Page images
PDF
EPUB

march on the capital. But neither of them was destined to succeed. The sinews of war lay in the hands of the treasurer Amantius; he himself could not hope to reign, for he was a eunuch, but he had a friend whom he wished to crown. Accordingly he sent for Justinus, the commander Accession of of the Imperial Guard, and made over to him a Justin I., 518. great sum to buy the aid of the soldiery. Justinus, an elderly and respectable personage whom no one suspected of ambition, quietly took the gold, distributed it in his own name, and was saluted as Augustus by his delighted guardsmen. The Senate acquiesced in the nomination, and he mounted the throne without a blow being struck. Justinus was an Illyrian by birth, and had spent fifty years in the imperial army; he had won his promotion by good service in the Isaurian and Persian wars. He was very illiterate— we are told that he could barely sign his own name—and knew nothing outside his tactics and his drill-book. He had the reputation of being quiet, well-behaved, and upright; no one had anything to say against him, and he was rigidly orthodox in matters of faith. He was sixty-eight years of age, fifteen years older than even the elderly Anastasius had been at the moment of his accession. Justinus seated himself firmly on the throne; he executed the treasurer Amantius, but made terms with the two men who might have been his rivals. Hypatius remained a simple senator; Vitalian was confirmed in his command in Moesia and given a consulship. While holding this office and dwelling in the capital he was assassinated ; rumour ascribed the crime to the emperor's nephew Justinian, who thought the turbulent magister too near the throne. There is very little to record-of the nine years of Justinus' reign, save that he healed the forty years' schism which had separated the churches of Rome and Constantinople since the publication of Zeno's ‘Henoticon.” Being undisputedly orthodox, he withdrew that document, and the schism disappeared with its cause. The only real importance of Justinus is that he prepared the way for his famous nephew and successor, Justinian, whom he adopted as colleague, and intrusted with those matters of civil administration with which he was himself incompetent to deal. He died and left the throne to Justinian in A.D. 528.

CHAPTER IV

CHLODOVECH AND THE FRANKS IN GAUL
481-51 I

The Franks in Northern Gaul—Their early conquests—State of Gaul in 481– Chlodovech conquers Northern Gaul, 486—He subdues the Alamanni, 495-6—Conversion of Chlodovech, 496—He conquers Aquitaine from the Visigoths, 507—He unites all the Frankish Kingdoms, 511.

WHILE Odoacer was still reigning in Italy, and Theodoric the Amal had not yet left the Balkans, or the banks of the Danube, the foundations of a great kingdom were being laid upon the Scheldt and the Meuse. Early in the fifth century the confederacy of marsh-tribes on the Yssel and Lech who had taken the common name of Franks, had moved southward into the territory of the Empire, and found themselves new homes in the provinces which the Romans called Belgica and Germania Inferior. For many years the hold of the legions on this land had been growing weaker; and, long ere it became a Frankish kingdom, it had been largely sprinkled with Frankish colonists, whom the emperors had admitted as military settlers on the waste lands within their border. In the lowlands of Toxandria, which after-ages called Brabant and Guelders, there were no large cities to be protected, no great fortresses to be maintained, and, while the Romans still exerted themselves to hold Treveri and Colonia Agrippina and Moguntiacum, they allowed the plains more to the north and west to slip out of their hands. By the second quarter of the fifth century the Franks were firmly established on the Scheldt ree grani, and Meuse and lower Rhine, where the Roman in Lower garrisons never reappeared after the usurper * Constantine had carried off the northern frontier legions to aid him in his attack on Italy (406). By this time, too, Colonia Agrippina, first of the great Roman cities of the Rhineland, seems to have already fallen into the hands of the Franks. Between 430 and 450 they continued to push forward as far as the Somme and the Moselle, and when, at the time of Attila's great invasion of Gaul, the last imperial garrisons in the Rhineland were exterminated, and the last governors driven forth by the Huns from Treveri and Moguntiacum and Mettis, it was the Franks who profited. After the Huns had rolled back again to the East, Frankish kings, not Roman officials, took possession of the ravaged land along the Moselle and Rhine, and the surviving provincials had for the future to obey a Teutonic master near home, not a governor despatched from distant Ravenna. The Franks were now divided into two main hordes; the Salians—who took their name from Sala, the old name of the river Yssel—dwelt from the Scheldt-mouth to the Somme, and from the Straits of Dover to the Meuse. The Ripuarians, whose name is drawn from the fact that they inhabited the bank (ripa) of the Rhine, lay along both sides of the great river from its junction with the Lippe to its junction with the Lahn, and extended as far east as the Meuse. Each of these two tribes was ruled by many kings, all of whom claimed to descend from the house of the Merovings, a line lost in obscurity, whose original head may, perhaps, have been the chief who in the third century first taught union to the various tribes who formed the Frankish confederacy. The Franks were one of the more backward of the Teutonic races, in spite of their long contact with Roman civilisation along the Rhine. Kings and people were still heathens. They had not learnt like the Goths to wear armour or fight on horseback, but went to war half-naked, armed only with a barbed javelin, a sword, and a casting-axe or tomahawk, called the Francisca after the name of its users. Unlike Goth and Vandal they had not learnt the advantages of political union, but obeyed many petty princes instead of one great lord. All Roman writers reproach them for a perfidy which exceeded that of the other barbarians. The Saxons, we are told, were cruel, the Alamanni drunken, the Alans rapacious, the Huns unchaste, but the special sin of the Frank was treachery and perjury. At the time of the deposition of Romulus Augustulus by Odoacer, the Salian Franks held the old Roman towns of Cambrai, Arras, Tournay, and Tongern, while the Ripuarians occupied Köln, Trier, Mainz, and Metz. South of the Ripuarians lay the new Burgundian kingdom Divisions of which Gundobad had founded in the valleys of Gaul in 481. the Rhone and Saône. South of the Salians was a district of Roman Gaul which had to the last acknowledged the supremacy of the ephemeral emperors of the West, and kept itself free from barbarian invaders under the patrician AEgidius. After his death in 463 his son Syagrius succeeded to his power, and ruled at Suessiones (Soissons) over the whole Seine valley, and the plain of central Gaul as far as Troyes and Orleans. After the disappearance of the last Western Emperor, Syagrius had no over-lord, but was so much his own master that the Franks called him “king of the Romans,’ though he himself took no title but that of patrician. South of the realm of Syagrius lay the Visigothic kingdom of Euric, a vast state extending from the Loire to Gibraltar, and from the Bay of Biscay to the Maritime Alps. Its king dwelt at Toulouse, and the Gaulish rather than the Spanish half of his dominion was considered the more important. Indeed his rule in Spain was still incomplete, as the Suevi held its north-western corner, the land which we now call Galicia and north Portugal, and the Basques maintained their independence in the western Pyrenees.

* Trier, Köln, and Mainz. 5 5

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »