web counter












The process of history in the Western Empire, during the period which lies between the death of Alaric (410) and the fall of Romulus Augustulus (476), is towards the establishment of Teutonic kingdoms, partly displacing and partly embracing the old local administration within their boundaries, but as a rule remaining in some sort of nominal connection with the imperial system itself. In the course of this process, therefore, the imperial scheme, in which the invading barbarians take a regular place under the name of foederati, still survives, along with much of the old provincial machinery, which they find too useful to be disturbed; but while much that is old survives, much is also added which is new. Germanic tribes, with their kings and their dooms, their moots and their fyrds, settle bodily on the soil, as new forces in the domain of politics and economics, of religion and of law. The Latinized provincial pays a new allegiance to the tribal king: the Roman possessor has to admit the tribesmen as his ‘guests’ on part of his lands; the Catholic priest is forced to reconcile himself to the Arianism, which these tribes had inherited from the days of Ulfila; and the Roman jurist, if he can still occupy himself by reducing the Codex Theodosianus into a Breviarium Alaricianum, must also admit the entrance of strange Leges Barbarorum into the field of jurisprudence.

This process of history may be said to have entered on its effective stage in the West with Alaric’s invasion of Italy. But it had been present, as a potentiality and a menace, for many years before Alaric heard the voice that drew him steadily towards Rome. The frontier war along the limes was as old as the second century. The pressure of the population of the German forests upon the Roman world was so ancient and inveterate, and so much of that population had in one way or another entered the Empire for so long a period, that when the barrier finally broke, the flood came as no cataclysm, but as something which was almost in the natural order of things. There may have been move­ments in Central Asia which explain the final breach of the Roman barriers; but even without invoking the Huns to our aid, we can see that at the beginning of the fifth century the Germans would finally have passed the limes, and the Romans at last have failed to stem their advance, owing to the simple operation of causes which had long been at work on either side. Among the Germans population had grown by leaps and bounds, while subsistence had increased in less than an arithmetical ratio; and the necessity of finding a quieta patria, an unthreatened territory of sufficient size and productivity, with an ancient tradition of more intensive culture than they had themselves attained, had become for them a matter of life and death. Among the Romans population had decayed for century after century, and the land had gone steadily out of cultivation, until nature herself seemed to have created the vacuum into which, in time, she inevitably attracted the Germans. The rush begins with the passage of the Danube by the Goths in 376, and is continued in the passage of the Rhine by the Vandals, Alans, and Sueves in 406. A hundred years after the passage of the Danube the final result of the movement begins to appear in the West. The praefecture of Gaul now sees in each of its three former dioceses Teutonic kingdoms established—Saxons and Jutes in the Britains; Visigoths (under their great king Euric) in the Seven Provinces of Gaul proper; Sueves (along with Visigoths) in the Spains. In the praefecture of Italy two of the three dioceses are under powerful barbarian rulers: Odovacar has just made himself king of Italy, and Gaiseric has long been king of Africa; while the diocese of Illyricum is still in the melting-pot.

If we regard the movement of events from 410 to 476 internally, and from a Roman point of view, we shall find in the domestic politics of the period much that is the natural correlative of the Volker­wanderung without. Already, in the very beginning of this period, and indeed long before, the barbarian has settled in every part of the Empire, and among every class of society. Masses of barbarians have been attached to the soil as cultivators (inquilini), to fill the gaps in the population and reclaim the derelict soil: masses, again, have entered the army, until it has become almost predominantly German. Barbarian cultivators and soldiers thus formed the basis of the pyramid; but barbarians might also climb to the apex. Under Theodosius I, who had made it his policy to cultivate the friendship of the barbarians, the Frank Arbogast already appears as magister militiae, and attempts, like Ricimer afterwards, to use his office for the purpose of erecting a puppet as emperor. He fell before Theodosius in the battle of the Frigidus (394); but the Vandal Stilicho (to whom he is said to have commended the care of his children and the defence of the Empire) was the heir of his position, and Stilicho had for successor Aetius the ‘last of the Romans’, but also the friend of the Huns—as Aetius was succeeded in turn by Ricimer the Sueve. It is these barbaric or semi-barbaric figures, vested with the office of commander-in-chief of the troops of the West, which form the landmarks in the history of the fifth century; and we should be most true to reality if we distinguished the divisions of this period not by the regna of an Honorius or a Valentinian, but by the magisteria of Constantius, Aetius, and Ricimer. These “empire-destroying saviours of the Western Empire” were in reality the prime ministers of their generation, prime ministers resting not on a parliament (though they might, like Stilicho, affect to rely on the Senate), but on their control of a barbarian soldiery. Their power depended, partly on their influence with this wild force, which the Empire at once needed and dreaded, partly on the fact that the nominal representatives of imperial rule were weaklings or boys, whose court was under the influence of women and eunuchs; but the de facto position which they held was also sanctioned, since the time of Theodosius, by something of a legal guarantee. Treating the West, after the battle of the Frigidus, as a conquered territory, whose main problem was certain to be that of military defence, Theodosius had left it under the nominal rule of his son, but under the real government of Stilicho; and in his hands he had combined the two commands of infantry and cavalry, which in the East continued to remain distinct. In this position of magister utriusque militiae (already anticipated for a time by Arbogast), Stilicho, and his successors who inherited the title, controlled at once the imperial infantry and cavalry, along with the fleets on seas and on rivers: they supervised the barbaric settlements within the Empire; and they nominated the heads of the staffs of subordinate officers. As imperial generalissimo, in an age of military exigencies, the barbarian magister militiae was the ultimate sovereign; and the title of patricius, sometimes united with the name of parens, which in the fifth century came to be applied peculiarly to the ‘master of the troops’, proclaimed his sovereignty to the world.

Dependent upon barbarian troops, and himself often of barbarian origin, the policy of the ‘master of the troops’ towards the barbarians outside the pale, who sought to enter the Empire, was bound to be dubious. Orosius practically accuses Stilicho of complicity with Alaric, and certainly charges him with the invitation of the Vandals, Alans, and Sueves into Gaul in 406: Aetius was for years the friend of the Huns: Ricimer was apparently not averse to inciting the Visigoths to war against a Roman commander in Gaul. Inevitably, therefore, a Roman party formed itself in opposition to the master of the troops, a party curiously uniting within its ranks the senate, the eunuchs of the court, and some jealous soldier with his followers. The result would be a coup d'êtat, such as those of 408 or 454; but inevitably a new magister succeeds to the assassinated Stilicho or Aetius, and if the struggle still continues to be waged (as for instance between Anthemius and Ricimer), its predestined end—the foundation of a kingdom of Italy by some real or virtual generalissimo—draws constantly nearer. In the course of this struggle religious motives apparently intertwine themselves with the underlying motive of racial feeling. Stilicho would seem to have stood for toleration: and a Catholic reaction, headed by the Court, followed upon his fall, and gave to the episcopate an increase of jurisdiction, while it banished all enemies of the faith from the imperial service. Yet Litorius, the lieutenant of Aetius, put his trust in the responses of seers and the monitions of demons as late as 439: Ricimer, though no pagan, was an Arian. The extreme orthodoxy of the Court of Ravenna, contrasted with the dubious faith of the soldiery and its leaders, must thus have helped to whet the intensity of party strife.

In the period which we are to consider, it would thus appear that the great feature, from an external point of view, is the occupation of successive portions of the Western Empire by barbaric kings, of whom the greatest is Gaiseric, the hero of the last scene of the Wandering of the Nations, who links by his subtle policy the various enemies of the Empire into one system of attack; while internally the dominant factor is the transmutation of the Diocletian autocracy into a quasi-constitutional monarchy, in which the last members of the Theodosian house sink into empereurs fainéants, and the commander-in-chief becomes, as it were, a mayor of the palace. Yet another feature in external policy is the relation of the Western Emperors to those of the East, and other features deserving of notice in internal development are the growth of the Papacy, and the new importance from time to time assumed by the Senate.

Upon the Eastern Empire the West is again and again forced to rely. The Eastern Emperors give the West its rulers—Valentinian III, Anthemius, Nepos; or in any case they give a legitimate title to the rulers whom the West, in one way or another, has found for itself. Not only so, but upon occasion they give to the West the succour, which again and again it is forced to beg in the course of its struggle with the Vandals. Theoretically, as always, the unity of the Empire persists: there is still one Empire, with two joint rulers. But in practice, after 395, there are two separate States with separate policies and separate lines of development; and both Priscus in the East, and Sidonius Apollinaris in the West, acknowledge the fact of the separation. In these separate States there is, indeed, much that is parallel. The East has to face the Huns and the Goths equally with the West; like the West, it has its barbarian magistri militiae (with the great difference, however, that there are generally two concurrent magistri to weaken each other by their rivalry) and the Eastern Emperor has to deal with Aspar in 471, as Valentinian III had dealt with Aetius in 454. In both Empires, again, the house of Theodosius became extinct at much the same time. But here the parallel ends. In the West the death of Valentinian III was followed by the rule of the emperor-makers (RicimerGundobad, and Orestes), and by a succession of nine emperors in twenty-one years: in the East new and powerful emperors arose, who found the office of ‘master of the troops’ far weaker than in the West, and were able, by the alliance they formed with the Isaurians, to discover in their own realms a substitute and an antidote for barbaric auxiliaries, and thus to prolong the existence of their Empire for a thousand years. Meanwhile ecclesiastical development confirmed the separation and widened the differences between the two Empires. While Eastern theologians pursued their metaphysical inquiries into the unity of the Godhead, a new school of churchmanship, of a legal rather than a metaphysical complexion, arose in the West under the influence of St Augustine; and the growth of the Papacy, especially under the rule of Leo I (440-461), gave to this new school a dogmatic arbiter and an administrative ruler of its own.

The development of the Papacy, like the new vigour which the Senate occasionally displays, is largely the result of the decadence of the Western Emperors and of their seclusion in the marshes of Ravenna. The pietism of the Court, under the influence of Placidia, helped to confirm a power, which its withdrawal to Ravenna had already begun to establish; while the victories of Pope Leo over heresies in Italy, his successful interference against Monophysitism in the East, and the prestige of his mission to Attila in 451 and his mediation with Gaiseric in 455, contributed to the increase both of his ecclesiastical power and of his political influence. Meanwhile the bishops, everywhere in the West, tended to become the leading figures in their dioceses. The constitutions of 408 gave them civil jurisdiction in their dioceses and the power of enforcing the laws against heresy. In the chief town of his diocese each bishop gradually came to discharge the duties, even if he did not assume the office, of the defensor civitatis; and wherever a barbarian kingdom was established, the bishop was a natural mediator between the conquerors and their subjects.

The new importance assumed by the Senate in the course of the fifth century is evident both at Constantinople and at Rome. During the minority of Theodosius II it is chiefly the Senate of Constantinople which aids the regent Pulcheria and her minister Anthemius, the praetorian praefect, in the conduct of affairs; and though the Roman Senate hardly exerts any continuous influence, again and again in times of crisis it helps to determine the course of events. The autocracy consolidated by Diocletian begins to revert to the original dyarchy of princeps and senatus which Augustus had founded. In the early years of the fifth century, partly in the later years of Stilicho, who made it his policy to favour the Senate, and partly during the interregnum in the effective exercise of the office of magister militiae, which lasted from the fall of Stilicho till the appearance of Constantius (411), it had shown considerable activity; but the period of its greatest influence covers the last twenty-five years of the Western Empire. It was with two of the chief senators that Pope Leo went to meet Attila in 451: it was before the Senate that Valentinian defended himself for the assassination of Aetius in 454. The assassination of Valentinian himself was followed by the accession of Maximus, a member of the great senatorial family of the Anicii; and it has even been suggested that the accession of Maximus perhaps indicates an attempt of the Anicii to establish a new government in the West, independent of Constantinople and resting on the support of the Senate. Maximus fell; but his successor, Avitus, who came to the throne by the support of a Gallo-Roman party, was resisted by the Senate, and fell in his turn. The accession of the next emperor, Majorian, is at any rate in form a triumph for the Senate; in his first constitution Majorian thanks the Senate for letting its choice fall upon him, and promises to govern by its advice. But the reign of Anthemius (467-472) seems to mark the zenith of senatorial power. It was the appeal of the Senate to Constantinople which led to his accession; during his reign the Senate is powerful enough to try and condemn Arvandus, the praetorian praefect of Gaul, on a charge of treason; and in the civil war which precedes his fall, the Senate takes his side against his adversary Ricimer. Thus, in the paralysis of the imperial authority, the Senate stands side by side, and sometimes face to face, with the military power, as the representative of public authority and civil order. Its effective power is indeed little; the sword is too strong and too keen for that; but at any rate, in the agonies of the Empire, it behaves not unworthily of its secular tradition. And indeed in still other ways one cannot but feel that the end of Rome was not unworthy of herself. Her last work in her age-long task of ruling the peoples was to give into the hands of the Teutonic tribes her structure of law and her system of administration: to the one, as late as 438, the Codex Theodosianus had just been added, while the other was being reformed and purified as late as the days of the last real Emperor of the West, Majorian. So Rome handed on the torch, as it were, newly trimmed; and though we must admit that in fact the imperial government of the fifth century suffered from the impotence of over-centralization, we must also allow that she was in intention, as Professor Dill has well said, “probably never so anxious to check abuses of administration, or so compassionate for the desolate and the suffering, as in the years when her forces were being paralyzed”.

The figures in the drama of the last years of the Western Empire, which have perhaps had the greatest appeal for the imagination of the historian, are those of Galla Placidia and of Attila. Both figures have, indeed, a significance, which deserves some little consideration. Ravenna still testifies today to the fame of Placidia; and her name suggests the names of many others, her kinswomen and contemporaries, PulcheriaEudociaEudoxia, and Honoria, whose influence appears, in the pages of the Byzantine historians, to have largely determined the destinies of their age. “It is indeed”, writes Gregorovius, “a remarkable historic phenomenon, that in periods of decadence some female figure generally rises into prominence”; and Professor Bury has also remarked that the influence of women was a natural result of the new mode of palatial life—a result which is obviously apparent in the attribution of the title of Augusta to Eudoxia in the East and to Placidia in the West. Yet one cannot but feel that the Byzantine historians have been led by a certain feminism, if it may be so called, which is characteristic of their historiography, to attribute to women, at any rate as regards the West, an excessive influence on the politics of the period. The fifth century was the age of the erotic novel—of Daphnis and Chloe, of Leucippe and Cleitophon; and it would almost appear as if Byzantine historians had infused into their history the eroticism of contemporary novels. It is therefore permissible to doubt whether Honoria was really responsible for the attack of Attila upon the West, or Eudoxia for the sack of Rome by Gaiseric: whether Olympiodorus’ account of the relations of Honorius and Placidia after the death of Constantius is not a play of fancy, and the story given by Joannes Antiochenus and Procopius of the seduction of the wife of Maximus by Valentinian III, which led Maximus to compass his death, is not equally fanciful.

The figure of Attila owes much of its fascination to the vivid descriptions which Priscus gives of his court and Jordanes of the great battle of the Mauriac plain; and the Nibelungenlied has added the attraction of legend to the appeal of history. Attila has, indeed, his significance in the history of the world. It matters little that he was vanquished in one of the so-called “decisive battles of the world”: if he had been the victor on the Mauriac plain, and had lived for twenty years afterwards, instead of two, he would none the less have fallen at last, if only the allies who stood together in that battle had continued their alliance. The real significance of Attila lies in the fact, that the pressure of his Huns forced the Romans and the Teutons to recognize that the common interest of civilization was at stake, and thus drove them to make the great alliance, on which the future progress of the world depended. The fusion of Romans and Teutons, of which the marriage of Ataulf and Placidia, as it is described in the pages of Olympiodorus, may seem to be a harbinger, is cemented in the bloodshed of the Mauriac plain.

Between the death of Alaric and the fall of Romulus Augustulus, the progress of events may be arranged in three definite stages. A period, which is marked by the patriciate of Constantius, begins in 410 and ends with the death of Honorius in 423; during this period there takes place the Visigothic settlement in the South of France. A second period, marked by the patriciate of Aetius, covers the reign of Valentinian III, and ends in 455: it is the period of the Vandal settlement in Africa, and of Hunnish inroads into Gaul and Italy. A final period, in which the patriciate is held by Ricimer, follows upon the extinction of the Theodosian house in the West: it ends, in the phrase of Count Marcellinus, who alone seems to have realized the importance of the event, with the “extinction of the Western Empire of the Roman race”, and the settlement of Odovacar in Italy.

At the end of 410 Rufinus, as he wrote the preface to his translation of the homilies of Origen in a Sicilian villa which looked across to Reggio, saw the city in flames, and witnessed the gathering of the ships with which Alaric was preparing to invade Africa. A little later, and he may have seen the ships destroyed by a tempest; a little later still, and he may have heard of Alaric's death and of his burial in the bed of the Busento. The Gothic king was succeeded by his brother-in-law Ataulf; and upon the doings of Ataulf, for the next two years, there rests a cloud of darkness. We know, indeed, that he stayed in Italy till the spring of 412; we learn from the Theodosian Code that he was in Tuscany in 411; and we are told by Jordanes that at this time he was spoiling Italy of public and private wealth alike, and that his Goths stripped Rome once more, like a flock of locusts, while Honorius sat powerless behind the walls of Ravenna—the one rock left to the Emperor in the deluge which at this time covered Italy, Gaul, and Spain. But the story of Jordanes is probably apocryphal. Orosius and Olympiodorus, who are excellent contemporary authorities, both remark on the prosperity of Rome in the years that followed on the sack of 410: “recent as is the sack, we would think, as we look at the multitude of the Roman people, that nothing at all had happened, were it not for some traces of fire”. In the face of this evidence, a second plundering of Rome by Ataulf is improbable; and it appears equally improbable, when we consider the character of the new Gothic king and the natural line of his policy. A Narbonese citizen, who had perhaps witnessed the marriage of Ataulf to Galla Placidia in 414 at Narbonne and heard the shouts of acclamation, from Romans and Goths alike, which hailed the marriage festivities, reported to St Jerome at Bethlehem, in the hearing of Orosius, the words which he had often heard fall from the lips of Ataulf. “I have found by experience, that my Goths are too savage to pay any obedience to laws, but I have also found, that without laws a State is never a State; and so I have chosen the glory of seeking to  restore and to increase by Gothic strength the name of Rome. Wherefore I avoid war and strive for peace”. In 411 Ataulf had indeed already strong motives for seeking peace. He had abandoned the African expedition of Alaric, but he needed the supplies which that expedition had been meant to procure, and which he could now only gain from the Emperor; and he had in his train the captive Placidia, the sister of Honorius, whose hand would carry the succession to her brother's throne. To negotiate with Honorius for supplies and for formal consent to his marriage with Placidia was thus the natural policy of Ataulf; and in such negotiations the year 411 may have passed. But if there were negotiations, there was no treaty. Honorius had been strengthened by the arrival of a Byzantine fleet with an army on board; and he showed himself obdurate. When Ataulf was driven from Italy into Gaul, apparently by lack of supplies, in the spring of 412, he did not come as the friend and ally of Honorius.

In 412 Gaul was beginning to emerge from a state of whirling chaos. The usurper within, and the barbarian from without, had divided the country since 406. There had been two swarms of invaders, and two different ‘tyrants’. In 406 the Vandals, Alans, and Sueves had poured into Gaul, surged to the feet of the Pyrenees, and falling back for a while had then, with the aid of treachery, poured over the mountains and vanished into Spain, which henceforth became the prey of “four plagues—the sword, and famine, and pestilence, and the noisome beast” (409). In the wake of this tide had followed an influx of Franks, Alemanni, and Burgundians; and in 411 these three peoples were still encamped in Gaul, along the western bank of the Rhine, preparing for a permanent settlement. The usurpation of Constantine in 406 had synchronized with the invasion of Gaul by the Vandals, Alans, and Sueves; and indeed, the invasion was probably the result of the usurpation, for Stilicho would seem to have invited these people into Gaul, in the hope of barring the usurper’s way into Italy. In 409 a second tyrant had arisen in Spain: Gerontius, one of Constantine's own officers, had created a rival emperor, called Maximus; and it was this usurpation which had caused the invasion of Spain by the Vandals and their allies, Gerontius having invited them into Spain, as Stilicho had before invited them into Gaul, in order to gain their alliance in his struggle with Constantine. In 411 Gerontius had advanced into Gaul, and was besieging Constantine in Arles, while Constantine was hoping for the arrival of an army of relief from the barbarians on the Rhine. At this moment Constantius, the new ‘master of the troops’, arrived in Gaul to defend the cause of the legitimate emperor, Honorius. He met with instant success. Gerontius was overwhelmed and perished: Constantine’s barbarian reinforcements were attacked and defeated; Constantine himself was captured, and sent to Italy for execution. By the end of 411 Gaul was clear of both usurpers; and the Roman general stood face to face with the Franks, Alemanni, and Burgundians, who had meanwhile, during the operations round Arles, created a new emperor, Jovinus, to give a colour of legality to their position in Gaul. Without attacking Jovinus, however, Constantius seems to have left Gaul at the end of the year, perhaps because the northward march of Ataulf was already causing unrest at Ravenna.

When Ataulf’s march finally conducted him over Mont Genèvre into Gaul, somewhere near Valence, in the spring of 412, it seemed probable that he would throw himself on the side of Jovinus, now encamped in Auvergne, and acquire from the usurper a settlement in southern Gaul. It was his natural policy: it was the course which was advised by the ex-Emperor Attalus, who still followed in the train of the Goths. But Jovinus and Ataulf failed to agree. Ataulf seems to have occupied Bordeaux in the course of 412, and Jovinus regarded him as an intruder, whose presence in Gaul threatened himself and his barbarian allies; while on his side Ataulf attacked and killed one of Jovinus’ supporters, with whom he had an ancient feud. Dardanus, the loyal praefect of the Gauls, was able to win Ataulf over to the side of his master, and some sort of treaty was made (413), by which Ataulf engaged to send to Honorius the heads of Jovinus and his brother Sebastian, in return for regular supplies of provisions, and the recognition of his position in Bordeaux and (possibly) the whole of Aquitanica SecundaAtaulf fulfilled his promise with regard to Jovinus and Sebastian; but by the autumn of 413 he had already quarrelled with Honorius, and the Goths and the Romans were once more at war. Two causes were responsible for the struggle. In the first place the government of Honorius had failed to provide the Goths with the promised supplies. The failure is evidently connected with the revolt of Heraclian, the Count of Africa, in the course of the year 413. Heraclian, influenced by the example of the many usurpations in Gaul, and finding a basis in the anti-imperial sentiment of the persecuted Donatists of Africa, had prepared for revolt in 412; and in 413 he prohibited the export of corn from his province, the great granary of Rome, and had sailed for Italy with an armada which contained, according to Orosius, the almost incredible number of 3700 ships. He was beaten at Otricoli in Umbria with great slaughter, and flying back to Africa perished at Carthage; but his revolt, however unsuccessful in its issue, exercised during its course a considerable effect on the policy of Honorius. On the one hand, it must have been largely responsible for the treaty with Ataulf in 413: the imperial Government needed Constantius in Italy to meet Heraclian, and, destitute of troops of its own in Gaul, it had to induce the Goths to crush the usurper Jovinus on its behalf. At the same time, however, the revolt had also exercised an opposite effect; it had prevented the imperial Government from furnishing the Goths with supplies, and had made it inevitable that Ataulf should seek by war what he could not get by peace.

There was however a second and perhaps more crucial cause of hostilities between the Goths and the Romans. Placidia still remained with the Goths; and the question of the succession, which her marriage involved, had still to be settled. Again and again, in the course of history, the problem of a dubious succession has been the very hinge of events; and the question of the succession to Honorius, as it had influenced the policy and the fate of Stilicho, still continued to determine the policy of Ataulf and the history of the Western Empire. In this question Constantius, the ‘master of the troops’, was now resolved to interfere. Sprung from Naissus (the modern Nisch), he was a man of pure Roman blood, and stood at the head of the Roman or anti-barbarian party. “In him”, says Orosius, “the State felt the utility of having its forces at last commanded by a Roman general, and realized the danger it had before incurred from its barbarian generals”. As he rode, bending over his horse’s mane, and darting quick looks to right and left, men said of him (Olympiodorus writes) that he was meant for empire; and he had resolved to secure the succession to the throne by the hand of Placidia—the more, perhaps, as such a marriage would mean the victory of his party, and the defeat of the ‘barbarian’ Ataulf.

In the autumn of 413 hostilities began. Ataulf passed from Aquitanica Secunda into Narbonensis: he seized Toulouse, and “at the time of the gathering of the grapes” he occupied Narbonne. Marseilles (which, as a great port, would have been an excellent source of supplies) he failed to take, owing to the stout resistance of Boniface, the future Count of Africa; but at Narbonne, in the beginning of 414, he took the decisive step of wedding Placidia. By a curious irony, the bridegroom offered to the bride, as his wedding gift, part of the treasures which Alaric had taken from Rome; and the ex-Emperor Attalus joined in singing the epithalamia. Yet Romans and Goths rejoiced together; and the marriage, like that of Alexander the Great to Roxana, is the symbol of the fusion of two peoples and two civilizations. “Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel”, Hydatius writes, “that a daughter of the King of the South should marry the King of the North”. Meanwhile in Italy Constantius had been created consul for the year 414, and was using the confiscated goods of the rebel Heraclian to celebrate his entry upon office with the usual public entertainments, in the very month of the marriage festivities at Narbonne. In the spring he advanced into Gaul. Here he found that Ataulf, anxious for some colour of legitimacy, and seeking to maintain some connection with the ‘Roman name’, had caused Attalus once more to play the part of emperor, excusing thereby his occupation of Narbonensis, as the Franks and their allies had sought to excuse their position on the west of the Rhine by the elevation of Jovinus in 412. An imperial Court arose in Bordeaux in the spring of 414; and Paulinus of Pella was made procurator of the imaginary imperial domain of the actor-emperor Attalus, who once more, in the phrase of Orosius, “played at empire” for the pleasure of the Goths. But on the approach of Constantius, Ataulf set the city on fire, and leaving it smoking behind him, advanced to defend Narbonensis. Constantius, however, used his fleet to prevent the Goths from receiving supplies by sea; and the pressure of famine drove Ataulf from Narbonne. He retreated by way of Bazas, which he failed to take, as the procurator Paulinus induced the Alans to desert from his army; and, having no longer a base in Bordeaux, he was forced to cross the Pyrenees into Spain, where along with the Emperor Attalus, he occupied Barcelona (probably in the winter of 414-415). In devastated Spain famine still dogged the steps of the Goths: the Vandals nicknamed them Truli, because they paid a piece of gold for each trula of corn they bought. This of itself would naturally drive Ataulf to negotiate with Honorius, but the birth of a son and heir, significantly named Theodosius, made both Ataulf and Placidia tenfold more anxious for peace, and for the recognition of their child's right of succession to the throne of his childless uncle. The Emperor, Attalus, was thrown aside as useless; Ataulf was ready to recognize Honorius, if Honorius would recognize Theodosius. But his hopes shipwrecked on the resistance of Constantius, who had now been rewarded by the title of patricius for his success in expelling the Goths from Gaul. Soon afterwards the child Theodosius died, and was buried in a silver coffin with great lamentations at Barcelona. In the same city, in the autumn of 415, Ataulf himself was assassinated in his stables by one of his followers. With him died his dream of “restoring by Gothic strength the Roman name”; yet with his last breath he commanded his brother to restore Placidia and make peace with Rome.

The Goths, however, were not minded for peace. On the death of Ataulf (after the week’s reign of Sigerich, memorable only for the humiliation he inflicted on Placidia, by forcing her to walk twelve miles on foot before his horse), there succeeded a new king, Wallia, “elected by his people”, Orosius says, “to make war with Rome, but ordained by God to make peace”. Harassed by want of supplies, Wallia resolved to imitate the policy of Alaric, and to strike at Africa, the great granary of the West. The fate of Alaric attended his expedition: his fleet was shattered by a storm during its passage, twelve miles from the Straits of Gibraltar, at the beginning of 416. Wallia now found that it was peace with Rome, which alone would give food to his starving army; and Rome was equally ready for peace, if it only meant the restoration of Placidia. In the course of 416 the treaty was made. The Romans purchased Placidia by 600,000 measures of corn; Wallia became the ally of the Empire, and promised to recover Spain from the Vandals, Alans, and Sueves. In January 417 Constantius was once more created consul: in the same month he became the husband of the unwilling Placidia. She bore him two children, Honoria and Valentinian; and thus the problem of the succession was finally settled by the victory of the Roman Constantius, and the name of Rome was renewed by Roman strength. It was no undeserved triumph which Constantius celebrated in 417. The turmoil which had raged since Alaric's entry into Greece in 396 seemed to have ceased: the loss of the whole of the Gauls, which had seemed inevitable since the usurpation and the barbarian influx of 406, was, at any rate in large measure, averted. Constantius had recovered much of the Seven Provinces: Wallia was recovering Spain.

Constantius too was finally destined to settle the problem of the Goths, and to give them at last the quieta patria, in search of which they had wandered for so many years. For a time Wallia fought valiantly in Spain (416-418): he destroyed the Silingian Vandals, and so thoroughly defeated the Alans, that the broken remnants of the tribe merged themselves into the Asdingian Vandals. In the beginning of 416 the Romans had only held the east coast and some of the cities of Spain: by 418 the Asdingian Vandals and the Sueves had been pushed back into the north-west of the peninsula, and Lusitania and Baetica had been recovered. In 419 Wallia had his reward; Constantius summoned the Goths into Gaul, and gave them for a habitation the Second Aquitaine. Along with it went Toulouse, which became their capital, and other towns in the Narbonese province; and thus the Visigoths acquired a territory of their own, with an Atlantic seaboard, but, as yet, without any outlet to the Mediterranean. We can only conjecture the reasons which dictated this policy. It may be, as Professor Bury suggests, that Honorius did not wish to surrender Spain, because it was the home of the Theodosian house and the seat of the gold mines: it may be that the imperial Government wished to invigorate with the leaven of Gothic energy the declining population of south-western Gaul. In any case the policy is of great importance. For the first time the imperial Government had, of its own motion, given a settlement within the Empire to a Teutonic people living under its own king. But the policy becomes doubly important, when it is considered in connection with the constitution of 418, which gave local government to Gaul, and enacted that representatives of all its towns should meet annually at Arles. Honorius was endeavouring to throw upon Gaul the burden of its own government, and in the new municipal federation which he had thus instituted he sought to find a place for the Goths. On the one hand, the council at Arles would contain representatives from the towns in Gothic territory, and would thus connect the Goths with the Roman name: on the other, the Goths, as foederati of the council, defending its territory, and supplying its troops, would give weight to its deliberations. The policy of decentralization thus enunciated in 418, and the combination of that policy with the settlement of the Visigoths in 419, indicate that the Empire was ceasing to be centralized and Roman, and was becoming instead Teutonic and local.

The years that elapse between the settlement of the Goths and the death of Honorius in 423 are occupied by the affairs of Italy and the court history of Ravenna. In 421 Constantius, who had been virtual ruler of the West since 411, was elevated by Honorius, somewhat reluctantly, to the dignity of Augustus and the position of colleague. Placidia, to whose instance the elevation of her husband was probably due, had her own ambition satisfied by the title of Augusta, and began actively to exercise the influence on events, which she had already exercised more passively during the struggle between Ataulf and Constantius. The elevation of Constantius and of Placidia to the imperial dignity led to friction with the Eastern Empire, which refused to ratify the action of Honorius, and in 421 a war seemed imminent between East and West. But Constantius, whose rough soldier tastes made him chafe at the restrictions of imperial etiquette, fell ill and died in the autumn of 421, and with his death the menace of war disappeared. The influence of Placidia remained unshaken after her husband's death: the weak Honorius shared his affection between his beloved poultry and his sister; and scandalmongers even whispered tales about his excessive affection for Placidia. But by 422 the affection had yielded to hatred; and a struggle raged at Ravenna between the party of Honorius, and a party gathered round Placidia, which found its support in the retinue of barbarians she had inherited from her marriages with Ataulf and Constantius. The struggle would appear to be the old struggle of the Roman and the barbarian parties; and it is perhaps permissible to conjecture that the question at issue was the succession to the office of magister militum, which Constantius had held. If this conjecture be admitted, Castinus may be regarded as the candidate of Honorius, and Boniface as the candidate of Placidia; and the quarrel of Castinus and Boniface, on the eve of a projected expedition against the Vandals of Spain, which is narrated by the annalists, may thus be connected with the struggle between Honorius and Placidia. The issue of the struggle was the victory of Honorius and Castinus (422). Castinus became the magister militum and took command of the Spanish expedition, in which he allowed himself to be signally defeated by the Asdingian Vandals, now settled in Baetica: Boniface fled from the Court to Africa, and established himself, at the head of a body of foederati, as a semi-independent governor of the African diocese, where he had before been serving as the tribune of barbarian auxilia. The flight of Boniface was followed by the banishment of Placidia and her children to Constantinople (423); but in her exile she was supported by Boniface, who sent her money from Africa. This was the position of affairs when Honorius died (423). One of the weakest of emperors, he had had a most troubled reign; yet the last years of his rule had been marked by peace and success, thanks to the valour and policy of Constantius, who had defeated the various usurpers and recovered much of the Transalpine lands. The one virtue of Honorius was a taste for government on paper, such as his nephew Theodosius II also showed; he issued a number of well-meant constitutiones, alleviating the burden of taxation on Italy after the Gothic ravages, and seeking to attract new cultivators to waste lands by the offer of advantageous terms.

The death of Honorius marks the beginning of a new phase in the history of the Western Empire. For the next thirty years a new personality dominates the course of events within the Empire: Aetius, fills the scene with his actions; while without the barbaric background is peopled by the squat figures of the Huns. Aetius was a Roman from Silistria, born about the year 390, the son of a certain Gaudentius, a magister equitum, by a rich Italian wife. In his youth he had served in the office of the praetorian praefect; and twice he had been a hostage, once with Alaric and his Goths, and once with the Huns. During the years in which he lived with the Huns, sometime between 411 and 423, he formed a connection with them, which was to exercise a great influence on the whole of his own career and on the history of the Empire itself. The Huns themselves, until they were united by Attila under a single government after the year 445, were a loose federation of Asiatic tribes, living to the north of the Danube, and serving as a fertile source of recruits for the Roman army. They had already served Stilicho as mercenaries in his struggle with Radagaisus, and some time afterwards Honorius had taken 10,000 of them into his service. After 423 they definitely formed the bulk of the armies of the Empire, which was now unable to draw so freely on the German tribes, occupied as these were in winning or maintaining their own settlements in Gaul, in Spain, and in Africa. Valentinian III may thus almost be called Emperor “by the grace of the Huns”; and to them Aetius owed both his political position and his military success.

On the death of Honorius the natural heir to the vacant throne was the young Valentinian, the son of Constantius and Placidia. But Valentinian was only a boy of four, and he was living at Constantinople. When the news of Honorius' death came to the ears of Theodosius II, he concealed the intelligence, until he had sent an army into Dalmatia; and he seems to have contemplated, at any rate for the moment, the possibility of uniting in his own hands the whole of the Empire. But meanwhile a step was taken at Ravenna—either in order to anticipate and prevent such a policy on the part of the Eastern Emperor, or independently and without any reference to his action—which altered the whole position of affairs. A party, with which Castinus, the new magister militum, seems to have been connected, determined to assert the independence of the West, and elevated John, the chief of the notaries in the imperial service, to the vacant throne. Aetius took office under the usurper as Curu Palatii (or Constable), and was sent to the Huns to recruit an army; while all the available forces were dispatched to Africa to attack Boniface, the foe of Castinus and the friend of Placidia and Valentinian. Theodosius found himself compelled to abandon any hopes he may have cherished of annexing the Western Empire, and to content himself with securing it for the Theodosian house, while recognizing its independence. He accordingly sent Valentinian to the West in 424, with an army to enforce his claims; and as John was weakened by the dispatch of his forces to Africa, and Aetius had not yet appeared with his Huns, the triumph of Valentinian was easy. His succession was a vindication of the title of the Theodosian house; and, when we consider the anticlerical policy pursued by John, who had attacked the privileges of the clergy, it may also be regarded as a victory of clericalism, a cause to which the Theodosian house was always devoted. A closer connection between East and West may also be said to be one of the results of the accession of Valentinian, even it finally prevented the union of the two which had for a moment seem possible; and the hostile attitude which had characterized the relation of Byzantium and Rome during the reign of Honorius, both in the days of Stilicho and in those of Constantius, now disappears.

Three days after the execution of the defeated usurper, Aetius appeared in Italy with 60,000 Huns. Too late to save his master, he nevertheless renewed the fight; and he was only induced to desist, and to send his Huns back to the Danube, by the promise of the title of comes along with a command in Gaul. Here Theodoric, the king of the Visigoths, had taken advantage of the confusion which had followed on the death of Honorius to deliver an attack upon Arles. Aetius relieved the town, and eventually made a treaty with Theodoric, by which, in return for the cession of the conquests they had recently made, the Visigoths ceased to stand to the Western Empire in the dependent relation of foederati, and became autonomous. Meanwhile in Italy Castinus, who appears to have been the chief supporter of John, had been punished by exile; and a certain Felix had taken his place at the head of affairs, with the titles of magister militum and patricius. Inheriting the position of Castinus, Felix seems to have inherited, or at any rate to have renewed, his feud with Boniface, the governor of Africa. Possibly Boniface, the old friend and supporter of Placidia, may have hoped for the position of regent which Felix now held, and he may have been discontented with the reward which he actually received after Placidia’s victory—the title of comes and the confirmation of his position in Africa; possibly the situation in Africa itself may have forced Boniface, as it had before forced Heraclian, into disloyalty to the Empire. Africa was full of Donatists, and the Donatists hated the central government, which, under the influence of clericalism, used all its resources to support the orthodox cause. Religious schism became the mother of a movement of nationalism; in contrast with loyal and imperialist Gaul, Africa, in the early years of the fifth century, was rapidly tending to political independence. At the same time a certain degeneration of character seems to have affected Count Boniface himself. The noble hero celebrated by Olympiodorus, the pious friend and correspondent of St Augustine, who had once had serious thoughts of deserting the world for a monastery, would appear—if it be not a calumny of orthodox Catholics—to have lost all moral fibre after his second marriage to an Arian wife. He showed himself slack at once in his private life and in his government of Africa; and the result was a summons from Felix, recalling him to Italy, in 427. Boniface showed himself contumacious, and a civil war began. In the course of the war Boniface defeated one army sent against him by Felix; but when a second army came, largely composed of mercenaries hired from the Visigoths, and under the command of a German, Sigisvult, he found himself hard pressed.

At this moment, if we follow the accounts of Procopius and Jordanes, Boniface made his fatal appeal to the Vandals of Spain, and thereby irretrievably ruined his own reputation and his province. But Procopius and Jordanes belong to the sixth century; and the one contemporary authority who writes of this crisis with any detail—Prosper Tiro—definitely says that the Vandals were summoned to the rescue by both contending parties (concertantibus), and thus implies, what is in itself most probable, that the imperial army under Sigisvult and the rebel force of Boniface both sought external aid. It may well have been the case that the Vandals were already pressing southward from Spain towards Africa, and that, perhaps impelled by famine, or attracted by the fertility of Africa, the El Dorado of the Western Germans of this century, they were following the line of policy already indicated by Alaric, and unsuccessfully attempted from Spain itself by Wallia. Spain and Northern Africa have again and again in history been drawn together by an inevitable attraction, alike in the days of Hamilcar and Hannibal, in the times of the Caliphate of Cordova, and during the reigns of the Spanish monarchs of the sixteenth century. So the Vandals, who in 419 had moved down from their quarters in the north-west of Spain, and again occupied its southernmost province (Baetica), already appear as early as 425 in Mauretania (probably the western province of Mauretania Tingitana, which lay just across the Straits of Gibraltar and counted, for administrative purposes, as part of Spain). Their pressure would naturally increase, when the civil war in Africa opened the doors of opportunity; and we may well imagine that the incoming bands, whose numbers and real intentions were imperfectly apprehended in the African diocese, would naturally be invited to their aid by both sides alike. In any case Gaiseric came with the whole of the Vandal people in the spring of 429, and evacuating Spain he rapidly occupied the provinces of Mauretania. The Romans at once awoke to their danger: the civil war abruptly ceased; and the home government quickly negotiated first a truce, and then a definite treaty, with the rebel Boniface. Uniting all the forces he could muster, including the Visigothic mercenaries, Boniface, as the recognised governor of Africa, attacked the Vandals, after a vain attempt to induce them to depart by means of negotiations. He was defeated; the Vandals advanced from Mauretania into Numidia; and he was besieged in Hippo (430). A new army came to his aid from Constantinople, under the command of Aspar; but the combined troops of Aspar and Boniface suffered another defeat (431). After the defeat Aspar returned to Constantinople, and Boniface was summoned to Italy by Placidia; Hippo fell, and Gaiseric pressed onwards from Numidia into Africa Proconsularis.

It was Aetius who was the cause of the recall of Boniface to Italy in 432; for the summons of Placidia was dictated by the desire to find a counterpoise to the influence which Aetius had by this time acquired. After his struggle with the Goths, and the treaty which ended the struggle (? 426), Aetius had still been occupied in Gaul by hostilities with the Franks. While Africa was being lost, Gaul was being recovered; Tours was relieved; the Franks were repelled from Arras, and, in 428, driven back across the Rhine. Aetius even carried his arms towards the Danube, and won success in a campaign in Rhaetia and Noricum in the year 430, in the course of which he inflicted heavy losses on the Juthungi, a tribe which had crossed the Danube from the north. Like Julius Caesar five centuries before, he now acquired, as the result of his Transalpine campaigns, a commanding position at Rome. In 429 he became magister equitum per Gallias, but Felix, with the title of patricius, still stood at the head of affairs. In 430, however, Felix was murdered on the steps of one of the churches at Ravenna, in a military tumult which was apparently the work of Aetius. Felix had been plotting against his dangerous rival, and Aetius, forewarned of his plots, and forearmed by the support of his own Hunnish followers, saved himself from impending ruin by the ruin of his enemy. He now became magister utriusque militiae, at once generalissimo and prime minister of the Empire of the West; and in 432 (after a new campaign in Noricum, and a second defeat of the Franks) he was created consul for the year.

It was at this juncture that Placidia (who, according to one authority, had instigated the plots of Felix in 430) summoned Boniface to the rescue, and sought to recover her independence, by creating him ‘master of the troops’ in Aetius’ place. The dismissed general took to arms; and a great struggle ensued. Once more, as in the days of Caesar and Pompey, two generals fought for control of the Roman Empire; and as the earlier struggle had shown the utter decay of the Republic, so this later struggle attests, as Mommsen remarks, the complete dissolution of the political and military system of the Empire. The fight was engaged near Rimini; and though one authority speaks of Aetius as victor, the bulk of evidence and the probabilities of the case both point to the victory of Boniface. Boniface died soon after the victory, but his son-in-law, Sebastian, succeeded to his position; and the defeated Aetius, after seeking in vain to find security in retirement on his own estates, fled to his old friends the Huns. Here he was received by King Rua, and found welcome support. Returning in 433 with an army of Huns, he was completely victorious. It was in vain that Placidia attempted to get the support of the Visigoths; she had to dismiss and then to banish Sebastian, and to admit Aetius not only to his old office of master of the troops, but also to the new dignity of patricius. Once more, as in 425 and in 430, Aetius had forced Placidia to use his services; and henceforward till his death in 454 he is the ruler of the West, receiving in royal state the embassies of the provinces, and enjoying the honour, unparalleled hitherto under the Empire for an ordinary citizen, of a triple consulate.

The policy of Aetius seems steadily directed towards Gaul, and to the retention of a basis for the Empire along the valleys of the Rhine, the Loire, and the Seine. Loyal Gaul seemed to him well worth defence; nationalist Africa he apparently neglected. One of the first acts of the government, after his accession to power, was the conclusion of a treaty with the Vandals and their king, whereby the provinces of Mauretania and much of Numidia were ceded to Gaiseric, in return for an annual tribute and hostages. In this treaty Aetius imitated the policy of Constantius towards the Visigoths, and gave the Vandals a similar settlement in Africa, as tributary foederati. Peace once made in Africa, he turned his attention to Gaul. Here there were several problems to engage his attention. The Burgundians were attacking Belgica Prima, the district round Metz and Treves; a Jacquerie of revolted peasantry and slaves (the Bagaudae, who steadily waged a social war during the fourth and fifth centuries) was raging everywhere; and, perhaps most dangerous of all, the Visigoths, taking advantage of these opportunities to pursue their policy of extension from Bordeaux towards the Mediterranean, were seeking to capture Narbonne. Aetius, with the aid of his Hunnish mercenaries, proved equal to the danger. He defeated the Burgundians, who were shortly afterwards almost annihilated by an attack of the Huns (the remnant of the nation gaining a new settlement in Savoy); his lieutenant Litorius raised the siege of Narbonne, and he himself, according to his panegyrist Merobaudes, defeated a Gothic army, during the absence of Theodoric, ad montem Colubrarium (436); while the Jacquerie came to an end with the capture of its leader in 437. Encouraged by their successes, the Romans seem to have carried their arms into the territory of the Visigoths, and in 439 Litorius led his Hunnish troops to an attack upon Toulouse itself. Eager to gain success on his own hand, and rashly trusting the advice of his pagan soothsayers, he rushed into battle, and suffered a considerable defeat. Aetius now consented to peace with the Goths, on the same terms as before in 426; and he sought to ensure the continuance of the peace by planting a body of Alans near Orleans, to guard the valley of the Loire. Then, leaving Gaul at peace—a peace which continued undisturbed till the coming of Attila in 451—he returned once more to Italy.

During the absence of Aetius in Gaul, Valentinian III had gone to the East, and married Eudoxia, the daughter of Theodosius II, thus drawing closer that new connection of East and West, which had begun on the death of Honorius, and had been testified by the dispatch of Eastern troops to the aid of the Western Empire against the Vandals in 431. One result of Valentinian’s journey to the East was the reception at Rome by the senate in 438 (the reception is described in an excerpt from the acts of the Senate which precedes the Code) of the Codex Theodosianus, a collection of imperial constitutions since the days of Constantine, which had just been compiled in Byzantium at the instance of Theodosius. Another result was the final cession by the Western Empire of part of Dalmatia, one of the provinces of the diocese of Illyricum, the debatable land which Stilicho had so long disputed with the East. The cession was perhaps the price paid by the West in order to gain the aid of the East against the Vandals of Africa, and, more especially, to secure the services of the fleet which was still maintained in Eastern waters. In spite of the treaty of 435, the croachments of the Vandals in Africa had still continued, and they had even begun to make piratical descents on the coasts of the Western Mediterranean. In the first years of his conquest of Africa, Gaiseric must have put himself in possession of a small fleet of swift cruisers (liburnae), which was maintained in the diocese of Africa for the defence of its coasts from piracy. To these he would naturally add the numerous transports belonging to the navicularii, the corporation charged with the duty of transporting African corn to Rome. In 439 he was able, by the capture of Carthage, to provide himself with the necessary naval base; and hence­forth he enjoyed the maritime supremacy of the Western Mediterranean. Like many another sovereign of Algeria since his time, Gaiseric made his capital into a buccaneering stronghold. Even before 435, he had been attacking Sicily and Calabria: in 440 he resumed the attack, and not only ravaged Sicily, but also besieged Panormus, from which, how­ever, he was forced to retire by the approach of a fleet from the East. In the face of this peril Italy, apparently destitute of a fleet, could do no more for itself than repair the walls of its towns, and station troops along the coasts—measures which are enjoyed by the novels of Valentinian III for the years 440 and 441; but Theodosius II determined to use the Eastern fleet to attack Gaiseric in his own quarters. The expedition of 441 proved, however, an utter failure, as indeed all expeditions against the Vandals were destined to prove themselves till the days of Belisarius. Gaiseric, a master of diplomacy, was able to use his wealth to induce both the Huns of the Danube and the enemies of the Eastern Empire along the Euphrates to bestir themselves; and Theodosius, finding himself hard pressed at home, was forced to withdraw his fleet, which Gaiseric had managed to keep idle in Sicily by pretence of negotiation. The one result of the expedition was a new treaty, made by Theodosius and confirmed by Valentinian in 442, by which Gaiseric gained the two rich provinces of Africa Proconsularis and Byzacena, and retained possession of part of Numidia (possibly as full sovereign and no longer as foederatus), while he abandoned to the Empire the less productive provinces of Mauretania on the west. But the treaty could not be permanent; and the two dangers which had shown themselves between 439 and 442 were fated to recur. On the one hand the piratical inroads of Gaiseric were destined to sap the resources and hasten the fall of the Western Empire; on the other, Gaiseric was to continue with fatal results the policy, which he had first attempted in 441, of uniting the enemies of the Roman name by his intrigues and his bribes in a great league against the Empire. It is of these two themes that the history of the Western Empire is chiefly composed in the few remaining years of its life.

The loss of Africa thus counterbalanced, and indeed far more than counterbalanced, Aetius’ arduous recovery of Gaul. Elsewhere than in Gaul and Italy, the Western Empire only maintained a precarious hold on Spain. Britain was finally lost: a Gaulish chronicler notes under the years 441-442 that “the Britains, hitherto suffering from various disasters and vicissitudes, succumb to the sway of the Saxons”. The diocese of Illyricum was partly ceded to the Eastern Empire, partly occupied by the Huns. Gaul itself was thickly sown with barbarian settlements: there were Franks in the north, and Goths in the south-west; there were Burgundians in Savoy, Alemanni on the upper Rhine, and Mans at Valence and Orleans; while the Bretons were beginning to occupy the north-west. In Spain the disappearance of the Vandals in 429 left the Sueves as the only barbarian settlers; and they had for a time re­mained entrenched in the north-west of the peninsula, leaving the rest to the Roman provincials. But the accession of Rechiar in 438 marked the beginning of a new and aggressive policy. In 439 he entered Merida, on the southern boundary of Lusitania; in 441 he occupied Seville, and conquered the provinces of Baetica and Carthagena. The Roman commanders, who in Spain, as in Gaul, had to face a Jacquerie of revolted peasants as well as the barbarian enemy, were impotent to stay his progress; by his death in 448 he had occupied the greater part of Spain, and the Romans were confined to its north-east corner.

Such was the state of the Western Empire, when the threatening cloud of Huns on the horizon began to grow thicker and darker, until in 451 it finally burst. Till 440 the Huns, settled along the Danube, had not molested the Empire, but had, on the contrary, served steadily as mercenaries in the army of the West; and it had been by their aid that Aetius had been able to pursue his policy of the reconquest of Gaul. But after 440 a change begins to take place. The subtle Gaiseric, anxious to divert attention from his own position in the south, begins to induce the Huns to attack the Empire on the north; while at the same time a movement of consolidation takes place among the various tribes, which turns them into a unitary State under a single ambitious ruler. After the death of King Rua, to whom Aetius had fled for refuge in 433, two brothers, Attila and Bleda, had reigned as joint sovereigns of the Huns; but in 444 Attila killed his brother, and rapidly erecting a military monarchy began to dream of a universal empire, which should stretch from the Euphrates to the Atlantic. It was against the Eastern Empire that the Huns, like the Goths before them, first turned their arms. Impelled by Gaiseric, they ravaged Illyria and Thrace to the very gates of Constantinople, in the years 441 and 442; and the ‘Anatolian Peace’ of 443 had only stayed their ravages at the price of an annual Hungeld of over 2000 pounds of gold. But it was an uneasy peace which the Eastern Empire had thus purchased; and in 447 Attila swept down into its territories as far as Thermopylae, plundering 70 cities on his way. After this great raid embassies passed and repassed between the Court of Attila and Byzantium, among others the famous embassy (448) of which the historian Priscus was a member, and whose fortunes in the land of the Huns are narrated so vividly in his pages. Still the Hungeld continued to be paid, and still Theodosius seemed the mere vassal of Attila; but on the death of Theodosius in 450 his successor Martian, who was made of sterner stuff, stoutly refused the tribute. At this crisis, when the wrath of Attila seemed destined to wreak itself in the final destruction of the Eastern Empire, the Huns suddenly poured westward into Gaul, and vanished for ever from the pages of Byzantine history.

It has already been seen that under the influence of Aetius the relations of the Western Empire to the Huns had been steadily amicable, and indeed that Hunnish mercenaries had been the stay and support not only of the private ambitions of the patricius but also of his public policy. The new policy of hostility to the Empire, on which Attila had embarked in 441, seems for the next ten years to have affected the East alone. During these ten years, the history of the Western Empire is curiously obscure: we hear nothing of Aetius, save that he was consul for the third time in 446, and we know little, if anything, of the relations of Valentinian III to the Huns. We may guess that tribute was paid to the Huns by the West as well as by the East; we hear of the son of Aetius as a hostage at the Court of Attila. We know that, during the campaign of 441-442, the church plate of Sirmium escaped the clutches of Attila, and was deposited at Rome, apparently with a government official; and we know that in 448 Priscus met in Hungary envoys of the Western Empire, who had come to attempt to parry Attila's demand for this plate. To this motive, which it must be confessed appears but slight, romance has added another, in order to explain the diversion of Attila's attention to the West in 451.             

In 434 the princess Honoria, the sister of Valentinian III, had been seduced by one of her chamberlains, and banished to Constantinople, where she was condemned to share in the semi-monastic life of the ladies of the palace. Years afterwards, embittered by a life of compulsory asceticism, and snatching at any hope of release, she is said (but our information only comes from Byzantine historians, whose tendency to a ‘feminine’ interpretation of history has already been noticed) to have appealed to Attila, and to have sent him a ring. Attila accepted the appeal and the ring; and claiming Honoria as his betrothed wife, he demanded from her brother the half of the Western Empire as her dowry. The story may be banished, at any rate in part, as an instance of the erotic romanticism which occasionally appears in the Byzantine historiography of this century. We may dismiss the episode of the ring and the whole story of Honoria’s appeal, though we are bound to believe (on the testimony of Priscus himself, confirmed by a Gaulish chronicler) that when Attila was already determined on war with the West, he demanded the hand of Honoria and a large dowry, and made the refusal of his demands into a casus belli. But there are other causes which will serve to explain why Attila would in any case have attacked the West in 451. The Balkan lands had been wasted by the raids of the previous ten years; and Gaul and Italy offered a more fertile field, to which events conspired to draw Attila's attention about 450. A doctor in Gaul, who had been one of the secret leaders of the Bagaudae, had fled to his Court in 448, and brought word of the discontent among the lower classes which was rife in his native country. At the same time a civil war was raging among the Franks; two brothers were contending for the throne, and while one of the two appealed to Aetius, the other invoked the aid of Attila. Finally, Gaiseric was instigating the Huns to an expedition against the Visigoths, whose hostility he had had good reason to fear, ever since he had caused his son Huneric to repudiate his wife, the daughter of Theodoric I, and send her back mutilated to her father, some years before (445). The reason here given for hostility between the Vandals and the Visigoths, which only comes from Jordanes, is perhaps dubious; the fact of such hostility, resting as it does on the authority of Priscus, must be accepted

When the Huns poured into Gaul in 451, the position of the Western Empire seemed desperate. It was perhaps a little thing that a terrible famine (obscenissima fames) had devastated Italy in 450. Far more serious was the absence of any army with which Aetius might confront the enemy. For the last twenty-five years he had relied on Hunnish mercenaries to fight his battles; and now, when he had to fight the Huns themselves, he was practically powerless. Everything depended on the line which the Visigoths would take. If they would combine with Rome in the face of a common danger, Rome was saved: if they stood aloof, and waited until they were themselves attacked, Rome could only fall. Attila was cunning enough to attempt to sow dissension between the Visigoths and the Romans, writing to assure either, that the other alone was the object of his attack; but his actions were more eloquent than his words. After crossing the Rhine, somewhere to the north of Mainz, he sacked the Gallo-Roman city of Metz. The Romans now awoke to the crisis: Aetius hastened to Gaul, and collected on the spot a motley army of mercenaries and foederati. Meanwhile, as the Romans looked anxiously to the Visigoths, Attila moved on Orleans, in the hope of acquiring possession of the city from the Alans who were settled there, and so gaining a base of operations against the Goths. The move showed Theodoric I his danger; he rapidly joined his forces with those of Aetius, who now at last could draw breath; and the two together hastened to the defence of Orleans. Finding Orleans too strongly guarded, Attila checked his advance, and retired eastwards; the allies followed, and near Troyes, on the Mauriac plain, was engaged bellum atrox multiplex immane pertinax. The great battle was drawn; but its ultimate result was the retreat of the Huns, after they had stood their ground in their camp for several days. We are assured by more than one of our authorities, that the camp might have been stormed, and the Huns annihilated, but for the astute policy of Aetius. Perhaps he desired to keep his hands free to renew once more his old connection with the Huns; perhaps he feared the predominance of the Visigoths, which would have followed on the annihilation of the Huns. At any rate he is said to have induced the new Gothic king Thorismund—Theodoric I had been killed in the battle—to withdraw at once to his territories, by representing forcibly to him the need of securing his succession against possible rivals at home. A bridge was thus built for Attila’s retreat; and Aetius was able to secure for himself the booty, which the retreating Huns were forced to relinquish in the course of their long march.

The significance of the repulse of Attila from Gaul by the joint forces of the Romans and the Goths has already been discussed at the beginning of this chapter. The repulse was no decisive crisis in the history of the world: the Empire of Attila was of too ephemeral a nature to be crucially dangerous; and his attack on the West was like the passing of a transitory meteor, which affected its destinies far less than the steady and deliberate menace of the policy of Gaiseric. But the meteor was not yet exhausted; and Italy had to feel in 452, what Gaul had experienced in 451. Attila now marched from Pannonia over the Julian Alps: Aquileia fell, and the whole of the province of Venetia was ravaged. Passing from Venetia into Liguria, the Huns sacked Milan and Pavia; and the way seemed clear across the Apennines to Rome itself. Aetius, with no troops at his command, was powerless; a contemporary writer, Prosper Tiro, failing to understand that the successes of the previous years had only been won by the aid of Goths, blames the Roman general “for making no provision according to the manner of his deeds in the previous year; failing even to bar the Alpine passes, and planning to desert Italy together with the Emperor”. In truth the position was desperate; and it remains one of the problems of history why the Huns refrained from attacking Rome, and retired instead to the Danube. Tradition has ascribed the merit of diverting Attila from Rome to Pope Leo I; the Liber Pontificalis tells how Leo “for the sake of the Roman name undertook an embassy, and went his way to the king of the Huns, and delivered Italy from the peril of the enemy”. It is indeed true that the Emperor, now resident in Rome, joined with the senate in sending to Attila an embassy of three persons, one of whom was Pope Leo, and that soon after the coming of this embassy Attila gave the signal for retreat. It may be that the embassy promised Attila a tribute, and even the hand of Honoria with a dowry; and it may be that Attila was induced to listen to these promises, by the unfavourable position in which he began to find himself placed. His army was pressing for return, eager perhaps to secure the spoils it had already won, and alleging the fate of Alaric as a warning against laying hands on Rome. His troops, after all their ravages, were suffering from famine, and an Italian summer was infecting them with fever; while the Eastern Emperor, who had been occupied by the Council of Chalcedon and the problem of Eutychianism in the year 451, was now dispatching troops to the aid of Aetius. Swayed, perhaps, by these considerations, Attila listened to the offers of the embassy, and returned home; and there he died, in the year after his Italian campaign.

The death of Attila was followed, in the next year, by the assassination of Aetius (454); and the assassination of Aetius was followed, a year afterwards, by the assassination of his master, Valentinian III. The death of Attila, and the subsequent collapse of the Hunnish Empire, which had rested entirely on his personality, deprived Aetius of any prospect of support from the Huns, if his position were once again challenged. Nor was there, after the end of the war with Attila, any pressing danger which made the services of the great soldier indispensable. He had never enjoyed the confidence of the Theodosian house: he had simply forced himself on Placidia and her son Valentinian, both in 425 and in 433. Placidia, a woman of ambitious temper, must have chafed under his domination; and she must equally, as a zealous Catholic and the friend of the Roman party in the Empire, have resented the supremacy of a man who rested on barbarian support and condoned, if he did not share, the paganism of supporters like Litorius and Marcellinus. She had died in 450; but the eunuch Heraclius had succeeded to her policy and influence, and in conjunction with the senator Maximus he instigated his master to the ruin of Aetius. The ambition of Aetius made Valentinian the more ready to consent to his ruin. No son had been born to Valentinian from his marriage with Eudoxia; and Aetius apparently aspired to secure the succession for his own family, by gaining the hand of one of the two imperial princesses for his son Gaudentius. One of the few things, however, which stirred the pusillanimity of the Theodosian house to action was a dynastic question; and as Theodosius II had been ready to go to war rather than admit the elevation of Constantius to the dignity of Augustus in 419, so Valentinian III nerved himself to assassinate Aetius with his own hand, rather than permit the marriage of one of his daughters to the son of a subject. At the end of September 454, as the minister and his master sat together over the accounts of the Empire, Valentinian suddenly sprang up from the table, and after hot words drew his sword on Aetius. Heraclius hurried to his aid, and the two together cut him down. Thus he fell, atque cum ipso Hesperium cecidit regnum. Of his character and real magnitude we know little. Gregory of Tours preserves a colourless eulogy from the pages of a contemporary prose-writer; and the panegyrics of Merobaudes are equally colourless. That he was the one prop and stay of the Western Empire during his life is the unanimous verdict of his contemporaries; but whether or no he was really great as a general or a statesman we cannot tell. He was beaten by Boniface; and it was not he, but the Goths and their king, who really triumphed on the Mauriac plain; yet he recovered Gaul in a series of campaigns, and he kept the Visigoths in check. As a statesman he may be blamed for neglect of Africa, and a too ready acquiescence in its occupation by Gaiseric; yet it may be doubted whether the Roman hold on the allegiance of Africa was not too weak to be maintained, and in any case he kept Italy comparatively free from the ravages of the Vandals so long as he lived. If he was less Roman than his predecessor Constantius, he was far more Roman than his successor Ricimer; and if he had occasionally used the arms of the Huns for his own ends, he had also used them to maintain the Empire. One merit he had which must count for much—the merit of recognizing and encouraging men of ability. Majorian and Marcellinus, two of the finest figures in the history of the falling Empire, were men of his training.

A wit at Court, when asked by Valentinian III what he thought of the death of Aetius, replied —“Sir, you have used your left hand to cut off your right”. In truth, Valentinian signed his own death warrant, when he joined in the murder of his minister. He had hastened, immediately after the murder, to send explanations to the barbarian foederati, with whom Aetius had been allied; but vengeance was to come upon him within his own Court. Maximus, the senator who had joined with Heraclius in compassing the ruin of Aetius, had hoped to succeed to the position and office of his victim. Disappointed in his hopes, he resolved to procure the assassination of Valentinian, and to seize for himself the vacant throne. Two of Aetius’ followers, whose names, Optila and Thraustila, suggest a Hunnish origin, were induced to revenge their master; and in March 455 Valentinian was assassinated on the Campus Martii, in the sight of his army, while he stood watching the games. Heraclius fell with him; but not a hand was raised to punish the assassins. With Valentinian III the Theodosian house was extinguished in the West, as it had already come to an end in the East on the death of Theodosius II in 450. Though he had ruled for thirty years, Valentinian had influenced the destinies of his Empire even less than his uncle Honorius. Procopius, if his evidence is worth consideration, tells us that Valentinian had received an effeminate education from his mother Placidia, and that, when he became a man, he consorted with quacks and astrologers, and practiced immorality. He only once flashed into action, when, piqued by the presumption of Aetius in aspiring to connect himself with the imperial family, he struck him down. He thought he had slain his master; he found that he had slain his protector; and he fell a helpless victim to the first conspiracy which was hatched against his throne.

The twenty-one years which precede the utter extinction of the Roman Empire in the West are distinguished in several respects from the preceding thirty years in which Aetius had ruled and Valentinian III had reigned. The ‘master of the troops’ is still the virtual ruler of the Empire; and after a short interval Ricimer proves himself the destined successor of Aetius. But the new master of the troops, in the absence of any legitimate representative of the Theodosian house, chews his power more openly: he becomes a king-maker instead of a prime minister, and ushers on and off the stage a rapid succession a puppet emperors. And while Aetius had rested on the support of the Huns, Ricimer uses instead the support of new German tribes. The death of Attila in 453 had been followed by a great struggle between the Huns and the various Germanic tribes whom they had subdued—the Ostrogoths and the Gepidae, the Rugii, the Heruli, and the Sciri. At the battle of Nedâo the Huns had been vanquished, and the German tribes had settled down in the Danubian provinces either as independent powers, or as foederati of the Western Empire. It was from these tribes, and particularly from the RugiiHeruli, and Sciri that the army of the Western Empire was drawn for the last twenty years of its existence. The Rugii were settled to the north of the Danube, in what is now Lower Austria: they appear in the history of the time now as sending troops to Italy (for instance in 458), and now as vexing with their inroads the parts of Noricum which lay immediately south of the river. The Life of St Severinus, one of the most trustworthy and valuable authorities which we possess, describes their depredations, and the activity of the Saint in protecting the harassed provincials. The Sciri had settled after 453 in the north-west corner of modern Hungary; but shattered in a struggle with the Ostrogoths in 469, they had either merged themselves with the Heruli, or passed into Italy to serve under the Roman standards. The Heruli had also settled in Hungary, close to the Sciri: they were a numerous people, and they supplied the bulk of the German mercenaries who served in the legions. Herulian troops were the leaders in the revolt of 476, which overthrew the last emperor; and Odovacar is styled rex Herulorum. It was the steady influx of these tribes which led to their demand for a regular settlement in Italy in 476; and when that settlement took place, it involved the disappearance of the Empire from Italy, and the erection in its place of a barbarian kingdom, similar to the kingdoms established by the Vandals and Visigoths, except that it was a kingdom resting not on one people, but on a number of different if cognate tribes.

Apart from these new factors, the play of forces remains in many ways much the same. The Gallo-Romans still form the loyalist core of the Empire; but the advance of the Visigoths threatens, and finally breaks, their connection with Rome. There is still an intermittent connection with the East; and the policy of Gaiseric still contributes to determine the course of events. It was Gaiseric who, after the catastrophe of 455, first struck at the derelict Empire. The assassination of Valentinian had been followed by the accession of Maximus. The head of the great family of the Anicii, Maximus was the leader of the senatorial and Roman party; and his accession would seem to indicate an attempt by that party to institute a new government, independent at once of the magister militiae at home and of the Eastern Emperor at Constantinople. But it was an age of force; and in such an age such a government had no root. Gaiseric saw his opportunity, and with no Aetius to check his progress, he launched his fleet at Rome. Byzantine tradition ascribes the attack once more to the influence of a woman; Eudoxia, the wife of the murdered Valentinian, whom Maximus had married to support his title, is said to have invited Gaiseric to Rome, as Honoria is said to have invited Attila, in order to gain her revenge. In reality Gaiseric simply came because the riches of Rome were to be had for the coming. As his ships put into the Tiber, the defenceless Maximus fled from the city, and was killed by the mob in his flight, after a brief reign of 70 days. The Vandals entered Rome unopposed, in the month of June. Once more, as in the days of Attila, the Church showed itself the only power which, in the absence of an army, could protect the falling Empire, and at the instance of Pope Leo Gaiseric confined himself to a peaceful sack of the city. For a fortnight the Van­dals plundered at their leisure, secura et libera scrutatione: they stripped the roof of the Temple of Jupiter of its gilded bronze, and laid their hands on the sacred vessels of the Temple, which Titus had brought to Rome nearly four hundred years before. Then they sailed for Africa with their spoils, and with valuable hostages, destined for the future to be pawns in the policy of Gaiseric—Gaudentius the son of Aetius, and Eudoxia the widow of Valentinian, with her two daughters, Eudoxia and Placidia.

The next Emperor, Avitus, came from Gaul. Here Thorismund, the new king of the Visigoths, who had succeeded to his crown on the Mauriac plain, had been killed by his brothers in 453, for pursuing a policy “contrary to Roman peace”. Theodoric II, his successor, owing his succession to a Roman party, was naturally friendly to Rome. He had learned Latin from Avitus, a Gallo-Roman noble, and he showed his Latin sympathies by renewing the old foedus of the Visigoths with Rome, and by sending an army to Spain to repress the Bagaudae in the interest and under the authority of the Empire. Avitus, who had been dispatched to Gaul during the brief reign of Maximus as master of the troops of the diocese, came to Toulouse in the course of his mission, during the summer of 455; and here, on the death of Maximus, he was induced to assume the imperial title. The new Emperor represented an alliance of the Gallo-Roman nobility with the Visigothic kingdom; and the fruits of his accession rapidly appeared, when Theodoric, in the course of 456, acting under an imperial commission, invaded and conquered the Suevic kingdom in Spain, which had shown itself of late inimical to the Empire, and had taken advantage of the troubles of 455 to pursue a policy of expansion into the Roman territory in the north-east of the peninsula.

But Avitus, strong as was his position in Gaul and Spain, failed to conciliate the support of Rome. He was indeed recognised by the Senate, when first he came to Rome, at the end of 455; and he was adopted by the Eastern Emperor, Marcian, as his colleague in the government of the Empire. But difficulties soon arose. One of his first acts had been the dispatch of an embassy to Gaiseric, who seems to have annexed the province of Tripolitana and reoccupied the Mauretanias during the course of 455. Avitus demanded the observance of the treaty of 435, and sent into Sicily an army under Ricimer the Sueve to support his demand, Gaiseric at once replied by launching his fleet against Italy; but Ricimer, in 456, was able to win a considerable victory over the Vandal fleet near Corsica. The victory might seem to consolidate the position of Avitus; but Ricimer determined to use his newly won influence against his master, and he found a body of discontent in Rome to support his plans. Avitus had come to Rome with a body of Gothic troops; but famine had compelled him to dismiss his allies, and in order to provide them with pay before they departed he had been forced to strip the bronze from the roofs of public buildings. In this way he succeeded at once in finally alienating the Romans, who had always disliked an emperor imposed upon them by Gaul, and in leaving himself defenseless; and when Ricimer revolted, and the Senate, in conjunction with Ricimer, passed upon him the sentence of deposition, he was forced to fly to Gaul. Returning with an insufficient army, in the autumn of 456, he was defeated by Ricimer near Piacenza; and his short reign was ended by his compulsory consecration to the office of bishop, and shortly afterwards by his death. It is curious to notice that the two things which seemed most in his favour had proved his undoing. The Gothic invasion of Spain, successful as it was, had left him without the aid of the Gothic king at the critical moment; while Ricimer’s victory over the Vandals had only impelled the victor to attempt the destruction of his master.

Ricimer, now virtual ruler of the West, was a man of pure German blood—the son of a Suevic noble by a Visigothic mother, the sister of Wallia. Magister militum, he is the successor of Stilicho and Aetius; but unlike his predecessors, he has nothing Roman in his composition and little that is Roman in his policy. Stilicho and Aetius had wished to be first in the State, but they had also wished to serve the Theodosian house; Ricimer was a jealous barbarian, erecting puppet after puppet, but unable to tolerate even the rule of his puppets. His power rested nakedly on the sword and the barbarian mercenaries of his race; and one only wonders why he tolerated the survival of an emperor in Italy throughout his life, and did not anticipate Odovacar in making a kingdom of his own instead. It may be that his early training among the Visigoths, and his subsequent service under Aetius, had given him the Roman tincture which Odovacar lacked; in any case his policy towards the Vandals and the Visigoths shows something of a Roman motive.

For some months after the disappearance of Avitus there was an interregnum. Ricimer apparently took no steps to fill the vacancy; and Marcian, the Eastern Emperor, was on his death-bed. At last Leo, who had eventually succeeded to Marcian by the grace of Aspar, the ‘master of the troops’ in the East, elevated Ricimer to the dignity of patricius (457), and named Majorian, who had fought by Ricimer’s side in the struggle of 456, as magister militum in his stead. A few months afterwards the election of the Senate and the consent of the army united to make Majorian emperor. Majorian belonged to an old Roman family with administrative traditions. His grandfather had been magister peditum et equitum on the Danube under Theodosius the Great; his father had been a fiscal officer under Aetius; and under Aetius he had himself served with distinction. If we can trust the evidence of his constitutions and the testimony of Procopius, Majorian has every title to be considered one of the greatest of the later Roman Emperors. Not only is the rescript in which he notifies his accession to the senate full of pledges of good government; he sought in the course of his reign to redeem his pledges, and by strengthening, for instance, the office of defensor civitatis to repeople and reinvigorate the declining municipia of the Empire. The constitution by which he sought to protect the ancient monuments of Rome is in marked contrast with the vandalism to which Avitus had been forced, and bears witness to the conservative and Roman policy which he sought to pursue. In his foreign policy he addressed himself manfully to the problems which faced him in Africa, in Gaul, and in Spain.

His first problem lay naturally in Gaul. The party which had stood for Avitus, and the Visigoths who had been its allies, were both inevitably opposed to the man who had joined in Avitus' deposition; and the reconciliation of Gaul to the new regime was thus of primary importance. After issuing a number of constitutions for the reform of the Empire in the course of 458, Majorian crossed the Alps at the end of the year, with a motley army of RugiansSueves, and Ostrogoths. The Gallo-Roman party received him without a struggle, and the littérateur of the party, Sidonius Apollinaris, pronounced a eulogy on the Emperor at Lyons. With the Visigoths, who had been attacking Arles, there was a short but apparently decisive struggle: Theodoric II was beaten, and renewed his alliance with Rome. It remained for Majorian to regulate the affairs of Spain, and, using it as a base, to equip a fleet in its ports for a final attack on Gaiseric. In 460 he moved into the province. His victory over the Visigoths, themselves in occupation of much of Spain since 457, had made his path easy; and a fleet of 300 vessels, which had long been under preparation, was assembled at the port of Alicante for the expedition against the Vandals. But Gaiseric, aided by treachery, surprised the fleet and captured a number of ships; the projected expedition collapsed, like every expedition against Gaiseric, and Majorian had to acknowledge defeat. He seems to have made a treaty with Gaiseric, recognizing the new acquisitions which Gaiseric had made since 455; but the failure of the expedition proved nevertheless his ruin. Ricimer was jealous of an emperor who showed himself too vigorous; and though Majorian had sought to conciliate him, as the language of his constitutions shows, he had failed to appease his jealousy. When he moved into Italy, in the summer of 461, perhaps to forestall an attack by Ricimer, he only came to meet with defeat and death in a battle near Tortona. With him indeed died the ‘Roman name’, and in his fall the barbarian party triumphed. His reign had been filled by a manly attempt at the renovatio imperii, both by administrative reforms within, and a vigorous policy without; but his reforms had aroused the opposition of a corrupt bureaucracy; his foreign policy had been defeated by the cunning of Gaiseric; and he fell before the jealousy of the barbarian whom he overshadowed.

The death of Majorian advanced the dissolution of the Western Empire a step further. The Visigoths and the Vandals both regarded themselves as absolved from the treaties which they had made with Majorian; and Gaiseric, hating Ricimer as the nephew of Wallia, the destroyer of part of his people, directed his piratical attacks once more against Sicily and Italy. Not only so, but when Ricimer raised to the imperial throne Severus (a puppet-emperor, on the reverse of whose coins he significantly placed his own monogram), two of the provincial governors of the Empire refused him allegiance, and ruled as independent sovereigns within their spheres—Aegidius in central Gaul, and Marcellinus in Dalmatia. Ricimer was almost powerless: he could only attempt an alliance with the Visigoths against Aegidius, and send his petitions to the Eastern Emperor Leo to keep Marcellinus and the Vandals in check. The policy had some success: Aegidius and Theodoric checked each other, until the death of the former in 464; and Marcellinus was induced by the Eastern Emperor to keep the peace. But Gaiseric, though he consented to restore Eudoxia and one of her daughters to Leo, refused to cease from his raids upon Italy, until he had received the inheritances of Aetius and Valentinian III, which he claimed in the name of his captives—Gaudentius, the son of Aetius, and Eudoxia, the elder daughter of Valentinian, now married to his son Huneric. To these claims he soon added another. Placidia, the younger daughter of Valentinian, was married at Constantinople to a Roman senator, Olybrius; and Gaiseric demanded that Olybrius, now the brother-in-law of his own son, and therefore likely to be a friend of the Vandals, should be acknowledged as Emperor of the West. As Attila had demanded the church plate of Sirmium and the hand of Honoria, so Gaiseric now demanded the two inheritances and the succession of Olybrius; and it was to give weight to these demands that he continued to direct his annual raids against Italy.

It is perhaps the positions held by Aegidius and Marcellinus in Gaul and Dalmatia which show most clearly the ruin of the Empire. The flagging brain ceases to control the limbs and members of the State; the Roman scheme of an organized world-community falls into fragments. Marcellinus, one of the young men trained by Aetius, had been promoted to the office of magister militiae in Dalmatia. On the murder of Aetius, he had refused obedience to Valentinian III; but on the succession of Majorian, who was also one of Aetius' men, he resumed his allegiance to the Empire, and was given the task of defending Sicily. The fall of Majorian drove him once more into rebellion, and though he was forced to leave Sicily, owing to the intrigues of Ricimer among his troops, he maintained himself as the independent ruler of Dalmatia. In the great expedition of 468 he joined with the Eastern and Western Emperors as a practically independent sovereign, and though he was assassinated in the course of the expedition, possibly at the instigation of Ricimer, he seems to have left his nephew, Nepos, the future Emperor, to succeed to his position. A pagan, and a friend of philosophers, with whom he held high converse in his Dalmatian palace, Marcellinus stands, alike in his character and in his political position, as one of the most interesting figures of his age. His contemporary, Aegidius, is a man of more ordinary type. A lieutenant of Majorian, he had been created magister militum per Gallias; and on the death of his master, he had assumed an independent position in central Gaul, with the aid of the Salian Franks, who, in revolt against their own king, had, if Gregory of Tours may be trusted, accepted him for their chief. In 463 he had defeated the Visigoths in a battle near Orleans, and put himself into touch with Gaiseric for a combined attack on Italy; but in 464 he died. His power descended to his son Syagrius, who maintained his independence as “Roman King of Soissons” until he was overthrown by Clovis in 486. Parallel in some ways to the position of Marcellinus and Aegidius is the beneficent theocracy which St Severinus established about the same time in Noricum, a masterless province unprotected by Rome, and harassed by the raids of the Rugii from the north of the river. The Saint mediated for his people with the Rugian kings Flaccitheus and his successor Feletheus; he used his influence among the provincials of Noricum to secure the regular payment of tithes for the use of the poor; in famine and flood he helped his flock, and kept the lamp of Christianity alight in a dark land.

The death of the nominal Emperor, Severus, in 465, made little difference in the history of the West. For two years after his death the West had no emperor of its own, and the whole Empire was nominally united under Leo I. Ricimer was content to prolong an interregnum, which left him sole ruler; Gaiseric was still pressing for the succession of Olybrius; and Leo was at once unwilling to create an emperor who was likely to be a vassal of Gaiseric, and anxious to maintain the peace which existed between the Vandals and the Eastern Empire. Accordingly he delayed the creation of a successor to Severus until Gaiseric, in 467, impatient of the delay, delivered an attack on the Peloponnesus. Leo now felt himself free to act: he listened to the prayers of the Roman Senate, and appointed as Emperor Anthemius, a son-in-law of the Emperor Marcian, and a man of large experience, who had held the highest offices of the Eastern Empire. The gift of Anthemius' daughter in marriage was intended to conciliate the support of Ricimer; and East and West, thus united together on a firm basis, were to deliver a final and crushing attack on the Vandals, and to punish Gaiseric for the reign of terror he had exercised in the West ever since 461

In April 467, Anthemius came to Italy, escorted by Count Marcellinus and an army. By 468 a great armada had been collected, to be launched against Carthage. The expenses were enormous: one office supplied 47,000 pounds of gold, another 17,000 pounds of gold and 700,000 pounds of silver; and this vast sum, which seems incredibly large, was furnished partly from the proceeds of confiscations, and partly by the Emperor Anthemius. A triple attack was projected. On the side of the East Basiliscus was to command the armada, and to deliver an attack on Carthage, while Heraclius marched by land through Tripoli to deliver a simultaneous attack on the flank of the Vandals. On the side of the West Marcellinus (conciliated by the Eastern Emperor, who was not unwilling to see Dalmatia in the hands of a ruler practically independent of the West) commanded a force which was destined to operate in Sardinia and Sicily. Once more, however, Gaiseric defeated his foes, as in 442 and 461, and once more treachery, perhaps instigated by the subtle Vandal, proved the ruin of an expedition against Carthage. The Alan Aspar, magister militum per Orientem, frowned on an expedition which might render his master independent of his support; and already dubious of his ascendancy, he seems to have procured the nomination of Basiliscus, an incapable procrastinator, in order to ruin the success of the expedition. Ricimer, generalissimo of the West, was in a very similar position: he feared the success of the expedition, because it might consolidate the power of Anthemius, and he hated with a personal hatred the Count Marcellinus, who commanded the Western forces. The inevitable result followed. Basiliscus was amused by Gaiseric with negotiations, and not unwillingly delayed, until Gaiseric sent fire-ships among his armada, and destroyed the bulk of his ships; while Marcellinus, after recovering Sardinia, was killed in Sicily by an assassin, in whom it is impossible not to suspect an agent of Ricimer. The success gained by Heraclius, who had won Tripoli and was marching on Carthage, was neutralized; the destruction of Basiliscus' fleet and the assassination of Marcellinus involved the complete failure of the expedition. When one remembers that Aspar, Ricimer, and Gaiseric were all Arians, one almost wonders if the whole story does not indicate an Arian conspiracy against the Catholic Empire; but political exigencies are sufficient to explain the issue, and the real fact would appear to be, that the two generalissimos of East and West were content to purchase their own security at the cost of the Empire they served.

Aspar indeed failed in the event to buy security, even at the price he had been willing to pay. In 471 Leo attempted a coup d’état: Aspar fell, and the victorious Emperor, who had already been recruiting Isaurians within his own Empire, in order to counteract and eventually supersede the dangerous influence of the German mercenaries, was able to continue his policy, and thus to preserve the independent existence of the Eastern Empire. With the West it was different. Here there was no substitute for Ricimer and his Germans: here there was no elasticity which would enable the Empire to recover, as it did in the East, from the loss of prestige and of resources involved by the disastrous failure of 468. For a time, indeed, Anthemius, with the support of the Senate which had called him to the throne, and of the Roman party which hated barbarian domination, struggled to make head against Ricimer. The struggle partly turned on the course of events in Gaul. Here Euric, in 466, had assassinated his brother Theodoric II, as Theodoric had before assassinated his brother Thorismund. A vigorous and enterprising king, the most successful of all the Visigothic rulers of Toulouse, Euric immediately began, after the failure of the expedition of 468, to take advantage of the condition of the Western Empire in order to make himself ruler of the whole of Gaul. He may have hoped to gain the aid of the Gallo-Roman nobility, who were by no means friendly to the ascendancy of Ricimer; and there were certainly Roman officials in Gaul, like Arvandus, the Praefectus Praetorio, who lent themselves to his plans. But Anthemius and the Senate saw the danger by which they were threatened. Arvandus was brought to Rome in 469, tried by the Senate, and sentenced to death—a striking instance of the activity which the Senate could still display; and Anthemius attempted to gain the support of the nobility of Gaul, by giving the title of patricius to Ecdicius, the son of Avitus, and the office of praefect of Rome to Sidonius Apollinaris. In spite of these measures, however, he failed to save Gaul from the Visigoths. In 470 Euric took the field, and, defeating a Roman army, gained possession of Arles and other towns as the prize of his victory. Much of Auvergne also fell into his hands, but he failed to take its chief city, Clermont, where the valour of Ecdicius and the exhortations of Sidonius, newly consecrated bishop of the city, inspired a stout resistance. Yet Gaul was none the less really lost; and failure in Gaul meant for Anthemius ruin in Italy. Already in 471 civil war was imminent. Ricimer, seeing his chance, had gathered his forces at Milan, while Anthemius was stationed at Rome. Round the one was collected the army of Teutonic mercenaries; round the other, though he was not popular in Catholic Italy, being reputed to be "Hellenic" and a lover of philosophy, there rallied the officials, the Senate, and the people of Rome. Once more the old struggle of the Roman and barbarian parties was destined to be rehearsed. For a moment the mediation of Epiphanius, the saintly bishop of Pavia, procured (if we may trust the account of his biographer Ennodius) a temporary peace; but in 472 war came. Early in the year Ricimer marched on Rome, and besieged the city with an army, in which the Scirian Odovacar was one of the commanders. For five months the city suffered from siege and from famine. At last an army which had marched from Gaul to the relief of Anthemius, under the command of Ricimer, the master of troops of that province, was defeated by Ricimer, and treachery completed the fall of the beleaguered city. In July Ricimer marched into Rome, now under the heel of a conqueror for the third time in the course of the century; and Anthemius, seeking in vain to save his life by mingling in disguise with the beggars round the door of one of the Roman churches, was detected and beheaded by Ricimer’s nephew, Gundobad. Once more the Empire seemed destroyed: civil war, said Pope Gelasius, had overturned the city and the feeble remnants of the Roman Empire.

The death of Anthemius had already been preceded by the accession of Olybrius, the husband of Valentinian’s daughter, and the relative by marriage of Gaiseric. The circumstances of the accession of Olybrius are obscure. A curious story in a late Byzantine writer makes him appear in Italy during the struggle between Anthemius and Ricimer, with public instructions from Leo to mediate in the struggle, but with a sealed letter to Anthemius, in which it was suggested that the bearer should be instantly executed. The letter is said to have fallen into the hands of Ricimer, who replied by elevating Olybrius to the imperial throne. We can only say that Olybrius came to Italy in the spring of 472, whether sent by Leo, or (as is perhaps more likely) invited by Ricimer, and that he was proclaimed emperor by Ricimer before the fall of Rome and the death of Anthemius. The reign of Olybrius, connected as he was with the old Theodosian house and with the Vandal rulers of Africa, seemed to promise well for the future of the West; but it only lasted for a few months. Short as it was, it saw the death of Ricimer, at the end of August 472, and the elevation in his place of his nephew Gundobad, a Burgundian. But though a nominal successor took his place, the death of Ricimer left a gap that could not be filled. If he was a barbarian, he had yet in his way venerated the Roman name and preserved the tradition of the Roman Empire; he had sought to be emperor-maker rather than King of Italy, and for sixteen years he had kept the Empire alive in the West. Within four years of his death the last shadow of an emperor had disappeared; and a barbarian kingdom had been established in Italy.

Olybrius died at the end of October 472. The throne remained vacant through the winter; and it was not until March of 473 that Gundobad proclaimed Glycerius emperor at Ravenna. But Gundobad soon left Italy, having affairs in Gaul; and Glycerius, deprived of his support, was unable to maintain his position. He succeeded, indeed, in averting one danger, when he induced a body of Ostrogoths, who had entered Italy from the north-east under their king Widimir, to join their kinsmen, the Visigoths of Gaul. His position, however, had never been confirmed by the Eastern Emperor; and at the end of 473 Leo appointed Julius Nepos, the nephew of Marcellinus of Dalmatia, to be emperor in his place. In the spring of 474 Nepos arrived in Italy with an army: Glycerius could offer no resistance; and in the middle of June he was captured at Portus, near the mouth of the Tiber, and forcibly consecrated bishop of Salona in Dalmatia. The accession of Nepos seemed a triumph for the Roman cause, and a defeat for the barbarian party. Once more, as in the days of Anthemius, an emperor ruled at Rome who was the real colleague and ally of the Emperor of Constantinople; and Nepos, unlike Anthemius, had the advantage of having no master of troops at his side. With the aid of the Eastern Empire, and in the absence of any successor to Ricimer, Nepos might possibly hope to secure the permanent triumph of the Roman cause in the West.

But the aid of the Eastern Empire was destined to prove a broken reed, and Ricimer was fated to find his successor. In 475 a revolt, headed by Basiliscus, drove Zeno, who had succeeded to Leo in 474, from Constantinople, and disturbed the East until 477. The West was thus left to its own resources during the crisis of its fate; and taking their opportunity the barbarian mercenaries found themselves new leaders, and under their guidance settled its fate at their will. For the first few months of his reign Nepos was left undisturbed; but even so he was compelled to make a heavy sacrifice, and to buy peace with Euric at the price of the formal surrender of Auvergne, to the great grief of its bishop Sidonius.2 In 475, however, there appeared a new leader of the barbarian mercenaries. This was Orestes, a Roman of Pannonia, who had served Attila as secretary, and had been entrusted by his master with the conduct of negotiations with the Roman Empire. On the death of Attila, he had come to Italy, and having married a daughter of Romulus, an Italian of the rank of comes, who had served under Aetius as ambassador to the Huns, he had had a successful career in the imperial service. He had risen high enough by 475 to be created magister militiae by Nepos; and in virtue both of his official position and of a natural sympathy which his previous career must have inspired he became the leader of the barbarian party. Once at the head of the army he instantly marched upon Rome. Nepos, powerless before his adversary, fled to Ravenna, and unable to maintain himself there, escaped at the end of August 475 to his native Dalmatia, where he survived as an emperor in exile until he was assassinated by his followers in 480. At the end of October Orestes proclaimed as emperor his son, a boy named Romulus after his maternal grandfather, and surnamed (perhaps only in derision, and after his fall) Augustulus. Thus was restored the old régime of the nominal emperor controlled by the military dictator, and for nearly a year this régime continued.

But the barbarian mercenaries—the RugiiSciri, and Heruli—were by no means contented with the old condition of things. Since the fall of Attila, they had emigrated so steadily into Italy from the north-east, that they had become a numerous people; and they desired to find for themselves, in the country of their adoption, what other Germanic tribes had found in Gaul and Spain and Africa—a regular settlement on the soil in the position of hospites. They would no longer be cantoned in barracks in the Roman fashion: they desired to be free farmers settled on the soil after the German manner, ready to attend the levy in time of need for the defence of Italy, but not bound to serve continually in foreign expeditions as a professional army. They accordingly asked of Orestes a third of the soil of Italy: they demanded that every Roman possessor should cede a third of his estate to some German hospes. It appears a modest demand, when one reflects that the Visigoths settled by Constantius in south-western Gaul in 418 had been allowed two-thirds of the soil and its appurtenant cattle and cultivators. But the cession of 418 had been a matter of free grant: the demand of 476 was the demand of a mutinous soldiery. The grant of south-western Gaul had been the grant of one corner of the Empire, made with the design of protecting the rest: the surrender of Italy would mean the surrender of the home and hearth of the Empire. Orestes accordingly rejected the demand of the troops. They replied by creating Odovacar their king, and under his banner they took for themselves what Orestes refused to give.

Odovacar, perhaps a Scirian by birth, and possibly the son of a certain Edeco who had once served with Orestes as one of the envoys of Attila, had passed through Noricum, where St Severinus had predicted his future greatness, and come to Italy somewhere about 470. He had served under Ricimer in 472 against Anthemius; and by 476 he had evidently distinguished himself sufficiently to be readily chosen as their king by the congeries of Germanic tribes which were cantoned in Italy. His action was prompt and decisive. He became king on 23 August: by the 28th Orestes had been captured and beheaded at Piacenza, and on 4 September Paulus, the brother of Orestes, was killed in attempting to defend Ravenna. The Emperor Romulus Augustulus became the captive of the new king, who, however, spared the life of the handsome boy, and sent him to live on a pension in a Campanian villa. While Odovacar was annexing Italy, Euric was spreading his conquests in Gaul; and when he occupied Marseilles, Gaul, like Italy, was lost.

The success of Odovacar did not, however, mean the erection of an absolutely independent Teutonic kingdom in Italy, or the total extinction of the Roman Empire in the West; and it does not therefore indicate the beginning of a new era, in anything like the same sense as the coronation of Charlemagne in 800. It is indeed a new and important fact, that after 476 there was no Western Emperor until the year 800, and it must be admitted that the absence of any separate Emperor of the West vitally affected both the history of the Teutonic tribes and the development of the Papacy, during those three centuries. But the absence of a separate emperor did not mean the abeyance of the Empire itself in the West. The Empire had always been, and always continued in theory to be, one and indivisible. There might be two representatives at the head of the imperial scheme; but the disappearance of one of the two did not mean the disappearance of half of the scheme; it only meant that for the future one representative would stand at the head of the whole scheme, arid that this scheme would be represented somewhat less effectively in that part of the Empire which had now lost its separate head. The scheme itself continued in the West, and its continued existence was acknowledged by Odovacar himself. Zeno now became the one ruler of the Empire; and to him Odovacar sent the imperial insignia of Romulus Augustulus, while he demanded in return the traditional title of patricius, to legalize his position in the imperial order. The old Roman administration persisted in Italy: there was still a Praefectus Praetorio Italiae; and the Roman Senate still nominated a consul for the West. Odovacar is thus not so much an independent German king, as a second Ricimer—a patricius, holding the reins of power in his own hands, but acknowledging a nominal emperor, with the one difference that the emperor is now the ruler of the East, and not a puppet living at Rome or Ravenna. Yet after all Odovacar bore the title of rex: he had been lifted to power on the shields of German warriors. De facto, he ruled in Italy as its king; and while his legal position looks backwards to Ricimer, we cannot but admit that his actual position looks forward to Alboin and the later Lombard kings. He is a Janus-like figure; and while we remember that he looks towards the past, we must not forget that he also faces the future. We may insist that the Empire remained in the West after 476; we must also insist that every vestige of a Western Emperor had passed away. We may speak of Odovacar as patricius; we must also allow that he spoke of himself as rex. He is of the fellowship of Euric and Gaiseric; and when we remember that these three were ruling in Gaul and Africa and Italy in 476, we shall not quarrel greatly with the words of Count Marcellinus: Hesperium Romanae gentis imperium . . cum hoc Augustulo periit .. . Gothorum dehinc regibus Romam tenentibus.