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Arians were reproached with the frequent executions which stained the palace, and the dominions of the tyrant. Arms and ambition were, however, the ruling passions of the monarch of the sea. But Hunneric, his inglorious son, who seemed to inherit only his vices, tormented the Catholics with the same unrelenting fury which had been fatal to his brother, his nephews, and the friends and favourites of his father; and even to the Arian patriarch, who was inhumanly burnt ali?e in the midst of Carthage. The religious war was preceded and prepared by an insidious truce; persecution was made the serious and important business of the Vandal court; and the loathsome disease, which hastened the death of Hunneric, revenged the injuries, without contributing to the deliverance, of the church. The throne of Africa was successively filled by the two nephews of Hunneric; by Gundamund, who reigned about twelve, and by Thrasimund, who governed the nation above twenty-seven, years. Their administration was hostile and oppressive to the orthodox party. Gundamund appeared to emulate, or even to surpass, the cruelty of his uncle; and, if at length he relented, if he recalled the bishops, and restored the freedom of Athanasian worship, a premature death intercepted the benefits of his tardy clemency. His brother, Thrasimund, was the greatest and most accomplished of the Vandal kings, whom he excelled in beauty, prudence, and magnanimity of soul. But this magnanimous character was degraded by his intolerant zeal and deceitful clemency. Instead of threats and tortures^ he employed the gentle, but efficacious, powers of seduction. Wealth, dignity, and the royal favour, were the liberal rewards of apostacy; the Catholics, who had violated the laws, might purchase their pardon by the renunciation of their faith: and whenever Thrasimund meditated any rigorous measure, he patiently waited till the indiscretion of his adversaries furnished him with a specious opportunity. Bigotry was his last sentiment in the hour of death; and he exacted from his successor a solemn oath, that he would never tolerate the sectaries of Athanasius. But his successor, Hilderic, the gentle son of the savage Hunneric, preferred the duties of humanity and justice, to the vain obligation of an impious oath; and his accession was gloriously marked by the restoration of peace and universal freedom. The throne of that 140
PEESECUTIOIT TS AFEICA. [CH. XXXVII.
virtuous, though feeble monarch, was usurped by his cousin Gelimer, a zealous Ariau; but the Vandal kingdom, before he could enjoy or abuse his power, was subverted by the arms of Belisarius; and the orthodox party retaliated the injuries which they had endured.*
The passionate declamations of the Catholics, the sole historians of this persecution, cannot afford any distinct series of causes and events; any impartial view of characters, or counsels; but the most remarkable circumstances that deserve either credit or notice, may be referred to the following heads.—I. In the original law, which is still extant,t Hunneric expressly declares, and the declaration appears to be correct, that he had faithfully transcribed the regulations and penalties of the imperial edicts, against the heretical congregations, the clergy, and the people, who dissented from the established religion. If the rights of conscience had been understood, the Catholics must have condemned their past conduct, or acquiesced in their actual sufferings. But they still persisted to refuse the indulgence which they claimed. While they trembled under the lash of persecution, they praised the laudable severity of Hunneric himself, who burnt or banished great numbers of Manichaeans;% and they rejected with horror, the ignomi
* The original monuments of the Vandal persecution are preserved in the five books of the history of Victor Vitensis (de Persecutions Vandalica), a bishop who was exiled by Hunneric; in the Life of St. Fulgentius, who was distinguished in the persecution of Thrasimund, (in Biblioth. Max. Patrum, tom. ix, p. 4—16,) and in tile first book of the Vandalic War, by the impartial Prooopius, (c. 7, 8, p. 190 —199.) Dom. Ruinart, the last editor of Victor, has illustrated the whole subject with-a copious and learned apparatus of notes and supplement. (Palis, 1694.) + Victor, 4. 2, p. 65. Hunneric refuses the name of Catholics to the Jffomoomians. He describes, as the veri Divin;e Majestatis cultores, his own party, who professed the faith, confirmed by more than a thousand bishops, in the synods of Rimini and Sel-racia. [These recitals, even after making much allowance for the exaggerations of the injured and irritated, only prove what it was that the converted barbarians were taught to regard as Christianity. Keander (4. 92) traces the joint influence of example and instigation. "The Vandal princes wished to retaliate the oppressions which their companions in the faith had to suffer in the Roman empire; those among their subjects, who agreed in faith with the Roman Christians, were also objects of suspicion to them; and in part they were led on by the rude fanatical Arian clergy."—Ed.]
$ Victor. 2. 1, p. 21, 22. Laudabilior . . . videbatur. In the MSS.
nious compromise, that the disciples of Arius, and of Athanasius, should enjoy a reciprocal and similar toleration in the territories of tho Eomans, and in those of the Vandals.* II. The practice of a conference, which the Catholics had so frequently used, to insult and punish their obstinate antagonists, was retorted against themselves.f At the command of Hunneric, four hundred and sixty-six orthodox bishops assembled at Carthage; but when they were admitted into the hall of audience, they had th;; mortification of beholding the Arian Cyrila exalted on the patriarchal throne The disputants were separated after the mutual and ordinary reproaches of noise and silence, of delay and precipitation, of military force and of popular clamour. One martyr and one confessor were selected among the Catholic bishops; twenty-eight escaped by flight, and eighty-eight by conformity; forty-six were sent into Corsica to cut timber for the royal navy; and three hundred and two were banished to the different parts of Africa, exposed to the insults of their enemies, and carefully deprived of all the temporal and spiritual comforts of life. J The hardships of ten years exile must have reduced their numbers; and if they had complied with the law of Thrasimund, which prohibited any episcopal consecrations, the orthodox church of Africa must have expired with the lives of its actual members. They disobeyed; and their disobedience was punished by a second exile of two hundred and twenty bishops into Sardinia; where they languished fifteen years, till the accession of the gracious Hilderic.§ which omit this word, the passage is unintelligible. See Ruinart, Not. p. 104. * Victor. 2. 2, p. 22, 23. The clergy of Carthage
called these conditionspericulosce; and they seem, indeed, to have been proposed as a snare to entrap the Catholic bishops. + See the
narrative of this conference, and the treatment of the bishops, in Victor. 2. 13—18, p. 35—42, and the whole fourth book, p. 63—171. The third book, p. 42—62, is entirely filled by their apology or confession of faith. X See the list of the African bishops, in Victor. p. 117—
140, and Ruinart's notes p. 215—397. The schismatic name of Donatus frequently occurs, and they appear to have adopted (1ike our fanatics of the last age) the pious appellations of Deodatus, Deogratias, Quidwltdeus, Hdbctdeum, &c. [The Deogratias,of whom honourable mention has been made (c. 36) was an Arian bishop. The prevalent spirit of the times, as here depicted, shows us why his kindness to the suffering orthodox made him obnoxious to all parties. —Ed.] § Fulgent.
Vit. c. 16—29. Thrasimund affected the praise of moderation and learning; and Fulgentius addressed three books of controversy to tne 142
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The two islands were judiciously chosen by the malice of their Arian tyrants. Seneca, from his own experience, has deplored and exaggerated the miserable state of Corsica,* and the plenty ot Sardinia was overbalanced by the unwholesome quality ot the air.f TIL The zeal of Genseric, and his successors, for the conversion of the Catholics, must have rendered them still more jealous to guard the purity of the Vandal faith. Before the churches were finally shut, it was a crime to appear in a barbarian dress; and those who presumed to neglect the royal mandate, were rudely dragged backwards by their long hair.J The palatine officers, who refused to profess the religion of their prince, were ignominiously stripped of their honours and employments; banished to Sardinia and Sicily; or condemned to the servile labours of slaves and peasants in the fields ot Utica. In the districts which had been peculiarly allotted to the Vandals, the exercise of the Catholic worship was more strictly prohibited; and severe penalties were denounced against the guilt, both of the missionary and the proselyte. By these arts, the faith of the barbarians was preserved, and their zeal was inflamed; they discharged, with devout fury, the office of spies, informers, or executioners; and whenever their cavalry took the field, it was the favourite amusement of the march, to defile the churches, and to insult the clergy of the adverse faction.§ IV. The citizens, who had been educated in the luxury of the Roman province, were delivered, with exquisite cruelty, to the Moors of the desert. A venerable train of bishops, presbyters, and deacons, with a faithful
Arian tyrant, whom he styles piismme Rex. Biblioth. Maxim. Patrum, tom. ix, p. 41. Only sixty bishops are mentioned as exiles in the life of Fulgentius; they are increased to one hundred and twenty by Victor Tunnunensis and Isidore; but the number of two hundred and twenty is specified in the Historia Miscella, and a short authentic chronicle of the times. See Ruinart, p. 570, 571. * See the
base and insipid epigrams of the Stoic, who could not support exile with more fortitude than Ovid. Corsica might not produce corn, wine, or oil; but it could not be destitute of grass, water, and even fire.
+ Si ob gravitatem coeli interissent, vile damnum. Tacit. Annal. 2. 85. In this application, Thrasimund would have adopted the reading of some critics, utile damnum. t See these preludes of a
general persecution, in Victor. 2, 3, 4, 7, and the two edicts of Hunneric, 1. 2, p. 35; 1 . 4, p. 64. § See Procopius de Bell. Vandal.
1. 1, c. 7, p. 197, 198. A Moorish prince endeavoured to propitiate the God of the Christians, by his diligence to erase the marks of the
crowd of four thousand and ninety-six persons, whose guilt is not precisely ascertained, were torn from their native homes by the command ot Hunneric. During the night, they were confined, like a herd ot cattle, amidst their own ordure; during the day they pursued their march over the burning sands; and if they fainted under the heat and fatigue, they were goaded, or dragged along, till they expired in the hands of their tormentors.* These unhappy exiles, when they reached the Moorish huts, might excite the compassion of a people, whose native humanity was neither improved by reason, nor corrupted by fanaticism; but if they escaped the dangers, they were condemned to share the distress, of a savage life. V. It is incumbent on the authors of persecution previously to reflect, whether they are determined to support it in the last extreme. They excite the flame which they strive to extinguish; and it soon becomes necessary to chastise the contumacy, as well as the crime, of the offender. The fine, which he is unable or unwilling to discharge, exposes his person to the severity of the law; and his contempt of lighter penalties suggests the use and propriety of capital punishment. Through the veil of fiction and declamation, we may clearly perceive that the Catholics, more especially under the reign of Hunneric, endured the most cruel and ignominious treatment.f Bespectable citizens, noble matrons, and consecrated virgins, were stripped naked, and raised in the air by pulleys, with a weight suspended at their feet. In this painful attitude their naked bodies were torn with scourges, or burnt in the most tender parts with red-hot plates of iron. The amputation of the ears, the nose, the tongue, and the right hand, was inflicted by the Arians; and although the precise number cannot be defined, it is evident that many persons, among whom a bishopj and a proconsul§ may be named, were entitled to the crown of martyrdom. The same honour has been asVandal sacrilege. * See this story in Victor. 2, 8—12, p. 30 —34. Victor describes the distress of these confessors as an eye-witness.
+ See the fifth book of Victor. His passionate complaints are con firmed by the sober testimony of Procopius, and the public declaration of the emperor Justinian. (Cod. 1. 1, tit. 27.)
I Victor. 2.18, p. 41. § Victor. 5. 4, p. 74, 75. His name
was Victorianus, and he was a wealthy citizen of Adrumetum, who enjoyed the confidence of the king; by whose favour he had obtained the office, or at least the title, of Proconsul of Africa.