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The Great Empires of Prophecy, from Babylon to the Fall of Rome

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    Radagaisus Invades Italy—Final Settlement of the Burgundians—Final Settlement of the Suevi—The Vandals Enter Africa—The Roman Armies Defeated—Carthage Captured

    THE wide-extended name of Suevi filled the interior countries of Germany, from the banks of the Oder too those of the Danube. They were distinguished from the other Germans by their peculiar mode of dressing their long hair, which they gathered into a rude knot on the crown of the head; and they delighted in an ornament that showed their ranks more lofty and terrible in the eyes of the enemy. Jealous as the Germans were of military renown, they all confessed the superior valor of the Suevi.” 1[Page 608] Chap. 10, par. 25.GEP 608.1

    2. “The numerous tribes of the Vandals were spread along the banks of the Oder and the seacoast of Pomerania and Mecklenburgh.” 2[Page 608] Chap. 10, par. 8. “The home of the Vandals, when we first meet with them in history, appears to correspond with the central and eastern part of Prussia.... As the Roman Empire grew weaker, the Vandals pressed southward, and eventually gave their name (Vandalici Montes) to the Riesen-Gebirge (Giant Mountains) between Silesia and Bohemia. They were conspicuous even among the chaste Teutonic warriors for their chastity.”—Hodgkin. 3[Page 608] “Italy and Her Invaders.” book iii, chap 2, pars. 5, 6.GEP 608.2

    3. “About the middle of the fourth century, the countries, perhaps of Lusace and Thuringia, on either side of the Elbe, were occupied by the vague dominion of the Burgundians; a warlike and numerous people of the Vandal race, whose obscure name insensibly swelled into a powerful kingdom, and has finally settled on a flourishing province.GEP 608.3

    4. “In the year A. D. 405 the haughty Rhodogast, or Radagaisus, marched from the northern extremities of Germany almost to the gates of Rome, and left the remains of his army to achieve the destruction of the West. The Vandals, the Suevi, and the Burgundians formed the strength of this mighty host; but the Alani, who had found a hospitable reception in their new seats, added their active cavalry to the heavy infantry of the Germans, and the Gothic adventurers crowded so eagerly to the standard of Radagaisus, that, by some historians, he has been styled the king of the Goths. Twelve thousand warriors, distinguished above the vulgar by their noble birth or their valiant deeds, glittered in the van; and the whole multitude, which was not less than two hundred thousand fighting men, might be increased, by the accession of women, of children, and of slaves, to the amount of four hundred thousand persons. This formidable emigration issued from the same coast of the Baltic which had poured forth the myriads of the Cimbri and the Teutons, to assault Rome and Italy in the vigor of the republic.” 4[Page 609] Chap. 25, par. 20. The Alani here mentioned, were a part of that nation who had dwelt between the Volga and the Don, and when the Huns swept over their country in A. D. 375, these escaped and “advanced with intrepid courage toward the stores of the Baltic, associated themselves with the northern tribes of Germany, and shared the spoil of the Roman provinces of Gaul and Spain.”—Decline and Fall.” chap 26, par. 11.GEP 608.4

    5. “The king of the confederate Germans, passed, without resistance, the Alps, the Po, and the Apennines, leaving on one hand the inaccessible palace of Honorius, securely buried among the marshes of Ravenna; and on the other the camp of Stilicho, who had fixed his headquarters at Ticinum or Pavia, but who seems to have avoided a decisive battle till he had assembled his distant forces. Many cities of Italy were pillaged or destroyed; and the siege of Florence, by Radagaisus, is one of the earliest events in the history of that celebrated republic, whose firmness checked and delayed the unskilful fury of the barbarians.GEP 609.1

    6. “Florence was reduced to the last extremity; and the fainting courage of the citizens was supported only by the authority of St. Ambrose, who had communicated, in a dream, the promise of a speedy deliverance. On a sudden they beheld, from their walls, the banners of Stilicho, who advanced with his united force to the relief of the faithful city, and who soon marked that fatal spot for the grave of the barbarian host [A. D. 406.] ... The method of surrounding the enemy with strong lines of circumvallation, which he had twice employed against the Gothic king, was repeated on a larger scale and with more considerable effect....GEP 609.2

    7. “The imprisoned multitude of horses and men was gradually destroyed by famine, rather than by the sword; but the Romans were exposed, during the progress of such an extensive work, to the frequent attacks of an impatient enemy.... A seasonable supply of men and provisions had been introduced into the walls of Florence; and the famished host of Radagaisus was in its turn besieged. The proud monarch of so many warlike nations, after the loss of his bravest warriors, was reduced to confide either in the faith of a capitulation, or in the clemency of Stilicho. But the death of the royal captive, who was ignominiously beheaded, disgraced the triumph of Rome and of Christianity; and the short delay of his execution was sufficient to brand the conqueror with the guilt of cool and deliberate cruelty.GEP 610.1

    8. “After the defeat of Radagaisus, two parts of the German host, which must have exceeded the number of one hundred thousand men, still remained in arms between the Apennines and the Alps, or between the Alps and the Danube. It is uncertain whether they attempted to revenge the death of their general; but their irregular fury was soon diverted by the prudence and firmness of Stilicho, who opposed their march and facilitated their retreat; who considered the safety of Rome and Italy as the great object of his care; and who sacrificed, with too much indifference, the wealth and tranquillity of the distant provinces. The barbarians acquired, from the junction of some Pannonian deserters, the knowledge of the country, and of the roads; and the invasion of Gaul, which Alaric had designed, was executed [A. D. 406, Dec. 31] by the remains of the great army of Radagaisus.GEP 610.2

    9. “The victorious confederates pursued their march, and on the last day of the year [406], in a season when the waters of the Rhine were most probably frozen, they entered, without opposition, the defenseless provinces of Gaul. This memorable passage of the Suevi, the Vandals, the Alani, and the Burgundians, who never afterward retreated, may be considered as the fall of the Roman Empire in the countries beyond the Alps; and the barriers which had so long separated the savage and the civilized nations of the earth, were from that fatal moment leveled with the ground.”GEP 610.3

    10. “While the peace of Germany was secured by the attachment of the Franks and the neutrality of the Alemanni, the subjects of Rome, unconscious of their approaching calamities, enjoyed the state of quiet and prosperity, which had seldom blessed the frontiers of Gaul. Their flocks and herds were permitted to graze in the pastures of the barbarians; their huntsmen penetrated without fear or danger, into the darkest recesses of the Hercynian wood. The banks of the Rhine were crowned, like those of the Tiber, with elegant houses and well-cultivated farms; and if a poet descended the river, he might express his doubt on which side was situated the territory of the Romans.GEP 611.1

    11. “This scene of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert; and the prospect of the smoking ruins could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the desolation of man. The flourishing city of Mentz was surprised and destroyed; and many thousand Christians were inhumanly massacred in the church. Worms perished after a long and obstinate siege; Strasburg, Spires, Rheims, Tournay, Arras, Amiens, experienced the cruel oppression of the German yoke; and the consuming flames of war spread [A. D. 407] from the banks of the Rhine over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul. That rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, was delivered to the barbarians, who drove before them, in a promiscuous crowd, the bishop, the senator, and the virgin, laden with the spoils of their houses and altars.... And in less than two years, the divided troops of the savages of the Baltic, whose numbers, were they fairly stated, would appear contemptible, advanced, without a combat, to the foot of the Pyrenean Mountains.” 5[Page 611] Chap. xxx, pars. 15-19.GEP 611.2

    12. “In the southeast of Gaul, the Burgundians, after many wars and some reverses, established themselves, with the consent of the Romans, in the district then called Sapaudia and now Savoy. Their territory was somewhat more extensive than the province which was the cradle of the present royal house of Italy, since it stretched northward beyond the Lake of Neufchatel, and southward as far as Grenoble.... The lands they divided by lot, each one receiving half the estate of a Roman host or hospes.”Hodgkin. 6[Page 612] “Italy and Her Invaders,” book ii, chap 3, par. 14. They “soon conquered from the Romans the whole valley of the Rhone, in which they henceforth settled.” 7[Page 612] Encyclopedia Britannica, art. Germany, part. ii, Confederation of Tribes, par. 2. Their conquests continued to spread until they occupied “the whole of the Saone and the Lower Rhone from Dijon to the Mediterranean, and included also the western half of Switzerland.”—Hallam. 8[Page 612] “Middle Ages,” chap 1, part i, sec. ix, note viii. And in 476, when the last vestige of the Western Empire vanished, the Burgundian kingdom included all of Switzerland that lies west of that part of the Rhine that flows from the south into the Lake of Constance.GEP 611.3

    13. “The Vandals and the Suevi went on to Spain.” “The gates of Spain were treacherously betrayed to the public enemy” Oct. 13, A. D. 409. The consciousness of guilt, and the thirst of rapine, prompted the mercenary guards of the Pyrenees to desert their station, to invite the arms of the Suevi, the Vandals, and the Alani, and to swell the torrent which was poured with irresistible violence from the frontiers of Gaul to the sea of Africa. The misfortunes of Spain may be described in the language of its most eloquent historian, who has concisely expressed the passionate, and perhaps exaggerated, declamations of contemporary writers.GEP 612.1

    14. “‘The irruption of these nations was followed by the most dreadful calamities; as the barbarians exercised their indiscriminate cruelty on the fortunes of the Romans and the Spaniards, and ravaged with equal fury the cities and the open country. The progress of famine reduced the miserable inhabitants to feed on the flesh of their fellow creatures; and even the wild beasts, which multiplied without control in the desert, were exasperated by the taste of blood and the impatience of hunger, boldly to attack and devour their human prey. Pestilence soon appeared, the inseparable companion of famine; a large proportion of the people was swept away; and the groans of the dying excited only the envy of their surviving friends.GEP 612.2

    15. “‘At length the barbarians, satiated with carnage and rapine, and afflicted by the contagious evils which they themselves had introduced, fixed their permanent seats in the depopulated country. The ancient Galicia, whose limits included the kingdom of Old Castile, was divided between the Suevi and the Vandals; the Alani were scattered over the provinces of Carthagena and Lusitania, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean; and the fruitful territory of Boetica was allotted to the Silingi, another branch of the Vandalic nation. After regulating this partition, the conquerors contracted with their new subjects some reciprocal engagements of protection and obedience; the lands were again cultivated, and the towns and villages were again occupied by a captive people. The greatest part of the Spaniards was even disposed to prefer this new condition of poverty and barbarism to the severe oppressions of the Roman government; yet there were many who still asserted their native freedom, and who refused, more especially in the mountains of Galicia, to submit to the barbarian yoke.’ 9[Page 613] Id., chap 31, par. 36.GEP 613.1

    16. “In the province of Galicia, the Suevi and the Vandals had fortified their camps, in mutual discord and hostile independence. The Vandals prevailed; and their adversaries were besieged in the Nervasian hills, between Leon and Oviedo, till the approach of Count Asterius compelled, or rather provoked, the victorious barbarians to remove [A. D. 428] the scene of the war to the plains of Boetica.GEP 613.2

    17. “The rapid progress of the Vandals soon required a more effectual opposition” than that of their fellow invaders; “and the master-general Castinus marched against them with a numerous army of Romans and Goths.” This army was totally defeated, and “Seville and Carthagena became the reward, or rather the prey, of the ferocious conquerors.” The vessels which they found in the harbor of Carthagena easily transported the Vandals to the islands of Majorca and Minorca, “where the Spanish fugitives, as in a secure recess, had vainly concealed their families and their fortunes.” This experience on the sea encouraged them; and they promptly accepted the invitation of Count Boniface, 10[Page 614] Count Boniface had been driven into unwilling rebellion by a court intrigue. See gibbon’s “Decline and Fall,” chap 33, par. 4. the military governor of Africa, to invade that country. The terrible Genseric was now king of the Vandals. The Alani had lost their king in battle, about A. D. 417, “and the remains of these Scythian wanderers, who escaped from the field, instead of choosing a new leader, humbly sought a refuge under the standard of the Vandals, with whom they were afterward confounded.” 11[Page 614] Chap. 31, par. 38.GEP 613.3

    18. “The vessels which transported [May, A. D. 429] the Vandals over the modern Strait of Gibraltar, a channel only twelve miles in breadth, were furnished by the Spaniards, who anxiously wished their departure, and by the African general, who had implored their formidable assistance.... The Vandals, who, in twenty years, had penetrated from the Elbe to Mount Atlas, were united under the command of their warlike king; and he reigned with equal authority over the Alani, who had passed, within the term of human life, from the cold of Scythia to the excessive heat of an African climate.GEP 614.1

    19. “The hopes of the bold enterprise had executed many brave adventurers of the Gothic nation; and many desperate provincials were tempted to repair their fortunes by the same means which had occasioned their ruin. Yet this various multitude amounted only to fifty thousand effective men; and though Genseric artfully magnified his apparent strength, by appointing eighty chilliarchs or commanders of thousands, the fallacious increase of old men, of children, and of slaves, would scarcely have swelled his army to the number of fourscore thousand persons. But his own dexterity and the discontents of Africa soon fortified the Vandal powers by the accession of numerous and active allies.GEP 614.2

    20. “The parts of Mauritania which border on the Great Desert and the Atlantic Ocean, were filled with a fierce and untractable race of men, whose savage temper had been exasperated, rather than reclaimed, by their dread of the Roman arms. The wandering Moors, as they gradually ventured to approach the seashore and the camp of the Vandals, must have viewed with terror and astonishment the dress, the armor, the martial pride and discipline, of the unknown strangers who had landed on their coast; and the fair complexions of the blue-eyed warriors of Germany formed a very singular contrast with the swarthy or olive hue which is derived from the neighborhood of the torrid zone. After the first difficulties had in some measure been removed, which arose from the mutual ignorance of their respective languages, the Moors, regardless of any future consequence, embraced the alliance of the enemies of Rome; and a crowd of naked savages rushed from the woods and valleys of Mount Atlas, to satiate their revenge on the polished tyrants who had injuriously expelled them from the native sovereignty of the land.GEP 614.3

    21. “The persecution of the Donatists was an event not less favorable to the designs of Genseric. Seventeen years before he landed in Africa, a public conference was held at Carthage, by the order of the magistrate. The Catholics were satisfied that, after the invincible reasons which they had alleged, the obstinacy of the schismatics must be inexcusable and voluntary; and the emperor Honorius was persuaded to inflict the most rigorous penalties on a faction which had so long abused his patience and clemency. Three hundred bishops, with many thousands of the inferior clergy, were torn from their churches, stripped of their ecclesiastical possessions, banished to the islands, and proscribed by the laws, if they presumed to conceal themselves in the provinces of Africa. Their numerous congregations, both in cities and in the country, were deprived of the rights of citizens, and of the exercise of religious worship. A regular scale of fines, from ten to two hundred pounds of silver, was curiously ascertained, according to the distinctions of rank and fortune, to punish the crime of assisting at a schismatic conventicle; and if the fine had been levied five times, without subduing the obstinacy of the offender, his future punishment was referred to the discretion of the imperial court.GEP 615.1

    22. “By these severities, which obtained the warmest approbation of St. Augustine, great numbers of Donatists were reconciled to the Catholic Church; but the fanatics who still persevered in their opposition were provoked to madness and despair; the distracted country was filled with tumult and bloodshed; the armed troops of Circumcellions alternately pointed their rage against themselves, or against their adversaries; and the calendar of martyrs received on both sides a considerable augmentation. Under these circumstances, Genseric, a Christian, but an enemy of the orthodox communion, showed himself to the Donatists as a powerful deliverer, from whom they might reasonably expect the repeal of the odious and oppressive edicts of the Roman emperors. The conquest of Africa was facilitated by the active zeal, or the secret favor, of a domestic faction; the wanton outrages against the churches and the clergy of which the Vandals are accused, may be fairly imputed to the fanaticism of their allies; and the intolerant spirit which disgraced the triumph of Christianity contributed to the loss of the most important province of the West.GEP 615.2

    23. “The long and narrow tract of the African coast was filled with frequent monuments of Roman art and magnificence; and the respective degrees of improvement might be accurately measured by the distance from Carthage and the Mediterranean. A simple reflection will impress every thinking mind with the clearest idea of fertility and cultivation. The country was extremely populous; the inhabitants reserved a liberal subsistence for their own use; and the annual exportation, particularly of wheat, was so regular and plentiful that Africa deserved the name of the common granary of Rome and of mankind. On a sudden the seven fruitful provinces, from Tangier to Tripoli, were overwhelmed by the invasion of the Vandals, whose destructive rage has perhaps been exaggerated by popular animosity, religious zeal, and extravagant declamation.GEP 616.1

    24. “War, in its fairest form, implies a perpetual violation of humanity and justice; and the hostilities of barbarians are inflamed by the fierce and lawless spirit which incessantly disturbs their peaceful and domestic society. The Vandals, where they found resistance, seldom gave quarter; and the deaths of their valiant countrymen were expiated by the ruin of the cities under whose walls they had fallen. Careless of the distinctions of age, or sex, or rank, they employed every species of indignity and torture to force from the captives a discovery of their hidden wealth. The stern policy of Genseric justified his frequent examples of military execution; he was not always the master of his own passions, or of those of his followers; and the calamities of war were aggravated by the licentiousness of the Moors and the fanaticism of the Donatists.”GEP 616.2

    25. The intrigue that had driven Count Boniface into unwilling rebellion was soon discovered. Both the sovereign and the count had been deceived. Boniface was forgiven, “his repentance was fervent and sincere;” but the calamity of having invited the Vandals into Africa could not be undone. “The inexorable king of the Vandals, disdaining all terms of accommodation, sternly refused to relinquish the possession of his prey. The band of veterans who marched under the standard of Boniface, and his hasty levies of provincial troops, were defeated with considerable loss; the victorious barbarians insulted the open country; and Carthage, Corta, and Hippo Regius were the only cities that appeared to rise above the general inundation.GEP 617.1

    26. “The generous mind of Count Boniface was tortured by the exquisite distress of beholding the ruin which he had occasioned, and whose rapid progress he was unable to check. After the loss of a battle, he retired into Hippo Regius, where [May, A. D. 430] he was immediately besieged by an enemy who considered him as the real bulwark of Africa.... The military labors and anxious reflections of Count Boniface were alleviated by the edifying conversation of his friend St. Augustine, till that bishop, the light and pillar of the Catholic Church, was gently released [Aug. 28, A. D. 430], in the third month of the siege, and in the seventy-sixth year of his age, from the actual and the impending calamities of his country.GEP 617.2

    27. “By the skill of Boniface, and perhaps by the ignorance of the Vandals, the siege of Hippo was protracted above fourteen months [A. D. 431]; the sea was continually open; and when the adjacent country had been exhausted by irregular rapine, the besiegers themselves were compelled by famine to relinquish their enterprise. The importance and danger of Africa were deeply felt by the regent of the West. Placidia implored the assistance of her Eastern ally; and the Italian fleet and army were re-enforced by Asper, who sailed from Constantinople with a powerful armament. As soon as the force of the two empires was united under the command of Boniface, he boldly marched against the Vandals; and the loss of a second battle irretrievably decided the fate of Africa. He embarked with the precipitation of despair; and the people of Hippo were permitted, with their families and effects, to occupy the vacant place of the soldiers, the greatest part of whom were either slain or made prisoners by the Vandals.”GEP 617.3

    28. It was eight years after the capture of Hippo, before Carthage, the capital of the country, was taken. At this time Carthage stood as the second city in the Western Empire. In every respect the city deserved the title that was given it,—“the Rome of the African world.” “The reputation of the Carthaginians was not equal to that of their country, and the reproach of Punic faith still adhered to their subtle and faithless character. The habits of trade and the abuse of luxury had corrupted their manners; but their impious contempt of monks, and the shameless practise of unnatural lusts, are the two abominations which excite the pious vehemence of Salvian, the preacher of the age.”GEP 618.1

    29. Oct. 9, A. D. 439, “Carthage was at length surprised by the Vandals, five hundred and eighty-five years after the destruction of the city and republic by the younger Scipio,”—“Carthage, which had risen again from the dust to be the rival of the towers of Rome; Carthage, rich in all the appliances of the highest civilization, in schools of art, in schools of rhetoric, in schools of philosophy; Carthage, the focus of law and government for the continent of Africa, the headquarters of the troops, the seat of the proconsul. In this city were to be found all the nicely graduated orders of the Roman official hierarchy, so that it was scarcely too much to say that every street, every square, had its own proper governor.GEP 618.2

    30. “Yet this was the city of which the great African, Augustine, had said: ‘I came from my native town to Carthage, and everywhere around me roared the furnace of unholy love.’ And too plainly does the language of Salvian, after all allowance made for rhetorical exaggeration, show what Augustine was thinking of when he wrote these words. Houses of ill fame swarming in each street and square, and haunted by men of the highest rank, and what should have been venerable age; chastity outside the ranks of the clergy a thing unknown and unbelieved, and by no means universal within that enclosure; the darker vices, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, practised, avowed, gloried in,—such is the picture which the Gaulish presbyter draws of the capital of Africa.GEP 618.3

    31. “Into this City of Sin marched the Vandal army, one might almost say, when one reads the history of their doings, the army of the Puritans. With all their cruelty and all their greed, they kept themselves unspotted by the licentiousness of the splendid city. They banished the men who were earning their living by ministering to the vilest lusts. They rooted out prostitution with a wise, yet not a cruel, hand. In short, Carthage, under the rule of the Vandals, was a city transformed, barbarous but moral.”—Hodgkin. 12[Page 619] “Italy and Her Invaders,” book i, chap 20, par. 22, fourth from end.GEP 619.1

    32. “The king of the Vandals severely reformed the vices of a voluptuous people; and the ancient, noble, ingenuous freedom of Carthage (these expressions of Victor are not without energy) was reduced by Genseric to a state of ignominious servitude. After he had permitted his licentious troops to satiate their rage and avarice, he instituted a more regular system of rapine and oppression. An edict was promulgated which enjoined all persons, without fraud or delay, to deliver their gold, silver, jewels, and valuable furniture or apparel to the royal officers; and the attempt to secrete any part of their patrimony was inexorably punished with death and torture, as an act of treason against the State. The lands of the proconsular province, which formed the immediate district of Carthage, were accurately measured and divided among the barbarians; and the conqueror reserved for his peculiar domain the fertile territory of Byzacium and the adjacent parts of Numidia and Getulia.” 13[Page 619] Chap. 33, pars. 5-13.GEP 619.2

    33. Thus the kingdom of the Vandals was permanently fixed in Africa, where it remained as long as it was a kingdom at all, and as long as the Vandals were a nation. The terrible Genseric became “the tyrant of the sea;” and “before he died, in the fulness of years and of glory, he beheld the final extinction of the empire of the West.” 14[Page 619] Chap. 36, par. 22.GEP 619.3

    34. And of the three nations, the Suevi, the Vandals, and the Burgundians, “the Vandals, as we know, ruled Africa from Carthage; ... the Burgundians were settled in the valley of the Rhone, and their chief capital was Lyons; the Suevi held the greater part of southern and western Spain, and their capital was Astorga.” 15[Page 620] “Italy and Her Invaders,” book iii, chap 4, par. 7.GEP 620.1

    35. In A. D. 466 the Suevi “held the kingdom of Galicia,” and not long afterward the “small part of the peninsula which now forms Portugal.” 16[Page 620] Encyclopedia Britannica, art. Germany, Confederation of Tribes, par. 2 And in the histories of Portugal, Africa, western Switzerland, and the duchy and county of Burgundy in France, is to be found the future story of the Suevi, the Vandals, and the Burgundians.GEP 620.2

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