CHAP. which reigned between two professions of opposite in.

terests and incompatible manners, was productive of beneficial and of pernicious consequences. It was seldom to be expected that the general and the civil governor of a province should either conspire for the disturbance, or should unite for the service of their country. While the one delayed to offer the assistance which the other disdained to solicit, the troops very frequently remained without orders or without supplies; the public safety was betrayed, and the defence. less subjects were left exposed to the fury of the Bar. barians. The divided administration, which had been formed by Constantine, relaxed the vigour of the state,

while it secured the tranquillity of the monarch. Distinc. The memory of Constantine has been deservedly tion of the troops.censureu

be censured for another innovation which corrupted mili

tary discipline, and prepared the ruin of the empire. The nineteen years which preceded his final victory over Licinius, had been a period of license and intestine war. The rivals who contended for the posses. sion of the Roman world, had withdrawn the greatest part of their forces from the guard of the general frontier; and the principal cities which formed the boundary of their respective dominions were filled with soldiers, who considered their countrymen as their most implacable enemies. After the use of these internal garrisons had ceased with the civil war, the conqueror wanted either wisdom or firmness to revive the severe discipline of Diocletian, and to soppress a fatal indulgence, which habit had endeared and almost confirmed to the military order. From the reign of Constantine a popular and even legal distinction was admitted between the Palatines128 and the Borderers; the troops of the court as they were improperly stiled, and the troops of the frontier. The former, elevated by the superiority of their pay and privileges, were permitted, except in the extraordinary emergencies of war,

128 Zosimus, 1. ii. p. 111. The distinction between the two classes of Roman troops is very darkly expressed in the historians, the laws, and the Notitia. Consult, however, the copious paratition or abstract, which Godefroy has drawn up of the seventh book, de Re Militari. of the Theodosian Code, I. vii. tit. i. leg. 18. L. viii. tit. i. leg. 10.

to occupy their tranquil stations in the heart of the pro- CHAP. vinces. The most flourishing cities were oppressed by the intolerable weight of quarters. The soldiers insensibly forgot the virtues of their profession, and contracted only the vices, of civil life. They were either degraded by the industry of mechanic trades, or enervated by the luxury of baths and theatres. They soon became careless of their martial exercises, curious in their diet and apparel; and while they inspired terror to the subjects of the empire, they trembled at the bostile approach of the barbarians 29. The chain of fortifications which Diocletian and his colleagues had extended along the banks of the great rivers, was no longer maintained with the same care, or defended with the same vigilance. The numbers which still remained under the name of the troops of the frontier, might be sufficient for the ordinary defence. But their spirit was degraded by the humiliating reflection, that they who were exposed to the hardships and dangers of a perpetual warfare, were rewarded only with about two-thirds of the pay and emoluments which were lavished on the troops of the court. Even the bands or legions that were raised the nearest to the level of those unworthy favourites, were in some measure disgraced by the title of honour which they were allowed to assume. It was in vain that Constantine repeated the most dreadful menaces of fire and sword against the Borderers who should dare to desert their colours, to connive at the inroads of the Barbarians, or to participate in the spoil 30. The mischiefs which flow from injudicious counsels are seldom removed by the application of partial severities: and though succeeding princes laboured to restore the strength and numbers of the frontier garrisons, the empire, till the last moment of its dissolution, continued to languish under the mortal wound which had been so rashly or so weakly inflicted by the hand of Constantine.'


129 Ferox erat in suos miles et rapax, ignavus vero in hostes et fractus. Ammian. l. xxii. c. 4 He observes that they loved downy beds and houses of marble; and that their cups were heavier than their swords.

130 Cod. Theod. l. vii. tit. i. leg. 1. tit. xii. leg. 1. See Howell's Hist, of the World, vol. ii. p. 19. That learned historian, who is not sufficiently known, labours to justify the character and policy of Constantine.



CHAP. The same timid policy of dividing whatever is

united, of reducing whatever is eminent, of dreading

on every active power, and of expecting that the most of the feeble will prove the most obedient, seems to pervade legions.

the institutions of several princes, and particularly those of Constantine. The martial pride of the legions, whose victorious camps had so often been the scene of rebellion, was nourished by the memory of their past exploits, and the consciousness of their actual strength. As long as they maintained their ancient establishment of six thousand men, they subsisted, under the reign of Diocletian, each of them singly, a visible and important object in the military history of the Roman empire. A few years afterwards these gigantic bodies were shrunk to a very diminutive size; and when seven legions with some auxiliaries, defended the city of Amida against the Persians, the total garrison with the inhabitants of both sexes, and the peasants of the deserted country, did not exceed the number of twenty thousand persons131. From this fact, and from similar examples, there is reason to believe, that the constitution of the legionary troops, to which they partly owed their valour and discipline, was dissolved by Constantine; and that the bands of Roman infantry, which still assumed the same names. and the same honours, consisted only of one thousand or fifteen hundred men132. The conspiracy of so many separate detachments, each of which was awed by the sense of its own weakness, could easily be checked ; and the successors of Constantine might indulge their love of ostentation, by issuing their orders to one hun. dred and thirty-two legions, inscribed on the musterroll of their numerous armies. The remainder of their troops was distributed into several hundred cohorts of infantry, and squadrons of cavalry. T'heir arms, and titles, and ensigns, were calculated to inspire terror, and to display the variety of nations who marched

131 Ammian. 1. xix, c. 2. He observes (c. 5.) that the desperate sallies of two Gallic legions were like an handful of water thrown on a great con. flagration.

132 Pancirolus ad Notitiam, p. 96. Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxv. p. 491.


ander the Imperial standard. And not a vestlige was chae. left of that severe simplicity, which, in the ages of free.. dom and victory, had distinguished the line of battle of a Roman army, from the confused host of an Asia. tic monarch133. A more particular enumeration, drawn from the Notitia, might exercise the diligence of an antiquary; but the liistorian will content himself with observing, that the number of permanent stations or garrisons established on the frontiers of the empire, amounted to five hundred and eighty-three; and that, under the successors of Constantine, the complete force of the military establishment was computed at six hundred and forty-five thousand soldiers 134. An effort so prodigious surpassed the wants of a more ancient, and the faculties of a later, period.

In the various states of society, armies are recruit. Difficulty ed from very different motives. Barbarians are urged of levies. by the love of war; the citizens of a free republic may be prompted by a principle of duty; the subjects, or at least the nobles, of a monarchy, are animated by a sentiment of honour ; but the timid and luxurious inhabitants of a declining empire must be allured into the service by the hopes of profit, or compelled by the dread of punishment. The resources of the Roman treasury were exhausted by the increase of pay, by the repetition of donatives, and by the invention of new emoluments and indulgences, which, in the opinion of the provincial youth, might compensate the hardships and dangers of a military life. Yet, although the sta. ture was lowered135, although slaves, at least by a tacit connivance, were indiscriminately received into the ranks, the insurmountable difficulty of procuring a regular and adequate supply of volunteers, obliged the

133 Romana acies unius prope formæ erat et hominum et armorum genere.--Regia acies varia magis multis gentibus dissimilitudine armorum auxiliorumque erat. T. Liv. I. xxxvii. c. 39, 40. Flaminius, even before the event, had compared the army of Antiochus to a supper, in which the flesh of one vile animal was diversified by the skill of the cooks. See the life of Flaminius in Plutarch.

134 Agathias, I. v. p. 157. edit. Louvre.

135 Valentinian (Cod. Thodos. I. vii. tit. xiii. leg. 3.) fixes the standard at five feet seven inches, about five fect four inches and a half English mea. sure. It had formerly been five feet ten inches, and in the best corps six Roman feet. Sed tunc erat amplior multitudo, et plures sequebantur mi. litiam arınatam. Vegetius de Re Militari, 1. i. c. 5.

CHAP. emperors to adopt more effectual and coercive methods.

The lands bestowed on the veterans, as the free reward of their valour, were henceforward granted under a condition, which contains the first rudiments of the feudal tenures; that their sons, who succeeded to the inheritance, should devote themselves to the profession of arms, as soon as they attained the age of manhood: and their cowardly refusal was punished by the loss of honour, of fortune, or even of life236. But as the an. nual growth of the sons of the veterans bore a very small proportion to the demands of the service, levies of men were frequently required from the provinces, and every proprietor was obliged either to take up armis, or to procure a substitute, or to purchase his exemption by the payment of a heavy fine. The sum of forty-two pieces of gold, to which it was reduced, ascertains the exorbitant price of volunteers, and the reluctance with which the government admitted of this alternative137. Such was the horror for the profession of a soldier, which had affected the minds of the dege. nerate Romans, that many of the youth of Italy, and the provinces, chose to cut off the fingers of their right band to escape from being pressed into the service; and this strange expedient was so commonly practised, as to deserve the severe animadversion of the laws', and a peculiar name in the Latin language139.


136 See the two titles, De Veteranis, and De Filiis Veteranorum, in the seventh book of the Theodosian Code. The age at wbich their military service was required, varied from twenty-five to sixteen. If the sons of the veterans appeared with a horse, they had a right to serve in the cavalry: two horses gave them some valuable privileges.

137 Cod. Theod. I. vii. tit. xii. leg. 7. According to the historian Socrates (see Godefroy ad lc.), the same emperor Valens sometimes re. quired eighty pieces of gold for a recruit. In the following law it is faintly expressed, that slaves shall not be admitted inter optimas lectissimorum militum turmas.

138 The person and property of a Roman knight, who had mutilated bis two sons, were sold at public auction by the order of Augustus (Sueton. in August. c. 27.) The moderation of that artful usurper proves, that this es. ample of severity was justified by the spirit of the times. Ammianus makes a distinction between the effeminate Italians and the bardy Gauls. (1. XV: c. 12.) Yet only fifteen years afterwards, Valentinian, in a law addressed to the præfect of Gaul, is obliged to enact that these cowardly deserters shall be burnt alive. (Cod. Theod. 1. vii. tit. xiii. leg. 5.) Their numbers in Illyricum were so considerable, that the province complained of a scarcity of recruits. (Id. leg. 10.)

139 They were called Murci. Murcidus is found in Plautus and Featus,

« ForrigeFortsett »