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I. Teutonic settlements in the west. Fall of the Empire in the West. (406-476).

II. The new nations

III. Condition of the Teutonic settlements

IV. Conversion of the English

V. Supremacy of the Franks in the West. The Merovingian Kings.



MODERN HISTORY is separated from ancient by two great and unparalleled catastrophes; and from the changes occasioned by these catastrophes in the materials and conditions of society in Europe modern history took its beginnings. One was the destruction of the Jewish State and temple. The other was the break-up of the Roman Empire. These two catastrophes, though divided by a considerable interval of time, and altogether different in their operation, were in various ways closely combined in their effects on the state of the world. They were catastrophes of the same order : the overthrow and passing away of the old, in things most deeply concerning human life, that the new might come. Without them that new settlement or direction of human affairs, under which the last fifteen centuries have been passed, would have been inconceivable and impossible. The fall of Jerusalem was the evident close of a theocracy which, up to that time, had for ages counted on a divine guarantee, and which looked forward, without doubt, to ending only in the consummation of a Messianic triumph. It was the apparent extinction of the visible kingdom of God on earth : the doom pronounced by the course of events on claims and hopes which, to those who lived under them, seemed the most sure of all things. The fall of the Roman empire was the overthrow of the greatest, the strongest, and the most firmly-settled State which the world had ever known : the dislocation and reversal of the long-received ideas and assumptions of mankind, of their habits of thinking, of the customs of life, of the conclusions of experience. The one cleared the ground for the Christian religion and the Christian Church, to which ancient Judaism, if it had still subsisted, unhumbled and active, with its wonderful history and uncompromising pretensions, would have been a most formidable rival. The other made room, and prepared materials, not only for new nations, but for new forms of political and social order, then beyond all possibility of being anticipated or understood; for the new objects and ambitions, the new powers and achievements, which have distinguished modern times, at their worst, as well as at their best, from those of all ancient civilizations.

The world in the West, as known to us in history, was surrounded by a vague and unexplored waste of barbarism. During the first three centuries of the empire all in the South seemed settled, all in the North was unstable and in movement. In the eyes of civilized mankind there were in the world two great empires of very unequal force : the eternal empire of Rome, secure as nature itself, and the Asiatic empire of the East, at one time held by a Parthian, then by Persian dynasties, often troublesome, but never a real rival to Rome for the allegiance of the nations around the focus of civilization, the Mediterranean Sea. India was still wrapped in mystery and fable. Outside the Roman and Persian borders, northwards and north-eastwards, there was a vast, dimly-known chaos of numberless barbarous tongues and savage races, from which, from time to time, strange rumours reached the great Italian capital of the world, and unwelcome visitors showed themselves in the distant provinces, on the Rhine and the Danube; and contemporaneously with the beginning of the empire had begun a shaking of the nations, scarcely perceptible at first, but visibly growing in importance as time went on. But there, in what seemed to the majestic order of Rome a mere seething tumult of confused and unimportant broils, was maturing the fate of the empire, and the beginnings of a new world. It was the scene of that great movement and displacement of the masses of uncivilized mankind, to which the Germans have given the name of the ‘Wandering of the Nations’ (Völkerwanderung). Long before it can be traced in history, this perpetual shifting of races, accompanied by the extermination of the weaker and longest-settled by the stronger new-comers, had been the rule of the northern world. The causes which produced it became soon after the beginning of our era unusually active, and it went on for centuries, till the great social and political changes which it produced in the West brought it to a final condition of stable repose. An impulse, apparently, had been given from the heart of Asia, which added force to the natural struggle among the barbarian tribes for better and more convenient abodes. When the movement came to its height, it began to be sensibly felt on the frontiers of the empire. About the middle of the second century it called for serious efforts on the Danube; towards the end of the third it overleaped the barrier of the Rhine. By that time fresh internal changes had taken place in the Teutonic tribes themselves, first known to the Romans. Their early names become merged and lost in new ones; smaller bodies are fused together into larger ones. Tribes first heard of on the shores of the Northern Sea and the Baltic, Goths, Vandals, Herules, Burgunians, Lombards, next appear, after an interval of obscurity, on the Euxine, the Danube, the Rhine; instead of the Chauci, the Cherusci of the campaigns of Drusus and Tiberius, or the Marcomanni of M. Aurelius, there appear great confederacies, sometimes with old names like the Suevi, sometimes with new, as the Alamanni of the Upper, and the Franks of the Lower Rhine.

In 250, the Goths, who in their migrations had come in contact with the Huns, and had fled before them, were becoming dangerous on the Danube; a Roman emperor, Decius, was defeated and slain by them. During the whole of the third century the confederacy, then known as that of the Alamanni, was putting to the severest strain the efforts of emperors like Maximin, Claudius, Aurelian, and Probus to keep them from the Upper Rhine; and they ended by establishing themselves there, in spite of the victories, in the following century, of Julian and Gratian.

In the year 240, the Germans of the Lower Rhine, no more known as the Chatti, Chamavi, Bructeri, and only in rhetoric as Sicambrians, appear for the first time as the Franks, more furious, more enterprising, and more terrible in their ravages in Gaul than even the Alamanni. And the Burgundians, once settled between the Oder and the Vistula, then in their migrations driven westward before the Goths, pushed themselves in between the Alamanni and the Franks.

By the fourth century the presence of the barbarians had become recognized in its real proportions as a new and alarming feature in the condition of the world. Constantine, Julian, Valentinian, Theodosius, could defeat them, and attempt to terrify them by bloody punishments, as Constantine exposed two Frank kings to the wild beasts, in the amphitheatre at Treves; but the Roman victories were in vain. The advance of the barbarians was as certain and powerful as the rising of the tide.

The Roman state, which was thus assailed without, was slowly undermined from within. The gloomy pages of Tacitus present the picture of a mighty empire, established apparently on foundations which could not be moved, yet wrung and tortured by evils for which it seemed hopeless to look for end or remedy. The recovery and health of this great but deeply-diseased body seemed inconceivable; yet its subversion and disappearance seemed equally so amid the then forces of the world. But, as time went on, its fashions of corruption and vice increased in variety and enormity; a general degradation of character and a lowering of level, in thought, in strength of action, and in customary morality, set in; political decay, ill-success, and disaster grew greater and more familiar to men’s minds. And the remarkable thing is, that neither exceptional virtue nor exceptional wisdom from time to time in its chiefs could overtake the increasing degeneracy and danger. There were no better rulers than the Antonines; there were no abler ones than Trajan and Hadrian. Nothing could be nobler than the integrity and public spirit of soldiers and administrators like Julius Agricola, the type, we cannot doubt, of other great and high-minded Roman governors, the shame and condemnation of the crowd of base arid cruel ones. And there is no more majestic monument of human jurisprudence than the system of law which grew up in the Roman law-courts. But the springs and principles which govern society had become so fatally tainted that no temporary reaction towards good, and no concurrence of beneficent institutions, availed to turn back the strong tide of evil tendency.

Still up to the end of the fourth century nothing gave reason to anticipate the actual overthrow of that last and highest concentration of civilized life conceivable at the time, which the genius of Julius Caesar had imagined, and which Augustus had made a reality. It was still looked upon as part of the eternal order of the world. Serious and eventful changes had come about in the course of three centuries. The one visible danger to the empire, the increasing pressure of barbaric tribes on the north and east, was more and more felt. It was becoming certain, not only that Roman armies might meet with ill-success in barbarian wars, but that barbarians were losing that awe of the empire which had kept them at a distance, and were becoming more audacious in their enterprises. There was an undoubted loosening of the bands, the customs, the political and civil instincts, the forces of authority, which had kept the empire together. Among the greatest innovations was the division of power between two or three emperors, and, even more serious still, the creation of a new and permanent capital, necessarily the rival of the hitherto unique centre of the power and majesty of the empire. But even with two emperors, and two or more seats of government, the constitution and unity of the empire seemed unimpaired and indestructible, whatever trials it might have to undergo. While the Roman Empire lasted on its old footing, no idea could have seemed more wild to most men than that it should ever cease to exist, or that society could be possible without it; and it was still apparently standing on its ancient foundations at the end of the fourth century.

But with the fifth no one could mistake the signs of change. It began to be evident that what had up to that time seemed the most incredible of all things was about to happen, and was in fact taking place. The empire, in one portion of it, was giving way. The invaders could no longer be kept from Italy, from Gaul, from Africa, from Rome itself Where they came and as long as they chose to stay, they became the masters; they took, they left, they spoiled what they chose. They began to settle permanently in the territories of the western portion of the empire. Finally its political power, especially in the West, began to pass into barbarian hands. Barbarian chiefs accepted or assumed its offices, chose or rejected, set up, deposed, or slew, its shadowy and short-lived emperors, and quarreled with each other for the right to nominate to the name and title of Augustus. Like an army whose line has been cut, the different portions of the empire found their enemy interposed between them, and the West, detached from the East, and enveloped and pressed upon by its foes, offered a field where the struggle went on with the best chances for the invaders. All that had been done to accommodate the defensive resources of the empire to new and increasing dangers had been in vain. Desperate efforts, and efforts of the most varying and opposite kinds, had been made to uphold the State, by Diocletian, by Constantine, by Julian, by Theodosius. Fresh and elaborate organization of the public service, civil and military; adoption of the growing popular religion; return to the old one; careful examination and revision of the law; an elastic policy towards the barbarians, which according to the emergency, sometimes resisted and beat them back, sometimes tempted them off, sometimes took them into service, sometimes accepted and tried to educate or incorporate them as recognized allies of the empire all these expedients, adopted and carried out by rulers of strong and commanding character, failed to avert what seemed to be the irresistible course of things. All that they succeeded in doing was to attract and divert to the East what was most characteristic of the later empire, and to narrow the area over which its old traditions of government could be maintained. But the original seat and source of Roman greatness was left to its fate, and the phenomenon which the West more and more presented was that of the joint occupation of its lands and many of its cities by Teutonic and Latin, that is, by barbarian and civilized, populations.

The barbarians were the masters, without as yet taking the trouble or having the knowledge to be rulers. The older civilized inhabitants were neither subjects nor equals, but only in all trials of strength distinctly the weaker. And yet their civilization, maimed and weakened as it was, and naturally suffering loss more and more under such rude and unfavorable conditions, was never finally extinguished. Even in its decay and waste it presented a contrast, felt by both parties, to the coarseness of barbarian manners and the imperfection of barbarian resources, and excited, when the races continued together, the interest, the unconscious or suppressed admiration, and at last the emulation, of those who had done so much to crush and extirpate it.

The fifth century opened with an increased activity and spirit of enterprise among the barbarian tribes which had been pressing on the empire, and had even gained a footing within its bounds. Three great waves of invasion may be distinguished : foremost and nearest were the Teutonic races; behind them came the Slaves; behind them again, and pressing strongly on all in front, were the Turanian hordes from the centre of Asia, having in their front line the Huns.

In 395 the great Theodosius died. His death closed a reign of sixteen years, the last reign of the ancient undivided empire, in which its old honor was maintained in arms and legislation. His death marks the real, though not the nominal, date of the fall of the united empire, and of the extinction, from henceforth inevitable, of the Western division of it. As soon as he had passed away the change set in with frightful rapidity. He left two young sons, Arcadius and Honorius, under whose names the empire was governed in the East and West respectively; he left a number of generals and ministers, all of provincial or barbarian origin, to dispute among themselves for the real power of the State; and not only on all the borders of the empire, but within its provinces, there were tribes and leagues of barbarians of many names, often beaten back and terribly chastised, but ever pushing forward again in fresh numbers, and now in some cases under chiefs who had learned war in the Roman service.

The name of Alaric, the Visigoth, rises above those of the crowd of barbarian chiefs who tried their fortune in this moment of the weakness of the empire.

The Visigoths, or West Goths, were a Teutonic tribe which had fled for refuge from their implacable enemies, the Huns of the Tartar steppes, into Roman territory. They had received reluctant and doubtful hospitality from the Imperial Government in the lands south of the Danube; and through vicissitudes of peace and war, friendship and treachery, they had become better acquainted with their Roman neighbors and hosts than any of the barbarian races. First of the Teutonic races, they had in large numbers accepted Christianity; they had learned it from their Roman captives, or at the Court of Constantinople, and at last from a teacher of their own race, Ulfila, the first founder of Teutonic literature, who in translating the Bible gave the barbarians for the first time a written language, and invented for them an alphabet.

The Court religion at the time was Arianism, the doctrine of the Egyptian Presbyter, Arius, which denied the true Godhead of Jesus Christ. It was an important and formidable departure from the belief of the Christian Church, as to the chief object of its faith and worship; the first of many which marked these centuries. From Constantinople the Goths adopted it. On the death of Theodosius, Alaric conceived the idea of carving out for himself a kingdom and an independent State from the loosely-connected provinces of the empire. He invaded first Greece, and then Italy. Alaric was a soldier not unworthy of his Roman masters. For a time he was confronted and kept in check by another general of equal genius for war, like himself of Teutonic blood, Stilicho, the Vandal, the trusted soldier of Theodosius, who had left him guardian of Honorius, the Western emperor. Stilicho, after putting forth for the last time the vigour of a Roman general on the German frontier, concentrated the forces of the State for the defence of Italy, leaving the distant provinces to themselves. The garrisons were withdrawn from Britain. Goths and Huns were enlisted and disciplined for the service of the empire which their kinsmen were attacking. Against Stilicho’s courage, activity, and coolness, Alaric vainly tried to force his way into Italy and to Rome. At Pollentia, on the Tanaro, south-west of Milan, Stilicho, on Easter Day 403, gained a bloody though incomplete victory. Alaric saved his broken army by a daring and successful retreat, but only to meet with another overthrow at Verona. At Florence (405) Stilicho foiled another and fiercer Gothic or Slavonian irruption into Italy under Radagais. But the Western empire was not to be saved. Rightly or wrongly, the victorious and perhaps ambitious soldier awakened the jealousy of rivals and the suspicions of his feeble master. Stilicho, Alaric's most formidable antagonist, had, for whatever reason, more than once allowed his foe to escape, and with the obscure and tortuous policy common to the time kept open negotiations with him, even at the moment of his own success. He had even proposed to the Roman Senate to buy off Alaric’s hostility by honors or payments of money. Stilicho’s enemies persuaded Honorius of his general’s designs against the State; a mutiny was created against Stilicho in the army; his friends were murdered; and finally Honorius consented to condemn and to put to death, on the charge of treason, the great chief who within five years had won for him the three greatest of recent Roman victories. Then the invaders sprang in on every side. Alaric, hanging on the north-eastern frontier among the Julian Alps, had been watching the intrigues of the Italian Court, now removed from Rome and Milan to the protection of the marshes of Ravenna. These intrigues were to deliver him from his great enemy. On the 23rd of August 408 the head of Stilicho fell under the executioner’s sword. In October Alaric was under the walls of Rome.

He came three times in three successive years; and twice he retired. The first time he spared the city for an enormous ransom. The second time he imposed on the city and empire a puppet mock-emperor, whom a few months afterwards he degraded as unceremoniously as he had set him up. Alaric's brief stern words were remembered as well as his deeds. To the hermit who bade him in the name of religion retire from the great city, he replied that it was God’s will and call that drove him on. To the Romans who threatened him with the numbers of their population “the thicker the hay”, was his answer, “the easier mown”. When, astounded at his enormous demands, the Romans asked him, “what then would he leave them?”, he answered “your lives”. But the third year, 410, the imperial city, the sacred, the inviolate, which since the almost mythical visitation of Brennus and his Gauls had only once seen a foreign enemy from her walls, and never within them, beheld the amazing, the inconceivable sight her streets, her palaces, broken into and sacked by barbarians whom of late days she had, indeed, seen among the mercenaries who served her, but whom of old she knew only as the slaves who fought with one another to make her sport in her gladiatorial shows. The end of the world must have seemed at Rome to have come when the city of Caesar and Augustus, with its gold, its marble, its refinement, was given over to the Gothic spoilers. She might have seen her revenge in the death within a few weeks of the assailant who had first dared to break through the vain terror of her presence, and the idle guard of her walls.

But the blow had been struck, though Alaric had died who struck it. From that day forth the Teutonic nations, whom the Romans classed together under the common name of barbarians, looked upon the lands of the Western portion of the empire as given over to them in possession. From that day forth their chiefs arrived on the scene, not only to play the customary game of war, not merely to ravage and plunder, but to carry out the idea of Alaric to become kings, to win kingdoms, to create nations. For a while the new condition of things seemed incredible to those accustomed to the old Roman central sway. There were fierce, even for a time successful, attempts to dispute and resist the change. The name and the authority of the Roman emperor had too fast a hold even on the Teutonic mind to be more than weakened : the Roman empire lasted on more than fifty years in the West; and at Constantinople it had always to be reckoned with as a power which in strong hands was a formidable one.

How strong was still the idea of the empire, and how obstinate the customary awe and respect for its authority, is shown in two phenomena which are continually appearing in these times of confusion. One is the weight with which the imperial name, even when borne by so weak an emperor as Honorius, was seen to press upon local rebellions on the part of subjects of the empire. In spite of his personal insignificance, in spite of the deep humiliations of his reign, in spite of the destruction of Stilicho, the Gothic conquest, the sack of Rome, no rival emperor, and there were seven in the course of five years, could maintain his title against the son of Theodosius.

The other is, that the barbarian chiefs who attacked the empire asked for and were proud of its honors and titles. Alaric, King of the Goths, insisted at the same time on being recognized as an officer in the Roman service, the Master-General of Illyricum. His successor, Athaulf, while conquering in Gaul, and Wallia, while conquering in Spain, professed to restore these provinces to the obedience of Honorius. But nevertheless the great revolution, which was to override all resisting forces, and the deeply-planted habits of ages, had come. From Alaric and his victorious policy two things date, which speedily altered the condition of the Latin world. One was the intrusion and interference of the barbarian power as a recognized political element in the Roman State. The other was the planting within its borders of new nations, each of them growing in its own way into an independent State, with its own interests, and customs, and policy, and coming less and less to acknowledge, even in the most shadowy form, the authority or even the existence of the empire in the West.



Teutonic settlements in the west.

Fall of the Empire in the West.(406-476).


The impulse given by the enterprises and successes of Alaric showed itself in the invasion of the Western provinces by various Teutonic tribes, who henceforth held possession of what they invaded. On the last day of the year in which Stilicho destroyed the Vandal Radagais and his mixed army before Florence (405), another portion of the Vandals, with their confederate tribes, Sueves, Burgundians, Alans, found their way into Gaul, perhaps, as Gibbon suggests, across the frozen Rhine, partly ravaging, partly settling, partly pushing to further conquest, but seldom returning to their former seats. In the year in which Alaric set up and then degraded his In Spain, mock-emperor Attalus, after the siege of Rome (409), Sueves and Vandals, a part of this host, under Hermanric, crossed the Pyrenees into the rich and peaceful province of Spain. Three years after the sack of Rome and the death of Alaric the Burgundians, who, in company with the Vandals, crossed the Rhine in 406, had occupied the left bank of the middle Rhine; thence they gradually spread westwards and southwards into Gaul; and the result, after many vicissitudes, was the foundation of a kingdom of the Burgundians under Gundachar (416-436), Gundeuch (456-463), and the more famous Gundobad, the lawgiver (472-510). It was the first of the many Burgundies that were to be, fixing a famous name in the new geography of the West, and impressing a distinct character on the population which bore that name. No limits and no political conditions varied so much as those of the “Burgundies”, kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, provinces, long striving after an independence, which could not be maintained. The first Burgundy of Gundachar and Gundobad comprised the valleys of the Rhone and the Saone, with western Switzerland and Savoy, from the Alps and the Jura as far as the Durance, and even at one time to Avignon and Marseilles. Almost at the same time a confederation, or rather two confederations of German tribes, whose name was to fill a yet greater place in history, the Franks, who had finally settled from the Main along the lower Rhine, and what is now Belgium, appear defending the Roman frontier against the invading Vandals. They had long disturbed the empire by their ferocity and spirit of adventure. They had by this time gained room within its borders, and become its allies; and they even suffered severe losses in fighting for it. But, as the defence of the empire became hope less, they soon followed the invading movement, and pressed on to the valleys of the Moselle, the Meuse, the Scheldt, and the Somme, and the plains and cities of what is now Champagne. And immediately after the death of Alaric, who had sacked Rome and occupied Italy, the Goths, under their new leader Athaulf, a name which has been softened and Latinized into Adolphus, adopted the momentous resolution of relinquishing Italy, and seeking their fortune in the West. Bearing with them the treasures of Alaric, they marched into Gaul; they occupied step by step, in the course of the century, nearly the whole of the South between the Rhone, the Loire, the Mediterranean, and the ocean; and then poured into Spain, driving before them or subduing the earlier invaders, Vandals, Sueves, Alans. The Roman city of Toulouse became their capital. Before the middle of the fifth century, the kingdom of the West Goths had become the mightiest among its neighbors. It stretched from the Loire to the mouth of the Tagus and the Columns of Hercules. It possessed the great cities of Aquitaine, Narbonne, Bordeaux, Toulouse. It had absorbed the last fragment of independent Roman Gaul, Auvergne. In Spain it had cooped up the earlier invaders, the Sueves, into the mountains of Asturias and Gallicia. It had driven the Vandals into Africa. It had rapidly assumed an organized shape, with its peculiar polity, its half Roman legislation, its national councils. It had replaced the empire in the West, and it seemed as if a State had been founded which was to unite in one Gaul and Spain, and take the lead in the new order of things; as if a Gothia or Gothland was to supplant the name of Gaul or Rome.

This magnificent prospect was not to be fulfilled. The lands north and south of the Pyrenees were not to continue united, and the Goths were not to be the leaders of Western Europe. But from the Goths of Toulouse sprang a line of kings which ruled in Spain, and shaped its fortune and history till the Mahometan Conquest (711). It was to be long indeed before the kingdoms, as we know them, of France and Spain began to appear above the confusion ; but the first rude courses of the foundations on which, through such various changes, they were to rise were laid in the Teutonic movement, in which Alaric led the way.

Another invasion, more fatal in its consequences to the empire, though itself transient as a conquest, was the consequence of the Gothic invasion of Spain. The Vandals in Spain, the forerunners of the Goths, pressed by the combined power of the Gothic kingdom and the Roman provincials, and tempted by the invitation of a Roman governor, Count Boniface, who had been stung into treason by the intrigues at Ravenna, passed into Africa under Genseric, the most crafty, the most perfidious, the most ruthless of the barbarian kings, and of all of them the most implacable foe of Rome and its civilization. The late repentance and the resistance of Count Boniface could not avert the Vandal conquest and the desolation of Africa. The death of St. Augustine during the siege of his city, Hippo, in 430, and the surprise of Carthage in 439, mark the date of the ruin of Roman civilization on the southern shore of the Mediterranean; a civilization that had retained more unalloyed than that of any other province the peculiar Latin type, the roughness and original force of the Latin mind and character. The Vandal conquest, short-lived as it was compared with other barbarian occupations, dealt a far heavier blow than they to the weakened stability of the empire. It was not only the severance from it of a great province, a second home of Latin letters and habits; but during the long reign of Genseric (429-477) Rome and Italy were made acquainted with two new forms of suffering.

To the ordinary plagues of barbarian invasion, were now added starvation and piracy. Africa had been, with Egypt, the great store-house from which Italy had drawn its usual supplies of corn; Africa was now in the hands of a deadly enemy, Egypt in those of the rival and unfriendly Eastern emperor. And next, the possession of Carthage suggested to Genseric the ambition of being master, not of Africa only, but of the Mediterranean. The Vandal fleets ravaged and tormented the Mediterranean coasts, like those of Haireddin Barbarossa and the Barbary rovers of later ages. “Whither shall we sail?” asked Genseric’s pilot. “Sail to those, with whom God is angry”, was the reply.

Thus in the first half of the fifth century the empire was broken up in the West. Everywhere out of Italy, in Gaul, in Spain, in Africa, the new comers were the masters. The separation from the empire, at the beginning of the fifth century, of the island of Britain. Of the Continental province which afterwards bore the same name, neither of which were again to be united to it, rather marked than contributed to the decline of Rome. In the anarchy of the West, the soldiery in Britain, or those of them who had not been withdrawn by Stilicho, long accustomed to claim a voice in the choice of emperors, set up a succession of candidates for the empire, one of whom, with the famous name of Constantine, disputed for a time the imperial title with Honorius, and the possession of Gaul and Spain with the Goths (407-411). The Goths, professing to serve the empire, united with the soldiers of Honorius, and overthrew the last Western Constantine, and, after him, all the other provincial rivals of Honorius, who, in the universal confusion, ventured to strike for power (411-416). But the empire finally retired from the island of Britain. An obscure interval of troubled independence succeeded; and in the middle of the century Jutes, Saxons and Angles were beginning their conquests.

Yet the empire, as has been said, in the opinion and feeling of men, still lasted under these strange conditions. The Teutonic invaders for the most part professed to acknowledge its existence and authority, to respect its laws, though claiming to be themselves exempt from them, to serve it after their own manner as its officers and soldiers, to call themselves its “guests”, or its “confederates”, even in the possessions which they had either seized, or acquired by a forced sale. Its civil administration still went on, at least, for the Roman population, side by side with the customs and royal jurisdiction of the military occupiers. The position of the Teutonic conquerors and settlers was analogous to that of the early English conquerors in India, under the Mogul empire. They were in it, but not of it. Its paramount title and supremacy were supposed, where these did not come into collision with the interests of the conquerors. Its sanctions, when convenient, were sought for, and made useful to give legitimacy to what the sword had won. In stronger hands, and under more favorable circumstances, the empire might have lasted on, as in the East; and, suiting itself to its altered circumstances, have perhaps recovered its ground, by incorporating and assimilating to itself, according to its old favorite and successful policy, its new subjects, who, with all their fierce vigor, were not unwilling to be civilized. But in the course of the century, two things, a fresh and more tremendous irruption of barbarians, and a fatal innovation in domestic policy, finally shattered for the time the imperial system in the West. The irruption was the invasion of Attila and the Huns. The innovation was the adoption, as a settled custom, of what Alaric had thought of as a temporary expedient,—perhaps, had only done in mockery. A foreign soldier, master of the military force of the empire, claimed, and was allowed, to make and unmake the emperors of the West.

The Huns and Attila

The invasion of the Huns was the appearance of entirely new actors in the great tragedy. Between the Roman world and the German invaders there were affinities, though they might be subtle and obscure, of race, of language, of thought, and moral ideas; and there had grown up between them the long familiarity of alternate war and peace. They had even met half-way in religious ideas, and Goths, Vandals, Burgundians, under the form of Arianism, had embraced Christianity with sometimes fanatical zeal. But the Huns were not like Goths and Vandals, a Teutonic or even a Slave people. They belonged to that terrible race whose original seats were in the vast central table-land of Asia; who under various names, Huns, Tartars, Mongols, Turks, have made it their boast to devastate for the sake of devastation, and from whom sprung the most renowned among the destroyers of men, Attila, Genghiz, Timour, the Ottomans. It is a race which long experience has shown to be less than any other in sympathy with Western civilization, and more obstinately intractable to its influence. The Huns themselves, impelled westwards by the wars which agitated the vast deserts stretching from the Volga to China, had driven before them in frantic terror the many tribes of the German stock which had shaken the empire; and they had been for some time hovering on its eastern frontier, taking part like other barbarians in its disturbances and alliances. Emperors paid them tribute, and Roman generals kept up a politic or a questionable correspondence with them. Stilicho had detachments of Huns in the armies which fought against Alaric; the greatest Roman soldier after Stilicho,—and, like Stilicho, of barbarian parentage—Aetius, who was to be their most formidable antagonist, had been a hostage and a messmate in their camps; he had followed a common practice of the time when he invited the Huns to the frontiers of Italy to support a candidate for the imperial dignity. About 433, Attila, the son of Mundzukh, like Charles the Great, equally famous in history and legend, became their king. Attila was the exact prototype and forerunner of the Turkish chiefs of the house of Othman. In his profound hatred of civilized men, in his scorn of their knowledge, their arts, their habits and religion, and, in spite of this, in his systematic use of them as his secretaries and officers, in his rapacity combined with personal simplicity of life, in his insatiate and indiscriminate destructiveness, in the cunning which veiled itself under rudeness, in his extravagant arrogance and audacious pretensions, in his sensuality, in his unscrupulous and far-reaching designs, in his ruthless cruelty joined with capricious displays of generosity, mercy, and good faith, we see the image of the irreclaimable Turkish barbarians who ten centuries later were to extinguish the civilization of Europe. The attraction of Attila’s daring character, and his genius for the war which nomadic tribes delight in, gave him absolute ascendency over his nation, and over the Teutonic and Slavonic tribes near him. Like other conquerors of his race, he imagined and attempted an empire of ravage and desolation, a vast hunting ground and preserve, in which men and their works should supply the objects and zest of the chase. The one power on earth was to be the terror of Attila's name. The one penalty of disobedience and opposition was to be the edge of Attila's sword. He humbled and made subjects of the barbarians round him. He insulted and ravaged the Eastern empire up to the walls of Constantinople. He revived the old feud with the Visigoths. 433-441. Then he picked a quarrel with Valentinian III and the Court of Ravenna. He claimed some Church spoils, said to have been stolen. He claimed Honoria, the sister of the Emperor, as his betrothed bride. Keen and shrewd in his views of policy, he en­tered into an alliance with Genseric and the Vandals of Africa, who were to attack Italy. And at last affecting to be the soldier of the empire against the rebellious Visigoths, at the head of the ferocious horsemen whom for years he had been gathering round him in the plains between the Theyss and the Danube, where his wooden city and wooden palace were built, he burst with the speed and terror of a tempest on central and western Europe.

453. Battle of Châlons.

He passed through Germany into Gaul, sweeping along with him in his course, as confederates or subjects, a mixed multitude of many races, and visiting with impartial havoc and slaughter, the Roman cities and the Gothic settlements. Romans and Goths forgot their own quarrels in their panic and distress. The ablest of Roman generals, Aetius, and the most powerful of the Junes 431 Gothic kings, Theodoric of Toulouse, joined their forces, and were only just in time to save Orleans, and prevent the host of the Huns from bursting the barrier of the Loire. Attila retired and waited for them in the plains of Châlons, plains made by nature, and used in our own days, for the encampment of great armies. The wild and tremendous battle of Châlons stayed the advance of the Huns into Gaul. But it did not stay the raging torrent from pouring over Italy. There was no one to relieve Aquileia as Orleans had been relieved. Aquileia perished, and many of its sister cities of the north of Italy. This absolute destruction of homes and cities, and the searching and unsparing keenness of the sword of Attila, from which there was neither refuge or mercy, drove the miserable remnant of the population of the mainland to seek their only escape in the islands and lagoons. The fugitives knew not what they were preparing; out of this scattered remnant and the lagoons which sheltered them, Venice arose. Attila advanced towards Rome. The conqueror of Châlons, Aetius, hung on his march, but was unable to arrest him. But Attila’s army was suffering from exhaustion and disease, and he yielded, at least, for the time, to the supplications and offers of the Roman ambassadors, one of whom was the great Pope Leo. One of the conditions of peace, and the most shameful one, was that he should add a Roman princess of imperial rank to the crowd of his innumerable wives. But it was not to be. He retired to recruit himself in his wooden village in the open plains between the Theyss and the Danube, and he was cut off by a sudden and mysterious death. His empire had no territorial basis, and fell to pieces at his death. His sons were less able robber chiefs than their father, and they soon disappeared from history. German legends softened him into the King Etzel of the Nibelungen Lied. The Latin traditions of Gaul gave him the name of the Scourge of God, and supposed that he gloried in it. The remains of his horde retired eastwards, to reappear in the sixth century under the name of the Avars and, perhaps, the Bulgarians.

Second sack of Rome, by Genseric, June, 455. 

But, in the desolations of Attila, the empire had learned a new experience of its helplessness. Aetius and the victory of Châlons could save a province that in its chiefs and its interests was already more barbarian than Roman; but they could not avert the humiliation of ransoming Rome by the most ignominious conditions. And what Attila had left for the time uncompleted, Genseric finished. In the respite gained by Attila's departure, the Court of Ravenna was desolated by domestic outrages, and fierce quarrels. As Honorius, jealous of Stilicho, had put to death the conqueror of Alaric and Radagais, so Valentinian III, as incapable and even more vindictive than Honorius, was provoked by the pretensions of Aetius, and murdered with his own hand the vanquisher of Attila (454). The death of Stilicho had been followed by the sack of Rome by. The death of Aetius was followed not only by the assassination of the emperor and its train of usurpations and murders, but by a second sack of Rome, this time by the Vandals of Genseric. A Roman Count to avenge his wrongs had invited Genseric to Africa. A Roman Empress, Eudoxia, to avenge her wrongs, invited the pirate-king of Carthage to assault Rome. In the very year (455) in which the superstitious looked for the completion of the fated twelve centuries of Roman power, a year after the murder of Aetius, the Vandal fleet from Carthage occupied the mouth of the Tiber. Genseric succeeded where Hannibal had failed, and completed Alaric’s terrible chastisement of the sacred city, from which Attila himself two years before had shrunk. The intercession of Pope Leo, which had availed with Attila, did not stay Genseric. It availed to prevent slaughter, but the pillage was more unsparing, and the havoc more irremediable, than that under Alaric half a century before. Genseric sailed away with the spoils of Rome, with the Empress Eudoxia and thousands of captives, with trophies of his victory over all that was most venerable in the ancient world; the gilded titles of the Capitol, the golden table and the golden candlestick brought by Titus from Jerusalem. Two great armadas were fitted out, one by the Emperor Majorian in the West (458-460), the other by the Emperor Leo in the East (468), to crush the Vandal power, and avenge the sack of Rome. Both were surprised in harbour, and destroyed by the fleets and fire ships of Genseric. The genius and more than the fortune of the old Carthaginian heroes seemed revived in the barbarian king. For nearly fifty years he insulted and humbled Rome; and he lived to see the extinction of the empire of the West.

But this extinction of the Western empire was ultimately determined by fatal changes in the state itself. There, too, finally and irrevocably, though at first under the disguise of ancient forms, the barbarian had forced his way, and established himself first in the control, and then in the possession, of what political power still remained to Italy and Rome. The emperors had derived their titles either from hereditary claims, or from their own bold enterprise, or from the choice of the senate or army, or from the nomination of an imperial colleague. But in the course of the last twenty years of the Western empire, this power of choosing the emperor passed into the hands of the barbarian “Patricians” in the West, a title of high dignity invented by Constantine, and now given to the chiefs of the foreign troops, mostly recruited from the tribes of Germany and the Danube, who were the strength of the armies of Rome, and had become its real masters. In the last years of Theodosius, Arbogast, the Frank chief of the military levies of the, after murdering his master, the boy-emperor Valentinian II, had attempted to make an emperor of his own creature, Eugenius; but Theodosius was still alive, and the attempt was signally punished. After the second siege of Rome, Alaric had imposed an emperor, Attalus, on the Roman Senate as the rival of Honorius. The step was intended to put a pressure on Honorius; but Alaric used his nominee as if to make sport for himself; and the majesty of the greatest of earthly names suffered its last and fatal indignity, when the Emperor Attalus, at the caprice and convenience of a barbarian patron, was, to use Gibbon’s words, “promoted, degraded, insulted, restored, again degraded, and again insulted, and finally abandoned to his fate”, the contemptuous revenge of his rival.

The precedent set by Alaric was not lost. After the death of Valentinian III, the unworthy grandson of the great Theodosius, the first thought of the barbarian chiefs was, not to destroy or usurp the Imperial name, but to secure to themselves the nomination of the emperor. Avitus, chosen in Gaul under the influence of the West Gothic King of Toulouse, Theodoric II, was accepted for a time, as the Western emperor, by the Roman Senate, and by the Court of Constantinople. But another barbarian, Ricimer the Sueve, ambitious, successful, and popular, had succeeded to the command of the “federated” foreign bands which formed the strength of the imperial army in Italy. Ricimer would not be a king, but he adopted as a settled policy the expedient, or the insulting jest, of Alaric. What Theodoric the Visigoth had given at a distance in Gaul, Ricimer the Sueve, the master-general of the Italian armies of the empire, claimed to give on the spot, at Rome. He deposed Avitus, and probably murdered him. Under his direction, the Senate chose Majorian. Majorian was too able, too public-spirited, perhaps too independent for the barbarian Patrician; Majorian, at a moment of ill-fortune, was deposed and got rid of. Ricimer’s next nominee, Severus, seems to have been too feeble and incapable for his impatient master; at any rate, he is reported to have been made away with. Then, at a moment of extreme danger, in the hope of assistance from Leo, the Eastern emperor, against the attacks of Genseric, Ricimer accepted an emperor, chosen at Constantinople, the Greek Anthemius, whose daughter he married. But Anthemius was not content to be simply the tool and the screen of the Patrician. Coolness and jealousies followed; Ricimer determined on a quarrel, and all attempts to reconcile them failed. Ricimer set up his fourth emperor, Olybrius, and at the head of a barbarian army attacked and slew Anthemius. For the third time Rome was stormed and delivered over to a foreign soldiery, in this of Rome, case nominally in her own service. Ricimer and Olybrius both died a few months afterwards, and the empire in the West was left without its nominal or real head. A refugee Burgundian king, Ricimer’s nephew, Gundobad, whom Ricimer had protected, and who cared little for anything but his lost Burgundian inheritance, found himself successor to Ricimer as Patrician in Italy. The Patrician Gundobad, following Ricimer’s example, conferred the title of Augustus on an officer of the imperial guard, Glycerius. It is hard to imagine anything more grotesque in circumstances, and more tragical in its substance, than the chance of a Burgundian fugitive having, by the accident of the moment, the business thrust upon him of disposing of the majesty of the empire, and of looking out in Ricimer’s mixed host for a successor to the honors of the mighty line of men who had ruled from Augustus to Constantine. But the extravagance of ignominy was not exhausted. A rival emperor, Julius Nepos, compelled Glycerius to exchange the inheritance of the Caesars for the bishopric of Salona; again, the bishop of Salona in due time found his fallen rival Nepos in his power, and murdered him. In the next turn of fortune, a former secretary of Attila, Orestes, had become Patrician, and general of the barbarian troops; like Ricimer, not caring or not venturing to become emperor himself, he proclaimed his son emperor, to whom by a strange chance, as if in mockery of his fortune, had been given the names of the first king and the first emperor of Rome, Romulus Augustus, soon turned in derision into the diminutive “Augustulus”. But Orestes failed to play the part of Ricimer. A younger and more daring barbarian adventurer, Odoacer the Herule, or Rugian, bid higher for the allegiance of the army. Orestes was slain, and the young emperor was left to the mercy of Odoacer. In singular and significant contrast to the common usage when a pretender fell, Romulus Augustulus was spared. He was made to abdicate in legal form; and the Roman Senate at the dictation of Odoacer, officially signified to the Eastern emperor, Zeno, their resolution that the separate Western Empire should cease, and their recognition of the one emperor at Constantinople, who should be supreme over West and East. Amid the ruin of the empire and the state, the dethroned emperor passed his days, in such luxurious ease as the times allowed, at the Villa of Lucullus at Misenum; and Odoacer, taking the Teutonic title of king, sent to the emperor at Constantinople the imperial crown and robe which were to be worn no more at Rome or Ravenna for more than three hundred years.

Thus in the year 476 ended the Roman empire, or rather, the line of Roman emperors, in the West. Thus it had become clear that the foundations of human life and society, which had seemed the under the first emperors eternal, had given way. The Roman empire was not the last word in the history of the world; but either the world was in danger of falling into chaos, or else new forms of life were yet to appear, new ideas of government and national existence were to struggle with the old for the mastery.

The world was not falling into chaos. Europe, which seemed to have lost its guidance and its hope of civilization in losing the empire, was on the threshold of a history far grander than that of Rome, and was about to start in a career of civilization to which that of Rome was rude and unprogressive. In the great break-up of the empire in the West, some parts of its system lasted, others disappeared. What lasted was the idea of municipal government, the Christian Church, the obstinate evil of slavery. What disappeared was the central power, the imperial and universal Roman citizenship, the exclusive rule of the Roman law, the old Roman paganism, the Roman administration, the Roman schools of literature. Part of these revived, the idea of central power under Charles the Great, and Otto his great successor; the appreciation of law, though not exclusively Roman law; the schools of learning. And under these conditions the new nations—some of mixed races, as in France, Spain, and Italy; others simple and homogeneous, as in Germany, England, and the Scandinavian peninsula—began their apprenticeship of civilization. But the time of preparation was long. The world had long to wait for the ripening of the seed which was so widely sown, and which was in due season to bear such rich fruit. In the first five centuries after Western Europe had passed from Roman to barbarian rule, two great stages are perceptible in the course of events. In the first stage, we see the confusion and disturbance attending on the new settlement, which everywhere took the shape of invasion; but the materials were being gathered and made ready to form the new society which was to arise. In the second stage, we see the attempts to organize these materials, to give distinctness to the different forms of national life, to introduce order, law, and fixed constitutional habits in the new nations, attempts which culminated in the revived empire of Charles the Great. To trace the course of European history through these two stages is the object of the following sketch.



The two nations.


The disappearance of the emperors of the West did not mean the complete and immediate disappearance of the laws, ideas, and political organization of the Roman empire in Europe. These went on, for a time, in appearance almost unchanged, and it was only by degrees and by successive shocks, that the old order gave place to the new one, which was now beginning. Odoacer was the most powerful man in kingdom In Italy, without even a nominal rival. But Odoacer was not emperor. He was only a Teutonic king, without even a special and national, much less a territorial title. He was a “king of nations”, of a mixed army, among whom he had divided the third part of the lands of Italy; while to the Italians he was the Roman “Patrician”, appointed by the distant emperor at Constantinople over the “diocese” of Italy. The name and place of emperor were void in the West. But there never was a time, from 476 to 800, when the Roman empire was supposed not to exist. There was still for some time the Roman Senate, the Roman Consulship, the Roman Praetorian prefect; the Roman municipal and financial administration, the Roman law, by which life was ruled, when this law did not come into conflict with the policy, the usages, the will of the new masters. And though there was no longer an emperor in the West, there was still a Roman emperor, the emperor who ruled at Constantinople, the greatest and most majestic personage in the world, who, though far off, and busily occupied with affairs of his own, had not relinquished his claims to recognition and allegiance in the West, and continued to assert them, sometimes with strength and success. But though at the time the greatness of the change was obscured by the stubborn tenacity of many surviving parts of the strong Roman organization, the old imperial system had really passed away, and the new national system, which was henceforth to prevail in Europe, had come into existence. The empire had begun to give place to a number of new kingdoms, or attempted kingdoms, which, though they sometimes sought a formal recognition from Constantinople, had no longer to reckon seriously with the central authority, but only with one another, for their limits and power. When they encountered, as they did sometimes with fatal result, the forces of the Eastern empire, the barbarians were no longer the invaders but the invaded, protecting what had become their own from a foreign foe, not really resisting the authority or encroaching on the dominions of the successors of the Caesars.

In the hundred years which followed the fall of the empire, years of wild confusion and havoc, amid which are seen the first efforts after reorganization and order, two great questions emerge and give interest to a scene in which we should otherwise see nothing but the shock of conflicting barbarisms. One was the question which of the two great Teutonic races, the Goths, or their rivals, the Franks, should be the ruling race of the West. The other, dependent on the first, was, which should be the creed of Europe, the Catholic faith, or Arianism. In the decision of these two questions so eventful and so critical, the whole significance of the history centres.

Odoacer, the chief of an army composed of several Teutonic races, was, in fact, though not in name, the first king of Italy. But in him the barbarian chieftain hardly rose above the level of a successful soldier; the qualities of a statesman first showed themselves in his conqueror and successor, the famous Theodoric. Theodoric was the hereditary chieftain of a tribe of the Eastern Goths, whom the easy success and prosperity of Odoacer tempted from their wasted seats by the Danube, to dispute with him the great prize of Italy. The Gothic race had the start of all the barbarians in culture, in apparent aptitude for civil life, in gentleness Italy, of manners. They had been longer than any others established in portions of the provinces, as allies and subjects of the state ; and it might have seemed that of all they were most adapted to reinvigorate and restore, without destroying, what had become degenerate and enfeebled. Theodoric added to the daring and energy of a Gothic chief the knowledge gained by a civilized education at Constantinople. He was the head, not of a chance army of mixed races, but of a homogeneous tribe which reverenced in his family, the race of the Amals, a royal line. And he was the first of the Teutonic conquerors who attempted to carry out the idea not merely of administering a conquest, but of founding and governing a state. His distinct policy was to unite Goths and Italians into one people, without breaking down the customs or the special privileges of either. If Goths were his soldiers, Latins were his counselors and administrators; and he chose these among the best and ablest of the Latins, men like Boethius, Symmachus, and Cassiodorus. Theodoric fixed his royal residence sometimes at Verona, but mainly at Ravenna, the capital of the last Western emperors since Honorius. The first of the Teutonic kings, he caught from the Romans their taste for that great art in which the Teutonic family was in time to become so famous, and which was to preserve the Gothic name when the Gothic nations had disappeared. In the churches which he built at Ravenna, in his palace, in his tomb, he emulated the massive grandeur of the Roman builders. The kingdom of Theodoric, of which the seat was in Italy, while its more loosely governed borderlands stretched from Gaul to the Danube, exercised a new and commanding influence in the group of Teutonic States which were growing up in the West. In Theodoric we have, perhaps, the first exam' pie of a definite policy of domestic alliances for public ends. He connected his house with all the German kings of the West, West Goths, Burgundians, Franks, Vandals, Thuringians. We have a curious and instructive picture of the internal administration of the new Gothic kingdom, in its various departments, preserved in a large collection of the business letters of Cassiodorus, Theodoric’s Latin secretary and minister. Theodoric’s reign of thirty-three years, stained though it was at its close by strange outbreaks of suspicious cruelty, was the first example of a real effort on a large scale, made by the Teutonic conquerors, to pass from barbarism to civilization, to create, out of their conquests, “a fatherland, a city, and a state”. It was an attempt to give body and form, however rudely and imperfectly, to the new idea of a Christian kingdom and country, which was to supplant the idea which had hitherto held exclusive possession of men's minds, that of the Roman empire.

In the other Teutonic kingdoms which had come into existence in the fifth century, though in none of them was seen the statesmanship and large attempts of Theodoric, the same tendency was at work towards distinctness and consolidation. Gundobad (491-516), the Burgundian refugee in Ricimer’s camp, whom a strange chance had once invested with the power of giving an emperor to the West, had, after bloody domestic quarrels, returned to introduce some kind of law and order in his kingdom on the Rhone and Saone. The Vandal kingdom in Africa, founded, and sustained, by the crafty and relentless policy of Genseric, still kingdom, retained the impress given to it by its founder, in being the most oppressive to the Roman population of all the barbarian kingdoms, and by being least influenced by their civilization. The kingdom of the Western Goths, the people of Alaric, settled in Spain and Aquitaine, with Toulouse and Bordeaux for their capitals, had grown in in Gaul, power and extent during the last disasters of the empire. One of the last acts of the imperial government, in the very agony of its dissolution, was to surrender to the Gothic king, Euric, the volcanic highlands of Auvergne, the last refuge in the midst of his dominions of Latin culture and independence. Euric ruled over the greater part of southern Gaul and a part of Spain, and in renown and pretensions, and in a measure, too, in his attempts to adjust, by definite law, the relations of conquerors and conquered, was a counterpart, though an imperfect one, of the great king who was to create the sister kingdom of the East Goths at Ravenna.

These were all Gothic kingdoms, or were connected with the Gothic migration and settlement; and to the Gothic race, on the extinction of the empire, the inheritance of its power seemed to have fallen. And besides the tie of race and neighborhood, these first founders of the nations of the West and South, who had not only broken up the Roman empire, but had parcelled it out as colonists and settlers, were also bound together by the tie of religion. Goths, Burgundians, Vandals, were already Christians, when they conquered and divided the lands of the empire. They had mostly been converted beyond the limits of the Western empire; and they carried with them their own bishops, and their Gothic Bible, the translation of Ulfila (310-380), the oldest written literature in any Teutonic tongue. But they had been converted and had received their Christianity on the borders of the Greek provinces of the empire, at a time when the court religion at Constantinople, under Constantius, was Arianism (337-361). The earliest Teutonic kingdoms of Christendom were Arian, either tolerant, as under Theodoric, or systematically and unsparingly persecuting, as with the Vandals, and sometimes the West Goths. In either case, they were attached to their creed, if only as a national distinction from the Roman population. In these Gothic kingdoms, not only new political powers were forming, but a new religious power, the rival of the Catholic Church, was making its appearance in the West. This new religious power, Arianism, came into conflict with religious beliefs which had already taken the firmest hold on the Latin population in the West and in Africa, and it threatened whatever was deepest and most cherished in their convictions. But this Gothic supremacy was soon challenged. While their Arian creed placed them in permanent opposition to the Catholic bishops, who, in the break up of the empire, had become the real leaders of the Latin population, other Teutonic tribes, later in the race of conquest, fresh from their old habits of savage war, and still retaining their heathen religion and their untamed ferocity, came into the field to claim their part in the spoils of the empire. In the revolutions which followed, it was no longer simply the Latin race against the Teutonic, but different members of the Teutonic stock against one another. And to the rivalry and feuds of races, nearly allied, but strongly opposed in interests and habits, was added also the opposition of creeds.

A race, not new to the wars and troubles of the later empire, was rising into importance in the north-east of Gaul, which was to dispute, and finally overthrow, the predominance of the Goths, and give a different turn to the course of Western history. This race, the Franks, was also a Teutonic one. Up to the middle of the century, they had made comparatively but little figure in the events of the time. They had been loyal to the empire, they had furnished some of the best soldiers to the armies of Stilicho and Aetius; they had suffered in the rush and pressure of the invading Vandals, and still more of the Huns; but when the empire could no longer defend itself, they had not thought it necessary to keep within their earlier limits. The Salian Franks had pushed down from the Batavian and Frisian marshes, to the rivers and valleys of north-eastern Gaul. The Ripuarian Franks advanced to the country of the Meuse and Moselle. The Salian Franks had even associated a Roman or a Romanized Gaul, Aegidius, with their native chief in the leadership of the tribe. But in the year 481, the native leadership passed into the hands of a chief who would not endure a Roman colleague, or the narrow limits within which, in the general turmoil of the world, his tribe was cramped. He is known to history by the name of Clovis, or Chlodvig, which through many transformations, became the later Ludwig and Louis. Clovis soon made himself feared as the most ambitious, the most unscrupulous, and the most energetic of the new Teutonic founders of states. Ten years after the fall of the Western empire, seven years before the rise of the Gothic kingdom of Theodoric, Clovis challenged the Roman Patrician, Syagrius of Soissons, who had succeeded to Aegidius, defeated him in a pitched field, at Nogent near Soissons (486), and finally crushed Latin rivalry in northern Gaul. Ten years later (496), in another famous battle, Toibiac (Zülpich), near Cologne, he also crushed Teutonic rivalry, and established his supremacy over the kindred Alamanni of the Upper Rhine. Then he turned himself with bitter hostility against the Gothic power in Gaul. The Franks hated the Goths, as the ruder and fiercer of the same stock hate those who are a degree above them in the arts of peace, and are supposed to be below them in courage and the pursuits of war. There was another cause of antipathy. The Goths were zealous Arians; and Clovis, under the influence of his wife Clotildis, the niece of the Burgundian Gundobad, and in consequence, it is said of a vow made in battle at Tolbiac, had received Catholic baptism from St. Remigius of Rheims. The Frank king threw his sword into the scale against the Arian cause, and became the champion and hope of the Catholic population all over Gaul. Clovis was victorious. He crippled the Burgundian kingdom (500), which was finally destroyed by his sons (534). In a battle near Poitiers, he broke the power of the West Goths in Gaul; he drove them out of Aquitaine, leaving them but a narrow slip of coast, to seek their last settlement and resting-place in Spain; and when he died, he was recognized by all the world, by Theodoric, by the Eastern emperor, who honored him with the title of the consulship, as the master of Gaul. Nor was his a temporary conquest. The kingdom of the West Goths and the Burgundians had become the kingdom of the Franks. The invaders had at length arrived, who were to remain. It was decided that the Franks, and not the Goths, were to direct the future destinies of Gaul and Germany, and that the Catholic faith, and not Arianism, was to be the religion of these great realms. Burgundy, which was half Teutonic, was united like the Latin Aquitaine and Provence, to the fortunes of the Franks. In Spain only did the Gothic conquest, the Gothic power, the Gothic civilization, and for a time, the Gothic Arianism, maintain themselves.

A.D. 527-565. Justinian, Belisarius, Narses.

In the middle of the sixth century the Eastern empire, under one of the greatest of its rulers, Justinian, once more put forth its still enormous strength, and maintained its unabated claims by a revival of military enterprise and prowess, not unworthy of the most famous days of Rome. Belisarius showed that Roman generalship was not extinct. By him the Vandal settlement in Africa was broken up and destroyed (534). While Theodoric lived, the Gothic kingdom of Italy was respected by the emperor; but the discord among the Goths themselves which followed his death showed how much the Gothic power in Italy had depended on one man. The empire revived its claim to the allegiance of Italy. The Gothic chiefs were defeated or slain, and the kingdom of Theodoric finally overthrown by another of Justinian’s victorious generals, the Armenian Narses (553). Under these great soldiers it seemed as if the Teutonic settlements in the West were about to be rudely shaken. Roman soldiers taught their old terrible lessons not merely to the Vandals of Africa and the Goths of Italy, but to the invading Alamanni from Germany, and the warlike Franks from Gaul (556). In Italy, at least, for fourteen years (553- 567), till after Justinian and Belisarius were dead, the authority of the Roman empire exercised by Narses under the name of the Exarch of Italy, or, as it is sometimes called, of Ravenna, was once more established arid obeyed. And though neither the limits of the Exarchate, nor the power of the Exarch, were afterwards what they had been under the first Exarch, Narses, the name, which continued for nearly two centuries, designated the last remaining territory, with the exception of the great Mediterranean islands, and for a time, of some portions of Spain, which the Roman emperors could claim as their own in the West.

The conquests of Justinian's generals were brilliant but barren triumphs. They were the last efforts of the empire in the West, and there was not enough in the conditions of its society and government, apart from the accidental and personal qualifications of its rulers and generals, to sustain them. The course of the Teutonic invasions and settlements was interrupted and disturbed, —diverted, but not arrested. The victories of Belisarius and Narses, and the overthrow of the Goths in Italy, were immediately followed by the irruptions and conquests of the Lombards.

The Longobards (softened into the Lombards) were the last of the Teutonic invaders who settled in the western territories of the Roman Empire. They were a German tribe, whom the usual causes of barbarian migration had brought from the banks of the Oder to the great stream along which so many barbarian races and federations had halted, and from which they had started on their final conquests. On the Danube they had, like the Goths of Alaric and Theodoric, met other rival barbarians and the powers of the Eastern empire. Like Alaric and Theodoric, Alboin, the adventurous king of the Lombards, instead of pursuing the course of the feuds, alliances, and rivalries with his barbarian neighbors, sought a new field for his ambition in a reconquest of Italy to the Teutonic occupation. The Gothic kingdom had been finally beaten down and destroyed. Belisarius was dead (565). Narses, suspected and superseded, if he did not invite the Lombard invaders, no longer commanded the Roman armies, and died about the time of the invasion (568). Alboin, with associates from many German tribes, attacked, overran, and occupied a great portion of Italy. Ravenna, and the maritime cities as far as Ancona, with Rome, Naples, and Venice, were still preserved to the allegiance of the emperor, and acknowledged the authority of the exarch at Ravenna. But the rest of Italy came under the dominion of the Lombard king; his numerous “dukes”, almost independent chiefs, seized each his city or large territory; the Teutonic ascendency, overthrown in the overthrow of the Gothic kingdom, was again established in Italy. Lombard kings reigned, legislated, and administered at Pavia, as Theodoric had done at Ravenna and Verona; and the kingdom of the Lombards, set up in the very home of the Latin race, took for two hundred years the place which the Gothic kingdom, founded by the genius of Theodoric, had only been able to keep for sixty.

But Italy was never completely subdued, like Gaul, Spain, or Britain. To the last, there were three capitals, centres of national feeling and influence. Besides the Lombard capital of Pavia, and the Greek capital of Ravenna, there was the Italian capital of Rome, nominally acknowledging the Greek emperor, but for the most part, isolated, and growing under the popes into a sense of exceptional independence. The Latin population of Italy was more obstinate than those of Gaul and Spain, in its aversion to foreigners, and in its national pride. The Lombards are said to have been harshest and most cruel of the barbarian conquerors of Italy. The Lombards, as long as they were there, always stronger than the Greeks and Italians, were yet never strong enough to get the land and the people into their grasp. They broke up, soon after Alboin's death, into thirty-six independent dukedoms, mostly in single cities; and though the confusion and anarchy resulting from this drove them after ten years again to make one of these dukes their king, the Lombards failed to establish a settled kingdom. They were always less closely connected with their subjects, and more loosely united among themselves, than their Teutonic neighbors. With Rome, preserving the Italian traditions and keeping up Italian memories, they continued to be barbarian and oppressive strangers, as despised as they were hated and feared. Not even their conversion from Arianism, under Agilulf (590-615), begun under the influence of a religious queen like Clotildis and Bertha, the Bavarian Theudelinda, and seconded by Pope Gregory the Great, could reconcile the two races. There was a semblance of organization; a division into provinces, an Austria and a Neustria, as among the Franks, a Tuscia, as in Roman times. The Lombard kings collected the “laws of the Lombards”, and promulgated regulations on the relations between Italians and Lombards But the real masters were the great Lombard dukes, dukes of Spoleto, Benevento, Friuli, who made war among themselves and on the king, and who with the king harried and tormented whatever was not in their domain. The Lombard history had its romantic adventures, but was void of political interest or success. There is no sign, even to the last, of their hold on Italy. The Lombards gave their name permanently to one of the noblest of Italian provinces, and they left their mark deeply on the laws, the customs, the manners, the familiar names of Italy. And in Italy their line of kings bridged over the interval from the days of Justinian, Belisarius, and Narses, to those of Charles the Great. But the Lombard settlement in Italy, like the Gothic state of Theodoric, fell before a foreign conqueror; and after having lasted longer than the Gothic and Vandal kingdoms, like them, it ultimately failed.

Thus began the newer ages of Western Europe. They began in the ruins of the old state of things. The change was not a gradual passage, such as is always going on in the ordinary course of history. The times from the fifth to the eighth century, offer an example of a real catastrophe of strange and rare violence in the progress of mankind. On such a scale and with such results it has only happened once. It stands alone, as far as we know, among the revolutions and changes, of the world. Islam, which was most like it, though it was the change of a religion, yet left Asiatic civilization, and, for the most part, the populations of Asia, where it found them. Changes as great have been since, but they have been gradual. Convulsions almost as terrific have also happened; but they have been partial. But then, for more than three centuries, it seems as if the world and human society had been hopelessly wrecked, without prospect or hope of escape. And what gave to this misery additional bitterness, was that there was always a considerable number of persons, sufficiently imbued with the ideas and imagination of a happier time, to be alive to the contrast, and to feel more acutely the wretchedness and despair of the present. The language of the Psalms alone adequately represents such feelings: " The earth is moved, the hills are carried into the midst of the sea. All the foundations of the earth are out of course." Just as the present crust of the earth on which we dwell is built of the ruins of former ones, as our mountains and plains are the remains and wreck of an elder world, so nations stand on the relics and survivals of older natural and political organizations, broken up and shattered, but not annihilated. We plant our corn and wine on the debris of primeval rocks. Ancient sea bottoms are our fields, and the sites of our cities. The clay of which our bricks are moulded was poured forth in subglacial streams from long melted glaciers. The stones of which our homes are built are cut out of strata deposited in oceans which have vanished, and beds heaved up and down in tremendous jars and shocks, far beyond our experience. So modern Europe has arisen out of three main elements : 1. Disintegrated and ruined nations formed under the civilization of Greece and Rome; 2. Altered, and, to use a geological term, “metamorphic”, Teutonic races, more or less modified by contact with the Roman world; 3. The organization and ideas and usages of the Christian Church. With the older civilizations of the world, India, Persia, Egypt, we have to do only indirectly. With the three elements present after the destruction of the Roman empire, we are in immediate relation; we touch them.



Condition of the Teutonic Settlements in the Roman Empire.


The new settlers brought with them certain outlines of organization. They came for the most part, not merely as armies but as tribes; and the tribal character became prominent in proportion as they settled. They came for the most part under kings, sometimes, apparently, of an ancient line, like the Amals among the Goths, sometimes chosen to conduct a war or to reward a conquest. The tribe consisted of freemen, with their dependents, and in time their slaves, though the course of events gradually caused changes in the power, the wealth, and the rank of individuals ; and freedom of person and of vote was long at the basis of Teutonic usages, though tempered by limiting customs and by accidental differences of strength and influence. They divided the land as they settled, either adopting the old divisions, like the Pagus (Pays), or the Civitas, with other indeterminate subdivisions in Gaul, or creating new ones of their own in the more purely Teutonic districts, the Gau, and the Mark in Germany. And as soon as they were settled, a hierarchy of chiefs grew up; Duces, “leaders of the host” (Heerzog), over the larger provinces, Comites (Graf), over the subordinate ones, leaders in war, magistrates in peace. The king had his special companions and faithful men, out of whom, as well as out of the local chiefs who were not dependent on the king, a nobility arose. The gathering once or twice a year of the freemen, in the divisions of the kingdom and in the kingdom as a whole, brought them continually together, either to make war, or to sanction laws and decisions. And the land was partly public, held in common by the inhabitants of the district, whether great or small; partly held in special occupation and tenancy from the community, but not as property by individual members ; and partly held by full right of property, subject or not to claims on it, public or private. In each Teutonic settlement, there were the old inhabitants and the new comers. Under varying conditions, often in the proportion of two-thirds to one-third of land or produce, the original population shared the soil with the conquering minority. And for the most part conquerors and conquered lived each under their own law.

But the Teutonic nations, which, in the fifth century, had not merely invaded the empire, but had made permanent settlements in it, found themselves under new conditions of life. They had exchanged their forests and wastes for a land of ancient cities and established cultivation, in which they were still, indeed above all things, warriors, whose trade and pride was fighting, yet no longer mere foes and destroyers, but settlers, or, as it was said, “guests”. The Germans, with all their barbarian rudeness and wildness, were not, like the Huns, and the Turks afterwards, hopelessly alien in mind and spirit from the Romans whom they had conquered. They had also become more or less familiar with the more civilized races for whom, in the trial of strength, they had been too strong. Some of the German tribes, especially those of the Gothic stock, had come into constant contact with the Romans, as soldiers in the imperial service, and sometimes in the court; and further, most of these Gothic tribes had listened to the teachers and missionaries of Christianity, and had, in a partial and imperfect way, received it as their religion.

When, therefore, they founded their new kingdoms in Gaul, in Spain, in Italy, the things about them were not absolutely strange to them. Still, when the time of comparative repose succeeded the excitement of conquering and of taking possession, the conquerors found themselves under altered conditions of life. They found themselves continually in the presence of three new sets of circumstances, which were from day to day impressing their minds, forcing on them new ideas, affecting their actions, favouring or interfering with their purposes; and these, whether resisted or welcomed, were insensibly subjecting them to processes of change, gradual, prolonged, and sometimes intermitting, but very deep and very eventful. These changes were the beginnings, out of which by long waiting and painful steps and dreary reactions of anarchy and darkness, the new and progressive civilization of the European nations was to spring.

The first of these influences was, the presence of the Christian Church; the second, was the presence of Roman law and its administrative system; the third, was the atmosphere of Latin language and conversation in which they lived, and its rivalries with their own Teutonic speech.

Influence of Church on New Nations.

At the period of the Teutonic settlement, the Christian religion was rooted in the Latin world, and the Christian Church had insensibly attracted to itself the authority with which men spontaneously invest that which they reverence and trust. The moral and social power, which was slowly but surely slipping out of the hands of the empire, and even some measure of the political power which its officials were abdicating, was passing over to the chiefs of the religious society which the empire had vainly combated, the Christian bishops. Amid the ruins of the greatest pride and the greatest strength that the world had known, the Church alone stood erect and strong. In days when men relied only on force and violence, yet only to discover, time after time, that force alone could not give and secure power, the Church ruled by the word of persuasion, by example, by knowledge, by its higher view of life, by its obstinate hopes and visible beneficence, by its confidence in innocence, by its call to peace. The Church had faith in itself and its mission where all other faith had broken down. It might be afflicted and troubled by the disasters of the time, but its work was never arrested by them nor its courage abated. It still offered shelter and relief among the confusion, even after war had broken into its sanctuaries, and the sword had slaughtered its ministers ; it still persisted in holding out the light from heaven, when the air was filled with storm and darkness. In the Latin cities of Italy and Gaul, while public spirit and the sense of duty were failing, and the civil chiefs of society shrank from the dangerous burdens and troubles of office, the Christian bishops, chosen by their people for qualities which men most respect, were, by virtue of these qualities, ready to accept the responsibilities which others gave up, and were taking informally the first place. It added to their influence that they were permanent in their office, and some of the most remarkable of them held it for a very long period, through rapid changes in the world without. Avitus, Bishop of Vienne for thirty-five years, from 490 to 525, helped to order the Burgundian kingdom, and witnessed its fall. Caesarius of Arles, in his forty years' episcopate (501-542), saw the power of the West pass from the Goths to the Franks, and the Gothic kingdom built up by Theodoric in Italy, overthrown by Belisarius; and both Caesarius and Avitus exercised great influence on the new society and its new masters. Remigius, who in 496, baptized Clovis and his Franks, in his episcopate of more than seventy years (461-533), saw the last days of the Western empire, and the victorious beginnings of the Merovingian line. In times of strife the bishops were mediators, ambassadors, peace-makers. In times of imminent danger men looked to them to face the peril, to intercede for the doomed, to cross, with no protection but their sacred character, the path of the destroyer. With the terrible and inflexible barbarians, who were deaf to Roman envoys and contemptuous of Roman soldiers, with Ricimer, with Alaric, with Attila, with Genseric, the last word, the only word listened to, was that of a fearless bishop, like Pope Leo, asking nothing for himself, but in the name of the Most High that his people should be spared. Representatives, not of religion only and the claims of God, but of moral order, of the rights of conscience and the sympathies of men, of the bonds and authority of human society, the Christian bishops were, when the barbarians became settlers in the empire, the only trusted guides of life.

Besides these majestic and commanding forms which were continually meeting the new comers, in questions of peace and war, in council, in the intercourse of civil life, as ministers of peace, justice, and self-control, there were also the influence and the results of the religion which they professed. It was a religion which allied the most overwhelming wonders and mysteries with the plainest and most uncompromising rules of action; which, to the inquisitive, opened thoughts undreamt of concerning the love, the greatness, the terrors of an unknown God, and which taught men to be daring, heroic, and enduring, in the new way of severity to themselves, and boundless kindness and service to others. The barbarians coveted Roman wealth, they despised Roman strength; but these bold and manly races could not be awed by what the Christian Church had saved and incorporated of ancient Roman force and greatness of mind, heightened by the spirit of a Divine teaching and purity, in her charity, her discipline, her self-devotion and public spirit. And this was embodied in a compact and steady organization, which, while all else was reeling and changing, showed the world the strange spectacle of stability and growth. Barbarian chiefs, like Clovis the Frank, or Gundobad the Burgundian, dimly understood the spectacle before them, and the influences which acted on them; and, doubtless, the spectacle was a confused one, and the influences were mixed ones. But it was plain to them, in that rude and wild time, that whatever there was on earth stronger than force and greater than kings, was in that Kingdom of Righteousness which the Christian Church proclaimed, and attempted to reflect. Wayward and intractable disciples, they broke without scruple its laws in their moments of passion, and trampled on its most sacred sanctions. Low and high notions were grotesquely intermixed in their efforts at duty. But they saw clearly and truly that in the Christian Church and religion they had encountered a power of a different order from any that they had yet met with; a power which they must take account of, which .was not afraid of them, and would always be in their path; which they must either accept and make terms with, or else at all hazards resolve to destroy and root out. For the most part they chose the former alternative.

The immense influence of Christianity and the Church on the new nations is one of those mixed and complicated facts which it is hard adequately to exhibit, much less to analyze completely. It was the source of good and the guarantee of progress to them; it carried with it the promise and hope of a nobler future. But the immediate effect of this contact of the barbarians with Christianity was to lower and injure Christianity. Christianity raised them, but it suffered itself in the effort. The clergy, and those responsible for the care of religion, in rude and disordered states of society, are often hardly judged by those who live later in calmer and more experienced times. During the worst of the wild days which followed the Teutonic conquest, there were always to be found men deeply impressed with the sense of right, and with the truth and greatness of the Divine government, full of zeal for righteousness, and disinterested love for their brethren; men who taught these lessons, and men who received them in sincerity. Socially, the Church, as such, was always on the side of peace, on the side of industry, on the side of purity, on the side of liberty for the slave and protection for the oppressed. The monasteries were the only keepers of literary tradition; they were, still more, great agricultural colonies, clearing the wastes, and setting the example of improvement. They were the only seats of human labor which could hope to be spared in those lands of perpetual war. In the religious teaching of the clergy, the great outlines and facts of this Christian creed were strongly and firmly drawn, and they were never obliterated, though often confused by lower and meaner admixtures. It was impossible to forget the Cross of Christ; the appeal to Our Father went up in numberless tongues and dialects all over the West, from the ignorant and the miserable, from the barbarian warrior, and perhaps his victim. But the religious aspect of the West was to be, for many centuries after the conquest, a dark and deplorable one. From the moment that the barbarians became masters in the West, an immediate deterioration becomes manifest in the clergy, in their teaching, in their standard of conduct. There is a vast change from the generation of Churchmen in Gaul who had felt the influence of the powerful writers and earnest teachers of the fourth and fifth centuries—St. Hilary, St. Jerome, St. Leo, above all St. Augustine, and St. Augustine's strong and subtle antagonists, Faustus and Pelagius. Even from men like Prosper of Aquitaine, Avitus of Vienne, Caesarius of Arles, the descent is great to the next generation in the sixth century, with their coarse and superficial religion, their readiness to allow sin to buy itself off by prodigal gifts, the connivance by the best men at imposture, its direct encouragement by the average. In the Church in Gaul under the Franks, of which Gregory of Tours (540-595) has left so curious a contemporary picture, the hold of discipline on the people is seen to be of the slightest, the irregularity of all acts among the clergy is of the greatest. And these evils increased as the bishops increased in dignity and wealth. The breadth of land held and tilled by the clergy was a benefit to the country, but not to themselves. Their secularly and widespread corruption were the heavy price at which their hold on the barbarians, the only visible hope for the ultimate improvement of society, was purchased.

The Barbarians and Roman Law.

Further, the Teutonic settlers found themselves in the midst of a population long accustomed to the elaborate and fully developed system of Roman law, which had grown up out of the varied experience and the practiced forethought of a great people, and which provided naturally and easily for the numberless questions of human life and intercourse. It is clear that Roman law greatly impressed them. They had brought with them their own unwritten customs from the other side of the Rhine, or from the banks of the Danube, according to which the rough justice of a rude and inartificial state of society was administered. Each tribe had its own customs; and earlier or later after the settlement, in some cases very early, these customs, expressed in Latin, were reduced to writing, and became, in contrast to the general Roman law, the peculiar law of each tribe or kingdom—the law of the Burgundians, Visigoths, Salian and Ripuarian Franks, Alamanni, Bavarians, Lombards. These were at first rude attempts, mainly lists of offences and penalties, the penalties being for the most part money fines or compensations, according to the nationality or social rank of the injured person. But they expressly recognized for the Roman population, that is, for the larger part of the population, the Roman law. Some of the Teutonic kings, as Alaric, the West Goth (506), and Sigismund, the Burgundian (517), republished and resanctioned the Theodosian code, or selections from it, for the guidance of their Roman subjects. The next step was to incorporate in their own laws, as fresh cases arose and new questions had to be adjusted, provisions adopted from the Roman law. The great Theodoric, the East Goth, about 500, drew up, by the help of his Latin counsellors, his Edictum, in which, borrowing from Roman principles of law, he laid down rules for barbarians and Romans alike, intended to teach respect for right and order, to protect the weak against the strong, and to guard the civilization (civilitas) which he so valued. And, finally, as in the law of the West Goths, (642-701), after they were confined to Spain, the two elements, Teutonic and Roman, were fused together into one general code of territorial instead of personal law, for a nation in which Goths and Romans had come to be looked upon as one people. Even while the special customs of each tribe were defined and maintained, there was yet always the consciousness of a larger and more universal law all round them—the vast system of laws, decrees, and judicial decisions which came down from the republic and the empire, and which, compared with the local laws of Franks or Goths, seemed like the general law of the world, as contrasted with the by-laws of some local association. This vast scientific apparatus of jurisprudence was in the hands of the Latins, understood by them, still worked and administered by them, accomplishing ends which the rough barbarian rules could not reach. The Teutonic settlers without fully understanding the great instrument, were able to appreciate its power and advantages. Latin clerks put their Teutonic customs into the universal language. Latin experts interpreted to their kings the Roman codes. In Spain Latin-speaking bishops, in the Councils of Toledo, compiled and arranged the law of the West Goths.

In the north, under the Franks, the Roman municipal system, with its magistrates and its forms, continued to act, only adjusted to a state of things in which the Teutonic count or bishop took the place of imperial presidents or consulars; and the close Latin municipality gradually passed into a more popular body, which was to become the commune, the commonalty, of later times. In proportion as the Germans settled down to the conditions of civil life, bought and sold, built and planted, claimed rights or disputed them, made wills and inherited property, they came upon the Roman civil order, waiting for them ready made in all questions, with its strong principles and established rules. They found themselves, as Guizot expresses it, “caught in its meshes”. Its influence varied greatly; but its traces are seen everywhere. And it was one of the chief means by which, in the union of the two races in the West and South, the Latin element gained more and more the ascendency.

Teutonic Settlers and Latin Language.

Again, all these Teutonic settlers, Goths, Burgundians, Franks, Lombards, found themselves in daily contact in the business of life with a Latin-speaking population, the leaders of which were more cultivated, and the inferior classes more numerous than themselves. Whether as masters or as fellow-citizens, whether profiting by Latin knowledge, or employing the labor of their new dependents and slaves, they were forced to know something of Latin; not, of course, the literary Latin which we have in books, even in the books of the time, but the Latin spoken in daily life, as it must have existed even in the days of Cicero and Virgil,—the Latin spoken by the humble, coarse, and ignorant; the Latin of soldiers, husbandmen, mechanics, foreign slaves, with its vulgar idioms and pronunciation varying in different localities, and with its varying admixtures of rude and outlandish expressions. The new masters could not deal with their woodsmen, their carpenters, their masons, on their possessions, without acquaintance with the provincial dialect in which the Latin of common life happened to be spoken on the spot. And whenever they had need of learning,— political, legal, or ecclesiastical, in the services of the Church, in the courts, or in the lawyer’s office—they found that learning had not attempted, and was hardly able, to speak in any other than the imperial speech of Rome. There was not yet strength enough in the German dialects, still reputed barbarous even by those who used them, to break the prescription of custom in favor of Latin, in business, in diplomacy, in all solemn and formal transactions. Their ancient speech, among Franks and Goths, remained the cherished sign of a conquering and dominant race. It was the language of the nursery and of the family, as long as the family kept itself Teutonic; it would have the preference in easy and intimate intercourse, as long as the boast of ancestry and blood remained in the court, or in the service of the court. But, besides that Franks and Goths, by degrees, married Latin wives—Gallic, Italian, Spanish—it was more and more the case that if the imported Teutonic was the language of predilection, the local Latin was the language of necessity and convenience. When one of the conquering race wanted to show temper or inflict insult, he might say that he did not understand Latin ; but he was in reality far too shrewd and too wise to cut himself off from what he knew to be one of his indispensable instruments of power. For centuries, in the lands of the Teutonic conquests, two languages went on side by side, in proportions varying in different districts and different orders of society. Each acted on the other; but each remained distinct, borrowing words, or even forms, but keeping its own fundamental structure and elements. Where Goths, Franks, Lombards settled, the population must have been, in parts of it at least, more or less, bilingual. Two languages were in use, running a race for the mastery, as now in Wales and in Brittany, in many cantons of Switzerland, in parts of the United States and Canada, in Hungary and Bohemia, and in India; till, at last, convenience, policy, accident, gave one or other the victory. So, unperceived at the time and silent, the struggle went on between the Teutonic and Latin languages. The Teutonic had on its side the pride, not merely of rank, but of race and blood. On the other hand, the Latin had three advantages. It had numbers; it had, what the Teutonic had not yet, a written literature; and it had the Church, with its services, its schools, its legal forms, and its clerks. And, in a large portion of the Teutonic conquests, these were decisive, though the struggle was long. The end has been that victory has remained with the Latin, and its derivative languages, in the west and south of the continent of Europe.

Thus, under influences such as these, helping or checking each other, a new society began to rise out of the ruins and fragments of the old. Germans and Romans each ceased to be what they had been, to become something new and different. The slow and often imperceptible process of change began which was to build up again in many ages the order and stability of life which in the fall of the Roman empire seemed to have foundered; the process which, often broken off, often ill-directed, often disappointing in its results, was yet at last to fit the new nations to take the place of the empire, which their fathers had destroyed. And one remarkable feature of the change was the final prevalence of the Latin element, wherever it had originally established itself, over the Teutonic. It was steady and certain, however protracted. There was a reconquest to Roman habits and sympathies,—to what a convenient mediaeval word designated as Romanitas or Latinitas—of the Latin provinces which the German conquerors had seized and made their own. It is plain that, from the first, no exclusion or principle of separation prevailed. The two races early began to work together, in war and in political administration; and the Germans were willing to employ, even in places of high trust, the services which Latins were willing to render. In Gaul especially, as far as can be judged from names which occur in the history of his times by Gregory of Tours, the proportion of Latins to Germans among the dukes, counts, patricians, and other officers of the Frank kings, especially those connected with the revenue, seems to be something more than two to three; among the bishops and clergy, the names and the origin are at first almost exclusively Latin, and to the end of Gregory’s history barbarian names among the high ecclesiastics are the exception. The character of the Franks as he pourtrays it, lent itself readily to this gradual mixture and fusion with the Latin provincials. As warriors, they were among the most impetuous and formidable of the German invaders. But they were eminently vainglorious, light-minded, unsteady, and self-indulgent; and as they passed from the privations of their barbarian life, to an abundance and luxury unknown before, they would be singularly exposed to the fascinations and flatteries of a new form of society which had opened to them such new enjoyments. Still it was to be a long time before the Franks ceased to be, in spite of Roman influences, a Teutonic race. In Spain, the Goths yielded earlier to these influences. In Italy, the intrusive German element, more completely alien, and more passionately resisted, was vanquished or absorbed after the defeat of the Lombards. In Gaul, in the provinces south of the Loire, studded with great Latin cities, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lyons, Vienna, Arles, Nimes, with the half Greek and half Latin Massilia, the latinizing of the Franks went on faster and more completely than to the north of that river; and it went on faster between the Loire and the Meuse, than between the Meuse and the Rhine. But though the end was a long way off, yet in the end, Gaul passed, through many intermediate steps from the Franks, the most Teutonic of Teutons, to the professed leaders of the Latin race, the chiefs of the "Romance" family of nations, the French. Rome, which had latinized her conquered provinces, ultimately latinized also her German conquerors.

But the transformation was a long one, and accompanied with many disasters and many losses. In the civil as in the religious order of things, the downfall of Latin ascendancy, at the time of the Teutonic conquests, was the beginning of a dreary period of confusion, violence, and ignorance. While the Franks and Goths were learning the rudiments of civilized social life, the Latins were losing it from the contact and predominance of a ruder people; and the Latins were losing much more than at the time the Germans were gaining. In the sixth century, Latin literature, which had recently seen a real poet like Claudian, a philosopher like Boethius, and which scarcely a century before had seemed to be reviving in new power and life under the originality and the eloquence of Augustine, rapidly sank into a darkness which was to last for ages. The generation which saw the fall of the empire saw the sudden extinction of classical culture, and of all strong intellectual efforts. In the wild and turbulent days of the Frank, the Gothic, the Lombard kings, men had neither leisure nor heart for serious thought and study, much less for literary trifling and pastime, such as that which amused a student of the Latin classics, like Sidonius, while Auvergne was quiet under the protection of Rome. What writing there was, was for the immediate calls of the day. It was very abundant; it was often forcible and genuine; but the sense of order and beauty, the care for strength and grace, the power of handling language with a mastery over its resources, the discrimination of the weight and proportion of words, had passed away, along with the interest in all the deeper forms of intellectual inquiry and enterprise. Gregory of Tours laments quaintly and pathetically his bad grammar and unskillfulness in writing—his false concords and wrong cases. Latin reading and writing were practiced by none but those to whom they were the necessity of their profession, or the road to advancement. All but the monastic or cathedral schools seem to have disappeared in the barbarian conquest. These guarded the records of literature; and a great deal of composition proceeded from them. But it was composition which in its subjects was very monotonous, confined in range, and meager in ideas; while in execution, it became more and more coarse and rude, and in all but the most direct and primitive forms of expression, childishly helpless. There, indeed, in telling some terrible story, in recording some memorable words of deep passion or emotion, it preserved much of strength and sometimes precision. But in the presence of the lawlessness and insecurity of the times, men's interest was absorbed by the actual calamities which they saw, by the vicissitudes and crimes which surrounded and oppressed them. They did not care in such days to cultivate the powers and refinements of language, and they soon lost what they had inherited of these powers and refinements; they lost, too, with this, the generalizing and comparing faculties, the value for exactness, for proportion, for adequacy of statement. The Teutonic conquest was followed by centuries in which we see an increasing literary depression, and a universal incapacity for efforts of strong and fruitful thought. But dark as the times were, they were the beginnings of better days; the preparation for improvement was never intermitted. The ancient culture of the classical days was gone, with its wisdom, its grandeur, its wickedness. It had failed in the trial to lead men to improvement. And the new order had not yet begun to know its strength and power of growth. The men of the new world were, like children in the nursery, in profound unconsciousness of what they were, and of what they were doing. They thought that they were but living from day to day in a world which was growing old and perishing. The monks, with their hard labor, and their fairy tales of saints, knew not, any more than the rough soldiers and lawyers, that they were making their first but necessary steps in a great progress. What they did was deformed by all kinds of evil and ignorance. But there were really good and even great men among them ; and the best of them did what they could at a time when in the nature of things it was impossible to do much. And when we watch their attempts, poor and weak as they might be, we are reminded perpetually that, at least, they were faithful in little.



Conquest of Britain by the Angles and Saxons.


In almost complete contrast with the course of things seen in the Teutonic settlements on the continent, was the Teutonic conquest of Britain. It was more protracted and gradual; it was more thorough and complete; and it was much less affected by the preceding conditions of life and society in the conquered race.

The Teutonic conquerors of Britain came by sea. This of itself distinguished their invasions from barbarian invasions of Italy, Gaul, and Spain, where whole nations, or armies as great as what were called nations, moved in vast swarms over the plains of Europe, poured across the Danube and the Rhine, or made their way over the Julian and Rhaetian Alps, into the provinces of the empire. To Britain they came only in such numbers as could be carried in a few ships of no great size, across the North Sea, from the fiords of Scandinavia and Denmark, or from the mouths and marshes of the German rivers, the Elbe and the Weser. Instead of a great horde led by Alaric or Theodoric, parties and expeditions of adventurers, unconnected with one another, seeking plunder and the excitement of a freebooter’s life rather than new homes, visited continually, as they had done under the empire, different points of the eastern and south-eastern coast of Britain. When favorable circumstances led them to settle, they still only settled in small and isolated bodies. Once settled they were fed from their original seats. Smaller bands coalesced into larger ones, and these again grew into separate kingdoms, separately pushing their boundaries against the Britons, or against one another, sometimes fused together sometimes united for a time under the supremacy of one of them. But all this took time. The invaders gained a new fatherland by a series of sporadic conquests. In the long and bitter struggle between English and Welsh, no one battle decided the result of the strife; no one great victory, as so often on the continent, saved the land, or delivered it to a new master.

The conquerors of Britain, the founders of the English people, came straight across the sea from one small corner in the wilderness of nations, where three obscure tribes, unheeded at the time when the world was full of the name and terror of Goths and Huns, were loosely united in one of the leagues common at the time among the barbarians. Jutes, Angles, and a tribe of old Saxons, whose fathers had moved over Europe from east to west, till they were stopped by the broad mouth of the Elbe, and by the bleak and dreary shores of the North Sea, had learned that the ocean though very terrible, offered a useful war-path to the warriors who dared to trust it. According to their earliest traditions, a band of these rovers, hovering about the coast as many other bands had for many years done before them, was invited, amid the anarchy left in Britain by the retirement of the Roman legions, to help Romanized Britons against their wilder kinsfolk. What followed was on a small scale the same as that which so often happened on a large one in the empire. From allies the new comers became invaders, and the first invaders became masters of Kent. The English settlers in Kent were Jutes. Others from the same region followed. A few years later a band of Saxons, in three ships, we are told, planted themselves on the coast of what they made Sussex. Another band in five ships landing more to the westward, laid the foundation of the great kingdom of Wessex. On the east coast, Angles and Saxons continued to land, to invade, to occupy, from the Thames to the Wash, from the Wash to the Humber, from the Humber to the Tweed. Then, up the rivers and along the Roman roads, the different bands pushed forward into the interior from the south coast, and from the east, with chequered fortune but with unabated stubbornness. They encountered equal stubbornness. The native resistance was of that kind which a weaker but tenacious race offers to a stronger one; unobservant of opportunities, slack and ineffective at critical moments, but obstinate, difficult to extinguish, always ready to revive, and sometimes bursting out into a series of heroic and victorious exploits. The name of king Arthur, whatever historical obscurity hangs about it, has left its indelible marks in our national traditions. Through continued ill-fortune, with intervals of success, but with general failure, this resistance was protracted and fierce. But it was in vain. The advance of the tide was low but continuous; sometimes arrested but never retreating; bit by bit the land was covered; fragment by fragment of British territory broke away, and was swallowed up in the rising flood, which came not in one channel but in many, and from many different sides. The first attempts at occupation by the Jutes in Kent were, according to the English chronicles, about the middle of the fifth century, the years when southern and central Europe were trembling before the terrible king of the Huns. About fifty years later, in the time of Theodoric and Clovis, began the West Saxon advance under the house of Cerdic from the Hampshire harbours. In another half; century while Vandals and Goths were falling before the sword of Belisarius, there was an English kingdom set up in the north, and English settlements on the east coast, and along the rivers which run into the North Sea. We see the British boundary driven inwards, and forming an irregular semi-circle from the Clyde to the Land’s End, flanked for a great portion of the line by the English settlements on the east, and broken into and deeply indented by the encroachments of English conquest along the course of the Severn. Another fifty years, and the great English kingdom of Northumbria emerges under Ethelfrith, and the line of the British territories is again severed and broken up into separate districts. Then began the second stage of the great change. The converging lines of advance met in the central part of the island. The struggle for new ground began between the English tribes and kingdoms; wars for dominion were waged by one kingdom against its neighbors; supremacy, more or less wide and undisputed, was won by personal qualities in one king, was lost by the want of them in another, was exercised for a time, extinguished for a time, transferred from one kingdom to another, as each was the more fortunate in its men, its circumstances, and its wars. But this continual alternation of peace and war among the English kingdoms, this perpetual trial of strength and this fluctuation between subordination and independence, was the process by which the tribes which had been a loose confederacy by the banks of the Eyder and the Elbe, were again to become one nation in England. The centre of power moved from the north, through the midland, to the south from Northumbria to Mercia, from Mercia till it became permanently fixed in Wessex. And by that time, three centuries and a half from the first Kentish inroads, by a progress most irregular and turbulent, but never interrupted, the English nation had grown into permanent form and character out of the detached bands and tribal settlements and petty kingdoms, among which the island was parcelled out. It had organized institutions, a language, a spirit of its own, which it owed to no foreign source. The new people which had arisen in the West, and changed Caesar's name of Britain to Egbert’s England, was, as has been truly said, “the one purely German nation that rose upon the wreck of Rome”.

But, perhaps, because so slow and gradual, the English conquest was complete, in a sense in which the Teutonic conquests on the mainland were not. It was the complete displacement of one race by another. How this was done, we have but imperfect accounts. We have no such record as we have of the Gothic wars, in the Latin writers, Orosius and Jordanes, in the Greeks, Zosimus, Procopius, and the valuable fragments of reports made by Byzantine envoys and officials. We have no such almost contemporary record, confused and unsatisfactory though it be, as we have of the Frankish conquest in Gregory of Tours. But so much is certain that whereas in the fifth century the language of Britain was Celtic, with an admixture of Latin in the towns where the Romanized population was gathered, in the course of two hundred years, Celtic had disappeared, and Latin had been introduced afresh. From the Tamar, the Severn, and the Tweed, a new language, purely and unmixedly Teutonic, in structure, genius, and for the most part in its vocabulary, had become the speech of the country; the speech of all freemen; the speech of all but slaves, bondmen, and outlaws; the speech which gave names, if not to the rivers and the hills, or to the great walled cities remaining from the Roman times, yet to all the present divisions of the land, and to all the new settlements of men. The English conquerors, unlike the Gothic and Frankish ones, had not suffered the old population to subsist around them. Saxons and Angles,— it is the only way in which the result is to be explained— carried their conquests to extermination. They slew, they reduced to slavery, or they drove off the former inhabitants; they cleared them away, as the Red Indians were cleared away in America. No trace of intermixture appears between the Saxon and the Welsh, who hated one another with the deepest and most irreconcilable hatred. No British names appear among the servants of the English kings. No vestiges survived of British political or social life. Romanized cities, villas which showed the marbles and mosaics of the south, Welsh hamlets and hill forts, all perished amid sack, fire, and massacre. Some lines of indestructible Roman roads, like Watling Street, some massive Roman walls, such as the fragments in London, Lincoln, and Caergwent, some Anglicized Roman names of cities survive, to show who were masters of the land before the English came.

The Teutonic conquerors on the continent had long been familiar with the Romans whose masters they at last became. They admired their civilization, or, at least, its fruits. The nearer they came to it the more they were fascinated by its splendor, its orders, its honors; like Alaric's successor, Athaulf, who began with the ambition of substituting a Gothic empire for the Roman, and ended by declaring that this was a dream, and that his highest glory must be to restore the Roman empire of law by Gothic valor. Moreover, most of them had already received Christianity, and were accustomed to hear its lessons in their mother-tongue, before they settled in Gaul and Italy. The subtle power of civilization enthralled and transformed them, willing and proud as they were, in spite of all their northern sense of high blood, of strength, and freedom, to yield to its influences. It was not so in Britain. Angles and Saxons, Jutes and Frisians, fresh from the sea and pirate life, or from the bleak flats and sand­hills of the German or Danish coasts, knew nothing of the great civilized empire from which they were separated by the breadth of Europe. They might possibly have seen Roman soldiers in the garrisons of the British shore. They knew nothing of Roman service, of Roman cities, of Roman policy and law. And they knew nothing of Roman religion and owned no reverence for it. When, therefore, they settled in their new homes, there was nothing to enter into competition or conflict with the customs, ideas, moral and social rules, which had governed them in their old ones. Of all things Latin, as of all things British, they made a clean sweep; it was foreign to them, it was Welsh, and they would have none of it. Other German invaders had bowed before the majesty of Christian bishops, and had often, even in the storm of an assault or the sack of a captured town, respected Christian churches. The English conquerors were fiercely heathen, and hated Christianity as the religion of those whom it was their work to destroy from off the land which was to be the land of the English. Clergy and monks perished with their brethren in the fury of the invasion, and the planting of the English nation was the utter destruction of the Christian religion within its borders.

565-655. Conversion of England.

It was under no indirect influences from a subject population that the English were to unlearn their ancient barbarism. Roman laws, which retained so much of their power on the Continent, did nothing here. Out of their own customs, their own strong and broad notions of right, their own spontaneous efforts after a reasonable and suitable order of life, unaffected by foreign schooling or by imitation of foreign ways, losing perhaps some of the benefits of foreign experience, the chiefs of the new English kingdoms worked out principles and institutions which were to be the foundations of a political organization as solid, as elastic, as enduring as that of Rome. And with respect to their religion, they did not take it by a kind of contagion from a surrounding and conquered race, more instructed and more elevated in its nobler specimens, but more corrupted in its average ones. England was an untouched field for the teachers of Christianity; its religion had to be begun from the very beginning, as in our day among the heathen tribes of Africa and New Zealand. The English were converted as afterwards the Germans, Scandinavians, and most of the Slave races were converted, entirely from without. A century and a half had passed, and from adventurers and invaders they had become at home in their several shares of England, before Christianity appealed to them. Its appeal came from many and different quarters. It was the appeal almost entirely, not of force, but of persuasion and example, and it gained its hold on them with singular rapidity and power. Augustine, a missionary ambassador from Gregory the Great, the far-off bishop of Rome, the venerable but dimly known person who, in religion, answered to the Roman emperor in things worldly, won the ear, after hesitation and serious thought, of one of the English kings, Ethelbert of Kent. In the same corner of the island where the heathen invasion had begun, Augustine made good a footing in the court and among the people, and laid the foundation of the great see of Canterbury, destined to be the second see of the West (597-601). Paulinus, another Italian companion of Augustine, preached in the north, and in 627 baptized Edwin, the powerful king of Northumbria, at York. In the north the missionaries and teachers came also from the wonderful Irish Church, at this time—the sixth and seventh centuries—keeping up its peculiar traditions, cherishing learning and a high enthusiasm, in complete isolation from the rest of Christendom, and sending forth its missionaries far afield, with a spirit unknown elsewhere. It sent forth, not only St. Columba (565) to the Picts, and St. Aidan to the English Northumbrians (635), but St. Columban (595) to the Burgundian Jura, the Helvetian Zurich, and the Italian cloisters of Bobbio, St. Gall (614) to the Alamans of the lake of Constance, and other less known comrades and friends to the lands of the Franks and Bavarians, to Glarus and Chur, and the highest sources of the Rhine—the apostles at once of the gospel, and of settled life, of husbandry and tillage. In the great kingdom of Mercia, with its frequent dependency the land of the East Saxons, it was bishops of the school of Iona and their English disciples who founded and built up in the middle of the seventh century the Church. The Burgundian Felix (627) preached to the East Angles. A bishop from Italy, Birinus (635), sent by Pope Honorius, converted the English of Wessex. A teacher from the north, Wilfrid of York (664-709), was the apostle of the South Saxons. In the second half of the seventh century, these separate efforts began to present the aspect of an organized unity under the twenty years' vigorous rule of Archbishop Theodore (668-690), the Greek of Tarsus, who, with his friend Hadrian the African, had been sent from Rome, “the first archbishop”, says Bede, “whom all the English Church obeyed”. Like the conquest, the conversion of England spread from different independent centres; the work began from them at different times, and went on in different ways, and with varying rates of progress, till at last boundaries met and became confluent, and the separate kingdoms found themselves prepared to be fused into one people. And the unity of religion, attained earlier, though not without difficulties of its own, than the unity of the nation, contributed most powerfully to make Northumbrians and Mercians and West Saxons into Englishmen. With fluctuations of success and reaction, with one great and terrible struggle in the middle of England against the new religion, under the Mercian king Penda (624-655), the English kingdoms had within a century after the landing of Augustine, become Christian.

Of this great change and its incidents, a singularly curious and interesting account is given in Bede's History. The causes of it were of more than one kind; but in the forefront must, undoubtedly, be placed the breadth and greatness of Christian ideas, and the purity, courage, enthusiasm, and indefatigable self-devotion, though not always innocent of superstition, of the Christian teachers. Supposed miracles, and, alas! sometimes evidently fraudulent ones, played their part in recommending the divine message. The sanction and authority of chiefs who were trusted and honored, doubtless went for much with their people. But at bottom it was the teaching itself, with the evident truth of much of it, its nobleness, its high solemnities, its promises, and the consistency of its teachers, which conquered to its obedience a people whose customs and whose circumstances were strongly against it. In England, as abroad, Christianity won its way, not merely and not mainly by the support of kings, not merely, though, unhappily, in part, by the worse aid of superstition and fraud, but because it was a gospel for the poor, the slave, the miserable, the ruined, a defiance to the proud, a warning to the great, a bridle to the mighty.

And once received it was received with no half a mind, or half-hearted allegiance. The Anglo-Saxon Church had its strange anomalies, its deep blots, its repulsive features. Like other churches, it had to deal in its course both with grave questions and with petty quarrels. It had its rise and prime and its deep decline. But in its best days it had a straightforward seriousness of conviction and purpose, and a fire and thoroughness of faith among its early converts, which are very much its own. Bede, like Gregory of Tours, reflects a state of society which is wild, uncontrolled, violent, full of battle and death. But the characteristic passages of Bede are passages which are full of genuine religious or moral interest, and which bear the mark of deep feeling and sympathy in the writer. The characteristic passages of Gregory's history of the Franks are tragedies of dark and dreadful crime, to which the stories of Oedipus and Lear are tame, and they are told with unmoved calmness and composure.



Supremacy of the Franks in the West.

The Merovingian Kings. The Descendant of Clovis. The Mayors of the Palace.

Rise of the Carolingian Family


AT the end of the sixth century, somewhat more than a hundred years from the abdication of the last Western emperor (476-600), the great change had been accomplished, by which, in all the western lands occupied by the empire, the public prerogatives, and the indirect powers of a ruling people, were transferred from the Latin to the German race. The Romans in the time of the empire had, in a degree unknown in the world before, moulded the subject populations to their own likeness and model. They Romanized the whole West, more or less. Everywhere as time went on, in increasing measure, from York to the Columns of Hercules, on the Rhone, on the Seine, on the Rhine, even in the valleys of the Alps, their institutions, their laws, their education, their language, their buildings, their monuments, at last when they adopted it their Christianity, were the silent and continuous influences which assimilated life and thought and habits to the Italian type, as it had been developed by the marvelous history of Rome. It is scarcely possible to express the greatness of the change produced by the interruption of this process. It was interrupted by what is called the invasion of the barbarians. Barbarians they certainly were who broke in upon the Roman empire, and destroyed it in the West. But it was not because they were barbarians that their victory was so fruitful in consequences. It was because they were conquerors of a new and special race. It was because it was the substitution, temporary in one land, permanent in another, of the Teutonic race, one and the same race in all its manifold varieties Goths, Franks, Saxons, Angles, Lombards for the preceding Latin rule and supremacy. No greater and more decisive crisis has ever happened in the history of the world than the settlement of the Teutonic peoples in the lands which the Latins had filled with their ideas and their language, their manners, their spirit, their names, their customs. Nor is the importance of this change diminished, because in so many parts the German conquerors were greatly influenced and at last absorbed by the Romanized population amid which they settled. We cannot tell what the course of history would have been if the Latins had kept the Germans out, in Gaul, in Italy, in Spain, in Britain; but, assuredly, it would have been very different. The transfer of power in the West, from the Latin race to the German, in the fifth and sixth centuries, constitutes the first act of modern history.

But it was only the first act of a long and troubled drama, not even yet played out. The German settlement took many shapes. In England it was exclusive and homogeneous. In Gaul it was greatly affected by the circumstances round it, and it allowed its own distinctive features to be by degrees impaired and obliterated by foreign influences. In Spain it directly aimed at a policy of fusion between the two races, under the direction of the Church. In Italy, under the Lombards, it was throughout uneasy, oppressive, antagonistic, too strong not to leave deep impressions, but not strong enough to master and assimilate the obstinate counter element of Latin character in its native home. Teutonic institutions and feelings grew more and more vigorous in England. In Gaul, after efforts of resistance, German France gradually melted into Latin and “Romance” France. In Spain, under a “Romance” and Latin language the old feeling and temper of the Goths largely survived; the basis of Spanish character was Teutonic, and under the long strain of the national and Christian war against the Moors, it issued in that singular mixture of strength and weakness, of loftiness and baseness, which has so often shown itself in Spanish history. In Italy, the Lombard power, though not the Lombard element, after lasting for two centuries, was thrown off as the Gothic power had been, but, as in the case of the Gothic power, only by foreign aid. In Italy, throughout the middle ages, and down to our own time, the Germans were never, in the judgment and feeling of the Italians, other than what they were at the first barbarians, whom the Italians were not strong enough to keep out; while to the Germans, the Italians never ceased to be 'Welsh', the Teutonic equivalent for barbarian or foreigner.

Thus, at the beginning of the seventh century, the new Teutonic settlement appears everywhere established. From the empire, as it existed in the East, it had little to fear. The emperor at Constantinople was still, in moments of convenience or in moods of courtesy, acknowledged by the Teutonic kings as invested with a majesty without rival or peer on earth, the source of honors, of legitimate titles, of high dignities, who might still be dangerous on the fringe of their dominions, but who was too far off, and too busy with troubles of his own, to cause disquietude in the West. There was still a certain amount of intercourse with Constantinople. The Lombards, hated by the Franks, the Greeks, and the popes, were assailed by occasional alliances, in which the Frank kings intrigued with the emperor, and sometimes overreached him. The real dangers of the new races arose, first, from their own intestine discords, and their intractableness to order and law; and, next, from the habits of aggression and pillage lingering in the tribes of their own blood, who remained in their old seats in Germany and on the Danube.

In England, in the following century, this last danger appeared in a most formidable shape. The British race had been exterminated or crushed into insignificance in England. Through fierce wars among themselves the separate kingdoms learnt one another's strength. The smaller ones became attached to the larger, and a ten- dency to union began, strengthened by the strengthening influence of the Church. First, and partially, under Northumbria, then under Mercia, and at last more completely under Wessex, a single kingly supremacy embodied the growing fact of the unity, in its laws and its fortunes, of the English nation. But then the new nation began to suffer from the repetition of the process by which it had itself come into being. Just as the fathers of the English had come first with a few pirate ships, then with more, first only for a summer ravage, then to winter in the island; first only to carry back plunder to their eastern homes on the Weser or the Elbe, then to settle and gain a new home in England, as they began by making swift inroads into an enemy's country, pushing up the rivers with the tide, or scouring the land far and wide with troops of horsemen, and ended by besieging towns, subduing kingdoms, challenging the submission of the Britons, so came the Danish rovers, Vikings upon England. But the Danish settlement never became what the earlier Anglo-Saxon one had been. It did not create a new people. The Danes won a footing in England, a large and lasting one. For a time, they became the masters there, and their princes wore the English crown; but they were too late to found a nation. In spite of the tremendous miseries and losses of the Danish invasion, the English people had become too strongly constituted to be broken up by it, or even to be greatly altered in character and policy.

In Spain the national history was more tragic. The policy of the great Theodoric, of which scarcely a trace appears in the sons of Clovis, seems to have been continued among the Gothic kings of Spain. There also, though in a very different way from the English, the Goths through all the disturbances of the time, were on their way, apparently with a deliberate aim, to political unity and constitutional order. After the death of Euric, the conqueror and legislator (484), the Gothic power in Gaul fell before the Franks, and its main seat was transferred to Spain, under a constitutionally elective kingly rule, which, as with the Lombards, the chiefs always tried to keep elective, and the kings usually but not always, tried to make hereditary. But, in contrast with the Lombards in Italy, the Gothic kings, in spite of bloody changes and fierce opposition from their nobility, succeeded in identifying themselves with the land and the people whom they had conquered. They guided the fortunes of the country with a distinct purpose and vigorous hand. By Leovigild (572-586), the power of the rebellious nobility was broken, and the independence and name of the Sueves of Gallicia extinguished. The still more dangerous religious conflict between the Catholic population and the inherited Arianism of the Goths was put down, but at the cost of the life of his son, Herminigild, who had married a Frank and Catholic princess, and who placed himself at the head of the Catholics. But Leovigild was the last Arian king. This cause of dissension was taken away by his son Reccared (586-601), who solemnly abandoned Arianism, and embraced with zeal the popular Catholic creed. He was followed by the greater part of his Arian subjects, but the change throughout the land was not accomplished without some fierce resistance. It led among other things to the disappearance of the Gothic language and of all that recalled the Arian days, and to the destruction in Spain of what there was of Gothic literature, such as the translation of the Bible, supposed to be tainted with Arianism. But it determined the complete fusion of the Gothic and Latin population.

After Reccared, two marked features of the later Spanish character began to show themselves. One was the great prominence in the state of the ecclesiastical element. The Spanish kings sought in the clergy a counterpoise to their turbulent nobility. The great Church councils of Toledo became the legislative assemblies of the nation; the bishops in them took precedence of the nobles; laws were made there as well as canons; and seventeen of these councils are recorded between the end of the fourth century and the end of the seventh. The other feature was that stern and systematic intolerance, which became characteristic of Spain. Under Sisebut (612-620), took place the first expulsion of the Jews. The Jews of Spain, whose settlements were numerous, rich, and of old date, had to choose between baptism, or else exile with the loss of their possessions. This legislation was renewed with continued severity, and the kings took a special oath to enforce it. The Spanish nation, meanwhile, was being knit together; the garrisons of the Greek empire were gradually driven to the coast, and, under Suinthila (620-631), finally expelled from the peninsula.

A.D. 642 710. The Gothic Kingdom of Spain.

The Gothic kings, mostly elected, men, for the most part, of energy and purpose, sometimes of relentless purpose, who still retained amid Latin influences their peculiar Teutonic names, governed with a statesmanship unknown among the Franks. To break the restless and rebellious spirit of the nobles, which Gregory of Tours thought peculiar to the Goths, Chindasuintha (642-652), an old man of eighty, banished at a stroke from Spain two hundred nobles and seven hundred freemen, confiscating their estates, and reducing their families to serfdom. It produced profound peace, while the Franks under their feeble kings were distracted by the fierce rivalry of Brunihild and Fredegund, and the rising Mayors of the Palace.

Equally resolute in encountering the natural turbulence of their warriors and attentive to the political condition of the kingdom, the kings, for the most part, till the last showed themselves a match for their formidable nobility; and, under their care, the legislation of the West Goths attained a methodical form and a comparatively judicious and equitable character peculiar to it.

Under Chindasuintha (642-652), the laws of the two races were fused into one, and for the first time among the Teutonic nations, personal law was changed into a law of the land. Under the kings who succeeded him down to Egika (687-701), and from the councils of Toledo, grew up the Forum Judicum, the Gothic Code, the first law-book in which the Roman and German law was attempted to be harmonized into a systematic whole : the first Western legislation which aims at exhibiting the philosophical idea of law.

The Gothic realm of Spain was the most flourishing, and the most advanced of the new Teutonic kingdoms. It was rich and powerful, and though there was still much that was barbarous, ungovernable, corrupt, and dangerous, the powers of the country were in strong hands; and the kings, the nobles, and the clergy, all who could represent the nation, were learning to work together in their public assemblies. But however the Goths in Spain might have worked out their political career, their course was rudely arrested. The little cloud, which in the beginning of the seventh century, had risen in Arabia, had by the beginning of the eighth, swelled and spread into a devastating storm. Arrested by sweeping round all the coasts of the Mediterranean.

In 622, the flight of Mahomet from Mecca to Medina had fixed a new era in history : the Hegira. In the ten years which intervened between it and his death (632), he had established a new religion in Arabia, and converted the tribes of Arabia, or the Saracens, into its armed and enthusiastic apostles. While the Goths had been settling their laws, while their kings had been marshalling their court after the order of Byzantium, the Saracens had been drawing nearer and nearer. At the time that Chintila (636-640), was driving out the Jews, the Saracens were taking Damascus and Alexandria; while the fierce old man Chindasuintha was crushing rebel nobles and reforming the law, they were making their next step and invading Africa. While his son was ordering the offices of the court of Toledo after the imperial model, they were beginning their first nine years' siege of Constantinople (668-677). Their fleets had begun to attack the Spanish coast, though they had always been repulsed. But in Spain they had two allies : the Jewish race, there and in Africa smarting under their persecutions; and the factions, the ambitions, and the corruption of the high clergy and nobles. A traitor, it is said, Count Julian, invited the Saracens, and they came, burning their ships behind them. The tremendous battle of the Guadalete, near Cadiz, lasting a whole summer week, from Sunday to Sunday, decided the fate of the kingdom and the course of its history. It was to Spain what the battle of Hastings was to England. The Gothic nobility perished in large numbers. King Roderick, the last Gothic king, was never seen again. In ten years’ time the Saracen invasion had overwhelmed almost the whole country, and there was nothing left in Spain to Christianity and the European races, but the mountains of the Asturias and Old Castile.

Spain was the only one of the new Teutonic nations which was beaten down by an entirely alien power. It did not finally succumb. In the northern provinces, the Christians not only rallied, but from their mountain fastnesses began a series of unintermitted attacks on the Mahometans. Behind the screen of the Spanish highlands new kingdoms were organized : Asturias (718); Oviedo (737); Leon (914); Navarre (905); Aragon, Castile (1035). At length the tide of invasion began to roll southward till the Moors were swept away; but several centuries of the early national life of Spain were consumed in that most terrible and demoralizing discipline, in which unsparing hatred is elevated to a heroic virtue the discipline of a religious warfare.

Of all the new nations, the Franks alone, though perpetually troubled with intestine quarrels, maintained their comparative exemption from the external shocks and disasters which fell on their neighbours. Strong enough to keep together and to hold their own, they deepened the foundations of their power over Gaul and the lands of the Rhine, enjoying their own rich and magnificent heritage, asserting their supremacy over the heathen tribes of the German border. For more than three centuries after the Teutonic conquest, the Franks held the foremost place among the new nations. "When Rome fell", says Otto of Frisingen, a German chronicler of the 12th century, “Francia, the Frank race and kingdom, for we must not yet begin to translate by the later and narrower France, 'arose to take the crown”. The phrase is of course exaggerated : but it expresses with truth the comparative prominence of the Franks. It is the more remarkable, because the kingdom of Clovis, instead of continuing in the hands of a single ruler, was immediately broken up under his descendants into separate kingdoms, acknowledging a loose tie of unity, and from time to time brought together, but always ready to fly apart again. And, further, in the family of Clovis, the Mervings or Merovingians, there is no sign, with one inconsiderable exception, the Austrasian king Dagobert (628-638), of the political aims, or of the military capacity, which appear among the Goths of Spain, and the English in Britain. The history of the Frank kings, in Gregory of Tours, is a sickening story of lawless and unbridled self-indulgence, of domestic hatreds, treachery, and cruelty. Brother was ever ready to assail and conspire against brother, to take him at advantage, to exterminate his children. Their attempts at enlarging their domains at one another’s expense were usually as feeble and stupid as they were unscrupulous. Their prevailing and monotonous brutality was only checked by superstitious fears of the wrath of St. Martin of Tours. It was only varied by good-natured licentiousness and perfidy such as that of King Guntram of Orleans, or by pedantry like that of King Chilperic of Soissons, “the Nero and Herod of our time” as Gregory calls him, but who also dabbled in heresy, tried to add new letters to the Latin alphabet, and wrote Latin verses which would not scan.

But the Frank race with their territorial chiefs, still Teutonic in the main, though in the west and south becoming less so in each successive generation, preserved the vigour, the audacity, the fighting qualities of their blood. They occupied a land of great natural wealth, and great geographical advantages, which had been prepared for them by Latin culture; they inherited great cities which they had not built, and fields and vineyards which they had not planted; and they had the wisdom, not to destroy, but to use their conquest. They were able with singular ease and confidence to employ and trust the services, civil and military, of the Latin population. There is no appearance of any native rising to take advantage of their internal discords, till late in the decline of the family of Clovis. Then, at last, and too late, the great south-western province of Aquitaine, with its natural riches and its flourishing cities, its Roman and Gothic memories, its turbulent and warlike native tribes the tribes which have left their names in portions of it, Vascones, Gascony, Basques, struck boldly and obstinately for independence, and gave much trouble to the successors of the Merovingians, the mighty founders of the Carolingian dynasty.

The bond between the Franks and the native races was the clergy. From the time of Clovis their kings had deliberately favoured the Latin clergy. Their patronage was deeply mischievous to the purity of the Church, but it helped forward the alliance and the fusion between Germans and Latins. The forces of the whole nation were at the disposal of the ruling race; and under Frank chiefs, the Latins and Gauls learned once more to be warriors. Thus strengthened, the Franks not only repelled any pressure from beyond the Rhine or the Alps, but they kept invasion at a distance by being themselves assailants. They were the one race whom the spirit of invasion carried backwards over their old steps and to their old seats : the one nation which after settling in the West flowed back across the Rhine, and attempted again and again from Gaul the conquest of Italy, first from Narses, and then from the Lombards. Narses defeated them; the Lombards for a long time held their own. While the family of Clovis ruled, the Franks ravaged Italy, but never subdued it. But over the German nations, Frisians and Saxons, Thuringians, Bavarians, and Alamans, the Frank kings asserted an imperfect and contested but persistent supremacy. Frank kings, allied in blood though perpetually quarrelling, were felt to be the heads of the Teutonic nations, from the Frisian marshes between the mouths of the Rhine and Weser, to the valleys and lakes of the Alamans, in what is now Switzerland.

Frank Unity and Frank Divisions.

But among the Franks, as among the other nations, two opposite tendencies were continually at work; the tendency to aggregation and national unity, and the tendency to dispersion and independence. There were further, among the Franks, though they were so friendly to Latin culture, conflicting dispositions to gravitate, in the Eastern lands towards what was German, and in the Western lands towards what was Latin. One of these conflicts was represented by the continual division and reunion of the kingdom of Clovis. Divided at first among his four sons, the different portions were merged or shared, as death removed one or more of the partners, till all the shares came into the hands of a survivor, Clothar of Soissons (558), who again began the division among his children, with the same result. Eight times in the course of a century and a half, East and West Franks, Burgundy and Aquitaine, had been divided; three times, but only for a few years, they had been reunited under one king. But further, in these divisions, with great fluctuations of boundaries and possessions, two distinct centres of different national influences gradually disclose themselves. The Francia Romana, and the Francia Teutonica, the Frankland surrounded by a Latin population, and the original Frankland bordering on the Rhine, and recruited from beyond it, came by natural and necessary causes, to be more and more contrasted with one another.

From the middle of the sixth century, the Teutonic or Eastern division became more distinctly defined; it became known as Auster, Austrasia, with Reims, and then with Metz for its capitals; in speech and feeling it was thoroughly German, and there was the focus of German influence. The land of the Western Franks acquired, in opposition to Austrasia, the name of Neuster, Neustria a name the origin of which is not clear, the New, or Younger, or Western kingdom, and which is also found with a corresponding Austria, a western and eastern division, among the Lombards of the north of Italy. Clovis’s old capital, Paris, was its natural centre; but Paris was sometimes claimed as a joint possession by his descendants, and then Soissons or Tournay were the residences of its kings. Burgundy, still a separate province, and sometimes a separate kingdom, with Orleans or Chalons-sur-Saone for capitals, gradually became joined to Neustria. Aquitaine, with its wealth and its Latin cities, was at first shared by the different brother kings, and then became the prize of the strongest. But while Austrasia continued German, the Franks of the West were acquiring more and more a Latin character. Still, with wide and increasing differences, these great divisions formed one and the same Frank kingdom, Frank, in opposition to Roman, as well as to Gothic, Lombard, Saxon, or Slave.

For a long time it seemed uncertain whether what Clovis had conquered was to be one realm or many; it seemed equally doubtful whether German influences and German languages were not to prevail to the Atlantic, the Pyrenees, and the Mediterranean. Three centuries passed before this great question was settled. But very slowly and by an insensible change, not easy to trace in detail, the two great countries which the Frank settlement had for a time partially united, were again finally divided; and Gaul, though under a new name, derived from the German occupation, drifted back into its Latin sympathies, and its opposition to Germany.

The family of Clovis, the Mervings or Merovingians, fast degenerated. They lost their father's strength; they retained, almost to the last, their the cruelty and unscrupulous perfidy. They became unequal to the contest for power, not with the conquered people, but with the great men of their palace and retinue, their own companions and warriors; the men whom they created dukes of provinces, and counts of great cities, who, though as yet hereditary only through the accident of personal qualities, were growing up round them into a powerful nobility. They were governed during the last part of the sixth century by terrible queens, two rivals, equally famous for their beauty, their audacity, and their crimes, Fredegund, the low-born Neustrian Frank, the wife of Chilperic of Soissons (561-584); and Brunihild, the Gothic princess, the wife of his brother, Sigibert of Metz (561-575), the daughter of the Gothic king of Spain, Athanagild. Brunihild’s sister, the Gothic wife of Chilperic, had been murdered to make way for Fredegund; and the hatred and ambition of the Frankish and Gothic sisters-in-law filled the royal houses with intrigue and murder. Chilperic and Sigibert, Fredegund’s husband and brother-in-law, both perished by her plots; Brunihild, as ruthless in her crimes, but leaving a more royal memory in the local traditions of France, was torn to pieces by a wild horse, in her old age, by Fredegund’s vindictive son, the second Clothar (613) : she had been the murderess, he said, of ten Frank kings.

Then there appear at the side of the king, and at the head of their administration, officers who are known in history as the Mayors of the Palace (Majores Domus) elected by the great men, or appointed by the king, ac- cording as each happened to be the stronger. Under their feeble masters, they rose into a position, new among Germans, but analogous to that of the barbarian Patricians, such as Stilicho and Ricimer, in the last days of the Western empire, and perhaps imitated from the usages of the imperial court. Their office has contributed to the vocabulary of politics a new phrase for indirect or illegitimate power, just as a phrase for political nullity derives its origin from the decayed and helpless family of the fierce Clovis, the Rois Fainéants. The Mayors of the Palace make their appearance amid the ferocious quarrels kept alive by Fredegund and Brunihild, of whose purposes and crimes they are the instruments or the victims; but after the sacrifice of Brunihild to family vengeance and to the fears and hatred of the Frank nobles, the Mayors of the Palace assume a new importance, as representing the rival interests of the Austrasian and Neustrian kingdoms.

After a number of insignificant names, men at length appear who concentrate in their hands the whole power of each state, and play with the last Chilperics and Childeberts like the pieces in a game of chess.

In the beginning of the seventh century, the eastern Mayors of the Palace, the dukes of Austrasia, all of them united by kindred or family ties, Arnulf, afterwards Bishop of Metz, Pipin of Landen, Pipin of Heristal, established a character for wisdom and virtue which gave them a popularity and influence new in Frank history. Their natural antagonists were the Neustrian mayors, one of whom, Ebroin (656-681), was a formidable and dangerous opponent. For more than twenty years the struggle for supremacy went on. Each side was supported not merely by the lay chiefs of each kingdom, but by great bishops, some of them since canonized, who threw themselves into the quarrels and intrigues of the contest, and sometimes, like St. Didier of Vienne and St. Leger of Autun, perished in it. After various turns of fortune, Ebroin, bold, resolute, and cruel, had at last broken the Austrasian power, and established the superiority of Neustria. But in 681 he was murdered; and six years later Pipin of Heristal won the battle of Testry, between Peronne and St Quentin, over the Neustrians (687). The result of the contest was the decisive victory of Austrasia, the victory for two centuries of the German element among the Franks over the Latin, a revival and restoration of the original Teutonic character in the Frank kingdom for the next period of its existence.

The line of Clovis lingered ingloriously after the battle of Testry, reigning but not ruling, for more than sixty years. The new masters of the Frank kingdom were the dukes of Austrasia, Pipin of Heristal, and his sons, a vigorous family, German in blood, ecclesiastical in their relationships, with strong and clear political purposes. The founders of the race were the elder Pipin of Landen (d.639), and St. Arnulf (d.641), who, like so many of the bishops of the time, had been first a soldier and statesman, and who, before he was bishop of Metz, was Duke of Austrasia and Mayor of the Palace. One of Arnulf's sons became, like his father, bishop ol Metz; another married a daughter of Arnulf's friend, Pipin of Landen, also Mayor of the Palace. The grandson of St. Arnulf and of Pipin was Pipin of Heristal (d.714). To reunite under one strong hand the dominions which the sons of Clovis had allowed to be broken up, was the policy of the long rule of Pipin of Heristal; and, like Clovis, he cultivated and used the friendship and good offices of the Church, but on a larger scale allying himself with the pope as Clovis had allied himself with the bishops of Reims and Tours.

Piping’s policy was carried out with success by his famous son, Charles Martel, the Hammer. The German nations beyond the Rhine were more and more compelled to admit the supremacy of the Franks; and Pipin warmly encouraged the missionaries from England, St. Boniface (680-755), and his companions, who about this time were beginning to penetrate among the heathen tribes, and were laying the foundations of some of the most famous German sees on the Rhine Utrecht, Mainz, Worms, Spire. His son, Charles Martel (716-741 ) after a decisive struggle with domestic anarchy, encountered and beat back the greatest danger that ever threatened Western Europe. At the great battle, named of Tours, not far from the fields near Poitiers, where Clovis vanquished the West Goths, Charles Mattel routed the invading Arab host, and slew their formidable leader, Abderahman (732). This great overthrow, followed by the expulsion of the Arabs from Narbonne five years later, was the final and decisive check to the Saracen invasions of the West. Aquitaine, which had begun to aspire to independence, was once more recovered to Frank supremacy.

The Franks, the Popes and the Lombards.

Charles Martel shrank not from incurring the displeasure of the Church by using its property for political ends, and to maintain in efficiency the armies which he needed. Its increasing secularity and wealth invited spoliation. Bishops had degenerated into courtiers and soldiers; and Charles Martel had no scruple in giving even such bishoprics as Reims and Treves, Paris and Rouen, to be held by his warriors and dependents. But if he dealt roughly with the Church at home, he was its patron abroad. By the novel relations which he was the first to establish between the Franks and the pope, he laid the foundations of that central power of the Church in Western Christendom, which in the middle ages grew to such vast proportions. Charles Martel was the first of the new princes beyond the Alps who was invited by the bishop of Rome to interfere in the affairs of Italy.

There had been a long and increasing wrangle between the Lombards and the Italians, in which the popes usually represented at once the national spirit and pride of the Italians, the traditions of the Catholic faith, and their own high pretensions to stand in the very place of St. Peter. The Lombards, probably faithless, certainly oppressive and encroaching, had, without any great coherence among themselves, made themselves the torment and the terror of Italy. They seemed unable to grow into a nation; they still, after 200 years, were as far as ever from peace with the Italians. At length, under Liutprand (712-744), the ablest of the Lombard kings, there first appeared a chance of consolidation for the kingdom, and friendliness with the Italians. For once he allied himself with a vigorous pope, Gregory II (715-731), against the Greeks of Ravenna; and he is said to have been the first donor of a city and territory (Sutri) to the pope. But the Iconoclastic controversy, on the use of images and pictures in worship, raised by Leo the I saurian, had begun to divide Greeks and Latins. Liutprand shifted about from one side to the other, seeking only his own advantage in the quarrel. The Lombards outwitted themselves.

The next pope, Gregory III (731-741), despairing of peace, much less of help from the Lombards against the Greeks, turned to the Franks beyond the Alps. Charles Martel was occupied, and near his end. In 741, Pope Gregory, Charles Martel, and the Emperor Leo died; in 744, Liutprand followed them, and left a series of weak successors. But the foundation of the Frank alliance had been made; from that time the Franks came to be looked upon as the natural protectors of the popes, and a well-under- stood reciprocation of benefits began. It was a new position for the Franks to find themselves courted and flattered by the spiritual head of Roman Christianity; it was a new position for the Roman bishop to find himself leagued by a community of interest and by an inter- change of services with the rising power of the West.

Without the name of king, Charles Martel was the second founder of the Frank kingdom. He left his power and office to his two sons, one of whom, Carloman, soon voluntarily resigned his rank and retired to a monastic life at Monte Cassino. His brother, the third Pipin, Pipin the Short, or the Little, resumed his father’s task of consolidating the Frank power. But he advanced a step beyond his father's policy. He resolved that the Merovingian dynasty should come to an end. Nothing is more remarkable than that at that early period of political forms and organization, and in an age of such ready and unscrupulous force, the name and the reality of power should have been, by a kind of constitutional fiction, not merely in different hands but in different families; the name uninterruptedly in the family of Clovis, the reality in the hereditary Dukes of Austrasia and Mayors of the Palace. It is still more remarkable that this should have lasted undisturbed for more than half a century. A writer, almost a contemporary, Eginhard, the biographer of Charles the Great, has left a description of the forlorn and silent helplessness of the last descendants of Clovis. All the wealth, he tells us, and all the power of the state belonged to the mayors of the palace. Nothing was left to the king, except the kingly name; with long hair and flowing beard, he sat on the throne to receive envoys from all quarters, but it was only to give them the answers which he was bidden to give. His kingly title was an empty shadow, and the allowance for his support depended on the pleasure of the mayor of the palace. The king possessed nothing of his own but one poor farm, with a house on it, and a scanty number of attendants, to pay him necessary service and respect. He went abroad in a wagon drawn by oxen, and guided by a herdsman in the country fashion; thus was he brought to the palace or to the annual assemblies of the people for the affairs of the realm; thus he went home again. But the government of the kingdom, and all business, foreign or domestic, were in the hands of the mayors of the palace.

That with such a race as the Franks this state of things should at last have come to an end is not surprising. What his father and grandfather had shrunk from, Pipin found himself in a position to undertake. He was sure of the help of the popes with whom his family had already established a firm alliance, and who looked to the Franks as their deliverers in their troubles with the rival Teutonic race which ruled in Italy. Pipin appealed to the pope (Zacharias) to say, whether it was right that he who had no kingly power should have the kingly name. Pope Zacharias gave the answer which it was intended he should give. He sanctioned the deposition of the last Merovingian king. Childeric III, the last of the line of Clovis, passed without a struggle, a monk with his hair shorn, and so incapable of any secular dignity, from his palace or his farm, to a monastery. In the annual assembly of the bishops and great men at Soissons, Pipin was proclaimed king of the Franks (751 or 752), and he received from the English apostle of Germany, Boniface, archbishop of Mainz, the consecration of the Church. Two years later, a pope (Stephen II) for the first time crossed the Alps, and was seen in the West. He came to press again for aid against the Lombards. The help was promised; and then from his hands, at St. Denis, in 754, Pipin and his two sons, Charles, a boy about twelve years old, and his younger brother Carloman, received the anointing which hallowed their kingship, and which, as the pope held, made them true kings.

The deposition of Childeric III whatever was the form of the pope’s sanction to it, was at any rate the first instance of such interference on the part of the popes. The pope’s sanction, probably very vague at the time, and very obscurely recorded, was the subject at a later period of fierce debates, as to its authority and real bearing. But the whole transaction was the first exercise, on the part of the popes, of a claim to change the allegiance of subjects, to authorize the removal of one king and the election of another. Pope Zacharias and his successors acted, apparently, in this first instance, as arbiters, the most venerable that could be found, consulted on matters deeply important to the Frank nation; they exercised a power which in this case they were prompted to claim and were invited to use. Unfortunately they were not disinterested arbiters. Their decision was influenced by their own advantages and hopes; the coronation of the new king was the result of a bargain; and for the service which they rendered they were paid in cities and provinces. Pipin, having in his company the pope who had crowned him with a solemnity new among Teutonic kings, crossed the Alps, humbled Aistulf the Lombard king, and forced him to give security that he would 7respect the rights and property of St. Peter. Aistulf evaded his engagement, and Pipin compelled him, after a second overthrow, to become tributary to the Frank kingdom, and to cede to his conqueror all that he had recently won of the territory still left to the Greek emperor in the north of Italy : the exarchate of Ravenna, and the Flaminian ‘Pentapolis’, an expression for the lands and cities between the Apennines and the Adriatic, from Ferrara to Ancona. This territory the Frank king presented as a donation to St. Peter; it became, with some additions, south of Ancona and west of the Apennines, the Papal State. The real donation of the Frankish king was shortly afterwards supported by the production of what purported to be a still older donation : the famous forged 'donation' of Constantine.

Thus, from the anointing at St. Denis of the second kingly line of the Franks, arose, in the first place, the temporal dominion of the popes, held in the beginning as a temporal lordship under the overlordship of the king or emperor, then claimed by them as independent princes in absolute sovereignty: and next, their pretensions, broadening out indefinitely from this precedent, to interfere in the political and civil affairs of Christendom, to dispose of kingdoms, to set up and degrade kings.