,  and  retired  beyond  the  Balkans.  The 
siege  was  practically  raised,  though  the  army  of  Shahrbarz 
still  remained  encamped  at  Chalcedon.  Thus  ended  the  first  of 
the  four  great  sieges  of  Constantinople  of  which  we  have  to  tell. 

Meanwhile,  Heraclius  had  been  retaliating  on  Persia  in 
the  most  effective  way.  In  return  for  the  invasion  of  Thrace 
by  the  Avars,  he  called  in  from  beyond  the  Caucasus  the 
wild  Hunnish  tribe  of  the  Khazars,  and  turned  them  loose  on 
Media  and  Assyria.  Forty  thousand  of  their  horsemen  laid 
waste  the  whole  land,  as  far  as  the  gates  of  Ctesiphon,  and  the 
emperor  took  possession  of  the  upper  valley  of  the  Tigris, 
and  prepared  to  strike  at  his  rival's  capital  in  the  coming  year. 

The  campaign  of  62  7  ended  the  triumphs  of  Heraclius.  The 
last  army  of  Persia,  under  a  general  named  Rhazates,  faced 
him  near  Nineveh.  Charging  at  the  head  of  the  mailed 
horsemen  of  his  guard,  Heraclius  slew  the  Battle  of 
Persian  chief  with  his  own  hand,  and  scattered  Nineveh,  627. 
his  forces  to  the  winds.  The  victorious  army  pressed  on, 
and  captured  Dastagerd,  the  magnificent  country-palace  of 
Chosroes,  near  Ctesiphon,  where  they  gained  such  plunder  as 
no  Roman  army  had  won  for  many  ages.  They  burnt 
Dastagerd,  and  four  palaces  more,  while  Chosroes  fled  east- 
ward to  conceal  himself  in  the  mountains  of  Susiana. 

The  long-suffering  Persians  were  at  last  growing  tired  of 

212  European  History,  476-918 

their  arrogant  lord.  His  army  rebelled  against  him,  and 
proclaimed  his  son  Siroes  as  king.  Chosroes  himself  was 
thrown  into  a  dungeon,  where  he  perished  of  cold  and 
starvation.  The  new  king  at  once  sent  to  ask  for  terms  of 
peace  from  Heraclius.  The  emperor,  knowing  the  exhaustion 
of  his  own  realm,  and  its  need  for  instant  repose,  made  no 
hard  conditions.  Siroes  restored  all  the  Roman  territory  still 
Peace  with  i^^  ^is  hands,  released  all  Roman  captives,  paid  a 
Persia,  628.  ■war  indemnity,  and — greatest  of  all  triumphs  in 
the  eyes  of  the  subjects  of  Heraclius — gave  back  the  '  True 
Cross,'  and  other  spoils  of  Jerusalem. 

In  May  628  the  emperor  was  able  to  return  to  Constanti- 
nople, bringing  peace  and  plenty  with  him.  He  had  restored 
the  boundary  of  the  empire,  and  inflicted  on  Persia  a  blow 
from  which  she  never  recovered.  His  arms  had  penetrated 
far  beyond  the  limits  of  the  conquests  of  Trajan  and  Severus, 
and  his  six  years  of  unbroken  victory  were  a  record  which  no 
Roman,  save  Julius  Caesar,  could  rival.  Not  unjustly  did  the 
inhabitants  of  Constantinople  receive  him  with  chants  and 
sacred  processions,  and  hail  him  by  the  name  of  'the  new 
Scipio.'  The  crowning  moment  of  his  triumph  came  when  the 
True  Cross  was  uplifted  in  St.  Sophia,  and  publicly  exposed 
for  the  adoration  of  the  faithful.  Well  might  the  emperor  have 
sung  his  ^Nunc  dimittis''  on  that  day  of  solemn  rejoicing,  and 
prayed  that  the  hour  of  his  triumph  might  be  the  last  of  his  life. 

But  already  there  was  another  tempest  gathering,  which  was 
destined  to  sweep  over  the  Roman  empire,  with  even  greater 
violence  than  the  Persian  storm  which  had  just  been  weathered. 
While  in  the  midst  of  his  last  campaign,  Heraclius  had 
received  a  letter  from  an  obscure  Arabian  prophet,  bidding 
him  accept  a  new  revelation  from  Heaven,  which  its  framer 
called  'Islam,'  or  'Submission  to  God.'  A  similar  missive 
was  delivered  at  the  same  moment  to  Chosroes,  then  on  the 
eve  of  his  fall.  Chosroes  tore  up  the  letter,  and  swore  he 
would,  at  his  leisure,  lay  the  insolent  prophet  in  a  dungeon. 
Heraclius   sent  a  polite  letter    of   acknowledgment    and  a 

Heraclius  and  Mohammed  213 

trifling  present  to  the  unknown  fanatic,  being  averse  to  making 
enemies  of  any  sort  while  the  Persian  war  was  still  on  his 
hands.  Little  as  it  could  have  been  foreseen  at  the  time,  the 
followers  of  the  writer  of  these  eccentric  missives  were  fated 
to  tear  up  the  empire  of  Chosroes  by  the  roots,  and  to  lop  off 
half  of  its  fairest  provinces  from  the  realm  of  Heraclius. 

The  Arabian  prophet  was  no  less  a  person  than  Moham- 
med the  son  of  Abdallah,  that  strange  being,  half  seer  and 
half  impostor,  whose  preaching  was  destined  to  convulse  three 
continents,  and  turn  the  stream  of  history  into  new  and 
unexpected  channels. 

The  tribes  of  Arabia  had  hitherto  been  of  very  little  im- 
portance :  their  local  feuds  absorbed  all  their  superfluous 
energy.  They  were  divided  from  each  other,  as 
well  by  religious  differences  as  by  ancient  clan  ^°  ^'"'"^ 
hatreds.  Some  worshipped  stocks  and  stones,  some  the  host 
of  heaven,  some  had  partly  adopted  Christianity,  others  Juda- 
ism. They  were  given  over  to  fetich-worship,  human  sacrifices, 
drunkenness,  infanticide,  bloodshedding,  polygamy,  and  high- 
way robbery.  Among  these  godless  tribes  appeared  Moham- 
med, a  poor  man,  but  born  of  an  ancient  and  powerful  clan, 
who  preached  to  them  a  rigid  Unitarian  creed,  accompanied 
by  a  reformation  in  morality.  He  had  been  called  by  the 
One  true  God,  he  said,  in  a  vision  on  Mount  Hira,  to 
proclaim  a  new  revelation  to  his  countrymen,  to  turn  them 
from  idolatry  and  hatred  of  each  other,  to  the  worship  of 
Allah  and  the  practice  of  brotherly  love.  Mohammed  was  a 
being  of  a  poetic  and  visionary  temperament,  given  to  high 
ideals  and  high  enterprises.  He  was  afflicted  with  long  fits,  or 
trances,  in  which  his  soul  wandered  far  into  the  fields  of 
thought :  these  trances  he  took  for  divine  inspirations,  and 
his  imaginings — which  were  often  noble  enough — seemed  to 
him  the  direct  commands  of  God,  though  in  them  good  and 
grand  ideas  were  freely  mixed  with  baser  elements,  tainted 
by  the  ignorance,  cruelty,  and  lust  of  a  seventh  century  Arab. 
For  long  the  preaching  of  Mohammed  was  of  no  effect :  his 

214  European  History^  476-918 

own  tribe  grew  weary  of  his  unending  exhortations,  and  chased 
him  away  from  Mecca  (622).     It  is  from  this  flight  to  Medina 
The  Hijrah,     — the  famous  '  Hijrah,'  that  all  Moslem  chrono- 
622.  iQgy  is  dated.     But   in  spite   of  ill-success   and 

persecution  the  prophet  never  swerved  from  his  mission,  and 
at  last  proselytes  began  flocking  in  to  him,  and  he  became  the 
head  of  a  powerful  sect.  Then  came  the  fatal  moment  which 
turned  his  teaching  from  a  blessing  to  Arabia  into  a  curse  for 
the  world.  When  he  grew  powerful  enough,  he  bade  his 
sectaries  to  take  up  the  sword,  and  impose  Islam  on  their 
neighbours  by  the  force  of  arms.  His  first  success  in  the 
field,  the  battle  of  Bedr  (624),  was  an  encouragement  to 
persevere  in  this  evil  path,  and  for  the  last  eight  years  of  his 
life  he  went  forth,  conquering  and  to  conquer,  among  the 
tribes  of  Arabia,  till  he  had  built  up  a  little  theocratic  empire 
in  the  peninsula  (624-32). 

Mohammed's  successes  were  won  by  unhallowed  means, 
and  the  desire  to  extend  them  at  almost  any  cost  gradually 
led  him  into  compromises  with  the  habits  and  superstitions  of 
his  countrymen  which  were  fatal  to  the  purity  of  his  religion, 
A  strain  of  cunning,  of  revenge,  of  self-indulgence,  appeared 
Mohammed  "-^  ^  character  which,  in  his  years  of  poverty  and 
and  his  trouble,  had  been  blameless.    He  connived  at  the 

Rehgion.  ancient  fetich-worship  of  the  Arabs,  by  conceding 
that  the  conical  black  stone  of  the  Kaabah,  which  they  had 
always  worshipped,  had  been  hallowed  by  Abraham,  and 
should  be  the  central  shrine  of  his  new  faith.  He  fostered 
their  vanity  by  proclaiming  them  the  chosen  people  of  God. 
He  pandered  to  their  craving  for  lust  and  bloodshed,  by 
promising  them  the  goods  of  their  enemies  to  plunder  in  this 
life,  and  a  heaven  of  gross  sensual  enjoyment  in  the  next. 
He  restricted,  but  he  did  not  abolish,  the  evils  of  polygamy 
and  slavery.  In  his  day  of  triumph  he  consigned  whole 
tribes  and  towns  to  death,  sometimes  under  circumstances  of 
treachery  as  well  as  of  cruelty.  Worst  of  all,  he  foisted  into 
his  revelation  special  mandates  of  God  permitting  himself  to 

Heraclius  and  Mohammed  215 

do  things  which  his  teaching  forbade  to  his  followers,  such  as 
to  exceed  his  own  limit  of  polygamy,  and  even  to  take  his 
own  foster-son's  bride  to  wife.  It  is  hard  to  believe  that  he 
can  have  failed  to  see  the  horrible  blasphemy  involved  in 
forging  the  name  of  God  to  special  warrants  approving  his 
own  lust.     But  this  sin  he  repeatedly  committed. 

The  personal  failings  of  Mohammed  seem  to  have  brought 
into  his  creed  a  blight  of  cruelty,  bigotry,  and  self-indulgence, 
which  has  rendered  half-useless  its  higher  and  nobler  features. 
The  religion  which  legalises  the  slaughter  and  plunder  of  all 
unbelievers  and  consigns  woman  to  the  harem  may  have 
been  a  comparative  blessing  to  the  wild  Arabs  of  Mohammed's 
own  day,  or  to  the  Negro  of  the  modern  Soudan :  to  the 
civilised  world  it  was  a  mere  curse — the  substitution  of  an 
inferior  for  a  higher  creed  and  life.  Even  to  the  Arab  of  the 
seventh  century  it  was  but  half-beneficial :  if  it  stayed  him 
from  drunkenness,  human  sacrifices,  and  infanticide,  it  merely 
directed  his  bloodthirstiness  against  foreign  instead  of 
domestic  foes,  and  gave  a  divine  sanction  to  many  of  his  lower 
instincts.  Wherever  Mohammedanism  has  taken  root,  it  has 
led  at  first  to  rapid  and  enthusiastic  outbursts  of  vigour,  but  it 
seems  gradually  to  sap  the  energy  of  the  nations  which  adopt 
it,  and  leads,  after  a  few  generations  of  greatness,  Failings  of 
to  a  stagnation  and  decay,  which  the  Moslem  in  islam, 
his  self-satisfied  bigotry  is  too  blind  to  perceive.  The  creed 
only  thrives  while  mihtant.  When  it  has  won  its  victory,  it 
sinks  into  dull  apathy.  Islam  is  a  good  religion  to  die  by,  as 
its  fanatics  have  shown  on  a  thousand  battlefields,  but  not  a 
good  religion  to  live  by.  Good  and  evil  elements  are  too 
hopelessly  mixed  in  it,  just  as  in  Mohammed's  Koran,  that 
miscellaneous  receptacle  of  all  his  revelations  :  high  thoughts 
about  the  Godhead  or  the  fate  of  man  are  mingled  with  the 
mere  opportunist  orders  of  the  day,  or  with  licences  for  the 
personal  gratification  of  the  Prophet.^ 

^  The  Koran  consists  of  all  Mohammed's  inspired  sayings,  taken  down 
at  the  time  on   wooden   tablets,    palm-leaves,   or  blade-bones,   by   his 

2i6  European  History,  ^y6-gi^ 

But  whatever  were  the  faihngs  of  Mohammed  and  of 
Mohammed's  creed,  they  had  one  fearful  efficiency,  the  power 
to  turn  their  sectaries  into  wild  fanatics,  careless  of  life  or 
death  upon  the  battlefield.  Life  meant  to  them  the  duty  of 
smiting  down  the  Infidel,  and  the  privilege  of  spoiling  him  : 
death,  the  yet  greater  joys  of  a  paradise  of  gross  sensual 
delights.  What  the  first  mad  rush  of  a  horde  of  Moslem 
fanatics,  drunk  with  religious  frenzy,  was  like,  modern  Europe 
had  half  forgotten,  though  our  crusading  forefathers  knew  it 
well  enough.  But  the  generation  which  has  seen  the  half- 
armed  Arabs  of  the  Soudan  face  the  steadiest  troops  in  the 
world  equipped  with  quick-firing  rifles  and  artillery,  and 
almost  carry  the  day  against  them,  has  had  good  reason  to 
revise  its  view  about  the  power  of  Mohammedan  fanaticism. 

Before  he  died,  Mohammed  had  begun  to  take  measures 
for  the  spread  of  his  religion  by  the  sword  beyond  the  limits 
of  Arabia.  In  629,  the  year  after  the  end  of  the  Persian  war, 
the  troops  of  Heraclius  who  garrisoned  the  fortresses  on  the 
desert  frontier  of  Palestine,  had  been  attacked  by  wandering 
bands  of  Arab  zealots.  But  it  was  not  till  the  Prophet 
himself  was  dead  that  the  full  storm  of  invasion  fell  upon  the 
Roman  empire  and  its  Persian  neighbours.  It  was  Abu 
Bekr,  the  first  *  caliph '  or  '  successor '  of  Mohammed,  who 
sent  forth  in  633  the  two  armies  which  were  bidden  respec- 
tively to  convert  Syria  and  Chaldaea  to  Islam  by  the  edge  of 
the  sword. 

Neither  the  Roman  nor  the  Persian  empire  was  well  fitted 
for  resistance  at  the  moment.  The  twenty  years  of  war 
brought  about  by  the  ambition  of  Chosroes  had  reduced  each 
of  them  to  the  extreme  of  exhaustion.  Since  the  end  of  the 
war  Persia  had  been  a  prey  to  incessant  civil  strife  and  revo- 
lution :  nine  princes  had  mounted  the  throne  in  little  more 
than  four  years.     In  the  Roman  empire  Heraclius  had  been 

followers,  and  consigned  in  confusion  to  a  chest,  from  which  they  were 
afterwards  drawn  out  at  random,  and  strung  together,  not  according  to 
their  date  or  their  contents,  but  simply  in  order  of  length. 

Heraclius  and  Mohammed  217 

doing  his  best  to  repair  the  calamities  of  the  war :  his  first  care 
had  been  to  repay,  by  means  of  the  war  indemnity  paid  by 
Siroes  and  the  imposition  of  new  taxes,  the  great  Exhaustion 
loan  which  the  Church  had  made  him,  in  order  of  the  Roman 
to  equip  his  troops  for  the  struggle.  He  had  dis-  ^"^p^^^- 
banded  much  of  his  victorious  army  in  pursuit  of  the  policy 
of  retrenchment  for  which  the  ruined  state  of  his  empire 
called.  But  he  could  not  repair  the  losses  which  Syria  and 
Asia  Minor  had  suffered  in  spending  ten  years  beneath  the 
Persian  yoke.  The  very  foundations  of  society  seemed  to  have 
been  sapped  in  the  provinces  of  the  East  by  the  prolonged 
Persian  occupation.  The  numerous  heretical  sects  which 
swarmed  in  the  valleys  of  the  Nile  and  the  Orontes  had 
raised  their  heads  during  the  Persian  rule,  and  bore  with 
ill-concealed  reluctance  the  restoration  of  the  imperial  autho- 
rity. The  Jews,  who  had  often  sided  with  the  Persians,  were 
restless  and  discontented.  It  was  said  that  half  the  population 
of  Syria  and  Egypt  wished  ill  to  the  empire.  It  would  have 
required  two  generations  of  peace  and  wise  administration  to 
restore  to  their  old  condition  those  Oriental  dioceses  which 
had  for  the  last  three  centuries  been  the  stay  and  support  of  the 
East-Roman  Empire ;  but  less  than  four  years  after  Hera- 
clius had  solemnly  restored  the  '  True  Cross '  to  the  custody 
of  the  Patriarch  of  Jerusalem  the  Arabs  burst  into  the  land. 

While  Khaled  and  one  fanatical  Saracen  horde  assaulted 
the  Persian  frontier  on  the  lower  Euphrates,  another,  under 
Abu  Obeida,  attacked  the  eastern  or  desert  front  of  Syria. 
Bostra,  the  first  city  on  the  edge  of  the  waste,  fell  by  treachery, 
a  small  army  under  the  patrician  Sergius  was  defeated,  and 
the  governors  of  Syria  and  Palestine  sent  for  aid  to  the 
emperor.  Hardly  yet  realising  the  danger  of  the  crisis, 
Heraclius  sent  some  reinforcements  under  his  brother 
Theodore  to  join  the  local  troops.  This  army  checked  the 
Moslems  for  some  months;  and  it  was  considered  neces- 
sary by  the  caliph  to  strengthen  the  Arab  host  in  Syria 
by  sending   thither  half  the   force   which   had  invaded  the 

2 1 8  European  History^  476-9 1 8 

Persian  empire,  and  Khaled,  '  the  Sword  of  God,'  the  most 
terrible  and  bloodthirsty  of  all  his  fanatical  chiefs.  In  July 
634,  Theodore  was  badly  defeated  by  the  Saracens  at  Adjnadin 
near  Gabatha,  beyond  the  Jordan.  This  ill-success  roused 
the  emperor :  he  poured  in  further  reinforcements,  and  the 
Battle  of  the  enemy  were  attacked  in  the  late  summer  of  634 
Yermuk,  634.  by  an  army  of  80,000  men.  The  fate  of  Syria 
was  settled  by  the  battle  of  the  Hieromax  (Yermuk),  where  the 
troops  of  the  Empire,  after  a  long  and  bloody  fight,  in  which 
they  at  one  time  forced  the  Arabs  back  to  the  very  gates  of 
their  camp,  were  broken  by  the  fanatical  rush  of  an  enemy 
who  preferred  death  to  defeat.  '  Paradise  is  before  you,' 
cried  Abu  Obeida  to  his  wavering  host,  '  the  devil  and  hell 
fire  behind;'  and  with  their  last  charge  the  Arabs  broke  the 
line  of  the  legions,  and  rolled  the  wearied  troops  in  wild 
disorder  back  over  a  line  of  precipices  and  ravines,  where 
thousands  perished  without  stroke  of  sword,  by  being  cast 
down  the  lofty  rocks. 

The  army  of  the  East  was  almost  exterminated  at  the 
Hieromax,  and  ere  another  force  could  be  collected 
Damascus,  the  greatest  city  of  eastern  Syria,  was  captured 
by  the  enemy,  who  in  spite  of  accepting  its  surrender 
massacred  a  great  part  of  the  population  (635). 

Herachus  now  determined  to  lead  the  Roman  army  in 
person,  but  he  was  no  longer  the  same  man  who  had  kept 
the  field  with  harness  on  his  back  for  six  long  campaigns  in 
the. old  Persian  War.  He  had  now  long  passed  his  fiftieth 
year,  and  was  prematurely  broken  by  the  first  symptoms  of  the 
dropsy  which  afterwards  caused  his  death.  In  his  private  life, 
too,  he  had  had  much  trouble  of  late ;  he  had  made  an  un- 
wise and  unhallowed  second  marriage  with  his  own  sister's 
daughter  Martina,  and  was  harassed  by  disputes  between  her 
and  the  rest  of  his  family,  caused  by  the  fact  that  the  young 
empress  wished  to  induce  her  husband  to  leave  her  own  son 
Heracleonas  joint  heir  to  the  empire  with  his  elder  brother 
Heraclius  Constantinus.     But  such  as  he  was,  Heraclius  once 

Heraclius  and  Mohammed  219 

more  put  on  his  armour,  and  spent  the  years  635-6  in  Syria 
endeavouring  to  keep  back  the  Arabs  with  the  new  levies  that 
he  had  assembled.  His  failure  was  complete ;  city  after  city, 
Emesa,  Hierapolis,  Chalcis,  Beroea,  fell  into  the  hands  of  the 
Moslems,  without  the  emperor  being  able  even  to  risk  a  battle 
in  their  defence.  In  636,  completely  broken  by  disease,  he 
returned  to  Constantinople,  having  first  paid  a  hasty  visit  to 
Jerusalem  to  take  up  and  remove  the  '  True  Cross '  which  he 
had  replaced  there  in  triumph  only  six  years  before. 

After  the  departure  of  Heraclius  things  went  from  bad  to 
worse  ;  Antioch,  the  stronghold  and  capital  of  northern  Syria, 
and  Jerusalem,  the  centre  of  the  defence  of  Palestine,  both 
fell  in  637.  To  receive  the  surrender  of  Jerusalem,  which 
Mohammed  had  pronounced  only  second  to  Mecca  among 
the  holy  places  of  the  world,  the  caliph  Omar  crossed  the 
desert  in  person.  When  the  town  had  yielded,  the  Arab  com- 
pelled the  patriarch  Sophronius  to  lead  him  all  round  the 
shrines  of  the  city ;  as  they  stood  in  the  church  of  the  Holy 
Sepulchre,  the  patriarch,  torn  by  grief,  could  not  refrain  from 
exclaiming  that  now  indeed  was  the  Abomination  Fail  of  jem- 
of  Desolation,  spoken  of  by  Daniel  the  prophet,  in  s^^^"^'  ^37- 
the  Holy  of  Holies.  The  austere  Omar  showed  more  modera- 
tion and  compassion  than  his  generals  had  been  wont  to  dis- 
play, he  left  the  Christians  all  their  holy  places,  and  contented 
himself  with  building  a  great  mosque  on  the  site  of  the  temple 
of  Solomon. 

While  Syria  was  faUing  before  the  Saracens,  the  lot  of 
Persia  had  been  even  worse ;  after  a  great  battle  lasting  for 
three  days  at  Kadesia,  the  Sassanian  empire  had  succumbed 
before  the  Moslem  sword.  Its  capital  Ctesiphon  was  sacked 
and  destroyed,  and  Yezdigerd,  the  last  of  its  kings,  fled  east- 
ward to  raise  his  last  army  on  the  banks  of  Oxus  and  Murghab 
(636).  Arab  hordes  working  up  the  Euphrates  began  to 
assail  the  Roman  province  of  Mesopotamia  from  the  south, 
at  the  same  moment  that  the  conquerors  of  Syria  attacked  it 
from  the  west.      HeracHus  made  one  last  attempt  to  save 

220  European  History,  476-918 

north  Syria  and  Mesopotamia  by  sending  an  army  under  his 
son  and  heir  Heraclius  Constantinus  to  endeavour  to  recover 
Antioch.  After  some  shght  show  of  success  at  first,  the 
young  Caesar  suffered  a  fatal  defeat  in  front  of  Emesa,  and 
retired  from  the  scene,  leaving  Mesopotamia  with  all  its  time- 
honoured  strongholds,  Daras,  Edessa,  and  Amida,  a  prey  to 
the  irresistible  enemy  (638-9).  With  the  fall  of  the  seaport  of 
Caesarea  in  640  the  Romans  lost  their  last  foothold  south  of 
the  Taurus,  and  Asia  Minor  itself  now  became  exposed  to 

Before  he  died  of  the  dropsy,  which  was  the  bane  of  his 
dechning  years,  the  unfortunate  Heraclius  was  destined  to  see 
one  more  disaster  to  his  realm.  In  640  the  Saracens,  now 
headed  by  Amrou,  crossed  the  desert  of  Suez  and  fell  upon 
Egypt.  They  beat  the  Roman  army  in  the  field,  captured 
Memphis  and  Babylon,  and  then  received  the  homage  of  all 
upper  and  central  Egypt.  The  population  was  very  largely 
composed  of  heretical  sects  who  received  the  Moslems  as 
deliverers  from  orthodox  oppression,  and  Mokawkas  the  Coptic 
governor  of  the  province  surrendered  long  ere  the  situation 
had  grown  desperate.  It  was  only  about  Alexandria,  where 
Saracens  ^^^  Greek  orthodox  element  was  strongest,  that 
conquer  any  scrious  resistance  was  made.     But  the  great 

Egypt,  640.  seaport  capital  of  Egypt  held  out  very  staunchly, 
and  was  still  in  Christian  hands  when  Heraclius  died  on  Feb. 
10th,  641,  in  the  sixty-sixth  year  of  his  age. 

Thus  ended  in  misery  and  failure  the  man  who  would  have 
been  hailed  as  the  greatest  of  all  the  warrior  emperors  of 
Rome  if  he  had  died  but  ten  years  sooner.  He  had  saved  the 
empire  at  its  darkest  hour,  and  won  back  all  the  East  by  feats 
of  arms  such  as  have  seldom  been  paralleled  in  all  history. 
But  he  won  it  back  only  to  lose  again  two-thirds  of  the  rescued 
lands  to  a  new  enemy,  and  ungrateful  after-ages  remembered 
him  rather  as  the  loser  of  Jerusalem  and  Antioch  than  as  the 
saviour  of  Constantinople. 


A.D.  603-711 

Obscurity  of  Visigothic  History  —  Sisibut  and  Swinthila  expel  the  East- 
Romans — A  series  of  priest-ridden  Kings — Chindaswinth  restores  the 
royal  power — His  legislation — Recceswinth's  long  reign — Wamba  and  his 
wars — The  rebellion  of  Paulus— Wamba's  weak  and  obscure  successors— 
Approach  of  the  Saracens — Weakness  of  Spain — Roderic  the  Last  of  the 
Goths — All  Spain  subdued  by  the  Saracens. 

Few  periods  of  European  history  are  so  obscure  as  the  last 
hundred  years  of  the  Visigothic  dominion  in  Spain.  The 
original  sources  for  its  annals  are  few  and  meagre,  and  little 
has  been  accomplished  of  late  in  the  way  of  making  the  period 
more  comprehensible.  The  Moorish  conquest  in  7 1 1  seems  to 
have  swept  away  both  books  and  writers,  and  it  was  not  till  many 
years  after  that  disaster  that  the  composition  of  historical  works 
in  Spain  was  resumed ;  the  later  Visigothic  times  are  as  dark 
and  little  known  as  the  beginnings  of  the  English  heptarchy, 
and  Spain  had  no  Bede  and  no  Anglo-Saxo?t  Chronicle  to  throw 
gleams  of  light  across  the  obscurity.  Hence  it  comes  that 
many  of  their  kings  are  mere  names,  and  that  their  acts  and 
policy  are  often  incomprehensible.  The  tale  grows  more  and 
more  puzzling  as  the  seventh  century  draws  on  to  its  close, 
and  by  the  beginning  of  the  eighth  we  have  only  untrustworthy 
legends  to  help  us. 

The  house  of  Leovigild,  after  forty  years  of  success,  ended  dis- 
astrously in  603  by  the  assassination  of  the  young  king  Leova  11. 
His  murderer  was  a  certain  count  Witterich,  a  turbulent  noble 
who  had  joined  in  the  Arian  rising  of  590,  and  had  been  un- 
wisely pardoned  by  Reccared.     The  accession  of  Witterich 


222  European  History,  476- 9 1 8 

marked  a  revulsion  against  the  growth  of  the  kingly  power, 
which  had  been  making  such  strides  under  Leovigild  and 
Reccared,  and  probably  also  a  protest  against  the  ecclesiastical 
policy  of  Reccared,  who,  since  his  conversion,  had  given  the 
witterich,  CathoHc  bishops  such  power  and  authority  in  his 
603-10.  realm.      Witterich  reigned  for  seven  years,  with 

little  credit  to  himself — it  is  only  strange  that  he  guarded  his 
ill-gotten  crown  so  long.  He  had  some  unimportant  struggles 
with  the  Franks  in  Aquitaine  and  the  Byzantine  garrisons  in 
Andalusia,  but  won  no  credit  in  either  quarter.  The  Church 
was  against  him,  his  counts  and  dukes  paid  him  little  heed, 
and  no  one  showed  much  astonishment  or  regret  when  in 
610  he  was  murdered  by  conspirators  at  a  feast,  like  his 
predecessor  the  tyrant  Theudigisel. 

The  king  chosen  by  the  Goths  in  his  place  was  a  certain 
count  Gundimar,  who  appears  to  have  been  the  head  of  the 
orthodox  church  party,  as  the  ecclesiastical  chronicles  are 
loud  in  the  praises  of  his  piety.  Gundimar  determined  to  take 
part  in  the  Frankish  civil  war  when  Theuderich  of  Burgundy 
and  Brunhildis  attacked  Theudebert  of  Austrasia.  He  naturally 
sided  with  the  distant  Austrasian  against  his  nearer  Burgun- 
dian  brother,  with  whom  the  Goths  of  Septimania  had  some 
frontier  disputes.  But  in  the  year  that  the  war  broke  out 
Gundimar  died,  only  twenty-one  months  after  he  had  been 
crowned  (612). 

His  successor  was  king  Sisibut  (612-20),  a  prince  of  some 
mark  and  character,  who  like  his  predecessor  was  a  great 
friend  of  the  church  party  and  a  foe  of  the  unruly  secular 
nobility.  He  was  not  only  a  great  warrior,  but  what  was 
more  strange  in  a  Gothic  prince,  a  learned  student  and  even  a 
writer  of  books.  The  modern  historian  would  give  much  to 
be  able  to  recover  his  lost  Chronicle  of  the  Kings  of  the  Goths \ 
but  the  irony  of  fate  has  decreed  that  of  his  works  only  an 
Sisibut,  ecclesiastical  biography,  The  Life  and  Passion  of 
612-20.  St.  DesideriuSy  and  some  bad  verses,  should  sur- 
vive.    We  learn  from  his  admiring  clerical  friends  that  he 

The  Decline  and  Fall  of  the  Visigoths  223 

was  skilled  in  grammar,  rhetoric,  and  dialectic,  and  that  he 
erected  a  magnificent  cathedral  in  Toledo. 

Bat  Sisibut  was  no  mere  crowned  savant  \  he  took  up  the 
task,  which  had  been  abandoned  since  the  death  of  Reccared, 
of  driving  the  East-Roman  garrisons  out  of  Andalusia,  and 
was  almost  completely  successful.  The  emperor  Heraclius, 
then  in  the  throes  of  his  Persian  war,  could  send  no  help  to 
Spain,  and  one  after  another  all  the  harbours  of  south-eastern 
Spain  from  the  mouth  of  the  Guadalquivir  to  the  mouth  of 
the  Sucre  fell  into  his  hands.  Nothing  remained  to  the  East 
Romans  except  their  most  westerly  possession,  the  extreme 
south-west  angle  of  Portugal,  with  the  fortress  of  Lagos,  and 
the  promontory  of  Cape  St.  Vincent.  After  winning  the 
Andalusian  coast  it  appears  that  Sisibut  built  a  small  fleet  and 
crossed  the  Strait  of  Gibraltar  to  wrest  Ceuta  and  Tangier 
from  the  exarch  of  Africa.  In  615  Heraclius  made  peace 
with  him,  formally  surrendering  all  that  Sisibut  had  succeeded 
in  gaining  from  his  generals.  Sisibut  was  also  successful  in 
taming  the  intractable  Basques ;  following  them  into  their 
mountains  he  compelled  them  to  pay  tribute. 

A  less  happy  record  is  preserved  of  Sisibut  in  the  matter  of 
internal  government.  As  befitted  a  hot  supporter  of  the  in- 
tolerant Spanish  church,  he  gave  himself  up  to  the  prompt- 
ings of  his  bishops,  and  commenced  a  fierce  persecution  of 
the  Jews,  the  first  of  many  tribulations  which  the  unhappy 
Hebrews  were  to  suffer  at  the  hands  of  the  later  Gothic  kings. 

Sisibut  reigned  only  eight  years;  he  had  taken  the  pre- 
caution to  have  his  son  Reccared  11.  elected  king  by  the 
national  council  during  his  own  lifetime,  and  on  his  death 
the  youth  succeeded  to  the  throne  without  molestation.  But 
less  than  a  year  after  Sisibut's  death  Reccared  followed  him  to 
the  grave,  and  the  crown  once  more  passed  into  a  new  house. 

Count  Swinthila,  whom  the  Goths  now  chose  as  king,  was 
a  general  who  had  distinguished  himself  in  the  war  with  the 
Basques,  and  had  a  great  military  reputation,  but,  unlike 
Sisibut,  was  not  a  favourer  of  the  Church  party,  and  had  to  face 

224  European  History,  476-918 

its  intrigues  all  through  the  ten  years  of  his  reign.  He  was 
equally  disliked  by  the  great  nobles,  whose  powers  he  sought 
to  curb  by  asserting  the  rights  of  the  smaller  Gothic  free- 
holders, who  had  for  long  been  lapsing  more  and  more  into 
feudal  dependence  on  their  greater  neighbours.  His  care  for 
their  interests  won  for  him  the  title  of  the  'Father  of  the  Poor,' 
Swinthiia,  ^-i^d  their  loyalty  is  no  doubt  the  explanation  of 
620-31.  the  fact  that  he  was  able  to  hold  the  crown  so 
long  when  both  Church  and  nobles  were  against  him.  Nor 
was  his  reign  entirely  without  military  successes.  He  took 
Lagos  and  the  fort  on  Cape  St.  Vincent,  the  two  last  Byzan- 
tine strongholds  in  Spain,  so  that  the  whole  peninsula  was  at 
last  drawn  under  a  single  ruler.  He  was  equally  successful 
against  a  rebellion  of  the  Basques,  and,  overrunning  their 
mountain  valleys  in  Navarre  and  Biscay,  built  the  fortress  of 
Olite,  beyond  theEbro  and  near  Pampeluna,to  hold  them  down. 
But  Swinthiia  had  too  many  enemies  to  be  allowed  to  keep 
his  crown.  A  certain  count  Sisinand,  a  governor  in  Septi- 
mania,  rose  against  him,  and  called  in  to  his  aid  Dagobert,  the 
king  of  the  Franks.  Gaul  was  now  once  more  united  under 
a  single  monarch,  and  the  long  civil  wars  of  the  descendants 
of  Brunhildis  and  Fredegundis  were  over,  so  that  the  Franks 
were,  after  a  long  interval,  able  to  indulge  in  foreign  invasion. 
Backed  by  troops  lent  him  by  Dagobert,  Sisinand  crossed  the 
Pyrenees,  and  advanced  against  Saragossa,  where  the  king  had 
marched  forward  to  meet  him.  No  battle  took  place,  for  the 
matter  was  settled  by  treachery.  The  great  nobles  and  bishops, 
Rebellion  of  who  had  obcycd  Swinthila's  summons  to  war,  seized 
Sisinand,  631.  \{y[^  jn  his  owu  camp,  threw  him  into  chains,  and 
handed  him  over  to  Sisinand.  The  usurper,  more  merciful 
than  many  Gothic  rebels,  contented  himself  with  casting 
Swinthiia  into  a  monastery,  and  did  not  put  him  to  death. 
Sisinand  had  promised  his  Prankish  friend  to  surrender  to 
him  in  return  for  his  help  the  most  splendid  treasure  in  the 
Gothic  royal  hoard,  a  great  golden  bowl  of  Roman  work- 
manship, weighing  five  hundred  pounds,  a  trophy  of  the  old 

The  Decline  a7id  Fall  of  the  Visigoths  225 

wars  of  the  fifth  century.  He  gave  up  the  vessel  to  Dagobert's 
ambassadors,  but,  when  it  was  seen  departing  from  Spain,  the 
Gothic  counts  swore  that  such  an  ancient  heirloom  of  their 
kings  must  never  leave  the  land,  and  took  it  back  by  force. 
In  its  lieu  Sisinand  sent  to  Dagobert  a  sum  of  200,000  gold 
solidi  (;^i4o,ooo). 

Sisinand  was  a  weak  ruler,  the  tool  and  instrument  of  his 
bishops.  Under  his  impotent  hands  all  the  power  and 
authority  of  the  royal  name  melted  away,  and  the  work  of 
Sisibut  and  Swinthila  was  undone.  The  Church  and  not  he 
ruled  Spain.  When  synods  met,  the  king  was  seen  on  bended 
knee,  and  with  streaming  eyes,  lamenting  his  sins,  and  begging 
the  counsel  of  the  holy  fathers.  He  reigned  only  for  five 
years  (631-36),  and  was  succeeded  by  Chinthila,  another 
chosen  instrument  of  the  hierarchy,  of  whom  we  know  little 
more  than  that  *  he  held  many  synods  with  his  bishops,  and 
strengthened  himself  by  the  help  of  the  true  faith.'  He 
reigned  only  three  years,  but  was  allowed  by  his  Priest-ridden 
clerical  partisans  to  have  his  son  Tulga  crowned  ^^"gs,  631-41. 
as  his  successor  before  he  died.  Tulga,  another  obedient  son 
of  the  Church,  had  only  reigned  two  years  when  he  was  de- 
throned by  a  conspiracy  of  the  great  lay  nobles,  to  whom  the 
domination  of  the  clergy  in  the  State  became  more  and  more 
odious  under  the  twelve  years'  rule  of  three  priest-ridden 
kings.  Tulga  was  sent  to  pursue  the  congenial  path  of  piety 
in  a  monastery,  while  the  National  Assembly,  convened  by 
the  conspirators,  elected  as  king  count  Chindaswinth,  whose 
virtues  were  recognised  by  all,  while  his  great  age — he  was  no 
less  than  seventy-nine — promised  a  free  hand  to  his  turbulent 
subjects  (641). 

But  the  nobles  had  erred  greatly  in  their  estimate  of  Chind- 
asAvinth,  as  grievously  as  did  the  misled  cardinals,  who,  in  a 
later  age,  elected  the  apparently  moribund  Sixtus  v.  to  the 
Papacy.  The  touch  of  the  crown  on  his  brow  seemed  to  give 
back  his  youth  and  vigour  to  the  old  man,  and  the  Goths 
found  that  a  king  of  the  type  of  Leovigild  and  Swinthila,  a 

PERIOD  I.  p 

226  European  History,  476-918 

stern  repressor  of  lawlessness  and  feudal  anarchy,  was  reigning 
over  them.  Chindaswinth  set  himself  at  once  to  revindicate  the 
royal  prerogative,  both  against  the  great  nobles  and  against  the 
Chindaswinth,  ecclesiastical  synods.  His  hand  fell  heavily  upon 
641-52.  the  traitors  who,  twelve  years  before,  had  be- 
trayed Swinthila ;  he  began  to  seek  them  out,  and  to  execute 
them.  At  once  the  majority  of  the  nobles  of  Spain  burst  into 
revolt.  Some  fled  to  Africa,  and  borrowed  aid  from  the 
Byzantine  exarch,  others  to  the  kings  of  the  Franks.  But 
Chindaswinth  beat  down  all  their  risings,  and  quenched  the 
flame  of  insurrection  in  the  blood  of  two  hundred  nobles,  and 
five  hundred  men  of  lesser  rank,  whom  he  handed  over  to  the 
headsman.  '  He  tamed  the  Goths  so  that  they  dared  attempt 
nothing  more  against  him,  as  they  had  so  often  done  with 
their  kings,  for  the  Goths  are  a  hard-necked  folk,  and  need 
a  heavy  yoke  for  their  shoulders.'  When  the  revolt  was 
crushed,  Chindaswinth  compelled  the  bishops  assembled 
in  synod  at  Toledo  to  pronounce  a  solemn  curse  on  all 
rebeUious  nobles — '  tyranni^^  he  called  them — and  to  decree 
the  penalty  of  deprivation  of  orders  and  excommunication  on 
all  members  of  the  clergy  who  should  be  found  consenting  to 
the  plots  of  the  '  tyrants '  (646). 

Chindaswinth's  heavy  hand  won  Spain  seven  years  of  peace 
in  the  latter  end  of  his  reign,  and  he  was  able  to  associate 
with  himself  on  the  throne  his  son  Recceswinth,  without  any 
of  the  Goths  daring  to  murmur.  The  father  and  son  reigned 
together  for  three  years,  Recceswinth  discharging  the  func- 
tions of  king,  while  Chindaswinth  gave  himself  up  to  works  of 
piety.  Their  joint  rule  is  marked  by  one  very  important  in- 
cident, showing  the  completion  of  the  process  of  unification, 
which  had  begun  by  the  conversion  of  Reccared  to  Catholicism 

Laws  of  in  589.  Goth  and  Spaniard  were  now  so  much 
Chindaswinth.  assimilated  to  each  other  that  the  kings  thought 
that  they  might  for  the  future  be  ruled  by  a  single  code  of 
laws.  The  races  were  beginning  to  be  completely  intermixed. 
Spanish  counts  and  dukes  are  as  numerous  in  the  end  of  the 

The  Decline  and  Fall  of  the  Visigoths  227 

period  as  Gothic  bishops  and  abbots.  The  one  race  had  no 
longer  the  monopoly  of  secular  power,  nor  the  other  that  of 
ecclesiastical  promotion.  Chindaswinth  resolved  to  suspend 
the  use  of  the  old  Roman  law  in  his  dominion,  and  to  make 
all  his  subjects  use  Gothic  law,  though  he  introduced  into  the 
latter  a  considerable  Roman  element.  The  advantage  of  the 
new  code  of  Chindaswinth  was  that  the  counts  and  vicarii, 
the  king's  immediate  representatives,  had  for  the  future  full 
jurisdiction  over  the  whole  native  Spanish  element,  including 
the  clergy ;  for  the  Spaniards  were  deprived  of  their  Roman 
law-book,  the  Breviarium  Alarici^  and  of  their  own  courts  and 
judges,  and  were  subjected  for  legal,  no  less  than  for  admini- 
strative or  military  matters,  to  the  Gothic  count.  At  the  same 
time  the  prohibition  against  marriage  between  Goths  and  Pro- 
vincials, which  still  nominally  existed,  though  it  was  frequently 
broken  since  the  time  of  Leovigild,  was  removed,  and  all  the 
king's  subjects  became  equal  in  the  eye  of  the  law. 

Chindaswinth  died  in  652,  at  the  great  age  of  ninety,  un- 
paralleled among  Teutonic  kings  of  his  day.  His  son  and 
colleague,  Recceswinth,  already  well  advanced  down  the  vale 
of  years,  survived  for  twenty  years  more.  He  had  the  longest, 
quietest,  and,  in  a  way,  the  most  prosperous  reign  of  any  of 
the  Visigothic  kings.  Unlike  his  father,  he  was  a  devoted 
supporter  of  the  Church,  and,  by  the  aid  of  the  bishops,  main- 
tained his  rule  until  the  day  of  his  death.  But  he  was  gradu- 
ally letting  slip  once  more  all  the  royal  powers  Recceswinth, 
which  his  father  had  with  such  trouble  regained  652-72. 
and  restored.  As  he  grew  older  the  entire  rule  of  the  State 
dropped  once  more  into  the  hands  of  bishops  and  synods. 
Recceswinth  was  busy  all  his  days  in  building  churches,  and 
making  great  offerings  to  the  saints.  Chance  has  preserved 
to  us  one  huge  gold  crown,  with  a  dedicatory  inscription, 
which  he  presented  to  the  Virgin;  it  now  forms  the  pride 
of  the  Cluny  Museum  at  Paris,  and  is  the  best  monument 
of  the  rude  Teutonic  art  of  the  time,  except,  perhaps,  the 
golden  offerings  of  Agilulf  and  Theodelinda  at  Monza.^ 
^  See  p.  193. 

228  European  History y^y6-gi^ 

Tradition  speaks  much  of  the  spiritual  blessings  that  were 
vouchsafed  him.  He  and  Archbishop  Hildefuns  were 
privileged  to  behold  with  their  own  eyes  a  miraculous  vision 
of  St.  Leocadia,  in  the  cathedral  of  Toledo.  But  meanwhile 
the  kingly  authority  was  once  more  vanishing  away,  and 
Recceswinth,  provided  that  he  at  least  enjoyed  peace  and 
pious  leisure,  seems  to  have  cared  little  for  the  fate  of  his 
successors ;  he  had  himself  no  son  to  whom  he  could  be- 
queath the  throne.  Personally  he  was  popular — 'so  mild  and 
unpretending  that  he  could  hardly  be  told  from  one  of  his 
own  subjects ' — and  he  did  not  reap  the  fruit  of  the  seeds  of 
weakness  that  he  was  sowing.  One  insignificant  rebeUion 
alone  interrupted  the  twenty  peaceful  years  of  his  reign. 
But  meanwhile  the  elements  of  dissolution  were  growing  in 
strength.  The  nobles  were  once  more  reasserting  their  old 
claims  to  feudal  independence,  and  the  clergy  were  growing 
more  and  more  domineering. 

Recceswinth  died  in  672,  leaving  no  heir,  and  there  was 
much  disputing  among  the  nobles  as  to  the  election  of  his 
successor.  Their  choice  fell  at  last  upon  Wamba,  a  man  of 
mature  age  and  high  reputation,  but  he  refused  to  take  up  the 
burden,  in  spite  of  the  acclamations  with  which  his  name  was 
received.  At  last,  we  are  told,  a  certain  duke  drew  his  sword, 
and  threatened  to  slay  him,  as  a  traitor  to  his  nation  and  his 
duty,  if  he  hesitated  any  longer  to  obey  the  will  of  the  assem- 
bly. Wamba  bowed  to  this  form  of  persuasion,  and  accepted 
the  crown. 

We  have  more  knowledge  of  Wamba's  reign  than  of  those 
of  his  predecessors  and  successors,  as  his  biography,  written 
by  bishop  Juhan  of  Toledo,  has  chanced  to  survive.  We 
learn  that  he  was  a  stern  and  hard  master  to  the  Goths,  model- 

Wamba,      li^^g  himself  upon  the  example  of  Chindaswinth, 

672-680.  and  that  his  reign  was  spent  in  a  not  unsuccess- 
ful attempt  to  recover  the  powers  of  the  crown,  which  the 
pious  Recceswinth  had  let  slip.  Rebellions  were  naturally 
rife  when  the  king  began  to  make  his  strong  hand  felt.     The 

The  Decline  and  Fall  of  the  Visigoths  229 

untameable  Basques  took  to  arms,  and,  while  Wamba  was  busy 
in  their  mountains,  a  more  dangerous  rising  took  place  in  Septi- 
mania,  where  a  certain  count  Hilderic  raised  the  standard 
of  revolt.  The  king  sent  against  them  a  large  army,  under 
duke  Paulus,  a  trusted  officer  of  Roman  blood.  But,  instead 
of  attacking  the  rebels,  the  treacherous  Paulus  opened  negotia- 
tions with  them,  debauched  the  chiefs  of  his  own  Rebellion  of 
army,  and  suddenly  proclaimed  himself  king.  Paulus,  673. 
The  challenge  which  he  is  said  to  have  sent  to  Wamba 
deserves,  perhaps,  to  be  recorded  for  its  strange  and  high- 
flown  style.  *In  the  name  of  God,'  wrote  the  usurper, 
'  Flavius  Paulus,  the  mighty  king  of  the  East,  greets  Wamba, 
the  king  of  the  West.  If  thou  hast  traversed  the  rough,  un- 
peopled waste  of  the  mountains ;  if  thou  hast  burst  through 
woods  and  thickets  like  some  strong  lion ;  if  thou  hast  tamed 
the  swiftness  of  the  wild  goat,  and  the  bounding  stag,  and  the 
ravening  boar  and  bear ;  if  thou  hast  cast  out  the  poison  of 
snake  and  adder, — then  make  thyself  known  to  me,  thou  man 
of  arms,  lord  of  the  woods,  and  lover  of  the  rocks,  and  hasten 
to  meet  me,  that  we  may  strive  against  each  other  in  song, 
like  nightingales.  Wherefore,  great  king,  stir  up  thy  heart  to 
strength,  come  down  to  the  passes  of  the  Pyrenees,  and  there 
shalt  thou  find  an  athlete  with  whom  thou  mayest  worthily 

Paulus  was  taken  at  his  word,  the  '  lord  of  the  woods '  flew 
down  in  haste  from  the  Basque  mountains,  and  had  thrown 
himself  upon  the  rebel  army  before  a  single  week  was  out.  He 
forced  the  passes  of  the  Pyrenees,  driving  the  troops  of  Paulus 
before  him,  and  then  threw  himself  upon  Narbonne,  the 
capital  of  Septimania.  The  town  was  stormed  by  main  force, 
after  a  siege  of  only  three  days,  and,  when  it  had  fallen, 
Wamba  recovered  most  of  the  other  towns  between  the 
mountains  and  the  Rhone.  Paulus  took  refuge  in  the 
strong  town  of  Nismes,  and  sent  to  ask  help  of  the  Franks. 
But  the  king  was  too  quick  for  him.  The  Goths  had  grown 
skilled  in  the  art  of  poliorcetics  during  their  long  struggle  to 

230  European  History,  476-918 

expel  the  Byzantines  from  Andalusia,  and,  by  means  of  his 
siege-machines,  Wamba  took  Nismes  on  the  second  day  of  its 
leaguer.  Paulus  and  his  chiefs  then  shut  themselves  up  in 
the  great  Roman  amphitheatre,  which  they  had  turned  into 
a  citadel.  In  a  few  days  they  were  reduced  by  famine  to 
throw  themselves  on  the  king's  mercy.  Wamba  swore  to 
spare  their  lives,  and  Paulus,  with  six-and-twenty  counts  and 
chiefs,  gave  themselves  up  to  his  mercy.  The  king  had  their 
beards  and  hair  plucked  out  by  the  roots,  and  led  them  in 
triumph  to  Toledo,  where  they  were  marched  through  the  town 
in  chains  and  barefoot,  clothed  in  shirts  of  sackcloth,  with 
Paulus  in  front,  wearing  a  leather  crown,  fastened  on  to  his 
bare  scalp  by  a  pitch-plaster.  The  names  of  the  six-and- 
twenty  have  survived.  They  included  one  bishop  (a  Goth),  one 
priest  of  Roman  blood,  and  twenty-four  counts  and  chiefs,  of 
whom  seventeen  have  Gothic  and  seven  Roman  names. 

This  blow  to  the  unruly  Gothic  nobles  secured  Wamba  a 
quiet  reign.  He  sat  on  the  throne  for  seven  years  more  (673- 
680),  in  peace  and  prosperity,  endeavouring  to  palliate  as  best 

Laws  of      he  could  the  diseases   of  the  Visigothic  state. 

Wamba.  Some  of  his  laws  show  clearly  enough  the  dan- 
gers of  the  times.  So  far  had  the  class  of  small  freeholders, 
who  should  have  composed  the  bulk  of  the  royal  host,  now  dis- 
appeared that  Wamba  ordains  that  for  the  future  slaves,  as  well 
as  freemen,  are  to  obey  the  royal  summons  to  war.  He  even 
ordered  that  the  bishops  were  to  head  their  serfs  in  the  field, 
a  command  which  was  deeply  resented  by  the  clergy,  though 
a  few  generations  later  we  find  the  practice  common  enough 
both  in  England,  Gaul,  and  Germany. 

Wamba  lost  his  throne  by  a  curious  chance  or,  perhaps,  by 
a  still  more  curious  plot.  He  fell  ill  in  680,  was  given  over 
by  the  physicians,  and  fell  into  a  long  stupor.  His  attendants, 
in  accordance  with  a  frequent  practice  of  the  day,  clad  him  in 
monkish  robes  and  shore  his  hair  to  the  tonsure,  that  he  might 
die  *  in  religion.'  Then  before  the  breath  was  out  of  his  body 
his  most  trusted  officer,  count  Erwig,  seized  the  royal  hoard 

The  Decline  and  Fall  of  the  Visigoths  231 

and  declared  himself  king.  Erwig  was  a  great-nephew  of 
king  Chindaswinth,  and  looked  upon  himself  as  ^  . 
the  heir  of  his  cousin,  Recceswinth,  Wamba's 
predecessor.  Yet  he  was  not  of  pure  Visigothic  blood ;  his 
father  Artavasdes  was  a  refugee  from  Byzantium,  whom 
Chindaswinth  had  taken  into  favour  and  honoured  with  the 
gift  of  his  niece's  hand. 

To  the  dismay  of  the  palace  the  aged  Wamba  did  not  die  : 
he  recovered  from  his  long  stupor  and  began  to  mend.  But 
the  new  king  and  the  court  clergy  joined  in  assuring  him  that 
— even  though  he  knew  it  not — he  had  become  a  monk, 
and  could  not  resume  his  lay  attire  or  his  royal  authority. 
Apparently  Wamba  was  not  above  the  superstitions  of  his 
day;  he  resigned  himself  to  the  idea,  and  retired  to  the 
monastery  of  Pampliega,  where  he  lived  to  a  great  old  age. 
It  was  afterwards  rumoured,  whether  truly  or  falsely,  that  his 
long  trance  had  not  been  natural,  but  that  Erwig,  seeing  him 
on  the  bed  of  sickness,  had  given  him  a  strong  sleeping- 
potion,  and  deliberately  enfrocked  him  by  fraud  in  order  to 
seize  the  crown. 

Wamba  was  the  last  of  the  Visigoths ;  the  four  kings  who 
followed  him  are  mere  shadows,  crowned  phantoms  of  whom 
we  know  little  or  nothing,  for  with  Wamba's  death  the  history 
of  Spain  sinks  into  the  blackest  obscurity.  Their  The  last 
names  were  Erwig  (680-87),  Egica  (687-701),  Gothic  kings. 
Witiza  (701-10),  and  Roderic  (710-11).  Of  the  last  two  we 
know  little  more  than  the  names,  but  a  few  facts  are  ascer- 
tainable about  Erwig  and  Egica. 

The  former,  though  he  had  nerve  enough  to  seize  the 
throne,  had  not  courage  to  defend  the  royal  rights.  He  let 
the  crown  sink  back  into  the  same  state  of  dependence  on 
the  church  into  which  it  had  fallen  in  the  days  of  Sisinand 
and  Recceswinth.  He  was  ruled  and  managed  by  Julian, 
the  bishop  of  Toledo,  and  appears  to  have  been  far  less  truly 
king  of  Spain  than  was  that  prelate.  At  Julian's  behest  he 
repealed   the   military  laws   of  Wamba,  because  thev  bore 

232  European  History,  476-918 

hardly  Dn  the  church,  and  recommenced  the  cruel  persecution 
of  the  Jews,  which  always  accompanied  the  accession  of  a 
priest-ridden  king  to  the  Spanish  throne. 

Apparently  because  he  was  tormented  by  his  conscience 
on  account  of  his  dealings  with  king  Wamba,  Erwig  chose 
Wamba's  nephew  and  heir  Egica  as  his  successor.  Having 
married  him  to  his  own  daughter  Cixilo,  and  made  him  swear 
to  be  kind  to  his  wife  and  her  brothers,  Erwig  laid  down  his 
crown  and  followed  Wamba  into  a  monastery. 

Egica  did  not  keep  his  vow ;  the  moment  that  the  Gothic 
assembly  had  recognised  him  as  king  he  made  the  bishops 
absolve  him  from  his  oath,  and  then  repudiated  his  wife  and 
seized  the  property  of  his  brothers-in-law,  the  sons  of  Erwig. 
Egica's  reign  was  marked  by  the  last  and  fiercest  persecution 
of  the  Jews,  in  which  the  Visigothic  king  and  clergy  ever 
indulged.  They  voted  at  the  sixteenth  Council  of  Toledo 
(695)  that  all  adult  Jews  should  be  seized  and  sold  as  slaves, 
while  their  children  were  to  be  separated  from  them  and 
given  to  Christian  families  to  rear  in  the  true  faith.  Under 
this  wicked  law  many  Hebrews  conformed,  and  still  more 
fled  over  sea  to  Africa.  The  crime  which  brought  down  this 
doom  upon  them  is  said  to  have  been  a  plot  to  betray  Spain 
to  foreign  enemies.  A  new  power  had  just  arrived  in  the 
neighbourhood  of  the  Visigothic  realm ;  after  fifty  years  of 
Approach  of  fig^^tiug,  the  terrible  and  fanatical  Saracen  had 
the  Saracens,  just  ovcrcomc  the  Byzantine  governors  of  Africa 
and  stormed  Carthage  (695),  the  last  stronghold  of  the  East- 
Romans.  It  was  to  them,  it  would  seem,  that  the  Jews  had 
sent  messages,  to  beg  them  to  cross  the  straits  and  put  an 
end  to  the  persecuting  rule  of  the  Spanish  bishops.  Nothing 
came  of  the  invitation  at  this  time ;  but  the  very  fact  that  it 
was  possible  implied  the  gravest  change  in  the  situation  of 
the  Visigoths.  For  three  generations  they  had  been  lying 
between  two  weak  stationary  and  unenterprising  neighbours, 
the  faction-ridden  Franks  and  the  exarchs  of  Africa.  How 
would  the  decaying  realm  fare  when  attacked  by  a  new  power 
in  the  first  bloom  of  its  fanatical  youth  and  vigour  ? 

The  Decline  and  Fall  of  the  Visigoths  233 

Egica,  however,  was  not  destined  to  see  the  day  of  trial, 
nor  was  his  son  Witiza  (701-710),  of  whom  absolutely  nothing 
is  known,  save  that  he  was  '  popular  with  the  people  but  hated 
by  the  clergy.'  The  details  of  his  evil  doings  are  the  mere 
imaginings  of  the  monkish  writers  of  the  tenth  century.  In 
his  own  time  they  were  not  written  down,  for  within  two 
years  of  his  death  Spain  had  fallen  under  the  power  of  the 
Moor,  and  no  native  chronicler  had  the  heart  to  detail  the 
last  hours  of  the  old  Visigothic  kingdom. 

Witiza  died  young,  leaving  two  sons  who  were  not  old 
enough  to  wear  the  crown.  The  Goths  chose,  therefore,  as 
their  king  a  certain  count  Roderic,  who  is  a  mere  name  to 
us — though  the  later  chroniclers  say,  what  is  likely  enough, 
that  he  was  a  kinsman  of  Chindaswinth  and  Erwig,  and 
therefore  hostile  to  the  house  of  Wamba  and  Egica. 

He  reigned  but  eighteen  months,  for  in  his  time  came  the 
evil  day  of  Spain.  The  Saracen  conquerors  of  Africa  had 
spent  the  last  twenty  years  in  taming  the  Moors  and  Berbers. 
All  the  tribes  had  now  bowed  to  their  yoke  and  accepted 
Islam :  swelled  to  vast  numbers  by  the  new  converts,  and 
yearning  for  fresh  fields  to  conquer,  the  Arab  chiefs  were 
preparing  to  leap  over  the  narrow  strait  of  Gibraltar,  and 
throw  themselves  upon  the  Spanish  peninsula. 

The  romantic  legends  of  a  later  generation  tell  a  lurid 
tale  of  the  wickedness  of  king  Roderic,  how  he  violated  the 
daughter  of  count  Julian,  the  governor  of  Ceuta,  and  how 
the  outraged  father  betrayed  his  fortress,  the  key  of  the 
straits,  to  the  Moors,  and  guided  them  over  to  the  shores  of 
Andalusia.  All  this  is  purely  unhistoric.  There  is  no  reason 
for  believing  that  Roderic  was  better  or  worse  than  his  pre- 
decessors ;  of  his  character  we  know  nothing :  his  very  exist- 
ence is  only  vouched  for  by  a  name  and  date  in  the  list  of 
Gothic  kings,  and  by  a  few  very  rare  coins. 

This  much  we  know,  that  ere  he  had  been  eighteen  months 
on  the  throne  the  Moors  landed  in  force  at  Calpe,  thenceforth 
to  be  known  as  Jebel-Tarik  (Gibraltar),  from  the  name  of 
their  leader.    They  began  to  lay  waste  Andalusia,  and  Roderic 

234  European  History,  ^y6-gi^ 

came  out  against  them  at  the  head  of  the  whole  host  of 
Visigothic  Spain,  which  must  now  have  been  composed — as 
the  laws  of  Wamba  show  us — of  a  few  wealthy  counts  and 
bishops  heading  a  great  multitude  of  their  serfs  and  depen- 
dants. The  levy  of  the  Visigoths  proved  far  less  able  to 
resist  the  Moslems  than  had  been  the  troops  of  Byzantium. 
Battle  of  the  On  the  banks  of  the  Guadelete,  near  Medina 
Guadeiete,  711.  Sidonia,  Tarik  gained  a  decisive  victory.  Roderic 
was  slain  or  drowned  in  the  pursuit,  the  Gothic  army  dis- 
persed, and  without  having  to  fight  any  second  battle  the 
invaders  mastered  Spain.  In  less  than  two  years  (711-13) 
Tarik  and  his  superior  officer  Musa,  the  governor  of  Africa, 
subdued  the  whole  country ;  a  few  places,  such  as  Cordova, 
Merida,  and  Saragossa,  held  out  for  a  short  space^  but  the 
Goths  did  not  choose  a  new  king  or  rally  for  any  general 
effort  of  resistance.  By  713  the  only  corner  of  Spain  which 
had  not  submitted  was  the  mountainous  coast  of  the  Bay  of 
Biscay,  where  the  untameable  Basques  and  the  inhabitants  of 
the  Asturias  maintained  a  precarious  liberty,  preserved  rather 
by  their  obscurity  and  the  ruggedness  of  their  homes  than  by 
the  inability  of  the  Moslems  to  complete  their  conquest. 

So  fell  Visigothic  Spain.  The  reasons  are  not  far  to  seek  : 
the  kings — chosen  from  no  single  royal  stock,  but  creatures 
of  a  chance  election — had  become  powerless,  the  mere  slaves 
of  their  clergy ;  the  great  nobles  were  disloyal  and  turbulent ; 
Causes  of  the  ^^^  Smaller  freeholders  had  disappeared ;  the 
fall  of  the  great  mass  of  serfs  had  no  heart  to  fight  for  their 
Visigoths.  tyrannical  masters.  The  State  combined  the 
weakness  of  a  land  under  ecclesiastical  governance  with  the 
turbulence  of  extreme  feudalism.  It  would  have  fallen  before 
the  first  strong  invader  in  any  case;  if  the  Moor  had  not 
crossed  the  straits,  Spain  would  probably  have  become  an 
appanage  of  the  Frankish  realm  under  the  mighty  Mayors  of 
the  Palace,  or  the  still  mightier  Charles  the  Great. 




Dynastic  troubles  after  the  death  of  Heraclius — Wars  of  Constantinus 
(Constans  ii.)  with  the  Caliphate — His  publication  of  the  'Type' — His 
invasion  of  Italy  and  war  with  the  Lombards— Reign  of  Constantine  V. 
— His  successful  defence  of  Constantinople — Tyranny  of  Justinian  ii. — 
His  deposition — Usurpations  of  Leontius  and  Tiberius — Justinian  restored 
—Anarchy  follows  his  murder—  Ris6  of  Leo  the  Isaurian. 

At  the  moment  of  the  death  of  the  unfortunate  Heraclius 
the  East-Roman  Empire  was  left  in  a  most  disadvantageous 
position  for  resisting  the  vigorous  attack  which  the  Moslems 
were  pressing  against  its  remaining  provinces.  Yielding  to 
the  influence  of  his  ambitious  wife  Martina,  the  old  emperor 
had  left  the  imperial  power  divided  between  Heraclius 
Constantinus,  the  offspring  of  his  first  wife,  and  Martina's 
eldest  son  Heracleonas.  The  elder  of  the  young  emperors 
was  twenty-nine,  the  younger  only  sixteen.  Their  joint  reign 
opened  ill,  for  Heraclius  Constantinus  and  his  step-mother, 
who  acted  in  all  things  as  the  representative  of  her  young 
son,  were  at  open  discord.  But  before  three  months  had 
elapsed  Heraclius  Constantinus  died ;  it  is  pro-  Troubles  at 
bable  that  his  decease  was  due  to  natural  causes,  Constanti- 
but  the  Byzantine  public  believed  otherwise,  "°p^^'^4i- 
and  Martina  was  openly  accused  of  having  poisoned  her  step- 
son. Her  conduct  was  not  such  as  to  render  the  charge 
improbable,  for  she  at  once  proclaimed  her  son  Heracleonas 
sole  emperor,  although  Heraclius  Constantinus  had  left  two 
young  boys  behind  him. 


236  European  History^  476-918 

This  was  more  than  the  Constantinopolitans  would  stand. 
Rioting  at  once  broke  out,  and  the  senate,  which  about  this 
time  assumes  an  independent  attitude,  very  different  from  its 
usual  obedient  impotence,  made  the  most  strongly  worded 
representations  to  Martina  and  her  son,  threatening  the 
worst  consequences  if  the  sons  of  Heraclius  Constantinus 
were  excluded  from  the  succession.  In  terror  of  their  lives 
Martina  and  Heracleonas  bowed  to  the  popular  will,  and 
allowed  the  boy  Constantinus  to  be  crowned  as  the  colleague 
of  his  uncle ;  he  was  no  more  than  eleven  years  old  at  his 

The  joint  rule  of  the  two  lads,  under  the  regency  of 
Martina,  lasted  less  than  a  year.  In  September  642  the 
senate  executed  a  coup  d'etat  \  Martina  and  her  son  were 
seized  and  banished  to  Cherson.  On  the  accusation  that 
they  had  poisoned  Heraclius  Constantinus  they  were  cruelly 
mutilated :  the  tongue  of  the  empress  and  the  nose  of  Hera- 
cleonas were  slit — the  first  instance  of  such  a  treatment  of 


Heraclius  the  Exarch. 


Eudocia  =  HERACLIUS  —  Martina, 

I     A.D.  610-641.      j 


CONSTANTINUS,  A.D.  641-642. 

A.D.  641, 


I  I 

CONSTANTINUS  IV.  (Constans  n.)  Theodosius, 

641-668.  executed  660. 


JUSTINIAN  II.,  =  Theodora  the  Khazar. 
685-695,  and 

Tiberius  Caesar. 

Contest  of  the  Eastern  Empire  and  the  Caliphate     237 

royal  personages,  but  by  no  means  the  last  in   Byzantine 

Constantinus  iv.,  or  as  he  was  more  usually  but  less  accu- 
rately styled  Constans  11.,^  thus  became  the  sole  ruler  of  the 
East  ere  he  had  finished  his  twelfth  year.  The  real  govern- 
ment was,  for  some  time,  carried  on  by  the  senate  constans  11., 
— a  fact  which  vouches  both  for  the  loyalty  of  641-68. 
the  empire  to  the  house  of  Heraclius  and  for  the  great  rise  in 
the  power  of  the  senate  during  the  last  two  or  three  genera- 
tions. In  earlier  days  there  is  no  doubt  that  some  powerful 
general  would  have  seized  the  throne.  But  Constantinus, 
though  his  minority  was  not  untroubled  by  revolts,  was 
permitted  to  grow  up  to  man's  estate,  and  to  assume  in  due 
course  the  personal  control  of  the  empire. 

It  is  astonishing  that  more  evils  did  not  come  upon  the 
State  during  the  boyhood  of  Constantinus.  The  energetic 
caliph  Omar  was  still  urging  on  the  Arabs  to  conquest,  and 
with  no  firm  hand  at  the  helm  it  might  have  been  expected 
that  the  ship  of  the  East-Roman  state  would  have  run  upon 
the  breakers.  But  though  the  Saracens  still  continued  to 
make  way,  the  rate  of  their  progress  was  checked.  Alexandria, 
the  last  Christian  stronghold  in  Egypt,  had  fallen  during  the 
short  reign  of  Heracleonas.  The  resources  of  the  empire 
were  drained  for  an  attempt  to  recover  it,  and  in  the  second 
year  of  Constantinus  a  considerable  expedition,  under  a 
general  named  Manuel,  fell  unexpectedly  upon  the  place  and 
retook  it.  The  Arab  governor  of  Egypt,  the  celebrated 
Amrou,  had  to  besiege  the  place  for  more  than  a  year  before 
it  yielded.  Irritated  by  its  long  resistance  he  cast  down  its 
walls  and  massacred  many  of  its  inhabitants.  It  would  seem 
that  the  Saracen  arms  were  for  the  next  few  years  more 

^  There  is  no  doubt  that  his  real  name  was  Constantinus,  or  in  full 
Flavius  Heraclius  Constantinus.  But  the  Western  historians,  and  some 
of  those  of  the  East,  call  him  Constans.  Probably  this  was  a  mere 
convenience  to  distinguish  him  from  his  father,  Heraclius  Constantinus, 
and  his  son,  Constantine  iv.  (or  v.). 

238  European  History^  /!^y6-gi^ 

engrossed  in  the  final  conquest  of  eastern  Persia  than  in 
assaulting  the  Roman  empire.  It  was  not  till  Yezdigerd,  the 
last  of  the  Sassanian  kings,  had  been  defeated  and  stripped 
of  the  farthest  corners  of  his  dominion  that  the  Arabs  turned 
once  more  to  the  West/ 

The  only  point  of  the  Roman  frontier  which  was  seriously 
attacked  was  Africa.  The  sandy  waste  between  Egypt  and 
Barca  had  less  terrors  for  the  Arab  than  for  any  other  invader. 
Encouraged  by  the  fact  that  Gregory  the  exarch  of  Africa  had 

War  in      rebelled  and  proclaimed  himself  emperor,  so  that 

Africa.  he  could  hopc  for  no  aid  from  Constantinople, 
the  Saracen  general,  Abdallah  Abu-Sahr  crossed  the  Libyan 
desert  and  attacked  Barca.  Gregory  came  out  against  him, 
but  was  defeated  and  slain :  Barca  and  Tripoli  fell  to  the 
invaders,  but  Carthage  and  the  rest  of  Africa  relapsed  into 
allegiance  to  Constantinus,  when  the  usurper  was  slain.  The 
Saracen  frontier  stood  still  at  the  Syrtes  (646-7),  and  it  took 
half  a  century  more  of  fighting  before  the  Romans  were  evicted 
from  the  western  half  of  their  African  possessions. 

Meanwhile  the  caliph  Omar  had  died,  and  his  weaker 
successor,  Othman,  proved  less  dangerous  to  the  Eastern 
empire.  His  generals,  however,  invaded  Cyprus,  and  overran 
the  island  :  unable  to  permanently  hold  it,  because  of  the  pre- 
ponderance of  the  Byzantine  fleet,  they  contented  themselves 
with  exacting  a  tribute,  and  retired  (642).  But  encouraged  by 
the  result  of  this,  their  first  expedition  by  sea,  the  Saracens 
commenced  to  build  a  great  war  fleet,  and  in  a  few  years  they 
were  in  a  condition  to  dispute  the  command  of  the  eastern 
Mediterranean  with  the  Roman  galleys,  who  since  the  de- 
struction of  the  Vandals  in  533  had  known  no  rivals  on  the 

Meanwhile  Constantinus  had  grown  up  to  manhood,  and, 
luckily  for  the  empire,  proved  to  be  the  kind  of  sovereign 

^  The  final  subjection  of  Persia  was  not  complete  till  652,  though  the 
battle  of  Nehavend,  the  last  which  Yezdigerd  risked  in  the  open  field, 
was  in  641. 

Contest  of  the  Eastern  Empire  and  the  Caliphate     239 

required  in  those  days  of  adversity.  He  was  a  stern  warlike 
prince,  possessed  of  no  small  share  of  the  military  ability  of 
his  grandfather  Heraclius.  He  was  always  in  the  field,  headed 
his  own  forces  by  sea  no  less  than  by  land,  and  deserved 
success  by  his  courage  and  perseverance  if  he  did  not  always 
obtain  it.  Occasionally  he  was  harsh  and  cruel,  but  such 
faults  are  more  easily  pardoned  in  an  emperor  who  had  to  face 
such  a  time  of  peril  than  are  cowardice  and  indolence. 

In  652  Constantinus  sent  a  second  expedition  against 
Alexandria  :  it  was  met  at  sea  off  the  Canopic  mouth  of  the 
Nile  by  a  great  Saracen  fleet,  gathered  from  the  ports  of  Syria 
and  Egypt,  and  defeated  with  great  loss.  Three  years  later 
the  enemy  took  the  offensive,  Muavia,  the  governor  of  Syria, 
gathered  a  great  armada  to  attack  the  southern  coast  of  Asia 
Minor,  while  he  himself  marched  by  land  to  force  saracen  vie 
the  passes  of  the  Taurus  and  invade  Cappadocia.  tones,  652. 
Constantinus  put  to  sea  with  every  ship  he  could  launch,  and 
met  the  Saracens  at  Phoenix,  off  the  Lycian  shore.  Here  the 
greatest  naval  battle  which  the  Mediterranean  had  seen  since 
the  day  of  Actium  was  fought :  the  two  fleets  grappled,  and 
the  crews  struggled  desperately  hand  to  hand  for  many  hours. 
Constantinus  was  in  the  thickest  of  the  fighting,  his  imperial 
galley  was  boarded,  and  he  only  escaped  by  throwing  off  his 
purple  mantle,  and  springing  into  another  ship  when  his  own 
was  captured.  At  last  the  Saracens  won  a  decisive  victory, 
and  it  seemed  as  if  they  were  about  to  become  the  masters  of 
the  iEgean  (655).  Even  before  the  battle  Rhodes  had  fallen 
into  their  hands,  and  the  long-prostrate  Colossus  had  been 
sold  for  old  brass  to  a  Jewish  dealer,  and  exported  to  Syria  to 
be  melted  down. 

The  empire,  however,  was  to  be  saved  from  the  humiliation 
of  seeing  a  hostile  fleet  approach  the  Dardanelles  for  yet 
twenty  years.  In  656  the  caliph  Othman  was  murdered,  and 
his  death  was  immediately  followed  by  a  savage  civil  war 
among  the  Saracens.  The  two  claimants  for  the  vacant  dignity 
of '  Successor  of  the  Prophet,'  were  Muavia,  who  held  Syria, 

240  European  History^  476-918 

and  Ali,  Mohammed's  son-in-law,  who  held  Mesopotamia  and 
the  new  Arab  capital  of  Kufa.  Engrossed  in  his  struggle  with 
Ali,  Muavia  was  fain  to  leave  the  Roman  empire  unmolested. 
In  659  he  bought  peace  from  Constantinus  on  the  curious 
terms  that  he  should  pay  for  every  day  that  the  peace  lasted  a 
horse  and  a  slave.  This  treaty  proved  the  salvation  of  the 
empire :  for  the  first  time  for  twenty-seven  years  it  was  free 
from  Saracen  war,  and  Constantinus  could  pause  and  take 
thought  for  the  reorganisation  of  his  much-harassed  dominions. 
In  the  five  years  of  peace  which  were  now  granted  to  him, 
he  contrived  to  make  a  considerable  improvement  in  their 

When  he  took  stock  of  his  realm,  Constantinus  found 
that  in  the  East  five  great  districts  were  irretrievably  lost :  the 
nearer  half  of  the  exarchate  of  Africa,  from  Tripoli  to  the 
state  of  the  Libyan  desert,  Egypt,  Syria,  and  the  greater  part 
Empire,  659.  of  Romau  Armenia  had  fallen  into  the  power  of 
Saracens.  Moreover,  in  Europe,  the  troubled  years  between 
610  and  659  had  brought  about  the  complete  loss  of  the  inland 
parts  of  the  Balkan  peninsula.  The  Slavs,  whose  incursions 
had  already  grown  so  dangerous  in  the  reign  of  Maurice,  had 
now  obtained  complete  possession  of  the  whole  of  Moesia, 
and  of  the  inland  parts  of  Thrace  and  Macedon.  Their  settle- 
ments extended  to  within  a  i^^si  miles  of  the  gates  of 
Adrianople  and  Thessalonica,  both  of  which  cities  they  from 
time  to  time  besieged  without  success.  They  had  even  en- 
croached south  of  Mount  Olympus,  and  thrust  forward  their 
colonies  into  some  parts  of  Greece.  The  imperial  dominions 
were  restricted  to  a  coast-sHp  running  all  round  the  peninsula, 
from  Spalato  in  Dalmatia  to  Odessus  on  the  Black  Sea.  In 
the  West  we  have  seen,  while  detailing  the  history  of  the 
Lombards,  that  the  East-Romans  now  preserved  only  the  ex- 
archate of  Ravenna,  the  duchies  of  Rome  and  Naples,  the 
southern  point  of  Italy,  and  the  islands  of  Sicily  and  Sardinia. 
Recognising  that  he  must  look  to  reorganisation  rather 
than  to  reconquest  for  restoring  the  strength  of  the  empire, 

Contest  of  the  Eastern  Empire  and  the  Caliphate     241 

Constantinus  devoted  himself  to  securing  his  borders.  The 
moment  that  the  civil  war  of  the  Arabs  broke  out,  and  left 
him  free  to  move  elsewhere,  he  marched  against  the  Slavs  of 
the  Balkans,  defeated  them,  and  reduced  them  to  pay  tribute. 
It  was  hopeless  to  dream  of  driving  them  back  across  the 
Danube,  and  the  emperor  was  contented  to  accept  the  exist- 
ing state  of  things,  and  to  secure  the  coast-land  of  Thrace 
and  Macedonia  from  further  molestation,  by  imposing  a  line 
of  demarcation  between  the  Slavonic  tribes  and  the  much- 
reduced  provinces  (657-8). 

The  emperor's  attention  was  now  drawn  to  Africa  and 
Italy.  His  presence  was  needed  there  no  less  than  in  the 
Balkan  peninsula,  if  the  Lombard  and  the  Saracen  were  to  be 
finally  checked  from  advancing.  In  662  he  sailed  for  the 
West,  and  was  busy  there  for  the  next  six  years,  right  down  to 
the  moment  of  his  death.  Constantinus  hated  the  capital :  he 
was  sufficiently  autocratic  in  his  notions  to  dislike  the  control 
that  the  senate  had  been  wont  to  exercise  over  him  in  earlier 
years,  and  he  cordially  detested  the  mob  of  Constantinople. 
He  had  fallen  out  with  them  on  the  same  grounds  that  had 
once  proved  fatal  to  the  popularity  of  Zeno.  The  city  was 
torn  with  the  religious  feuds  between  the  Orthodox  and  the 
Monothelites,  and  the  emperor,  to  calm  the  storm,  had  issued 
an  edict  of  comprehension  called  '  the  Type,'  in  The  'Type' 
which  he  forbade  all  mention  of  either  the  single  of  Constans. 
or  the  double  will  as  residing  in  the  person  of  Our  Lord. 
Without  satisfying  the  heretics,  the  Type  succeeded  in  irri- 
tating the  Orthodox  to  great  fury :  they  persistently  accused 
Constantinus  of  being  a  Monothelite  himself,  and  made  his 
life  miserable  by  their  clamour.  There  was  yet  a  third  reason 
for  his  quitting  Byzantium.  In  660  he  had  conceived  sus- 
picions, whether  true  or  false  we  know  not,  that  his  brother 
Theodosius  was  plotting  against  him.  He  promptly  condemned 
the  young  prince  to  death,  but  after  the  execution  his  mind 
had  no  rest :  we  are  told  that  his  dreams  were  always  haunted 
by  the  spectre  of  his  brother,  and  that  the  palace  where  the 

'^ERIOD  I.  .  Q 

242  Etiropean  History,  476-918 

deed  was  done  grew  insupportably  hateful  to  him.  If  these 
tales  be  true,  he  left  Constantinople  to  seek  ease  of  spirit,  no 
less  than  to  restore  the  failing  powers  of  the  empire  in  the  West. 
It  was  probably  in  the  period  657-662,  before  his  departure 
from  the  capital,  that  Constantinus  recast  the  provincial  ad- 
ministration of  the  empire  in  accordance  with  the  needs  of  the 
times.  It  seems  that  the  institution  of  the  '  Themes,'  or  new 
provinces,  must  date  from  this,  the  only  space  of  rest  and  re- 
arrangement to  be  found  in  a  long  age  of  wars.  The  old 
provinces,  as  arranged  by  Diocletian,  and  somewhat  modified 
by  Justinian,  had  been  small,  and  in  each  of  them  civil  and 
military  powers  were  kept  separate,  the  local  garrison  not  being 
under  the  control  of  the  local  administrator.  The  needs  of 
the  long  Persian  and  Saracen  wars  had  led  to  the  practical  super- 
session of  the  civil  governors  by  the  military  commanders,  for 
it  was  absolutely  necessary  that  the  men  trusted  with  the  pre- 
servation of  the  empire  should  be  able  to  control  its  local 
administration  and  finance.  The  new  provinces  were  few  and 
Creation  of  large,  and  ruled  by  governors,  who  had  civil  as 
the  Themes,  ^ell  as  miUtary  authority.  They  were  called 
*  themes,'  after  the  name  of  the  military  divisions  which 
occupied  them,  a  *  theme '  being  originally  a  force  of  some 
4000  regular  cavalry  detailed  for  the  protection  of  a  district. 
The  names  of  the  original  Asiatic  themes  easily  explain  them- 
selves, 'Anatolikon'  and  'Armeniakon'  the  two  largest,  were  the 
regions  garrisoned  by  the  '  army  of  the  East '  and  the  '  army 
of  Armenia.'  *  Thrakesion,'  farther  west,  shows  that  the 
original  *  army  of  Thrace '  had  been  brought  over  into  Asia  to 
give  aid  against  the  Saracen.  '  Bucellarion  '  was  named  after 
the  Bucellariiji  a  corps  originally  formed  of  Teutonic  auxiliaries. 
The  theme  called  Obsequium  (Opsikion)  was  held  by  the 
Imperial  Guard.  Only  the  Cibyrhaeote  theme,  along  the 
southern  coast  of  Asia  Minor,  was  named  from  a  town,  and 
not  from  the  troops  who  garrisoned  it.  In  the  West,  there 
seem  to  have  been  originally  three  themes  in  the   Balkan 

^  See  page  131  for  a  Visigothic  use  of  the  word  Bucellarii. 

Contest  of  the  Eastern  Empire  and  the  Caliphate     243 

peninsula,  Thrace,  Illyricum,  and  Hellas,  and  three  beyond 
it,  Ravenna,  Sicily,  and  Africa.  Each  theme  was  governed  by 
a  strategos,  whose  military  title  shows  his  military  character, 
and  was  garrisoned  by  its  own  local  force  of  regular  troops, 
the  core  of  which  was  in  each  case  a  division  of  4000 
heavy  cavalry.  The  full  force  of  the  twelve  themes  would  give 
some  48,000  horsemen  for  the  field,  in  addition  to  the  less 
important  infantry,  the  local  militia  used  for  holding  fortresses, 
and  the  irregular  hired  bands  of  barbarian  auxiliaries  of  many 
different  races. 

Constantinus  was  the  only  Eastern  emperor  who  ever  paid 
a  large  and  even  preponderant  share  of  attention  to  his 
Western  dominions.  The  long  stay  of  six  years  which  he 
made  in  Italy  and  Sicily  caused  his  Eastern  subjects  to  sup- 
pose that  he  had  designs  of  restoring  Rome  to  the  position  of 
capital  of  the  empire,  or  even,  perhaps,  of  raising  Syracuse 
to  that  distinction.  Such  a  project  seems  so  inconvenient 
from  geographical  reasons,  that  we  can  hardly  credit  it  j  prob- 
ably Constantinus'  personal  disHke  for  Constantinople,  while 

244  European  History^  476-918 

sufficing  to  keep  him  away  from  it,  did  not  make  him  scheme 
to  transfer  the  seat  of  empire  elsewhere. 

There  is  no  doubt,  however,  that  Constantinus  was  deter- 
mined to  reassert  the  supremacy  of  the  empire  in  Italy  against 
the  Lombards,  and  also  to  take  care  that  the  exarchs  and  the 
popes  should  not  grow  too  strong  and  independent.  Even 
before  he  sailed  for  Italy  his  jealousy  of  the  power  of  the 
The  fate  of  papacy  had  been  shown  by  his  dealings  with  Pope 
Pope  Martin.  Martin  I.  That  prelate  had  dared  to  hold  a 
synod  at  Rome,  in  which  he  condemned  the  '  Type '  or  Edict 
of  Comprehension  issued  by  the  emperor  (649).  Constantinus 
never  pardoned  this :  he  bided  his  time,  directed  the  exarch 
to  seize  the  person  of  Martin  at  a  convenient  opportunity,  and 
had  him  shipped  off  to  Constantinople.  There  he  was  tried 
for  contumacy,  thrown  into  chains,  and  banished  to  Cherson, 
in  the  Crimea,  where  he  died  in  exile  (655). 

Constantinus  left  the  Bosphorus  in  662  with  a  large  army, 
and  sailed  for  Taranto.  There  he  landed,  and  at  once  fell 
upon  the  duchy  of  Benevento,  the  southernmost  of  the  Lom- 
bard States  in  Italy.  The  time  of  his  attack  happened  to  be 
unfortunate,  for  Grimoald,  duke  of  Benevento,  had  seized  the 
Lombard  crown,  and  his  son  Romuald  was  ruling  the  duchy 
under  him.  P'or  once  in  a  way,  therefore,  Pavia  and  Benevento 
Campaign  in  wcrc  United  and  ready  to  act  together.     The  Lom- 

itaiy,  663.  bard  historian,  Paulus  Diaconus,  has  preserved  the 
details  of  the  campaign  of  Constantinus — whom  he  usually 
styles  Constans,  as  do  so  many  other  writers.  The  emperor 
captured,  one  after  another,  all  the  Lombard  cities  of  south 
Italy,  including  Luceria,  the  chief  town  of  Apulia.  He  drove 
Romuald  into  Benevento,  and  held  him  closely  besieged 
there,  till  he  gave  up  his  sister  Gisa  as  a  hostage,  and  promised 
to  pay  tribute.  He  would  not  have  granted  such  easy  terms, 
but  for  the  fact  that  he  had  learnt  that  king  Grimoald,  with 
the  whole  force  of  Lombardy,  was  marching  against  him. 

Departing  from  Benevento,  Constantinus  moved  on  Rome, 
leaving  a  part  of  his  army  under  a  Persian  exile  named  Sapor 

Contest  of  the  Eastern  Empire  and  the  Caliphate     245 

to  watch  the  Lombards.  This  division  was  cut  to  pieces  at 
Forino,  and  after  he  had  received  the  news,  the  emperor  seems 
to  have  given  up  his  idea  of  re-conquering  central  Italy.  He 
contented  himself  with  visiting  Rome  and  receiving  the  homage 
of  pope  Vitalian,  who  met  him  at  the  sixth  milestone,  at  the 
head  of  the  whole  Roman  people,  and  escorted  him  into  the 
city.  But  Rome  took  little  profit  from  the  advent  of  an 
emperor,  a  sight  it  had  not  seen  for  two  hundred  years.  Con- 
stantinus  plundered  it  of  many  ornaments,  and  in  particular 
stripped  the  Pantheon  of  its  tiles  of  gilded  bronze  and  sent 
them  to  Constantinople  (663). 

After  staying  only  twelve  days  in  the  ancient  capital,  the 
emperor  turned  on  his  heel,  and  instead  of  proceeding  against 
the  northern  Lombards,  led  his  army  through  Naples  into 
Lucania  and  Bruttium  as  far  as  Reggio.  King  Grimoald  and 
his  son  do  not  seem  to  have  molested  him  in  this  long  march. 
Constantinus  then  crossed  the  straits  of  Messina  into  Sicily, 
and  established  himself  at  Syracuse,  which  he  constansin 
made  his  residence  for  more  than  four  years  siciiy,  664-8. 
[664-8].  His  attention  was  engrossed  by  the  forward  move- 
ment of  the  Saracens  in  Africa.  Muavia,  having  secured  the 
sole  caliphate  by  the  death  of  his  rival  Ali,  had  at  last  recom- 
menced his  attacks  on  the  empire  in  663.  His  troops  pushed 
forward  in  Africa  and  seized  Carthage,  from  which,  however, 
Constantinus  succeeded  in  driving  them  out,  and  once  more 
pushed  them  back  to  Tripoli.  It  must  have  been  in  this 
African  war  that  he  spent  the  treasures  which  he  is  said  to 
have  wrung  out  of  the  people  of  Sicily,  Sardinia,  and  south 
Italy  by  *  exaction  such  as  had  never  been  heard  of  before,' 
even  tearing  the  sacramental  plate  from  the  churches,  and 
selling  as  slaves  those  who  refused  to  pay.  These  harsh  pro- 
ceedings did  as  much  to  weaken  the  power  of  the  empire  in 
the  West  as  the  military  successes  of  Constantinus  did  to 
strengthen  it. 

It  was  at  Syracuse  that  Constantinus  met  his  end.     While 
he  was  bathing  in  the  baths  that  were  called  Daphne,  his 

246  European  History^  476-918 

attendant  Andreas  smote  him  on  the  head  with  his  marble 
soap-box,  so  that  the  skull  was  broken,  and  then  fled  away. 

Murder  of  The  blow  was  fatal,  and  with  this  strange  death 
constans,  668.  perished  that  plan  of  restoring  the  empire  in  the 
West  which  had  been  the  favourite  scheme  of  Constantinus. 
His  murder  was  probably  the  result  of  a  conspiracy,  for  when 
it  was  known,  an  Armenian  officer  named  Mezecius  proclaimed 
himself  emperor  in  Sicily,  and  reigned  there  for  a  few  months. 

For  the  last  five  years  of  Constantinus'  long  absence  in 
the  West  there  had  been  grievous  trouble  with  the  Saracens  in 
Asia  Minor,  against  which  the  caliph  Muavia  had  launched  his 
hosts  for  five  successive  summers.  The  raids  of  his  generals 
reached  as  far  as  Amorium  in  Phrygia,  which  was  stormed  by 
the  Arabs,  and  promptly  retaken  by  the  Romans  in  668.  The 
nominal  control  of  affairs  in  Asia  had  been  left  to  the  em- 
peror's eldest  son  Constantine,  when  his  father  sailed  to  the 
constantine  West.  On  the  news  of  the  murder  at  Syracuse  and 
Pogonatus,  the  Usurpation  of  Mezecius,  Constantine,  now 
^'  aged  eighteen,  sailed  in  person  to  Sicily,  put  down 

and  executed  the  usurper,  and  then  promptly  returned  to 
Constantinople.  He  had  been  beardless  when  he  set  out, 
but  returned  next  year  with  his  face  covered  with  hair,  where- 
fore the  people  of  the  capital  gave  him  the  nickname  of 
'Pogonatus,'  the  bearded,  by  which  he  is  generally  known. 
Curiously  enough  the  name  would  have  been  far  better  applied 
to  his  father  whose  beard  was  enormous,  while  that  of  Con- 
stantine v.  did  not  exceed  a  very  moderate  limit. 

Constantine  Pogonatus  was  his  father's  true  son,  a  hard- 
working, hard-fighting,  and  somewhat  high-handed  Caesar,  who 
kept  the  empire  well  together,  and  spent  all  his  energy  in 
holding  the  Saracens  in  check,  a  task  in  which  he  won  great 
success.  He  reigned  for  seventeen  years  (668-85),  of  which 
the  first  ten  were  a  time  of  unbroken  war  with  the  Cali- 
phate. The  first  beginning  of  this  struggle  was  not  very 
favourable  for  the  empire;  in  669-70  the  generals  of  Muavia 
pushed  their  way  as  far  as  the  sea  of  Marmora,  and  in  672  the 

Contest  of  the  Eastern  Empire  and  the  Caliphate    247 

Caliph  thought  success  so  nearly  in  his  grasp  that  he  prepared 
for  a  formal  siege  of  Constantinople,  the  second  that  it  had 
undergone  in  the  century.  Using  the  harbour  of  Cyzicus  as 
their  base,  the  Saracens,  under  a  general  named  Abderrha- 
man,  and  the  Caliph's  son  Yezid,  beleaguered  the  city  for  six 
months  (April-September,  673).  They  were  finally  forced  to 
retire  after  a  naval  engagement  in  which  the  Imperial  galleys 
had  the  better,  largely  owing,  it  is  said,  to  the  newly  invented 
'  Greek  fire,'  by  which  they  burnt  many  of  the  Moslem  ships. 
When  forced  away  from  the  Bosphorus,  the  Saracens  fell  back 
on  Cyzicus,  which  they  succeeded  in  holding  for  no  less  than 
four  years,  making  occasional  sallies  from  it  towards  Con- 
stantinople, of  which  every  single  one  was  repelled  with  loss 
by  the  emperor.  At  last  the  Arabs,  after  losing  constantinev. 
their  general,  and  seeing  Abu  Eyub,  one  of  the  saves  Con- 
last  surviving  companions  of  Mohammed,  perish  ^*^"*^"°p  ^• 
before  the  walls,  raised  the  siege.  Their  fleet  was  destroyed 
by  a  storm  off  the  Lycian  Coast :  their  land-army  was  attacked 
on  its  retreat  by  the  East  Romans,  and  defeated  with  a  loss 
of  30,000  men. 

So  great  was  the  blow  inflicted  on  the  Caliph  by  the  entire 
failure  of  his  army  before  Constantinople,  that  he  was  glad 
to  conclude  an  ignominious  peace  with  the  emperor,  by  which 
he  engaged  to  pay  3000  pounds  of  gold  to  Constantine,  and  to 
send  him  fifty  Arab  horses  for  every  year  that  the  treaty 
lasted  (678). 

The  fidelity  of  the  East  Romans  to  the  house  of  Heraclius 
was  thus  justified  by  the  victory  of  Constantine  ;  it  is  a  pity 
that  only  a  very  meagre  account  of  his  campaign  has  come 
down  to  us,  owing  to  the  dearth  of  chroniclers  in  the  seventh 
century.  We  know,  however,  that  the  fame  of  his  triumph 
went  all  over  Europe,  and  that  ambassadors  came  from  the 
Avars,  the  Lombards,  and  even  the  distant  Franks  to  con- 
gratulate him  on  beating  off  an  attack  which  had  threatened 
serious  consequences  to  the  whole  of  Christendom. 

For  the  remainder   of  his    reign   Constantine   enjoyed  a 

248  European  History,  476-918 

well-earned  peace,  disturbed  only  by  some  slight  bickering 
with  a  new  enemy,  the  Bulgarians.  This  Ugrian  tribe,  who 
The  had  dwelt  for  the  last  two  centuries  beyond  the 
Bulgarians.  Danube,  crossed  the  river  in  the  end  of  Constan- 
tine's  reign,  and  threw  themselves  upon  the  Slavonic  tribes 
who  held  Moesia.  They  subdued  the  Slavs  without  much  diffi- 
culty, and  defeated  a  Roman  army  which  Constantine  led  by 
sea  to  the  mouth  of  the  Danube.  Recognising  that  it  was 
impossible  to  reconquer  the  long-lost  Moesia,  the  emperor 
made  peace  with  Isperich,  the  Bulgarian  king,  and  allowed 
him  to  settle  without  further  opposition  in  the  land  between 
the  Danube  and  the  Balkans,  where  the  Slavs  had  hitherto 
held  possession  (679).  A  new  Bulgarian  nation  was  gradually 
formed  by  the  intermixture  of  the  conquering  tribe  and  their 
subjects  :  when  formed,  it  displayed  a  Slavonic  rather  than  a 
Ugrian  type,  and  spoke  a  Slavonic  not  a  Ugrian  tongue. 

The  later  years  of  Constantine  v.  were  better  known  to 
contemporaries  as  the  time  of  the  holding  of  the  council 
of  Constantinople,  than  as  the  time  of  the  foundation  of  the 
new  Bulgarian  kingdom.  To  settle  the  dispute  on  the 
divine  and  human  wills  of  Christ,  the  emperor  summoned  an 
oecumenical  synod,  at  which  the  Western  churches  were  well 
represented.  It  finally  condemned  the  Monothelite  heresy, 
which  for  the  future  ceased  to  be  the  great  question  debated 
between  the  churches  (680-1).  But  a  new  controversy,  that 
on  Iconoclasm,  was  ere  long  to  break  out. 

To  the  misfortune  of  the  empire  the  able  and  hard-working 
Constantine  died  in  685,  at  the  comparatively  early  age  of 
thirty-six.  We  hear  httle  that  is  unfavourable  to  him  from 
any  chronicler :  his  sole  crime  seems  to  have  been  the  cruel 
act  of  slitting  the  noses  of  his  two  brothers  Heraclius  and 
Tiberius  in  680,  to  disqualify  them  from  holding  imperial 
power.  They  had  hitherto  been  nominally  the  colleagues  of 
Character  of  Constantine,  and  were  honoured  with  the  title  of 
Constantine  V.  Caesars,  but  in  the  interests  of  his  own  son 
Justinian,  now  a  growing  boy,  the  emperor  determined  to  make 

Contest  of  the  Eastern  Empire  and  the  Caliphate     249 

it  impossible  for  them  to  aspire  to  the  supreme  power.  It 
appears  to  have  been  a  cruel  and  unjustifiable  act,  and  unless 
the  Caesars  had  given  provocation,  a  fact  of  which  we  have 
no  hint  in  any  chronicler,  it  was  a  grievous  blot  on  the  other- 
wise excellent  character  of  Constantine  v. 

The  young  Justinian,  second  of  that  name,  mounted  his 
father's  throne  in  685,  when  only  in  his  seventeenth  year.  The 
accession  of  this  prince  was  a  fearful  misfortune  for  the 
empire.  He  possessed  the  qualities  of  his  grandfather  Con- 
stantinus  in  an  exaggerated  form,  being  arbitrary,  cruel,  reck- 
less, and  high-handed,  yet  so  brave  and  capable  that  his 
throne  was  not  easy  to  shake.  He  started  on  his  career  too 
young,  and  might  have  come  to  better  things  if  his  father 
had  lived  for  another  ten  years;  but,  abandoned  justinian  11., 
to  his  own  devices  ere  he  was  well  out  of  his  685-95. 
boyhood,  he  developed  into  a  bloodthirsty  tyrant.  The  first 
few  years  of  his  reign,  ere  he  had  felt  his  feet  and  fully 
reaHsed  his  own  desires,  were  comparatively  uneventful.  The 
Saracens  were  occupied  in  civil  wars  since  the  death  of 
Muavia,  and  gave  no  trouble :  the  caliph  Abd-el-Melik  was 
only  too  glad  to  renew  with  Justinian  the  treaty  that  his  pre- 
decessor had  made  with  Constantine  v.  Unmolested  by  the 
Saracens,  Justinian  sent  armies  into  Iberia  and  Albania,  the 
Christian  kingdoms  under  the  Caucasus,  and  compelled  them 
to  pay  him  tribute.  Soon  after  he  undertook  in  person  a 
great  expedition  against  the  Bulgarians,  designing  to  push 
the  Roman  boundary  once  more  to  the  Danube.  He  was 
very  successful,  beating  the  enemy  in  the  field,  and  bringing 
back  more  than  30,000  captives,  from  whom  he  organised  an 
auxiliary  force  for  service  in  Asia. 

Justinian's  triumph  over  the  Bulgarians  emboldened  him 
to  undertake  the  greater  scheme  of  winning  back  Syria  from 
the  Saracens.  In  693  he  picked  a  quarrel  with  the  Caliph  on 
the  most  frivolous  grounds :  when  the  annual  payment  due 
under  the  treaty  of  686  was  tendered  to  him,  he  refused  to 
receive  the  money,  because  the  coins  were  not  the  old  Roman 

250  European  History,  4y6-<^i^ 

solidi^  which  had  hitherto  circulated  in  Syria  and  Egypt,  and 
still  formed  the  bulk  of  the  Saracen  currency,  but  new 
Arab  *  dirhems '  with  Abd-el-Melik's  name  upon  them,  which 
the  caliph  had  lately  begun  to  strike.  But  any  pretext  was 
good  enough  for  Justinian  :  he  declared  war  with  a  light 
Justinian's  heart,  and  led  his  armies  in  person  across  the 
Saracen  Taurus  iuto  CiHcia.  At  Sebastopolis  near  Tarsus 
war,  693.  j^g  suffered  a  fearful  defeat,  mainly  caused  by  the 
desertion  to  the  Saracens  of  the  unwilling  recruits  whom  he 
had  enlisted  from  among  the  captives  of  the  Bulgarian  War. 
When  he  had  rallied  his  army  Justinian  was  cruel  and 
illogical  enough  to  order  those  of  the  corps  who  had  7iot 
deserted  to  be  put  to  death — lest  they  might  follow  their 
comrades'  example  in  the  next  battle  (693).  In  the  next  year 
the  emperor  lost  Roman  Armenia  by  the  revolt  of  its 
Governor,  a  native  Armenian  named  Sumpad,  who  deserted 
to  the  Saracens.  Other  disasters  followed,  and  the  Arabs 
harried  the  '  Anatolic  '  and  *  Armeniac '  themes. 

Meanwhile  the  young  emperorhad  been  makinghimself  most 
unpopular  at  home  by  the  exactions  necessary  for  the  support 
of  his  unlucky  war,  and  still  more  by  persisting  in  building 
expensive  and  unnecessary  palaces  in  the  capital,  while  the 
war  still  raged.  His  two  finance  ministers,  Theodotus,  a 
lapsed  abbot  who  had  quitted  his  monastery,  and  the  eunuch 
Stephanus,  are  reported  to  have  gone  to  the  extremes  of 
cruelty  in  dealing  with  the  citizens.  It  is  said  that  Theodotus 
was  wont  to  torture  defaulting  tax-payers  by  hanging  them 
over  smoky  fires  and  half  stifling  them.  Stephanus  preferred 
the  rod  :  it  is  said  that  he  even  presumed  on  one  occasion — 
during  Justinian's  absence — to  seize  and  beat  the  empress- 
dowager  Anastasia.  The  emperor  only  punished  him  by 
ordering  him  to  complete,  at  his  own  expense,  a  building  on 
which  he  was  then  engaged. 

It  was  not  only  by  heaping  taxes  on  his  subjects  that  Jus- 
tinian made  himself  unpopular.  He  had  a  mania  for  seizing 
and  imprisoning  on  suspicion  senators  and  other  important 

Contest  of  the  Eastern  Empire  and  the  Caliphate     251 

personages,  and  he  was  so  merciless  in  dealing  with  military 
officers  who  met  with  any  defeat,  that  to  accept  a  command 
under  him  was  considered  the  shortest  way  to  the  dungeon  or 
the  block.  Meanwhile  his  ill-luck  in  the  Saracen  war  made 
him  as  much  detested  by  the  soldiery  as  he  was  dreaded  by 
their  officers.  In  695  a  distinguished  general  named  Leontius, 
the  conqueror  of  Iberia  and  Albania,^  was  ordered  by  Jus- 
tinian to  take  command  of  the  theme  of  Hellas.  Regarding 
this  charge  as  a  mere  preliminary  to  disgrace  and  execution, 
Leontius  in  sheer  desperation  planned  a  coup  d'etat.  At  the 
head  of  a  few  dozen  followers  he  burst  open  the  prisons,  and 
made  a  dash  at  the  palace.  Justinian  was  taken  Fail  of  justi- 
completely  by  surprise ;  he  fell  into  the  hands  of  "^*°'  ^5- 
Leontius,  who  sUt  his  nose,  and  banished  him  to  the  distant 
fortress  of  Cherson,  in  the  Crimea.  His  two  detested  minis- 
ters, Theodotus  and  Stephanus,  were  torn  to  pieces  and  burnt 
by  the  populace. 

With  the  fall  of  Justinian  11.  began  twenty-two  years  of 
anarchy  and  disaster  for  the  empire.  Hitherto  Constantinople 
had  been  singularly  fortunate  in  escaping  the  consequences  of 
military  revolts  and  changes  of  dynasty.  With  the  single  ex- 
ception of  the  usurpation  of  the  tyrant  Phocas,  and  his  de- 
position by  Heraclius,  there  had  been  no  cases  of  the  transfer  of 
the  imperial  crown  by  violence  for  more  than  three  hundred 
years.  All  the  earlier  emperors  of  the  East  had  been  either 
designated  by  their  predecessors  or  peaceably  elected  by  the 
senate  and  army.  It  was  now  to  be  seen  how  fatal  was  the 
breaking-up  of  the  rule  of  orderly  succession  :  in  the  next 
twenty-two  years  there  were  no  less  than  five  revolutions  at 
home,  and  abroad  many  grave  disasters  cut  the  empire  short. 

The  three-years'  rule  of  Leontius  was  mainly  distinguished 
by  the  final  loss  of  Carthage  and  Africa.  Already  in  Justinian's 
time  the  province  had  been  invaded  and  partially  overrun  by 
the  generals  of  the  Caliph.  In  697  Carthage  fell :  it  was  re- 
covered for  a  moment  by  an  expedition  sent  out  by  Leontius, 
1  See  p.  249. 

252  European  History^  476-918 

but  in  698  it  fell  permanently  into  the  hands  of  the  Saracens. 
The  Roman  generals,  however,  escaped  by  sea  with  the 
main   body   of  their  army.      Fearing   to   face  the  wrath   of 

Carthage      Leontius  with  such  a  tale  of  disaster,  the  returning 

lost,  698.  officers  conspired  against  him.  They  sailed  to  the 
Bosphorus,  where  their  arrival  was  quite  unexpected,  caught 
the  emperor,  slit  his  nose,  and  threw  him  into  a  monastery. 
In  his  stead  they  proclaimed  the  admiral  Tiberius  Apsimarus 
as  sovereign  (698). 

Tiberius  11.,  a  very  capable  man,  clung  to  the  throne  for 
seven  years.  He  was  fortunate  in  his  war  with  the  Saracens  : 
his  armies  defeated  those  of  the  Caliph,  recovered  Cilicia,  and 
even  occupied  Antiocb.  But  this  success  abroad  did  not  save 
Tiberius  from  the  wonted  end  of  usurpers.  He  was  overthrown 
by  the  banished  and  mutilated  Justinian  11.,  who  now  reappears 
upon  the  stage  in  a  most  startling  fashion. 

Justinian  had  been  consigned  by  Leontius  to  the  remote 
fortress  of  Cherson — the  modern  Sebastopol — on  the  north 
shore  of  the  Black  Sea.  But  being  carelessly  guarded,  he 
succeeded  in  escaping,  and  reaching  the  court  of  the  Chagan 
of  the  Khazars,  the  Tartar  tribe  who  dwelt  on  the  lower 
Volga  and  the  shores  of  the  sea  of  Azoff.  In  spite  of  his 
Adventures  mutilated  uosc  he  succeeded  in  gaining  the  good 
of  Justinian,  graccs  of  the  Chagan,  and  received  the  hand  of 
his  sister  in  marriage.  Hearing  of  this  Tiberius  11.  sent  a  huge 
bribe  to  the  Tartar,  to  persuade  him  to  surrender  his  guest. 
The  treacherous  barbarian  consented,  and  despatched  an 
officer  to  arrest  Justinian.  But  the  exile  got  wind  of  the  plot 
through  a  message  from  his  wife,  and  instead  of  allowing  him- 
self to  be  seized,  slew  the  Chagan's  emissary,  and  escaped  to 
sea  in  an  open  boat,  with  half-a-dozen  attendants.  A  storm 
arose,  and  the  little  vessel  seemed  likely  to  founder.  '  Make 
a  vow  to  God  that  if  you  escape  you  will  forgive  your  enemies,' 
said  one  of  Justinian's  companions  to  him,  as  the  boat  began 
to  fill.  '  No,'  replied  the  reckless  and  inflexible  exile,  *  if  I 
spare  a  single  one  of  them  when  my  time  comes,  may  God 

Contest  of  the  Eastern  Empire  and  the  Caliphate     253 

sink  me  here  and  now.'  The  storm  abated,  the  boat  came 
safe  to  land,  and  Justinian  fell  into  the  hands  of  Terbel,  the 
king  of  the  Bulgarians.  Terbel  lent  him  an  army  with  which 
to  try  his  fortune,  and  with  its  aid  he  advanced  to  the  gates  of 
Constantinople.  The  city  was  betrayed  to  him  justinian  re- 
by  partisans  within  the  walls,  and  he  succeeded  stored,  705-11. 
in  getting  possession  of  the  palace^  and  of  the  person  of 
Tiberius  11.  Justinian  then  dragged  out  of  his  cloister  the 
deposed  usurper  Leontius,  bound  him  and  Tiberius  hand  and 
foot,  and  laid  them  before  his  throne  in  the  Hippodrome. 
There  he  sat  in  triumph  with  his  feet  on  the  necks  of  the 
vanquished  Caesars,  while  his  partisans  chanted  *  Thou  shalt 
trample  on  the  Lion  and  the  Asp,'  an  allusion  to  the  names 
of  the  two  fallen  rulers  (Leontius  and  Apsimarus).  The 
two  prisoners  were  then  beheaded  (705). 

During  his  first  reign  Justinian  had  chastised  his  subjects 
with  whips,  it  was  with  scorpions  that  he  now  afflicted  them. 
He  had  returned  from  exile  in  a  mood  of  reckless  cruelty  r 
the  vow  he  had  made  was  kept  with  rigid  accuracy.  Every 
one  who  had  been  concerned  in  his  deposition  ten  years  before 
was  sought  out,  tortured,  and  put  to  death.  Some  of  his 
doings  rose  to  a  monstrous  pitch  of  inhumanity :  the  chief 
men  of  Cherson,  who  had  offended  him  during  his  exile,  were 
bound  on  spits  and  roasted  :  many  patricians  were  sewed  up 
into  sacks  and  cast  into  the  Bosphorus. 

It  is  astonishing  to  find  that  the  second  reign  of  Justinian 
lasted  for  more  than  five  years.  His  tyranny  was  such  that  an 
instant  explosion  of  popular  wrath  might  have  been  expected. 
But  if  reckless,  he  was  also  active,  suspicious,  and  strong- 
handed,  and  crushed  many  plots  before  they  could  come  to  a 
head.  At  last  he  fell  before  a  military  revolt :  the  army,  headed 
by  a  general  named  Philippicus,  disavowed  its  allegiance, 
seized  the  tyrant,  and  beheaded  him.  His  little  six-year-old 
son,  Tiberius,  whom  the  Chagan's  sister  had  borne  justinian 
him,  was  torn  from  sanctuary,  and  murdered,  slain,  711. 
Thus  perished  the  house  of  Heraclius.  after  it  had  given  five 

254  European  History,  476-918 

rulers  to  the  empire  during  a  century  of  rule  (610-7 11).  It 
had  done  much  to  save  the  state  from  the  Saracens :  all 
its  members,  even  Justinian,  had  been  men  of  ability,  and 
Heraclius  himself,  Constantinus-Constans,  and  Constantine  v. 
had  each  borne  his  part  in  the  long  struggle  with  credit,  if  not 
with  complete  success. 

There  now  followed  six  years  of  complete  anarchy  (711-17), 
during  which  the  imperial  annals  are  filled  by  the  obscure 
names  of  Philippicus(7ii-i3),  Artemius  Anastasius  (713-715) 
and  Theodosius  iii.  (715-17).  Each  was  the  creature  of  a 
conspiracy,  and  each  fell  by  the  same  means  by  which  he  had 
been  uplifted.  They  were  all  feeble  and  incompetent  sover- 
eigns, far  below  the  rank  of  the  two  earlier  usurpers,  Leontius 
and  Tiberius  Apsimarus.  The  importance  of  their  reigns  lies 
not  in  their  struggle  with  each  other,  but  in  the  general  col- 
lapse of  the  system  of  defence  of  the  empire  against  the 
Saracen,  the  natural  result  of  the  employment  of  the  whole 

Anarchy,  ^rmy  in  civil  war.  The  generals  of  the  caliphs 
711-17.  Welid  and  Soliman,  the  sons  of  Abd-al-Melik 
(705-17)  burst  through  the  boundaries  of  the  empire  on  every 
point.  In  71T  Sardinia,  the  westernmost  province  of  the 
empire  since  the  loss  of  Africa,  was  subdued  by  the  Arabs. 
In  the  same  year  they  crossed  the  Taurus,  and  sacked  Tyana 
in  Cappadocia.  In  712  they  overran  Pontus  and  captured 
Amasia,  in  713  Antioch  in  Pisidia  fell,  and  with  it  much  of 
southern  Asia  Minor.  It  appeared  as  if  with  the  downfall  of 
the  house  of  HeracliUs  the  power  of  self-defence  had  been 
taken  away  from  the  East  Romans.  Nor  was  the  lowest  depth 
yet  reached. 

Emboldened  by  the  easy  successes  of  his  armies  over  those 
of  the  ephemeral  sovereigns  who  followed  Justinian  11.,  the 
caliph  Soliman  at  last  resolved  to  fit  out  an  expedition  on  the 
largest  scale  against  Constantinople.  A  hundred  thousand 
men  advanced  by  land  from  Tarsus,  while  a  fleet  of  more  than 
1000  sail  gathered  in  the  ports  of  Syria,  and  sailed  round  Asia 
Mirwr  into  the  ^gean.     The  Caliph's  brother  Moslemah  was 

Contest  of  the  Eastern  Empire  and  the  Caliphate    255 

to  head  the  whole  expedition.  Cappadocia  was  aheady  in 
Saracen  hands,  and  the  Caliph's  vanguard  was  saracenin- 
occupied  with  the  siege  of  Amorium,  the  chief  vasion,7i6. 
stronghold  of  Phrygia.  That  town,  indeed,  was  saved  from 
destruction  by  Leo  the  Isaurian,  the  governor  of  the  Anatolic 
theme.  But  soon  after,  while  the  Arabs  were  still  advancing, 
this  same  Leo,  after  concluding  a  private  truce  with  the  in- 
vaders, proclaimed  himself  emperor,  and  advanced  against 
Constantinople,  instead  of  reserving  his  strength  to  resist  the 
armies  of  Sohman  (716). 

Once  more  fortune  favoured  the  newest  rising  against  the 
emperor  of  the  day.  The  troops  of  Leo  beat  those  of  Theo- 
dosius  III.,  and  then  the  latter  voluntarily  abdicated  and  sent 
to  offer  his  crown  to  the  victor.  He  was  a  mild  and  virtuous 
man,  who  had  been  raised  to  the  purple  against  his  will  by  his 
mihtary  partisans,  and  longed  to  return  to  his  ob-  Leo  the 
scurity,  feeling  himself  destitute  of  the  power  isaurian,  717. 
needed  to  cope  with  the  insurgents,  and  still  more  unable  to 
face  the  impending  Saracen  invasion. 

Accordingly  the  senate  and  the  patriarch  formally  elected 
the  rebel  Leo  as  emperor,  and  set  him  on  the  throne  which 
had  already  changed  masters  seven  times  in  the  last  twenty- 
two  years.  At  length  the  empire  had  found  a  master  who 
could  defend  what  he  had  won,  and  was  fully  able  to  transmit 
his  power  to  his  heirs.  The  armament  of  Moslemah  might  be 
awaited  without  dismay,  for  the  state  was  once  more  in  the 
hands  of  one  who  could  be  trusted  to  use  its  resources  aright. 
Leo  was  to  dissipate  once  and  for  all  the  Saracen  storm-cloud, 
and  to  free  Constantinople  from  all  danger  from  the  East  for 
more  than  three  hundred  years.  But  his  achievements  demand 
a  chapter  to  themselves. 




The  Mayor  Grimoald  unsuccessfully  endeavours  to  make  his  son  king  of 
Austrasia — Decadence  of  the  house  of  the  Merovings— Ebroin  and  his 
tyrannical  rule  in  Neustria — Long  civil  w^ars — Rise  of  Pippin  the  younger 
and  his  victory  at  Testry — The  ascendency  of  Pippin :  his  successes  in 
consolidating  the  kingdom — Missionary  enterprises  in  Germany — Civil 
wars  at  the  death  of  Pippin — Final  triumph  of  his  son  Charles  Martel. 

In  656  died  King  Sigibert  in.,  the  first  Meroving  king  of 
Austrasia  who  had  been  but  a  puppet  in  the  hands  of  his 
Mayor  of  the  Palace.  At  his  death  was  made,  a  full  century 
too  soon,  the  first  attempt  of  that  great  family  which  had  of 
late  held  all  real  power  to  add  the  shadow  to  the  substance 
by  assuming  the  royal  name.  King  Sigibert  had  only  reached 
the  age  of  twenty-seven  when  he  died :  his  son  and  heir, 
named  Dagobert  after  his  grandfather,  was  but  eight.  Taking 
advantage  of  the  boy's  youth,  the  Mayor  Grimoald  had  him 
stolen  away  from  his  country  by  the  hands  of  a  bishop,  and 
lodged  him  in  an  Irish  monastery,  where  his  head  was  shorn, 
and  he  was  consecrated  as  a  monk.  Having  got  rid  of  the 
rightful  heir,  Grimoald  induced  his  partisans  to  raise  his  own 
Usurpation  of  son  Childcbert  on  the  shield,  and  salute  him  as 
Grimoald,  656.  j^^j^g  of  Austrasia.  But  the  times  were  not  yet 
ripe :  Grimoald  had  many  bitter  enemies,  and  the  majority  of 
the  people  were  not  yet  accustomed  to  the  idea  of  dethroning 
the  ancient  house  of  the  Merovings.  Within  a  few  days  after 
the  usurpation,  Grimoald  was  seized  by  a  band  of  Austrasian 
nobles,  cast  into  fetters,  and  hurried  off  to  Paris,  where  his 


The  History  of  the  great  Mayors  of  the  Palace     257 

captors  laid  him  before  the  feet  of  king  Chlodovech  11.  of 
Neustria,  the  brother  of  the  deceased  Sigibert. 

Chlodovech,  a  cruel  and  debauched  young  man,  slew  Grim- 
oald  with  horrid  tortures.  It  appeared  as  if  the  greatness  of 
the  house  of  Pippin  and  Arnulf  was  destined  to  be  extinguished 
with  the  life  of  its  chief:  but  the  Fates  willed  otherwise. 
Within  a  few  months  of  the  execution  of  the  great  Mayor, 
king  Chlodovech  died,  leaving  the  diadem  to  his  little  son 
Chlothar  iii.  All  the  Frankish  realms  were  once  more  under 
the  nominal  rule  of  a  child,  and  the  last  chance  of  the  survival 
of  the  kingly  power  was  gone,  in  Neustria  now  as  well  as  in 
the  Eastern  realm.  The  house  of  the  Austrasian  mayors  was 
within  a  few  years  to  raise  its  head  once  more. 

Meanwhile  the  minority  of  Chlothar  iii.  was  destined  to  be 
a  time  of  storm  and  trouble.  Before  he  had  been  four  years  on 
the  throne  his  Austrasian  subjects  determined  that  they  would 
once  more  have  a  king  of  their  own,  and  not  obey  orders  from 
Soissons  or  Paris.  Accordingly  they  took  Childerich,  the 
younger  brother  of  Chlothar,  and  crowned  him  as  king  of  the 
Eastern  realm.  The  joint  reign  of  the  boys  Chlothar  iii.  and 
Childerich  i.  lasted  for  ten  years :  at  first  the  kingdoms  were  kept 
in  a  certain  measure  of  peace  by  the  queen-mother,  Bathildis, 
an  Anglo-Saxon  lady  of  great  virtue  and  ability.  But  after  four 
years,  worn  out  by  the  troublous  task  of  reconciling  the  opposing 
factions  of  the  nobihty,  she  retired  into  a  nunnery,  and  when 
her  gentle  influence  was  removed,  trouble  at  once  broke  out. 

The  man  mainly  responsible  for  the  evil  time  of  civil  strife 
that  followed  was  Ebroin,  Mayor  of  the  Palace  in  Mayor  Ebroin. 
Neustria.  He  was  a  cruel,  ambitious,  vindictive  ^^°"^'- 
noble,  who  aspired  to  much  the  same  position  that  Pippin  the 
Old  and  Grimoald  had  once  occupied  in  Austrasia.  Strong 
by  the  power  of  using  the  royal  name,  by  his  numerous 
comitatus,  and  by  his  unscrupulous  readiness  to  strike  down 
all  who  opposed  him,  he  exercised  for  several  years  what  the 
contemporary  chroniclers  called  a  *  tyranny.'  He  was,  we  are 
told,  so  greedy  of  money,  that  to  him  the  man  with  the  longer 


258  European  History,  476-918 

purse  always  seemed  to  have  the  better  cause.  Nor  was  greed 
his  worst  fault;  however  small  the  offence,  any  crime  committed 
by  a  man  that  he  suspected  or  envied  brought  the  invariable 
penalty  of  death.  His  mandates  were  as  capricious  as  they 
were  harsh,  for  example  he  once  issued  an  order  that  no  Frank 
of  Burgundy  should  approach  the  king's  person  without  the 
mayor's  express  permission.  This  domination  of  Ebroin  lasted 
until  his  young  master,  Chlothar  iii.,  of  whose  personal  influence 
orcharacter  we  hear  naught,  died  on  thevergeof  manhoodin67o. 

The  autocratic  Mayor  of  the  Palace  at  once  raised  on  the 
shield  Theuderich,  Chlothar's  youngest  brother.  But  the 
majority  of  the  Neustrians  saw  their  chance  of  getting  rid  of 
their  tyrant.  Rising  under  the  leadership  of  Leodegar,  bishop 
of  Afttun,  they  proclaimed  Childerich  of  Austrasia  king  of  the 
West,  as  well  as  of  the  East  Franks,  and  called  him  in  to  their 
aid.  The  personal  following  of  Ebroin  was  too  weak  to  resist 
the  Neustrian  and  Austrasian  nobles  combined.  He  and  his 
puppet  king  were  made  captive,  and  both  compelled  to  take 
monastic  vows — Ebroin  at  Luxeuil,  Theuderich  at  St.  Denis. 
It  might  have  been  better  in  the  end  for  the  Franks  if 
Leodegar  had  been  less  merciful  to  the  vanquished  Mayor : 
he  was  yet  to  give  much  trouble. 

For  three  years  Childerich  reigned  over  all  the  Franks :  he 
reached  manhood  in  this  time,  but  the  power  of  the  kingship 
did  not  pass  into  his  own  hand.  The  Mayor  Wulfoald  ruled 
in  Austrasia,  while  bishop  Leodegar  administered  Neustria 
with  some  success  '  till  the  old  enemy  of  mankind,  whose  wont 
it  always  is  to  foment  discord,  began  to  stir  up  against  him 
the  envy  of  the  great  men  whom  he  had  taken  as  his  fellows 
at  the  helm,  and  to  sow  the  tares  of  malice  between  him  and 
the  king.'  Leodegar  was  at  last  thrust  by  his  envious  col- 
leagues into  the  monastery  of  Luxeuil,  where  he  found  his  old 
enemy  Ebroin  awaiting  his  company.     In  the  same  year  king 

Murder  of  Childerich  was  murdered  :  he  had  seized  a  free 
Childerich  I.  Frank  named  Bodolin,  and  without  trial  or  judg- 
ment, bound  him  naked  to  a  stake,  and  flogged  him  in  the 

The  History  of  the  great  Mayors  of  the  Palace    259 

palace  court.  No  sooner  was  the  furious  Neustrian  freed  from 
his  bonds  than  he  gathered  a  few  friends,  and  slew  the  king  in 
his  bed. 

There  followed  anarchy  all  over  the  Frankish  realm,  for 
Childerich  had  left  only  an  infant  son.  One  party  in  Neustria 
took  out  of  the  monastery  of  St.  Denis  prince  Theuderich, 
who  had  been  Ebroin's  candidate  for  the  Neustrian  throne 
three  years  before,  and  proclaimed  him  king.  Wulfoald,  the 
Mayor  of  the  Palace  of  Austrasia,  sent  to  Ireland  to  find 
Dagobert,  the  long-lost  prince  whom  Grimoald  had  kidnapped 
and  sent  over-sea  in  656.  Sought  out  by  Wilfred,  bishop  of 
York,  and  perhaps  guarded  by  Northumbrian  warriors,  Dago- 
bert was  brought  over  to  Germany,  and  raised  to  the  throne. 
But  another  party,  mainly  composed  of  Austrasians,  proclaimed 
a  boy  named  Chlodovech,  v/hom  they  said  was  a  natural  son 
of  king  Chlothar  in.  Ebroin  broke  from  his  monastery- 
prison,  let  his  hair  grow,  and  joined  the  adherents  of  Chlodo- 
vech. In  this  three-cornered  duel  the  kings  counted  for  little 
or  naught,  the  mayors  and  the  nobles  for  everything.  By  his 
superior  daring  and  persistency  Ebroin  worked  himself  once 
more  to  the  front,  and  on  consenting  to  abandon  the  boy 
pretender,  whose  cause  he  had  feigned  to  espouse,  was  made 
Mayor  of  Neustria  once  more  by  king  Theuderich  Tyranny  of 
(678).  His  first  care  was  to  send  for  his  old  Ebroin. 
enemy  Leodegar,  against  whom  he  entertained  an  unforgotten 
grudge,  in  spite  of  their  common  captivity  at  Luxeuil.  The 
good  bishop  was  brought  before  him,  blinded,  and  afterwards 
beheaded.  Later  generations,  remembering  his  well-meaning 
government  and  cruel  end,  saluted  him  as  a  saint  (St.  Leger). 

For  three  years  the  wicked  Ebroin  went  forth  conquering 
and  to  conquer  :  he  used  the  name  of  king  Theuderich  to 
cover  his  misdeeds,  and  ordered  everything  at  his  own  plea- 
sure. Entering  Austrasia  he  crushed  its  army,  and  Dagobert, 
the  king  from  over-sea,  was  slain  by  traitors  after  his  defeat. 
Some  of  the  East  Franks,  however,  refused  to  lay  down  their 
arms,  and  placed  at  their  head  the  heir  of  the  house  of  Arnulf 


European  History,  476-918 

and  Pippin,  as  the  most  popular  chief  that  Austrasia  could 
find.  This  was  Pippin  the  Young,  nephew  of  Mayor  Grimoald, 
son  of  Ansegisel  and  Begga,  and  grandson  both  of  St.  Arnulf 
and  Pippin  the  Old. 


St.  Arnulf,  Bp.   of 
Metz,  died  641. 

Ansegisel,  Mayor 
of  Austrasia  632-38. 

Pippin  the  Elder,  Mayor 
of  Austrasia,  died  639. 


Plectrudis^=^  Pippin  the  Younger,  Mayor -■- v  -  Alphaida. 

of  Austrasia,  Neustria,  and 

Burgundy,  died  714. 

Grimoald,  Mayor  of 
Austrasia,  died  656. 

Childebert,  Pro- 
claimed King  of 
Austrasia  656. 



Mayor  of 


died  714. 


died  708. 

Charles' Martel,  Mayor 
of  Austrasia  717,  of  all  the 
Kingdoms  719,  died  741. 

Mayor  of 
died  754. 

Pippin  the  Short,      Gnfo. 
Mayor  of  Neustria 
741,  King  of  the 
Franks  752. 


Charles  the       Carloman.     Adalhard.       Wala. 

Ebroin,  however,  was  strong  enough  to  overbear  the  resist- 
ance of  Pippin :  at  Lafaux,  near  Laon,  he  defeated  the  last 
Austrasian  army  in  the  open  field,  and  compelled  all  the 
Franks,  from  Meuse  to  Rhine,  to  acknowledge  his  protege 
Theuderich  as  king.  He  himself  became  mayor  both  of 
Neustria,  Burgundy,  and  Austrasia,  and  might  well  have 
aspired  to  assume  the  royal  title.  But  a  private  enemy,  whose 
death  he  had  been  plotting,  secretly  murdered  him  in  68 1, 
and  with  his  death  the  ascendency  of  Neustria  came  to  an 
Rise  of       end.     The  Austrasians  once  more  took  up  arms 

Pippin  II.  under  Pippin  the  Young,  and  after  seven  more 
weary  years  of  civil  war,  a  decisive  battle  at  Testry  near  St. 
Quentin  settled  the  fate  of  the  Frankish  realms  (687).  Pippin 
with  the  men  of  the  East  was  completely  victorious,  and  Theude- 
rich and  the  Neustrians  were  compelled  to  take  what  terms 

The  History  of  the  great  Mayors  of  the  Palace    261 

he  chose  to  give  them.  He  claimed  to  be  what  Ebroin  had 
been,  mayor  both  in  East  and  West,  but  he  chose  to  dwell 
himself  at  Metz,  the  home  of  his  grandfather,  and  from  thence 
administered  Austrasia  almost  as  an  independent  ruler ;  while 
regents  named  by  him  guided  the  steps  of  king  Theuderich 
in  Neustria.  By  the  fight  of  Testry  the  question  of  prece- 
dence between  Austrasia  and  Neustria  was  finally  settled  in 
favour  of  the  former.  From  this  moment  onward,  the  East- 
Frankish  house  of  the  descendants  of  Arnulf  and  Pippin  is  of 
far  more  importance  in  Frankish  history  than  the  effete  royal 
family.  Warned  by  the  fate  of  Grimoald,  they  did  not  again 
demand  the  crown  for  a  space  of  eighty  years,  and  were  con- 
tent with  a  practical  domination  without  any  regal  name. 
Henceforth  we  shall  find  the  Franks  more  Teutonic  and  less 
Gallo-Roman  than  they  had  hitherto  been :  the  central  point 
of  the  realm  is  for  the  future  to  be  found  about  Austrasian 
Metz,  Aachen  and  Koln,  not  around  Neustrian  Soissons, 
Paris,  or  Laon. 

Pippin,  the  son  of  Ansegisel,  was  Mayor  of  the  Palace  for 
twenty-six  years  (688-714),  a  period  in  which  he  did  much  to 
rescue  the  Frankish  realm  from  the  dilapidation  and  evil 
governance  which  it  had  experienced  for  the  last  fifty  years. 
His  first  task  was  to  endeavour  to  restore  the  ancient  boun- 
daries of  the  kingdom ;  for  during  the  reigns  of  the  sons  and 
grandsons  of  Dagobert  i.,  the  old  Hmits  of  the  realm  had 
fallen  back  on  every  side.  On  the  eastern  border  the  homage 
which  the  Bavarian  dukes  owed  to  the  Merovings  Dilapidation 
had  been  completely  forgotten ;  for  all  practical  °^  *^®  realm, 
purposes  they  were  now  independent.  Farther  north,  the 
Thuringians  were  in  much  the  same  condition;  they  had 
been  saved  from  the  Slavonic  hordes  of  Samo  by  their  own 
chiefs,  not  by  their  Frankish  suzerain,  and  since  they  had 
repulsed  the  Slavs  had  gone  on  their  own  way,  caring  nought 
who  ruled  at  Metz  or  Koln.  The  Frisians  of  the  Rhine- 
mouth,  a  race  whom  the  Merovings  had  never  subdued,  were 
pushing  their  raids  into  the  valleys  of  the  Scheldt  and  Meuse. 

262  European  History,  476-918 

These  were  all  comparatively  outlying  tribes,  whose  freedom 
is  easily  explained  by  their  distance  from  the  centre  of 
government.  But  it  is  more  surprising  to  find  that  even  the 
Suabians  or  Alamanni,  on  the  very  threshold  of  Austrasia, 
along  the  Rhine  and  Neckar  and  in  the  Black  Forest,  had  of 
late  refused  the  homage  which  for  two  hundred  years  they 
had  been  accustomed  to  render  to  the  Merovings,  and  paid 
no  obedience  to  any  one  save  their  own  local  dukes.  In  the 
south  also  the  Gallo-Romans  of  Aquitaine  had  achieved 
practical  independence  under  a  duke  named  Eudo,  who  was 
said  to  be  descended  from  Charibert,  king  of  Aquitaine,  the 
brother  of  Dagobert  i. 

For  fifty  years  Pippin  and  his  son  Charles  were  to  work  at 
the  restoration  of  the  ancient  frontier  of  the  Frankish  realm, 
beating  down  by  constant  hard  fighting  the  various  vassal 
tribes  who  had  slipped  away  from  beneath  the  Frankish  yoke. 
Pippin's  chief  wars  were  with  the  Frisians  and  the  Suabians, 
against  both  of  whom  he  obtained  great  successes.  After  a 
long  struggle  he  compelled  Radbod,  the  duke  of  the  Frisians, 
to  do  homage  to  king  Theuderich,  and  cede  to  the  Franks 
Frisia        West-Frisia,  the  group  of  marshy  islands  between 

subdued,  the  Scheldt-mouth  and  the  Zuider  Zee,  which  is 
now  called  Zealand  and  South  Holland.  To  protect  this  new 
conquest  Pippin  set  up  or  restored  castles  at  Utrecht  and 
Dorstadt,  new  towns  destined  to  become,,  the  one  the  ecclesi- 
astical, and  the  other  the  commercial,  centre  of  the  lands  by 
the  Rhine-mouth.  Duke  Radbod  was  also  compelled  to  give 
his  daughter  in  marriage  to  Pippin's  eldest  son,  Grimoald. 

Another  series  of  campaigns  were  directed  against  the 
Suabians.  Pippin  followed  them  into  the  depths  of  their 
forests,  and  compelled  their  duke  Godfrid  to  acknowledge 
himself,  as  his  fathers  had  done,  the  vassal  of  the  Franks. 

It  is  very  noticeable  that  under  Pippin's  rule  and  by  his  aid 
the  conversion  of  Germany  to  Christianity  was  begun.  The 
descendants  of  St.  Arnulf  were,  as  befitted  the  issue  of  such  a 
holy  man,  zealous  friends  of  the  Church  and  patrons  of  mis- 

The  History  of  the  great  Mayors  of  the  Palace    263 

sionary  enterprise.  The  Merovingian  kings  had  been,  almost 
without  exception,  a  godless  race.  Christian  in  name  alone. 
They  had  taken  no  pains  to  favour  the  spread  of  Christianity 
among  their  vassals :  it  was  sufficient  in  their  eyes  if  their 
own  people,  the  ruling  race,  conformed  to  the  Catholic  faith ; 
for  the  souls  of  Suabians,  Frisians,  or  Bavarians,  they  had  no 
care.  Such  missionaries  as  had  hitherto  been  seen  in  the 
German  forests,  along  the  shores  of  the  Bodensee,  or  the 
upper  reaches  of  the  Danube  and  Main,  had  been,  almost 
without  exception,  Irish  monks,  drawn  from  the  Isle  of  Saints 
by  their  own  fervent  zeal  for  the  spread  of  the  Gospel,  not  by 
any  encouragement  from  the  Frankish  kings.  In  the  sixth  and 
seventh  centuries  these  holy  men  overran  the  whole  Continent, 
seeking  for  heathen  to  convert,  or  planting  their  humble 
monasteries  in  the  wildest  recesses  of  the  mountains  or  the 
primeval  forest.  They  wandered  as  far  as  Italy  and  Switzer- 
land, where  two  of  the  greatest  of  them  fixed  their  homes,  St. 
Fridian  at  Lucca,  St.  Gall  in  the  hills  above  the  Bodensee. 

But  till  the  time  of  Pippin  no  systematic  attempt  had  been 
made  to  convert  those  among  the  German  races  who  still  lay 
in  the  darkness  of  Paganism.  It  was  Pippin  who  first  saw 
that  this  duty  was  incumbent  on  the  Frankish  government. 
He  sent  to  England  for  St.  Willibrord,  the  first  apostle  of  the 
Frisians,  who  with,  his  twelve  companions  wandered  over 
the  newly  conquered  West  Friesland,  preaching  to  the  wild 
heathen.  It  was  by  Pippin's  encouragement  also  conversion  of 
that  the  Englishman  Suidbert  laboured  among  Germany. 
the  Hessians,  till  he  and  his  converts  were  driven  away  by  the 
invasion  of  the  pagan  Saxons.  At  the  same  time  St.  Rupert? 
bishop  of  Worms,  completed  the  conversion  of  Bavaria,  and 
founded  there  the  great  bishopric  of  Salzburg  (696).  Much 
about  the  same  date  the  Irish  monk  Killian  passed  up  the 
Main  and  along  the  skirts  of  the  Thiiringerwald,  to  preach  to 
the  Thuringians,  till  he  met  with  a  martyr's  death  at  Wiirz- 
burg.  Everywhere  the  ascendency  of  the  grandson  of  Arnulf 
was  followed  by  the  arrival  of  zealous  missionary  workers, 

264  European  History,  476-918 

Franks,  Irish  or  English,  who  strove  to  bear  the  standard  of 
the  Cross  into  the  German  woodlands,  where  Woden  and 
Thunor  alone  had  hitherto  been  adored.  What  Pippin  began, 
his  greater  son,  Charles  the  Hammer,  and  his  still  mightier 
great-grandson,  Charles  the  Emperor,  were  destined  to  com- 
plete. By  this  work  alone  the  house  of  the  great  Austrasian 
mayors  did  more  to  justify  their  existence  in  three  generations 
than  the  wicked  Merovings  had  done  in  eight. 

The  years  during  which  Pippin  governed  the  Franks  were 
marked  in  their  regal  annals  by  four  obscure  names.  Theu- 
derich,  the  weak  king  who  had  been  drawn  from  the  cloister 
to  sit  on  his  brother's  throne,i  died  in  691  :  he  was  followed 
by  his  two  infant  sons,  Chlodovech  in.  (691-5),  and  Childe- 
bert  III.  (695-711),  both  of  whom  were  recognised  alike  in 
Neustria  and  Austrasia,  but  had  no  real  authority.  Chlodovech 
died  while  yet  a  boy  :  Childebert  survived  to  early  manhood, 
begat  a  son,  and  then  hastened  to  the  grave.  Apparently  the 
vices  of  their  ancestors  had  sapped  the  vital  energy  of  the 
later  Merovings  ;  scarce  one  of  them  survived  to  reach  the  age 
of  thirty,  and  each  long  minority  made  the  kingly  power  more 
and  more  shadowy,  and  the  authority  of  the  great  mayor  more 
and  more  real.  Childebert  iii.  was  followed  by  one  more 
young  boy,  his  son  Dagobert  iii.  (711-16),  the  last  of  the 
four  puppet  kings  in  whose  names  the  great  Pippin  swayed 
the  Frankish  sceptre. 

Pippin  lived  to  a  great  age,  and  had  the  misfortune  to  lose 
in  his  declining  years  his  two  legitimate  sons,  Grimoald  and 
Drogo,  whom  he  had  destined  to  succeed  him.  The  heirs 
then  remaining  to  him  were  Theudoald,  a  young  boy,  the  son 
of  Grimoald,  and  Carl  [Charles  Martel],  an  illegitimate  son 
whom  he  had  by  a  concubine  named  Alphaida.  The  former 
was  only  eight  years  of  age,  the  latter  twenty-five ,  but  the  old 
Death  of  man  designated  the  boy  Theudoald  as  his  suc- 
Pippin,7i5.  cessor,  hoping  that  he  might  be  spared  to  see 
him  grow  up  to  manhood.       He  died,  however,  within  a  few 

The  History  of  the  great  Mayors  of  the  Palace    265 

months,  and  a  strange  problem  was  put  before  the  Franks, 
whether  they  would  tolerate  a  child-mayor  ruling  in  the  name 
of  a  child-king.  Pippin's  widow  Plectrudis  tried  to  seize  the 
reins  of  government  in  behalf  of  her  little  grandson,  and  some 
of  the  Austrasians  adhered  to  her  cause.  As  a  precautionary 
measure  she  cast  her  husband's  natural  son  Charles  into 
prison^  knowing  that  many  men  regarded  him  as  the  only 
possible  heir  to  Pippin's  position,  since  the  idea  of  a  child- 
mayor  was  preposterous. 

Plectrudis'  endeavour  to  rule  in  the  name  of  her  grandson 
proved,  as  might  have  been  expected,  a  complete  failure. 
The  counts  and  dukes  of  Neustria  hastened  to  take  the 
opportunity  of  shaking  off  the  domination  of  the  Austrasians. 
They  mustered  in  arms,  chose  a  certain  Raginfred,  one  of 
themselves,  as  Neustrian  Mayor  of  the  Palace,  and  raised  an 
army  to  invade  Austrasia  in  the  name  of  the  young  Dago- 
bert  III.  They  did  not  shrink  from  allying  themselves  with 
the  enemies  of  the  state,  the  Frisians  and  Saxons,  who  attacked 
Austrasia  from  the  rear,  while  they  themselves,  advancing 
through  the  Ardennes,  wasted  all  the  lands  between  Meuse 
and  Rhine  with  fire  and  sword.  Plectrudis  and  her  grandson 
shut  themselves  up  within  the  walls  of  Koln. 

Before  the  end  of  the  year,  however,  two  important  events 
occurred  to  give  a  new  turn  to  the  war.     Charles,  the  son  of 
Pippin,  escaped  from  his  stepmother's  prison,  and      ^^.^^  ^^ 
was  at  once  saluted  as  chief  by  the  majority  of     charies 
the  Austrasians,  who  had  been  driven  to  wild      Cartel, 
rage  by  the  ravages  of  the  Neustrian  army,  and  yearned  for  a 
leader  capable  of  commanding  in  the  field.     Shortly  after  the 
young  king,  whom  East  and  West  had  both  acknowledged, 
died,  as  did  all  his  ancestors,  just  when  he  had  attained  man- 
hood,   and   immediately   after   the   birth   of  his   first   child. 
Like  the  Grand  Lamas  of  Thibet,  these  wretched  Merovings 
expired,  with  hardly  an  exception,  just  as  they  grew  old  enough 
to  interfere  in  politics.    As  with  the  Lamas,  so  with  the  Franks, 
we  cannot  help   suspecting  that   there  was   more   in   these 

266  European  History,  476-918 

sudden  deaths  than  appears  on  the  surface :  it  certainly  was 
not  to  the  interest  of  those  about  the  persons  of  the  kings 
that  they  should  ever  live  long  enough  to  assert  their  regal 

On  the  death  of  Dagobert,  the  Neustrians  drew  out  from 
the  monastery,  where  he  had  been  placed  in  earliest  infancy, 
the  son  of  Childerich  i.,  the  king  whom  Bodolin  had  slain  in 
678.  The  monk  Daniel  was  saluted  by  the  royal  name  of 
Chilperich,  and  raised  on  the  shield  :  he  was  the  first  Meroving 
for  eighty  years  who  had  reached  manhood  at  the  moment  of 
his  accession,  being  in  his  thirty-eighth  year.  Chilperich,  in 
spite  of  his  monastic  rearing — or  perhaps  in  virtue  of  it — 
Chilperich  II.,  tumcd  out  a  far  more  vigorous  personage  than 
7^^-  any  of  his  relatives,  and  cannot  be  called  one  of 
the  '  rots  faineants.^  He  continually  took  the  field  at  the  head 
of  his  Neustrians,  and  did  his  best  to  become  their  national 
champion.     Unfortunately  the  times  were  against  him. 

In  716  the  Neustrian  king  and  mayor  marched  together 
into  Austrasia  to  make  an  end  of  the  resistance  ahke  of 
Plectrudis  and  of  Charles.  At  the  same  time  Radbod,  the 
Frisian  duke,  pushed  up  the  Rhine  towards  Koln.  Charles 
offered  battle  to  the  invaders  near  that  city,  but  was  defeated, 
and  forced  to  take  refuge  in  the  mountains  of  the  Eifel. 
Chilperich  then  laid  siege  to  K51n,  and  compelled  Plectrudis 
and  her  party  to  acknowledge  him  as  king,  give  up  the  royal 
treasure-hoard  of  Austrasia,  and  withdraw  the  boy  Theudoald's 
claim  to  the  mayoralty.  But  while  the  Neustrian  army  was 
returning  in  triumph  to  its  own  land,  Charles,  who  had 
assembled  a  new  force,  fell  upon  it  near  Malmedy,  on  the 
skirts  of  the  Ardennes.  At  the  battle  of  Ambleve  all  the 
work  of  Chilperich's  vigorous  campaign  was  undone,  for  his 
army  was  routed,  and  he  and  his  mayor,  Raginfred,  barely 
escaped  with  their  hves  (716). 

This  was  the  first  blow  of  Charles  the  Hammer  [Martel], 
as  after  generations  named  him.  From  henceforth  his  career 
was  to  be  one  of  uninterrupted  success  against  every  foe  who 

The  History  of  the  great  Mayors  of  the  Palace     267 

dared  withstand  him.  Early  in  the  spring  he  followed  up  his 
first  stroke  by  invading  Neustria,  and  defeating  Battle  of 
Chilperich  for  a  second  time  at  Vincy,  near  Cam-  vincy,  717. 
bray.  Pressing  on  after  his  victory  he  pursued  the  Neustrians 
up  to  the  gates  of  Paris,  and  when  resistance  ceased,  turned 
back  in  triumph  to  Austrasia.  There  he  compelled  his  step- 
mother Plectrudis  to  give  up  Koln  to  him,  and  dispersed 
her  partisans.  Being  now  undisputed  master  of  the  Eastern 
kingdom,  he  proclaimed  a  certain  Chlothar  king,  and  named 
himself  Mayor  of  the  Palace.  Chlothar  iv.,  whose  descent  is 
not  certain,  but  who  was  perhaps  grandson  of  the  Irish  exile 
Dagobert  11.,  was  of  course  a  mere  puppet  in  his  mayor's 
hands.  After  securing  for  himself  a  legitimate  position  in  the 
state,  Charles  started  forth  to  humble  all  the  enemies  who  had 
vexed  Austrasia  in  its  time  of  trouble.  He  drove  the  Saxons 
over  the  Weser,  compelled  Radbod  the  Frisian  to  surrender 
West  Friesland  for  the  second  time,  and  then  turned  against 
Neustria.  It  was  in  vain  that  king  Chilperich,  who  fought 
hard  to  maintain  his  independence,  joined  forces  with  Eudo, 
who  in  the  late  troubles  had  made  himself  independent  duke 
of  Aquitaine.  Charles  beat  them  both  at  a  battle  near  Soissons, 
and  chased  king  and  duke  beyond  the  Loire.  This  battle  of 
Soissons  was  the  last  effort  alike  of  the  Merovingian  house  and 
the  Neustrian  realm.  After  it  had  been  lost  they  both  bowed 
before  the  Austrasian  sword,  and  humbly  took  their  orders 
from  the  great  Mayor  of  the  Palace  (718). 

At  this  conjuncture  Charles's  puppet,  king  Chlothar  iv. 
died.  The  victor  of  Soissons  might  perchance  have  chosen 
to  proclaim  himself  king  of  Austrasia,  but  remembering  the 
fate  of  his  grandfather  Grimoald,  preferred  to  offer  terms  to 
the  exiled  king  Chilperich.  On  recognising  Charles  as  mayor 
of  East  and  West  alike,  the  vanquished  Meroving  was  allowed 
to  return  to  Neustria,  and  proclaimed  King  of  all  the  Franks 
(719).  He  had  deserved  a  better  fate  than  to  sink  into  a  mere 
name  and  shadow,  and  if  he  had  been  born  eighty  years 
earlier  might  perchance  by  his  courage  and  persistence  have 

268  European  History^  476-918 

given  a  longer  lease  of  power  to  the  Merovingian  house.     But 
the  times  were  now  too  late  for  his  energy  to  avail. 

Chilperich  11.  died  only  a  year  after  his  submission  to 
Charles.  There  remain  only  two  more  names  to  chronicle 
in  the  ancient  royal  house,  Theuderich  iv.  and  Childerich  11. 
These  obscure  persons — so  obscure  that  the  chroniclers  do 
not  even  give  us  the  date  of  Theuderich's  death — were  too  weak 
even  to  be  used  as  tools  by  the  enemies  of  the  great  mayor. 
A  well-known  passage  in  Einhard  describes  their  wretched 
position  : — '  For  many  years  the  house  of  the  Merovings  was 
destitute  of  vigour  and  had  nothing  illustrious  about  it  save  the 
empty  name  of  king.  For  the  rulers  of  their  palace  possessed 
both  the  wealth  and  the  power  of  the  kingdom,  bearing  the 
name  of  mayor,  and  had  charge  of  all  high  matters  of  state. 
There  was  nothing  for  the  king  to  do  save  to  content  himself 
with  his  title,  and  sit  with  his  long  hair  and  long  beard  on  the 
throne,  like  the  effigy  of  a  ruler,  to  hear  foreign  ambassadors 
harangue  him  and  answer  them  in  words  put  into  his  mouth  as  if 
speaking  for  himself.  His  royal  name  was  profitless  and  his 
allowance  of  revenue  was  at  the  discretion  of  the  mayor,  nor 
was  there  anything  he  could  really  call  his  own  save  one  royal 
manor  of  moderate  value  (Montmacq).     There  he  kept  his 

Effeteness    family  and   his  little  establishment   of  servants. 

of  the  last  When  he  had  to  travel  he  set  out  in  a  covered 
erovings.  ^^^^^^^^  drawn  by  oxen,  and  driven  by  a  rustic 
retainer.  Thus  he  used  to  travel  up  to  his  palace,  or  to  the 
national  gathering,  which  met  once  a  year  to  settle  the  affairs 
of  the  realm,  and  thus  he  would  return.  But  the  administra- 
tion of  the  kingdom,  and  everything  that  had  to  be  done 
either  at  home  or  abroad  was  cared  for  by  the  Mayor  of  the 
Palace.'  Theuderich's  name  covers  the  years  720-737,  Chil- 
derich's  the  years  742-752.  Between  the  one's  death  and  the 
other's  accession  there  was  a  period  of  six  years,  in  which  the 
great  mayor  did  not  even  trouble  to  provide  himself  with  a 
nominal  king,  but  ruled  on  his  own  authority. 

The  twenty-two  years  of  Charles  Martel's  rule  as  mayor  of 

The  History  of  the  great  Mayors  of  the  Palace     269 

Neustria  and  Austrasia  are  the  turning-point  in  the  history  of 
Western  and  Central  Europe  (719-41 ).  Continuing  the  policy 
of  his  father  Pippin  the  Younger,  both  at  home  and  abroad, 
he  devoted  all  his  energies  to  restoring  the  old  boundaries  of 
the  Frankish  realm,  taming  its  heathen  neighbours,  spreading 
Christianity  among  the  more  distant  German  tribes,  and  restor- 
ing law  and  order  among  the  unruly  counts  and  dukes  within 
the  empire.  His  strong  hand  was  as  valuable  in  ending 
anarchy  at  home  as  in  winning  victory  abroad. 

The  six  years  of  civil  war  which  followed  the  death  of  Pippin 
the  Younger  had  undone  most  of  the  work  of  that  great  man, 
and  Charles  had  to  commence  once  more  the  task  which  had 
busied  his  father.  He  was,  however,  in  a  position  Rise  of  the 
of  greater  firmness  and  strength  than  Pippin  had  mayoralty, 
enjoyed,  and  was  able  to  make  his  will  felt  all  over  the 
Frankish  realms  in  a  much  more  thorough  fashion.  It  was  his 
task  to  make  the  arm  of  the  central  government  feared  all  over 
the  kingdom,  as  much  as  it  had  been  in  the  days  of  the  earliest 
Merovingian  kings.  The  task  was  hard,  because  a  century  and 
a  half  of  feeble  administration  had  taught  the  local  counts  and 
dukes  all  the  arts  of  insubordination,  more  especially  the  trick 
of  utilising  the  annual  meetings  of  the  great  national  council 
— what  England  would  have  called  the  Witan — for  the  purpose 
of  overawing  their  ruler.  They  appeared  at  the  *  March-field,' 
followed  by  great  hosts  of  armed  followers,  and  bound  them- 
selves together  by  family  or  party  confederacies  to  withstand 
the  central  government.  In  this  they  succeeded  as  long  as  the 
feeble  Merovings  continued,  and  were  able  to  elect  the 
officers  of  state  at  their  pleasure  or  to  distribute  the  local 
governorships  among  each  other.  The  great  mayors  put  an 
end  to  this.  The  house  of  St.  Arnulf  had  gathered  such  a 
great  following  of  faithful  partisans  in  Austrasia  that,  by  their 
aid,  it  could  face  any  combination  of  discontented  counts. 
The  other  great  houses  of  Austrasia  seem  to  have  gradually 
disappeared,  and  all  the  smaller  nobility  and  freemen  of  the 
land  between  Meuse  and  Rhine  had  become  the  enthusiastic 

2/0  European  History,  476-918 

followers  of  Pippin  and  Charles.  In  return  the  great  mayors 
planted  Austrasians  in  office  all  over  the  kingdom,  and  trusted 
mainly  to  their  aid  in  all  crises.  Their  system  was  a  domina- 
tion of  the  Austrasians  over  the  Neustrians,  Burgundians, 
Aquitanians,  and  East  Germans  :  their  empire  reposed  on  the 
fact  that  their  own  countrymen  were  loyal,  united,  and  self- 
confident,  while  the  other  races  were  jealous,  divided,  and 
humbled  by  recent  defeat.  Yet  the  struggle  was  no  easy  one. 
It  needed  the  repeated  blows  of  Ambleve,  Vincy,  and  Soissons 
to  crush  the  Neustrian  spirit  of  separatism.  Aquitaine  was 
only  kept  down  by  campaign  after  campaign  directed  against 
its  disloyal  dukes.  Neither  south  Gaul  nor  south  Germany 
(Suabia  and  Bavaria)  were  really  tamed  till  they  had  been 
deprived  of  their  native  dukes,  and  cut  up  into  countships 
or  gaus^  administered  by  Austrasian  chiefs.  But  the  house 
of  St.  Arnulf  continued  to  produce  great  men  for  genera- 
tion after  generation,  and  the  taming  was  finally  accom- 

The  work  of  the  great  mayors  without  was  no  less  arduous 
than  within.  To  subdue  those  indomitable  tribes  of  northern 
Germany,  from  whose  pathless  w^oodlands  even  the  iron  legions 
of  Augustus  had  drawn  back  in  despair,  was  a  great  work  for 
the  tumultuary  armies  of  Austrasia  to  accomplish.  But  they 
carried  out  the  struggle  to  the  bittej:  end,  till  they  had  con- 
quered the  very  easternmost  Teuton,  and  had  looked  upon 
the  Baltic  and  the  unknown  boundaries  of  the  Slavs.  Bavaria 
and  Frisia  took  many  a  hard  blow  ere  they  were  incorporated 
with  the  Frankish  realm ;  but  at  last  they  relinquished,  with  a 
sigh,  their  heathen  independence.  Even  the  Italian  kingdom 
of  the  gallant  Lombards,  protected  by  the  great  Roman 
fortresses  of  Pavia,  Verona,  and  Ravenna  could  not  withstand 
the  Austrasian  sword. 

But  of  all  the  military  achievements  of  the  East  Franks 
under  the  house  of  St.  Arnulf,  the  grandest,  as  well  as  the 
most  enduring  in  effect,  was  to  be  won  over  a  foe  unknown  to 
their  ancestors,  a  new  enemy  who  threatened  not  merely  to 

The  History  of  the  great  Mayors  of  the  Palace    27 1 

ravage  the  borders  of  the  realm  hke  Frisian  or  Lombard,  but 
to  dismember  it  by  lopping  away  Aquitaine  from  Approach  of 
Western  Christendom.  Great  as  were  their  other  the  Saracens, 
feats,  the  most  important  of  all  was  the  turning  back  of  the 
wave  of  Mussulman  fanaticism  at  the  battle  of  Poictiers.  For 
that  crowning  mercy,  if  for  nothing  else,  Europe  owes  an 
eternal  debt  of  gratitude  to  the  great  mayors  of  the  eighth 
century  and  the  indomitable  hosts  of  Austrasia. 

Three  years  before  the  death  of  Pippin  the  Younger,  king 
Roderic  the  Visigoth  had  fallen  at  the  battle  of  the  Guadalete, 
and  Spain  had  been  overrun  by  the  infidel.  In  720, — the  first 
year  of  the  complete  domination  of  Charles  over  the  two 
Frankish  kingdoms, — the  Saracens  had  pushed  beyond  the 
bounds  of  the  Iberian  peninsula,  crossed  the  Pyrenees,  and 
entered  Aquitaine,  where  they  laid  siege  to  Toulouse.  Their 
first  blow  fell  on  Eudo,  duke  of  Aquitaine,  who  had  just 
acknowledged  himself  the  vassal  of  the  Frankish  king,  and 
given  up  his  claim  to  reign  as  an  independent  prince.  The 
duke  obtained  aid  from  the  Frankish  governors  on  his 
borders,  attacked  the  Saracens  in  their  camp  at  Toulouse,  and 
put  them  to  rout  with  the  loss  of  their  leader  El-Samah. 
But  though  beaten  in  battle,  the  Moslems  kept  a  foothold 
north  of  the  Pyrenees,  by  holding  to  the  old  Visigothic  capital 
of  Narbonne.  The  danger  from  them  was  but  postponed,  not 
finally  warded  off.  Ere  long  Charles  himself  was  to  be 
obliged  to  take  the  field,  to  defend  the  southern  borders  of 
the  Frankish  realm  against  expeditions  far  more  formidable 
than  that  which  duke  Eudo  had  turned  back  in  721. 




Usurpation  and  successful  wars  of  Grimoald — Reigns  of  Berthari  and  Cuni- 
bert — Quarrels  of  the  Papacy  and  the  empire — The  exile  of  Pope  Martin  I. 
— Gradual  alienation  of  Italy  from  the  empire — Civil  wars  of  Aribert  ii. 
and  Ansprand — Successful  reign  of  Liutprand — Leo  the  Isaurian  and 
Gregory  ii. — Italy  rebels  against  the  Iconoclasts — Liutprand  conquers 
most  of  the  Exarchate, 

After  the  death  of  Rothari  the  law-giver  the  Lombard  king- 
dom entered  into  its  second  stage  :  it  had  now  almost  reached 
the  full  growth  of  its  territorial  extension,  and  had  settled 
down  into  its  final  shape.  For  nearly  a  hundred  years  the  main 
events  of  its  political  history  are  civil  wars,  or  defensive  cam- 
paigns against  its  two  neighbours,  the  Roman  exarch  and  the 
Chagan  of  the  Avars.  There  is  no  sustained  effort  either  to 
expel  the  Imperialists  from  Italy,  or  to  extend  the  boundary  of 
the  Lombard  realm  to  the  north.  It  was  only  in  the  middle 
of  the  eighth  century  that  the  estrangement  between  Constan- 
tinople and  its  Roman  subjects  in  Italy  led  to  such  a  weak- 
ening of  the  Imperial  authority,  that  the  Lombard  kings  were 
able  to  seize  the  long-coveted  Exarchate.  The  history  of  the 
cutting  short  of  the  dominions  of  the  eastern  Caesar  beyond 
the  Adriatic  turns  much  more  on  the  growth  of  the  Papal 
power,  and  on  the  quarrel  on  the  subject  of  Iconoclasm,  which 
sundered  the  churches  of  Rome  and  Constantinople,  than  on 
the  ambition  or  ability  of  the  rulers  of  Lombardy. 

On  the  murder  of  Rothari's  short-lived  son  in  653,  the 
Lombards   elected  as  their  king  Aribert,  a  nephew  of  the 


The  Lombards  and  the  Papacy  273 

sainted  queen  Theodelinda,  whose  name  was  still  held  in 
kindly  memory  all  over  the  land.  Count  Gundoald,  Aribert's 
father,  had  long  been  settled  in  Italy :  he  had  Aribert  i. 
crossed  the  Alps  with  his  pious  sister  more  than  ^53-62. 
half  a  century  before,  so  that  Aribert  himself  was  counted  a 
Lombard,  and  not  a  Bavarian.  The  new  king  reigned  ob- 
scurely for  nine  years  (653-62) :  he  waged  no  wars  and  was 
mainly  noted  as  a  friend  of  the  clergy  and  a  builder  of 
churches.  He  was  a  fervent  Catholic,  and  did  his  best  to 
root  out  the  few  traces  of  Arianism  yet  remaining  in  Lom- 
bardy.  The  land  had  peace  under  his  sway,  but  ere  he  died  he 
sowed  the  seeds  of  future  troubles  by  the  unhappy  inspiration 
which  led  him  to  induce  the  Lombard  Witan  to  elect  his  two 
sons,  Godebert  and  Berthari,  as  joint  heirs  to  the  kingship. 

When  their  father  was  dead,  Godebert,  the  elder  brother, 
dwelt  as  king  at  Pavia,  while  Berthari  took  possession  of 
Milan.  Before  they  had  been  reigning  a  year  the  inevitable 
civil  war  broke  out,  '  because  evil-minded  men  sowed  discord 
and  suspicion  between  them.'  They  were  mustering  their 
followers  for  a  decisive  campaign,  when  Godebert  was 
treacherously  murdered  by  the  chief  of  his  own  supporters, 
Grimoald,  duke  of  Benevento,  who  had  left  his  duchy  in  the 
south,  and  led  his  men-at-arms  to  Pavia,  under  ^  .       ,^  , . 

.  .  '  Gnmoald  king 

the  pretence  of  helpmg  his  suzerain  agamst  his  oftheLom- 
unruly  younger  brother.  Grimoald  took  posses-  ^^^^^^  ^2-71. 
sion  of  the  crown,  and  married  his  victim's  sister,  in  order 
to  connect  himself  with  the  house  of  the  holy  Theodelinda. 
He  chased  Berthari  out  of  Milan,  and  forced  him  to  take 
refuge  with  the  Chagan  of  the  Avars,  in  the  far  east,  by  the 
shores  of  the  Danube. 

The  unscrupulous  usurper  reigned  for  nine  years  (662-71) 
over  the  whole  Lombard  realm,  holding  his  own  court  at 
Pavia,  while  Romuald,  the  son  of  his  first  marriage,  ruled  for 
him  at  Benevento.  This  was  the  only  period  in  the  whole 
history  of  the  Lombards  when  the  king's  mandate  was  as  well 
obeyed  in  the  southern  Apennines  as  in  the  valley  of  the  Po. 


274  European  History,  476-918 

It  was,  therefore,  fortunate  for  the  Lombard  race  that  the 
attack  on  Italy  of  the  vigorous  emperor  Constantinus  (Con- 
stans  II.)  fell  within  the  years  of  Grimoald's  reign.  Though 
he  overran  much  of  the  duchy  of  Benevento,  the  energy  of 
Constantinus  failed  before  the  advent  of  king  Grimoald,  and 
the  danger  passed  away  {66'^} 

His  successes  against  the  emperor  were  not  the  only 
triumphs  of  king  Grimoald  :  he  repelled  an  irruption  of  the 
Avars  into  Venetia,  and  repulsed  a  Frankish  army  which  the 
Mayor  Ebroin,  who  ruled  in  behalf  of  king  Chlothar  in., 
sent  across  the  Western  Alps.  His  only  territorial  gain,  how- 
ever, was  the  capture  from  the  Imperialists  of  the  little  town  of 
Forimpopoli,  near  Rimini,  which  he  stormed  by  surprise  on 
Easter  Day,  and  harried  most  cruelly,  '  slaying  the  worshippers 
at  the  altar,  and  the  deacons  at  the  baptismal  font,  while  all 
were  engaged  in  celebrating  the  Holy  Feast.'  We  might  have 
supposed  that  the  Romans  in  central  Italy  would  have  fared 
worse  after  the  repulse  of  Constantinus :  but  no  other  city  was 
lost.  In  the  south,  however,  Grimoald's  son  Romuald  cap- 
tured Taranto  and  Brindisi,  two  of  the  chief  remaining  strong- 
holds of  the  Imperialists  in  Apulia.  But  this  was  after  the 
death  of  Constantinus,  during  the  troubles  caused  by  the 
rebellion  of  Mezecius  in  Sicily  (668-9  ?)• 

In  spite  of  the  treachery  by  which  he  had  attained  the 
throne,  Grimoald's  victories  made  him  very  popular  among  the 
Lombards,  and  many  tales  survive  bearing  witness  to  his 
generosity  and  clemency,  no  less  than  to  his  strong  hand  and 
cunning.  But  when  he  died  it  was  seen  that  his  power  rested 
purely  upon  his  own  personal  merit :  the  Lombards  did  not  elect 
as  king  either  his  elder  son  Romuald,  the  duke  of  Benevento, 
or  his  younger  son,  Garibald,  whom  the  daughter  of  Aribert 
had  borne  him.  They  recalled  from  exile  king  Berthari,  the 
son  of  Aribert,  whom  Grimoald  had  driven  out  of  Milan  ten 
years  before.  This  prince  had  spent  an  unhappy  life  in 
wandering  from  land  to  land,  from  the  Danube  to  the  British 
^  See  page  245. 

The  Lombards  and  the  Papacy  275 

seas,  and  was  sailing  to  England  when  the  news  of  the 
usurper's  death  reached  him.  He  returned  to  Italy,  and  was 
received  with  submission  by  the  whole  Lombard  race,  and 
solemnly  crowned  at  Pavia. 

Berthari  reigned  for  seventeen  years  (672-88)  in  peace  and 
quietness,  for  he  loved  not  war.  He  was  '  a  man  of  religion, 
a  true  Catholic,  tenacious  of  justice,  a  nourisher  of  the  poor  ; 
he  built  the  famous  nunnery  of  St.  Agatha,  and  the  great 
Church  of  the  Virgin  outside  the  walls  of  Pavia.'  The  kings  of 
this  type,  whom  the  monastic  chroniclers  delighted  most  to 
honour,  were  not  those  who  made  history.  Berthari  never 
attempted  to  conquer  Rome  or  the  Exarchate,  and  only  took 
arms  once  in  his  reign,  when  he  was  assaulted  by  a  rebeUious 
duke,  Alahis  of  Trent,  whom  he  subdued  and  then  pardoned, 
— as  a  Christian  man  should — a  pardon  which  was  to  cost 
Lombardy  much  blood  in  the  next  reign. 

The  reign  of  his  son  Cunibert  (688-700)  was  far  more  dis- 
turbed. This  king  was  a  man  of  mixed  qualities,  brave, 
generous,  and  popular,  but  careless,  incautious,  and  given  over 
to  the  wine-cup.  He  was  caught  unprepared  and  driven  from 
Pavia  by  duke  Alahis,  who  now  rebelled  again,  in  spite  of  the 
fact  that  his  life  had  once  been  spared  by  Cunibert's  father. 
Cunibert  was  driven  for  a  time  from  all  his  realm,  save  a 
single  castle  in  the  lake  of  Como,  where  he  stood  a  long  siege. 
But  Alahis,  by  his  tyranny,  made  himself  unbearable  to  the 
Lombards,  and  ere  many  months  had  elapsed  the  lawful  king 
was  able  to  issue  from  his  stronghold  and  face  the  usurper  in 
battle.  They  met  at  Coronate  on  the  Adda,  not  far  from 
Lodi,  Alahis  backed  by  the  *  Austrians '  of  Venetia,  Cunibert 
by  the  *  Neustrians '  of  Piedmont.  The  men  of  the  West  had 
the  better,  Alahis  was  slain,  and  the  son  of  Berthari  resumed 
his  kingship  over  the  whole  Lombard  realm.  This  was  not 
the  last  rebellion  that  Cunibert  had  to  crush  :  all  through  his 
reign  we  hear  of  risings  of  the  unruly  dukes,  and  of  the 
punishments  which  were  inflicted  on  them  when  they  fell  into 
their  master's  hands. 

2/6  European  History,  476-918 

There  is  nothing  of  first-rate  historical  importance  to  relate 
of  the  doings  of  the  Lombard  kings  in  this  last  quarter  of  the 
seventh  century.  But  while  Berthari  was  building  churches, 
or  Cunibert  striving  with  his  rebels,  the  course  of  events  in 
the  city  of  Rome  was  growing  more  and  more  important.  The 
papacy  and  the  empire  were  gradually  working  up  to  a  pitch 
of  estrangement  and  mutual  repulsion,  which  was  in  the  next 
generation  to  lead  to  open  war  between  them.  We  have 
sketched  in  an  earlier  chapter  the  work  of  pope  Gregory  the 
Great,  in  raising  the  papacy  to  a  condition  of  unprecedented 
spiritual  importance  in  the  Christian  world,  and  no  less  in 
building  up  a  position  of  high  secular  importance  for  the 
The  Pa  ac  Pop^  in  the  govcmance  of  Rome.  For  half  a 
in  the  seventh  ccntury  after  Gregory's  death  this  state  of  affairs 
century.  remained  unaltered.     The  Pope  was  now  firmly 

established  as  patriarch  of  the  West,  and  sent  missions  to 
Britain,  Gaul,  and  Spain  without  let  or  hindrance.  Nor  was 
his  secular  authority  much  interfered  with,  either  by  the 
exarch  or  by  the  home  government  at  Constantinople.  But 
friction  and  struggling  began  under  the  reign  of  the  stern  and 
ruthless  Constantinus  (Constans  11.)  and  the  hot-headed  pope 
Martin  i.  We  have  mentioned  elsewhere^  how  the  emperor 
published  his  '  Type '  or  edict  of  Comprehension,  forbidding 
further  discussions  on  the  question  of  the  Monothelite  heresy. 
Martin  not  merely  refused  to  acquiesce  in  letting  the  discussion 
sleep,  but  summoned  a  council  which  declared  the  '  Type '  to 
be  blasphemous  and  irreverent.  Martin  wrote  to  the  same 
effect  to  the  kings  of  the  Franks,  Visigoths,  and  English,  thus 
calhng  in  foreign  sovereigns  to  participate  in  a  dispute  between 
himself  and  his  master.  Relying  on  his  remoteness  from  By- 
zantium, and  on  the  grandeur  of  his  position  as  Patriarch  of 
the  West,  he  attempted  to  defy  Constantinus.  The  emperor's 
proceedings  show  that  he  was  determined  to  assert  his  power, 
but  that  he  was  fully  conscious  of  the  danger  and  difficulty  of 
dealing  with  such  an  important  personage  as  the  bishop  of 
^  See  page  244. 

The  Lombards  and  the  Papacy  277 

Rome  had  now  become.  He  had  to  wait  for  a  favourable 
opportunity  for  punishing  Martin,  and  it  was  not  by  openly 
arresting  him  in  the  face  of  the  people,  but  by  pate  ot  Pope 
secretly  kidnapping  him,  that  he  got  him  into  his  Martin,  655. 
power.  But  when  once  shipped  to  Constantinople  the  Pope 
felt  his  sovereign's  wrath :  insulted,  loaded  with  chains,  im- 
prisoned, and  banished  to  the  remote  Crimea,  Martin  learnt 
that  the  emperor's  arm  was  still  strong  enough  to  reach  out  to 
Rome  (655). 

But  all  Italy  regarded  Martin  as  a  martyr  to  orthodoxy,  and 
his  fate  did  much  to  estrange  the  Romans  from  their  loyalty 
to  the  empire.  Nor  was  their  wrath  diminished  by  the  sacri- 
legious plunder  of  the  Pantheon  and  other  Roman  churches, 
which  Constantinus  carried  out,  when  in  663  he  deigned  to 
visit  his  Western  dominions.  It  would  seem  that  Constantinus 
himself  was  fully  conscious  that  the  Roman  see  was  growing 
too  strong,  and  deliberately  strove  to  sap  its  resources,  for  at 
this  time  he  granted  to  the  archbishop  of  Ravenna  a  formal 
exemption  from  any  duty  of  spiritual  obedience  to  the  Pope 
as  patriarch  of  the  West,  and  constituted  him  an  independent 
authority  in  the  exarchate.  For  twenty  years  this  schism  of 
Rome  and  Ravenna  continued,  but  in  the  end  the  old  tradi- 
tional prestige  of  the  see  of  St.  Peter  triumphed  over  the 
ambition  of  the  Ravennese  archbishops. 

If  there  had  been  a  strong  pontiff  at  this  moment,  it  is  pro- 
bable that  an  open  rupture  might  have  taken  place  between 
the  papacy  and  the  empire.  But  pope  Vitalian  was  a  weak 
man,  the  fate  of  his  predecessor  Martin  had  cowed  him,  and 
the  idea  of  cutting  Rome  away  from  the  respublica  Romana^ 
as  the  empire  was  still  habitually  called,  had  not  yet  entered 
into  the  minds  of  the  Italian  subjects  of  Byzantium.  To  dis- 
own the  Imperial  supremacy  would  have  been  tantamount  to 
throwing  Rome  into  the  hands  of  king  Grimoald  the  Lom- 
bard, and  neither  Pope  nor  people  contemplated  such  a 
prospect  with  equanimity. 

Accordingly  the  breach  between  Rome  and  Byzantium  was 

278  European  History,  476-918 

deferred  for  another  generation.  After  Constantinus  was  dead, 
more  friendly  relations  reigned  for  a  space,  for  his  son  Con- 
stantine  v.  was  impeccably  orthodox.  He  held  the  Council  of 
Constantinople  in  681  with  the  high  approval  of  pope  Agatho, 
whose  representatives  duly  appeared  at  it,  to  join  in  the  final 
crushing  of  the  Monothelite  heretics.  Constantine,  in  the 
fulness  of  his  friendship  to  the  papacy,  even  granted  to  the 
Roman  see  the  dangerous  privilege  that  when  at  papal  elec- 
tions the  suffrages  of  the  clergy,  the  people,  and  the  soldiery, 
— the  garrison  of  Rome — were  unanimously  fixed  on  any  one 
person,  that  individual  might  be  at  once  consecrated  bishop 
of  Rome,  without  having  to  wait  for  an  imperial  mandate  of 
approval  from  Constantinople.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  however, 
unanimous  elections  were  very  rare,  and  the  exarchs  of 
Ravenna  are  still  found  interfering  to  decide  between  the 
claims  of  rival  candidates. 

Signs  of  a  breach  became  evident  once  again  in  the  days 
of  the  tyrant  Justinian  11.  When  pope  Sergius  refused 
obedience  to  his  behests,  the  emperor  bade  the  exarch  seize 
him  and  send  him  to  Constantinople.  But  not  only  the 
Roman  mob,  but  the  soldiers  of  the  imperial  garrison  took  up 
arms  to  resist  Justinian's  officials  when  they  tried  to  lay 
hands  on  Sergius :  the  ties  of  military  obedience  had  already 
come  to  be  weaker  than  those  of  spiritual  respect,  and  the 
Pope  triumphed,  for  Justinian  was  deposed,  mutilated,  and 
sent  to  Cherson  by  his  rebellious  subjects,  ere  he  had  time  to 
punish  tlie  Romans. 

The  twenty-two  years  of  anarchy  and  dissolution  at  Con- 
stantinople which  followed  the  deposition  of  Justinian  (695- 
717)  were  fraught  with  important  consequences  in  Italy. 
The  ephemeral  emperors  of  those  days  were  unable  to  assert 
their  authority  over  the  West,  and  we  once  more  find  the 
popes  assuming  secular  functions,  after  the  fashion  ot  Gregory 
the  Great  in  the  preceding  century.  John  vi.  levied  taxes  in 
Rome,  made  treaties  with  the  Lombard  duke  of  Benevento, 
and  even  protected  and  restored  the  exarch  Theophylactus 

The  Lombards  and  the  Papacy  279 

when  he  had  been  expelled  from  Ravenna  by  a  military 
revolt.  Gregory  11.  went  so  far  in  his  independence  as  to 
refuse  to  acknowledge  the  usurping  emperor  Quarrel  of 
Philippicus ;  by  his  advice  '  the  Roman  people  and^Phn/J- 
determined  that  state-documents  should  not  bear  picus. 
the  name  of  a  heretical  Caesar,  nor  the  money  be  struck  with 
his  effigy.  So  the  portrait  of  Philippicus  was  not  set  up  in 
the  Church,  nor  his  name  introduced  in  the  prayers  at  Mass.' 
Gregory  only  consented  to  recognise  Philippicus'  successor 
Anastasius  11.  when  he  heard  that  the  new  emperor  was  a 
man  of  unimpeachable  orthodoxy.  The  independent  posi- 
tion of  the  popes  had  now  grown  so  marked  that  the  next 
quarrel  with  Constantinople  was  destined  to  lead  to  the  final 
rupture  of  relations  between  the  papacy  and  the  empire.  It 
was  impossible  that  things  should  remain  as  they  were  :  the 
breach  was  inevitable.  Its  cause  was  to  be  the  accession  of 
the  stern  Iconoclast,  Leo  the  Isaurian,  and  his  attempt  to 
enforce  his  own  religious  views  on  the  western,  no  less  than 
the  eastern  provinces  of  his  empire.  The  protagonists  in 
the  final  struggle  are  Leo,  pope  Gregory  11.,  and  the  Lombard 
king  Liutprand,  whose  position  and  power  we  must  now  pro- 
ceed to  explain. 

When  king  Cunibert   died   in   the   year  700,   he  left  his 
throne  to  his  young  son  Liutbert,  a  mere  boy,  whose  realm 
was  to  be  administered  by  a  regent-guardian,  count  Ansprand, 
the  wisest  of  the  Lombards.     A  minority  was  always  fatal  to 
one   of  the  early  Teutonic  kingdoms.     Only  eight  months 
after  Liutbert  had  been  proclaimed  king,  his  nearest  adult 
kinsmen  rose  in  arms  against  him,  to  claim  the   Rebellion  of 
crown.      These  were  Reginbert,  duke  of  Turin,    Reginbertof 
and  his  son  Aribert,  the  child  and  grandchild  of  '^"""• 
king  Godebert,  and  the  cousins  of  the  boy-king's  father. 

Reginbert  was  followed  by  all  the  Neustrian  Lombards, 
and  was  able  to  defeat  the  regent  Ansprand  at  Novara.  He 
died  immediately  after  his  victory,  but  his  son  Aribert  followed 
up  the  success  by  winning  a  second  battle  in  front  of  Pavia, 

28o  European  History^  476-918 

and  taking  prisoner  the  boy  Liutbert.     The  victor  seized  the 

Civil  wars       Capital,  and  was  hailed  as  king  by  his  followers, 

of  the  under   the   name    of  Aribert   11.      The    regent 

Lombards.      Ansprand,  who  had  escaped  from  Pavia,  tried 

to  keep  up  the  civil  war  in  the  name  of  his  ward :  but  the 

new  king  put  an  end   to  this   attempt  by  ordering  the  boy 

Liutbert  to  be  strangled  in  his  bath.     Ansprand  then  fled 

over  the  Alps  and  took  refuge  with  the  duke  of  Bavaria. 

Aribert  11.  reigned  over  the  Lombards  for  ten  troubled 
years  (701-11),  fully  occupied  by  the  tasks  of  putting  down 
rebellious  dukes,  driving  back  raids  of  the  Carinthian  Slavs 
from  Venetia,  and  endeavouring  to  assert  his  power  over  Spoleto 
and  Benevento.  The  time  was  opportune  for  attacking  the 
imperial  possessions  in  Italy,  but  Aribert  refrained  from 
making  the  attempt.  He  was  friendly  to  the  papacy,  and 
made  over  to  pope  John  vi.  a  great  gift  of  estates  in  the 
Cottian  Alps :  nor  did  he  assist  his  vassal  Faroald,  duke  of 
Spoleto,  when  the  latter  in  703  made  an  attempt  on  the 
Exarchate.  Aribert  preferred  to  live  in  peace  both  with  the 
Pope  and  the  Emperor. 

Aribert  11.  had  gained  his  kingdom  by  the  sword,  and  by 
the  sword  he  was  destined  to  lose  it.  In  711  the  exile 
Ansprand,  once  the  regent  for  the  boy  Liutbert,  invaded  Italy 
at  the  head  of  a  Bavarian  army,  lent  to  him  by  duke  Teut- 
bert.  Many  of  the  Lombards  still  loved  the  house  of  Ber- 
thari  and  hated  Aribert  as  a  murderer  and  usurper.  The 
army  of  Ansprand  was  ere  long  increased  by  many  thousands  of 
the  '  Austrian  '  Lombards,  and  he  was  soon  able  to  face  the  king 
in  the  open  field  near  Pavia.  The  battle  was  indecisive,  but 
when  it  was  over  Aribert  retired  within  the  walls  of  the  city. 
His  retreat  discouraged  his  army,  which  began  to  fall  away 
from  him:  thereupon  Aribert  determined  to  take  with 
him  the  royal  treasure,  and  flee  to  Gaul  to  buy  aid  of  the 
Franks.  While  endeavouring  to  cross  the  Ticino  by  night 
with  all  his  hoard,  he  was  accidentally  drowned,  and  left  the 
throne  vacant  for  his  rival  Ansprand  (712). 

The  Lombards  and  the  Papacy  281 

The  ex-regent  was  now  proclaimed  king,  but  only  survived 
his  triumph  a  few  months  :  on  his  deathbed  he  prevailed  on 
the  Lombards  to  elect  as  his  colleague  his  son  Liutprand, 
who  therefore  became  sole  ruler  when  his  father  died  a  few 
days  later. 

Liutprand  was  the  most  able  and  energetic  king  who  ever 
ruled  the  Lombard  realm,  and  his  long  reign  of  thirty-one 
years  (712-43)  saw  the  completion  of  the  long-   Liutprand, 
delayed  process   of    the   eviction    of    the   East   Lomblrdr, 
Romans  from  Central  Italy,  and  the  rise  of  the  712-43. 
Lombards  to  the  highest  pitch  of  success  which  they  ever 
knew — a  rise  which  was  to  be  closely  followed  by  the  extinc- 
tion of  their  kingdom. 

When  Leo  the  Isaurian  commenced  his  crusade  against 
image-worship,  Liutprand  had  been  on  the  throne  for  fourteen 
years.  In  these  earlier  years  of  his  reign  he  was  occupied  in 
strengthening  his  position,  and  made  no  attack  on  the 
Imperial  dominions  in  Italy,  though  he  is  found  making  war 
on  the  Bavarians,  and  capturing  some  of  their  castles  on 
the  upper  Adige. 

But  in  726  things  came  to  a  head,  when  Leo  issued  his 
famous  edict  against  images,  forbidding  all  worship  of 
statues  and  paintings.  Pope  Gregory  11.  was  not  in  a  mood 
to  listen  to  such  a  command  from  Constantinople.  Quarrel  of 
He  was  already  in  great  disfavour  with  the  em-  an?Leo  the 
peror  for  having  advised  the  Italians  to  resist  isaurian. 
some  extraordinary  taxation  which  Leo  had  imposed  to  main- 
tain the  Saracen  war.  When  he  received  Leo's  rescript,  and  a 
letter  addressed  to  himself  requesting  him  to  carry  out  the 
imperial  orders,  and  destroy  the  images  of  Rome,  he  burst  out 
into  open  contumacy,  and  the  Romans,  with  all  the  other 
Italians,  followed  his  lead.  Exhilaratus,  duke  of  Naples, 
who  tried  to  carry  out  the  edict  in  his  duchy,  was  slain  by  a 
mob,  and  many  other  imperial  officials  were  maltreated  or 
driven  off  by  those  whom  they  governed.  The  cit'es  elected 
new   rulers  over  themselves,  and  would  have   chosen    and 

282  European  History,  476-918 

proclaimed  an  Emperor  of  the  West,  if  Gregory  11.  had  not  kept 
them  from  this  final  step.  Meanwhile,  all  the  imperial  pro- 
Liutprand  vinces  of  Italy  being  in  open  sedition,  and  quite 
ExTrcha^tl^^  cut  off  from  Constantinople,  king  Liutprand 
727.  '       thought  the  moment  had  at  last  come  for  round 

ing  off  the  Lombard  dominions  by  seizing  the  long-coveted 
Exarchate.  He  crossed  the  Po,  took  Bologna,  with  most  of 
the  other  cities  of  Emilia,  and  then  conquered  Osimo, 
Rimini,  Ancona,  and  all  the  Pentapolis.  Chassis,  the  seaport 
of  Ravenna,  fell  before  him,  but  the  exarch  Paul  succeeded 
in  preserving  the  great  City  of  the  Marshes  for  a  short  time 
longer,  till  he  was  murdered  by  rioters  (727).  The  Lombard 
king's  conquests  were  made  with  astonishing  ease,  for  in  each 
city  the  anti-imperialist  faction  betrayed  the  gates  to  him 
without  fighting. 

Soon  after,  the  triumph  of  Liutprand  was  completed  by 
the  surrender  of  Ravenna  itself:  the  exarch  Eutychius  fled  to 
Venice,  already  a  semi-independent  city,  but  one  which  still 
preserved  a  nominal  allegiance  to  the  empire.  Meanwhile, 
pope  Gregory  11.  was  occupied  in  writing  lengthy  manifestos 
Gregor  II  Setting  forth  the  atrocious  conduct  of  Leo,  and 
rebels  against  the  intrinsic  rationality  of  reverencing  images. 
Leo  II.  jj-g   let^-gj-g   iQ  ^Q   emperor   were    couched    in 

language  of  studied  insolence.  '  I  must  use  coarse  and  rude 
arguments,'  he  wrote,  '  to  suit  a  coarse  and  rude  mind  such 
as  yours,'  and  then  proceeded  to  say  that  'if  you  were  to  go 
into  a  boys'  school  and  announce  yourself  as  a  destroyer  of 
images,  the  smallest  children  would  throw  their  writing  tablets 
at  your  head,  for  even  babes  and  sucklings  might  teach  you, 
though  you  refuse  to  listen  to  the  wise.'  After  completely 
confusing  king  Uzziah  with  king  Hezekiah  in  an  argument 
drawn  from  the  Old  Testament,  Gregory  then  proceeded  to 
quote  apocryphal  anecdotes  from  early  church  history.  He 
wound  up  by  asserting  that  in  virtue  of  the  power  that  he 
inherited  from  St.  Peter,  he  might  consign  the  emperor 
to  eternal  damnation,  but  that  Leo  was  so  thoroughly  damned 

The  Lombards  and  the  Papdty  283 

by  his  own  crimes  that  there  was  no  need  to  inflict  any 
further  curse  on  him. '  A  more  practical  threat  was  that 
if  the  emperor  sent  an  army  against  Rome,  he  would 
retire   into   Campania   and   take  refuge  with  the  Lombards 


As  a  matter  of  fact,  however,  to  throw  himself  into  the 
hands  of  the  Lombards  was  the  last  thing  that  pope  Gregory 
desired  to  do.  He  had  the  greatest  dread  of  Position  of 
falUng  under  the  direct  authority  of  Liutprand,  Gregory  11. 
for  the  occupation  of  Rome  by  a  powerful  and  strong-handed 
Italian  king  would  have  been  fatal  to  the  secular  power  of  the 
papacy.  It  was  easy  to  disobey  a  powerless  exarch  and  a 
distant  emperor,  but  if  Liutprand  had  become  ruler  of  all 
Italy,  the  popes  would  have  been  forced  to  be  his  humble 
subjects.  Gregory  wished  to  rid  himself  of  the  domination  of 
Leo,  without  falling  into  the  clutches  of  Liutprand.  While 
disclaiming  his  allegiance  to  the  emperor,  he  pretended  to 
adhere  to  the  empire. 

Meanwhile  an  unexpected  turn  of  events  had  checked  the 
career  of  victory  of  king  Liutprand.  While  he  was  absent  at 
Pavia,  the  exarch  Eutychius  had  collected  some  troops  at 
Venice,  and  aided  by  the  forces  of  the  semi-independent 
citizens  of  the  lagoon-city  had  landed  near  Ravenna.  The 
place  was  betrayed  to  him  by  the  imperialist  party  within  the 
walls,  and  became  once  more  the  seat  of  imperial  power  in 
Italy.  At  the  same  time  the  dukes  of  Spoleto  and  Benevento 
took  arms  against  their  suzerain,  and  allied  themselves  with 
pope  Gregory  (729). 

Liutprand  determined  to  conquer  the  Lombard  rebels 
before  resuming  the  hard  task  of  retaking  Ravenna.  He  even 
made  a  truce  with  the  exarch,  by  which  it  was  stipulated  that 
they  should  mutually  aid  each  other,  the  one  in  subduing  the 
revolted  dukes,  the  other  in  compelling  the  Pope  to  return 
to  his  allegiance.  Accordingly  Eutychius  marched  against 
Rome,  and  Liutprand  against  Spoleto.  On  the  king's  approach 
the  two  dukes  submitted  to  him,  and  swore  to  be  his  faithful 

284  'European  History,  476-918 

vassals.  He  then  moved  toward  Rome,  which  the  exarch 
Liutprand  ^^^  already  besieging.  But  he  had  no  wish  that 
pacifies  Italy,  the  imperial  power  should  be  strengthened  by 
'^^°'  the  recovery  of  Rome,  and,  encamping  his  army 

in  the  Field  of  Nero,  outside  the  city,  proceeded  to  claim  to 
act  as  arbitrator  between  Gregory  and  Eutychius.  They  were 
too  weak  to  resist  him,  and  the  Pope  at  least  gladly  acquiesced 
in  the  pacification  of  Italy  which  Liutprand  proposed.  The 
exarch  was  to  return  to  Ravenna,  leaving  Rome  unmolested, 
and  to  be  content  with  the  possession  of  Ravenna  only,  all 
his  other  lost  dominions  in  the  Pentapolis  and  ^Emilia  re- 
maining in  the  hands  of  the  Lombards.  Gregory,  in  con- 
sideration of  being  left  unmolested  in  Rome,  professed  to 
return  to  his  allegiance,  but  in  reality  remained  in  an  inde- 
pendent position.  He  did  not  withdraw  his  opposition  to 
Iconoclasm,  and  took  advantage  of  the  peace  to  call  together 
a  great  council  of  Italian  bishops,  ninety-three  in  number, 
who  solemnly  anathematised  all  who  refused  to  reverence 
images,  though  they  did  not  curse  the  emperor  by  name  (730). 

Two  months  later  pope  Gregory  11.  died,  and  was  succeeded 
by  Gregory  iii.,  as  great  an  enemy  of  Iconoclasm  as  his 
namesake.  He  had  no  sooner  displayed  his  views,  than  the 
emperor,  discontented  with  the  peace  which  the  exarch  had 
concluded,  and  much  irritated  by  the  anathema  of  the 
Council  of  Rome,  revenged  himself  on  the  papacy  by  issuing 
an  edict  which  removed  from  the  jurisdiction  of  the  Pope,  as 
Patriarch  of  the  West,  the  Illyrian  and  south  Italian  dioceses 
which  had  hitherto  paid  spiritual  obedience  to  Rome.  For 
the  future,  not  only  Epirus  and  Sicily,  but  even  Apulia  and 
Calabria,  were  to  look  to  the  Patriarch  of  Constantinople  as 
their  head  and  chief  (731). 

In  732  Leo  took  a  more  practical  step  for  reducing  the 
Pope  to  obedience.  He  fitted  out  a  great  armament  in  the 
ports  of  Asia  Minor,  which  was  to  sail  to  Italy,  to  recover  by 
force  of  arms  the  lost  regions  of  the  Exarchate,  and  to  arrest 
Gregory  iii.  and  send  him  in  chains  to  Constantinople.     But 

The  Lombards  and  the  Papacy  285 

the  fates  were  against  the  restoration  of  imperial  authority  in 
the  West :  the  fleet  was  completely  wrecked  by  a  storm  in 
the  Adriatic,  and  the  fragments  of  it  which  reached  Ravenna 
effected  nothing.  This  was  the  last  serious  attempt  of  the 
empire  to  recover  central  Italy.  Henceforth  the  Last  effort 
Popes  went  their  own  way,  while  the  exarch,  conquer  Italy, 
penned  up  in  the  single  fortress  of  Ravenna,  732- 
awaited  with  trembling  the  outbreak  of  the  next  Lombard 
war — a  war  which  would  certainly  sweep  away  him  and  his 
shrunken  Exarchate. 

But  for  eight  years  after  the  treaty  of  730,  king  Liutprand 
maintained  peace  over  all  Italy.  He  was  a  pious  prince,  and 
a  respecter  of  the  papacy,  to  which  he  had  even  made  a  grant 
of  territory,  ceding  the  town  of  Sutri  in  Tuscany,  which  he 
had  captured  from  the  exarch  in  the  war  of  728-30.  His 
reign  was  a  time  of  prosperity  for  Lombardy :  the  southern 
dukes  were  compelled  to  obey  orders  from  Pavia :  the  Slav 
and  Avar  were  kept  back  from  the  northern  marches,  Liut- 
prand also  kept  up  his  friendly  relations  with  Charles  Martel, 
the  great  Mayor  of  the  Palace  in  Gaul.  When  Charles  was 
looking  about  for  a  neighbour  sovereign  who  should,  accord- 
ing to  old  Teutonic  custom,  gird  with  arms  and  clip  the  hair  of 
his  son  Pippin  on  his  arrival  at  manhood,  he  chose  Liutprand 
to  discharge  this  friendly  office.  On  the  invasion  of  Provence 
by  the  Saracens  in  736-7,  Charles  asked  the  Lombard  for  the 
aid  of  his  host,  and  Liutprand  crossed  the  Alps  and  joined  in 
expelling  the  infidels  from  Aix  and  Aries. 

The  peace  of  Italy  was  not  broken  till  738  when  Transi- 
mund  duke  of  Spoleto  rebelled,  not  for  the  first  time,  against 
Liutprand.  The  king  crushed  the  revolt  with  his  accustomed 
vigour,  and  the  duke  was  compelled  to  fly  :  he  took  refuge 
at  Rome  with  pope  Gregory  iii.  Liutprand  ^.xvX'or^.ndL 
promptly  demanded  his  surrender :  Gregory  re-  attacks  Rome, 
fused,  and  the  Lombard  army  at  once  marched  ^^^* 
into  the  duchy  of  Rome.  The  king  captured  Orte,  Bomazo, 
and  two  other  towns  in  south  Tuscany,  and  menaced  Rome 

286  European  History^  476-918 

with  a  siege.  Gregory  iii.  could  hope  for  neither  help  nor 
sympathy  from  his  master  the  emperor  Leo,  whom  he  had  so 
grievously  insulted.  Accordingly  he  determined  to  seek  aid 
from  the  one  other  power  which  might  be  able  to  succour 
him,  the  great  Mayor  of  the  Franks.  He  sent  to  Charles 
Martel  the  golden  keys  of  the  tomb  of  Saint  Peter,  and  be- 
sought him  to  defend  the  holy  city  against  the  impious  Lom- 
bard. He  conferred  on  the  Mayor  the  high-sounding  title  of 
Roman  Patrician,  which  was  not  legally  his  to  give,  for  only 
Gregor  III  ^'^^  cmpcror  could  confer  it.  He  even  offered  to 
asks  aid  from  transfer  to  the  ruler  of  the  Franks  the  shadowy 
the  Franks.  allegiance  which  Rome  still  paid  to  the  emperor. 
Thus  did  Gregory  iii.,  first  of  all  the  Roman  pontiffs, 
endeavour  to  bring  down  upon  Italy  the  curse  of  foreign 
invasion.  He  had  drawn  upon  himself  the  wrath  of  Liutprand 
by  his  secular  policy :  the  war  arose  purely  from  the  fact  that 
he  had  favoured  the  rebellion  of  the  duke  of  Spoleto,  and 
sheltered  him  when  he  fled.  Yet  he  made  the  Lombard 
invasion  a  matter  of  sacrilege,  complaining  to  Charles  that 
Liutprand's  attack  was  an  impious  invasion  of  the  rights  of 
the  Church,  and  a  deliberate  insult  to  the  majesty  of  St.  Peter. 
Considering  that  the  king  had  saved  him  from  destruction 
eight  years  before,  Gregory  must  be  accused  of  gross  ingrati- 
tude, as  well  as  of  deliberate  misrepresentation  and  hypocrisy. 
But  the  Pope  had  imbibed  a  bitter  and  quite  irrational  hatred  for 
the  Lombard  race  :  the  danger  that  he  might  lose  his  secular 
power,  by  Rome  being  annexed  to  the  realm  of  Liutprand, 
caused  Gregory  to  view  the  pious,  peaceable,  and  orthodox 
king  of  the  Lombards  with  as  much  dislike  as  he  felt  for 
the  heretical  Iconoclast  at  Constantinople.  Considering  the 
amiable  character  of  Liutprand^  and  the  respectable  national 
record  of  the  Lombards  when  they  are  compared  with  their 
contemporaries  beyond  the  Alps,  it  is  astonishing  to  read  of 
the  terms  in  which  Gregory  and  his  successors  spoke  of  them. 
No  epithet  applied  to  the  heathen  in  the  Scriptures  was  too 
severe  to  heap  upon  the  *  fetid,  perjured,  impious,  plundering, 

The  Lombards  and  the  Papacy  287 

murderous  race  of  the  Lombards.'  And  all  this  indignation 
and  abuse  was  produced  by  the  rational  desire  of  Liutprand  to 
punish  the  Pope  for  harbouring  his  rebels  !  It  is  impossible 
not  to  wish  that  the  great  king  had  succeeded  in  taking  Rome, 
and  unifying  Italy,  a  contingency  which  would  have  spared 
the  peninsula  the  curses  of  the  Frankish  invasion,  of  its  long 
and  unnatural  connection  with  the  Western  Empire,  and  of 
that  still  greater  disaster,  the  permanent  establishment  of  the 
temporal  power  of  the  papacy. 

Charles  Martel  did  not  accept  Gregory's  offers,  or  carry  out 
the  Pope's  plans  :  he  would  not  quarrel  with  his  old  friend 
Liutprand  on  such  inadequate  grounds  as  the  Pope  alleged. 
He  chose  instead  to  endeavour  to  mediate  between  Gregory 
and  the  Lombard  king.  He  accepted  the  title  of  Patrician, 
and  received  the  Roman  ambassadors  with  great  pomjl)  and 
honour,  sending  them  home  with  many  rich  presents.  But 
his  own  delegates  who  accompanied  them  were  charged  to 
reconcile  the  Pope  and  the  king,  not  to  promise  aid  to  the 
one  against  the  other.  Both  Charles  and  Gregory,  as  it 
happened,  were  at  this  moment  on  the  edge  of  the  grave : 
both  died  in  the  next  year  (741),  and  it  was  some  time  before 
the  first  active  interference  of  the  Franks  in  behalf  of  the 
papacy  was  destined  to  take  place. 

How  uncalled  for  was  the  action  of  pope  Gregory  is  shown 
by  the  fact  that  in  the  next  year  Liutprand  came  to  terms  with 
the  Roman  See.     On  the  accession  of  pope  Zachariah,  who 
promised  to  give  no  more  aid  to  the  rebel  duke  Liutprand 
of  Spoleto,  Liutprand  restored  the  cities  he  had  fJ^JJeV^o^p^e" 
taken  from  the  Roman  duchy,   and   granted  a  742. 
peace  for  twenty  years.     He  even  presented  great  offerings 
to  the  Roman  Churches  and  made  a  present  of  some  valuable 
estates  to  Zachariah.     Yet  the  anger  of  the  popes  was  in  no 
way  appeased :  in  their  hearts  they  hated  the  Lombards  as  if 
they  were  still  Arians  or  heathen,  and  only  awaited  another 
opportunity  for  conspiring  against  them. 

Meanwhile  Liutprand  died  in  peace  in  743,  after  a  reign 

288  European  History,  ^yG-gi^ 

of  thirty-one  years,  in  which  he  had  added  the  greater 
part  of  the  Exarchate  to  his  kingdom,  had  extended  the 
boundaries  of  Italy  to  north  and  east  against  the  Bavarian 
and  Slav,  and  had  reduced  the  Beneventan  and  Spoletan 
dukes  to  an  unwonted  state  of  subservience.  No  one,  save 
his  enemies  the  popes,  ever  laid  a  charge  of  any  sort  against 
his  character,  and  he  appears  to  have  been  the  best-loved  and 
best-served  king  of  his  day.  We  read  with  pleasure  that  he 
died  in  peace,  ere  the  terrible  invasion  of  the  Franks  began  to 
afflict  the  land  he  had  guarded  so  well.  It  would  have  been 
better  perhaps  for  Italy  if  he  had  been  a  less  virtuous  and 
pious  sovereign  :  a  less  temperate  ruler  would  have  finished 
his  career  of  conquest  by  taking  Rome,  and  so  would  have 
staved  off  the  countless  ills  that  Rome  was  about  to  bring 
on  the  whole  Italian  peninsula. 



Wars  with  the  Saxons  and  Frisians — Missionary  enterprises  of  St.  Boniface — 
The  Saracens  in  Septimania  and  Aquitaine — Charles  wins  the  battle  of 
Poictiers— Revolt  and  subjection  of  duke  Hunold  of  Aquitaine— Charles 
and  the  Papacy. 

The  name  of  Charles  Martel  is  generally  remembered  as  that 
of  the  victor  of  Poictiers,  but  although  the  defeat  of  the  in- 
vasion of  the  Saracens  of  Spain  was  destined  to  be  the  greatest 
of  his  achievements,  his  struggle  with  them  was  but  one  of  a 
long  series  of  wars  waged  against  all  the  races  of  infidels  who 
surrounded  the  Prankish  realm.  It  was  not  till  the  twelfth 
year  of  his  mayoralty  that  he  himself  took  the  field  to  face  the 
invader  from  the  south.  Up  to  that  year  he  had  been  far 
more  concerned  with  the  heathen  neighbours  of  his  own 
Austrasia,  and  must  have  spared  comparatively  few  thoughts 
for  the  danger  of  distant  Aquitaine,  and  its  half-independent 

Charles  had  first  to  deal  with  the  Saxons.  To  punish  them 
for  their  interference  in  the  Prankish  civil  war  of  714-20  he 
led  several  expeditions  into  the  valley  of  the  Weser,  and 
pushed  the  Prankish  frontier  up  to  the  Teutobiirgerwald 
and  the  head  waters  of  the  Lippe  and  the  Riihr.  The 
Prisians  had  already  submitted  to  him,  but  he  had  come 
to  the  conclusion  that  their  homage  was  worth  little  until  they 
should  have  adopted  Christianity,  and  he  therefore  employed  all 


290  European  History,  476-918 

his  influence  to  make  their  duke  Aldgisl  co-operate  in  the  con- 
Warsof  version  of  his  subjects.  The  duke,  a  just  and  peace- 

charies  in  loving  princc,  was  not  averse  to  the  scheme,  and 
Germany,  730.  ^ndcr  his  guarantee  missionaries  were  despatched 
by  bishop  WiUibrord  of  Utrecht  over  all  the  Frisian  districts. 
In  the  course  of  a  generation  they  had  christianised  the  greater 
part  of  the  country,  but  the  East  Frisians  were  far  behind 
the  rest  in  accepting  the  gospel,  and  their  conversion  was  to 
be  reserved  till  the  reign  of  Charles's  son. 

Frisia  and  Saxony  having  been  dealt  with,  it  was  the  next 
task  of  the  great  mayor  to  restore  the  Frankish  suzerainty 
over  Bavaria,  which  had  disappeared  for  more  than  eighty 
years.  But  before  he  could  complete  this  task  he  was  sum- 
moned into  the  West  to  suppress  a  Neustrian  rebelHon.  The 
nobles  of  northern  Gaul,  in  spite  of  their  deep  humiliation  at 
Vincy  and  Soissons,  rose  once  more  under  Raginfred,  the  late 
mayor  of  Chilperich  ii.  But  the  rising  collapsed  at  the  first 
appearance  of  Charles,  and  the  enemy  laid  down  their  arms, 
Raginfred  only  stipulating  that  he  should  retain  his  countship 
of  Angers  on  giving  up  his  sons  as  hostages  (724). 

The  next  three  years  were  occupied  in  the  subjugation  of 
south-eastern  Germany.  Marching  eastward  through  Suabia, 
whose  warriors  he  compelled  to  accompany  him  to  the  field, 
Charles  advanced  against  the  Bavarians.  After  severe  fight- 
ing, lasting  over  three  campaigns,  he  returned  in  triumph  with 
much  plunder,  a  troop  of  hostages,  and  the  submission  of 
duke  Hukbert.  The  allegiance  of  the  Bavarians  was  still 
very  insecure,  but  something  had  been  done  to  enforce  the 
long-forgotten  suzerainty  of  the  Franks.  Alarmed  by  the 
subjection  of  Bavaria,  the  Suabian  duke  Lantfrid  rebelled, 
but  Charles  slew  him  in  battle,  and  refused  to  appoint  any 
duke  in  his  stead,  in  order  that  Suabia  might  more  easily 
amalgamate  with  the  neighbouring  districts  when  it  had  lost 
the  prince  whose  title  symbolised  its  separate  unity  (730). 

While  Charles  worked  with  the  sword  against  the  eastern 
Germans,  he  did  not  neglect  the  other  great  means  of  binding 

Charles  Martel  and  his  Wars  291 

them  to  the  Frankish  realm.  It  was  during  the  time  of  his  Saxon 
and  Bavarian  wars  that  he  lent  his  protection  to  the  zealous 
West-Saxon  monk  Winfrith,  the  indefatigable  preacher  and 
organiser  who  won  the  name  of  the  'Apostle  y^^^^^xonoi 
of  Germany '  by  his  long  life-work  among  the  Boniface  to 
Bavarians,  Thuringians,  and  Hessians.  After  ^^'■"^^"y- 
spending  some  time  with  bishop  Willibrord  at  Utrecht,  Win- 
frith  had  started  eastward  to  find  newer  and  wilder  fields  for 
his  activity.  He  fixed  himself  first  among  the  Hessians  where 
no  missionary  had  been  seen  since  the  death  of  St.  Suidbert.^ 
Here  he  met  with  such  success  that  the  whole  land  was  soon 
reckoned  Christian.  Pope  Gregory  11.,  hearing  of  his  triumphs, 
sent  for  him  to  Rome,  and  consecrated  him  missionary  bishop 
of  all  Transrhenane  Germany.  After  swearing  implicit  obedi- 
ence to  the  Apostolic  See  for  himself  and  all  his  converts, 
Winfrith — or  as  he  is  more  often  called  in  his  later  years 
Boniface — returned  to  the  North  with  a  papal  letter  of  cred- 
ence recommending  him  to  the  Mayor  of  Austrasia.  Charles 
undertook  the  support  of  the  new  bishop  with  the  greatest 
zeal:  'without  the  aid  of  the  prince  of  the  Franks,'  wrote 
Boniface,  *  I  should  not  be  able  to  rule  my  church  nor  defend 
the  lives  of  my  priests  and  nuns,  nor  keep  my  converts  from 
lapsing  into  pagan  rites  and  observances.'  It  was  the  fear 
of  the  wrath  of  Charles  that  kept  the  wild  Hessians  and 
Thuringians  from  murdering  the  unarmed  missionary,  when 
he  came  among  them  with  his  life  in  his  hand,  and  hewed 
down  the  holy  oak  of  Woden  at  Fritzlar  in  the  presence  of 
thousands  of  heathen  spectators.  For  the  next  thirty-one 
years  (723-54)  Boniface  went  forth  conquering  and  to  conquer, 
churches  and  abbeys  rising  everywhere  beneath  his  hand,  in 
the  regions  where  the  Christian  name  had  never  before  been 

While  Charles  had  been  busied  on  the  Austrasian  frontier 
a  new  storm  was  rising  in  the  South.     The  Saracens  of  Spain 
were  once  more  crossing  the  Rhone  and  the  Cevennes  to 
^  See  p.  263. 

292  European  History^  476-918 

overrun  southern  Gaul.  Luckily  for  the  Franks  the  efforts 
of  the  Moslems  were  most  spasmodic ;  the  governors  of  Spain 
were,  as  a  rule,  more  concerned  with  preserving  their  own 
authority  against  revolted  lieutenants  than  with  extending  the 
bounds  of  Islam.  The  centre  of  government  at  Damascus 
was  so  far  away  that  the  Caliph's  authority  was  only  displayed 
at  rare  intervals,  and  as  a  rule  the  various  Arab  and  Berber 
chiefs  who  represented  the  sovereign  were  busily  engaged  in 
deposing  and  murdering  each  other.  In  the  first  forty  years 
of  Mussulman  rule  in  Spain  there  were  no  less  than  twenty 
viceroys,  of  whom  seven  came  to  violent  ends. 

We  have  already  related  the  disastrous  issue  of  the  expedi- 
tion of  El-Samah  against  Toulouse  in  721.     It  was  not  till 
725  that  the  Saracens  stirred  again;  in  that  year  the  Emir 
Anbasa-ibn-Johim  set  out  from  Narbonne  with  a  large  army, 
and  subdued  Carcassonne,  Nismes,  and  the  rest  of  northern 
Con  uests  of  Scptimania  as   far  as   the  Rhone.     He  placed 
the  Arabs      garrisons   in   the   newly   conquered   cities,    and 
in  Gaul.         ^^^  crossed  the  river  and  executed  a  rapid  raid 
through  Burgundy  as  far  as  Autun  in  the  heat  of  the  summer. 
After  sacking  Autun  he  returned  with  such  speed  to  Spain 
that  the  Franks  were  totally  unable  to  overtake  him.     But 
Anbasa  died  before  the  year  was  out,  and  for  seven  years  his 
successors  were  too  much  engaged  in  strife  with  each  other  to 
renew  the  attack  on  Christendom.     Eudo,  duke  of  Aquitaine, 
employed  the  respite  in  conciliating  the  friendship  of  Othman- 
ben-abu-Neza,  the  Moslem  governor  of  Septimania,  whom  he 
won  to  his  side  by  giving  him  his  daughter  in  marriage.    It  was 
probably  in  reliance  on  the  aid  of  his  son-in-law  that  Eudo 
in  731  rebelled  against  the  Franks,  and  once  more  declared 
himself  independent  duke  of  Aquitaine.     Charles  crossed  the 
Wars  with     Loire,  beat  Eudo  in  the  field,  and  ravaged  the 
Eudo  of         country  up  to  the  gates  of  Bordeaux.    The  duke, 
Aqmtaine.     howevcr,  persisted  in  his  resistance,  till  he  learnt 
that  another  foe  was  about  to  attack  him.     His  son-in-law 
Othman  had  rebelled  against  Abderahman  the  viceroy  of  Spain, 

Charles  Martel  and  his  Wars  293. 

and  had  been  defeated  and  slain.  After  subduing  the  rebel, 
Abderahman  resolved  to  march  against  Othman's  ally  and 
father-in-law.  This  drove  Eudo  into  making  an  abject  and 
instant  submission  to  his  Frankish  suzerain. 

In  732  the  viceroy  crossed  the  western  Pyrenees  at  the 
head  of  the  largest  Saracen  army  that  Spain  had  yet  seen, 
strengthened  by  reinforcements  from  Africa  and  the  East. 
Eudo  stood  on  the  defensive  against  him  and  endeavoured  to 
defend  the  line  of  the  Garonne,  but  was  routed  with  the  loss 
of  almost  the  whole  of  his  army.  He  fled  beyond  the  Loire 
and  threw  himself  on  the  mercy  of  Charles  Abderahman 
Martel ;  meanwhile  the  Saracens  stormed  Bor-  invades  Gaui, 
deaux,  and  moved  slowly  forward,  ravaging  the  ''^' 
country  on  all  sides  till  they  drew  near  to  Poictiers.  It  was  for 
no  mere  raid  that  they  had  come  on  this  occasion,  but  for 
the  permanent  conquest  of  Aquitaine,  perhaps  even  with  the 
design  of  attacking  Neustria  also.  Headed  by  the  strongest 
and  most  popular  viceroy  that  Moslem  Spain  had  yet  known, 
and  mustering  not  less  than  seventy  or  eighty  thousand  men, 
they  set  no  limit  to  their  desires. 

In  the  hour  of  danger  the  great  Mayor  of  the  Palace  was 
not  wanting.  He  did  not  rush  hastily  into  the  field,  but  drew 
together  the  whole  force  of  both  the  Frankish  realms,  though 
his  firmest  reliance  was  on  his  own  Austrasians.  Leading  an 
army  whose  like  had  not  been  seen  since  the  earliest  days  of 
the  monarchy — for  never  had  Neustria  and  Austrasia  com- 
bined for  an  expedition  of  such  moment — he  crossed  the 
Loire  near  Tours  and  advanced  to  meet  Abderahman.  It  was 
close  to  Poictiers  ^in  suburbio  PictavieiisV  that  the  two  great 
hosts  faced  each  other,  though  by  some  freak  of  the  chronicler 
it  is  Tours  that  has  given  its  name  to  the  battle  in  the  pages 
of  many  of  our  histories.  Abderahman  and  Charles  both  felt 
that  they  were  about  to  engage  in  no  common  contest.  The 
fate  of  Aquitaine,  possibly  of  all  Gaul,  might  be  largely  in- 
fluenced by  the  result  of  the  oncoming  battle  between  Christian 
and  Moslem.      For  seven  days  the  two  hosts  lay  opposite 

294  European  History^  476-918 

each  other,  each  waiting  for  the  enemy  to  advance ;  at  last 
Abderahman  took  the  offensive,  and  his  host  poured  out 
from  their  camp  to  assail  the  Frankish  line.  Hardly  a  detail 
of  the  great  struggle  has  survived :  we  only  know  that  the 
Saracen  horsemen  surged  in  vain  around  the  impenetrable 
masses  of  the  Frankish  infantry,  whose  firm  shield-wall  'was 
frozen  to  the  earth  like  a  rampart  of  ice.'  The  Austrasians  bore 
the  brunt  of  the  fighting ;  *  the  men  of  the  East  huge  in  stature 
Battle  of  aii^i  iron-handed  hewed  on  long  and  fiercely  ;  it 

Poictiers,  732.  ^as  they  who  sought  out  and  slew  the  Saracen 
chief.'  The  fight  endured  till  night  fell,  when  the  invaders 
withdrew,  leaving  Abderahman  and  many  thousands  more  lying 
dead  in  front  of  the  Frankish  line.  In  the  darkness  the  Arabs 
had  time  to  count  up  their  losses,  which  were  so  appalling  that 
they  hastily  fled  rather  than  face  another  day's  fighting.  Their 
tents,  crammed  with  all  the  booty  of  Aquitaine,  their  baggage 
and  military  stores,  with  thousands  of  horses  and  enormous 
piles  of  arms,  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  victorious  Franks. 
So  ended  the  danger  of  western  Christendom  from  the 
Moslem  invader,  a  danger  which  has  not  unfrequently  been 
exaggerated,  especially  by  French  writers  anxious  to  glorify 
the  Austrasian  mayor,  whom  they  have  chosen  to  make  into  a 
French  national  hero.  It  is  probable  that  even  if  Abderahman 
had  been  victorious  nothing  more  than  the  duchy  of  Aquitaine 
would  have  fallen  into  his  hands,  for  this  invasion  after 
leaving  Bordeaux  was  degenerating  into  an  incursion  for 
plunder,  like  that  which  in  725  had  ended  with  the  sack  of 
Autun.  The  Moslems  of  Spain  had  proved  themselves  during 
the  last  forty  years  so  factious  and  unruly,  that  we  cannot 
believe  that  even  under  a  leader  of  exceptional  ability  they 
would  have  held  together  long  and  loyally  enough  to  ensure 
the  conquest  of  central  Gaul.  Neustria,  and  still  more 
Austrasia,  were  states  of  a  very  different  degree  of  vigour 
from  the  decrepit  Visigothic  monarchy  which  fell  in  711. 
Even  if  Poictiers  had  fared  as  Aiitun,  there  was  strength  and 
courage  enough  in  the  Franks  to  face  many  such  another 

Charles  M artel  and  his  Wars  295 

blow,  and  we  may  doubt  the  judgment  of  Gibbon  when  he 
draws  his  gloomy  forecast  of  the  probable  results  of  a  victory 
for  Abderahman,  ending  in  a  picture  of  the  Muezzin  calling 
the  True  Believers  to  prayer  in  the  Highlands  of  Scotland, 
and  the  MoUahs  of  Oxford  disputing  on  the  attributes  of  a 
Unitarian  Godhead. 

The  remnants  of  the  Saracen  host  made  no  attempt  to  hold 
Aquitaine,  but  fled  hastily  across  the  Pyrenees,  so  that  duke 
Eudo  was  able  to  reoccupy  Bordeaux  and  Toulouse,  and  rule 
once  more  over  the  whole  of  his  former  dominions  as  the 
vassal  of  the  Frank.  Meanwhile,  Charles  returned  to  Aus- 
trasia  laden  with  booty,  and  was  hailed  by  all  western 
Christendom  as  the  greatest  conqueror  since  Constantine. 
The  Frankish  poets  and  chroniclers  continued  to  celebrate 
his  triumph  with  such  fervour  that  ere  long  the  world  was  told 
and  believed  that  he  had  slain  375,000  Saracens,  with  the  loss 
of  no  more  than  1500  men  on  his  own  side  !  If  only  he 
had  been  more  of  a  favourite  with  the  Church  he  would  have 
been  enshrined  in  history  as  the  equal  of  his  grandson, 
Charles  the  Great.  But  the  zeal  with  which  he  forwarded 
the  conversion  of  Germany,  and  smote  the  infidel,  did  not 
atone,  in  the  eyes  of  the  monkish  historians,  for  the  high- 
handed way  in  which  he  had  dealt  with  the  GauUsh  church. 
Because  he  banished  bishops,  and  forbade  synods  to  be  held 
without  his  leave,  and  occasionally  laid  military  burdens  on 
church-land,  he  received  a  very  half-hearted  blessing  from  the 
annalists  of  his  day. 

Charles  spent  the  years  that  followed  his  great  victory  in 
regulating  the  government  of  Burgundy,  where  he  replaced 
most  of  the  counts  and  dukes  by  followers  of  his  own,  and  in 
completing  the  subjection  of  Frisia.  The  peaceful  duke 
Aldgisl  had  been  succeeded  by  a  fierce  pagan  named  Boddo, 
whom  the  great  mayor  was  soon  forced  to  attack,  when  he 
commenced  to  kill  or  drive  away  the  missionaries  of  Willi- 
brord  and  Boniface.  After  slaying  Boddo  in  battle,  and 
burning  every  heathen  shrine  in  Friesland,  Charles  left  the 

296  European  History^  476-918 

country  so  tamed  that  it  did  not  revolt  again  for  full  twenty 

Ii^  735?  however,  new  troubles  began  in  the  south.  Duke 
Eudo  died,  and  Charles  thought  the  time  was  ripe  for  the 
complete  incorporation  of  the  great  southern  duchy  with  the 
Frankish  realm.  He  rode  through  the  land  and  forced  its 
inhabitants  to  do  him  homage,  but  their  subjection  was  only 
the  result  of  fear,  and  when  he  had  returned  home  the 
southerners  proclaimed  Eudo's  son  Hunold  as  their  duke. 
Hunold  would  probably  have  been  put  down  had  not  the 
Saracens  begun  once  more  to  stir.  Headed  by  Yussuf-aben- 
Abderahman,  the  son  of  the  chief  who  had  fallen 
Hunold  of  at  Poictiers  four  years  before,  they  sallied  out 
Aquitaine,  of  Narbonne,  crossed  the  Rhone,  and  seized  the 
old  Roman  city  of  Aries.  The  years  736-39  were 
mainly  occupied  in  driving  back  three  successive  Moslem  in- 
roads into  south-eastern  Gaul,  and  Charles  was  so  engrossed 
in  this  strife  that  he  consented  to  recognise  Hunold  as  duke  of 
Aquitaine,  so  that  he  might  have  his  hands  entirely  free  for 
the  greater  struggle.  Complete  success  at  last  crowned  his 
arms :  Provence  was  swept  clear  of  the  Arabs ;  Aries  and 
Avignon,  which  the  Infidels  had  seized  and  held  for  a  space, 
were  recovered ;  Nismes,  Agde,  and  Beziers,  which  they  had 
possessed  since  the  great  invasion  of  Septimania  in  725, 
were  taken,  dismantled,  and  burnt,  and  a  great  host  was  de- 
feated in  front  of  Narbonne.  That  city,  however,  did  not  yet 
fall  into  the  hands  of  the  Franks  ;  together  with  the  southern 
half  of  Septimania  it  still  remained  a  Saracen  outpost,  covering 
the  passes  of  the  eastern  Pyrenees.  For  twenty  years  more 
it  was  fated  to  remain  unconquered ;  not  Charles  but  his 
son  was  destined  to  move  forward  the  Frankish  boundary  to 
the  foot  of  the  mountains.  Meanwhile  the  Saracens  of  Spain, 
cowed  by  the  crushing  blows  of  Charles  the  Hammer,  aban- 
doned their  attempt  to  push  northward,  and  plunged  into  a 
weary  series  of  civil  wars. 

While  Charles  was  engaged  in  his  Saracen  war,  the  puppet- 

Charles  Martel  and  his  Wars  297 

king  Theuderich  iv.,  in  whose  name  he  had  been  ruling  for 
the  last  seventeen  years,  chanced  to  die.     So  little  had  the 
royal  name  come  to  mean,  that  the  great  mayor  pour  king- 
did  not  seek  out  the  next  heir  of  the  childless  less  years, 
king  and  crown  him,  but  ruled  for  the  last  four  ^37-42. 
years  of  his  life  without  any  suzerain.     He  did  not  himself, 
however,  take  the  kingly  title,  but  continued  to  be  styled 
mayor,  prince,  or  duke  of  the  Franks ;  he  cared  not  for  name 
or  style  so  long  as  the  real  power  was  in  his  hands. 

The  reconquest  of  Provence  and  northern  Septi mania  was 
the  last  of  the  great  mayor's  triumphs.  But  the  four  years 
which  he  had  yet  to  live  were  not  without  their  importance. 
In  738  he  compelled  the  Westphalian  Saxons  on  the  Lippe 
and  Ems  to  do  him  homage  and  pay  tribute.  In  739  the 
organisation  of  the  south  German  church  was  completed  by 
the  erection  of  four  bishoprics  in  Bavaria,  which  looked  to 
Boniface,  now  archbishop  of  all  Transrhenane  Germany,  as 
their  Metropolitan.  Thus  Bavaria  became  ecclesiastically  an 
integral  part  of  the  Frankish  Church,  even  as  politically  it  had 
already  become  an  integral  part  of  the  Frankish  ^^^  ^ 
empire.  But  though  Charles  was  a  firm  supporter  asks  aid  from 
of  the  Church  in  his  own  dominions,  he  would  ^^^"^^^^'739- 
not  interfere  in  ecclesiastical  disputes  beyond  his  frontier. 
Pope  Gregory  iii.  had  plunged  into  a  struggle  with  the 
Lombard  king  Liutprand,  and  invited  the  pious  ruler  of  the 
Franks  to  march  against  the  enemy  of  the  Church.  But 
Charles  refused ;  Liutprand  had  given  him  some  aid  against 
the  Saracens,  and  he  was  not  minded  to  attack  an  old  ally 
merely  because  the  Lombard  had  fallen  out  with  the  Pope 
concerning  the  duchy  of  Spoleto. 

In  the  summer  of  the  next  year  the  great  mayor  began  to 
feel  his  health  failing,  though  he  had  not  yet  completed  his 
fifty-fourth  year.  He  determined  to  set  his  house  in  order 
ere  yet  the  hand  of  death  was  upon  him,  and  summoned  the 
great  council  of  all  the  Frankish  realms  to  meet  him.  With 
its  approval  he  proceeded  to   make   over   the   rule   of  the 

2gS  European  History,  476-918 

kingdom  to  his  sons.  There  was  no  Merovingian  king  whose 
rights  needed  to  be  taken  into  consideration,  as  Theuderich 
IV.  had  died  four  years  back,  and  had  left  no  successor. 
Accordingly  Charles  and  the  council  dealt  with  the  land  as  if 
Charles  ^^  ^^^  already  become  the  rightful  inheritance  of 
divides  his  the  housc  of  St.  Arnulf.  The  great  mayor  had 
rea  m.  three  grown-up  sons ;  two,  Carloman  and  Pippin, 
were  the  offspring  of  his  wife  Rothrudis,  the  third,  Grifo,  was 
the  son  of  Swanhildis,  a  Bavarian  lady  whom  he  had  taken 
as  his  concubine  during  his  Bavarian  campaign  of  725. 
Their  ages  appear  to  have  been  twenty-seven,  twenty-six,  and 
seventeen.  Charles  handed  over  the  rule  of  Austrasia  and 
Suabia  to  Carloman,  and  that  of  Neustria  and  Burgundy  to 
Pippin.  It  is  said  that  he  also  contemplated  leaving  a  small 
appanage  on  the  border  of  Neustria  and  Austrasia  to  Grifo. 
Bavaria  and  Aquitaine,  the  two  great  vassal  dukedoms,  were 
not  named  in  the  division,  though  the  former  fell  under 
the  influence  of  Carloman,  and  the  latter  under  that  of 

Shortly  after  he  had  accomplished  this  division  of  his 
realms,  Charles  died  at  Cerisy-on-Oise  on  the  21st  of  October 
741.  He  had  completed  the  work  which  his  father,  Pippin 
the  Younger,  had  taken  in  hand,  for  the  ancient  boundaries 
of  the  Frankish  empire  had  now  been  everywhere  restored, 
Aquitaine  and  Bavaria  had  been  reduced  to  vassalage,  Chris- 
tianity was  now  firmly  rooted  all  over  Frisia,  Thuringia,  and 
Hesse.  The  difficulties  he  had  faced  were  far  greater  than 
Life-work  of  thosc  which  his  father  had  to  encounter.  He  had 
Charles.  rcscucd  the  fortunes  of  the  house  of  St.  Arnulf 
from  the  lowest  depths, — though  Austrasia  had  been  divided, 
though  Neustria  was  hostile,  and  though  an  energetic  king 
was  for  once  swaying  the  Frankish  sceptre  and  endeavouring 
to  recover  the  lost  privileges  of  his  ancestors.  Having  fought 
his  way  to  power,  Charles  had  then  to  face  the  one  serious 
danger  from  without  which  the  Franks  had  yet  encoun- 
tered.    He  had  met  it  without  flinching,   and   smitten   the 

Charles  Martel  and  his  Wars  299 

intrusive  Moslem  so  hard  that  the  blow  did  not  need  to  be 
repeated.  For  the  future  we  hear  of  Frankish  invasions  of 
Spain,  not  of  Saracen  invasions  of  Gaul.  Charles  then  had 
won  peace  without  and  within,  he  had  reorganised  the 
Frankish  realm,  raised  it  to  a  pitch  of  power  and  glory  which 
it  had  never  attained  before,  and  made  possible  the  triumph- 
ant career  of  his  son  and  grandson.  As  the  champion  of 
Christianity  and  the  protector  of  the  evangelist  of  Germany, 
he  had  won  a  yet  nobler  title  to  honourable  memory,  and  the 
complaints  of  the  Gaulish  bishops,  who  murmured  that  his 
hand  was  too  hard  on  the  Church,  may  be  lightly  disregarded 
when  we  add  up  the  sum  of  his  merits,  and  salute  him  as  the 
inaugurator  of  a  new  and  better  era  in  the  history  of  Europe. 




Leo  and  the  defence  of  Constantinople,  718 — Importance  of  his  triumph — 
Social  and  economical  condition  of  the  Empire — Decay  of  Art  and 
Letters — Superstition  and  Iconoduly — The  Iconoclast  movement— Leo's 
Crusade  against  Images — Constantine  Copronymus  and  his  persecu- 
tions—Successful wars  of  Constantine  V. — Minority  of  Constantine  vi. — 
Intrigues  and  triumph  of  Irene— Restoration  of  Image-worship — End  of 
the  Isaurian  dynasty,  802. 

In  March  717  Leo  the  Isaurian  became  master  of  Constan- 
tinople, his  predecessor,  Theodosius  iii.,  having  abdicated 
and  refused  to  continue  the  civil  war  which  had  begun  in  the 
previous  year.  It  is  probable  that  his  resignation  was  due  as 
much  to  fear  of  the  oncoming  of  the  Saracens  as  to  the  dread 
of  Leo,  for  the  armies  of  the  caliph  Soliman  were  already 
ravaging  Phrygia  and  Cappadocia,  and  slowly  making  their 
way  towards  the  Bosphorus.  Nothing  save  the  conscious- 
ness of  his  own  capacity  to  stem  the  rising  flood  of  Moslem 
invasion  could  have  justified  Leo  in  taking  arms  against 
Theodosius  in  such  a  time  of  danger ;  but  fortunately  for  the 
empire  he  had  not  overvalued  his  own  power,  and  was  des- 
tined to  show  that  he  was  fully  competent  to  face  the  situation. 
Leo  the  ^^  ^^^  ^^^^^  ^  youug  man,  but  his  life  had  already 
Isaurian,  been  full  of  incident  and  adventure ;  he  was  the 
717-40.  sQn  of  parents  of  some  wealth,  who  had  migrated 

from  the  Isaurian  regions  in  the  Taurus  to  Thrace.     He  had 


The  Iconoclast  Emperors  301 

entered  the  army  during  the  second  reign  of  Justinian  Rhino- 
tmetus,  and  after  serving  him  well  had  incurred  the  tyrant's 
suspicion,  and  been  sent  on  a  dangerous  expedition  into  the 
Caucasus,  from  which  he  was  not  intended  to  return.  But  he 
extricated  himself  from  many  perils  among  the  Alans  and 
Abasgi  of  those  distant  regions,  and  came  back  in  safety,  to  be 
made  by  Anastasius  11.  governor  of  the  Anatolic  theme.  He 
was  an  active,  enterprising,  persevering  man,  with  a  talent  for 
organisation,  a  great  power  of  making  himself  loved  by  his 
soldiery,  and  an  iron  hand.  His  later  career  shows  that  he 
was  more  than  a  good  soldier,  being  also  one  who  looked 
deep  into  the  causes  of  things,  and  had  formed  his  own  views 
on  politics  and  religion. 

Leo  was  only  granted  five  months  in  which  to  prepare  for 
the  long-dreaded  advent  of  the  Saracens.  He  spent  this  time 
in  accumulating  vast  stores  of  provisions,  recruiting  the 
garrision  of  Constantinople,  and  strengthening  its  fortifica- 
tions. On  the  15th  of  August  Moslemah  with  an  army  of 
80,000  Saracens  appeared  on  the  Bithynian  coast;  a  few  days 
later  a  Syrian  fleet  of  over  1000  sail  appeared  in  the  Propontis, 
took  the  army  of  Moslemah  on  board,  and  transported  it  into 
Thrace.  The  Saracen's  land-troops  at  once  commenced  the 
blockade  of  the  capital  by  land,  while  part  of  the  fleet  moved 
into  the  Bosphorus,  to  post  itself  so  as  to  block  the  mouth  of 
the  Golden  Horn,  in  which  the  Imperial  navy  had  taken  refuge. 
Leo  delivered  his  first  blow  while  the  Saracen  vessels  were 
passing  up  the  Bosphorus ;  issuing  out  of  the  Golden  Horn 
with  many  galleys  and  fireships  he  attacked  the  enemy  as 
they  were  trying  to  pass  up  the  straits,  and  burnt  Moslemah 
twenty  ships  of  war.  The  Saracen  admiral  then  besieges  Con- 
dropped  down  to  the  southern  exit  of  the  Bos-  ^tantinopie. 
phorus,  and  left  the  northern  exit  free  to  the  Romans,  so  that 
Leo  was  able  to  continue  to  draw  supplies  from  the  Black  Sea. 

The  blockade  of  Constantinople  was,  therefore,  imperfect, 
and  we  learn  without  surprise,  that  while  the  Saracens  in 
their  camp  on  the  Thracian  side  of  the  straits  suffered  severely 

302  European  History,  476-918 

from  the  cold  of  an  unusually  severe  autumn  and  winter,  the 
garrison  within  the  walls  was  well  fed  and  also  w^ell  housed, 
and  continued  to  grow  in  self-confidence.  Moslemah  sent  in 
haste  for  reinforcements,  and  the  Caliph  supported  him  with 
zeal ;  a  second  land-army  marched  up  from  Tarsus  to  Chal- 
cedon  in  the  spring  of  718,  and  occupied  the  Bithynian  shore 
of  the  Bosphorus,  while  a  great  fleet  from  Africa  and  Egypt 
joined  the  blockading  squadron,  and  moored  at  Kalosagros 
on  the  eastern  side  of  the  Bosphorus,  in  order  to  watch  the 
mouth  of  the  Golden  Horn,  and  stop  the  communication  of 
the  city  with  the  Black  Sea. 

The  preservation  of  the  free  waterway  to  the  north  was  all- 
important  to  the  defence.  Accordingly,  Leo  determined  to 
make  a  great  effort  to  destroy  the  Egyptian  fleet.  His  galleys, 
many  of  them  fitted  with  apparatus  for  discharging  the  famous 
Greek  fire,  sailed  out  suddenly,  and  fell  on  the  Saracen  ships 
as  they  lay  moored  against  the  Asiatic  shore.  Many  of  the 
crews  of  the  Egyptian  ships  were  Christians,  forced  on  board 
against  their  will ;  these  men  either  deserted  to  the  Imperial- 
ists or  fled  ashore  and  dispersed.  The  Moslem  sailors  on 
board  made  some  resistance,  but  being  caught  at  anchor,  and 
unable  to  manoeuvre  or  escape,  they  were  soon  overcome. 
The  whole  blockading  squadron  was  burnt  or  towed  back 
in  triumph  to  Constantinople.  The  rest  of  Moslemah's 
fleet  made  no  further  attempt  to  bar  the  Bosphorus,  and 
allowed  the  Roman  galleys  to  dominate  its  waters.  Leo  then 
threw  a  force  on  to  the  Bithynian  shore,  and  dispersed  the 
Saracen  troops  who  were  encamped  there.  Thus  the  army  of 
Moslemah  was  cut  off  from  Asia,  and  could  draw  no  further 
supplies  from  thence.  It  had  already  exhausted  those  of  the 
nearer  districts  of  Thrace,  and  by  the  summer  of  718  was 
reduced  to  the  verge  of  starvation,  living  from  hand  to  mouth 
on  what  its  foragers  could  procure.  Many  had  already 
perished  of  privation,  when  Moslemah  heard  that  a  great 
Bulgarian  army  had  crossed  the  Balkans,  and  was  advancing 
against  him.      Leo  had  apparently  convinced  king  Terbel 

The  Iconoclast  Emperors  303 

that  a  Saracen  invasion  of  Europe  was  as  dangerous  to  him  as 
to  the  empire.  Moslemah  detached  a  portion  of  his  army 
to  hold  back  the  Bulgarians,  but  near  Hadrianople  it  was 
completely  cut  to  pieces  by  the  barbarians.  The  Arab  his- 
torians confess  that  22,000  men  fell  in  the  rout. 

This  decided  Moslemah  to  raise  the  siege.  His  fleet  took 
the  remains  of  the  land  army  on  board,  and  put  it  siege  of  Con- 
ashore  near  Cyzicus.  From  thence  he  forced  his  stantinopie 
way  back  to  Tarsus,  but  of  more  than  100,000  men  ^^^^^  '  ^^  " 
comprised  in  his  original  army  and  its  reinforcements,  Mos- 
lemah brought  back  only  30,000.  The  fleet  fared  yet  worse; 
it  was  caught  in  a  storm  off  the  Lycian  coast,  and  almost 
entirely  destroyed.  The  Romans  captured  many  of  the  sur- 
viving ships,  and  it  is  said  that  only  five  vessels  out  of  a 
thousand  got  back  to  Syria. 

Thus  perished  the  last  Saracen  armament  which  ever  seri- 
ously threatened  the  existence  of  the  East-Roman  Empire. 
It  was  perhaps  the  most  formidable  expedition  that  the 
Caliphs  ever  sent  forth,  far  larger  and  better  equipped  than 
the  predatory  bands  which  had  overrun  Africa  and  Spain 
with  such  ease  a  few  years  before,  or  the  army  which  Charles 
Martel  faced  at  Poictiers  a  few  years  later.  It  was  no  mean 
achievement  of  Leo  the  Isaurian,  that,  ere  yet  firmly  seated 
on  his  throne,  and  with  all  his  Asiatic  provinces  already  over- 
run by  the  enemy,  he  should  beat  off  with  ease  such  a  mighty 
armament.  His  success  must  be  ascribed  primarily  to  his 
own  courage,  energy,  and  skill,  next  to  the  impregnable 
strength  of  the  walls  of  Constantinople,  and  lastly,  to  the 
inexperience  of  the  Arabs  on  the  sea,  which  compelled  them 
to  use  unwilling  Christian  seamen  for  their  galleys,  and  pre- 
vented them  from  making  any  adequate  use  of  their  momen- 
tary naval  predominance.  The  fleet  of  Moslemah  seems  to 
have  been  as  useless  and  unwieldy  as  the  fleet  of  Xerxes. 
But,  however  much  he  may  have  been  helped  by  the  faults  of 
his  enemy,  Leo  the  Isaurian  deserves  the  thanks  of  all  future 
ages  for  staying  the  progress  of  the  Saracen  invader  at  a 

304  European  History,  476-918 

moment  when  there  was  no  other  power  in  eastern  Europe 
which  could  have  for  a  moment  held  back  the  advancing 
Moslem.  If  Constantinople  had  fallen,  it  is  absolutely  certain 
that  the  barbarous  pagan  tribes  who  occupied  all  eastern  and 
central  Europe  would  have  become  the  subjects  of  the 
Caliph,  and  the  votaries  of  Islam.  There  was  no  capacity  for 
prolonged  resistance  in  the  Bulgarian,  Avar,  or  Slav ;  and  if 
the  East-Roman  Empire  had  fallen,  the  wave  of  Saracen 
invasion  would  have  swept  all  before  it  up  to  the  borders  of 
Austrasia.  Whether  the  Franks  could  have  stood  firm  if 
attacked  on  the  east  as  well  as  on  the  south  is  very  doubtful. 
It  is,  therefore,  fair  to  ascribe  to  Leo  the  Isaurian  an  even 
greater  share  in  the  salvation  of  Europe  from  the  Moslem 
peril  than  is  given  to  Charles  Martel. 

After  the  failure  of  Moslemah  the  victorious  Leo  had  a 
breathing  time  granted  him,  in  which  to  reorganise  the 
shattered  realm  that  had  been  left  him  by  his  predecessor. 
Although  the  Saracen  war  still  went  on,  and  border  raids 
never  ceased  till  the  very  end  of  his  reign,  yet  there  was  no 
very  serious  danger  in  these  latter  bickerings,  and  Leo  was 
able  to  turn  his  attention  to  the  internal  affairs  of  the  empire, 
without  the  fear  of  having  at  any  moment  a  dangerous  in- 
vasion launched  against  him  from  beyond  the  Taurus. 

Leo  was  a  reformer  and  an  innovator  in  every  branch  of 
administration.  His  dealings  with  the  Church  are  those  which 
caused  most  stir  and  are  best  remembered,  but  his  activity 
was  as  great  in  secular  as  in  ecclesiastical  matters.  It  is  un- 
fortunate that  most  of  the  records  of  his  reforms  have 
perished,  nothing  having  been  preserved  except  his  Ecloga  or 
new  handbook  of  law.  But  enough  survives  to  show  the 
character  of  his  administration,  and  its  effects  in  the  succeed- 
ing century  are  very  marked. 

We  have  already  pointed  out  in  an  earlier  chapter  that  the 
East-Roman  Empire  had  been  in  a  state  of  rapid  decay  since 
the  middle  of  the  sixth  century.  The  downward  movement 
that  had  begun  with  the  wars  and  taxes  of  Justinian  had  been 

'    The  Iconoclast  Emperors  305 

accelerated  under  his  successors,  and  had  threatened  the 
actual  destruction  of  the  empire  during  the  reign  of  Heraclius. 
That  the  State  struggled  through  all  its  troubles,  and  emerged 
bleeding  at  every  pore,  shorn  of  many  of  its  members,  but 
still  alive,  was  due  to  the  personal  abilities  of  Heraclius  and 
his  descendants  Constantinus-Constans  and  Con-  Decadence  of 
stantine  v.  But  though  the  life  still  lingered  in  ti^e  empire, 
the  body  of  the  State,  it  was  yet  in  the  most  deplorable  con- 
dition. Its  purely  Oriental  provinces — Egypt,  Syria,  and 
Africa — were  gone  for  ever.  Asia  Minor  was  dreadfully 
wasted  by  the  repeated  invasions  of  the  Saracens.  The 
Balkan  peninsula  was,  as  regards  more  than  half  its  extent,  in 
the  hands  of  the  Bulgarians  and  Slavs.  In  the  seventh 
century  Slavonic  tribes  had  made  their  way  even  into  Hellas 
and  Peloponnesus,  there  to  occupy  all  the  more  remote  and 
mountainous  corners  of  the  land. 

The  disasters  of  the  seventh  century  were  accompanied  by 
wholesale  displacements  of  population.  In  Europe  the  old 
Latin-speaking  population  of  Illyricum,  Moesia,  and  Thrace 
had  almost  disappeared.  Only  a  few  scattered  fragments,  the 
ancestors  of  the  modern  Roumanians  and  Dalmatians,  still 
survived,  scattered  among  the  Slavs  of  the  Balkans.  In  Asia 
the  old  provincial  population  had  been  grievously  thinned  by 
Saracen  wars,  but,  on  the  other  hand,  it  had  been  recruited  by 
great  bands  of  refugees  from  all  the  lands  that  the  Saracen 
had  overrun.  Many  thousands  of  Armenians  and  Persians 
had  chosen  to  become  subjects  of  the  Emperor  rather  than 
the  Caliph,  and  in  particular  the  Mardaites  or  Christians  of  the 
Syrian  mountains  had  emigrated  wholesale  into  changes  in 
Asia  Minor,  after  maintaining  for  many  years  a  population, 
struggle  in  the  Lebanon  against  the  power  of  the  Saracens. 
The  European  themes  were  now  Greco-Slav,  not  Greco- 
Roman,  in  their  population :  the  Asiatic  ones  were  far  more 
Oriental  and  far  less  Greek  than  in  the  sixth  century.  By  the 
time  of  Leo  this  change  was  complete :  the  empire  was  now 
Roman  in  nothing  but  name  and  administrative  organisation. 

PERIOD  I.  u 

3o6  European  History^  476-918 

On  the  other  hand,  it  had  not  yet  become  Greek,  as  it  was  to 
do  in  a  later  age.  Its  most  important  element  in  this  and 
the  next  two  centuries  was  the  Asiatic.  Isauria  and  Armenia 
and  the  other  mountain  lands  of  Asia  Minor  supplied  most  of 
the  rulers  of  the  empire.  They  were  not  Orientals  of  the  more 
effeminate  and  feeble  type — like  the  Syrians  or  Egyptians, 
whose  only  show  of  energy  for  many  years  had  been  in  the 
hatching  of  new  heresies  and  the  practice  of  irrational  asceticism 
— but  were  a  bold  vigorous  race,  hardened  by  many  generations 
of  Persian  and  Saracen  wars,  the  men  who,  ever  since  the  fifth 
century,  had  been  supplying  the  core  of  the  East-Roman  armies. 
The  change  in  the  population  of  the  empire  had  been 
accompanied  by  equally  great  changes  in  its  social  condition. 
Of  these  the  most  important  was  the  disappearance  of  the  old 
Roman  system  of  predial  serfdom,  of  great  estates  tilled  hy  coloni 
or  peasants  bound  to  the  soil  and  unable  to  leave  their  farms. 
This  tenure,  which  lasted  on  in  the  West  till  it  became  the 
basis  of  the  feudal  system,  had  in  the  East  entirely  disappeared 
between  Justinian  and  Leo  the  Isaurian.  In  the  time  of  Leo 
we  find  the  soil  cultivated  either  by  free  tenants,  who  worked 
the  estates  of  great  land-owners  at  a  fixed  rent,  or  by  villages  of 
Decrease  of  ^^^^  peasants  Occupying  their  own  communal  lands, 
serfdom.  The  very  healthy  outcome  of  this  change  was  a 
great  growth  in  the  proportion  of  freemen  to  slaves  all  over 
the  empire :  of  this  the  most  important  and  beneficial  result 
was  that  the  government  could  reckon  on  a  much  larger  and 
better  recruiting  ground  for  the  army  than  in  those  earlier 
times,  when  the  peasant  was  fixed  to  the  soil  and  absolutely 
prohibited  from  serving  as  a  soldier.  The  cause  of  the  vanish- 
ing of  the  old  tenure  was,  without  doubt,  the  fact  that  the 
ravages  of  Slav,  Persian,  and  Saracen  between  600  and  700 
had  broken  up  the  old  landmarks,  and  either  swept  away  or 
displaced  the  former  servile  population.  When  many  provinces 
had  been,  for  many  years  at  a  time,  in  the  hands  of  foreign 
enemies,  as  happened  to  the  whole  of  Asia  Minor  during  the 
first  years  of  Heraclius  and  to  great  part  of  it  in  the  anarchy 

The  Iconoclast  Emperors  307 

between  710  and  718,  it  was  not  wonderful  that  old  social 
arrangements  which  bore  hardly  on  the  bulk  of  the  population 
tended  to  vanish. 

The  disappearance  of  predial  serfdom  was  a  change  for  the 
better  within  the  empire.  But  in  most  other  things  the 
changes  had  been  for  the  worse.  The  civilisation  of  the 
whole  realm  had  sunk  to  a  very  low  level  compared  with  that 
which  prevailed  in  the  fifth  century.  Arts  and  letters  had 
reached  the  lowest  depth  which  they  ever  knew  in  ^^^^  ^^ 
the  East.  All  literature  save  the  compiling  of  arts  and 
polemical  religious  tracts  had  disappeared:  be-  ^^"^*■^• 
tween  620  and  720  we  have  not  a  single  contemporary 
historian  :  the  story  of  the  times  has  to  be  learned  entirely 
from  later  sources.  Poetical,  scientific,  and  philosophical  com- 
position had  also  died  off;  except  the  Heracliad — the  wars 
of  Heraclius  told  as  an  epic — of  George  of  Pisidia,  the  seventh 
century  produced  no  single  poem.  The  study  of  Latin  had 
so  far  died  out  that  the  great  legal  works  of  Justinian  had 
become  useless  to  the  inhabitants  of  the  empire.  They  were 
a  sealed  book  to  all  save  the  exceptionally  learned,  so  that 
systematic  law  had  almost  disappeared.  In  the  various  themes 
we  find  justice  being  administered  according  to  local  customs 
and  usages,  instead  of  by  old  Roman  precept.  Leo  had  to 
abridge  and  translate  Justinian's  Code,  in  order  to  render  it 
either  useful  or  intelligible.  When  doing  this  he  omitted 
great  sections  of  it,  in  order  to  bring  the  book  into  accordance 
with  the  needs  and  customs  of  the  day,  for  both  manners  and 
social  conditions  had  been  transformed  since  the  reign  of 
Justinian.  The  decay  of  art  had  been  as  rapid  as  that  of 
letters :  very  few  remains  of  the  unhappy  seventh  century  have 
come  down  to  us,  but  in  those  which  are  most  numerous,  the 
coins  of  the  emperors,  we  find  the  most  barbarous  incapacity 
to  express  the  simplest  forms.  The  faces  of  Heraclius  or 
Constantine  v.  are  barely  human  :  the  legends  surrounding 
them  are  so  ill  spelt  as  to  be  almost  unintelligible :  the  letters 
are  ill  formed  and  ill  cut. 

308  European  History,  476-918 

But  the  most  painful  feature  of  the  time  was  that  the  decay 
of  arts  and  letters  had  been  accompanied  by  the  growth  of  a 
dense  superstition  and  ignorance  which  would  have  seemed  in- 
credible to  the  ancient  Roman  of  the  fourth,  or  even  the  fifth 
century.  Although  Constantinople  still  preserved  all  the  great 
literary  works  of  antiquity,  the  minds  of  its  rulers  were  no 
more  influenced  by  them  than  were  the  eyes  and  hands  of  its 
craftsmen  inspired  by  the  great  works  of  Greek  sculpture  that 
still  adorned  the  streets.  It  was  a  time  of  the  growth  of 
countless  silly  superstitions,  of  witchcraft  and  necromancy, 
of  the  framing  of  wild  legends  of  apocryphal  saints,  and  of 
strange  misconceptions  of  natural  phenomena. 

Among  the  most  prominent  tokens  of  this  growth  of 
irrational  superstitions  was  the  great  tendency  of  the  seventh 
century  towards  image-worship, — Iconoduly  as  its  opponents 
called  the  practice.  In  direct  opposition  to  early  Christian 
custom,  it  became  common  to  ascribe  the  most  strange  and 
magical  powers  to  representations,  whether  sculptured  or 
painted,  of  Our  Lord  and  the  Saints.  They  were  not  merely 
regarded  as  useful  memorials  to  guide  the  piety  of  believers, 
but  were  thought  to  have  a  holiness  inherent  in  themselves, 
Image-  ^"^^  to  be  Capable  of  performing  the  most  astonish- 
worship.  ing  miracles.  Heraclius  possessed,  and  carried 
about  with  him  as  a  fetich,  a  picture  which  he  believed  to 
have  been  painted  in  heaven  by  angelic  hands,  and  thought  it 
brought  him  all  manner  of  luck.  The  crucifix  over  the  door 
of  the  imperial  palace  was  believed  to  have  used  human 
speech.  Even  patriarchs  and  bishops  affirmed  that  the  hand 
of  a  celebrated  picture  of  the  Virgin  in  the  capital  distilled 
fragrant  balsam.  Every  church  and  monastery  had  its  wonder- 
working image,  and  drew  no  small  revenue  from  pious  offer- 
ings to  it.  The  freaks  to  which  image-worship  led  were  often 
most  grotesque :  it  was,  for  example,  a  well-known  practice  to 
make  a  favourite  picture  the  god-father  of  a  child  in  baptism, 
by  scraping  off  a  little  of  its  paint  and  mixing  it  with  the 
baptismal  water. 

TJte  Iconoclast  Emperors  309 

The  act  for  which  the  name  of  Leo  the  Isaurian  is  best 
remembered  is  the  issue  of  his  edict  against  these  puerile 
superstitions,  and  his  attempt  to  put  down  image-worship  all 
through  his  realm.  Leo  was  not  only  a  man  of  strong 
common  sense,  but  he  was  sprung  from  those  lands  on  tlip 
Mohammedan  border  where  Christians  had  the  best  oppor- 
tunity of  comparing  the  gross  and  material  adoration  of  their 
co-religionists  for  stones  and  paint,  with  the  severe  spiritual 
worship  of  the  followers  of  Islam.  The  Moslem  was  always 
taunting  the  Christian  with  serving  idols,  and  the  taunt  found 
too  much  justification  in  many  practices  of  the  vulgar.  Think- 
ing men  like  Leo  were  moved  by  the  Moslem's  sneer  into  a 
horror  of  the  superstitious  follies  of  their  contemporaries. 
They  fortified  themselves  by  the  view  that  to  make  graven  or 
painted  representations  of  Our  Lord  savoured  of  ,        , 

,  ,  .1-1  1  TT-       Iconoclasm. 

heresy,  because  it  laid  too  much  stress  on  His 
humanity  as  opposed  to  His  divinity.  Such  an  idea  was  no  new 
thing :  it  had  often  been  mooted  among  the  Eastern  Christians, 
though  more  often  by  schismatics  than  by  Catholics.  Of 
Leo's  own  orthodoxy,  however,  there  was  no  doubt :  even  his 
enemies  could  not  convict  him  of  swerving  in  the  least  from 
the  faith :  it  was  only  on  this  matter  of  image-worship  that  he 
differed  from  them.  Wherever  he  plucked  down  the  crucifix 
he  set  up  the  plain  cross — on  the  standards  of  his  army,  on 
the  gates  of  his  palace,  on  his  money,  on  his  imperial  robes. 
It  was  purely  to  the  anthropomorphic  representation  of  Our 
Lord  and  to  the  over-reverence  for  images  of  saints  that  he 

Leo  was  no  mere  rough  soldier  :  his  parents  were  people  of 
some  wealth,  and  he  had  entered  the  army  as  an  imperial 
aide-de-camp  {spathtartus)^  not  as  one  of  the  rank  and  file.^ 
It  is  probable  therefore  that  he  was  sufficiently  educated  to 
object  to  image-worship  on  rational  and  philosophic  grounds.^ 
not  from  the   mere   unthinking   prejudice   picked   up   from 

^  The  story  that  he  began  life  as  a  poor  huckster  travelling  about  with 
a  mule  is  one  of  the  many  inventions  of  his  enemies  the  monks. 

310  European  History,  476-918 

Saracens  or  heretics.  This  much  is  certain,  that  from  the 
moment  that  he  declared  his  poHcy  he  found  the  greatest 
support  among  the  higher  officers  of  the  civil  service  and  the 
army.  Educated  laymen  were  as  a  rule  favourable  to  his 
views  :  the  mass  of  the  soldiery  followed  him,  and  the  eastern 
provinces  as  a  whole  acquiesced  in  his  reformation.  On  the 
other  hand,  he  found  his  chief  opponents  among  the  monks, 
whose  interests  were  largely  bound  up  with  image-worship, 
and  among  the  lower  classes,  who  were  blindly  addicted  to  it. 
The  European  themes  were  as  a  whole  opposed  to  him :  the 
further  west  the  province  the  more  Iconodulic  were  its  ten- 
dencies. Of  the  whole  empire  Italy  was  the  part  where  Leo's 
views  found  the  least  footing. 

Leo  began  his  crusade  against  image-worship  in  726,  eight 
years  after  his  great  victory  over  the  Saracens.  The  empire 
was  by  this  time  quieted  down  and  reorganised ;  two  rebellions 
had  also  been  crushed,  one  under  a  certain  Basil  in  Italy, 
tlie  other  under  the  ex-emperor  Artemius  Anastasius,  who  had 
tried  to  resume  the  crown  by  the  aid  of  the  Bulgarians.  The 
heads  of  Basil  and  Artemius  had  fallen,  and  no  more  trouble 
from  rebellion  was  expected.  Leo's  edict  forbade  all  image- 
worship  as  irreverent  and  superstitious,  and  ordered  the 
removal  of  all  holy  statues  and  the  white-washing  of  all  holy 
pictures  on  church  walls.  From  the  very  first  the  emperor's 
Leo's  icono-  commauds  met  with  a  lively  resistance.  When 
clastic  Edict,  ^jg  officials  began  to  remove  the  great  crucifix 
over  the  palace  gate,  a  mob  fell  upon  them  and  beat  them  to 
death  with  clubs.  Leo  sent  out  troops  to  clear  the  streets, 
and  many  of  the  rioters  were  slain.  This  evil  beginning  was 
followed  by  an  equally  disastrous  sequel.  All  over  the  empire 
the  bulk  of  the  clergy  declared  against  the  emperor :  in  many 
provinces  they  began  to  preach  open  sedition.  The  Pope,  as 
we  have  already  seen  when  telling  the  fate  of  Italy,  put  him- 
self at  the  head  of  the  movement,  and  sent  most  insulting 
letters  to  Constantinople.  In  727  Rome  refused  obedience 
to  the  edict,   and   what  was  of  more  immediate  danger,  the 

The  Iconoclast  Emperors  311 

theme  of  Hellas  rose  in  open  rebellion.  The  garrison- 
troops  and  the  populace,  incited  by  the  preaching  of  fanatical 
monks,  joined  to  proclaim  a  certain  Cosmas  emperor.  They 
fitted  out  a  fleet  to  attack  Constantinople,  but  it  was  defeated, 
and  the  rebel  emperor  was  taken  prisoner  and  beheaded.  It 
is  acknowledged,  however,  even  by  Leo's  enemies,  that  he 
treated  the  bulk  of  the  prisoners  and  the  rebel  theme  with 
great  mildness.  Indeed,  he  seldom  punished  disobedience 
to  his  edict  with  death :  stripes  and  imprisonment  were  the 
more  frequent  rewards  of  those  whom  the  Iconodules  styled 
heroes  and  confessors  of  the  true  faith.  Leo  was  determined 
that  his  edict  should  be  carried  out,  but  he  was  not  by  nature 
a  persecutor:  it  was  as  rioters  or  rebels,  not  as  image- 
worshippers,  that  his  enemies  were  punished,  just  as  in  the 
reign  of  Elizabeth  of  England  the  Jesuit  suffered,  not  as  a 
Papist,  but  as  a  traitor.  Leo  deposed  the  aged  patriarch 
Germanus  for  refusing  to  work  with  him,  but  did  him  no  further 
harm.^  In  general  it  was  by  promoting  Iconoclasts,  not  by 
maltreating  Iconodules,  that  he  worked. 

The  last  thirteen  years  of  Leo's  reign  (727-40)  were  on  the 
whole  a  time  of  success  for  the  emperor.  He  succeeded  in 
getting  his  edict  enforced  over  the  greater  part  of  the  empire, 
in  spite  of  some  open  and  more  secret  resistance  ;  only  Italy 
defied  him.  From  the  reconquest  of  Rome  he  was  kept  back 
by  the  necessity  of  providing  for  the  defence  of  the  East,  for  in 
726  the  caliph  Hisham — hearing  no  doubt  of  Leo's  domestic 
troubles — commenced  once  more  to  invade  the  Asiatic 
themes.  In  727  a  Saracen  host  pushed  forward  as  far  as 
Nicaea,  where  it  was  repelled  and  forced  to  retire,  wars  with 
There  were  less  formidable  invasions  in  730,  732,  the  Saracen, 
and  737-8,  but  none  led  to  any  serious  loss,  and  the  imperial 
boundary  stood  firmly  fixed  in  the  passes  of  the  Taurus.  The 
Saracen  war  practically  ended  with  a  great  victory  won  by  Leo 
in  person  at  Acroinon,  in  the  Anatolic  theme,  where  an  army 

^  The  stories   of  the  sufferings  of  Germanus  are  late  inventions  of 
Iconodule  writers. 

312  Etiropean  History^  476-918 

of  20,000  Arab  raiders  was  cut  to  pieces  with  the  loss  of  all 
its  chiefs.  The  house  of  the  Ommeyad  Caliphs  was  already 
verging  towards  its  decline :  it  never  again  prepared  any 
expedition  approaching  the  strength  of  the  great  armament  of 
Moslemah,  which  Leo  had  so  effectually  turned  back  in  718, 
and  its  later  sovereigns  were  not  of  the  type  of  those  fanatical 
conquerors  who  had  cut  the  boundaries  of  the  empire  short  in 
the  preceding  century.  Leo  had  effectually  staved  off  any  im- 
minent danger  to  eastern  Christendom  from  Moslem  conquest 
for  three  full  centuries. 

Leo  was  succeeded  by  his  son  Constantine,  fifth  of  that 
name  according  to  the  usual  reckoning,  sixth  if  the  grandson 
of  Heraclius  be  given  his  true  name,  and  not  the  erroneous 
title  of  Constans  11.  The  second  of  the  Isaurian  emperors, 
however,  is  less  known  by  the  numeral  affixed  to  his  name 
than  by  the  insulting  epithet  of  Copronymus,  which  his 
IconoduHc  enemies  bestowed  on  him — showing  thereby  their 
own  bad  taste  rather  than  any  unworthiness  on  the  part  of 
their  sovereign. 

Constantine  was  a  young  man  of  twenty-two  at  the  moment 
of  his  accession.  He  had  long  acted  as  his  father's  colleague, 
and  was  thoroughly  trained  in  Leo's  methods  of  administration, 
Constantine  ^^^  indoctrinated  with  his  Iconoclastic  views. 
Copronymus,  He  sccms,  whilc  posscssiug  a  great  measure  of  his 
74°'^5-  father's  energy  and  ability,  to  have  been  inferior 

to  him  in  two  respects.  Leo  had  combined  caution  with 
courage,  and  knew  how  to  exercise  moderation.  Constantine 
was  bold  to  excess,  did  not  understand  half-measures  or 
toleration,  and  carried  through  every  scheme  with  a  high  hand. 
Moreover,  while  Leo's  private  life  had  been  blameless  and 
even  severe,  Constantine  was  a  votary  of  pleasure,  fond  of 
pomp  and  shows,  devoted  to  musical  and  theatrical  entertain- 
ments, and  sometimes  lapsing  into  debauchery.  Hence  it  is 
easy  to  see  why  he  has  been  dealt  with  by  the  chroniclers  of 
the  next  century  in  an  even  harsher  spirit  than  his  father,  and 
is  represented  as  a  monster  of  cruelty  and  vice. 

The  Iconoclast  Emperors  313 

Constantine  was  no  sooner  seated  on  the  throne  than  he 
showed  that  he  was  determined  to  continue  his  father's  policy. 
He  was  at  once  assailed  by  the  rebellion  of  the  Iconodulic 
faction  :  they  induced  his  brother-in-law  Artavasdus,  general 
of  the  Obsequian  theme,  to  seize  the  capital,  and  proclaim 
himself  emperor,  while  Constantine  was  absent  on  an  expe- 
dition against  the  Saracens.  All  the  European  themes, 
where  the  image-breakers  were  hated,  did  homage  to  Arta- 
vasdus. But  the  Anatolic  and  Thracesian  themes,  the  heart 
of  Asia  Minor,  remained  true  to  the  son  of  Leo.  He  showed 
his  energy  and  ability  by  beating  the  sons  of  Artavasdus  in  two 
battles,  and  besieging  the  rebel  in  Constantinople.  When  the 
city  was  well-nigh  reduced  by  famine,  Artavasdus  fled,  but  he 
was  caught  and  brought  before  Constantine.  The  emperor 
ordered  him  and  his  sons  to  be  blinded,  and  confined  them 
in  a  monastery.     Their  chief  adherents  were  beheaded  (742). 

This  sanguinary  lesson  to  the  Iconodulic  party  seems  to 
have  cowed  them  to  such  an  extent  that  they  did  not  raise 
another  open  rebellion  in  the  long  reign  of  Constantine  (740- 
775).  But  they  adhered  as  fully  as  ever  to  their  faith: 
nothing  is  so  difficult  to  eradicate  as  a  well-rooted  superstition, 
and  Constantine's  strong  hand  was  better  fitted  to  cow  than  to 
persuade.  As  the  years  of  his  reign  passed  by,  and  he  found 
image-worship  practised  in  secret  by  thousands  of  conscientious 
votaries,  the  emperor  grew  more  and  more  determined  to  up- 
root it.  After  a  time  he  resolved  to  call  in  the  spiritual  sanction 
to  aid  the  secular  arm  :  in  753  he  summoned  a  general  council 
to  meet  at  Constantinople,  but  it  was  oecumenical  only  in  name. 
The  Pope  replied  by  anathemas  of  contumely  to  the  summons 
to  appear ;  the  patriarchs  of  Antioch,  Jerusalem,  and  Alex- 
andria, safe  under  the  protection  of  the  caliph,  denied  their 
presence.  But  there  assembled  an  imposing  body  of  three 
hundred  and  thirty-eight  bishops,  presided  over  by  the  Constan- 
tinopolitan  patriarch,  Constantine  of  Sylaeum,  and  by  Theo- 
dosius,  metropolitan  of  Ephesus,  son  of  the  emperor  Tiberius  11. 
This  council  committed  itself  fully  to  Iconoclastic  doctrine; 

314  Europeayi  History,  476-918 

it  proscribed  all  representations  of  Oui  Lord  as  blasphemous 
Council  o'  snares,  for  endeavouring  to  express  both  His 
Constanti-  human  and  His  divine  nature  in  the  mere  likeness 
nopie,  753.  Qf  ^  j^^j-,^  ^j^^  thereby  obscuring  His  divinity  in 
His  humanity.  At  the  same  time  it  condemned  the  worship 
of  images  of  saints,  because  all  adoration  except  that  paid  to 
the  Godhead  savoured  of  heathenism  and  anthropolatry. 
The  emperor  had  other  scruples  of  his  own,  on  which  he  did 
not  press  the  council  to  deliver  a  decision  ;  he  denied  the 
intercessory  powers  of  the  Virgin,  and  scrupled  to  prefix  the 
epithet  ayios,  *  holy,'  to  the  names  of  even  the  greatest  saints. 
He  spoke,  for  example,  of  '  Peter  the  Apostle,'  not  of  '  the  holy 
Peter.'  On  these  awful  depths  of  free  thought  the  Iconodules 
of  his  own  and  the  succeeding  generation  wasted  expressions 
of  horror,  worthy  to  be  employed  on  a  Herod  or  a  Judas. 

Armed  with  the  decree  of  the  council  of  Constantinople, 
the  emperor  proceeded,  during  the  remainder  of  his  reign,  to 
indulge  in  what  was  a  true  religious  persecution,  for  he  pur- 
sued the  image-worshippers  as  heretics,  not  as  rebels  or  rioters. 
He  inflicted  the  death-penalty  in  a  few  cases,  but  the  majority 
of  his  victims  were  flogged,  mutilated,  pilloried,  or  banished. 
The  most  obstinate  supporters  of  Iconoduly  were  found  among 
the  monks,  who  not  only  resisted  themselves,  but  never  ceased 
to  use  their  vast  influence  over  the  mob  in  order  to  turn  it 
against  the  emperor.  After  a  time  Constantine  resolved  to 
make  an  end  of  the  monastic  system,  as  being  the  strongest 
bulwark  of  superstition.  To  uproot  a  habit  of  life  founded  on 
Persecution  the  practice  of  centuries,  and  highly  revered  by  the 
of  monks.  multitude  was  ofcoursc  an  impossibility.  Monas- 
teries can  only  be  suppressed,  as  they  were  at  the  Reformation, 
if  the  nation  sides  with  the  sovereign.  Nevertheless,  Con- 
stantine drove  out  and  harried  a  vast  number  of  monks.  He 
held  that  they  were  over-numerous,  that  they  were  men  who 
shirked  the  ordinary  duties  of  the  citizen,  and  that  their  pro- 
fession was  a  cloak  for  selfishness  and  sloth.  He  aimed  not 
only  at  breaking  up  the  cloisters,   but   at  secularising  their 

The  Iconoclast  Emperors  3 1 5 

inmates.  On  one  occasion  he  had  all  the  monks  and  nuns  of 
the  Thracesian  theme  assembled,  and  offered  them  their  choice 
between  marriage  or  banishment  to  Cyprus.  The  majority 
chose  the  latter  alternative,  and  became  in  the  eyes  of  their 
contemporaries  confessors  of  the  true  faith.  On  another 
occasion  he  exhibited  in  the  Hippodrome  a  procession  of  un- 
frocked monks,  each  holding  by  the  hand  an  unfrocked  nun 
whom  he  was  to  marry — the  Iconodule  writers,  as  might  be 
expected,  call  the  backsliding  nuns  '  harlots.'  The  deserted 
monasteries  were  either  pulled  down  for  building  materials  or 
turned  into  barracks. 

But  it  must  not  be  supposed  that  Constantine's  activity  was 
entirely  engrossed  in  persecuting  the  worshippers  of  images. 
The  thirty-five  years  of  his  reign  were  a  period  of  considerable 
military  glory,  and  the  emperor,  who  always  headed  his  own 
armies,  took  the  field  for  more  than  a  dozen  campaigns.  In 
Asia  the  fall  of  the  Ommeyad  Caliphs,  accompanied  by  savage 
civil  wars  among  the  Saracens  (750),  offered  an  unrivalled 
opportunity  for  extending  the  bounds  of  the  empire.  Con- 
stantine  pushed  beyond  the  Anti-Taurus  as  far  as  the 
Euphrates ;  in  745  he  occupied  the  district  of  Commagene, 
and  transported  all  its  Christian  inhabitants  to  Thrace  :  m  75 1 
he  took  Melitene  on  the  Euphrates,  and  the  great  wars  of  Con- 
Armenian  fortress  of  Theodosiopolis.  Part  of  stantine. 
these  conquests  were  afterwards  recovered  by  the  first  Abbaside 
Caliph,  Abdallah  Al-Saffah,  but  the  rest  remained  to  the 
empire  as  a  trophy  of  Constantine's  wars.  Several  Saracen 
attempts  to  invade  Cappadocia  and  Cyprus  were  driven 
back  with  great  slaughter,  and  in  general  it  may  be  stated 
that"  Constantine  effectually  protected  Asia  Minor  from  the 
Mohammedan  sword,  and  that  the  country  began  to  grow 
again  both  in  wealth  and  in  population. 

Nor  was  his  work  less  useful  in  Europe.  He  completely 
reduced  to  order  the  Slavonic  tribes  south  of  the  Balkan,  both 
in  Thrace  and  Macedonia  :  they  had  got  out  of  hand  during 
the  troubles  of  the  years  695-718,  and  required  to  be  subdued 

3 1 6  European  History,  476-9 1 8 

anew.  Constantine  carefully  fortified  the  defiles  of  the 
Balkans,  which  communicate  with  the  valley  of  the  Danube, 
garrisoning  once  more  the  ruined  castles  which  Justinian  had 
built  there.  This  advance  northward  brought  him  into  hostile 
contact  with  the  Bulgarians,  who  had  long  been  accustomed 
to  harry  both  the  Slavonic  and  the  Roman  districts  of  Thrace 
and  Macedon,  and  could  not  brook  to  be  walled  in  by  the  new 
fine  of  forts.  Constantine  waged  three  successful  wars  with 
the  Bulgarians ;  the  first,  lasting  from  755  to  762,  ended  with 
a  great  victory  at  Anchialus,  after  which  king  Baian  sued  for 
peace,  and  obtained  it  on  promising  to  keep  his  subjects  from 
raiding  across  the  Balkans.  The  second  war  occupied  the 
years  764-773.  Constantine  crossed  the  Balkans,  wasted 
Bulgaria,  slew  the  new  king  Toktu  near  the  Danube,  and  was 
preparing  in  the  next  year  to  complete  the  conquest  of  the 
country,  when  his  whole  fleet  and  army  were  destroyed  by  a 
storm  in  the  Black  Sea  (765).  Long  and  indecisive  bickering 
on  the  line  of  the  Balkans  followed,  and  peace  was  made  in 
773  on  the  old  terms.  The  last  Bulgarian  war,  provoked  by 
an  attempt  of  king  Telerig  to  invade  Macedonia  in  774-5, 
was  notable  for  a  great  victory  at  Lithosoria,  but  Constantine 
died  while  leading  his  army  northward,  and  his  successes  had 
no  permanent  result.  The  Bulgarians  were  not  subdued  by 
him,  but  they  were  kept  at  bay,  and  so  tamed  that  they  were 
compelled  to  leave  Thrace  alone,  and  content  themselves  with 
defending  their  own  Danubian  plains  from  the  attacks  of  the 

The  Saracen  and  Bulgarian  being  driven  away  from  the 
frontier,  we  are  not  surprised  to  hear  that  the  empire  flourished 
under  Constantine.  He  planted  many  colonies  on  the  waste 
lands  of  the  borders,  settling  the  emigrant  Christians  of 
Constantine's  ^^^^"'^"i^  ^^^  Thracc,  and  many  Slavonic  and  Bul- 
home  govern-  garian  rcfugccs  in  Bithynia.  We  are  told  that 
ment.  agriculture  prospered  in  his  time,  so  much  that 

sixty   measures   of  wheat  sold  for  a  gold   solidus.     He   ex- 
terminated brigandage,  and  made  the  roads  safe  for  merchants. 

The  Iconoclast  Emperors  317 

He  furnished  Constantinople  with  a  new  water-supply  by 
restoring  the  aqueduct  of  Valens,  broken  more  than  a  hundred 
and  fifty  years  before.  When  the  capital  had  been  devastated 
by  a  great  plague  in  746-7,  he  more  than  replaced  the  lost 
thousands  of  its  population  by  new  settlers  from  Hellas  and 
the  islands,  for  whom  employment  was  found  by  the  increasing 
commerce  which  followed  the  growth  of  internal  prosperity. 
When  he  died  in  775,  aged  fifty-seven,  he  left  a  full  treasury, 
a  loyal  and  devoted  army,  and  a  well-organised  realm. 

Constantine  was  succeeded  by  his  eldest  son  Leo  iv.,  often 
called  Leo  the  Chazar,  because  his  mother  Irene  had  been  a 
Chazar  princess.  Leo  had  acted  as  his  father's  colleague  for 
many  years,  and  carried  on  Constantine's  policy,  though  with 
a  less  harsh  hand.  In  the  beginning  of  his  reign  he  showed 
toleration  to  the  Iconodules,  but  when  they  commenced  to 
raise  their  heads  again  he  resumed  his  father's  per-  Reign  of  Leo 
secuting  manner,  flogging  and  banishing  many  pro-  ^v.,  775-80. 
minent  image-worshippers.  He  did  not,  however,  object  to 
monks,  as  Constantine  had  done,  but  allowed  them  to  rebuild 
their  convents,  and  even  promoted  some  of  them  to  bishoprics. 
It  is  probable  that  his  resumption  of  persecution  in  777  was 
connected  with  the  discovery  of  a  conspiracy  against  him 
in  which  his  own  brothers  Nicephorus  and  Christophorus 
had  leagued  themselves  with  the  discontented  party.  The 
treacherous  Caesars  were  pardoned  by  their  brother,  and  their 
associates  suffered  banishment  and  not  death. 

Leo  continued  his  father's  war  with  the  Saracens.  In  778 
his  armies  invaded  Commagene,  defeated  a  great  Saracen  host 
in  the  open  field,  and  brought  back  under  their  protection  a 
great  body  of  Syrian  Christians,  who  were  settled  as  colonists 
in  Thrace.  The  caliph  Mehdy  replied  in  the  next  year  by  an 
invasion  of  the  AnatoHc  theme  :  his  army  forced  its  way  as 
far  as  Dorylaeum,  but  retired  in  disorder,  and  much  harassed 
by  the  Romans,  after  failing  to  take  that  place. 

Leo  was  of  a  sickly  habit  of  body,  and  died  after  a  short  reign 
of  five  years,  in  780,  before  he  had  attained  the  age  of  thirty- 

3 1 8  European  History^  4/6-9 1 8 

two.  He  left  the  throne  to  his  son  Constantine  vi./  for  whom 
the  empress  Irene  was  to  act  as  regent,  as  the  boy  was  only- 
nine  years  of  age.  Leo's  early  death  was  a  fatal  misfortune 
alike  for  the  Iconoclastic  cause  and  the  Isaurian  dynasty. 
The  empress  Irene,  though  she  had  succeeded  in  concealing 
the  fact  during  her  husband's  life,  was  a  fervent  worshipper  of 
images,  and  the  moment  that  the  reins  of  power  fell  into  her 
hands,  set  herself  to  reverse  the  imperial  policy  of  the  last 
Constantine  sixty  ycars.  She  began  by  putting  an  end  to  the 
VI.  and  Irene,  repression  of  the  Iconodules,  and  then  gradually 
displaced  the  old  ministers  of  state  and  governors  of  the 
themes  by  creatures  of  her  own.  This  led  to  a  plot  against 
her  ;  the  conspirators  proposed  to  crown  Nicephorus,  the  eldest 
of  her  brothers-in-law,  but  they  were  discovered  and  banished, 
while  all  the  five  brothers  of  the  deceased  emperor  were  for- 
cibly made  priests,  to  disqualify  them  from  seizing  the  throne. 
When  the  patriarch  Paul  died  in  784,  Irene  replaced  him 
by  Tarasius,  a  fervent  image-worshipper,  and  then  ventured  to 
call  a  general  council  at  Nicaea,  to  which  she  invited  pope 
Hadrian  at  Rome,  and  the  Patriarchs  of  the  East,  to  send 
delegates.  Under  the  influence  of  the  empress  the  council, 
by  a  large  majority,  declared  the  lawfulness  of  making  repre- 
sentations of  Our  Lord  and  the  Saints,  and  bade  men  pay 
not  divine  w^orship  (Aarpei'a),  but  adoration  and  reverence 
(7rpo(rKvvi](TLs)  to  them.  The  recalcitrant  Iconoclastic  bishops 
were  excommunicated.  The  doings  of  the  council  caused  a 
Restoration  of  ^"^^^"7  ^f  the  Imperial  guard  in  Constantinople, 
image-wor-  for  the  greater  part  of  the  army  still  adhered  to 
ship,  785.  ^YiQ  views  of  the  Isaurian  emperors.     But  Irene 

succeeded  in  steering  through  the  troubled  waters,  put  down 
the  mutiny,  and  retained  her  power. 

Meanwhile   the   reign    of  a   child   and    a   woman   proved 

disastrous  to  the  empire.     The  Slavs  of  the  Balkans  burst  into 

revolt,  and  the  Saracens  invaded  Asia  Minor.     The  want  of 

an  emperor  to  head  the  army  was  grievously  felt,  and  Haroun- 

^  Or  seventh,  if  Constantinus-Constans  is  counted. 

The  Iconoclast  Emperors  319 

al-Raschid,  the  son  of  the  caliph  Mehdy,  ravaged  the  whole 
Anatohc  and  Obsequian  themes  as  far  as  the  Bosphorus. 
Irene  felt  herself  unable  to  cope  with  the  situation,  and 
bought  a  peace  by  an  annual  payment  of  70,000  solidi  (784). 
Soon  after  the  Bulgarian  king  declared  war,  and  ravaged  Thrace 
after  slaying  the  general  of  the  Thracian  theme  in  battle. 

Among  these  disasters  Constantine  vi.  grew  up  to  manhood, 
but  his  mother,  who  had  acquired  a  great  taste  for  power,  and 
feared  to  see  her  son  reverse  her  religious  policy,  long  refused 
to  give  him  any  share  in  the  government.  She  constantine 
even  made  the  army  swear  never  to  receive  her  seizes  power. 
son  as  sole  emperor  as  long  as  she  should  live.  The  young 
emperor,  after  chafing  for  some  time  in  his  state  of  tutelage, 
took  matters  into  his  own  hands.  In  his  twenty-first  year  he 
repaired  to  the  camp  of  the  Anatolic  troops,  and  there  pro- 
claimed himself  of  age,  and  sole  ruler  of  the  State.  He 
banished  his  mother's  favourites,  and  confined  her  for  some 
months  to  her  own  apartments  in  the  palace. 

When  he  had  firmly  seized  the  helm  of  power,  Constantine 
was  weak  enough  to  take  his  mother  again  as  his  colleague  on 
the  throne,  and  to  associate  her  name  with  his  in  all  imperial 
decrees.  The  ambitious  and  unnatural  Irene  repaid  his  con- 
fidence by  scheming  against  him.  She  had  grown  so  fond  of 
power  that  she  had  resolved  to  win  it  back  at  all  costs.  Con- 
stantine was,  like  his  ancestors,  a  warlike  and  energetic  prince. 
He  won  several  successes  over  the  Saracens,  and  then  engaged 
in  a  Bulgarian  war.  His  popularity  was  first  shaken  by  a 
fearful  defeat  at  the  hands  of  the  Bulgarian  king  ^^^^^  ^^^ 
Cardam,  by  which  he  lost  much  of  his  influence  thrones  her 
with  the  army.  Shortly  afterwards  he  entered  ^°"'797- 
into  a  fierce  struggle  with  the  Patriarch  and  the  clergy,  having 
divorced,  in  spite  of  their  opposition,  a  wife  whom  his  mother 
had  forced  upon  him  in  early  youth,  and  espoused  Theodota, 
on  whom  his  own  afiections  were  set.  Knowing  that  the 
Church  was  wroth  with  Constantine  for  this  outbreak  of  self- 
will,  and  that  the  army  no  longer  loved  him  as  before,  the 

320  European  History,  476-918 

wicked  Irene  determined  to  strike  a  blow  against  her  son. 
She  suborned  some  of  the  young  emperor's  attendants  to  seize 
their  master,  and,  when  he  fell  into  her  hands,  had  his  eyes  put 
out.  He  was  then  immured  in  a  monastery,  where  he  sur- 
vived for  more  than  twenty  years. 

It  was  by  a  mere  palace-conspiracy,  not  by  an  open  rising, 
that  the  unnatural  mother  had  dethroned  and  blinded  her 
son.  It  is,  therefore,  all  the  more  extraordinary  to  find  that 
she  was  able  to  cling  to  power  for  more  than  five  years,  in 
spite  of  the  horror  which  her  act  had  caused.  The  gratitude 
of  the  image-worshippers  to  her,  for  having  restored  to  them 
the  power  of  practising  their  superstition,  partly  explains,  but 
does  not  at  all  excuse  the  impunity  which  she  enjoyed  after 
her  cruel  deed. 

Irene's  five  years  of  power  (797-802)  were  disastrous  at  home 
and  abroad.  Her  court  was  swayed  by  two  greedy  eunuchs, 
Aetius  and  Stauracius,  on  whom  she  lavished  all  the  highest 
offices.  Their  miserable  quarrels  with  each  other  are  the  chief 
things  recorded  in  the  annals  of  her  internal  government. 
Meanwhile  the  frontiers  were  overrun  by  the  armies  of  Haroun- 
al-Raschid.  The  Saracens  harried  the  Anatolic  and  Thracesian 
themes,  and  forced  their  way  as  far  as  Ephesus.  Peace  was 
only  granted  when  Irene  consented  to  pay  a  large  annual 
tribute  to  the  Caliph. 

In  802  the  cup  of  Irene's  iniquities  was  full.  To  put  an 
end  to  anarchy  abroad  and  within,  a  number  of  the  chief 
officers  of  State,  headed  by  the  treasurer  Nicephorus,  seized 
her  by  night,  and  shut  her  up  in  a  nunnery.  No  one  struck  a 
blow  in  her  defence,  for  she  was  loved  by  no  one,  not  even 
Deposition  of  by  the  Iconodulcs,  for  whom  she  had  done  so 

Irene,  802.  much.  Niccphorus  was  proclaimed  as  her 
successor,  and  ascended  the  throne  without  any  disturbance. 

Thus  ended  the  house  of  the  Isaurians,  after  eighty-five 
years  of  rule.  They  had  effected  much  for  the  empire  ;  for 
the  disasters  of  Irene's  short  reign  had  not  sufficed  to  undo  the 
solid  work  of  Leo  in.   and  Constantine  v.    The  boundaries 

The  Iconoclast  Emperors  321 

were  safer,  the  population  greater,  the  wealth  largely  increased, 
the  armies  more  efficient  than  at  the  commencement  of  the 
century.  Even  the  Iconoclastic  persecutions,  though  they 
had  failed  to  crush  superstition,  had  done  some  good  in 
rooting  out  the  grosser  vagaries  of  image-worship.  The 
Iconoclastic  party  still  subsisted,  and  was  strong  in  the  army 
and  civil  service  \  we  shall  see  it  once  more  in  power  during 
the  ninth  century. 





Mayoralty  of  Pippin  and  Carloman — Their  successful  wars — Boniface 
reforms  the  Prankish  church — Abdication  of  Carloman — Pippin  de- 
thrones Childebert  ill.  and  assumes  the  royal  title— Quarrel  of  Aistulf 
and  Pope  Stephen— Tlie  Pope  calls  the  Franks  into  Italy — Pippin  twice 
subdues  Aistulf— The  Exarchate  given  to  the  Papacy — Martyrdom  of 
St.  Boniface — Conquest  of  Narbonne — Long  struggle  with  the  dukes 
of  Aquitaine — Death  of  Pippin. 

The  events  which  immediately  followed  the  death  of  Charles 
Martel  showed  clearly  enough  that  the  house  of  St.  Arnulf 
must  still  depend  on  the  power  of  the  sword  to  guard  its 
ascendency,  and  that  it  could  only  continue  to  rule  by  con- 
tinuing to  produce  a  series  of  able  chiefs.  It  was  fortunate 
for  the  Frankish  realm  that  Pippin  and  Carloman  were  both 
men  of  sense  and  vigour,  though  perhaps  they  did  not  attain 
to  the  full  stature  of  their  father's  greatness.  Not  less  fortu- 
nate was  it  that,  unlike  the  kings  of  the  Merovingian  house, 
they  dwelt  together  in  amity  and  brotherly  love,  and  under- 
took every  scheme  in  common. 

The  moment  that  Charles  was  dead  troubles  broke  out  on 
every  hand.  Grifo,  the  younger  brother  of  the  two  mayors, 
declared  himself  wronged  in  the  partition  of  the  kingdoms, 
seized  Laon,  and  began  to  gather  an  army  of  Neustrian  mal- 
contents.    Theudebald,  the  brother  of  the  duke  of  Suabia, 


Pippin  the  Short  323 

who  had  been  overthrown  in  730,  raised  the  Alamanni  in  revolt 
in  Elsass  and  the  Black  Forest.  Hunold,  duke  of  Aquitaine, 
disclaimed  the  suzerainty  of  the  Prankish  crown,  while  the 
Saxons  refused  the  tribute  which  had  been  laid  upon  them, 
and  invaded  Hesse. 

The  whole  of  742  was  spent  by  Pippin  and  Carloman  in 
dealing  with  the  storm  which  had  burst  upon  them.  They 
began  with  crushing  their  unruly  brother,  captured  him,  and 
sent  him  captive  to  a  fortress  in  the  Ardennes.  Next  they 
marched  against  Hunold  of  Aquitaine,  and  harried  the 
southern  bank  of  the  Loire,  but  the  duke  retreated  southward 
without  fighting,  and  other  duties  called  away  the  two  mayors 
before  he  was  subdued.  It  was  now  the  dangerous  rising  in 
Suabia,  in  the  very  midst  of  their  realm,  which  ^^^,  ^^^^ 
demanded  their  attention.  They  descended  paignsof 
upon  the  Alamanni  with  irresistible  force,  and  ^*pp'"- 
soon  subdued  the  whole  land  as  far  as  the  Bavarian  fron- 
tier But  there  was  yet  more  fighting  to  be  done,  and,  ere 
they  finished  their  task,  the  two  mayors  had  determined  to 
legalise  their  somewhat  anomalous  position  as  regents  for 
a  non-existent  sovereign.  They  sought  out  and  crowned 
Childerich  iii.,  the  last  of  the  Merovingians,  as  feeble  a 
shadow  as  his  long-deceased  kinsman,  Theuderich  iv.  So, 
after  an  interregnum  of  six  years,  the  Franks  had  once  more 
a  king. 

It  was  three  years  before  the  authority  of  Carloman  and 
Pippin  had  been  vindicated  in  every  corner  of  the  realm,  but 
at  last  Aquitaine  had  acknowledged  once  more  its  vassal 
obligations,  the  Saxons  had  been  chastised,  and  an  attempt 
of  Bavaria  to  make  itself  independent  had  been  crushed. 
The  struggle  had  not  been  without  its  difficulties,  and  the 
two  mayors  had  been  so  hard  pressed  for  resources,  that  they 
had  followed  in  their  father's  steps  by  laying  hands  on  Church 
property,  compelling  bishops  and  abbeys  to  devote  a  certain 
portion  of  their  landed  estates  to  the  support  of  the  war- 
expenses  of  the  crown.     Other  dealings  with  the  Church  had 

324  European  History ^  476-918 

been  as  unpopular  though  less  unorthodox;  the  Frankish 
St  Boniface  ^^^^§7  ^ere  oftcn  irregular  in  their  lives,  lax  in 
reforms  the  their  spiritual  duties,  and  given  over  to  all 
Church.  manner   of   secular  pursuits.      The   mayors   set 

the  stern  missionary  enthusiast  Boniface  to  reform  these 
evils.  At  the  great  synod  of  745,  to  which  all  the  prelates 
of  both  Frankish  realms  were  bidden,  the  great  archbishop 
entered  into  a  campaign  against  clerical  abuses  of  all  sorts. 
At  his  behest  canons  were  passed  against  immoral  life,  plurali- 
ties, the  granting  of  benefices  to  unordained  persons,  the  dis- 
obedience of  bishops  to  their  metropolitans,  the  light  assump- 
tion and  rejection  of  the  monastic  habit  and  vow,  and  the 
favouring  of  heresy.  Boniface  had  also  much  trouble  with 
those  who,  headed  by  the  Irish  missionary  bishop  Clement, 
refused  obedience  to  the  Roman  See,  a  fault  which  the  great 
archbishop  regarded  as  no  less  heinous  than  the  open  profes- 
sion of  unorthodoxy.  In  all  his  doings  he  received  the  zealous 
support  of  Carloman  and  Pippin.  Ecclesiastical  reform  within 
was  not  unaccompanied  by  ecclesiastical  extension  without. 
In  these  troubled  years  of  the  two  mayors,  Boniface  portioned 
out  the  newly-converted  lands  of  central  Germany  into  the 
three  bishoprics  of  Wiirzburg,  Erfurt,  and  Buraburg,  to  serve 
respectively  as  sees  for  Franconia,  Thuringia,  and  Hesse.  At 
the  same  time  was  founded  his  great  abbey  of  Fulda,  the 
centre  of  piety  and  learning  in  Transrhenane  Germany  during 
the  succeeding  age. 

To  the  great  surprise  of  all  his  contemporaries,  the  mayor 
Carloman,  on  the  completion  of  his  task  of  re-establishing 
Carloman  Order  in  Austrasia,  laid  down  his  sword,  and  as- 
abdicates,  747.  gumed  the  monk's  gown,  in  the  year  747.  *  The 
causes  no  man  knew,  but  it  would  seem  that  he  was  truly 
moved  by  a  desire  for  the  contemplative  life  and  for  the  love 
of  God.'  It  was  certainly  no  weakness  or  desire  for  inglorious 
ease  that  led  him  to  follow  the  example  of  his  ancestor  St. 
Arnulf,  and  seek  out  a  hermitage.  He  passed  into  Italy, 
obtained  the  blessing  of  Pope  Zacharias,  and  built  himself  a 

Pippin  the  Short  325 

cell  on  Mount  Soracte,  in  the  Sabine  hills.     We  shall  hear  of 
his  name  but  once  again,  seven  years  after  his  abdication. 

By  his  brother's  retirement  Pippin  became  mayor  of  Aus- 
trasia  as  well  as  of  Neustria.  He  had  one  more  struggle  to  wage 
ere  all  things  were  fully  beneath  his  hand.  In  747  his  brother 
Grifo  escaped  from  prison,  and  fled  to  Saxony,  from  whence 
he  tried  to  stir  up  trouble.  When  Odilo  duke  of  Bavaria 
died,  he  seized  that  duchy,  claiming  it  in  right  of  his  mother, 
Swanhildis,  who  was  of  the  ducal  stock.  Pippin  soon  drove 
him  out,  and  he  was  constrained  to  flee  to  Aquitaine.  Bavaria 
fell  to  Tassilo,  the  son  of  the  late  duke. 

After  the  rebellion  of  Grifo  we  read  in  the  Frankish  annals 
the  unusual  entry,  that  'the  whole  land  had  peace  for  two 
years'  (749-50).  Being  now  in  complete  possession  of  the 
Frankish  realm,  and  fearing  no  foe  from  within  or  from  with- 
out, Pippin  took  the  step  which  must  always  have  been  pre- 
sent in  the  brains  of  his  ancestors,  since  the  day  when  the 
over-hasty  Grimoald  had  endeavoured  to  seize  the  royal  power 
in  656.  Warned  by  Grimoald's  fate.  Pippin  the  Younger  and 
Charles  Martel  had  scrupulously  refrained  from  claiming  the 
title  of  king,  and  had  religiously  kept  up  the  series  of  puppet- 
princes  of  the  old  Merovingian  stock.  Their  descendant  was 
now  determined  to  bring  the  farce  to  its  end,  and  would  not 
even  wait  for  the  death  of  the  imbecile  Childerich  in.,  whose 
vain  name  had  for  the  last  ten  years  served  to  head  Frankish 
charters  and  rescripts.  Early  in  751  the  national  council  of 
the  whole  realm  was  summoned,  and  eagerly  approved  of  the 
removal  of  Childerich  and  the  election  of  Pippin  as  king.  To 
bestow  a  still  greater  show  of  legal  authority  on  the  change, 
Pippin  then  sent  an  embassy  to  Rome  to  obtain  the  approval 
of  the  Pope.  Its  leader,  Burkhard,  bishop  of  Wiirzburg, 
demanded  of  pope  Zacharias  'Whether  it  was  well  or  not 
to  keep  to  kings  who  had  no  royal  power  ? '  p.  .^  ^ 
The  pontiff,  whose  chief  desire  was  to  win  aid  thrones  Chiide 
against  the  Lombards  by  flattering  the  ambition  "*^^  ^"• 
of  Pippin,  made  the  answer  that  was  expected  of  him.     *  It 

$26  European  History,  476-918 

is  better,'  he  said,  'that  the  man  who  has  the  real  power 
should  also  have  the  title  of  king,  rather  than  the  man  who 
has  the  mere  title  and  no  real  power.'  On  the  receipt  of  the 
Pope's  encouraging  message,  which  he  regarded  as  freeing  him 
from  any  religious  obligation  resting  on  oaths  sworn  to  the 
unfortunate  Childerich,  Pippin  once  more  summoned  the 
Great  Council  of  the  Franks  to  meet.  It  assembled  at  Sois- 
sons  in  October  or  November  751,  and,  in  the  ancient  royal 
city  of  Neustria,  Pippin  was  first  acclaimed  as  king,  and  lifted 
on  the  shield,  after  the  ancient  Teutonic  custom,  by  the 
unanimous  voice  of  the  whole  nation,  and  then  anointed,  as 
befitted  a  Christian  sovereign,  by  the  great  Austrasian  arch- 
bishop Boniface.  Childerich  was  shorn  of  his  regal  locks, 
and  sent  to  spend  the  remainder  of  his  days  in  an  obscure 
monastery,  instead  of  the  hardly  less  obscure  royal  manor  in 
which  he  had  hitherto  dwelt. 

Thus  liad  the  house  of  St.  Arnulf  at  last  reached  the 
summit  of  its  ambition,  and  the  Frankish  race  once  more 
obtained  a  king  whose  busy  brain  and  strong  right  hand 
could  make  a  reality  of  the  title  which  for  four  generations 
had  been  but  a  vain  name,  while  borne  by  the  last  effete 
Merovings.  Raised  on  the  shield  by  the  Austrasian  counts 
Pippin  as  ^ud  dukcs,  anointed  by  the  Apostle  of  Germany, 
king,  752-768.  blessed  by  the  Roman  pontiff.  Pippin  went  forth 
conquering  and  to  conquer,  into  lands  where  the  Frankish 
banner  had  not  been  seen  for  many  generations.  Charles 
Martel  vindicated  the  old  frontier  of  the  realm,  his  son  was 
destined  to  extend  its  bounds  into  regions  where  no  Frankish 
king  had  ever  obtained  a  permanent  footing. 

The  doings  of  Pippin  the  Short  during  the  seventeen  years 
of  his  kingly  rule  fall  into  three  main  heads.  First  and  most 
important  are  his  deahngs  with  the  popes  and  the  kings  of  the 
Lombards,  leading  to  his  two  great  campaigns  in  Italy.  Of 
secondary  moment  are  his  conquests  from  the  Saracens  and 
the  Aquitanian  dukes  in  the  south  of  Gaul.  His  wars  against 
the  Saxons  are  of  minor  importance  only. 

Pippin  the  Short  327 

In  giving  his  blessing  to  the  accession  of  king  Pippin  pope 
Zacharias  had  kept  in  view  the  aid  which  the  Franks  might 
grant  him  in  his  quarrels  with  his  Lombard  neighbours. 
Zacharias  died  ere  he  had  time  to  demand  a  return  for  his 
complaisance,  but  his  successor  Stephen  soon  claimed  the 
gratitude  of  the  newly-crowned  monarch  of  the  Franks.  The 
old  Lombard  king  Liutprand  had  died  in  744,  ^^^  Lombards 
and  his  nephew  Hildebrand,  who  succeeded  him,  and  the 
had  held  the  throne  for  no  more  than  a  few  P^P^<=y- 
months.  The  Great  Council  of  the  Lombards  deposed  him 
for  vicious  incompetency,  and  elected  in  his  place  Ratchis, 
duke  of  Friuli.  The  new  king,  a  man  of  mild  and  pious 
disposition,  kept  the  peace  which  Liutprand  had  made  with 
the  Papacy  till  749,  when,  for  reasons  to  us  unknown,  he 
advanced  to  attack  Perugia,  one  of  the  few  places  in  Italy 
which  still  adhered  to  the  empire.  Pope  Zacharias  visited  his 
camp  to  plead  with  him  in  behalf  of  peace,  with  the  un- 
expected result  that  Ratchis  not  only  raised  the  siege,  but 
laid  down  his  crown  and  retired  into  a  monastery,  stricken, 
like  his  contemporary  Carloman,  with  the  sudden  horror  of 
secular  things  which  occasionally  fell  upon  the  Teutonic 
monarchs  of  the  seventh  and  eighth  century. 

Ratchis  was  succeeded  by  his  brother  Aistulf,  an  ambitious 
and  restless  monarch,  who  raised  the  Lombard  kingdom  to  its 
widest  territorial  extent  by  conquering  the  long-  Aistuif  takes 
coveted  Ravenna.  When  he  attacked  the  shrunken  Ravenna,  752. 
Exarchate  it  received  no  help  from  Constantine  Copronymus, 
who  detested  his  Italian  subjects  as  obstinate  image-wor- 
shippers, and  was  much  occupied  at  the  moment  by  his 
Saracen  war.  Ravenna  fell  with  hardly  any  resistance,  and 
Eutychius,  the  last  exarch,  fled  to  Sicily.  Aistulf  then  busied 
himself  in  reducing  the  independent  duchy  of  Benevento  to 
vassalage.  His  next  project  was  to  annex  the  towns  of  the 
*ducatus  Romanus' — the  valley  of  the  lower  Tiber — and  to 
make  the  Pope  his  liegeman.  Although  he  had  concluded  a 
forty-years'  peace  with  the  Papacy,  yet,  in  752-53,  he  was 

328  European  History ^  476-9 1 8 

hovering  about  the  neighbourhood  of  Rome,  and  occupying 
the  Umbrian  and  Sabine  borders  of  the  'patrimony  of  St. 
Peter.'  At  last  his  ambassadors  appeared  before  Stephen  11. 
to  demand  the  homage  of  Rome,  and  the  payment  of  an 
annual  tribute.  After  trying  in  vain  to  scare  off  Aistulf,  first  by 
the  terrors  of  excommunication,  and  then  by  empty  menaces 
of  applying  for  aid  to  Constantinople,  which  the  Lombard 
derided,  Stephen  bethought  himself  of  the  debt  of  gratitude 
which  the  Frankish  king  owed  to  the  Holy  See.  After  ascer- 
taining that  his  presence  and  demands  would  not  be  un- 
acceptable to  king  Pippin,  he  left  Rome  in  October  753, 
and,  after  making  one  more  appeal  to  the  Lombard  king  to 
grant  him  peace  and  independence,  crossed  the  Alps,  and 
appeared  before  the  Frankish  Court  at  Ponthion,  near  Bar- 

His  reception  was  all  that  he  could  have  wished.  Pippin 
met  him  three  miles  from  the  town,  knelt  before  him  on  the 
Po  e  ste  hen  ^^^adsidc,  and  walked  beside  his  stirrup  to  the 
invites  Pippin  palace  gate,  leading  his  palfrey  by  tlie  bridle, 
to  Italy.  though  the  month  was  January,   and  the  snow 

lay  on  the  ground.  In  the  royal  chapel,  when  the  court  was 
assembled,  Stephen,  '  with  many  tears  and  groans,  laid  before 
the  king  the  lamentable  state  of  the  Church,  and  besought  him 
to  bring  peace  and  salvation  to  the  cause  of  St.  Peter  and  the 
Roman  State.  Whereupon  Pippin  swore  an  oath  that  he 
would  grant  him  all  he  asked,  and  use  every  endeavour  to 
put  him  in  possession  of  the  exarchate  of  Ravenna,  as  well  as 
all  the  cities  which  belonged  by  right  to  the  Roman  republic' 
It  was  to  no  purpose  that  an  unexpected  guest  appeared  in 
Gaul  to  beg  Pippin  to  swerve  from  his  purpose.  This  was  his 
brother  Carloman,  who  left  his  Sabine  monastery  to  pray 
Pippin  not  to  bring  down  the  horrors  of  war  upon  Italy — a 
request  which  seemed  so  strange  to  the  Church  historians  of 
the  day,  that  they  could  only  suppose  that  his  mind  had  been 
overpowered  by  diabolic  delusions,  or  that  he  was  yielding  to 
dread  of  the  wrath  of  Aistulf.    Pippin  refused  to  listen  to  him, 

Pippin  the  Short  329 

and  bade  bim  quit  the  court,  and  take  up  his  residence  at 
Vienne,  where  he  soon  afterwards  died. 

Meanwhile  the  Great  Council  of  the  Frankish  realms  was 
summoned  to  meet  at  Cerisy-sur-Oise,  and  there  the  king  an- 
nounced to  his  assembled  counts  and  dukes  that  he  proposed 
to  make  war  on  the  Lombards,  in  order  to  vindicate  the  rights 
of  the  Holy  See.  Won  over  by  their  king's  zeal,  and  by  the 
great  gifts  which  Stephen  11.  distributed  among  them,  the 
Franks  eagerly  clamoured  for  war.  In  return  for  their  good- 
will the  Pope  solemnly  crowned  Pippin,  his  wife  Bertha, 
and  his  young  sons,  Charles  and  Carloman,  and  pronounced 
a  curse  on  any  one  who  should  ever  remove  the  house  of 
Pippin  from  the  Frankish  throne. 

In  the  summer  of  754  the  hosts  of  the  Franks  choked  the 
Savoyard  passes  with  their  multitudes,  and  prepared  to  force 
their  way  down  into  Italy.  Aistulf  had  mustered  his  army, 
and  was  ready  to  meet  them.  In  the  narrow  gorge  of  the 
Dora,  hard  by  Susa,  he  fell  on  the  Frankish  vanguard  ;  but 
he  suffered  such  a  crushing  defeat  that  he  had  to  fall  back  on 
Pavia  without  striking  a  second  blow.  Pippin  followed,  wasting 
Piedmont  with  fire  and  sword,  and  soon  beleaguered  Aistulf 
in  his  royal  stronghold.  Then,  with  an  alacrity  pippin  subdues 
which  his  conqueror  should  have  found  some-  Aistulf,  754. 
what  suspicious,  Aistulf  offered  terms  of  peace.  He  would  do 
personal  homage  to  Pippin,  give  him  hostages,  and  engage  to 
restore  to  the  Roman  See  all  that  was  its  due.  So  a  treaty 
was  signed,  Stephen  was  reconducted  in  triumph  to  Rome, 
and  Pippin  returned  beyond  the  Alps,  proud  that  he  had 
added  Lombardy  to  the  list  of  states  dependent  on  the 
Frankish  crown. 

On  his  homeward  journey  the  king  heard  of  the  death  of 
the  great  archbishop  of  Mainz,  the  apostle  of  Transrhenane 
Germany.  Zealous  even  in  extreme  old  age  for  the  conver- 
sion of  every  subject  of  the  Frankish  realm,  Boniface  had 
started  on  a  missionary  journey  to  East  Friesland,  where 
paganism  still  held  sway.     As  he  lay  encamped  at  Dokkum  a 

S30  European  History,  ^^^^-(^xZ 

great  multitude  of  wild  heathen,  indignant  at  the  invasion  of 
their  last  retreat,  fell  upon  him  and  slew  him  with  all  his 
Martrydom  of  Companions.  His  death  was  not  long  unavenged ; 
St.  Boniface,  ^j^g  Christian  majority  of  the  Frisians  took  arms, 
put  down  their  pagan  brethren,  slew  many  thousands  of  them 
and  compelled  the  rest  to  submit  to  baptism.  By  his  martyr- 
death  the  great  archbishop  completed  the  conversion  of  the 
land  for  which  he  had  striven  so  much  during  his  lifetime. 
He  was  buried  at  Fulda  in  Hesse,  where  a  great  abbey  was 
reared  over  his  shrine  and  became  the  centre  of  Christian  life 
in  the  Hessian  lands  whose  apostle  he  had  been.  It  would 
have  afforded  the  keenest  pleasure  to  Boniface  if  he  could 
have  witnessed  the  zeal  with  which  his  patron  Pippin  went 
forward  with  the  task  of  reducing  the  Frankish  clergy  to 
canonical  discipline.  In  the  year  which  followed  his  mar- 
tyrdom the  Synod  of  Verneuil  passed  the  most  stringent  laws 
against  evil-living,  simony,  the  practice  of  secular  avocations, 
and  the  other  failings  of  the  clergy  against  which  the  arch- 
bishop had  raged  in  his  lifetime. 

The  easy  promises  winch  king  Aistulf  had  made  when  he 
was  beleaguered  in  Pavia  had  never  been  intended  for  keep- 
ing. When  the  Franks  had  withdrawn  from  Italy  the  king 
found  pretexts  for  delay,  and  did  not  restore  to  Stephen  ii.  a 
single  one  of  the  Sabine  or  Latin  cities  which  he  had  occupied 
Aistulf  attacks  '^"^  753)  Still  Icss  the  Exarchate  of  Ravenna,  which 
Rome.  the  Pope  had  impudently  asked  and  fondly  hoped 

to  receive.  In  the  winter  of  755-6  he  took  still  more  unmis- 
takeable  steps  of  hostility ;  descending  the  valley  of  the  Tiber 
he  suddenly  laid  siege  to  Rome.  The  walls  of  Aurelian  were 
still  too  strong  to  be  stormed,  but  three  months  of  blockade 
brought  the  citizens  near  to  yielding.  The  news  that  king 
Pippin  had  once  more  taken  arms  restored  courage  to  Pope 
and  people,  and  ere  long  Aistulf  was  forced  to  raise  the  siege 
and  hasten  north  to  defend  Lombardy.  Once  more  the 
Franks  forced  the  defiles  of  the  Cenis,  and  cut  to  pieces  a 
Lombard    force   which   strove   to   stop   the    way.      For  the 

Pippin  the  Short  33 1 

second  time  Aistulf  was  forced  into  Pavia,  beleaguered,  and 
compelled  to  sue  for  peace.  This  time  he  was  given  harder 
terms.  Pippin  demanded  one-third  of  the  royal  hoard  of  the 
Lombards,  an  annual  tribute,  a  larger  body  of  hostages,  and 
the  instant  surrender  of  the  Exarchate.  The  unwiUing  Lom- 
bard was  forced  to  concede  everything;  Frankish  envoys 
received  and  handed  over  to  the  Pope,  the  cities  of  Ravenna, 
Rimini,  Pesaro,  Forli,  Urbino,  and  Sinigaglia,  with  all  their 
dependencies.  Their  keys  were  brought  to  Rome  p.  .^  .^^^ 
and  laid  in  triumph  on  the  sepulchre  of  St.  Peter,  the  Exarchate 
Thus  did  the  Pope  become  an  important  secular  *°  *^®  ^^v^- 
prince,  by  taking  over  the  old  Byzantine  dominions  in  central 
Italy.  It  would  seem  that  the  theory  by  which  he  justified 
this  usurpation  was  that  the  guard  of  the  possessions  of  the 
*  Roman  Republic '  in  Italy  was  incumbent  on  the  emperor, 
but  that  Constantine  Copronymus  being  an  obstinate  heretic 
his  rights  fell  into  abeyance.  The  Pope  then  stepped  forward 
as  the  representative  of  the  '  Roman  Republic '  in  default  of  a 
Caesar,  and  claimed  possession  of  all  that  the  Lombards  had 
lately  usurped.  Apparently  he  considered  himself  as  'Patrician' 
in  the  Exarchate,  but  as  a  Patrician  owing  no  duty  or  obedi- 
ence to  a  heterodox  emperor. 

King  Aistulf  died  in  the  next  year,  killed  by  a  fall  from  his 
horse,  and  the  affairs  of  Italy  troubled  Pippin  no  more,  Desi- 
derius,  duke  of  Istria,  the  new  Lombard  king,  being  occupied 
with  strengthening  himself  against  an  attempt  of  the  ex-king 
Ratchis  to  leave  his  cloister  and  resume  the  crown.  The  rest 
of  Pippin's  reign  was  mainly  devoted  to  the  completion  of  the 
Frankish  dominion  in  southern  Gaul.  Soon  after  his  procla- 
mation as  king  his  officers  had  recovered  for  him  all  the 
Saracen  towns  in  Septimania  north  of  Narbonne.  In  759 
Pippin  inarched  in  person  to  lay  siege  to  that  city,  the  last 
bulwark  of  Islam  beyond  the  Pyrenees.  The  Christian  in- 
habitants of  the  place  rose  at  his  approach,  pippin  takes 
slew  the  Arab  garrison,  and  opened  their  gates  Narbonne,  759. 
to  the  Frank.    No  help  came  from  Spain,  where  civil  war  was 

332  European  History,  476-918 

— as  usual — raging,  and  the  boundaries  of  the  reahii  of  Pippin 
were  advanced  to  the  Pyrenees. 

Of  far  greater  difficulty  was  the  conquest  of  Aquitaine,  the 
last  achievement  of  Pippin.  The  old  duke  Hunold,  the  adver- 
sary of  Charles  Martel,  had  retired  into  a  cloister,  and  had 
been  succeeded  by  his  false  and  restless  son  Waifer.  On 
being  summoned  to  give  up  some  Frankish  refugees,  and 
surrender  certain  church  lands,  the  new  duke  took  up  arms 
against  his  suzerain  in  760;  when  Pippin  appeared  with  all 
the  host  of  Austrasia  and  ravaged  Berri  and  Auvergne,  Waifer 
asked  for  peace,  and  did  homage.  But  the  moment  that  his 
liege  lord  had  departed  home,  he  flung  his  fealty  to  the  winds 
and  began  to  ravage  Burgundy.  Next  year  the  king  returned 
in  force  and  conquered  Clermont  and  the  rest  of  Auvergne,  to 
which  in  762  he  added  Bourges  and  the  land  of  Berri.  Waifer 
held  out  with  the  greatest  obstinacy,  and  was  confirmed  in 
his  resistance  by  learning  of  the  revolt  of  Tassilo,  duke  of 
Bavaria,  who  judged  the  time  favourable  for  freeing  his 
duchy  from  the  Franks.  This  gave  Aquitaine  a  certain  re- 
spite, but  by  766  Waifer  had  been  driven  beyond  the  Garonne, 
and  saw  all  his  subjects  except  the  Gascons  compelled  to  do 
Conquest  of  homage  to  Pippin.  In  767  his  capital  Toulouse 
Aquitaine,  767.  feU^  and  soon  after  his  despairing  followers  ended 
the  war  by  murdering  him  and  laying  down  their  arms. 
Aquitaine  was  now  annexed  to  the  Frankish  crown,  and 
divided  up  into  counties  after  the  manner  of  the  rest  of  the 

During  the  seven  years  of  the  war  of  Aquitaine  king 
Pippin  had  found  time  to  put  down  Tassilo's  rebellion,  and 
to  chastise  some  sporadic  raids  of  the  Saxons  against  whom 
he  had  at  an  earlier  date  (755)  undertaken  a  more  serious 
expedition,  which  resulted  in  all  the  Westphalian  tribes  doing 
homage  to  him.  But  the  full  subjection  of  this  wild  race, 
whose  obstinate  paganism  and  unconquerable  courage  had 
baffled  ten  generations  of  Frankish  missionaries  and  kings, 
was  reserved  for  Pippin's  greater  son. 

Pippin  the  Short  333 

In  the  last  years  of  his  reign  Pippin  occupied  a  central 
place  in  the  affairs  of  Europe  such  as  no  prince  had  held 
since  the  days  of  Theodoric  the  Great.  Even  the  Abbaside 
Caliph  of  Bagdad  sent  to  solicit  his  alliance  :  troubled  by  the 
revolt  of  Spain  under  the  Ommeyad  prince  Abder-  ^^  ortance 
ahman,  he  endeavoured  to  enlist  the  aid  of  Pippin  of  Pippin  in 
for  the  driving  out  of  the  rebel.  The  Frank  ^"'•ope- 
wisely  allowed  the  infidels  to  tear  each  other  to  pieces  with- 
out helping  either  party.  The  Eastern  emperor  Constantine 
Copronymus  sent  frequent  embassies  to  Gaul.  One  was  de- 
signed to  cajole  Pippin  into  restoring  the  Exarchate  to  the 
Byzantine  realm.  Another  brought  a  proposal  for  wedding 
Constantine's  eldest  son  to  Gisela,  Pippin's  only  daughter. 
On  a  third  occasion  the  communication  was  on  religious  sub- 
jects, the  East-Roman  envoys  being  clerics  who  were  to 
endeavour  to  interest  the  Franks  in  the  Iconoclastic  contro- 
versy, and  induce  them  to  join  in  the  destruction  of  images. 
The  Byzantines  held  a  discussion  with  some  legates  of  the 
Pope  in  Pippin's  presence,  but  got  no  assistance  from  the 
great  king  of  the  West,  in  whose  eyes  the  dispute  was  far 
from  having  the  same  importance  that  it  possessed  in  those 
of  Constantine. 

In  the  fulness  of  years  and  honours  Pippin  passed  away  on 
September  24th,  768,  at  St.  Denis  near  Paris,  after  a  long  ill- 
ness which  gave  him  time  to  divide  the  kingdom  between  his 
two  sons  before  he  died.  His  character  is  somewhat  difficult 
to  fathom :  he  possessed  all  the  distinguishing  traits  of  the  great 
men  of  the  house  of  St.  Arnulf,  courage,  ambition,  energy, 
administrative  skill,  but  showed  few  special  characteristics  of 
his  own.  It  is  not  easy  to  detect  any  ruling  passion  or  foible 
in  his  character,  but  his  interference  in  Italy  and  his  assump- 
tion of  the  royal  title  show  that  he  lacked  the  extreme  caution 
of  his  father.  On  the  other  hand  his  piety  Death  of 
is  praised  by  contemporaries  not  in  the  half-  Pippin,  y68. 
hearted  way  in  which  that  of  Charles  was  described,  but  in 
the  most  unquahfied  terms  of  laudation.     There  are  indica- 

334  European  History,  476-918 

tions  that  he  possessed  somewhat  of  that  taste  tor  literature 
which  we  find  so  well  marked  in  his  son  Charles  the  Great. 
But  it  is  impossible  to  draw  any  complete  picture  of  his  per- 
sonality :  even  his  nickname  '  the  Short '  was  given  him  not  by 
his  own  contemporaries  but  by  the  chroniclers  of  the  eleventh 
century,  who  speak  from  tradition  and  not  from  knowledge. 
Our  idea  of  him  must  be  constructed  solely  from  what  we 
know  of  his  life  and  actions. 



Chailes  and  Carloman — Final  conquest  of  Aquitaine— Death  of  Carloman— 
Character  and  habits  of  Charles — State  of  the  Frankish  Empire— Charles 
interferes  in  Italy  on  behalf  of  the  Pope — He  subdues  the  Lombard 
monarchy — His  later  expeditions  into  Italy — First  conquest  of  Saxony — 
Expedition  to  Spain — Rebellions  of  Saxony  followed  by  its  reconquest 
and  permanent  subjection. 

The  moment  that  king  Pippin  had  been  laid  beneath  his 
marble  slab  near  the  high  altar  of  St.  Denis,  his  two  sons 
drew  apart,  and  atter  retiring  a  few  leagues  from  the  place  of 
their  father's  death  hastily  had  themselves  saluted  as  kings  by 
their  counts  and  dukes,  and  anointed  by  their  bishops — 
Charles  at  Noyon,  Carloman  at  Soissons  (Oct.  9th,  768). 

Now  for  the  second  time  it  appeared  likely  that  the  great- 
ness of  the  house  of  St.  Arnulf  might  be  wrecked  by  the  old 
and  evil  Frankish  custom  which  prescribed  the  division  of  the 
kingdom  among  the  sons  of  the  king.  How  that  custom  had 
worked  under  the  Merovings  we  have  already  seen.  At  the 
death  of  Charles  Martel  it  had  already  threatened  to  break  up 
the  power  of  his  house,  a  danger  which  was  only  averted  by 
the  unexpected  abdication  of  the  elder  Carloman.  Untaught 
by  the  experience  of  his  own  youth  Pippin  the  Short  had 
committed  the  same  mistake :  old  habit  was  too  much  for 
him.  On  his  deathbed,  as  we  have  seen,  he  divided  his 
realm  between  his  two  sons.     He  had,  however,  done  his 

best  to  leave  his  first-born  so  superior  in   strength  to  his 


336  European  History,  476-918 

brother,  that  the  younger  king  should  not  be  able  to  compete 
Joint  rule  of  with  him.  Charlcs  was  left  the  warlike  half  of 
CarToman"'^  the  kingdom,  all  those  Frankish  lands,  both 
768-72.  Austrasian  and  Neustrian,  from  the  Main  to  the 

Channel,  which  supphed  the  chief  fighting  element  in  the 
Frankish  armies.  In  addition  he  obtained  the  western  half  of 
the  newly  conquered  Aquitaine.  Carloman's  share  consisted 
of  Burgundy,  the  Suabian  lands  on  both  sides  of  the  upper 
Rhine,  and  the  whole  Mediterranean  coast  from  the  Maritime 
Alps  to  the  border  of  Spain — the  old  Provincia  and  Septi- 
mania.  Moreover,  he  took  the  eastern  half  of  Aquitaine, — 
the  country  about  Clermont,  Rodez,  Albi,  and  Toulouse. 
Though  wellnigh  as  large  as  the  share  of  Charles,  his  king- 
dom was  not  nearly  so  powerful,  for  the  king  who  could 
command  the  swords  of  the  Franks  was  the  one  who  could 
give  law  to  the  whole  realm. 

For  reasons  which  we  know  not,  Charles  and  Carloman  had 
never  been  friendly — perhaps  the  younger  son  as  born  after 
his  father's  coronation  may  have  claimed  some  precedence 
over  the  elder,  who  was  the  son  merely  of  a  Mayor  of  the 
Palace.  We  know  at  any  rate  that  throughout  the  three  years 
of  their  joint  reign  they  were  always  on  the  edge  of  a  quarrel. 
Nothing  but  the  influence  and  advice  of  their  worthy  mother 
Bertha  kept  them  from  an  open  rupture.  Luckily  for  the 
realm  both  were  good  sons,  and  listened  to  the  maternal 
pleadings :  still  more  luckily  for  the  Franks  the  life  of  the 
younger  king  was  destined  to  be  a  short  one.  If  Carloman 
had  been  granted  many  days  on  earth,  we  may  be  sure  that 
the  history  of  the  last  quarter  of  the  ninth  century  would 
have  repeated  the  old  fratricidal  wars  of  the  Meroyings.  The 
historians  who  wrote  the  life  of  the  great  Charles  are  never 
tired  of  insisting  on  the  many  provocations  which  his  brother 
gave  him.  If  Carloman  had  chanced  to  find  an  apologist  we 
might  perhaps  have  learnt  that  Charles  also  gave  subjects  for 

The  commencement  of  the  joint  reign  of  the  two  kings  was 

Charles  the  Great  ^3^ 

followed  by  the  prompt  revolt  of  the  newly  subdued  Aquitaine. 
Duke  Waifer,  the  leader  of  the  Southerners  in  their  long  war 
with  Pippin,  being  dead,  his  old  father  Hunold  emerged  from 
his  monastery  to  put  himself  at  the  head  of  the  insurrection. 
The  country  as  far  north  as  Angouldme — which  was  kept  down 
by  a  Frankish  garrison — at  once  fell  away  to  him,  for  the 
Gascons  trusted  that  the  two  jealous  brothers  charies  sub- 
would  be  too  much  occupied  with  their  griev-  dues  Aquitaine 
ances  against  each  other  to  spare  time  for  the  '^^• 
reconquest  of  the  south.  Charles  immediately  marched 
against  the  rebels,  and  invited  Carloman  to  accompany 
him :  the  younger  king  appeared  for  a  moment,  but  only 
to  hold  an  angry  colloquy  with  his  senior  and  then  to  return 
to  Burgundy.  He  did  not,  however,  take  the  opportunity  to 
attack  Charles,  and  the  latter  was  able  to  pursue,  unaided  but 
also  unhindered,  his  campaign  against  the  Aquitanians.  It 
was  completely  successful :  he  forced  his  way  in  arms  as  far 
as  Bordeaux,  built  a  great  fortified  camp  at  Fronsac,  which 
was  destined  to  remain  as  the  central  stronghold  of  the 
Garonne  for  many  generations,  and  so  thoroughly  beat  Hun- 
old that  the  old  man  fled  for  refuge  to  Lupus,  duke  of  the 
Gascons.  But  Lupus  fearing  the  wrath  of  Charles  submitted 
to  the  conqueror,  surrendered  the  fugitive,  and  asked  and 
obtained  peace.  Charles  went  home  in  triumph,  replaced 
Hunold  in  a  cloister,  and  was  henceforth  undisputably  king 
in  Aquitaine.  He  divided  the  country  into  countships  on  the 
usual  Frankish  system,  and  placed  these  provinces  in  the 
hands  not  of  natives,  but  of  men  from  north  of  the  Loire 
whose  fidelity  he  could  trust.  For  the  future  Aquitaine  gave 
no  trouble. 

In  spite  of  Carloman's  denial  of  help  during  the  war  in  the 
south,  Charles  was  ere  long  persuaded  by  his  mother  to  be 
reconciled  to  his  brother.  But  he  took  measures  to  keep  him 
in  check  for  the  future  by  making  alliance  with  the  neighbours 
of  Carloman  to  north  and  south.  He  concluded  a  treaty  with 
Tassilo,  duke  of  Bavaria^  whose  dependence  on  the  Frankish 


338  European  History,  476-918 

realm  had  of  late  grown  very  loose,  and  allied  himself  yet 
more  closely  with  Desiderius,  the  king  of  the  Lombards,  by 
wedding  his  daughter  Desiderata.  This  marriage  was  con- 
cluded in  spite  of  the  most  undignified  shrieks  of  wrath  on 
the  part  of  the  Pope,  who  besought  Charles  *  not  to  mix  the 
famous  Frankish  blood  with  the  perfidious,  foul,  and  leprous 
Lombard  stock — a  truly  diabolical  coupling,  which  no  true 
man  could  call  a  marriage.'  The  Papacy  had  learnt  so  well 
how  to  utilise  the  distant  monarch  of  the  Gauls  against  the 
neighbouring  lord  of  Pavia,  that  Stephen  iii.  looked  upon  an 
alliance  between  Frank  and  Lombard  as  high  treason  against 
the  Holy  See.  The  marriage,  however,  was  consummated  in 
spite  of  Stephen's  threats,  whereupon,  with  more  prudence 
than  consistency,  he  suddenly  forgot  his  fundamental  objec- 
tions to  the  Lombard  race,  and  made  his  peace  with  king 
Desiderius,  lest  he  should  be  left  unaided  to  feel  the  weight  of 
the  Lombard  arm. 

Within  a  year,  however,  Charles  suddenly  repudiated  his 
wife,  alleging  that  she  was  sickly  and  barren.  Whether  this 
was  his  real  motive,  or  whether  political  causes  also  influenced 
his  action,  we  cannot  tell;  but  as  Charles  wedded  immediately 
after  his  divorce  a  fair  Suabian  lady,  named  Hildegarde,  we 
may  suspect  that  his  motives  were  possibly  those  which  guided 
Henry  viii.  of  England  in  a  similar  circumstance.  Be  this  as 
it  may,  he  won  by  this  divorce  the  unrelenting  and  not  un- 
Death  of  justifiable  hatred  of  Desiderata's  father,  the  king 
Carioman.  gf  the  Lombards.  Trouble  was  soon  in  the  air. 
There  was  again  a  rumour  that  war  was  about  to  break  out 
between  Charles  and  Carioman,  in  which  Desiderius  would 
have  taken  part.  Just  in  time  to  prevent  such  an  out- 
break, king  Carioman  died  (December  771).  He  left  an 
infant  son,  but  the  nobles  and  bishops  of  Burgundy  and 
Alamannia  made  no  attempt  to  set  the  child  on  his 
father's  throne.  Wisely  suppressing  any  particularist  yearn- 
ings, they  betook  themselves  to  Charles  at  Corbeny-sur-Aisne, 
and  there  did  homage  to  him  as  king  of  all  the  Frankish 

Charles  the  Great  339 

realms.  Gerberga,  the  widow  of  Carloman,  fled  with  her 
child  and  a  handful  of  followers  to  Lombardy,  where  Desi- 
derius  was  now  in  a  state  of  mind  which  made  him  glad  to 
receive  any  enemy  of  Charles's,  and  more  especially  one 
who  had  such  a  plausible  claim  to  a  share  in  the  Prankish 

Once  more,  then,  all  the  lands  between  the  mouth  of  the 
Rhine  and  the  mouth  of  the  Rhone,  and  from  the  Main  to 
the  Bay  of  Biscay,  were  united  under  a  single  character  of 
king.  And  this  was  a  king  such  as  none  of  those  Charles, 
realms  had  ever  seen  before — a  heroic  figure,  whose  like  we 
have  not  met  in  all  the  three  centuries  with  which  we  have 
had  to  deal.  Theodoric  the  Ostrogoth  alone  deserves  a 
mention  by  his  side,  and  Theodoric  had  a  smaller  task  and 
less  success  than  the  great  Charles.  For  the  first  time  since 
we  began  to  tell  the  tale  of  the  Dark  Ages  we  have  come 
upon  a  man  whose  form  and  mind,  whose  plans  and  method 
of  life,  have  been  so  well  recorded  that  we  can  build  up  for 
ourselves  a  clear  and  tangible  image  of  him.  Charles  the 
Hammer,  king  Pippin,  Leo  the  Isaurian,  and  even  the  good 
Theodoric  himself,  are  but  shadowy  figures,  whose  outlines 
we  can  but  dimly  seize,  but  Charles  stands  before  us  firm 
and  masterful,  a  living  man,  whom  we  can  understand  and 

'  He  was  tall  and  stoutly  built,'  writes  his  chronicler,  Ein- 
hard ;  '  his  height  just  seven  times  the  length  of  his  own  foot. 
His  head  was  round,  his  eyes  large  and  lively,  his  nose  some- 
what above  the  common  size,  his  expression  bright  and  cheer- 
ful.    Whether  he  stood  or  sat  his  form  was  full   Charles's 
of  dignity ;  for  the  good  proportion  and  grace  of  person  and 
his  body  prevented  the  observer  from  noticing   ^^^*^^- 
that  his  neck  was  rather  short  and  his  person  rather  too 
fleshy.      His  tread  was  firm,  his   aspect   manly;   his   voice 
was  clear,  but  rather  high-pitched  for  so  splendid  a  body. 
His  health  was  excellent ;  only  for  the  last  four  years  of  his 
life  he  suffered  from  intermittent  fever.     To  the  very  last  he 

340  European  History^  476-918 

consulted  his  own  goodwill  rather  than  the  orders  of  his 
doctors,  whom  he  detested,  because  they  bade  him  give  up 
the  roast  meats  that  his  soul  loved.' 

Charles  was  always  of  an  active  habit  of  body.  He  de- 
lighted in  riding  and  hunting,  and  was  skilled  in  swimming 
above  other  men.  One  of  the  chief  reasons  that  induced 
him  to  make  Aachen  his  capital  was  that  he  loved  to  take 
his  sport  in  the  great  swimming-bath  that  was  supplied  by 
its  hot  springs. 

He  always  used  the  Frankish  costume,  and  loved  not 
foreign  apparel.  Next  his  skin  he  wore  a  linen  shirt  and 
drawers,  over  these  a  woollen  tunic,  with  a  silk  border,  and 
breeches.  He  wrapped  his  calves  and  feet  with  the  linen 
bandages  that  were  worn  ere  stockings  were  invented,  and 
drew  high  boots  over  them.  In  winter  he  wore  a  coat  of  the 
fur  of  otter  or  ermine,  and  over  that  a  bright  blue  cloak.  A 
sword  with  a  golden  hilt  was  always  at  his  side.  On  great 
days  of  state  he  assumed  a  tunic  and  cloak  embroidered  with 
gold  and  clasped  with  gold  buckles,  girt  his  head  with  a 
jewelled  crown,  and  carried  a  sword  with  a  jewelled  hilt. 
But  for  every-day  wear  his  clothes  were  not  more  splendid 
than  those  of  his  courtiers. 

He  was  temperate  in  food  and  drink,  more,  however,  in 
drink  than  in  food.  No  one  ever  saw  him  drink  more  than 
three  cups  at  his  dinner,  and  he  hated  drunkenness,  and  chas- 
tised it  among  his  suite.  But  eating  he  loved  in  moderation, 
and  would  often  say  that  church  fasts  were  bad  for  his  health. 
There  were  never  more  than  four  dishes  on  his  table,  besides 
a  roast,  which  was  brought  him  hot  from  the  kitchen  on  its 
spit,  and  this  was  his  favourite  food. 

At  dinner  he  used  to  listen  to  a  reciter  or  a  reader.  He 
loved  histories  and  tales  of  the  ancients,  and  also  the  works 
of  St.  Augustine,  whose  De  Civitate  Dei  delighted  him  espe- 
cially. He  caused  to  be  written  out  and  committed  to 
memory  the  ancient  Frankish  epics  about  the  deeds  and  wars 
of  the  kings  of  old.     He  himself  was  well  skilled  in  reading 

Charles  the  Great  341 

aloud  and  singing  to  the  harp,  and  took  much  pains  in  in- 
structing others  in  those  accomplishments.  All  the  liberal  arts 
were  dear  to  him,  and  he  loved  learned  men,  and  summoned 
them  from  all  quarters  of  the  world.  To  study  grammar  he 
sent  for  the  deacon  Peter  of  Pisa.  In  most  other  arts  he  had 
as  his  preceptor  Alcuin,  the  Englishman,  the  most  learned  of 
all  men,  with  whom  he  studied  rhetoric  and  dialectic,  and 
spent  much  time  in  acquiring  a  knowledge  of  astronomy ; 
for  he  was  curious  about  the  times  and  motions  of  the  stars. 
He  invented  German  names  for  the  twelve  months  of  the 
year,  and  the  twelve  winds.  He  tried,  too,  to  learn  the  art  of 
the  scribe,^  and  used  to  keep  paper  and  notebooks  under  his 
pillow  in  bed,  to  practise  his  fingers  at  odd  moments  in  form- 
ing the  characters ;  but  he  began  too  late  in  life  to  get  very 
forward  in  this  undertaking.  Moreover,  he  loved  building, 
and  designed  the  splendid  cathedral  of  Aachen,  glorious  with 
lamps  and  candlesticks  of  gold  and  silver,  and  doors  and  rail- 
ings of  solid  bronze.  When  he  was  erecting  it,  and  could  not 
get  marble  columns  near  at  hand,  he  had  them  brought  all  the 
way  from  Ravenna  and  Rome.  He  was  a  great  churchgoer, 
and  always  took  care  that  the  service  in  his  presence  should 
be  conducted  with  decorum.  He  used  to  pray  both  in 
Frankish  and  in  Latin,  being  equally  skilled  in  both  tongues. 
For  he  had  a  great  power  of  acquiring  languages,  and  spoke 
Latin  excellently.  Greek  he  learnt,  but  understood  it  better 
than  he  spoke  it  He  had  a  free  and  fluent  power  of  speech, 
and  always  expressed  his  meaning  in  the  clearest  way. 

He  slept  lightly,  and  would  often  rise  three  or  four  times  in 
the  night.  When  he  was  dressing  for  the  work  of  the  morning 
he  would  have  not  only  his  friends  in  his  chamber,  but  would 
bid  the  count  of  the  palace  bring  in  litigants  before  him,  and 
give  a  decision  from  his  chair  just  as  if  he  was  in  a  court  of 

Charles  had  one  lamentable  failing — he  was  too  careless  of 
the  teachings  of  Christianity  about  the  relation  of  the  sexes. 
*  We  know  that  he  could  at  least  sign  his  name. 

342  European  History,  476-918 

He  divorced  his  first  wife  over-lightly,  and  when  his  third 
wife  died  he  took  to  himself  three  concubines  at  once,  who 
bore  him  many  bastard  children.  There  were  scandals  at  his 
court,  and  two  of  his  own  daughters  were  known  to  be  living 
in  open  sin  with  two  of  his  courtiers.  Charles  treated  their 
offence  lightly,  and  never  visited  them  with  any  rebuke.  Not 
so  his  son,  Lewis  the  Pious,  who  regarded  his  sisters'  shame 
as  so  heinous  that  he  banished  them  when  he  came  to  the 
throne.  It  was  the  shortcomings  of  the  great  king  in  respect 
of  sexual  morality  which  prevented  the  Church  from  decree- 
ing the  beatification  of  its  protector  after  his  death.  The 
spirit  of  the  times  was  well  shown  by  the  strange  vision  of 
the  monk  Wettin  of  Reichenau,  who,  falling  into  a  trance 
and  wandering  through  the  other  world,  saw  Charles  in  Pur- 
gatory, kept  in  purifying  flames  for  a  space,  till  this  sin 
should  be  purged  from  his  soul. 

So  much  do  the  chronicles  tell  us  concerning  the  person 
and  the  manner  of  life  of  Charles  the  Great ;  but  there  are  other 
points  which  impress  us  more  than  they  did  the  contemporary 
observer.  Considering  that  he  was  so  far  in  advance  of  his  age 
in  the  cultivation  of  literature,  art,  science,  and  architecture, 
that  in  administration  and  organisation  of  his  realm  he  so  far  sur- 
passed all  that  had  lived  before  him,  and  that  he  rose  in  most 
of  his  conduct  to  such  a  high  conception,  alike  of  his  kingly 
office  and  of  his  personal  responsibility  for  all  his  actions,  it 
is  disappointing,  though  not  surprising,  to  find  that  in  some 
matters  he  was  not  above  the  standard  of  his  time.  We  have 
already  alluded  to  his  loose  living,  but  a  worse  failing  was  his 
occasional  liability  to  outbursts  of  inhumanity.  The  most 
savage  of  them  was  his  massacre  of  4500  unarmed  prisoners  of 
war  at  Verden,  in  782.  If  the  majority  of  his  wars  were  defen- 
sive, or  at  least  necessary,  there  were  a  few — notably  the  Lom- 
bard war — in  which  aggressive  ambition  was  the  main  operat- 
ing cause,  but  this  was  a  small  failing  in  the  unscrupulous 
eighth  century.  On  the  whole  we  stand  amazed  at  the  magna- 
nimity of  the  man,  and  are  so  much  struck  with  his  splendid 

Charles  the  Great  343 

qualities,  that  we  are  perhaps  in  danger  of  doing  him  wrong 
by  judging  him  from  our  own  moral  standpoint.  He  rises  so 
far  above  that  of  the  Dark  Ages,  that  it  scarcely  occurs  to  the 
historian  to  judge  him  by  their  low  standard.  Yet  it  is  by 
remembering  what  was  the  spirit  of  those  times  that  his  great- 
ness is  most  readily  recognised. 

We  shall  have  to  deal  with  Charles  in  three  main  aspects, 
as  conqueror,  as  organiser,  and  as  the  introducer  of  new 
theories  of  political  life  into  the  mind  of  Christendom.  It 
is  difficult  to  keep  the  three  lines  of  activity  clearly  separate  \ 
for  all  through  his  reign,  from  first  to  last,  Charles  was  equally 
busy  in  each  of  these  capacities.  To  make  clear  the  logical 
sequence  of  his  doings  it  is  sometimes  necessary  to  override 
their  chronological  order. 

At  the  first  glance  the  most  extraordinary  of  the  achieve- 
ments of  Charles  appear  to  be  his  huge  additions  to  the  terri- 
tory of  the  Frankish  realm  by  the  annexation  of  the  conquests  of 
Lombard  kingdom,  the  Spanish  march.  Saxony,  Charles, 
and  the  Slavonic  lands  of  the  Elbe  and  the  Drave  to  the  inherit- 
ance that  he  had  been  left  by  his  father.  These  conquests 
represent  a  plan  of  operations  deliberately  undertaken,  carried 
out  with  an  unswerving  hand,  and  brought  to  a  successful 
finish.  Charles  had  inherited  from  his  father  and  grand- 
father the  duty,  which  they  had  undertaken,  of  protecting 
Christian  Europe  from  the  Saracen,  the  Slav,  and  the 
heathen  Saxon,  the  three  enemies  whom  his  ancestors  had 
driven  back,  but  had  not  crushed.  Closely  connected  with 
this  duty  was  the  obligation  to  convert  to  Christianity  the 
new  subjects  whom  he  might  subdue,  to  deal  with  Saxon  and 
Slav  as  Charles  Martel  had  already  dealt  with  Frisian  and 
Thuringian,  and  so  to  push  the  outer  defences  of  Christen- 
dom into  those  parts  of  central  Europe  which  had  hitherto 
been  sunk  in  savagery  and  paganism.  The  Saracen  alone  it  was 
impossible  to  convert.  He  might  be  expelled,  but  then,  as  now, 
it  was  found  easier  to  exterminate  the  Moslem  than  to  make 
him  abandon  Islam.     To  these  altogether  useful  and  salutary 

344  European  History,  476-918 

tasks,  which  Charles  inherited  from  the  great  Mayors  of  the 
Palace,  another  was  added,  the  less  happy  plan  of  cementing 
a  close  union  with  the  Papacy  by  crushing  the  nation  of  the 
Lombards.  Pippin  had  committed  the  Franks  to  this  scheme, 
and  Charles  did  but  carry  out  his  father's  pledges.  But  by 
his  action  he  destroyed  a  healthy  and  vigorous  Christian  state, 
the  possible  base  for  a  strong  Italian  nationality,  and  com- 
mitted the  Frankish  kingdom  to  a  profitless  union,  which  was 
to  bring  forth  seven  centuries  of  discord.  What  was  worst  of 
all,  he  firmly  established  the  temporal  power  of  the  Papacy,  a 
curse  to  blast  Italy  for  a  thousand  years.  The  gains  which  he 
received  in  return, — the  religious  sanction  bestowed  on  his 
royal  power  by  the  Pope,  and  the  imperial  title,  were  but 
doubtful  boons.  It  was  to  be  seen,  ere  the  ninth  century  had 
expired,  that  the  house  of  St.  Arnulf,  like  all  the  dynasties 
that  succeeded  it,  lost  more  than  it  gained  by  putting  itself 
under  obligations  to  the  Roman  See,  and  consenting  to 
accept  from  the  Pope's  hands  the  style  of  emperor,  and 
the  vague  commission  to  protect  the  unity  of  Christendom, 
— a  commission  which  to  the  Roman  pontiff  meant  little 
more  than  the  duty  of  giving  the  Church  all  that  she  chose 
to  crave. 

Before  proceeding  to  relate  the  earlier  conquests  of  Charles 
the  Great,  it  is  necessary  to  explain  the  boundaries  of  his 
realm  as  it  stood  at  the  moment  of  the  death  of  his  brother 
Carloman.     In  Germany  the  border  to  north  and  south  was 
held  by  the  two  vassal  peoples  of  Frisia  and  Bavaria,  both  now 
Christian,  and  both  reduced  during  the  last  fifty  years  to  a 
more    strict    obedience   to   the  Franks  than  they  had  ever 
known  before,  but  still  possessing  their  own  native  rulers,  and 
not  completely  united  to  the  monarchy.     East  of  Frisia  lay 
the  Saxons,  the  race  whom  the  Merovings,  and  the  great 
Limits  of       i^'iayors  who  succeeded  them,  had  alike  failed  to 
Charles's       tame.     After  three  hundred  years  of  hard  fight- 
reaim.  -^^g  ^^  boundary  of  the  Frank    and   Saxon  re- 

mained where  it  had  stood  in  the  year  500.      To  the  east  of 

Charles  the  Great  345 

Saxony  lay  races  hardly  yet  known  to  the  Franks,  the 
Slavonic  tribes  of  the  Abotrites,  Wiltzes,  and  Sorbs. 

The  duchy  of  Bavaria  had  as  its  eastern  neighbours  another 
group  of  Slavonic  peoples,  the  races  who  had  once  formed  the 
ephemeral  kingdom  of  Samo,^  Czechs  and  Moravians  on  the 
upper  Elbe,  Carentanians  on  the  Drave.  Beyond  these  Slavs 
lay  the  realm  of  the  Avar  Chagan,  now  in  a  state  of  decadence 
owing  both  to  civil  wars  and  to  rebellions  of  its  Slavonic 

Between  Frisia  and  Bavaria  the  frontier  of  the  realm  of 
Charles  was  held  by  the  Thuringians,  now  no  longer  under 
the  rule  of  native  princes,  but  divided  up  into  Frankish 
counties,  as  the  adjacent  Suabia  had  also  been,  and  forming 
like  Suabia  an  integral  part  of  Charles's  monarchy.  The 
neighbours  of  the  Thuringians  beyond  the  border  were  the 
Slavonic  Sorbs. 

The  south-east  frontier  of  the  Frankish  empire  was 
formed  by  the  main  chain  of  the  Alps,  beyond  which  lay 
the  Lombard  realm  of  king  Desiderius.  Its  south-western 
limit  was  the  main  chain  of  the  Pyrenees,  beyond  which 
lay  the  Saracens  of  Spain,  over  whom  at  this  moment 
Abderahman  the  Ommeyad  had  just  succeeded  in  establish- 
ing his  power,  and  had  formed  a  state  independent  of  the 
Abbaside  caliphate  (755). 

Of  all  the  neighbours  of  king  Charles,  it  was  Desiderius 
the  Lombard  who  was  first  destined  to  feel  the  weight  of  the 
Frankish  sword.  He  had  not  only  received  Carloman's  widow 
Gerberga,  when  she  fled  from  Burgundy,  but  had  shown  some 
intention  of  proclaiming  her  son  king  of  the  Franks.  Yet  it 
was  not  this  machination  against  Charles  that  was  the  actual 
cause  of  war,  but  the  relations  of  the  Papacy  with  Desiderius. 
Hadrian  i.  had  just  been  raised  to  the  Papal  throne.  He 
was  a  Roman  by  birth,  and  a  great  hater  of  the  Lombards. 
He  refused  the  friendship  and  alliance  which  Desiderius  prof- 
fered, and  very  shortly  after  he  was  consecrated  began  to 
1  See  p.  177. 

34^  European  History^  476-918 

pick  a  quarrel  with  the  unfortunate  king.  He  demanded 
Quarrel  of  the  ^^°"^  ^^^^  ^^^  important  towus  of  Ferrara  and 
Pope  and  the  Faenza,  as  part  of  the  Exarchate  of  Ravenna. 
Lombards.  ^j^^^  j^^^  ^^^^^^  promised  to  St.  Peter,  he  said, 
in  757,  while  Desiderius  was  struggling  for  the  crown  with 
king  Ratchis,  and  must  be  handed  over  at  once.  Desiderius, 
thinking  that  Charles  would  be  too  much  occupied  beyond 
the  Alps  in  settling  the  newly-annexed  dominions  of  his 
brother  to  allow  of  his  appearance  in  Italy,  replied  to  the 
Pope's  challenge  by  sending  a  host  into  the  Pentapohs,  and 
seizing  Sinigaglia  and  Urbino.  Shortly  afterwards  he  raised 
the  full  force  of  the  Lombard  realm,  and  marched  against 
Rome.  Hadrian  had  expected  this.  He  fortified  and  strongly 
garrisoned  the  city,  and  sent  in  haste  to  bid  the  lord  of  the 
Franks  to  come  to  the  help  of  St.  Peter,  and  force  the  un- 
righteous Lombards  to  carry  out  in  full  the  treaty  that  king 
Pippin  had  imposed  upon  them.  The  news  of  the  despatch 
of  this  embassy  seems  to  have  frightened  Desiderius.  He  drew 
back  to  Viterbo,  and,  instead  of  pressing  the  siege  of  Rome, 
sent  an  embassy  to  Charles,  to  explain  that  the  Pope's  charges 
were  unfounded,  as  he  was  not  keeping  back  anything  that 
really  belonged  to  the  Exarchate  (772,  autumn). 

Desiderius,  when  he  first  attacked  Rome,  was  not  wrong  in 
thinking  that  Charles  was  already  occupied  in  the  affairs  of  his 
own  kingdom.  He  had  that  summer  commenced  the  great 
undertaking  of  the  conquest  of  Saxony,  a  task  which  was  to 
tax  his  energies  for  the  next  twenty  years.  In  the  summer  of 
772  he  had  entered  the  land,  compelled  the  Mid-Saxons  or 
Engrians  to  give  him  hostages,  and  cut  down  in  token  of 
triumph  the  Irminsul,  a  holy  tree  reverenced  by  all  the  Saxon 
tribes,  which  stood  in  a  grove  near  Paderborn,  and  v;as  adorned 
with  many  rich  offerings.  On  his  return  to  Austrasia,  Charles 
met  the  ambassadors  of  Hadrian  and  Desiderius  at  Thionville. 
He  did  not  swerve  for  a  moment  from  his  father's  policy  of 
supporting  the  Papacy  through  thick  and  thin.  He  sent  off 
ambassadors  to  bid  Desiderius  give  up  all  the  cities  belonging  to 

Charles  the  Great  347 

the  Holy  See  that  he  was  unlawfully  occupying,  and  told  him  to 
do  justice  to  St.  Peter  without  delay.  The  Lombard  king  was 
far  too  angry  at  this  interference  to  grant  the  Frank's  demands. 
He  swore  that  he  would  restore  nothing.  This  drew  down 
Charles  into  Italy.  Marching  from  Geneva  he  charies  in- 
crossed  Mont  Cenis  with  one  division  of  his  army,  vades  Lom- 
while  his  uncle  Bernard  with  the  rest  followed  the  ^^''^y-  773- 
route  of  the  Great  St.  Bernard.  Desiderius  on  their  approach 
fortified  the  Alpine  gorges  by  Susa  and  Ivrea,  and  stood  upon 
the  defensive.  But  a  chosen  band  of  Franks  turned  his 
position  at  Susa  by  climbing  over  the  hills,  and  when  he  saw 
himself  outflanked,  the  Lombard  king  abandoned  his  lines, 
and  fell  back  on  Pavia,  exactly  as  his  predecessor  Aistulf  had 
done  in  the  war  with  king  Pippin.  Charles  followed  in  haste, 
and  laid  siege  to  Pavia,  which  held  out  for  many  months. 
Meanwhile  Adelchis,  the  son  of  Desiderius,  raised  a  second 
Lombard  army,  and  took  post  in  front  of  Verona.  Leaving 
part  of  his  army  to  maintain  the  blockade  of  Pavia,  Charles 
marched  against  Adelchis,  compelled  him  to  fly,  and  captured 
Verona,  and  afterwards  Brescia  and  Bergamo.  The  Lombard 
prince  took  to  the  sea,  and  sought  Constantinople,  where  he 
endeavoured  to  obtain  help  from  Constantine  Copronymus, 
then  in  the  midst  of  his  Bulgarian  war. 

As  king  Desiderius  held  out  in  Pavia  with  the  greatest  ob- 
stinacy, and  the  siege  was  protracted  for  many  months, 
Charles  resolved  to  spend  the  spring  of  774  in  visiting  Rome, 
and  coming  to  a  complete  understanding  with  pope  Hadrian. 
He  reached  the  city  in  Holy  Week,  and  celebrated  the  Easter 
festivities  with  great  splendour :  his  communings  with  Hadrian 
ended  in  his  confirming  his  father's  grant  to  the  Papacy  of  the 
whole  Exarchate  of  Ravenna,  from  Ferrara  and  charies  at 
Commachio  on  the  north,  to  Osimo  on  the  south,  Rome,  774. 
including  all  the  places  that  had  been  in  dispute  between  the 
Pope  and  the  Lombard  king.  Later  Roman  writers  pretended 
that  Charles  had  even  increased  Pippin's  liberal  gift  by  adding 
to  it  north  Tuscany,  Parma  and  Modena,  Venice,  and  even 

34^  European  History,  476-918 

the  island  of  Corsica.  But  there  is  no  trace  of  this  in  con- 
temporary authorities :  the  Frank  never  made  over  to  the 
Pope  the  sovereignty  of  Tuscany  or  Emilia,  much  less  of 
Venice — which  was  not  his  to  give, — or  the  distant  island  of 

On  returning  from  Rome  to  the  valley  of  the  Po,  in  the  early 
summer  of  774,  Charles  found  Pavia  ready  to  submit:  Desi- 
Faiiof  Pavia,  derius  and  his  men  of  war  were  wasted  by  famine 
774-  and  opened  the  gates  on  condition  that  their  lives 

should  be  spared.  The  king  was  sent  as  a  prisoner  to  Neu- 
stria,  and  died  many  years  after  as  a  monk  in  the  abbey  of 
Corbey.  His  royal  treasure  was  divided  among  the  Frankish 
army.  Adelchis,  the  heir  of  the  Lombard  throne,  had,  as  we 
have  already  mentioned,  escaped  to  the  Byzantine  court,  and 
died  there  many  years  afterwards  as  a  '  patrician.' 

Instead  of  following  Pippin's  example,  and  allowing  Lom- 
bardy  to  survive  as  a  vassal  state,  Charles  had  himself  pro- 
claimed as  king  in  Italy,  and  compelled  all  the  Lombard  dukes 
and  counts  to  do  homage  to  him  at  Pavia.  Only  Arichis  of 
Benevento,  the  son-in-law  of  Desiderius,  persistedin  maintaining 
his  independence.  For  the  future  Charles  styled  himself  'King 
of  the  Franks  and  Lombards,  and  Roman  Patrician.'  Except 
that  he  left  a  garrison  in  the  capital,  and  handed  over  some 
of  the  more  important  Italian  cities  to  Frankish  counts  instead 
of  leaving  them  in  the  hands  of  their  old  Lombard  governors, 
he  made  little  change  in  the  administration  of  Italy.  His 
rights  of  conquest  were  used  with  such  moderation,  that  Italy 
gave  him  very  little  trouble  for  the  rest  of  his  reign.  The 
only  serious  disturbance  that  took  place  was  in  776,  when  the 
dukes  of  Friuli,  Spoleto,  and  Benevento  conspired  to  send  for 
Adelchis  from  Constantinople,  and  proclaim  him  as  king  of 
Later  expedi-  the  Lombards.  Hearing  of  their  plot,  Charles 
tion  to  Italy,  descended  upon  Italy,  slew  the  duke  of  Friuli  in 
battle,  and  compelled  the  duke  of  Spoleto  to  do  him  homage. 
Arichis  of  Benevento  was  not  subdued  :  he  maintained  his 
southern  duchy  intact,  though  the  Franks  sent  more  than  one 

Charles  the  Great  349 

expedition  against  him.  Apparently  Charles  regarded  the 
homage  of  this  distant  state  as  too  small  a  thing  to  be  worth 
his  attention  till  787,  when  he  made  another  descent  into 
Italy  in  person,  besieged  Arichis  in  Salerno,  and  finally  com- 
pelled him  to  become  his  vassal.  But  in  792,  Arichis  being 
dead,  his  son  Grimoald  shook  off  the  Frankish  yoke,  and  main- 
tained a  precarious  semi-independence  for  the  future,  though 
he  was  several  times  attacked,  and  saw  more  than  one  of  his 
chief  towns  stormed  by  the  armies  of  Charles.  The  great 
king  himself,  however,  never  entered  Beneventan  territory 
again,  and  it  was  only  his  presence  that  could  have  sufficed 
to  subdue  the  unruly  duke. 

But  we  must  return  to  the  doings  of  Charles  after  his  first 
conquest  of  the  Lombards  in  774.  During  his  absence  the 
Saxons  had  once  more  taken  arms,  and  it  was  now  high  time 
to  recommence  the  campaign  against  them,  which  had  been 
interrupted  by  the  great  expedition  to  Italy.  The  year  775 
saw  the  first  of  the  many  subjections  of  Saxony  which  Charles 
was  to  carry  out  during  his  long  reign. 

The  Saxons  were  divided  into  four  great  divisions.  Nearest 
the  Frankish  frontier  were  the  Westphalians,  who  dwelt  on  the 
Ems  and  Lippe,  and  about  the  Teutobiirger  Wald.  Beyond 
them  to  the  east,  the  Engrians  occupied  the  valley  of  the 
Weser,  from  its  mouth  as  far  as  the  borders  of  Hesse.  East 
of  the  Engrians  again,  lay  the  Eastphalians,  on  the  Aller  and 
Ocker  and  Elbe.  The  latter-named  river  separated  them  from 
the  Slavonic  tribes  of  the  Abotrites,  who  lived  in  the  modern 
Mecklemburg.  The  fourth  division  of  the  Saxons  were  the 
Nordalbingiansj  who  dwelt  in  Holstein,  beyond  the  Elbe,  on 
the  borders  of  the  Danes,  and  were  the  least  accessible  and 
most  savage  of  their  race.  Saxony  was  a  land  of  state  of 
wood,  heath,  and  morass  :  only  on  its  southern  Saxony. 
border  was  there  a  hilly  tract,  the  spurs  of  the  Harz  mountains. 
The  chief  obstacle  in  the  way  of  conquering  the  country  was  the 
fact  that  the  Saxons  had  no  towns  and  very  few  fortified  posts ; 
they  took  refuge  in  woods  or  swamps  when  the  king's  army 


European  History,  476-918 

appeared,  and  came  forth  again  when  he  was  gone.  The  land 
was  quite  roadless,  so  that  the  pursuit  of  the  flying  tribes  was 
very  difficult.  If  surrounded  and  compelled  to  do  homage  to 
Charles,  they  gave  hostages,  and  paid  great  fines  in  cattle,  but 
the  moment  that  the  Franks  had  left  their  neighbourhood 
took  arms  again.  Nine  times  did  one  or  other  section  of  the 
Saxon  race  rebel,  and  any  will  less  strong  than  that  of  the 



inflexible  Charles,  would  have  yielded  before  their  intractable 
obstinacy.  But  he  persevered  to  the  end  in  leading  expedi- 
tion after  expedition  against  the  rebels,  punished  their  revolts 
by  fire  and  sword,  transplanted  incorrigible  tribes  across 
the  Rhine,  built  towns  and  castles  all  over  the  land,  erected 
bishoprics,  and  sent  forth  countless  missionaries,  till  in  the  last 
ten  years  of  his  life  he  had  the  satisfaction  of  seeing  Saxony 
both  submissive  and  Christian. 

The  expedition  of  775  began  by  the  invasion  of  Westphalia ; 
after  dispersing    its   inhabitants,    and   storming   their    great 

Charles  the  Great  351 

entrenched  camp  at  Sigiburg,  Charles  passed  on  into  Engria, 
defeated  the  Mid-Saxons  and  crossed  the  Weser.  This  brought 
him  into  EastphaHa,  which  he  ravaged  as  far  as  the  river  Ocker. 
The  Eastphalians,  though  the  furthest  of  the  Saxons  from  the 
Frankish  border,  were  the  first  to  submit  to  Charles,  and  their 
chief  Hessi  eagerly  accepted  Christianity,  and  did  homage. 
Soon  after  the  Engrians  also  came  in  to  the  king's  camp,  and 
gave  up  hostages  for  their  fidelity.  The  Westphalians  held  out 
last,  and  only  submitted  when  Charles,  on  his  return  towards 
Austrasia,  ravaged  their  land  from  end  to  end,  and  First  conquest 
made  a  great  slaughter  of  their  warriors.  The  o^  Saxony. 
king  left  garrisons  in  two  great  camps  at  Sigiburg  and  Eresburg, 
to  hold  down  the  Westphalians  and  Engrians  respectively.  The 
hostages  whom  he  brought  back  were  mostly  boys  of  noble 
family,  whom  he  sent  to  be  brought  up  as  Christians  in  various 
Austrasian  monasteries.  Three-fourths  of  Saxony  had  thus 
done  homage  to  Charles,  but  their  adhesion  was  of  the  most 
unstable  sort.  They  hated  the  Franks  as  ancestral  enemies, 
and  detested  Christianity  as  a  Frankish  device  for  subduing 
them  body  and  soul.  It  was  only  the  presence  of  Charles  and 
the  fear  of  his  return  that  kept  them  in  order  for  a  moment. 

No  sooner  had  Charles  started  in  the  next  year  for  his  second 
invasion  of  Italy,  to  put  down  the  dukes  of  Friuli  and  Bene- 
vento,  than  the  Westphalians  and  Engrians  at  once  took  arms. 
They  stormed  the  Frankish  camp  at  Eresburg,  and  slaughtered 
the  garrison,  but  failed  in  a  similar  attempt  at  Sigiburg.     The 
moment  that  Charles  heard  of  this  rebellion,  he  hastened  back 
from  Italy  with  such  speed  that  he  was  already  on  the  Lippe 
before  the  Saxons  suspected  that  he  had  crossed  the  Alps. 
So  great  was  their  fear  of  him  that  the  whole  race  at  once  asked 
for  peace,  and  sent  their  local  chiefs  to  do  him  homage,  'pro- 
mising that  they  would  all  be  baptized,  and  hold  their  land  as 
true  vassals  of  the  king.'     Only  one  chief,  named  ^^^^^^ 
Witikind,  refused  to  submit,  and  fled  northward,  quest  of 
to  take  refuge  with  the  Danes  (776).     Charles  saxony,776. 
replaced   his   garrison   in   the   fort   of  Eresburg,    and    built 

352  European  History^  476-918 

another  entrenched  camp  at  Karlstadt.  That  winter  he 
remained  in  Austrasia,  close  to  the  Saxon  border,  in  order  to 
watch  these  untrustworthy  subjects.  In  the  next  spring  he 
summoned  the  great  national  council  of  the  whole  Frankish 
realm  to  meet  at  Paderborn,  in  the  heart  of  Engria,  in  order 
to  mark  the  fact  that  Saxony  had  now  become  an  integral  part 
of  his  dominions  (777).  '  Then  were  a  great  multitude  of  the 
Saxons  baptized,  and  following  their  national  custom,  they 
swore  that  they  would  forfeit  their  freedom  and  their  lands  if 
ever  they  revolted  again,  according  to  their  old  habit,  and 
unless  they  kept  their  Christianity  and  their  loyalty  to  king 
Charles  and  his  heirs.' 

To  this  great  diet  at  Paderborn  came  some  ambassadors 
from  Spain,  bearing  an  unexpected  offer  of  homage  to  the  king. 
Abderahman,  the  Ommeyad,  had  finally  succeeded  in  conquer- 
ing well-nigh  the  whole  of  the  Spanish  peninsula  from  those  ot 
the  Saracens  who  refused  to  accept  him  as  king.  The  last  sur- 
vivors of  his  opponents,  in  desperate  straits,  sent  to  offer  to 
become  the  vassals  of  Charles  if  he  would  preserve  them  from 
the  conqueror.  These  chiefs  were  Soliman  Ibn-al-Arabi  and 
Kasmin  Ibn-Yussuf,  who  were  holding  the  towns  of  Barcelona, 
Gerona,  and  Huesca,  in  the  extreme  north-west  of  Spain,  on 
the  Frankish  border.  Charles  determined  to  accept  their  offer, 
and  so  to  thrust  forward  his  frontier  beyond  the  Pyrenees,  as 
to  protect  Septimania  from  Saracen  raids  by  interposing  a  new 
line  of  fortresses  between  it  and  the  dominion  of  the  ruler  of 
Cordova.  He  believed  that  Saxony  was  fully  subdued,  and 
might  be  safely  left  alone  to  settle  down  into  loyalty  and 
Christian  ways. 

Accordingly,  in  778,  Charles  led  his  first  great  expedition 

into  Spain.     He  himself  crossed  the  Western  Pyrenees  with 

„,    ,     .         the  host  of  Neustria,  while  the  levy  of  Austrasia, 

Charles  in-  '  J  ' 

vades  Spain,    Burgundy,   and  Lombardy,   passed  the  Eastern 
'^^^'  Pyrenees.     The  two  armies  met  in  front  of  Sara- 

gossa,  and  Charles  there  received  the  homage  of  the  rebel 
Saracen  chiefs  of  Barcelona  and   Gerona.      Saragossa,  how- 

Charles  the  Great  353 

ever,  did  not  fall,  in  spite  of  the  great  army  that  had  been 
concentrated  against  it,  and  Charles  then  wheeled  about,  and 
returned  to  Aquitaine  by  the  same  way  that  he  had  come. 
His  expedition  had  not  proved  a  great  success.  The  Saracen 
rebels  were  untrustworthy  vassals,  nor  was  the  only  other 
result  of  the  campaign,  the  homage  paid  to  Charles  by  the 
Spanish  Basques  and  Navarrese,  after  he  had  stormed  their 
town  of  Pampeluna,  a  more  solid  gain.  Indeed,  while  the 
Prankish  army  was  returning  through  the  passes  of  the 
Pyrenees,  the  Basques  fell  upon  the  king's  rearguard  and 
waggon-train,  in  the  famous  defile  of  Roncesvalles.  They  cap- 
tured much  booty,  and  slew  three  great  officials — Eggihard,  the 
seneschal ;  Anselm,  the  count  of  the  palace ;  and  Hruotland 
(Roland),  the  warden  of  the  Breton  marches.  The  last  named, 
of  whom  history  knows  nothing  save  his  untimely  fall  at 
Roncesvalles,  must  have  been  a  great  man  among  the  Franks, 
for  within  a  short  time  after  his  death  he  had  become  the  hero 
of  many  legends,  which  ultimately  took  shape  in  the  famous 
Chanson  de  Roland^  wherein  the  Breton  Margrave  appears  as 
second  only  to  Charles  the  Great  among  the  hosts  of  Christ- 
endom (778). 

The  king  had  not  long  reached  Aquitaine  when  the  unwel- 
come news  arrived  that  the  Saxons  had  broken  their  oaths,  and 
were  once  more  up  in  arms.  The  exile  Witikind  had  returned 
from  Denmark,  and  called  the  turbulent  youth  of  Saxony 
into  the  field.  The  greater  number  of  the  tribes  had  risen 
at  his  call,  and  a  great  Saxon  host  had  stormed  the  new  fort 
of  Karlstadt,  and  harried  Hesse  and  the  right  bank  of  the 
Rhine,  as  far  as  Deutz  and  the  mouth  of  the  Moselle,  burning 
churches,  and  slaying  the  peasantry  of  the  country-side  in 
revenge  for  the  destruction  of  the  Irminsul  and  the  ravages 
of  Charles  in  775-76.  On  receiving  this  disturbing  news  the 
king  made  his  way  to  Austrasia,  sent  out  some  troops  to  clear 
the  Rhine-bank  of  the  Saxon  plunderers,  but  put  off  the 
general  muster  of  the  hosts  of  the  Franks  for  a  third  con- 
quest of  Saxony   till   next   year.      In   the   summer  of  779, 

PERIOD  I.  z 

354  European  History^  4^7^-9^^ 

however,  he  again  started  on  his  endless  task,  and  marched 
through  WestphaUa  with  fire  and  sword.     The  Westphahans 
once  more  surrendered,  after  a  defeat  in  the  open  field ;  the 
Engrians  and  Eastphalians  yielded  without  fighting.     In  the 
next  spring  he  returned  again,  held  a  great  diet  at  the  head- 
waters of  the  Lippe,  and  divided  all  Saxony  into  missionary 
Fourth  con-  ^^^^tricts,  cach  to  be  worked  by  a  colony  of  monks 
quest  of       from  Austrasia,  the  first  step  towards  the  partition 
Saxony.        ^f  ^^^  |^j^^^  jj^^-q  ^^^  X'^i^x  bishopries.    This  activity 
was  rewarded  by  the  conversion  and  baptism  of  many  thou- 
sand pagans.     Charles  assisted  in  person  on  more  than  one 
occasion,  when  whole  thousands  of  Saxons  were  simultaneously 
passed  through  the  waters  of  the  Ocker  and  the  Elbe  (780). 

He  then  turned  off"  towards  Italy.  For  the  first  time  his 
departure  was  not  followed  by  an  immediate  outbreak  of 
rebellion.  The  land  remained  quiet  for  more  than  two  years 
(780-82),  and  when  he  next  passed  that  way  Charles  thought 
it  had  advanced  so  far  in  the  paths  of  peace  that  he  divided  it 
up  into  countships,  after  the  model  of  the  rest  of  his  empire, 
and  gave  the  charge  of  many  of  them  to  native  Saxon  chiefs, 
whom  he  honoured  with  the  title  of  count ;  the  rest  were 
placed  under  officers  of  Frankish  blood.  He  also  published 
a  code  of  laws  for  Saxony,  in  which  the  harshest  punishments 
were  denounced  against  all  those  who  still  clung  to  paganism. 
Such  offences  as  sacrificing  to  Woden,  burning  instead  of 
burying  the  dead,  openly  deriding  church  ceremonies,  or 
robbing  a  church,  were  to  be  punished  with  instant  death. 
Even  those  who  obstinately  refused  baptism,  or  who  after 
baptism  refused  to  fast  in  Lent,  and  conform  to  church 
discipline,  were  threatened  with  capital  punishment. 

It  was  perhaps  in  consequence  of  the  issue  of  this  cruel 
code  that  the  Saxons  once  more  flew  to  arms  in  the  autumn 
of  782.  The  rebel  Witikind  returned  from  Denmark  to  put 
himself  at  their  head,  and  most  of  the  northern  tribes  rose  at 
his  call.  The  news  quickly  brought  Charles  back  into  the 
country.     Once  more  he  came  in  overwhelming  force,   and 

Charles  the  Great  355 

many  of  the  Saxons  at  once  laid  down  their  arms  and  sub- 
mitted.    But  now  for  the  first  time  the  king  showed  signs  of 
violent  wrath  against  the  unruly  race.     He  could  not  pardon 
them  for  slaying  priests,  burning  churches,  and  washing  off  in 
mockery  their  marks  of  baptism.     He  bade  each  tribe  send  to 
him  in  bonds  those  men  who  had  been  most  prominent  in 
casting  off  Christianity  and  fomenting  the  last  rising.     Four 
thousand  five  hundred  captives  were  brought  before  him  by 
their    submissive    countrymen   in   his   camp   at   Massacre  of 
Verden,  on  the  Aller.     Yielding  to  an  impulse      Verden. 
of  revenge,  Charles  had  the  whole  of  this  great  body  of  help- 
less prisoners  beheaded.     But,  instead  of  cowing  the  Saxons, 
this  cruel  execution  only  roused  them  to  wild  wrath.     Every 
man  in  the  nation  had  lost  some  friend  or  relative  in  the 
great  massacre,  and  even  the  tribes  which  had  hitherto  been 
most  submissive  flew  to  arms.    There  followed  more  than  two 
years  of  unbroken  fighting  (783-85).     Charles  marched  twice 
through  the  land,  burning  and  slaughtering  over  the  face  of 
every  Saxon  gau^  from  the  Ems  to  the  Elbe,  but  the  infuriated 
rebels  closed  in  behind  him  after  he  had  passed,  and  still 
held  out  in  the  woods  and  marshes.     But  the  king  only  hard- 
ened his  heart.     He  refused  to  quit  the  land,  and  wintered, 
with  all  his  army,  near  Minden,  in  the  heart  of  Saxony.     At 
last,  in  the  spring  of  785,  the  perseverance  of  the  rebels  began 
to  quail ;  it  was  impossible  to  drive  off  the  inflexible  king  of 
the  Franks,  and  they  once  more  bethought  them  of  submis- 
sion.    The  rebel  chief  Witikind  obtained  a  promise  of  his  life 
if  he  would  surrender  and  be  baptized,  and,  when  he,  with 
his  chosen  warriors,  submitted,  the  great  rising   ^ 
was  at  last  at  an  end.     Once  more  the  counts   quest  of 
received  charge  of  their  old  districts,  the  mis-   Saxony,  785. 
sionaries  returned  to  rebuild  their  ruined  churches,  and  the 
surviving  Saxons  submitted  in  despair  to  the  yoke  of  the 
Frankish  warrior  and  the  Frankish  priest. 

It  was   seven   years  before  any  further  trouble  arose  in 
Saxony,   though   there  were  to  be  four   more  partial  risings 

356  European  History,  476-918 

between  792  and  804.  But  none  of  these  threatened  seriously 
to  shake  Charles's  domination ;  they  were  merely  the  last 
throes  of  Saxon  despair,  and  cannot  be  compared  to  the  great 
struggle  of  783-85,  in  which  the  fate  of  Saxon  independence 
and  Saxon  heathendom  was  really  settled. 

It  was  shortly  after  the  final  annexation  of  the  Germans  of 
the  Elbe  and  Weser  that  Charles  fully  incorporated  the 
Germans  of  the  upper  Danube  with  his  empire.  His  vassal, 
Tassilo,  duke  of  Bavaria,  had  been  a  somewhat  unruly  and 
disobedient  subject.  He  was  pardoned  for  more  than  one 
Annexation  outburst  of  disloyalty,  but  when  he  was  treated 
of  Bavaria,  -with  kindncss  and  consideration  he  behaved  no 
better  than  before.  At  last,  in  788,  he  was  deprived  of  his 
duchy,  which  was  cut  up  into  countships  and  put  under 
Frankish  governors,  while  he  himself  was  sent  to  end  his  days 
HI  the  Neustrian  monastery  of  Jumieges 




Wide  scope  of  the  later  conquests  of  Charles— Outlying  provinces  governed 
by  his  sons— Conquest  of  the  Baltic  Slavs— Subjection  of  Bohemia— Wars 
with  the  Avars  and  their  final  subjection — HostiUties  with  the  Eastern 
Empire — Conquest  of  the  Spanish  March — Later  revolts  of  the  Saxons — 
Wars  with  the  Danes. 

King  Charles  had  now  come  to  the  end  of  the  first  of  the 
stages  of  his  conquests,  and  the  nearer  enemies  of  the  Frankish 
kingdom  had  been  reduced  to  subjection.  With  comparatively 
httle  trouble  the  fertile  Lombard  plain  had  been  won  j  after 
long  toil  and  exertion  the  pathless  woods  and  moors  of 
Saxony  had  been  taken  within  the  boundary  of  his  realm. 
But  his  schemes  of  conquest  had  a  much  wider  scope  than 
the  annexation  of  Lombardy  and  Saxony.  Before  Christendom 
could  be  reckoned  as  safe  from  all  foes  without,  there  were 
more  realms  to  be  won,  more  marches  to  be  made  secure. 
By  pushing  his  frontier  up  to  the  Elbe  and  the  Julian  Alps, 
Charles  had  taken  up  the  ancient  feuds  of  the  Lombard  and 
the  Saxon  with  their  eastern  neighbours,  the  Avar  and  the 
Slav.  Moreover,  there  was  still  the  Spanish  border  to  be 
made  firm,  for  the  expedition  of  778  had  resulted  in  no 
permanent  gain;  the  unstable  allegiance  of  Barcelona  and 
Gerona  was  once  more  being  paid  to  the  Ommeyad  king  at 
Cordova,  not  to  the  lord  of  the  Franks. 


35^  European  History,  476-918 

The  second  period,  therefore,  in  the  record  of  the  con- 
quests of  Charles  the  Great  includes  the  history  of  the  making 
firm  of  his  new  eastern  and  south-western  borders.  But  this 
is  not,  like  the  first  fifteen  years  of  his  reign,  a  time  of  com- 
plete conquest  and  incorporation  of  races  who  were  near 
akin  to  the  Franks.  All  the  Teutonic  peoples  of  central 
Europe  were  already  gathered  beneath  the  sceptre  of  Charles ; 
the  tribes  with  which  he  had  now  to  do  were  strangers  to  the 
Franks,  not  only  in  religion,  but  in  blood  and  language.  The 
Wide  scope  work  of  Charlcs  in  the  East  in  the  second  period 
of  Charles'  of  his  rcigu  was  to  make  the  Slav  and  Avar 
schemes.  harmless,  by  compelling  their  princes  to  pay 
homage  and  tribute,  not  by  occupying  their  realms  with 
Frankish  garrisons,  or  carving  them  up  into  countships  and 
marches.  In  the  West,  on  the  other  hand,  his  task  was  to 
build  up  a  strong  border  against  the  Moor,  by  conquering, 
one  by  one,  the  fortresses  between  the  Pyrenees  and  the 
Ebro.  The  Moslem  had  to  be  driven  out,  since  there  was  no 
hope  of  converting  him.  In  the  towns  from  which  he  was 
expelled  a  new  population  grew  up,  neither  purely  Spanish 
nor  purely  Frank,  but  the  mixed  race  of  the  Catalans,  in 
whose  veins  Romano-Spanish,  Visigothic,  Aquitanian,  and 
Frankish  blood  was  mingled  in  various  proportions,  so  that 
they  have  always  differed  very  considerably,  both  in  character 
and  in  language,  from  the  inhabitants  of  the  rest  of  the  penin- 
sula. But  the  history  of  the  foreign  policy  of  Charles  during 
the  second  period  of  his  reign  contains  much  more  besides 
his  dealings  with  the  Slav,  the  Moor,  and  the  Avar.  He  had 
frequent  troubles  with  the  East-Roman  Empire,  arising  from 
their  disputed  boundaries  in  Italy.  In  the  very  end  of  his 
reign  he  met  and  turned  off  the  first  assault  of  the  Danes  on 
the  Frankish  realm,  an  attack  insignificant  in  itself,  but  por- 
tending the  gravest  dangers  in  the  future.  We  find  him 
interfering  beyond  the  British  sea  with  the  affairs  of  Northum- 
bria,  and  at  the  same  time  extending  his  hand  far  to  the 
south  to  seize  the  Balearic  Isles.  Even  to  the  distant  Abbasside 

Charles  the  Great  359 

Caliph  at  Bagdad  his  fame  was  known,  and  Haroun's  ambas- 
sadors sought  the  court  of  Aachen  to  concert  an  alHance  with 

In  the  second  half  of  his  reign  Charles  very  frequently  took 
the  field  in  person,  but  was  not  so  constantly  at  the  head  of 
his  armies  as  during  the  period  773-85-  He  had  charies  makes 
now  three  growing  sons,  whom  he  intrusted  with  his  sons 
the  charge  of  three  important  sections  of  his  ^^"ss. 
realm,  and  he  looked  to  them  to  guard  each  that  portion  of 
the  frontier  of  the  Frankish  empire  which  bordered  on  his 
own  sub-kingdom.  Charles,  the  eldest  of  the  three,  ruled  in 
western  Neustria  (Anjou,  Maine,  Touraine);  Pippin,  the 
second,  in  Lombardy;  Lewis,  the  youngest,  in  Aquitaine. 
Charles  would  thus  be  specially  concerned  with  the  unruly 
Bretons  of  Armorica,  who  twice  made  unsuccessful  risings  in 
his  father's  reign  (786  and  799).  Lewis  was  in  charge  of  the 
Saracen  frontier  along  the  Pyrenees.  Pippin  had  to  keep  watch 
over  the  duke  of  Benevento,  as  well  as  to  turn  his  attention  to 
the  Avars  on  the  north-east  of  Italy.  But  the  three  princes 
were  not  strictly  confined  each  to  his  own  sphere.  Charles  was 
occasionally  sent  against  the  Saxons  ;  Lewis  conducted  at 
least  one  campaign  in  southern  Italy ;  Pippin  more  than  once 
took  charge  of  an  attack  on  the  Slavs  of  Bohemia.  Whenever, 
in  short,  the  great  king  could  not  march  in  person  against  a 
rebel  or  a  foreign  enemy,  he  would  send  one  of  his  sons  to 
take  his  place.  He  did  not  allow  them  to  become  completely 
localised  and  engrossed  with  the  affairs  of  their  respective 
governments,  but  often  kept  them  with  him  at  Aachen  for 
many  months  at  a  time. 

In  reviewing  the  later  conquests  of  Charles  the  Great  it  will 
be  most  convenient  to  follow  the  geographical  order  from 
north  to  south,  rather  than  the  chronological  order  of  each 
campaign,  for  his  arms  were  engaged  in  so  many  quarters  at 
once  that  an  attempt  to  tell  his  doings  in  a  purely  annalistic 
form  leads  to  dire  confusion. 

On  the  North-East    the  Frankish  border,  after   785,  was 

360  European  History^  476-918 

fringed  by  Slavonic  tribes,  all  ancient  enemies  of  the  Saxon. 
These  were  the  Abotrites  in  the  north — in  the  modern  Meck- 
Conquestof  l^mburg — the  Wiltzes  beyond  them  in  western 
the  Northern  Pomerania,  and  the  Sorbes  in  Brandenburg,  on 
^'^^'^^-  the  Havel  and  Spree.     These  tribes,  Hke  their 

kindred  whom  we  have  already  met  in  the  Balkan  peninsula, 
were  rude  peoples,  and  not  very  formidable  enemies,  owing  to 
their  subdivisions  under  petty  princes,  and  their  incapacity 
for  union.  Though  numerous  and  not  unwarlike,  all 
the  Slavs  between  Elbe  and  Oder  were  subdued  by 
Charles  in  a  single  campaign.  He  crossed  the  Elbe  in 
789  with  an  Austrasian  army,  strengthened  by  levies  of 
Frisians  and  of  Saxons,  who  served  gladly  against  their 
ancestral  foes.  The  terror  of  his  name  seems  to  have 
stricken  the  Slavs  with  dismay.  After  a  very  slight  resistance, 
first  the  Abotrites  and  their  chief  king  Witzin,  then  the 
Wiltzes  and  their  chief  king  Dragovit  did  homage  to 
Charles,  gave  him  as  many  hostages  as  he  chose  to  demand, 
and  consented  to  pay  him  a  tribute  and  to  receive  the  Chris- 
tian missionaries  whom  he  prepared  to  send  among  them. 
The  Frankish  army  marched  through  moors  and  woods  till  it 
saw  the  Baltic  at  the  mouth  of  the  Peene  in  Pomerania,  and 
then  returned  with  some  booty  and  no  loss  to  the  banks  of 
the  Rhine.  So  thoroughly  were  the  Slavs  subdued  that  during 
the  next  revolt  of  the  Saxons  they  did  not  take  the  oppor- 
tunity of  disowning  their  homage  to  Charles,  but  came  to 
help  him  against  the  rebels  (795).  Witzin,  prince  of  the 
Abotrites,  was  actually  slain  by  the  Eastphalians  while  in 
arms  for  the  Franks,  and  his  death  was  well  revenged  by 
the  king,  who  harried  the  lands  along  the  Elbe  with  excep- 
tional severity  to  atone  for  his  ally's  slaughter.  In  a  later 
Saxon  rising  (798)  we  again  find  the  Abotrites  taking  arms  at 
the  bidding  of  Charles.  Their  new  king  Thrasuco  recon- 
quered the  Nordalbingians  without  Frankish  aid,  and  brought 
their  chiefs  in  bonds  to  the  king's  feet,  '  whereupon  Charles 
honoured  him  marvellously,  and  gave  the  Slavs  great  gifts.' 

Charles  the  Great  361 

Ten  years  later  the  same  prince  and  people  fought  valiantly 
against  the  Danes  when  they  invaded  the  wars  of  Dane 
northern  frontier  of  Charles's  realm,  though  their  and  siav. 
neighbours  the  Wiltzes  on  this  occasion  deserted  to  the 
enemy.  The  latter  people,  however,  were  subdued  again  in 
812,  at  the  very  end  of  the  great  king's  reign,  so  that  he  left 
his  eastern  boundary  undiminished  at  his  death.  On  the 
whole  the  Slavs  of  the  North  were  not  by  any  means  the  most 
difficult  to  rule  of  the  many  races  with  whom  Charles  had  to 

With  their  fellow  Slavs  more  to  the  south,  the  Czechs  of 
Bohemia,  the  Franks  had  comparatively  few  rela-  subjection  of 
tions.  The  vast  uninhabited  tract  of  forest  and  Bohemia, 
mountain  called  the  Bohmerwald  seems  to  have  long  kept 
them  apart.  But  in  805-6  the  king  sent  against  them  his  son 
and  namesake  Charles  the  Younger,  who  twice  wasted  all 
the  valley  of  the  upper  Elbe,  and  finally  compelled  the 
chiefs  of  the  Czechs  to  acknowledge  their  dependence  on  the 
Frankish  empire  by  paying  tribute. 

South  of  Bohemia,  along  the  Danube  and  the  Raab  and 
Leithe,  the  realms  of  Charles  bordered  on  the  Tartar  tribe  of 
the  Avars,  ancient  enemies  both  of  the  Lombards  and  of  the 
emperors  of  Constantinople.  The  Avars  had  of  late  years 
fallen  on  evil  times.  They  were  vexed  with  civil  wars  so 
much  that  none  of  their  princes  any  longer  ruled  war  with  the 
the  whole  race,  or  could  call  himself  by  the  title  Avars, 
of  Chagan,  the  old  name  of  their  supreme  ruler.  Yet,  though 
wasted  by  their  own  dissensions,  and  by  the  revolts  of  the 
Slavonic  tribes  who  were  their  vassals,  the  Avars  could  not 
keep  from  their  old  habit  of  making  descents  on  their  neigh- 
bours. They  drew  down  their  doom  on  themselves  by  invading, 
in  788,  at  once  the  Lombard  march  of  Friuli  and  the  vassal 
duchy  of  Bavaria.  When  next  he  had  leisure,  two  years  later, 
Charles  planned  an  invasion  of  their  land  on  the  largest  scale. 
He  himself  marched  down  the  Danube  with  an  Austrasian 
and  Saxon  army,  burst  through  the  long  line  of  fortifications 

362  European  History,  476-918 

with  which  the  Avars  had  strengthened  their  border,  and 
wasted  their  lands  as  far  as  the  Raab.  At  the  same  moment 
a  great  Lombard  host  entered  the  valley  of  the  Drave,  pushed 
into  the  heart  of  Pannonia,  beat  the  Avars  in  the  field,  and 
stormed  their  great  circular  camps.  The  complete  subjection 
of  the  whole  tribe  would  have  followed  in  the  next  year  if 
Charles  had  not  been  called  away  by  a  Saxon  revolt,  which 
kept  him  employed  during  the  two  next  campaigning  seasons. 
The  king  himself  never  again  took  the  field  against  the  Avars, 
but  his  son  Pippin  and  Eric  duke  of  Friuli  continued  the 
war  on  his  behalf.  Twice  they  captured  the  great  *  ring,'  or 
royal  camp,  between  Danube  and  Theiss,  the  central  strong- 
hold of  the  Avar  race,  and  sent  its  spoils  to  Aachen  in  such 
quantities  that  Charles  was  able  to  send  Avaric  trophies  as 
gifts  to  all  his  friends,  even  to  such  distant  kings  as  Offa  of 
Mercia.  At  last  the  spirit  of  the  Avars  was  so  much  broken 
that  their  chiefs,  or  '  Tuduns,'  came  of  their  own  accord  to 

The  Avars     Aachcu  to  do  homage  to  Charles,  and  offered  to 

subdued,  rcccive  Christianity.  Their  submission  was  ac- 
cepted. The  king  appointed  one  of  them  to  rule  the  whole 
race  as  his  vassal,  and  bade  him  assume  the  ancient  title  of 
Chagan  (805).  This  prince  was  baptized  by  the  name  of 
Abraham,  paid  a  regular  tribute  to  the  Franks,  and  kept  his 
subjects  for  the  future  from  the  dangerous  temptation  of 
meddling  with  the  Lombard  or  Bavarian  border.  The  Avars 
were,  however,  in  a  state  of  decay  at  this  time,  and  their  race 
and  kingdom  were  ere  long  to  be  swept  away  by  the  invading 

The  same  fate  which  befell  the  Tartar  Avars  fell  also  upon 
their  southern  neighbours  and  former  vassals,  the  Slavs  of  the 
Save  and  Drave.  These  Carantanians  (Carinthians)  and 
Slovenians  were  subdued  by  the  arms  of  Charles's  Bavarian 
and  Lombard  subjects,  and  became  dependants  of  the 
Prankish  empire,  forced  to  pay  tribute  and  do  homage,  but 
not  wholly  incorporated  with  the  realm. 

Wc   have    already   spoken   in   a   previous   chapter  of  the 

Charles  the  Great  363 

dealings  of  Charles  with  Italy.  He  never  succeeded  in  fully 
subduing  the  duchy  of  Benevento,  though  its  dukes  were 
several  times  compelled  to  do  him  homage  when  he  marched 
in  person  against  them.  Italy  was  finally  put  under  charge  of 
Pippin,  the  king's  second  son,  who  was  given  the  royal  title 
and  authority  there  as  his  father's  delegate.  Pippin,  besides 
the  task  of  striving  to  hold  down  Benevento,  had  also  to  cope 
with  the  intrigues  of  the  East  Romans  in  Italy.  The  Con- 
stantinopolitan  emperor  had  still  a  foot-hold  in  the  peninsula 
at  Naples,  Reggio,  and  Brindisi,  and  still  enjoyed  the  homage 
of  the  half-independent  peoples  of  Venice  and  Istria.  Luckily 
for  the  Franks  the  Eastern  realm  was  during  the  most  im- 
portant years  of  Charles's  reign,  under  the  weak  hands  of  the 
empress  Irene  (780-90  and  797-802)  and  the  usurper  Nice- 
phorus  I.  (802-11.)  They  bitterly  resented  the  establishment 
of  a  new  power  in  Italy,  and  the  assumption  of  the  imperial 
title  by  the  Frankish  king,  which  they  regarded  as  the  worst 
insult  that  could  be  put  upon  the  majesty  of  the  Eastern  Empire, 
which  claimed  to  be  the  sole  and  legitimate  heir  wars  with  the 
of  Augustus  and  Constantine.  But  their  efforts  East  Romans, 
went  little  further  than  endeavouring  to  stir  up  trouble  in 
Italy  by  means  of  the  Lombard  prince  Adelchis,  the  son  of 
king  Desiderius,  who  had  fled  to  Constantinople  and  become 
a  Byzantine  patrician.  He  tried  to  make  more  than  one 
descent  on  Italy,  but  met  with  uniform  ill-success.  The  only 
serious  fighting  between  Frank  and  East  Roman  was  in  the 
years  804-10,  when  Nicephorus  i.  undertook  several  expeditions 
against  Italy  to  avenge  the  revolt  of  Venice.  In  the  first- 
named  year,  a  party  among  the  Venetians,  who  were  torn  by 
civil  strife,  called  in  the  Franks  and  transferred  their  allegiance 
to  Charles.  Nicephorus  sent  out  a  fleet  which  harried  the 
coasts  of  Tuscany  and  the  Exarchate,  but  could  make  no 
solid  impression  on  the  Lombard  kingdom.  A  little  later  the 
East  Roman  party  in  Venice  got  the  upper  hand,  and  once 
more  handed  the  city  over  to  the  Byzantines.  Contented  with 
the  recovery  of  his  vassal-state,  Nicephorus  then  made  peace 

364  European  History^  476-918 

with  Charles.  The  only  net  result  of  the  war  had  been 
that  the  Franks  got  permanent  possession  of  Pola  and  the 
other  coast-cities  of  Istria,  which  had  hitherto  been  East 
Roman.  Michael  Rhangabe,  the  successor  of  Nicephorus, 
went  so  far  in  allying  himself  with  Charles,  that  he  con- 
sented to  recognise  him  as  Emperor  of  the  West,  a  con- 
cession accepted  with  pride  by  the  Franks,  and  regarded  as  a 
lamentable  token  of  weakness  by  the  Constantinopolitans 

One  of  the  consequences  of  the  conquests  of  Charles  in 
Italy  was  to  bring  the   Franks  into  collision  with  the  Saracen 
pirates,  who  infested  the  central  Mediterranean,  making  their 
harbourage  in  the  ports  of  the  islands  which  face  the  western 
coast  of  the  peninsula.     At  a  date  which  cannot  be  accurately 
fixed,  the  Franks  took  possession  of  Corsica  and  Sardinia, 
hunting  out  the  Saracen  colonists  who  had  conquered  the 
Wars  with     inlands  from  the  East-Romans  some  fifty  or  sixty 
Saracen         years  before.     In  799  the  Franks  also  took  pos- 
pirates.  session  of  the  Balearic  islands.    These  distant  de- 

pendencies were  attacked  and  ravaged  by  fleets  from  Spain  on 
more  than  one  occasion,  but  they  were  held  down  to  the  close 
of  the  reign  of  Charles.  They  were  given  in  charge  to  the 
counts  of  Genoa  and  Tuscany,  who  seem  to  have  been  able 
to  raise  a  considerable  fleet,  and  more  than  once  gained  naval 
victories  over  the  plundering  Moor. 

But  the  most  serious  struggle  between  Charles  and  the 
Moslems  took  place  in  Spain,  where  during  the  whole  of  the 
second  period  of  his  reign  the  fighting  was  almost  continuous. 
The  permanent  advance  of  the  Christians  beyond  the  Pyrenees 
began  with  the  capture  of  Gerona  in  785.  The  conduct  of 
the  war  fell  mainly  into  the  hands  of  Lewis,  the  third  son  of 
Charles,  whom  his  father  had  named  king  of  Aquitaine,  and 
trusted  with  all  the  affairs  of  the  south-west.  He  and  his  chief 
captain  and  councillor  William,  count  of  Toulouse — a  great 
hero  in  the  Frankish  romances — had  to  deal  with  the  two 
first  Ommeyad  kings  of  Cordova,  Abderahman  (755-88)  and 

Charles  the  Great  365 

Hisham  (788-897),  both  strong  and  capable  rulers,  from 
whom  it  was  by  no  means  easy  to  win  territory.  Nevertheless 
the  Christian  border  slowly  advanced,  owing  to  the  conquests  in 
seditious  and  turbulent  Moslem  governors,  who  Spain, 
were  always  rebelling  against  their  masters,  and  calling  in 
Frankish  aid.  In  795  the  newly-won  land  beyond  the 
Pyrenees — around  the  towns  of  Gerona,  Cardona,  Urgel,  and 
Ausona — was  made  into  a  separate  government,  the  March  of 
Spain,  and  intrusted  to  a  Margrave  of  its  own,  instead  of 
forming  a  dependency  of  the  duchy  of  Septimania.  Barcelona, 
the  greatest  town  of  Catalonia,  was  added  to  the  March  in  797, 
by  the  treachery  of  its  governor  Zeid,  who,  failing  in  a  rebellion 
against  his  master  at  Cordova,  handed  the  place  over  to  the 
Franks.  The  Moors  recovered  it  for  a  moment  in  799,  but 
king  Lewis  then  came  over  the  Pyrenees  with  the  whole  levy 
of  Aquitaine,  and  laid  siege  to  the  town.  It  held  out  for 
nearly  two  years,  but  fell  in  801,  conquered  by  famine,  after  the 
Franks  had  walled  it  in  with  a  circumvallation,  and  sat  before 
it  in  their  huts  for  the  whole  winter  of  800-801.  The  Moorish 
population  departed  en  masse  after  the  surrender,  and  the  great 
city  was  re-populated  with  '  Goths '  from  Septimania.  The 
Franks  were  now  firmly  established  beyond  the  Pyrenees,  and 
in  the  last  ten  years  of  Charles's  reign  subdued  the  whole 
southern  slope  of  the  mountains  from  Pampeluna  as  far  as  the 
mouth  of  the  Ebro.  Tarragona,  the  second  town  of  Catalonia, 
fell  in  809,  and  Tortosa,  the  great  fortress  which  commanded 
the  lower  course  of  the  Ebro,  in  811.  After  this  the  Franks 
were  able  to  cross  the  river,  and  ravage  the  wide  plains  of 
Valencia ;  it  was  probably  their  advance  in  this  direction  that 
induced  Al-Hakem,  the  third  Ommeyad  ruler  of  Cordova,  to 
sue  for  peace  in  812,  ceding  to  the  Christians  all  that  they  had 
gained  beyond  the  Pyrenees.  The  Franks  were  not  destined 
to  hold  permanently  the  entirety  of  their  conquests,  but  Bar- 
celona and  all  the  towns  north  of  it  were  lost  to  Islam  and  won 
for  Christendom  :  these  strongholds  guarded  the  Aquitanian 
frontier  against    Saracen    inroads   with   success,   and    were 

366  European  History  476-918 

ultimately  to  form  the  nucleus  of  the  more  important  half  of 
the  Christian  kingdom  of  Arragon. 

Such  were  the  foreign  conquests  of  Charles  the  Great.  But 
his  offensive  campaigns  were  not  the  only  wars  in  which  blood 
was  shed  during  the  later  years  of  his  reign.  There  were  also 
troubles,  though  of  comparatively  insignificant  scope,  within 
the  interior  of  his  realm.  We  have  already  alluded  to  two 
fruitless  attempts  of  the  Bretons  of  Armorica  to  resume  their 
ancient  independence.  These  were  easily  crushed,  but  not 
so  the  later  Saxon  rebellions.  It  was  seven  years  after  the 
pacification  of  785  before  the  unruly  dwellers  by  the  Elbe  and 
Later  Saxon  Wescr  rosc  again,  but  in  the  eighth  summer  some 
revolts.  of  the  districts  of  the  extreme  north  took  arms 
again  and  relapsed  into  their  ancestral  heathendom,  '  returning 
like  the  dog  to  his  vomit,'  in  the  words  of  the  contemporary 
chronicler.  The  insurrection  spread  widely  among  the  East- 
phalians  and  Nordalbingians  in  the  following  year  (793),  and 
was  not  finally  put  down  till  794,  though  it  never  extended 
over  the  whole  land,  as  did  the  great  risings  of  the  early  part  of 
the  reign  of  Charles.  Ere  two  years  more  were  passed  there 
were  new  troubles  among  the  Engrians  and  Nordalbingians, 
which  required  the  presence  of  Charles  :  but  it  says  much  for 
the  growing  strength  of  his  power  in  the  country  that  he  was 
able  to  suppress  them  by  means  of  armies  composed  partly  of 
Christian  Saxons,  and  partly  of  the  loyal  Slavs  of  the  Abotrite 
tribe.  The  last  outbreak  in  the  land  was  as  late  as  804 :  it 
extended  only  over  the  northern  tribes,  and  was  suppressed 
by  the  summary  transportation  to  Gaul  of  the  whole  of  the 
unruly  Nordalbingian  race,  the  greatest  offenders  among  the 
rebels.  Charles  settled  10,000  of  their  families  in  small 
colonies  among  the  Neustrians,  and  gave  their  vacant  lands  as 
a  gift  to  his  vassal,  the  king  of  the  Abotrites.  This  was  the 
last  Saxon  rebellion :  henceforth  *  they  abandoned  the  worship 
of  evil  spirits,  and  gave  up  the  wicked  customs  of  their  fathers, 
and  received  the  sacrament  of  Christian  baptism,  mingling  with 
the  Franks  till  at  last  they  were  reckoned  one  race  with  them.' 

Charles  the  Great  367 

The  complete  subjection  and  conversion  of  Saxony  is  marked 
by  the  creation   of  the  first   bishoprics  in  the  ^       .         . 

.  '  Complete  sud- 

country  at  this  period.  Cnarles  estabhshed  jection  of 
bishops  at  Bremen,  Miinster,  and  Paderborn  in  Saxony. 
804-6,  to  serve  respectively  as  the  religious  centres  of  northern, 
western,  and  southern  Saxony.  Others  were  afterwards  added 
at  Hamburg,  Osnabruck,  Verden,  Hildesheim,  Minden,  and 
Magdeburg,  but  these  foundations  belong  to  the  next  genera- 
tion. Round  these  bishops'  sees  grew  up  the  first  towns  of 
Saxony,  for  hitherto  its  inhabitants  had  lived  a  purely  rural 
life,  and  never  gathered  within  walls. 

The  possession  of  Saxony  brought  Charles  in  the  end  of  his 
reign  into  hostile  contact  with  a  race  almost  unknown  to  his 
ancestors,  but  destined  to  be  only  too  well  known  to  his  sons 
— the  Danes  of  the  Jutland  peninsula  and  the  Scandinavian 
isles,  who  dwelt  beyond  the  Eider  on  the  Nordalbingian 
border.  The  advent  of  a  new  and  militant  Christian  power 
into  the  recesses  of  the  unknown  North  seems  to  have  stirred 
up  the  Danes  to  unwonted  activity.  They  must  have  heard 
from  Witikind,  and  the  other  Saxon  exiles  who  took  refuge 
with  them,  many  tales  of  the  untiring  energy  and  unrelenting 
severity  of  the  great  king  of  the  Franks,  and  feared  lest  his 
strong  hand  would  be  stretched  out  beyond  the  Eider  to  add 
them  to  the  list  of  his  tributaries,  and  force  them  wars  with 
to  accept  his  religion.  To  guard  against  the  the  Danes, 
further  advance  of  the  Franks,  king  Godfred  built  in  808  all 
along  his  frontier,  at  the  narrowest  point  of  the  isthmus  of 
Schleswig,  a  great  earthwork  from  sea  to  sea,  long  known  as 
the  Dannewerk,  and  famed  in  wars  down  to  the  last  conflict 
of  German  and  Dane  in  1863.  But  Godfred  did  not  confine 
himself  to  defensive  works  ;  he  began  to  make  piratical  descents 
all  along  the  Frisian  and  Flemish  coasts  as  far  as  the  mouth 
of  the  Seine,  and  at  the  same  time  attacked  the  Abotrites  and 
Wiltzes,  the  Slavonic  vassals  of  Charles  on  the  Baltic.  God- 
fred did  much  damage  in  Frisia,  and  actually  succeeded  for  a 
moment  in  cnishing  the  Abotrites  and  subduing  the  Wiltzes. 

368  European  History ^  476-918 

He  gave  the  Franks  much'  trouble,  since  he  ravaged  all  the 
coast  where  it  was  unguarded,  but  took  to  his  ships  again  when 
a  large  army  was  sent  against  him.  In  810  he  penetrated  so 
far  into  Frisia,  that  he  spoke,  in  boasting  mood,  of  paying 
Charles  a  visit  at  Aachen.  But  in  the  same  year  he  was 
murdered  by  his  own  people,  and  his  nephew  and  successor 
Hemming  made  peace  with  the  Franks.  The  peace  was  ill- 
kept,  for  we  hear  of  isolated  Danish  raids  in  the  last  years  of 
Charles's  reign  and  a  fleet  of  war-ships,  which  were  built  in  the 
ports  of  Neustria  for  the  defence  of  the  coast,  does  not  seem 
to  have  protected  the  Frisian  waters  very  efficiently. 

But  Charles  did  not  survive  to  see  the  serious  development 
of  the  Danish  attack  :  he  died  before  his  realm  had  suffered 
any  serious  loss  from  their  ravages,  and  must  have  been  far 
from  suspecting  that  ere  he  was  fifty  years  dead  these  half- 
known  and  somewhat  despised  foes  would  pierce  through  the 
Frankish  empire  from  end  to  end,  and  even  sack  his  own 
chosen  dwelling,  the  royal  palace  of  Aachen. 



Survival  of  the  Theory  of  the  Empire  in  Western  Europe,  and  especially  in 
Italy— Its  influence— Troubles  of  Pope  Leo  iii.— He  crowns  Charles  on 
Christmas  Day  800— Consequences,  immediate  and  remote,  of  the  coro- 
nation— The  Papacy  and  the  Empire — Charles  as  administrator  and 
legislator — His  encouragement  of  Literature,  Architecture,  and  Science 
— His  later  years  and  death. 

While  narrating  the  never-ending  wars  of  the  great  king  of 
the  Franks,  we  have  barely  found  time  to  mention  the 
internal  changes  which  he  wrought  in  the  condition  and 
constitution  of  his  realms.  Of  these  the  first  and  foremost 
was  his  introduction  of  a  new  political  theory  into  the  govern- 
ment of  Western  Christendom,  when  he  caused  himself  to  be 
crowned  emperor  by  Pope  Leo  iii.  in  the  memorable  year  800. 
We  have  had  occasion  to  remark  in  an  earlier  chapter  that 
the  theory  of  the  universal  dominion  of  the  Roman  Empire 
.had  long  survived  the  extinction  of  any  real  power  of  the 
emperors  in  most  of  the  countries  of  Western  Europe. 
Theodoric  the  Ostrogoth  and  Chlodovech  the  Frank  had 
been  proud  to  acknowledge  themselves  as  the  first  subjects  of 
the  Constantinopolitan  Caesar,  and  to  receive  from  his  hands 
high-sounding  titles  and  robes  of  honour.  Till  the  middle  of 
the  sixth  century  Gaul,  Spain,  and  Italy  had  all  owned  a 
nominal  allegiance  to  the  empire,  and  their  homage  had  only 
been  denied  when  Justinian  by  his  bold  attempt  to  recover 
the  whole  of  the  West  had  forced  the  Teutonic  kings  to  take 
arms  against  him   in   their  own   defence.       Then  Baduila, 

PERIOD  I.  2  A 

370  European  History^  476-918 

Leovigild,and  Theudebert  had  disclaimed  their  allegiance,  and 
banished  the  imperial  name  from  their  coins  and  their  charters. 
The  last  practical  traces  of  the  old  Roman  connection  had 
been  lost  in  Spain  when  the  soldiers  of  Heraclius  were 
driven  out  by  Swinthila  (623)/  and  in  Gaul  when  the  en- 
couragement and  the  subsidies  of  Maurice  had  failed  to  sustain 
the  pretender  Gundovald  (585).2  Yet  there  still  lingered  on 
in  the  minds  of  the  educated  classes  a  memory  of  the  ancient 
empire ;  curious  turns  of  expression  in  chroniclers  of  the 
seventh  century  often  show  us  that  they  still  remembered  the 
old  theory  of  the  world-wide  rule  of  Rome.  A  Spanish  chro- 
nicler writing  in  the  seventh  century  can  still  call  the  East 
Roman  armies  'the  soldiers  of  the  respublica.^  Subjects  of 
the  Frankish  kings  in  Gaul  still  dated  their  letters  by  Con- 
stantinopolitan  indictions. 

In  Italy,  of  course,  the  tradition  of  the  unity  of  Christendom 
under  the  emperors  was  in  no  danger  of  being  forgotten. 
Appeals  to  the  ancient  temporal  and  spiritual  supremacy  ot 
Rome  were  the  most  powerful  items  in  the  Pope's  stock  of 
arguments,  when  a  Gregory  or  a  Zacharias  stated  his  pretensions 
to  patriarchal  authority  in  the  West,  or  denounced  the  wicked- 
ness of  the  intrusive  Lombard.  The  personal  ambition  of  the 
Popes  was  always  leading  them  to  indulge  in  fond  reminiscences 
of  the  ancient  glories  of  the  Empire.  The  vanity  of  the  de- 
generate populace  of  Rome  sometimes  found  vent  in  futile 
claims  that  they,  '  the  Roman  senate  and  people,'  really  were 
the  heirs  of  Augustus  and  Constantine,  while  the  Caesar  at 
Constantinople  was  nothing  more  than  a  mere  Greek.  When, 
by  the  rupture  between  Leo  the  Isaurian  and  Pope  Gregory  11., 
Rome  practically  passed  out  of  the  hands  of  the  Eastern 
Augustus,  it  was  easy  enough  for  an  Italian  to  maintain 
„^    ^     .       that  Constantine  Copronymus  or  Leo  the  Khazar 

The  Empire  ^         -'. 

and  the  had  no  longer  any  true  right  to  use  the  Roman 

West.  Imperial  title.     And  the  Italian  malcontent  would 

add,  not,  of  course,  that  Rome  had  ceased  to  form  part  of  the 
1  See  page  224.  ^  See  page  170. 

Charles  the  Great  371 

Roman  Empire,  but  that  the  title  of  emperor  had  passed  away 
from  the  heretical  Isaurian  house,  and  fallen  into  abeyance, 
while  the  empire  itself  still  existed,  for  its  cessation  had  grown 
to  be  inconceivable  to  the  Italian  mind. 

The  Italians,  and  to  a  less  extent  the  Franks,  were  sorely 
puzzled  by  the  long  continuance  of  the  anomalous  condition 
of  affairs,  when  for  sixty  years  the  titular  emperors  had  re- 
mained heretics,  and  had  failed  to  maintain  their  hold  on 
Rome.  Nor  was  the  position  improved  when  the  Eastern 
Empire  relapsed  into  orthodoxy  indeed,  but  at  the  same  time 
passed  into  the  hands  of  an  empress-regnant,  a  thing  repug- 
nant to  all  those  who  remembered  the  ancient  Roman  horror 
of  a  woman's  reign.  Irene  herself,  too,  had  obtained  the  crown 
by  such  a  series  of  crimes  against  her  son,  that  not  merely 
constitutional  jurists,  but  all  right-minded  men  shrank,  in  spite 
of  her  extreme  orthodoxy,  from  the  idea  of  recognising  in  her 
the  legitimate  ruler  of  Rome. 

More  than  once  during  the  long  quarrel  between  the  Popes 
and  the  Isaurian  emperors  there  had  been  some  talk  of  elect- 
ing a  separate  Augustus  to  bear  rule  over  Roman  Italy, — those 
districts  of  the  peninsula  which  were  not  in  the  hands  of  the 
Lombards.     The  scheme   had  not  been  carried   _     ,      . 


out,  mainly  because  the  Popes  opposed  it,  but  it  to  separation 
had  not  been  forgotten.  Now  that  the  greater  *"  ^**^y- 
part  of  Italy,  both  Lombard  and  Roman,  was  under  the  rule 
of  a  single  king,  and  one  well  liked  both  by  the  Pope  and 
by  the  Roman  people,  it  would  have  been  strange  if  the  idea 
of  completely  repudiating  the  ignominious  dependence  of  Rome 
on  Constantinople  had  not  been  once  more  mooted.  For  as 
long  as  there  remained  but  one  person  bearing  the  Imperial 
style, — the  ruler  of  the  East, — the  Pope  and  his  Roman  and 
Italian  contemporaries  had  an  uneasy  consciousness  that  their 
homage  ought  still,  perhaps,  to  be  paid  to  that  person,  Greek 
and  heretic  though  he  or  she  might  be. 

We  may  suppose  that  these  doubts  hardly  troubled  the  Frank- 
ish  vassals  of  Charles  the  Great,  but  to  his  Italian  subjects 

372  European  History ^  476-918 

they  were  a  constant  source  of  vexation  of  spirit ;  while 
practically  they  were  liegemen  of  the  Frankish  king,  they  were 
not  quite  sure  whether  in  theory  they  might  not  still  be  con- 
sidered the  liegemen  of  the  hated  Caesars  at  Constantinople. 

Such  thoughts  must  have  been  running  through  the  heads  of 
all  the  Popes  who  held  the  Roman  See  from  773  to  800.  But 
it  would  seem  that  it  was  Pope  Leo  iii.  who  first  bethought  him 
of  the  easiest  way  of  settling  the  situation — to  declare  the  king 
of  the  Franks  Roman  emperor,  and  not  merely  Roman  patri- 
cian. A  barbarian  Augustus  would  be  unprecedented,  but 
not  more  so  than  the  female  ruler  of  the  Empire  who  now 
swayed  Constantinople.  It  was  evidently  the  sight  of  a 
woman — and  a  very  wicked  woman — on  the  Byzantine  throne 
that  gave  the  final  impulse  to  the  desire  of  the  Italians  to  cut 
off  the  last  thread  of  connection  with  the  Imperial  line  in  the 
East.  Their  desire  must  have  been  well  known  to  Charles 
himself,  but  it  would  seem  that  he  for  some  time  shrank  from 
granting  it.  Perhaps  he  feared  the  responsibilities  of  the 
title ;  more  probably  he  did  not  see  how  it  legally  could  be 
conferred  upon  him :  there  was  no  precedent  to  settle  what 
person  or  body  in  the  West  could  claim  to  give  it,  and  it  was 
most  certain  that  the  court  of  Constantinople  would  utterly 
refuse  to  grant  it,  and  would  view  its  assumption  by  a  *  bar- 
barian '  king  of  the  West  as  a  gross  piece  of  insolence. 

It  would  seem  that  the  fervent  gratitude  of  Pope  Leo  iii. 
for  his  deliverance  by  the  hand  of  Charles  from  certain  domestic 
enemies  in  Rome,  was  the  active  cause  of  the  great  cere 
mony  of  Christmas  Day  800.  Leo  had  been  cruelly  mal 
Leo  III,  and  treated  by  personal  enemies  in  Rome,  the  kinsmen 
Charles.  q{  j^jg  predcccssor  Hadrian  i. ;  they  had  seized 
his  person  and  tried  to  blind  him.  But  he  escaped,  fled  over 
the  Alps,  and  took  refuge  with  the  great  king  at  his  camp 
near  Paderborn,  in  Saxony.  Charles  investigated  the  dispute 
between  Leo  and  his  enemies,  and  he  determined  that  he 
would  come  to  Rome  and  decide  the  matter  in  person ;  mean- 
while he  sent  Leo  home  under  the  protection  of  some  Frankish 

Charles  the  Great  ,       373 

ambassadors.  Late  in  the  year  800  Charles  moved  down  into 
Italy,  and  held  a  synod  at  Rome  in  which  he  carefully  inves- 
tigated the  conduct  of  Leo,  and  pronounced  him  blameless, 
while  his  enemies  were  executed  or  thrown  into  prison.  The 
Pope  then  purged  himself  by  an  oath  from  all  the  charges  that 
had  been  made  against  him,  and  was  reinstated  in  his  place 
with  much  solemnity. 

It  was  only  a  few  days  after  Charles  had  thus  restored  and 
commended  Leo,  that  the  Pope  paid  the  debt  of  gratitude  by 
crowning  his  saviour  as  emperor.      The  details  of  this  all-im- 
portant ceremony  are  curious.     The  royal  and  papal  courts 
were  thronging  St.  Peter's  basilica  to  celebrate  the  festival  of 
Christmas.      When   the   service   was   ended,    and  while  the 
emperor  was  still  kneeHng  before  the  altar  in  silent  prayer, 
Leo  advanced  with  a  diadem  in  his  hand,  and      charies 
placed  it  upon  the  bowed  head  of  the  great  king^      crowned 
crying,  '  God  grant  life  and  victory  to  Charles  the      Emperor. 
Augustus,  crowned  by  God,  great  and  pacific  Emperor  of  the 
Romans.'     Frankish  warriors  and  Italian  clergy  and  citizens 
joined  in  the  cry,  and  all  present,  including  the  Pope  himself, 
bent  their  knees  to  Charles  as  he  rose,  and  saluted  him  with 
the  fashion  of  adoration  paid  to  the  ancient  emperors. 

Charles  himself  was  wont  to  declare  that  the  ceremony  took 
place  without  his  consent  having  been  obtained,  and  that  he 
would  never  have  entered  St.  Peter's  that  day,  if  he  had  known 
of  the  Pope's  intention.  Yet  there  is  no  doubt  that  he  had 
seriously  taken  the  matter  into  consideration  long  before ;  it 
is  probable  that  Leo  in  his  outburst  of  gratitude  for  his  restora- 
tion did  no  more  than  force  Charles's  hand,  by  sweeping  away 
by  his  sudden  act  the  king's  lingering  objections  to  the  coro- 
nation. He  knew  that  the  act  would  be  hailed  with  joy  both 
by  Frank  and  Roman,  and  that  Charles  himself  was  rather 
doubtful  as  to  the  proper  form  for  assuming  the  title  than 
opposed  to  its  actual  adoption.  The  way  in  which  the  corona- 
tion was  viewed  by  the  majority  of  his  subjects  may  be  gathered 
from  an  extract  from  the  Frankish  chronicle  of  Lauresheim : — 

374     .  European  History,  476-918 

'  The  name  of  emperor  had  ceased  among  the  Greeks,  for  they 
were  enduring  the  reign  of  a  woman,  wherefore  it  seemed  good 
both  to  Leo  the  apostolic  Pope,  and  to  the  holy  fathers 
(bishops)  who  were  in  council  with  him,  and  to  all  Christian 
men,  that  they  should  hail  Charles  king  of  the  Franks  as 
emperor.  For  he  held  Rome  itself,  where  the  ancient  Caesars 
always  dwelt,  and  all  these  other  possessions  of  his  own  in 
Italy  and  Gaul  and  Germany.  Wherefore,  as  God  had 
granted  him  all  these  dominions,  it  seemed  just  to  them  that 
he  should  accept  the  imperial  title  also,  when  it  was  offered 
him  by  the  consent  of  all  Christendom.' 

That  there  was  much  to  be  said  against  the  legality  of  the 
assumption  by  Charles  of  his  new  style,  cannot  be  disputed. 
Certainly  the  Pope  had  no  right  to  give  it :  nor  had  there 
been  a  precedent  for  many  centuries  for  the  conferring  of  the 
imperial  title  by  the  decayed  body  of  nobles  and  the  miscel- 
laneous gathering  of  citizens  who  might  still  call  themselves 
'  the  senate  and  people  of  Rome.'  Apparently  the  Pope, 
when  he  saluted  Charles  as  '  crowned  by  God,'  claimed  that 
the  impulse  to  hail  him  by  the  great  name  of  emperor, 
descended  by  a  direct  inspiration  from  heaven  upon  the 
multitude  gathered  in  St.  Peter's.  But  such  a  plea  would 
hardly  appeal  with  much  force,  either  to  the  Byzantine  Court 
The  meaning  ^^  to  the  modern  historian.  In  truth,  there  was 
of  the  much  to  be  said  for  the  assumption  of  the  im- 

coronation.  •    i      .    i      i        r^\        ^  •    • 

penal  style  by  Charles,  as  recognisnig  an  accom- 
plished fact,  but  little  for  the  particular  forms  by  which  it  was 
carried  out.  Most  especially  did  the  fact  that  the  Pope 
seemed  to  confer  the  title,  by  his  own  act  and  impulse,  prove 
of  incalculable  harm  in  future  years.  If  the  coronation  of 
the  great  king  had  taken  some  other  form,  it  would  have  been 
impossible  for  the  Popes  of  later  generations  to  bring  forward 
their  preposterous  claim  to  have  the  power  of  giving  or  taking 
away  the  imperial  crown.  The  successors  of  Charles  would 
have  been  spared  many  a  weary  journey  to  Rome,  and  many 
a  bitter  wrangle  with  the  Holy  See,  if  there  had  been  a  formal 

Charles  the  Great  375 

election-ceremony  in  which  all  the  nations  of  the  West  could 
have  taken  part,  or  if  Charles,  like  Napoleon  in  a  later  age, 
could  have  placed  the  crown  on  his  own  head  instead  of 
receiving  it  from  the  pontiff's  hand. 

The  assumption  of  the  imperial  title  by  the  great  king  had 
many  practical  consequences  at  the  moment,  and  many  and 
yet  more  important  influences  upon  the  history  of  Europe  for 
long  centuries  to  come. 

The  most  notable  of  the  immediate  results  of  the  corona- 
tion was  that  Charles  and  all  his  subjects  regarded  his  regal 
authority  as  being  reaffirmed  in  a  new  and  more  hallowed 
shape  by  the  ceremony.  Formerly  his  power  rested  on  his 
election  as  king  by  the  Franks,  and  afterwards  by  the  Lom- 
bards :  now  he  was  *  crowned  by  God '  as  well  as  chosen  by 
the  people.  For  the  future  he  showed  an  increasing  tendency 
to  insist  on  the  omnipotence  of  his  authority  in  things  eccle- 
siastical and  moral  as  well  as  in  civil  matters.  As  Heaven's 
anointed  he  claimed  to  be  the  guardian  of  morality  and  the 
reformer  of  Christendom,  as  well  as  the  protector  Charles's 
of  the  Church.  Charles  had  always  shown  a  views  of  the 
deep  interest  in  the  spiritual  welfare  of  his  ^™P^»*e- 
dominions.  We  have  seen  already  what  energy  he  displayed 
in  enforcing  the  conversion  of  Saxony,  of  the  Slavs,  and  of  the 
Avars.  He  had  presided  at  innumerable  councils  and  synods, 
stirring  up  his  bishops  to  enforce  strict  discipline  and  sober 
life  among  the  clergy,  and  to  root  out  heathen  survivals  and 
immorality  among  the  laity.  Now  that  he  had  become  em- 
peror he  insisted  even  more  than  before  on  the  moral  side  of 
his  authority  :  he  thought  of  himself  not  only  as  the  successor 
of  Constantine  and  Theodosius,  but  even  as  inheriting  the 
theocratic  powers  of  the  ancient  kings  of  Israel — of  David  or 
of  Josiah.  When  Charles  recrossed  the  Alps  after  his  corona- 
tion and  held  his  next  great  council  in  Austrasia,  he  took  the 
opportunity  of  bringing  home  his  views  to  his  liegemen.  He 
made  all  his  subjects,  lay  and  secular,  swear  allegiance  to  him 
for  a  second  time  under  his  new  name  of  emperor :   every 

37^  European  History^  476-918 

person  above  the  age  of  twelve  was  to  have  the  oath  adminis- 
tered to  him  by  the  local  clergy,  and  to  be  warned  '  that  his 
vow  of  homage  was  not  merely  a  promise  to  be  true  to  the 
emperor  and  to  serve  him  against  his  enemies,  but  a  promise 
to  live  in  obedience  to  God  and  His  law  according  to  the 
best  of  each  man's  strength  and  understanding.  It  was  a 
vow  to  abstain  from  theft  and  oppression  and  injustice,  no 
less  than  from  heathen  practices  and  witchcraft :  a  vow  to  do 
no  wrong  to  the  Churches  of  God,  nor  to  injure  widows  and 
orphans,  of  whom  the  emperor  is  the  chosen  protector  and 
guardian.'  Much  more  followed  to  the  same  effect :  Charles 
formally  claimed  that  the  defence  of  all  law  and  morality  was 
involved  in  the  imperial  name,  and  warned  his  subjects  that 
any  offence  against  him  and  his  ordinances  was  a  direct  crime 
against  the  anointed  of  God. 

It  was  not  only  in  the  mind  of  Charles  that  this  high  and 
holy  view  of  the  duty  and  power  of  the  emperor  found  a  place. 
He  succeeded  in  impressing  it  on  his  own  contemporaries 
and  on  long  centuries  to  come :  with  him  starts  the  idea  of 
the  'Holy  Roman  Empire,'  which  affected  so  deeply  the 
whole  secular  and  rehgious  life  of  the  Middle  Ages.  The 
Frankish  kingship,  a  mere  rule  of  force,  had  no  exalted  and 
spiritual  meaning :  the  new  empire  represented  a  close  and 
conscious  union  of  Church  and  State  for  the  advantage  of 
The  Hoi  both.  It  started  with  the  conception  that  the 
Roman  cmpcror  should  be  the  protector  and  overseer  of 

Empire.  j.|^g   Church  :    by   an    unhappy   development   it 

ended  in  making  the  Pope  the  overseer  of  the  State.  But  the 
generation  which  had  seen  Pope  Leo  on  his  knees  *  adoring ' 
the  majesty  of  the  great  Charles,  could  not  have  foreseen  the 
day  when  the  successor  of  Charles  should  humbly  wait  for 
hours  before  the  unopened  door  of  the  successor  of  Leo,  or 
beg  as  a  favour  the  privilege  of  holding  his  stirrup. 

A  new  age  then  commences  in  Europe  with  the  coronation 
of  Charles  the  Great.  The  reign  of  pure  barbaric  force  is 
ended  :  there  follows  a  time  when  the  history  of  Europe  is 

Charles  the  Great  377 

complicated  by  the  strife  of  ideas  no  less  than  by  the  strife  of 
armed  nations.  For  the  future  we  must  always  be  on  the 
watch  to  detect  the  influence  on  poUtics  of  the  ideal  concep- 
tion of  Christendom  as  a  great  empire,  under  a  single  ruler 
chosen  by  God  to  sway  the  sword,  and  the  rival  conception 
of  it  as  a  great  Church  under  a  single  Patriarch  at  Rome, 
appointed  to  hold  the  keys  of  heaven  and  hell,  and  to  guide 
kings  in  the  way  they  should  go. 

The  internal  government  of  the  vast  realm  of  Charles  was  a 
difficult  problem.  In  his  own  lifetime  the  great  king  provided 
for  it  by  delegating  his  authority  in  certain  large  sections  of  it 
to  his  sons :  we  have  already  spoken  of  his  nomination  of 
Charles,  Pippin,  and  Lewis  to  be  kings  in  Neustria,  Italy,  and 
Aquitaine.  Charles  contemplated  the  possibihty  of  a  single 
empire  existing  while  yet  many  of  its  parts  should  be  governed 
by  vassal  sovereigns.  In  his  own  time  the  plan  worked  well 
enough :  he  did  not,  perhaps,  foresee  that  the  problem  would 
be  far  harder  in  the  next  generation,  when  the  chariesand 
homage  and  obedience  of  the  lesser  kings  would  ^^^  ^°"^- 
have  to  be  paid  to  a  brother,  an  uncle,  and  at  last  to  a  mere 
distant  cousin. 

Charles  publicly  issued  in  806  the  scheme  on  which  his 
realm  was  to  be  ruled  after  his  death :  the  title  of  emperor 
and  all  the  Prankish  lands,  both  Neustrian  and  Austrasian, 
were  to  go  to  his  first-born  Charles  ;  with  them  went  Saxony, 
Thuringia,  and  Burgundy.  Pippin,  the  second  son,  had  Italy, 
together  with  Bavaria  and  eastern  Suabia.  Lewis,  the 
youngest  child,  was  to  take  Aquitaine,  Provence,  and  the 
Spanish  March.  This  division,  however,  was  rendered  fruitless 
by  the  unexpected  decease  of  the  two  elder  kings:  to  the  great 
grief  of  their  father.  Pippin  died  in  810,  and  Charles  in  811. 
This  necessitated  a  new  division  of  the  empire :  Lewis  was 
now  the  only  grown  man  in  the  family :  to  him,  therefore,  was 
left  the  imperial  name  and  all  the  realm  save  Italy,  which  was 
to  be  a  vassal-kingdom  for  Bernard,  the  young  son  of  Pippin. 

Charles,  while  all  his  sons  yet  lived,  gave  over  the  charge 

3 7  8  European  History^  47^-9 1 8 

of  large  sections  of  his  realm  to  them.  Beneath  their  autho- 
rity the  kingdoms  were  ruled  by  the  same  hierarchy  of  dukes 
and  counts  who  had  existed  in  Merovingian  times.  When 
any  new  land,  such  as  Saxony  or  Lombardy,  was  added  to 
the  empire,  it  was  ere  long  cut  up  into  countships  on  the  same 
pattern  that  already  served  for  Austrasia  and  Neustria.  Thus 
a  regular  ascending  scale  of  grades  lay  between  the  count  and 
the  emperor.  The  count  obeyed  the  duke,  the  duke  the  sub- 
king,  the  king  his  father  the  suzerain  of  all.  In  the  conquered 
lands  Franks  were,  as  a  rule,  intrusted  with  the  most  im- 
portant provincial  governments  :  but  Charles  often  gave 
countships  in  their  own  native  districts  to  Lombards,  Aqui- 
tanians,  or  even  Saxons  who  had  served  him  well  and  truly. 

The  best  security  for  the  unity  and  peace  of  the  empire 
was  the  never-ceasing  activity  of  Charles  himself,  who  in- 
cessantly perambulated  his  realm  from  end  to  end  so  long 
as  life  was  in  him.  It  was  his  own  frequent  visits  to  Saxony, 
Italy,  or  Bavaria,  that  were  the  best  means  of  keeping  those 
outlying  provinces  in  loyalty  and  obedience.  But  he  had 
also  a  regular  system  of  travelling  commissioners  who  were 
The  Missi  always  moving  round  the  realm,  and  reporting 
Dominici.  ^q  y^^  q^  ^\^q  needs  and  requirements  of  the 
different  provinces.  The  circuits  of  these  Misst  Dominici^ 
or  royal  legates,  as  they  were  called,  were  fully  settled  by  him 
only  in  802,  but  he  had  been  employing  them  less  systemati- 
cally at  a  far  earlier  date.  His  father  and  grandfather, 
Pippin  the  Short  and  Charles  Martel,  had  been  wont  to  send 
out  occasionally  travelling  commissions  {Missi  discurrentes), 
but  it  was  Charles  the  emperor  who  multiplied  and  system- 
atised  their  activity.  By  his  arrangements  his  emissaries,  who 
were  sometimes  clerics,  sometimes  laymen,  were  appointed 
for  a  year's  duty  over  a  certain  number  of  countships.  They 
visited  the  assemblies  of  the  inhabitants  of  the  district, 
summoned  to  the  count's  Malliis}  and  inquired  into  the  state 
of  the  provinces.  Complaints  against  the  count  himself  or 
^  See  page  125. 

Charles  the  Great  379 

the  local  bishop  were  brought  before  them,  and  they  would 
send  them  up  to  the  king  or  take  account  of  them  on  the 
spot.  We  sometimes  find  Missi  charged  with  other  duties, 
such  as  the  conduct  of  an  embassy  or  a  warlike  expedition, 
but  this  terminal  inspection  of  the  local  governors  was  their 
primary  duty.  As  long  as  men  of  probity  and  strength  were 
chosen,  no  better  machinery  for  keeping  together  the  wide 
empire  of  the  Franks  could  have  been  devised. 

We  have  already  mentioned  in  an  earlier  chapter  the 
interest  which  Charles  always  showed  in  art  and  letters,  an 
interest  which  had  been  very  rare  among  the  Frankish  kings, 
whether  of  his  own  house  or  of  the  Merovings.  Of  all  the 
two  dynasties  the  ruffian  Chilperich  i.  is — curiously  enough — 
the  only  one  who  is  recorded  to  have  shown  any  literary 
tastes.  Charles,  however,  atoned  for  the  neglect  of  his  pre- 
decessors. He  collected  learned  men  from  all  quarters :  the 
Northumbrian  Alcuin  and  the  Lombards  Peter  of  Pisa  and 
Paul  the  Deacon  were  the  best-known   names   „ 


among  them :  at  first  his  scholars  were  mostly  ment  of 
foreigners,  but  by  the  end  of  his  reign  he  had  ^^^^"'"s- 
seen  a  generation  of  learned  Franks  arise  in  response  to  his 
encouragement.  Two  of  his  proclamations,  the  Epistola  de 
litteris  colendis  and  the  Encydica  de  emendatione  librorum^  set 
forth  his  purpose.  He  complains  that  the  letters  addressed 
to  him  by  bishops  and  abbots  from  all  parts  of  his  realm  are 
'  very  correct  in  sentiment  but  very  incorrect  in  grammar,'  so 
that  he  has  begun  to  fear  whether  his  clergy  have  enough 
knowledge  of  Latin  to  understand  the  whole  sense  of  the 
Scriptures.  Wherefore  he  will  have  schools  established  in 
every  monastery  for  the  perfect  teaching  of  the  Latin  tongue, 
*  because  it  is  useful  that  men  of  God  should  not  only  live  by 
the  rule  and  dwell  in  holy  conversation,  but  should  devote 
themselves  to  literary  meditations,  each  according  to  his 
ability,  that  they  may  be  able  to  give  themselves  to  the 
duty  of  teaching  others.'  Under  the  fostering  hand  of  Charles 
all  the  greater  monasteries  became  centres  of  learning :  we 

380  European  History^  476-918 

owe  to  his  care  the  preservation  of  many  of  the  classical 
authors,  for  he  was  incessantly  causing  the  old  volumes, 
'  almost  worn  out,'  as  he  says,  '  by  the  carelessness  of  our 
ancestors,'  to  be  fairly  copied  out  and  multiplied.  Each 
monastery  was  urged  to  have  its  own  treasures  preserved  by 
several  copies,  and  to  interchange  them  with  those  of  its 
neighbours.  He  paid  special  attention  to  the  books  of  the 
Old  and  New  Testaments,  was  shocked  at  the  diverse  read- 
ings which  he  found  to  exist — due,  as  he  asserts,  to  the 
extreme  ignorance  of  copyists — and  set  Paul  the  Deacon  to 
construct  a  new  lectionary,  corrected  according  to  the  best 
texts,  and  destined  to  be  used  in  all  the  Churches  in  his 
Multiplication  realm.     It  was  not  only  to  religious  books  that 

of  books,  j^g  turned  his  attention :  he  had  the  old  heroic 
epics  of  the  Franks — the  prototypes,  we  may  suppose,  of  such 
works  as  the  Nibelungenlied  —  collected  and  written  out: 
unfortunately  his  pious  son  Lewis  destroyed  this  invaluable 
corpus  of  Frankish  poetry,  because  he  deemed  it  heathenish. 
He  is  also  found  setting  his  scholars  to  work  on  the  compila- 
tion of  grammars — both  Latin  and  German — biographies, 
and  even  of  works  of  secular  history.  It  is,  no  doubt,  to  his 
inspiration  that  we  owe  the  sudden  expansion  and  multipli- 
cation of  the  Frankish  chronicles.  Our  historical  sources, 
down  to  his  time,  are  few,  bald,  and  jejune;  soon  after  his 
accession  they  become  full,  satisfactory,  and  numerous.  The 
ninth  century,  in  spite  of  all  its  troublous  times,  is  far  better 
known  to  us  than  the  eitihth. 

Charles  kept  the  best  of  his  scholars  about  his  Court,  and 
treated  them  as  familiar  friends.  When  he  was  settled  down  at 
Aachen  for  the  winter,  and  was  at  rest  from  wars,  he  gathered 
them  about  him  to  discuss  all  manners  of  subjects,  from 
astronomy  to  logic.  The  literary  circle  assumed  old  classical 
names.  Alcuin  called  himself  Flaccus,  Charles  was  addressed 
as  King  David,  other  scholars  styled  themselves  Homer, 
Mopsus,  and  Damaetas.  Their  discussions  were  often  fruit- 
less, and  sometimes  childish,  but  it  was  something  new  in 

Charles  the  Great  381 

Western  Christendom  to  find  a  whole  group  of  scholars  busied 
in  discussions  of  any  sort  whatever.  After  looking  back  at 
the  blank  darkness  of  the  seventh  century,  we  find  the  court 
of  Charles  the  Great  a  very  centre  of  light  and  wisdom.  In 
it  lay  the  promise  of  great  things  in  the  future,  a  promise  for 
which  we  have  looked  in  vain  in  any  period  of  the  preceding 

It  was  not  only  in  literature  that  Charles  busied  his  leisure 
hours.  He  was  a  great  admirer  of  music,  both  secular  and 
ecclesiastical.  His  ear  was  charmed  by  the  Gregorian  chants 
which  he  heard  at  Rome,  and  he  took  back  with  him  Italian 
choirmasters  to  teach  the  churchmen  of  the  north  the 
sonorous  cadences  of  the  sainted  Pope. 

He  was  also  a  mighty  builder.  At  Aachen  he  reared  a 
great  palace  for  himself  and  a  magnificent  cathedral.  The 
former  has  perished,  but  enough  survives  of  the  latter  to  show 
the  exact  extent  to  which  Romanesque  architecture  had  de- 
veloped by  his  time.  So  much  was  he  set  on  making  it  the 
most  magnificent  basilica  to  the  north  of  the  charies 
Alps,  that  when  he  found  his  own  workmen  un-  as  builder, 
able  to  carry  out  his  ideas,  he  sent  for  ancient  columns  and 
marbles  from  distant  Rome  and  Ravenna.  His  own  coffin 
was  a  splendid  Roman  sarcophagus,  probably  procured  from 
Italy.  He  constructed  palaces  in  two  other  Austrasian  towns 
besides  Aachen,  the  old  royal  seats  of  Nimuegen  and  Engel- 
heim,  for  he  was  Austrasian  to  the  core,  and  always  made 
the  land  of  his  ancestors  his  favourite  dwelling.  He  built  a 
bridge  at  Mainz  five  hundred  yards  long,  the  first  effort  of 
Frankish  engineering  in  that  class  of  structure.  Unfortunately 
it  was  destroyed  by  fire  in  813,  and  never  renewed.  Another 
piece  of  work  which  testifies  to  his  interest  in  engineering  was 
a  canal  to  join  the  Rhine  and  Danube,  by  means  of  their 
tributaries,  the  Altmiihl  and  the  Rednitz. 

But  to  follow  Charles  into  every  department  of  his  activity, 
during  his  long  life  and  reign  would  require  many  volumes. 
Here  it  must  suffice  to  say  that  after  all  these  achievements  he 

382  European  History,  476-918 

died  at  his  chosen  abode  at  Aachen,  on  the  28th  of  January 
814,  carried  off  at  a  ripe  old  age  by  a  pleurisy  caught  in  the 
Death  of  winter  cold.  He  was  buried  in  the  cathedral 
Charles,  814.  that  he  himself  had  built,  and  over  his  tomb 
was  placed  a  golden  shrine,  with  his  image  and  the  inscrip- 
tion : — '  Sub   hoc   conditorio   situm   est  corpus    karoli 


It  was  but  a  short  epitaph  considering  the  mighty  deeds  of 
him  who  lay  beneath,  but  no  length  of  words  could  have  done 
justice  to  his  greatness.  A  far  better  memorial  was  left  to  him 
in  the  hearts  of  his  subjects ;  his  name  survived  in  the  mouths 
of  all  the  races  that  had  served  him,  as  the  type  of  power, 
wisdom,  and  righteousness.  All  Western  Europe  looked  back 
to  him  for  seven  hundred  years  as  the  common  pride  of 
Christendom,  the  founder  of  that  'Holy  Roman  Empire' 
which  satisfied  their  ideal  of  governance.  His  figure  looms 
out,  though  often  with  outlines  blurred  and  distorted,  from 
dozens  of  the  legends  and  romances  which  shadowed  forth 
the  aspirations  of  the  Middle  Ages.  Within  a  hundred  years 
of  his  death  it  was  currently  believed  that  he  had  conquered 
Spain  and  Byzantium,  and  carried  his  arms  as  far  as  Palestine. 
So  great  was  the  impression  he  had  left  behind  him,  that 
the  world  thought  nothing  too  impossible  for  him  to  have 
achieved.  Perhaps  the  notion  that  his  reign  had  been  a 
kind  of  Golden  Age  was  partly  produced  by  the  contrasting 
years  of  trouble  and  civil  strife  that  followed  his  death.  But 
the  tendency  to  look  back  to  his  time  as  a  period  of  un- 
exampled splendour  and  righteousness  was  no  delusion,  but 
a  just  recognition  of  the  fact  that  he  had  given  the  Western 
world  a  glimpse  of  new  and  high  ideals,  such  as  it  had  never 
known  under  the  brutal  rule  of  twelve  generations  of  bar- 
barian kings,  nor  in  those  earlier  days  when  it  was  still  held 
together  in  the  iron  grasp  of  the  Caesars  of  ancient  Rome. 



Character  of  Lewis  the  Pious — He  reforms  the  Prankish  court— His  ecclesi- 
astical legislation — After  a  narrow  escape  from  death  he  divides  his 
kingdom  among  his  sons — The  partition  of  Aachen — Rebellion  a'nd  death 
of  Bernard  of  Italy — The  second  marriage  of  Lewis  and  its  consequences 
— Second  partition  of  the  empire  followed  by  rebellion  of  Lewis'  elder 
sons — Their  repeated  risings — The  '  Liigenfeld  ' — Lewis  twice  deposed 
and  restored — Continued  troubles  of  his  later  years— He  dies  while  lead- 
ing an  army  against  his  son  Lewis — Disastrous  consequences  of  his  reign. 

Charles  the  Great  left  his  throne  and  his  empire  to  his 
only  surviving  son  born  in  lawful  wedlock,  Lewis  the  Pious,  as 
his  own  age  named  him,  though  later  chroniclers  style  him 
Lewis  the  Debonnair.  The  heir  of  the  great  emperor  was  a 
devout  prince,  who  proved — like  our  own  Edward  the  Con- 
fessor— *  a  sair  saint  for  the  crown.'  He  was  a  weak,  good- 
natured  man,  no  longer  in  the  first  flower  of  his  youth,  whose 
meek  virtues  were  far  more  suited  to  adorn  a  monastery  than 
a  palace.  Utterly  wanting  in  self-respect  and  determination, 
the  slave  of  his  wife,  his  chaplains,  and  bishops,  a  doting 
father  and  husband,  and  an  over-liberal  giver,  he  had  one  of 
those  natures  which  are  entirely  unfit  to  bear  responsibility, 
and  are  only  happy  when  placed  under  the  rule  of  a  stronger 
will  than  their  own.  Lewis  had  before  him  the  problems  thrt 
had  taxed  his  father's  iron  nerve, — the  task  of  ruling  each  of 
the  nations  that  dwelt  beneath  the  Frankish  sceptre  in  the 
way  that  it  needed,  with  the  additional  trial  of  being  sorely 

384  European  History,  476-918 

vexed  by  the  incursions  of  the  Danes,  whose  first  ravages 
Charles  the  Great  had  hardly  lived  to  see.  Enough  was 
there  to  occupy  his  every  moment,  even  had  he  been  a  man 
of  ability.  But  he  chose  to  add  to  his  troubles  the  needless 
trial  of  a  disputed  succession  and  a  spasmodic  civil  war.  The 
main  feature  of  his  reign  of  twenty-six  years  is  the  weary  tale 
of  his  unwise  dealing  with  his  undutiful  sons,  and  of  the  evils 
that  ensued  therefrom. 

The  great  realm  which  now  fell  to  Lewis  had  been  built 
up  in  despite  of  three  main  difficulties — the  enormous  extent  of 
the  conquered  lands,  and  the  slowness  of  communication  be- 
tween them,  the  national  differences  between  the  various 
peoples  which  inhabited  them,  and  the  old  Teutonic  custom 
which  favoured  the  partition  of  a  kingdom  among  all  the  sons 
of  its  ruler,  just  as  if  it  were  a  private  heritage.  The  first  two 
dangers  had  not  proved  fatal.  The  personal  energy  and  never- 
ending  travels  of  Charles  the  Great  had  vanquished  space  and 
time.  Racial  divergences  were  less  formidable  than  might 
have  been  expected,  for  true  national  feeling  was  not  yet 
fully  developed  in  Western  Europe.  It  was  neither  the  enor- 
mous extent  of  the  Frankish  empire  nor  the  heterogeneous 
character  of  its  inhabitants  that  proved  the  direct  cause  of  its 
ruin,  but  the  baleful  practice  of  the  partition  of  heritages  among 
all  the  heirs  of  the  reigning  sovereign.  Hitherto  the  empire 
had  been  fortunate  in  escaping  the  consequences  of  this  evil. 
Charles  the  Hammer  had  broken  up  his  realm,  but  the  voluntary 
abdication  of  the  elder  Carloman  had  ere  long  reunited  the 
Neustrian  and  Austrasian  lands.  Pippin,  again,  had  divided 
his  kingdom,  but  the  co-heir,  whose  survival  would  have 
thwarted  the  life-work  of  Charles  the  Great,  died  young. 
And  in  the  next  generation,  too,  death  had  stripped  the  king 
of  all  his  lawful  issue  save  one,  and  Lewis  the  Pious  received 
an  undivided  heritage. 

But  Lewis,  unhappily  for  himself  and  for  the  empire,  had 
already  three  half-grown  sons  when  he  succeeded  to  the 
empire,  and  was  destined  to  see  a  fourth  reach  manhood  ere 

Lewis  the  Pious  385 

he  died.    The  custom  of  partition  was  now  destined  to  have  a 
fair  trial  and  develop  to  its  utmost  extent. 

Lewis  was  at  Doue,  in  his  kingdom  of  Aquitaine,  when  he 
received  the  news  of  the  death  of  his  aged  father.  Making 
such  speed  as  he  could,  he  arrived  at  Aachen  after  a  journey 
of  thirty  days,  and  took  possession  of  the  reins  of  power. 
Without  sending  for  the  Pope  to  assist  at  his  coronation,  he 
celebrated  his  accession  by  taking  the  imperial  crown  off  the 
altar  in  the  cathedral  of  his  capital  city,  and  placing  it  on  his 
own  head,  while  the  assembled  counts  and  bishops  shouted 
Vivat  Imperator  Ludovicus  !  The  magnates  also  saluted  him 
by  the  title  of  '  the  Pious,'  an  appellation  which  he  placed 
upon  his  coins,  on  whose  other  side  appeared  the  legend, 
'  Renovatio  Regni  Francorum.^  The  '  renewing '  of  the 
kingdom  found  its  first  expression  in  the  expulsion  from 
office  of  the  ministers  who  had  administered  affairs  during 
the  declining  years  of  Charles  the  Great.  Lewis  came  to 
Aachen  with  his  own  trusted  servants  at  his  back,  and  was 
determined  not  to  put  himself  in  the  hands  of  his  father's 
favourites.  There  had  been  much  in  his  father's  life  and 
court  which  his  own  scrupulous  conscience  could  not 
approve.  As  a  man  who  led  a  singularly  virtuous  life  him- 
self, he  could  not  abide  the  bishops  and  abbots  who  had 
connived    at    his    father's    immoralities.       The   ^ 

Accession  of 

Frankish    court,   though    teeming   with    ecclesi-  Lewis  the 
astics,  had  not   been   a  model  of  soberness  or  ^^°"s- 
chastity,   and   the    old   emperor    himself    had    not    set    the 
best  of  examples.     Lewis  was  determined  that  this  should 

The  moment  that  he  was  firmly  seated  on  the  throne  the 
new  monarch  dismissed  from  his  court  his  sisters,  whose  life 
had  been  nothing  less  than  scandalous  during  his  father's  later 
years.  Their  paramours  were  banished  or  imprisoned — one 
was  even  deprived  of  his  eyes.  His  next  step  was  to  send 
away  the  three  chief  ministers  of  Charles  the  Great.  The 
Chancellor  Helisachar,  Abbot  of  St.  Maximin,  was  relegated 

PERIOD  I.  2  B 

386  European  History^ /\.'j6-gi^ 

to  his  monastery.  The  two  brothers,  count  Wala  and  abbot 
Adalhard/  had  harder  measure  dealt  out  to  them.  The 
emperor  sent  Adalhard  to  dwell  in  the  lonely  monastery  of 
Hermoutier,  on  an  island  by  the  Loire  mouth.  Count  Wala 
was  stripped  of  sword  and  armour,  shorn,  and  immured  as  a 
monk  in  the  cloister  of  Corbey. 

These  councillors  were  replaced  by  men  whom  Lewis 
had  learnt  to  know  while  he  was  yet  but  king  of  Aquitaine. 
The  chief  were  Ebbo,  his  own  foster-brother,  abbot  Hildwin, 
and  count  Bernard  of  Septimania.  |Ebbo,  though  but  the 
son  of  a  serf,  was  dear  to  the  emperor  from  early  association ; 
he  had  taken  orders,  and  was  made  archbishop  of  Rheims  by 
his  patron  at  the  earliest  opportunity,  amid  the  murmurs  of 
many  high-born  Frankish  ecclesiastics,  who  exclaimed  that 
such  preferment  was  not  the  meed  of  a  man  of  servile  extrac- 
tion. Hildwin,  the  new  chancellor,  was  a  shameless  plurahst, 
three  abbots  rolled  into  one,  and  ever  seeking  more  prefer- 
ment. Bernard,  however,  a  clever,  restless,  intriguing  Gascon, 
provoked  even  greater  jealousy  and  bitterness  among  the  old 
courtiers  of  Charles  the  Great,  and  seems  to  have  been  the 
best-hated  man  in  the  realm.  But  perhaps  the  most  influ- 
ential of  all  the  advisers  of  Lewis  was  his  wife,  Hermengarde, 
the  daughter  of  the  count  of  the  Hesbain,  an  ambitious  and 
unscrupulous  woman,  who  exercised  such  an  influence  over 
her  uxorious  spouse  that  she  was  even  able  to  drive  him  once 
and  again  to  deeds  of  ill-faith  and  cruelty  very  foreign  to  his 
mild  and  righteous  disposition. 

Charles  the  Great  had  left  the  frontiers  of  his  great  realm 
so  well  secured  that  in  the  earliest  years  of  Lewis  the  Pious 
there  was  no  foreign  war  to  call  the  emperor  into  the  field. 
It  was  a  characteristic  sign  of  the  new  regifne  that  things 
ecclesiastical  took  precedence  of  all  others  at  the  first  meetings 
of  the  magnates  of  the  empire.  We  hear  of  legislation  against 
carnally-minded  bishops  and  abbots,  who  shocked  the  pious 

^  They  were  Carlovingians  of  illegitimate  descent,  sons  of  Bernard,  a 
bastard  of  Charles  Martel. 

Lewis  the  Pious  387 

by  riding  with  cloak  and  sword  and  golden  spurs  like  secular 
nobles.  A  modus  vivendi  was  established  between  clerics  of 
servile  birth  and  their  former  lords,  providing  that  on  due 
compensation  being  paid  the  villein  might  go  free.  The 
emperor  took  the  keenest  interest  in  this  question.  Not  only 
his  favourite  Ebbo,  but  several  others  of  his  counsellors  had 
been  serfs,  and  he  was  most  anxious  to  defend  them  alike 
against  claims  of  their  ancient  masters,  and  insults  at  the  hands 
of  the  free-born  clergy.  Another  decree  of  Lewis'  dealt  with 
the  tenure  of  the  lands  of  monasteries.  After  stipulating  that 
fourteen  great  houses  owed  both  military  service  and  aids  in 
money  to  the  empire,  and  sixteen  more  the  financial  duty  alone, 
he  declared  that  all  the  other  monastic  establishments  in  his 
wide  dominion  should  hold  their  property  on  the  simple  under- 
taking that  they  should  '  pray  for  the  welfare  of  the  emperor 
and  his  children  and  the  empire.'  This  threw  a  vast  quan- 
tity of  estates  into  tenure  by  what  later  ages  Ecclesiastical 
called  '  frank  almoin,'  and  relieved  of  its  natural  legislation, 
responsibility  to  the  State  more  land  than  could  prudently  be 
suffered  to  go  scot-free. 

Another  sign  of  Lewis'  extreme  regard  for  the  Church  was 
given  at  the  very  commencement  of  his  reign.  When  pope 
Leo  III.,  the  aged  pontiff,  who  had  crowned  Charles  the 
Great,  died  in  816  the  Romans  elected,  in  great  haste, 
Stephen  iv.  as  his  successor.  The  new  Pope  was  consecrated 
without  the  imperial  sanction  being  sought,  but  Lewis  made 
no  objection,  and  showed  no  wrath  at  this  disregard  of  his 
prerogative.  So  far  was  he  from  resentment  that  he  allowed 
Stephen  to  represent  to  him  that  his  coronation  at  Aachen 
had  lacked  the  Church's  blessing,  inasmuch  as  he  had  taken 
the  crown  from  the  altar  with  his  own  hands.  To  render 
Lewis'  position  more  like  that  of  his  great  father,  the  Pope 
proposed  to  cross  the  Alps  and  recrown  his  master.  Lewis 
took  no  offence  at  the  slur  thrown  on  the  form  of  Lewis  re- 
his  election  to  the  empire,  but  received  Stephen  crowned,  816. 
in   great   state   at   Rheims,  and   was  there  crowned  for  the 

388  European  History,  476-918 

second  time  (816).  Thus  he  loosened  his  own  grasp  on  the 
Papacy  in  one  year,  and  allowed  the  Pope  to  tighten  his 
grasp  on  the  empire  in  the  next. 

In  817  happened  an  accident  which  was  to  have  the  gravest 
consequences  on  the  emperor's  character  and  fate.  He  was 
passing  with  all  his  train  over  a  wooden  gallery  which  con- 
nected the  cathedral  and  the  palace  at  Aachen,  when  the 
whole  structure  came  crashing  to  the  ground.  Many  of  the 
courtiers  were  killed,  and  the  emperor  himself  received  injuries 
which  confined  him  to  his  bed  for  many  weeks.  The  shock 
and  the  narrow  escape  from  death  set  Lewis  meditating  on  the 
instability  of  life  and  the  necessity  for  being  always  prepared 
for  the  grave.  He  had  never  been  anything  but  sober  and 
self-contained,  but  he  now  fell  into  a  morbid  and  lugubrious 
frame  of  mind,  which  never  left  him  till  his  dying  day.  If  he 
had  only  hitherto  been  a  daring  sinner  he  might  have  salved 
his  conscience  by  turning  to  a  new  manner  of  life  :  but  being 
already  a  man  of  blameless  and  virtuous  habits,  his  conversion 
only  led  him  into  an  exaggerated  asceticism.  He  abandoned 
the  study  of  profane  literature,  which  had  hitherto  soothed  his 
leisure  hours,  and  would  for  the  rest  of  his  life  read  nothing 
but  theology.  We  are  even  told  that  he  destroyed  the  collec- 
tion of  Old- Prankish  heroic  poems  which  his  father  had  made, 
because  of  the  many  traces  of  heathenism  which  he  found  in 
them.  It  was  with  difficulty  that  his  councillors  prevented 
him  two  years  later  from  laying  down  his  crown  and  retiring 
to  a  monastery. 

One  of  the  first  effects  of  Lewis'  morbid  brooding  over  his 
latter  end  was  that  he  determined  to  make  a  settlement  of  the 
mheritanceof  his  wide  d