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Amalasuentha
Anastasius
Belisarius
Boethius
Civilitas
Heodoric's Tomb
Introduction
Italy Under Odovacar
Narses
Roman Officials--cassiodorus
Rome And Ravenna
Storm And Stress
The Arian League
The Conquest Of Italy
The Might Of Attila
The Southward Migration
The Theodoric Of Saga
Theodoric's Ancestors
Theodoric's Boyhood
Totila



Anastasius








Anastasius, the Eastern Emperor--His character--His disputes with his
subjects--Theodoric and the king of the Gepidse--War of Sinnium and its
consequences--Raid on the coast of Italy--Reconciliation between the
courts of Ravenna and Constantinople--Anastasius confers on Clovis the
title of Consul--Clovis removes many of his rivals--Death of
Clovis--Death of Anastasius.


In order to complete our survey of the foreign policy of the great
Ostrogoth, we must now consider the relations which existed between him
and the majestic personage who, though he had probably never set foot in
Italy, was yet always known in the common speech of men as The Roman
Emperor. It has been already said that Zeno, the sovereign who bore
this title when Theodoric started for Italy, died before his final
victory, and that it was his successor, Anastasius, with whom the
tedious negotiations were conducted which ended (497) in a recognition,
perhaps a somewhat grudging recognition, by the Emperor of the right of
the Ostrogothic king to rule in Italy.

Anastasius, who was Theodoric's contemporary during twenty-five years of
his reign, was already past sixty when the widowed Empress Ariadne chose
him for her husband and her Emperor, and he had attained the age of
eighty-eight when his harassed life came to a close. A man of tall
stature and noble presence, a wise administrator of the finances of the
Empire, and therefore one who both lightened taxation and accumulated
treasure, a sovereign who chose his servants well and brought his only
considerable war, that with Persia, to a successful issue, Anastasius
would seem to be an Emperor of whom both his own subjects and posterity
should speak favourably. Unfortunately, however, for his fame he became
entangled in that most wearisome of theological debates, which is known
as the Monophysite controversy. In this controversy he took an unpopular
side; he became embroiled with the Roman Pontiff, and estranged from his
own Patriarch of Constantinople. Opposition and the weariness of age
soured a naturally sweet temper, and he was guilty of some harsh
proceedings towards his ecclesiastical opponents. Even worse than his
harshness (which did not, even on the representations of his enemies,
amount to cruelty) was a certain want of absolute truthfulness, which
made it difficult for a beaten foe to trust his promises of forgiveness,
and thus caused the fire of civil discord, once kindled, to smoulder on
almost interminably. The religious party to which he belonged had
probably the majority of the aristocracy of Constantinople on its side,
but the mob and the monks were generally against Anastasius, and some
scenes very humiliating to the Imperial dignity were the consequence of
this antagonism.

(511) Once, when he had resolved on the deposition of the orthodox
Patriarch of Constantinople, Macedonius, so great a tempest of popular
and theological fury raged through the city, that he ordered the great
gates of his palace to be barred and the ships to be made ready at what
is now called Seraglio Point, intending to seek safety in flight. A
humiliating reconciliation with the Patriarch, the order for whose
banishment he rescinded, saved him from this necessity. The citizens and
the soldiers poured through the streets shouting triumphantly: Our
father is yet with us! and the storm for the time abated. But the
Emperor had only appeared to yield, and some months later he stealthily
but successfully carried into effect his design for the banishment of
Macedonius. Again, the next year, a religious faction-fight disgraced
the capital of the Empire.

(511) The addition of the words Who wast crucified for us to the
chorus of the Te Deum, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, goaded the
orthodox but fanatical mob to madness. For three days such scenes as
London saw during Lord George Gordon's No Popery riots were enacted in
the streets of Constantinople. The palaces of the heterodox ministers
were burned, their deaths were eagerly demanded, the head of a monk,
who was supposed to be responsible for the heretical addition to the
hymn, was carried round the city on a pole, while the murderers shouted:
Behold the head of an enemy to the Trinity! Then the statues of the
Emperor were thrown down, an act of insurrection which corresponded to
the building of barricades in the revolutions of Paris, and loud voices
began to call for the proclamation of a popular general as Augustus.
Anastasius this time dreamed not of flight, but took his seat in the
podium[104] at the Hippodrome, the great place of public meeting for
the citizens of Constantinople. Thither, too, streamed the excited mob,
fresh from their work of murder and pillage, shouting with hoarse voices
the line of the Te Deum in its orthodox form. A suppliant, without his
diadem, without his purple robe, the white-haired Anastasius, eighty-two
years of age, sat meekly on his throne, and bade the criers declare that
he was ready to lay down the burden of the Empire if the citizens would
decide who should assume it in his stead. The humiliation was accepted,
the clamorous mob were not really of one mind as to the election of a
successor, and Anastasius was permitted still to reign and to reassume
the diadem, which has not often encircled a wearier or more uneasy head.

Such an Emperor as this, at war with a large part of his subjects, and
suspected of heresy by the great body of the Catholic clergy, was a much
less formidable opponent for Theodoric than the young and warlike
Clovis, with his rude energy, and his unquestioning if somewhat
truculent orthodoxy. Moreover, at this time, independently of these
special causes of strife, there was a chronic schism between the see of
Rome and the see of Constantinople (precursor of that great schism
which, three centuries later, finally divided the Eastern and Western
Churches), and this schism, though it did not as yet lead to the actual
excommunication of Anastasius,[105] caused him to be looked upon with
coldness and suspicion by the successive Popes of Rome, and made the
rule of Theodoric, avowed Arian as he was, but anxious to hold the
balance evenly between rival churches, far more acceptable at the
Lateran than that of the schismatic partisan Anastasius.

For some years after the embassy of Festus (497) and the consequent
recognition of Theodoric by the Emperor, there appears to have been
peace, if no great cordiality, between the courts of Ravenna and
Constantinople. But a war in which Theodoric found himself engaged with
the Gepidae (504), taking him back as it did into his old unwelcome
nearness to the Danube, led to the actual outbreak of hostilities
between the two States, hostilities, however, which were but of short
duration.

The great city of Sirmium on the Save, the ruins of which may still be
seen about eighty miles west of Belgrade, had once belonged to the
Western Empire and had been rightly looked upon as one of the bulwarks
of Italy. To anyone who studies the configuration of the great Alpine
chain, which parts off the Italian peninsula from the rest of Europe, it
will be manifest that it is in the north-east that that mountain barrier
is the weakest. The Maritime, Pennine, and Cottian Alps, which soar
above the plains of Piedmont and Western Lombardy, afford scarcely any
passes below the snow-line practicable for an invading army. Great
generals, like Hannibal and Napoleon, have indeed crossed them, but the
pride which they have taken in the achievement is the best proof of its
difficulty. Modern engineering science has carried its zig-zag roads up
to their high crests, has thrown its bridges across their ravines, has
defended the traveller by its massive galleries from their avalanches,
and in these later days has even bored its tunnels for miles through the
heart of the mountains; but all these are works done obviously in
defiance of Nature, and if Europe relapsed into a state of barbarism,
the eternal snow and the eternal silence would soon reassert their
supremacy over the frail handiwork of man. Quite different from this is
the aspect of the mountains on the north-eastern border of Italy. The
countries which we now call Venetia and Istria are parted from their
northern neighbours by ranges (chiefly that known as the Julian Alps)
which are indeed of bold and striking outline, but which are not what we
generally understand by Alpine in their character, and which often do
not rise to a greater elevation than four thousand feet. Therefore it
was from this quarter of the horizon, from the Pannonian (or in modern
language, Austrian) countries bordering on the Middle Danube, that all
the greatest invaders in the fifth and sixth centuries, Alaric, Attila,
Alboin, bore down upon Italy. And for this reason it was truly said by
an orator[106] who was recounting the praises of Theodoric in connection
with this war: The city of the Sirmians was of old the frontier of
Italy, upon which Emperors and Senators kept watch, lest from thence the
stored up fury of the neighbouring nations should pour over the Roman
Commonwealth.

This city of Sirmium, however, and the surrounding territory had now
been for many years divorced from Italy. In Theodoric's boyhood it is
possible that his own barbarian countrymen, occupying as they did the
province of Pannonia, lorded it in the streets of Sirmium, which was
properly a Pannonian city. Since the Ostrogoths evacuated the province
(473), the Gepidae, as we have seen, had entered it, and it was a king of
the Gepidae, Traustila, who sought to bar Theodoric's march into Italy,
and who sustained at the hands of the Ostrogothic king the crushing
defeat by the Hiulca Palus (488). Traustila's son, Trasaric, had asked
for Theodoric's help against a rival claimant to the throne, and had,
perhaps, promised to hand over possession of Sirmium in return for that
assistance. Theodoric, who, as king of the Hesperian realm, felt that
it was a point of honour to recover possession of the frontier city of
Italy, gave the desired help, but failed to receive the promised
recompense. When Trasaric's breach of faith was manifest, Theodoric sent
an army (504) composed of the flower of the Gothic youth, commanded by a
general named Pitzias, into the valley of the Save. The Gepidaae, though
reinforced by some of the Bulgarians (who about thirty years before this
time had made their first appearance in the country which now bears
their name), were completely defeated by Pitzias. Trasaric's mother, the
widow of Theodoric's old enemy, Traustila, fell into the hands of the
invaders; Trasaric was expelled from that corner of Pannonia, and
Sirmium, still apparently a great and even opulent city, notwithstanding
the ravages of the barbarians, submitted, probably with joy, to the rule
of Theodoric, under which she felt herself once more united to the Roman
Commonwealth.

We have still (in the Various Letters of Cassiodorus) two letters
relating to this annexation of Sirmium. In the first, addressed to Count
Colossaeus, that Illustrious official is informed that he is appointed
to the governorship of Pannonia Sirmiensis, a former habitation of the
Goths. This province is now to extend a welcome to her old Roman lords,
even as she gladly obeyed her Ostrogothic rulers. Surrounded by the wild
anarchy of the barbarous nations, the new governor is to exhibit the
justice of the Goths, a nation so happily situated in the midst of
praise, that they could accept the wisdom of the Romans and yet hold
fast the valour of the barbarians. He is to shield the poor from
oppression, and his highest merit will be to establish in the hearts of
the inhabitants of the land the love of peace and order.

To the barbarians and Romans settled in Pannonia the secretary of
Theodoric writes, informing them that he has appointed as their governor
a man mighty in name (Colossaeus) and mighty in deeds. They must refrain
from acts of violence and from redressing their supposed wrongs by main
force. Having got an upright judge, they must use him as the arbiter of
their differences. What is the use to man of his tongue, if his armed
hand is to settle his cause, or how can peace be maintained if men take
to fighting in a civilised State? They are therefore to imitate the
example of our Goths, who do not shrink from battles abroad, but who
have learned to exhibit peaceable moderation at home.

The recovery of Sirmium from the Gepidae, though doubtless the subject of
congratulation in Italy, was viewed with much displeasure at
Constantinople. Whether the part of Pannonia in which it was included
belonged in strictness to the Eastern or Western Empire, is a question
that has been a good deal discussed and upon which we have perhaps not
sufficient materials for coming to a conclusion. The boundary line
between East and West had undoubtedly fluctuated a good deal in the
fourth and fifth centuries, and the fact that there were not, as viewed
by a Roman statesman, two Empires at all, but only one great
World-Empire, which for the sake of convenience was administered by two
Emperors, one dwelling at Ravenna or Milan and the other at
Constantinople, was probably the reason why that boundary was not
defined as strictly as it would have been between two independent
kingdoms. Moreover, through the greater part of the fifth century, when
Huns and Ostrogoths, Rugians and Gepidae were roaming over these
countries of the Middle Danube, any claim of either the Eastern or
Western Emperor to rule in these lands must have been so purely
theoretical that it probably seemed hardly worth while to spend time in
defining it. But now that the actual ruler of Italy, and that ruler a
strong and capable barbarian like Theodoric, was holding the great city
of Sirmium, and was sending his governors to civilise and subdue the
inhabitants of what is now called the Austrian Military Frontier, the
Emperor who reigned at Constantinople was not unlikely to find his
neighbourhood unpleasant.

It was doubtless in consequence of the jealousy, arising from the
conquest of Sirmium, that war soon broke out between the two powers.
Upper Moesia (in modern geography Servia) was undoubtedly part of the
Eastern Empire, yet it is there that we next find the Gothic troops
engaged in war. (505) Mundo, the Hun, a descendant of Attila, was in
league with Theodoric, but at enmity with the Empire, and was wandering
with a band of freebooters through the half desolate lands south of the
Danube. Sabinian, the son of the general of the same name, who
twenty-six years before had fought with Theodoric in Macedonia, was
ordered by Anastasius to exterminate this disorderly Hun. With 10,000
men (among whom there were some Bulgarian foederati), and with a long
train of waggons containing great store of provisions, he marched from
the Balkans down the valley of the Morava. Mundo, in despair and already
thinking of surrender, called on his Ostrogothic ally for aid, and
Pitzias, marching rapidly with an army of 2,500 young and warlike Goths
(2,000 infantry and 500 cavalry), reached Horrea Margi,[107] the place
where Mundo was besieged, in time to prevent his surrender.
Notwithstanding the enthusiasm of the Gothic troops, the battle was most
stubbornly contested, especially by the fierce Bulgarians, but in the
end Pitzias obtained a complete victory. We may state this fact with
confidence, as it is recorded in the chronicles of an official of the
Eastern Empire.[108] He says of Sabinian: Having joined battle at
Horrea Margi, and many of his soldiers having been slain in this
conflict and drowned in the river Margus (Morava), having also lost
all his wagons, he fled with a few followers to the fortress which is
called Nato. In this lamentable war so promising an army fell, that,
speaking after the manner of men, its loss could never be repaired.

Without any general campaign, the quarrel between the Goths and the
Empire seems to have smouldered on for three years longer. In his
chronicle for the year 508, the same Byzantine official who has just
been quoted, says very honestly: Romanus Count of the Domestics and
Rusticus Count of the Scholarii,[109] with 100 armed ships and as many
cutters, carrying 8,000 soldiers, went forth to ravage the shores of
Italy, and proceeded as far as the most ancient city of Tarentum. Having
recrossed the sea they reported to Anastasius Caesar this inglorious
victory, which in piratical fashion Romans had snatched from their
fellow-Romans.

These words of the chronicler show to what extent Theodoric's kingdom
was looked upon as still forming part of the Roman Empire, and they also
point to the difficulty of the position of Anastasius, who, whatever
might be his cause of quarrel with Theodoric, could only enforce his
complaints against him by resorting to acts which in the eyes of his
subjects wore the unholy appearance of a civil war.

Though we are not precisely informed when or how hostilities were
brought to a close, it seems probable that soon after this raid, about
the year 509, peace, unbroken for the rest of Theodoric's reign, was
re-established between Ravenna and Byzantium. The Epistle which stands
in the forefront of the Various Letters of Cassiodorus was probably
written on this occasion.

Most clement Emperor, says Theodoric, or rather Cassiodorus speaking
in his name, there ought to be peace between us since there is no real
occasion for animosity. Every kingdom should desire tranquillity, since
under it the people flourish and the common good is secured.
Tranquillity is the comely mother of all useful arts; she multiplies the
race of men as they perish and are renewed; she expands our powers, she
softens our manners, and he who is a stranger to her sway grows up in
ignorance of all these blessings. Therefore, most pious Prince, it
redounds to your glory that we should now seek harmony with your
government, as we have ever felt love for your person. For you are the
fairest ornament of all realms, the safeguard and defence of the world;
to whom all other rulers rightly look up with reverence, inasmuch as
they recognise that there is in you something which exists nowhere else.
But we pre-eminently thus regard you, since by Divine help it was in
your Republic that we learned the art of ruling the Romans with justice.
Our kingdom is an imitation of yours, which is the mould of all good
purposes, the only model of Empire, Just in so far as we follow you do
we surpass all other nations.

You have often exhorted me to love the Senate, to accept cordially the
legislation of the Emperors, to weld together all the members of Italy.
Then, if you wish thus to form my character by your counsels, how can
you exclude me from your august peace? I may plead, too, affection for
the venerable city of Rome, from which none can separate themselves who
prize that unity which belongs to the Roman name.

We have therefore thought fit to direct the two Ambassadors who are the
bearers of this letter to visit your most Serene Piety, that the
transparency of peace between us, which from various causes hath been of
late somewhat clouded, may be restored to-its former brightness by the
removal of all contentions. For we think that you, like ourselves,
cannot endure that any trace of discord should remain between two
Republics which, under the older Princes, ever formed but one body, and
which ought not merely to be joined together by a languid sentiment of
affection, but strenuously to help one another with their mutually
imparted strength. Let there be always one will, one thought in the
Roman kingdom. ... Wherefore, proffering the honourable expression of
our salutation, we beg with humble mind that you will not even for a
time withdraw from us the most glorious charity of your Mildness, which
I should have a right to hope for even if it were not granted to others.
(The change from We to I, which here occurs in the original, is
puzzling.)

Other matters we have left to be suggested to your Piety verbally by
the bearers of this letter, that on the one hand this epistolary speech
of ours may not become too prolix, and on the other that nothing may be
omitted which would tend to our common advantage.

The letter which I have attempted thus to bring before the reader is one
which almost defies accurate translation. It is an exceedingly
diplomatic document, full of courtesy, yet committing the writer to
nothing definite. The very badness of his style enables Cassiodorus to
envelop his meaning in a cloud of words from which the Quaestor of
Anastasius perhaps found it as hard to extract a definite meaning then,
as a perplexed translator finds it hard to render it into intelligible
English now. It is certainly difficult to acquit Cassiodorus of the
charge of a deficient sense of humour, when we find him putting into the
mouth of his master, who had so often marched up and down through
Thrace, ravaging and burning, these solemn praises of Tranquillity.
And when we read the fulsome flattery which is lavished on Anastasius,
the almost obsequious humbleness with which the great Ostrogoth, who was
certainly the stronger monarch of the two, prays for a renewal of his
friendship, we may perhaps suspect either that the illiteratus Rex did
not comprehend the full meaning of the document to which he attached his
signature, or that Cassiodorus himself, in his later years, when, after
the death of his master, he republished his Various Letters, somewhat
modified their diction so as to make them more Roman, more diplomatic,
more slavishly subservient to the Emperor, than Theodoric himself would
ever have permitted.

One other act of this Emperor must be noticed, as illustrating the
subject of the last chapter. When Clovis returned in triumph from the
Visigothic war (508) he found messengers awaiting him from Anastasius,
who brought to him some documents from the Imperial chancery which are
somewhat obscurely described as Codicils of the Consulship. Then, in
the church of St. Martin at Tours he was robed in a purple tunic and
chlamys, and placed apparently on his own head some semblance of the
Imperial diadem. At the porch of the basilica he mounted his horse and
rode slowly through the streets of the city to the other chief church,
scattering largesse of gold and silver to the shouting multitude. From
that day, we are told, he was saluted as Consul and Augustus.

The name of Clovis does not, like that of Theodoric, appear in the
Fasti of Imperial Rome, and what the precise nature of the consulship
conferred by the codicils may have been, it is not easy to
discover.[110] But there is no doubt that the authority which Clovis up
to this time had exercised by the mere right of the stronger, over great
part of Gaul, was confirmed and legitimised by this spontaneous act of
the Augustus at Constantinople, nor that this eager recognition of the
royalty of the slayer of Alaric was meant in some degree as a
demonstration of hostility against Alaric's father-in-law, with whom
Anastasius had not then been reconciled.

The coalition of Eastern Emperor and Frankish King boded no good to
Italy. Perhaps could the eye of Anastasius have pierced through the
mists of seven future centuries, could he have foreseen the insults, the
extortions, the cruelties which a Roman Emperor at Constantinople was to
endure at the hands of Frankish invaders,[111] he would not have been
so eager in his worship of the new sun which was rising over Gaul from
out of the marshes of the Scheldt.

The remainder of the life of Clovis seems to have been chiefly spent in
removing the royal competitors who were obstacles to his undisputed sway
over the Franks. Doubtless these were kings of a poor and barbarous
type, with narrower and less statesmanlike views than those of the
founder of the Merovingian dynasty; but the means employed to remove
them were hardly such as we should have expected from the eldest Son of
the Church, from him who had worn the white robe of a catechumen in the
baptistery at Rheims. His most formidable competitor was Sigebert, king
of the Ripuarian Franks, that is the Franks dwelling on both banks of
the Rhine between Maintz and Koln, in the forest of the Ardennes and
along the valley of the Moselle. But Sigebert, who had sent a body of
warriors to help the Salian king in his war against the Visigoths, was
now growing old, and among these barbarous peoples age and bodily
infirmity were often considered as to some extent disqualifications for
kingship. Clovis accordingly sent messengers to Cloderic, the son of
Sigebert, saying: Behold thy father has grown old and is lame on his
feet. If he were to die, his kingdom should be thine and we would be thy
friends. Cloderic yielded to the temptation, and when his father went
forth from Koln on a hunting expedition in the beech-forests of Hesse,
assassins employed by Cloderic stole upon him in his tent, as he was
taking his noon-tide slumber, and slew him. The deed being done,
Cloderic sent messengers to Clovis saying: My father is dead and his
treasures are mine. Send me thy messengers to whom I may confide such
portion of the treasure as thou mayest desire. Thanks, said Clovis,
I will send my messengers, and do thou show them all that thou hast,
yet thou thyself shalt still possess all. When the messengers of
Clovis arrived at the palace of the Ripuanan, Cloderic showed them all
the royal hoard. And here, said he, pointing to a chest, my father
used to keep his gold coins of the Empire. (In hanc arcellolam solitus
erat pater meus numismata auri congerere.) Plunge thy hand in, said
the messenger, and search them down to the very bottom. The King
stooped low to plunge his hand into the coins, and while he stooped the
messenger lifted high his battle-axe and clove his skull. Thus, says
the pious Gregory, who tells the story, did the unworthy son fall into
the pit which he had digged for his own father.

When Clovis heard that both father and son were slain, he came to the
same place (probably Colonia) where all these things had come to pass
and called together a great assembly of the Ripuarian people. Hear, he
said, what hath happened. While I was quietly sailing down the Scheldt,
Cloderic, my cousin's son, practised against his father's life, giving
forth that I wished him slain, and when he was fleeing through the
beech-forests he sent robbers against him, by whom he was murdered. Then
Cloderic himself, when he was displaying his treasures, was slain by
some one, I know not whom. But in all these things I am free from blame.
For I cannot shed the blood of my relations: that were an unholy thing
to do. But since these events have so happened, I offer you my advice if
it seem good to you to accept it. Turn you to me that you may be under
my defence. Then they, when they heard these things, shouted approval
and clashed their spears upon their shields in sign of assent, and
raising Clovis on a buckler proclaimed him their king. And he receiving
the kingdom and the treasures of Sigebert added the Ripuanans to the
number of his subjects. For, concludes Gregory, Bishop of Tours, to
whom we owe the story of this enlargement of the dominions of his hero,
God was daily laying low the enemies of Clovis under his hand and
increasing his kingdom, because he walked before him with a right heart
and did those things which were pleasing in his eyes.

This ideal champion of orthodoxy in the sixth century then proceeded to
clear the ground of the little Salian kings, his nearer relatives and
perhaps more dangerous competitors. Chararic had failed to help him in
his early days against Syagrius. He was deposed: the long hair of the
Merovingians was shorn away from his head and from his son's head, and
they were consecrated as priest and deacon in the Catholic Church.
Chararic wept and wailed over his humiliation, but his son, to cheer
him, said, alluding to the loss of their locks: The wood is green, and
the leaves may yet grow again. Would that he might quickly perish who
has done these things! The words were reported to Clovis, who ordered
both father and son to be put to death, and added their hoards to his
treasure, their warriors to his host.

Chararic had not gone forth to the battle against Syagrius, but
Ragnachar of Cambray had given Clovis effectual help in that crisis of
his early fortunes. However Ragnachar, by his dissolute life and his
preposterous fondness for an evil counsellor named Farro, had given
great offence to the proud Franks, his subjects. Just as James I. said
of the forfeited estates of Raleigh: I maun hae the land, I maun hae it
for Carr, so Ragnachar said whenever anyone offered him a present, or
whenever a choice dish was brought to table: This will do for me and
Farro. Clovis learned and fomented the secret discontent. He sent to
the disaffected nobles amulets and baldrics of copper-gilt--which they
in their simplicity took for gold,--inviting them to betray their
master. The secret bargain being struck, Clovis then moved his army
towards Cambray. The anxious Ragnachar sent scouts to discover the
strength of the advancing host. How many are they? said he on their
return. Quite enough for thee and Farro, was the discouraging and
taunting reply: and in fact the soldiers of Ragnachar seem to have been
beaten as soon as the battle was set in array. With his hands bound
behind his back, Ragnachar and his brother Richiar were brought into the
presence of Clovis. Shame on thee, said the indignant king, for
humiliating our race by suffering thy hands to be bound. It had been
better for thee to die--thus, and the great battle-axe descended on his
head. Then turning to Richiar, he said: If thou hadst helped thy
brother, he would not have been bound; and his skull too was cloven
with the battle-axe. Before many days the traitorous chiefs discovered
the base metal in the ornaments which had purchased their treason, and
complained of the fraud. Good enough gold, said Clovis, for men who
were willing to betray their lord to death; and the traitors, trembling
for their lives under his frown and fierce rebuke, were glad to leave
the matter undiscussed.

Thus in all his arguments with the weaker creatures around him the
Frankish king was always right. It was always they, not he, who had
befouled the stream. In this, shall I say, shameless plausibility of
wrong, the founder of the Frankish monarchy was a worthy prototype of
Louis XIV. and of Napoleon.

Having slain these and many other kings, and extended his dominions over
the whole of Gaul, he once, in an assembly of his nobles, lamented his
solitary estate. Alas, I am but a stranger and a pilgrim, and have no
kith or kin who could help me if adversity came upon me. But this he
said, not in real grief for their death, but in guile, in order that if
there were any forgotten relative lurking anywhere he might come forth
and be killed. None, however, was found to answer to the
invitation.[112]

[Footnote 112: We are reminded of the well-known story of Marshal
Narvaez on his death-bed. My son, said the confessor, it is necessary
that you should with all your heart grant forgiveness to your enemies.
Ah, that is easy, said the dying man, I have shot them all.]

Like all his family, Clovis was short-lived, though not so conspicuously
short-lived as many of his descendants. He died at forty-five, in the
year 511, five years after the battle of the Campus Vogladensis. He was
buried (511) in the Church of the Holy Apostles at Paris, and his
kingdom, consolidated with so much labor and at the price of so many
crimes, was partitioned among his four sons. The aged Emperor
Anastasius survived his Frankish ally seven years, and died in the
eighty-ninth year of his age, 8th July, 518. His death was sudden, and
some later writers averred that it was caused by a thunderstorm, of
which he had always had a peculiar and superstitious fear. Others
declared that he was inadvertently buried alive, that he was heard to
cry out in his coffin, and that when it was opened some days after, he
was found to have gnawed his arm. But these facts are not known to
earlier and more authentic historians, and the invention of them seems
to be only a rhetorical way of putting the fact that he died at enmity
with the Holy See.





Next: Rome And Ravenna

Previous: The Arian League



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