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Franks, and their blue eyes, denoted a Germanic origin; their close apparel accurately expressed the figure of their limbs; a weighty sword was suspended from a broad belt; their bodies were protected by a large shield: and these warlike barbarians were trained, from their earliest youth, to run, to leap, to swim; to dart the javelin, or battle-axe, with unerring aim; to advance, without hesitation, against a superior enemy; and to maintain, either in life or death, the invincible reputation of their ancestors.' Clodion, the first of their longhaired kings, whose name and actions are mentioned in authentic history, held his residence at Dispargum," a village or fortress, whose place may be assigned between Louvain and Brussels. From the report of his spies, the king of the Franks was informed that the defenceless state of the second Belgic must yield, on the slightest attack, to the valour of his subjects. He boldly penetrated through the thickets and morasses of the Carbonarian forest," occupied Tournay and Cambray, the only cities which existed in the fifth century, and extended his conquests as far as the river Somme, over a desolate country, whose cultivation and populousness are the effects of more recent industry. y While Clodion lay encamped in the plains of Artois," and celebrated with vain and ostentatious security, the marriage, perhaps, of his son, the nuptial feast was interrupted by the unexpected and unwelcome presence of .tEtius, who had passed the Somme at the head of his light cavalry. The tables, which had been spread under the shelter of a hill, along the banks of a pleasant stream, were rudely overturned; the Franks were oppressed before they could recover their arms, or their ranks; and their unavailing valour was fatal only to themselves. The loaded waggons which had followed their march, afforded a rich booty; and the virgin bride, with her female attendants, submitted to the new lovers, who were imposed on them by the chance of war. This advantage, which had been obtained by the skill and activity of JEtius, might reflect some disgrace on the military prudence of Clodion; but the king of the Franks soon regained his strength and reputation, and still maintained the possession of his Gallic kingdom from the Rhine to the Somme." Under his reign, and most probably from the enterprising spirit of his subjects, the three capitals, Mentz, Treves, and Cologne, experienced the effects of hostile cruelty and avarice. The distress of Cologne was prolonged by the perpetual dominion of the same barbarians, who evacuated the ruins of Treves; and Treves, which, in the space of forty years, had been four times besieged and pillaged, was disposed to lose the memory of her afflictions in the vain amusements of the Circus.b The death of Clodion, after a reign of twenty years, exposed his kingdom to the discord and ambition of his two sons. Meroveus, the younger," was persuaded to implore the protection of Rome; he was received at the imperial court as the ally of Valentinian, and the adopted son of the patrician TEtius ; and dismissed, to his native country, with splendid gifts, and the strongest assurances of friendship and support. During his absence, his elder brother had solicited, with equal ardour, the formidable aid of Attila; and the king of the Huns embraced an alliance, which facilitated the passage of the Rhine, and justified, by a specious and honourable pretence, the invasion of Gaul.d The ad- When Attila declared his resolution of supventures porting the cause of his allies, the Vandals and
(tom. 2. p. 49.) and by Gregory of Tours, (lib. S. 18. 6. «4. 8. 10. tom. t. p. 196278.316.)
1 See an original picture of the figure, drees, arms, and temper of the ancient Franks in Sidonius Apolliuaris; (Panegyr. Majorian. 238—454.) and such pictures, though coarsely drawn, have a real and intrinsic value. Father Daniel (Hist. de la Milice Francoise, tom. 1. p. t—7.) has illustrated the description
• Dubus, Hi»t. Critique, &c. tom. 1. p. 271,272. Some geographers have placed Dispargum on the German side of the Rhine. See a note of the Benedictine editon to the Historians of France, tom. 2. p. 166.
* The Carbonarian wood was that part of the great forest of the Ardennes, which lay between the Escaut, or Scheld, and the Meuse. Vales. Notit. Gall. p. 1*6.
> Gregor. Turon. lib 2. c. 9. in tom. 2. p. 166, 167. Fredegar. Epitom. c. 9p. 395. Geata Reg. Francor. c. 5. in tom. 2. p. 544. Vit. St. Remig. ad Hincm;ir, in tom. 3. p. 373.
* Francus qui Cloio patentes.
Atrebatum terras pervaserat Panegyr. Majorian. tit.
The precise spot was a town, or village, called Vicus Helena, and both the name and the place are discovered by modem geographers at Lens. See Vales. Notit. Gall. p. 246. Longuerue, Description de la France, tom. t. p. 88.
» See a vague account of the action in Sidonius, Panegyr. Majorian. 212—230. The French critics, impatient to establish their monarchy in Gaul, have drawn a strong argument from the silence of Sidonius, who dares not insinuate, that the vanquished Franks wore compelled torepass the Rhine. Dubos, tom. 1. p. 322.
b Salvian (de Gubemat. Dei. lib. 6.) has expressed, in vague and declamatory language, the misfortunes of these three cities, which are distinctly ascertained by the leamed Mascou, Hist, of the Ancient Germane, 9. 21.
c Priscus in relating the contest, does not name the two brothers; the second of whom he had seen at Rome, a beardless youth, with long flowing hair. ( Historians of France, tom. 1. p. 607, 608.) The Benedictine editors are inclined to believe, Uiat they were the sons of some unknown king of the Franks, who reigned on the banks of the Mucker: but the arguments of M. de Foncemagne (Mem. de I'Academie, tom. 8. p. 464.) seem to prove, that the succession of Clodion was disputed by his two sons, and that the younger was Meroveus, the father of Childeric.
of the * ° ,
princess the Franks, at the same time, and almost m the spirit of romantic chivalry, the savage monarch professed himself the lover and the champion of the princess Honoria. The sister of Valentinian was educated in the palace of Ravenna; and, as her marriage might be productive of some danger to the state, she was raised, by the title of Augusta' above the hopes of the most presumptuous subject. But the fair Honoria had no sooner attained the sixteenth year of her age, than she detested the importunate greatness which must for ever exclude her from the comforts of honourable love: in the. midst of vain and unsatisfactory pomp, Honoria sighed, yielded to the impulse of nature, and threw herself into the arms of her chamberlain Eugenius. Her guilt and shame (such is the absurd language of imperious man) were soon betrayed by the appearances of pregnancy: but the disgrace of the royal family was' published to the world by the imprudence of the empress Placidia; who dismissed her daughter, after a strict and shameful confinement, to a remote exile at Constantinople. The unhappy princess passed twelve or fourteen years in the irksome society of the sisters of Theodosius, and their chosen virgins; to whose crown Honoria could no longer aspire, and whose monastic assiduity of prayer, fasting, and vigils, she reluctantly imitated. Her impatience of long and hopeless celibacy, urged her to embrace a strange and desperate resolution. The name of Attilawas familiar and formidable at Constantinople; and his frequent embassies entertained a perpetual intercourse between his camp and the imperial palace. In the pursuit of love, or rather of revenge, the daughter of Placidia sacrificed every duty and every prejudice; and offered to deliver her person into the arms of a barbarian, of whose language she was ignorant, whose figure was scarcely human, and whose religion and manners she abhorred. By the ministry of a faithful eunuch, she transmitted to Attila a ring, the pledge of her affection; and earnestly conjured him to claim her as a lawful spouse, to whom he had been secretly betrothed. These indecent advances were received, however, with coldness and disdain; and the king of the Huns continued to multiply the number of his wives, till his love was awakened by the more forcible passions of ambition and avarice. The invasion of Gaul was preceded, and justified, by a formal demand of the princess Honoria, with a just and equal share of the imperial patrimony. His predecessors, the ancient Tanjous, had often addressed, in the same hostile and peremptory manner, the daughters of China; and the pretensions of Attila were not less offensive to the majesty of Rome. A firm, but temperate, refusal was communicated to his ambassadors. The right of female succession, though it might derive a specious argument from the recent examples of Placidia and Pulcheria, was strenuously denied; and the indissoluble engagements of Honoria were opposed to the claims of her Scythian lover/ On
d Under the Merovingian race, the throne was hereditary; but all the sons of the deceased monarch were equally entitled to their share of his treasures and territories. See the dissertations of M. de Foncemagne, in the sixth and eighth volumes of the Mrmnirrs de 1'Academie.
'' A medal is still extant which exhibits the pleasing countenance of Honoria, with the title of Augusta; and on the reverse, the improper legend of Salsa Reipubiiae round the monagram of Christ. See Ducange, Famil. Byzantin. p. 67. 73.
1 See Priscus, p. 39, 40. It might be fairly alleged, that if femalo* could sueceed to the throne, Yalentinian himself, who had married the daughterand heiress of the young Theodosius, would have asserted her right to the eastem empire.
the discovery of her connexion with the king of the Huns, the guilty princess had been sent away, as an object of horror, from Constantinople to Italy: her life was spared; but the ceremony of her marriage was performed with some obscure and nominal husband, before she was immured in a perpetual prison, to bewail those crimes and misfortunes, which Honoria might have escaped, had she not been born the daughter of an emperor.g
A«iia in- A native of Gaul, and a contemporary, the cfuf a learned and eloquent Sidonius, who was afterbesieges ward bishop of Clermont, had made a promise to one of his friends, that he would compose a regular history of the war of Attila. If the modesty of Sidonius had not discouraged him from the prosecution of this interesting work,11 the historian would have related, with the simplicity of truth, those memorable events, to which the poet, in vague and doubtful metaphors, has concisely alluded.1 The kings and nations of Germany and Scythia, from the Volga perhaps to the Danube, obeyed the warlike summons of Attila. From the royal village, in the plains of Hungary, his standard moved towards the west; and, after a march of seven or eight hundred miles, he reached the conflux of the Rhine and the Necker; where he was joined by the Franks,
K The adventures of Hoooria are imperfectly related by Jomandes, de Succes•ione Regn. c. 97. and de Reb. Get . c. 42. p. 674. and in the Chronicles of Prosper and Marcellinus; but they cannot be made consistent, or probable, unless we separate, by an interval of time and place, her intrigue with Eugenius, ami her invitation of Attila.
b Exegeras mihi, ut promitterem tibi, Attila! bellum stylo me posteris intnnaturara ... coeperam scribere, sed opens arxepti fasce perspecto, taeduit inchoasse. Sidoo. Apoll. lib. fi. epist . 15. p. 246.
'Subito cum rupta tumultn
Barbaries totas inte transfuderat Arctos,
Gallia. Pugnacem Regum comitante Gelono
Gepida trux sequitur; Scyrum Burgundio cogit:
Chunus, Bellonotus, Nourus, Basterha, Tnringus
Bructerus, ulvosa vel quem Nicer abluit unda
Prorumpit Francus. Cecidit cito secta bipenni
Hercynia in lintres, et Rhenum texuit alno.
Et jam terrificis diffuderat Attila turmis
In camposse Belga taos. Panegyr. Avit. 319, &c.