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victory: and the holy crusade against the Saracens CHAP.
would have been prompted by glory and revenge, and loudly justified by..religion and policy. Perhaps, in his expeditions beyond the Rhine and the Elbe, he aspired to save his monarchy from the fate of the Roman empire, to disarm the enemies of civilised society, and to eradicate the seed of future emigrations. But it has been wisely observed, that in a light of precaution, all conquest must be ineffectual, unless it could be universal; since the increasing circle must be involved in a larger sphere of hostility." The subjugation of Germany withdrew the veil which had so long concealed the continent or islands of Scandinavia from the knowledge of Europe, and awakened the torpid courage of their barbarous natives. The fiercest of the Saxon idolaters escaped from the Christian tyrant to their brethren of the North; the Ocean and Mediterranean were covered with their piratical fleets; and Charlemagne beheld with a sigh the destructive progress of the Normans, who, in less than seventy years, precipitated the fall of his race and monarchy.
Had the pope and the Romans revived the primi-Hissue. tive constitution, the titles of emperor and Augustus old were conferred on Charlemagne for the term of his ion life; and his successors, on each vacancy, must have 911 in
ascended the throne by a formal or tacit election. But the association of his son Lewis the Pious asserts the independent right of monarchy and conquest, and the emperor seems on this occasion to have foreseen and
Germany; 987 in France.
prevented the latent claims of the clergy. The royal A. D. 813.
youth was commanded to take the crown from the
altar, and with his own hands to place it on his head, as a gift which he held from God, his father, and the
* Gaillard, tom. ii. p. 361—365. 471–476.492. I have borrowed his judicious remarks on Charlemagne's plan of conquest, and the judicious distinction of his enemies of the first and the second enceinte (tom. ii. p. 184. 509, &c.).
nation.' The same ceremony was repeated, though with less energy, in the subsequent associations of Lothaire and Lewis the second: the Carlovingian sceptre was transmitted from father to son in a lineal descent of four generations; and the ambition of the popes was reduced to the empty honour of crowning and anointing these hereditary princes who were already invested with their power and dominions. The pious Lewis survived his brothers, and embraced the whole empire of Charlemagne; but the nations and the nobles, his bishops and his children, quickly discerned that this mighty mass was no longer inspired by the same soul; and the foundations were undermined to the centre, while the external surface was yet fair and entire. After a war, or battle, which consumed one hundred thousand Franks, the empire was divided by treaty between his three sons, who had violated every filial and fraternal duty. The kingdoms of Germany and France were for ever separated; the provinces of Gaul, between the Rhone and the Alps, the Meuse and the Rhine, were assigned, with Italy, to the imperial dignity of Lothaire. In the partition of his share, Lorraine and Arles, two recent and transitory kingdoms, were bestowed on the younger children; and Lewis the second, his eldest son, was content with the realm of Italy, the proper and sufficient patrimony of a Roman emperor. On his death without any male issue, the vacant throne was disputed by his uncles and cousins, and the popes most dexterously seized the occasion of judging the claims and merits of the candidates, and of bestowing on the most obsequious, or most liberal, the imperial office of advocate of the Roman church. The dregs CHAP.
Lewis II. A. D. 856 —875.
* Thegan, the biographer of Lewis, relates this coronation; and Baronius has honestly transcribed it (A. D. 813, N° 13, &c. See Gaillard, tom. ii. p. 506, 507, 508), howsoever adverse to the claims of the popes. For the series of the Carlovingians, see the historians of France, Italy, and Germany; Pfeffel, Schmidt, Velly, Muratori, and even Voltaire, whose pictures are sometimes just, and always pleasing.
of the Carlovingian race no longer exhibited any symptoms of virtue or power, and the ridiculous epithets of the bald, the stammerer, the fat, and the simple, distinguished the tame and uniform features of a crowd of kings alike deserving of oblivion. By the failure of the collateral branches, the whole inheritance devolved to Charles the Fat, the last emperor of his family: his insanity authorised the deser
tion of Germany, Italy, and France: he was deposed Division
in a diet, and solicited his daily bread from the rebels
of the empire,
by whose contempt his life and liberty had been A. P. *
spared. According to the measure of their force, the governors, the bishops, and the lords, usurped the fragments of the falling empire; and some preference was shown to the female or illegitimate blood of Charlemagne. Of the greater part, the title and possession were alike doubtful, and the merit was adequate to the contracted scale of their dominions. Those who could appear with an army at the gates of Rome were crowned emperors in the Vatican; but their modesty was more frequently satisfied with the appellation of kings of Italy; and the whole term of seventy-four years may be deemed a vacancy, from the abdication of Charles the Fat to the establishment of Otho the first.
Otho" was of the noble race of the dukes of Saxony; otho king
and if he truly descended from Witikind, the adver
of Germany restores and
sary and proselyte of Charlemagne, the posterity of .
a vanquished people was exalted to reign over their empire, A. D. 962.
conquerors. His father, Henry the Fowler, was
" He was the son of Otho, the son of Ludolph, in whose favour the duchy of Saxony, had been instituted, A. D. 858. Ruotgerus, the biographer of a St. Bruno (Bibliot. Bunavianae Catalog. tom. iii. vol. ii. p. 679), gives a splendid character of his family. Atavorum atavi usque ad hominum memoriam omnes nobilissimi; nullus in eorum stirpe ignotus, nullus degener facile reperitur (apud Struvium, Corp. Hist. German. p. 216). Yet Gundling (in Henrico Aucupe) is not satisfied of his descent from Witikind.
elected, by the suffrage of the nation, to save and institute the kingdom of Germany. Its limits" were enlarged on every side by his son, the first and greatest of the Othos. A portion of Gaul to the west of the Rhine, along the banks of the Meuse and the Moselle, was assigned to the Germans, by whose blood and language it has been tinged since the time of Caesar and Tacitus. Between the Rhine, the Rhone, and the Alps, the successors of Otho acquired a vain supremacy over the broken kingdoms of Burgundy and Arles. In the North, Christianity was propagated by the sword of Otho, the conqueror and apostle of the Slavic nations of the Elbe and Oder: the marches of Brandenburg and Sleswick were fortified with German colonies; and the king of Denmark, the dukes of Poland and Bohemia, confessed themselves his tributary vassals. At the head of a victorious army he passed the Alps, subdued the kingdom of Italy, delivered the pope, and for ever fixed the imperial crown in the name and nation of Germany. From that memorable ara, two maxims of public jurisprudence were introduced by force and ratified by time. I. That the prince, who was elected in the German diet, acquired, from that instant, the subject kingdoms of Italy and Rome. II. But that he might not legally assume the titles of emperor and Augustus, till he had received the crown from the hands of the Roman pontiff.” The imperial dignity of Charlemagne was announced to the East by the alteration of his style; and instead of saluting his fathers, the Greek em* See the treatise of Conringius (de Finibus Imperii Germanici, Francofurt. 1680, in 4to): he rejects the extravagant and improper scale of the Roman and Carlovingian empires, and discusses with moderation the rights of Germany, her vassals, and her neighbours. ° The power of custom forces me to number Conrad I. and Henry I. the Fowler, in the list of emperors, a title which was never assumed by those kings perors, he presumed to adopt the more equal and CHAP.
Transactions of the western and eastern empires.
of Germany. The Italians, Muratori for instance, are more scrupulous and correct, and only reckon the princes who have been crowned at Rome.
familiar appellation of brother.” Perhaps in his connexion with Irene he aspired to the name of husband: his embassy to Constantinople spoke the language of peace and friendship, and might conceal a treaty of marriage with that ambitious princess, who had renounced the most sacred duties of a mother. The nature, the duration, the probable consequences of such an union between two distant and dissonant empires, it is impossible to conjecture; but the unanimous silence of the Latins may teach us to suspect, that the report was invented by the enemies of Irene, to charge her with the guilt of betraying the church and state to the strangers of the West." The French ambassadors were the spectators, and had nearly been the victims, of the conspiracy of Nicephorus, and the national hatred. Constantinople was exasperated by the treason and sacrilege of ancient Rome; a proverb, “That the Franks were good friends and bad neighbours,” was in every one's mouth; but it was dangerous to provoke a neighbour who might be tempted to reiterate, in the church of St. Sophia, the ceremony of his imperial coronation. After a tedious journey of circuit and delay, the ambassadors of Nicephorus found him in his camp, on the banks of the river Sala; and Charlemagne affected to confound their vanity by displaying, in a Franconian village, the pomp, or at least the pride, of the Byzantine palace. The Greeks were successively led through
P Invidiam tamen suscepti nominis (C. P. imperatoribus super hoc indignantibus magna tulit patientiá, vicitlue eorum contumaciam . . . mittendo ad eos crebras legationes, et in epistolis fratres eos appellando. Eginhard, c. 28. p. 128). Perhaps it was on their account that, like Augustus, he affected some reluctance to receive the empire.
* Theophanes speaks of the coronation and unction of Charles, Kagovaxos (Chronograph. p. 399), and of his treaty of marriage with Irene (p. 402), which is unknown to the Latins. Gaillard relates his transactions with the Greek empire (tom. ii. p. 446–468).
* Gaillard very properly observes, that this pageant was a farce suitable to children only; but that it was indeed represented in the presence, and for the benefit, of children of a larger growth.