Page images
PDF
EPUB

kingdom to his sons. There was no Merovingian king whose rights needed to be taken into consideration, as Theuderich IV. had died four years back, and had left no successor. Accordingly Charles and the council dealt with the land as if

charies it had already become the rightful inheritance of

divides his the house of St. Arnulf. The great mayor had

realm. three grown-up sons; two, Carloman and Pippin, were the offspring of his wife Rothrudis, the third, Grifo, was the son of Swanhildis, a Bavarian lady whom he had taken as his concubine during his Bavarian campaign of 725. Their ages appear to have been twenty-seven, twenty-six, and Seventeen. Charles handed over the rule of Austrasia and Suabia to Carloman, and that of Neustria and Burgundy to Pippin. It is said that he also contemplated leaving a small appanage on the border of Neustria and Austrasia to Grifo. Bavaria and Aquitaine, the two great vassal dukedoms, were not named in the division, though the former fell under the influence of Carloman, and the latter under that of

Pippin.

Shortly after he had accomplished this division of his realms, Charles died at Cérisy-on-Oise on the 21st of October 741. He had completed the work which his father, Pippin the Younger, had taken in hand, for the ancient boundaries of the Frankish empire had now been everywhere restored, Aquitaine and Bavaria had been reduced to vassalage, Christianity was now firmly rooted all over Frisia, Thuringia, and Hesse. The difficulties he had faced were far greater than Life work of those which his father had to encounter. He had

* rescued the fortunes of the house of St. Arnulf from the lowest depths, though Austrasia had been divided, though Neustria was hostile, and though an energetic king was for once swaying the Frankish sceptre and endeavouring to recover the lost privileges of his ancestors. Having fought his way to power, Charles had then to face the one serious danger from without which the Franks had yet encountered. He had met it without flinching, and smitten the

intrusive Moslem so hard that the blow did not need to be repeated. For the future we hear of Frankish invasions of Spain, not of Saracen invasions of Gaul. Charles then had won peace without and within, he had reorganised the Frankish realm, raised it to a pitch of power and glory which it had never attained before, and made possible the triumphant career of his son and grandson. As the champion of Christianity and the protector of the evangelist of Germany, he had won a yet nobler title to honourable memory, and the complaints of the Gaulish bishops, who murmured that his hand was too hard on the Church, may be lightly disregarded when we add up the sum of his merits, and salute him as the inaugurator of a new and better era in the history of Europe.

CHA PTE R XVIII

THE ICONOCLAST EMPERORS–STATE OF THE EASTERN EMPIRE IN THE EIGHTH CENTURY

[ocr errors]

Leo and the defence of Constantinople, 718—Importance of his triumph— Social and economical condition of the Empire—Decay of Art and Letters—Superstition and Iconoduly–The Iconoclast movement—Leo's Crusade against Images—Constantine Copronymus and his persecutions—Successful wars of Constantine v.–Minority of Constantine VI.Intrigues and triumph of Irene—Restoration of Image-worship—End of the Isaurian dynasty, 802.

IN March 717 Leo the Isaurian became master of Constantinople, his predecessor, Theodosius III., having abdicated and refused to continue the civil war which had begun in the previous year. It is probable that his resignation was due as much to fear of the oncoming of the Saracens as to the dread of Leo, for the armies of the caliph Soliman were already ravaging Phrygia and Cappadocia, and slowly making their way towards the Bosphorus. Nothing save the consciousness of his own capacity to stem the rising flood of Moslem invasion could have justified Leo in taking arms against Theodosius in such a time of danger; but fortunately for the empire he had not overvalued his own power, and was destined to show that he was fully competent to face the situation.

Lee the He was still a young man, but his life had already

Isaurian, been full of incident and adventure; he was the

717-40. son of parents of some wealth, who had migrated

from the Isaurian regions in the Taurus to Thrace. He had entered the army during the second reign of Justinian Rhinotmetus, and after serving him well had incurred the tyrant's suspicion, and been sent on a dangerous expedition into the Caucasus, from which he was not intended to return. But he extricated himself from many perils among the Alans and Abasgi of those distant regions, and came back in safety, to be made by Anastasius II. governor of the Anatolic theme. He was an active, enterprising, persevering man, with a talent for organisation, a great power of making himself loved by his soldiery, and an iron hand. His later career shows that he was more than a good soldier, being also one who looked deep into the causes of things, and had formed his own views on politics and religion. Leo was only granted five months in which to prepare for the long-dreaded advent of the Saracens. He spent this time in accumulating vast stores of provisions, recruiting the garrision of Constantinople, and strengthening its fortifications. On the 15th of August Moslemah with an army of 80,000 Saracens appeared on the Bithynian coast; a few days later a Syrian fleet of over Iooo sail appeared in the Propontis, took the army of Moslemah on board, and transported it into Thrace. The Saracen's land-troops at once commenced the blockade of the capital by land, while part of the fleet moved into the Bosphorus, to post itself so as to block the mouth of the Golden Horn, in which the Imperial navy had taken refuge. Leo delivered his first blow while the Saracen vessels were passing up the Bosphorus ; issuing out of the Golden Horn with many galleys and fireships he attacked the enemy as they were trying to pass up the straits, and burnt Mosleman twenty ships of war. The Saracen admiral then besieges Condropped down to the southern exit of the Bos- **** phorus, and left the northern exit free to the Romans, so that Leo was able to continue to draw supplies from the Black Sea. The blockade of Constantinople was, therefore, imperfect, and we learn without surprise, that while the Saracens in their camp on the Thracian side of the straits suffered severely

[graphic][graphic]

from the cold of an unusually severe autumn and winter, the
garrison within the walls was well fed as well as well housed,
and continued to grow in self-confidence. Moslemah sent in
haste for reinforcements, and the Caliph supported him with
zeal; a second land-army marched up from Tarsus to Chal-
cedon in the spring of 718, and occupied the Bithynian shore
of the Bosphorus, while a great fleet from Africa and Egypt
joined the blockading squadron, and moored at Kalosagros
on the eastern side of the Bosphorus, in order to watch the
mouth of the Golden Horn, and stop the communication of
the city with the Black Sea.
The preservation of the free waterway to the north was all-
important to the defence. Accordingly, Leo determined to
make a great effort to destroy the Egyptian fleet. His galleys,
many of them fitted with apparatus for discharging the famous
Greek fire, sailed out suddenly, and fell on the Saracen ships
as they lay moored against the Asiatic shore. Many of the
crews of the Egyptian ships were Christians, forced on board
against their will; these men either deserted to the Imperial-
ists or fled ashore and dispersed. The Moslem sailors on
board made some resistance, but being caught at anchor, and
unable to manoeuvre or escape, they were soon overcome.
The whole blockading squadron was burnt or towed back
in triumph to Constantinople. The rest of Moslemah's
fleet made no further attempt to bar the Bosphorus, and
allowed the Roman galleys to dominate its waters. Leo then
threw a force on to the Bithynian shore, and dispersed the
Saracen troops who were encamped there. Thus the army of
Moslemah was cut off from Asia, and could draw no further
supplies from thence. It had already exhausted those of the
nearer districts of Thrace, and by the summer of 718 was
reduced to the verge of starvation, living from hand to mouth
on what its foragers could procure. Many had already
perished of privation, when Moslemah heard that a great
Bulgarian army had crossed the Balkans, and was advancing
against him. Leo had apparently convinced king Terbel

[graphic][ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »