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THE GOTHIC WAB. [CH. XXXVIII.
and disclaimed a final arbitration. At Paris, which he already considered as his royal seat, Clovis declared to an assembly of the princes and warriors, the pretence, and the motive, of a Gothic war. "It grieves me to see that the Arians still possess the fairest portion of Gaul. Let us march against them with the aid of God; and, having vanquished the heretics, we will possess and divide their fertile provinces."* The Franks, who were inspired by hereditary valour and recent zeal, applauded the generous design of their monarch; expressed their resolution to conquer or die. since death and conquest would be equally profitable; and solemnly protested that they would never shave their beards, till victory should absolve them from that inconvenient vow. The enterprise was promoted by the public, or private, exhortations of Clotilda. She reminded her husband, how effectually some pious foundation would propitiate the Deity, and his servants: and the Christian hero, darting his battleaxe with a skilful and nervous hand—" There," said he," on that spot where my Franciscan shall fall, will I erect a church in honour of the holy apostles." This ostentatious piety confirmed and justified the attachment of the Catholics, with whom he secretly corresponded; and their devout wishes were gradually ripened into a formidable conspiracy. The people of Aquitain was alarmed by the indiscreet reproaches of their Gothic tyrants, who justly accused them of preferring the dominion of the Franks; and their zealous adherent, Quintianus, bishop of Rodez,J preached more
* Gregory of Tours (l . 2, o. 37, in tom. ii, p. 181) inserts the snort but persuasive speech of Clovis. Valde moleste fero, quod hi Ariani partem teneant Galliarum, (the author of the Gesta Francorum, in tom, ii, p. 553, adds the precious epithet of optimam); eamus cum Dei adjutorio, et, superatis eis, redigamus terram in ditionem nostram.
+ Tunc rex projecit a se in directum bipennem suam quod est Francisco,, &c. (Gesta. Franc. in tom. ii, p. 554.) The form and use of this weapon are clearly described by Procopius (in tom. ii, p. 37). Examples of its national appellation in Latin and French, may be found in the Glossary of Ducange, and the large Dictionnaire de Trevoux. [Horace, recording a fact, rather than indulging the figurative license of a poet, described the Vindelici defending themselves with a like weapon against Drusus, in the ithsetian Alps.
1 Vindelici, quibus
Mos unde deductus per omne
Tempus Amazonia securi
+ It is singular enough that some important and authentic
forcibly in his exile than in his diocese. To resist these foreign and domestic enemies, who were fortified by the alliance of the Burgundians, Alaric collected his troops, far more numerous than the military powers of Clovis. The Visigoths resumed the exercise of arms, which they had neglected in a long and luxurious peace: * a select hand of valiant and robust slaves attended their masters to the field ;f and the cities of Gaul were compelled to furnish their doubtful and reluctant aid. Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, who reigned in Italy, had laboured to maintain the tranquillity of Gaul; and he assumed, or affected for that purpose, the impartial character of a mediator. But the sagacious monarch dreaded the rising empire of Clovis, and he was firmly engaged to support the national and religious cause of the Goths.
The accidental or artificial prodigies, which adorned the expedition of Clovis, were accepted by a superstitious age, as the manifest declaration of the Divine favour. He marched from Paris, and as he proceeded with decent reverence through the holy diocese of Tours, his anxiety tempted him to consult the shrine of St. Martin, the sanctuary, and the oracle of Gaul. His messengers were instructed to remark the words of the Psalm, which should happen to be chaunted at the precise moment when they entered the church. Those words most fortunately expressed the valour and victory of the champions of heaven, and the application was easily transferred to the new Joshua, the new Gideon, who went forth to battle against the enemies of the Lord.J
facts should be found in a life of Quintianus, composed in rhyme, in the old patois of Kouergue. (Dubos, Hist. Critique, &c. tom. ii, p. 179.) * Quamvis fortitudini vestrse confidentiam
tribuat parentum vestrorum innumerabilis multitudo; quamvis Attilam potentem reminiscamini Visigotharum viribus inclinatum; tamen quia populorum ferocia corda longa pace mollescunt, cavete subito in aleam mittere, quos constat, tantis temporibus exercitia non habere. Such was the salutary, but fruitless advice of peace, of reason, and of Theodoric. (Cassiodor. 1 . 3, ep. 2.) + Montesquieu (Esprit
des Loix, 1. 15, c. 14) mentions and approves the law of the Visigoths, (1. 9, tit. 2, in tom. iv, p. 425) which obliged all masters to arm, and send, or lead into the field, a tenth of their slaves.
t This mode of divination, by accepting as an omen the first sacred words which in particular circumstances should be presented to the eye or ear, was derived from the Pagans; and the Psalter, or Bible, was substituted to the poems of Homer and Virgil. From the fourth 176 CIiOVIS ATTACKS THE GOTHIC AEMT. [CH. XXXVIII.
Orleans secured to the Franks a bridge on the Loire; but, at the distance of forty miles from Poitiers, their progress was intercepted by an extraordinary swell of the river Vigenna, or Vienne; and the opposite banks wene covered by the encampment of the Visigoths. Delay must be always dangerous to barbarians, who consume the country through which they march; and had Clovis possessed leisure and materials, it might have been impracticable to construct a bridge, or to force a passage, in the face of a superior enemy. But the affectionate peasants, who were impatient to welcome their deliverer, could easily betray some unknown or unguarded ford; the merit of the discovery was enhanced by the useful interposition of fraud or fiction; and a white hart of singular size and beauty, appeared to guide and animate the march of the Catholic army. The councils of the Visigoths were irresolute and distracted. A crowd of impatient warriors, presumptuous in their strength, and disdaining to fly before the robbers of Germany, excited Alaric to assert in arms the name and blood of the conqueror of Rome. The advice of the graver chieftains pressed him to elude the first ardour of the Franks; and to expect, in the southern provinces of Gaul, the veteran and victorious Ostrogoths, whom the king of Italy had already sent to his assistance. The decisive moments were wasted in idle deliberation; the Goths too hastily abandoned, perhaps, an advantageous post; and the opportunity of a secure retreat was lost by their slow and disorderly motions. After Clovis had passed the ford, as it is still named, of the Hart, he advanced with bold and hasty steps to prevent the escape of the enemy. His nocturnal march was directed by a flaming meteor, suspended in the air above the cathedral of Poitiers; and this signal, which might be previously concerted with the orthodox successor of St. Hilary, was compared to the column of fire that guided the Israelites in the desert. At the third hour of the day, about ten miles beyond Poitiers, Clovis overtook, and instantly attacked the Gothic army; whose defeat was already prepared by terror and confusion. Yet they rallied in their extreme distress, and the martial youths who had clamorously demanded the battle, refused to survive
to the fourteenth century, these tortes sanctorum, as they are styled, were repeatedly condemned by the decrees of councils, and repeatedly practised by kings, bishops, and saints. See a curious dissertation of the abbe" du Resnel, in the Memoires de 1'Academe, tom, six, p. 287—310. A.D. 508.] CONQUEST OF AQUITAIN.
the ignominy of flight. The two kings encountered each, other in single combat. Alaric fell by the hand of his rival; and the victorious Frank was saved by the goodness of his cuirass, and the vigour of his horse, from the spears of two desperate Goths, who furiously rode against him to revenge the death of their sovereign. The vague expression of a mountain of the slain, serves to indicate a cruel, though indefinite, slaughter; but Gregory has caref ully observed, that his valiant countryman Apollinaris, the son of Sidomus, lost his life at the head of the nobles of Auvergne. Perhaps these suspected Catholics had been maliciously exposed to the blind assault of the enemy; and perhaps the influence of religion was superseded by personal attachment, or military houour.*
Such is the empire of Fortune (if we may still disguise our ignorance under that popular name), that it is almost equally difficult to foresee the events of war, or to explain their various consequences. A bloody and complete victory has sometimes yielded no more than the possession ot the field; and the loss of ten thousand men has sometimes been sufficient to destroy, in a single day, the work of ages. The decisive battle of Poitiers was followed by the conquest of Aquitain. Alaric had left behind him an iniant son, a bastard competitor, factious nobles, and a disloyal people; and the remaining forces of the Goths were oppressed by the general consternation, or opposed to each other in civil discord. The victorious king of the Franks proceeded without delay to the siege of Angouleme. At the sound of his trumpets the walls of the city imitated the example of Jericho, and instantly fell to the ground; a splendid miracle, which may be reduced to the supposition, that some clerical engineers had secretly undermined the foundations of the rampart.f At Bordeaux, which had submitted
* After correcting the text, or excusing the mistake of Procopius, who places the defeat of Alaric near Careassone, we may conclude from the evidence of Gregory, Fortunatus, and the author of the Gesta Francorum, that the battle was fought in campo Vocladensi, on the banks of the Clain, about ten miles to the south of Poitiers. Clovis overtook and attacked the Visigoths near Vivonne, and the victory was decided near a village still named Champagne1 St. Hilare. See the Dissertations of the abbe' le Boauf, tom, i, p. 304—331.
+ Angouleme is in the road from Poitiers to Bordeaux; and although Gregory delays the siege, I can more readily believe that he
VOL. IT. N
TREATY O1* PEACE. [CH. XXXVIII.
without resistance, Clovis established his winter quarters; and his prudent economy transported from Thoulouse the royal treasures, which were deposited in the capital of the monarchy. The conqueror penetrated as far as the confines of Spain ;* restored the honours of the Catholic church; fixed in Aquitain a colony of Franks ; t and delegated to his lieutenants the easy task of subduing, or extirpating, the nation of the Visigoths. But. the Visigoths were protected by the wise and powerful monarch of Italy. '"While the balance was still equal. Theodoric had perhaps delayed the march of the Ostrogoths; but their strenuous efforts successfully resisted the ambition of Clovis; and the army of the Franks and their Burgundian allies, was compelled to raise the siege of Aries, with the loss, as it is said, of thirty thousand men. These vicissitudes inclined the fierce spirit of Clovis to acquiesce in an advantageous treaty of peace. The Visigoths were suffered to retain the posses. sion of Septimania, a narrow tract of sea-coast, from the 1 Rhone to the Pyrenees; but the ample province of Aquitain, from those mountains to the Loire, was indissolubly united to the kingdom of Franee.J
confounded the order of history, than that Clovis neglected the rules of war. * Pyrenaeos montes usque Perpinianum subjecit, ia
the expression of Rorico, which betrays his recent date; since Perpignan did not exist before the tenth century. (Marca Hispanica, p. 45S.) This florid and fabulous writer (perhaps a monk of Amiens; see the abbe" le Boeuf, Mem. de l'Acade'mie, tom. xvii, p. 228—245) relates, in the allegorical character of a shepherd, the general history of his countrymen the Franks; but his narrative ends with the death of Clovis. + The author of the Gesta Francorum positively
affirms, that Clovis fixed a body of Franks in the Saintonge and Bour- « delois; and he is not injudiciously followed by Borico, electos milites atque fortissimos, cum parvulis atque mulieribus. Yet it should seem that they soon mingled with the Romans of Aquitain, till Charlemagne introduced a more numerous and powerful colony. (Dubos, Hist . Critique, tom. ii, p. 215.) J In the composition of the Gothic
war, I have used the following materials, with due regard to their unequal value. Four epistles from Theodoric king of Italy (Cassiodor. lib. 3, epist. 1—4, in tom. iv, p. 3—5), Procopius (De Bell. Goth. 1. 1, c. 12, in tom. ii, p. 32, 33), Gregory of Tours (1. 2, c. 35—37, in tom. ii, p. 181—183), Jornandes (De Reb. Geticis, c. 58, in tom. ii, p. 28) Fortunatus (in Vit. St. Hilarii, in tom. iii, p. 380), Isidore (in Chron. Goth. in tom. ii, p. 702), the Epitome of Gregory of Tours, (in tom. ii, p. 401), the author of the Gesta Francorum (in tom. ii, p. 553—555), the Fragments of Fredegarius (in tom. ii, p. 463\ Aimoin (1. 1, c . 20, in tom, iii, p. 41, 42), and Rorico (1 . 4, in tom, iii, p. 14—19).