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first fruits were paid in his rich offerings to the shrine CHAP. of the apostle. In his familiar conversation, the em- * peror protested his ignorance of the intentions of Leo, which he would have disappointed by his absence on that memorable day. But the preparations of the ceremony must have disclosed the secret; and the journey of Charlemagne reveals his knowledge and expectation: he had acknowledged that the imperial title was the object of his ambition, and a Roman synod had pronounced, that it was the only adequate reward of his merit and services.” The appellation of great has been often bestowed, Reign and and sometimes deserved, but CHARLEMAGNE is the ... only prince in whose favour the title has been indis-oise solubly blended with the name. That name, with the -84. addition of saint, is inserted in the Roman calendar; and the saint, by a rare felicity, is crowned with the praises of the historians and philosophers of an enlightened age." His real merit is doubtless enhanced by the barbarism of the nation and the times from which he emerged: but the apparent magnitude of an object is likewise enlarged by an unequal comparison; and the ruins of Palmyra derive a casual splendour from the nakedness of the surrounding desert. Without injustice to his fame, I may discern some blemishes in the sanctity and greatness of the restorer of the western empire. Of his moral virtues,
P This great event of the translation or restoration of the empire is related and discussed by Natalis Alexander (secul. ix. dissert. i. p. 390–397), Pagi (tom. iii. p. 418), Muratori (Annali d'Italia, tom. vi. p. 339—352), Sigonius (de Regno Italiae, l. iv. Opp. tom. ii. p. 247–251), Spanheim (de ficta Translatione Imperii), Giannone (tom. i. p. 395–405), St. Marc (Abrégé Chronologique, tom. i. p. 438–450), Gaillard (Hist, de Charlemagne, tom. ii. p. 386–446). Almost all these moderns have some religious or national bias.
a By Mably (Observations sur l’Histoire de France), Voltaire (Histoire Generale), Robertson (History of Charles V.), and Montesquieu (Esprit des Loix, 1. xxxi. c. 18). In the year 1782, M. Gaillard published his Histoire de Charlemagne (in 4 vols. in 12mo.), which I have freely and profitably used. The author is a man of sense and humanity; and his work is laboured with industry and elegance. But I have likewise examined the original monuments of the reigns of Pepin and Charlemagne, in the 5th volume of the Historians of France.
chastity is not the most conspicuous:" but the public happiness could not be materially injured by his nine wives or concubines, the various indulgence of meaner or more transient amours, the multitude of his bastards whom he bestowed on the church, and the long celibacy and licentious manners of his daughters,” whom the father was suspected of loving with too fond a passion. I shall be scarcely permitted to accuse the ambition of a conqueror; but in a day of equal retribution, the sons of his brother Carloman, the Merovingian princes of Aquitain, and the four thousand five hundred Saxons who were beheaded on the same spot, would have something to allege against the justice and humanity of Charlemagne. His treatment of the vanquished Saxons' was an abuse of the right of conquest; his laws were not less sanguinary than his arms, and in the discussion of his motives, whatever is subtracted from bigotry must be imputed to temper. The sedentary reader is amazed by his incessant activity of mind and body; and his subjects and enemies were not less astonished at his sudden presence, at the moment when they believed him at the most distant extremity of the empire; neither peace nor war, nor summer nor winter, were a season of repose; and our fancy cannot easily reconcile the annals of his reign with the geography of his expeditions. But this activity was a national, rather than CHAP.
* The vision of Weltin, composed by a monk, eleven years after the death of Charlemagne, shows him in purgatory, with a vulture, who is perpetually gnawing the guilty member, while the rest of his body, the emblem of his virtues, is sound and perfect (see Gaillard, tom. ii. p. 317–360).
* The marriage of Eginhard with Imma, daughter of Charlemagne, is, in my opinion, sufficiently refuted by the probrum and suspicio that sullied these fair damsels, without excepting his own wife (c. xix. p. 98—100, cum Notis Schmincke). The husband must have been too strong for the historian.
* Besides the massacres and transmigrations, the pain of death was pronounced against the following crimes: 1. The refusal of baptism. 2. The false pretence of baptism. 3. A relapse to idolatry. 4. The murder of a priest or bishop. 5. Human sacrifices. 6. Eating meat in Lent. But every crime might be expiated by baptism or penance (Gaillard, tom. ii. p. 241–247): and the Christian Saxons became the friends and equals of the Franks (Struv. Corpus Hist. Germanicae, p. 133). - t
a personal, virtue; the vagrant life of a Frank was spent in the chase, in pilgrimage, in military adventures; and the journeys of Charlemagne were distinguished only by a more numerous train and a more important purpose. His military renown must be tried by the scrutiny of his troops, his enemies, and his actions. Alexander conquered with the arms of Philip, but the two heroes who preceded Charlemagne bequeathed him their name, their examples, and the companions of their victories. At the head of his veteran and superior armies, he oppressed the savage or degenerate nations, who were incapable of confederating for their common safety: nor did he ever encounter an equal antagonist in numbers, in discipline, or in arms. The science of war has been lost and revived with the arts of peace; but his campaigns are not illustrated by any siege or battle of singular difficulty and success; and he might behold, with envy, the Saracen trophies of his grandfather. After his Spanish expedition, his rear-guard was defeated in the Pyrenaean mountains; and the soldiers, whose situation was irretrievable, and whose valour was useless, might accuse, with their last breath, the want of skill or caution of their general." I touch with reverence the laws of Charlemagne, so highly applauded by a respectable judge. They compose not a system, but a series, of occasional and minute edicts, for the correction of abuses, the reformation of manners, the economy of his farms, the care of his poultry, and even the sale of his eggs. He wished to improve the laws and the character of the Franks; and his attempts, however feeble and imperfect, are deserving
"In this action the famous Rutland, Rolando, Orlando, was slain—cum compluribus aliis. See the truth in Eginhard (c. 9. p. 51–56), and the fable in an ingenious Supplement of M. Gaillard (tom. iii. p. 474). The Spaniards are too proud of a victory, which history ascribes to the Gascons, and romance to the Saracens.
of praise: the inveterate evils of the times were suspended or mollified by his government: " but in his institutions I can seldom discover the general views and the immortal spirit of a legislator, who survives himself for the benefit of posterity. The union and stability of his empire depended on the life of a single man: he imitated the dangerous practice of dividing his kingdoms among his sons; and, after his numerous diets, the whole constitution was left to fluctuate be-, tween the disorders of anarchy and despotism. His esteem for the piety and knowledge of the clergy tempted him to intrust that aspiring order with temporal dominion and civil jurisdiction; and his son Lewis, when he was stripped and degraded by the bishops, might accuse, in some measure, the imprudence of his father. His laws enforced the imposition of tithes, because the daemons had proclaimed in the air that the default of payment had been the cause of the last scarcity." The literary merits of Charlemagne are attested by the foundation of schools, the introduction of arts, the works which were published in his name, and his familiar connexion with the subjects and strangers whom he invited to his court to educate both the prince and people. His own studies were tardy, laborious, and imperfect: if he spoke Latin, and understood Greek, he derived the rudiments of knowledge from conversation, rather than from books; and, in his mature age, the emperor strove to acquire the practice of writing, which
* Yet Schmidt, from the best authorities, represents the interior disorders and
every peasant now learns in his infancy.” The grammar and logic, the music and astronomy, of the times, were only cultivated as the handmaids of superstition; but the curiosity of the human mind must ultimately tend to its improvement, and the encouragement of learning reflects the purest and most pleasing lustre on the character of Charlemagne.' The dignity of
his person,” the length of his reign, the prosperity of
his arms, the vigour of his government, and the re-
* Eginhard (c. 25. p. 119) clearly affirms, tentabat et scribere ... sed parum prospere successit labor praeposterus et sero inchoatus. The moderns have perverted and corrected this obvious meaning, and the title of M. Gaillard's Dissertation (tom. iii. p. 247–260) betrays his partiality.
y See Gaillard, tom. iii. p. 138–176, and Schmidt, tom. ii. p. 121–129.
* M. Gaillard (tom. iii. p. 372) fixes the true stature of Charlemagne (see a Dissertation of Marquard Freher ad calcem Eginhart. p. 220, &c.) at five feet nine inches of French, about six feet one inch and a fourth English, measure. The romance writers have increased it to eight feet, and the giant was endowed with matchless strength and appetite: at a single stroke of his good sword Joyeuse, he cut asunder a horseman and his horse; at a single repast he devoured a goose, two fowls, a quarter of mutton, &c.
* See the concise, but correct and original, work of D'Anville (Etats formés en Europe après la Chute de l'Empire Romain en Occident, Paris, 1771, in 4to.), whose map includes the empire of Charlemagne; the different parts are illustrated, by Walesius (Notitia Galliarum) for France, Beretti (Dissertatio Chorographica) for Italy, De Marca (Marca Hispanica) for Spain. For the middle geography of Germany, I confess myself poor and destitute.
* After a brief relation of his wars and conquests (Vit. Carol. c. 5–14), Eginhard recapitulates, in a few words (c. 15), the countries subject to his empire. Struvius (Corpus Hist, German. p. 118–149) has inserted in his Notes the texts of the old Chronicles.
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Extent of his empire in France, .