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preparations of the ceremony must have disclosed tne 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.94
The appellation of great has been often bestowed, and •ometimes deserved; but Charlemagne is the only prince in whose favor the title has been indissolubly blended with the name. That name, with the 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.'4 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 splendor 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, 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 daugh
94 This great event of the translation or restoration of the empire is related and discussed by Natalis Alexander, (secul. ix. dissert, i. p. 890—397,) Pagi, (torn. iii. p. 418,) Muratori, (Annali d' Italia, torn. vi. p. 339—352.) Sigonius, (de Regno Italise, 1. iv. Opp. torn. ii. p. 247— 251,) Spanheim, (de ficta Translatione Imperii,) Giannone, (torn. i. p. 395—405,) St. Marc, (Abrege Chronologique, torn. i. p. 438—450,) Gaillard, (Hist, de Charlemagne, torn. ii. p. 386—446.) Almost all these moderns have some religious or national bias.
96 By Mably, (Observations sur t'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. Gail lard 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 labored with industry and ele gance. But I have likewise examined the original monuments of the reigns of Pepin and Charlemagne, in the 5 th volume of the Historians of France.
98 The vision of Weltin, composed by a monk, eleven years aftei the death of Charlemagne, shows him in purgatory, with a vulture, win is perpetually gnawing the guilty member, while the rest of hit body, the emblem of his virtues, is sound and perfect, (see Gaillard, torn. ii. p. 317—360.)
tefs," 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 Aquitaii, and the four thousand live hundred Saxons who were beheaded on the same spot, would have something tc allege against the justice and humanity of Charlemagne. His treatment of the vanquished Saxons*8 was an abuse of :he 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
"The marriage of Eginhard with Imma, daughter of Charlemagne, is, in my opinion, sufficiently refuted by the probum 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.
98 Besides the massacres and transmigrations, the pain of death was I ronounced against the following crimes: 1. The refusal of baptism. ?, 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, torn. ii. p. 9,41—247 ;) and the Christian Saxons became the friends and equals of the Franks, (Struv. Corpus Hist Germanicae, p. 133.)
* This charf*! of incest, as Mr. Hallam justly observes, •' seems to have r-iginated in ■ misinterpreted passage of Kgiuliard." llallam's Middle Ages, vol. i. p. 16.—M.
) M. 6Hi»<n (Cours d'Histoire Moderne, p. 270, 273) has compiled the hi wvi ing B'slcauint of Charlemagne's military campaigns:— 1. Against the Aquitanians.
activity was a national, rather than a personal, virtue; th« vagrant life of a Frank was spent in the chase, in pilgrimago, in military adventures; and the journeys of Charltmagns wwre 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, theii examples, and the companions of their victories. At the head of his veteran and superior armies, he oppressed the ravage or degenerate nations, who were incapable of con federating for their common safety: nor did he ever encountei 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 the Spanish expedition, his rear-guard was defeated in the Pyrensean mountains; and the soldiers, whose situation was irretrievable, and whose valor 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 of praise: the inveterate evils of the times were suspended or mollified by his government; 10° but in his institutions I can seldom discover the general views and the immortal spirit of a legislator, who survives himself for the benefit
99 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, (torn. iii. p. 474.) The Spaniards are too proud of a victory, which history ascribes to the Gascons,* and romance to the Saracens.
1,0 Yet Schmidt, from the best authorities, represents the interior disorders and oppression of his reign, (Hist, des Alleniands, torn, ii. p. 45—49.) ^
"In fact, it was a sudden onset of the Gascons assisted by the Bawvit ■Mcntaineers. and possibly a few Navarrese.—M.
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 hia numerous diets, the whole constitution was left to fluctuate between the disorders of anarchy and despotism. His esteem tor thf 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 thai the default of payment had been the cause of the last scarcity.101 The literary merits of Charlemagne are attested by the foundation of schools, the introduction of arts, the work? which were published in his name, and his familiar connection 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 every peasant now learns in his infancy.108 The grammar and logic, the music and astronomy, of the times, were ouly cultivated as the handmaids of superstition; but the curiosity of the human mind must ultimately tend to its improvement,
101 Omnis homo ex sua proprietate legitimam decimam ad ecclesiara conferat. Experimento enim didicimus, in anno, quo ilia valida fames irrepsit, ebullire vacuas annonas a daeDionibus devoratas, et voces exprobationis auditas. Such is the decree and assertion of the great Council of Frankfort, (canon xxv. torn. ix. p. 105.) Both Seldeu (Hipt. of Tithes; Works, vol. iii. part ii. p. 1146) and Montesquieu (Esprit des Loix, 1. xxxi. c. 12) represent Charlemagne as the first legal author of tithes. Such obligations have country gentlemen to his memory 1
102 Eginhard (c. 25, p. 119) clearly affirms, tentabat et scribere . . eed parum prospere successit labor prseposterus et eero inchoatus. The moderns have perverted and corrected this obvious meaning, anr* the title of M. Gaillard's dissertation (torn iii. p. 247—260) betrays hi* pa: tiality.*
* This point has been contested; buf Mr. Hal.ar and Monsieur Sismond) .'wnoir with Gibbon. See Middle Ages, iii. 3.3C Histoire de Franoais, torn. ii. p. 318. The sensible observations of the latter are quoted in the Quarterly Review, vol. x'viii. p. 451. Fleury, 1 may add quotes fron Mabillon a rei larkablt: ovidtuce that Charlemagne "had a mark U> himaeU like in banest. plain-dealing van." IbiJ. — M."
and the. encouragement of learning reflects ihe purest and most pleasing lustre on the character of Charlemagne."1 The dignity of his person,104 the length of his reign, the prosperity of his arms, the vigor of his government, and the reverence of distant nations, distinguish him from the royal crowd; and Europe dates a new eera from his restoration of the Western empire.
That empire was not unworthy of its title;I06 and some of the fairest kingdoms of Europe were the patrimony or conquest of a prince, who reigned at the same time in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Hungary.10* I. The Roman province of Gaul had been transformed into the name and monarchy of France; but, in the decay of the Merovingian line, its limits were contracted by the independence of the Britons and the revolt of Aquitain. Charlemagne pursued, and confined, tiie Britons on the shores of the ocean; and that ferocious tribe, whose origin and language are so different from 'he French, was chastised by the imposition of tribute, hostages, ai>d peace. After a long and evasive contest, the rebellion of the dukes of Aquitain was punished by the forfeiture of their province, their liberty, and their lives. Harsh and rigorous would have been such treatment of ambitious governors, who had too faithfully copied the mayors of the palace. Jiut a recent discovery'" has proved that these
103 See Gaillard, torn. iii. p. 138—176, and Schmidt, torn. ii. p. 121 —129.
104 M. Gaillard (torn. 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 Joyeu&e, he cut asunder \ horseman and his horse; at a single repast, he devoured a goose, two fowls, a quarter of mutton, &c.
106 See the concise, but correct and original, work of D'Anville (Etats Formes en Europe apres la Chute de l'Empire Romain en Occident, Paris, 1771, in 4to.,) whose map includes the empire of Charleoagne; the different parts are illustrated, by Valesius (Notitia Galliaiim) for France. Beretti (Dis&or^tio Chorographica) for Italy, De Marca (Marca Hispanica) for Spain. For the middle geography of Germany, I confess myself poor and destitute.
10,1 After a brief relation of his wars and conquests, (Vit. Carol, c. 6 -14,) Eginhard recapitulates, in a few words, (c. 15,) the countries ub?eci to his empire. Struvius, (Corpus Hist. German, p. 118—149) MP ii.serted in his Notes the texts of the old Chronicles.
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