« ForrigeFortsett »
selves the wide extent of the Roman empire. The rtofence of Gaul, Spain,14 and Britain, was intrusted to Constanuus: Galerius was stationed on the banks of the Danube, as the safeguard of the Illyrian provinces. Italy and Africa were considered as the department of Maximian; and for his peculiar portion Dioc.ethn resened Thrace, Egypt, and the rich countries of Asia. Every one was sovereign within his own jurisdiction • hut their united authority extended over the whole monarchy. and each of them was prepared to assist his colleagues with his counsels or presence. The Caesars, in their exalted rank, revered the majesty of the emperors, and the three younger princes invariably acknowledged, by their gratitude and obedience, the common parent of their fortunes. The suspicious jealousy of power found not any place among them; and the singular happiness of their union has been compared to a chorus of music, whose harmony was regulated and maintained by the skilful hand of the first artist.15
This important measure was not carried into execution till about six years after the association of Maximian, and that interval of time had not been destitute of memorable incidents. But we have preferred, for the sake of perspicuity, first to describe the more perfect form of Diocletian's government, and afterwards to relate the actions of his reign, following rather the natural order of the events, than the dates of a very doubtful chronology.
The first exploit of Maximian, though it is mentioned in a few words by our imperfect writers, deserves, from its singularity, to be recorded in a history of human manners. He suppressed the peasants of Gaul, who, under the appellation of Bagaudffi,16 had risen in a general insurrection; very similar to those which in the fourteenth century successively afflicted
14 This division agrees with that of the four prefectures ; yet thcro is some reason to doubt whether Spain was not a province of Maximian. See Tillemont, torn. iv. p. 517.*
"Julian in Caesarib. p. 31fi. Spanheim's notes to the French translation, p. 122.
"The general name of Ragauda (in the signification of rebels) continued till the fifth century in Gaul. Some crities derive it from a Celtic word Bagad, a tumultuous assembly. Scaligcr ad Euseb. Du Cangc Glossar. [Compare S. Turner, Anglo-Sax. History, i. 214. — M.]
* According to Aurelius Victor and other authorities, Thrace belonged to the division of Galeriub. See Tillemont, iv. 36 But the laws of Dio sletian are in general dated in lllyria or Thrace. — M.
.both France and England.17 It should seem that very many of those institutions, referred by an easy solution to the feuda. Bystem, are derived from the Celtic barbarians. When Caesar subdued the Gauls, that great nation was already divided into three orders of men; the clergy, the nobility, and the common people. The first governed by superstition, the second by arms, but the third and last was not of any weight or account in their public councils. It was very natural for the plebeians, oppressed by debt, or apprehensive of injuries, to implore the protection of some powerful chief, who acquired over their persons and property the same absolute right as, among the Greeks and Romans, a master exercised over his slaves.18 The greatest part of the nation was gradually reduced into a slate of servitude ; compelled to perpetual labor on the estates of the Gallic nobles, and confined to the soil, either by the real weight of fetters', or by the no less cruel and forcible restraints of the laws. During the long series pf troubles which agitated Gaul, from the reign of Gallienus to that of Diocletian, the condition of these servile peasants was peculiarly miserable; and they experienced at once the complicated tyranny of their masters, of the barbarians, of the soldiers, and of the officers of the revenue.19
Their patience was at last provoked into despai/. On every side they rose in multitudes, armed with rustic weapons, and With irresistible fury. The ploughman became a foot soldier, the shepherd mounted on horseback, the deserted villages and open towns were abandoned to the flames, and the ravages of the peasants equalled those of the fiercest barbarians.90 They asserted the natural rights of men, but they asserted those rights with the most savage cruelty. The Gallic nobles, justly dreading their revenge, either took refuge in the fortified cities, or fled from the wild scene of anarchy. The peasants reigned without control; and two of their most daring leaders had the rolly and rashness to assume the Imperial ornaments.91 Their
"Chrwiique de Froissart, vol. i. c. 182, ii. 73, 79. The nalvett of his story is lost in our best modern writers.
"Caesar dc Boll. Gallic. vi. 13. Orgetorix, the Helvetian, could arm for his defence a body of ten thousand slaves.
"Their oppression and misery are acknowledged by Eumenius, (Pancgyr. vi. 8,) Gullias efferatas injuriis.
*• Pancgyr. Vet. ii. 4. Aureiius Victor.
11 ^Elianua and AmanduR. We have medals coined by them. Goltziua in Thes. R. A. p. 117, 121.
power soon expired at the approach of the legions. Tha strength of union and discipline obtained an easy victory over a licentious and divided multitude.29 A severe retaliation was inflicted on the peasants who were found in arras; the affrighted remnant returned to their respective habitations, and their unsuccessful effort for freedom served only to confirm their slavery. So strong and uniform is the current of popular passions, that we might almost venture, from very scanty materials. to relate the particulars of this war; but we are not disposed to believe that the principal leaders, /Elianus and Amandus, were Christians,83 or to insinuate, that the rebellion, as it happened in the time of Luther, was occasioned by the abuse of those benevolent principles of Christianity, which inculcate the natural freedom of mankind.
Maximian had no sooner recovered Gaul from the hands of the peasants, than he lost Britain by the usurpation of Carausius. Ever since the rash but successful enterprise of tho Franks under the reign of Probus, their daring countrymen had constructed squadrons of light brigantines, in which they incessantly ravaged the provinces adjacent to the ocean.94 To repel their desultory incursions, it was found necessary to create a naval power; and the judicious measure was prosecuted with prudence and vigor. Gessoriacum, or Boulogne, in the straits of the British Channel, was chosen by the emperor for the station of the Roman fleet; and the command of it was intrusted to Carausius, a Menapian of the meanest origin,95 but who had long signalized his skill as a pilot, and his valor as a soldier. The integrity of the new admiral corresponded not with his
"Lcvibus prceliis domuit. Eutrop. ix. 20.
a The fact rests indeed on very slight authority, a life of St. Babolinus, which is probably of the seventh century. Seo Duchesne Scriptores Her. Francicar. torn. i. p. 662.
** Aurclius Victor calls them Germans. Eutropius (ix. 21) gives them the name of Saxons. But Eutropius lived in the ensuing century, and seems to use the language of his own times.
** The three expressions of Eutropius, Aurclius Victor, and Eumcnius, "vilissime natus," "Bataviae alumnus," and "Menapia e civis," «ive us a very doubtful account of tho birth of Carausius. Dr. Stukely, however, (Hist. of Carausius, p. 62,) chooses to make him a native of St. David's and a prince of the blood royal of Bi itain. The former idea he had found in Richard of Cirencester, p. 44.*
• The Menapians were settled betwern the Scheldt anil the Mcum. U. the northern part of Brabant. D'Anville, Cieogr. Anc. i. 93. —G TOL. I. 35
abihties. When the German pirates sailed from their own harbors, he connived at their passage, but he diligently intercepted their return, and appropriated to his own use an ample share of the spoil which they had acquired. The wealth of Carausius was, on this occasion, very justly considered as an evidence of his guilt; and Maximian had already given orders for his death. But the crafty Menapian foresaw and prevented the severity of the emperor. By his liberality he had attached to his fortunes the fleet which he commanded, and secured the barbarians in his interest. From the port of Boulogne he sailed over to Britain, persuaded the legion, and the auxiliaries which guarded that island, to embrace his party, and boldly assuming, with the Imperial purple, the title of Augu;tus, defied the justice and the arms of his injured sovereign.96
When Britain was thus dismembered from the empire, its importance was sensibly felt, and its loss sincerely lamentedThe Romans celebrated, and perhaps magnified, the extent of that noble island, provided on every side with convenient harbors; the temperature of the climate, and the fertility of the soil, alike adapted for the production of corn or of vines; the valuable minerals with which it abounded ; its rich pastures covered with innumerable flocks, and its woods free from wild beasts or venomous serpents. Above all, they regretted the large amount of the revenue of Britain, whilst they confessed, that such a province well deserved to become the seat of an independent monarchy.*7 During the space of seven years it was possessed by Carausius; and fortune continued propitious to a rebellion supported with courage and ability. The British emperor defended the frontiers of his dominions against the Caledonians of the North, invited, from the continent, a great number of skilful artists, and displayed, on a variety of coins that are still extant, his taste and opulence. Born on the confines of the Franks, he courted the friendship of that formidable people, by the flattering imitation of their dress and manners. The bravest of their youth he enlisted among his
** Pnnegyr. v. 12. Britain at this time was secure, and slightly guarded.
"Panegyr. Vet v. 11, vii. 9. The orator Eumenius wished to exalt the glory of the hero (Constantius) with the importance of the conquest. Notwithstanding our Liudublc partiality for our native country, it is diUk ult to conceive, that. in the beginning of the fourth century, England deserved all these commendations. A century and a half oefore, it hardly paid its own establishment. See Appiun in Proem.
land or sea forces; and, in return for their useful alliance, he communicated to the barbarians the dangerous knowledge of military and naval arts. Carausius still preserved the possession of Boulogne and the adjacent country. His fleets rode triumphant in the channel, commanded the mouths of the Seine and of the Rhine, ravaged the coasts of the ocean, and diffused beyond the columns of Hercules the terror of his name. Under his command, Britain, destined in a future ago to obtain the empire of the sea, already assumed its natural and respectable station of a maritime power.28
By seizing the fleet of Boulogne, Carausius had deprived his master of the means of pursuit and revenge. And when, after a vast expense of time and labor, a new armament was launched into the water,3* the Imperial troops, unaccustomed to that element, were easily baffled and defeated by the veteran Bailors of the usurper. This disappointed effort was soon productive of a treaty of peace. Diocletian and his colleague, who justly dreaded the enterprising spirit of Carausius, resigned to him the sovereignty of Britain, and reluctantly admitted their perfidious servant to a participation of the Imperial honors." But the adoption of the two Caesars restored new vigor to the Roman arms; and while the Rhine was guarded by the presence of Maximian, his brave associate Constantius assumed the conduct of the British war. His first enterprise was against the important place of Boulogne. A stupendous mole, raised across the entrance of the harbor, intercepted all hopes of relief. The town surrendered after an obstinate defence; and a considerable part of the naval strength of Carausius fell into the hands of the besiegers. During the three years which Constantius employed in preparing a fleet
■ Aa a great number of medals of Carausius are still preserved, he is become a very favorite object of antiquarian curiosity, and every circumstance of his life and actions has been investigated with sagacious accuracy. Dr. Stukely, in particular, has devoted a large volume to the British emperor. I have used his materials, and rejected most of his fanciful conjectures.
** When Mamertinus pronounced his first panegyric, the naval preparations of Maximian were completed; and the orator presaged an assured victory. His silence in the second panegyric might alone .nform us that the expedition had not succeeded.
"Aurelius Victor, Eutropius, and the medals, (Pax Augg.,) inform is of this temporary reconciliation; though I will not presume (as Dr. Stukely has done, Medallic History of Carausius, p. 86, &c.\ t*> uuteit the identical articles of the treaty.