« ForrigeFortsett »
gretted, was celebrated with loud and affected demonstrations of the public grief.
While the ministers of Constantinople deli
Elevation , . r
and fall of berated, the vacant throne of Honorius was £r Job*, usurped by the ambition of a stranger. The Ajix «3 name Of the rebel was John: he filled the confidential office of primicerius, or principal secretary; and history has attributed to his character more virtues than can easily be reconciled with the violation of the most sacred duty. Elated by the submission of Italy, and the hope of an alliance with the Huns, John presumed to insult, by an embassy, the majesty of the eastern emperor; but when he understood that his agents had been banished, imprisoned, and at length chased away with deserved ignominy, John prepared to assert, by arms, the injustice of his claims. In such a cause, the grandson of the great Theodosius should have marched in person: but the young emperor was easily diverted, by his physicians, from so rash and hazardous a design; and the conduct of the Italian expedition was prudently intrusted to Ardaburius, and his son Aspar, who had already signalized their valour against the Persians. It was resolved, that Ardaburius should embark with the infantry, whilst Aspar, atthe head of the cavalry, conducted Placidia, and her son Valentinian, along the sea-coast of the Adriatic. The march of the cavalry was performed with such active diligence, that they surprised, without resistance, the important city of Aquileia; when the hopes of Asparwere unexpectedly confounded by the intelligence, that a storm had dispersed the imperial fleet; and that his father, with only two galleys, was taken and carried a prisoner into the port of Ravenna. Yet this incident, unfortunate as it might seem, facilitated the conquest of Italy. Ardaburius employed, or abused, the courteous freedom which he was permitted to enjoy, to revive among the troops a sense of loyalty and gratitude; and, as soon as the conspiracy was ripe
for execution, he invited, by private messages, and pressed the approach of, Aspar. A shepherd, whom the popular credulity transformed into an angel, guided the eastern cavalry, by a secret, and, it was thought, an impassable road, through the morasses ofthePo; the gates of Ravenna, after a short struggle, were thrown open; and the defenceless tyrant was delivered to the mercy, or rather to the cruelty, of the conquerors. His right hand was first cut off; and, after he had been exposed mounted on an ass, to the public derision, John was beheaded in the circus of Aquileia. The emperor Theodosius, when he received the news of the victory, interrupted the horse-races; and singing, as he marched through the streets, a suitable psalm, conducted his people from the Hippodrome to the church, where he spent the remainder of the day in grateful devotion.1
In a monarchy, which, according to various
Valenti- , .,, • j i • t .
in. precedents, might be considered as elective, or 'st.0 hereditary, or patrimonial, it was impossible that the intricate claims of female and collateral succession should be clearly defined ;d and Theodosius, by the right of consanguinity or conquest, might have reigned the sole legitimate emperor of the Romans. For a moment, perhaps, his eyes were dazzled by the prospect of unbounded sway; but his indolent temper gradually acquiesced in the' dictates of sound policy. He contented himself with the possession of the east; and wisely relinquished the laborious task of waging a distant and doubtful war against the barbarians beyond the Alps; or of securing the obedience of the Italians
e For these revolutions of the westem empire, consult Olympiodor. apud Photf. 192,193. 196,197. 200. Sozomen, lib. 9. c. 16. Socrates, lib. 7. 23, 24. Pbilostorgius, lib. xii. c. 10,11. and' Godefroy, Dissertat. p. 486. Procopius, de Bell. Vandal, lib. 1. c. 3. p. 182,183. Theophanee, in Chronograph, p. 72, 73. and the Chronicles.
* See Grotius de Jure Belli et Pacis, lib. 2. c. 7. He has laboriously, but vainly, attempted to form a reasonable system of jurisprudence, from the various and discordant modes of royal succession, which have been introduced by fraud or force, by time or accident.
and Africans, whose minds were alienated by the irreconcilable difference of language and interest. Instead of listening to lie voice of ambition, Theodosius resolved to imitate the moderation of his grandfather, and to seat his cousin Valentinian on the throne of the west The royal infant was distinguished at Constantinople by the title of Nobtli&simus: he was promoted, before his departure from Thessalonica, to the rank and dignity of C<zsar; and, after the conquest of Italy, the patrician Helion, by the authority of Theodosius, and in the presence of the senate, saluted Valentinian III. by the name of Augustus, and solemnly invested him with the diadem, and the imperial purple.' By the agreement of the three females who governed the Roman world, the son of Placidia was betrothed to Eudoxia, the daughter of Theodosius and Athenais; and, as soon as the lover and his bride had attained the age of puberty, this honourable alliance was faithfully accomplished. At the same time, as a compensation, perhaps, for the expenses of the war, the western Illyricum was detached from the Italian dominions, and yielded to the throne of Constantinople/ The emperor of the east acquired the useful dominion of the rich and maritime province of Dalmatia, and the dangerous sovereignty of Pannonia and Noricum, which had been filled and ravaged above twenty years, by a promiscuous crowd of Huns, Ostrogoths, Vandals, and Bavarians. Theodosius and Valentinian continued to respect the obligations of their public and domestic alliance; but the unity of the Roman government was finally dissolved. By a positive declaration, the validity of all future laws was limited to the dominions of their peculiar author; unless he should think proper to communicate them, subscribed with his own hand, for the approbation of his independent colleague.8
e Tho original writerf are not agreed (see Muratori, Annali d'ltalra, tbta. 4. p. 139.) whether Valentinian received the imperial diadem at Bome 01 Ravenna. In this uncertainty, 1 am willing to believe, that some respect was shewn to the senate.
'The Count de Boat (Hist, des Peoples de FEurope, tom. 7. p. 292—300.) has established the reality, explained the motives, and traced the consequences, of this remarkable cession.
Valentinian. when he received the title of
Augustus, was no more than six years of age: and his long minority was intrusted to the guardian care of a mother, who might assert a female claim to the succession of the western empire. Placidia envied, but she could not equal, the reputation and virtues of the wife and sister of Theodosius; the elegant genius of Eudocia, the wise and successful policy) of Pulcheria. The mother of Valentinian was jealous of the power which she was incapable of exercising:11 she reigned twenty-five years, in the name of her son; and the character of that unworthy emperor gradually countenanced the suspicion, that Placidia had enervated his youth by a dissolute education, and studiously diverted his attention from every manly and honourable pursuit. Amidst the decay of military spirit, her armies were commanded by two
generals, jEtius1 and Boniface,k who may be deservedly named as the last of the Romans. Their union might have supported a sinking empire; their discord was the fatal and immediate cause of the loss of
* Scr 1 1 ii • first Novel of Theodosius, by which he ratifies and communicates (A. D. 438.) the Theodosian Code. About forty years before that time, the unity of legislation had been proved by au exception. Ihe Jews, who were numerous m the cities of Apulia and Calabria, produced a law of the east to justify their exemption from municipal offices; (Cod. Theod. lib. 16. tit. !!. leg. 13.) and the westem emperor was obliged to invalidate, by. a special edict, the law, quant constat meis partibus ««*e damnosam. Cod. Theod. lib. 11. tit. 1. leg. 158.
b Cassiodorius (Varior. lib. 11. epist. 1. p. 238.) has compared the regencies of Placidia and Amalasuntha. He arraigns the weakness of the mother of Valentinian , and praises the virtues of his royal mistress. On this occasion, flattery seems to have spoken the language of truth.
1 Philostorgius, lib. 12. c. I2. and Godefroy's Dissertat. p. 493, ice. and Hcnatus Frigeridus, apud Gregor. Turon. lib. 2. c. 8. in tom. 2. p. 163. The father of y£tius was Gaudentius, an illustrious citizen of the province of Scy thia, and mastergeneral of the cavalry; bis mother was a rich and noble Italian. From his earliest youth, jEtins, as a soldier and a hostage, had conversed with the barbarians.
k For the character of Boniface, see Olympiodorus, apud Phot. p. 196. and St. Augnstin. apud Tillemont.MemoiresEccles. tom. 13. p. 712 — 715.886. The bishop of Hippo at length deplored the fall of his friend, who, after a solemn vow of chastity, had married a second wife of the Ariau sect, and who was suspected of keeping several concubines in his house.
Africa. The invasion and defeat of Attila have immortalized the fame of /Etius; and though time has thrown a shade over the exploits of his rival, the defence of Marscelles, and the deliverence of Africa, attest the military talents of count Boniface. In'the field of battle, in partial encounters, in single combats, he was still the terror of the barbarians: the clergy, and particularly his friend Augustin, were edified by the Christian piety, which had once tempted him to retire from the world; the people applauded his spotless integrity; the army dreaded his equal and inexorable justice, which may be displayed in a very singular example. A peasant, who complained of the criminal intimacy between his wife and a Gothic soldier, was directed to attend his tribunal the following day: in the evening the count, who had diligently informed himself of the time and place of the assignation, mounted his horse, rode ten miles into the country, surprised the guilty couple, punished the soldier with instant death, and silenced the complaints of the husband, by presenting him the next morning, with the head of the adulterer. The abilities of ^Etius and Boniface might have been usefully employed against the public enemies, in separate and important commands; but the experience of their past conduct should have decided the real favour and confidence of the empress Placidia. In the melancholy season of her exile and distress, Boniface alone had maintained her cause with unshaken fidelity; and the troops and treasures of Africa had essentially contributed to extinguish the rebellion. The same rebellion had been supported by the zeal and activity of ./Etius, who brought an army of sixty thousand Huns from the Danube to the confines of Italy, for the service of the usurper. The untimely death of John compelled him to accept an advantageous treaty; but he still continued, the subject and the soldier of Valentinian, to entertain a secret, perhaps a treasonable, correspondence with his barbarian allies, whose