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sion.* The bishops of Spain respected themselves, and were respected by the public: their indissoluble union disguised their vices, and confirmed their authority: and the regular discipline of the church introduced peace, order, and stability, into the government of the state. From the reign of Recared, the first Catholic king, to that of Witiza, the immediate predecessor of the unfortunate Roderic, sixteen national councils were successively convened. The six metropolitans, Toledo, Seville, Merida, Braga, Tarragona, and Narbonne, presided according to their respective seniority; the assembly was composed of their suffragan bishops, who appeared in person or by their proxies; and a place was assigned to the most holy or opulent of the Spanish abbots. During the first three days of the convocation, as long as they agitated the ecclesiastical questions of doctrine and discipline, the profane laity was excluded from their debates; which were conducted, however, with decent solemnity. But on the morning of the fourth day, the doors were thrown open for the entrance of the great officers of the palace, the dukes and counts of the provinces, the judges of the cities, and the Gothic nobles; and the decrees of Heaven were ratified by the consent of the people. The same rules were observed in the provincial assemblies, the annual synods which were empowered to hear complaints, and to redress grievances; and a legal government was supported by the prevailing influence of the Spanisli clergy. The bishops, who in each revolution were prepared to flatter the victorious, and to insult the prostrate, laboured with diligence and success to kindle the flames of persecution, and to exalt the mitre above the crown. Yet the national
the general fund was furnished by rumour, hearsay, the lamentations of despoiled fugitives, the narratives of superstitious pilgrims, the tales of itinerant merchants and the like untrustworthy informants. From them the writers selected only what suited their purpose, and freely invented whatever more they wanted. John Biclar was so called from his having founded the Biclarensian monastery at the foot of the Pyrenees. He had afterwards the name of Gerundensis, when he became bishop of Gerunda (Girona). Mariana, de Rebus Hisp., 1. 5, p. 201. His Chronicle extends from A.d. 566 to 590.—Ed.]
* Such are the complaints of St. Boniface, the apostle of Germany, and the reformer of Gaul, in tom. iv, p. 94. The fourscore years, which he deplores, of licence and corruption, would seem to insinuate that the barbarians were admitted into the clergy about tho yeur 660. [The first English archbishop of Canterbury was Berthwald,
VOL. IV. P
councils of Toledo, in which the free spirit of the barbarians was tempered and guided by episcopal policy, have established some prudent laws for the common benefit of the king and people. The vacancy of the throne was supplied by the choice of the bishops and palatines; and, after the failure of the line of Alaric, the regal dignity was still limited to the pure and noble blood of the Goths. The clergy, who anointed their lawful prince, always recommended, and sometimes practised, the duty of allegiance; and the spiritual censures were denounced on the heads of the impious subjects, who should resist his authority, conspire against his life, or violate, by an indecent union, the chastity even of his widow. But the monarch himself, when he ascended the throne, was bound, by a reciprocal oath to God and his people, that he would faithfully execute his important trust. The real or imaginary faults of his administration were subject to the control of a powerful aristocracy: and the bishops and palatines were guarded by a fundamental privilege, that they should not be degraded, imprisoned, tortured, nor punished with death, exile, or confiscation, unless by the free and public judgment of their peers.*
A.D. 690: all his predecessors had been supplied from Rome. He had been previously abbot of Reculver. (Chron. Sax. p. 331, edit. Bohn.) Some Saxon names occur among the bishops, of an earlier date.—Ed.] * The acts of the councils of Toledo are still the most authentic records of the church and constitution of Spain. The following passages are particularly important. (3. 17, 18; 4. 75; 5. 2—5. 8; 6. 11— 14. 17, 18; 7.1; 13. 2, 3. 6.) I have found Mascou (Hist. of the Ancient Germans, 15. 29, and Annotations, 26. 33) and Ferreras (Hist. Ge'ne'rale de l'Espagne, tom. il) very useful and accurate guides. [The Visigoths carried into Spain a much larger infusion of the Gothic mind than Gaul had received from the Franks. This may be perceived in all their first institutions. But this earlier settlement of their polity afforded opportunities for a more regular organization of the hierarchy, which gave "the prelates a still more commanding influence in temporal government." (Hallam, 2. 2.) To this the spirit of the people succumbed, as it did in all other countries; and before it could recover its elastic energy, the conquests of the Saracens repressed it by an additional yoke. The heroic stand made by the remnant of the Goths in their Asturian fastnesses, exhibits all the characteristics of their race. Cooped up for ages in that mountainous tract, when their persevering valour regained possession of the whole land, they bore a very small proportion to the population which had in the mean time grown up there. Their language proves that they were fundamentally Celtic-Roman, but Saracens and Jews had intermingled largely with them. The Gothic portion had for the most A.d. 536.] Code or The Visigoths.
One of these legislative councils of Toledo examined and ratified the code of laws which had been compiled by a succession of Gothic kings, from the fierce Euric to the devout Egica. As long as the Visigoths themselves were satisfied with the rude customs of their ancestors, they indulged their subjects of Aquitain and Spain in the enjoyment of the R -man law. Their gradual improvement in arts, in policy, and at length in religion, encouraged them to imitate and to supersede these foreign institutions; and to compose a code of civil and criminal jurisprudence for the use of a great and united people. The same obligations, and the same privileges, were communicated to the nations of the Spanish monarchy; and the conquerors, insensibly renouncing the Teutonic idiom, submitted to the restraints of equity, and exalted the Romans to the participation of freedom. The merit of this impartial policy was enhanced by the situation of Spain under the reign of the Visigoths. The provincials were long separated from their Arian masters by the irreconcilable difference of religion. After the conversion of Recared had removed the prejudices of the Catholics, the coasts, both of the ocean and Mediterranean, were still possessed by the Eastern emperors; who secretly excited a discontented people to reject the yoke of the barbarians, and to assert the name and dignity of Roman citizens. The allegiance of doubtful subjects is indeed m03t effectually secured by their own persuasion, that they hazard more in a revolt, than they can hope to obtain by revolution; but it has appeared so natural to oppress those whom we hate and fear, that the contrary system well deserves the praise of wisdom and moderation.*
While the kingdoms of the Franks and Visigoths were established in Gaul and Spain, the Saxons achieved the conpart fled or been suppressed. The splendours of Cordova and Granada gleamed only over popular servility ; and with the restoration of Christianity, the priesthood resumed a more absolute and coercive power. Even in the days of Spain's brief pre-eminence among European States, she was not exalted by an intelligent, active people, but by the stern resolution ot a few iron-handed despots, urged to exhaustive efforts for the sole object of maintaining ecclesiastical oppression.—Ed.]
* The Code of the Visigoths, regularly divided into twelve books, has been correctly published by Dom Bouquet, in tom. iv, p. 273— 460. It has been treated by the president de Montesquieu (Esprit des Loix, 1. 28, c. 1,) with excessive severity. I dislike the style; I detest the superstition; but I shall presume to think, that the civil juris212
BEVOLUTIOX Or HEITAIX. [CH. XXXVIII.
quest of Britain, the third great diocese of the prefecture of the West. Since Britain was already separated from the Koman empire, I might, without reproach, decline a story familiar to the most illiterate, and obscure to the most learned, of my readers. The Saxons, who excelled in the use of the oar, or the battle-axe,* were ignorant of the art which could alone perpetuate the fame of their exploits: the provincials, relapsing into barbarism, neglected to describe the ruin of their country; and the doubtful tradition was almost extinguished, before the missionaries of Rome restored the light of science and Christianity. The declamations of Gildas, the fragments, or fables, of Nennius, the obscure hints of the Saxon laws and chronicles, and the ecclesiastical tales of the venerable Bede,f have been illustrated by the diligence, and sometimes embellished by the fancy, of succeeding writers, whose works I am not ambitious either to censure or to transcribe. J Yet the historian of the empire may be tempted to pursue the revolutions of a Roman province, till it vanishes from his sight; and an Englishman may curiously trace the establishment of the barbarians, from whom he derives his name, his laws, and perhaps bis origin.
About forty years after the dissolution of the Roman government, Vortigern appears to have obtained the supreme, though precarious, command of the princes and cities of Britain. That unfortunate monarch has been almost unanimously condemned for the weak and mischievous policy of
prudence displays a more civilized and enlightened state of society, than that of the Bnrgundians, or even of the Lombards.
* [This was not the Saxon weapon. A few pages forward, Gibbon describes the battle of Beranbirig, near Marlborough,as fought by the invaders, with their own national and characteristic "short swords."—Ed.]
+ See Gildas de Exeidio Britannife, c. 11— 25, p. 4—9, edit. Gale; Nennius, Hist. Britonum, c. 28. 35—65, p. 105—115, edit. Gale; Bede, Hist. EccleEiast. Gentis Anglorum, 1 . 1, c. 12—16, p. 49—53; c. 22, p. 58, edit. Smith: Chron. Saxonicum, p. 11—23, &c., edit. Gibson. The Anglo-Saxon laws were published by Wilkins, London, 1731, in folio; and the Leges Wallicte, by Wotton and Clarke, London, 1730, in folio. J The laborious Mr. Carte, and the ingenious
Mr. Whitaker, are the two modern writers to whom I am principally indebted. The particular historian of Manchester embraces, under that obscure title, a subject almost as extensive as the general history of England. [Since Gibbon's time, we have Ingram's edition of the Saxon Chronicle, and Bonn's English version of the same, as well as of Gildas, Nennius, and Bede's History, with many instructive noteg. We have, also, Lingard's and Turner's Histories, Sir F. Palgrave's Rise and Progress of the English Commonwealth, Lappen
inviting* a formidable stranger, to repel the vexatious inroads of a domestic foe. His ambassadors are dispatched, by the gravest historians, to the coast of Germany; they address a pathetic oration to the general assembly of the Saxons, and those warlike barbarians resolve to assist with a fleet and army the suppliants of a distant and unknown island. If Britain had indeed been unknown to the Saxons, the measure of its calamities would have been less complete. But the strength of the Roman government could not always guard the maritime province against the pirates of Germany: the independent and divided states were exposed to their attacks; and the Saxons might sometimes join the Scots and the Picts, in a tacit, or express, confederacy of rapine and destruction. Vortigern could only balance the various perils which assaulted on every side his throne and his people; and his policy may deserve either praise or excuse, if he preferred the alliance of those barbarians, whose naval power rendered them the most dangerous enemies, and the most serviceable allies. Hengist and Horsa, as they ranged along the Eastern coast with three ships, were engaged, by the promise of an ample stipend, to embrace the defence of Britain; and their intrepid valour soon delivered the country from the Caledonian invaders. The isle of Thanet, a secure and fertile district, was allotted for the residence of these German auxiliaries, and they were supplied, according to the treaty, with a plentiful allowance of clothing and provisions. This favourberg's Anglo-Saxon Kings, translated by Thorpe, and many useful notices of our Saxon ancestors in l)r. Latham's Germania of Tacitus, the Transactions of the Archseological Society, and other works.—Ed.] * This invitation, which may derive
some countenance from the loose expressions of Gildas and Bede, is framed into a regular story by Witikind, a Saxon monk of the tenth century. (See Cousin, Hist, de l'Empire d'Occident, torn, ii, p. 356.) Kapin, and even Hume, have too freely used this suspicious evidence, without regarding the precise and probable testimony of Nennius: Interea venerunt tres Chiulse a Germanic in exilio pulsa, in quibus erant Hors et Hengist. [The first settlement of our Saxon ancestors in this island, is in itself sufficiently important, to need no embellishment of fable or romance. The whole range of history furnishes no other event pregnant with such world-influencing consequences. In the twenty-fifth and some succeeding chapters, we have seen their piratical expeditions infesting the shores of Britain, as other tribes were annoying the continental provinces of the empire. When the intelligence reached them of the successful inroads made by their southern cognates, they were of course stimulated to acquire for them