Page images

pick a quarrel with the unfortunate king. He demanded ouan-let the from him the important towns of Ferrara and Pope and the Faenza, as part of the Exarchate of Ravenna. * They had been promised to St. Peter, he said, in 757, while Desiderius was struggling for the crown with king Ratchis, and must be handed over at once. Desiderius, thinking that Charles would be too much occupied beyond the Alps in settling the newly-annexed dominions of his brother to allow of his appearance in Italy, replied to the Pope's challenge by sending a host into the Pentapolis, and seizing Sinigaglia and Urbino. Shortly afterwards he raised the full force of the Lombard realm, and marched against Rome. Hadrian had expected this. He fortified and strongly garrisoned the city, and sent in haste to bid the lord of the Franks to come to the help of St. Peter, and force the unrighteous Lombards to carry out in full the treaty that king Pippin had imposed upon them. The news of the despatch of this embassy seems to have frightened Desiderius. He drew back to Viterbo, and, instead of pressing the siege of Rome, sent an embassy to Charles, to explain that the Pope's charges were unfounded, as he was not keeping back anything that

Desiderius, when he first attacked Rome, was not wrong in thinking that Charles was already occupied in the affairs of his own kingdom. He had that summer commenced the great undertaking of the conquest of Saxony, a task which was to tax his energies for the next twenty years. In the summer of 772 he had entered the land, compelled the Mid-Saxons or Engrians to give him hostages, and cut down in token of triumph the Irminsul, a holy tree reverenced by all the Saxon tribes, which stood in agrove near Paderborn, and was adorned with many rich offerings. On his return to Austrasia, Charles met the ambassadors of Hadrian and Desiderius at Thionville. He did not swerve for a moment srom his father's policy of supporting the Papacy through thick and thin. He sent off ambassadors to bid Desiderius give up all the cities belonging to the Holy See that he was unlawfully occupying, and told him to do justice to St. Peter without delay. The Lombard king was far too angry at this interference to grant the Frank's demands. He swore that he would restore nothing. This drew down Charles into Italy. Marching from Geneva he chanaia. crossed Mont Cenis with one division of his army, vades Lomwhile his uncle Bernard with the rest followed the *y,773. route of the Great St. Bernard. Desiderius on their approach fortified the Alpine gorges by Susa and Ivrea, and stood upon the defensive. But a chosen band of Franks turned his position at Susa by climbing over the hills, and when he saw himself outflanked, the Lombard king abandoned his lines, and fell back on Pavia, exactly as his predecessor Aistulf had done in the war with king Pippin. Charles followed in haste, and laid siege to Pavia, which held out for many months. Meanwhile Adelchis, the son of Desiderius, raised a second Lombard army, and took post in front of Verona. Leaving part of his army to maintain the blockade of Pavia, Charles marched against Adelchis, compelled him to fly, and captured Verona, and afterwards Brescia and Bergamo. The Lombard prince took to the sea, and sought Constantinople, where he endeavoured to obtain help from Constantine Copronymus, then in the midst of his Bulgarian war. As king Desiderius held out in Pavia with the greatest ob. stinacy, and the siege was protracted for many months, Charles resolved to spend the spring of 774 in visiting Rome, and coming to a complete understanding with pope Hadrian. He reached the city in Holy Week, and celebrated the Easter festivities with great splendour: his communings with Hadrian ended in his confirming his father's grant to the Papacy of the whole Exarchate of Ravenna, from Ferrara and charles at Commachio on the north, to Osimo on the south, Rome, 774. including all the places that had been in dispute between the Pope and the Lombard king. Later Roman writers pretended that Charles had even increased Pippin's liberal gift by adding to it north Tuscany, Parma and Modena, Venice, and even the island of Corsica. But there is no trace of this in contemporary authorities: the Frank never made over to the Pope the sovereignty of Tuscany or AEmilia, much less of Venice—which was not his to give, or the distant island of Corsica. On returning from Rome to the valley of the Po, in the early summer of 774, Charles found Pavia ready to submit: DesiFall of Pavia, derius and his men of war were wasted by famine 774. and opened the gates on condition that their lives should be spared. . The king was sent as a prisoner to Neustria, and died many years after as a monk in the abbey of Corbey. His royal treasure was divided among the Frankish army. Adelchis, the heir of the Lombard throne, had, as we have already mentioned, escaped to the Byzantine court, and died there many years afterwards as a ‘patrician.” Instead of following Pippin's example, and allowing Lombardy to survive as a vassal state, Charles had himself proclaimed as king in Italy, and compelled all the Lombard dukes and counts to do homage to him at Pavia. Only Arichis of Benevento, the son-in-law of Desiderius, persistedin maintaining his independence. For the future Charles styled himself “King of the Franks and Lombards, and Roman Patrician.” Except that he left a garrison in the capital, and handed over some of the more important Italian cities to Frankish counts instead of leaving them in the hands of their old Lombard governors, he made little change in the administration of Italy. His rights of conquest were used with such moderation, that Italy gave him very little trouble for the rest of his reign. The only serious disturbance that took place was in 776, when the dukes of Friuli, Spoleto, and Benevento conspired to send for Adelchis from Constantinople, and proclaim him as king of Later expedi. the Lombards. Hearing of their plot, Charles tion to Italy, descended upon Italy, slew the duke of Friuli in battle, and compelled the duke of Spoleto to do him homage. Arichis of Benevento was not subdued : he maintained his southern duchy intact, though the Franks sent more than one expedition against him. Apparently Charles regarded the homage of this distant state as too small a thing to be worth his attention till 787, when he made another descent into Italy in person, besieged Arichis in Salerno, and finally compelled him to become his vassal. But in 792, Arichis being dead, his son Grimoald shook off the Frankish yoke, and maintained a precarious semi-independence for the future, though he was several times attacked, and saw more than one of his chief towns stormed by the armies of Charles. The great king himself, however, never entered Beneventan territory again, and it was only his presence that could have sufficed to subdue the unruly duke. But we must return to the doings of Charles after his first conquest of the Lombards in 774. During his absence the Saxons had once more taken arms, and it was now high time to recommence the campaign against them, which had been interrupted by the great expedition to Italy. The year 775 saw the first of the many subjections of Saxony which Charles was to carry out during his long reign. The Saxons were divided into four great divisions. Nearest the Frankish frontier were the Westphalians, who dwelt on the Ems and Lippe, and about the Teutobiirger Wald. Beyond them to the east, the Engrians occupied the valley of the Weser, from its mouth as far as the borders of Hesse. East of the Engrians again, lay the Eastphalians, on the Aller and Ocker and Elbe. The latter-named river separated them from the Slavonic tribes of the Abotrites, who lived in the modern Mecklemburg. The fourth division of the Saxons were the Nordalbingians, who dwelt in Holstein, beyond the Elbe, on the borders of the Danes, and were the least accessible and most savage of their race. Saxony was a land of state of wood, heath, and morass: only on its southern Saxony. border was there a hilly tract, the spurs of the Harz mountains. The chief obstacle in the way of conquering the country was the fact that the Saxons had no towns and very few fortified posts; they took refuge in woods or swamps when the king's army appeared, and came forth again when he was gone. The land was quite roadless, so that the pursuit of the flying tribes was very difficult. If surrounded and compelled to do homage to Charles, they gave hostages, and paid great fines in cattle, but the moment that the Franks had left their neighbourhood took arms again. Nine times did one or other section of the Saxon race rebel, and any will less strong than that of the

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

inflexible Charles, would have yielded before their intractable obstinacy. But he persevered to the end in leading expedition after expedition against the rebels, punished their revolts by fire and sword, transplanted incorrigible tribes across the Rhine, built towns and castles all over the land, erected bishoprics, and sent forth countless missionaries, till in the last ten years of his life he had the satisfaction of seeing Saxony both submissive and Christian. The expedition of 775 began by the invasion of Westphalia; after dispersing its inhabitants, and storming their great

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »