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Persian empire, and Khaled, 'the Sword of God,' the most terrible and bloodthirsty of all his fanatical chiefs. In July 634, Theodore was badly defeated by the Saracens at Adjnadin near Gabatha, beyond the Jordan. This ill-success roused the emperor: he poured in further reinforcements, and the Battle of the enemy were attacked in the late summer of 634 Yermuk, 634. by an army of 80,000 men. The fate of Syria was settled by the battle of the Hieromax (Yermuk), where the troops of the Empire, after a long and bloody fight, in which they at one time forced the Arabs back to the very gates of their camp, were broken by the fanatical rush of an enemy who preferred death to defeat. 'Paradise is before you,' cried Abu Obeida to his wavering host, 'the devil and hell fire behind;' and with their last charge the Arabs broke the line of the legions, and rolled the wearied troops in wild disorder back over a line of precipices and ravines, where thousands perished without stroke of sword, by being cast down the lofty rocks.

The army of the East was almost exterminated at the Hieromax, and ere another force could be collected Damascus, the greatest city of eastern Syria, was captured by the enemy, who in spite of accepting its surrender massacred a great part of the population (635).

Heraclius now determined to lead the Roman army in person, but he was no longer the same man who had kept the field with harness on his back for six long campaigns in the old Persian War. He had now long passed his fiftieth year, and was prematurely broken by the first symptoms of the dropsy which afterwards caused his death. In his private life, too, he had had much trouble of late; he had made an unwise and unhallowed second marriage with his own sister's daughter Martina, and was harassed by disputes between her and the rest of his family, caused by the fact that the young empress wished to induce her husband to leave her own son Heracleonas joint heir to the empire with his elder brother Heraclius Constantinus. But such as he was, Heraclius once more put on his armour, and spent the. years 635-6 in Syria endeavouring to keep back the Arabs with the new levies that he had assembled. His failure was complete; city after city, Emesa, Hierapolis, Chalcis, Beroea, fell into the hands of the Moslems, without the emperor being able even to risk a battle in their defence. In 636, completely broken by disease, he returned to Constantinople, having first paid a hasty visit to Jerusalem to take up and remove the 'True Cross' which he had replaced there in triumph only six years before.

After the departure of Heraclius things went from bad to worse; Antioch, the stronghold and capital of northern Syria, and Jerusalem, the centre of the defence of Palestine, both fell in 637. To receive the surrender of Jerusalem, which Mohammed had pronounced only second to Mecca among the holy places of the world, the caliph Omar crossed the desert in person. When the town had yielded, the Arab compelled the patriarch Sophonius to lead him all round the shrines of the city; as they stood in the church of the Holy Sepulchre, the patriarch, torn by grief, could not refrain from exclaiming that now indeed was the Abomination Fail of jeruof Desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, in salem' 637the Holy of Holies. The austere Omar showed more moderation and compassion than his generals had been wont to display, he left the Christians all their holy places, and contented himself with building a great mosque on the site of the temple of Solomon.

While Syria was falling before the Saracens, the lot of Persia had been even worse; after a great battle lasting for three days at Kadesia, the Sassanian empire had succumbed before the Moslem sword. Its capital Ctesiphon was sacked and destroyed, and Yezdigerd, the last of its kings, fled eastward to raise his last army on the banks of Oxus and Murghab (636). Arab hordes working up the Euphrates began to assail the Roman province of Mesopotamia from the south, at the same moment that the conquerors of Syria attacked it from the west. Heraclius made one last attempt to save north Syria and Mesopotamia by sending an army under his son and heir Heraclius Constantinus to endeavour to recover Antioch. After some slight show of success at first, the young Caesar suffered a fatal defeat in front of Emesa, and retired from the scene, leaving Mesopotamia with all its timehonoured strongholds, Daras, Edessa, and Amida, a prey to the irresistible enemy (638-9). With the fall of the seaport of Caesarea in 640 the Romans lost their last foothold south of the Taurus, and Asia Minor itself now became exposed to invasion.

Before he died of the dropsy, which was the bane of his declining years, the unfortunate Heraclius was destined to see one more disaster to his realm. In 640 the Saracens, now headed by Amrou, crossed the desert of Suez and fell upon Egypt. They beat the Roman army in the field, captured Memphis and Babylon, and then received the homage of all upper and central Egypt. The population was very largely composed of heretical sects who received the Moslems as deliverers from orthodox oppression, and Mokawkas the Coptic governor of the province surrendered long ere the situation had grown desperate. It was only about Alexandria, where Saracens t^e Greek orthodox element was strongest, that conquer any serious resistance was made. But the great Egypt, 640. seapOrt capital of Egypt held out very staunchly, and was still in Christian hands when Heraclius died on Feb. loth, 641, in the sixty-sixth year of his age.

Thus ended in misery and failure the man who would have been hailed as the greatest of all the warrior emperors of Rome if he had died but ten years sooner. He had saved the empire at its darkest hour, and won back all the East by feats of arms such as have seldom been paralleled in all history. But he won it back only to lose again two-thirds of the rescued lands to a new enemy, and ungrateful after-ages remembered him rather as the loser of Jerusalem and Antioch than as the saviour of Constantinople.

CHAPTER XIII
THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE VISIGOTHS

A.D. 603-711

Obscurity of Visigothic History — Sisibut and Swinthila expel the EastRomans—A series of priest-ridden Kings—Chindaswinth restores the royal power—His legislation—Recceswinth's long reign—Wamba and his wars—The rebellion of Paulus—Wamba's weak and obscure successors— Approach of the Saracens—Weakness of Spain—Roderic the Last of the Goths—All Spain subdued by the Saracens.

Few periods of European history are so obscure as the last hundred years of the Visigothic dominion in Spain. The original sources for its annals are few and meagre, and little has been accomplished of late in the way of making the period more comprehensible. The Moorish conquest in 711 seems to have swept away both books and writers, and it was not till many years after that disaster that the composition of historical works in Spain was resumed; the later Visigothic times are as dark and little known as the beginnings of the English heptarchy, and Spain had no Bede and no Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to throw gleams of light across the obscurity. Hence it comes that many of their kings are mere names, and that their acts and policy are often incomprehensible. The tale grows more and more puzzling as the seventh century draws on to its close, and by the beginning of the eighth we have only untrustworthy legends to help us.

The house of Leovigild, after forty years of success, ended disastrously in 603 by the assassination of the young king Leova n. His murderer was a certain count Witterich, a turbulent noble who had joined in the Arian rising of 590, and had been unwisely pardoned by Reccared. The accession of Witterich marked a revulsion against the growth of the kingly power, which had been making such strides under Leovigild and Reccared, and probably also a protest against the ecclesiastical policy of Reccared, who, since his conversion, had given the witterich, Catholic bishops such power and authority in his 603-10. realm. Witterich reigned for seven years, with little credit to himself—it is only strange that he guarded his ill-gotten crown so long. He had some unimportant struggles with the Franks in Aquitaine and the Byzantine garrisons in Andalusia, but won no credit in either quarter. The Church was against him, his counts and dukes paid him little heed, and no one showed much astonishment or regret when in 610 he was murdered by conspirators at a feast, like his predecessor the tyrant Theudigisel.

The king chosen by the Goths in his place was a certain count Gundimar, who appears to have been the head of the orthodox church party, as the ecclesiastical chronicles are loud in the praises of his piety. Gundimar determined to take part in the Frankish civil war when Theuderich of Burgundy and Brunhildis attacked Theudebert of Austrasia. He naturally sided with the distant Austrasian against his nearer Burgundian brother, with whom the Goths of Septimania had some frontier disputes. But in the year that the war broke out Gundimar died, only twenty-one months after he had been crowned (612).

His successor was king Sisibut (612-20), a prince of some mark and character, who like his predecessor was a great friend of the church party and a foe of the unruly secular nobility. He was not only a great warrior, but what was more strange in a Gothic prince, a learned student and even a writer of books. The modern historian would give much to be able to recover his lost Chronicle of the Kings of the Goths; but the irony of fate has decreed that of his works only an Sisibut, ecclesiastical biography, The Life and Passion of 612-20. St. Desiderius, and some bad verses, should survive. We learn from his admiring clerical friends that he

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