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24 IMAGINARY LAW OF CONSTANTINE. Chap. LLTI.
the purple was excluded from the civil and ecclesiastical communion of the Romans. If the ambassadors were instructed by any false brethren in the Byzantine history, they might produce three memorable examples of the violation of this imaginary law: the marriage of Leo, or rather of his father Constantine the Fourth, with the daughter of the king of the Chazars, the nuptials of the granddaughter of Romanus with a Bulgarian prince, and the union of Bertha of France or Italy with young Romanus, the son of Constantine Porphyrogenitus himself. To these objections three answers were prepared, which solved the difficulty and established the law. I. The deed and the guilt of Constantine Copronymus were acknow
exception, ledged. The Isaurian heretic, who sullied the baptismal font and declared war against the holy images, had indeed embraced a barbarian wife. By this impious alliance he accomplished the measure of his crimes, and was devoted to the just censure of the The second, church and of posterity. II. Romanus could not be alleged A.d. Mi. as a legitimate emperor ; he was a plebeian usurper, ignorant of the laws, and regardless of the honour, of the monarchy. I lis son Christopher, the father of the bride, was the third in rank in the college of princes, at once the subject and the accomplice of a rebellious parent. The Bulgarians were sincere and devout Christians; and the safety of the empire, with the redemption of many thousand captives, depended on this preposterous alliance. Yet no consideration could dispense from the law of Constantine: the clergy, the senate, and the people disapproved the conduct of Romanus: and he was reproached, both in his life and death, as the author of The third, the public disgrace. III. For the marriage of his own son A.d. 9*3. w;tj( the daUghter of Hugo, king of Italy, a more honourable defence is contrived by the wise Porphyrogenitus. Constantine, the great and holy, esteemed the fidelity and valour of the Franks ;61 and his prophetic spirit beheld the vision of their future greatness. They alone were excepted from the general prohibition: Hugo, king of France, was the lineal descendant of Charlemagne ;"'2 and his daughter, Bertha, inherited the prerogatives of her family and nation. The voice of truth and malice insensibly betrayed the fraud or error of the Imperial court. The patrimonial estate of Hugo was reduced from the monarchy of France to the simple county of Aries; though
"Constantine was made to praise the ivysvilx and Tifip«»n'« of the Franks, with whom he claimed a private and public alliance. The French writers (Isaac Casaubou in Dedicat. Polybii) are highly delighted with these compliments.
** Constantine Porphyrogenitus (de Administrat. Imp. c. 2H) exhibits a pedigree and Life of the illustrious king Hugo (^ruiti.imv p*yi; oSyurn). A more correct idea may be formed from the Criticism of Pagi, the Annals of Muratori, and the Abridgment of St. Marc, A.d. 925-946.
A.u. 972. OTHO OF GERMANY. 25
it was not denied that, in the confusion of the times, he had usurped the sovereignty of Provence, and invaded the kingdom of Italy. His father was a private noble; and if Bertha derived her female descent from the Carlovingian line, every step was polluted with illegitimacy or vice. The grandmother of Hugo was the famous Valdrada, the concubine, rather than the wife, of the second Lothair; whose adultery, divorce, and second nuptials had provoked against him the thunders of the Vatican. His mother, as she was styled, the great Bertha, was successively the wife of the Count of Aries and of the Marquis of Tuscany: France and Italy were scandalised by her gallantries; and, till the age of threescore, her lovers, of every degree, were the zealous servants of her ambition. The example of maternal incontinence was copied by the king of Italy; and the three favourite concubines of Hugo were decorated with the classic names of Venus, Juno, and Semele.63 The daughter of Venus was granted to the solicitations of the Byzantine court: her name of Bertha was changed to that of Eudoxia; and she was wedded, or rather betrothed, to young Romanus, the future heir of the empire of the East. The consummation of this foreign alliance was suspended by the tender age of the two parties: and, at the end of five years, the union was dissolved by the death of the virgin spouse. The second wife of the emperor Romanus was a maiden of plebeian, but of Roman, birth; and their two daughters, Theophano and Anne, were given in marriage to the princes of the earth. The eldest was bestowed, as the pledge of peace, on the eldest son of the great Otho, who had solicited this alliance with arms and Germany, embassies. It might legally be questioned how far a Saxon was entitled to the privilege of the French nation; but every scruple was silenced by the fame and piety of a hero who had restored the empire of the West. After the death of her father-in-law and husband, Theophano governed Rome, Italy, and Germany, during the minority of her son, the third Otho; and the Latins have praised the virtues of an empress who sacrificed to a superior duty the remembrance of her country/'4 In the nuptials of her sister Anne, every prejudice was lost, and every consideration of dignity was
a After the mention of the three goddesses, Liutprand very naturally adds, et quoniam non rex solus iis abutebatur, earum nati ex incertis patribus originem ducunt (Hist. 1. iv. c. 6): for the marriage of the younger Bertha, see Hist. 1. v. o. 5; for the incontinence of the elder, dulcis exercitio Hymenal, 1. ii. e. 15; for the virtues and vices of Hugo, 1. iii. c. 5. Yet it must not be forgot that the bishop of Cremona was a lover of scandal.
61 Licet ilia Imperatrix Gneca sibi et aliis fuisset satis utilis et optima, &O., is the preamble of an inimical writer, apud Pagi, torn. iv. A. D. 989, No. 3. Her marriage and principal actions may be found in Muratori, Pagi, and St. Marc, under the proper years.
26 DESPOTIC POWER. Chap. LIIL
superseded, by the stronger argument of necessity and fear. A Pagan of the North, Wolodomir, great prince of Russia, of Russia, aspired to a daughter ot the Roman purple; and his claim was enforced by the threats of war, the promise of conversion, and the offer of a powerful succour against a domestic rebel. A victim of her religion and country, the Grecian princess was torn from the palace of her fathers, and condemned to a savage reign and an hopeless exile on the banks of the Borysthenes, or in the neighbourhood of the Polar circle.65 Yet the marriage of Anne was fortunate and fruitful: the daughter of her grandson Jeroslaus was recommended by her Imperial descent; and the king of France, Henry I., sought a wife on the last borders of Europe and Christendom.66
In the Byzantine palace the emperor was the first slave of the ivspoitc ceremonies which he imposed, of the rigid forms which reP°wer- gulated each word and gesture, besieged him in the palace, and violated the leisure of his rural solitude. But the lives and fortunes of millions hung on his arbitrary will; and the firmest minds, superior to the allurements of pomp and luxury, may be seduced by the more active pleasure of commanding their equals. The legislative and executive powers were centered in the person of the monarch, and the last remains of the authority of the senate were finally eradicated by Leo the Philosopher.67 A lethargy of servitude had benumbed the minds of the Greeks: in the wildest tumults of rebellion they never aspired to the idea of a free constitution; and the private character of the prince was the only source and measure of their public happiness. Superstition riveted their chains; in the church of St. Sophia he was solemnly crowned by the patriarch; at the foot of the altar they pledged their passive and unconditional obedience to coronation his government and family. On his side he engaged to °*th- abstain as much as possible from the capital punishments of A.D. 988. MILITARY FORCE OF THE GREEKS, ETC. 27
85 Cedrenus, tom, ii. p. 699 [p. 444, ed. Bonn); Zonaras, tom. ii. p. 221 [1. xvii. c. 7]; Elmacin, Hist. Saracenica, 1. iii. c. G; Nestor apud Levesque, tom, ii. p. 11 J; Pagi, Critica, A.d. 987, No. 6: a singular concourse! Wolodomir and Anne are ranked among the saints of the Russian church. Yet we know his vices, and are ignorant of her virtues.
66 Henricus Primus duxit uxorem Scythicam [et] Russam, nliom regis Jeroslai. An embassy of bishops was sent into Russia, and the father gratanter (ilium cum multis donis misit. This event happened in the year 1051. See the passages of the original chronicles in Bouquet's Historians of France (tom. xi. p. 29, 159, 181, 319, H84, 481). Voltaire might wonder at this alliance; but he should not have owned his ignorance of the country, religion, &c, of Jeroslaus—a name so conspicuous in the Russian annals.
"A constitution of Leo the Philosopher (lxxviii.1 ne senatus-consulta amplius fiant, speaks the language of naked despotism, if «J To /iirx(%n V4th T»i» r»n» atnrrai otetxwi*, xa) iLxouan Kai ftarxitr To eixi^f-tn juna rw* £fl'ar rrxfix^ui*w* rutetTTtffiai.
death and mutilation; his orthodox creed was subscribed with his own hand, and he promised to obey the decrees of the seven synods and the canons of the holy church.68 But the assurance of mercy was loose and indefinite: he swore, not to his people, but to an invisible judge; and except in the inexpiable guilt of heresy, the ministers of heaven were always prepared to preach the indefeasible right, and to absolve the venial transgressions, of their sovereign. The Greek ecclesiastics were themselves the subjects of the civil magistrate: at the nod of a tyrant the bishops were created, or transferred, or deposed, or punished with an ignominious death: whatever might be their wealth or influence, they could never succeed like the Latin clergy in the establishment of an independent republic; and the patriarch of Constantinople condemned, what he secretly envied, the temporal greatness of his Roman brother. Yet the exercise of boundless despotism is happily checked by the laws of nature and necessity. In proportion to his wisdom and virtue, the master of an empire is confined to the path of his sacred and laborious duty. In proportion to his vice and folly, he drops the sceptre too weighty for his hands; and the motions of the royal image are ruled by the imperceptible thread of some minister or favourite, who undertakes for his private interest to exercise the task of the public oppression. In some fatal moment the most absolute monarch may dread the reason or the caprice of a nation of slaves; and experience has proved that whatever is gained in the extent is lost in the safety and solidity of regal power.
Whatever titles a despot may assume, whatever claims he may assert, it is on the sword that he must ultimately depend to guard him against his foreign and domestic enemies. From force of the
c, c, o Greeks the
the age of Charlemagne to that of the Crusades the world saracem, an<i (for I overlook the remote monarchy of China) was occupied and disputed by the three great empires or nations of the Greeks, the Saracens, and the Franks. Their military strength may be ascertained by a comparison of their courage, their arts and riches, and their obedience to a supreme head, who might call into action all the energies of the state. The Greeks, far inferior to their rivals in the first, were superior to the Franks, and at least equal to the Saracens, in the second and third of these warlike qualifications.
The wealth of the Greeks enabled them to purchase the service of the poorer nations, and to maintain a naval power for the protection
"Codinu8 (de Officiis, o. xvii. p. 120, 121 (p. 87, ed. Bonn] gives an idea of this oath, 80 strong to the church, vtrrif xxj yvfciat l»vX*s xxi vlit nt aymt ixxXnrixr, so weak to the people, xmi Avi^lgtai p'ntit x«< ax(«rxf/x«yuw* xxj r*i iftaiur rwroif xxrx 28 NAVY OF THE GREEKS. Chap. LUL
of their coasts and the annoyance of their enemies.69 A commerce Nawof of mutual benefit exchanged the gold of Constantinopi* theurceiu. for tne 0]ooa- 0f the Sclavonians and Turks, the Bulgarians and Russians: their valour contributed to the victories of Nicephoru.and Zimisces; and if an hostile people pressed too closely on it* frontier, they were recalled to the defence of their country, and the desire of peace, by the well-managed attack of a more distant tribe.70 The command of the Mediterranean, from the mouth of the Tanais to the Columns of Hercules, was always claimed, and often possessed, by the successors of Constantiue Their capital was filled with naval stores and dexterous artificers: the situation of Greece and Asia, the long coasts, deep gulfs, and numerous islands, accustomed their subjects to the exercise of navigation; and the trade of Venice and Anialfi supplied a nursery of seamen to the Imperial fleet.71 Since the time of the Peloponnesian and Punic wars, the sphere of action had not been enlarged; and the science of naval architecture appears to have declined. The art of constructing those stupendous machines which displayed three, or six, or ten ranges of oars, rising above, or falling behind, each other, was unknown to the shipbuilders of Constantinople, as well as to the mechanicians of modern days.72 The Bromones,13 or light galleys of the Byzantine empire, were content with two tier of oars; each tier was composed of five-and-twenty benches; and two rowers were seated on each bench, who plied their oars on either side of the vessel. To these we must add the captain or centurion, who, in time of action, stood erect with his armour-bearer on the poop, two steersmen at the helm, and two officers at the prow, the one to manage the anchor, the other to point and play against the enemy the tube of
89 If we listen to the threats of Nicephorus to the ambassador of Otho, Nee est in rnari domino tuo classium nuinerus. Navigantium fortitude mihi soli iuest, qui euni classibus aggrediar, bello maiitimas ejus civitates demoliar; et qua) fluminibus sunt vicina redigam in favillam. (Liutprand in Legat. ad Nicephorum Phocam, in Muratori Scriptores Rerum Italicanim, tom. ii. pars i. p. 481.) He observes, in another place, qui ceteris prsestant Vcnetici sunt et Amalphitani.
70 Nee ipsa capiet eum (the emperor Otho) in qui ortus est pauper et pellieea Saxonia: pecunia quil pollemus omnes nationes super eum invitabimus; et quasi Keramicum Cid est, vas fictile] confringemus (Liutprand in Legat. p. 487). The two books, de Administrando Imperio, perpetually inculcate the same policy.
71 The xixth chapter of the Tactics of Leo (Meurs. Opera, tom. vi. p. 8-5-848), which is given more correct from a manuscript of Gudius, by the laborious Fabricius (Biblioth. Grrec. torn. vi. p. 372-379), relates to the Nvnnachia or naval war.
73 Even of fifteen and sixteen rows of oars, in the navy of Demetrius Poliorcetes. These were for real use: the forty rows of Ptolemy Philadelphus were applied to a floating palace, whose tonnage, according to Dr. Arbuthnot (Tables of Ancient Coins, &c. p. 231-236), is compared as 4J to 1, with an English 100-gun ship.
"The Dromones of Leo, &c, are so clearly described with two tier of oars, that I must censure the version of Meursius and Fabricius, who pervert the sense by a blind attachment to the classic appellation of Triremes. The Byzantine historians are sometimes guilty of the same inaccuracy.