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they bluntly asserted that the Roman Empire ceased in the West in 476, there is a danger that our own generation may become too much imbued with the formal aspect of things, and too little conscious of the real change which took place in that obscure year. The disappearance of the Roman Empire of the West was, in truth, a long process, which began as early as 411 when Britain—first of all the Occidental 'dioceses'—was abandoned to the barbarian, and did not, perhaps, end till Francis n. of Austria laid down the title of Emperor in the year 1806. Yet if we must choose a point at which, rather than at any other, we are to put the breach between the old and the new, if we must select any year as the dividing-line between ancient history and the Middle Ages, it is impossible to choose a better date than 476.
Down to the day on which Flavius Odoacer deposed Augustulus there was always at Rome or Ravenna a prince who represented in clear heritage the imperial succession that descended from Octavian and Trajan and Constantine. His crown might be fragile, his life in constant danger; his word might be less powerful in Italy than that of some barbarian Ricimer or Gundobad who stood behind the throne. Nevertheless, he was brought into real contact with his subjects, and was a visible, tangible personage whose will and character still made some difference in the governance of the state. The weakest Glycerius or Olybrius never sank into being a mere puppet, like an eighth century king of the Franks, or a seventeenth century Mikado. Moreover, there was till the last a possibility—even, perchance, a probability—that there would arise some strong emperor who would free himself from the power of his German prime minister. Majorian nearly succeeded in doing so; and the stories of the falls of the Goths, Gainas and Aspar, in the East show that such an attempt was not a hopeless undertaking.
But when Odoacer seized the throne from the boy Augustulus, and became with the consent, if not the good-will, of the Constantinopolitan Caesar, the sole representative in the West of the imperial system, a very grave change took place in the status of the empire. Flavius Odoacer was something Practical far more than a patrician ruling as the repreodoac"?s0f sentative of an absentee emperor. He was not position. only the successor of Ricimer, but the predecessor of Theodoric and Alboin. For, beside being a Roman official, he was a German king, raised on the shield and hailed as 'Thiudans' by the whole Teutonic horde who now represented the old legions of the West. If he never took the title of 'king of Italy,' it was because territorial appellations of the kind were not yet known. Euric and Gaiseric, his contemporaries, called themselves Kings of the Visigoths and Vandals, not of Spain and Africa. And so Odoacer being king of a land and an army, but not of a nation, may have been somewhat at a loss how to set forth his royal appellation. He would not have deigned to call himself 'king of the Italians;' to call himself king of the Scyrri or Turcilingi, or any other of the tribes who furnished part of his host, would have been to assume an inadequate name. Puzzled contemporary chroniclers sometimes called him king of the Goths, though he himself never used such a title.
Still he was a king, and a king with a settled territory and an organised host; not a migratory invader of Italy, as Alaric had been, but a permanent ruler of the land. In this way he was undoubtedly the forerunner of the Ostrogoths and Lombards who took his place, and, though the title would have sounded strange in his own ears, we may fairly style him king of Italy, as we so style Theodoric, or Berengar, or Victor Emmanuel. For it was the will of Odoacer that was obeyed in the land, and not the will of his titular superior at Constantinople. It was Odoacer who appointed taxes and chose officials, and interfered in the election of bishops of Rome, and declared war on the Rugians or the Vandals. In the few documents of his time that have survived, the name of Zeno is seldom mentioned, and in signing grants he styles himself Odovacar Rex, and not Odovacar Patricius, as strict Roman usage should have prescribed. Similarly, an Italian official acknowledges his regia largitas, not his patricia magnitude. It is, then, in every way correct, as well as convenient, to style him the first German king of Italy, and to treat his reign as the commencement of a new era. If we hesitate to do this, we are logically bound to refuse to recognise the Visigothic or Frankish kings in Spain and Gaul as independent sovereigns till the middle of the sixth century, and to protract the Roman Empire of the West till Leovigild and Theudebert formally disclaimed the imperial supremacy (54o-7o).
In the year 476 the greater parts of the lands which had
formerly composed the Roman Empire of the West had
taken new forms in the shape of six large Teutonic kingdoms.
Italy and Noricum formed the kingdom of Odoacer; North
> Africa the dominions of the Vandal Gaiseric. The Visigothic
\realm of Euric extended from the Loire to the Straits of
^ Gibraltar. King Gundobad the Burgundian occupied the valleys of the Rhone and Saone, as far as their extreme head-waters. The Princes of the Franks reigned on the Meuse, Moselle, and lower Rhine. Last and smallest of the six Teutonic States was the kingdom of the Suevi in what
\would now be called north Portugal and Galicia. Interspersed among these German kingdoms were three or four remnants of the old Roman Empire, which had not yet been submerged by the rising flood of Teutonism, though they were destined ere long to disappear beneath its surface. The province of Britain had become a group of small State of West*v and unhappy Celtic kingdoms, on whose borders «rn Europe in the Angle and Saxon had not yet made any appreciable encroachment. Armorica, the modern Brittany, was also a rough confederacy of Celtic states. The Seine valley and the middle Loire formed a Romano-Gallic kingdom
\ under Syagrius, the last governor who had acknowledged the supremacy of the empire beyond the Alps. The Cantabrians and Basques in their hills above the Bay of Biscay had preserved their independence against the Visigoths, just as their ancestors, five centuries before, had held out against the Roman conquerors of Spain. Lastly, there was still a fragment of territory on the Adriatic which claimed to represent the legitimate Empire of the West. The emperor Julius Nepos, when driven from Rome and Ravenna, had fled to Dalmatia, where he contrived to keep together a small kingdom around his capital of Salona. Of these five scattered remnants of territory which had not yet fallen into the hands of the Germans, there were two, the kingdoms of Syagrius and Nepos, which were doomed to a speedy fall; for the other three a longer and more chequered career was reserved.
Around the solid block of land, which had once formed the Western Empire, were lying a ring of German tribes, who had worked forward from the North and East into the deserted dwellings of the races who had already passed on within the Roman border. The Frisians lay about the mouths of the Waal and Lech, north of the land lately won by the Franks. The Alamanni, a confederacy of Suevian tribes, had possession of the valleys of the Main and Neckar, the Black Forest, and the banks of the upper Danube. East of them again lay the Thuringians and Rugians, in the lands which we should now call northern Bavaria and Bohemia. Beyond them came the Lombards in Moravia and northern Hungary; and the Herules and Gepidae on the middle Danube and the Theiss. All these tribes, like their brethren who had gone before them, were showing a general tendency to press West and South, and take their share in the plunder of the dismembered Empire.
The history of the Teutonic kingdoms of the later fifth and earlier sixth century falls into two distinct halves. The tale of the doings of Frank, Visigoth, Burgundian, and Suevian in the West forms 'one. Very slightly connected with it do we find the other, the story of the doings of Odoacer in Italy, and of the Vandal kings in Africa, whose connections and interests are far more with the Eastern Empire than with the Transalpine kingdoms. It is with these two states that we shall first have to deal, leaving the discussion of the affairs of the Teutons of Gaul and Spain for another chapter.
Gaiseric, or Genseric as the Romans sometimes called him, * first of the Vandal kings of Africa, was still reigning at Carthage in the year when Odoacer became ruler of Italy. For forty-eight years did this first of the Teutonic sea-kings bear sway in the land which he had won, and hold the naval supremacy in the central Mediterranean. The creation of the Vandal kingdom had been one of the most extraordinary feats of the time of the great migrations, and must be attributed entirely to the personal energy of their long-lived king. His tribe was one of the least numerous of the many wandering hordes which had trespassed within the bounds of the empire, no more than 80,000 souls, men, women, and children all counted, when they first invaded The Vandais Africa. That such a small army should have in Africa, overrun a province a thousand miles long, and 439'77should have become the terror of the whole seaboard of the Western Empire was the triumph of Gaiseric's ability. He was not one of the stalwart, hard-fighting, brainless chiefs who were generally to be found at the head of a German horde, but a man of very moderate stature, limping all his life through from a kick that he got from a horse in early youth. His mental powers alone made him formidable, for he was not only a general of note, but a wily politician, faithless not with the light and heady fickleness of a savage, but with the deliberate and malicious treachery of a professional intriguer. He was one of those not uncommon instances of a Teuton, who, when brought into contact with the empire, picked up all the vices of its decaying civilisation without losing those of his original barbarism. It is not without some reason that the doings of Gaiseric have left their mark on the history of language in the shape of the modern word 'Vandalism.' The sufferings' of Italy and Africa at his hands were felt more deeply than the woes they had endured at the hands of other invaders, because of the treachery and malice which inspired them. Compared