« ForrigeFortsett »
A.D. 497.] AND THE EOJIAN TEOOPS. 169
of Constantinople, and they piously disclaimed all connexion 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 neighbouring 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. Sis 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 valour, their policy, and the merits of a seasonable conversion.*
The kingdom of the Burgundians, which was defined by 1 the course of two Gallic rivers, the Saone and the Rhone,' extended from the forest of Vosges to the Alps and the sea of Marseilles.f 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,
the empire. * This important digression of Prooopius (De Bell.
Gothic. 1 . 1, o. 12, in tom, ii, p. 29—36) illustrates the origin of the French monarchy. Yet I must observe, 1. That 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 in Gregory of Tours, the Salic laws, &c.
+ Regnum circa Rhodanum aut Ararim cum provincia Massiliensi retinebant. Greg. Turon. 1. 2, 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 Burgundy, A.D. 519. (Concil. Epaon. in tom, iv, p. 104, 105.) Yet I would except Vindonissa. The bishop, who lived under the Pagan Allemanni, would naturally resort to the synods of the next Christian kingdom. Mascou (in his four first annotations) has explained many circumstances relative to the Burgundian monarchy. [In ch. 35 we left the Burgundians almost annihilated by .<Etius, when "the remains of the nation humbly accepted a dependent seat in the mountains o£ Savoy." In little more than fifty years
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 clamour; 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? He 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 Vienna, 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,
from that time, they come before us again as a numerous people, occupying a large territory, and so formidable as to maintain a long struggle of more than thirty years with the powerful Clovis and his bold Franks. These incongruities teach us how to estimate the destructive propensities of ancient writers.—Ed.]
* Mascou, (Hist, of the Germans, 11, 10.) who very reasonably distrusts the testimony of Gregory of Tours, has produced a passage from Avitus, (epist. 5) to prove that Gundobald affected to deplore the tragic event which his subjects affected to applaud.
their friend and proselyte, had privately tempted the allegiance of his brother.*
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 valour, 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 :f he abandoned to the pursuit of Clovis the important cities of Lyons and Vienna; 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 Vienna, with a garrison of five thousand Franks,J had been besieged, surprised, and massacred by his inhuman brother. Such an outrage might have exasperated the patience of the
* See the original conference (in tom, iv, p. 99—102.) Avitus, 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 (Bibliotheque Ecclesiastique, tom, v, p. 5—10).
+ Gregory of Tours (1. 3, 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 Langres till the twelfth century, and afterwards became the capital of the dukes of Burgundy. Longuerue, Description de la France, part 1, p. 280.
X 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 Gundobald. The prudent Burgundian spared the soldiers of Clovis, and sent these captives to the king of the Visigoths, who settled them in the territory of Thoulouse.
FINAL CONQUEST OF BTJBGITNDY [-CH. XXTVIII.
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 conquerors. 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 of his life, his moderation secured the peace and suspended the ruin of the kingdom of Burgundy.*
I am impatient to pursue the final ruin of that kingdom, f which was accomplished under the reign of Sigismond, the son of Gundobala. The Catholic Sigismond has acquired the honours of a saint and martyr,f but the hands of the royal saint were stained with the' blood of his innocent son, whom he inhumanly sacrificed to the pride and resentment of a stepmother. He soon discovered his error, and bewailed the irreparable loss. While Sigismond embraced the corpse of the unfortunate youth, he received a severe admonition from one of his attendants:—"It is not his situation, O king! it is thine which deserves pity and lamentation." The reproaches of a guilty conscience were alleviated, however, by his liberal donations to the monastery of Agaunum, or St. Maurice, in Vallais; which he himself had founded in honour of the imaginary martyrs of the Thebaean legion. J A full chorus of perpetual psalmody was instituted by the
* In this Burgundian war I have followed Gregory of Tours, (1. 2, c. 32, 33, in tom, ii, p. 178, 179) whose narrative appears so incompatible with that of Procopius, (De Bell. Goth. 1 . 1, c. 12, in tom, ii, p. 31, 32) that some critics have supposed two different wars. The abbe" Dubos (Hist. Critique, &c. tom, ii, p. 126—162) has distinctly represented the causes and the events. + See his life or
legend (in tom, iii, p. 402). A martyr! how strangely has that word been distorted from its original sense of a common witness. St. Sigismond was remarkable for the cure of fevers.
J Before the end of the fifth century, the church of St. Maurice and his Thebaean legion, had rendered Agaunum a place o£ devout pilgrimage. A promiscuous community of both sexes had introduced some deeds of darkness, which were abolished (a.d. 515) by the regular monastery of St. Sigismond. Within fifty years his angels of ligltt made a nocturnal sally to murder their bishop and his clergy. See A.D. 532.] BY THE FBANKS.
pious king: he assiduously practised the austere devotion of the monks; and it was his humble prayer, that Heaven would inflict in this world the punishment of his sins. His prayer was heard; the avengers were at hand; and the provinces of Burgundy were overwhelmed by an army of victorious Franks. After the event of an unsuccessful battle, "Sigismond, who wished to protract his life that he might prolong his penance, concealed himself in the desert in a religious habit, till he was discovered and betrayed by his subjects, who solicited the favour of their new masters. The captive monarch, with his wife and two children, was transported to Orleans, and buried alive in a deep well, by the stern command of the sons of Clovis; whose cruelty might derive some excuse from the maxims and examples of their barbarous age. Their ambition, which urged them to achieve the conquest of Burgundy, was inflamed or disguised by filial piety; and Clotilda, whose sanctity did not consist in the forgiveness of injuries, pressed them to revenge her father's death on the family of his assassin. The rebellious Burgundians, for they attempted to break their chains, were still permitted to enjoy their national laws under the obligation of a tribute and military service; and the Merovingian princes peaceably reigned over a kingdom, whose glory and greatness had been first overthrown by the arms of Clovis.* The first victory of Clovis had insulted the honour of the Goths. They viewed his rapid progress with jealousy and terror; and the youthful fame of Alaric was oppressed by the more potent genius of his rival. Some disputes inevitably arose on the edge of their contiguous dominions; and after the delays of fruitless negotiation, a personal interview of the two kings was proposed and accepted. This conference of Clovis and Alaric was held in a small island of the Loire, near Amboise. They embraced, familiarly conversed, and feasted together; and separated with the warmest professions of peace and brotherly love. But their apparent confidence concealed a dark suspicion of hostile and treacherous designs; and their mutual complaints solicited, eluded,
in the Bibliotheque Raisonnee (tom, xxxvi, p. 435—438) the curious remark of a learned librarian of Geneva. * Marius, bishop
of Avenche, (Chron. in tom, ii, p. 15) has marked the authentic dates, and Gregory of Tours (1. 3, c. 5, 6, in tom, ii, p. 188, 189) has expressed the principal facts of the life of Sigismond and the conquest of Burgundy. Procopius, (in tom, ii, p. 34) and Agathias, (in tom, ii, p. 49) show their remote and imperfect knowledge.