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PBIVILEGE8 OF THE
away the arts and manufactures of Gaul, destroyed the elaborate and expensive system of imperial despotism. The provincials must frequently deplore the savage jurisprudence of the Salic or Eipuarian laws; but their private life, in the important concerns of marriage, testaments, or inheritance, was still regulated by the Theodosian Code; and a discontented Roman might freely aspire or descend to the title and character of a barbarian. The honours of the state were accessible to his ambition i the education and temper of the Romans more peculiarly qualified them for the offices of civil government; and, as soon as emulation had rekindled their military ardour, they were permitted to march in the ranks, or even at the head of the victorious Germans. I shall not attempt to enumerate the generals and magistrates, whose names * attest the liberal policy of the Merovingians. The supreme command of Burgundy, with the title of Patrician, was successively intrusted to three Romans; and the last and most powerful, Mummolus,f who alternately saved and disturbed the monarchy, had supplanted his father in the station of count of Autun, and left a treasure of thirty talents of gold, and two hundred and fifty talents of silver. The fierce and illiterate barbarians were excluded, during several generations, from the dignities, and even from the orders, of the church. J The clergy of Gaul consisted almost entirely of native provincials: the haughty Franks fell prostrate at the feet of their subjects, who were dignified with the episcopal character; and the power and riches, which had been lost in war, were insensibly recovered by superstition.§ In all temporal
to rebel or resist.—Ed.] * See Dubos, Hist. Critique de la
Monarchie Francoise, tom, ii, 1. 6, c. 9,10. The French antiquarians establish as a principle, that the Romans and barbarians may be distinguished by their names. Their names undoubtedly form a reasonable presumption; yet in reading Gregory of Tours, I have observed Gondulphus, of senatorial or Roman extraction (1. 6, c. 11, in tom, ii, p. 273), and Claudius, a barbarian (1. 7, c. 29, p. 303).
f Eunius Mummolus is repeatedly mentioned by Gregory of Tours, from the fourth (c. 42, p. 224) to the seventh (c. 40, p. 310), book. The computation by talents is singular enough; but if Gregory attached any meaning to that obsolete word, the treasures of Mummolus must have exceeded one hundred thousand pounds sterling.
$ See Fleury, discours 3, sur l'Histoire Ecclesiaatique.
§ The bishop of Tours himself has recorded the complaint of Chil peric, the grandson of Clovis. Ecce pauper remansit Fiscus noster
affairs, the Theodosian Code was the universal law of the clergy; but the barbaric jurisprudence had liberally provided for their personal safety: a subdeacon was equivalent to two Franks; the antrustion, and priest, were held in similar estimation; and the life of a bishop was appreciated far above the common standard, at the price of nine hundred pieces of gold.* The Romans communicated to their conquerors the use of the Christian religion and Latin language,f but their language and their religion had alike degenerated from the simple purity of the Augustan and apostolic age. The progress of superstition and barbarism was rapid and universal; the worship of the saints concealed from vulgar eyes the God of the Christians; and the rustic dialect of peasants and soldiers was corrupted by a Teutonic idiom and pronunciation. Yet such intercourse of sacred
ecce divitise nostra ad ecclesias sunt translate: nulli penitus nisi soli episoopi regnant. (1 . 6, c. 46, in tom, ii, p. 291.) [The services of the Church continued to be invariably conducted in Latin. (Schmidt, 1. 185.) Barbarians were therelore incompetent to enter the priesthood, unless they acquired a knowledge of that language, which none were encouraged or assisted to undertake and few willingly attempted. The Franks, suddenly elevated to be possessors of wide domains, abandoned themselves to the enjoyments, which these afforded, particularly hunting, or prepared themselves for military duties, if called upon. They were taught nothing, but that the ceremonies of religion and gifts to the altar purchased eternal salvation. Satisfied to acquiesce in this, they listened with awe to words which they did not understand ; and the less they knew, the more they wondered and believed. The field was therefore left open to the bishops, who boldly seized whatever ambition or interest coveted, and attained the greatness of which Chilperic complained. There is scarcely an historian who does not notice the vast increase of their power at this period; but there is not one, not even Gibbon, who points out, with sufficient emphasis, the prostration of the general mind, by eflocting which they from the first acquired their power, and then extended and maintained it.—Ed.] * See the Ripuarian Code,
(tit 36, in tom, iv, p. 241.) The Salio law does not provide for the safety of the clergy, and we might suppose, on the behalf of the more civilized tribe, that they had not foreseen such an impious act as the murder of a priest. Yet Pratextatus, archbishop of Rouen, was assassinated by the order of Queen Fredegundis before the altar. (Greg. Turon. 1. 8, c. 31, in tom, ii, p. 326 ) + M. Bonamy (Mi5m. de
rAcade"mie des Inscriptions, tom, xxiv, p. 582—670) has ascertained the Lingua Bomana Sustica, which, through the medium of the Romance, has gradually been polished into the actual form of the French language. Under the Carlovingtan race, the kings and nobles of France still understood the dialect of their German ancestors.
and social communion eradicated the distinctions of birth and victory; and the nations of Gaul "were gradually confounded under the name and government of the Franks.
The Franks, after they mingled with their Gallic subjects, might have imparted the most valuable of human gifts—a spirit and system of constitutional liberty. Under a king hereditary but limited, the chiefs and counsellors might have debated, at Paris, in the palace of the Caesars: the adjacent field, where the emperors reviewed their mercenary legions, would have admitted the legislative assembly of freemen and warriors; and the rude model, which had been sketched in the woods of Germany,* might have been polished and improved by the civil wisdom of the Romans. But the careless barbarians, secure of their personal independence, disdained the labour of government: the annual assemblies of the month of March were silently abolished; and the nation was separated, and almost dissolved, by the conquest of Gaul.f The monarchy was left without any
* Ce beau systeme a 6t6 trouve" dans les bois. Montesquieu, Esprit des Loix, 1. 11, e. 6. + See the Abb^ de Mably, Observa
tions, &c., tom, i, p. Zi—56. It should seem, that the institution of national assemblies, which are coeval with the French nation, have never been congenial to its temper. [Accurate observation of the past, and sage prescience of the future, are combined in this note. If Gibbon had witnessed all that has occurred in France during the last sixty-four years, he could not, in so few words, have described it more correctly. This defect in national character, as compared with the people of some other countries, may be traced to the circumstances under which the conquest of Gaul was achieved by the Franks. The physiological and psychological distinctions of different races are shown in Mr. Blackwell's judicious observations on Bishop Percy's Preface to Mallet's Northern Antiquities (Bonn's edition). Of the Gothic mind the most marked features are energy hi contending with difficulties, and an insuperable desire of mental freedom. In the Celtic the prevailing characteristics are excitability, an alert promptness in yielding to the impulfe of the moment, without any clearly perceived and definite aim, or perseverance for its attainment. There is not a country in Europe, in which the character of the people has not been formed by the proportion, in which the Gothic mind was introduced among them. The band of Franks carried a very small infusion of it into the Gallic population whom they subdued. Where there is a large preponderance of the Gothic, with a small stimulating admixture of the Celtic, the best national character is formed. It is by the reverse of this, that instability and versatility have become the reproach of France; that ardour in the first movements of pursuit, and ferociousness in the first paroxysm of irritation, have evaporated in
regular establishment of justice, of arms, or of revenue. The successors of Clovis wanted resolution to assume, or strength to exercise, the legislative and executive powers, which the people had abdicated: the royal prerogative was distinguished only by a more ample privilege of rapine and murder; and the love of freedom, so often invigorated and disgraced by private ambition, was reduced, among the licentious Franks, to the contempt of order, and the desire of impunity. Seventy-five years after the death of Clovis, his grandson, Gontran, king of Burgundy, sent an army to invade the Gothic possessions of Septimania, or Languedoc. The troops of Burgundy, Berry, Auvergne, and the adjacent territories, were excited by the hopes of spoil. They marched without discipline, under the banners of German, or Gallic counts; their attack was feeble and unsuccessful; , but the friendly and hostile provinces were desolated with indiscriminate rage. The corn-fields, the villages, the churches themselves, were consumed by fire; the inhabitants were massacred or dragged into captivity; and, in' the disorderly retreat, five thousand of these inhuman savages were destroyed by hunger or intestine discord. \ When the pious Gontran reproached the guilt, or neglect, of their leaders, and threatened to inflict not a legal sentence, but instant and arbitrary execution, they accused the universal and incurable corruption of the people. "No one," they said, "any longer fears or respects his king, his duke, or his count. Each man loves to do evil, and freely indulges his criminal inclinations. The most gentle correction provokes an immediate tumult; and the rash magistrate, who presumes to censure or restrain his seditious subjects, seldom escapes fJive from their revenge.* It has been reserved for the same nation to expose, by their intemperate vices, the most odious abuse of freedom; and to
fruitless efforts; that "national assemblies have never been congenial to its temper;" and that the evanescence of some score of ready-made abortions has never yet taught the patient abiding of events, out oi which "a Constitution grows."—Ed.] * Gregory of Tours
(1. 8, c. 30, in tom, ii, p. 325, 326) relates, with much indifference, the crimes, the reproof, and the apology. Nullus regem metuit, nulluE ducem, nullus comitem reveretur; et si fortaseis alicui ista displicent, et ea pro longsevitate vitse vestrse, emendare conatur, statim seditio in populo, statim tumultus exoritur, et in tantum unusquisque contra seniorem saeva intentione grassatur, ut vix se credat evadere, si tandem 203
VISIGOTHS OF SPAIN. [dll. XXXVIII.
supply its loss by the spirit of honour and humanity, which now alleviates and dignifies their obedience to an absolute sovereign.*
The Visigoths had resigned to Clovis the greatest part of their Gallic possessions; but their loss was amply compensated by the easy conquest, and secure enjoyment, of the provinces of Spain. From the monarchy of the Goths, which soon involved the Suevic kingdom of Gallicia, the modern Spaniards still derive some national vanity: but the historian of the Roman Empire is neither invited, nor compelled, to pursue the obscure and barren series of their annals.f The Goths of Spain were separated from the rest of mankind by the lofty ridge of the Pyrenean mountains: their manners and institutions, as far as they were common to the Germanic tribes, have been already explained. I have anticipated, in the preceding chapter, the most important of their ecclesiastical events, the fall of Arianism, and the persecution of the Jews; and it only remains to observe some interesting circumstances, which relate to the civil and ecclesiastical constitution of the Spanish kingdom.
After their conversion from idolatry or heresy, the Franks and the Visigoths were disposed to embrace, with equal submission, the inherent evils, and the accidental benefits, of superstition. But the prelates of France, long before the extinction of the Merovingian race, had degenerated into fighting and hunting barbarians. They disdained the use of synods; forgot the laws of temperance and chastity; and preferred the indulgence of private ambition and luxury, to the general interest of the sacerdotal profes
silere nequiverit. * [In this passage, written and published
some ten years before the outbreak of the French Revolution, we may discern the germs of the sentiments with which Gibbon regarded that event. It accords with all that he afterwards avowed in the "Memoirs of his Life and Writings," (p. 269) and in many of his letters. (p. 3U4, &c.l—Ed.] "). Spain, in these dark ages, has
been peculiarly unfortunate. The Franks had a Gregory of Tours; the Saxons or Angles, a Bede; the Lombards, a Paul Warnefrid, &c. But the history of tbe Visigoths is contained in the short and imperfect chronicles of Isidore of Seville, and John of Biclar. [When few can read, few will write. No demand, no supply. The little that was written in those ages, was adapted, too, to the capacities, credulities, and views of the sacerdotal and monastic orders. No authentic materials for history existed. Some loosely scattered facts may have been gleaned from charters, deeds of gift, and such documents, .but