|« Prev||Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The…||Next »|
Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.—Part IV.
It was after the Nycene synod, and under the reign of the pious Irene, that the popes consummated the separation of Rome and Italy, by the translation of the empire to the less orthodox Charlemagne. They were compelled to choose between the rival nations: religion was not the sole motive of their choice; and while they dissembled the failings of their friends, they beheld, with reluctance and suspicion, the Catholic virtues of their foes. The difference of language and manners had perpetuated the enmity of the two capitals; and they were alienated from each other by the hostile opposition of seventy years. In that schism the Romans had tasted of freedom, and the popes of sovereignty: their submission would have exposed them to the revenge of a jealous tyrant; and the revolution of Italy had betrayed the impotence, as well as the tyranny, of the Byzantine court. The Greek emperors had restored the images, but they had not restored the Calabrian estates60146014 Theophanes (p. 343) specifies those of Sicily and Calabria, which yielded an annual rent of three talents and a half of gold, (perhaps 7000 L. sterling.) Liutprand more pompously enumerates the patrimonies of the Roman church in Greece, Judaea, Persia, Mesopotamia Babylonia, Egypt, and Libya, which were detained by the injustice of the Greek emperor, (Legat. ad Nicephorum, in Script. Rerum Italica rum, tom. ii. pars i. p. 481.) and the Illyrian diocese,60156015 The great diocese of the Eastern Illyricum, with Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily, (Thomassin, Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 145: ) by the confession of the Greeks, the patriarch of Constantinople had detached from Rome the metropolitans of Thessalonica, Athens Corinth, Nicopolis, and Patrae, (Luc. Holsten. Geograph. Sacra, p. 22) and his spiritual conquests extended to Naples and Amalphi (Istoria Civile di Napoli, tom. i. p. 517-524, Pagi, A. D 780, No. 11.) which the Iconociasts had torn away from the successors of St. Peter; and Pope Adrian threatens them with a sentence of excommunication unless they speedily abjure this practical heresy. 60166016 In hoc ostenditur, quia ex uno capitulo ab errore reversis, in aliis duobus, in eodem (was it the same?) permaneant errore.... de diocessi S. R. E. seu de patrimoniis iterum increpantes commonemus, ut si ea restituere noluerit hereticum eum pro hujusmodi errore perseverantia decernemus, (Epist. Hadrian. Papae ad Carolum Magnum, in Concil. tom. viii. p. 1598;) to which he adds a reason, most directly opposite to his conduct, that he preferred the salvation of souls and rule of faith to the goods of this transitory world. The Greeks were now orthodox; but their religion might be tainted by the breath of the reigning monarch: the Franks were now contumacious; but a discerning eye might discern their approaching conversion, from the use, to the adoration, of images. The name of Charlemagne was stained by the polemic acrimony of his scribes; but the conqueror himself conformed, with the temper of a statesman, to the various practice of France and Italy. In his four pilgrimages or visits to the Vatican, he embraced the popes in the communion of friendship and piety; knelt before the tomb, and consequently before the image, of the apostle; and joined, without scruple, in all the prayers and processions of the Roman liturgy. Would prudence or gratitude allow the pontiffs to renounce their benefactor? Had they a right to alienate his gift of the Exarchate? Had they power to abolish his government of Rome? The title of patrician was below the merit and greatness of Charlemagne; and it was only by reviving the Western empire that they could pay their obligations or secure their establishment. By this decisive measure they would finally eradicate the claims of the Greeks; from the debasement of a provincial town, the majesty of Rome would be restored: the Latin Christians would be united, under a supreme head, in their ancient metropolis; and the conquerors of the West would receive their crown from the successors of St. Peter. The Roman church would acquire a zealous and respectable advocate; and, under the shadow of the Carlovingian power, the bishop might exercise, with honor and safety, the government of the city.60176017 Fontanini considers the emperors as no more than the advocates of the church, (advocatus et defensor S. R. E. See Ducange, Gloss Lat. tom. i. p. 297.) His antagonist Muratori reduces the popes to be no more than the exarchs of the emperor. In the more equitable view of Mosheim, (Institut. Hist. Eccles. p. 264, 265,) they held Rome under the empire as the most honorable species of fief or benefice—premuntur nocte caliginosa!
Before the ruin of Paganism in Rome, the competition for a wealthy bishopric had often been productive of tumult and bloodshed. The people was less numerous, but the times were more savage, the prize more important, and the chair of St. Peter was fiercely disputed by the leading ecclesiastics who aspired to the rank of sovereign. The reign of Adrian the First60186018 His merits and hopes are summed up in an epitaph of thirty-eight-verses, of which Charlemagne declares himself the author, (Concil. tom. viii. p. 520.) Post patrem lacrymans Carolus haec carmina scripsi. Tu mihi dulcis amor, te modo plango pater... Nomina jungo simul titulis, clarissime, nostra Adrianus, Carolus, rex ego, tuque pater. The poetry might be supplied by Alcuin; but the tears, the most glorious tribute, can only belong to Charlemagne. surpasses the measure of past or succeeding ages; 60196019 Every new pope is admonished—"Sancte Pater, non videbis annos Petri," twenty-five years. On the whole series the average is about eight years—a short hope for an ambitious cardinal. the walls of Rome, the sacred patrimony, the ruin of the Lombards, and the friendship of Charlemagne, were the trophies of his fame: he secretly edified the throne of his successors, and displayed in a narrow space the virtues of a great prince. His memory was revered; but in the next election, a priest of the Lateran, Leo the Third, was preferred to the nephew and the favorite of Adrian, whom he had promoted to the first dignities of the church. Their acquiescence or repentance disguised, above four years, the blackest intention of revenge, till the day of a procession, when a furious band of conspirators dispersed the unarmed multitude, and assaulted with blows and wounds the sacred person of the pope. But their enterprise on his life or liberty was disappointed, perhaps by their own confusion and remorse. Leo was left for dead on the ground: on his revival from the swoon, the effect of his loss of blood, he recovered his speech and sight; and this natural event was improved to the miraculous restoration of his eyes and tongue, of which he had been deprived, twice deprived, by the knife of the assassins.60206020 The assurance of Anastasius (tom. iii. pars i. p. 197, 198) is supported by the credulity of some French annalists; but Eginhard, and other writers of the same age, are more natural and sincere. "Unus ei oculus paullulum est laesus," says John the deacon of Naples, (Vit. Episcop. Napol. in Scriptores Muratori, tom. i. pars ii. p. 312.) Theodolphus, a contemporary bishop of Orleans, observes with prudence (l. iii. carm. 3.) Reddita sunt? mirum est: mirum est auferre nequtsse. Est tamen in dubio, hinc mirer an inde magis. From his prison he escaped to the Vatican: the duke of Spoleto hastened to his rescue, Charlemagne sympathized in his injury, and in his camp of Paderborn in Westphalia accepted, or solicited, a visit from the Roman pontiff. Leo repassed the Alps with a commission of counts and bishops, the guards of his safety and the judges of his innocence; and it was not without reluctance, that the conqueror of the Saxons delayed till the ensuing year the personal discharge of this pious office. In his fourth and last pilgrimage, he was received at Rome with the due honors of king and patrician: Leo was permitted to purge himself by oath of the crimes imputed to his charge: his enemies were silenced, and the sacrilegious attempt against his life was punished by the mild and insufficient penalty of exile. On the festival of Christmas, the last year of the eighth century, Charlemagne appeared in the church of St. Peter; and, to gratify the vanity of Rome, he had exchanged the simple dress of his country for the habit of a patrician.60216021 Twice, at the request of Hadrian and Leo, he appeared at Rome,—longa tunica et chlamyde amictus, et calceamentis quoque Romano more formatis. Eginhard (c. xxiii. p. 109-113) describes, like Suetonius the simplicity of his dress, so popular in the nation, that when Charles the Bald returned to France in a foreign habit, the patriotic dogs barked at the apostate, (Gaillard, Vie de Charlemagne, tom. iv. p. 109.) After the celebration of the holy mysteries, Leo suddenly placed a precious crown on his head,60226022 See Anastasius (p. 199) and Eginhard, (c.xxviii. p. 124-128.) The unction is mentioned by Theophanes, (p. 399,) the oath by Sigonius, (from the Ordo Romanus,) and the Pope's adoration more antiquorum principum, by the Annales Bertiniani, (Script. Murator. tom. ii. pars ii. p. 505.) and the dome resounded with the acclamations of the people, "Long life and victory to Charles, the most pious Augustus, crowned by God the great and pacific emperor of the Romans!" The head and body of Charlemagne were consecrated by the royal unction: after the example of the Caesars, he was saluted or adored by the pontiff: his coronation oath represents a promise to maintain the faith and privileges of the church; and the first-fruits were paid in his rich offerings to the shrine of his apostle. In his familiar conversation, the emperor protested the ignorance of the intentions of Leo, which he would have disappointed by his absence on that memorable day. But the preparations of the ceremony must have disclosed the secret; and the journey of Charlemagne reveals his knowledge and expectation: he had acknowledged that the Imperial title was the object of his ambition, and a Roman synod had pronounced, that it was the only adequate reward of his merit and services.60236023 This great event of the translation or restoration of the empire is related and discussed by Natalis Alexander, (secul. ix. dissert. i. p. 390-397,) Pagi, (tom. iii. p. 418,) Muratori, (Annali d'Italia, tom. vi. p. 339-352,) Sigonius, (de Regno Italiae, l. iv. Opp. tom. ii. p. 247-251,) Spanheim, (de ficta Translatione Imperii,) Giannone, (tom. i. p. 395-405,) St. Marc, (Abrege Chronologique, tom. i. p. 438-450,) Gaillard, (Hist. de Charlemagne, tom. ii. p. 386-446.) Almost all these moderns have some religious or national bias.
The appellation of great has been often bestowed, and sometimes deserved; but Charlemagne is the only prince in whose favor the title has been indissolubly blended with the name. That name, with the addition of saint, is inserted in the Roman calendar; and the saint, by a rare felicity, is crowned with the praises of the historians and philosophers of an enlightened age.60246024 By Mably, (Observations sur l'Histoire de France,) Voltaire, (Histoire Generale,) Robertson, (History of Charles V.,) and Montesquieu, (Esprit des Loix, l. xxxi. c. 18.) In the year 1782, M. Gaillard published his Histoire de Charlemagne, (in 4 vols. in 12mo.,) which I have freely and profitably used. The author is a man of sense and humanity; and his work is labored with industry and elegance. But I have likewise examined the original monuments of the reigns of Pepin and Charlemagne, in the 5th volume of the Historians of France. His real merit is doubtless enhanced by the barbarism of the nation and the times from which he emerged: but the apparent magnitude of an object is likewise enlarged by an unequal comparison; and the ruins of Palmyra derive a casual splendor from the nakedness of the surrounding desert. Without injustice to his fame, I may discern some blemishes in the sanctity and greatness of the restorer of the Western empire. Of his moral virtues, chastity is not the most conspicuous:60256025 The vision of Weltin, composed by a monk, eleven years after the death of Charlemagne, shows him in purgatory, with a vulture, who is perpetually gnawing the guilty member, while the rest of his body, the emblem of his virtues, is sound and perfect, (see Gaillard tom. ii. p. 317-360.) but the public happiness could not be materially injured by his nine wives or concubines, the various indulgence of meaner or more transient amours, the multitude of his bastards whom he bestowed on the church, and the long celibacy and licentious manners of his daughters,60266026 The marriage of Eginhard with Imma, daughter of Charlemagne, is, in my opinion, sufficiently refuted by the probum and suspicio that sullied these fair damsels, without excepting his own wife, (c. xix. p. 98-100, cum Notis Schmincke.) The husband must have been too strong for the historian. whom the father was suspected of loving with too fond a passion.60276027 This charge of incest, as Mr. Hallam justly observes, "seems to have originated in a misinterpreted passage of Eginhard." Hallam's Middle Ages, vol.i. p. 16.—M. I shall be scarcely permitted to accuse the ambition of a conqueror; but in a day of equal retribution, the sons of his brother Carloman, the Merovingian princes of Aquitain, and the four thousand five hundred Saxons who were beheaded on the same spot, would have something to allege against the justice and humanity of Charlemagne. His treatment of the vanquished Saxons60286028 Besides the massacres and transmigrations, the pain of death was pronounced against the following crimes: 1. The refusal of baptism. 2. The false pretence of baptism. 3. A relapse to idolatry. 4. The murder of a priest or bishop. 5. Human sacrifices. 6. Eating meat in Lent. But every crime might be expiated by baptism or penance, (Gaillard, tom. ii. p. 241-247;) and the Christian Saxons became the friends and equals of the Franks, (Struv. Corpus Hist. Germanicae, p.133.) was an abuse of the right of conquest; his laws were not less sanguinary than his arms, and in the discussion of his motives, whatever is subtracted from bigotry must be imputed to temper. The sedentary reader is amazed by his incessant activity of mind and body; and his subjects and enemies were not less astonished at his sudden presence, at the moment when they believed him at the most distant extremity of the empire; neither peace nor war, nor summer nor winter, were a season of repose; and our fancy cannot easily reconcile the annals of his reign with the geography of his expeditions.60296029 M. Guizot (Cours d'Histoire Moderne, p. 270, 273) has compiled the following statement of Charlemagne's military campaigns:— 1. Against the Aquitanians. 18. " the Saxons. 5. " the Lombards. 7. " the Arabs in Spain. 1. " the Thuringians. 4. " the Avars. 2. " the Bretons. 1. " the Bavarians. 4. " the Slaves beyond the Elbe 5. " the Saracens in Italy. 3. " the Danes. 2. " the Greeks. ___ 53 total.—M.] But this activity was a national, rather than a personal, virtue; the vagrant life of a Frank was spent in the chase, in pilgrimage, in military adventures; and the journeys of Charlemagne were distinguished only by a more numerous train and a more important purpose. His military renown must be tried by the scrutiny of his troops, his enemies, and his actions. Alexander conquered with the arms of Philip, but the two heroes who preceded Charlemagne bequeathed him their name, their examples, and the companions of their victories. At the head of his veteran and superior armies, he oppressed the savage or degenerate nations, who were incapable of confederating for their common safety: nor did he ever encounter an equal antagonist in numbers, in discipline, or in arms The science of war has been lost and revived with the arts of peace; but his campaigns are not illustrated by any siege or battle of singular difficulty and success; and he might behold, with envy, the Saracen trophies of his grandfather. After the Spanish expedition, his rear-guard was defeated in the Pyrenaean mountains; and the soldiers, whose situation was irretrievable, and whose valor was useless, might accuse, with their last breath, the want of skill or caution of their general.60306030 In this action the famous Rutland, Rolando, Orlando, was slain—cum compluribus aliis. See the truth in Eginhard, (c. 9, p. 51-56,) and the fable in an ingenious Supplement of M. Gaillard, (tom. iii. p. 474.) The Spaniards are too proud of a victory, which history ascribes to the Gascons, and romance to the Saracens. * Note: In fact, it was a sudden onset of the Gascons, assisted by the Beaure mountaineers, and possibly a few Navarrese.—M. I touch with reverence the laws of Charlemagne, so highly applauded by a respectable judge. They compose not a system, but a series, of occasional and minute edicts, for the correction of abuses, the reformation of manners, the economy of his farms, the care of his poultry, and even the sale of his eggs. He wished to improve the laws and the character of the Franks; and his attempts, however feeble and imperfect, are deserving of praise: the inveterate evils of the times were suspended or mollified by his government;60316031 Yet Schmidt, from the best authorities, represents the interior disorders and oppression of his reign, (Hist. des Allemands, tom. ii. p. 45-49.) but in his institutions I can seldom discover the general views and the immortal spirit of a legislator, who survives himself for the benefit of posterity. The union and stability of his empire depended on the life of a single man: he imitated the dangerous practice of dividing his kingdoms among his sons; and after his numerous diets, the whole constitution was left to fluctuate between the disorders of anarchy and despotism. His esteem for the piety and knowledge of the clergy tempted him to intrust that aspiring order with temporal dominion and civil jurisdiction; and his son Lewis, when he was stripped and degraded by the bishops, might accuse, in some measure, the imprudence of his father. His laws enforced the imposition of tithes, because the daemons had proclaimed in the air that the default of payment had been the cause of the last scarcity.60326032 Omnis homo ex sua proprietate legitimam decimam ad ecclesiam conferat. Experimento enim didicimus, in anno, quo illa valida fames irrepsit, ebullire vacuas annonas a daemonibus devoratas, et voces exprobationis auditas. Such is the decree and assertion of the great Council of Frankfort, (canon xxv. tom. ix. p. 105.) Both Selden (Hist. of Tithes; Works, vol. iii. part ii. p. 1146) and Montesquieu (Esprit des Loix, l. xxxi. c. 12) represent Charlemagne as the first legal author of tithes. Such obligations have country gentlemen to his memory! The literary merits of Charlemagne are attested by the foundation of schools, the introduction of arts, the works which were published in his name, and his familiar connection with the subjects and strangers whom he invited to his court to educate both the prince and people. His own studies were tardy, laborious, and imperfect; if he spoke Latin, and understood Greek, he derived the rudiments of knowledge from conversation, rather than from books; and, in his mature age, the emperor strove to acquire the practice of writing, which every peasant now learns in his infancy.60336033 Eginhard (c. 25, p. 119) clearly affirms, tentabat et scribere... sed parum prospere successit labor praeposterus et sero inchoatus. The moderns have perverted and corrected this obvious meaning, and the title of M. Gaillard's dissertation (tom. iii. p. 247-260) betrays his partiality. * Note: This point has been contested; but Mr. Hallam and Monsieur Sismondl concur with Gibbon. See Middle Ages, iii. 330, Histoire de Francais, tom. ii. p. 318. The sensible observations of the latter are quoted in the Quarterly Review, vol. xlviii. p. 451. Fleury, I may add, quotes from Mabillon a remarkable evidence that Charlemagne "had a mark to himself like an honest, plain-dealing man." Ibid.—M. The grammar and logic, the music and astronomy, of the times, were only cultivated as the handmaids of superstition; but the curiosity of the human mind must ultimately tend to its improvement, and the encouragement of learning reflects the purest and most pleasing lustre on the character of Charlemagne.60346034 See Gaillard, tom. iii. p. 138-176, and Schmidt, tom. ii. p. 121-129. The dignity of his person,60356035 M. Gaillard (tom. iii. p. 372) fixes the true stature of Charlemagne (see a Dissertation of Marquard Freher ad calcem Eginhart, p. 220, &c.) at five feet nine inches of French, about six feet one inch and a fourth English, measure. The romance writers have increased it to eight feet, and the giant was endowed with matchless strength and appetite: at a single stroke of his good sword Joyeuse, he cut asunder a horseman and his horse; at a single repast, he devoured a goose, two fowls, a quarter of mutton, &c. the length of his reign, the prosperity of his arms, the vigor of his government, and the reverence of distant nations, distinguish him from the royal crowd; and Europe dates a new aera from his restoration of the Western empire.
That empire was not unworthy of its title;60366036 See the concise, but correct and original, work of D'Anville, (Etats Formes en Europe apres la Chute de l'Empire Romain en Occident, Paris, 1771, in 4to.,) whose map includes the empire of Charlemagne; the different parts are illustrated, by Valesius (Notitia Galliacum) for France, Beretti (Dissertatio Chorographica) for Italy, De Marca (Marca Hispanica) for Spain. For the middle geography of Germany, I confess myself poor and destitute. and some of the fairest kingdoms of Europe were the patrimony or conquest of a prince, who reigned at the same time in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Hungary. 60376037 After a brief relation of his wars and conquests, (Vit. Carol. c. 5-14,) Eginhard recapitulates, in a few words, (c. 15,) the countries subject to his empire. Struvius, (Corpus Hist. German. p. 118-149) was inserted in his Notes the texts of the old Chronicles. I. The Roman province of Gaul had been transformed into the name and monarchy of France; but, in the decay of the Merovingian line, its limits were contracted by the independence of the Britons and the revolt of Aquitain. Charlemagne pursued, and confined, the Britons on the shores of the ocean; and that ferocious tribe, whose origin and language are so different from the French, was chastised by the imposition of tribute, hostages, and peace. After a long and evasive contest, the rebellion of the dukes of Aquitain was punished by the forfeiture of their province, their liberty, and their lives.
Harsh and rigorous would have been such treatment of ambitious governors, who had too faithfully copied the mayors of the palace. But a recent discovery60386038 On a charter granted to the monastery of Alaon (A.D. 845) by Charles the Bald, which deduces this royal pedigree. I doubt whether some subsequent links of the ixth and xth centuries are equally firm; yet the whole is approved and defended by M. Gaillard, (tom. ii. p.60-81, 203-206,) who affirms that the family of Montesquiou (not of the President de Montesquieu) is descended, in the female line, from Clotaire and Clovis—an innocent pretension! has proved that these unhappy princes were the last and lawful heirs of the blood and sceptre of Clovis, and younger branch, from the brother of Dagobert, of the Merovingian house. Their ancient kingdom was reduced to the duchy of Gascogne, to the counties of Fesenzac and Armagnac, at the foot of the Pyrenees: their race was propagated till the beginning of the sixteenth century; and after surviving their Carlovingian tyrants, they were reserved to feel the injustice, or the favors, of a third dynasty. By the reunion of Aquitain, France was enlarged to its present boundaries, with the additions of the Netherlands and Spain, as far as the Rhine. II.
The Saracens had been expelled from France by the grandfather and father of Charlemagne; but they still possessed the greatest part of Spain, from the rock of Gibraltar to the Pyrenees. Amidst their civil divisions, an Arabian emir of Saragossa implored his protection in the diet of Paderborn. Charlemagne undertook the expedition, restored the emir, and, without distinction of faith, impartially crushed the resistance of the Christians, and rewarded the obedience and services of the Mahometans. In his absence he instituted the Spanish march,60396039 The governors or counts of the Spanish march revolted from Charles the Simple about the year 900; and a poor pittance, the Rousillon, has been recovered in 1642 by the kings of France, (Longuerue, Description de la France, tom i. p. 220-222.) Yet the Rousillon contains 188,900 subjects, and annually pays 2,600,000 livres, (Necker, Administration des Finances, tom. i. p. 278, 279;) more people, perhaps, and doubtless more money than the march of Charlemagne. which extended from the Pyrenees to the River Ebro: Barcelona was the residence of the French governor: he possessed the counties of Rousillon and Catalonia; and the infant kingdoms of Navarre and Arragon were subject to his jurisdiction. III. As king of the Lombards, and patrician of Rome, he reigned over the greatest part of Italy,60406040 Schmidt, Hist. des Allemands, tom. ii. p. 200, &c. a tract of a thousand miles from the Alps to the borders of Calabria. The duchy of Beneventum, a Lombard fief, had spread, at the expense of the Greeks, over the modern kingdom of Naples. But Arrechis, the reigning duke, refused to be included in the slavery of his country; assumed the independent title of prince; and opposed his sword to the Carlovingian monarchy. His defence was firm, his submission was not inglorious, and the emperor was content with an easy tribute, the demolition of his fortresses, and the acknowledgement, on his coins, of a supreme lord. The artful flattery of his son Grimoald added the appellation of father, but he asserted his dignity with prudence, and Benventum insensibly escaped from the French yoke.60416041 See Giannone, tom. i. p 374, 375, and the Annals of Muratori. IV. Charlemagne was the first who united Germany under the same sceptre. The name of Oriental France is preserved in the circle of Franconia; and the people of Hesse and Thuringia were recently incorporated with the victors, by the conformity of religion and government. The Alemanni, so formidable to the Romans, were the faithful vassals and confederates of the Franks; and their country was inscribed within the modern limits of Alsace, Swabia, and Switzerland. The Bavarians, with a similar indulgence of their laws and manners, were less patient of a master: the repeated treasons of Tasillo justified the abolition of their hereditary dukes; and their power was shared among the counts, who judged and guarded that important frontier. But the north of Germany, from the Rhine and beyond the Elbe, was still hostile and Pagan; nor was it till after a war of thirty-three years that the Saxons bowed under the yoke of Christ and of Charlemagne. The idols and their votaries were extirpated: the foundation of eight bishoprics, of Munster, Osnaburgh, Paderborn, and Minden, of Bremen, Verden, Hildesheim, and Halberstadt, define, on either side of the Weser, the bounds of ancient Saxony these episcopal seats were the first schools and cities of that savage land; and the religion and humanity of the children atoned, in some degree, for the massacre of the parents. Beyond the Elbe, the Slavi, or Sclavonians, of similar manners and various denominations, overspread the modern dominions of Prussia, Poland, and Bohemia, and some transient marks of obedience have tempted the French historian to extend the empire to the Baltic and the Vistula. The conquest or conversion of those countries is of a more recent age; but the first union of Bohemia with the Germanic body may be justly ascribed to the arms of Charlemagne. V. He retaliated on the Avars, or Huns of Pannonia, the same calamities which they had inflicted on the nations. Their rings, the wooden fortifications which encircled their districts and villages, were broken down by the triple effort of a French army, that was poured into their country by land and water, through the Carpathian mountains and along the plain of the Danube. After a bloody conflict of eight years, the loss of some French generals was avenged by the slaughter of the most noble Huns: the relics of the nation submitted the royal residence of the chagan was left desolate and unknown; and the treasures, the rapine of two hundred and fifty years, enriched the victorious troops, or decorated the churches of Italy and Gaul.60426042 Quot praelia in eo gesta! quantum sanguinis effusum sit! Testatur vacua omni habitatione Pannonia, et locus in quo regia Cagani fuit ita desertus, ut ne vestigium quidem humanae habitationis appareat. Tota in hoc bello Hunnorum nobilitas periit, tota gloria decidit, omnis pecunia et congesti ex longo tempore thesauri direpti sunt. Eginhard, cxiii. After the reduction of Pannonia, the empire of Charlemagne was bounded only by the conflux of the Danube with the Teyss and the Save: the provinces of Istria, Liburnia, and Dalmatia, were an easy, though unprofitable, accession; and it was an effect of his moderation, that he left the maritime cities under the real or nominal sovereignty of the Greeks. But these distant possessions added more to the reputation than to the power of the Latin emperor; nor did he risk any ecclesiastical foundations to reclaim the Barbarians from their vagrant life and idolatrous worship. Some canals of communication between the rivers, the Saone and the Meuse, the Rhine and the Danube, were faintly attempted.60436043 The junction of the Rhine and Danube was undertaken only for the service of the Pannonian war, (Gaillard, Vie de Charlemagne, tom. ii. p. 312-315.) The canal, which would have been only two leagues in length, and of which some traces are still extant in Swabia, was interrupted by excessive rains, military avocations, and superstitious fears, (Schaepflin, Hist. de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xviii. p. 256. Molimina fluviorum, &c., jungendorum, p. 59-62.) Their execution would have vivified the empire; and more cost and labor were often wasted in the structure of a cathedral. 60446044 I should doubt this in the time of Charlemagne, even if the term "expended" were substituted for "wasted."—M.
|« Prev||Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The…||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version