and ostentatious security, the marriage, perhaps, of his son, the nuptial feast was interrupted by the unexpected and unwelcome presence of Aëtius, who had passed the Somme at the head of his light cavalry. The tables, which had been spread under the shelter of a hill, along the banks of a pleasant stream, were rudely overturned ; the Franks were oppressed before they could recover their arms, or their ranks; and their unavailing valor was fatal only to themselves. The loaded wagons, which had followed their march, afforded a rich booty; and the virgin-bride, with her female attendants, submitted to the new lovers, who were imposed on them by the chance of war. This advantage, which had been obtained by the skill and activity of Aëtius, might reflect some disgrace on the military prudence of Clodion; but the king of the Franks soon regained his strength and reputation, and still maintained the possession of his Gallic kingdom from the Rhine to the Somme.” Under his reign, and most probably from the enterprising spirit of his subjects, his three capitals, Mentz, Treves, and Cologne, experienced the effects of hostile cruelty and avarice. The distress of Cologne was prolonged by the perpetual dominion of the same Barbarians, who evacuated the ruins of Treves; and Treves, which in the space of forty years had been four times besieged and pillaged, was disposed to lose the memory of her afflictions in the vain amusements of the Circus.” The death of Clodion, after a reign of twenty years, exposed his kingdom to the discord and ambition of his two sons. Meroveus, the younger,” was persuaded to implore the protection of Itome; he was received at the Imperial court, as the ally of Valentinian, and the adopted son of the patrician Aëtius; and dismissed 24 See a vague account of the action in Sidonius. Panegyr. Majorian. 212-230. The French critics, impatient to establish their monarchy in Gaul, have drawn a strong argument from the silence of Sidonius, who dares not insinuate, that the vanquished Franks were compelled to repass the Rhine. Dubos, tom. i. p. 322. 25 Salvian (de Gubernat. Dei, 1. vi.) has expressed, in vague and declamatory language, the misfortunes of these three cities, which are distinctly ascertained by the learned Mascou, Hist. of the Ancient Germans, ix. 21. 23 Priscus, in relating the contest, does not name the two brothers; the second of whom he had seen at Rome, a beardless youth, with long, flowing hair (liistorians of France, tom. i. pp. 607, 608). The Benedictine Editors are inclined to believe, that they were the sons of some unknown king of the Franks, who reigned on the banks of the Neckar ; but the arguments of M. de Foncemagne {Mém. de l'Académie, tom. viii. p. 464) seem to prove that the succession of to his native country, with splendid gifts, and the strongest assurances of friendship and support. During his absence, his elder brother had solicited, with equal ardor, the formidable aid of Attila; and the king of the Huns embraced an alliance, which facilitated the passage of the Rhine, and justified, by a specious and honorable pretence, the invasion of Gaul.” When Attila declared his resolution of supporting the cause of his allies, the Vandals and the Franks, at the same time, and almost in the spirit of romantic chivalry, the savage monarch professed himself the lover and the cham. pion of the princess Honoria. The sister of Valentinian was educated in the palace of Ravenna; and as her marriage might be productive of some danger to the state, she was raised, by the title of Augusta,” above the hopes of the most presumptuous subject. But the fair Honoria had no sooner attained the sixteenth year of her age, than she detested the importunate greatness which must forever exclude her from the comforts of honorable love; in the midst of vain and unsatisfactory pomp, Honoria sighed, yielded to the impulse of nature, and threw herself into the arms of her chamberlain Eugenius. Her guilt and shame (such is the absurd language of imperious man) were soon betrayed by the appearances of pregnancy; but the disgrace of the royal family was published to the world by the imprudence of the empress Placidia: , who dismissed her daughter, after a strict and shameful confinement, to a remote exile at Constantinople. The unhappy princess passed twelve or fourteen years in the irksome society of the sisters of Theodosius, and their chosen virgins; to whose crown Honoria could no longer aspire, and whose monastic assiduity of prayer, fasting, and vigils, she reluctantly imitated. Her impatience of long and hopeless celibacy urged her to embrace a strange and desperate resolution. The name of Attila was familiar and formidable at Constantinople; and his frequent embassies entertained a perpetual intercourse between his camp and the Imperial palace. In the pursuit of love, or rather of revenge, the 27 Under the Merovingian race, the throne was hereditary; but all the sons of the deceased monarch were equally entitled to their share of his treasures and territories. See the dissertations of M. de Foncemagne, in the sixth and eighth volumes of the Mémoires de l'Academie. * A medal is still extant, which exhibits the pleasing countenance of Honoria, with the title of Augusta; and on the reverse, the improper legend of Salus

Clodion was disputed by his two sons, and that the younger was Meroveus, the father of Childeric.”

* The relationship of Meroveus to Clodion is extremely doubtful.—By some he is called an illegitimate son; by others, merely of his race. Greg. Tur. ii. c. 9, in Sismondi, Hist, des Français, i. 177, See Mezeray, 1.-M. -

[ocr errors]

daughter of Placidia sacrificed every duty and every pre. judice; and offered to deliver her person into the arms of a Barbarian, of whose language she was ignorant, whose figure was scarcely human, and whose religion and manners she abhorred. By the ministry of a faithful eunuch, she transmitted to Attila a ring, the pledge of her affection; and earnestly conjured him to claim her as a lawful spouse, to whom he had been secretly betrothed. These indecent advances were received, however, with coldness and disdain; and the king of the IIuns continued to multiply the number of his wives, till his love was awakened by the more forcible passions of ambition and avarice. The invasion of Gaul was preceded, and justified, by a formal demand of the princess Honoria, with a just and equal share of the Imperial patrimony. His predecessors, the ancient Tanjous, had often addressed, in the same hostile and peremptory manner, the daughters of China; and the pretensions of Attila were not less offensive to the majesty of Rome. A firm, but temperate, refusal was communicated to his ambassadors. The right of female succession, though it might derive a specious argument from the recent examples of Placidia and Pulcheria, was strenuously denied ; and the indissoluble engagements of Honoria were opposed to the claims of her Scythian lover.” On the discovery of her connection with the king of the Huns, the guilty princess had been sent away, as an object of horror, from Constantinople to Italy: her life was spared ; but the ceremony of her marriage was performed with some obscure and nominal husband, before she was immured in a perpetual prison, to bewail those crimes and misfortunes, which Honoria might have escaped, had she not been born the daughter of an emperor.” A native of Gaul, and a contemporary, the learned and eloquent Sidonius, who was afterwards bishop of Clermont, had made a promise to one of his friends, that he would compose a regular history of the war of Attila. If the modesty of Sidonius had not discouraged him from the prosecution of this interesting work,” the historian would have related, with the simplicity of truth, those memorable events, to which the poet, in vague and doubtful metaphors, has concisely alluded.” The kings and nations of Germany

20 See Priscus, pp. 30, 40. It might be fairly alleged, that if females could succeed to the throne, Valentinian himself, who llad married the daughter and heiress of the younger Theodosius, would have asserted her right to the Eastern emplce.

3) The adventures of Honoria are imperfectly related by Jormandes, de Successione Regn. c. 97, and de Reb. Get. c. 42, p. 674; and in the Chronicles of Prosper and Marcellinus; but they cannot be made consistent, or probable, unless we separate, by an interval of time and place, her intrigue with Eugenius, and EOY invitation of Attila. -

and Scythia, from the Volga perhaps to the Danube,

obeyed the warlike summons of Attila. From the royal village, in the plains of Hungary, his standard moved towards the West; and after a march of seven or eight hundred miles, he reached the conflux of the Rhine and the Neckar, where he was joined by the Franks, who adhered to his ally, the elder of the sons of Clodion. A troop of light Barbarians, who roamed in quest of plunder, might choose the winter for the convenience of passing the river on the ice; but the innumerable cavalry of the Huns required such plenty of forage and provisions, as could be procured only in a milder season; the Hercynian forest supplied materials for a bridge of boats; and the hostile myriads were poured, with resistless violence, into the Belgic provinces.” The consternation of Gaul was universal; and the various fortunes of its cities have been adorned by tradition with martyrdoms and miracles.” Troyes was saved by the merits of St. Lupus; St. Servatius was removed from the world, that he might not behold the ruin of Tongres; and the prayers of St. Genevieve diverted the march of Attila from the neighborhood of Paris. But as the greatest part of the Gallic cities were alike destitute of saints and soldiers, they were besieged and stormed by the Huns; who l racticed, in the example of Metz,” their customary maxins of war. They involved, in a promiscuous massacre, the priests who served at the altar, and the infants, who, in the hour of danger, had been providently baptized by the bishop; the flourishing city was delivered to the flames, and a solitary chapel of St. Stephen marked the place where it formerly stood. From the Rhine and the Moselle, Attila advanced into the heart of Gaul; crossed the Seine at Auxerre; and, after a long and laborious march, fixed his camp under the walls of Orleans. He was desirous of securing his conquests by the possession of an advantageous post, which commanded the passage of the Lone; and he depended on the secret invitation of Sangiban, king of the Alani, who had promised to betray the city, and to revolt from the service of the empire. But this treacherous conspiracy was detected and disappointed: Orleans had been strengthened with recent fortifications; and the assaults of the Huns were vigorously repelled by the faithful valor of the soldiers, or citizens, who defended the place. The pastoral diligence of Anianus, a bishop of primitive sanctity and consummate prudence, exhausted every art of religious policy to support their courage, till the arrival of the expected succors. After an obstinate siege, the walls were shaken by the battering rams; the Huns had already occupied the suburbs; and the people, who were incapable of bearing arms, lay prostrate in prayer. Anianus, who anxiously counted the days and hours, despatched a trusty messenger to observe, from the rampart, the face of the distant country. He returned twice, without any intelligence

31 Exegeras mihi, ut promitterem tibi, Attila bellum ". me posteris intimaturum . . . . . . coeperam scribere, Sed operis arrepti fasce perspecto, taeduit inchoasse. Sidon. Apoll. 1. viii. epist. 15, p. 235. 32 —— Subito cum rupta tumultu Barbaries totas in te transfutlerat Arctos, Gallia. Pugnacein Rugum comitante Gelono, Gepida trux sequitur; §. Burgundio cogit: Chunus, Bellonotus, Neurus, Basterna, Toringus, Bructerus, ulvosá vel quem Niger aijuit undā Prorum pit Francus. Cecidit cito secta bipenni Hercynia in lintres, et Rhenum texuit almo. Et jam terrificis diffuderat Attila turmis In camposse, Belga, tuos. Panegyr. A vit. 319, &c. 83 The most authentic and circumstantial account of this war is contained in Jornandes (de Reb, Geticis, c. 36-41, pp. 662-672), who has sometimes abridged, and sometimes transcribed the larger issistory of Cassiodorus. Jornandes, a quotation which it would be superfluous to repeat, may be corrected and illustrated by Gregory of Tours, l. ii. c. 5, 6, 7, and the Chronicles of Idatius, Isidore, and the two Prospers. All the ancient testimonies are collected and inserted in the Historians of France; but the reader should be cautioned against a supposed extract from the Chronicle of Idatius (among the fragments of Fredegarius, tom. ii. p. 462) which often contradicts the genuine text of the Gallician loishop. * The ancient legendaries deserve some regard, as they are obliged to connect their fables with the real history of their own times. See the lives of St. Lupus St. Anianus, the bishops of Metz, Ste. Genevieve, &c., in the Historians of France, tom. i. pp. 644,645, 649, tom. iii. p. 369.

that could inspire hope or comfort; but, in his third report, .

he mentioned a small cloud, which he had faintly descried at the extremity of the horizon. “It is the aid of God l’ exclaimed the bishop, in a tone of pious confidence; and the whole multitude repeated after him, “It is the aid of God.” The remote object, on which every eye was fixed, became each moment larger, and more distinct; the Roman and Gothic banners were gradually perceived; and a favorable

35 The skepticism of the count de Buat (Hist, des Peuples, tom. vii. PE 539, 540) cannot be reconciled with any principles of reason or criticism. 1s not § of Tours precise and positive in his account of the destruction of Metz 2 At the distance of no more than a hundred years, could he be ignorant, could the people be ignorant, of the fate of a city, the actual residence of his sovereigns, the kings of Austrasia? The learned count, who seems to have undertaken the apology of Attila and the Barbarians, appeals to the false Idatius, parcens civil

*alibus Germania et Galliae, and forgets that the true Idatius had explicitly affirmed, pluriinae civitates offractae, among which he enumerates Metz.


« ForrigeFortsett »