Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing Tuscany and Picenum, Baduila left Rome to itself for a space—the memories of its last siege were too discouraging —and spent the year 542 in overrunning Campania and Apulia. The Italians kept apathetically quiet, while the imperial garrisons were few and scattered. In six months south Italy was once more Gothic up to the gates of Otranto, Reggio, and Naples. The siege of the last-named town was Baduila's first exercise in poliorcetics: the place was very gallantly defended, and only surrendered when famine had done its work, and after an armament sent from Constantinople to its relief had been shattered by a storm almost in sight of the walls, along the rocks of Capri and Sorrento. In spite of this desperate resistance, it was noted with surprise that Baduila treated both garrison and people with kindness, sending the one away unharmed, and preserving the other from plunder. It was at the time of the fall of Naples that an event occurred which was long remembered as a token of the justice of Baduila. A Gothic warrior had violated the daughter of a Calabrian : the king cast the man into bonds and ordered his death. But many of the Goths besought him not to slay a brave warrior for such an offence. Baduila heard them out, and replied that they must choose that day whether they preferred to save one man's life, or to save the whole Gothic nation. At the beginning of the war they would remember how they had great hosts, famous generals, vast treasure, splendid arms, and all the castles of Italy. But under king Theodahat, a man who loved gold better than justice, they had so moved God's anger by their unrighteous lives that everything had been taken from them. But the divine grace had given the Goths one more chance of working out their salvation: God had opened a new account with them, and so must they do with him, by following justice and righteousness. The ravisher must die, and as to being a brave warrior, they should remember that the cruel and unjust were never finally successful in war, for as was a man's life, such was his fortune in battle. The officers caught their sovereign's meaning and withdrew, and the criminal was duly executed. In 542, the year of the plague, Justinian had been able to do little for Italy, but in that which followed, when he heard that Naples had fallen, he determined to send the newlypardoned Belisarius back to the scene of his former glories. Denied the services of his own body-guard the great general recruited 4ooo raw troops in Thrace, and made ready to return. Baduila meanwhile was besieging Otranto, and clearing-Apulia of the Imperialists. In the next year the Gothic king and the Roman general came for the first time into contact; contrary to expectation it was not Belisarius who had the better of the struggle: broken in spirit, badly served by his raw recruits, and by the demoralised army of Italy, and unaided by Justinian, who was straining every nerve to keep up the Persian War, he accomplished little or nothing. Based on the impreg campaign of nable fortress of Ravenna he was able to seize Belisarius Pesaro, and to relieve the garrisons of Osimo and and Baduila. of Otranto, but that was all. Baduila ravaged Italy unmolested, and began to make preparations for the siege of Rome, if he was to be checked—as Belisarius wrote to his master— more men and money to pay them was urgently needed. Justinian could not, or would not, send either men or money in adequate quantity, and Baduila was able to invest Rome. Unlike Witiges, he succeeded in barring all the roads, and in blocking the Tiber by a boom of spars. Famine was soon within the walls, but the Goths made no attempt at a storm, leaving hunger to do its work. Bessas, the governor of Rome, sought for aid from all sides, and corn ships were sent him from Sicily, but Baduila seized them all as they were tacking up the Tiber channel. Then Belisarius came round to Portus, at the mouth of the river, with all the men he could muster, a very few thousands, and endeavoured to force his way to Rome by breaking Baduila's boom, and bringing his lighter war-vessels up the Tiber. He left his wife, his stores, and his reserves at Portus, sailed up the river, and succeeded, after a hot engagement, in burning the towers which guarded the boom. But, in the moment of success, news came to him that the Goths were attacking Portus in his rear, and that his wife and camp were in danger. He turned back, found that the fighting at Portus was only an insignificant skirmish brought on by the rashness of the officer in command there, and so missed his chance of forcing the boom. Disappointment, or the malarial fever of the marshy Tiber-mouth, laid him on a bed of sickness next day, and, before he was recovered, Rome had fallen. Some of the famished garrison threw open the Asinarian Gate at midnight, and admitted the Goths, after the siege had lasted thirteen months (545-546). The blame of the fall of the city rested mainly on the governor Bessas, who doled out his stores with a sparing hand to soldiery and people alike, while he was secretly selling the corn at exorbitant prices to the richer citizens. The troops were starving, yet vast quantities of provisions were found concealed in the general's praetorium. Baduila gave up the plunder of the city to his long-tried troops, but sternly prohibited murder, rape, or violence. By Baduila takes the confession of his enemies themselves only Rome, 546. twenty-six Romans lost their lives, though 20,000 war-worn troops had poured into the city at midnight, wild for plunder and revenge. The king made the churches into sanctuaries, and the multitudes that gathered in them suffered no harm. Baduila looked upon Rome as the chief lair of his enemies, the home of a faithless people, and the snare of the Goths. He resolved neither to make it his capital nor to garrison it, but to make a desert of it. The people were driven out, the gates burnt, and great breaches were made all round the walls of Aurelian. Then he harangued his army, bidding them remember how, in the days of Witiges, 7ooo Imperialists had robbed of power and wealth and liberty 1oo, ooo rich and wellarmed Goths. But now that the Goths were become poor, and few, and war-worn, they had discomfited more than 20,000 Greeks. The reason was that in the old days they had angered God by their pride and evil living; now they were humbled and chastened in spirit, and therefore they were victorious. For the future they must remember that if just they would have God with them; but, if they fell back into their former ways, the hand of Heaven would work their downfall. This done, he drew off with his army, leaving Rome desolate, and without a living soul within its walls. For forty days the imperial city was given up to the wolf and the owl, but at last Belisarius, who still lay at Portus with his small army, marched within the walls, hurriedly barricaded the breaches and the gateless portals, and prepared to hold Rome for a third siege. The Goths had been too slack in casting down the walls, and the hasty repairs of Belisarius made the city once more tenable against any coup-de-main. In Belisarius re. great disgust Baduila rushed back from Cam- covers Rome. pania, and tried to force the barricades. After three assaults he recognised that they were too strong, and retired to central Italy, leaving, however, a strong corps of observation at Tivoli, to keep Belisarius from issuing out of the city for further operations. For two years more Belisarius and Baduila fought up and down the peninsula, but the Goth kept the superiority; though sometimes foiled, he had, on the whole, the advantage. Belisarius, like Hannibal during the later years of his sojourn in Italy, flitted from point to point with his small army, looking for opportunities to strike a blow, but seldom finding them. Justinian, though now freed from the Persian War, sent no adequate supplies or reinforcements, and seemed content that his general should hold no more than Rome and Ravenna. In 548 Belisarius was recalled on his own or his wife's request. He felt that he could do no more with his inadequate resources, he had outlived the desire of glory, and his old age was at hand. Justinian received him with kindness, made him magister militum and chief of the Imperial Guard, and bade him live in peace in Constantinople. The sole check on Baduila was now removed, and, in the four years that followed, the gallant Goth cleared the whole country, save Ravenna, of the presence of the imperialist soldiery. He retook Rome in 549, and captured or slew the whole garrison. This time, instead of dismantling the city, he determined to make it his capital. He reorganised the successes of Senate, bade the palace be repaired, and celebrated Baduila. games in the circus as his great predecessor, Theodoric, had done. It would seem that he now felt himself so strong that he feared no return of the imperialist armies, and lost his old dread of walled towns. He sent embassies to Justinian, bidding the emperor recognise accomplished facts, and return to the old relations that had subsisted between the Goths and the emperor in the happy days of Anastasius and Theodoric. But the stern ruler of the East was immovable. He quietly persisted in the war, and merely began to collect once more an army for the invasion of Italy. The first expedition he placed under count Germanus, his own nephew, who was looked upon as the destined heir to the empire. But a sudden invasion of Macedonia by the Slavs drew aside Germanus to Thessalonica. He achieved a success over the invaders, but died soon after, and his army never crossed the Adriatic. Baduila meanwhile was in full possession of Italy. When he found that the armament of Germanus had dispersed, he built a fleet, conquered Sardinia, and then crossed into Sicily, and ravaged that island, against whose people the Goths bore an especial grudge for their rebellion

[graphic]

and eager reception of Belisarius fifteen years before.

It was not till 552 that Baduila was forced to fight on the defensive once more, and protect Italy from the last of the Narse, in armies of Justinian. This time the emperor had vades (taly, chosen a strange commander-in-chief, the eunuch 552. Narses, his chamberlain, or praepositus sacri cubiculi, who had once before been seen in Italy, in 538, when

[graphic]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »