« ForrigeFortsett »
"were secretly imputed to the revenge of Antonina; and each of his colleagues, conscious of the same rapine, was apprehensive of the same fate. The fear of a common enemy suspended the effects of their envy and discontent: but in the confidence of approaching victory, they instigated a powerful rival to oppose the conqueror of Rome and Africa. From the domestic service of the palace, and the administration of the private revenue, Narses the eunuch was suddenly exalted to the head of an army; and the spirit of a hero, who afterwards equalled the merit and glory of Belisarius, served only to perplex the operations of the Gothic war. To his prudent counsels, the relief of Rimini was ascribed by the leaders of the discontented faction, who exhorted Narses to assume an independent and separate command. The epistle of Justinian had indeed enjoined his obedience to the general; but the dangerous exception, as far as may be advantageous to the public service, reserved some freedom of judgment to the discreet favourite, who had so lately departed from the sacred and familiar conversation of his sovereign. In the exercise of this doubtful right, the eunuch perpetually dissented from the opinions of Belisarius; and, after yielding with reluctance to the siege of Urbino, he deserted his colleague in the night, and marched away to the conquest of the uEmilian province. The fierce and formidable bands of the Heruli were attached to the person of Narses;* ten thousand Romans and confederates were persuaded to march under his banners; every malecontent embraced the fair opportunity of revenging his private or imaginary wrongs; and the remaining troops of Belisarius were divided and dispersed from the garrisons of Sicily to the shores of the
Constantianus comes stabuli. * They refused to serve after
his departure; sold their captives and cattle to the Goths; and swore never to fight against them. Procopius introduces a curious digression on the manners and adventures of this wandering nation, a part of whom finally emigrated to Thuleor Scandinavia. (Goth. 1. 2, c. 14,15.) [In this digression, Procopius has mixed up so much fable and romance, that, as a history of the Heruli, it is untrustworthy. Of their origin he can only say, that they came from beyond the Danube. In their actual adventures, there is nothing that may not have occurred to condottieri bands, as they are supposed to have been (ch. 39), and before we can believe their emigration to Thule, we must be convinced of the existence of this wonderful island ten times larger than Britain. Procopius swells his narrative with marvellous accounts of it, which make his credulity on other subjects the more suspicious.—Ed.]
Hadriatic. His skill and perseverance overcame every obstacle: TJrbino was taken; the sieges of Insulae, Orvieto, and Auximum, were undertaken and vigorously prosecuted; and the eunuch Narses was at length recalled to the domestic cares of the palace. All dissensions were healed, and all opposition was subdued, by the temperate authority of the Roman general, to whom his enemies could not refuse their esteem; and Belisarius inculcated the salutary lesson, that the forces of the State should compose one body, and be animated by one soul. But, in the interval of discord, the Goths were permitted to breathe; an important season was lost, Milan was destroyed, and the northern provinces of Italy were afflicted by an inundation of the Franks.
When Justinian first meditated the conquest of Italy, he sent ambassadors to the kings of the Franks, and adjured them, by the common ties of alliance and religion, to join in the holy enterprise against the Arians. The Goths, as their wants were more urgent, employed a more effectual mode of persuasion, and vainly strove, by the gift of lands and money, to purchase the friendship, or at least the neutrality, of a light and perfidious nation.* But the arms of Belisarius, and the revolt of the Italians, had no sooner shaken the Gothic monarchy, than Theodebert of Austrasia, the most powerful and warlike of the Merovingian kings, was persuaded to succour their distress by an indirect and seasonable aid. Without expecting the consent of their sovereign, ten thousand Burgundians, his recent subjects, descended from the Alps, and joined the troops which Vitiges had sent to chastise the revolt of Milan. After an obstinate siege, the capital of Liguria was reduced by famine, but no capitulation could be obtained, except for the safe retreat of the Roman garrison. Datius, the orthodox bishop, who had seduced his countrymen to rebellion t" and ruin, escaped to the luxury and honours of the Byzantine court,J but the clergy, perhaps the Arian clergy,,
* The national reproach of perfidy (Procop. Goth. 1 . 2, c. 25) offend* the ear of la Mothe le Vayer, tom, viii, p. 163—165,) who criticises, as if he had not read, the Greek historian. + Baronius applauds
his treason, and justifies the Catholic bishops—qui ne sub hereticoprincipe degant omnem lapidem movent—a useful caution. The more rational Muratori (Annali d'ltalia, tom, v, p. 54) hints at the guilt of perjury, and blames at least the imprudence of Datius.
X St. Datius was more successful against devils than against bar
were slaughtered at the foot of their own altars by the defenders of the Catholic faith. Three hundred thousand males were reported to be slain ;* the female sex, and the more precious spoil, was resigned to the Burgundians; and the houses, or at least the walls of Milan, were levelled with the ground. The Goths, in their last moments, were revenged by the destruction of a city second only to Rome in size and opulence, in the splendour of its buildings. or the number of its inhabitants; and Belisarius sympathized alone in the fate of his deserted and devoted friends. Encouraged by this successful inroad, Theodebert himself, in the ensuing spring, invaded the plains of Italy with an army of one hundred thousand barbarians.f The king, and some chosen followers, were mounted on horseback, and armed with lances; the infantry, without bows or spears, were satisfied with a shield, a sword, and a double-edged battleaxe, which, in their hands, became a deadly and unerring weapon. Italy trembled at the march of the Franks; and both the Gothic prince and the Roman general, alike ignorant of their designs, solicited, with hope and terror, the friendship of these dangerous allies. Till he had secured the passage of the Po on the bridge of Pavia, the grandson of Clovis dissembled his intentions, which he at length declared, by assaulting, almost at the same instant, the hostile camps of the Romans and Goths. Instead of unit
barians. He travelled with a numerous retinue, and occupied at Corinth a large house. (Baronius, A. D. 538, No. 89; A. D. 539, No. 20).
* Mupiafoc rpianovra. (compare Procopius, Goth. 1. 2, c. 7. 21). Yet such population is incredible; and the second or third city of Italy need not repine if we only decimate numbers of the present test. Both Milan and Genoa revived in less than thirty years. (Paul. Diacon. de Gestis Langobard. 1. 2, c. 38.) [This note ought to shake our faith in ancient historians, when they state numbers, or tell us the extent of victory or disaster.—Ed.] + Besides Procopius, perhaps
too Roman, see the Chronicles of Marius and Marcellinus, Jornandes, (in success. Regn. in Muratori, tom. i, p. 241), and Gregory of Tours (1. 3, c. 32, in tom. ii, of the Historians of France). Gregory supposes a defeat of Belisarius, who, in Aimoin, (de Gestis Franc. 1. 2, c. 23, in tom, iii, p. 59,) is slain by the Franks. [The author, or compiler, of the De Gestis Francorum, was a Benedictine monk, of the abbey of Fleury on the Loire, born at Villefranche in the Perigord. After his death, his history was continued, and the first part interpolated, by some anonymous scribe. The whole work is full of inaccuracies and blunders, many of which have been exposed by Pasquier
ing their arms, they fled with equal precipitation; and the fertile, though desolate, provinces of Liguria and ^Emilia, were abandoned to a licentious host of barbarians, whose rage was not mitigated by any thoughts of settlement or conquest. Among the cities which they ruined, Genoa, not yet constructed of marble, is particularly enumerated: and the deaths of thousands, according to the regular practice of war, appear to have excited less horror than some idolatrous sacrifices of women and children, whieh were performed with impunity in the camp of the most Christian king. If it were not a melancholy truth, that the first and most cruel sufferings must be the lot of the innocent and helpless, history might exult in the misery of the conquerors, who, in the midst of riches, were left destitute of bread or wine, reduced to drink the waters of the Po, and to feed on the flesh of distempered cattle. The dysentery swept away onethird of their army; and the clamours of his subjects, who were impatient to pass the Alps, disposed Theodebert to listen with respect to the mild exhortations of Belisarius. The memory of this inglorious and destructive warfare was perpetuated on the medals of Gaul: and Justinian, without unsheathing his sword, assumed the title of conqueror of the Franks. The Merovingian prince was offended by the vanity of the emperor; he affected to pity the fallen fortunes of the Goths; and his insidious offer of a federal union was fortified by the promise or menace of descending from the Alps at the head of five hundred thousand men. His plans of conquest were boundless, and perhaps chimerical. The king of Austrasia threatened to chastise Justinian, and to march to the gates of Constantinople :* he was overthrown and slain f by a wild bull J as he hunted in the Belgic or German forests. As soon as Belisarius was delivered from his foreign and
in his Recherches (liv. 5, c. 27), and by Le Comte (Annal. An. 654, n. 25—27—Ed.] * Agathias, 1. 1, p. 14, 15. Could he have
seduced or subdued the Gepidse or Lombards of Pannonia, the Greek historian is confident that he must have been destroyed in Thrace.
+ The king pointed his spear—the bull overturned a tree on his head—he expired the same day. Such is the story of Agathias; but the original historians of France (tom, ii, p. 202. 403.558. 667.) impute his death to a fever. J Without losing myself in a labyrinth
of species and names—the aurochs, urus, bisons, bubalus, bonasus,
domestic enemies, he seriously applied his forces to the final reduction of Italy. In the siege of Osimo, the general was nearly transpierced with an arrow, if the mortal stroke had not been intercepted by one of his guards, who lost, in that pious office, the use of his hand. The Goths of Osimo, four thousand warriors, with those of Fsesulae and the Cottian Alps, were among the last who maintained their independence; and their gallant resistance, which almost tired the patience, deserved the esteem of the conqueror. His prudence refused to subscribe the safe conduct which they asked, to join their brethren of Ravenna; but they saved, by an honourable capitulation, one moiety at least of their wealth, with the free alternative of retiring peaceably to their estates, or enlisting to serve the emperor in his Persian wars. The multitudes which yet adhered to the standard of Vitiges far surpassed the number of the Roman troops; but neither prayers, nor defiance, nor the extreme danger of his most faithful subjects, could tempt the Gothic king beyond the fortifications of Ravenna. These fortifications were, indeed, impregnable to the assaults of art or violence; and when Belisarius invested the capital he was soon convinced that famine only could tame the stubborn spirit of the barbarians. The sea, the land, and the channels of the Po, were guarded by the vigilance of the Roman general; and his morality extended the rights of war to the practice of poisoning the waters,* and secretly firing the granaries f of a besieged city. J While he pressed
buffalo, &c. (Buffon, Hist. Nat. tom. xi, and Supplement, tom. iii. vi,) it is certain, that in the sixth century a large wild species of horned cattle was hunted in the great forests of the Vosges in Lorraine, aud the Ardennes. (Greg. Turon. tom. ii, 1. 10, c. 10, p. 369.)
* In the siege of Auximum, he first laboured to demolish an old aqueduct, and then cast into the stream, 1. dead bodies: 2. mischievous herbs: and 3, quicklime, which is named (says Procopius, 1. 2, c. 29,) rirorof by the ancients : by the moderns aafiioroc Yet both words are used as synonymous in Galen, Dioscorides, and Lucian. (Hen. Steph. Thesaur. Ling. Grsec. tom. iii, p. 748.)
+ The Goths suspected Mathasuintha as an accomplice in the mischief, which perhaps was occasioned by accidental lightning.
J In strict philosophy, a limitation of the rights of war seems to imply nonsense and contradiction. Grotius himself is lost in an idle disinction between the jus naturse and the jus gentium, between poison and infection. He balances in one scale the passages of Homer (Odyssi