The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Edward Gibbon

Part 13 out of 15

Cyrrhus, and Ibas of Edessa, to the communion of the church. But
the characters of these Oriental bishops were tainted with the
reproach of heresy; the first had been the master, the two others
were the friends, of Nestorius; their most suspicious passages
were accused under the title of the three chapters; and the
condemnation of their memory must involve the honor of a synod,
whose name was pronounced with sincere or affected reverence by
the Catholic world. If these bishops, whether innocent or
guilty, were annihilated in the sleep of death, they would not
probably be awakened by the clamor which, after the a hundred
years, was raised over their grave. If they were already in the
fangs of the daemon, their torments could neither be aggravated
nor assuaged by human industry. If in the company of saints and
angels they enjoyed the rewards of piety, they must have smiled
at the idle fury of the theological insects who still crawled on
the surface of the earth. The foremost of these insects, the
emperor of the Romans, darted his sting, and distilled his venom,
perhaps without discerning the true motives of Theodora and her
ecclesiastical faction. The victims were no longer subject to
his power, and the vehement style of his edicts could only
proclaim their damnation, and invite the clergy of the East to
join in a full chorus of curses and anathemas. The East, with
some hesitation, consented to the voice of her sovereign: the
fifth general council, of three patriarchs and one hundred and
sixty-five bishops, was held at Constantinople; and the authors,
as well as the defenders, of the three chapters were separated
from the communion of the saints, and solemnly delivered to the
prince of darkness. But the Latin churches were more jealous of
the honor of Leo and the synod of Chalcedon: and if they had
fought as they usually did under the standard of Rome, they might
have prevailed in the cause of reason and humanity. But their
chief was a prisoner in the hands of the enemy; the throne of St.
Peter, which had been disgraced by the simony, was betrayed by
the cowardice, of Vigilius, who yielded, after a long and
inconsistent struggle, to the despotism of Justinian and the
sophistry of the Greeks. His apostasy provoked the indignation
of the Latins, and no more than two bishops could be found who
would impose their hands on his deacon and successor Pelagius.
Yet the perseverance of the popes insensibly transferred to their
adversaries the appellation of schismatics; the Illyrian,
African, and Italian churches were oppressed by the civil and
ecclesiastical powers, not without some effort of military force;
^97 the distant Barbarians transcribed the creed of the Vatican,
and, in the period of a century, the schism of the three chapters
expired in an obscure angle of the Venetian province. ^98 But the
religious discontent of the Italians had already promoted the
conquests of the Lombards, and the Romans themselves were
accustomed to suspect the faith and to detest the government of
their Byzantine tyrant.

[Footnote 92: See the Chronicle of Victor, p. 328, and the
original evidence of the laws of Justinian. During the first
years of his reign, Baronius himself is in extreme good humor
with the emperor, who courted the popes, till he got them into
his power.]

[Footnote 93: Procopius, Anecdot. c. 13. Evagrius, l. iv. c. 10.

If the ecclesiastical never read the secret historian, their
common suspicion proves at least the general hatred.]

[Footnote 94: On the subject of the three chapters, the original
acts of the vth general council of Constantinople supply much
useless, though authentic, knowledge, (Concil. tom. vi. p. 1 -
419.) The Greek Evagrius is less copious and correct (l. iv. c.
38) than the three zealous Africans, Facundus, (in his twelve
books, de tribus capitulis, which are most correctly published by
Sirmond,) Liberatus, (in his Breviarium, c. 22, 23, 24,) and
Victor Tunnunensis in his Chronicle, (in tom. i. Antiq. Lect.
Canisii, 330 - 334.) The Liber Pontificalis, or Anastasius, (in
Vigilio, Pelagio, &c.,) is original Italian evidence. The modern
reader will derive some information from Dupin (Bibliot. Eccles.
tom. v. p. 189 - 207) and Basnage, (Hist. de l'Eglise, tom. i. p.
519 - 541;) yet the latter is too firmly resolved to depreciate
the authority and character of the popes.]

[Footnote 95: Origen had indeed too great a propensity to imitate
the old philosophers, (Justinian, ad Mennam, in Concil. tom. vi.
p. 356.) His moderate opinions were too repugnant to the zeal of
the church, and he was found guilty of the heresy of reason.]

[Footnote 96: Basnage (Praefat. p. 11 - 14, ad tom. i. Antiq.
Lect. Canis.) has fairly weighed the guilt and innocence of
Theodore of Mopsuestia. If he composed 10,000 volumes, as many
errors would be a charitable allowance. In all the subsequent
catalogues of heresiarchs, he alone, without his two brethren, is
included; and it is the duty of Asseman (Bibliot. Orient. tom.
iv. p. 203 - 207) to justify the sentence.]

[Footnote 97: See the complaints of Liberatus and Victor, and the
exhortations of Pope Pelagius to the conqueror and exarch of
Italy. Schisma . . per potestates publicas opprimatur, &c.,
(Concil. tom. vi. p. 467, &c.) An army was detained to suppress
the sedition of an Illyrian city. See Procopius, (de Bell. Goth.
l. iv. c. 25:). He seems to promise an ecclesiastical history.
It would have been curious and impartial.]
[Footnote 98: The bishops of the patriarchate of Aquileia were
reconciled by Pope Honorius, A.D. 638, (Muratori, Annali d'
Italia, tom. v. p. 376;) but they again relapsed, and the schism
was not finally extinguished till 698. Fourteen years before, the
church of Spain had overlooked the vth general council with
contemptuous silence, (xiii. Concil. Toretan. in Concil. tom.
vii. p. 487 - 494.)]

Justinian was neither steady nor consistent in the nice
process of fixing his volatile opinions and those of his
subjects. In his youth he was, offended by the slightest
deviation from the orthodox line; in his old age he transgressed
the measure of temperate heresy, and the Jacobites, not less than
the Catholics, were scandalized by his declaration, that the body
of Christ was incorruptible, and that his manhood was never
subject to any wants and infirmities, the inheritance of our
mortal flesh. This fantastic opinion was announced in the last
edicts of Justinian; and at the moment of his seasonable
departure, the clergy had refused to subscribe, the prince was
prepared to persecute, and the people were resolved to suffer or
resist. A bishop of Treves, secure beyond the limits of his
power, addressed the monarch of the East in the language of
authority and affection. "Most gracious Justinian, remember your
baptism and your creed. Let not your gray hairs be defiled with
heresy. Recall your fathers from exile, and your followers from
perdition. You cannot be ignorant, that Italy and Gaul, Spain and
Africa, already deplore your fall, and anathematize your name.
Unless, without delay, you destroy what you have taught; unless
you exclaim with a loud voice, I have erred, I have sinned,
anathema to Nestorius, anathema to Eutyches, you deliver your
soul to the same flames in which they will eternally burn." He
died and made no sign. ^99 His death restored in some degree the
peace of the church, and the reigns of his four successors,
Justin Tiberius, Maurice, and Phocas, are distinguished by a
rare, though fortunate, vacancy in the ecclesiastical history of
the East. ^100

[Footnote 99: Nicetus, bishop of Treves, (Concil. tom. vi. p. 511
- 513:) he himself, like most of the Gallican prelates, (Gregor.
Epist. l. vii. 5 in Concil. tom. vi. p. 1007,) was separated from
the communion of the four patriarchs by his refusal to condemn
the three chapters. Baronius almost pronounces the damnation of
Justinian, (A.D. 565, No. 6.)]
[Footnote 100: After relating the last heresy of Justinian, (l.
iv. c. 39, 40, 41,) and the edict of his successor, (l. v. c. 3,)
the remainder of the history of Evagrius is filled with civil,
instead of ecclesiastical events.]
The faculties of sense and reason are least capable of
acting on themselves; the eye is most inaccessible to the sight,
the soul to the thought; yet we think, and even feel, that one
will, a sole principle of action, is essential to a rational and
conscious being. When Heraclius returned from the Persian war,
the orthodox hero consulted his bishops, whether the Christ whom
he adored, of one person, but of two natures, was actuated by a
single or a double will. They replied in the singular, and the
emperor was encouraged to hope that the Jacobites of Egypt and
Syria might be reconciled by the profession of a doctrine, most
certainly harmless, and most probably true, since it was taught
even by the Nestorians themselves. ^101 The experiment was tried
without effect, and the timid or vehement Catholics condemned
even the semblance of a retreat in the presence of a subtle and
audacious enemy. The orthodox (the prevailing) party devised new
modes of speech, and argument, and interpretation: to either
nature of Christ they speciously applied a proper and distinct
energy; but the difference was no longer visible when they
allowed that the human and the divine will were invariably the
same. ^102 The disease was attended with the customary symptoms:
but the Greek clergy, as if satiated with the endless controversy
of the incarnation, instilled a healing counsel into the ear of
the prince and people. They declared themselves Monothelites,
(asserters of the unity of will,) but they treated the words as
new, the questions as superfluous; and recommended a religious
silence as the most agreeable to the prudence and charity of the
gospel. This law of silence was successively imposed by the
ecthesis or exposition of Heraclius, the type or model of his
grandson Constans; ^103 and the Imperial edicts were subscribed
with alacrity or reluctance by the four patriarchs of Rome,
Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch. But the bishop and
monks of Jerusalem sounded the alarm: in the language, or even in
the silence, of the Greeks, the Latin churches detected a latent
heresy: and the obedience of Pope Honorius to the commands of his
sovereign was retracted and censured by the bolder ignorance of
his successors. They condemned the execrable and abominable
heresy of the Monothelites, who revived the errors of Manes,
Apollinaris, Eutyches, &c.; they signed the sentence of
excommunication on the tomb of St. Peter; the ink was mingled
with the sacramental wine, the blood of Christ; and no ceremony
was omitted that could fill the superstitious mind with horror
and affright. As the representative of the Western church, Pope
Martin and his Lateran synod anathematized the perfidious and
guilty silence of the Greeks: one hundred and five bishops of
Italy, for the most part the subjects of Constans, presumed to
reprobate his wicked type, and the impious ecthesis of his
grandfather; and to confound the authors and their adherents with
the twenty-one notorious heretics, the apostates from the church,
and the organs of the devil. Such an insult under the tamest
reign could not pass with impunity. Pope Martin ended his days
on the inhospitable shore of the Tauric Chersonesus, and his
oracle, the abbot Maximus, was inhumanly chastised by the
amputation of his tongue and his right hand. ^104 But the same
invincible spirit survived in their successors; and the triumph
of the Latins avenged their recent defeat, and obliterated the
disgrace of the three chapters. The synods of Rome were
confirmed by the sixth general council of Constantinople, in the
palace and the presence of a new Constantine, a descendant of
Heraclius. The royal convert converted the Byzantine pontiff and
a majority of the bishops; ^105 the dissenters, with their chief,
Macarius of Antioch, were condemned to the spiritual and temporal
pains of heresy; the East condescended to accept the lessons of
the West; and the creed was finally settled, which teaches the
Catholics of every age, that two wills or energies are harmonized
in the person of Christ. The majesty of the pope and the Roman
synod was represented by two priests, one deacon, and three
bishops; but these obscure Latins had neither arms to compel, nor
treasures to bribe, nor language to persuade; and I am ignorant
by what arts they could determine the lofty emperor of the Greeks
to abjure the catechism of his infancy, and to persecute the
religion of his fathers. Perhaps the monks and people of
Constantinople ^106 were favorable to the Lateran creed, which is
indeed the least reasonable of the two: and the suspicion is
countenanced by the unnatural moderation of the Greek clergy, who
appear in this quarrel to be conscious of their weakness. While
the synod debated, a fanatic proposed a more summary decision, by
raising a dead man to life: the prelates assisted at the trial;
but the acknowledged failure may serve to indicate, that the
passions and prejudices of the multitude were not enlisted on the
side of the Monothelites. In the next generation, when the son
of Constantine was deposed and slain by the disciple of Macarius,
they tasted the feast of revenge and dominion: the image or
monument of the sixth council was defaced, and the original acts
were committed to the flames. But in the second year, their
patron was cast headlong from the throne, the bishops of the East
were released from their occasional conformity, the Roman faith
was more firmly replanted by the orthodox successors of Bardanes,
and the fine problems of the incarnation were forgotten in the
more popular and visible quarrel of the worship of images. ^107

[Footnote 101: This extraordinary, and perhaps inconsistent,
doctrine of the Nestorians, had been observed by La Croze,
(Christianisme des Indes, tom. i. p. 19, 20,) and is more fully
exposed by Abulpharagius, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 292.
Hist. Dynast. p. 91, vers. Latin. Pocock.) and Asseman himself,
(tom. iv. p. 218.) They seem ignorant that they might allege the
positive authority of the ecthesis. (the common reproach of the
Monophysites) (Concil. tom. vii. p. 205.)]

[Footnote 102: See the Orthodox faith in Petavius, (Dogmata
Theolog. tom. v. l. ix. c. 6 - 10, p. 433 - 447:) all the depths
of this controversy in the Greek dialogue between Maximus and
Pyrrhus, (acalcem tom. viii. Annal. Baron. p. 755 - 794,) which
relates a real conference, and produced as short-lived a

[Footnote 103: Impiissimam ecthesim .... scelerosum typum
(Concil. tom. vii p. 366) diabolicae operationis genimina, (fors.
germina, or else the Greek in the original. Concil. p. 363,
364,) are the expressions of the xviiith anathema. The epistle of
Pope Martin to Amandus, Gallican bishop, stigmatizes the
Monothelites and their heresy with equal virulence, (p. 392.)]
[Footnote 104: The sufferings of Martin and Maximus are described
with simplicity in their original letters and acts, (Concil. tom.
vii. p. 63 - 78. Baron. Annal. Eccles. A.D. 656, No. 2, et annos
subsequent.) Yet the chastisement of their disobedience had been
previously announced in the Type of Constans, (Concil. tom. vii.
p. 240.)]

[Footnote 105: Eutychius (Annal. tom. ii. p. 368) most
erroneously supposes that the 124 bishops of the Roman synod
transported themselves to Constantinople; and by adding them to
the 168 Greeks, thus composes the sixth council of 292 fathers.]

[Footnote 106: The Monothelite Constans was hated by all, (says
Theophanes, Chron. p. 292). When the Monothelite monk failed in
his miracle, the people shouted, (Concil. tom. vii. p. 1032.) But
this was a natural and transient emotion; and I much fear that
the latter is an anticipation of the good people of

[Footnote 107: The history of Monothelitism may be found in the
Acts of the Synods of Rome (tom. vii. p. 77 - 395, 601 - 608) and
Constantinople, (p. 609 - 1429.) Baronius extracted some original
documents from the Vatican library; and his chronology is
rectified by the diligence of Pagi. Even Dupin (Bibliotheque
Eccles. tom. vi. p. 57 - 71) and Basnage (Hist. de l'Eglise, tom.
i. p. 451 - 555) afford a tolerable abridgment.]

Before the end of the seventh century, the creed of the
incarnation, which had been defined at Rome and Constantinople,
was uniformly preached in the remote islands of Britain and
Ireland; ^108 the same ideas were entertained, or rather the same
words were repeated, by all the Christians whose liturgy was
performed in the Greek or the Latin tongue. Their numbers, and
visible splendor, bestowed an imperfect claim to the appellation
of Catholics: but in the East, they were marked with the less
honorable name of Melchites, or Royalists; ^109 of men, whose
faith, instead of resting on the basis of Scripture, reason, or
tradition, had been established, and was still maintained, by the
arbitrary power of a temporal monarch. Their adversaries might
allege the words of the fathers of Constantinople, who profess
themselves the slaves of the king; and they might relate, with
malicious joy, how the decrees of Chalcedon had been inspired and
reformed by the emperor Marcian and his virgin bride. The
prevailing faction will naturally inculcate the duty of
submission, nor is it less natural that dissenters should feel
and assert the principles of freedom. Under the rod of
persecution, the Nestorians and Monophysites degenerated into
rebels and fugitives; and the most ancient and useful allies of
Rome were taught to consider the emperor not as the chief, but as
the enemy of the Christians. Language, the leading principle
which unites or separates the tribes of mankind, soon
discriminated the sectaries of the East, by a peculiar and
perpetual badge, which abolished the means of intercourse and the
hope of reconciliation. The long dominion of the Greeks, their
colonies, and, above all, their eloquence, had propagated a
language doubtless the most perfect that has been contrived by
the art of man. Yet the body of the people, both in Syria and
Egypt, still persevered in the use of their national idioms; with
this difference, however, that the Coptic was confined to the
rude and illiterate peasants of the Nile, while the Syriac, ^110
from the mountains of Assyria to the Red Sea, was adapted to the
higher topics of poetry and argument. Armenia and Abyssinia were
infected by the speech or learning of the Greeks; and their
Barbaric tongues, which have been revived in the studies of
modern Europe, were unintelligible to the inhabitants of the
Roman empire. The Syriac and the Coptic, the Armenian and the
Aethiopic, are consecrated in the service of their respective
churches: and their theology is enriched by domestic versions
^111 both of the Scriptures and of the most popular fathers.
After a period of thirteen hundred and sixty years, the spark of
controversy, first kindled by a sermon of Nestorius, still burns
in the bosom of the East, and the hostile communions still
maintain the faith and discipline of their founders. In the most
abject state of ignorance, poverty, and servitude, the Nestorians
and Monophysites reject the spiritual supremacy of Rome, and
cherish the toleration of their Turkish masters, which allows
them to anathematize, on the one hand, St. Cyril and the synod of
Ephesus: on the other, Pope Leo and the council of Chalcedon. The
weight which they cast into the downfall of the Eastern empire
demands our notice, and the reader may be amused with the various
prospect of, I. The Nestorians; II. The Jacobites; ^112 III.
The Maronites; IV. The Armenians; V. The Copts; and, VI. The
Abyssinians. To the three former, the Syriac is common; but of
the latter, each is discriminated by the use of a national idiom.

Yet the modern natives of Armenia and Abyssinia would be
incapable of conversing with their ancestors; and the Christians
of Egypt and Syria, who reject the religion, have adopted the
language of the Arabians. The lapse of time has seconded the
sacerdotal arts; and in the East, as well as in the West, the
Deity is addressed in an obsolete tongue, unknown to the majority
of the congregation.

[Footnote 108: In the Lateran synod of 679, Wilfred, an
Anglo-Saxon bishop, subscribed pro omni Aquilonari parte
Britanniae et Hiberniae, quae ab Anglorum et Britonum, necnon
Scotorum et Pictorum gentibus colebantur, (Eddius, in Vit. St.
Wilfrid. c. 31, apud Pagi, Critica, tom. iii. p. 88.) Theodore
(magnae insulae Britanniae archiepiscopus et philosophus) was
long expected at Rome, (Concil. tom. vii. p. 714,) but he
contented himself with holding (A.D. 680) his provincial synod of
Hatfield, in which he received the decrees of Pope Martin and the
first Lateran council against the Monothelites, (Concil. tom.
vii. p. 597, &c.) Theodore, a monk of Tarsus in Cilicia, had been
named to the primacy of Britain by Pope Vitalian, (A.D. 688; see
Baronius and Pagi,) whose esteem for his learning and piety was
tainted by some distrust of his national character - ne quid
contrarium veritati fidei, Graecorum more, in ecclesiam cui
praeesset introduceret. The Cilician was sent from Rome to
Canterbury under the tuition of an African guide, (Bedae Hist.
Eccles. Anglorum. l. iv. c. 1.) He adhered to the Roman doctrine;
and the same creed of the incarnation has been uniformly
transmitted from Theodore to the modern primates, whose sound
understanding is perhaps seldom engaged with that abstruse
[Footnote 109: This name, unknown till the xth century, appears
to be of Syriac origin. It was invented by the Jacobites, and
eagerly adopted by the Nestorians and Mahometans; but it was
accepted without shame by the Catholics, and is frequently used
in the Annals of Eutychius, (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii.
p. 507, &c., tom. iii. p. 355. Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch.
Alexandrin. p. 119.), was the acclamation of the fathers of
Constantinople, (Concil. tom. vii. p. 765.)]

[Footnote 110: The Syriac, which the natives revere as the
primitive language, was divided into three dialects. 1. The
Aramoean, as it was refined at Edessa and the cities of
Mesopotamia. 2. The Palestine, which was used in Jerusalem,
Damascus, and the rest of Syria. 3. The Nabathoean, the rustic
idiom of the mountains of Assyria and the villages of Irak,
(Gregor, Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 11.) On the Syriac, sea
Ebed-Jesu, (Asseman. tom. iii. p. 326, &c.,) whose prejudice
alone could prefer it to the Arabic.]
[Footnote 111: I shall not enrich my ignorance with the spoils of
Simon, Walton, Mill, Wetstein, Assemannus, Ludolphus, La Croze,
whom I have consulted with some care. It appears, 1. That, of
all the versions which are celebrated by the fathers, it is
doubtful whether any are now extant in their pristine integrity.
2. That the Syriac has the best claim, and that the consent of
the Oriental sects is a proof that it is more ancient than their
[Footnote 112: In the account of the Monophysites and Nestorians,
I am deeply indebted to the Bibliotheca Orientalis
Clementino-Vaticana of Joseph Simon Assemannus. That learned
Maronite was despatched, in the year 1715, by Pope Clement XI. to
visit the monasteries of Egypt and Syria, in search of Mss. His
four folio volumes, published at Rome 1719 - 1728, contain a part
only, though perhaps the most valuable, of his extensive project.

As a native and as a scholar, he possessed the Syriac literature;
and though a dependent of Rome, he wishes to be moderate and

Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.

Part III.

I. Both in his native and his episcopal province, the
heresy of the unfortunate Nestorius was speedily obliterated.
The Oriental bishops, who at Ephesus had resisted to his face the
arrogance of Cyril, were mollified by his tardy concessions. The
same prelates, or their successors, subscribed, not without a
murmur, the decrees of Chalcedon; the power of the Monophysites
reconciled them with the Catholics in the conformity of passion,
of interest, and, insensibly, of belief; and their last reluctant
sigh was breathed in the defence of the three chapters. Their
dissenting brethren, less moderate, or more sincere, were crushed
by the penal laws; and, as early as the reign of Justinian, it
became difficult to find a church of Nestorians within the limits
of the Roman empire. Beyond those limits they had discovered a
new world, in which they might hope for liberty, and aspire to
conquest. In Persia, notwithstanding the resistance of the Magi,
Christianity had struck a deep root, and the nations of the East
reposed under its salutary shade. The catholic, or primate,
resided in the capital: in his synods, and in their dioceses, his
metropolitans, bishops, and clergy, represented the pomp and
order of a regular hierarchy: they rejoiced in the increase of
proselytes, who were converted from the Zendavesta to the gospel,
from the secular to the monastic life; and their zeal was
stimulated by the presence of an artful and formidable enemy.
The Persian church had been founded by the missionaries of Syria;
and their language, discipline, and doctrine, were closely
interwoven with its original frame. The catholics were elected
and ordained by their own suffragans; but their filial dependence
on the patriarchs of Antioch is attested by the canons of the
Oriental church. ^113 In the Persian school of Edessa, ^114 the
rising generations of the faithful imbibed their theological
idiom: they studied in the Syriac version the ten thousand
volumes of Theodore of Mopsuestia; and they revered the apostolic
faith and holy martyrdom of his disciple Nestorius, whose person
and language were equally unknown to the nations beyond the
Tigris. The first indelible lesson of Ibas, bishop of Edessa,
taught them to execrate the Egyptians, who, in the synod of
Ephesus, had impiously confounded the two natures of Christ. The
flight of the masters and scholars, who were twice expelled from
the Athens of Syria, dispersed a crowd of missionaries inflamed
by the double zeal of religion and revenge. And the rigid unity
of the Monophysites, who, under the reigns of Zeno and
Anastasius, had invaded the thrones of the East, provoked their
antagonists, in a land of freedom, to avow a moral, rather than a
physical, union of the two persons of Christ. Since the first
preaching of the gospel, the Sassanian kings beheld with an eye
of suspicion a race of aliens and apostates, who had embraced the
religion, and who might favor the cause, of the hereditary foes
of their country. The royal edicts had often prohibited their
dangerous correspondence with the Syrian clergy: the progress of
the schism was grateful to the jealous pride of Perozes, and he
listened to the eloquence of an artful prelate, who painted
Nestorius as the friend of Persia, and urged him to secure the
fidelity of his Christian subjects, by granting a just preference
to the victims and enemies of the Roman tyrant. The Nestorians
composed a large majority of the clergy and people: they were
encouraged by the smile, and armed with the sword, of despotism;
yet many of their weaker brethren were startled at the thought of
breaking loose from the communion of the Christian world, and the
blood of seven thousand seven hundred Monophysites, or Catholics,
confirmed the uniformity of faith and discipline in the churches
of Persia. ^115 Their ecclesiastical institutions are
distinguished by a liberal principle of reason, or at least of
policy: the austerity of the cloister was relaxed and gradually
forgotten; houses of charity were endowed for the education of
orphans and foundlings; the law of celibacy, so forcibly
recommended to the Greeks and Latins, was disregarded by the
Persian clergy; and the number of the elect was multiplied by the
public and reiterated nuptials of the priests, the bishops, and
even the patriarch himself. To this standard of natural and
religious freedom, myriads of fugitives resorted from all the
provinces of the Eastern empire; the narrow bigotry of Justinian
was punished by the emigration of his most industrious subjects;
they transported into Persia the arts both of peace and war: and
those who deserved the favor, were promoted in the service, of a
discerning monarch. The arms of Nushirvan, and his fiercer
grandson, were assisted with advice, and money, and troops, by
the desperate sectaries who still lurked in their native cities
of the East: their zeal was rewarded with the gift of the
Catholic churches; but when those cities and churches were
recovered by Heraclius, their open profession of treason and
heresy compelled them to seek a refuge in the realm of their
foreign ally. But the seeming tranquillity of the Nestorians was
often endangered, and sometimes overthrown. They were involved
in the common evils of Oriental despotism: their enmity to Rome
could not always atone for their attachment to the gospel: and a
colony of three hundred thousand Jacobites, the captives of
Apamea and Antioch, was permitted to erect a hostile altar in the
face of the catholic, and in the sunshine of the court. In his
last treaty, Justinian introduced some conditions which tended to
enlarge and fortify the toleration of Christianity in Persia.
The emperor, ignorant of the rights of conscience, was incapable
of pity or esteem for the heretics who denied the authority of
the holy synods: but he flattered himself that they would
gradually perceive the temporal benefits of union with the empire
and the church of Rome; and if he failed in exciting their
gratitude, he might hope to provoke the jealousy of their
sovereign. In a later age the Lutherans have been burnt at
Paris, and protected in Germany, by the superstition and policy
of the most Christian king.

[Footnote 113: See the Arabic canons of Nice in the translation
of Abraham Ecchelensis, No. 37, 38, 39, 40. Concil. tom. ii. p.
335, 336, edit. Venet. These vulgar titles, Nicene and Arabic,
are both apocryphal. The council of Nice enacted no more than
twenty canons, (Theodoret. Hist. Eccles. l. i. c. 8;) and the
remainder, seventy or eighty, were collected from the synods of
the Greek church. The Syriac edition of Maruthas is no longer
extant, (Asseman. Bibliot. Oriental. tom. i. p. 195, tom. iii. p.
74,) and the Arabic version is marked with many recent
interpolations. Yet this Code contains many curious relics of
ecclesiastical discipline; and since it is equally revered by all
the Eastern communions, it was probably finished before the
schism of the Nestorians and Jacobites, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec.
tom. xi. p. 363 - 367.)]

[Footnote 114: Theodore the Reader (l. ii. c. 5, 49, ad calcem
Hist. Eccles.) has noticed this Persian school of Edessa. Its
ancient splendor, and the two aeras of its downfall, (A.D. 431
and 489) are clearly discussed by Assemanni, (Biblioth. Orient.
tom. ii. p. 402, iii. p. 376, 378, iv. p. 70, 924.)]
[Footnote 115: A dissertation on the state of the Nestorians has
swelled in the bands of Assemanni to a folio volume of 950 pages,
and his learned researches are digested in the most lucid order.
Besides this ivth volume of the Bibliotheca Orientalis, the
extracts in the three preceding tomes (tom. i. p. 203, ii. p. 321
- 463, iii. 64 - 70, 378 - 395, &c., 405 - 408, 580 - 589) may be
usefully consulted.]

The desire of gaining souls for God and subjects for the
church, has excited in every age the diligence of the Christian
priests. From the conquest of Persia they carried their
spiritual arms to the north, the east, and the south; and the
simplicity of the gospel was fashioned and painted with the
colors of the Syriac theology. In the sixth century, according
to the report of a Nestorian traveller, ^116 Christianity was
successfully preached to the Bactrians, the Huns, the Persians,
the Indians, the Persarmenians, the Medes, and the Elamites: the
Barbaric churches, from the Gulf of Persia to the Caspian Sea,
were almost infinite; and their recent faith was conspicuous in
the number and sanctity of their monks and martyrs. The pepper
coast of Malabar, and the isles of the ocean, Socotora and
Ceylon, were peopled with an increasing multitude of Christians;
and the bishops and clergy of those sequestered regions derived
their ordination from the Catholic of Babylon. In a subsequent
age the zeal of the Nestorians overleaped the limits which had
confined the ambition and curiosity both of the Greeks and
Persians. The missionaries of Balch and Samarcand pursued
without fear the footsteps of the roving Tartar, and insinuated
themselves into the camps of the valleys of Imaus and the banks
of the Selinga. They exposed a metaphysical creed to those
illiterate shepherds: to those sanguinary warriors, they
recommended humanity and repose. Yet a khan, whose power they
vainly magnified, is said to have received at their hands the
rites of baptism, and even of ordination; and the fame of Prester
or Presbyter John ^117 has long amused the credulity of Europe.
The royal convert was indulged in the use of a portable altar;
but he despatched an embassy to the patriarch, to inquire how, in
the season of Lent, he should abstain from animal food, and how
he might celebrate the Eucharist in a desert that produced
neither corn nor wine. In their progress by sea and land, the
Nestorians entered China by the port of Canton and the northern
residence of Sigan. Unlike the senators of Rome, who assumed
with a smile the characters of priests and augurs, the mandarins,
who affect in public the reason of philosophers, are devoted in
private to every mode of popular superstition. They cherished
and they confounded the gods of Palestine and of India; but the
propagation of Christianity awakened the jealousy of the state,
and, after a short vicissitude of favor and persecution, the
foreign sect expired in ignorance and oblivion. ^118 Under the
reign of the caliphs, the Nestorian church was diffused from
China to Jerusalem and Cyrus; and their numbers, with those of
the Jacobites, were computed to surpass the Greek and Latin
communions. ^119 Twenty-five metropolitans or archbishops
composed their hierarchy; but several of these were dispensed, by
the distance and danger of the way, from the duty of personal
attendance, on the easy condition that every six years they
should testify their faith and obedience to the catholic or
patriarch of Babylon, a vague appellation which has been
successively applied to the royal seats of Seleucia, Ctesiphon,
and Bagdad. These remote branches are long since withered; and
the old patriarchal trunk ^120 is now divided by the Elijahs of
Mosul, the representatives almost on lineal descent of the
genuine and primitive succession; the Josephs of Amida, who are
reconciled to the church of Rome: ^121 and the Simeons of Van or
Ormia, whose revolt, at the head of forty thousand families, was
promoted in the sixteenth century by the Sophis of Persia. The
number of three hundred thousand is allowed for the whole body of
the Nestorians, who, under the name of Chaldeans or Assyrians,
are confounded with the most learned or the most powerful nation
of Eastern antiquity.

[Footnote 116: See the Topographia Christiana of Cosmas, surnamed
Indicopleustes, or the Indian navigator, l. iii. p. 178, 179, l.
xi. p. 337. The entire work, of which some curious extracts may
be found in Photius, (cod. xxxvi. p. 9, 10, edit. Hoeschel,)
Thevenot, (in the 1st part of his Relation des Voyages, &c.,) and
Fabricius, (Bibliot. Graec. l. iii. c. 25, tom. ii. p. 603 -
617,) has been published by Father Montfaucon at Paris, 1707, in
the Nova Collectio Patrum, (tom. ii. p. 113 - 346.) It was the
design of the author to confute the impious heresy of those who
maintained that the earth is a globe, and not a flat, oblong
table, as it is represented in the Scriptures, (l. ii. p. 138.)
But the nonsense of the monk is mingled with the practical
knowledge of the traveller, who performed his voyage A.D. 522,
and published his book at Alexandria, A.D. 547, (l. ii. p. 140,
141. Montfaucon, Praefat. c. 2.) The Nestorianism of Cosmas,
unknown to his learned editor, was detected by La Croze,
(Christianisme des Indes, tom. i. p. 40 - 55,) and is confirmed
by Assemanni, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. 605, 606.)]

[Footnote 117: In its long progress to Mosul, Jerusalem, Rome,
&c., the story of Prester John evaporated in a monstrous fable,
of which some features have been borrowed from the Lama of
Thibet, (Hist. Genealogique des Tartares, P. ii. p. 42. Hist. de
Gengiscan, p. 31, &c.,) and were ignorantly transferred by the
Portuguese to the emperor of Abyssinia, (Ludolph. Hist. Aethiop.
Comment. l. ii. c. 1.) Yet it is probable that in the xith and
xiith centuries, Nestorian Christianity was professed in the
horde of the Keraites, (D'Herbelot, p. 256, 915, 959. Assemanni,
tom. iv. p. 468 - 504.)
Note: The extent to which Nestorian Christianity prevailed
among the Tartar tribes is one of the most curious questions in
Oriental history. M. Schmidt (Geschichte der Ost Mongolen, notes,
p. 383) appears to question the Christianity of Ong Chaghan, and
his Keraite subjects. - M.]
[Footnote 118: The Christianity of China, between the seventh and
the thirteenth century, is invincibly proved by the consent of
Chinese, Arabian, Syriac, and Latin evidence, (Assemanni,
Biblioth. Orient. tom. iv. p. 502 - 552. Mem. de l'Academie des
Inscript. tom. xxx. p. 802 - 819.) The inscription of Siganfu
which describes the fortunes of the Nestorian church, from the
first mission, A.D. 636, to the current year 781, is accused of
forgery by La Croze, Voltaire, &c., who become the dupes of their
own cunning, while they are afraid of a Jesuitical fraud.

Note: This famous monument, the authenticity of which many
have attempted to impeach, rather from hatred to the Jesuits, by
whom it was made known, than by a candid examination of its
contents, is now generally considered above all suspicion. The
Chinese text and the facts which it relates are equally strong
proofs of its authenticity. This monument was raised as a
memorial of the establishment of Christianity in China. It is
dated the year 1092 of the era of the Greeks, or the Seleucidae,
A.D. 781, in the time of the Nestorian patriarch Anan-jesu. It
was raised by Iezdbouzid, priest and chorepiscopus of Chumdan,
that is, of the capital of the Chinese empire, and the son of a
priest who came from Balkh in Tokharistan. Among the various
arguments which may be urged in favor of the authenticity of this
monument, and which has not yet been advanced, may be reckoned
the name of the priest by whom it was raised. The name is
Persian, and at the time the monument was discovered, it would
have been impossible to have imagined it; for there was no work
extant from whence the knowledge of it could be derived. I do
not believe that ever since this period, any book has been
published in which it can be found a second time. It is very
celebrated amongst the Armenians, and is derived from a martyr, a
Persian by birth, of the royal race, who perished towards the
middle of the seventh century, and rendered his name celebrated
among the Christian nations of the East. St. Martin, vol. i. p.
69. M. Remusat has also strongly expressed his conviction of the
authenticity of this monument. Melanges Asiatiques, P. i. p. 33.
Yet M. Schmidt (Geschichte der Ost Mongolen, p. 384) denies that
there is any satisfactory proof that much a monument was ever
found in China, or that it was not manufactured in Europe. But if
the Jesuits had attempted such a forgery, would it not have been
more adapted to further their peculiar views? - M.]

[Footnote 119: Jacobitae et Nestorianae plures quam Graeci et
Latini Jacob a Vitriaco, Hist. Hierosol. l. ii. c. 76, p. 1093,
in the Gesta Dei per Francos. The numbers are given by Thomassin,
Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 172.]
[Footnote 120: The division of the patriarchate may be traced in
the Bibliotheca Orient. of Assemanni, tom. i. p. 523 - 549, tom.
ii. p. 457, &c., tom. iii. p. 603, p. 621 - 623, tom. iv. p. 164
- 169, p. 423, p. 622 - 629, &c.]

[Footnote 121: The pompous language of Rome on the submission of
a Nestorian patriarch, is elegantly represented in the viith book
of Fra Paola, Babylon, Nineveh, Arbela, and the trophies of
Alexander, Tauris, and Ecbatana, the Tigris and Indus.]

According to the legend of antiquity, the gospel was
preached in India by St. Thomas. ^122 At the end of the ninth
century, his shrine, perhaps in the neighborhood of Madras, was
devoutly visited by the ambassadors of Alfred; and their return
with a cargo of pearls and spices rewarded the zeal of the
English monarch, who entertained the largest projects of trade
and discovery. ^123 When the Portuguese first opened the
navigation of India, the Christians of St. Thomas had been seated
for ages on the coast of Malabar, and the difference of their
character and color attested the mixture of a foreign race. In
arms, in arts, and possibly in virtue, they excelled the natives
of Hindostan; the husbandmen cultivated the palm-tree, the
merchants were enriched by the pepper trade, the soldiers
preceded the nairs or nobles of Malabar, and their hereditary
privileges were respected by the gratitude or the fear of the
king of Cochin and the Zamorin himself. They acknowledged a
Gentoo of sovereign, but they were governed, even in temporal
concerns, by the bishop of Angamala. He still asserted his
ancient title of metropolitan of India, but his real jurisdiction
was exercised in fourteen hundred churches, and he was intrusted
with the care of two hundred thousand souls. Their religion would
have rendered them the firmest and most cordial allies of the
Portuguese; but the inquisitors soon discerned in the Christians
of St. Thomas the unpardonable guilt of heresy and schism.
Instead of owning themselves the subjects of the Roman pontiff,
the spiritual and temporal monarch of the globe, they adhered,
like their ancestors, to the communion of the Nestorian
patriarch; and the bishops whom he ordained at Mosul, traversed
the dangers of the sea and land to reach their diocese on the
coast of Malabar. In their Syriac liturgy the names of Theodore
and Nestorius were piously commemorated: they united their
adoration of the two persons of Christ; the title of Mother of
God was offensive to their ear, and they measured with scrupulous
avarice the honors of the Virgin Mary, whom the superstition of
the Latins had almost exalted to the rank of a goddess. When her
image was first presented to the disciples of St. Thomas, they
indignantly exclaimed, "We are Christians, not idolaters!" and
their simple devotion was content with the veneration of the
cross. Their separation from the Western world had left them in
ignorance of the improvements, or corruptions, of a thousand
years; and their conformity with the faith and practice of the
fifth century would equally disappoint the prejudices of a Papist
or a Protestant. It was the first care of the ministers of Rome
to intercept all correspondence with the Nestorian patriarch, and
several of his bishops expired in the prisons of the holy office.

The flock, without a shepherd, was assaulted by the power of the
Portuguese, the arts of the Jesuits, and the zeal of Alexis de
Menezes, archbishop of Goa, in his personal visitation of the
coast of Malabar. The synod of Diamper, at which he presided,
consummated the pious work of the reunion; and rigorously imposed
the doctrine and discipline of the Roman church, without
forgetting auricular confession, the strongest engine of
ecclesiastical torture. The memory of Theodore and Nestorius was
condemned, and Malabar was reduced under the dominion of the
pope, of the primate, and of the Jesuits who invaded the see of
Angamala or Cranganor. Sixty years of servitude and hypocrisy
were patiently endured; but as soon as the Portuguese empire was
shaken by the courage and industry of the Dutch, the Nestorians
asserted, with vigor and effect, the religion of their fathers.
The Jesuits were incapable of defending the power which they had
abused; the arms of forty thousand Christians were pointed
against their falling tyrants; and the Indian archdeacon assumed
the character of bishop till a fresh supply of episcopal gifts
and Syriac missionaries could be obtained from the patriarch of
Babylon. Since the expulsion of the Portuguese, the Nestorian
creed is freely professed on the coast of Malabar. The trading
companies of Holland and England are the friends of toleration;
but if oppression be less mortifying than contempt, the
Christians of St. Thomas have reason to complain of the cold and
silent indifference of their brethren of Europe. ^124

[Footnote 122: The Indian missionary, St. Thomas, an apostle, a
Manichaean, or an Armenian merchant, (La Croze, Christianisme des
Indes, tom. i. p. 57 - 70,) was famous, however, as early as the
time of Jerom, (ad Marcellam, epist. 148.) Marco-Polo was
informed on the spot that he suffered martyrdom in the city of
Malabar, or Meliapour, a league only from Madras, (D'Anville,
Eclaircissemens sur l'Inde, p. 125,) where the Portuguese founded
an episcopal church under the name of St. Thome, and where the
saint performed an annual miracle, till he was silenced by the
profane neighborhood of the English, (La Croze, tom. ii. p. 7 -

[Footnote 123: Neither the author of the Saxon Chronicle (A.D.
833) not William of Malmesbury (de Gestis Regum Angliae, l. ii.
c. 4, p. 44) were capable, in the twelfth century, of inventing
this extraordinary fact; they are incapable of explaining the
motives and measures of Alfred; and their hasty notice serves
only to provoke our curiosity. William of Malmesbury feels the
difficulty of the enterprise, quod quivis in hoc saeculo miretur;
and I almost suspect that the English ambassadors collected their
cargo and legend in Egypt. The royal author has not enriched his
Orosius (see Barrington's Miscellanies) with an Indian, as well
as a Scandinavian, voyage.]
[Footnote 124: Concerning the Christians of St. Thomas, see
Assemann. Bibliot Orient. tom. iv. p. 391 - 407, 435 - 451;
Geddes's Church History of Malabar; and, above all, La Croze,
Histoire du Christianisme des Indes, in 2 vols. 12mo., La Haye,
1758, a learned and agreeable work. They have drawn from the
same source, the Portuguese and Italian narratives; and the
prejudices of the Jesuits are sufficiently corrected by those of
the Protestants.
Note: The St. Thome Christians had excited great interest in
the ancient mind of the admirable Bishop Heber. See his curious
and, to his friends, highly characteristic letter to Mar
Athanasius, Appendix to Journal. The arguments of his friend and
coadjutor, Mr. Robinson, (Last Days of Bishop Heber,) have not
convinced me that the Christianity of India is older than the
Nestorian dispersion. - M]

II. The history of the Monophysites is less copious and
interesting than that of the Nestorians. Under the reigns of
Zeno and Anastasius, their artful leaders surprised the ear of
the prince, usurped the thrones of the East, and crushed on its
native soil the school of the Syrians. The rule of the
Monophysite faith was defined with exquisite discretion by
Severus, patriarch of Antioch: he condemned, in the style of the
Henoticon, the adverse heresies of Nestorius; and Eutyches
maintained against the latter the reality of the body of Christ,
and constrained the Greeks to allow that he was a liar who spoke
truth. ^125 But the approximation of ideas could not abate the
vehemence of passion; each party was the more astonished that
their blind antagonist could dispute on so trifling a difference;
the tyrant of Syria enforced the belief of his creed, and his
reign was polluted with the blood of three hundred and fifty
monks, who were slain, not perhaps without provocation or
resistance, under the walls of Apamea. ^126 The successor of
Anastasius replanted the orthodox standard in the East; Severus
fled into Egypt; and his friend, the eloquent Xenaias, ^127 who
had escaped from the Nestorians of Persia, was suffocated in his
exile by the Melchites of Paphlagonia. Fifty-four bishops were
swept from their thrones, eight hundred ecclesiastics were cast
into prison, ^128 and notwithstanding the ambiguous favor of
Theodora, the Oriental flocks, deprived of their shepherds, must
insensibly have been either famished or poisoned. In this
spiritual distress, the expiring faction was revived, and united,
and perpetuated, by the labors of a monk; and the name of James
Baradaeus ^129 has been preserved in the appellation of
Jacobites, a familiar sound, which may startle the ear of an
English reader. From the holy confessors in their prison of
Constantinople, he received the powers of bishop of Edessa and
apostle of the East, and the ordination of fourscore thousand
bishops, priests, and deacons, is derived from the same
inexhaustible source. The speed of the zealous missionary was
promoted by the fleetest dromedaries of a devout chief of the
Arabs; the doctrine and discipline of the Jacobites were secretly
established in the dominions of Justinian; and each Jacobite was
compelled to violate the laws and to hate the Roman legislator.
The successors of Severus, while they lurked in convents or
villages, while they sheltered their proscribed heads in the
caverns of hermits, or the tents of the Saracens, still asserted,
as they now assert, their indefeasible right to the title, the
rank, and the prerogatives of patriarch of Antioch: under the
milder yoke of the infidels, they reside about a league from
Merdin, in the pleasant monastery of Zapharan, which they have
embellished with cells, aqueducts, and plantations. The
secondary, though honorable, place is filled by the maphrian,
who, in his station at Mosul itself, defies the Nestorian
catholic with whom he contests the primacy of the East. Under
the patriarch and the maphrian, one hundred and fifty archbishops
and bishops have been counted in the different ages of the
Jacobite church; but the order of the hierarchy is relaxed or
dissolved, and the greater part of their dioceses is confined to
the neighborhood of the Euphrates and the Tigris. The cities of
Aleppo and Amida, which are often visited by the patriarch,
contain some wealthy merchants and industrious mechanics, but the
multitude derive their scanty sustenance from their daily labor:
and poverty, as well as superstition, may impose their excessive
fasts: five annual lents, during which both the clergy and laity
abstain not only from flesh or eggs, but even from the taste of
wine, of oil, and of fish. Their present numbers are esteemed
from fifty to fourscore thousand souls, the remnant of a populous
church, which was gradually decreased under the impression of
twelve centuries. Yet in that long period, some strangers of
merit have been converted to the Monophysite faith, and a Jew was
the father of Abulpharagius, ^130 primate of the East, so truly
eminent both in his life and death. In his life he was an
elegant writer of the Syriac and Arabic tongues, a poet,
physician, and historian, a subtile philosopher, and a moderate
divine. In his death, his funeral was attended by his rival the
Nestorian patriarch, with a train of Greeks and Armenians, who
forgot their disputes, and mingled their tears over the grave of
an enemy. The sect which was honored by the virtues of
Abulpharagius appears, however, to sink below the level of their
Nestorian brethren. The superstition of the Jacobites is more
abject, their fasts more rigid, ^131 their intestine divisions
are more numerous, and their doctors (as far as I can measure the
degrees of nonsense) are more remote from the precincts of
reason. Something may possibly be allowed for the rigor of the
Monophysite theology; much more for the superior influence of the
monastic order. In Syria, in Egypt, in Ethiopia, the Jacobite
monks have ever been distinguished by the austerity of their
penance and the absurdity of their legends. Alive or dead, they
are worshipped as the favorites of the Deity; the crosier of
bishop and patriarch is reserved for their venerable hands; and
they assume the government of men, while they are yet reeking
with the habits and prejudices of the cloister. ^132
[Footnote 125: Is the expression of Theodore, in his Treatise of
the Incarnation, p. 245, 247, as he is quoted by La Croze, (Hist.
du Christianisme d'Ethiopie et d'Armenie, p. 35,) who exclaims,
perhaps too hastily, "Quel pitoyable raisonnement!" Renaudot has
touched (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 127 - 138) the Oriental
accounts of Severus; and his authentic creed may be found in the
epistle of John the Jacobite patriarch of Antioch, in the xth
century, to his brother Mannas of Alexandria, (Asseman. Bibliot.
Orient. tom. ii. p. 132 - 141.)]

[Footnote 126: Epist. Archimandritarum et Monachorum Syriae
Secundae ad Papam Hormisdam, Concil. tom. v. p. 598 - 602. The
courage of St. Sabas, ut leo animosus, will justify the suspicion
that the arms of these monks were not always spiritual or
defensive, (Baronius, A.D. 513, No. 7, &c.)]
[Footnote 127: Assemanni (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 10 - 46)
and La Croze (Christianisme d'Ethiopie, p. 36 - 40) will supply
the history of Xenaias, or Philoxenus, bishop of Mabug, or
Hierapolis, in Syria. He was a perfect master of the Syriac
language, and the author or editor of a version of the New

[Footnote 128: The names and titles of fifty-four bishops who
were exiled by Justin, are preserved in the Chronicle of
Dionysius, (apud Asseman. tom. ii. p. 54.) Severus was personally
summoned to Constantinople - for his trial, says Liberatus (Brev.
c. 19) - that his tongue might be cut out, says Evagrius, (l. iv.
c. iv.) The prudent patriarch did not stay to examine the
difference. This ecclesiastical revolution is fixed by Pagi to
the month of September of the year 518, (Critica, tom. ii. p.

[Footnote 129: The obscure history of James or Jacobus Baradaeus,
or Zanzalust may be gathered from Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p.
144, 147,) Renau dot, (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 133,) and
Assemannus, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. i. p. 424, tom. ii. p. 62 -
69, 324 - 332, 414, tom. iii. p. 385 - 388.) He seems to be
unknown to the Greeks. The Jacobites themselves had rather
deduce their name and pedigree from St. James the apostle.]

[Footnote 130: The account of his person and writings is perhaps
the most curious article in the Bibliotheca of Assemannus, (tom.
ii. p. 244 - 321, under the name of Gregorius Bar-Hebroeus.) La
Croze (Christianisme d'Ethiopie, p. 53 - 63) ridicules the
prejudice of the Spaniards against the Jewish blood which
secretly defiles their church and state.]

[Footnote 131: This excessive abstinence is censured by La Croze,
(p. 352,) and even by the Syrian Assemannus, (tom. i. p. 226,
tom. ii. p. 304, 305.)]
[Footnote 132: The state of the Monophysites is excellently
illustrated in a dissertation at the beginning of the iid volume
of Assemannus, which contains 142 pages. The Syriac Chronicle of
Gregory Bar-Hebraeus, or Abulpharagius, (Bibliot. Orient. tom.
ii. p. 321 - 463,) pursues the double series of the Nestorian
Catholics and the Maphrians of the Jacobites.]

III. In the style of the Oriental Christians, the
Monothelites of every age are described under the appellation of
Maronites, ^133 a name which has been insensibly transferred from
a hermit to a monastery, from a monastery to a nation. Maron, a
saint or savage of the fifth century, displayed his religious
madness in Syria; the rival cities of Apamea and Emesa disputed
his relics, a stately church was erected on his tomb, and six
hundred of his disciples united their solitary cells on the banks
of the Orontes. In the controversies of the incarnation they
nicely threaded the orthodox line between the sects of Nestorians
and Eutyches; but the unfortunate question of one will or
operation in the two natures of Christ, was generated by their
curious leisure. Their proselyte, the emperor Heraclius, was
rejected as a Maronite from the walls of Emesa, he found a refuge
in the monastery of his brethren; and their theological lessons
were repaid with the gift a spacious and wealthy domain. The
name and doctrine of this venerable school were propagated among
the Greeks and Syrians, and their zeal is expressed by Macarius,
patriarch of Antioch, who declared before the synod of
Constantinople, that sooner than subscribe the two wills of
Christ, he would submit to be hewn piecemeal and cast into the
sea. ^134 A similar or a less cruel mode of persecution soon
converted the unresisting subjects of the plain, while the
glorious title of Mardaites, ^135 or rebels, was bravely
maintained by the hardy natives of Mount Libanus. John Maron,
one of the most learned and popular of the monks, assumed the
character of patriarch of Antioch; his nephew, Abraham, at the
head of the Maronites, defended their civil and religious freedom
against the tyrants of the East. The son of the orthodox
Constantine pursued with pious hatred a people of soldiers, who
might have stood the bulwark of his empire against the common
foes of Christ and of Rome. An army of Greeks invaded Syria; the
monastery of St. Maron was destroyed with fire; the bravest
chieftains were betrayed and murdered, and twelve thousand of
their followers were transplanted to the distant frontiers of
Armenia and Thrace. Yet the humble nation of the Maronites had
survived the empire of Constantinople, and they still enjoy,
under their Turkish masters, a free religion and a mitigated
servitude. Their domestic governors are chosen among the ancient
nobility: the patriarch, in his monastery of Canobin, still
fancies himself on the throne of Antioch: nine bishops compose
his synod, and one hundred and fifty priests, who retain the
liberty of marriage, are intrusted with the care of one hundred
thousand souls. Their country extends from the ridge of Mount
Libanus to the shores of Tripoli; and the gradual descent
affords, in a narrow space, each variety of soil and climate,
from the Holy Cedars, erect under the weight of snow, ^136 to the
vine, the mulberry, and the olive-trees of the fruitful valley.
In the twelfth century, the Maronites, abjuring the Monothelite
error were reconciled to the Latin churches of Antioch and Rome,
^137 and the same alliance has been frequently renewed by the
ambition of the popes and the distress of the Syrians. But it
may reasonably be questioned, whether their union has ever been
perfect or sincere; and the learned Maronites of the college of
Rome have vainly labored to absolve their ancestors from the
guilt of heresy and schism. ^138

[Footnote 133: The synonymous use of the two words may be proved
from Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 191, 267, 332,) and many
similar passages which may be found in the methodical table of
Pocock. He was not actuated by any prejudice against the
Maronites of the xth century; and we may believe a Melchite,
whose testimony is confirmed by the Jacobites and Latins.]
[Footnote 134: Concil. tom. vii. p. 780. The Monothelite cause
was supported with firmness and subtilty by Constantine, a Syrian
priest of Apamea, (p. 1040, &c.)]

[Footnote 135: Theophanes (Chron. p. 295, 296, 300, 302, 306) and
Cedrenus (p. 437, 440) relates the exploits of the Mardaites: the
name (Mard, in Syriac, rebellavit) is explained by La Roque,
(Voyage de la Syrie, tom. ii. p. 53;) and dates are fixed by
Pagi, (A.D. 676, No. 4 - 14, A.D. 685, No. 3, 4;) and even the
obscure story of the patriarch John Maron (Asseman. Bibliot.
Orient. tom. i. p. 496 - 520) illustrates from the year 686 to
707, the troubles of Mount Libanus.

Note: Compare on the Mardaites Anquetil du Perron, in the
fiftieth volume of the Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions; and
Schlosser, Bildersturmendes Kaiser, p. 100. - M]

[Footnote 136: In the last century twenty large cedars still
remained, (Voyage de la Roque, tom. i. p. 68 - 76;) at present
they are reduced to four or five, (Volney, tom. i. p. 264.) These
trees, so famous in Scripture, were guarded by excommunication:
the wood was sparingly borrowed for small crosses, &c.; an annual
mass was chanted under their shade; and they were endowed by the
Syrians with a sensitive power of erecting their branches to
repel the snow, to which Mount Libanus is less faithful than it
is painted by Tacitus: inter ardores opacum fidumque nivibus - a
daring metaphor, (Hist. v. 6.)
Note: Of the oldest and best looking trees, I counted eleven
or twelve twenty-five very large ones; and about fifty of
middling size; and more than three hundred smaller and young
ones. Burckhardt's Travels in Syria p. 19. - M]

[Footnote 137: The evidence of William of Tyre (Hist. in Gestis
Dei per Francos, l. xxii. c. 8, p. 1022) is copied or confirmed
by Jacques de Vitra, (Hist. Hierosolym. l. ii. c. 77, p. 1093,
1094.) But this unnatural league expired with the power of the
Franks; and Abulpharagius (who died in 1286) considers the
Maronites as a sect of Monothelites, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii.
p. 292.)]

[Footnote 138: I find a description and history of the Maronites
in the Voyage de la Syrie et du Mont Liban par la Roque, (2 vols.
in 12mo., Amsterdam, 1723; particularly tom. i. p. 42 - 47, p.
174 - 184, tom. ii. p. 10 - 120.) In the ancient part, he copies
the prejudices of Nairon and the other Maronites of Rome, which
Assemannus is afraid to renounce and ashamed to support.
Jablonski, (Institut. Hist. Christ. tom. iii. p. 186.) Niebuhr,
(Voyage de l'Arabie, &c., tom. ii. p. 346, 370 - 381,) and, above
all, the judicious Volney, (Voyage en Egypte et en Syrie, tom.
ii. p. 8 - 31, Paris, 1787,) may be consulted.]

IV. Since the age of Constantine, the Armenians ^139 had
signalized their attachment to the religion and empire of the
Christians. ^* The disorders of their country, and their
ignorance of the Greek tongue, prevented their clergy from
assisting at the synod of Chalcedon, and they floated eighty-four
years ^140 in a state of indifference or suspense, till their
vacant faith was finally occupied by the missionaries of Julian
of Halicarnassus, ^141 who in Egypt, their common exile, had been
vanquished by the arguments or the influence of his rival
Severus, the Monophysite patriarch of Antioch. The Armenians
alone are the pure disciples of Eutyches, an unfortunate parent,
who has been renounced by the greater part of his spiritual
progeny. They alone persevere in the opinion, that the manhood
of Christ was created, or existed without creation, of a divine
and incorruptible substance. Their adversaries reproach them
with the adoration of a phantom; and they retort the accusation,
by deriding or execrating the blasphemy of the Jacobites, who
impute to the Godhead the vile infirmities of the flesh, even the
natural effects of nutrition and digestion. The religion of
Armenia could not derive much glory from the learning or the
power of its inhabitants. The royalty expired with the origin of
their schism; and their Christian kings, who arose and fell in
the thirteenth century on the confines of Cilicia, were the
clients of the Latins and the vassals of the Turkish sultan of
Iconium. The helpless nation has seldom been permitted to enjoy
the tranquillity of servitude. From the earliest period to the
present hour, Armenia has been the theatre of perpetual war: the
lands between Tauris and Erivan were dispeopled by the cruel
policy of the Sophis; and myriads of Christian families were
transplanted, to perish or to propagate in the distant provinces
of Persia. Under the rod of oppression, the zeal of the Armenians
is fervent and intrepid; they have often preferred the crown of
martyrdom to the white turban of Mahomet; they devoutly hate the
error and idolatry of the Greeks; and their transient union with
the Latins is not less devoid of truth, than the thousand
bishops, whom their patriarch offered at the feet of the Roman
pontiff. ^142 The catholic, or patriarch, of the Armenians
resides in the monastery of Ekmiasin, three leagues from Erivan.
Forty-seven archbishops, each of whom may claim the obedience of
four or five suffragans, are consecrated by his hand; but the far
greater part are only titular prelates, who dignify with their
presence and service the simplicity of his court. As soon as
they have performed the liturgy, they cultivate the garden; and
our bishops will hear with surprise, that the austerity of their
life increases in just proportion to the elevation of their rank.

In the fourscore thousand towns or villages of his spiritual
empire, the patriarch receives a small and voluntary tax from
each person above the age of fifteen; but the annual amount of
six hundred thousand crowns is insufficient to supply the
incessant demands of charity and tribute. Since the beginning of
the last century, the Armenians have obtained a large and
lucrative share of the commerce of the East: in their return from
Europe, the caravan usually halts in the neighborhood of Erivan,
the altars are enriched with the fruits of their patient
industry; and the faith of Eutyches is preached in their recent
congregations of Barbary and Poland. ^143
[Footnote 139: The religion of the Armenians is briefly described
by La Croze, (Hist. du Christ. de l'Ethiopie et de l'Armenie, p.
269 - 402.) He refers to the great Armenian History of Galanus,
(3 vols. in fol. Rome, 1650 - 1661,) and commends the state of
Armenia in the iiid volume of the Nouveaux Memoires des Missions
du Levant. The work of a Jesuit must have sterling merit when it
is praised by La Croze.]

[Footnote *: See vol. iii. ch. xx. p. 271. - M.]

[Footnote 140: The schism of the Armenians is placed 84 years
after the council of Chalcedon, (Pagi, Critica, ad A.D. 535.) It
was consummated at the end of seventeen years; and it is from the
year of Christ 552 that we date the aera of the Armenians, (L'Art
de verifier les Dates, p. xxxv.)]
[Footnote 141: The sentiments and success of Julian of
Halicarnassus may be seen in Liberatus, (Brev. c. 19,) Renaudot,
(Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 132, 303,) and Assemannus, (Bibliot.
Orient. tom. ii. Dissertat. Monophysitis, l. viii. p. 286.)]

[Footnote 142: See a remarkable fact of the xiith century in the
History of Nicetas Choniates, (p. 258.) Yet three hundred years
before, Photius (Epistol. ii. p. 49, edit. Montacut.) had gloried
in the conversion of the Armenians.]
[Footnote 143: The travelling Armenians are in the way of every
traveller, and their mother church is on the high road between
Constantinople and Ispahan; for their present state, see
Fabricius, (Lux Evangelii, &c., c. xxxviii. p. 40 - 51,)
Olearius, (l. iv. c. 40,) Chardin, (vol. ii. p. 232,) Teurnefort,
(lettre xx.,) and, above all, Tavernier, (tom. i. p. 28 - 37, 510
- 518,) that rambling jeweller, who had read nothing, but had
seen so much and so well]
V. In the rest of the Roman empire, the despotism of the
prince might eradicate or silence the sectaries of an obnoxious
creed. But the stubborn temper of the Egyptians maintained their
opposition to the synod of Chalcedon, and the policy of Justinian
condescended to expect and to seize the opportunity of discord.
The Monophysite church of Alexandria ^144 was torn by the
disputes of the corruptibles and incorruptibles, and on the death
of the patriarch, the two factions upheld their respective
candidates. ^145 Gaian was the disciple of Julian, Theodosius had
been the pupil of Severus: the claims of the former were
supported by the consent of the monks and senators, the city and
the province; the latter depended on the priority of his
ordination, the favor of the empress Theodora, and the arms of
the eunuch Narses, which might have been used in more honorable
warfare. The exile of the popular candidate to Carthage and
Sardinia inflamed the ferment of Alexandria; and after a schism
of one hundred and seventy years, the Gaianites still revered the
memory and doctrine of their founder. The strength of numbers
and of discipline was tried in a desperate and bloody conflict;
the streets were filled with the dead bodies of citizens and
soldiers; the pious women, ascending the roofs of their houses,
showered down every sharp or ponderous utensil on the heads of
the enemy; and the final victory of Narses was owing to the
flames, with which he wasted the third capital of the Roman
world. But the lieutenant of Justinian had not conquered in the
cause of a heretic; Theodosius himself was speedily, though
gently, removed; and Paul of Tanis, an orthodox monk, was raised
to the throne of Athanasius. The powers of government were
strained in his support; he might appoint or displace the dukes
and tribunes of Egypt; the allowance of bread, which Diocletian
had granted, was suppressed, the churches were shut, and a nation
of schismatics was deprived at once of their spiritual and carnal
food. In his turn, the tyrant was excommunicated by the zeal and
revenge of the people: and none except his servile Melchites
would salute him as a man, a Christian, or a bishop. Yet such is
the blindness of ambition, that, when Paul was expelled on a
charge of murder, he solicited, with a bribe of seven hundred
pounds of gold, his restoration to the same station of hatred and
ignominy. His successor Apollinaris entered the hostile city in
military array, alike qualified for prayer or for battle. His
troops, under arms, were distributed through the streets; the
gates of the cathedral were guarded, and a chosen band was
stationed in the choir, to defend the person of their chief. He
stood erect on his throne, and, throwing aside the upper garment
of a warrior, suddenly appeared before the eyes of the multitude
in the robes of patriarch of Alexandria. Astonishment held them
mute; but no sooner had Apollinaris begun to read the tome of St.
Leo, than a volley of curses, and invectives, and stones,
assaulted the odious minister of the emperor and the synod. A
charge was instantly sounded by the successor of the apostles;
the soldiers waded to their knees in blood; and two hundred
thousand Christians are said to have fallen by the sword: an
incredible account, even if it be extended from the slaughter of
a day to the eighteen years of the reign of Apollinaris. Two
succeeding patriarchs, Eulogius ^146 and John, ^147 labored in
the conversion of heretics, with arms and arguments more worthy
of their evangelical profession. The theological knowledge of
Eulogius was displayed in many a volume, which magnified the
errors of Eutyches and Severus, and attempted to reconcile the
ambiguous language of St. Cyril with the orthodox creed of Pope
Leo and the fathers of Chalcedon. The bounteous alms of John the
eleemosynary were dictated by superstition, or benevolence, or
policy. Seven thousand five hundred poor were maintained at his
expense; on his accession he found eight thousand pounds of gold
in the treasury of the church; he collected ten thousand from the
liberality of the faithful; yet the primate could boast in his
testament, that he left behind him no more than the third part of
the smallest of the silver coins. The churches of Alexandria
were delivered to the Catholics, the religion of the Monophysites
was proscribed in Egypt, and a law was revived which excluded the
natives from the honors and emoluments of the state.

[Footnote 144: The history of the Alexandrian patriarchs, from
Dioscorus to Benjamin, is taken from Renaudot, (p. 114 - 164,)
and the second tome of the Annals of Eutychius.]

[Footnote 145: Liberat. Brev. c. 20, 23. Victor. Chron. p. 329
330. Procop. Anecdot. c. 26, 27.]

[Footnote 146: Eulogius, who had been a monk of Antioch, was more
conspicuous for subtilty than eloquence. He proves that the
enemies of the faith, the Gaianites and Theodosians, ought not to
be reconciled; that the same proposition may be orthodox in the
mouth of St. Cyril, heretical in that of Severus; that the
opposite assertions of St. Leo are equally true, &c. His
writings are no longer extant except in the Extracts of Photius,
who had perused them with care and satisfaction, ccviii. ccxxv.
ccxxvi. ccxxvii. ccxxx. cclxxx.]

[Footnote 147: See the Life of John the eleemosynary by his
contemporary Leontius, bishop of Neapolis in Cyrus, whose Greek
text, either lost or hidden, is reflected in the Latin version of
Baronius, (A.D. 610, No.9, A.D. 620, No. 8.) Pagi (Critica, tom.
ii. p. 763) and Fabricius l. v c. 11, tom. vii. p. 454) have made
some critical observations]

Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.

Part V.

A more important conquest still remained, of the patriarch,
the oracle and leader of the Egyptian church. Theodosius had
resisted the threats and promises of Justinian with the spirit of
an apostle or an enthusiast. "Such," replied the patriarch, "were
the offers of the tempter when he showed the kingdoms of the
earth. But my soul is far dearer to me than life or dominion.
The churches are in the hands of a prince who can kill the body;
but my conscience is my own; and in exile, poverty, or chains, I
will steadfastly adhere to the faith of my holy predecessors,
Athanasius, Cyril, and Dioscorus. Anathema to the tome of Leo and
the synod of Chalcedon! Anathema to all who embrace their creed!
Anathema to them now and forevermore! Naked came I out of my
mother's womb, naked shall I descend into the grave. Let those
who love God follow me and seek their salvation." After
comforting his brethren, he embarked for Constantinople, and
sustained, in six successive interviews, the almost irresistible
weight of the royal presence. His opinions were favorably
entertained in the palace and the city; the influence of Theodora
assured him a safe conduct and honorable dismission; and he ended
his days, though not on the throne, yet in the bosom, of his
native country. On the news of his death, Apollinaris indecently
feasted the nobles and the clergy; but his joy was checked by the
intelligence of a new election; and while he enjoyed the wealth
of Alexandria, his rivals reigned in the monasteries of Thebais,
and were maintained by the voluntary oblations of the people. A
perpetual succession of patriarchs arose from the ashes of
Theodosius; and the Monophysite churches of Syria and Egypt were
united by the name of Jacobites and the communion of the faith.
But the same faith, which has been confined to a narrow sect of
the Syrians, was diffused over the mass of the Egyptian or Coptic
nation; who, almost unanimously, rejected the decrees of the
synod of Chalcedon. A thousand years were now elapsed since
Egypt had ceased to be a kingdom, since the conquerors of Asia
and Europe had trampled on the ready necks of a people, whose
ancient wisdom and power ascend beyond the records of history.
The conflict of zeal and persecution rekindled some sparks of
their national spirit. They abjured, with a foreign heresy, the
manners and language of the Greeks: every Melchite, in their
eyes, was a stranger, every Jacobite a citizen; the alliance of
marriage, the offices of humanity, were condemned as a deadly sin
the natives renounced all allegiance to the emperor; and his
orders, at a distance from Alexandria, were obeyed only under the
pressure of military force. A generous effort might have edeemed
the religion and liberty of Egypt, and her six hundred
monasteries might have poured forth their myriads of holy
warriors, for whom death should have no terrors, since life had
no comfort or delight. But experience has proved the distinction
of active and passive courage; the fanatic who endures without a
groan the torture of the rack or the stake, would tremble and fly
before the face of an armed enemy. The pusillanimous temper of
the Egyptians could only hope for a change of masters; the arms
of Chosroes depopulated the land, yet under his reign the
Jacobites enjoyed a short and precarious respite. The victory of
Heraclius renewed and aggravated the persecution, and the
patriarch again escaped from Alexandria to the desert. In his
flight, Benjamin was encouraged by a voice, which bade him
expect, at the end of ten years, the aid of a foreign nation,
marked, like the Egyptians themselves, with the ancient rite of
circumcision. The character of these deliverers, and the nature
of the deliverance, will be hereafter explained; and I shall step
over the interval of eleven centuries to observe the present
misery of the Jacobites of Egypt. The populous city of Cairo
affords a residence, or rather a shelter, for their indigent
patriarch, and a remnant of ten bishops; forty monasteries have
survived the inroads of the Arabs; and the progress of servitude
and apostasy has reduced the Coptic nation to the despicable
number of twenty-five or thirty thousand families; ^148 a race of
illiterate beggars, whose only consolation is derived from the
superior wretchedness of the Greek patriarch and his diminutive
congregation. ^149

[Footnote 148: This number is taken from the curious Recherches
sur les Egyptiens et les Chinois, (tom. ii. p. 192, 193,) and
appears more probable than the 600,000 ancient, or 15,000 modern,
Copts of Gemelli Carreri Cyril Lucar, the Protestant patriarch of
Constantinople, laments that those heretics were ten times more
numerous than his orthodox Greeks, ingeniously applying Homer,
(Iliad, ii. 128,) the most perfect expression of contempt,
(Fabric. Lux Evangelii, 740.)]

[Footnote 149: The history of the Copts, their religion, manners,
&c., may be found in the Abbe Renaudot's motley work, neither a
translation nor an original; the Chronicon Orientale of Peter, a
Jacobite; in the two versions of Abraham Ecchellensis, Paris,
1651; and John Simon Asseman, Venet. 1729. These annals descend
no lower than the xiiith century. The more recent accounts must
be searched for in the travellers into Egypt and the Nouveaux
Memoires des Missions du Levant. In the last century, Joseph
Abudacnus, a native of Cairo, published at Oxford, in thirty
pages, a slight Historia Jacobitarum, 147, post p.150]

VI. The Coptic patriarch, a rebel to the Caesars, or a
slave to the khalifs, still gloried in the filial obedience of
the kings of Nubia and Aethiopia. He repaid their homage by
magnifying their greatness; and it was boldly asserted that they
could bring into the field a hundred thousand horse, with an
equal number of camels; ^150 that their hand could pour out or
restrain the waters of the Nile; ^151 and the peace and plenty of
Egypt was obtained, even in this world, by the intercession of
the patriarch. In exile at Constantinople, Theodosius
recommended to his patroness the conversion of the black nations
of Nubia, from the tropic of Cancer to the confines of Abyssinia.
^152 Her design was suspected and emulated by the more orthodox
emperor. The rival missionaries, a Melchite and a Jacobite,
embarked at the same time; but the empress, from a motive of love
or fear, was more effectually obeyed; and the Catholic priest was
detained by the president of Thebais, while the king of Nubia and
his court were hastily baptized in the faith of Dioscorus. The
tardy envoy of Justinian was received and dismissed with honor:
but when he accused the heresy and treason of the Egyptians, the
negro convert was instructed to reply that he would never abandon
his brethren, the true believers, to the persecuting ministers of
the synod of Chalcedon. ^153 During several ages, the bishops of
Nubia were named and consecrated by the Jacobite patriarch of
Alexandria: as late as the twelfth century, Christianity
prevailed; and some rites, some ruins, are still visible in the
savage towns of Sennaar and Dongola. ^154 But the Nubians at
length executed their threats of returning to the worship of
idols; the climate required the indulgence of polygamy, and they
have finally preferred the triumph of the Koran to the abasement
of the Cross. A metaphysical religion may appear too refined for
the capacity of the negro race: yet a black or a parrot might be
taught to repeat the words of the Chalcedonian or Monophysite

[Footnote 150: About the year 737. See Renaudot, Hist.
Patriarch. Alex p. 221, 222. Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 99.]

[Footnote 151: Ludolph. Hist. Aethiopic. et Comment. l. i. c. 8.
Renaudot Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 480, &c. This opinion,
introduced into Egypt and Europe by the artifice of the Copts,
the pride of the Abyssinians, the fear and ignorance of the Turks
and Arabs, has not even the semblance of truth. The rains of
Aethiopia do not, in the increase of the Nile, consult the will
of the monarch. If the river approaches at Napata within three
days' journey of the Red Sea (see D'Anville's Maps,) a canal that
should divert its course would demand, and most probably surpass,
the power of the Caesars.]
[Footnote 152: The Abyssinians, who still preserve the features
and olive complexion of the Arabs, afford a proof that two
thousand years are not sufficient to change the color of the
human race. The Nubians, an African race, are pure negroes, as
black as those of Senegal or Congo, with flat noses, thick lips,
and woolly hair, (Buffon, Hist. Naturelle, tom. v. p. 117, 143,
144, 166, 219, edit. in 12mo., Paris, 1769.) The ancients beheld,
without much attention, the extraordinary phenomenon which has
exercised the philosophers and theologians of modern times]

[Footnote 153: Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. i. p. 329.]

[Footnote 154: The Christianity of the Nubians (A.D. 1153) is
attested by the sheriff al Edrisi, falsely described under the
name of the Nubian geographer, (p. 18,) who represents them as a
nation of Jacobites. The rays of historical light that twinkle
in the history of Ranaudot (p. 178, 220 - 224, 281 - 286, 405,
434, 451, 464) are all previous to this aera. See the modern
state in the Lettres Edifiantes (Recueil, iv.) and Busching,
(tom. ix. p. 152 - 139, par Berenger.)]

Christianity was more deeply rooted in the Abyssinian
empire; and, although the correspondence has been sometimes
interrupted above seventy or a hundred years, the mother-church
of Alexandria retains her colony in a state of perpetual
pupilage. Seven bishops once composed the Aethiopic synod: had
their number amounted to ten, they might have elected an
independent primate; and one of their kings was ambitious of
promoting his brother to the ecclesiastical throne. But the
event was foreseen, the increase was denied: the episcopal office
has been gradually confined to the abuna, ^155 the head and
author of the Abyssinian priesthood; the patriarch supplies each
vacancy with an Egyptian monk; and the character of a stranger
appears more venerable in the eyes of the people, less dangerous
in those of the monarch. In the sixth century, when the schism
of Egypt was confirmed, the rival chiefs, with their patrons,
Justinian and Theodora, strove to outstrip each other in the
conquest of a remote and independent province. The industry of
the empress was again victorious, and the pious Theodora has
established in that sequestered church the faith and discipline
of the Jacobites. ^156 Encompassed on all sides by the enemies of
their religion, the Aethiopians slept near a thousand years,
forgetful of the world, by whom they were forgotten. They were
awakened by the Portuguese, who, turning the southern promontory
of Africa, appeared in India and the Red Sea, as if they had
descended through the air from a distant planet. In the first
moments of their interview, the subjects of Rome and Alexandria
observed the resemblance, rather than the difference, of their
faith; and each nation expected the most important benefits from
an alliance with their Christian brethren. In their lonely
situation, the Aethiopians had almost relapsed into the savage
life. Their vessels, which had traded to Ceylon, scarcely
presumed to navigate the rivers of Africa; the ruins of Axume
were deserted, the nation was scattered in villages, and the
emperor, a pompous name, was content, both in peace and war, with
the immovable residence of a camp. Conscious of their own
indigence, the Abyssinians had formed the rational project of
importing the arts and ingenuity of Europe; ^157 and their
ambassadors at Rome and Lisbon were instructed to solicit a
colony of smiths, carpenters, tilers, masons, printers, surgeons,
and physicians, for the use of their country. But the public
danger soon called for the instant and effectual aid of arms and
soldiers, to defend an unwarlike people from the Barbarians who
ravaged the inland country and the Turks and Arabs who advanced
from the sea-coast in more formidable array. Aethiopia was saved
by four hundred and fifty Portuguese, who displayed in the field
the native valor of Europeans, and the artificial power of the
musket and cannon. In a moment of terror, the emperor had
promised to reconcile himself and his subjects to the Catholic
faith; a Latin patriarch represented the supremacy of the pope:
^158 the empire, enlarged in a tenfold proportion, was supposed
to contain more gold than the mines of America; and the wildest
hopes of avarice and zeal were built on the willing submission of
the Christians of Africa.

[Footnote 155: The abuna is improperly dignified by the Latins
with the title of patriarch. The Abyssinians acknowledge only
the four patriarchs, and their chief is no more than a
metropolitan or national primate, (Ludolph. Hist. Aethiopic. et
Comment. l. iii. c. 7.) The seven bishops of Renaudot, (p. 511,)
who existed A.D. 1131, are unknown to the historian.]

[Footnote 156: I know not why Assemannus (Bibliot. Orient. tom.
ii. p. 384) should call in question these probable missions of
Theodora into Nubia and Aethiopia. The slight notices of
Abyssinia till the year 1500 are supplied by Renaudot (p. 336 -
341, 381, 382, 405, 443, &c., 452, 456, 463, 475, 480, 511, 525,
559 - 564) from the Coptic writers. The mind of Ludolphus was a
perfect blank.]

[Footnote 157: Ludolph. Hist. Aethiop. l. iv. c. 5. The most
necessary arts are now exercised by the Jews, and the foreign
trade is in the hands of the Armenians. What Gregory principally
admired and envied was the industry of Europe - artes et

[Footnote 158: John Bermudez, whose relation, printed at Lisbon,
1569, was translated into English by Purchas, (Pilgrims, l. vii.
c. 7, p. 1149, &c.,) and from thence into French by La Croze,
(Christianisme d'Ethiopie, p. 92 - 265.) The piece is curious;
but the author may be suspected of deceiving Abyssinia, Rome, and
Portugal. His title to the rank of patriarch is dark and
doubtful, (Ludolph. Comment. No. 101, p. 473.)]

But the vows which pain had extorted were forsworn on the
return of health. The Abyssinians still adhered with unshaken
constancy to the Monophysite faith; their languid belief was
inflamed by the exercise of dispute; they branded the Latins with
the names of Arians and Nestorians, and imputed the adoration of
four gods to those who separated the two natures of Christ.
Fremona, a place of worship, or rather of exile, was assigned to
the Jesuit missionaries. Their skill in the liberal and mechanic
arts, their theological learning, and the decency of their
manners, inspired a barren esteem; but they were not endowed with
the gift of miracles, ^159 and they vainly solicited a
reenforcement of European troops. The patience and dexterity of
forty years at length obtained a more favorable audience, and two
emperors of Abyssinia were persuaded that Rome could insure the
temporal and everlasting happiness of her votaries. The first of
these royal converts lost his crown and his life; and the rebel
army was sanctified by the abuna, who hurled an anathema at the
apostate, and absolved his subjects from their oath of fidelity.
The fate of Zadenghel was revenged by the courage and fortune of
Susneus, who ascended the throne under the name of Segued, and
more vigorously prosecuted the pious enterprise of his kinsman.
After the amusement of some unequal combats between the Jesuits
and his illiterate priests, the emperor declared himself a
proselyte to the synod of Chalcedon, presuming that his clergy
and people would embrace without delay the religion of their
prince. The liberty of choice was succeeded by a law, which
imposed, under pain of death, the belief of the two natures of
Christ: the Abyssinians were enjoined to work and to play on the
Sabbath; and Segued, in the face of Europe and Africa, renounced
his connection with the Alexandrian church. A Jesuit, Alphonso
Mendez, the Catholic patriarch of Aethiopia, accepted, in the
name of Urban VIII., the homage and abjuration of the penitent.
"I confess," said the emperor on his knees, "I confess that the
pope is the vicar of Christ, the successor of St. Peter, and the
sovereign of the world. To him I swear true obedience, and at
his feet I offer my person and kingdom." A similar oath was
repeated by his son, his brother, the clergy, the nobles, and
even the ladies of the court: the Latin patriarch was invested
with honors and wealth; and his missionaries erected their
churches or citadels in the most convenient stations of the
empire. The Jesuits themselves deplore the fatal indiscretion of
their chief, who forgot the mildness of the gospel and the policy
of his order, to introduce with hasty violence the liturgy of
Rome and the inquisition of Portugal. He condemned the ancient
practice of circumcision, which health, rather than superstition,
had first invented in the climate of Aethiopia. ^160 A new
baptism, a new ordination, was inflicted on the natives; and they
trembled with horror when the most holy of the dead were torn
from their graves, when the most illustrious of the living were
excommunicated by a foreign priest. In the defense of their
religion and liberty, the Abyssinians rose in arms, with
desperate but unsuccessful zeal. Five rebellions were
extinguished in the blood of the insurgents: two abunas were
slain in battle, whole legions were slaughtered in the field, or
suffocated in their caverns; and neither merit, nor rank, nor
sex, could save from an ignominious death the enemies of Rome.
But the victorious monarch was finally subdued by the constancy
of the nation, of his mother, of his son, and of his most
faithful friends. Segued listened to the voice of pity, of
reason, perhaps of fear: and his edict of liberty of conscience
instantly revealed the tyranny and weakness of the Jesuits. On
the death of his father, Basilides expelled the Latin patriarch,
and restored to the wishes of the nation the faith and the
discipline of Egypt. The Monophysite churches resounded with a
song of triumph, "that the sheep of Aethiopia were now delivered
from the hyaenas of the West;" and the gates of that solitary
realm were forever shut against the arts, the science, and the
fanaticism of Europe. ^161

[Footnote 159: Religio Romana precibus patrum nec
miraculis ab ipsis editis suffulciebatur, is the uncontradicted
assurance of the devout emperor Susneus to his patriarch Mendez,
(Ludolph. Comment. No. 126, p. 529;) and such assurances should
be preciously kept, as an antidote against any marvellous

[Footnote 160: I am aware how tender is the question of
circumcision. Yet I will affirm, 1. That the Aethiopians have a
physical reason for the circumcision of males, and even of
females, (Recherches Philosophiques sur les Americains, tom. ii.)
2. That it was practised in Aethiopia long before the
introduction of Judaism or Christianity, Herodot. l. ii. c. 104.
Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 72, 73.) "Infantes circumcidunt ob
consuetudinemn, non ob Judaismum," says Gregory the Abyssinian
priest, (apud Fabric. Lux Christiana, p. 720.) Yet in the heat of
dispute, the Portuguese were sometimes branded with the name of
uncircumcised, (La Croze, p. 90. Ludolph. Hist. and Comment. l.
iii. c. l.)]

[Footnote 161: The three Protestant historians, Ludolphus, (Hist.
Aethiopica, Francofurt. 1681; Commentarius, 1691; Relatio Nova,
&c., 1693, in folio,) Geddes, (Church History of Aethiopia,
London, 1696, in 8vo..) and La Croze, (Hist. du Christianisme
d'Ethiopie et d'Armenie, La Haye, 1739, in 12mo.,) have drawn
their principal materials from the Jesuits, especially from the
General History of Tellez, published in Portuguese at Coimbra,
1660. We might be surprised at their frankness; but their most
flagitious vice, the spirit of persecution, was in their eyes the
most meritorious virtue. Ludolphus possessed some, though a
slight, advantage from the Aethiopic language, and the personal
conversation of Gregory, a free-spirited Abyssinian priest, whom
he invited from Rome to the court of Saxe-Gotha. See the
Theologia Aethiopica of Gregory, in Fabric. Lux Evangelii, p.
716 - 734.)

Note: The travels of Bruce, illustrated by those of Mr.
Salt, and the narrative of Nathaniel Pearce, have brought us
again acquainted with this remote region. Whatever may be their
speculative opinions the barbarous manners of the Ethiopians seem
to be gaining more and more the ascendency over the practice of
Christianity. - M.]

Chapter XLVIII: Succession And Characters Of The Greek Emperors.

Part I.

Plan Of The Two Last Volumes. - Succession And Characters Of
The Greek Emperors Of Constantinople, From The Time Of Heraclius
To The Latin Conquest.

I have now deduced from Trajan to Constantine, from
Constantine to Heraclius, the regular series of the Roman
emperors; and faithfully exposed the prosperous and adverse
fortunes of their reigns. Five centuries of the decline and fall
of the empire have already elapsed; but a period of more than
eight hundred years still separates me from the term of my
labors, the taking of Constantinople by the Turks. Should I
persevere in the same course, should I observe the same measure,
a prolix and slender thread would be spun through many a volume,
nor would the patient reader find an adequate reward of
instruction or amusement. At every step, as we sink deeper in
the decline and fall of the Eastern empire, the annals of each
succeeding reign would impose a more ungrateful and melancholy
task. These annals must continue to repeat a tedious and uniform
tale of weakness and misery; the natural connection of causes and
events would be broken by frequent and hasty transitions, and a
minute accumulation of circumstances must destroy the light and
effect of those general pictures which compose the use and
ornament of a remote history. From the time of Heraclius, the
Byzantine theatre is contracted and darkened: the line of empire,
which had been defined by the laws of Justinian and the arms of
Belisarius, recedes on all sides from our view; the Roman name,
the proper subject of our inquiries, is reduced to a narrow
corner of Europe, to the lonely suburbs of Constantinople; and
the fate of the Greek empire has been compared to that of the
Rhine, which loses itself in the sands, before its waters can
mingle with the ocean. The scale of dominion is diminished to
our view by the distance of time and place; nor is the loss of
external splendor compensated by the nobler gifts of virtue and
genius. In the last moments of her decay, Constantinople was
doubtless more opulent and populous than Athens at her most
flourishing aera, when a scanty sum of six thousand talents, or
twelve hundred thousand pounds sterling was possessed by
twenty-one thousand male citizens of an adult age. But each of
these citizens was a freeman, who dared to assert the liberty of
his thoughts, words, and actions, whose person and property were
guarded by equal law; and who exercised his independent vote in
the government of the republic. Their numbers seem to be
multiplied by the strong and various discriminations of
character; under the shield of freedom, on the wings of emulation
and vanity, each Athenian aspired to the level of the national
dignity; from this commanding eminence, some chosen spirits
soared beyond the reach of a vulgar eye; and the chances of
superior merit in a great and populous kingdom, as they are
proved by experience, would excuse the computation of imaginary
millions. The territories of Athens, Sparta, and their allies,
do not exceed a moderate province of France or England; but after
the trophies of Salamis and Platea, they expand in our fancy to
the gigantic size of Asia, which had been trampled under the feet
of the victorious Greeks. But the subjects of the Byzantine
empire, who assume and dishonor the names both of Greeks and
Romans, present a dead uniformity of abject vices, which are
neither softened by the weakness of humanity, nor animated by the
vigor of memorable crimes. The freemen of antiquity might repeat
with generous enthusiasm the sentence of Homer, "that on the
first day of his servitude, the captive is deprived of one half
of his manly virtue." But the poet had only seen the effects of
civil or domestic slavery, nor could he foretell that the second
moiety of manhood must be annihilated by the spiritual despotism
which shackles not only the actions, but even the thoughts, of
the prostrate votary. By this double yoke, the Greeks were
oppressed under the successors of Heraclius; the tyrant, a law of
eternal justice, was degraded by the vices of his subjects; and
on the throne, in the camp, in the schools, we search, perhaps
with fruitless diligence, the names and characters that may
deserve to be rescued from oblivion. Nor are the defects of the
subject compensated by the skill and variety of the painters. Of
a space of eight hundred years, the four first centuries are
overspread with a cloud interrupted by some faint and broken rays
of historic light: in the lives of the emperors, from Maurice to
Alexius, Basil the Macedonian has alone been the theme of a
separate work; and the absence, or loss, or imperfection of
contemporary evidence, must be poorly supplied by the doubtful
authority of more recent compilers. The four last centuries are
exempt from the reproach of penury; and with the Comnenian
family, the historic muse of Constantinople again revives, but
her apparel is gaudy, her motions are without elegance or grace.
A succession of priests, or courtiers, treads in each other's
footsteps in the same path of servitude and superstition: their
views are narrow, their judgment is feeble or corrupt; and we
close the volume of copious barrenness, still ignorant of the
causes of events, the characters of the actors, and the manners
of the times which they celebrate or deplore. The observation
which has been applied to a man, may be extended to a whole
people, that the energy of the sword is communicated to the pen;
and it will be found by experience, that the tone of history will
rise or fall with the spirit of the age.

From these considerations, I should have abandoned without
regret the Greek slaves and their servile historians, had I not
reflected that the fate of the Byzantine monarchy is passively
connected with the most splendid and important revolutions which
have changed the state of the world. The space of the lost
provinces was immediately replenished with new colonies and
rising kingdoms: the active virtues of peace and war deserted
from the vanquished to the victorious nations; and it is in their
origin and conquests, in their religion and government, that we
must explore the causes and effects of the decline and fall of
the Eastern empire. Nor will this scope of narrative, the riches
and variety of these materials, be incompatible with the unity of
design and composition. As, in his daily prayers, the Mussulman
of Fez or Delhi still turns his face towards the temple of Mecca,
the historian's eye shall be always fixed on the city of
Constantinople. The excursive line may embrace the wilds of
Arabia and Tartary, but the circle will be ultimately reduced to
the decreasing limit of the Roman monarchy.

On this principle I shall now establish the plan of the last
two volumes of the present work. The first chapter will contain,
in a regular series, the emperors who reigned at Constantinople
during a period of six hundred years, from the days of Heraclius
to the Latin conquest; a rapid abstract, which may be supported
by a general appeal to the order and text of the original
historians. In this introduction, I shall confine myself to the
revolutions of the throne, the succession of families, the
personal characters of the Greek princes, the mode of their life
and death, the maxims and influence of their domestic government,
and the tendency of their reign to accelerate or suspend the
downfall of the Eastern empire. Such a chronological review will
serve to illustrate the various argument of the subsequent
chapters; and each circumstance of the eventful story of the
Barbarians will adapt itself in a proper place to the Byzantine
annals. The internal state of the empire, and the dangerous
heresy of the Paulicians, which shook the East and enlightened
the West, will be the subject of two separate chapters; but these
inquiries must be postponed till our further progress shall have
opened the view of the world in the ninth and tenth centuries of
the Christian area. After this foundation of Byzantine history,
the following nations will pass before our eyes, and each will
occupy the space to which it may be entitled by greatness or
merit, or the degree of connection with the Roman world and the
present age. I. The Franks; a general appellation which
includes all the Barbarians of France, Italy, and Germany, who
were united by the sword and sceptre of Charlemagne. The
persecution of images and their votaries separated Rome and Italy
from the Byzantine throne, and prepared the restoration of the
Roman empire in the West. II. The Arabs or Saracens. Three
ample chapters will be devoted to this curious and interesting
object. In the first, after a picture of the country and its
inhabitants, I shall investigate the character of Mahomet; the
character, religion, and success of the prophet. In the second,
I shall lead the Arabs to the conquest of Syria, Egypt, and
Africa, the provinces of the Roman empire; nor can I check their
victorious career till they have overthrown the monarchies of
Persia and Spain. In the third, I shall inquire how
Constantinople and Europe were saved by the luxury and arts, the
division and decay, of the empire of the caliphs. A single
chapter will include, III. The Bulgarians, IV. Hungarians, and,
V. Russians, who assaulted by sea or by land the provinces and
the capital; but the last of these, so important in their present
greatness, will excite some curiosity in their origin and
infancy. VI. The Normans; or rather the private adventurers of
that warlike people, who founded a powerful kingdom in Apulia and
Sicily, shook the throne of Constantinople, displayed the
trophies of chivalry, and almost realized the wonders of romance.

VII. The Latins; the subjects of the pope, the nations of the
West, who enlisted under the banner of the cross for the recovery
or relief of the holy sepulchre. The Greek emperors were
terrified and preserved by the myriads of pilgrims who marched to
Jerusalem with Godfrey of Bouillon and the peers of Christendom.
The second and third crusades trod in the footsteps of the first:
Asia and Europe were mingled in a sacred war of two hundred
years; and the Christian powers were bravely resisted, and
finally expelled by Saladin and the Mamelukes of Egypt. In these
memorable crusades, a fleet and army of French and Venetians were
diverted from Syria to the Thracian Bosphorus: they assaulted the
capital, they subverted the Greek monarchy: and a dynasty of
Latin princes was seated near threescore years on the throne of
Constantine. VII. The Greeks themselves, during this period of
captivity and exile, must be considered as a foreign nation; the
enemies, and again the sovereigns of Constantinople. Misfortune
had rekindled a spark of national virtue; and the Imperial series
may be continued with some dignity from their restoration to the
Turkish conquest. IX. The Moguls and Tartars. By the arms of
Zingis and his descendants, the globe was shaken from China to
Poland and Greece: the sultans were overthrown: the caliphs fell,
and the Caesars trembled on their throne. The victories of Timour
suspended above fifty years the final ruin of the Byzantine
empire. X. I have already noticed the first appearance of the
Turks; and the names of the fathers, of Seljuk and Othman,
discriminate the two successive dynasties of the nation, which
emerged in the eleventh century from the Scythian wilderness.
The former established a splendid and potent kingdom from the
banks of the Oxus to Antioch and Nice; and the first crusade was
provoked by the violation of Jerusalem and the danger of
Constantinople. From an humble origin, the Ottomans arose, the
scourge and terror of Christendom. Constantinople was besieged
and taken by Mahomet II., and his triumph annihilates the
remnant, the image, the title, of the Roman empire in the East.
The schism of the Greeks will be connected with their last
calamities, and the restoration of learning in the Western world.

I shall return from the captivity of the new, to the ruins of
ancient Rome; and the venerable name, the interesting theme, will
shed a ray of glory on the conclusion of my labors.

The emperor Heraclius had punished a tyrant and ascended his
throne; and the memory of his reign is perpetuated by the
transient conquest, and irreparable loss, of the Eastern
provinces. After the death of Eudocia, his first wife, he
disobeyed the patriarch, and violated the laws, by his second
marriage with his niece Martina; and the superstition of the
Greeks beheld the judgment of Heaven in the diseases of the
father and the deformity of his offspring. But the opinion of an
illegitimate birth is sufficient to distract the choice, and
loosen the obedience, of the people: the ambition of Martina was
quickened by maternal love, and perhaps by the envy of a step-
mother; and the aged husband was too feeble to withstand the arts
of conjugal allurements. Constantine, his eldest son, enjoyed in
a mature age the title of Augustus; but the weakness of his
constitution required a colleague and a guardian, and he yielded
with secret reluctance to the partition of the empire. The
senate was summoned to the palace to ratify or attest the
association of Heracleonas, the son of Martina: the imposition of
the diadem was consecrated by the prayer and blessing of the
patriarch; the senators and patricians adored the majesty of the
great emperor and the partners of his reign; and as soon as the
doors were thrown open, they were hailed by the tumultuary but
important voice of the soldiers. After an interval of five
months, the pompous ceremonies which formed the essence of the
Byzantine state were celebrated in the cathedral and the
hippodrome; the concord of the royal brothers was affectedly
displayed by the younger leaning on the arm of the elder; and the
name of Martina was mingled in the reluctant or venal
acclamations of the people. Heraclius survived this association
about two years: his last testimony declared his two sons the
equal heirs of the Eastern empire, and commanded them to honor
his widow Martina as their mother and their sovereign.

When Martina first appeared on the throne with the name and
attributes of royalty, she was checked by a firm, though
respectful, opposition; and the dying embers of freedom were
kindled by the breath of superstitious prejudice. "We reverence,"
exclaimed the voice of a citizen, "we reverence the mother of our
princes; but to those princes alone our obedience is due; and
Constantine, the elder emperor, is of an age to sustain, in his
own hands, the weight of the sceptre. Your sex is excluded by
nature from the toils of government. How could you combat, how
could you answer, the Barbarians, who, with hostile or friendly
intentions, may approach the royal city? May Heaven avert from
the Roman republic this national disgrace, which would provoke
the patience of the slaves of Persia!" Martina descended from the
throne with indignation, and sought a refuge in the female
apartment of the palace. The reign of Constantine the Third
lasted only one hundred and three days: he expired in the
thirtieth year of his age, and, although his life had been a long
malady, a belief was entertained that poison had been the means,
and his cruel step-mother the author, of his untimely fate.
Martina reaped indeed the harvest of his death, and assumed the
government in the name of the surviving emperor; but the
incestuous widow of Heraclius was universally abhorred; the
jealousy of the people was awakened, and the two orphans whom
Constantine had left became the objects of the public care. It
was in vain that the son of Martina, who was no more than fifteen
years of age, was taught to declare himself the guardian of his
nephews, one of whom he had presented at the baptismal font: it
was in vain that he swore on the wood of the true cross, to
defend them against all their enemies. On his death-bed, the
late emperor had despatched a trusty servant to arm the troops
and provinces of the East in the defence of his helpless
children: the eloquence and liberality of Valentin had been
successful, and from his camp of Chalcedon, he boldly demanded
the punishment of the assassins, and the restoration of the
lawful heir. The license of the soldiers, who devoured the
grapes and drank the wine of their Asiatic vineyards, provoked
the citizens of Constantinople against the domestic authors of
their calamities, and the dome of St. Sophia reechoed, not with
prayers and hymns, but with the clamors and imprecations of an
enraged multitude. At their imperious command, Heracleonas
appeared in the pulpit with the eldest of the royal orphans;
Constans alone was saluted as emperor of the Romans, and a crown
of gold, which had been taken from the tomb of Heraclius, was
placed on his head, with the solemn benediction of the patriarch.

But in the tumult of joy and indignation, the church was
pillaged, the sanctuary was polluted by a promiscuous crowd of
Jews and Barbarians; and the Monothelite Pyrrhus, a creature of
the empress, after dropping a protestation on the altar, escaped
by a prudent flight from the zeal of the Catholics. A more
serious and bloody task was reserved for the senate, who derived
a temporary strength from the consent of the soldiers and people.

The spirit of Roman freedom revived the ancient and awful
examples of the judgment of tyrants, and the Imperial culprits
were deposed and condemned as the authors of the death of
Constantine. But the severity of the conscript fathers was
stained by the indiscriminate punishment of the innocent and the
guilty: Martina and Heracleonas were sentenced to the amputation,
the former of her tongue, the latter of his nose; and after this
cruel execution, they consumed the remainder of their days in
exile and oblivion. The Greeks who were capable of reflection
might find some consolation for their servitude, by observing the
abuse of power when it was lodged for a moment in the hands of an

We shall imagine ourselves transported five hundred years
backwards to the age of the Antonines, if we listen to the
oration which Constans II. pronounced in the twelfth year of his
age before the Byzantine senate. After returning his thanks for
the just punishment of the assassins, who had intercepted the
fairest hopes of his father's reign, "By the divine Providence,"
said the young emperor, "and by your righteous decree, Martina
and her incestuous progeny have been cast headlong from the
throne. Your majesty and wisdom have prevented the Roman state
from degenerating into lawless tyranny. I therefore exhort and
beseech you to stand forth as the counsellors and judges of the
common safety." The senators were gratified by the respectful
address and liberal donative of their sovereign; but these
servile Greeks were unworthy and regardless of freedom; and in
his mind, the lesson of an hour was quickly erased by the
prejudices of the age and the habits of despotism. He retained
only a jealous fear lest the senate or people should one day
invade the right of primogeniture, and seat his brother
Theodosius on an equal throne. By the imposition of holy orders,
the grandson of Heraclius was disqualified for the purple; but
this ceremony, which seemed to profane the sacraments of the
church, was insufficient to appease the suspicions of the tyrant,
and the death of the deacon Theodosius could alone expiate the
crime of his royal birth. ^* His murder was avenged by the
imprecations of the people, and the assassin, in the fullness of
power, was driven from his capital into voluntary and perpetual
exile. Constans embarked for Greece and, as if he meant to retort
the abhorrence which he deserved he is said, from the Imperial
galley, to have spit against the walls of his native city. After
passing the winter at Athens, he sailed to Tarentum in Italy,
visited Rome, ^* and concluded a long pilgrimage of disgrace and
sacrilegious rapine, by fixing his residence at Syracuse. But if
Constans could fly from his people, he could not fly from
himself. The remorse of his conscience created a phantom who
pursued him by land and sea, by day and by night; and the
visionary Theodosius, presenting to his lips a cup of blood,
said, or seemed to say, "Drink, brother, drink;" a sure emblem of
the aggravation of his guilt, since he had received from the
hands of the deacon the mystic cup of the blood of Christ.
Odious to himself and to mankind, Constans perished by domestic,
perhaps by episcopal, treason, in the capital of Sicily. A
servant who waited in the bath, after pouring warm water on his
head, struck him violently with the vase. He fell, stunned by
the blow, and suffocated by the water; and his attendants, who
wondered at the tedious delay, beheld with indifference the
corpse of their lifeless emperor. The troops of Sicily invested
with the purple an obscure youth, whose inimitable beauty eluded,
and it might easily elude, the declining art of the painters and
sculptors of the age.

[Footnote *: His soldiers (according to Abulfaradji. Chron. Syr.
p. 112) called him another Cain. St. Martin, t. xi. p. 379. -
[Footnote *: He was received in Rome, and pillaged the churches.
He carried off the brass roof of the Pantheon to Syracuse, or, as
Schlosser conceives, to Constantinople Schlosser Geschichte der
bilder-sturmenden Kaiser p. 80 - M.]
Constans had left in the Byzantine palace three sons, the
eldest of whom had been clothed in his infancy with the purple.
When the father summoned them to attend his person in Sicily,
these precious hostages were detained by the Greeks, and a firm
refusal informed him that they were the children of the state.
The news of his murder was conveyed with almost supernatural
speed from Syracuse to Constantinople; and Constantine, the
eldest of his sons, inherited his throne without being the heir
of the public hatred. His subjects contributed, with zeal and
alacrity, to chastise the guilt and presumption of a province
which had usurped the rights of the senate and people; the young
emperor sailed from the Hellespont with a powerful fleet; and the
legions of Rome and Carthage were assembled under his standard in
the harbor of Syracuse. The defeat of the Sicilian tyrant was
easy, his punishment just, and his beauteous head was exposed in
the hippodrome: but I cannot applaud the clemency of a prince,
who, among a crowd of victims, condemned the son of a patrician,
for deploring with some bitterness the execution of a virtuous
father. The youth was castrated: he survived the operation, and
the memory of this indecent cruelty is preserved by the elevation
of Germanus to the rank of a patriarch and saint. After pouring
this bloody libation on his father's tomb, Constantine returned
to his capital; and the growth of his young beard during the
Sicilian voyage was announced, by the familiar surname of
Pogonatus, to the Grecian world. But his reign, like that of his
predecessor, was stained with fraternal discord. On his two
brothers, Heraclius and Tiberius, he had bestowed the title of
Augustus; an empty title, for they continued to languish, without


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