Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

Part 10 out of 15

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

his blindness and revenge exhibited an imperfect copy of the
adventures of Samson. By the free suffrage of the nation, in the
assembly of Pavia, Clepho, one of their noblest chiefs, was
elected as the successor of Alboin. Before the end of eighteen
months, the throne was polluted by a second murder: Clepho was
stabbed by the hand of a domestic; the regal office was suspended
above ten years during the minority of his son Autharis; and
Italy was divided and oppressed by a ducal aristocracy of thirty
tyrants. ^22

[Footnote *: He killed a lion. His eyes were put out by the
timid Justin. Peredeus requesting an interview, Justin
substituted two patricians, whom the blinded Barbarian stabbed to
the heart with two concealed daggers. See Le Beau, vol. x. p.
99. - M.]

[Footnote 22: See the history of Paul, l. ii. c. 28 - 32. I have
borrowed some interesting circumstances from the Liber
Pontificalis of Agnellus, in Script. Rer. Ital. tom. ii. p. 124.
Of all chronological guides, Muratori is the safest.]

When the nephew of Justinian ascended the throne, he
proclaimed a new aera of happiness and glory. The annals of the
second Justin ^23 are marked with disgrace abroad and misery at
home. In the West, the Roman empire was afflicted by the loss of
Italy, the desolation of Africa, and the conquests of the
Persians. Injustice prevailed both in the capital and the
provinces: the rich trembled for their property, the poor for
their safety, the ordinary magistrates were ignorant or venal,
the occasional remedies appear to have been arbitrary and
violent, and the complaints of the people could no longer be
silenced by the splendid names of a legislator and a conqueror.
The opinion which imputes to the prince all the calamities of his
times may be countenanced by the historian as a serious truth or
a salutary prejudice. Yet a candid suspicion will arise, that the
sentiments of Justin were pure and benevolent, and that he might
have filled his station without reproach, if the faculties of his
mind had not been impaired by disease, which deprived the emperor
of the use of his feet, and confined him to the palace, a
stranger to the complaints of the people and the vices of the
government. The tardy knowledge of his own impotence determined
him to lay down the weight of the diadem; and, in the choice of a
worthy substitute, he showed some symptoms of a discerning and
even magnanimous spirit. The only son of Justin and Sophia died
in his infancy; their daughter Arabia was the wife of Baduarius,
^24 superintendent of the palace, and afterwards commander of the
Italian armies, who vainly aspired to confirm the rights of
marriage by those of adoption. While the empire appeared an
object of desire, Justin was accustomed to behold with jealousy
and hatred his brothers and cousins, the rivals of his hopes; nor
could he depend on the gratitude of those who would accept the
purple as a restitution, rather than a gift. Of these
competitors, one had been removed by exile, and afterwards by
death; and the emperor himself had inflicted such cruel insults
on another, that he must either dread his resentment or despise
his patience. This domestic animosity was refined into a
generous resolution of seeking a successor, not in his family,
but in the republic; and the artful Sophia recommended Tiberius,
^25 his faithful captain of the guards, whose virtues and fortune
the emperor might cherish as the fruit of his judicious choice.
The ceremony of his elevation to the rank of Caesar, or Augustus,
was performed in the portico of the palace, in the presence of
the patriarch and the senate. Justin collected the remaining
strength of his mind and body; but the popular belief that his
speech was inspired by the Deity betrays a very humble opinion
both of the man and of the times. ^26 "You behold," said the
emperor, "the ensigns of supreme power. You are about to receive
them, not from my hand, but from the hand of God. Honor them,
and from them you will derive honor. Respect the empress your
mother: you are now her son; before, you were her servant.
Delight not in blood; abstain from revenge; avoid those actions
by which I have incurred the public hatred; and consult the
experience, rather than the example, of your predecessor. As a
man, I have sinned; as a sinner, even in this life, I have been
severely punished: but these servants, (and we pointed to his
ministers,) who have abused my confidence, and inflamed my
passions, will appear with me before the tribunal of Christ. I
have been dazzled by the splendor of the diadem: be thou wise and
modest; remember what you have been, remember what you are. You
see around us your slaves, and your children: with the authority,
assume the tenderness, of a parent. Love your people like
yourself; cultivate the affections, maintain the discipline, of
the army; protect the fortunes of the rich, relieve the
necessities of the poor." ^27 The assembly, in silence and in
tears, applauded the counsels, and sympathized with the
repentance, of their prince the patriarch rehearsed the prayers
of the church; Tiberius received the diadem on his knees; and
Justin, who in his abdication appeared most worthy to reign,
addressed the new monarch in the following words: "If you
consent, I live; if you command, I die: may the God of heaven and
earth infuse into your heart whatever I have neglected or
forgotten." The four last years of the emperor Justin were passed
in tranquil obscurity: his conscience was no longer tormented by
the remembrance of those duties which he was incapable of
discharging; and his choice was justified by the filial reverence
and gratitude of Tiberius.

[Footnote 23: The original authors for the reign of Justin the
younger are Evagrius, Hist. Eccles. l. v. c. 1 - 12; Theophanes,
in Chonograph. p. 204 - 210; Zonaras, tom. ii. l. xiv. p. 70 -
72; Cedrenus, in Compend. p. 388 - 392.]

[Footnote 24: Dispositorque novus sacrae Baduarius aulae.
Successor soceri mox factus Cura-palati. - Cerippus.

Baduarius is enumerated among the descendants and allies of the
house of Justinian. A family of noble Venetians (Casa Badoero)
built churches and gave dukes to the republic as early as the
ninth century; and, if their descent be admitted, no kings in
Europe can produce a pedigree so ancient and illustrious.
Ducange, Fam. Byzantin, p. 99 Amelot de la Houssaye, Gouvernement
de Venise, tom. ii. p. 555.]

[Footnote 25: The praise bestowed on princes before their
elevation is the purest and most weighty. Corippus has
celebrated Tiberius at the time of the accession of Justin, (l.
i. 212 - 222.) Yet even a captain of the guards might attract the
flattery of an African exile.]

[Footnote 26: Evagrius (l. v. c. 13) has added the reproach to
his ministers He applies this speech to the ceremony when
Tiberius was invested with the rank of Caesar. The loose
expression, rather than the positive error, of Theophanes, &c.,
has delayed it to his Augustan investitura immediately before the
death of Justin.]

[Footnote 27: Theophylact Simocatta (l. iii. c. 11) declares that
he shall give to posterity the speech of Justin as it was
pronounced, without attempting to correct the imperfections of
language or rhetoric. Perhaps the vain sophist would have been
incapable of producing such sentiments.]
Among the virtues of Tiberius, ^28 his beauty (he was one of
the tallest and most comely of the Romans) might introduce him to
the favor of Sophia; and the widow of Justin was persuaded, that
she should preserve her station and influence under the reign of
a second and more youthful husband. But, if the ambitious
candidate had been tempted to flatter and dissemble, it was no
longer in his power to fulfil her expectations, or his own
promise. The factions of the hippodrome demanded, with some
impatience, the name of their new empress: both the people and
Sophia were astonished by the proclamation of Anastasia, the
secret, though lawful, wife of the emperor Tiberius. Whatever
could alleviate the disappointment of Sophia, Imperial honors, a
stately palace, a numerous household, was liberally bestowed by
the piety of her adopted son; on solemn occasions he attended and
consulted the widow of his benefactor; but her ambition disdained
the vain semblance of royalty, and the respectful appellation of
mother served to exasperate, rather than appease, the rage of an
injured woman. While she accepted, and repaid with a courtly
smile, the fair expressions of regard and confidence, a secret
alliance was concluded between the dowager empress and her
ancient enemies; and Justinian, the son of Germanus, was employed
as the instrument of her revenge. The pride of the reigning
house supported, with reluctance, the dominion of a stranger: the
youth was deservedly popular; his name, after the death of
Justin, had been mentioned by a tumultuous faction; and his own
submissive offer of his head with a treasure of sixty thousand
pounds, might be interpreted as an evidence of guilt, or at least
of fear. Justinian received a free pardon, and the command of
the eastern army. The Persian monarch fled before his arms; and
the acclamations which accompanied his triumph declared him
worthy of the purple. His artful patroness had chosen the month
of the vintage, while the emperor, in a rural solitude, was
permitted to enjoy the pleasures of a subject. On the first
intelligence of her designs, he returned to Constantinople, and
the conspiracy was suppressed by his presence and firmness. From
the pomp and honors which she had abused, Sophia was reduced to a
modest allowance: Tiberius dismissed her train, intercepted her
correspondence, and committed to a faithful guard the custody of
her person. But the services of Justinian were not considered by
that excellent prince as an aggravation of his offences: after a
mild reproof, his treason and ingratitude were forgiven; and it
was commonly believed, that the emperor entertained some thoughts
of contracting a double alliance with the rival of his throne.
The voice of an angel (such a fable was propagated) might reveal
to the emperor, that he should always triumph over his domestic
foes; but Tiberius derived a firmer assurance from the innocence
and generosity of his own mind.

[Footnote 28: For the character and reign of Tiberius, see
Evagrius, l v. c. 13. Theophylact, l. iii. c. 12, &c.
Theophanes, in Chron. p. 2 0 - 213. Zonaras, tom. ii. l. xiv. p.
72. Cedrenus, p. 392. Paul Warnefrid, de Gestis Langobard. l.
iii. c. 11, 12. The deacon of Forum Juli appears to have
possessed some curious and authentic facts.]

With the odious name of Tiberius, he assumed the more
popular appellation of Constantine, and imitated the purer
virtues of the Antonines. After recording the vice or folly of so
many Roman princes, it is pleasing to repose, for a moment, on a
character conspicuous by the qualities of humanity, justice,
temperance, and fortitude; to contemplate a sovereign affable in
his palace, pious in the church, impartial on the seat of
judgment, and victorious, at least by his generals, in the
Persian war. The most glorious trophy of his victory consisted
in a multitude of captives, whom Tiberius entertained, redeemed,
and dismissed to their native homes with the charitable spirit of
a Christian hero. The merit or misfortunes of his own subjects
had a dearer claim to his beneficence, and he measured his bounty
not so much by their expectations as by his own dignity. This
maxim, however dangerous in a trustee of the public wealth, was
balanced by a principle of humanity and justice, which taught him
to abhor, as of the basest alloy, the gold that was extracted
from the tears of the people. For their relief, as often as they
had suffered by natural or hostile calamities, he was impatient
to remit the arrears of the past, or the demands of future taxes:
he sternly rejected the servile offerings of his ministers, which
were compensated by tenfold oppression; and the wise and
equitable laws of Tiberius excited the praise and regret of
succeeding times. Constantinople believed that the emperor had
discovered a treasure: but his genuine treasure consisted in the
practice of liberal economy, and the contempt of all vain and
superfluous expense. The Romans of the East would have been
happy, if the best gift of Heaven, a patriot king, had been
confirmed as a proper and permanent blessing. But in less than
four years after the death of Justin, his worthy successor sunk
into a mortal disease, which left him only sufficient time to
restore the diadem, according to the tenure by which he held it,
to the most deserving of his fellow-citizens. He selected
Maurice from the crowd, a judgment more precious than the purple
itself: the patriarch and senate were summoned to the bed of the
dying prince: he bestowed his daughter and the empire; and his
last advice was solemnly delivered by the voice of the quaestor.
Tiberius expressed his hope that the virtues of his son and
successor would erect the noblest mausoleum to his memory. His
memory was embalmed by the public affliction; but the most
sincere grief evaporates in the tumult of a new reign, and the
eyes and acclamations of mankind were speedily directed to the
rising sun.
The emperor Maurice derived his origin from ancient Rome;
^29 but his immediate parents were settled at Arabissus in
Cappadocia, and their singular felicity preserved them alive to
behold and partake the fortune of their august son. The youth of
Maurice was spent in the profession of arms: Tiberius promoted
him to the command of a new and favorite legion of twelve
thousand confederates; his valor and conduct were signalized in
the Persian war; and he returned to Constantinople to accept, as
his just reward, the inheritance of the empire. Maurice ascended
the throne at the mature age of forty-three years; and he reigned
above twenty years over the East and over himself; ^30 expelling
from his mind the wild democracy of passions, and establishing
(according to the quaint expression of Evagrius) a perfect
aristocracy of reason and virtue. Some suspicion will degrade
the testimony of a subject, though he protests that his secret
praise should never reach the ear of his sovereign, ^31 and some
failings seem to place the character of Maurice below the purer
merit of his predecessor. His cold and reserved demeanor might
be imputed to arrogance; his justice was not always exempt from
cruelty, nor his clemency from weakness; and his rigid economy
too often exposed him to the reproach of avarice. But the
rational wishes of an absolute monarch must tend to the happiness
of his people. Maurice was endowed with sense and courage to
promote that happiness, and his administration was directed by
the principles and example of Tiberius. The pusillanimity of the
Greeks had introduced so complete a separation between the
offices of king and of general, that a private soldier, who had
deserved and obtained the purple, seldom or never appeared at the
head of his armies. Yet the emperor Maurice enjoyed the glory of
restoring the Persian monarch to his throne; his lieutenants
waged a doubtful war against the Avars of the Danube; and he cast
an eye of pity, of ineffectual pity, on the abject and
distressful state of his Italian provinces.

[Footnote 29: It is therefore singular enough that Paul (l. iii.
c. 15) should distinguish him as the first Greek emperor - primus
ex Graecorum genere in Imperio constitutus. His immediate
predecessors had in deed been born in the Latin provinces of
Europe: and a various reading, in Graecorum Imperio, would apply
the expression to the empire rather than the prince.]
[Footnote 30: Consult, for the character and reign of Maurice,
the fifth and sixth books of Evagrius, particularly l. vi. c. l;
the eight books of his prolix and florid history by Theophylact
Simocatta; Theophanes, p. 213, &c.; Zonaras, tom. ii. l. xiv. p.
73; Cedrenus, p. 394.]

[Footnote 31: Evagrius composed his history in the twelfth year
of Maurice; and he had been so wisely indiscreet that the emperor
know and rewarded his favorable opinion, (l. vi. c. 24.)]

From Italy the emperors were incessantly tormented by tales
of misery and demands of succor, which extorted the humiliating
confession of their own weakness. The expiring dignity of Rome
was only marked by the freedom and energy of her complaints: "If
you are incapable," she said, "of delivering us from the sword of
the Lombards, save us at least from the calamity of famine."
Tiberius forgave the reproach, and relieved the distress: a
supply of corn was transported from Egypt to the Tyber; and the
Roman people, invoking the name, not of Camillus, but of St.
Peter repulsed the Barbarians from their walls. But the relief
was accidental, the danger was perpetual and pressing; and the
clergy and senate, collecting the remains of their ancient
opulence, a sum of three thousand pounds of gold, despatched the
patrician Pamphronius to lay their gifts and their complaints at
the foot of the Byzantine throne. The attention of the court,
and the forces of the East, were diverted by the Persian war: but
the justice of Tiberius applied the subsidy to the defence of the
city; and he dismissed the patrician with his best advice, either
to bribe the Lombard chiefs, or to purchase the aid of the kings
of France. Notwithstanding this weak invention, Italy was still
afflicted, Rome was again besieged, and the suburb of Classe,
only three miles from Ravenna, was pillaged and occupied by the
troops of a simple duke of Spoleto. Maurice gave audience to a
second deputation of priests and senators: the duties and the
menaces of religion were forcibly urged in the letters of the
Roman pontiff; and his nuncio, the deacon Gregory, was alike
qualified to solicit the powers either of heaven or of the earth.

The emperor adopted, with stronger effect, the measures of his
predecessor: some formidable chiefs were persuaded to embrace the
friendship of the Romans; and one of them, a mild and faithful
Barbarian, lived and died in the service of the exarchs: the
passes of the Alps were delivered to the Franks; and the pope
encouraged them to violate, without scruple, their oaths and
engagements to the misbelievers. Childebert, the great-grandson
of Clovis, was persuaded to invade Italy by the payment of fifty
thousand pieces; but, as he had viewed with delight some
Byzantine coin of the weight of one pound of gold, the king of
Austrasia might stipulate, that the gift should be rendered more
worthy of his acceptance, by a proper mixture of these
respectable medals. The dukes of the Lombards had provoked by
frequent inroads their powerful neighbors of Gaul. As soon as
they were apprehensive of a just retaliation, they renounced
their feeble and disorderly independence: the advantages of real
government, union, secrecy, and vigor, were unanimously
confessed; and Autharis, the son of Clepho, had already attained
the strength and reputation of a warrior. Under the standard of
their new king, the conquerors of Italy withstood three
successive invasions, one of which was led by Childebert himself,
the last of the Merovingian race who descended from the Alps.
The first expedition was defeated by the jealous animosity of the
Franks and Alemanni. In the second they were vanquished in a
bloody battle, with more loss and dishonor than they had
sustained since the foundation of their monarchy. Impatient for
revenge, they returned a third time with accumulated force, and
Autharis yielded to the fury of the torrent. The troops and
treasures of the Lombards were distributed in the walled towns
between the Alps and the Apennine. A nation, less sensible of
danger than of fatigue and delay, soon murmured against the folly
of their twenty commanders; and the hot vapors of an Italian sun
infected with disease those tramontane bodies which had already
suffered the vicissitudes of intemperance and famine. The powers
that were inadequate to the conquest, were more than sufficient
for the desolation, of the country; nor could the trembling
natives distinguish between their enemies and their deliverers.
If the junction of the Merovingian and Imperial forces had been
effected in the neighborhood of Milan, perhaps they might have
subverted the throne of the Lombards; but the Franks expected six
days the signal of a flaming village, and the arms of the Greeks
were idly employed in the reduction of Modena and Parma, which
were torn from them after the retreat of their transalpine
allies. The victorious Autharis asserted his claim to the
dominion of Italy. At the foot of the Rhaetian Alps, he subdued
the resistance, and rifled the hidden treasures, of a sequestered
island in the Lake of Comum. At the extreme point of the
Calabria, he touched with his spear a column on the sea-shore of
Rhegium, ^32 proclaiming that ancient landmark to stand the
immovable boundary of his kingdom. ^33

[Footnote 32: The Columna Rhegina, in the narrowest part of the
Faro of Messina, one hundred stadia from Rhegium itself, is
frequently mentioned in ancient geography. Cluver. Ital. Antiq.
tom. ii. p. 1295. Lucas Holsten. Annotat. ad Cluver. p. 301.
Wesseling, Itinerar. p. 106.]
[Footnote 33: The Greek historians afford some faint hints of the
wars of Italy (Menander, in Excerpt. Legat. p. 124, 126.
Theophylact, l. iii. c. 4.) The Latins are more satisfactory; and
especially Paul Warnefrid, (l iii. c. 13 - 34,) who had read the
more ancient histories of Secundus and Gregory of Tours.
Baronius produces some letters of the popes, &c.; and the times
are measured by the accurate scale of Pagi and Muratori.]

During a period of two hundred years, Italy was unequally
divided between the kingdom of the Lombards and the exarchate of
Ravenna. The offices and professions, which the jealousy of
Constantine had separated, were united by the indulgence of
Justinian; and eighteen successive exarchs were invested, in the
decline of the empire, with the full remains of civil, of
military, and even of ecclesiastical, power. Their immediate
jurisdiction, which was afterwards consecrated as the patrimony
of St. Peter, extended over the modern Romagna, the marshes or
valleys of Ferrara and Commachio, ^34 five maritime cities from
Rimini to Ancona, and a second inland Pentapolis, between the
Adriatic coast and the hills of the Apennine. Three subordinate
provinces, of Rome, of Venice, and of Naples, which were divided
by hostile lands from the palace of Ravenna, acknowledged, both
in peace and war, the supremacy of the exarch. The duchy of Rome
appears to have included the Tuscan, Sabine, and Latin conquests,
of the first four hundred years of the city, and the limits may
be distinctly traced along the coast, from Civita Vecchia to
Terracina, and with the course of the Tyber from Ameria and Narni
to the port of Ostia. The numerous islands from Grado to Chiozza
composed the infant dominion of Venice: but the more accessible
towns on the Continent were overthrown by the Lombards, who
beheld with impotent fury a new capital rising from the waves.
The power of the dukes of Naples was circumscribed by the bay and
the adjacent isles, by the hostile territory of Capua, and by the
Roman colony of Amalphi, ^35 whose industrious citizens, by the
invention of the mariner's compass, have unveiled the face of the
globe. The three islands of Sardinia, Corsica, and Sicily, still
adhered to the empire; and the acquisition of the farther
Calabria removed the landmark of Autharis from the shore of
Rhegium to the Isthmus of Consentia. In Sardinia, the savage
mountaineers preserved the liberty and religion of their
ancestors; and the husbandmen of Sicily were chained to their
rich and cultivated soil. Rome was oppressed by the iron sceptre
of the exarchs, and a Greek, perhaps a eunuch, insulted with
impunity the ruins of the Capitol. But Naples soon acquired the
privilege of electing her own dukes: ^36 the independence of
Amalphi was the fruit of commerce; and the voluntary attachment
of Venice was finally ennobled by an equal alliance with the
Eastern empire. On the map of Italy, the measure of the
exarchate occupies a very inadequate space, but it included an
ample proportion of wealth, industry, and population. The most
faithful and valuable subjects escaped from the Barbarian yoke;
and the banners of Pavia and Verona, of Milan and Padua, were
displayed in their respective quarters by the new inhabitants of
Ravenna. The remainder of Italy was possessed by the Lombards;
and from Pavia, the royal seat, their kingdom was extended to the
east, the north, and the west, as far as the confines of the
Avars, the Bavarians, and the Franks of Austrasia and Burgundy.
In the language of modern geography, it is now represented by the
Terra Firma of the Venetian republic, Tyrol, the Milanese,
Piedmont, the coast of Genoa, Mantua, Parma, and Modena, the
grand duchy of Tuscany, and a large portion of the ecclesiastical
state from Perugia to the Adriatic. The dukes, and at length the
princes, of Beneventum, survived the monarchy, and propagated the
name of the Lombards. From Capua to Tarentum, they reigned near
five hundred years over the greatest part of the present kingdom
of Naples. ^37

[Footnote 34: The papal advocates, Zacagni and Fontanini, might
justly claim the valley or morass of Commachio as a part of the
exarchate. But the ambition of including Modena, Reggio, Parma,
and Placentia, has darkened a geographical question somewhat
doubtful and obscure Even Muratori, as the servant of the house
of Este, is not free from partiality and prejudice.]
[Footnote 35: See Brenckman, Dissert. Ima de Republica
Amalphitana, p. 1 - 42, ad calcem Hist. Pandect. Florent.]

[Footnote 36: Gregor. Magn. l. iii. epist. 23, 25.]

[Footnote 37: I have described the state of Italy from the
excellent Dissertation of Beretti. Giannone (Istoria Civile,
tom. i. p. 374 - 387) has followed the learned Camillo Pellegrini
in the geography of the kingdom of Naples. After the loss of the
true Calabria, the vanity of the Greeks substituted that name
instead of the more ignoble appellation of Bruttium; and the
change appears to have taken place before the time of
Charlemagne, (Eginard, p. 75.)]

In comparing the proportion of the victorious and the
vanquished people, the change of language will afford the most
probably inference. According to this standard, it will appear,
that the Lombards of Italy, and the Visigoths of Spain, were less
numerous than the Franks or Burgundians; and the conquerors of
Gaul must yield, in their turn, to the multitude of Saxons and
Angles who almost eradicated the idioms of Britain. The modern
Italian has been insensibly formed by the mixture of nations: the
awkwardness of the Barbarians in the nice management of
declensions and conjugations reduced them to the use of articles
and auxiliary verbs; and many new ideas have been expressed by
Teutonic appellations. Yet the principal stock of technical and
familiar words is found to be of Latin derivation; ^38 and, if we
were sufficiently conversant with the obsolete, the rustic, and
the municipal dialects of ancient Italy, we should trace the
origin of many terms which might, perhaps, be rejected by the
classic purity of Rome. A numerous army constitutes but a small
nation, and the powers of the Lombards were soon diminished by
the retreat of twenty thousand Saxons, who scorned a dependent
situation, and returned, after many bold and perilous adventures,
to their native country. ^39 The camp of Alboin was of formidable
extent, but the extent of a camp would be easily circumscribed
within the limits of a city; and its martial in habitants must be
thinly scattered over the face of a large country. When Alboin
descended from the Alps, he invested his nephew, the first duke
of Friuli, with the command of the province and the people: but
the prudent Gisulf would have declined the dangerous office,
unless he had been permitted to choose, among the nobles of the
Lombards, a sufficient number of families ^40 to form a perpetual
colony of soldiers and subjects. In the progress of conquest, the
same option could not be granted to the dukes of Brescia or
Bergamo, ot Pavia or Turin, of Spoleto or Beneventum; but each of
these, and each of their colleagues, settled in his appointed
district with a band of followers who resorted to his standard in
war and his tribunal in peace. Their attachment was free and
honorable: resigning the gifts and benefits which they had
accepted, they might emigrate with their families into the
jurisdiction of another duke; but their absence from the kingdom
was punished with death, as a crime of military desertion. ^41
The posterity of the first conquerors struck a deeper root into
the soil, which, by every motive of interest and honor, they were
bound to defend. A Lombard was born the soldier of his king and
his duke; and the civil assemblies of the nation displayed the
banners, and assumed the appellation, of a regular army. Of this
army, the pay and the rewards were drawn from the conquered
provinces; and the distribution, which was not effected till
after the death of Alboin, is disgraced by the foul marks of
injustice and rapine. Many of the most wealthy Italians were
slain or banished; the remainder were divided among the
strangers, and a tributary obligation was imposed (under the name
of hospitality) of paying to the Lombards a third part of the
fruits of the earth. Within less than seventy years, this
artificial system was abolished by a more simple and solid
tenure. ^42 Either the Roman landlord was expelled by his strong
and insolent guest, or the annual payment, a third of the
produce, was exchanged by a more equitable transaction for an
adequate proportion of landed property. Under these foreign
masters, the business of agriculture, in the cultivation of corn,
wines, and olives, was exercised with degenerate skill and
industry by the labor of the slaves and natives. But the
occupations of a pastoral life were more pleasing to the idleness
of the Barbarian. In the rich meadows of Venetia, they restored
and improved the breed of horses, for which that province had
once been illustrious; ^43 and the Italians beheld with
astonishment a foreign race of oxen or buffaloes. ^44 The
depopulation of Lombardy, and the increase of forests, afforded
an ample range for the pleasures of the chase. ^45 That
marvellous art which teaches the birds of the air to acknowledge
the voice, and execute the commands, of their master, had been
unknown to the ingenuity of the Greeks and Romans. ^46
Scandinavia and Scythia produce the boldest and most tractable
falcons: ^47 they were tamed and educated by the roving
inhabitants, always on horseback and in the field. This favorite
amusement of our ancestors was introduced by the Barbarians into
the Roman provinces; and the laws of Italy esteemed the sword and
the hawk as of equal dignity and importance in the hands of a
noble Lombard. ^48

[Footnote 38: Maffei (Verona Illustrata, part i. p. 310 - 321)
and Muratori (Antichita Italiane, tom. ii. Dissertazione xxxii.
xxxiii. p. 71 - 365) have asserted the native claims of the
Italian idiom; the former with enthusiasm, the latter with
discretion; both with learning, ingenuity, and truth.
Note: Compare the admirable sketch of the degeneracy of the
Latin language and the formation of the Italian in Hallam, Middle
Ages, vol. iii. p. 317 329. - M.]

[Footnote 39: Paul, de Gest. Langobard. l. iii. c. 5, 6, 7.]
[Footnote 40: Paul, l. ii. c. 9. He calls these families or
generations by the Teutonic name of Faras, which is likewise used
in the Lombard laws. The humble deacon was not insensible of the
nobility of his own race. See l. iv. c. 39.]

[Footnote 41: Compare No. 3 and 177 of the Laws of Rotharis.]
[Footnote 42: Paul, l. ii. c. 31, 32, l. iii. c. 16. The Laws of
Rotharis, promulgated A.D. 643, do not contain the smallest
vestige of this payment of thirds; but they preserve many curious
circumstances of the state of Italy and the manners of the

[Footnote 43: The studs of Dionysius of Syracuse, and his
frequent victories in the Olympic games, had diffused among the
Greeks the fame of the Venetian horses; but the breed was extinct
in the time of Strabo, (l. v. p. 325.) Gisulf obtained from his
uncle generosarum equarum greges. Paul, l. ii. c. 9. The
Lombards afterwards introduced caballi sylvatici - wild horses.
Paul, l. iv. c. 11.]

[Footnote 44: Tunc (A.D. 596) primum, bubali in Italiam delati
Italiae populis miracula fuere, (Paul Warnefrid, l. iv. c. 11.)
The buffaloes, whose native climate appears to be Africa and
India, are unknown to Europe, except in Italy, where they are
numerous and useful. The ancients were ignorant of these
animals, unless Aristotle (Hist. Anim. l. ii. c. 1, p. 58, Paris,
1783) has described them as the wild oxen of Arachosia. See
Buffon, Hist. Naturelle, tom. xi. and Supplement, tom. vi. Hist.
Generale des Voyages, tom. i. p. 7, 481, ii. 105, iii. 291, iv.
234, 461, v. 193, vi. 491, viii. 400, x. 666. Pennant's
Quadrupedes, p. 24. Dictionnaire d'Hist. Naturelle, par Valmont
de Bomare, tom. ii. p. 74. Yet I must not conceal the suspicion
that Paul, by a vulgar error, may have applied the name of
bubalus to the aurochs, or wild bull, of ancient Germany.]

[Footnote 45: Consult the xxist Dissertation of Muratori.]
[Footnote 46: Their ignorance is proved by the silence even of
those who professedly treat of the arts of hunting and the
history of animals. Aristotle, (Hist. Animal. l. ix. c. 36, tom.
i. p. 586, and the Notes of his last editor, M. Camus, tom. ii.
p. 314,) Pliny, (Hist. Natur. l. x. c. 10,) Aelian (de Natur.
Animal. l. ii. c. 42,) and perhaps Homer, (Odyss. xxii. 302 -
306,) describe with astonishment a tacit league and common chase
between the hawks and the Thracian fowlers.]

[Footnote 47: Particularly the gerfaut, or gyrfalcon, of the size
of a small eagle. See the animated description of M. de Buffon,
Hist. Naturelle, tom. xvi. p. 239, &c.]

[Footnote 48: Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. i. part ii. p. 129.
This is the xvith law of the emperor Lewis the Pious. His father
Charlemagne had falconers in his household as well as huntsmen,
(Memoires sur l'ancienne Chevalerie, par M. de St. Palaye, tom.
iii. p. 175.) I observe in the laws of Rotharis a more early
mention of the art of hawking, (No. 322;) and in Gaul, in the
fifth century, it is celebrated by Sidonius Apollinaris among the
talents of Avitus, (202 - 207.)

Note: See Beckman, Hist. of Inventions, vol. i. p. 319 - M.]

Chapter XLV: State Of Italy Under The Lombards.

Part III.

So rapid was the influence of climate and example, that the
Lombards of the fourth generation surveyed with curiosity and
affright the portraits of their savage forefathers. ^49 Their
heads were shaven behind, but the shaggy locks hung over their
eyes and mouth, and a long beard represented the name and
character of the nation. Their dress consisted of loose linen
garments, after the fashion of the Anglo-Saxons, which were
decorated, in their opinion, with broad stripes or variegated
colors. The legs and feet were clothed in long hose, and open
sandals; and even in the security of peace a trusty sword was
constantly girt to their side. Yet this strange apparel, and
horrid aspect, often concealed a gentle and generous disposition;
and as soon as the rage of battle had subsided, the captives and
subjects were sometimes surprised by the humanity of the victor.
The vices of the Lombards were the effect of passion, of
ignorance, of intoxication; their virtues are the more laudable,
as they were not affected by the hypocrisy of social manners, nor
imposed by the rigid constraint of laws and education. I should
not be apprehensive of deviating from my subject, if it were in
my power to delineate the private life of the conquerors of
Italy; and I shall relate with pleasure the adventurous gallantry
of Autharis, which breathes the true spirit of chivalry and
romance. ^50 After the loss of his promised bride, a Merovingian
princess, he sought in marriage the daughter of the king of
Bavaria; and Garribald accepted the alliance of the Italian
monarch. Impatient of the slow progress of negotiation, the
ardent lover escaped from his palace, and visited the court of
Bavaria in the train of his own embassy. At the public audience,
the unknown stranger advanced to the throne, and informed
Garribald that the ambassador was indeed the minister of state,
but that he alone was the friend of Autharis, who had trusted him
with the delicate commission of making a faithful report of the
charms of his spouse. Theudelinda was summoned to undergo this
important examination; and, after a pause of silent rapture, he
hailed her as the queen of Italy, and humbly requested that,
according to the custom of the nation, she would present a cup of
wine to the first of her new subjects. By the command of her
father she obeyed: Autharis received the cup in his turn, and, in
restoring it to the princess, he secretly touched her hand, and
drew his own finger over his face and lips. In the evening,
Theudelinda imparted to her nurse the indiscreet familiarity of
the stranger, and was comforted by the assurance, that such
boldness could proceed only from the king her husband, who, by
his beauty and courage, appeared worthy of her love. The
ambassadors were dismissed: no sooner did they reach the confines
of Italy than Autharis, raising himself on his horse, darted his
battle-axe against a tree with incomparable strength and
dexterity. "Such," said he to the astonished Bavarians, "such
are the strokes of the king of the Lombards." On the approach of
a French army, Garribald and his daughter took refuge in the
dominions of their ally; and the marriage was consummated in the
palace of Verona. At the end of one year, it was dissolved by
the death of Autharis: but the virtues of Theudelinda ^51 had
endeared her to the nation, and she was permitted to bestow, with
her hand, the sceptre of the Italian kingdom.
[Footnote 49: The epitaph of Droctulf (Paul, l. iii. c. 19) may
be applied to many of his countrymen: -

Terribilis visu facies, sed corda benignus Longaque robusto
pectore barba fuit.

The portraits of the old Lombards might still be seen in the
palace of Monza, twelve miles from Milan, which had been founded
or restored by Queen Theudelinda, (l. iv. 22, 23.) See Muratori,
tom. i. disserta, xxiii. p. 300.]
[Footnote 50: The story of Autharis and Theudelinda is related by
Paul, l. iii. 29, 34; and any fragment of Bavarian antiquity
excites the indefatigable diligence of the count de Buat, Hist.
des Peuples de l'Europe, ton. xi. p. 595 - 635, tom. xii. p. 1 -

[Footnote 51: Giannone (Istoria Civile de Napoli, tom. i. p. 263)
has justly censured the impertinence of Boccaccio, (Gio. iii.
Novel. 2,) who, without right, or truth, or pretence, has given
the pious queen Theudelinda to the arms of a muleteer.]

From this fact, as well as from similar events, ^52 it is
certain that the Lombards possessed freedom to elect their
sovereign, and sense to decline the frequent use of that
dangerous privilege. The public revenue arose from the produce
of land and the profits of justice. When the independent dukes
agreed that Autharis should ascend the throne of his father, they
endowed the regal office with a fair moiety of their respective
domains. The proudest nobles aspired to the honors of servitude
near the person of their prince: he rewarded the fidelity of his
vassals by the precarious gift of pensions and benefices; and
atoned for the injuries of war by the rich foundation of
monasteries and churches. In peace a judge, a leader in war, he
never usurped the powers of a sole and absolute legislator. The
king of Italy convened the national assemblies in the palace, or
more probably in the fields, of Pavia: his great council was
composed of the persons most eminent by their birth and
dignities; but the validity, as well as the execution, of their
decrees depended on the approbation of the faithful people, the
fortunate army of the Lombards. About fourscore years after the
conquest of Italy, their traditional customs were transcribed in
Teutonic Latin, ^53 and ratified by the consent of the prince and
people: some new regulations were introduced, more suitable to
their present condition; the example of Rotharis was imitated by
the wisest of his successors; and the laws of the Lombards have
been esteemed the least imperfect of the Barbaric codes. ^54
Secure by their courage in the possession of liberty, these rude
and hasty legislators were incapable of balancing the powers of
the constitution, or of discussing the nice theory of political
government. Such crimes as threatened the life of the sovereign,
or the safety of the state, were adjudged worthy of death; but
their attention was principally confined to the defence of the
person and property of the subject. According to the strange
jurisprudence of the times, the guilt of blood might be redeemed
by a fine; yet the high price of nine hundred pieces of gold
declares a just sense of the value of a simple citizen. Less
atrocious injuries, a wound, a fracture, a blow, an opprobrious
word, were measured with scrupulous and almost ridiculous
diligence; and the prudence of the legislator encouraged the
ignoble practice of bartering honor and revenge for a pecuniary
compensation. The ignorance of the Lombards in the state of
Paganism or Christianity gave implicit credit to the malice and
mischief of witchcraft, but the judges of the seventeenth century
might have been instructed and confounded by the wisdom of
Rotharis, who derides the absurd superstition, and protects the
wretched victims of popular or judicial cruelty. ^55 The same
spirit of a legislator, superior to his age and country, may be
ascribed to Luitprand, who condemns, while he tolerates, the
impious and inveterate abuse of duels, ^56 observing, from his
own experience, that the juster cause had often been oppressed by
successful violence. Whatever merit may be discovered in the
laws of the Lombards, they are the genuine fruit of the reason of
the Barbarians, who never admitted the bishops of Italy to a seat
in their legislative councils. But the succession of their kings
is marked with virtue and ability; the troubled series of their
annals is adorned with fair intervals of peace, order, and
domestic happiness; and the Italians enjoyed a milder and more
equitable government, than any of the other kingdoms which had
been founded on the ruins of the Western empire. ^57
[Footnote 52: Paul, l. iii. c. 16. The first dissertations of
Muratori, and the first volume of Giannone's history, may be
consulted for the state of the kingdom of Italy.]

[Footnote 53: The most accurate edition of the Laws of the
Lombards is to be found in the Scriptores Rerum Italicarum, tom.
i. part ii. p. 1 - 181, collated from the most ancient Mss. and
illustrated by the critical notes of Muratori.]

[Footnote 54: Montesquieu, Esprit des Loix, l. xxviii. c. 1. Les
loix des Bourguignons sont assez judicieuses; celles de Rotharis
et des autres princes Lombards le sont encore plus.]

[Footnote 55: See Leges Rotharis, No. 379, p. 47. Striga is used
as the name of a witch. It is of the purest classic origin,
(Horat. epod. v. 20. Petron. c. 134;) and from the words of
Petronius, (quae striges comederunt nervos tuos?) it may be
inferred that the prejudice was of Italian rather than Barbaric

[Footnote 56: Quia incerti sumus de judicio Dei, et multos
audivimus per pugnam sine justa causa suam causam perdere. Sed
propter consuetudinom gentem nostram Langobardorum legem impiam
vetare non possumus. See p. 74, No. 65, of the Laws of
Luitprand, promulgated A.D. 724.]

[Footnote 57: Read the history of Paul Warnefrid; particularly l.
iii. c. 16. Baronius rejects the praise, which appears to
contradict the invectives of Pope Gregory the Great; but Muratori
(Annali d' Italia, tom. v. p. 217) presumes to insinuate that the
saint may have magnified the faults of Arians and enemies.]

Amidst the arms of the Lombards, and under the despotism of
the Greeks, we again inquire into the fate of Rome, ^58 which had
reached, about the close of the sixth century, the lowest period
of her depression. By the removal of the seat of empire, and the
successive loss of the provinces, the sources of public and
private opulence were exhausted: the lofty tree, under whose
shade the nations of the earth had reposed, was deprived of its
leaves and branches, and the sapless trunk was left to wither on
the ground. The ministers of command, and the messengers of
victory, no longer met on the Appian or Flaminian way; and the
hostile approach of the Lombards was often felt, and continually
feared. The inhabitants of a potent and peaceful capital, who
visit without an anxious thought the garden of the adjacent
country, will faintly picture in their fancy the distress of the
Romans: they shut or opened their gates with a trembling hand,
beheld from the walls the flames of their houses, and heard the
lamentations of their brethren, who were coupled together like
dogs, and dragged away into distant slavery beyond the sea and
the mountains. Such incessant alarms must annihilate the
pleasures and interrupt the labors of a rural life; and the
Campagna of Rome was speedily reduced to the state of a dreary
wilderness, in which the land is barren, the waters are impure,
and the air is infectious. Curiosity and ambition no longer
attracted the nations to the capital of the world: but, if chance
or necessity directed the steps of a wandering stranger, he
contemplated with horror the vacancy and solitude of the city,
and might be tempted to ask, Where is the senate, and where are
the people? In a season of excessive rains, the Tyber swelled
above its banks, and rushed with irresistible violence into the
valleys of the seven hills. A pestilential disease arose from
the stagnation of the deluge, and so rapid was the contagion,
that fourscore persons expired in an hour in the midst of a
solemn procession, which implored the mercy of Heaven. ^59 A
society in which marriage is encouraged and industry prevails
soon repairs the accidental losses of pestilence and war: but, as
the far greater part of the Romans was condemned to hopeless
indigence and celibacy, the depopulation was constant and
visible, and the gloomy enthusiasts might expect the approaching
failure of the human race. ^60 Yet the number of citizens still
exceeded the measure of subsistence: their precarious food was
supplied from the harvests of Sicily or Egypt; and the frequent
repetition of famine betrays the inattention of the emperor to a
distant province. The edifices of Rome were exposed to the same
ruin and decay: the mouldering fabrics were easily overthrown by
inundations, tempests, and earthquakes: and the monks, who had
occupied the most advantageous stations, exulted in their base
triumph over the ruins of antiquity. ^61 It is commonly believed,
that Pope Gregory the First attacked the temples and mutilated
the statues of the city; that, by the command of the Barbarian,
the Palatine library was reduced to ashes, and that the history
of Livy was the peculiar mark of his absurd and mischievous
fanaticism. The writings of Gregory himself reveal his
implacable aversion to the monuments of classic genius; and he
points his severest censure against the profane learning of a
bishop, who taught the art of grammar, studied the Latin poets,
and pronounced with the same voice the praises of Jupiter and
those of Christ. But the evidence of his destructive rage is
doubtful and recent: the Temple of Peace, or the theatre of
Marcellus, have been demolished by the slow operation of ages,
and a formal proscription would have multiplied the copies of
Virgil and Livy in the countries which were not subject to the
ecclesiastical dictator. ^62

[Footnote 58: The passages of the homilies of Gregory, which
represent the miserable state of the city and country, are
transcribed in the Annals of Baronius, A.D. 590, No. 16, A.D.
595, No. 2, &c., &c.]

[Footnote 59: The inundation and plague were reported by a
deacon, whom his bishop, Gregory of Tours, had despatched to Rome
for some relics The ingenious messenger embellished his tale and
the river with a great dragon and a train of little serpents,
(Greg. Turon. l. x. c. 1.)]

[Footnote 60: Gregory of Rome (Dialog. l. ii. c. 15) relates a
memorable prediction of St. Benedict. Roma a Gentilibus non
exterminabitur sed tempestatibus, coruscis turbinibus ac terrae
motu in semetipsa marces cet. Such a prophecy melts into true
history, and becomes the evidence of the fact after which it was

[Footnote 61: Quia in uno se ore cum Jovis laudibus, Christi
laudes non capiunt, et quam grave nefandumque sit episcopis
canere quod nec laico religioso conveniat, ipse considera, (l.
ix. ep. 4.) The writings of Gregory himself attest his innocence
of any classic taste or literature]
[Footnote 62: Bayle, (Dictionnaire Critique, tom. ii. 598, 569,)
in a very good article of Gregoire I., has quoted, for the
buildings and statues, Platina in Gregorio I.; for the Palatine
library, John of Salisbury, (de Nugis Curialium, l. ii. c. 26;)
and for Livy, Antoninus of Florence: the oldest of the three
lived in the xiith century.]

Like Thebes, or Babylon, or Carthage, the names of Rome
might have been erased from the earth, if the city had not been
animated by a vital principle, which again restored her to honor
and dominion. A vague tradition was embraced, that two Jewish
teachers, a tent-maker and a fisherman, had formerly been
executed in the circus of Nero, and at the end of five hundred
years, their genuine or fictitious relics were adored as the
Palladium of Christian Rome. The pilgrims of the East and West
resorted to the holy threshold; but the shrines of the apostles
were guarded by miracles and invisible terrors; and it was not
without fear that the pious Catholic approached the object of his
worship. It was fatal to touch, it was dangerous to behold, the
bodies of the saints; and those who, from the purest motives,
presumed to disturb the repose of the sanctuary, were affrighted
by visions, or punished with sudden death. The unreasonable
request of an empress, who wished to deprive the Romans of their
sacred treasure, the head of St. Paul, was rejected with the
deepest abhorrence; and the pope asserted, most probably with
truth, that a linen which had been sanctified in the neighborhood
of his body, or the filings of his chain, which it was sometimes
easy and sometimes impossible to obtain, possessed an equal
degree of miraculous virtue. ^63 But the power as well as virtue
of the apostles resided with living energy in the breast of their
successors; and the chair of St. Peter was filled under the reign
of Maurice by the first and greatest of the name of Gregory. ^64
His grandfather Felix had himself been pope, and as the bishops
were already bound by the laws of celibacy, his consecration must
have been preceded by the death of his wife. The parents of
Gregory, Sylvia, and Gordian, were the noblest of the senate, and
the most pious of the church of Rome; his female relations were
numbered among the saints and virgins; and his own figure, with
those of his father and mother, were represented near three
hundred years in a family portrait, ^65 which he offered to the
monastery of St. Andrew. The design and coloring of this picture
afford an honorable testimony that the art of painting was
cultivated by the Italians of the sixth century; but the most
abject ideas must be entertained of their taste and learning,
since the epistles of Gregory, his sermons, and his dialogues,
are the work of a man who was second in erudition to none of his
contemporaries: ^66 his birth and abilities had raised him to the
office of praefect of the city, and he enjoyed the merit of
renouncing the pomps and vanities of this world. His ample
patrimony was dedicated to the foundation of seven monasteries,
^67 one in Rome, ^68 and six in Sicily; and it was the wish of
Gregory that he might be unknown in this life, and glorious only
in the next. Yet his devotion (and it might be sincere) pursued
the path which would have been chosen by a crafty and ambitious
statesman. The talents of Gregory, and the splendor which
accompanied his retreat, rendered him dear and useful to the
church; and implicit obedience has always been inculcated as the
first duty of a monk. As soon as he had received the character
of deacon, Gregory was sent to reside at the Byzantine court, the
nuncio or minister of the apostolic see; and he boldly assumed,
in the name of St. Peter, a tone of independent dignity, which
would have been criminal and dangerous in the most illustrious
layman of the empire. He returned to Rome with a just increase of
reputation, and, after a short exercise of the monastic virtues,
he was dragged from the cloister to the papal throne, by the
unanimous voice of the clergy, the senate, and the people. He
alone resisted, or seemed to resist, his own elevation; and his
humble petition, that Maurice would be pleased to reject the
choice of the Romans, could only serve to exalt his character in
the eyes of the emperor and the public. When the fatal mandate
was proclaimed, Gregory solicited the aid of some friendly
merchants to convey him in a basket beyond the gates of Rome, and
modestly concealed himself some days among the woods and
mountains, till his retreat was discovered, as it is said, by a
celestial light.
[Footnote 63: Gregor. l. iii. epist. 24, edict. 12, &c. From the
epistles of Gregory, and the viiith volume of the Annals of
Baronius, the pious reader may collect the particles of holy iron
which were inserted in keys or crosses of gold, and distributed
in Britain, Gaul, Spain, Africa, Constantinople, and Egypt. The
pontifical smith who handled the file must have understood the
miracles which it was in his own power to operate or withhold; a
circumstance which abates the superstition of Gregory at the
expense of his veracity.]
[Footnote 64: Besides the epistles of Gregory himself, which are
methodized by Dupin, (Bibliotheque Eccles. tom. v. p. 103 - 126,)
we have three lives of the pope; the two first written in the
viiith and ixth centuries, (de Triplici Vita St. Greg. Preface to
the ivth volume of the Benedictine edition,) by the deacons Paul
(p. 1 - 18) and John, (p. 19 - 188,) and containing much
original, though doubtful, evidence; the third, a long and
labored compilation by the Benedictine editors, (p. 199 - 305.)
The annals of Baronius are a copious but partial history. His
papal prejudices are tempered by the good sense of Fleury, (Hist.
Eccles. tom. viii.,) and his chronology has been rectified by the
criticism of Pagi and Muratori.]

[Footnote 65: John the deacon has described them like an
eye-witness, (l. iv. c. 83, 84;) and his description is
illustrated by Angelo Rocca, a Roman antiquary, (St. Greg. Opera,
tom. iv. p. 312 - 326;) who observes that some mosaics of the
popes of the viith century are still preserved in the old
churches of Rome, (p. 321 - 323) The same walls which represented
Gregory's family are now decorated with the martyrdom of St.
Andrew, the noble contest of Dominichino and Guido.]

[Footnote 66: Disciplinis vero liberalibus, hoc est grammatica,
rhetorica, dialectica ita apuero est institutus, ut quamvis eo
tempore florerent adhuc Romae studia literarum, tamen nulli in
urbe ipsa secundus putaretur. Paul. Diacon. in Vit. St. Gregor.
c. 2.]

[Footnote 67: The Benedictines (Vit. Greg. l. i. p. 205 - 208)
labor to reduce the monasteries of Gregory within the rule of
their own order; but, as the question is confessed to be
doubtful, it is clear that these powerful monks are in the wrong.

See Butler's Lives of the Saints, vol. iii. p. 145; a work of
merit: the sense and learning belong to the author - his
prejudices are those of his profession.]

[Footnote 68: Monasterium Gregorianum in ejusdem Beati Gregorii
aedibus ad clivum Scauri prope ecclesiam SS. Johannis et Pauli in
honorem St. Andreae, (John, in Vit. Greg. l. i. c. 6. Greg. l.
vii. epist. 13.) This house and monastery were situate on the
side of the Caelian hill which fronts the Palatine; they are now
occupied by the Camaldoli: San Gregorio triumphs, and St. Andrew
has retired to a small chapel Nardini, Roma Antica, l. iii. c. 6,
p. 100. Descrizzione di Roma, tom. i. p. 442 - 446.]

The pontificate of Gregory the Great, which lasted thirteen
years, six months, and ten days, is one of the most edifying
periods of the history of the church. His virtues, and even his
faults, a singular mixture of simplicity and cunning, of pride
and humility, of sense and superstition, were happily suited to
his station and to the temper of the times. In his rival, the
patriarch of Constantinople, he condemned the anti-Christian
title of universal bishop, which the successor of St. Peter was
too haughty to concede, and too feeble to assume; and the
ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Gregory was confined to the triple
character of Bishop of Rome, Primate of Italy, and Apostle of the
West. He frequently ascended the pulpit, and kindled, by his
rude, though pathetic, eloquence, the congenial passions of his
audience: the language of the Jewish prophets was interpreted and
applied; and the minds of a people, depressed by their present
calamities, were directed to the hopes and fears of the invisible
world. His precepts and example defined the model of the Roman
liturgy; ^69 the distribution of the parishes, the calendar of
the festivals, the order of processions, the service of the
priests and deacons, the variety and change of sacerdotal
garments. Till the last days of his life, he officiated in the
canon of the mass, which continued above three hours: the
Gregorian chant ^70 has preserved the vocal and instrumental
music of the theatre, and the rough voices of the Barbarians
attempted to imitate the melody of the Roman school. ^71
Experience had shown him the efficacy of these solemn and pompous
rites, to soothe the distress, to confirm the faith, to mitigate
the fierceness, and to dispel the dark enthusiasm of the vulgar,
and he readily forgave their tendency to promote the reign of
priesthood and superstition. The bishops of Italy and the
adjacent islands acknowledged the Roman pontiff as their special
metropolitan. Even the existence, the union, or the translation
of episcopal seats was decided by his absolute discretion: and
his successful inroads into the provinces of Greece, of Spain,
and of Gaul, might countenance the more lofty pretensions of
succeeding popes. He interposed to prevent the abuses of popular
elections; his jealous care maintained the purity of faith and
discipline; and the apostolic shepherd assiduously watched over
the faith and discipline of the subordinate pastors. Under his
reign, the Arians of Italy and Spain were reconciled to the
Catholic church, and the conquest of Britain reflects less glory
on the name of Caesar, than on that of Gregory the First.
Instead of six legions, forty monks were embarked for that
distant island, and the pontiff lamented the austere duties which
forbade him to partake the perils of their spiritual warfare. In
less than two years, he could announce to the archbishop of
Alexandria, that they had baptized the king of Kent with ten
thousand of his Anglo-Saxons, and that the Roman missionaries,
like those of the primitive church, were armed only with
spiritual and supernatural powers. The credulity or the prudence
of Gregory was always disposed to confirm the truths of religion
by the evidence of ghosts, miracles, and resurrections; ^72 and
posterity has paid to his memory the same tribute which he freely
granted to the virtue of his own or the preceding generation.
The celestial honors have been liberally bestowed by the
authority of the popes, but Gregory is the last of their own
order whom they have presumed to inscribe in the calendar of

[Footnote 69: The Lord's Prayer consists of half a dozen lines;
the Sacramentarius and Antiphonarius of Gregory fill 880 folio
pages, (tom. iii. p. i. p. 1 - 880;) yet these only constitute a
part of the Ordo Romanus, which Mabillon has illustrated and
Fleury has abridged, (Hist. Eccles. tom. viii. p. 139 - 152.)]

[Footnote 70: I learn from the Abbe Dobos, (Reflexions sur la
Poesie et la Peinture, tom. iii. p. 174, 175,) that the
simplicity of the Ambrosian chant was confined to four modes,
while the more perfect harmony of the Gregorian comprised the
eight modes or fifteen chords of the ancient music. He observes
(p. 332) that the connoisseurs admire the preface and many
passages of the Gregorian office.]

[Footnote 71: John the deacon (in Vit. Greg. l. ii. c. 7)
expresses the early contempt of the Italians for tramontane
singing. Alpina scilicet corpora vocum suarum tonitruis altisone
perstrepentia, susceptae modulationis dulcedinem proprie non
resultant: quia bibuli gutturis barbara feritas dum inflexionibus
et repercussionibus mitem nititur edere cantilenam, naturali
quodam fragore, quasi plaustra per gradus confuse sonantia,
rigidas voces jactat, &c. In the time of Charlemagne, the
Franks, though with some reluctance, admitted the justice of the
reproach. Muratori, Dissert. xxv.]
[Footnote 72: A French critic (Petrus Gussanvillus, Opera, tom.
ii. p. 105 - 112) has vindicated the right of Gregory to the
entire nonsense of the Dialogues. Dupin (tom. v. p. 138) does
not think that any one will vouch for the truth of all these
miracles: I should like to know how many of them he believed

Their temporal power insensibly arose from the calamities of
the times: and the Roman bishops, who have deluged Europe and
Asia with blood, were compelled to reign as the ministers of
charity and peace. I. The church of Rome, as it has been
formerly observed, was endowed with ample possessions in Italy,
Sicily, and the more distant provinces; and her agents, who were
commonly sub-deacons, had acquired a civil, and even criminal,
jurisdiction over their tenants and husbandmen. The successor of
St. Peter administered his patrimony with the temper of a
vigilant and moderate landlord; ^73 and the epistles of Gregory
are filled with salutary instructions to abstain from doubtful or
vexatious lawsuits; to preserve the integrity of weights and
measures; to grant every reasonable delay; and to reduce the
capitation of the slaves of the glebe, who purchased the right of
marriage by the payment of an arbitrary fine. ^74 The rent or the
produce of these estates was transported to the mouth of the
Tyber, at the risk and expense of the pope: in the use of wealth
he acted like a faithful steward of the church and the poor, and
liberally applied to their wants the inexhaustible resources of
abstinence and order. The voluminous account of his receipts and
disbursements was kept above three hundred years in the Lateran,
as the model of Christian economy. On the four great festivals,
he divided their quarterly allowance to the clergy, to his
domestics, to the monasteries, the churches, the places of
burial, the almshouses, and the hospitals of Rome, and the rest
of the diocese. On the first day of every month, he distributed
to the poor, according to the season, their stated portion of
corn, wine, cheese, vegetables, oil, fish, fresh provisions,
clothes, and money; and his treasurers were continually summoned
to satisfy, in his name, the extraordinary demands of indigence
and merit. The instant distress of the sick and helpless, of
strangers and pilgrims, was relieved by the bounty of each day,
and of every hour; nor would the pontiff indulge himself in a
frugal repast, till he had sent the dishes from his own table to
some objects deserving of his compassion. The misery of the
times had reduced the nobles and matrons of Rome to accept,
without a blush, the benevolence of the church: three thousand
virgins received their food and raiment from the hand of their
benefactor; and many bishops of Italy escaped from the Barbarians
to the hospitable threshold of the Vatican. Gregory might justly
be styled the Father of his Country; and such was the extreme
sensibility of his conscience, that, for the death of a beggar
who had perished in the streets, he interdicted himself during
several days from the exercise of sacerdotal functions. II. The
misfortunes of Rome involved the apostolical pastor in the
business of peace and war; and it might be doubtful to himself,
whether piety or ambition prompted him to supply the place of his
absent sovereign. Gregory awakened the emperor from a long
slumber; exposed the guilt or incapacity of the exarch and his
inferior ministers; complained that the veterans were withdrawn
from Rome for the defence of Spoleto; encouraged the Italians to
guard their cities and altars; and condescended, in the crisis of
danger, to name the tribunes, and to direct the operations, of
the provincial troops. But the martial spirit of the pope was
checked by the scruples of humanity and religion: the imposition
of tribute, though it was employed in the Italian war, he freely
condemned as odious and oppressive; whilst he protected, against
the Imperial edicts, the pious cowardice of the soldiers who
deserted a military for a monastic life If we may credit his own
declarations, it would have been easy for Gregory to exterminate
the Lombards by their domestic factions, without leaving a king,
a duke, or a count, to save that unfortunate nation from the
vengeance of their foes As a Christian bishop, he preferred the
salutary offices of peace; his mediation appeased the tumult of
arms: but he was too conscious of the arts of the Greeks, and the
passions of the Lombards, to engage his sacred promise for the
observance of the truce. Disappointed in the hope of a general
and lasting treaty, he presumed to save his country without the
consent of the emperor or the exarch. The sword of the enemy was
suspended over Rome; it was averted by the mild eloquence and
seasonable gifts of the pontiff, who commanded the respect of
heretics and Barbarians. The merits of Gregory were treated by
the Byzantine court with reproach and insult; but in the
attachment of a grateful people, he found the purest reward of a
citizen, and the best right of a sovereign. ^75
[Footnote 73: Baronius is unwilling to expatiate on the care of
the patrimonies, lest he should betray that they consisted not of
kingdoms, but farms. The French writers, the Benedictine
editors, (tom. iv. l. iii. p. 272, &c.,) and Fleury, (tom. viii.
p. 29, &c.,) are not afraid of entering into these humble, though
useful, details; and the humanity of Fleury dwells on the social
virtues of Gregory.]

[Footnote 74: I much suspect that this pecuniary fine on the
marriages of villains produced the famous, and often fabulous
right, de cuissage, de marquette, &c. With the consent of her
husband, a handsome bride might commute the payment in the arms
of a young landlord, and the mutual favor might afford a
precedent of local rather than legal tyranny]
[Footnote 75: The temporal reign of Gregory I. is ably exposed by
Sigonius in the first book, de Regno Italiae. See his works,
tom. ii. p. 44 - 75]

Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.

Part I.

Revolutions On Persia After The Death Of Chosroes On
Nushirvan. - His Son Hormouz, A Tyrant, Is Deposed. - Usurpation
Of Baharam. - Flight And Restoration Of Chosroes II. - His
Gratitude To The Romans. - The Chagan Of The Avars. - Revolt Of
The Army Against Maurice. - His Death. - Tyranny Of Phocas. -
Elevation Of Heraclius. - The Persian War. - Chosroes Subdues
Syria, Egypt, And Asia Minor. - Siege Of Constantinople By The
Persians And Avars. - Persian Expeditions. - Victories And
Triumph Of Heraclius.

The conflict of Rome and Persia was prolonged from the death
of Craesus to the reign of Heraclius. An experience of seven
hundred years might convince the rival nations of the
impossibility of maintaining their conquests beyond the fatal
limits of the Tigris and Euphrates. Yet the emulation of Trajan
and Julian was awakened by the trophies of Alexander, and the
sovereigns of Persia indulged the ambitious hope of restoring the
empire of Cyrus. ^1 Such extraordinary efforts of power and
courage will always command the attention of posterity; but the
events by which the fate of nations is not materially changed,
leave a faint impression on the page of history, and the patience
of the reader would be exhausted by the repetition of the same
hostilities, undertaken without cause, prosecuted without glory,
and terminated without effect. The arts of negotiation, unknown
to the simple greatness of the senate and the Caesars, were
assiduously cultivated by the Byzantine princes; and the
memorials of their perpetual embassies ^2 repeat, with the same
uniform prolixity, the language of falsehood and declamation, the
insolence of the Barbarians, and the servile temper of the
tributary Greeks. Lamenting the barren superfluity of materials,
I have studied to compress the narrative of these uninteresting
transactions: but the just Nushirvan is still applauded as the
model of Oriental kings, and the ambition of his grandson
Chosroes prepared the revolution of the East, which was speedily
accomplished by the arms and the religion of the successors of

[Footnote 1: Missis qui ... reposcerent ... veteres Persarum ac
Macedonum terminos, seque invasurum possessa Cyro et post
Alexandro, per vaniloquentiam ac minas jaciebat. Tacit. Annal.
vi. 31. Such was the language of the Arsacides. I have
repeatedly marked the lofty claims of the Sassanians.]
[Footnote 2: See the embassies of Menander, extracted and
preserved in the tenth century by the order of Constantine
In the useless altercations, that precede and justify the
quarrels of princes, the Greeks and the Barbarians accused each
other of violating the peace which had been concluded between the
two empires about four years before the death of Justinian. The
sovereign of Persia and India aspired to reduce under his
obedience the province of Yemen or Arabia ^3 Felix; the distant
land of myrrh and frankincense, which had escaped, rather than
opposed, the conquerors of the East. After the defeat of Abrahah
under the walls of Mecca, the discord of his sons and brothers
gave an easy entrance to the Persians: they chased the strangers
of Abyssinia beyond the Red Sea; and a native prince of the
ancient Homerites was restored to the throne as the vassal or
viceroy of the great Nushirvan. ^4 But the nephew of Justinian
declared his resolution to avenge the injuries of his Christian
ally the prince of Abyssinia, as they suggested a decent pretence
to discontinue the annual tribute, which was poorly disguised by
the name of pension. The churches of Persarmenia were oppressed
by the intolerant spirit of the Magi; ^* they secretly invoked
the protector of the Christians, and, after the pious murder of
their satraps, the rebels were avowed and supported as the
brethren and subjects of the Roman emperor. The complaints of
Nushirvan were disregarded by the Byzantine court; Justin yielded
to the importunities of the Turks, who offered an alliance
against the common enemy; and the Persian monarchy was threatened
at the same instant by the united forces of Europe, of Aethiopia,
and of Scythia. At the age of fourscore the sovereign of the
East would perhaps have chosen the peaceful enjoyment of his
glory and greatness; but as soon as war became inevitable, he
took the field with the alacrity of youth, whilst the aggressor
trembled in the palace of Constantinople. Nushirvan, or
Chosroes, conducted in person the siege of Dara; and although
that important fortress had been left destitute of troops and
magazines, the valor of the inhabitants resisted above five
months the archers, the elephants, and the military engines of
the Great King. In the mean while his general Adarman advanced
from Babylon, traversed the desert, passed the Euphrates,
insulted the suburbs of Antioch, reduced to ashes the city of
Apamea, and laid the spoils of Syria at the feet of his master,
whose perseverance in the midst of winter at length subverted the
bulwark of the East. But these losses, which astonished the
provinces and the court, produced a salutary effect in the
repentance and abdication of the emperor Justin: a new spirit
arose in the Byzantine councils; and a truce of three years was
obtained by the prudence of Tiberius. That seasonable interval
was employed in the preparations of war; and the voice of rumor
proclaimed to the world, that from the distant countries of the
Alps and the Rhine, from Scythia, Maesia, Pannonia, Illyricum,
and Isauria, the strength of the Imperial cavalry was reenforced
with one hundred and fifty thousand soldiers. Yet the king of
Persia, without fear, or without faith, resolved to prevent the
attack of the enemy; again passed the Euphrates, and dismissing
the ambassadors of Tiberius, arrogantly commanded them to await
his arrival at Caesarea, the metropolis of the Cappadocian
provinces. The two armies encountered each other in the battle
of Melitene: ^* the Barbarians, who darkened the air with a cloud
of arrows, prolonged their line, and extended their wings across
the plain; while the Romans, in deep and solid bodies, expected
to prevail in closer action, by the weight of their swords and
lances. A Scythian chief, who commanded their right wing,
suddenly turned the flank of the enemy, attacked their rear-guard
in the presence of Chosroes, penetrated to the midst of the camp,
pillaged the royal tent, profaned the eternal fire, loaded a
train of camels with the spoils of Asia, cut his way through the
Persian host, and returned with songs of victory to his friends,
who had consumed the day in single combats, or ineffectual
skirmishes. The darkness of the night, and the separation of the
Romans, afforded the Persian monarch an opportunity of revenge;
and one of their camps was swept away by a rapid and impetuous
assault. But the review of his loss, and the consciousness of
his danger, determined Chosroes to a speedy retreat: he burnt, in
his passage, the vacant town of Melitene; and, without consulting
the safety of his troops, boldly swam the Euphrates on the back
of an elephant. After this unsuccessful campaign, the want of
magazines, and perhaps some inroad of the Turks, obliged him to
disband or divide his forces; the Romans were left masters of the
field, and their general Justinian, advancing to the relief of
the Persarmenian rebels, erected his standard on the banks of the
Araxes. The great Pompey had formerly halted within three days'
march of the Caspian: ^5 that inland sea was explored, for the
first time, by a hostile fleet, ^6 and seventy thousand captives
were transplanted from Hyrcania to the Isle of Cyprus. On the
return of spring, Justinian descended into the fertile plains of
Assyria; the flames of war approached the residence of Nushirvan;
the indignant monarch sunk into the grave; and his last edict
restrained his successors from exposing their person in battle
against the Romans. ^* Yet the memory of this transient affront
was lost in the glories of a long reign; and his formidable
enemies, after indulging their dream of conquest, again solicited
a short respite from the calamities of war. ^7

[Footnote 3: The general independence of the Arabs, which cannot
be admitted without many limitations, is blindly asserted in a
separate dissertation of the authors of the Universal History,
vol. xx. p. 196 - 250. A perpetual miracle is supposed to have
guarded the prophecy in favor of the posterity of Ishmael; and
these learned bigots are not afraid to risk the truth of
Christianity on this frail and slippery foundation.

Note: It certainly appears difficult to extract a prediction
of the perpetual independence of the Arabs from the text in
Genesis, which would have received an ample fulfilment during
centuries of uninvaded freedom. But the disputants appear to
forget the inseparable connection in the prediction between the
wild, the Bedoween habits of the Ismaelites, with their national
independence. The stationary and civilized descendant of Ismael
forfeited, as it were, his birthright, and ceased to be a genuine
son of the "wild man" The phrase, "dwelling in the presence of
his brethren," is interpreted by Rosenmuller (in loc.) and
others, according to the Hebrew geography, "to the East" of his
brethren, the legitimate race of Abraham - M.]
[Footnote 4: D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Orient. p. 477. Pocock,
Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 64, 65. Father Pagi (Critica, tom. ii.
p. 646) has proved that, after ten years' peace, the Persian war,
which continued twenty years, was renewed A.D. 571. Mahomet was
born A.D. 569, in the year of the elephant, or the defeat of
Abrahah, (Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 89, 90, 98;) and
this account allows two years for the conquest of Yemen.

Note: Abrahah, according to some accounts, was succeeded by
his son Taksoum, who reigned seventeen years; his brother
Mascouh, who was slain in battle against the Persians, twelve.
But this chronology is irreconcilable with the Arabian conquests
of Nushirvan the Great. Either Seif, or his son Maadi Karb, was
the native prince placed on the throne by the Persians. St.
Martin, vol. x. p. 78. See likewise Johannsen, Hist. Yemanae. -
[Footnote *: Persarmenia was long maintained in peace by the
tolerant administration of Mejej, prince of the Gnounians. On
his death he was succeeded by a persecutor, a Persian, named
Ten-Schahpour, who attempted to propagate Zoroastrianism by
violence. Nushirvan, on an appeal to the throne by the Armenian
clergy, replaced Ten-Schahpour, in 552, by Veschnas-Vahram. The
new marzban, or governor, was instructed to repress the bigoted
Magi in their persecutions of the Armenians, but the Persian
converts to Christianity were still exposed to cruel sufferings.
The most distinguished of them, Izdbouzid, was crucified at Dovin
in the presence of a vast multitude. The fame of this martyr
spread to the West. Menander, the historian, not only, as
appears by a fragment published by Mai, related this event in his
history, but, according to M. St. Martin, wrote a tragedy on the
subject. This, however, is an unwarrantable inference from the
phrase which merely means that he related the tragic event in his
history. An epigram on the same subject, preserved in the
Anthology, Jacob's Anth. Palat. i. 27, belongs to the historian.
Yet Armenia remained in peace under the government of
Veschnas-Vahram and his successor Varazdat. The tyranny of his
successor Surena led to the insurrection under Vartan, the
Mamigonian, who revenged the death of his brother on the marzban
Surena, surprised Dovin, and put to the sword the governor, the
soldiers, and the Magians. From St. Martin, vol x. p. 79 - 89. -

[Footnote *: Malathiah. It was in the lesser Armenia. - M.]
[Footnote 5: He had vanquished the Albanians, who brought into
the field 12,000 horse and 60,000 foot; but he dreaded the
multitude of venomous reptiles, whose existence may admit of some
doubt, as well as that of the neighboring Amazons. Plutarch, in
Pompeio, tom. ii. p. 1165, 1166.]
[Footnote 6: In the history of the world I can only perceive two
navies on the Caspian: 1. Of the Macedonians, when Patrocles, the
admiral of the kings of Syria, Seleucus and Antiochus, descended
most probably the River Oxus, from the confines of India, (Plin.
Hist. Natur. vi. 21.) 2. Of the Russians, when Peter the First
conducted a fleet and army from the neighborhood of Moscow to the
coast of Persia, (Bell's Travels, vol. ii. p. 325 - 352.) He
justly observes, that such martial pomp had never been displayed
on the Volga.]
[Footnote *: This circumstance rests on the statements of
Evagrius and Theophylaci Simocatta. They are not of sufficient
authority to establish a fact so improbable. St. Martin, vol. x.
p. 140. - M.]

[Footnote 7: For these Persian wars and treaties, see Menander,
in Excerpt. Legat. p. 113 - 125. Theophanes Byzant. apud
Photium, cod. lxiv p. 77, 80, 81. Evagrius, l. v. c. 7 - 15.
Theophylact, l. iii. c. 9 - 16 Agathias, l. iv. p. 140.]

The throne of Chosroes Nushirvan was filled by Hormouz, or
Hormisdas, the eldest or the most favored of his sons. With the
kingdoms of Persia and India, he inherited the reputation and
example of his father, the service, in every rank, of his wise
and valiant officers, and a general system of administration,
harmonized by time and political wisdom to promote the happiness
of the prince and people. But the royal youth enjoyed a still
more valuable blessing, the friendship of a sage who had presided
over his education, and who always preferred the honor to the
interest of his pupil, his interest to his inclination. In a
dispute with the Greek and Indian philosophers, Buzurg ^8 had
once maintained, that the most grievous misfortune of life is old
age without the remembrance of virtue; and our candor will
presume that the same principle compelled him, during three
years, to direct the councils of the Persian empire. His zeal
was rewarded by the gratitude and docility of Hormouz, who
acknowledged himself more indebted to his preceptor than to his
parent: but when age and labor had impaired the strength, and
perhaps the faculties, of this prudent counsellor, he retired
from court, and abandoned the youthful monarch to his own
passions and those of his favorites. By the fatal vicissitude of
human affairs, the same scenes were renewed at Ctesiphon, which
had been exhibited at Rome after the death of Marcus Antoninus.
The ministers of flattery and corruption, who had been banished
by his father, were recalled and cherished by the son; the
disgrace and exile of the friends of Nushirvan established their
tyranny; and virtue was driven by degrees from the mind of
Hormouz, from his palace, and from the government of the state.
The faithful agents, the eyes and ears of the king, informed him
of the progress of disorder, that the provincial governors flew
to their prey with the fierceness of lions and eagles, and that
their rapine and injustice would teach the most loyal of his
subjects to abhor the name and authority of their sovereign. The
sincerity of this advice was punished with death; the murmurs of
the cities were despised, their tumults were quelled by military
execution: the intermediate powers between the throne and the
people were abolished; and the childish vanity of Hormouz, who
affected the daily use of the tiara, was fond of declaring, that
he alone would be the judge as well as the master of his kingdom.

In every word, and in every action, the son of Nushirvan
degenerated from the virtues of his father. His avarice
defrauded the troops; his jealous caprice degraded the satraps;
the palace, the tribunals, the waters of the Tigris, were stained
with the blood of the innocent, and the tyrant exulted in the
sufferings and execution of thirteen thousand victims. As the
excuse of his cruelty, he sometimes condescended to observe, that
the fears of the Persians would be productive of hatred, and that
their hatred must terminate in rebellion but he forgot that his
own guilt and folly had inspired the sentiments which he
deplored, and prepared the event which he so justly apprehended.
Exasperated by long and hopeless oppression, the provinces of
Babylon, Susa, and Carmania, erected the standard of revolt; and
the princes of Arabia, India, and Scythia, refused the customary
tribute to the unworthy successor of Nushirvan. The arms of the
Romans, in slow sieges and frequent inroads, afflicted the
frontiers of Mesopotamia and Assyria: one of their generals
professed himself the disciple of Scipio; and the soldiers were
animated by a miraculous image of Christ, whose mild aspect
should never have been displayed in the front of battle. ^9 At
the same time, the eastern provinces of Persia were invaded by
the great khan, who passed the Oxus at the head of three or four
hundred thousand Turks. The imprudent Hormouz accepted their
perfidious and formidable aid; the cities of Khorassan or
Bactriana were commanded to open their gates the march of the
Barbarians towards the mountains of Hyrcania revealed the
correspondence of the Turkish and Roman arms; and their union
must have subverted the throne of the house of Sassan.

[Footnote 8: Buzurg Mihir may be considered, in his character and
station, as the Seneca of the East; but his virtues, and perhaps
his faults, are less known than those of the Roman, who appears
to have been much more loquacious. The Persian sage was the
person who imported from India the game of chess and the fables
of Pilpay. Such has been the fame of his wisdom and virtues,
that the Christians claim him as a believer in the gospel; and
the Mahometans revere Buzurg as a premature Mussulman.
D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 218.]

[Footnote 9: See the imitation of Scipio in Theophylact, l. i. c.
14; the image of Christ, l. ii. c. 3. Hereafter I shall speak
more amply of the Christian images - I had almost said idols.
This, if I am not mistaken, is the oldest of divine manufacture;
but in the next thousand years, many others issued from the same

Persia had been lost by a king; it was saved by a hero.
After his revolt, Varanes or Bahram is stigmatized by the son of
Hormouz as an ungrateful slave; the proud and ambiguous reproach
of despotism, since he was truly descended from the ancient
princes of Rei, ^10 one of the seven families whose splendid, as
well as substantial, prerogatives exalted them above the heads of
the Persian nobility. ^11 At the siege of Dara, the valor of
Bahram was signalized under the eyes of Nushirvan, and both the
father and son successively promoted him to the command of
armies, the government of Media, and the superintendence of the
palace. The popular prediction which marked him as the deliverer
of Persia, might be inspired by his past victories and
extraordinary figure: the epithet Giubin ^* is expressive of the
quality of dry wood: he had the strength and stature of a giant;
and his savage countenance was fancifully compared to that of a
wild cat. While the nation trembled, while Hormouz disguised his
terror by the name of suspicion, and his servants concealed their
disloyalty under the mask of fear, Bahram alone displayed his
undaunted courage and apparent fidelity: and as soon as he found
that no more than twelve thousand soldiers would follow him
against the enemy; he prudently declared, that to this fatal
number Heaven had reserved the honors of the triumph. ^! The
steep and narrow descent of the Pule Rudbar, ^12 or Hyrcanian
rock, is the only pass through which an army can penetrate into
the territory of Rei and the plains of Media. From the
commanding heights, a band of resolute men might overwhelm with
stones and darts the myriads of the Turkish host: their emperor
and his son were transpierced with arrows; and the fugitives were
left, without counsel or provisions, to the revenge of an injured
people. The patriotism of the Persian general was stimulated by
his affection for the city of his forefathers: in the hour of
victory, every peasant became a soldier, and every soldier a
hero; and their ardor was kindled by the gorgeous spectacle of
beds, and thrones, and tables of massy gold, the spoils of Asia,
and the luxury of the hostile camp. A prince of a less malignant
temper could not easily have forgiven his benefactor; and the
secret hatred of Hormouz was envenomed by a malicious report,
that Bahram had privately retained the most precious fruits of
his Turkish victory. But the approach of a Roman army on the
side of the Araxes compelled the implacable tyrant to smile and
to applaud; and the toils of Bahram were rewarded with the
permission of encountering a new enemy, by their skill and
discipline more formidable than a Scythian multitude. Elated by
his recent success, he despatched a herald with a bold defiance
to the camp of the Romans, requesting them to fix a day of
battle, and to choose whether they would pass the river
themselves, or allow a free passage to the arms of the great
king. The lieutenant of the emperor Maurice preferred the safer
alternative; and this local circumstance, which would have
enhanced the victory of the Persians, rendered their defeat more
bloody and their escape more difficult. But the loss of his
subjects, and the danger of his kingdom, were overbalanced in the
mind of Hormouz by the disgrace of his personal enemy; and no
sooner had Bahram collected and reviewed his forces, than he
received from a royal messenger the insulting gift of a distaff,
a spinning-wheel, and a complete suit of female apparel. Obedient
to the will of his sovereign he showed himself to the soldiers in
this unworthy disguise they resented his ignominy and their own;
a shout of rebellion ran through the ranks; and the general
accepted their oath of fidelity and vows of revenge. A second
messenger, who had been commanded to bring the rebel in chains,
was trampled under the feet of an elephant, and manifestos were
diligently circulated, exhorting the Persians to assert their
freedom against an odious and contemptible tyrant. The defection
was rapid and universal; his loyal slaves were sacrificed to the
public fury; the troops deserted to the standard of Bahram; and
the provinces again saluted the deliverer of his country.

[Footnote 10: Ragae, or Rei, is mentioned in the Apocryphal book
of Tobit as already flourishing, 700 years before Christ, under
the Assyrian empire. Under the foreign names of Europus and
Arsacia, this city, 500 stadia to the south of the Caspian gates,
was successively embellished by the Macedonians and Parthians,
(Strabo, l. xi. p. 796.) Its grandeur and populousness in the
ixth century are exaggerated beyond the bounds of credibility;
but Rei has been since ruined by wars and the unwholesomeness of
the air. Chardin, Voyage en Perse, tom. i. p. 279, 280.
D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Oriental. p. 714.]
[Footnote 11: Theophylact. l. iii. c. 18. The story of the seven
Persians is told in the third book of Herodotus; and their noble
descendants are often mentioned, especially in the fragments of
Ctesias. Yet the independence of Otanes (Herodot. l. iii. c. 83,
84) is hostile to the spirit of despotism, and it may not seem
probable that the seven families could survive the revolutions of
eleven hundred years. They might, however, be represented by the
seven ministers, (Brisson, de Regno Persico, l. i. p. 190;) and
some Persian nobles, like the kings of Pontus (Polyb l. v. p.
540) and Cappadocia, (Diodor. Sicul. l. xxxi. tom. ii. p. 517,)
might claim their descent from the bold companions of Darius.]

[Footnote *: He is generally called Baharam Choubeen, Baharam,
the stick- like, probably from his appearance. Malcolm, vol. i.
p. 120. - M.]
[Footnote !: The Persian historians say, that Hormouz entreated
his general to increase his numbers; but Baharam replied, that
experience had taught him that it was the quality, not the number
of soldiers, which gave success. * * * No man in his army was
under forty years, and none above fifty. Malcolm, vol. i. p. 121
- M.]

[Footnote 12: See an accurate description of this mountain by
Olearius, (Voyage en Perse, p. 997, 998,) who ascended it with
much difficulty and danger in his return from Ispahan to the
Caspian Sea.]

As the passes were faithfully guarded, Hormouz could only
compute the number of his enemies by the testimony of a guilty
conscience, and the daily defection of those who, in the hour of
his distress, avenged their wrongs, or forgot their obligations.
He proudly displayed the ensigns of royalty; but the city and
palace of Modain had already escaped from the hand of the tyrant.
Among the victims of his cruelty, Bindoes, a Sassanian prince,
had been cast into a dungeon; his fetters were broken by the zeal
and courage of a brother; and he stood before the king at the
head of those trusty guards, who had been chosen as the ministers
of his confinement, and perhaps of his death. Alarmed by the
hasty intrusion and bold reproaches of the captive, Hormouz
looked round, but in vain, for advice or assistance; discovered
that his strength consisted in the obedience of others; and
patiently yielded to the single arm of Bindoes, who dragged him
from the throne to the same dungeon in which he himself had been
so lately confined. At the first tumult, Chosroes, the eldest of
the sons of Hormouz, escaped from the city; he was persuaded to
return by the pressing and friendly invitation of Bindoes, who
promised to seat him on his father's throne, and who expected to
reign under the name of an inexperienced youth. In the just
assurance, that his accomplices could neither forgive nor hope to
be forgiven, and that every Persian might be trusted as the judge
and enemy of the tyrant, he instituted a public trial without a
precedent and without a copy in the annals of the East. The son
of Nushirvan, who had requested to plead in his own defence, was
introduced as a criminal into the full assembly of the nobles and
satraps. ^13 He was heard with decent attention as long as he
expatiated on the advantages of order and obedience, the danger
of innovation, and the inevitable discord of those who had
encouraged each other to trample on their lawful and hereditary
sovereign. By a pathetic appeal to their humanity, he extorted
that pity which is seldom refused to the fallen fortunes of a
king; and while they beheld the abject posture and squalid
appearance of the prisoner, his tears, his chains, and the marks
of ignominious stripes, it was impossible to forget how recently
they had adored the divine splendor of his diadem and purple.
But an angry murmur arose in the assembly as soon as he presumed
to vindicate his conduct, and to applaud the victories of his
reign. He defined the duties of a king, and the Persian nobles
listened with a smile of contempt; they were fired with
indignation when he dared to vilify the character of Chosroes;
and by the indiscreet offer of resigning the sceptre to the
second of his sons, he subscribed his own condemnation, and
sacrificed the life of his own innocent favorite. The mangled
bodies of the boy and his mother were exposed to the people; the
eyes of Hormouz were pierced with a hot needle; and the
punishment of the father was succeeded by the coronation of his
eldest son. Chosroes had ascended the throne without guilt, and
his piety strove to alleviate the misery of the abdicated
monarch; from the dungeon he removed Hormouz to an apartment of
the palace, supplied with liberality the consolations of sensual
enjoyment, and patiently endured the furious sallies of his
resentment and despair. He might despise the resentment of a
blind and unpopular tyrant, but the tiara was trembling on his
head, till he could subvert the power, or acquire the friendship,
of the great Bahram, who sternly denied the justice of a
revolution, in which himself and his soldiers, the true
representatives of Persia, had never been consulted. The offer
of a general amnesty, and of the second rank in his kingdom, was
answered by an epistle from Bahram, friend of the gods, conqueror
of men, and enemy of tyrants, the satrap of satraps, general of
the Persian armies, and a prince adorned with the title of eleven
virtues. ^14 He commands Chosroes, the son of Hormouz, to shun
the example and fate of his father, to confine the traitors who
had been released from their chains, to deposit in some holy
place the diadem which he had usurped, and to accept from his
gracious benefactor the pardon of his faults and the government
of a province. The rebel might not be proud, and the king most
assuredly was not humble; but the one was conscious of his
strength, the other was sensible of his weakness; and even the
modest language of his reply still left room for treaty and
reconciliation. Chosroes led into the field the slaves of the
palace and the populace of the capital: they beheld with terror
the banners of a veteran army; they were encompassed and
surprised by the evolutions of the general; and the satraps who
had deposed Hormouz, received the punishment of their revolt, or
expiated their first treason by a second and more criminal act of
disloyalty. The life and liberty of Chosroes were saved, but he
was reduced to the necessity of imploring aid or refuge in some
foreign land; and the implacable Bindoes, anxious to secure an
unquestionable title, hastily returned to the palace, and ended,
with a bowstring, the wretched existence of the son of Nushirvan.

[Footnote 13: The Orientals suppose that Bahram convened this
assembly and proclaimed Chosroes; but Theophylact is, in this
instance, more distinct and credible.

Note: Yet Theophylact seems to have seized the opportunity
to indulge his propensity for writing orations; and the orations
read rather like those of a Grecian sophist than of an Eastern
assembly. - M.]

[Footnote 14: See the words of Theophylact, l. iv. c. 7., &c. In
answer, Chosroes styles himself in genuine Oriental bombast.]

[Footnote 15: Theophylact (l. iv. c. 7) imputes the death of
Hormouz to his son, by whose command he was beaten to death with
clubs. I have followed the milder account of Khondemir and
Eutychius, and shall always be content with the slightest
evidence to extenuate the crime of parricide.
Note: Malcolm concurs in ascribing his death to Bundawee,
(Bindoes,) vol. i. p. 123. The Eastern writers generally impute
the crime to the uncle St. Martin, vol. x. p. 300. - M.]

While Chosroes despatched the preparations of his retreat,
he deliberated with his remaining friends, ^16 whether he should
lurk in the valleys of Mount Caucasus, or fly to the tents of the
Turks, or solicit the protection of the emperor. The long
emulation of the successors of Artaxerxes and Constantine
increased his reluctance to appear as a suppliant in a rival
court; but he weighed the forces of the Romans, and prudently
considered that the neighborhood of Syria would render his escape
more easy and their succors more effectual. Attended only by his
concubines, and a troop of thirty guards, he secretly departed
from the capital, followed the banks of the Euphrates, traversed
the desert, and halted at the distance of ten miles from
Circesium. About the third watch of the night, the Roman praefect
was informed of his approach, and he introduced the royal
stranger to the fortress at the dawn of day. From thence the
king of Persia was conducted to the more honorable residence of
Hierapolis; and Maurice dissembled his pride, and displayed his
benevolence, at the reception of the letters and ambassadors of
the grandson of Nushirvan. They humbly represented the
vicissitudes of fortune and the common interest of princes,
exaggerated the ingratitude of Bahram, the agent of the evil
principle, and urged, with specious argument, that it was for the
advantage of the Romans themselves to support the two monarchies
which balance the world, the two great luminaries by whose
salutary influence it is vivified and adorned. The anxiety of
Chosroes was soon relieved by the assurance, that the emperor had
espoused the cause of justice and royalty; but Maurice prudently
declined the expense and delay of his useless visit to
Constantinople. In the name of his generous benefactor, a rich
diadem was presented to the fugitive prince, with an inestimable
gift of jewels and gold; a powerful army was assembled on the
frontiers of Syria and Armenia, under the command of the valiant
and faithful Narses, ^17 and this general, of his own nation, and
his own choice, was directed to pass the Tigris, and never to
sheathe his sword till he had restored Chosroes to the throne of
his ancestors. ^* The enterprise, however splendid, was less
arduous than it might appear. Persia had already repented of her
fatal rashness, which betrayed the heir of the house of Sassan to
the ambition of a rebellious subject: and the bold refusal of the
Magi to consecrate his usurpation, compelled Bahram to assume the
sceptre, regardless of the laws and prejudices of the nation.
The palace was soon distracted with conspiracy, the city with
tumult, the provinces with insurrection; and the cruel execution
of the guilty and the suspected served to irritate rather than
subdue the public discontent. No sooner did the grandson of
Nushirvan display his own and the Roman banners beyond the
Tigris, than he was joined, each day, by the increasing
multitudes of the nobility and people; and as he advanced, he
received from every side the grateful offerings of the keys of
his cities and the heads of his enemies. As soon as Modain was
freed from the presence of the usurper, the loyal inhabitants
obeyed the first summons of Mebodes at the head of only two
thousand horse, and Chosroes accepted the sacred and precious
ornaments of the palace as the pledge of their truth and the
presage of his approaching success. After the junction of the
Imperial troops, which Bahram vainly struggled to prevent, the
contest was decided by two battles on the banks of the Zab, and
the confines of Media. The Romans, with the faithful subjects of
Persia, amounted to sixty thousand, while the whole force of the
usurper did not exceed forty thousand men: the two generals
signalized their valor and ability; but the victory was finally
determined by the prevalence of numbers and discipline. With the
remnant of a broken army, Bahram fled towards the eastern
provinces of the Oxus: the enmity of Persia reconciled him to the
Turks; but his days were shortened by poison, perhaps the most
incurable of poisons; the stings of remorse and despair, and the
bitter remembrance of lost glory. Yet the modern Persians still
commemorate the exploits of Bahram; and some excellent laws have
prolonged the duration of his troubled and transitory reign. ^*

[Footnote 16: After the battle of Pharsalia, the Pompey of Lucan
(l. viii. 256 - 455) holds a similar debate. He was himself
desirous of seeking the Parthians: but his companions abhorred
the unnatural alliance and the adverse prejudices might operate
as forcibly on Chosroes and his companions, who could describe,
with the same vehemence, the contrast of laws, religion, and
manners, between the East and West.]

[Footnote 17: In this age there were three warriors of the name
of Narses, who have been often confounded, (Pagi, Critica, tom.
ii. p. 640:) 1. A Persarmenian, the brother of Isaac and
Armatius, who, after a successful action against Belisarius,
deserted from his Persian sovereign, and afterwards served in the
Italian war. - 2. The eunuch who conquered Italy. - 3. The
restorer of Chosroes, who is celebrated in the poem of Corippus
(l. iii. 220 - 327) as excelsus super omnia vertico agmina ....
habitu modestus .... morum probitate placens, virtute verendus;
fulmineus, cautus, vigilans, &c.]
[Footnote *: The Armenians adhered to Chosroes. St. Martin, vol.
x. p. 312. - M.]

[Footnote *: According to Mivkhond and the Oriental writers,
Bahram received the daughter of the Khakan in marriage, and
commanded a body of Turks in an invasion of Persia. Some say
that he was assassinated; Malcolm adopts the opinion that he was
poisoned. His sister Gourdieh, the companion of his flight, is
celebrated in the Shah Nameh. She was afterwards one of the
wives of Chosroes. St. Martin. vol. x. p. 331. - M.]

The restoration of Chosroes was celebrated with feasts and
executions; and the music of the royal banquet was often
disturbed by the groans of dying or mutilated criminals. A
general pardon might have diffused comfort and tranquillity
through a country which had been shaken by the late revolutions;
yet, before the sanguinary temper of Chosroes is blamed, we
should learn whether the Persians had not been accustomed either
to dread the rigor, or to despise the weakness, of their
sovereign. The revolt of Bahram, and the conspiracy of the
satraps, were impartially punished by the revenge or justice of
the conqueror; the merits of Bindoes himself could not purify his
hand from the guilt of royal blood: and the son of Hormouz was
desirous to assert his own innocence, and to vindicate the
sanctity of kings. During the vigor of the Roman power, several
princes were seated on the throne of Persia by the arms and the
authority of the first Caesars. But their new subjects were soon
disgusted with the vices or virtues which they had imbibed in a
foreign land; the instability of their dominion gave birth to a
vulgar observation, that the choice of Rome was solicited and
rejected with equal ardor by the capricious levity of Oriental
slaves. But the glory of Maurice was conspicuous in the long and
fortunate reign of his son and his ally. A band of a thousand
Romans, who continued to guard the person of Chosroes, proclaimed
his confidence in the fidelity of the strangers; his growing
strength enabled him to dismiss this unpopular aid, but he
steadily professed the same gratitude and reverence to his
adopted father; and till the death of Maurice, the peace and
alliance of the two empires were faithfully maintained. Yet the
mercenary friendship of the Roman prince had been purchased with
costly and important gifts; the strong cities of Martyropolis and
Dara ^* were restored, and the Persarmenians became the willing
subjects of an empire, whose eastern limit was extended, beyond
the example of former times, as far as the banks of the Araxes,
and the neighborhood of the Caspian. A pious hope was indulged,
that the church as well as the state might triumph in this
revolution: but if Chosroes had sincerely listened to the
Christian bishops, the impression was erased by the zeal and
eloquence of the Magi: if he was armed with philosophic
indifference, he accommodated his belief, or rather his
professions, to the various circumstances of an exile and a
sovereign. The imaginary conversion of the king of Persia was
reduced to a local and superstitious veneration for Sergius, ^19
one of the saints of Antioch, who heard his prayers and appeared
to him in dreams; he enriched the shrine with offerings of gold
and silver, and ascribed to this invisible patron the success of
his arms, and the pregnancy of Sira, a devout Christian and the
best beloved of his wives. ^20 The beauty of Sira, or Schirin,
^21 her wit, her musical talents, are still famous in the
history, or rather in the romances, of the East: her own name is
expressive, in the Persian tongue, of sweetness and grace; and
the epithet of Parviz alludes to the charms of her royal lover.
Yet Sira never shared the passions which she inspired, and the
bliss of Chosroes was tortured by a jealous doubt, that while he
possessed her person, she had bestowed her affections on a meaner
favorite. ^22

[Footnote 18: Experimentis cognitum est Barbaros malle Roma
petere reges quam habere. These experiments are admirably
represented in the invitation and expulsion of Vonones, (Annal.
ii. 1 - 3,) Tiridates, (Annal. vi. 32-44,) and Meherdates,
(Annal. xi. 10, xii. 10-14.) The eye of Tacitus seems to have
transpierced the camp of the Parthians and the walls of the
[Footnote *: Concerning Nisibis, see St. Martin and his Armenian
authorities, vol. x p. 332, and Memoires sur l'Armenie, tom. i.
p. 25. - M.]
[Footnote 19: Sergius and his companion Bacchus, who are said to
have suffered in the persecution of Maximian, obtained divine
honor in France, Italy, Constantinople, and the East. Their tomb
at Rasaphe was famous for miracles, and that Syrian town acquired
the more honorable name of Sergiopolis. Tillemont, Mem. Eccles.
tom. v. p. 481 - 496. Butler's Saints, vol. x. p. 155.]

[Footnote 20: Evagrius (l. vi. c. 21) and Theophylact (l. v. c.
13, 14) have preserved the original letters of Chosroes, written
in Greek, signed with his own hand, and afterwards inscribed on
crosses and tables of gold, which were deposited in the church of
Sergiopolis. They had been sent to the bishop of Antioch, as
primate of Syria.

Note: St. Martin thinks that they were first written in
Syriac, and then translated into the bad Greek in which they
appear, vol. x. p. 334. - M.]
[Footnote 21: The Greeks only describe her as a Roman by birth, a
Christian by religion: but she is represented as the daughter of
the emperor Maurice in the Persian and Turkish romances which
celebrate the love of Khosrou for Schirin, of Schirin for Ferhad,
the most beautiful youth of the East, D'Herbelot, Biblioth.
Orient. p. 789, 997, 998.

Note: Compare M. von Hammer's preface to, and poem of,
Schirin in which he gives an account of the various Persian
poems, of which he has endeavored to extract the essence in his
own work. - M.]

[Footnote 22: The whole series of the tyranny of Hormouz, the
revolt of Bahram, and the flight and restoration of Chosroes, is
related by two contemporary Greeks - more concisely by Evagrius,
(l. vi. c. 16, 17, 18, 19,) and most diffusely by Theophylact
Simocatta, (l. iii. c. 6 - 18, l. iv. c. 1 - 16, l. v. c. 1 -
15:) succeeding compilers, Zonaras and Cedrenus, can only
transcribe and abridge. The Christian Arabs, Eutychius (Annal.
tom. ii. p. 200 - 208) and Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 96 - 98)
appear to have consulted some particular memoirs. The great
Persian historians of the xvth century, Mirkhond and Khondemir,
are only known to me by the imperfect extracts of Schikard,
(Tarikh, p. 150 - 155,) Texeira, or rather Stevens, (Hist. of
Persia, p. 182 - 186,) a Turkish Ms. translated by the Abbe
Fourmount, (Hist. de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. vii. p.
325 - 334,) and D'Herbelot, (aux mots Hormouz, p. 457 - 459.
Bahram, p. 174. Khosrou Parviz, p. 996.) Were I perfectly
satisfied of their authority, I could wish these Oriental
materials had been more copious.]

Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.

Part II.

While the majesty of the Roman name was revived in the East,
the prospect of Europe is less pleasing and less glorious. By
the departure of the Lombards, and the ruin of the Gepidae, the
balance of power was destroyed on the Danube; and the Avars
spread their permanent dominion from the foot of the Alps to the
sea-coast of the Euxine. The reign of Baian is the brightest
aera of their monarchy; their chagan, who occupied the rustic
palace of Attila, appears to have imitated his character and
policy; ^23 but as the same scenes were repeated in a smaller
circle, a minute representation of the copy would be devoid of
the greatness and novelty of the original. The pride of the
second Justin, of Tiberius, and Maurice, was humbled by a proud
Barbarian, more prompt to inflict, than exposed to suffer, the
injuries of war; and as often as Asia was threatened by the
Persian arms, Europe was oppressed by the dangerous inroads, or
costly friendship, of the Avars. When the Roman envoys
approached the presence of the chagan, they were commanded to
wait at the door of his tent, till, at the end perhaps of ten or
twelve days, he condescended to admit them. If the substance or
the style of their message was offensive to his ear, he insulted,
with real or affected fury, their own dignity, and that of their
prince; their baggage was plundered, and their lives were only
saved by the promise of a richer present and a more respectful
address. But his sacred ambassadors enjoyed and abused an
unbounded license in the midst of Constantinople: they urged,
with importunate clamors, the increase of tribute, or the
restitution of captives and deserters: and the majesty of the
empire was almost equally degraded by a base compliance, or by
the false and fearful excuses with which they eluded such
insolent demands. The chagan had never seen an elephant; and his
curiosity was excited by the strange, and perhaps fabulous,
portrait of that wonderful animal. At his command, one of the
largest elephants of the Imperial stables was equipped with
stately caparisons, and conducted by a numerous train to the
royal village in the plains of Hungary. He surveyed the enormous
beast with surprise, with disgust, and possibly with terror; and
smiled at the vain industry of the Romans, who, in search of such
useless rarities, could explore the limits of the land and sea.
He wished, at the expense of the emperor, to repose in a golden
bed. The wealth of Constantinople, and the skilful diligence of
her artists, were instantly devoted to the gratification of his
caprice; but when the work was finished, he rejected with scorn a
present so unworthy the majesty of a great king. ^24 These were
the casual sallies of his pride; but the avarice of the chagan
was a more steady and tractable passion: a rich and regular
supply of silk apparel, furniture, and plate, introduced the
rudiments of art and luxury among the tents of the Scythians;
their appetite was stimulated by the pepper and cinnamon of
India; ^25 the annual subsidy or tribute was raised from
fourscore to one hundred and twenty thousand pieces of gold; and
after each hostile interruption, the payment of the arrears, with
exorbitant interest, was always made the first condition of the
new treaty. In the language of a Barbarian, without guile, the
prince of the Avars affected to complain of the insincerity of
the Greeks; ^26 yet he was not inferior to the most civilized
nations in the refinement of dissimulation and perfidy. As the
successor of the Lombards, the chagan asserted his claim to the
important city of Sirmium, the ancient bulwark of the Illyrian
provinces. ^27 The plains of the Lower Hungary were covered with
the Avar horse and a fleet of large boats was built in the
Hercynian wood, to descend the Danube, and to transport into the
Save the materials of a bridge. But as the strong garrison of
Singidunum, which commanded the conflux of the two rivers, might
have stopped their passage and baffled his designs, he dispelled
their apprehensions by a solemn oath that his views were not
hostile to the empire. He swore by his sword, the symbol of the
god of war, that he did not, as the enemy of Rome, construct a
bridge upon the Save. "If I violate my oath," pursued the
intrepid Baian, "may I myself, and the last of my nation, perish
by the sword! May the heavens, and fire, the deity of the
heavens, fall upon our heads! May the forests and mountains bury
us in their ruins! and the Save returning, against the laws of
nature, to his source, overwhelm us in his angry waters!" After
this barbarous imprecation, he calmly inquired, what oath was
most sacred and venerable among the Christians, what guilt or
perjury it was most dangerous to incur. The bishop of Singidunum
presented the gospel, which the chagan received with devout
reverence. "I swear," said he, "by the God who has spoken in
this holy book, that I have neither falsehood on my tongue, nor
treachery in my heart." As soon as he rose from his knees, he
accelerated the labor of the bridge, and despatched an envoy to
proclaim what he no longer wished to conceal. "Inform the
emperor," said the perfidious Baian, "that Sirmium is invested on
every side. Advise his prudence to withdraw the citizens and
their effects, and to resign a city which it is now impossible to
relieve or defend." Without the hope of relief, the defence of

Book of the day: