CHAP. amounted to more than twenty thousand men, he


thought it unsafe to pass the night in the presence of
an active and victorious enemy. Abandoning his
camp and magazines, he marched away with secrecy
and diligence at the head of the greatest part of his
cavalry, and was soon removed beyond the danger of
a pursuit. His diligence preserved his wife, his son,
and his treasures, which he had deposited at Sirmium.
Licinius passed through that city, and, breaking down
the bridge on the Save, hastened to collect a new
army in Dacia and Thrace. In his flight he bestowed
the precarious title of Caesar on Valens, his general
of the Illyrian frontier."
The plain of Mardia in Thrace was the theatre
of a second battle no less obstinate and bloody than
the former. The troops on both sides displayed the
same valour and discipline; and the victory was
once more decided by the superior abilities of Con-
stantine, who directed a body of five thousand men
to gain an advantageous height, from whence, during
the heat of the action, they attacked the rear of the
enemy, and made a very considerable slaughter.
The troops of Licinius, however, presenting a double
front, still maintained their ground, till the approach
of night put an end to the combat, and secured their
retreat towards the mountains of Macedonia." The
loss of two battles, and of his bravest veterans, re-
duced the fierce spirit of Licinius to sue for peace.
His ambassador Mistrianus was admitted to the
audience of Constantine; he expatiated on the com-
mon topics of moderation and humanity, which are
so familiar to the eloquence of the vanquished; re-
presented, in the most insinuating language, that
* Zosimus (l. ii. p. 90, 91) gives a very particular account of this battle; but
the descriptions of Zosimus are rhetorical rather than military.
Zosimus, l. ii. p. 92, 93. Anonym. Valesian. p. 713. The Epitomes fur-

Battle of

nish some circumstances; but they frequently confound the two wars between
Licinius and Constantine.

the event of the war was still doubtful, whilst its in- CHAP. evitable calamities were alike pernicious to both the XIV. contending parties; and declared, that he was authorized to propose a lasting and honourable peace in the name of the two emperors his masters. Constantime received the mention of Valens with indignation and contempt. “It was not for such a purpose,” he sternly replied, “ that we have advanced from the shores, of the western ocean in an uninterrupted course of combats and victories, that, after rejecting an ungrateful kinsman, we should accept for our colleague a contemptible slave. The abdication of Valens is the first article of the treaty.” It was necessary to accept this humiliating condition, and the unhappy Valens, after a reign of a few days, was deprived of the purple and of his life. As soon as this obstacle was removed, the tranquillity of the Roman world was easily restored. The successive defeats of Licinius had ruined his forces, but they had displayed his courage and abilities. His situation was almost desperate, but the efforts of despair are sometimes formidable; and the good sense of Constantine preferred a great and certain advantage to a third trial of the chance of arms. He consented Treaty to leave his rival, or, as he again styled Licinius, his . friend and brother, in the possession of Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt; but the provinces of Pannonia, Dalmatia, Dacia, Macedonia, and Greece were yielded to the western empire, and the dominions of Constantine now extended from the confines of Caledonia to the extremity of Peloponnesus. It was stipulated by the same treaty, that three royal

m Petrus Patricius in Excerpt. Legat. p. 27. If it should be thought that youégo; signifies more properly a son-in-law, we might conjecture, that Constantine, assuming the name as well as the duties of a father, had adopted his younger brothers and sisters, the children of Theodora. But in the best authors youégo; sometimes signifies a husband, sometimes a father-in-law, and sometimes a kinsman in general. See Spanheim, Observat, ad Julian. Orat. i. p. 72.


peace and
laws of
A. D. 315

youths, the sons of the emperors, should be called to
the hopes of the succession. Crispus and the young
Constantine were soon afterwards declared Caesars
in the West, while the younger Licinius was invested
with the same dignity in the East. In this double
proportion of honours, the conqueror asserted the
superiority of his arms and power."
The reconciliation of Constantine and Licinius,
though it was imbittered by resentment and jealousy,
by the remembrance of recent injuries, and by the
apprehension of future dangers, maintained, however,
above eight years, the tranquillity of the Roman
world. As a very regular series of the imperial laws
commences about this period, it would not be dif-
ficult to transcribe the civil regulations which em-
ployed the leisure of Constantine. But the most
important of his institutions are intimately connected
with the new system of policy and religion, which
was not perfectly established till the last and peace-
ful years of his reign. There are many of his laws,
which, as far as they concern the rights and property
of individuals, and the practice of the bar, are more
properly referred to the private than to the public
jurisprudence of the empire; and he published many
edicts of so local and temporary a nature, that they
would ill deserve the notice of a general history.
Two laws, however, may be selected from the crowd;
the one for its importance, the other for its singu-
larity; the former for its remarkable benevolence,
the latter for its excessive severity. 1. The horrid
practice, so familiar to the ancients, of exposing or
murdering their new-born infants, was become every

"Zosimus, l. ii. p. 93. Anonym. Walesian. p. 713. Eutropius, x. 5. Aurelius Victor, Euseb. in Chron. Sozomen. l. i. c. 2. Four of these writers affirm that the promotion of the Caesars was an article of the treaty. It is however certain, that the younger Constantine and Licinius were not yet born; and it is highly probable that the promotion was made the lst of March, A. D. 317. The treaty had probably stipulated that the two Caesars might be created by the western, and one only by the eastern emperor; but each of them reserved to himself the choice of the persons.

day more frequent in the provinces, and especially in Italy. It was the effect of distress; and the distress was principally occasioned by the intolerable burden of taxes, and by the vexatious as well as cruel prosecutions of the officers of the revenue against their insolvent debtors. The less opulent or less industrious part of mankind, instead of rejoicing in an increase of family, deemed it an act of paternal tenderness to release their children from the impending miseries of a life which they themselves were unable to support. The humanity of Constantine, moved, perhaps, by some recent and extraordinary instances of despair, engaged him to address an edict to all the cities of Italy, and afterwards of Africa, directing immediate and sufficient relief to be given to those parents who should produce before the magistrates the children whom their own poverty would not allow them to educate. But the promise was too liberal, and the provision too vague, to effect any general or permanent benefit." The law, though it may merit some praise, served rather to display than to alleviate the public distress. It still remains an authentic monument to contradict and confound those venal orators, who were too well satisfied with their own situation to discover either vice or misery under the government of a generous sovereign.” 2. The laws of Constantine against rapes were dictated with very

little indulgence for the most amiable weaknesses of

human nature; since the description of that crime was applied not only to the brutal violence which compelled, but even to the gentle seduction which might persuade, an unmarried woman, under the age of twenty-five, to leave the house of her parents.

o Codex Theodosian. 1. xi. tit. 27. tom. iv. p. 188, with Godefroy's observa

tions. See likewise, l. v. tit.7–8. P Omnia foris placita, domi prospera, annonae ubertate, fructuum copia, &c.

Panegyr. Vet. x. 38. This oration of Nazarius was pronounced on the day of

the Quinquennalia of the Caesars, the 1st of March, A. D. 321.


CHAP. “The successful ravisher was punished with death ;


and as if simple death was inadequate to the enormity of his guilt, he was either burnt alive, or torm in pieces by wild beasts in the amphitheatre. The virgin's declaration, that she had been carried away with her own consent, instead of saving her lover, exposed her to share his fate. The duty of a public prosecution was intrusted to the parents of the guilty or unfortunate maid; and if the sentiments of nature prevailed on them to dissemble the injury, and to repair by a subsequent marriage the honour of their family, they were themselves punished by exile and confiscation. The slaves, whether male or female, who were convicted of having been accessary to the rape or seduction, were burnt alive, or put to death by the ingenious torture of pouring down their throats a quantity of melted lead. As the crime was of a public nature, the accusation was permitted even to strangers. The commencement of the action was not limited to any term of years, and the consequences of the sentence were extended to the innocent offspring of such an irregular union.” But whenever the offence inspires less horror than the punishment, the rigour of penal law is obliged to give way to the common feelings of mankind. The most odious parts of this edict were softened or repealed in the subsequent reigns; and even Constantine himself very frequently alleviated, by partial acts of mercy, the stern temper of his general institutions. Such, indeed, was the singular humour of that emperor, who showed himself as indulgent, and even remiss, in the execution of his laws, as he was severe, and even cruel, in the enacting of them.

* See the edict of Constantine, addressed to the Roman people, in the Theodosian Code, l. ix. tit. 24. tom. iii. p. 189.

* His son very fairly assigns the true reason of the repeal, “Ne sub speciatrocioris judicii aliqua in ulciscendo crimine dilatio masceretur.” Cod. Theod. tom. iii. p. 193.

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