Page images
PDF
EPUB

of thirty-one years, in which he had added the greater part of the Exarchate to his kingdom, had extended the boundaries of Italy to north and east against the Bavarian and Slav, and had reduced the Beneventan and Spoletan dukes to an unwonted state of subservience. No one, save his enemies the popes, ever laid a charge of any sort against his character, and he appears to have been the best-loved and best-served king of his day. We read with pleasure that he died in peace, ere the terrible invasion of the Franks began to afflict the land he had guarded so well. It would have been better perhaps for Italy if he had been a less virtuous and pious sovereign: a less temperate ruler would have finished his career of conquest by taking Rome, and so would have staved off the countless ills that Rome was about to bring on the whole Italian peninsula.

CHAPTER XVII

CHARLES MARTEL AND HIS WARS
720-41

Wars with the Saxons and Frisians—Missionary enterprises of St. Boniface—
The Saracens in Septimania and Aquitaine—Charles wins the battle of
Poictiers—Revolt and subjection of duke Hunold of Aquitaine—Charles
and the Papacy.

The name of Charles Martel is generally remembered as that of the victor of Poictiers, but although the defeat of the invasion of the Saracens of Spain was destined to be the greatest of his achievements, his struggle with them was but one of a long series of wars waged against all the races of infidels who surrounded the Frankish realm. It was not till the twelfth year of his mayoralty that he himself took the field to face the invader from the south. Up to that year he had been far more concerned with the heathen neighbours of his own Austrasia, and must have spared comparatively few thoughts for the danger of distant Aquitaine, and its half-independent duke.

Charles had first to deal with the Saxons. To punish them for their interference in the Frankish civil war of 714-20 he led several expeditions into the valley of the Weser, and pushed the Frankish frontier up to the Teutobiirgerwald and the head waters of the Lippe and the Ruhr. The Frisians had already submitted to him, but he had come to the conclusion that their homage was worth little until they should have adopted Christianity, and he therefore employed all

PERIOD I. T

his influence to make their duke Aldgisl co-operate in th\ onwasof version of his subjects. Theduke,ajust andpei .ce

Charies in loving prince, was not averse to the scheme, a.\ id Germany, 730. under his guarantee missionaries were despatched' by bishop Willibrord of Utrecht over all the Frisian district / In the course of a generation they had christianised the greajr part of the country, but the East Frisians were far bel.-iind the rest in accepting the gospel, and their conversion wris to be reserved till the reign of Charles's son.

Frisia and Saxony having been dealt with, it was the next task of the great mayor to restore the Frankish suzerainty over Bavaria, which had disappeared for more than eighty years. But before he could complete this task he was summoned into the West to suppress a Neustrian rebellion. The nobles of northern Gaul, in spite of their deep humiliation at Vincy and Soissons, rose once more under Raginfred, the late mayor of Chilperich n. But the rising collapsed at the first appearance of Charles, and the enemy laid down their arms, Raginfred only stipulating that he should retain his countship of Angers on giving up his sons as hostages (724).

The next three years were occupied in the subjugation of south-eastern Germany. Marching eastward through Suabia, whose warriors he compelled to accompany him to the field, Charles advanced against the Bavarians. After severe fighting, lasting over three campaigns, he returned in triumph with much plunder, a troop of hostages, and the submission of duke Hukbert. The allegiance of the Bavarians was still very insecure, but something had been done to enforce the long-forgotten suzerainty of the Franks. Alarmed by the subjection of Bavaria, the Suabian duke Lantfrid rebelled, but Charles slew him in battle, and refused to appoint any duke in his stead, in order that Suabia might more easily amalgamate with the neighbouring districts when it had lost the prince whose title symbolised its separate unity (730).

While Charles worked with the sword against the eastern Germans, he did not neglect the other great means of binding them to the Frankish realm. It was during the time of his Saxon and Bavarian wars that he lent his protection to the zealous Northumbrian monk Winfrith, the indefatigable preacher and organiser who won the name of the 'Apostle ... .

[graphic]

b . . 'Mission of

of Germany' by his long life-work among the Boniface to Bavarians, Thuringians, and Hessians. After Germany. spending some time with bishop Willibrord at Utrecht, Winfrith had started eastward to find newer and wilder fields for his activity. He fixed himself first among the Hessians where no missionary had been seen since the death of St. Suidbert.1 Here he met with such success that the whole land was soon reckoned Christian. Pope Gregory n., hearing of his triumphs, sent for him to Rome, and consecrated him missionary bishop of all Transrhenane Germany. After swearing implicit obedience to the Apostolic See for himself and all his converts, Winfrith—or as he is more often called in his later years Boniface—returned to the North with a papal letter of credence recommending him to the Mayor of Austrasia. Charles undertook the support of the new bishop with the greatest zeal: 'without the aid of the prince of the Franks,' wrote Boniface, 'I should not be able to rule my church nor defend the lives of my priests and nuns, nor keep my converts from lapsing into pagan rites and observances.' It was the fear of the wrath of Charles that kept the wild Hessians and Thuringians from murdering the unarmed missionary, when he came among them with his life in his hand, and hewed down the holy oak of Woden at Fritzlar in the presence of thousands of heathen spectators. For the next thirty-one years (723-54) Boniface went forth conquering and to conquer, churches and abbeys rising everywhere beneath his hand, in the regions where the Christian name had never before been known.

While Charles had been busied on the Austrasian frontier a new storm was rising in the South. The Saracens of Spain were once more crossing the Rhone and the Cevennes to

1 See p. 263.

[ocr errors]

overrun southern Gaul. Luckily for the Franks the efforts of the Moslems were most spasmodic; the governors of Spain were, as a rule, more concerned with preserving their own authority against revolted lieutenants than with extending the bounds of Islam. The centre .of government at Damascus was so far away that the Caliph's authority was only displayed at rare intervals, and as a rule the various Arab and Berber chiefs who represented the sovereign were busily engaged in deposing and murdering each other. In the first forty years of Mussulman rule in Spain there were no less than twenty viceroys, of whom seven came to violent ends.

We have already related the disastrous issue of the expedition of El-Samah against Toulouse in 721. It was not till 725 that the Saracens stirred again; in that year the Emir Anbasa-ibn-Johim set out from Narbonne with a large army, and subdued Carcassonne, Nismes, and the rest of northern Conquests of Septimania as far as the Rhone. He placed the Arabs garrisons in the newly conquered cities, and m Gaui. tnen crosse(j the river an(j executed a rapid raid through Burgundy as far as Autun in the heat of the summer. After sacking Autun he returned with such speed to Spain that the Franks were totally unable to overtake him. But Anbasa died before the year was out, and for seven years his successors were too much engaged in strife with each other to renew the attack on Christendom. Eudo, duke of Aquitaine, employed the respite in conciliating the friendship of Othmanben-abu-Neza, the Moslem governor of Septimania, whom he won to his side by giving him his daughter in marriage. It was probably in reliance on the aid of his son-in-law that Eudo in. 731 rebelled against the Franks, and once more declared himself independent duke of Aquitaine. Charles crossed the Wars with Loire, beat Eudo in the field, and ravaged the Eudo of country up to the gates of Bordeaux. The duke, Aquitaine. however, persisted in his resistance, till he learnt that another foe was about to attack him. His son-in-law Othman had rebelled against Abderahman the viceroy of Spain,

« ՆախորդըContinue »