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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 3
by Edward Gibbon
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[Footnote 130: Osset, or Julia Constantia, was opposite to Seville, on the northern side of the Boetis, (Plin. Hist. Natur. iii. 3:) and the authentic reference of Gregory of Tours (Hist. Francor. l. vi. c. 43, p. 288) deserves more credit than the name of Lusitania, (de Gloria Martyr. c. 24,) which has been eagerly embraced by the vain and superstitious Portuguese, (Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. ii. p. 166.)]

[Footnote 131: This miracle was skilfully performed. An Arian king sealed the doors, and dug a deep trench round the church, without being able to intercept the Easter supply of baptismal water.]

[Footnote 132: Ferreras (tom. ii. p. 168-175, A.D. 550) has illustrated the difficulties which regard the time and circumstances of the conversion of the Suevi. They had been recently united by Leovigild to the Gothic monarchy of Spain.]

[Footnote 133: This addition to the Nicene, or rather the Constantinopolitan creed, was first made in the eighth council of Toledo, A.D. 653; but it was expressive of the popular doctrine, (Gerard Vossius, tom. vi. p. 527, de tribus Symbolis.)]

[Footnote 134: See Gregor. Magn. l. vii. epist. 126, apud Baronium, Annal. Eccles. A.D. 559, No. 25, 26.]

The same Gregory, the spiritual conqueror of Britain, encouraged the pious Theodelinda, queen of the Lombards, to propagate the Nicene faith among the victorious savages, whose recent Christianity was polluted by the Arian heresy. Her devout labors still left room for the industry and success of future missionaries; and many cities of Italy were still disputed by hostile bishops. But the cause of Arianism was gradually suppressed by the weight of truth, of interest, and of example; and the controversy, which Egypt had derived from the Platonic school, was terminated, after a war of three hundred years, by the final conversion of the Lombards of Italy. [135]

[Footnote 135: Paul Warnefrid (de Gestis Langobard. l. iv. c. 44, p. 153, edit Grot.) allows that Arianism still prevailed under the reign of Rotharis, (A.D. 636-652.) The pious deacon does not attempt to mark the precise era of the national conversion, which was accomplished, however, before the end of the seventh century.]

The first missionaries who preached the gospel to the Barbarians, appealed to the evidence of reason, and claimed the benefit of toleration. [136] But no sooner had they established their spiritual dominion, than they exhorted the Christian kings to extirpate, without mercy, the remains of Roman or Barbaric superstition. The successors of Clovis inflicted one hundred lashes on the peasants who refused to destroy their idols; the crime of sacrificing to the demons was punished by the Anglo-Saxon laws with the heavier penalties of imprisonment and confiscation; and even the wise Alfred adopted, as an indispensable duty, the extreme rigor of the Mosaic institutions. [137] But the punishment and the crime were gradually abolished among a Christian people; the theological disputes of the schools were suspended by propitious ignorance; and the intolerant spirit which could find neither idolaters nor heretics, was reduced to the persecution of the Jews. That exiled nation had founded some synagogues in the cities of Gaul; but Spain, since the time of Hadrian, was filled with their numerous colonies. [138] The wealth which they accumulated by trade, and the management of the finances, invited the pious avarice of their masters; and they might be oppressed without danger, as they had lost the use, and even the remembrance, of arms. Sisebut, a Gothic king, who reigned in the beginning of the seventh century, proceeded at once to the last extremes of persecution. [139] Ninety thousand Jews were compelled to receive the sacrament of baptism; the fortunes of the obstinate infidels were confiscated, their bodies were tortured; and it seems doubtful whether they were permitted to abandon their native country. The excessive zeal of the Catholic king was moderated, even by the clergy of Spain, who solemnly pronounced an inconsistent sentence: that the sacraments should not be forcibly imposed; but that the Jews who had been baptized should be constrained, for the honor of the church, to persevere in the external practice of a religion which they disbelieved and detested. Their frequent relapses provoked one of the successors of Sisebut to banish the whole nation from his dominions; and a council of Toledo published a decree, that every Gothic king should swear to maintain this salutary edict. But the tyrants were unwilling to dismiss the victims, whom they delighted to torture, or to deprive themselves of the industrious slaves, over whom they might exercise a lucrative oppression. The Jews still continued in Spain, under the weight of the civil and ecclesiastical laws, which in the same country have been faithfully transcribed in the Code of the Inquisition. The Gothic kings and bishops at length discovered, that injuries will produce hatred, and that hatred will find the opportunity of revenge. A nation, the secret or professed enemies of Christianity, still multiplied in servitude and distress; and the intrigues of the Jews promoted the rapid success of the Arabian conquerors. [140]

[Footnote 136: Quorum fidei et conversioni ita congratulatus esse rex perhibetur, ut nullum tamen cogeret ad Christianismum.... Didiceret enim a doctoribus auctoribusque suae salutis, servitium Christi voluntarium non coactitium esse debere. Bedae Hist. Ecclesiastic. l. i. c. 26, p. 62, edit. Smith.]

[Footnote 137: See the Historians of France, tom. iv. p. 114; and Wilkins, Leges Anglo-Saxonicae, p. 11, 31. Siquis sacrificium immolaverit praeter Deo soli morte moriatur.]

[Footnote 138: The Jews pretend that they were introduced into Spain by the fleets of Solomon, and the arms of Nebuchadnezzar; that Hadrian transported forty thousand families of the tribe of Judah, and ten thousand of the tribe of Benjamin, &c. Basnage, Hist. des Juifs, tom. vii. c. 9, p. 240-256.]

[Footnote 139: Isidore, at that time archbishop of Seville, mentions, disapproves and congratulates, the zeal of Sisebut (Chron. Goth. p. 728.) Barosins (A.D. 614, No. 41) assigns the number of the evidence of Almoin, (l. iv. c. 22;) but the evidence is weak, and I have not been able to verify the quotation, (Historians of France, tom. iii. p. 127.)]

[Footnote 140: Basnage (tom. viii. c. 13, p. 388-400) faithfully represents the state of the Jews; but he might have added from the canons of the Spanish councils, and the laws of the Visigoths, many curious circumstances, essential to his subject, though they are foreign to mine. * Note: Compare Milman, Hist. of Jews iii. 256—M]

As soon as the Barbarians withdrew their powerful support, the unpopular heresy of Arius sunk into contempt and oblivion. But the Greeks still retained their subtle and loquacious disposition: the establishment of an obscure doctrine suggested new questions, and new disputes; and it was always in the power of an ambitious prelate, or a fanatic monk, to violate the peace of the church, and, perhaps, of the empire. The historian of the empire may overlook those disputes which were confined to the obscurity of schools and synods. The Manichaeans, who labored to reconcile the religions of Christ and of Zoroaster, had secretly introduced themselves into the provinces: but these foreign sectaries were involved in the common disgrace of the Gnostics, and the Imperial laws were executed by the public hatred. The rational opinions of the Pelagians were propagated from Britain to Rome, Africa, and Palestine, and silently expired in a superstitious age. But the East was distracted by the Nestorian and Eutychian controversies; which attempted to explain the mystery of the incarnation, and hastened the ruin of Christianity in her native land. These controversies were first agitated under the reign of the younger Theodosius: but their important consequences extend far beyond the limits of the present volume. The metaphysical chain of argument, the contests of ecclesiastical ambition, and their political influence on the decline of the Byzantine empire, may afford an interesting and instructive series of history, from the general councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, to the conquest of the East by the successors of Mahomet.



Chapter XXXVIII: Reign Of Clovis.—Part I.

Reign And Conversion Of Clovis.—His Victories Over The Alemanni, Burgundians, And Visigoths.—Establishment Of The French Monarchy In Gaul.—Laws Of The Barbarians.—State Of The Romans.—The Visigoths Of Spain.—Conquest Of Britain By The Saxons.

The Gauls, [1] who impatiently supported the Roman yoke, received a memorable lesson from one of the lieutenants of Vespasian, whose weighty sense has been refined and expressed by the genius of Tacitus. [2] "The protection of the republic has delivered Gaul from internal discord and foreign invasions. By the loss of national independence, you have acquired the name and privileges of Roman citizens. You enjoy, in common with yourselves, the permanent benefits of civil government; and your remote situation is less exposed to the accidental mischiefs of tyranny. Instead of exercising the rights of conquest, we have been contented to impose such tributes as are requisite for your own preservation. Peace cannot be secured without armies; and armies must be supported at the expense of the people. It is for your sake, not for our own, that we guard the barrier of the Rhine against the ferocious Germans, who have so often attempted, and who will always desire, to exchange the solitude of their woods and morasses for the wealth and fertility of Gaul. The fall of Rome would be fatal to the provinces; and you would be buried in the ruins of that mighty fabric, which has been raised by the valor and wisdom of eight hundred years. Your imaginary freedom would be insulted and oppressed by a savage master; and the expulsion of the Romans would be succeeded by the eternal hostilities of the Barbarian conquerors." [3] This salutary advice was accepted, and this strange prediction was accomplished. In the space of four hundred years, the hardy Gauls, who had encountered the arms of Caesar, were imperceptibly melted into the general mass of citizens and subjects: the Western empire was dissolved; and the Germans, who had passed the Rhine, fiercely contended for the possession of Gaul, and excited the contempt, or abhorrence, of its peaceful and polished inhabitants. With that conscious pride which the preeminence of knowledge and luxury seldom fails to inspire, they derided the hairy and gigantic savages of the North; their rustic manners, dissonant joy, voracious appetite, and their horrid appearance, equally disgusting to the sight and to the smell. The liberal studies were still cultivated in the schools of Autun and Bordeaux; and the language of Cicero and Virgil was familiar to the Gallic youth. Their ears were astonished by the harsh and unknown sounds of the Germanic dialect, and they ingeniously lamented that the trembling muses fled from the harmony of a Burgundian lyre. The Gauls were endowed with all the advantages of art and nature; but as they wanted courage to defend them, they were justly condemned to obey, and even to flatter, the victorious Barbarians, by whose clemency they held their precarious fortunes and their lives. [4]

[Footnote 1: In this chapter I shall draw my quotations from the Recueil des Historiens des Gaules et de la France, Paris, 1738-1767, in eleven volumes in folio. By the labor of Dom Bouquet, and the other Benedictines, all the original testimonies, as far as A.D. 1060, are disposed in chronological order, and illustrated with learned notes. Such a national work, which will be continued to the year 1500, might provoke our emulation.]

[Footnote 2: Tacit. Hist. iv. 73, 74, in tom. i. p. 445. To abridge Tacitus would indeed be presumptuous; but I may select the general ideas which he applies to the present state and future revelations of Gaul.]

[Footnote 3: Eadem semper causa Germanis transcendendi in Gallias libido atque avaritiae et mutandae sedis amor; ut relictis paludibus et solitudinibus, suis, fecundissimum hoc solum vosque ipsos possiderent.... Nam pulsis Romanis quid aliud quam bella omnium inter se gentium exsistent?]

[Footnote 4: Sidonius Apollinaris ridicules, with affected wit and pleasantry, the hardships of his situation, (Carm. xii. in tom. i. p. 811.)]

As soon as Odoacer had extinguished the Western empire, he sought the friendship of the most powerful of the Barbarians. The new sovereign of Italy resigned to Euric, king of the Visigoths, all the Roman conquests beyond the Alps, as far as the Rhine and the Ocean: [5] and the senate might confirm this liberal gift with some ostentation of power, and without any real loss of revenue and dominion. The lawful pretensions of Euric were justified by ambition and success; and the Gothic nation might aspire, under his command, to the monarchy of Spain and Gaul. Arles and Marseilles surrendered to his arms: he oppressed the freedom of Auvergne; and the bishop condescended to purchase his recall from exile by a tribute of just, but reluctant praise. Sidonius waited before the gates of the palace among a crowd of ambassadors and suppliants; and their various business at the court of Bordeaux attested the power, and the renown, of the king of the Visigoths. The Heruli of the distant ocean, who painted their naked bodies with its coerulean color, implored his protection; and the Saxons respected the maritime provinces of a prince, who was destitute of any naval force. The tall Burgundians submitted to his authority; nor did he restore the captive Franks, till he had imposed on that fierce nation the terms of an unequal peace. The Vandals of Africa cultivated his useful friendship; and the Ostrogoths of Pannonia were supported by his powerful aid against the oppression of the neighboring Huns. The North (such are the lofty strains of the poet) was agitated or appeased by the nod of Euric; the great king of Persia consulted the oracle of the West; and the aged god of the Tyber was protected by the swelling genius of the Garonne. [6] The fortune of nations has often depended on accidents; and France may ascribe her greatness to the premature death of the Gothic king, at a time when his son Alaric was a helpless infant, and his adversary Clovis [7] an ambitious and valiant youth.

[Footnote 5: See Procopius de Bell. Gothico, l. i. c. 12, in tom. ii. p. 81. The character of Grotius inclines me to believe, that he has not substituted the Rhine for the Rhone (Hist. Gothorum, p. 175) without the authority of some Ms.]

[Footnote 6: Sidonius, l. viii. epist. 3, 9, in tom. i. p. 800. Jornandes (de Rebus Geticis, c. 47 p. 680) justifies, in some measure, this portrait of the Gothic hero.]

[Footnote 7: I use the familiar appellation of Clovis, from the Latin Chlodovechus, or Chlodovoeus. But the Ch expresses only the German aspiration, and the true name is not different from Lewis, (Mem. de 'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xx. p. 68.)]

While Childeric, the father of Clovis, lived an exile in Germany, he was hospitably entertained by the queen, as well as by the king, of the Thuringians. After his restoration, Basina escaped from her husband's bed to the arms of her lover; freely declaring, that if she had known a man wiser, stronger, or more beautiful, than Childeric, that man should have been the object of her preference. [8] Clovis was the offspring of this voluntary union; and, when he was no more than fifteen years of age, he succeeded, by his father's death, to the command of the Salian tribe. The narrow limits of his kingdom were confined to the island of the Batavians, with the ancient dioceses of Tournay and Arras; [10] and at the baptism of Clovis the number of his warriors could not exceed five thousand. The kindred tribes of the Franks, who had seated themselves along the Belgic rivers, the Scheld, the Meuse, the Moselle, and the Rhine, were governed by their independent kings, of the Merovingian race; the equals, the allies, and sometimes the enemies of the Salic prince. But the Germans, who obeyed, in peace, the hereditary jurisdiction of their chiefs, were free to follow the standard of a popular and victorious general; and the superior merit of Clovis attracted the respect and allegiance of the national confederacy. When he first took the field, he had neither gold and silver in his coffers, nor wine and corn in his magazine; [11] but he imitated the example of Caesar, who, in the same country, had acquired wealth by the sword, and purchased soldiers with the fruits of conquest. After each successful battle or expedition, the spoils were accumulated in one common mass; every warrior received his proportionable share; and the royal prerogative submitted to the equal regulations of military law. The untamed spirit of the Barbarians was taught to acknowledge the advantages of regular discipline. [12] At the annual review of the month of March, their arms were diligently inspected; and when they traversed a peaceful territory, they were prohibited from touching a blade of grass. The justice of Clovis was inexorable; and his careless or disobedient soldiers were punished with instant death. It would be superfluous to praise the valor of a Frank; but the valor of Clovis was directed by cool and consummate prudence. [13] In all his transactions with mankind, he calculated the weight of interest, of passion, and of opinion; and his measures were sometimes adapted to the sanguinary manners of the Germans, and sometimes moderated by the milder genius of Rome, and Christianity. He was intercepted in the career of victory, since he died in the forty-fifth year of his age: but he had already accomplished, in a reign of thirty years, the establishment of the French monarchy in Gaul.

[Footnote 8: Greg. l. ii. c. 12, in tom. i. p. 168. Basina speaks the language of nature; the Franks, who had seen her in their youth, might converse with Gregory in their old age; and the bishop of Tours could not wish to defame the mother of the first Christian king.]

[Footnote 9: The Abbe Dubos (Hist. Critique de l'Etablissement de la Monarchie Francoise dans les Gaules, tom. i. p. 630-650) has the merit of defining the primitive kingdom of Clovis, and of ascertaining the genuine number of his subjects.]

[Footnote 10: Ecclesiam incultam ac negligentia civium Paganorum praetermis sam, veprium densitate oppletam, &c. Vit. St. Vedasti, in tom. iii. p. 372. This description supposes that Arras was possessed by the Pagans many years before the baptism of Clovis.]

[Footnote 11: Gregory of Tours (l v. c. i. tom. ii. p. 232) contrasts the poverty of Clovis with the wealth of his grandsons. Yet Remigius (in tom. iv. p. 52) mentions his paternas opes, as sufficient for the redemption of captives.]

[Footnote 12: See Gregory, (l. ii. c. 27, 37, in tom. ii. p. 175, 181, 182.) The famous story of the vase of Soissons explains both the power and the character of Clovis. As a point of controversy, it has been strangely tortured by Boulainvilliers Dubos, and the other political antiquarians.]

[Footnote 13: The duke of Nivernois, a noble statesman, who has managed weighty and delicate negotiations, ingeniously illustrates (Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, tom. xx. p. 147-184) the political system of Clovis.]

The first exploit of Clovis was the defeat of Syagrius, the son of Aegidius; and the public quarrel might, on this occasion, be inflamed by private resentment. The glory of the father still insulted the Merovingian race; the power of the son might excite the jealous ambition of the king of the Franks. Syagrius inherited, as a patrimonial estate, the city and diocese of Soissons: the desolate remnant of the second Belgic, Rheims and Troyes, Beauvais and Amiens, would naturally submit to the count or patrician: [14] and after the dissolution of the Western empire, he might reign with the title, or at least with the authority, of king of the Romans. [15] As a Roman, he had been educated in the liberal studies of rhetoric and jurisprudence; but he was engaged by accident and policy in the familiar use of the Germanic idiom. The independent Barbarians resorted to the tribunal of a stranger, who possessed the singular talent of explaining, in their native tongue, the dictates of reason and equity. The diligence and affability of their judge rendered him popular, the impartial wisdom of his decrees obtained their voluntary obedience, and the reign of Syagrius over the Franks and Burgundians seemed to revive the original institution of civil society. [16] In the midst of these peaceful occupations, Syagrius received, and boldly accepted, the hostile defiance of Clovis; who challenged his rival in the spirit, and almost in the language, of chivalry, to appoint the day and the field [17] of battle. In the time of Caesar Soissons would have poured forth a body of fifty thousand horse and such an army might have been plentifully supplied with shields, cuirasses, and military engines, from the three arsenals or manufactures of the city. [18] But the courage and numbers of the Gallic youth were long since exhausted; and the loose bands of volunteers, or mercenaries, who marched under the standard of Syagrius, were incapable of contending with the national valor of the Franks. It would be ungenerous without some more accurate knowledge of his strength and resources, to condemn the rapid flight of Syagrius, who escaped, after the loss of a battle, to the distant court of Thoulouse. The feeble minority of Alaric could not assist or protect an unfortunate fugitive; the pusillanimous [19] Goths were intimidated by the menaces of Clovis; and the Roman king, after a short confinement, was delivered into the hands of the executioner. The Belgic cities surrendered to the king of the Franks; and his dominions were enlarged towards the East by the ample diocese of Tongres [20] which Clovis subdued in the tenth year of his reign.

[Footnote 14: M. Biet (in a Dissertation which deserved the prize of the Academy of Soissons, p. 178-226,) has accurately defined the nature and extent of the kingdom of Syagrius and his father; but he too readily allows the slight evidence of Dubos (tom. ii. p. 54-57) to deprive him of Beauvais and Amiens.]

[Footnote 15: I may observe that Fredegarius, in his epitome of Gregory of Tours, (tom. ii. p. 398,) has prudently substituted the name of Patricius for the incredible title of Rex Romanorum.]

[Footnote 16: Sidonius, (l. v. Epist. 5, in tom. i. p. 794,) who styles him the Solon, the Amphion, of the Barbarians, addresses this imaginary king in the tone of friendship and equality. From such offices of arbitration, the crafty Dejoces had raised himself to the throne of the Medes, (Herodot. l. i. c. 96-100.)]

[Footnote 17: Campum sibi praeparari jussit. M. Biet (p. 226-251) has diligently ascertained this field of battle, at Nogent, a Benedictine abbey, about ten miles to the north of Soissons. The ground was marked by a circle of Pagan sepulchres; and Clovis bestowed the adjacent lands of Leully and Coucy on the church of Rheims.]

[Footnote 18: See Caesar. Comment. de Bell. Gallic. ii. 4, in tom. i. p. 220, and the Notitiae, tom. i. p. 126. The three Fabricae of Soissons were, Seutaria, Balistaria, and Clinabaria. The last supplied the complete armor of the heavy cuirassiers.]

[Footnote 19: The epithet must be confined to the circumstances; and history cannot justify the French prejudice of Gregory, (l. ii. c. 27, in tom. ii. p. 175,) ut Gothorum pavere mos est.]

[Footnote 20: Dubos has satisfied me (tom. i. p. 277-286) that Gregory of Tours, his transcribers, or his readers, have repeatedly confounded the German kingdom of Thuringia, beyond the Rhine, and the Gallic city of Tongria, on the Meuse, which was more anciently the country of the Eburones, and more recently the diocese of Liege.]

The name of the Alemanni has been absurdly derived from their imaginary settlement on the banks of the Leman Lake. [21] That fortunate district, from the lake to the Avenche, and Mount Jura, was occupied by the Burgundians. [22] The northern parts of Helvetia had indeed been subdued by the ferocious Alemanni, who destroyed with their own hands the fruits of their conquest. A province, improved and adorned by the arts of Rome, was again reduced to a savage wilderness; and some vestige of the stately Vindonissa may still be discovered in the fertile and populous valley of the Aar. [23] From the source of the Rhine to its conflux with the Mein and the Moselle, the formidable swarms of the Alemanni commanded either side of the river, by the right of ancient possession, or recent victory. They had spread themselves into Gaul, over the modern provinces of Alsace and Lorraine; and their bold invasion of the kingdom of Cologne summoned the Salic prince to the defence of his Ripuarian allies.

Clovis encountered the invaders of Gaul in the plain of Tolbiac, about twenty-four miles from Cologne; and the two fiercest nations of Germany were mutually animated by the memory of past exploits, and the prospect of future greatness. The Franks, after an obstinate struggle, gave way; and the Alemanni, raising a shout of victory, impetuously pressed their retreat. But the battle was restored by the valor, and the conduct, and perhaps by the piety, of Clovis; and the event of the bloody day decided forever the alternative of empire or servitude. The last king of the Alemanni was slain in the field, and his people were slaughtered or pursued, till they threw down their arms, and yielded to the mercy of the conqueror. Without discipline it was impossible for them to rally: they had contemptuously demolished the walls and fortifications which might have protected their distress; and they were followed into the heart of their forests by an enemy not less active, or intrepid, than themselves. The great Theodoric congratulated the victory of Clovis, whose sister Albofleda the king of Italy had lately married; but he mildly interceded with his brother in favor of the suppliants and fugitives, who had implored his protection. The Gallic territories, which were possessed by the Alemanni, became the prize of their conqueror; and the haughty nation, invincible, or rebellious, to the arms of Rome, acknowledged the sovereignty of the Merovingian kings, who graciously permitted them to enjoy their peculiar manners and institutions, under the government of official, and, at length, of hereditary, dukes. After the conquest of the Western provinces, the Franks alone maintained their ancient habitations beyond the Rhine. They gradually subdued, and civilized, the exhausted countries, as far as the Elbe, and the mountains of Bohemia; and the peace of Europe was secured by the obedience of Germany. [24]

[Footnote 21: Populi habitantes juxta Lemannum lacum, Alemanni dicuntur. Servius, ad Virgil. Georgic. iv. 278. Don Bouquet (tom. i. p. 817) has only alleged the more recent and corrupt text of Isidore of Seville.]

[Footnote 22: Gregory of Tours sends St. Lupicinus inter illa Jurensis deserti secreta, quae, inter Burgundiam Alamanniamque sita, Aventicae adja cent civitati, in tom. i. p. 648. M. de Watteville (Hist. de la Confederation Helvetique, tom. i. p. 9, 10) has accurately defined the Helvetian limits of the Duchy of Alemannia, and the Transjurane Burgundy. They were commensurate with the dioceses of Constance and Avenche, or Lausanne, and are still discriminated, in modern Switzerland, by the use of the German, or French, language.]

[Footnote 23: See Guilliman de Rebus Helveticis, l i. c. 3, p. 11, 12. Within the ancient walls of Vindonissa, the castle of Hapsburgh, the abbey of Konigsfield, and the town of Bruck, have successively risen. The philosophic traveller may compare the monuments of Roman conquest of feudal or Austrian tyranny, of monkish superstition, and of industrious freedom. If he be truly a philosopher, he will applaud the merit and happiness of his own times.]

[Footnote 24: Gregory of Tours, (l. ii. 30, 37, in tom. ii. p. 176, 177, 182,) the Gesta Francorum, (in tom. ii. p. 551,) and the epistle of Theodoric, (Cassiodor. Variar. l. ii. c. 41, in tom. iv. p. 4,) represent the defeat of the Alemanni. Some of their tribes settled in Rhaetia, under the protection of Theodoric; whose successors ceded the colony and their country to the grandson of Clovis. The state of the Alemanni under the Merovingian kings may be seen in Mascou (Hist. of the Ancient Germans, xi. 8, &c. Annotation xxxvi.) and Guilliman, (de Reb. Helvet. l. ii. c. 10-12, p. 72-80.)]

Till the thirtieth year of his age, Clovis continued to worship the gods of his ancestors. [25] His disbelief, or rather disregard, of Christianity, might encourage him to pillage with less remorse the churches of a hostile territory: but his subjects of Gaul enjoyed the free exercise of religious worship; and the bishops entertained a more favorable hope of the idolater, than of the heretics. The Merovingian prince had contracted a fortunate alliance with the fair Clotilda, the niece of the king of Burgundy, who, in the midst of an Arian court, was educated in the profession of the Catholic faith. It was her interest, as well as her duty, to achieve the conversion [26] of a Pagan husband; and Clovis insensibly listened to the voice of love and religion. He consented (perhaps such terms had been previously stipulated) to the baptism of his eldest son; and though the sudden death of the infant excited some superstitious fears, he was persuaded, a second time, to repeat the dangerous experiment. In the distress of the battle of Tolbiac, Clovis loudly invoked the God of Clotilda and the Christians; and victory disposed him to hear, with respectful gratitude, the eloquent [27] Remigius, [28] bishop of Rheims, who forcibly displayed the temporal and spiritual advantages of his conversion. The king declared himself satisfied of the truth of the Catholic faith; and the political reasons which might have suspended his public profession, were removed by the devout or loyal acclamations of the Franks, who showed themselves alike prepared to follow their heroic leader to the field of battle, or to the baptismal font. The important ceremony was performed in the cathedral of Rheims, with every circumstance of magnificence and solemnity that could impress an awful sense of religion on the minds of its rude proselytes. [29] The new Constantine was immediately baptized, with three thousand of his warlike subjects; and their example was imitated by the remainder of the gentle Barbarians, who, in obedience to the victorious prelate, adored the cross which they had burnt, and burnt the idols which they had formerly adored. [30] The mind of Clovis was susceptible of transient fervor: he was exasperated by the pathetic tale of the passion and death of Christ; and, instead of weighing the salutary consequences of that mysterious sacrifice, he exclaimed, with indiscreet fury, "Had I been present at the head of my valiant Franks, I would have revenged his injuries." [31] But the savage conqueror of Gaul was incapable of examining the proofs of a religion, which depends on the laborious investigation of historic evidence and speculative theology. He was still more incapable of feeling the mild influence of the gospel, which persuades and purifies the heart of a genuine convert. His ambitious reign was a perpetual violation of moral and Christian duties: his hands were stained with blood in peace as well as in war; and, as soon as Clovis had dismissed a synod of the Gallican church, he calmly assassinated all the princes of the Merovingian race. [32] Yet the king of the Franks might sincerely worship the Christian God, as a Being more excellent and powerful than his national deities; and the signal deliverance and victory of Tolbiac encouraged Clovis to confide in the future protection of the Lord of Hosts. Martin, the most popular of the saints, had filled the Western world with the fame of those miracles which were incessantly performed at his holy sepulchre of Tours. His visible or invisible aid promoted the cause of a liberal and orthodox prince; and the profane remark of Clovis himself, that St.Martin was an expensive friend, [33] need not be interpreted as the symptom of any permanent or rational scepticism. But earth, as well as heaven, rejoiced in the conversion of the Franks. On the memorable day when Clovis ascended from the baptismal font, he alone, in the Christian world, deserved the name and prerogatives of a Catholic king. The emperor Anastasius entertained some dangerous errors concerning the nature of the divine incarnation; and the Barbarians of Italy, Africa, Spain, and Gaul, were involved in the Arian heresy. The eldest, or rather the only, son of the church, was acknowledged by the clergy as their lawful sovereign, or glorious deliverer; and the armies of Clovis were strenuously supported by the zeal and fervor of the Catholic faction. [34]

[Footnote 25: Clotilda, or rather Gregory, supposes that Clovis worshipped the gods of Greece and Rome. The fact is incredible, and the mistake only shows how completely, in less than a century, the national religion of the Franks had been abolished and even forgotten]

[Footnote 26: Gregory of Tours relates the marriage and conversion of Clovis, (l. ii. c. 28-31, in tom. ii. p. 175-178.) Even Fredegarius, or the nameless Epitomizer, (in tom. ii. p. 398-400,) the author of the Gesta Francorum, (in tom. ii. p. 548-552,) and Aimoin himself, (l. i. c. 13, in tom. iii. p. 37-40,) may be heard without disdain. Tradition might long preserve some curious circumstances of these important transactions.]

[Footnote 27: A traveller, who returned from Rheims to Auvergne, had stolen a copy of his declamations from the secretary or bookseller of the modest archbishop, (Sidonius Apollinar. l. ix. epist. 7.) Four epistles of Remigius, which are still extant, (in tom. iv. p. 51, 52, 53,) do not correspond with the splendid praise of Sidonius.]

[Footnote 28: Hincmar, one of the successors of Remigius, (A.D. 845-882,) had composed his life, (in tom. iii. p. 373-380.) The authority of ancient MSS. of the church of Rheims might inspire some confidence, which is destroyed, however, by the selfish and audacious fictions of Hincmar. It is remarkable enough, that Remigius, who was consecrated at the age of twenty-two, (A.D. 457,) filled the episcopal chair seventy-four years, (Pagi Critica, in Baron tom. ii. p. 384, 572.)]

[Footnote 29: A phial (the Sainte Ampoulle of holy, or rather celestial, oil,) was brought down by a white dove, for the baptism of Clovis; and it is still used and renewed, in the coronation of the kings of France. Hincmar (he aspired to the primacy of Gaul) is the first author of this fable, (in tom. iii. p. 377,) whose slight foundations the Abbe de Vertot (Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. ii. p. 619-633) has undermined, with profound respect and consummate dexterity.]

[Footnote 30: Mitis depone colla, Sicamber: adora quod incendisti, incende quod adorasti. Greg. Turon. l. ii. c. 31, in tom. ii. p. 177.]

[Footnote 31: Si ego ibidem cum Francis meis fuissem, injurias ejus vindicassem. This rash expression, which Gregory has prudently concealed, is celebrated by Fredegarius, (Epitom. c. 21, in tom. ii. p. 400,) Ai moin, (l. i. c. 16, in tom. iii. p. 40,) and the Chroniques de St. Denys, (l. i. c. 20, in tom. iii. p. 171,) as an admirable effusion of Christian zeal.]

[Footnote 32: Gregory, (l. ii. c. 40-43, in tom. ii. p. 183-185,) after coolly relating the repeated crimes, and affected remorse, of Clovis, concludes, perhaps undesignedly, with a lesson, which ambition will never hear. "His ita transactis obiit."]

[Footnote 33: After the Gothic victory, Clovis made rich offerings to St. Martin of Tours. He wished to redeem his war-horse by the gift of one hundred pieces of gold, but the enchanted steed could not remove from the stable till the price of his redemption had been doubled. This miracle provoked the king to exclaim, Vere B. Martinus est bonus in auxilio, sed carus in negotio. (Gesta Francorum, in tom. ii. p. 554, 555.)]

[Footnote 34: See the epistle from Pope Anastasius to the royal convert, (in Com. iv. p. 50, 51.) Avitus, bishop of Vienna, addressed Clovis on the same subject, (p. 49;) and many of the Latin bishops would assure him of their joy and attachment.]

Under the Roman empire, the wealth and jurisdiction of the bishops, their sacred character, and perpetual office, their numerous dependants, popular eloquence, and provincial assemblies, had rendered them always respectable, and sometimes dangerous. Their influence was augmented with the progress of superstition; and the establishment of the French monarchy may, in some degree, be ascribed to the firm alliance of a hundred prelates, who reigned in the discontented, or independent, cities of Gaul. The slight foundations of the Armorican republic had been repeatedly shaken, or overthrown; but the same people still guarded their domestic freedom; asserted the dignity of the Roman name; and bravely resisted the predatory inroads, and regular attacks, of Clovis, who labored to extend his conquests from the Seine to the Loire. Their successful opposition introduced an equal and honorable union. The Franks esteemed the valor of the Armoricans [35] and the Armoricans were reconciled by the religion of the Franks. The military force which had been stationed for the defence of Gaul, consisted of one hundred different bands of cavalry or infantry; and these troops, while they assumed the title and privileges of Roman soldiers, were renewed by an incessant supply of the Barbarian youth. The extreme fortifications, and scattered fragments of the empire, were still defended by their hopeless courage. But their retreat was intercepted, and their communication was impracticable: they were abandoned by the Greek princes of Constantinople, and they piously disclaimed all connection with the Arian usurpers of Gaul. They accepted, without shame or reluctance, the generous capitulation, which was proposed by a Catholic hero; and this spurious, or legitimate, progeny of the Roman legions, was distinguished in the succeeding age by their arms, their ensigns, and their peculiar dress and institutions. But the national strength was increased by these powerful and voluntary accessions; and the neighboring kingdoms dreaded the numbers, as well as the spirit, of the Franks. The reduction of the Northern provinces of Gaul, instead of being decided by the chance of a single battle, appears to have been slowly effected by the gradual operation of war and treaty and Clovis acquired each object of his ambition, by such efforts, or such concessions, as were adequate to its real value. His savage character, and the virtues of Henry IV., suggest the most opposite ideas of human nature; yet some resemblance may be found in the situation of two princes, who conquered France by their valor, their policy, and the merits of a seasonable conversion. [36]

[Footnote 35: Instead of an unknown people, who now appear on the text of Procopious, Hadrian de Valois has restored the proper name of the easy correction has been almost universally approved. Yet an unprejudiced reader would naturally suppose, that Procopius means to describe a tribe of Germans in the alliance of Rome; and not a confederacy of Gallic cities, which had revolted from the empire. * Note: Compare Hallam's Europe during the Middle Ages, vol i. p. 2, Daru, Hist. de Bretagne vol. i. p. 129—M.]

[Footnote 36: This important digression of Procopius (de Bell. Gothic. l. i. c. 12, in tom. ii. p. 29-36) illustrates the origin of the French monarchy. Yet I must observe, 1. That the Greek historian betrays an inexcusable ignorance of the geography of the West. 2. That these treaties and privileges, which should leave some lasting traces, are totally invisible in Gregory of Tours, the Salic laws, &c.]

The kingdom of the Burgundians, which was defined by the course of two Gallic rivers, the Saone and the Rhone, extended from the forest of Vosges to the Alps and the sea of Marscilles. [37] The sceptre was in the hands of Gundobald. That valiant and ambitious prince had reduced the number of royal candidates by the death of two brothers, one of whom was the father of Clotilda; [38] but his imperfect prudence still permitted Godegesil, the youngest of his brothers, to possess the dependent principality of Geneva. The Arian monarch was justly alarmed by the satisfaction, and the hopes, which seemed to animate his clergy and people after the conversion of Clovis; and Gundobald convened at Lyons an assembly of his bishops, to reconcile, if it were possible, their religious and political discontents. A vain conference was agitated between the two factions. The Arians upbraided the Catholics with the worship of three Gods: the Catholics defended their cause by theological distinctions; and the usual arguments, objections, and replies were reverberated with obstinate clamor; till the king revealed his secret apprehensions, by an abrupt but decisive question, which he addressed to the orthodox bishops. "If you truly profess the Christian religion, why do you not restrain the king of the Franks? He has declared war against me, and forms alliances with my enemies for my destruction. A sanguinary and covetous mind is not the symptom of a sincere conversion: let him show his faith by his works." The answer of Avitus, bishop of Vienna, who spoke in the name of his brethren, was delivered with the voice and countenance of an angel. "We are ignorant of the motives and intentions of the king of the Franks: but we are taught by Scripture, that the kingdoms which abandon the divine law are frequently subverted; and that enemies will arise on every side against those who have made God their enemy. Return, with thy people, to the law of God, and he will give peace and security to thy dominions." The king of Burgundy, who was not prepared to accept the condition which the Catholics considered as essential to the treaty, delayed and dismissed the ecclesiastical conference; after reproaching his bishops, that Clovis, their friend and proselyte, had privately tempted the allegiance of his brother. [39]

[Footnote 37: Regnum circa Rhodanum aut Ararim cum provincia Massiliensi retinebant. Greg. Turon. l. ii. c. 32, in tom. ii. p. 178. The province of Marseilles, as far as the Durance, was afterwards ceded to the Ostrogoths; and the signatures of twenty-five bishops are supposed to represent the kingdom of Burgundy, A.D. 519. (Concil. Epaon, in tom. iv. p. 104, 105.) Yet I would except Vindonissa. The bishop, who lived under the Pagan Alemanni, would naturally resort to the synods of the next Christian kingdom. Mascou (in his four first annotations) has explained many circumstances relative to the Burgundian monarchy.]

[Footnote 38: Mascou, (Hist. of the Germans, xi. 10,) who very reasonably distracts the testimony of Gregory of Tours, has produced a passage from Avitus (epist. v.) to prove that Gundobald affected to deplore the tragic event, which his subjects affected to applaud.]

[Footnote 39: See the original conference, (in tom. iv. p. 99-102.) Avitus, the principal actor, and probably the secretary of the meeting, was bishop of Vienna. A short account of his person and works may be fouud in Dupin, (Bibliotheque Ecclesiastique, tom. v. p. 5-10.)]



Chapter XXXVIII: Reign Of Clovis.—Part II.

The allegiance of his brother was already seduced; and the obedience of Godegesil, who joined the royal standard with the troops of Geneva, more effectually promoted the success of the conspiracy. While the Franks and Burgundians contended with equal valor, his seasonable desertion decided the event of the battle; and as Gundobald was faintly supported by the disaffected Gauls, he yielded to the arms of Clovis, and hastily retreated from the field, which appears to have been situate between Langres and Dijon. He distrusted the strength of Dijon, a quadrangular fortress, encompassed by two rivers, and by a wall thirty feet high, and fifteen thick, with four gates, and thirty-three towers: [40] he abandoned to the pursuit of Clovis the important cities of Lyons and Vienna; and Gundobald still fled with precipitation, till he had reached Avignon, at the distance of two hundred and fifty miles from the field of battle.

A long siege and an artful negotiation, admonished the king of the Franks of the danger and difficulty of his enterprise. He imposed a tribute on the Burgundian prince, compelled him to pardon and reward his brother's treachery, and proudly returned to his own dominions, with the spoils and captives of the southern provinces. This splendid triumph was soon clouded by the intelligence, that Gundobald had violated his recent obligations, and that the unfortunate Godegesil, who was left at Vienna with a garrison of five thousand Franks, [41] had been besieged, surprised, and massacred by his inhuman brother. Such an outrage might have exasperated the patience of the most peaceful sovereign; yet the conqueror of Gaul dissembled the injury, released the tribute, and accepted the alliance, and military service, of the king of Burgundy. Clovis no longer possessed those advantages which had assured the success of the preceding war; and his rival, instructed by adversity, had found new resources in the affections of his people. The Gauls or Romans applauded the mild and impartial laws of Gundobald, which almost raised them to the same level with their conquerors. The bishops were reconciled, and flattered, by the hopes, which he artfully suggested, of his approaching conversion; and though he eluded their accomplishment to the last moment of his life, his moderation secured the peace, and suspended the ruin, of the kingdom of Burgundy. [42]

[Footnote 40: Gregory of Tours (l. iii. c. 19, in tom. ii. p. 197) indulges his genius, or rather describes some more eloquent writer, in the description of Dijon; a castle, which already deserved the title of a city. It depended on the bishops of Langres till the twelfth century, and afterwards became the capital of the dukes of Burgundy Longuerue Description de la France, part i. p. 280.]

[Footnote 41: The Epitomizer of Gregory of Tours (in tom. ii. p. 401) has supplied this number of Franks; but he rashly supposes that they were cut in pieces by Gundobald. The prudent Burgundian spared the soldiers of Clovis, and sent these captives to the king of the Visigoths, who settled them in the territory of Thoulouse.]

[Footnote 42: In this Burgundian war I have followed Gregory of Tours, (l. ii. c. 32, 33, in tom. ii. p. 178, 179,) whose narrative appears so incompatible with that of Procopius, (de Bell. Goth. l. i. c. 12, in tom. ii. p. 31, 32,) that some critics have supposed two different wars. The Abbe Dubos (Hist. Critique, &c., tom. ii. p. 126-162) has distinctly represented the causes and the events.]

I am impatient to pursue the final ruin of that kingdom, which was accomplished under the reign of Sigismond, the son of Gundobald. The Catholic Sigismond has acquired the honors of a saint and martyr; [43] but the hands of the royal saint were stained with the blood of his innocent son, whom he inhumanly sacrificed to the pride and resentment of a step-mother. He soon discovered his error, and bewailed the irreparable loss. While Sigismond embraced the corpse of the unfortunate youth, he received a severe admonition from one of his attendants: "It is not his situation, O king! it is thine which deserves pity and lamentation." The reproaches of a guilty conscience were alleviated, however, by his liberal donations to the monastery of Agaunum, or St. Maurice, in Vallais; which he himself had founded in honor of the imaginary martyrs of the Thebaean legion. [44] A full chorus of perpetual psalmody was instituted by the pious king; he assiduously practised the austere devotion of the monks; and it was his humble prayer, that Heaven would inflict in this world the punishment of his sins. His prayer was heard: the avengers were at hand: and the provinces of Burgundy were overwhelmed by an army of victorious Franks. After the event of an unsuccessful battle, Sigismond, who wished to protract his life that he might prolong his penance, concealed himself in the desert in a religious habit, till he was discovered and betrayed by his subjects, who solicited the favor of their new masters. The captive monarch, with his wife and two children, was transported to Orleans, and buried alive in a deep well, by the stern command of the sons of Clovis; whose cruelty might derive some excuse from the maxims and examples of their barbarous age. Their ambition, which urged them to achieve the conquest of Burgundy, was inflamed, or disguised, by filial piety: and Clotilda, whose sanctity did not consist in the forgiveness of injuries, pressed them to revenge her father's death on the family of his assassin. The rebellious Burgundians (for they attempted to break their chains) were still permitted to enjoy their national laws under the obligation of tribute and military service; and the Merovingian princes peaceably reigned over a kingdom, whose glory and greatness had been first overthrown by the arms of Clovis. [45]

[Footnote 43: See his life or legend, (in tom. iii. p. 402.) A martyr! how strangely has that word been distorted from its original sense of a common witness. St. Sigismond was remarkable for the cure of fevers]

[Footnote 44: Before the end of the fifth century, the church of St. Maurice, and his Thebaean legion, had rendered Agaunum a place of devout pilgrimage. A promiscuous community of both sexes had introduced some deeds of darkness, which were abolished (A.D. 515) by the regular monastery of Sigismond. Within fifty years, his angels of light made a nocturnal sally to murder their bishop, and his clergy. See in the Bibliotheque Raisonnee (tom. xxxvi. p. 435-438) the curious remarks of a learned librarian of Geneva.]

[Footnote 45: Marius, bishop of Avenche, (Chron. in tom. ii. p. 15,) has marked the authentic dates, and Gregory of Tours (l. iii. c. 5, 6, in tom. ii. p. 188, 189) has expressed the principal facts, of the life of Sigismond, and the conquest of Burgundy. Procopius (in tom. ii. p. 34) and Agathias (in tom. ii. p. 49) show their remote and imperfect knowledge.]

The first victory of Clovis had insulted the honor of the Goths. They viewed his rapid progress with jealousy and terror; and the youthful fame of Alaric was oppressed by the more potent genius of his rival. Some disputes inevitably arose on the edge of their contiguous dominions; and after the delays of fruitless negotiation, a personal interview of the two kings was proposed and accepted. The conference of Clovis and Alaric was held in a small island of the Loire, near Amboise. They embraced, familiarly conversed, and feasted together; and separated with the warmest professions of peace and brotherly love. But their apparent confidence concealed a dark suspicion of hostile and treacherous designs; and their mutual complaints solicited, eluded, and disclaimed, a final arbitration. At Paris, which he already considered as his royal seat, Clovis declared to an assembly of the princes and warriors, the pretence, and the motive, of a Gothic war. "It grieves me to see that the Arians still possess the fairest portion of Gaul. Let us march against them with the aid of God; and, having vanquished the heretics, we will possess and divide their fertile provinces." [46] The Franks, who were inspired by hereditary valor and recent zeal, applauded the generous design of their monarch; expressed their resolution to conquer or die, since death and conquest would be equally profitable; and solemnly protested that they would never shave their beards till victory should absolve them from that inconvenient vow. The enterprise was promoted by the public or private exhortations of Clotilda. She reminded her husband how effectually some pious foundation would propitiate the Deity, and his servants: and the Christian hero, darting his battle-axe with a skilful and nervous band, "There, (said he,) on that spot where my Francisca, [47] shall fall, will I erect a church in honor of the holy apostles." This ostentatious piety confirmed and justified the attachment of the Catholics, with whom he secretly corresponded; and their devout wishes were gradually ripened into a formidable conspiracy. The people of Aquitain were alarmed by the indiscreet reproaches of their Gothic tyrants, who justly accused them of preferring the dominion of the Franks: and their zealous adherent Quintianus, bishop of Rodez, [48] preached more forcibly in his exile than in his diocese. To resist these foreign and domestic enemies, who were fortified by the alliance of the Burgundians, Alaric collected his troops, far more numerous than the military powers of Clovis. The Visigoths resumed the exercise of arms, which they had neglected in a long and luxurious peace; [49] a select band of valiant and robust slaves attended their masters to the field; [50] and the cities of Gaul were compelled to furnish their doubtful and reluctant aid. Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, who reigned in Italy, had labored to maintain the tranquillity of Gaul; and he assumed, or affected, for that purpose, the impartial character of a mediator. But the sagacious monarch dreaded the rising empire of Clovis, and he was firmly engaged to support the national and religious cause of the Goths.

[Footnote 46: Gregory of Tours (l. ii. c. 37, in tom. ii. p. 181) inserts the short but persuasive speech of Clovis. Valde moleste fero, quod hi Ariani partem teneant Galliarum, (the author of the Gesta Francorum, in tom. ii. p. 553, adds the precious epithet of optimam,) camus cum Dei adjutorio, et, superatis eis, redigamus terram in ditionem nostram.]

[Footnote 47: Tunc rex projecit a se in directum Bipennem suam quod est Francisca, &c. (Gesta Franc. in tom. ii. p. 554.) The form and use of this weapon are clearly described by Procopius, (in tom. ii. p. 37.) Examples of its national appellation in Latin and French may be found in the Glossary of Ducange, and the large Dictionnaire de Trevoux.]

[Footnote 48: It is singular enough that some important and authentic facts should be found in a Life of Quintianus, composed in rhyme in the old Patois of Rouergue, (Dubos, Hist. Critique, &c., tom. ii. p. 179.)]

[Footnote 49: Quamvis fortitudini vestrae confidentiam tribuat parentum ves trorum innumerabilis multitudo; quamvis Attilam potentem reminiscamini Visigotharum viribus inclinatum; tamen quia populorum ferocia corda longa pace mollescunt, cavete subito in alean aleam mittere, quos constat tantis temporibus exercitia non habere. Such was the salutary, but fruitless, advice of peace of reason, and of Theodoric, (Cassiodor. l. iii. ep. 2.)]

[Footnote 50: Montesquieu (Esprit des Loix, l. xv. c. 14) mentions and approves the law of the Visigoths, (l. ix. tit. 2, in tom. iv. p. 425,) which obliged all masters to arm, and send, or lead, into the field a tenth of their slaves.]

The accidental, or artificial, prodigies which adorned the expedition of Clovis, were accepted by a superstitious age, as the manifest declaration of the divine favor. He marched from Paris; and as he proceeded with decent reverence through the holy diocese of Tours, his anxiety tempted him to consult the shrine of St. Martin, the sanctuary and the oracle of Gaul. His messengers were instructed to remark the words of the Psalm which should happen to be chanted at the precise moment when they entered the church. Those words most fortunately expressed the valor and victory of the champions of Heaven, and the application was easily transferred to the new Joshua, the new Gideon, who went forth to battle against the enemies of the Lord. [51] Orleans secured to the Franks a bridge on the Loire; but, at the distance of forty miles from Poitiers, their progress was intercepted by an extraordinary swell of the River Vigenna or Vienne; and the opposite banks were covered by the encampment of the Visigoths. Delay must be always dangerous to Barbarians, who consume the country through which they march; and had Clovis possessed leisure and materials, it might have been impracticable to construct a bridge, or to force a passage, in the face of a superior enemy. But the affectionate peasants who were impatient to welcome their deliverer, could easily betray some unknown or unguarded ford: the merit of the discovery was enhanced by the useful interposition of fraud or fiction; and a white hart, of singular size and beauty, appeared to guide and animate the march of the Catholic army. The counsels of the Visigoths were irresolute and distracted. A crowd of impatient warriors, presumptuous in their strength, and disdaining to fly before the robbers of Germany, excited Alaric to assert in arms the name and blood of the conquerors of Rome. The advice of the graver chieftains pressed him to elude the first ardor of the Franks; and to expect, in the southern provinces of Gaul, the veteran and victorious Ostrogoths, whom the king of Italy had already sent to his assistance. The decisive moments were wasted in idle deliberation the Goths too hastily abandoned, perhaps, an advantageous post; and the opportunity of a secure retreat was lost by their slow and disorderly motions. After Clovis had passed the ford, as it is still named, of the Hart, he advanced with bold and hasty steps to prevent the escape of the enemy. His nocturnal march was directed by a flaming meteor, suspended in the air above the cathedral of Poitiers; and this signal, which might be previously concerted with the orthodox successor of St. Hilary, was compared to the column of fire that guided the Israelites in the desert. At the third hour of the day, about ten miles beyond Poitiers, Clovis overtook, and instantly attacked, the Gothic army; whose defeat was already prepared by terror and confusion. Yet they rallied in their extreme distress, and the martial youths, who had clamorously demanded the battle, refused to survive the ignominy of flight. The two kings encountered each other in single combat. Alaric fell by the hand of his rival; and the victorious Frank was saved by the goodness of his cuirass, and the vigor of his horse, from the spears of two desperate Goths, who furiously rode against him to revenge the death of their sovereign. The vague expression of a mountain of the slain, serves to indicate a cruel though indefinite slaughter; but Gregory has carefully observed, that his valiant countryman Apollinaris, the son of Sidonius, lost his life at the head of the nobles of Auvergne. Perhaps these suspected Catholics had been maliciously exposed to the blind assault of the enemy; and perhaps the influence of religion was superseded by personal attachment or military honor. [52]

[Footnote 51: This mode of divination, by accepting as an omen the first sacred words, which in particular circumstances should be presented to the eye or ear, was derived from the Pagans; and the Psalter, or Bible, was substituted to the poems of Homer and Virgil. From the fourth to the fourteenth century, these sortes sanctorum, as they are styled, were repeatedly condemned by the decrees of councils, and repeatedly practised by kings, bishops, and saints. See a curious dissertation of the Abbe du Resnel, in the Memoires de l'Academie, tom. xix. p. 287-310]

[Footnote 52: After correcting the text, or excusing the mistake, of Procopius, who places the defeat of Alaric near Carcassone, we may conclude, from the evidence of Gregory, Fortunatus, and the author of the Gesta Francorum, that the battle was fought in campo Vocladensi, on the banks of the Clain, about ten miles to the south of Poitiers. Clovis overtook and attacked the Visigoths near Vivonne, and the victory was decided near a village still named Champagne St. Hilaire. See the Dissertations of the Abbe le Boeuf, tom. i. p. 304-331.]

Such is the empire of Fortune, (if we may still disguise our ignorance under that popular name,) that it is almost equally difficult to foresee the events of war, or to explain their various consequences. A bloody and complete victory has sometimes yielded no more than the possession of the field and the loss of ten thousand men has sometimes been sufficient to destroy, in a single day, the work of ages. The decisive battle of Poitiers was followed by the conquest of Aquitain. Alaric had left behind him an infant son, a bastard competitor, factious nobles, and a disloyal people; and the remaining forces of the Goths were oppressed by the general consternation, or opposed to each other in civil discord. The victorious king of the Franks proceeded without delay to the siege of Angouleme. At the sound of his trumpets the walls of the city imitated the example of Jericho, and instantly fell to the ground; a splendid miracle, which may be reduced to the supposition, that some clerical engineers had secretly undermined the foundations of the rampart. [53] At Bordeaux, which had submitted without resistance, Clovis established his winter quarters; and his prudent economy transported from Thoulouse the royal treasures, which were deposited in the capital of the monarchy. The conqueror penetrated as far as the confines of Spain; [54] restored the honors of the Catholic church; fixed in Aquitain a colony of Franks; [55] and delegated to his lieutenants the easy task of subduing, or extirpating, the nation of the Visigoths. But the Visigoths were protected by the wise and powerful monarch of Italy. While the balance was still equal, Theodoric had perhaps delayed the march of the Ostrogoths; but their strenuous efforts successfully resisted the ambition of Clovis; and the army of the Franks, and their Burgundian allies, was compelled to raise the siege of Arles, with the loss, as it is said, of thirty thousand men. These vicissitudes inclined the fierce spirit of Clovis to acquiesce in an advantageous treaty of peace. The Visigoths were suffered to retain the possession of Septimania, a narrow tract of sea-coast, from the Rhone to the Pyrenees; but the ample province of Aquitain, from those mountains to the Loire, was indissolubly united to the kingdom of France. [56]

[Footnote 53: Angouleme is in the road from Poitiers to Bordeaux; and although Gregory delays the siege, I can more readily believe that he confounded the order of history, than that Clovis neglected the rules of war.]

[Footnote 54: Pyrenaeos montes usque Perpinianum subjecit, is the expression of Rorico, which betrays his recent date; since Perpignan did not exist before the tenth century, (Marca Hispanica, p. 458.) This florid and fabulous writer (perhaps a monk of Amiens—see the Abbe le Boeuf, Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xvii. p. 228-245) relates, in the allegorical character of a shepherd, the general history of his countrymen the Franks; but his narrative ends with the death of Clovis.]

[Footnote 55: The author of the Gesta Francorum positively affirms, that Clovis fixed a body of Franks in the Saintonge and Bourdelois: and he is not injudiciously followed by Rorico, electos milites, atque fortissimos, cum parvulis, atque mulieribus. Yet it should seem that they soon mingled with the Romans of Aquitain, till Charlemagne introduced a more numerous and powerful colony, (Dubos, Hist. Critique, tom. ii. p. 215.)]

[Footnote 56: In the composition of the Gothic war, I have used the following materials, with due regard to their unequal value. Four epistles from Theodoric, king of Italy, (Cassiodor l. iii. epist. 1-4. in tom. iv p. 3-5;) Procopius, (de Bell. Goth. l. i. c 12, in tom. ii. p. 32, 33;) Gregory of Tours, (l. ii. c. 35, 36, 37, in tom. ii. p. 181-183;) Jornandes, (de Reb. Geticis, c. 58, in tom. ii. p. 28;) Fortunatas, (in Vit. St. Hilarii, in tom. iii. p. 380;) Isidore, (in Chron. Goth. in tom. ii. p. 702;) the Epitome of Gregory of Tours, (in tom. ii. p. 401;) the author of the Gesta Francorum, (in tom. ii. p. 553-555;) the Fragments of Fredegarius, (in tom. ii. p. 463;) Aimoin, (l. i. c. 20, in tom. iii. p. 41, 42,) and Rorico, (l. iv. in tom. iii. p. 14-19.)]

After the success of the Gothic war, Clovis accepted the honors of the Roman consulship. The emperor Anastasius ambitiously bestowed on the most powerful rival of Theodoric the title and ensigns of that eminent dignity; yet, from some unknown cause, the name of Clovis has not been inscribed in the Fasti either of the East or West. [57] On the solemn day, the monarch of Gaul, placing a diadem on his head, was invested, in the church of St. Martin, with a purple tunic and mantle. From thence he proceeded on horseback to the cathedral of Tours; and, as he passed through the streets, profusely scattered, with his own hand, a donative of gold and silver to the joyful multitude, who incessantly repeated their acclamations of Consul and Augustus. The actual or legal authority of Clovis could not receive any new accessions from the consular dignity. It was a name, a shadow, an empty pageant; and if the conqueror had been instructed to claim the ancient prerogatives of that high office, they must have expired with the period of its annual duration. But the Romans were disposed to revere, in the person of their master, that antique title which the emperors condescended to assume: the Barbarian himself seemed to contract a sacred obligation to respect the majesty of the republic; and the successors of Theodosius, by soliciting his friendship, tacitly forgave, and almost ratified, the usurpation of Gaul.

[Footnote 57: The Fasti of Italy would naturally reject a consul, the enemy of their sovereign; but any ingenious hypothesis that might explain the silence of Constantinople and Egypt, (the Chronicle of Marcellinus, and the Paschal,) is overturned by the similar silence of Marius, bishop of Avenche, who composed his Fasti in the kingdom of Burgundy. If the evidence of Gregory of Tours were less weighty and positive, (l. ii. c. 38, in tom. ii. p. 183,) I could believe that Clovis, like Odoacer, received the lasting title and honors of Patrician, (Pagi Critica, tom. ii. p. 474, 492.)]

Twenty-five years after the death of Clovis this important concession was more formally declared, in a treaty between his sons and the emperor Justinian. The Ostrogoths of Italy, unable to defend their distant acquisitions, had resigned to the Franks the cities of Arles and Marseilles; of Arles, still adorned with the seat of a Praetorian praefect, and of Marseilles, enriched by the advantages of trade and navigation. [58] This transaction was confirmed by the Imperial authority; and Justinian, generously yielding to the Franks the sovereignty of the countries beyond the Alps, which they already possessed, absolved the provincials from their allegiance; and established on a more lawful, though not more solid, foundation, the throne of the Merovingians. [59] From that era they enjoyed the right of celebrating at Arles the games of the circus; and by a singular privilege, which was denied even to the Persian monarch, the gold coin, impressed with their name and image, obtained a legal currency in the empire. [60] A Greek historian of that age has praised the private and public virtues of the Franks, with a partial enthusiasm, which cannot be sufficiently justified by their domestic annals. [61] He celebrates their politeness and urbanity, their regular government, and orthodox religion; and boldly asserts, that these Barbarians could be distinguished only by their dress and language from the subjects of Rome. Perhaps the Franks already displayed the social disposition, and lively graces, which, in every age, have disguised their vices, and sometimes concealed their intrinsic merit. Perhaps Agathias, and the Greeks, were dazzled by the rapid progress of their arms, and the splendor of their empire. Since the conquest of Burgundy, Gaul, except the Gothic province of Septimania, was subject, in its whole extent, to the sons of Clovis. They had extinguished the German kingdom of Thuringia, and their vague dominion penetrated beyond the Rhine, into the heart of their native forests. The Alemanni, and Bavarians, who had occupied the Roman provinces of Rhaetia and Noricum, to the south of the Danube, confessed themselves the humble vassals of the Franks; and the feeble barrier of the Alps was incapable of resisting their ambition. When the last survivor of the sons of Clovis united the inheritance and conquests of the Merovingians, his kingdom extended far beyond the limits of modern France. Yet modern France, such has been the progress of arts and policy, far surpasses, in wealth, populousness, and power, the spacious but savage realms of Clotaire or Dagobert. [62]

[Footnote 58: Under the Merovingian kings, Marseilles still imported from the East paper, wine, oil, linen, silk, precious stones, spices, &c. The Gauls, or Franks, traded to Syria, and the Syrians were established in Gaul. See M. de Guignes, Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xxxvii. p. 471-475.]

[Footnote 59: This strong declaration of Procopius (de Bell. Gothic. l. iii. cap. 33, in tom. ii. p. 41) would almost suffice to justify the Abbe Dubos.]

[Footnote 60: The Franks, who probably used the mints of Treves, Lyons, and Arles, imitated the coinage of the Roman emperors of seventy-two solidi, or pieces, to the pound of gold. But as the Franks established only a decuple proportion of gold and silver, ten shillings will be a sufficient valuation of their solidus of gold. It was the common standard of the Barbaric fines, and contained forty denarii, or silver three pences. Twelve of these denarii made a solidus, or shilling, the twentieth part of the ponderal and numeral livre, or pound of silver, which has been so strangely reduced in modern France. See La Blanc, Traite Historique des Monnoyes de France, p. 36-43, &c.]

[Footnote 61: Agathias, in tom. ii. p. 47. Gregory of Tours exhibits a very different picture. Perhaps it would not be easy, within the same historical space, to find more vice and less virtue. We are continually shocked by the union of savage and corrupt manners.]

[Footnote 62: M. de Foncemagne has traced, in a correct and elegant dissertation, (Mem. de l'Academie, tom. viii. p. 505-528,) the extent and limits of the French monarchy.]

The Franks, or French, are the only people of Europe who can deduce a perpetual succession from the conquerors of the Western empire. But their conquest of Gaul was followed by ten centuries of anarchy and ignorance. On the revival of learning, the students, who had been formed in the schools of Athens and Rome, disdained their Barbarian ancestors; and a long period elapsed before patient labor could provide the requisite materials to satisfy, or rather to excite, the curiosity of more enlightened times. [63] At length the eye of criticism and philosophy was directed to the antiquities of France; but even philosophers have been tainted by the contagion of prejudice and passion. The most extreme and exclusive systems, of the personal servitude of the Gauls, or of their voluntary and equal alliance with the Franks, have been rashly conceived, and obstinately defended; and the intemperate disputants have accused each other of conspiring against the prerogative of the crown, the dignity of the nobles, or the freedom of the people. Yet the sharp conflict has usefully exercised the adverse powers of learning and genius; and each antagonist, alternately vanquished and victorious has extirpated some ancient errors, and established some interesting truths. An impartial stranger, instructed by their discoveries, their disputes, and even their faults, may describe, from the same original materials, the state of the Roman provincials, after Gaul had submitted to the arms and laws of the Merovingian kings. [64]

[Footnote 63: The Abbe Dubos (Histoire Critique, tom. i. p. 29-36) has truly and agreeably represented the slow progress of these studies; and he observes, that Gregory of Tours was only once printed before the year 1560. According to the complaint of Heineccius, (Opera, tom. iii. Sylloge, iii. p. 248, &c.,) Germany received with indifference and contempt the codes of Barbaric laws, which were published by Heroldus, Lindenbrogius, &c. At present those laws, (as far as they relate to Gaul,) the history of Gregory of Tours, and all the monuments of the Merovingian race, appear in a pure and perfect state, in the first four volumes of the Historians of France.]

[Footnote 64: In the space of [about] thirty years (1728-1765) this interesting subject has been agitated by the free spirit of the count de Boulainvilliers, (Memoires Historiques sur l'Etat de la France, particularly tom. i. p. 15-49;) the learned ingenuity of the Abbe Dubos, (Histoire Critique de l'Etablissement de la Monarchie Francoise dans les Gaules, 2 vols. in 4to;) the comprehensive genius of the president de Montesquieu, (Esprit des Loix, particularly l. xxviii. xxx. xxxi.;) and the good sense and diligence of the Abbe de Mably, (Observations sur l'Histoire de France, 2 vols. 12mo.)] The rudest, or the most servile, condition of human society, is regulated, however, by some fixed and general rules. When Tacitus surveyed the primitive simplicity of the Germans, he discovered some permanent maxims, or customs, of public and private life, which were preserved by faithful tradition till the introduction of the art of writing, and of the Latin tongue. [65] Before the election of the Merovingian kings, the most powerful tribe, or nation, of the Franks, appointed four venerable chieftains to compose the Salic laws; [66] and their labors were examined and approved in three successive assemblies of the people. After the baptism of Clovis, he reformed several articles that appeared incompatible with Christianity: the Salic law was again amended by his sons; and at length, under the reign of Dagobert, the code was revised and promulgated in its actual form, one hundred years after the establishment of the French monarchy. Within the same period, the customs of the Ripuarians were transcribed and published; and Charlemagne himself, the legislator of his age and country, had accurately studied the two national laws, which still prevailed among the Franks. [67] The same care was extended to their vassals; and the rude institutions of the Alemanni and Bavarians were diligently compiled and ratified by the supreme authority of the Merovingian kings. The Visigoths and Burgundians, whose conquests in Gaul preceded those of the Franks, showed less impatience to attain one of the principal benefits of civilized society. Euric was the first of the Gothic princes who expressed, in writing, the manners and customs of his people; and the composition of the Burgundian laws was a measure of policy rather than of justice; to alleviate the yoke, and regain the affections, of their Gallic subjects. [68] Thus, by a singular coincidence, the Germans framed their artless institutions, at a time when the elaborate system of Roman jurisprudence was finally consummated. In the Salic laws, and the Pandects of Justinian, we may compare the first rudiments, and the full maturity, of civil wisdom; and whatever prejudices may be suggested in favor of Barbarism, our calmer reflections will ascribe to the Romans the superior advantages, not only of science and reason, but of humanity and justice. Yet the laws [681] of the Barbarians were adapted to their wants and desires, their occupations and their capacity; and they all contributed to preserve the peace, and promote the improvement, of the society for whose use they were originally established. The Merovingians, instead of imposing a uniform rule of conduct on their various subjects, permitted each people, and each family, of their empire, freely to enjoy their domestic institutions; [69] nor were the Romans excluded from the common benefits of this legal toleration. [70] The children embraced the law of their parents, the wife that of her husband, the freedman that of his patron; and in all causes where the parties were of different nations, the plaintiff or accuser was obliged to follow the tribunal of the defendant, who may always plead a judicial presumption of right, or innocence. A more ample latitude was allowed, if every citizen, in the presence of the judge, might declare the law under which he desired to live, and the national society to which he chose to belong. Such an indulgence would abolish the partial distinctions of victory: and the Roman provincials might patiently acquiesce in the hardships of their condition; since it depended on themselves to assume the privilege, if they dared to assert the character, of free and warlike Barbarians. [71]

[Footnote 65: I have derived much instruction from two learned works of Heineccius, the History, and the Elements, of the Germanic law. In a judicious preface to the Elements, he considers, and tries to excuse the defects of that barbarous jurisprudence.]

[Footnote 66: Latin appears to have been the original language of the Salic law. It was probably composed in the beginning of the fifth century, before the era (A.D. 421) of the real or fabulous Pharamond. The preface mentions the four cantons which produced the four legislators; and many provinces, Franconia, Saxony, Hanover, Brabant, &c., have claimed them as their own. See an excellent Dissertation of Heinecties de Lege Salica, tom. iii. Sylloge iii. p. 247-267. * Note: The relative antiquity of the two copies of the Salic law has been contested with great learning and ingenuity. The work of M. Wiarda, History and Explanation of the Salic Law, Bremen, 1808, asserts that what is called the Lex Antiqua, or Vetustior in which many German words are mingled with the Latin, has no claim to superior antiquity, and may be suspected to be more modern. M. Wiarda has been opposed by M. Fuer bach, who maintains the higher age of the "ancient" Code, which has been greatly corrupted by the transcribers. See Guizot, Cours de l'Histoire Moderne, vol. i. sect. 9: and the preface to the useful republication of five of the different texts of the Salic law, with that of the Ripuarian in parallel columns. By E. A. I. Laspeyres, Halle, 1833.—M.]

[Footnote 67: Eginhard, in Vit. Caroli Magni, c. 29, in tom. v. p. 100. By these two laws, most critics understand the Salic and the Ripuarian. The former extended from the Carbonarian forest to the Loire, (tom. iv. p. 151,) and the latter might be obeyed from the same forest to the Rhine, (tom. iv. p. 222.)]

[Footnote 68: Consult the ancient and modern prefaces of the several codes, in the fourth volume of the Historians of France. The original prologue to the Salic law expresses (though in a foreign dialect) the genuine spirit of the Franks more forcibly than the ten books of Gregory of Tours.]

[Footnote 69: The Ripuarian law declares, and defines, this indulgence in favor of the plaintiff, (tit. xxxi. in tom. iv. p. 240;) and the same toleration is understood, or expressed, in all the codes, except that of the Visigoths of Spain. Tanta diversitas legum (says Agobard in the ninth century) quanta non solum in regionibus, aut civitatibus, sed etiam in multis domibus habetur. Nam plerumque contingit ut simul eant aut sedeant quinque homines, et nullus eorum communem legem cum altero habeat, (in tom. vi. p. 356.) He foolishly proposes to introduce a uniformity of law, as well as of faith. * Note: It is the object of the important work of M. Savigny, Geschichte des Romisches Rechts in Mittelalter, to show the perpetuity of the Roman law from the 5th to the 12th century.—M.]

[Footnote 681: The most complete collection of these codes is in the "Barbarorum leges antiquae," by P. Canciani, 5 vols. folio, Venice, 1781-9.—M.]

[Footnote 70: Inter Romanos negotia causarum Romanis legibus praecipimus terminari. Such are the words of a general constitution promulgated by Clotaire, the son of Clovis, the sole monarch of the Franks (in tom. iv. p. 116) about the year 560.]

[Footnote 71: This liberty of choice has been aptly deduced (Esprit des Loix, l. xxviii. 2) from the constitution of Lothaire I. (Leg. Langobard. l. ii. tit. lvii. in Codex Lindenbrog. p. 664;) though the example is too recent and partial. From a various reading in the Salic law, (tit. xliv. not. xlv.) the Abbe de Mably (tom. i. p. 290-293) has conjectured, that, at first, a Barbarian only, and afterwards any man, (consequently a Roman,) might live according to the law of the Franks. I am sorry to offend this ingenious conjecture by observing, that the stricter sense (Barbarum) is expressed in the reformed copy of Charlemagne; which is confirmed by the Royal and Wolfenbuttle MSS. The looser interpretation (hominem) is authorized only by the MS. of Fulda, from from whence Heroldus published his edition. See the four original texts of the Salic law in tom. iv. p. 147, 173, 196, 220. * Note: Gibbon appears to have doubted the evidence on which this "liberty of choice" rested. His doubts have been confirmed by the researches of M. Savigny, who has not only confuted but traced with convincing sagacity the origin and progress of this error. As a general principle, though liable to some exceptions, each lived according to his native law. Romische Recht. vol. i. p. 123-138—M. * Note: This constitution of Lothaire at first related only to the duchy of Rome; it afterwards found its way into the Lombard code. Savigny. p. 138.—M.]



Chapter XXXVIII: Reign Of Clovis.—Part III.

When justice inexorably requires the death of a murderer, each private citizen is fortified by the assurance, that the laws, the magistrate, and the whole community, are the guardians of his personal safety. But in the loose society of the Germans, revenge was always honorable, and often meritorious: the independent warrior chastised, or vindicated, with his own hand, the injuries which he had offered or received; and he had only to dread the resentment of the sons and kinsmen of the enemy, whom he had sacrificed to his selfish or angry passions. The magistrate, conscious of his weakness, interposed, not to punish, but to reconcile; and he was satisfied if he could persuade or compel the contending parties to pay and to accept the moderate fine which had been ascertained as the price of blood. [72] The fierce spirit of the Franks would have opposed a more rigorous sentence; the same fierceness despised these ineffectual restraints; and, when their simple manners had been corrupted by the wealth of Gaul, the public peace was continually violated by acts of hasty or deliberate guilt. In every just government the same penalty is inflicted, or at least is imposed, for the murder of a peasant or a prince. But the national inequality established by the Franks, in their criminal proceedings, was the last insult and abuse of conquest. [73] In the calm moments of legislation, they solemnly pronounced, that the life of a Roman was of smaller value than that of a Barbarian. The Antrustion, [74] a name expressive of the most illustrious birth or dignity among the Franks, was appreciated at the sum of six hundred pieces of gold; while the noble provincial, who was admitted to the king's table, might be legally murdered at the expense of three hundred pieces.

Two hundred were deemed sufficient for a Frank of ordinary condition; but the meaner Romans were exposed to disgrace and danger by a trifling compensation of one hundred, or even fifty, pieces of gold. Had these laws been regulated by any principle of equity or reason, the public protection should have supplied, in just proportion, the want of personal strength. But the legislator had weighed in the scale, not of justice, but of policy, the loss of a soldier against that of a slave: the head of an insolent and rapacious Barbarian was guarded by a heavy fine; and the slightest aid was afforded to the most defenceless subjects. Time insensibly abated the pride of the conquerors and the patience of the vanquished; and the boldest citizen was taught, by experience, that he might suffer more injuries than he could inflict. As the manners of the Franks became less ferocious, their laws were rendered more severe; and the Merovingian kings attempted to imitate the impartial rigor of the Visigoths and Burgundians. [75] Under the empire of Charlemagne, murder was universally punished with death; and the use of capital punishments has been liberally multiplied in the jurisprudence of modern Europe. [76]

[Footnote 72: In the heroic times of Greece, the guilt of murder was expiated by a pecuniary satisfaction to the family of the deceased, (Feithius Antiquitat. Homeric. l. ii. c. 8.) Heineccius, in his preface to the Elements of Germanic Law, favorably suggests, that at Rome and Athens homicide was only punished with exile. It is true: but exile was a capital punishment for a citizen of Rome or Athens.]

[Footnote 73: This proportion is fixed by the Salic (tit. xliv. in tom. iv. p. 147) and the Ripuarian (tit. vii. xi. xxxvi. in tom. iv. p. 237, 241) laws: but the latter does not distinguish any difference of Romans. Yet the orders of the clergy are placed above the Franks themselves, and the Burgundians and Alemanni between the Franks and the Romans.]

[Footnote 74: The Antrustiones, qui in truste Dominica sunt, leudi, fideles, undoubtedly represent the first order of Franks; but it is a question whether their rank was personal or hereditary. The Abbe de Mably (tom. i. p. 334-347) is not displeased to mortify the pride of birth (Esprit, l. xxx. c. 25) by dating the origin of the French nobility from the reign Clotaire II. (A.D. 615.)]

[Footnote 75: See the Burgundian laws, (tit. ii. in tom. iv. p. 257,) the code of the Visigoths, (l. vi. tit. v. in tom. p. 384,) and the constitution of Childebert, not of Paris, but most evidently of Austrasia, (in tom. iv. p. 112.) Their premature severity was sometimes rash, and excessive. Childebert condemned not only murderers but robbers; quomodo sine lege involavit, sine lege moriatur; and even the negligent judge was involved in the same sentence. The Visigoths abandoned an unsuccessful surgeon to the family of his deceased patient, ut quod de eo facere voluerint habeant potestatem, (l. xi. tit. i. in tom. iv. p. 435.)]

[Footnote 76: See, in the sixth volume of the works of Heineccius, the Elementa Juris Germanici, l. ii. p. 2, No. 261, 262, 280-283. Yet some vestiges of these pecuniary compositions for murder have been traced in Germany as late as the sixteenth century.]

The civil and military professions, which had been separated by Constantine, were again united by the Barbarians. The harsh sound of the Teutonic appellations was mollified into the Latin titles of Duke, of Count, or of Praefect; and the same officer assumed, within his district, the command of the troops, and the administration of justice. [77] But the fierce and illiterate chieftain was seldom qualified to discharge the duties of a judge, which required all the faculties of a philosophic mind, laboriously cultivated by experience and study; and his rude ignorance was compelled to embrace some simple, and visible, methods of ascertaining the cause of justice. In every religion, the Deity has been invoked to confirm the truth, or to punish the falsehood of human testimony; but this powerful instrument was misapplied and abused by the simplicity of the German legislators. The party accused might justify his innocence, by producing before their tribunal a number of friendly witnesses, who solemnly declared their belief, or assurance, that he was not guilty. According to the weight of the charge, this legal number of compurgators was multiplied; seventy-two voices were required to absolve an incendiary or assassin: and when the chastity of a queen of France was suspected, three hundred gallant nobles swore, without hesitation, that the infant prince had been actually begotten by her deceased husband. [78] The sin and scandal of manifest and frequent perjuries engaged the magistrates to remove these dangerous temptations; and to supply the defects of human testimony by the famous experiments of fire and water. These extraordinary trials were so capriciously contrived, that, in some cases, guilt, and innocence in others, could not be proved without the interposition of a miracle. Such miracles were really provided by fraud and credulity; the most intricate causes were determined by this easy and infallible method, and the turbulent Barbarians, who might have disdained the sentence of the magistrate, submissively acquiesced in the judgment of God. [79]

[Footnote 77: The whole subject of the Germanic judges, and their jurisdiction, is copiously treated by Heineccius, (Element. Jur. Germ. l. iii. No. 1-72.) I cannot find any proof that, under the Merovingian race, the scabini, or assessors, were chosen by the people. * Note: The question of the scabini is treated at considerable length by Savigny. He questions the existence of the scabini anterior to Charlemagne. Before this time the decision was by an open court of the freemen, the boni Romische Recht, vol. i. p. 195. et seq.—M.]

[Footnote 78: Gregor. Turon. l. viii. c. 9, in tom. ii. p. 316. Montesquieu observes, (Esprit des Loix. l. xxviii. c. 13,) that the Salic law did not admit these negative proofs so universally established in the Barbaric codes. Yet this obscure concubine (Fredegundis,) who became the wife of the grandson of Clovis, must have followed the Salic law.]

[Footnote 79: Muratori, in the Antiquities of Italy, has given two Dissertations (xxxvii. xxxix.) on the judgments of God. It was expected that fire would not burn the innocent; and that the pure element of water would not allow the guilty to sink into its bosom.]

But the trials by single combat gradually obtained superior credit and authority, among a warlike people, who could not believe that a brave man deserved to suffer, or that a coward deserved to live. [80] Both in civil and criminal proceedings, the plaintiff, or accuser, the defendant, or even the witness, were exposed to mortal challenge from the antagonist who was destitute of legal proofs; and it was incumbent on them either to desert their cause, or publicly to maintain their honor, in the lists of battle. They fought either on foot, or on horseback, according to the custom of their nation; [81] and the decision of the sword, or lance, was ratified by the sanction of Heaven, of the judge, and of the people. This sanguinary law was introduced into Gaul by the Burgundians; and their legislator Gundobald [82] condescended to answer the complaints and objections of his subject Avitus. "Is it not true," said the king of Burgundy to the bishop, "that the event of national wars, and private combats, is directed by the judgment of God; and that his providence awards the victory to the juster cause?" By such prevailing arguments, the absurd and cruel practice of judicial duels, which had been peculiar to some tribes of Germany, was propagated and established in all the monarchies of Europe, from Sicily to the Baltic. At the end of ten centuries, the reign of legal violence was not totally extinguished; and the ineffectual censures of saints, of popes, and of synods, may seem to prove, that the influence of superstition is weakened by its unnatural alliance with reason and humanity. The tribunals were stained with the blood, perhaps, of innocent and respectable citizens; the law, which now favors the rich, then yielded to the strong; and the old, the feeble, and the infirm, were condemned, either to renounce their fairest claims and possessions, to sustain the dangers of an unequal conflict, [83] or to trust the doubtful aid of a mercenary champion. This oppressive jurisprudence was imposed on the provincials of Gaul, who complained of any injuries in their persons and property. Whatever might be the strength, or courage, of individuals, the victorious Barbarians excelled in the love and exercise of arms; and the vanquished Roman was unjustly summoned to repeat, in his own person, the bloody contest which had been already decided against his country. [84]

[Footnote 80: Montesquieu (Esprit des Loix, l. xxviii. c. 17) has condescended to explain and excuse "la maniere de penser de nos peres," on the subject of judicial combats. He follows this strange institution from the age of Gundobald to that of St. Lewis; and the philosopher is some times lost in the legal antiquarian.]

[Footnote 81: In a memorable duel at Aix-la-Chapelle, (A.D. 820,) before the emperor Lewis the Pious, his biographer observes, secundum legem propriam, utpote quia uterque Gothus erat, equestri pugna est, (Vit. Lud. Pii, c. 33, in tom. vi. p. 103.) Ermoldus Nigellus, (l. iii. 543-628, in tom. vi. p. 48-50,) who describes the duel, admires the ars nova of fighting on horseback, which was unknown to the Franks.]

[Footnote 82: In his original edict, published at Lyons, (A.D. 501,) establishes and justifies the use of judicial combat, (Les Burgund. tit. xlv. in tom. ii. p. 267, 268.) Three hundred years afterwards, Agobard, bishop of Lyons, solicited Lewis the Pious to abolish the law of an Arian tyrant, (in tom. vi. p. 356-358.) He relates the conversation of Gundobald and Avitus.]

[Footnote 83: "Accidit, (says Agobard,) ut non solum valentes viribus, sed etiam infirmi et senes lacessantur ad pugnam, etiam pro vilissimis rebus. Quibus foralibus certaminibus contingunt homicidia injusta; et crudeles ac perversi eventus judiciorum." Like a prudent rhetorician, he suppresses the legal privilege of hiring champions.]

[Footnote 84: Montesquieu, (Esprit des Loix, xxviii. c. 14,) who understands why the judicial combat was admitted by the Burgundians, Ripuarians, Alemanni, Bavarians, Lombards, Thuringians, Frisons, and Saxons, is satisfied (and Agobard seems to countenance the assertion) that it was not allowed by the Salic law. Yet the same custom, at least in case of treason, is mentioned by Ermoldus, Nigellus (l. iii. 543, in tom. vi. p. 48,) and the anonymous biographer of Lewis the Pious, (c. 46, in tom. vi. p. 112,) as the "mos antiquus Francorum, more Francis solito," &c., expressions too general to exclude the noblest of their tribes.]

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