Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

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.” 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.” 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.”.” But the savage conqueror of Gaul was ho 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.” 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 IHosts. 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,” need not be interpreted as the symptom of any permanent or rational skepticism. 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.” Under the Roman empire, the wealth and jurisdiction of the bishops, their sacred character, and perpetual office, their numerous dependents, popular eloquence, and provincial assemblies, had rendered them always respectable, and sometimes dangerous. Their influence was augmented with the }. of superstition; and the establishment of the rench 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 founda. tions of the Armorican republic had been repeatedly shaken, or overthrown; but the same people still guarded their do. mestic 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;” 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 scat. tered 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 iously 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.” - The kingdom of the Burgundians, which was defined by the course of two Gallic rivers, the Saone and the Rhône, extended from the forest of Vosges to the Alps and the sea of Marseilles.” 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; * 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 IIe 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 Vienne, 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 los had privately tempted the allegiance of his rother.”

20 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.3.7), whose slight foundations the Abbé de Vertot (Mémoires de l'Académie (les Inscriptions, tom. ii. p. 619–633) has undermined, with profound respect and consummate dexterity.

3) Mitis depome colla, Sicamber : adora quod incendisti, incende quod ado- . rasti. Greg. Turon. l. ii., c. 31, in tom. ii. p. 177.

31 Siego ibidem cum Francis meis fuissem, injurias ejus vindicassem. Thisrash expression, which Gregory has prudently concealed, is celebrated by Frede: garius (Epitom. c. 21, in tom. ii. p. 400), Ainjoin (l. i.e. 16, in tom. iii. p.40), and the Chroniques de St. Denys (I. i. c. 20, in tom. iii. p. 171), as an admirable effusion of Christian zeal.

32 Gregory (l. ii. c. 40-43, in tom. ii. pp. 183-185), after coolly relating the repeated crimés and affected remorse of Clovis, concludes, perhaps undesignedly, §: ; lessoil, which ambition will never lear. “Ilisita transactis . . . obiit.

[graphic]

* 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 emchanted steed could not remove from the stable till the price of his redemption had been doubled. This miracle provoked the king to exclaim, Were B. Martinus est bonus in auxilio, sed carus in negotio. (Gesta Francorum, in tom. ii. pp. 554, 555.)

* See the epistle from Pope Anastasius to the royal convert (in tom. iv. pp. 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.

35 Instead of the 'Apbupuxot, an unknown people, who now appear in the text of Procopius, Hadrian de Valois has restored the proper name of the 'Appu opv xot. and this 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 IRome; and not a confederacy of Gallic cities, which had revolted from the empire.”

* Compare Hallam's Europe during the Middle Ages, vol. i. p. 2, and Daru' Hist, de Bretagne, vol. i. p. 129.-MI

86 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. o 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 to Gregory of Tours, the Salic laws, &c. 37 Regnum circa Rhodanum aut Ararim cum provincià Massiliensi retinebant. Greg. Turcon. 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 Burgundv, A. D. B19. (Concil. Epaon. in tom. iv. pp. 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 annotatious) has explained unany circumstances relative to the Burgundian monarchy, 38 Mascou (Hist. of the Germans, xi. 10) who very reasonably distrusts 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.

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;” he abandoned to the pursuit of Clovis the important cities of Lyons and Vienne; 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 Vienne with a garrison of five thousand Franks,” 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 conquerers. 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 40 Gregory of Tours (I. iii. c. 19, in tom. ii. p. 197) indulges his genius, or rather transcribes 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 Lan res till the twelfth century, and afterwards became the capital of the dukes of Burgundy. Longuerue, Description de la France, part 1, p. 280. 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 Gua. dobald. The prudent Burgundian spared the soldiers of Clovis, and sent these

89 see thé original conference (in tom. iv. pp. 99-102). Avitos, the principal actor, and probably the secretary of the meeting, was bishop of Vienna. A short account of his person and works may be found in Dupin (Bibliothèque Ecclesiastique, tom. v. pp. 5–10).

o to the king of the Visigoths, who settled them in the territory of Tou. llS0.

« ForrigeFortsett »