The World's Greatest Books, Vol XI.
Edited by Arthur Mee and J.A. Hammerton

Part 4 out of 6

Emperor Maximus advanced to meet the furious tyrant, but the stroke of
domestic conspiracy prevented the further eruption of civil war. Maximin
and his son were murdered by their disappointed troops in front of

Three months later, Maximus and Balbinus, on July 15, 238, fell victims
to their own virtues at the hands of the Praetorian guard, Gordian became
emperor. At the end of six years, he, too, after an innocent and
virtuous reign, succumbed to the ambition of the prefect Philip, while
engaged in a war with Persia, and in March 244, the Roman world
recognized the sovereignty of an Arabian robber.

Returning to Rome, Philip celebrated the secular games, on the
accomplishment of the full period of a thousand years from the
foundation of Rome. From that date, which marked the fifth time that
these rites had been performed in the history of the city, for the next
twenty years the Roman world was afflicted by barbarous invaders and
military tyrants, and the ruined empire seemed to approach the last and
fatal moment of its dissolution. Six emperors in turn succeeded to the
sceptre of Philip and ended their lives, either as the victims of
military licence, or in the vain attempt to stay the triumphal eruption
of the Goths and the Franks and the Suevi. In three expeditions the
Goths seized the Bosphorus, plundered the cities of Bithynia, ravaged
Greece, and threatened Italy, while the Franks invaded Gaul, overran
Spain and the provinces of Africa.

Some sparks of their ancient virtue enabled the senate to repulse the
Suevi, who threatened Rome herself, but the miseries of the empire were
not assuaged by this one triumph, and the successes of Sapor, king of
Persia, in the East, seemed to foreshadow the immediate downfall of
Rome. Six emperors and thirty tyrants attempted in vain to stay the
course of disaster. Famine and pestilence, tumults and disorders, and a
great diminution of the population marked this period, which ended with
the death of the Emperor Gallienus on March 20, 268.

_V.--Restorers of the Roman World_

The empire, which had been oppressed and almost destroyed by the
soldiers, the tyrants, and the barbarians, was saved by a series of
great princes, who derived their obscure origin from the martial
provinces of Illyricum. Within a period of about thirty years, Claudius,
Aurelian, Probus, Diocletian and his colleagues triumphed over the
foreign and domestic enemies of the state, re-established, with a
military discipline, the strength of the frontier, and deserved the
glorious title of Restorers of the Roman world.

Claudius gained a crushing victory over the Goths, whose discomfiture
was completed by disease in the year 269. And his successor, Aurelian,
in a reign of less than five years, put an end to the Gothic war,
chastised the Germans who invaded Italy, recovered Gaul, Spain, and
Britain from the Roman usurpers, and destroyed the proud monarchy which
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, had erected in the East on the ruins of the
afflicted empire.

The murder of Aurelian in the East (January 275) led to a curious
revival of the authority of the senate. During an interregnum of eight
months the ancient assembly at Rome governed with the consent of the
army, and appeared to regain with the election of Tacitus, one of their
members, all their ancient prerogatives. Their authority expired,
however, with the death of his successor, Probus, who delivered the
empire once more from the invasions of the barbarians, and succumbed to
the too common fate of assassination in August 282.

Carus, who was elected in his place, maintained the reputation of the
Roman arms in the East; but his supposed death by lightning, by
delivering the sceptre into the hands of his sons Carinus and Numerian
(December 25, 283), once more placed the Roman world at the mercy of
profligacy and licentiousness. A year later, the election of the Emperor
Diocletian (September 17, 284) founded a new era in the history and
fortunes of the empire.

It was the artful policy of Diocletian to destroy the last vestiges of
the ancient constitution. Dividing his unwieldly power among three other
associates--Maximian, a rough, brutal soldier, who ranked as Augustus;
and Galerius and Constantius, who bore the inferior titles of Caesar--the
emperor removed the centre of government by gradual steps from Rome.
Diocletian and Maximian held their courts in the provinces, and the
authority of the senators was destroyed by spoliation and death.

_VI.--Reign of the Six Emperors_

For twenty-one years Diocletian held sway, establishing, with the
assistance of his associates, the might of the Roman arms in Britain,
Africa, Egypt, and Persia; and then, on May 1, 305, in a spacious plain
in the neighborhood of Nicomedia, divested himself of the purple and
abdicated the throne. On the same day at Milan, Maximian reluctantly
made his resignation of the imperial dignity.

According to the rules of the new constitution, Constantius and Galerius
assumed the title of Augustus, and nominated Maximin and Severus as
Caesars. The elaborate machinery devised by Diocletian at once broke
down. Galerius, who was supported by Severus, intrigued for the
possession of the whole Roman world. Constantine, the son of
Constantius, on account of his popularity with the army and the people,
excited his suspicion, and only the flight of Constantine saved him from
death. He made his way to Gaul, and, after taking part in a campaign
with his father against the Caledonians, received the title of Augustus
in the imperial palace at York on the death of Constantius.

Civil war once more raged. Maxentius, the son of Maximian, was declared
Emperor of Rome, and, with the assistance of his father, who broke from
his retirement, defended his title against Severus, who was taken
prisoner at Ravenna and executed at Rome in February 307. Galerius, who
had raised Licinius to fill the post vacated by the death of Severus,
invaded Italy to reestablish his authority, but, after threatening Rome,
was compelled to retire.

There were now six emperors. Maximian and his son Maxentius and
Constantine in the West; in the East, Gelerius, Maximin, and Licinius.
The second resignation of Maximian, and his renewed attempt to seize the
imperial power by seducing the soldiers of Constantine, and his
subsequent execution at Marseilles in February 310, reduced the number
to five. Galerius died of a lingering disorder in the following year,
and the civil war that broke out between Maxentius and Constantine,
culminating in a battle near Rome in 312, placed the sceptre of the West
in the hands of the son of Constantius. In the East, the alliance
between Licinius and Maximin dissolved into discord, and the defeat of
the latter on April 30, 313, ended in his death three or four months

The empire was now divided between Constantine and Licinius, and the
ambition of the two princes rendered peace impossible. In the years 315
and 323 civil conflict broke out, ending, after the battle of Adrianople
and the siege of Byzantium, in a culminating victory for Constantine in
the field of Chrysopolis, in September. Licinius, taken prisoner, laid
himself and his purple at the feet of his lord and master, and was duly

By successive steps, from his first assuming the purple at York, to the
resignation of Licinius, Constantine had reached the undivided
sovereignty of the Roman world. His success contributed to the decline
of the empire by the expense of blood and treasure, and by the perpetual
increase as well of the taxes as of the military establishments. The
foundation of Constantinople and the establishment of the Christian
religion were the immediate and memorable consequences of this

* * * * *

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire--II

_I.--Decay of the Empire under Constantine_

The unfortunate Licinius was the last rival who opposed the greatness of
Constantine. After a tranquil and prosperous reign, the conqueror
bequeathed to his family the inheritance of the Roman Empire; a new
capital, a new policy, and a new religion; and the innovations which he
established have been embraced, and consecrated, by succeeding

Byzantium, which, under the more august name of Constantinople, was
destined to preserve the shadow of the Roman power for nearly a thousand
years after it had been extinguished by Rome herself, was the site
selected for the new capital. Its boundary was traced by the emperor,
and its circumference measured some sixteen miles. In a general decay of
the arts no architect could be found worthy to decorate the new capital,
and the cities of Greece and Asia were despoiled of their most valuable
ornaments to supply this want of ability. In the course of eight or ten
years the city, with its beautiful forum, its circus, its imperial
palace, its theatres, baths, churches, and houses, was completed with
more haste than care. The dedication of the new Rome was performed with
all due pomp and ceremony, and a population was provided by the
expedient of summoning some of the wealthiest families in the empire to
take up their residence within its walls.

The gradual decay of Rome had eliminated that simplicity of manners
which was the just pride of the ancient republic. Under the autocratic
system of Diocletian, a hierarchy of dependents had sprung up. The rank
of each was marked with the most scrupulous exactness, and the purity of
the Latin language was debased by the invention of the deceitful titles
of your Sincerity, your Excellency, your Illustrious and Magnificent

The officials of the empire were divided into three classes of the
Illustrious, Respectable, and Honourable. The consuls were still
annually elected, but obtained the semblance of their ancient authority,
not from the suffrages of the people, but from the whim of the emperor.
On the morning of January 1 they assumed the ensigns of their dignity,
and in the two capitals of the empire they celebrated their promotion to
office by the annual games. As soon as they had discharged these
customary duties, they retired into the shade of private life, to enjoy,
during the remainder of the year, the undisturbed contemplation of their
own greatness. Their names served only as the legal date of the year in
which they had filled the chair of Marius and of Cicero. The ancient
title of Patrician became now an empty honour bestowed by the emperor.
Four prefects held jurisdiction over as many divisions of the empire,
and two municipal prefects ruled Rome and Constantinople. The proconsuls
and vice-prefects belonged to the rank of Respectable, and the
provincial magistrates to the lower class of Honourable. In the military
system, eight master-generals exercised their jurisdiction over the
cavalry and the infantry, while thirty-five military commanders, with
the titles of counts and dukes, under their orders, held sway in the
provinces. The army itself was recruited with difficulty, for such was
the horror of the profession of a soldier which affected the minds of
the degenerate Romans that compulsory levies had frequently to be made.
The number of the barbarian auxiliaries enormously increased, and they
were included in the legions and the troops that surrounded the throne.
Seven ministers with the rank of Illustrious regulated the affairs of
the palace, and a host of official spies and torturers swelled the
number of the immediate followers of the sovereign.

The general tribute, or indiction, as it was called, was derived largely
from the taxation of landed property. Every fifteen years an accurate
census, or survey, was made of all lands, and the proprietor was
compelled to state the true facts of his affairs under oath, and paid
his contribution partly in gold and partly in kind. In addition to this
land tax there was a capitation tax on every branch of commercial
industry, and "free gifts" were exacted from the cities and provinces on
the occasion of any joyous event in the family of the emperor. The
peculiar "free gift" of the senate of Rome amounted to some $320,000.

Constantine celebrated the twentieth year of his reign at Rome in the
year 326. The glory of his triumph was marred by the execution, or
murder, of his son Crispus, whom he suspected of a conspiracy, and the
reputation of the emperor who established the Christian religion in the
Roman world was further stained by the death of his second wife, Fausta.
With a successful war against the Goths in 331, and the expulsion of the
Sarmatians in 334, his reign closed. He died at Nicomedia on May 22,

_II.--The Division of East and West_

The unity of the empire was again destroyed by the three sons of
Constantine. A massacre of their kinsmen preceded the separation of the
Roman world between Constantius, Constans, and Constantine. Within three
years, civil war eliminated Constantine. The conflict among the emperors
resulted in a doubtful war with Persia, and the almost complete
extinction of the Christian monarchy which had been founded for
fifty-six years in Armenia.

Constantius was left sole emperor in 353. He associated with himself
successively as Caesars the two nephews of the great Constantine, Gallus
and Julian. The first, being suspected, was destroyed in 354; the second
succeeded to the purple in 361.

Trained in the school of the philosophers, and proved as a commander in
a series of successful campaigns against the German hordes, Julian
brought to the throne a genius which, in other times, might have
effected the reformation of the empire. The sufferings of his youth had
associated in a mind susceptible of the most lively impressions the
names of Christ and of Constantius, the ideas of slavery and religion.
At the age of twenty he renounced the Christian faith, and boldly
asserted the doctrines of paganism. His accession to the supreme power
filled the minds of the Christians with horror and indignation. But
instructed by history and reflection, Julian extended to all the
inhabitants of the Roman world the benefits of a free and equal
toleration, and the only hardship which he inflicted on the Christians
was to deprive them of the power of tormenting their fellow subjects,
whom they stigmatised with the odious titles of idolaters and heretics.

While re-establishing and reforming the old pagan system and attempting
to subvert Christianity, he held out a hand of succour to the persecuted
Jews, asked to be permitted to pay his grateful vows in the holy city of
Jerusalem, and was only prevented from rebuilding the Temple by a
supposed preternatural interference. He suppressed the authority of
George, Archbishop of Alexandria, who had infamously persecuted and
betrayed the people under his spiritual care, and that odious priest,
who has been transformed by superstition into the renowned St. George of
England, the patron of arms, of chivalry, and of the Garter, fell a
victim to the just resentment of the Alexandrian multitude.

The Persian system of monarchy, introduced by Diocletian, was
distasteful to the philosophic mind of Julian; he refused the title of
lord and master, and attempted to restore in all its pristine simplicity
the ancient government of the republic. In a campaign against the
Persians he received a mortal wound, and died on June 26, 363.

The election of Jovian, the first of the domestics, by the acclamation
of the soldiers, resulted in a disgraceful peace with the Persians,
which aroused the anger and indignation of the Roman world, and the new
emperor hardly survived this act of weakness for nine months (February
17, 364). The throne of the Roman world remained ten days without a
master. At the end of that period the civil and military powers of the
empire solemnly elected Valentinian as emperor at Nice in Bithynia.

The new Augustus divided the vast empire with his brother Valens, and
this division marked the final separation of the western and eastern
empires. This arrangement continued, until the death of Valentinian in
375, when the western empire was divided between his sons, Gratian and
Valentinian II.

His reign had been notable for the stemming of the invasion of the
Alemanni of Gaul, the incursions of the Burgundians and the Saxons, the
restoration of Britain from the attacks of the Picts and Scots, the
recovery of Africa by the emperor's general, Theodosius, and the
diplomatic settlement with the approaching hordes of the Goths, who
already swarmed upon the frontiers of the empire.

Under the three emperors the Roman world began to feel more severely the
gradual pressure exerted by the hordes of barbarians that moved
westward. In 376 the Goths, pursued by the Huns, who had come from the
steppes of China into Europe, sought the protection of Valens, who
succoured them by transporting them over the Danube into Roman
territory. They repaid his clemency by uniting their arms with those of
the Huns, and defeating and killing him at the battle of Hadrianople in

To save the provinces from the ravages of the barbarians, Gratian
appointed Theodosius, son of his father's general, emperor of the East,
and the wisdom of his choice was justified by the success of one who
added a new lustre to the title of Augustus. By prudent strategy,
Theodosius divided and defeated the Goths, and compelled them to submit.

The sons of Theodosius, Arcadius and Honorius succeeded respectively to
the government of the East and the West in 395. The symptoms of decay,
which not even the wise rule of Theodosius had been able to remove, had
grown more alarming. The luxury of the Romans was more shameless and
dissolute, and as the increasing depredations of the barbarians had
checked industry and diminished wealth, this profuse luxury must have
been the result of that indolent despair which enjoys the present hour
and declines the thoughts of futurity.

The secret and destructive poison of the age had affected the camps of
the legions. The infantry had laid aside their armour, and, discarding
their shields, advanced, trembling, to meet the cavalry of the Goths and
the arrows of the barbarians, who easily overwhelmed the naked soldiers,
no longer deserving the name of Romans. The enervated legionaries
abandoned their own and the public defence, and their pusillanimous
indolence may be considered the immediate cause of the downfall of the

_III.--Ruin by Goth, Vandal, and Hun_

The genius of Rome expired with Theodosius. His sons within three months
had once more sharply divided the empire. At a time when the only hope
of delaying its ruin depended on the firm union of the two sections, the
subject of Arcadius and Honorius were instructed by their respective
masters to view each other in a hostile light, to rejoice in their
mutual calamity, and to embrace as their faithful allies the barbarians,
whom they incited to invade the territories of their countrymen.

Alarmed at the insecurity of Rome, Honorius about this time fixed the
imperial residence within the naturally fortified city of Ravenna--an
example which was afterwards imitated by his feeble successors, the
Gothic kings and the Exarchs; and till the middle of the eighth century
Ravenna was considered as the seat of government and the capital of

The reign of Arcadius in the East marked the complete division of the
Roman world. His subjects assumed the language and manners of Greeks,
and his form of government was a pure and simple monarchy. The name of
the Roman republic, which so long preserved a faint tradition of
freedom, was confined to the Latin provinces. A series of internal
disputes, both civil and religious, marked his career of power, and his
reign may be regarded as notable if only for the election of St. John
Chrysostom to the head of the church of Constantinople. Arcadius died in
May 408, and was succeeded by his supposed son, Theodosius, then a boy
of seven, the reins of power being first held by the prefect Anthemius,
and afterwards by his sister Pulcheria, who governed the eastern
empire--in fact, for nearly forty years.

The wisdom of Honorius, emperor of the West, in removing his capital to
Ravenna, was soon justified by events. Alaric, king of the Goths,
advanced in 408 to the gates of Rome, and completely blockaded the city.
In the course of a long siege, thousands of Romans died of plague and
famine, and only a heavy ransom, amounting to $1,575,000, relieved the
citizens from their terrible situation in the year 409. In the same year
Alaric again besieged Rome, after fruitless negotiations with Honorius,
and his attempt once more proving successful, he created Attilus,
prefect of the city, emperor. But the imprudent measures of his puppet
sovereign exasperated Alaric. Attilus was formally deposed in 410, and
the infuriated Goth besieged and sacked Rome, and ravaged Italy. The
spoil that the barbarians carried away with them comprised nearly all
the movable wealth of the city.

The ancient capital was devastated, the exquisite works of art
destroyed, and nearly all the monuments of a glorious past sacrificed to
the insatiate greed of the conquerors. Fire helped to complete the ruin
wrought by the Goths, and it is not easy to compute the multitude of
citizens who, from an honourable station and a prosperous fortune, were
suddenly reduced to the miserable condition of captives and exiles.

The complete ruin of Italy was prevented by the death of Alaric in 410.

During the reign of Honorius, the Goths, Burgundians, and Franks were
settled in Gaul. The maritime countries, between the Seine and the
Loire, followed the example of Britain in 409, and threw off the yoke of
the empire. Aquitaine, with its capital at Aries, received, under the
title of the seven provinces, the right of convening an annual assembly
for the management of its own affairs.

Honorius died in 423, and was succeeded by Valentinian III. His long
reign was marked by a series of disasters, which foretold the rapidly
approaching dissolution of the western empire.

Genseric, king of the Vandals, in 429 crossed into Africa, conquered the
province, and set up in the depopulated territory, with Carthage as his
capital, a new rule and government. Italy was filled with fugitives from
Africa, and a barbarian race, which had issued from the frozen regions
of the north, established their victorious reign over one of the fairest
provinces of the empire. Two years later, in 441, a new and even more
terrible danger threatened the empire.

The Goths and Vandals, flying before the Huns, had oppressed the western
World. The hordes of these barbarians, now gathering strength in their
union under their king, Attila, threatened an attack upon the eastern
empire. In appearance their chieftain was terrible in the extreme; his
portrait exhibits the genuine deformity of a modern Calmuck: a large
head, a swarthy complexion, small, deep-seated eyes, a flat nose, a few
hairs in the place of a beard, broad shoulders, and a short, square body
of nervous strength, though of a disproportionate form. He had a custom
of fiercely rolling his eyes, as if he wished to enjoy the terror which
he inspired.

This savage hero, who had subdued Germany and Scythia, and almost
exterminated the Burgundians of the Rhine, and had conquered
Scandinavia, was able to bring into the field 700,000 barbarians. An
unsuccessful raid into Persia induced him to turn his attention to the
eastern empire, and the enervated troops of Theodosius the Younger
dissolved before the fury of his onset. He ravaged up to the very gates
of Constantinople, and only a humiliating treaty preserved his dominion
to the "invincible Augustus" of the East.

After the death of Theodosius the Younger, and the accession of Marcian,
the husband of Pulcheria, Attila threatened, in 450, both empires. An
incursion of his hordes into Gaul was rendered abortive by the conduct
of the patrician, AEtius, who, uniting all the various troops of Gaul and
Germany, the Saxons, the Burgundians, the Franks, under their
Merovingian prince, and the Visigoths under their king, Theodoric, after
two important battles, induced the Huns to retreat from the field of
Chalons. Attila, diverted from his purpose, turned into Italy, and the
citizens of the various towns fled before the savage destroyer. Many
families of Aquileia, Padua, and the adjacent towns, found a safe refuge
in the neighbouring islands of the Adriatic, where their place of refuge
evolved, in time, into the famous Republic of Venice.

Valentinian fled from Ravenna to Rome, prepared to desert his people and
his empire. The fortitude of AEtius alone supported and preserved the
tottering state. Leo, Bishop of Rome, in his sacerdotal robes, dared to
demand the clemency of the savage king, and the intervention of St.
Peter and St. Paul is supposed to have induced Attila to retire beyond
the Danube, with the Princess Honoria as his bride. He did not long
survive this last campaign, and in 453 he died, and was buried amidst
all the savage pomp and grief of his subjects. His death resolved the
bonds that had united the various nations of which his subjects were
composed, and in a very few years domestic discord had extinguished the
empire of the Huns.

Genseric, king of the Vandals, sacked and pillaged the ancient capital
in June 455.

The vacant throne was filled by the nomination of Theodoric, king of the
Goths. The senate of Rome bitterly opposed the elevation of this
stranger, and though Avitus might have supported his title against the
votes of an unarmed assembly, he fell immediately he incurred the
resentment of Count Ricimer, one of the chief commanders of the
barbarian troops who formed the military defence of Italy. At a distance
from his Gothic allies, he was compelled to abdicate (October 16, 456),
and Majorian was raised to fill his place.

_IV.--The Last Emperor of the West_

The successor of Avitus was a great and heroic character, such as
sometimes arise in a degenerate age to vindicate the honour of the human
species. In the ruin of the Roman world he loved his people, sympathised
with their distress, and studied by judicial and effectual remedies to
allay their sufferings. He reformed the most intolerable grievances of
the taxes, attempted to restore and maintain the edifices of Rome, and
to establish a new and healthier moral code. His military abilities and
his fortune were not in proportion to his merits. An unsuccessful
attempt against the Vandals to recover the lost provinces of Africa
resulted in the loss of his fleet, and his return from this disastrous
campaign terminated his reign. He was deposed by Ricimer, and five days
later died of a reported dysentery, on August 7, 461.

At the command of Ricimer, the senate bestowed the imperial title on
Libius Severus, who reigned as long as it suited his patron. The
increasing difficulties, however, of the kingdom of Italy, due largely
to the naval depredation of the Vandals, compelled Ricimer to seek the
assistance of the emperor Leo, who had succeeded Marcian in the East in
457. Leo determined to extirpate the tyranny of the Vandals, and
solemnly invested Anthemius with the diadem and purple of the West

In 472, Ricimer raised the senator Olybrius to the purple, and,
advancing from Milan, entered and sacked Rome and murdered Anthemius
(July 11, 472). Forty days after this calamitous event, the tyrant
Ricimer died of a painful disease, and two months later death also
removed Olybrius.

The emperor Leo nominated Julius Nepos to the vacant throne. After
suppressing a rival in the person of Glycerius, Julius succumbed, in
475, to a furious sedition of the barbarian confederates, who, under the
command of the patrician Orestes, marched from Rome to Ravenna. The
troops would have made Orestes emperor, but when he declined they
consented to acknowledge his son Augustulus as emperor of the West.

The ambition of the patrician might have seemed satisfied, but he soon
discovered, before the end of the first year, that he must either be the
slave or the victim of his barbarian mercenaries. The soldiers demanded
a third part of the land of Italy. Orestes rejected the audacious
demand, and his refusal was favourable to the ambition of Odoacer, a
bold barbarian, who assured his fellow-soldiers that if they dared to
associate under his command they might extort the justice that had been
denied to their dutiful petition. Orestes was executed, and Odoacer,
resolving to abolish the useless and expensive office of the emperor of
the West, compelled the unfortunate Augustulus to resign.

So ended, in the year 476, the empire of the West, and the last Roman
emperor lived out his life in retirement in the Lucullan villa on the
promontory of Misenum.

* * * * *

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire--III

_I.--The Growth of the Christian Church_

The policy of the emperors and the senate, as far as it concerned
religion, was happily seconded by the reflections of the enlightened,
and by the habits of the superstitious part of their subjects. The
various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all
considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally
false; by the magistrate as equally useful. Under this spirit of
toleration the Christian church grew with great rapidity. Five main
causes effectually favoured and assisted this development.

1. The inflexible and intolerant zeal of the Christians, purified from
the narrow and unsocial spirit of the Jewish religion.

2. The doctrine of a future life, improved by every additional
circumstance which could give weight and efficacy to that important

3. The miraculous powers ascribed to the primitive Church.

4. The pure and austere morals of the early Christians.

5. The union and discipline of the Christian republic, which gradually
formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman

The early Christians of the mother church at Jerusalem subscribed to the
Mosaic law, and the first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem were all
circumcised Jews. But the Gentile church rejected the intolerable weight
of Mosaic ceremonies, and at length refused to their more scrupulous
brethren the same toleration which at first they had humbly solicited
for their own practise. After the ruin of the temple of the city, and of
the public religion of the Jews, the Nazarenes, as the Christian Jews of
Jerusalem were called, retired to the little town of Pella, from whence
they could make easy and frequent pilgrimages to the Holy City. When the
Emperor Hadrian forbade the Jewish people from approaching the precincts
of the city, the Nazarenes escaped from the common proscription by
disavowing the Mosaic law. A small remnant, however, still combined the
Mosaic ceremonies with the Christian faith, and existed, until the
fourth century, under the name of Ebeonites.

The immortality of the soul had been held by a few sages of Greece and
Rome, who were unwilling to confound themselves with the beasts of the
field, or to suppose that a being for whose dignity they entertained the
most sincere admiration could be limited to a spot of earth, and to a
few years of duration. But reason could not justify the specious and
noble principles of the disciples of Plato.

To the Christians alone the authority of Christ gave a certainty of a
future life, and when the promise of eternal happiness was proposed to
mankind on condition of adopting the faith, and of observing the
precepts of the Gospel, it is no wonder that so advantageous an offer
should have been accepted by great numbers of every religion, of every
rank, and of every province in the Roman Empire. The immediate
expectation of the second coming of Christ, and the reign of the Son of
God with His saints for a thousand years, strengthened the ancient
Christians against all trials and sufferings.

The supernatural gifts which even in this life were ascribed to the
Christians above the rest of mankind must have conduced to their own
comfort, and very frequently to the conviction of infidels. The gift of
tongues, of vision, and of prophecy, the power of expelling demons, of
healing the sick, and of raising the dead, were prodigies claimed by the
Christian Church at the time of the apostles and their first disciples.

Repentance for their past sins, and the laudable desire of supporting
the reputation of the society in which they were engaged, rendered the
lives of the primitive Christians much purer and more austere than those
of their pagan contemporaries or their degenerate successors. They were
insistent in their condemnation of pleasure and luxury, and, in their
search after purity, were induced to approve reluctantly that
institution of marriage which they were compelled to tolerate. A state
of celibacy was regarded as the nearest approach to the divine
perfection, and there were in the primitive church a great number of
persons devoted to the profession of perpetual chastity.

The government of the primitive church was based on the principles of
freedom and equality. The societies which were instituted in the cities
of the Roman Empire were united only by the ties of faith and charity.
The want of discipline and human learning was supplied by the occasional
assistance of the "prophets "--men or women who, as often as they felt
the divine impulse, poured forth the effusions of the spirit in the
assembly, of the faithful. In the course of time bishops and presbyters
exercised solely the functions of legislation and spiritual guidance. A
hundred years after the death of the apostles, the bishop, acting as the
president of the presbyterial college, administered the sacrament and
discipline of the Church, managed the public funds, and determined all
such differences as the faithful were unwilling to expose before the
tribunal of an idolatrous judge.

Every society formed within itself a separate and independent republic,
and towards the end of the second century, realizing the advantages that
might result from a closer union of their interests and designs, these
little states adopted the useful institution of a provincial synod. The
bishops of the various churches met in the capital of the province at
stated periods, and issued their decrees or canons. The institution of
synods was so well suited to private ambition and to public interest
that it was received throughout the whole empire. A regular
correspondence was established between the provincial councils, which
mutually communicated and approved their respective proceedings, and the
Catholic Church soon assumed the form and acquired the strength of a
great federative republic.

The community of goods which for a short time had been adopted in the
primitive church was gradually abolished, and a system of voluntary
gifts was substituted. In the time of the Emperor Decius it was the
opinion of the magistrates that the Christians of Rome were possessed of
very considerable wealth, and several laws, enacted with the same design
as our statutes of mortmain, forbade real estate being given or
bequeathed to any corporate body, without special sanctions. The bishops
distributed these revenues, exercised the right of exclusion or
excommunication of recalcitrant members of the Church, and maintained
the dignity of their office with ever increasing pomp and circumstance.

_II.--The Days of Persecution_

The persecution of Christians by the Roman emperors must at first sight
seem strange, when one considers their inoffensive mode of faith and
worship. When one remembers the scepticism that prevailed among the
pagans, and the tolerant view of all religions which was characteristic
of the Roman citizen in the early years of the empire, this harshness
seems all the more remarkable. It can be explained partly by the
misapprehension which existed in the mind of the pagan world as to the
principles of the Christian faith, and partly by the organization of the
sect. The Jews were allowed the exercise of their unsocial and exclusive
faith. But the Jews were a nation; the Christians were a sect. Moreover,
the Christians were regarded as apostates from the ancient faith of
Moses, and, worshipping no visible god, were held to be atheists.

The Roman policy also viewed with the utmost jealousy and distrust any
association among its subjects, and the secret and nocturnal meetings of
the Christians appeared peculiarly dangerous in the eyes of the law.

They were oppressed by the Emperor Domitian. Trajan protected their
meetings by requiring definite evidence of these illegal assemblies, and
an informer who failed in his proofs was subject to a severe or capital
penalty. But the edicts of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius protected the
Church from the danger of popular clamour in times of disaster,
declaring that the voice of the multitude should never be admitted as
legal evidence to convict or to punish those unfortunate persons who had
embraced the enthusiasm of the Christians.

The authority of Origen and Dionysius annihilates that formidable army
of martyrs, whose relics, drawn for the most part from the catacombs of
Rome, have replenished so many churches, and whose marvellous
achievements have been the subject of so many volumes of holy romance.

The martyrdom of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, on September 14, 258, was
one of the most notable of that period. Under Marcus Antoninus, the
Christians were treated harshly, but the tyrant Commodus protected them
by his leniency. After a temporary period of persecution during the
reign of Severus, the Christians enjoyed a calm from 211 to 249. The
storms gathered again under Decius, and so vigorous was the persecution
that the bishops of the most considerable cities were removed by exile
or death.

_III.--The Church under Constantine_

From 284 to 303, during the reign of Diocletian, the Christian Church
enjoyed peace and prosperity, but in the latter year Galerius persuaded
the emperor to renew the persecution of the sect. An edict on February
24 enacted that all churches throughout the empire should be demolished,
and the punishment of death was pronounced against all who should
presume to hold any secret assemblies for the purposes of religious
worship. Many suffered martyrdom under this cruel enactment. Churches
everywhere were burnt, and sacred books destroyed. Three more edicts
published before March 304 led to the imprisonment of all persons of the
ecclesiastical order, compelled the magistrates to exercise torture to
subvert the religion of their Christian prisoners, and made it the duty,
as well as the interest, of the imperial officers to discover, to
pursue, and to torment the most obnoxious among the faithful.

But after six years of persecution, the mind of Galerius, softened by
salutary reflection, induced him to attempt some reparation. In the
edict of toleration which he published on April 30, 311, he expresses
the hope "that our indulgence will engage the Christians to offer up
their prayers to the Deity whom they adore for our safety and
prosperity, and for that of the Republic."

The triumph of the great Constantine established the security of the
Christian Church from the attacks of the pagans. Converted in 306,
Constantine, as soon as he had achieved the conquest of Italy, issued
the Edict of Milan (313), declaring that the places of worship which had
been confiscated should be restored to the Church without dispute,
without delay, and without expense. Though himself never received by
baptism into the Church, until his last moments, his powerful patronage
of the Christians, and his edicts of toleration, removed all the
temporal disadvantages which had hitherto retarded the progress of

The faith of Christ became the national religion of the empire. The
soldiers bore upon their helmets and upon their shields the sacred
emblem of the Cross. All the machinery of government was employed to
propagate the faith, not only within the empire, but beyond its borders.
Confirmed in his new religion by the miraculous vision of the Cross,
Constantine, who was the master of the world, consented to recognise the
superiority of the ecclesiastical orders in all spiritual matters, while
retaining himself the temporal power.

The persecution of heresy was carried out by Constantine with all the
ardour of a convert. An edict confiscated the public property of the
heretics to the use either of the revenue or the Catholic Church, and
the penal regulations of Diocletian against the Christians were now
employed against the schismatics. The Donatists, who maintained the
apostolic succession of Donatus, primate of Carthage, as opposed to
Caecilian, were suppressed in Africa, and a general synod attempted to
regulate the faith of the Church.

The subject of the nature of the divine Trinity had early given rise to
discussion. Of the three main heretical views, that of Arius and his
disciples was the most prevalent. He held in effect that the Son, by
whom all things were made, though He had been begotten before all
worlds, yet had not always existed. He shone only with the reflected
light of His Almighty Father, and, like the sons of the Roman emperors,
who were invested with the titles of Caesar or Augustus. He governed the

The Tritheists advocated a system which seemed to establish three
independent deities, while the Sabellian theory allowed only to the man
Jesus the inspiration of the divine wisdom. The consubstantiality of the
Father and of the Son had been established by the Council of Nicaea in
325, but the East ranged itself for the most part under the banner of
the Arian heresy. At first indifferent, Constantine at last persecuted
the Arians, who later, under Constantius, were received into favour.

Constantinople, which for forty years was the stronghold of Arianism,
was converted to the orthodox faith under Theodosius by Gregory

_IV.--The Conversion of the World_

The pagan religion was finally destroyed about the year 390, and the
faintest vestiges of it were not visible thirty years later. Its
influence, however, might be observed in many of the ceremonies which
were introduced into the Church, and the worship of martyrs and relics
seemed to revive a system of polytheism by the worship of a hierarchy of
saints. Among the most famous of the dignitaries of the Church at this
period was the Archbishop of Constantinople, who was distinguished by
the epithet of Chrysostom, or the Golden Mouth. He attempted to purify
the eastern empire, excited the animosity of the Empress Eudoxia, and
died in exile in 407.

The monastic system had been founded by Antony, an illiterate youth, in
the year 305, by the establishment on Mount Cobyim, near the Red Sea, of
a colony of ascetics, who renounced all the business and pleasures in
life as the price of eternal happiness. A long series of hermits, monks,
and anachorets propagated the system and, patronised by Athanasius, it
spread to all parts of the world.

The monastic profession was an act of voluntary devotion, and the
inconstant fanatic was threatened with the eternal vengeance of the God
whom he deserted. The monks had to give a blind submission to the
commands of their abbot, however absurd, and the freedom of the mind,
the source of every generous and rational sentiment, was destroyed by
the habits of credulity and submission. In their dress and diet they
preserved the most rigorous simplicity, and they subsisted entirely by
their own manual exertions. But in the course of time this simplicity
vanished, and, enriched by the offerings of the faithful, they assumed
the pride of wealth, and at last indulged in the luxury of extravagance.

The conversion of the barbarians followed upon their invasion of the
Roman world; but they were involved in the Arian heresy, and from their
advocacy of that cause they were characterised by the name of heretics,
an epithet more odious than that of barbarian. The bitterness engendered
by this reproach confirmed them in their faith, and the Vandals in
Africa persecuted the orthodox Catholic with all the vigour and cruel
arts of religious tyranny.

* * * * *

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire--IV

_I.--Theodoric the Ostrogoth_

After the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, an interval of fifty
years, until the memorable reign of Justinian, is faintly marked by the
obscure names and imperfect annals of Zeno, Anastasius, and Justin, who
successively ascended the throne of Constantinople. During the same
period Italy revived and nourished under the government of a Gothic
king, who might have deserved a statue among the best and bravest of the
ancient Romans.

Theodoric the Ostrogoth, the fourteenth in lineal descent of royal line
of the Amali, was born (455) in the neighbourhood of Vienna two years
after the death of Attila. The murmurs of the Goths, who complained that
they were exposed to intolerable hardships, determined Theodoric to
attempt an adventure worthy of his courage and ambition. He boldly
demanded the privilege of rescuing Italy and Rome from Odoacer, and at
the head of his people forced his way, between the years 488 and 489,
through hostile country into Italy. In three battles he triumphed over
Odoacer, forced that monarch to capitulate on favourable terms at
Ravenna (493), and after pretending to allow him to share his
sovereignty of Italy, assassinated him in the same year.

The long reign of Theodoric (493-526) was marked by a transient return
of peace and prosperity to Italy. His domestic and foreign policy were
dictated alike by wisdom and necessity. His people were settled on the
land, which they held by military tenure. A series of matrimonial
alliances secured him the support of the Franks, the Burgundians, the
Visigoths, the Vandals, and the Thuringians, and his sword preserved his
territory from the incursions of rival barbarians and the two disastrous
attacks (505 and 508) that envy prompted the Emperor Anastasius to

_II.--Justinian the Great_

The death of the Emperor Anastasius had raised to the throne a Dardanian
peasant, who by his arts secured the suffrage of the guards, despoiled
and destroyed his more powerful rivals, and reigned under the name of
Justin I. from 518 to 527. He was succeeded by his nephew, the great
Justinian, who for thirty-eight years directed the fortunes of the Roman

The Empress Theodora, who before her marriage had been a theatrical
wanton, was seated, by the fondness of the emperor, on the throne as an
equal and independent colleague in the sovereignty. Her rapacity, her
cruelty, and her pride were the subject of contemporary writings, but
her benevolence to her less fortunate sisters, and her courage amidst
the factions and dangers of the court, justly entitle her to a certain
nobility of character.

Constantinople in the age of Justinian was torn by the factions of the
circus. The rival bands of charioteers, who wore respectively liveries
of green and blue, created in the capital of the East, as they had
created in Rome, two factions among the populace. Justinian's support of
the blues led to a serious sedition in the capital. The two factions
were united by a common desire for vengeance, and with the watchword of
"Nika" (vanquish) (January 532), raged in tumult through Constantinople
for five days. At the command of Theodora 3,000 veterans who could be
trusted marched through the burning streets to the Hippodrome, and
there, supported by the repentant blues, massacred the unresisting mob.

The Eastern Empire, after Rome was barbarous, still embraced the nations
whom she had conquered beyond the Adriatic, and as far as the frontiers
of Ethiopia and Persia. Justinian reigned over 64 provinces and 935
cities. The arts and agriculture flourished under his rule, but the
avarice and profusion of Justinian oppressed the people. His expensive
taste for building almost exhausted the resources of the empire. Heavy
custom tolls, taxes on the food and industry of the poor, the exercise
of intolerable monopolies, were not excused or compensated for by the
parsimonious saving in the salaries of court officials, and even in the
pay of the soldiers. His stately edifices were cemented with the blood
and treasures of his people, and the rapacity and luxury of the emperor
were imitated by the civil magistrates and officials.

The schools of Athens, which still kept alight the sacred flame of the
ancient philosophy, were suppressed by Justinian. The academy of the
Platonics, the Lyceum of the Peripatetics, the Portico of the Stoics,
and the Garden of the Epicureans had long survived.

With the death of Simplicius and his six companions, who terminate the
long list of Grecian philosophers, the golden chain, as it was fondly
styled, of the Platonic succession was broken, and the Edict of
Justinian (529) imposed a perpetual silence on the schools of Athens.

The Roman consulship was also abolished by Justinian in 541; but this
office, the title of which admonished the Romans of their ancient
freedom, still lived in the minds of the people. They applauded the
gracious condescension of successive princes by whom it was assumed in
the first year of their reign, and three centuries elapsed after the
death of Justinian before that obsolete office, which had been
suppressed by law, could be abolished by custom.

The usurpation by Gelimer (530) of the Vandalic crown of Africa, which
belonged of right to Hilderic, first encouraged Justinian to undertake
the African war. Hilderic had granted toleration to the Catholics, and
for this reason was held in reproach by his Arian subjects. His
compulsory abdication afforded the emperor of the East an opportunity of
interfering in the cause of orthodoxy. A large army was entrusted to the
command of Belisarius, one of those heroic names which are familiar to
every age and to every nation. Proved in the Persian war, Belisarius was
given unlimited authority. He set sail from Constantinople with a fleet
of six hundred ships in June 533. He landed on the coast of Africa in
September, defeated the degenerate Vandals, reduced Carthage within a
few days, utterly vanquished Gelimer, and completed the conquest of the
ancient Roman province by 534. The Vandals in Africa fled beyond the
power or even the knowledge of the Romans.

_III.--Gothic Italy_

Dissensions in Italy excited the ambition of Justinian. Belisarius was
sent with another army to Sicily in 535, and after subduing that island
and suppressing a revolt in Africa, he invaded Italy in 536. Policy
dictated the retreat of the Goths, and Belisarius entered Rome (December
536). In March, Vitiges, the Gothic ruler, returned with a force of one
hundred and fifty thousand men. The valour of the Roman general
supported a siege of forty-one days and the intrigues of the Pope
Silverius, who was exiled by his orders; and, finally, with the
assistance of a seasonable reinforcement, Belisarius compelled the
barbarians to retire in March of the following year. The conquests of
Ravenna and the suppression of the invasion of the Franks completed the
subjugation of the Gothic kingdom by December 539.

The success of Belisarius and the intrigues of his secret enemies had
excited the jealousy of Justinian. He was recalled, and the eunuch
Narses was sent to Italy, as a powerful rival, to oppose the interests
of the conqueror of Rome and Africa. The infidelity of Antonina, which
excited her husband's just indignation, was excused by the Empress
Theodora, and her powerful support was given to the wife of the last of
the Roman heroes, who, after serving again against the Persians,
returned to the capital, to be received not with honour and triumph, but
with disgrace and contempt and a fine of $600,000.

The incursions of the Lombards, the Slavonians, and the Avars and the
Turks, and the successful raids of the King of Persia were among the
number of the important events of the reign of Justinian. To maintain
his position in Africa and Italy taxed his resources to their utmost
limit. The victories of Justinian were pernicious to mankind; the
desolation of Africa was such that in many parts a stranger might wander
whole days without meeting the face of either a friend or an enemy.

The revolts of the Goths, under their king, Totila (541), once more
demanded the presence of Belisarius, and, a hero on the banks of the
Euphrates, a slave in the palace of Constantinople, he accepted with
reluctance the painful task of supporting his own reputation and
retrieving the faults of his successors. He was too late to save Rome
from the Goths, by whom it was taken in December 546; but he recovered
it in the following February. After his recall by his envious sovereign
in September 548, Rome was once more taken by the Goths. The successful
repulse of the Franks and Alemanni finally restored the kingdom to the
rule of the emperor. Belisarius died on March 13, 565.

The emperor survived his death only eight months, and passed away, in
the eighty-third year of his life and the thirty-eighth of his reign, on
November 14, 565. The most lasting memorial of his reign is to be found
neither in his victories nor his monuments, but in the immortal works of
the Code, the Pandects, and the Institutes, in which the civil
jurisprudence of the Romans was digested, and by means of which the
public reason of the Romans has been silently or studiously transfused
into the domestic institutions of the whole of Europe.

_IV.--Gregory the Great_

Justinian was succeeded by his nephew, Justin II., who lived to see the
conquest of the greater part of Italy by Alboin, king of the Lombards
(568-570), the disaffection of the exarch, Narses, and the ruin of the
revived glories of the Roman world.

During a period of 200 years Italy was unequally divided between the
king of the Lombards and the exarchate of Ravenna. Rome relapsed into a
state of misery. The Campania was reduced to the state of a dreary
wilderness. The stagnation of a deluge caused by the torrential swelling
of the Tiber produced a pestilential disease, and a stranger visiting
Rome might contemplate with horror the solitude of the city. Gregory the
Great, whose pontificate lasted from 590 to 604, reconciled the Arians
of Italy and Spain to the Catholic Church, conquered Britain in the name
of the Cross, and established his right to interfere in the management
of the episcopal provinces of Greece, Spain, and Gaul. The merits of
Gregory were treated by the Byzantine court with reproach and insult,
but in the attachment of a grateful people he found the purest reward of
a citizen and the best right of a sovereign.

The short and virtuous reign of Tiberius (578-582), which succeeded that
of Justin, made way for that of Maurice. For twenty years Maurice ruled
with honesty and honour. But the parsimony of the emperor, and his
attempt to cure the inveterate evil of a military despotism, led to his
undoing, and in 602 he was murdered with his children. A like fate
befell the Emperor Phocas, who succumbed in 610 to the fortunes of
Heraclius, the son of Crispus, exarch of Africa. For thirty-two years
Heraclius ruled the Roman world. In three campaigns he chastised the
rising power of Persia, drove the armies of Chosroes from Syria,
Palestine, and Egypt, rescued Constantinople from the joint siege of the
Avars and Persians (626), and finally reduced the Persian monarch to the
defence of his hereditary kingdom. The deposition and murder of Chosroes
by his son Siroes (628) concluded the successes of the emperor.

A treaty of peace was arranged, and Heraclius returned in triumph to
Constantinople, where, after the exploits of six glorious campaigns, he
peacefully enjoyed the sabbath of his toils. The year after his return
he made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to restore the true Cross to the
Holy Sepulchre. In the last eight years of his reign Heraclius lost to
the Arabs the same provinces which he had rescued from the Persians.

Heraclius died in 612. His descendants continued to fill the throne in
the persons of Constantine III. (641), Heracleonas (641), Constans II.
(641), Constantine IV. (668), Justinian II. (685), until 711, when an
interval of six years, divided into three reigns, made way for the rise
of the Isaurian dynasty.

_V.--The New Era of Charlemagne_

Leo III. ascended the throne on March 25, 718, and the purple descended
to his family, by the rights of heredity, for three generations. The
Isaurian dynasty is most notable for the part it played in
ecclesiastical history.

The introduction of images into the Christian Church had confused the
simplicity of religious worship. The education of Leo, his reason,
perhaps his intercourse with Jews and Arabs, had inspired him with a
hatred of images. By two edicts he proscribed the existence, as well as
the use, of religious pictures. This heresy of Leo and of his successors
and descendants, Constantine V. (741), Leo IV. (775), and Constantine
VI. (780), whose blinding by his mother Irene is one of the most tragic
stories of Roman history, justified the popes in rebelling against the
authority of the emperor, and in restoring and establishing the
supremacy of Rome.

Gregory II. saved the city from the attacks of the Lombards, who had
seized Ravenna and extinguished the series of Greek exarchs in 751. He
secured the assistance of Pepin, and the real governor of the French
monarchy--Charles Martel, who, by his signal victory over the Saracens,
had saved Europe from the Mohammedan yoke. Twice--in 754 and 756--Pepin
marched to the relief of the city. His son Charlemagne, in 774, seemed
to secure the permanent safety of the ancient capital by the conquest of
Lombardy, and for twenty-six years he ruled the Romans as his subjects.
The people swore allegiance to his person and his family, and the
elections of the popes were examined and authorised by him. The senate
exercised its rights by proclaiming him patrician and of the power of
the emperor; nothing was lacking except the title.

A document, known as the Forged Decretals, which assigned the free and
perpetual sovereignty of Rome, Italy, and the provinces of the West to
the popes by Constantine, was presented by Pope Hadrian I. to
Charlemagne. This document served to absolve the popes from their debt
of gratitude to the French monarch, and excused the revolt of Rome from
the authority of the eastern empire.

Though Constantinople returned, under Irene, to the employment of
images, and the seventh general council of Nicaea, September 24, 787,
pronounced the worship of the Greeks as agreeable to scripture and
reason, the division between the East and the West could not be avoided.
The pope was driven to revive the western empire in order to secure the
gift of the exarchy, to eradicate the claims of the Greeks, and to
restore the majesty of Rome from the debasement of a provincial town.
The emperors of the West would receive their crown from the successor of
St. Peter, and the Roman Church would require a zealous and respectable

Inspired by these motives, Pope Leo, who had nearly fallen a victim to a
conspiracy (788), and had been saved and reinstated by Charlemagne, took
the opportunity presented by the French king's visit to Rome to crown
him emperor. On the festival of Christmas (800), in the church of St.
Peter, Leo, after the celebration of the Holy Mysteries, suddenly placed
a precious crown on his head. The dome resounded with the acclamations
of the people, his head and body were consecrated with the royal
unction, and he was saluted, or adored, by the pontiff after the example
of the Caesars.

Europe dates a new era from his restoration of the western empire.

* * * * *


History of Rome

Theodor Mommsen was born at Garding in Schleswig on November
30, 1817. He studied at Kiel University for three years,
examined Roman inscriptions in France and Italy from 1844 to
1847, and attained his first professorship at Leipzig in 1848,
and the Berlin Chair of Ancient History in 1858. His greatest
work was the "History of Rome," published in 1854, and its
successor, the "Roman Provinces." On this work he brought to
bear a research and a scholarship of almost unparalleled range
and completeness. He was a man capable of vehement and
occasionally unreasonable partisanship, and a strict and
cold-blooded impartiality would have tempered the enthusiasm
of some of his portraits and the severity of others. These
defects, however, are less obvious when his history is
condensed in small compass. There are cases in which his
judgments are open to adverse criticism. But at the present
day it may safely be affirmed that there is no extant history
of Rome down to the establishment of the empire which can be
regarded as rivalling that here presented. Upwards of 900
separate publications remain as a monument of Mommsen's
industry. He died on November 1, 1903.

Iapygians, Etruscans, and Italians, the last certainly Indo-Europeans,
are the original stocks of Italy proper. Of the Italians there are two
divisions, the Latin and the Umbro-Sabellian. Central Italy was occupied
by the Latins, who were established in cantons formed of village groups;
which cantons at an early age formed themselves into the loose Latin
League, with Alba at its head.

The Roman canton, on both banks of the Tiber, concentrated itself on the
city earlier than others. The citizens consisted of the families which
constituted the larger groups of clans or gentes, formed into those
tribes. The remainder of the population were their dependents or slaves.
At the head of the family was the father, and the whole community had
its king, standing to it in the same relation as the father to the
family. His power, within the law, was absolute; but he could not
override it or change it on his own authority. This required the formal
assent of the assembled citizens. The heads of the clans formed a
separate body--the Senate--which controlled the appointment of the king,
and could veto legislation.

By admission of aliens and absorption of other communities, swelling the
number of dependents, was gradually created a great body of plebeians,
non-citizens, who began to demand political rights; and whom it was
necessary to organise for military purposes which was done by the
"Servian Constitution." Gradually Rome won a supremacy in the Latin
League, a position of superiority over the aggregate of the other

In this community arose three political movements: (1) On the part of
the full citizen, patricii, to limit the power not of the state, but of
the kings; (2) of the non-citizens, to acquire political rights; (3) of
antagonism between the great landholders and the land-interests opposed
to them. The first resulted in the expulsion of the monarchs, and the
substitution of a dual kingship held for one year only. But in many
respects their joint power was curtailed as compared with that of the
monarch, while for emergencies they could appoint a temporary dictator.
The change increased the power of the General Assembly, to which it
became necessary to admit the non-citizen freeholders who were liable to
military duties. The life tenure of the members of the Senate greatly
increased the powers of that body, and intensified the antagonism of the
patriarch and the plebeians.

At the same time, a landed nobility was developing; and when fresh land
was acquired by the state, the Patricians claimed to control it. But the
great agricultural population could not submit to this process of land
absorption, and the consequent strife took the form of a demand for
political recognition, which issued in the appointment of Tribunes of
the Plebs, with power of administrative veto.

The struggle over privileges lasted for two hundred years. First the
Canuleian law made marriage valid between patricians and plebeians, and
instituted for a time military tribunes. The Licinian law, eighty years
later, admitted plebeians to the consulship, and also required the
employment of free labour in agriculture. The decisively democratic
measure was the Horticunian law, after another seventy years, giving the
exclusively plebeian assembly full legislative power. The practical
effect of the changes was to create a new aristocracy, semi-plebeian in
origin, and to reduce the personal power of the chief officers of state,
while somewhat increasing that of the remodelled Senate; rendering it a
body selfish indeed in internal matters, but essentially patriotic as
well as powerful.

_I.--The Description of Italy_

During the period of this long constitutional struggle, Rome and her
kinsfolk had first been engaged in a stubborn and ultimately successful
contest with the non-Aryan Etruscan race; and then Italy had been
attacked by the migrating Aryan hordes of the Celts, known as Gauls, who
sacked Rome, but retired to North Italy; events giving birth to many
well-known stories, probably in the main mythical. But the practical
effect was to impose a greater solidarity of the Latin and kindred
races, and a more decisive acceptance of Roman hegemony.

That hegemony, however, had to be established by persistent compulsion,
and there were three stages in its completion. First, the subjection of
the Latins and Campanians; then the struggle of Rome with the
Umbrian-Samnites; finally, the decisive repulse of the Epirote invader
Pyrrhus--in effect a Hellenic movement. The Roman supremacy established
through the exhaustion of the valiant Samnites required to be confirmed
by stern repression of attempts to recover liberty. But the Hellenic
element in Italy, antagonistic to the growing Roman power, in effect
invited the intervention of the Epirote chief. But his scheme was not
that of an imperial statesman, but of a chivalrous and romantic warrior.
His own political blunders and the iron determination of the Romans,
destroyed his chances of conquest. His retirement left Rome undisputed
lord of Italy; which in part shared full citizenship, in part possessed
only the more restricted Latin rights, and in part only rights conceded
under varying treaties.

A sense of common Italian nationality was developing. But if Rome was
queen of Italy, Carthage was queen of the seas. Maritime expansion was
precluded, though Rome's position fitted her for it. Carthage was the
one Phoenician state which developed political as well as commercial
power. The commercial cities of North Africa were in subordination to
her, in the Western Mediterranean she had no rivals, her domestic
government was oligarchical.

Roman intervention in the affairs of Sicily, where Carthage was the
dominant power, produced the rupture between the two great states which
was bound to come sooner or later. Sicily itself was the scene of the
initial struggle, which taught Rome that her victories on land were
liable to be nullified by the Carthaginian sea power. She resolved to
build a navy, on the plan of adopting boarding tactics which would
assimilate a naval engagement to a battle on land. These tactics were
successful enough to equalise the fighting value of the respective
fleets. The Romans were enabled to land an invading army under Regulus
in Africa.

Though superior on land, the general's blundering led to a disaster, and
for some time misfortune by sea and failure by land dogged the Romans.
But Carthage failed to use her opportunity; she did not attempt to
strike a crushing blow when she could have done so. But the private
energy of Roman patriots at last placed on the seas a fleet which once
more turned the scale, whereas it was on land that the brilliant
Carthaginian Hamilcar had displayed his genius and daring. The first
Punic War gave Rome predominance in Sicily, and a position of maritime
equality. Sardinia was added to the Roman dominion, and her provincial
administration came into being.

She was carrying her expansion farther over Celtic regions, when
Hannibal, the son of Hamilcar, hurled himself against her, and came near
to destroying her. Hamilcar had conceived the idea of imperial
expansion, and given it shape by creating a dominion in Spain; he had
looked forward to the life-and-death struggle with Rome that was
destined to his son; for which Spain was to be the base. Hannibal, left
in control in Spain, deliberately challenged Rome to war.

The challenge was accepted, war was declared, and Hannibal accomplished
the amazing feat of leading an army of 60,000 men from Spain and
effecting the passage of the Alps, while the Romans were landing an army
in Spain. In a brilliant campaign, he defeated the stubborn Roman
legions at Vercellae and the Trebia.

But success depended not on the winning of victories by an isolated
force, but on the disruption of Italy. His superiority in the field was
again demonstrated at Trasimenus, but no Italian allies came in. He
outwitted Fabius, and then utterly shattered at Cannae a Roman force of
double his own numbers. For a moment it seemed that Italian cohesion was
weakening; but the Roman Senate and people were stirred only to a more
dogged resolution.

Cannae failed to break up the Roman confederation. Generalship unaided
could accomplish no more. In Spain, where young Scipio was soon winning
renown, the Roman arms were in the ascendant, and in Sicily. No
effective aid was coming from Macedon, though war was declared between
her and Rome. Hannibal's activities began to be paralysed; by slow
degrees he was forced into the south. Hannibal succeeded in crossing
the Alps with fresh forces, but by a brilliant operation was annihilated
on the Metaurus. The time had come when Scipio could disregard Hannibal
and strike at Carthage herself. Even Hannibal's return could not save
her. The victory of Zama decided the issue. Carthage became virtually a
tributary and subject state. Spain was a Roman province, and North
Africa a sort of protectorate.

The threatening extension of Macedonian power now demanded the
protecting intervention of Rome; an honest act of liberation for the
Greeks, but entailing presently the war with Antiochus of Syria.
Antiochus had left Phillip and Macedon in the lurch; now he sought to
impose his own yoke in place of theirs. The practical outcome was his
decisive overthrow at the battle of Magnesia, and the cession to Rome of
Asia Minor. Pergamus, under the house of Actalus, was established as a
protected kingdom, as Numidia under Masinissa had been. The Greek
states, however, were becoming conscious that their freedom was hardly
more than a name; Perseus of Macedon once more challenged Rome, not
without Greek support. Macedon was finally crushed by Aemilius Paullus
at Pydna. From that moment, Rome dropped the policy of maintaining free
states beyond the seas, which had manifestly failed. Virtually, the
known world was divided into subjects and dependencies of Rome, so vast
was the change in the forty years between the battles of the Metaurus
and Pydna.

Rapid extension of dominion by conquest had demoralising results; the
ruling race was exposed to strong temptations in the provinces, and the
city remained the seat of government, while the best of the burgesses
were distributed elsewhere. Hence, the popular assembly became virtually
the city mob, while the ruling families tended more and more to form a
close and greedy and plutocratic oligarchy. The demoralisation was very
inadequately checked by the austerity of the censorship as exercised by

In the provinces, the Spanish natives revolted, and were only repressed
after severe fighting. In Greece, Asia and Africa, the Roman rule gave
neither freedom nor strong government. In Africa, the disturbances led
to the wiping out of Carthage; in Greece to the complete subjection of
the dependent states; in the Far East, a new Parthian power arose under
Mithridates. The Mediterranean was allowed to be infested by pirates.
Revolution was at hand. Politics had become reduced to a process of
intrigue for office emoluments, involving a pandering to the city mob
for its suffrages.

_II.--The Revolution_

Socially, the most patent evil was the total disappearance of the free
agricultural class, the absorption of all the land into huge estates
under slave labour. The remedy proposed by Tiberius Gracchus was the
partial state resumption of land and its re-allotment. He adopted
unconstitutional methods for carrying his proposals, and was murdered in
a riot led by the oligarchs. Appeals to the Roman populace were not,
unfortunately, appeals to the Roman nation.

His brother, Gaius, deliberately designed a revolution. He proposed to
work through the antagonism of the aristocrats and the wealthy
non-senatorial equestrian order; and by concentrating power in the hands
of the tribunate, hitherto checked by the restrictions on re-election.
In effect, he meant to destroy the oligarchy by making the Tribune a
perpetual dictator, and thus to carry through social reforms; to
establish also legal equality first for the Italians, then for the
provinces also. But these reforms were not particularly attractive to
the city mob, and the other side could play the demagogue. The condition
of Caesarism is the control of physical force; Gaius Gracchus fell
because he had not that essential control. The oligarchy remained
supreme. The plans of Gracchus for planting colonies and distributing
allotments were nullified.

The evils of slave labour multiplied, and issued in servile
insurrections. In Numidia, the able Masimissa had been succeeded by
Micipsa. On Micipsa's death, the rule was usurped by his illegitimate
nephew Jugurtha, whose story has been told by Sallust. The war was at
least terminated less by the low-born general in command, Marius, than
his brilliant lieutenant Sulla. But Marius re-organised the army on the
basis which was to make a military despotism practicable, as it made a
professional instead of a citizen army.

But now a new foe appears; the first Teutonic (not Celtic) hordes of the
Cimbri and Teutones; to meet with an overwhelming check at the hands of
Marius at Aquae Sextiae and Vercellae. The successful soldier allied
himself with the popular leader Saturninus; the programme of Gaius
Gracchus was resuscitated. But Marius, a political incapable, separated
from the demagogues, and by helping to crush them, effaced himself.
Livius Drusus attempted to carry out the Gracchan social reform, with
the senate instead of the tribunate as the controlling power; the
senatorial party themselves wrecked his schemes, and the antagonistic
power of the equestrian order was advanced.

But the immediate outcome was the revolt of the Italians, the _socii_
(whence the name social war). They were not citizens, not on an equal
footing with the citizens before the law. The revolt was suppressed, but
the legions were completely out of hand. The attempt of Sulpicius to
head the reform movement was answered by Sulla, who for the first time
led a Roman army against Rome, crushed Sulpicius, prescribed some of his
adherents, and placed the power of the senate on a stronger footing by
legal enactment. Then he went to the East, to conduct the war against

While Sulla was conducting his operations, military and diplomatic, with
skill and success in the East, his arrangements at Rome had left
discontent and disappointment seething. There was another revolution,
led by Cinna, Marius and Sertorius; it mastered Rome. Marius spilt seas
of blood, but soon died. For three years Cinna was supreme, but he had
no constructive policy.

But now Sulla had finished his work in the East. He was returning at the
head of a body of veterans devoted to him; and his diplomacy won over
half Italy to his side. The struggle with the revolutionary government
was not greatly prolonged, and it was decisive.

In plain terms, the Roman constitution had gone utterly to wreck; Sulla
was in something of the same position as Oliver Cromwell. He had to
reconstruct under conditions which made a constitutional restoration
impracticable; but his control of the efficient military force gave him
the necessary power. That any system introduced must be arbitrary and
find its main sanction in physical force--that it should partake of
terrorism--was inevitable.

Sulla obtained the formal conferment on himself of absolute power. He
began by applying this rule of terror not vindictively, but with
impersonal mercilessness, against the lives and property of the
opposition. In the constitution which he promulgated the senatorial body
was alone recognised as a privileged class; the senate itself was
increased, it recovered full control of the judiciary and of
legislation; no power was left of cancelling membership. The tribunician
power was curtailed.

The civil and military functions of consuls and praetors were separated.
They were to hold civil power in Italy proper during their year of
office; they were then to have a second year in military control of a
province. The planting of military colonies provided numerous garrisons
whose interests were associated with the new constitution. When Sulla
had done his work, he resigned his extraordinary powers with entire
indifference. In a little more than a year he died.

The Sullan constitution saved the Roman empire from imminent collapse;
but it was impossible that it should be more than a makeshift, like
Cromwell's protectorate. There were huge classes with perpetual
grievances; the removal of the military forces to the provinces left the
city of Rome without adequate governors of the provinces themselves. And
there was no man of the hour of supreme ability to carry on work
demanding a master.

_III.--Pompey and Caesar_

The young Graccus Pompeius was the most distinguished of the Sullan
party; Crassus was the wealthiest and most powerful of the Equestrian
group; Lepidus was the popular leader. A popular insurrection which he
headed was suppressed, and he disappeared, but Sertorius, once an
associate of Marius, had obtained a remarkable personal ascendancy in
Spain, and, in league with the Mediterranean pirates, threatened to be a
formidable foe of the new constitution. For some years he maintained a
gradually waning resistance against the arms of Pompeius, but finally
was assassinated.

Meanwhile Tigranes, King of Armenia, had been developing a powerful
monarchy; and mutual distrust had brought on another war with
Mithridates, successfully conducted by Lucullus. Out of this war arose a
struggle with Tigranes, on whom an overwhelming defeat was inflicted at
Tigranocerta. But the brilliant achievements of Lucullus were nullified
by the mutinous conduct of the troops, and the factious conduct of the
home government. The gross inefficiency of that government was shown by
the immense extension of organised piracy, and by the famous slave
revolt under Spartacus, which seriously endangered the state.

Pompeius on his return from Spain was barred on technical grounds from
the triumph and the consulship which he demanded. He was thus driven
into an alliance with the democratic party, and with Crassus. The result
was the fall of the Sullan constitution, and the restoration of checks
on the power of the senate. Pompeius might have grasped a military
despotism; he did not, but he did receive extraordinary powers for
dealing with the whole Eastern question, and when that work was settled
successfully, he would be able to dictate his own terms.

Pompeius began his task by a swift and crushing blow against the pirate
cities and fleets, which broke up the organisation. He crushed
Mithridates in one campaign, and received the submission of Tigranes;
Mithridates soon after fell by his own hand, the victim of an
insurrection. Anarchy in Syria warranted Pompeius in annexing the
Seleucid dominion. The whole of the nearer East was now a part of the
Roman empire; and was thenceforth ruled not as protectorates, but as a
group of provinces. Egypt alone was not incorporated.

Meanwhile, the democratic party at Rome were dominant, though their
policy was inconsistent and opportunist. Probably the leading men, such
as Crassus and the rising Gaius, Julius Caesar, stood aside from the
wilder schemes, such as the Catilinarian conspiracies, but secretly
fostered them. Catiline's projects were betrayed, and the illegal
execution of the captured conspirators by the consul Cicero was hailed
by Cato and the senatorial party as a triumph of patriotic
statesmanship. Catiline himself was crushed in the field.

The definite fact emerged, that neither the senatorial nor the
democratic party could establish a strong government; that would be
possible only for a military monarchy--a statesman with a policy and an
irresistible, force at his back. But Pompeius lacked the courage and
skill. Caesar, as yet, lacked the military force. Pompeius, on his return
from the East, again allied himself with Crassus and Caesar, whose object
was to acquire for himself the opportunity which Pompeius would not
grasp. The alliance gave Pompeius the land allotments he required for
his soldiers, and to Caesar the consulship followed by a prolonged
governorship of Gaul.

The conquest and organisation of Gaul was an end in itself, a necessary
defence against barbarian pressure. Caesar's operations there were
invaluable to the empire; incidentally, they enabled him to become
master of it. Caesar has left his own record. Gaul was transformed into a
barrier against the Teutonic migration. But Pompeius, nominally holding
a far greater position, proved incapable of controlling the situation in
Rome; he could not even suppress the demagogue Clodius, while the
prestige of his military exploits was waning. Fear of the power of the
Triumvirate was driving moderate men to the senatorial part; that party,
without an efficient leader, began to find in Pompeius rather in ally
against the more dangerous Caesar than an enemy.

But they would not concede him the powers he required; which might yet
be turned to the uses of his colleagues in the Triumvirate; he could not
afford to challenge Caesar; and Caesar adroitly used the situation to
secure for himself a prolongation of his Gallic command. The completion
of his work there was to have precedence of his personal ambitions.
Crassus was sent to the Eastern command; and Pompeius remained in Italy,
while nominally appointed to Spain.

Pompeius, indeed, attained a predominance in Rome which enabled him to
secure temporarily dictatorial powers which were employed to counteract
the electoral machinery of the republican party; but he had not the
qualifications or the inclination to play the demagogue, and could not
unite his aspirations as a restorer of law and order with effective
party leadership. Crassus disappeared; his armies in the East met with a
complete disaster at Carrhae, and he took his own life. Caesar and
Pompeius were left; Pompeius was not content that Caesar should stand on
a real equality with him, and the inevitable rupture came.

In effect Pompeius used his dictatorship to extend his own military
command and to curtail Caesar's. The position resolved itself into a
rivalry between the two; Caesar declaring as always for the democracy,
Pompeius now assuming the championship of the aristocracy, and the
guardianship of the constitution.

For Caesar the vital point now was that his own command should not
terminate till he exchanged it for a fresh consulship. As the law now
stood, he could not obtain his election without resigning his command
beforehand. But he succeeded in forcing Pompeius to break the law; and
in making the official government responsible for declaring war. He
offered a compromise, perhaps, in the certainty that it would be
rejected--as it was. He was virtually declared a public enemy; and he
struck at once.

At the head of his devotedly loyal veterans he crossed the Rubicon. His
rapid and successful advance caused Pompeius to abandon Italy and fall
back on the Eastern Provinces. The discipline preserved, and the
moderation displayed by Caesar won him unexpected favour. Having secured
Italy, he turned next on Spain, and secured that. Swift and decisive
action was pitted against inertness. When Caesar entered Epirus the odds
against him on paper were enormous; but the triumphant victory of
Phansalus shattered the Pompeian coalition. Pompeius hurried to Egypt,
but was assassinated while landing. The struggle, however, was not over
till after the battle of Thapsus nearly two years after Phansalus.

Caesar was now beyond question master of the whole Roman world. He had
made himself one of the mightiest of all masters of the art of war; but
he was even more emphatically unsurpassed as a statesman. In the brief
time that was left him he laid the foundation of the new monarchy which
replaced the ancient Republic of Rome.

* * * * *

Mediaeval History


The Holy Roman Empire

The third of Gibbon's divisions of his great history was
devoted to that period which is comprised between the
establishment of the Holy Roman Empire in 800 and the final
extinction of the Eastern Empire with the conquest of
Constantinople by Mahomet II. in 1453. Although this was the
longest period, Gibbon devoted much less space to it than to
the preceding parts of his history. This fact was partly due
to the gradual diminution of Roman interests, for the
dominions of the empire became contracted to the limits of a
single city, and also to the fact that the material which the
most painstaking search placed at his disposal was distinctly
limited. But though the conquest of the Normans, to instance
one section, has been dealt with inadequately in the light of
modern research, the wonderful panorama that Gibbon's genius
was able to present never fails in its effect or general
accuracy. The Holy Roman Empire is, of course, properly
classified under Mediaeval History, which accounts for its
separation from the rest of Gibbon's work.

_I.--Birth and Sway of the Empire_

The Western Empire, or Holy Roman Empire, as it has been called, which
was re-established by Charlemagne (and lasted in shadow until the
abdication of Francis II. under the pressure of Napoleon in 1806), was
not unworthy of its title.

The personal and political importance of Charlemagne was magnified by
the distress and division of the rest of Europe. The Greek emperor was
addressed by him as brother instead of father; and as long as the
imperial dignity of the West was usurped by a hero, the Greeks
respectfully saluted the _august_ Charlemagne with the acclamations of
"Basileus" and "Emperor of the Romans." Lewis the Pious (814-840)
possessed the virtue of his father but not the power. When both power
and virtue were extinct, the Greeks despoiled Lewis II. of his
hereditary title, and with the barbarous appellation of _Rex_ degraded
him amongst the crowd of Latin princes.

The imperial title of the West remained in the family of Charlemagne
until the deposition of Charles the Fat in 884. His insanity dissolved
the empire into factions, and it was not until Otho, King of Germany,
laid claim to the title, with fire and sword, that the western empire
was restored (962). His conquest of Italy and delivery of the pope for
ever fixed the imperial crown in the name and nation of Germany. From
that memorable era two maxims of public jurisprudence were introduced by
force and ratified by time: (1) That the prince who was elected in the
German Diet acquired from that instant the subject kingdoms of Italy and
Rome; (2) but that he might not legally assume the titles of Emperor and
Augustus till he had received the crown from the hands of the Roman

The nominal power of the Western emperors was considerable. No pontiff
could be legally consecrated till the emperor, the advocate of the
Church, had graciously signified his approbation and consent. Gregory
VII., in 1073, usurped this power, and fixed for ever in the college of
cardinals the freedom and independence of election. Nominally, also, the
emperors held sway in Rome, but this supremacy was annihilated in the
thirteenth century. In the fourteenth century the power derived from his
title was still recognised in Europe; the hereditary monarchs confessed
the pre-eminence of his rank and dignity.

The persecution of images and their votaries in the East had
separated-Rome and Italy from the Byzantine throne, and prepared the way
for the conquests of the Franks. The rise and triumph of the Mahometans
still further diminished the empire of the East. The successful inroads
of the Bulgarians, Hungarians, and Russians, who assaulted by sea or by
land the provinces and the capital, seemed to advance the approach of
its final dissolution. The Norman adventurers, who founded a powerful
kingdom in Apulia and Sicily, shook the throne of Constantinople (1146),
and their hostile enterprises did not cease until the year 1185.

_II.--Latin Rulers of Constantinople_

Under the name of the Latins, the subjects of the pope, the nations of
the West, enlisted under the banner of the Cross for the recovery or the
release of the Holy Sepulchre. The Greek emperors were terrified and
preserved by the myriads of pilgrims who marched to Jerusalem with
Godfrey of Bouillon (1095-99) and the peers of Christendom. The second
(1147) and the third (1189) 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 (1291)
by Saladin (1171-93) 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 (1203), they subverted the Greek monarchy; and a dynasty of
Latin princes was seated near three-score years on the throne of

During this period of captivity and exile, which lasted from 1204 to
1261, the purple was preserved by a succession of four monarchs, who
maintained their title as the heirs of Augustus, though outcasts from
their capital. The _de facto_ sovereigns of Constantinople during this
period, the Latin emperors of the houses of Flanders and Courtenay,
provided five sovereigns for the usurped throne. By an agreement between
the allied conquerors, the emperor of the East was nominated by the vote
of twelve electors, chosen equally from the French and Venetians. To
him, with all the titles and prerogatives of the Byzantine throne, a
fourth part of the Greek monarchy was assigned; the remaining portions
were equally snared between the republic of Venice and the barons of

Under this agreement, Baldwin, Count of Flanders and Hainault, was
created emperor (1204-05). The idea of the Roman system, which, despite
the passage of centuries devoted to the triumphs of the barbarians, had
impressed itself on Europe, was seen in the emperor's letter to the
Roman pontiff, in which he congratulated him on the restoration of his
authority in the East.

The defeat and captivity of Baldwin in a war against the Bulgarians, and
his subsequent death, placed the crown on the head of his brother Henry
(1205-16). With him the imperial house of Flanders became extinct, and
Peter of Courtenay, Count of Auxerre (1217-19), assumed the empire of
the East. Peter was taken captive by Theodore, the legitimate sovereign
of Constantinople, and his sons Robert (1221-28) and Baldwin II.
(1228-37) reigned in succession. The gradual recovery of their empire by
the legitimate sovereigns of the East culminated in the capture of
Constantinople by the Greeks (1261). The line of Latin sovereigns was
extinct. Baldwin lived the remainder of his life a royal fugitive,
soliciting the Catholic powers to join in his restoration. He died in

From the days of the Emperor Heraclius the Byzantine Empire had been
most tranquil and prosperous when it could acquiesce in hereditary
succession. Five dynasties--the Heraclian, Isaurian, Amorian, Basilian,
and Comnenian families--enjoyed and transmitted the royal patrimony
during their respective series of five, four, three, six, and four
generations. The imperial house of Comnenius, though its direct line in
male descent had expired with Andronicus I. (1185), had been perpetuated
by marriage in the female line, and had survived the exile from
Constantinople, in the persons of the descendants of Theodore Lascaris.

Michael Palaeologus, who, through his mother, might claim perhaps a
prior right to the throne of the Comnenii, usurped the imperial dignity
on the recovery of Constantinople, cruelly blinded the young Emperor
John, the legitimate heir of Theodore Lascaris, and reigned until 1282.
His career of authority was notable for an attempt to unite the Greek
and Roman churches--a union which was dissolved in 1283--and his
instigation of the revolt in Sicily, which ended in the famous Sicilian
Vespers (March 30, 1282), when 8,000 French were exterminated in a
promiscuous massacre.

He saved his empire by involving the kingdoms of the West in rebellion
and blood. From these seeds of discord uprose a generation of iron men,
who assaulted and endangered the empire of his son, Andronicus the Elder
(1282-1332). Thousands of Genoese and Catalans, released from the wars
that Michael had aroused in the West, took service under his successor
against the Turks. Other mercenaries flocked to their standard, and,
under the name of the Great Company, they subverted the authority of the
emperor, defeated his troops, laid waste his territory, united
themselves with his enemies, and, finally, abandoning the banks of the
Hellespont, marched into Greece. Here they overthrew the remnant of the
Latin power, and for fourteen years (1311-1326) the Great Company was
the terror of the Grecian states.

Their factions drove them to acknowledge the sovereignity of the house
of Arragon; and, during the remainder of the fourteenth century, Athens
as a government or an appanage was successfully bestowed by the kings of
Sicily. Conquered in turn by the French and Catalans, Athens at length
became the capital of a state that extended over Thebes, Argos, Corinth,
Delphi, and a part of Thessaly, and was ruled by the family of Accaioli,
plebeians of Florence (1384-1456). The last duke of this dynasty was
strangled by Mahomet II., who educated his sons in the discipline of the

During the reign of John Palaeologus, son of Andronicus the Younger,
which began in 1355, the eastern empire was nearly subverted by the
Genoese. On the return of the legitimate sovereign to Constantinople,
the Genoese, who had established their factories and industries in the
suburb of Galata, or Pera, were allowed to remain. During the civil wars
the Genoese forces took advantage of the disunion of the Greeks, and by
the skilful use of their power exacted a treaty by which they were
granted a monopoly of trade, and almost a right of dominions. The Roman
Empire (I smile in transcribing the name) might soon have sunk into a
province of Genoa if the ambition of the republic had not been checked
by the ruin of her freedom and naval power. Yet the spirit of commerce
survived that of conquest; and the colony of Pera still awed the capital
and navigated the Euxine till it was involved by the Turks in the final
servitude of Constantinople itself.

_III.--End of the Roman World_

Only three more sovereigns ruled the remnants of the Roman world after
the reign of John Palaeologus, but the final downfall of the empire was
delayed above fifty years by a series of events that had sapped the
strength of the Mahometan empire. The rise and triumph of the Moguls and
Tartars under their emperors, descendants of Zingis Khan, had shaken the
globe from China to Poland and Greece (1206-1304). The sultans were
overthrown, and in the general disorder of the Mahometan world a veteran
and adventurous army, which included many Turkoman hordes, was dissolved
into factions who, under various chiefs, lived a life of rapine and
plunder. Some of these engaged in the service of Aladin (1219-1236),
Sultan of Iconium, and among these were the obscure fathers of the
Ottoman line.

Orchan ruled from 1326 to 1360, achieved the conquest of Bithynia, and
first led the Turks into Europe, and in 1353 established himself in the
Chersonesus, and occupied Gallipoli, the key of the Hellespont. Orchan
was succeeded by Amurath I. (1389-1403). Bajazet carried his victorious
arms from the Danube to the Euphrates, and the Roman world became
contracted to a corner of Thrace, between the Propontis and the Black
Sea, about fifty miles in length and thirty in breadth, a space of
ground not more extensive than the lesser principalities of Germany or
Italy, if the remains of Constantinople had not still represented the
wealth and populousness of a kingdom.

Under Manuel (1391-1425), the son and successor of John Palteologus,
Constantinople would have fallen before the might of the Sultan Bajazet
had not the Turkish Empire been oppressed by the revival of the Mogul
power under the victorious Timour, or Tamerlane. After achieving a
conquest of Persia (1380-1393), of Tartary (1370-1383), and Hindustan
(1398-1399), Timour, who aspired to the monarchy of the world, found
himself at length face to face with the Sultan Bajazet. Bajazet was
taken prisoner in the war that followed. Kept, probably only as a
precaution, in an iron cage, Bajazet attended the marches of his
conqueror, and died on March 9, 1403. Two years later, Timour also
passed away on the road to China. Of his empire to-day nothing remains.
Since the reign of his descendant Aurungzebe, his empire has been
dissolved (1659-1707); the treasures of Delhi have been rifled by a
Persian robber; and the riches of their kingdom is now possessed by the
Christians of a remote island in the northern ocean.

Far different was the fate of the Ottoman monarchy. The massive trunk
was bent to the ground, but no sooner did the hurricane pass away than
it again rose with fresh vigour and more lively vegetation. After a
period of civil war between the sons of Bajazet (1403-1421), the Ottoman
Empire was once more firmly established by his grandson, Amurath II.

One of the first expeditions undertaken by the new sultan was the siege
of Constantinople (1422), but the fortune rather than the genius of the
Emperor Manuel prevented the attempt. Amurath was recalled to Asia by a
domestic revolt, and the siege was raised.

While the sultan led his Janizaries to new conquests, the Byzantine
Empire was indulged in a servile and precarious respite of thirty years.
Manuel sank into the grave, and John Palaeologus II. (1425-1448) was
permitted to reign for an annual tribute of 300,000 aspers and the
dereliction of almost all that he held beyond the suburbs of

On November 1, 1448, Constantine, the last of the Roman emperors,
assumed the purple of the Caesars. For three years he was allowed to
indulge himself in various private and public designs, the completion of
which were interrupted by a Turkish war, and finally buried in the ruins
of the empire.

_IV.--The Great Siege of Constantinople_

Mahomet II. succeeded his father Amurath on February 9, 1451. His
hostile designs against the capital were immediately seen in the
building of a fortress on the Bosphorus, which commanded the source
whence the city drew her supplies. In the following year a quarrel
between some Greeks and Turks gave him the excuse of declaring war. His
cannon--for the use of gunpowder, for some time the monopoly of the
Christian world, had been betrayed to Amurath by the Genoese--commanded
the port, and a tribute was exacted from all ships that entered the
harbour. But the actual siege was delayed until the ensuing spring of

Mahomet, in person, surveyed the city, encouraged his soldiers, and
discussed with his generals and engineers the best means of making the
assault. By his orders a huge cannon was built in Hadrianople. It fired
a ball one mile, and to convey it to its position before the walls, a
team of sixty oxen and the assistance of 200 men were employed. The
Emperor Constantine, unable to excite the sympathy of Europe, attempted
the best defence of which he was capable, with a force of 4,970 Romans
and 2,000 Genoese. A chain was drawn across the mouth of the harbour,
and whatever supplies arrived from Candia and the Black Sea were
detained for the public service.

The siege of Constantinople, in which scarcely 7,000 soldiers had to
defend a city sixteen miles in extent against the powers of the Ottoman
Empire, commenced on April 6, 1453. The last Constantine deserves the
name of a hero; his noble band of volunteers was inspired with Roman
virtue, and the foreign auxiliaries supported the honour of the Western
chivalry. But their inadequate stock of gunpowder was wasted in the
operations of each day. Their ordnance was not powerful either in size
or number; and if they possessed some heavy cannon, they feared to plant
them on the walls, lest the aged structure should be shaken and
overthrown by the explosion.

The great cannon of Mahomet could only be fired seven times in one day,
but the weight and repetition of the shots made some impression on the
walls. The Turks rushed to the edge of the ditch, attempted to fill the
enormous chasm and to build a road to the assault. In the attack, as
well as in the defence, ancient and modern artillery was employed.
Cannon and mechanical engines, the bullet and the battering-ram,
gunpowder and Greek fire, were engaged on both sides.

Christendom watched the struggle with coldness and apathy. Four ships,
which successfully forced an entrance into the harbour, were the limit
of their assistance. None the less, Mahomet meditated a retreat. Unless
the city could be attacked from the harbour, its reduction appeared to
be hopeless. In this perplexity the genius of Mahomet executed a plan of
a bold and marvellous cast. He transported his fleet over land for ten
miles. In the course of one night four-score light galleys and
brigantines painfully climbed the hill, steered over the plain, and were
launched from the declivity into the shallow waters of the harbour, far
above the molestation of the deeper vessels of the Greeks. A bridge, or
mole, hastily built, formed a base for one of his largest cannon. The
galleys, with troops and scaling ladders, approached the most accessible
side of the walls, and, after a siege of forty days, the diminutive
garrison, exhausted by a double attack, could hope no longer to avert
the fate of the capital.

On Monday, May 28, preparations were made for the final assault. Mahomet
had inspired his soldiers with the hope of rewards in this world and the
next. His camp re-echoed with the shouts of "God is God; there is but
one God, and Mahomet is the apostle of God"; and the sea and land, from
Galata to the Seven Towers, were illuminated with the blaze of the
Moslem fires.

Far different was the state of the Christians. On that last night of the
Roman Empire, Constantine Palaeologus, in his palace, addressed the
noblest of the Greeks and the bravest of the allies on the duties and
dangers that lay before them. It was the funeral oration of the Roman
Empire. That same night the emperor and some faithful companions entered
the Dome of St. Sofia, which, within a few hours, was to be converted
into a mosque, and devoutly received, with tears and prayers, the
sacrament of the Holy Communion. He reposed some moments in the palace,
which resounded with cries and lamentations, solicited the pardon of all
whom he might have injured, and mounted on horseback to visit the guards
and explore the motions of the enemy. The distress and fall of the last
Constantine are more glorious than the long prosperity of the Byzantine

At daybreak on May 29 the Turks assaulted the city by sea and land. For
two hours the Greeks maintained the defence with advantage, and the
voice of the emperor was heard encouraging the soldiers to achieve by a
last effort the deliverance of their country. The new and fresh forces
of the Turks supplied the places of their wearied associates. From all
sides the attack was pressed.

The number of the Ottomans was fifty, perhaps one hundred, times
superior to that of the Christians, the double walls were reduced by the
cannons to a heap of ruins, and at last one point was found which the
besiegers could penetrate. Hasan, the Janizary, of gigantic stature and
strength, ascended the outward fortification. The walls and towers were
instantly covered with a swarm of Turks, and the Greeks, now driven from
the vantage ground, were overwhelmed by increasing multitudes.

Amidst these multitudes, the emperor, who accomplished all the duties of
a general and a soldier, was long seen and finally lost. His mournful
exclamation was heard, "Cannot there be found a Christian to cut off my
head?" and his last fear was that of falling alive into the hands of the
infidels. The prudent despair of Constantine cast away the purple.
Amidst the tumult he fell by an unknown hand, and his body was buried
under a mountain of the slain.

After his death, resistance and order were no more. Two thousand Greeks
were put to the sword, and more would have perished had not avarice soon
prevailed over cruelty.

It was thus, after a siege of fifty-three days, that Constantinople,
which had defied the power of Chosroes and the caliphs, was
irretrievably subdued by the arms of Mahomet II. Sixty thousand Greeks
were driven through the streets like cattle and sold as slaves. The nuns
were torn from the monasteries and compelled to enter the harems of
their conquerors. The churches were plundered, and the gold and silver,
the pearls and jewels, the vases and sacerdotal ornaments of St. Sofia
were most wickedly converted to the service of mankind.

The cathedral itself, despoiled of its images and ornaments, was
converted into a mosque, and Mahomet II. performed the _namaz_ of prayer
and thanksgiving at the great altar, where the Christian mysteries had
so lately been celebrated before the last of the Caesars. The body of
Constantine was discovered under a heap of slain, by the golden eagles
embroidered on his shoes, and after exposing the bloody trophy, Mahomet
bestowed on his rival the honours of a decent funeral. Constantinople,
desolated by bloodshed, was re-peopled and re-adorned by Mahomet. Its
churches were shared between the two religions, and the Greeks were
attracted back to their ancient capital by the assurance of their lives
and the free exercise of their religion.

The grief and terror of Europe when the fall of Constantinople became
known revived, or seemed to revive, the old enthusiasm of the crusades.
Pius II. attempted to lead Christendom against the Turks, but on the
very day on which he embarked his forces drew back, and he was compelled
to abandon the attempt. The siege and sack of Otranto by the Turks put
an end to all thoughts of a crusade, and the general consternation was
only allayed by the death of Mahomet II. in the fifty-first year of his

His lofty genius aspired to the conquest of Italy; he was possessed of a
strong city and a capacious harbour, and the same reign might have been
decorated with the trophies of the New and the Ancient Rome.

* * * * *


History of Civilisation in Europe

Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot, French historian and
statesman, was born of Huguenot parents at Nimes on October 4,
1787. The liberal opinions of his family did not save his
father from the guillotine in 1794, and the mother fled to
Geneva, where Guizot was educated. He went to Paris in the
later days of the Empire, and engaged himself at once in
literature and politics. His lectures on the History of
Civilisation delivered in 1828, 1829, and 1830, during his
professorship at the University of Paris, revealed him as a
historian with a rare capacity for mastering the broad
essential truths of history, co-ordinating them, and
expounding them with vigour and impressiveness. His first
series of lectures was on "The History of Civilisation in
Europe," a masterly abstract of a colossal subject; the second
on "The History of Civilisation in France." From 1830 to 1848
Guizot occupied high offices of State, ultimately becoming
prime minister; in 1848, like his master Louis Philippe, he
had to fly the country. He died on September 12, 1874.

_I.--The Nature of Civilisation_

The subject I propose to consider is the civilisation of Europe--its
origins, its progress, its aims, its character. The fact of civilisation
belongs to what is called the philosophic portion of history; it is a
vague, obscure, complex fact, very difficult, I admit, to explain and
describe, but none the less requiring explanation and description. It
is, indeed, the greatest historical fact, to which all others
contribute; it is a kind of ocean which makes the wealth of a people,
and in the bosom of which all the elements of the people's life, all the
forces of its existence, are joined in unity.

What, then, is civilisation--this grave, far-reaching precious reality
that seems the expression of the entire life of a people? It seems to me
that the first and fundamental fact conveyed by the word civilisation is
the fact of progress, of development. But what is this progress? What is
this development? Here is the greatest difficulty of all.

The etymology of the word civilisation seems to provide an easy answer.
It tells us that civilisation is the perfecting of civil life, the
development of society properly so called, of the relations of men to
men. But is this all? Have we exhausted the natural and usual sense of
the word? France, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, was
acknowledged to be the most civilised country in Europe; yet in respect
of purely civil progress France was then greatly inferior to some other


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