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 o
r 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


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


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


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


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


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


[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.