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If a line of separation were drawn between the civilized and the savage climates of the globe; between the inhabitants of cities, who cultivated the earth, and the hunters and shepherds, who dwelt in tents, Attila might aspire to the title of supreme and sole monarch of the Barbarians.” He alone, among the conquerors of ancient and modern times, united the two mighty kingdoms of Germany and Scythia; and those vague appellations, when they are applied to his reign, may be understood with an aniple latitude. Thuringia, which stretched beyond its actual limits as far as the Danube, was in the number of his provinces; he interposed, with the weight of a powerful neighbor, in the domestic affairs of the Franks ; and one of his lieutenants chastised, and almost exterminated, the Burgundians of the Rhine. He subdued the islands of the ocean, the kingdoms of Scandinavia, encompassed and divided by the waters of the Baltic ; and the Huns might derive a tribute of furs from that northern region, which has been protected from all other conquerors by the severity of the climate and the courage of the natives. Towards the East, it is difficult to circumscribe the dominion of Attila over the Scythian deserts; yet we may be assured, that he reigned on the banks of the Volga ; that the king of the Huns was dreaded, not only as a warrior, but as a magician; * that he insulted and vanquished the khan of the formidable Geougen ; and that he sent ambassadors to negotiate an equal alliance with the empire of China. In the proud review of the nations who acknowledged the sovereignty of Attila, and who never entertained, during his lifetime, the thought of a revolt, the Gepidae and the Ostrogoths were distinguished by their numbers, their bravery, and the personal merit of their chiefs. The renowned Ardaric, king of the Gepidae, was the faithful and sagacious counsellor of the monarch, who esteemed his intrepid genius, whilst he loved the mild and discreet virtues of the noble Walamir, king of the Ostrogoths. The crowd of vulgar kings, the leaders of so many martial tribes, who served under the standard of Attila, were ranged in the submissive order of guards and * Fortissimarum gentium dominus, qui inaudità ante se potentiá, solus Scytisica et Germanica regna possedit. Jornandes, c. 49, p. Priscus, pp. 64, 65. M. de Guignes, by his knowledge of the Chinese, has acquired (tom. ii. pp. 295-301) an adequate idea of the empire of Attila. * See Hist. des. Huns, tom. ii. p. 296. The Geougen believed that the Huns could excite, at pleasure, storms of wind and rain. This phenomenon was produced by the stone Gezi : to whose magic power the loss of a battle was ascribed domestics round the person of their master. They watched his nod; they trembled at his frown; and at the first signal of his will, they executed, without murmur or hesitation, his stern and absolute commands. In time of peace, the dependent princes, with their national troops, attended the royal camp in regular succession; but when Attila collected his military force, he was able to bring into the field an army of five, or, according to another account, of seven hundred thousand Barbarians.” -
by the Małometam Tartars of the fourteenth century. See Cherefeddin Ali, Hist. de Timur Bec, tom. i. pp. &, 83. - -- - - - - - - - -- 15 Jornandes, c. 35, p. 661, c. 37, p. 667. See Tillemont, Hist, des Empereurs, tom. vi. pp. 129,138. Corneille has represented the pride of Attila to his subject kings, and his tragedy opens with these two ridiculous lines:– Ils ne sont pas venus, nos deux rois qu'on leur die Qu'ils se font trop attendre, et qu'Attila s'ennuie. The two kings of the Gepidae, and the Ostrogoths are profound politicians and sentimental lovers; and the whole piece exhibits the defects, without the genius, of the poet. 16 —— alii per Caspia claustra Armeniasque hives, inopino tramite ducti Invadunt Orientis opes.: jam pascua fumant Cappadocum, volucrumque parens Argaeus equorum. Jain rubet altus Halys; mec se defendit iniquo. Monte Cilix; Syriae tractus vestantur amoeni; Assuetumque choris, et lastá plebe canorum, Proteritimbellum sonipes hostilis Orontem. - Claudian, in Rufin. l. ii. 28–35. See likewise, in Eutrop. J. i. 243-251, and the strong description of Jerom, who wrote from his feelings, tom. i. p. 26, ad Heliodor, p. 200, ad Ocean. Philostorgius (l. ix. c. 8) mentions this irruption. -
The ambassadors of the Huns might awaken the attention of Theodosius, by reminding him that they were his neighbors both in Europe and Asia; since they touched the Danube on one hand, and reached, with the other, as far as the Tanais. In the reign of his father Arcadius, a band of adventurous Huns had ravaged the provinces of the East; from whence they brought away rich spoils and innumerable captives.” They advanced, by a secret path, along the shores of the Caspian Sea; traversed the snowy mountains of Armenia; passed the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Halys; recruited their weary cavalry with the generous breed of Cappadocian horses: occupied the hilly country of Cilicia, and disturbed the festal songs and dances of the citizens of Antioch. Egypt trembled at their approach ; and the monks and pilgrims of the Holy Land prepared to escape their fury by a speedy embarkation. The memory of this invasion was still recent in the minds of the Orientals. The subjects of Attila might execute, with superior forces, the design which these adventurers had so boldly attempted; and it soon became the subject of anxious conjecture, whether the tempest would fall on the dominions of Rome,
or of Persia. Some of the great vassals of the king of the Huns, who were themselves in the rank of powerful princes, had been sent to ratify an alliance and society of arms with the emperor, or rather with the general, of the West. They related, during their residence at Rome, the circumstances of an expedition, which they had lately made into the East. After passing a desert and a morass, supposed by the Ro, mans to be the Lake Maeotis, they penetrated through the mountains, and arrived, at the end of fifteen days’ march, on the confines of Media; where they advanced as far as the unknown cities of Basic and Cursic.” They encountered the Persian army in the plains of Media; and the air, according to their own expression, was darkened by a cloud of arrows. But the Huns were obliged to retire before the numbers of the enemy. Their laborious retreat was effected by a different road; they lost the greatest part of their booty; and at length returned to the royal camp, with some knowledge of the country, and an impatient desire of revenge. In the free conversation of the Imperial ambassadors, who discussed, at the court of Attila, the character and designs of their formidable enemy, the ministers of Constantinople expressed their hope, that his strength might be diverted and employed in a long and doubtful contest with the princes of the house of Sassan. The more sagacious Italians admonished their Eastern brethren of the folly and danger of such a hope; and convinced them, that the Medes and Persians were incapable of resisting the arms of the Huns; and that the easy and important acquisition would exalt the pride, as well as power, of the conqueror. Instead of contenting himself with a moderate contribution, and a military title, which equalled him only to the generals of Theodosius, Attila would proceed to impose a disgraceful and intolerable yoke on the necks of the prostrate and captive Romans, who would then be encompassed, on all sides, by the empire of the Huns.” While the powers of Europe and Asia were solicitous to avert the impending danger, the alliance of Attila maintained the Vandals in the possession of Africa. An enterprise had been concerted between the courts of Ravenna and Constantinople, for the recovery of that valuable province; and the ports of Sicily were already filled with the military and naval forces of Theodosius. But the subtle Genseric, who spread his negotiations round the world, prevented their designs, by exciting the king of the Huns to invade the Eastern empire; and a trifling incident soon became the motive, or pretence, of a destructive war.” Under the faith of the treaty of Margus, a free market was held on the Northern side of the Danube, which was protected by a Roman fortress surnamed Constantia. A troop of Barbarians violated the commercial security; killed, or dispersed, the unsuspecting traders; and levelled the fortress with the ground. The Huns justified this outrage as an act of reprisal; alleged, that the bishop of Margus had entered their territories, to discover and steal a secret treasure of their kings; and sternly demanded the guilty prelate, the sacrilegious spoil, and the fugitive subjects, who had escaped from the justice of Attila. The refusal of the Byzantine court was the signal of war; and the Maesians at first applauded the generous firmness of their sovereign. But they were soon intimidated by the destruction of Viminiacum and the adjacent towns; and the people was persuaded to adopt the convenient maxim, that a private citizen, however innocent or respectable, may be justly sacrificed to the safety of his country. The bishop of Margus, who did not possess the spirit of a martyr, resolved to prevent the designs which he suspected. He boldly treated with the princes of the Huns; secured, by solemn oaths, his pardon and reward; posted a numerous detachment of Barbarians, in silent ambush, on the banks of the Danube; and, at the appointed hour, opened, with his own hand, the gates of his episcopal city. This advantage, which had been obtained by treachery, served as a prelude to more honorable and decisive victories. The Illyrian frontier was covered by a line of castles and fortresses; and though the greatest part of them consisted only of a single tower, with a small garrison, they were commonly sufficient to repel, or to intercept, the inroads of an enemy, who was ignorant of the art, and impatient of the delay, of a regular siege. But these slight obstacles were instantly swept away by the inundation of the Huns.” They destroyed, with fire and sword, the populous cities of Sirmium and Singidunum, of Ratiaria and Marcianopolis, of Naissus and Sardica; where every circumstance of the discipline of the people, and the construction of the buildings, had been graduall adapted to the sole purpose of defence. The whole breadth of Europe, as it extends above five hundred miles from the Euxine to the Hadriatic, was at once invaded, and occupied, and desolated, by the myriads of Barbarians whom Attila led into the field. The public danger and distress could not, however, provoke Theodosius to interrupt his amusements and devotion, or to appear in person at the head of the Roman legions. But the troops, which had been sent against Genseric, were hastily recalled from Sicily; the garrisons, on the side of Persia, were exhausted; and a military force was collected in Europe, formidable by their arms and numbers, if the generals had understood the science of command, and their soldiers the duty of obedience. The armies of the Eastern empire were vanquished in three successive engagements; and the progress of Attila may be traced by the fields of battle. The two former, on the banks of the Utus, and under the walls of Marcianopolis, were fought in the extensive plains between the Danube and Mount Haemus. As the Romans were pressed by a victorious enemy, they gradually, and unskilfully, retired towards the Chersonesus of Thrace; and that marrow peninsula, the last extremity of the land, was marked by their third, and irreparable, defeat. By the destruction of this army, Attila acquired the indisputable possession of the field. From the Hellespont to Thermopylae, and the suburbs of Constantinople, he ravaged, without resistance, and without mercy, the provinces of Thrace and Macedonia. IIeraclea and Hadrianople might, perhaps, escape this dreadfu, irruption of the Huns; but the words, the most expressive of total extirpation and erasure, are applied to the calamities which they inflicted on seventy cities of the Eastern empire.” Theodosius, his court, and the unwarlike people, were protected by the walls of Constantinople;
17 See the original conversation in Priscus, pp. 64, 65.
the commanders of the Huns. IIape AmAv6évat 3e és rav M jSov row te Bagix Kat Kovogo; ... * * *wēpas Tov Baarvacio; Skvoov kai troXAoû traß90vs āpxovtas. Priscus, edit. Bonn, p. 200,—M.
* Gibbon has made a curious mistake ; Basic and Cursic were the names of 18 Priscus, p. 331. His history contained a copious and elegant account of the war (Evagrius, 1. i. c. 17); but the extracts which relate to the embassies are the only parts that have reached our times. The original work was accessible, howover, to the writers from whom we borrow our imperfect knowledge, Jornandes, Theophanes, Count Marcellinus, Prosper-Tyro, and the author of the Alexandrian, or Paschal, Chronicle. M. de Buat (Hist. des Peuples de l’Europe, tom. vii. c. xv.) has examined the cause, the circumstances, and the duration, of this war; and will not allow it to extend beyond the year 444.
19 Procopius, de Edificiis, 1. 4. c. 5. These fortresses were afterwards restored, strengthened, and enlarged by the Emperor Justinian ; but they were soon de. stroyed by the Abares, who succeeded to the power and possessions of the Huns.
* Septuaginta civitates (says Prosper-Tyro) depredatione vastatae. The language of Count Marcellinus is still more forcible. Pene totam Europam, invasis, eccisisque civitatibus atque castellis, comrasit.