« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
hovering about the neighbourhood of Rome, and occupying the Umbrian and Sabine borders of the ‘patrimony of St. Peter.” At last his ambassadors appeared before Stephen II. to demand the homage of Rome, and the payment of an annual tribute. After trying in vain to scare off Aistulf, first by the terrors of excommunication, and then by empty menaces of applying for aid to Constantinople, which the Lombard derided, Stephen bethought himself of the debt of gratitude which the Frankish king owed to the Holy See. After ascertaining that his presence and demands would not be unacceptable to king Pippin, he left Rome in October 753, and, after making one more appeal to the Lombard king to grant him peace and independence, crossed the Alps, and appeared before the Frankish Court at Ponthion, near Barle-Duc. His reception was all that he could have wished. Pippin met him three miles from the town, knelt before him on the Pope Stephen roadside, and walked beside his stirrup to the invites Pippin palace gate, leading his palfrey by the bridle, to Italy. though the month was January, and the snow lay on the ground. In the royal chapel, when the court was assembled, Stephen, “with many tears and groans, laid before the king the lamentable state of the Church, and besought him to bring peace and salvation to the cause of St. Peter and the Roman State. Whereupon Pippin swore an oath that he would grant him all he asked, and use every endeavour to put him in possession of the exarchate of Ravenna, as well as all the cities which belonged by right to the Roman republic.’ It was to no purpose that an unexpected guest appeared in Gaul to beg Pippin to Swerve from his purpose. This was his brother Carloman, who left his Sabine monastery to pray Pippin not to bring down the horrors of war upon Italy—a request which seemed so strange to the Church historians of the day, that they could only suppose that his mind had been overpowered by diabolic delusions, or that he was yielding to dread of the wrath of Aistulf. Pippin refused to listen to him,
and bade him quit the court, and take up his residence at Vienne, where he soon afterwards died. Meanwhile the Great Council of the Frankish realms was summoned to meet at Cérisy-sur-Oise, and there the king an- . nounced to his assembled counts and dukes that he proposed to make war on the Lombards, in order to vindicate the rights of the Holy See. Won over by their king's zeal, and by the great gifts which Stephen II. distributed among them, the Franks eagerly clamoured for war. In return for their goodwill the Pope solemnly crowned Pippin, his wife Bertha, and his young sons, Charles and Carloman, and pronounced a curse on any one who should ever remove the house of Pippin from the Frankish throne. In the summer of 754 the hosts of the Franks choked the Savoyard passes with their multitudes, and prepared to force their way down into Italy. Aistulf had mustered his army, and was ready to meet them. In the narrow gorge of the Dora, hard by Susa, he fell on the Frankish vanguard ; but he suffered such a crushing defeat that he had to fall back on Pavia without striking a second blow. Pippin followed, wasting Piedmont with fire and sword, and soon beleaguered Aistulf in his royal stronghold. Then, with an alacrity Pippin subdues which his conqueror should have found some- Aistulf, 754. what suspicious, Aistulf offered terms of peace. He would do personal homage to Pippin, give him hostages, and engage to restore to the Roman See all that was its due. So a treaty was signed, Stephen was reconducted in triumph to Rome, and Pippin returned beyond the Alps, proud that he had added Lombardy to the list of states dependent on the Frankish crown. On his homeward journey the king heard of the death of the great archbishop of Mainz, the apostle of Transrhenane Germany. Zealous even in extreme old age for the conversion of every subject of the Frankish realm, Boniface had started on a missionary journey to East Friesland, where paganism still held sway. As he lay encamped at Dokkum a
great multitude of wild heathen, indignant at the invasion of their last retreat, fell upon him and slew him with all his Martrydom of companions. His death was not long unavenged; - St. Boniface, the Christian majority of the Frisians took arms, put down their pagan brethren, slew many thousands of them and compelled the rest to submit to baptism. By his martyrdeath the great archbishop completed the conversion of the land for which he had striven so much during his lifetime. He was buried at Utrecht, and the cathedral erected over his shrine became the centre of Christian life in all the lands of the Yssel and Zuider Zee. It would have afforded the keenest pleasure to Boniface if he could have witnessed the zeal with which his patron Pippin went forward with the task of reducing the Frankish clergy to canonical discipline. In the year which followed his martyrdom the Synod of Verneuil passed the most stringent laws against evil-living, simony, the practice of secular avocations, and the other failings of the clergy against which the archbishop had raged in his lifetime, The easy promises which king Aistulf had made when he was beleaguered in Pavia had never been intended for keeping. When the Franks had withdrawn from Italy the king found pretexts for delay, and did not restore to Stephen II. a single one of the Sabine or Latin cities which he had occupied Aistulf attacks in 753, still less the Exarchate of Ravenna, which Rome. the Pope had impudently asked and fondly hoped to receive. In the winter of 755-6 he took still more unmistakeable steps of hostility; descending the valley of the Tiber he suddenly laid siege to Rome. The walls of Aurelian were still too strong to be stormed, but three months of blockade brought the citizens near to yielding. The news that king Pippin had once more taken arms restored courage to Pope and people, and ere long Aistulf was forced to raise the siege and hasten north to defend Lombardy. Once more the Franks forced the defiles of the Cenis, and cut to pieces a Lombard force which strove to stop the way. For the
second time Aistulf was forced into Pavia, beleaguered, and
—as usual—raging, and the boundaries of the realm of Pippin were advanced to the Pyrenees. Of far greater difficulty was the conquest of Aquitaine, the last achievement of Pippin. The old duke Hunold, the adversary of Charles Martel, had retired into a cloister, and had been succeeded by his false and restless son Waifer. On being summoned to give up some Frankish refugees, and surrender certain church lands, the new duke took up arms against his suzerain in 760; when Pippin appeared with all the host of Austrasia and ravaged Berri and Auvergne, Waifer asked for peace, and did homage. But the moment that his liege lord had departed home, he flung his fealty to the winds and began to ravage Burgundy. Next year the king returned in force and conquered Clermont and the rest of Auvergne, to which in 762 he added Bourges and the land of Berri. Waifer held out with the greatest obstinacy, and was confirmed in his resistance by learning of the revolt of Tassilo, duke of Bavaria, who judged the time favourable for freeing his duchy from the Franks. This gave Aquitaine a certain respite, but by 766 Waifer had been driven beyond the Garonne, and saw all his subjects except the Gascons compelled to do conquest of homage to Pippin. In 767 his capital Toulouse Aquitaine, 767, fell, and soon after his despairing followers ended the war by murdering him and laying down their arms. Aquitaine was now annexed to the Frankish crown, and divided up into counties after the manner of the rest of the realm. During the seven years of the war of Aquitaine king Pippin had found time to put down Tassilo's rebellion, and to chastise some sporadic raids of the Saxons against whom he had at an earlier date (755) undertaken a more serious expedition, which resulted in all the Westphalian tribes doing homage to him. But the full subjection of this wild race, whose obstinate paganism and unconquerable courage had baffled ten generations of Frankish missionaries and kings, was reserved for Pippin's greater son.