of victory, impetuously pressed their retreat. But the battle was restored by the valour, the conduct, and perhaps by the piety of Clovis; and the event of the bloody day decided for ever the alternative of empire or servitude. The last king of the Allemanni was slain in the field, and his people was slaughtered and pursued till they threw down their arms, and yielded to the mercy of the conqueror. "Without discipline it was impossible for them to rally; they had contemptuously demolished the walls and fortifications which might have protected their distress; and they were followed into the heart of their forests by an enemy not less active, or intrepid, than themselves. The great Theodoric congratulated the victory of Clovis, whose sister Albofleda the king of Italy had lately married; but he mildly interceded with his brother in favour of the suppliants and fugitives who had implored his protection. The Gallic territories, which were possessed by the Allemanni, became the prize of their conqueror; and the haughty nation, invincible, or rebellious, to the arms of Rome, acknowledged the sovereignty of the Merovingian kings, who graciously permitted them to enjoy their peculiar manners and institutions, under the government of official, and at length of hereditary, dukes. After the conquest of the "Western provinces, the Franks alone maintained their ancient habitations beyond the Rhine. They gradually subdued and civilized the exhausted countries, as far as the Elbe and the mountains of Bohemia; and the peace of Europe was secured by the obedience of Germany.*

Till the thirtieth year of his age, Clovis continued to worship the gods of his ancestors.f His disbelief, or rather disregard, of Christianity, might encourage him to pillage

* Gregory of Tours (1 . 2, SO. 37, in tom, ii, p. 176, 177. 182), the Gesta Francorum (in tom, ii, p. 551), and the epistle of Theodoric (Cassiodor. Variar. 1. 2, c. 41, in tom, iv, p. 4), represent the defeat of the Allemanni. Some of their tribes settled in Rhsetia, under the protection of Theodoric; whose successors ceded the colony and their country to the grandson of Clovis. The state of the Allemanni under the Merovingian kings may be seen in Mascou (Hist. of the Ancient Germans, 11. 8, &c. Annotation 36) and Guilliman (De Reb. Helvet . 1. 2. c. 10—12, p. 72—80. + Clotilda, or rather Gregory,

supposes that Clovis worshipped the gods of Greece and Rome. The fact is incredible, and the mistake only shows how completely, in less than a century, the national religion of the Franks had been abolished, A.D. 496.] CONTEESION OF CLOTIS.


with less remorse the churches of a hostile territory; but his subjects of Gaul enjoyed the free exercise of religious worship; and the bishops entertained a more favourable hope of the idolater than of the heretics. The Merovingian prince had contracted a fortunate alliance with the fair Clotilda, the niece of the king of Burgundy, who in the midst of an Arian court, was educated in the profession of the Catholic faith. It was her interest, as well as her duty, to achieve the conversion* of a Pagan husband; and Clovia insensibly listened to the voice of love and religion. He consented (perhaps such terms had been previously stipulated) to the baptism of his eldest son; and though the sudden death of the infant excited some superstitious fears, he was persuaded, a second time, to repeat the dangerous experiment. In the distress of the battle of Tolbiac, Clovis loudly invoked the God of Clotilda and the Christians; and victory disposed him to hear, with respectful gratitude, the eloquentf Remigius,J bishop of Rheims, who forcibly displayed the temporal and spiritual advantages of his conversion. The king declared himself satisfied of the truth of the Catholic faith; and the political reasons which might have suspended his public profession were removed by the devout or loyal acclamations of the Franks, who showed themselves alike prepared to follow their heroic leader to 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 solem

and even forgotten. * Gregory of Tours relates the marriage

and conversion of Clovis (1 . 2, c. 28—31, in tom, ii, p. 175—178.) Even Fredegarius, or the nameless Epitomizer (in tom, ii, p. 398—400), the author of the Gesta Franeorum (in tom, ii, p. 548—552) and Aimoin himself, (1. 1, e. 13, in tom, iii, p. 37—40) may be heard without disdain. Tradition might long preserve some curious circumstances of these important transactions. + A traveller, who returned

from Rheims to Auvergue, had stolen a copy of his Declamations from the secretary or bookseller of the modest archbishop. (Sidonius Apollinar. 1. 9, epist. 7.) Four epistles of Bemigius, which are still extant, (in tom, iv, p. 51—53) do not correspond with the splendid praise of Sidonius. J Hincmar, one of the successors of

Eemigius, (a.d. 845—882) has composed his life (in tom, iii, p. 373— 380.) The authority of ancient MSS. of the church of Eheims might inspire some confidence, which is destroyed, however, by the selfish and audacious fictions oi Hincmar. It is remarkable enough, that Bemigius, who was consecrated at the age of twenty-two, (a.d. 457) filled the episcopal chair seventy-four years. (Pagi Critica, in Baron. 166 INCONSISTENT CONDUCT 0! CLOTIS. [CH. XXXVIII.

nity 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, f The mind of Clovis was susceptible of transient fervour; 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."J But the savage conqueror of Gaul was incapable 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 I 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

tom, ii, p. 384. 572). * 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. Hiucmar (he aspired to the primacy of Gaul) is the first author of this fable (in tom, iii, p. 377) whose slight foundations the abbe" de Vertot (Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom, ii, p. 619—633) has undermined, with profound respect, and consummate dexterity. + Mitis depone colla, Sicamber;

adora quod incendiati, incende quod adorasti. Greg. Turon. 1. 2, c. 31, in tom, ii, p. 177. J Si ego ibidem cum Francis meis fuissero,

injurias ejus vindicassem. This rash expression, which Gregory has prudently concealed, is celebrated by Fredegarius (Epitom. c. 21, in tom, ii, p. 400), Aimoin (1 . 1, c. 16, in tom, iii, p. 40), and the Chroniques de St. Denys (1 . 1, c. 20, in tom, iii, p. 171), as an admirable effusion of Christian zea1 . * § Gregory, (1. 2, c. 40—43, in

tom, ii, p. 183—185) after coolly relating the repeated crimes and affected remorse of Clovis, concludes, perhaps undesignedly, with a lesson, which ambition will never hear : " His ita transactis . . , obiit." A.D. 496.] INFLUENCE OF THE BISHOPS.


victory of Tolbiac encouraged Clovis to confide in tho future protection of the Lord of Hosts. Martin, the most popular of the saints, had filled the Western world with tl e iaine 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 I an expensive friend,* need not be interpreted as the ) symptom of any permanent or rational scepticism. '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 arms of Clovis were strenuously supported by the zeal and favour of the Catholic faction.f

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.J Their influence was augmented

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

+ See the epistle from pope Anastasius to the royal convert (in tom, iv, p. 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 . J [Gibbon has here palliated,

by smooth words, the truth, which his close study of passing events .must have taught him. A hundred bishops, he says, "reigned" in the cities of Gaul, and raised whom they pleased to be temporal monarchs of the country. They had made themselves, according to Schmidt, (1. 270) almost independent of secular law. The price which Clovis paid for their assistance, was subservience to their will. credulity for their impostures, and rich gifts to their churches, which even he complained of as exorbitant. They held, in fact, a sovereign power— more absolute and irresistible than the sternest of earth's tyrants ever 163


with the progress of superstition; and the establishment of the French monarchy may, in some degree, be ascribed to the firm alliance of a hundred prelates, vrho reigned in the discontented, or independent cities of Gaul. The slight foundations of the Armorican republic bad been repeatedly shaken, or overthrown; but the same people still guarded their domestic freedom; asserted the dignity of the Roman name; and bravely resisted the predatory inroads and regular attacks of Clovis, who laboured to extend his conquests from the Seine to the Loire. Their successful opposition introduced an equal and honourable union. The Franks esteemed the valour' 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 scattered 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

exercised. How they treated their slaves is shown by a dispassionate and calm historian, who would rather have praised than censured. Mosheim (Inst. Vet. 2, ch. 3, p. 40) thus describes the priesthood of those times. "Those who instructed the people, made it their sole care to imbue their minds more and more with ignorance, superstition, reverence for the clergy, and admiration of empty ceremonies, and to divest them of all sense and knowledge of true piety." In this, subordinates only followed the course and carried out the system prescribed by their superiors. It is by this designed and organized repression of education, that the dark ages were led on. In these facts we see the true character of the prelates of that age. Respectability is often much too negligently awarded to mere station. It requires at least some decent outward observance of the duties which station imposes. Even this hypocritical homage to virtue, with few exceptions, the mitred despots rarely condescended to pay. Open contemners of all sacred obligations, faithless betrayers of holy trusts, can never be "respectable;" reckless contenders for power, insatiable coveters of riches, are not only sometimes, but always, " dangerous."—Ed.]

* Instead of the Ap66puxot> an unknown people, who now appear in the text of Procopius, Hadrian de Valois has restored the proper name of the Ap/iopwx<"; and tms 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 Eome; and not a confederacy of Gallic cities, which had revolted from

« ForrigeFortsett »