ePub 版
[ocr errors]

A. D.

and Auximum, were undertaken and vigorously CHAP. prosecuted; and the eunuch Narses was at length XLI. recalled to the domestic cares of the palace. All dissentions were healed, and ali opposition was sub- , dued, by the temperate authority of the Roman general, to whom his enemies could not refuse, their esteem; and Belisarius inculcated the salutary lesson, that the forces of the state should compose one body, and be animated by one soul. But in the interval of discord, the Goths were permitted to breathe ; an important season was lost Milan was destroyed, and the northern provinces of Italy were afflicted by an inundation of the Franks. When Justinian first meditated the conquest of Invasion of

Italy by the Italy, he sent ambassadors to the kings of the Franks, Franks, and abjured them, by the common ties of

538, 539 alliance and religion, to join in the holy enterprise against the Arians. The Goths, as their wants were more urgent, employed a more effectual mode of persuasion, and vainly strove, by the gift of lands and money, to purchase the friendship, or at least the neutrality, of a light and perfidious nation *. But the arms of Belisarius, and the revolt of the Italians, had no sooner shaken the Gothic monarchy, than Theodebert of Austrasia, the most powerful and warlike of the , Merovingian kings, was persuaded to succour their distress by an indirect and seasonable aid. Without expecting the consent of their sovereign, ten thousand Burgundians, his recent subjects, de


* This national reproach of perfidy (Procop. Goth. 1. i. c. 25.) offends the ear of la Mothe la Vayer (tom. viii. p. 16336 5.), who criticises, as if he had not read, the Greek historian.

CHA P. scended from the Alps, and joined the troops XLI. which Vitiges had sent to chastise the revolt of

Milan. After an obstinate siege, the capital of Liguria was reduced by famine, but no capitulation could be obtained, except for the safe retreat of the Roman garrison. Datius, the orthodox bishop, who had seduced his countrymen to rebellion * and ruin, escaped to the luxury and honours of the Byzantine court t; but the clergy, perhaps the Arian clergy, were slaughtered at the foot of their own altars by the defenders of the Catholic faith. Three hundred thousand males were reported to be slain $; the female sex, and the more precious spoil, was resigned to the Bur

gundians; and the houses, or at least the walls of Destruction of Milan, were levelled with the ground. The Goths, Milan.

in their last moments, were revenged by the destruction of a city, second only to Rome in size and opulence, in the splendour of its buildings, or the number of its inhabitants; and Belisarius sympathized alone in the fate of his deserted and devoted friends. Encouraged by this successful


* Baronius applauds his treason, and justifies the Catholic bishops--qui ne sut beretico principe degant omnem lapidem movent- -an useful caution. The more rational Muratori (Annali d'Italia, tom. v. p. 54.) hints at the guilt of perjury and blames at least the imprudence of Datius.

+ St. Datius was more successful against devils than against Barbarians. He travelled with a numerous retinue, and occupied at Corinth a large house (Baronius, A. D. 538, No. 89. A. D. 539, No. 20.'.

I Mugsodes op!MXOLTU (compare Procopius, Goth. l. ii.c.7.21.). Yet such population is incredible; and the second or third city of Italy need not repine if we only decimate the numbers of the present text. Both Milan and Genoa revived in less than thirty years (Paul Diacon. de Gestis Langobard. 1. ii. c. 38.).


[ocr errors]

inroad, Theodebert himself, in the ensuing spring, CHAP; invaded the plains of Italy with an army of one hundred thousand Barbarians * The king, and some chosen followers, were mounted on horseback, and armed with lances: the infantry, without bows or spears, were satisfied with a shield, a sword, and a double-edged battle-axe, which, in their hands, became a deadly and unerring weapon. Italy trembled at the march of the Franks; and both the Gothic prince and the Roman gene.. ral, alike ignorant of their designs, solicited, with hope and terror, the friendship of these dangerous allies. Till he had secured the passage of the Po on the bridge of Pavia, the grandson of Clovis dissembled his intentions, which he at length declared, by assaulting almost at the same instant, the hostile camps of the Romans and Goths. Instead of uniting their arms, they fled with equal precipitation; and the fertile, though desolate provinces of Liguria and Æmilia, were abandoned to a licentious host of Barbarians, whose rage was not mitigated by any thoughts of settlement or conquest. Among the cities which they ruined, Genoa, not yet constructed of marble, is particularly enumerated : and the deaths of thousands, according to the regular practice of war, appear to have excited less horror than some idolatrous sacri. fices of women and children, which were performed with impunity in the camp of the most Christian


* Besides Procopius, perhaps too Roman, see the Chronicles of Marius and Marcellinus, Jornandes (in Success. Regn. in Muratori, tom. i. p. 241.), and Gregory of Tours (l. iii. c. 32. in tom. ii. of the Historians of France). Gregory supposes a defeat of Belisarius, who, in Aimoin, (de Gestis Franc. 1. ii, c. 23. in tom. üi. p. 59.), is slain by the Franks.


CHA P. king. If it were not a melancholy truth, that the

first and most cruel sufferings must be the lot of the innocent and helpless, history might exult in the misery of the conquerors, who, in the midst of riches, were left destitute of bread or wine, reduced to drink the waters of the Po, and to feed on the flesh of distempered cattle. The dysentery swept away one third of their army; and the clamours of his subjects, who were impatient to pass the Alps, disposed Theodebert to listen with respect to the mild exhortations of Belisarius. The me. mory of this inglorious and destructive warfare was perpetuated on the medals of Gaul; and Justinian, without unsheathing his sword, assumed the title of conqueror of the Franks. The Merovingian prince was offended by the vanity of the emperor; he affected to pity the fallen fortunes of the Goths; and his insidious offer of a fæderal union was fortified by the promise or menace of descending from the Alps at the head of five hundred thousand men. His plans of conquest were boundless and perhaps chimerical. The king of Austrasia threatened to chastise Justinian, and to march to the gates of Constantinople *: he was overthrown and slain + by a wild bull I, as he hunted in the Belgic or German forests,


* Agathias, I. i. p. 14, 15. Could he have seduced or subcued the Gepidæ or Lombards of Pannonia, the Greek historian is confident that he must have been destroyed in Thrace.

☆ The king pointed his spear-the bull overturned a tree on his head he expired the same day. Such is the story of Agathias ; but the original historians of France (tom. ii. p. 202. 403. 558. 667.) impute his death to a fever.

Without losing myself in a labyrinth of species and names -the aurochs, urus, bisons, bubalus, bonasus, buffalo, &c.





As soon as Belisarius was delivered from his fo- CHA P. reign and domestic enemies, he seriously applied his forces to the final reduction of Italy. In the siege of Osimo, the general was nearly transpierc- besieges ed with an arrow, if the mortal stroke had not been intercepted by one of his guards, who lost, in that pious office, the use of his hand. The Goths of Osimo, four thousand warriors, with those of Fæsulæ and the Cottian Alps, were among the last who maintained their independence; and their gallant resistance, which almost tired the patience, deserved the esteem of the conqueror. His pru. dence refused to subscribe the safe-conduct which they asked, to join their brethren of Ravenna; but they saved, by an honourable capitulation, one moiety at least of their wealth, with the free al. ternative of retiring peaceably to their estates, or enlisting to serve the emperos in his Persian wars. The multitudes which yet adhered to the standard of Vitiges, far surpassed the number of the Roman troops ; but neither prayers, nor defiance, nor the extreme danger of his most faithful subjects, could tempt the Gothic king beyond the fortifications of Ravenna. These fortifications were, in. deed impregnable to the assaults of art or violence; and when Belisarius invested the capital, he was soon convinced that famine only could tame the stubborn spirit of the Barbarians. The sea, the land, and the channels of the Po, were guarded by the vigilance of the Roman general; and his


(Buffon, Hist. Nat. tom. xi. and Supplement tom. iii. vi.). it is certain that in the sixth century a large wild species of horned cattle was hunted in the great forests of the Vosges in Lorraine, and the Ardennes (Greg. Turon, tom. ii. 1. *. c. 10. P. 369.).

« 上一頁繼續 »