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mond, the African king :* on this occasion, the fortress of Lilybaeumf in Sicily was resigned to the Vandals; and the princess Amalafrida was attended by a martial train of one thousand nobles. and five thousand Gothic soldiers, who signalized their valour in the Moorish wars. Their merit was overrated by themselves, and perhaps neglected by the Vandals : they viewed the country with envy, and the conquerors with disdain; but their real or fictitious conspiracy was prevented by a massacre; the Goths were oppressed, and the captivity of Amalafrida was soon followed by her secret and suspicious death. The eloquent pen of Cassiodorus was employed to reproach the Vandal court with the cruel violation of every social and public duty; but the vengeance which he threatened, in the name of his sovereign, might be derided with impunity, as long as Africa was protected by the sea, and the Goths were destitute of a navy. In the blind impotence of grief and indignation, they joyfully saluted the approach of the Romans, entertained the fleet of Belisarius in the ports of Sicily, and were speedily delighted or alarmed by the surprising intelligence, that their revenge was executed beyond the measure of their hopes, or perhaps of their wishes. To their friendship the emperor was indebted for the kingdom of Africa, and the Goths might reasonably think that they were entitled to resume the possession of a barren rock, so recently separated as a nuptial gift from the island of Sicily. They were soon undeceived by the haughty mandate of Belisarius, which excited their tardy and unavailing repentance. "The city and promontory of LilybsBum (said the Roman general) belonged to the Vandals, and I claim them by the right of conquest. Your submission may deserve the favour of the emperor; your obstinacy will provoke his displeasure, and must kindle a war, that can terminate only in your utter ruin. If you compel us to take up arms, we shall contend, not to regain the possession of a single city, but to deprive you of all the provinces which you unjustly withhold from their lawful
* See the marriage and fate of Amalafrida in Procopius (Vandal. 1. 1, e. 8, 9), and in Cassiodorus (Var. 9, 1) the expostulation of her royal brother. Compare likewise the Chronicle of Victor Tununensis. *r Lilybseum was built by the Carthaginians,
Olymp. 95. 4, and in the first Punic war, a strong situation and excellent harbour rendered that place an important object to both nations.
sovereign." A nation of two hundred thousand soldiers might have smiled at the vain menace of Justinian and his lieutenant: but a spirit of discord and disaffection prevailed in Italy, and the Goths supported, with reluctance, the indignity of a female reign.*
The birth of Amalasontha, the regent and queen of Italy, f united the two most illustrious families of the barbarians. Her mother, the sister of Clovis, was descended from the long haired kings of the Merovingian race,J and the regal succession of the Amali was illustrated in the eleventh generation, by her father, the great Theodoric, whose merit might have ennobled a plebeian origin. The sex of his daughter excluded her from the Gothic throne; but his vigilant tenderness for his family and his people discovered the last heir of the royal line, whose ancestors had taken refuge in Spain; and the fortunate Eutharic was suddenly exalted to the rank of a consul and a prince. He enjoyed only a short time the charms of Amalasontha, and the hopes of the succession; and his widow, after the death of her husband and father, was left the guardian of her son Athalaric, and the kingdom of Italy. At the age of about twenty-eight years, the endowments of her mind and person had attained their perfect maturity. Her beauty, which, in the apprehension of Theodora herself, might have disputed the conquest of an emperor, was animated by manly sense, activity, and resolution. Education and experience had cultivated her talents; her philosophic studies were exempt from vanity; and, though she expressed herself with equal elegance and ease in the Greek, the Latin, and the' Gothic tongue, the daughter of Theodoric maintained in her counsels a discreet and impenetrable silence. By a faithful imitation of the virtues, she revived the prosperity, of his reign: while she strove, with pious care, to expiate the faults, and to
* Compare the different passages of Procopius. (Vandal. 1. 2, c. 5. Gothic. 1 . l,e. 3.) + For the reign and character of
Amalasontha, see Procopius (Gothic. 1. 1, c. 2—I, and Anecdot. c. 16, with the notes of Alemannus), Cassiodorus (Var. 8—11, 1), and Jornandes (de Rebus Geticis, c. 59, and de Successione Regnorum, in Muratori, tom. i, p. 241). J The marriage of Theodoric
with Audefleda, the sister of Clovis, may be placed in the year 495, soon after the conquest of Italy. (De Buat, Hist, des Peuples, tom. is 213.) The nuptials of Eutharic and Amalasontha were celebrated 615. (Cassiodor. in Chron. p. 453.)
obliterate the darker memory, of bis declining age. The children of Boethius and Symmachus were restored to their paternal inheritance; her extreme lenity never consented to inflict any corporal or pecuniary penalties on her Roman subjects; and she generously despised the clamours of the Goths, who, at the end of forty years, still considered the people of Italy as their slaves or their enemies. Her salutary measures were directed by the wisdom, and celebrated by the eloquence, of Cassiodorus; she solicited and deserved the friendship of the emperor; and the kingdoms of Europe respected, both in peace and war, the majesty of the Gothic throne. But the future happiness of the queen and of Italy depended on the education of her son, who was destined, by his birth, to support the different and almost incompatible characters of the chief of a barbarian camp, and the first magistrate of a civilized nation. From the age of ten years,* Athalaric was diligently instructed in the arts and sciences, either useful or ornamental for a Roman prince; and three venerable Goths were chosen to instil the principles of honour and virtue into the mind of their young king. But the pupil who is insensible of the benefits, must abhor the restraints, of education; and the solicitude of the queen, which affection rendered anxious and severe, offended the untractable nature of her son and his subjects. On a solemn festival, when the Goths were assembled in the palace of Ravenna, the royal youth escaped from his mother's apartment, and, with tears of pride and anger, complained of a blow which his stubborn disobedience had provoked her to inflict. The barbarians resented the indignity which had been offered to their king; accused the regent of conspiring against his life and crown; and imperiously demanded that the grandson of Theodoric should be rescued from the dastardly discipline of women and pedants, and educated, like a valiant Goth, in the society of his equals, and the glorious ignorance of his ancestors. To this rude clamour, importunately urged as the voice of the nation, Amalasontha was compelled to yield her reason, and the dearest wishes of her heart. The king of Italy was abandoned to wine, to
* At the death of Theodoric, his grandson Athalaric is described by Procopius as a boy about eight years old—6/crw ytyovug trrj. Cassiodorus, with authority and reason, adds two years to his age—infantulum adhue vix decennem.
women, and to rustic sports; and the indiscreet contempt of the ungrateful youth betrayed the mischievous designs of his favourites and her enemies. Encompassed with domestic foes, she entered into a secret negotiation with the emperor Justinian; obtained the assurance of a friendly reception, and had actually deposited at Dyrrachium in Epirus, a treasure of forty thousand pounds of gold. Happy would it have been for her fame and safety, if she had calmly retired from barbarous faction, to the peace and splendour of Constantinople. But the mind of Amalasontha was inflamed by ambition and revenge; and while her ships lay at anchor in the port, she waited for the success of a crime, which her passions excused or applauded as an act of justice. Three of the most dangerous malecontents had been separately removed, under the pretence of trust and command, to the frontiers of Italy: they were assassinated by her private emissaries; and the blood of these noble Goths rendered the queen-mother absolute in the court of Ravenna, and justly odious to a free people. But if she had lamented the disorders of her son, she soon wept his irreparable loss; and the death of Athalaric, who, at the age of sixteen, was consumed by premature intemperance, left her destitute of any firm support or legal authority. Instead of submitting to the laws of her country, which held as a fundamental maxim, that the succession could never pass from the lance to the distaff, the daughter of Theodoric conceived the impracticable design of sharing with one of her cousins the regal title, and of reserving in her own hands the substance of supreme power. He received the proposal with profound respect and affected gratitude; and the eloquent Cassiodorus announced to the senate and the emperor, that Amalasontha and Theodatus had ascended the throne of Italy. His birth (for his mother was the sister of Theodoric) might be considered as an imperfect title; and the choice of Amalasontha was more strongly directed by her contempt of his avarice and pusillanimity, which had deprived him of the love of the Italians, and the esteem of the barbarians. But Theodatus was exasperated by the contempt which he deserved; her justice had repressed and reproached the oppression which he exercised against his Tuscan neighbours; and the principal Goths, united by common guilt and resentment, conspired to instigate his slow and timid disposition. The
letters of congratulation were scarcely dispatched before the queen of Italy was imprisoned in a small island of the lake of Bolsena,* where, after a short confinement, she was strangled in the bath, by the order, or with the connivance, of the new king, who instructed his turbulent subjects to shed the blood of their sovereigns.
Justinian beheld with joy the disseusions of the Goths; and the mediation of an ally concealed and promoted the ambitious views of the conqueror. His ambassadors, in their public audience, demanded the fortress of Lilybaeum, ten barbarian fugitives, and a just compensation for the pillage of a small town on the Illyrian borders; but they secretly negotiated with Theodatus, to betray the province of Tuscany, and tempted Amalasontha to extricate herself from danger and perplexity, by a free surrender of the kingdom of Italy. A false and servile epistle was subscribed by the reluctant hand of the captive queen; but the confession of the Roman senators, who were sent to Constantinople, revealed the truth of her deplorable situation; and Justinian, by the voice of a new ambassador, most powerfully interceded for her life and liberty. Yet the secret instructions of the same minister were adapted to serve the cruel jealousy of Theodora, who dreaded the presence and superior charms of a rival: he prompted, with artful and ambiguous hints, the execution of a crime so useful to the Romans ;t received
* The lake, from the neighbouring towns of Etruria, was styled either Vulsiniensis (now of Bolsena) or Tarquiniensis. It is surrounded with white rocks, and stored with fish and wild fowl. The younger Pliny (Epist. 2, 96) celebrates two woody islands that floated on its waters: if a fable, how credulous the ancients!—if a fact, how careless the moderns I Yet since Pliny, the island may have been fixed by new and gradual accessions.
+ Yet Procopius discredits his own evidence (Anecdot. c. 16) by confessing, that in his public history he had not spoken the truth. See the epistles from queen Gundelinda to the Empress Theodora, (Var. x. 20, 21. 23, and observe a suspicious word, de ilia persona, &c.) with the elaborate Commentary of Buat (tom. x, p. 177—185). fin an addition to this note, M. Guizot says, that " Amalasontha was already dead, when Peter of Thessalonica arrived in Italy." At the same time he quotes the admission of M. de Sainte Croix (Archives Litteraires of M. Vandenbourg, No. 50, tom. xvii, p. 219) that there was probably "some criminal intrigue between Theodora and Gundelinda." But M. Guizot has here overlooked the fact that, in this stage of the negotiations, Peter was twice sent to Italy from Constantinople. On his return from the first of these missions, he took with