Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

the country and the inhabitants were transformed; the Grecian blood was contaminated; and the proudest nobles of Pelop< nnesus were branded with the names of foreigners and slaves. By the diligence of succeeding princes, the land wras in some measure purified from the Barbarians; and the humble remnant was bound by an oath of obedience, tribute, and military Urvise, which they often renewed and often violated. The iege of Patras was formed by a singular concurrence of the jclavonians of Peloponnesus and the Saracens of Africa. Ir. heir last distress, a pious fiction of the approach of the praetoi of Corinth revived the courage of the citizens. Their sally was bold and successful; the strangers embarked, the rebels submitted, and the glory of the day was ascribed to a phan torn or a stranger, who fought in the foremost ranks undci the character of St. Andrew the Apostle. The shrine which contained his relics was decorated with the trophies of victory, and the captive race was forever devoted to the service and vassalage of the metropolitan church of Patras. By the revolt of two Sclavonian tribes, in the neighborhood of Helos and Lacedamion, the peace of the peninsula was often disturbed They sometimes insulted the weakness, and sometimes resisted the oppression, of the Byzantine government, till at length the approach of their hostile brethren extorted a golden bull to define the rites and obligations of the Ezzerites and Milengi, whose annual tribute was defined at twelve hundred pieces of gold. From these strangers the Imperial geographer has accurately distinguished a domestic, and perhaps original, race, who, in some degree, might derive their blood from the muchinjured Helots. The liberality of the Romans, and especially of Augustus, had enfranchised the maritime cities from the dominion of Sparta; and the continuance of the same benefit ennobled them with the title of JSleuthero, or Free-Laconians.1" In the time of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, they had acquired the name of Mainotes, under which they dishonor the claim of liberty by the inhuman pillage of all that is shipwrecked on their rocky shores. Their territory, barren of corn, but fruitful of olives, extended to the Cape of Malea: they accepted a chief or prince from the Byzantine praetor, and a light tribute of four hundred pieces of gold was the badge of their immunity, rather than of their dependence.

a Strabon. Geograph. 1. viii. p. 562. Pausanius, Grcec. Deacriptioi L ui c ?], p. 264. 265. Pliny, Hist. Natur. 1. iv. c. 8.

The freemen of Laconia assumed the character of Romans, and long adhered to the religion of the Greeks, By the zeal of the emperor Basil, they were baptized in the faith of Christ: but the altars of Venus and Neptune had been crowned by these rustic votaries live hundred years after they were proscribed in the Roman world. In the theme of Peloponnesus,1* forty cities were still numbered, and the declining state of Sparta, Argos, and Corinth, may be suspended in the tenth century, at an equal distance, perhaps, between their antique splendor and their present desolation. The duty of military service, either in person or by substitute, was imposed on the lands or benefices of the province; a sum of five pieces of gold was assessed on each of the substantial tenants; and the same capitation was shared among several heads of inferior value. On the proclamation of an Italian war, the Peloponnesians excused themselves by a voluntary oblation of one hundred pounds of gold, (four thousand pounds sterling,) and a thousand horses with their arms and trappings. The churches and monasteries furnished their contingent; a sacrilegious profit was extorted from the sale of ecclesiastical honors; and the indigent bishop of Leucadia" was made responsible for a pension of one hundred pieces of gold.1'

But the wealth of the province, and the trust of the revenue, were founded on the fair and plentiful produce of trade and manufactures; and some symptoms of liberal policy may be traced in a law which exempts from all personal taxes the mariners of Peloponnesus, and the workmen in parchment and purple. This denomination may be fairly applied or extended to the manufactures of linen, woollen, and more especially of silk: the two former of which had flourished in Greece since the days of Homer; and the last was introduced perhaps as early as the reign of Justinian. These arts, which were exercised at Corinth, Thebes, and Argos, afforded food and occupation to a numerous people: the men, women, ani children were distributed according to their age and strength;

17 Constantin. de Administrando Imperio, 1. ii. c. 50, 51, 52.

18 The rock of Leucate was the southern promontory of his island and diocese. Had he been the exclusive guardian of the Lover's Leap so well known to the readers of Ovid (Epist. Sappho) and the Specta tor, he might haye been the richest prelate of the Greek church.

18 Leucatensis mihi juravit episcopus, quotannis ecclesiam suani jebere Nicephoro aureos centum persolvere, similiter et ceteras plui ■unusve secundum vires suos, (Liutorand in Legat. p. 489.)

And, if many of these were domestic slaves, their masters, whc directed the work and enjoyed the profit, were of a free and honorable condition. The gifts which a rich and generous matron of Peloponnesus presented to the emperor Basil, her adopted son, were doubtless fabricated in the Grecian looms. Danielis bestowed a carpet of fine wool, of a pattern which imitated the spots of a peacock's tail, of a magnitude to overtpread the floor of a new church, erected in the triple name of Christ, of Michael the archangel, and of the prophet Elijah. She gave six hundred pieces of silk and linen, of various use and denomination: the silk was painted with the Tyrian dye, and adorned by the labors of the needle; and the linen was Bo exquisitely fine, that an entire piece might be rolled in the hollow of a cane.20 In his description of the Greek manufactures, an historian of Sicily discriminates their price, according to the weight and quality of the silk, the closeness of the texture, the beauty of the colors, and the taste and materials of the embroidery. A single, or even a double or treble thread was thought sufficient for ordinary sale; but the union of six threads composed a piece of stronger and more costly workmanship. Among the colors, he celebrates, with affectation of eloquence, the fiery blaze of the scarlet, and the softer lustre of the green. The embroidery was raised either in silk or gold: the more simple ornament of stripes or circles was surpassed by the nicer imitation of flowers: the vestments that were fabricated for the palace or the altar often glittered with precious stones; and the figures were delineated in strings of Oriental pearls.21 Till the twelfth century, Greece alone, of all the countries of Christendom, was posjssed of the insect who is taught by nature, and of the workmen who are instructed by art, to prepare this elegant luxury. But the secret had been stolen by the dexterity and diligence

20 See Constantine, (in Vit. Basil, c. 74, 75,76, p. 195, 197, in Script post Theophanem,) who allows himself to use many technical or barbarous words: barbarous, says he, rij ruin TroXXuif dftaOia, xaXdv ytw Ul Tovroti KKtyjXcKTcTv. Ducange labors on some: but he was not a Weaver.

ai The manufactures of Palermo, as they are described by Hugo f alcandus, (Hist. Sicula in proem, in Muratori Script. Rerum It.ali carum, torn. v. p. 256,) is a copy of those of Greece. Without transcribing his declamatory sentences, which I have softened in the text, 1 shall observe, that in this passage the strange word ezarentaomata it rery properly changed for exanthemata by Carisius, the first edit f f alcandus lived about the year 1190.

of the Arabs: the caliphs of the East and West scorned to

borrow from the unbelievers their furniture \nd apparel; and two cities of Spain, Almeria and Lisbon, weie famous for the manufacture, the use, and, perhaps, the exportation, -:( silk. It was first introduced into Sicily by the Normans; and this emigration of trade distinguishes the victory of Roger from the uniform and fruitless hostilities of every age. After the iack of Corinth, Athens, and Thebes, his lieutenant embarked A'ith a captive train of weavers and artificers of both sexes, a trophy glorious to their master, and disgraceful to the Greek emperor. The king of Sicily was not insensible of the value of the present; and, in the restitution of the prisoners, he excepted only the male and female manufacturers of Thebes and Corinth, who labor, says the Byzantine historian, under a barbarous lord, like the old Eretrians in the service of Darius." A stately edifice, in the palace of Palermo, was erected for the use of this iudustrious colony ;M and the art was propagated by their children and disciples to satisfy the increasing demand of the western world. The decay of the looms of Sicily may be ascribed to the troubles of the island, and the competition of the Italian cities. In the year thirteen hundred and fourteen, Lucca alone, among her sister repub lies, enjoyed the lucrative monopoly." A domestic revolution dispersed the manufacturers to Florence, Bologna, Venice,

52 hide ad interiora Graeciae progressi, Corinthum, Thebas, Athenas, antiqua nobilitate celebres, expugnant; et, maxima ibidem praeda direpta, opifices etiam, qui sericoa pannos texcre potent, ob i^Tiomin iam Imperatoris illius, suique principis gloriam, captivos deducunt, Q.uos Rogerius, in Palermo Siciliae, metropoli collocans, artem texendi suos edocere praecepit; et exhinc praedicta ars ilia, pritis a Grajcis tantuni inter Christianoa liabita, Romania patere ccepit ingeniis, (Otlio Frisingen. de Gestis Freilerici I. 1. i. c. 33, in Muratori Script. Ital. torn. vi. p. 668.) This exception allows the bishop to celebrate Lisbon and Almeria in sericorum pannorum opificio praenobilissimae, (in Chron. apud Muratori, Annali d' Italia, torn. ix. p. 415.)

23 Nicetas in Manuel 1. ii. c. 8. p. 65. He describes these Greeks B8 skilled liqrpidvi dOofui vwuiveiv, as Luts) nuojafi^oi/Tai riiiv i^aiiram

24 Hugo Falcandus styles them nobiles officinas. The Arabs had not introduced silk, though they had planted canes and made sugar in the plain of Palermo.

"See the Life of Oastruccio Casticani, not by Machiavel, but I y his more authentic biographer Nicholas Tegrimi. Muratori, who has inserted it in the xith volume of his Scriptores, quotes this curiom OfifleagR in his Italian Antiquities, (torn. i. dissert, xvv. p. 378.)

Milan, and even the countries beyond the Alps; and thirteen years after this event the statutes of Modena enjoin the planting of mulberry-trees, and regulate the duties on raw silk." The northern climates are less propitious to the education of the silkworm; but the industry of France and England" is

upplied and enriched by the productions of Italy and China. I must repeat the complaint that the vague and scanty

hcmorials of the times will not afford any just estimate of the taxes, the revenue, and the resources of the Greek empire. From every province of Europe and Asia the rivulets of gold and silver discharged into the Imperial reser voir a copious and perennial stream. The separation of the branches from the trunk increased the relative magnitude of Constantinople; and the maxims of despotism contracted the state to the capital, the capital to the palace, and the palace to the royal person. A Jewish traveller, who visited the East in the twelfth century, is lost in his admiration of the Byzantine riches. "It is here," says Benjamin of Tudela, "in the queen of cities, that the tributes of the Greek empire are annually deposited and the lofty towers are rilled with precious magazines of silk, purple, and gold. It is said, that Constantinople pays each day to her sovereign twenty thousand pieces of gold; which are levied on the shops, taverns, and markets, on the merchants of Persia and Egypt, of Russia and Hungary, of Italy and Spain, who frequent the capital by sea and land."" In all pecuniary matters, the authority of a Jew is doubtless respectable; but as the three hundred and sixty-five days would produce a yearly income exceeding seven millions sterling, I am tempted to retrench at least the

26 From the MS. statutes, as they are quoted by Muratori in his Italian Antiquities, (torn. ii. dissert, xxv. p. 46—48.)

"The broad silk manufacture was established in England in the year 1620, (Anderson's Chronological Deduction, vol. ii. p. 4:) but it is to the revocation of the edict of Nantes that we owe the Spitalfields colony.

48 Voyage de Benjamin de Tudele, torn. i. c. 5, p. 44—52. The Hebrew text has been translated into French by that marvellous child Baratier, who has added a volume of crude learning. The errors and ictions of the Jowish rabbi are not a sufficient ground to deny the eality of his travels.*

• 1 am inclined, with Buegnot (Le9 Juifs d'Occident, part iii. p. 10! et Mou.) and Jost (Geschichte der Isiaeliter, vol. vi. anhantr. p. 376 ) to Cod nder this work a mere compilation, and tc doubt the reality »i the (TST

« ForrigeFortsett »