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[45u A.D.]

him with drawn weapons, despatched the guilty Heraclius, and stabbed the emperor to the heart, without the least opposition from his numerous train, who seemed to rejoice in the tyrant's death.

Such was the fate of Valentinian III, the last Roman emperor of the family of Theodosius. He faithfully imitated the hereditary weakness of his cousin and his two uncles, without inheriting the gentleness, the purity, the innocence, which alleviate in their characters the want of spirit and ability. Valentinian was less excusable, since he had passions without virtues; even his religion was questionable; and though he never deviated into the paths of heresy, he scandalised the pious Christians by his attachment to the profane arts of magic and divination.6

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CHAPTER XLVII

THE FALL OF ROME The Vandals were of the Low German stock and closely allied to the Goths. We first hear of them in the time of Pliny and Tacitus as occupying a district nearly corresponding to Brandenburg and Pomerania. From thence, in the second century, they pressed southwards to the confines of Bohemia, where they gave their name to the mountains now called the Riesengebirge. After a century of hostile and desultory operations against the Roman Empire, having been signally defeated by Aurelian (271) they made peace with Rome, one of the conditions being that they should supply two thousand fcederati to the imperial army. Sixty years later they sustained a great defeat from the Goths under their king Geberic, after which they humbly sought and obtained permission from Constantine to settle as Roman subjects within the province of Pannonia. Here they remained seventy years, and during this period they probably made some advances in civilisation and became Christians of the Arian type. In 406, when the empire under Honorius was falling into ruin, they crossed the Rhine and entered Gaul. Stilicho, the chief adviser of Honorius, who was a man of Vandal extraction, was accused by his enemies of having invited them into the empire, but this is probably a groundless calumny. In Gaul they fought a great battle with the Franks, in which they were defeated with the loss of two thousand men, and their king Godigisclus was slain. In 409 his son Gunderic led them across the Pyrenees. They appear to have settled in Spain in two detachments. One, the Asdingian Vandals, occupied Gallaecia, the other, the Silingian, part of Baetica (Andalusia). Twenty years of bloody and purposeless warfare with the armies of the empire and with their fellow-barbarians, the Goths and the Suevi, followed. The Silingian Vandals were well-nigh exterminated, but their Asdingian brethren (with whom were now associated the remains of a Turanian people, the Alans, who had been utterly defeated by the Goths) marched across Spain and took possession of Andalusia. In 428 or 429 the whole nation set sail for Africa, upon an invitation received by their king from Boniface, count of Africa, who had fallen into disgrace with the court of Ravenna. Gunderic was now dead and supreme power was in the hands of his bastard brother, who is generally known in history as Genseric, though the more correct form of his name is Gaiseric. This man, short of stature and with limping gait, but with a great natural capacity for war and dominion, reckless of human life and unrestrained by conscience or pity, was for fifty years the hero of the Vandal race and the terror of Constantinople and Rome. In the month of May 428 (?) he assembled all his people on the shore of Andalusia, and numbering the males

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[430-455 A.D.]

among them from the graybeard down to the newborn infant found them to amount to eighty thousand souls. The passage was effected in the ships of Boniface, who, however, soon returning to his old loyalty, besought his new allies to depart from Africa. They, of course, refused, and Boniface turned against them, too late, however, to repair the mischief which he had caused. Notwithstanding his opposition the progress of the Vandals was rapid, and by May 430 only three cities of Roman Africa — Carthage, Hippo, and Cirta — remained untaken. The long siege of Hippo (May 430 to July 431), memorable for the last illness and death of St. Augustine, which occurred during its progress, ended unsuccessfully for the Vandals. At length (30th of January, 435) peace was made between the emperor Valentinian III and Genseric. The emperor was to retain Carthage and the small but rich proconsular province in which it was situated, while Hippo and the other six provinces of Africa were abandoned to the Vandal. Genseric observed this treaty no longer than suited his purpose. On the 19th of October 439, without any declaration of war, he suddenly attacked Carthage and took it. The Vandal occupation of this great city, the third among the cities of the Roman Empire, lasted for ninety-four years. Genseric seems to have counted the years of his sovereignty from the date of its capture. Though most of the remaining years of Genseric's life were passed in war, plunder rather than territorial conquest seems to have been the object of his expeditions. He made, in fact, of Carthage a pirates' stronghold, from whence he issued forth, like the Barbary pirates of a later day, to attack, as he himself said, "the dwellings of the men with whom God is angry," leaving the question who those men might be to the decision of the elements. Almost alone among the Teutonic invaders of the empire, he set himself to form a powerful fleet, and was probably for thirty years the leading maritime power in the Mediterranean.*

The revolutions of the palace, which left the Western Empire without a defender, and without a lawful prince, dispelled the apprehensions and stimulated the avarice of Genseric. He immediately equipped a numerous fleet of Vandals and Moors, and cast anchor at the mouth of the Tiber, about three months after the death of Valentinian and the elevation of Maximus to the imperial throne. The private life of the senator Petronius Maximus was often alleged as a rare example of human felicity. His birth was noble and illustrious, since he descended from the Anician family, his dignity was supported by an adequate patrimony in land and money ; and these advantages of fortune were accompanied with liberal arts and decent manners, which adorn or imitate the inestimable gifts of genius and virtue. The luxury of his palace and table was hospitable and elegant. Whenever Maximus appeared in public, he was surrounded by a train of grateful and obsequious clients; and it is possible that, among these clients, he might deserve and possess some real friends. His merit was rewarded by the favour of the prince and senate; he thrice exercised the office of praetorian prefect of Italy; he was twice invested with the consulship, and he obtained the rank of patrician. These civil honours were not incompatible with the enjoyment of leisure and tranquillity ; his hours, according to the demands of pleasure or reason, were accurately distributed by a water-clock ; and this avarice of time may be allowed to prove the sense which Maximus entertained of his own happiness. The injury which he received from the emperor Valentinian appears to excuse the most bloody revenge. Yet a philosopher might have reflected that, if the resistance of his wife had been sincere, her chastity was still

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