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Project Gutenberg's Great Men and Famous Women. Vol. 1 of 8, by Various

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Title: Great Men and Famous Women. Vol. 1 of 8
       A series of pen and pencil sketches of the lives of more
              than 200 of the most prominent personages in History

Author: Various

Editor: Charles F. Horne

Release Date: August 27, 2008 [EBook #26421]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling has been maintained.

Attila, "The Scourge of God".

GREAT MEN AND FAMOUS WOMEN

A Series of Pen and Pencil Sketches of

THE LIVES OF MORE THAN 200 OF THE MOST PROMINENT PERSONAGES IN HISTORY

Vol. I.

Frontpage.

Copyright, 1894, BY SELMAR HESS
edited by Charles F. Horne

New-York: Selmar Hess Publisher
Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.

(p. iii) CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.

(p. iv) LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

VOLUME I.

PHOTOGRAVURES

ILLUSTRATION ARTIST To face
page
 
ATTILA, "THE SCOURGE OF GOD," Ulpiano Checa Frontispiece
"AND HE WAS DRIVEN FROM MEN, AND DID EAT GRASS AS OXEN," Georges Rochegrosse 4
HANNIBAL CROSSING THE RHONE, Henri-Paul Motte 14
HERMANN'S TRIUMPH OVER THE ROMANS, Paul Thumann 40
ROME UNDER TRAJAN—A CHARIOT RACE, Ulpiano Checa 48
THE VICTIMS OF GALERIUS, E. K. Liska 54
ALARIC IN ATHENS, Ludwig Thiersch 56
CHARLEMAGNE AT WITIKIND'S BAPTISM, Paul Thumann 78
HENRY V. REJECTS FALSTAFF, Eduard Grützner 132
THE ADMIRAL OF THE SPANISH ARMADA SURRENDERS TO DRAKE, Seymour Lucas 180
GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS BEFORE THE BATTLE OF LUTZEN, Ludwig Braun 202

WOOD-ENGRAVINGS AND TYPOGRAVURES

ALEXANDER DISCOVERING THE BODY OF DARIUS, Gustave Doré 12
GENEROSITY OF SCIPIO, Schopin 20
MARIUS ON THE RUINS OF CARTHAGE, John Vanderlyn 32
THE IDES OF MARCH, Carl Von Piloty 36
THE LAST GLADIATORIAL CONTEST, J. Stallaert 58
CLOVIS PUNISHING A REBEL, Alphonse De Neuville 62
BELISARIUS RECEIVING ALMS, Jacques-Louis David 68
CHARLES MARTEL AT TOURS, Charles Steuben 72
PEPIN AFTER THE MURDER OF DUKE WAIFRE, Th. Lybaert 74
A NORSE RAID UNDER OLAF, Hugo Vogel 84
WILLIAM AT HASTINGS, P. J. De Loutherbourg 94
GODFREY DE BOUILLON ENTERING JERUSALEM, Carl Von Piloty 104
SALADIN, Gustave Doré 108
EDWARD III. AND THE BURGHERS OF CALAIS, Berthelemy 118
BERTRAND DU GUESCLIN, Alphonse De Neuville 128
HUNIADES AT BELGRADE, Gustave Doré 146
YORK AND LANCASTER—THE RED AND WHITE ROSES,   148
PIZARRO EXHORTING HIS BAND AT GALLO, Lizcano 158
HENRY IV. OF FRANCE AT HOME, J. D. Ingres 176
RALEIGH PARTING FROM HIS WIFE, E. Leutze 188
DEPARTURE OF THE MAYFLOWER, A. W. Bayes 192
WALLENSTEIN'S LAST BANQUET, J. Scholz 198

(p. 001) SOLDIERS AND SAILORS

Sleep, soldiers! still in honored rest
Your truth and valor wearing:
The bravest are the tenderest.
The loving are the daring. —Bayard Taylor

NEBUCHADNEZZAR[1]
By Clarence Cook
(645-561 B.C.)

Nebuchadnezzar.

With the death of Sardanapalus, the great monarch of Assyria, and the taking of Nineveh, the capital city, by the Medes, the kingdom of Assyria came to an end, and the vast domain was parcelled out among the conquerors. At the time of the catastrophe, the district of Babylonia, with its capital city Babylon, was ruled as a dependent satrapy of Assyria by Nabopolassar. Aided by the Medes, he now took possession of the province and established himself as an independent monarch, strengthening the alliance by a marriage between the Princess Amuhia, the daughter of the Median king, and his son Nebuchadnezzar.

In the partition of Assyria, the region stretching from Egypt to the upper Euphrates, including Syria, Phœnicia, and Palestine, had fallen to the share of Nabopolassar. But the tribes that peopled it were not disposed to accept the rule of the new claimant, and looked about for an ally to support them in their resistance. Such an ally they thought they had found in Egypt.

Egypt was the great rival of Babylon, as she had been of Assyria. Both desired to control the highways of traffic connecting the Mediterranean with the farther East. Egypt had the advantage, both from her actual position on the Mediterranean and her nearer neighborhood to the coveted territory, and she used her advantage with audacity and skill. No sooner, however, did Nabopolassar feel himself firm on his throne than he resolved to check the ambition of Egypt and secure for himself the sovereignty of the lands in dispute.

(p. 002) The task was not an easy one. Pharaoh Necho had been for three years in possession of the whole strip along the Mediterranean—Palestine, Phœnicia, and part of Syria—and was pushing victoriously on to Assyria, when he was met at the plain of Megiddo, commanding the principal pass in the range of Mount Carmel, by the forces of the petty kingdom of Judah, disputing his advance. He defeated them in a bloody engagement, in which Josiah, King of Judah, was slain, and then continued his march to Carchemish, a stronghold built to defend one of the few fordable passes of the upper Euphrates. This important place having been taken after a bloody battle, Necho was master of all the strategic points north and west of Babylonia.

Nebuchadnezzar was now put in command of an army, to force Pharaoh to give up his prey. Marching directly upon Carchemish, he attacked the Egyptian and defeated him with great slaughter. Following up his victory, he wrested from Pharaoh, in engagement after engagement, all that he had gained in Syria, Phœnicia, and Palestine, and was in the midst of fighting in Egypt itself, when the news came of the death of his father; and he hastened home at once by forced marches to secure his possession of the throne. In his train were captives of all the nations he had conquered: Syrians, Phœnicians, Jews, and Egyptians. Among the Jewish prisoners was Daniel, the author of the book of the Old Testament called by his name, and to whom we owe the little personal knowledge we have of the great Babylonian monarch.

Of all the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar in this long struggle with Egypt, that of the Jewish people is the most interesting to us. The Jews had fought hard for independence, but if they must be conquered and held in subjection, they preferred the rule of Egypt to that of Babylon. Even the long slavery of their ancestors in that country and the sufferings it had entailed, with the tragic memories of the exodus and the wanderings in the desert, had not been potent to blot out the traditions of the years passed in that pleasant land with its delicious climate, its nourishing and abundant food. Alike in prosperity and in evil days the hearts of the people of Israel yearned after Egypt, and the denunciations of her prophets are never so bitter as when uttered against those who turned from Jehovah to worship the false gods of the Nile. Three times did the inhabitants of Jerusalem rebel against the rule of Babylon, and three times did Nebuchadnezzar come down upon them with a cruel and unrelenting vengeance, carrying off their people into bondage, each time inflicting great damage upon the city and leaving her less capable of resistance; yet each time her rulers had turned to Egypt in the vain hope of finding in her a defence against the oppressor, but in every instance Egypt had proved a broken reed.

Of the three successive kings of Judah whom Nebuchadnezzar had left to rule the city as his servants, and who had all in turn rebelled against him, one had been condemned to perpetual imprisonment in Babylon; a second had been carried there in chains and probably killed, while the third, captured in a vain attempt to escape after the taking of the city, had first been made to see his sons killed before his eyes, had then been cruelly blinded, and afterward carried (p. 003) in chains to Babylon, and cast into prison. The last siege of the city lasted eighteen months, and when it was finally taken by assault, its ruin was complete. By previous deportations Jerusalem had been deprived of her princes, her warriors, her craftsmen, and her smiths, with all the treasure laid up in the palace of her kings, and all the vessels of gold and silver consecrated to the worship of Jehovah. Little then was left for her to suffer, when the punishment of her latest rebellion came. Her walls were thrown down, her temple, her chief glory, was destroyed, the greater part of the inhabitants who had survived the prolonged siege were carried off to swell the crowd of exiles already in Babylon, and only a few of the humbler sort of folk, the vine-dressers and the small farmers, were left behind.

When Nebuchadnezzar rested after his conquests, secure in the subjugation of his rivals, and in the possession of his vast kingdom, he gave himself up to the material improvement of Babylon and the surrounding country. The city as he left it, at the end of his reign of forty-three years, was built on both sides of the Euphrates, and covered a space of four hundred square miles, equal to five times the size of London. It was surrounded by a triple wall of brick; the innermost, over three hundred feet high, and eighty-five feet broad at the top, with room for four chariots to drive abreast. The walls were pierced by one hundred gate-ways framed in brass and with brazen gates, and at the points where the Euphrates entered and left the city the walls also turned and followed the course of the river, thus dividing the city into two fortified parts. These two districts were connected by a bridge of stone piers, guarded by portcullises, and ferries also plied between the quays that lined the river-banks, to which access was given by gates in the walls.

Nebuchadnezzar's palace was a splendid structure covering a large space at one end of the bridge. In the central court were the Hanging Gardens, the chief glory of the city, and reckoned one of the wonders of the world. No clear idea can be formed of these gardens from any description that has come down to us, but it would appear that arches eighty feet high supported terraces of earth planted with all the skill for which the gardeners of the East were famous. We are told that they were built for the pleasure of Queen Amuhia, who, as a Median princess, missed her native mountains, but a more commonplace explanation is that they were carried so high to escape the mosquitoes that swarmed on the lower level.

Various splendid edifices, chiefly religious, adorned the great squares of the city: the temple of the god Bel, enriched by the spoils of Tyre and Jerusalem, was the especial pride of Nebuchadnezzar. It rose in a succession of eight lofty stages, and supported on the top a golden statue of the god, forty feet high. Still another temple of Bel was built in seven stages, each faced with enamelled brick of one of the planetary colors; the topmost one of blue, the color dedicated to Mercury or Nebo, the patron god of Nabopolassar.

But the most important of the civic undertakings of Nebuchadnezzar was the extension of the great system of canalization by which the barren wastes of (p. 004) the Babylonian plain were made to rival the valley of the Nile in fertility, and become the granary of the East. The whole territory was covered with a network of canals fed by the Tigris and Euphrates, and used for both irrigation and navigation. One branch had already connected Nineveh with Babylon, and another constructed by Nebuchadnezzar united Babylon to the Persian Gulf, running a distance of four hundred miles. This is still to be traced in a portion of its length.

The fate of Nebuchadnezzar is one of the most tragic in the long list of calamities that have overtaken the great and powerful of the earth. According to Daniel, it was just after the king had spoken those words of exulting pride as he walked in the palace of the Kingdom of Babylon: "Is not this great Babylon that I have built," when he was attacked by that dreadful form of madness, called by the Greeks, lycanthropy (wolf-man), in which the victim fancies himself a beast: in its fiercer manifestations a beast of the forest, or in milder visitations a beast of the field. Nebuchadnezzar's madness became so violent that for four years he was exiled from his throne and from the company of men, and wandered in the fields, eating grass like oxen, "and his body was wet with the dews of heaven, and his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws." Although no mention is made of this strange malady in any writing but the book of Daniel, yet it has a pathetic confirmation in one of the rock-cut inscriptions that record the acts of Nebuchadnezzar's reign. "For four years the seat of my kingdom did not rejoice my heart. In all my dominions I built no high place of power, nor did I lay up the precious treasure of my kingdom. In Babylon I erected no buildings for myself nor for the glory of my empire. In the worship of Bel-Merodach, my Lord, the joy of my heart, in Babylon the city of his worship and the seat of my empire, I did not sing his praise, nor did I furnish his altar with victims"—and then, as if returning to the thing that lay nearest him—"In four years I did not dig out the canals."

"And he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen."

In time, the black cloud of the king's madness passed away and health and reason were restored to him. And if the words that Daniel puts into the king's mouth on his recovery are really his, we must recognize in this Eastern Despot a decided strain of religious sensibility, a trait that appears beside in his almost passionate expressions of affection for his god Merodach, and in his sympathy with Daniel and the youths who were his companions, in their own religious devotion. Although Daniel and the other youths whom the king had caused to be called out from the mass of the Jewish captives for his own particular service—boys distinguished from the rest by their personal beauty, their intelligence and aptitude—were too earnest in their religious convictions and too high-spirited to conform to the Babylonian religion or to conceal their sentiments under the cloak of policy, yet the king tolerated their adherence to their ritual and yielded only in part to the persistence of the Jew-baiters, who saw with angry eyes the promotion of the hated captives to places of power and authority over the heads of their captors. In spite of his enemies Daniel was allowed to exercise his own (p. 005) religion in peace; and the persecutors of his companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were themselves destroyed in the furnace they had heated for their innocent victims, which the youths themselves were rescued from by the personal interposition of the king, who pretended to see—or in his religious exaltation did really see—the god himself standing guard over the victims in the midst of the flames.

Of Nebuchadnezzar after the recovery of his reason we learn but little. The chronicle of Daniel passes abruptly from Nebuchadnezzar to Belshazzar, and the great king is not mentioned again. History, too, is silent. It tells us only that he left the throne to a son, whose name, Evil-Merodach, records the devotion of his father to the god of his people.[Back to Contents]

Author signature.

CYRUS THE GREAT[2]
By Clarence Cook
(REIGNED 558-529 B.C.)

Cyrus the Great.

The early life of Cyrus the Persian, like that of many another famous conqueror, is lost in a cloud of fable. According to Herodotus, to whom we owe the earliest account, Astyages the King of Media was warned in a dream that some danger threatened the kingdom from the offspring of his daughter Mandane, who as yet was unmarried. In order to remove the danger, whatever it might be, as far as possible from his throne, Astyages married his daughter to a Persian named Cambyses, who took her with him to his own country. But after his daughter's marriage Astyages had another dream, which was interpreted by the priests to mean that his daughter's child was destined to reign in his stead. Alarmed by this prophecy he sent for his daughter, and when in course of time she bore a son, he ordered his trusty lieutenant Harpagus to carry the child to his own house and kill it. Harpagus took the infant as he had been (p. 006) ordered to do, but moved by the pleadings of his wife he determined to commit the rest of his bloody instructions to other hands. He therefore called one of his herdsmen, and ordered him to expose the child on the bleakest part of the mountain and leave it to perish, threatening him with the most terrible penalties in case of disobedience. But the herdsman and his wife were no more proof against pity than Harpagus and his wife had been, and while they stood swayed between their wish to save the child and their fear of disobeying Harpagus, fortune happily provided an escape for them. The wife of the herdsman brought forth a dead child, and this they determined to substitute for the living infant, and to bring up the grandson of Astyages as their own. The exchange was accomplished, and after some days the servants of Harpagus, sent to inquire if their master's commands had been obeyed, were shown by the herdsman the body of a dead child exposed on the rocks and still wearing the rich clothes and ornaments in which it had been brought to his house. Harpagus was thus enabled to assure Astyages that he was safe from the threatened danger, and might enjoy his throne in peace.

When the child of Mandane was ten years old an accident brought him to the knowledge of the king, and restored him to his birthright. One day he was playing with the children of his neighbors, and in a certain game where it was necessary to make one of the players king, Cyrus was chosen, and all the others, as his subjects, promised to obey his commands. But one of the boys, the son of a rich noble of the court of Astyages, refused to do as he was bid by Cyrus, and according to the rule of the game, he had to submit to a beating at the hand of the boy-king. Angry at this treatment, he complained to his father, who, indignant in his turn, went to Astyages, and reproached him with the blows his son had received at the hands of the son of one of the king's slaves. Cyrus was brought before the king; but when he was asked how he had dared to treat the son of a nobleman in such a way, the boy, nothing daunted, answered that he had done only what was right: the rules of the game were known to all who had joined in it: the other boys had submitted to the penalties: the son of the nobleman alone had refused, and he had been punished as he deserved. "If any wrong has been done by me," he said, "I am ready to suffer for it." Struck by the boldness of the lad, and by something in his looks, Astyages dismissed him for a time, and promised the nobleman that he should be satisfied for the insults offered to his son. He then sent for the herdsman Mitridates and wrung from him a confession of what he had done; and learning how Harpagus had deceived him he acquitted Mitridates, and turned all his vengeance upon Harpagus as the chief offender. How cruelly he punished him must not be told here, for pity, but it was such a barbarous revenge as could never be forgiven; and though Harpagus pretended to make light of it, yet it was only that by keeping fair with the king he might bide his time, and repay cruelty with cruelty.

But now, as Cyrus in our story has grown to man's estate, and is ready to show the world of what stuff he is made, it will be well to explain in a few (p. 007) words, what was the state of things in that part of the world where he was to play his part.

The mighty Kingdom of Assyria in its greatest estate had stretched from the Indus on the east, to the Mediterranean on the west. But when Nineveh, the capital and chief city of the empire, had been destroyed by the Medes—a subject people living on the north-eastern borders of the kingdom, but who had risen in rebellion against their rulers—Assyria was broken in pieces, and several minor kingdoms rose on her ruins.

Of these the chief were Media and Babylonia in the east, and Lydia in the west. Babylonia rose to a great height of power and splendor under Nebuchadnezzar, as we have seen in our sketch of that king's life. The Medes, a brave and warlike people, never attained to so high a degree of civilization as the Babylonians, nor did they ever have a monarch whose fame equalled that of Sardanapalus, the King of Assyria; of Nebuchadnezzar; or of Crœsus, King of Lydia; but under a succession of astute and hardy warriors, who held the throne for something over one hundred and fifty years, their dominion was gradually extended until it stretched from the Indus to the centre of Asia Minor. Their greatest achievement had been the destruction of Nineveh in B.C. 606.

Lydia, the remaining province, touched the Median kingdom on the east, and on the west was only separated, in the beginning, from the Mediterranean by the narrow strip of territory occupied by the Greek colonies, which for a time acted as a bar to the encroachments of the Lydian monarchs and their conquerors.

When Cyrus came to manhood, these kingdoms, the successors of the Assyrian monarchy, were all flourishing in wealth and power. Media was ruled by Astyages, his grandfather—to accept the legendary history as it has come down to us; Babylonia the greatest of the three was governed by Nebuchadnezzar, while Lydia was ruled by Crœsus, a monarch wise above his peers, whose name has long been a synonym for unbounded wealth, and whose story, though not beyond the bounds of credibility, reads more like a fable of romance than a tale of sober fact.

Crœsus was the brother-in-law of Astyages, and in close alliance not only with the Medes, but with the Babylonians, the Egyptians, and the Greeks; and he was at the height of his power and was looking forward to still greater increase of his dominions, when in an evil hour he struck against the growing greatness of Cyrus, and was crushed in the encounter. Had he been less arrogant, the doom he wrought for himself might have been delayed, but it could not have been wholly averted. Nothing could have long withstood the greed of Cyrus for universal dominion.

We have seen what good cause Harpagus had to hate Astyages. But he nursed his revenge with crafty wisdom, and knowing himself powerless to act openly and alone, he tried what stratagem might do to bring about his aim, which was no less than the overthrow of Astyages by means of the tyrant's grandson, Cyrus. He did not take open measures until he knew he had allies (p. 008) enough at his back, and could strike with a sure aim. He worked with the great Median chiefs in private, stirring them up against Astyages by appeals of all sorts: to their ambition, their greed, their discontent, their private wrongs; and when he had secured the consent of enough nobles to his plans, he called upon Cyrus, as one who had chiefly suffered from the tyranny and cruelty of the king, to lead the proposed revolt in person. He knew that Cyrus had been gradually strengthening his own kingdom of Persia in preparation for the ambitious schemes of conquest he was nursing, but there was danger in correspondence with one who stood to Astyages in the double relation of a feared and hated grandson, and the chief of a rival people; and if we may believe Herodotus, Harpagus had recourse to a strange expedient to communicate his design to Cyrus. Disembowelling a dead hare, he inserted a letter in the cavity, and sent the animal to Cyrus as a present. When the letter came to the hands of Cyrus he eagerly accepted the offers it contained of leadership in the proposed revolt, and joined his forces with those of the disaffected Medes. Astyages was overthrown and his kingdom taken possession of by Cyrus. Herodotus draws a striking picture of the exultation of Harpagus over the success of his revengeful projects, and of the disdain with which Astyages reproached him for having called on another to do what, trusted and confided in as he was by his monarch, he might have accomplished for himself, and reaped the harvest which he had surrendered to another. Cyrus had the wisdom to spare the life of Astyages, and to attach him to his person as councillor and friend. Harpagus he made his lieutenant, and much of his success was owing to this man's wisdom and bravery. After the defeat of Astyages, Cyrus advanced against the lesser tribes that had owed allegiance to the Median king, and having reduced them one by one to submission, the power of the once mighty empire of the Medians passed to the inheritance of the Persians in the year 559 B.C.

When Crœsus heard of the overthrow of his brother-in-law by the hands of Cyrus, and of the setting up a great new monarchy on the ruins of the fallen kingdom, his own ambitious projects were blown into fresh activity by the desire for private revenge. Misled by his own interpretation of the oracle he consulted as to the likelihood of success in an expedition against the Persians, he advanced to withstand the conquering march of Cyrus; and his first success was against the Syrians of Cappadocia, a people subject to Cyrus, as having formed a part of the Median Kingdom. Cyrus, with a powerful army, came at once to the assistance of his new subjects, and meeting the forces of Crœsus on the plain of Cappadocia, a fiercely fought, but indecisive battle took place, which resulted in the retreat of Crœsus to his capital, Sardis, to seek the assistance of his allies and prepare to meet Cyrus with a larger force. In overweening confidence in his own success, he dismissed his mercenary troops, and sent messengers to Babylon, to Egypt, and to Sparta, calling on them to come with troops to his assistance within five months. No sooner had he shut himself up in Sardis, and dismissed his mercenaries, depending upon his own forces until assistance should come from his allies, than Cyrus advanced against him so swiftly that there was no escape (p. 009) from a battle. Crœsus, believing in his fortune, and trusting to the excellence of his cavalry, boldly took the field; but Cyrus, using stratagem where perhaps courage would not have availed, put his camels in front of his line, and massed his own horsemen behind them. The horses of Crœsus, maddened by the unaccustomed smell of the camels, refused to advance; but the Lydians, dismounting, fought so bravely on foot with their spears, that it was not until after a long and fierce combat that they were forced to retreat and seek safety within the walls of Sardis. The army of Cyrus invested the city, but it was so strongly fortified on all sides but one as to be impregnable by assault and the side left unprotected by art was supposed to be amply protected by nature, since it abutted on the very edge of a steep precipice. But, after the siege had lasted fourteen days, a Persian sentinel saw one of the garrison descend the precipice to recover his helmet that had rolled down; and no sooner had he thus unwittingly showed the way, than the sentinel followed with a number of his fellow-soldiers and, reaching the top of the cliff in safety, attacked the guards, all unsuspicious, and gained an entrance to the city. The gates were opened to the Persians, and Crœsus with all his vast store of treasure became the prey of the conqueror. The fall of Sardis and the Lydian monarchy was followed by the subjection of the Greek cities of Asia Minor, a task which Cyrus left to the hands of Harpagus, while he himself turned eastward to pursue his conquests in Upper Asia and in Assyria. His greatest achievement in this quarter was the taking of Babylon. This he accomplished in the reign of Belshazzar, one of the successors of Nebuchadnezzar, perhaps his son, by turning the Euphrates, which ran through the middle of the city, out of its course; and when its bed was dry he entered the city by this road and captured it with little resistance.

Cyrus was now the sole master of the vast Assyrian Kingdom, once more in his hands brought back to something like the unity it had before the great Median revolt. But he was not content, nor was it perhaps possible for him to rest in the enjoyment of power and possessions extorted by force, and dependent on force to hold. The new empire, like the old one, was destined to break in pieces by its own weight. Cyrus was kept in constant activity by the necessity of resisting the inroads on his empire of the tribes in the north and farther east; and it was in endeavoring to repel invasion and to maintain order in the regions he had already conquered, that he met his death. After a reign of thirty years he was slain, in 529 B.C., in battle with the Massagetæ, a tribe of Central Asia. He left his kingdom to his son Cambyses.[Back to Contents]

Author signature.

(p. 010) ALEXANDER THE GREAT
(356-323 B.C.)

Alexander.

Alexander the Great, son of Philip of Macedon and Olympias, daughter of Neoptolemus of Epirus, was born at Pella, 356 B.C. His mind was formed chiefly by Aristotle, who instructed him in every branch of human learning, especially in the art of government. Alexander was sixteen years of age when his father marched against Byzantium, and left the government in his hands during his absence. Two years afterward, he displayed singular courage at the battle of Chæronea (338 B.C.), where he overthrew the Sacred Band of the Thebans. "My son," said Philip, as he embraced him after the conflict, "seek for thyself another kingdom, for that which I leave is too small for thee." The father and son quarrelled, however, when the former divorced Olympias. Alexander took part with his mother, and fled to Epirus, to escape his father's vengeance; but receiving his pardon soon afterward, he returned, and accompanied him in an expedition against the Triballi, when he saved his life on the field. Philip, being appointed generalissimo of the Greeks, was preparing for a war with Persia, when he was assassinated (336 B.C.), and Alexander, not yet twenty years of age, ascended the throne.

After punishing his father's murderers, he marched on Corinth, and in a general assembly of the Greeks he caused himself to be appointed to the command of the forces against Persia. On his return to Macedon, he found the Illyrians and Triballi up in arms, whereupon he forced his way through Thrace, and was everywhere victorious. But now the Thebans had been induced, by a report of his death, to take up arms, and the Athenians, stimulated by the eloquence of Demosthenes, were preparing to join them. To prevent this coalition, Alexander rapidly marched against Thebes, which, refusing to surrender, was conquered and razed to the ground. Six thousand of the inhabitants were slain, and 30,000 sold into slavery; the house and descendants of the poet Pindar alone being spared. This severity struck terror into all Greece. The Athenians were treated with more leniency.

Alexander, having appointed Antipater his deputy in Europe, now prepared (p. 011) to prosecute the war with Persia. He crossed the Hellespont in the spring of 334 B.C. with 30,000 foot and 5,000 horse, attacked the Persian satraps at the River Granicus, and gained a complete victory, overthrowing the son-in-law of their king Darius with his own lance. As a result of the battle, most of the cities of Asia Minor at once opened their gates to the conqueror.

Alexander restored democracy in all the Greek cities; and as he passed through Gordium, cut the Gordian-knot, which none should loose but the ruler of Asia. During a dangerous illness at Tarsus, brought on by bathing in the Cydnus, he received a letter insinuating that Philip, his physician, had been bribed by Darius to poison him. Alexander handed the letter to Philip, and at the same time swallowed the draught which the latter had prepared. As soon as he recovered, he advanced toward the defiles of Cilicia, in which Darius had stationed himself with an army of 600,000 men.

He arrived in November, 333 B.C., in the neighborhood of Issus, where, on the narrow plain between the mountains and the sea, the unwieldy masses of the Persians were thrown into confusion by the charge of the Macedonians, and fled in terror. On the left wing, 30,000 Greek mercenaries held out longer, but they, too, were at length compelled to yield. All the treasures as well as the family of Darius fell into the hands of the conqueror, who treated them with the greatest magnanimity. Overtures for peace, made by Darius on the basis of surrendering to Alexander all Asia west of the Euphrates, were rejected.

Alexander now turned toward Syria and Phœnicia. He occupied Damascus, where he found princely treasures, and secured to himself all the cities along the shores of the Mediterranean. Tyre, confident in its strong position, resisted him, but was conquered and destroyed, after seven months of incredible exertion (332 B.C.) Thence he marched victoriously through Palestine, where all the cities submitted to him except Gaza; it shared the same fate as Tyre. Egypt, weary of the Persian yoke, welcomed him as a deliverer; and in order to strengthen his dominion here, he restored all the old customs and religious institutions of the country, and founded Alexandria in the beginning of 331 B.C. Thence he marched through the Libyan Desert, in order to consult the oracle of Ammon, whose priest saluted him as a son of Zeus; and he returned with the conviction that he was indeed a god.

He then again set out to meet Darius; in October, 331 B.C., a great battle was fought on the plain stretching eastward to Arbela. Notwithstanding the immense superiority of his adversary, who had collected a new army of more than a million men, Alexander was not for a moment doubtful of victory. Heading the cavalry himself, he rushed on the Persians, and put them to flight; then hastened to the assistance of his left wing, which, in the meanwhile, had been surely pressed. He was anxious to make Darius a prisoner, but Darius escaped on horseback, leaving his baggage and all his treasures a prey to the conqueror. Babylon and Susa, the treasure-houses of the East, opened their gates to Alexander, who next marched toward Persepolis, the capital of Persia, which he entered in triumph.

(p. 012) The marvellous successes of Alexander now began to dazzle his judgment and to inflame his passions. He became a slave to debauchery, and his caprices were as cruel as they were ungrateful. In a fit of drunkenness, and at the instigation of Thaïs, an Athenian courtesan, he set fire to Persepolis, the wonder of the world, and reduced it to a heap of ashes; then, ashamed of the deed, he set out with his cavalry in pursuit of Darius. Learning that Bessus, the Bactrian satrap, held him a prisoner, he hastened his march, in the hope of saving him, but he found him mortally wounded (330 B.C.). He mourned over his fallen enemy, and caused him to be buried with all the customary honors, while he hunted down Bessus, who himself aspired to the throne, chasing him over the Oxus to Sogdiana (Bokhara).

Having discovered a conspiracy in which the son of Parmenio was implicated, he put both father and son to death, though Parmenio himself was innocent of any knowledge of the affair. This cruel injustice excited universal displeasure. In 329 he penetrated to the farthest known limits of Northern Asia, and overthrew the Scythians on the banks of the Jaxartes. In the following year he subdued the whole of Sogdiana, and married Roxana, whom he had taken prisoner. She was the daughter of Oxyartes, one of the enemy's captains, and was said to be the fairest of all the virgins of Asia. The murder of his foster-brother, Clitus, in a drunken brawl, was followed, in 327 B.C., by the discovery of a fresh conspiracy, in which Callisthenes, a nephew of Aristotle, was falsely implicated. For challenging Alexander's divinity, he was cruelly tortured and hanged.

In 327 B.C., proceeding to the conquest of India, hitherto known only by name, Alexander crossed the Indus near to the modern Attock, and pursued his way under the guidance of a native prince to the Hydaspes (Jhelum). He there was opposed by Porus, another native prince, whom he overthrew after a bloody contest, and there he lost his charger Bucephalus; thence he marched as lord of the country, through the Punjab, establishing Greek colonies. He then wished to advance to the Ganges, but the general murmuring of his troops obliged him, at the Hyphasis (modern Sutlej), to commence his retreat. On regaining the Hydaspes, he built a fleet, and sent one division of his army in it down the river, while the other followed along the banks, fighting its way through successive Indian armies. At length, having reached the ocean, he ordered Nearchus, the commander of the fleet, to sail thence to the Persian Gulf, while he himself struck inland with one division of his army, in order to return home through Gedrosia (Beluchistan). During this march his forces suffered fearfully from want of food and water. Of all the troops which had set out with Alexander, little more than a fourth part arrived with him in Persia (325 B.C.).

Alexander discovering the Body of Darius.

At Susa he married Stateira, the daughter of Darius, and he bestowed presents on those Macedonians (some ten thousand in number) who had married Persian women, his design being to unite the two nations. He also distributed liberal rewards among his soldiers. Soon afterward he was deprived, by death, of his favorite Hephestion. His grief was unbounded, and he interred the dead man with kingly honors. As he was returning from Ecbatana to Babylon, it is (p. 013) said that the Magi foretold that the latter city would prove fatal to him; but he despised their warnings. On the way, he was met by ambassadors from all parts of the world—Libya, Italy, Carthage, Greece, the Scythians, Celts, and Iberians.

At Babylon he was busy with gigantic plans for the future, both of conquest and civilization, when he was suddenly taken ill after a banquet, and died eleven days later, 323 B.C., in the thirty-second year of his age, and the thirteenth of his reign. His body was deposited in a golden coffin at Alexandria, by Ptolemæus, and divine honors were paid to him, not only in Egypt, but in other countries. He had appointed no heir to his immense dominions; but to the question of his friends, "Who should inherit them?" he replied, "The most worthy." After many disturbances, his generals recognized as Kings the weak-minded Aridæus—a son of Philip by Philinna, the dancer—and Alexander's posthumous son by Roxana, Alexander Ægus, while they shared the provinces among themselves, assuming the title of satraps. Perdiccas, to whom Alexander had, on his death-bed, delivered his ring, became guardian of the kings during their minority. The empire of Alexander soon broke up, and his dominions were divided among his generals.

Alexander was more than a conqueror. He diffused the language and civilization of Greece wherever victory led him, and planted Greek kingdoms in Asia, which continued to exist for some centuries. At the very time of his death, he was engaged in devising plans for the drainage of the unhealthy marshes around Babylon, and a better irrigation of the extensive plains. It is even supposed that the fever which he caught there, rather than his famous drinking-bout, was the real cause of his death. To Alexander, the ancient world owed a vast increase of its knowledge in geography, natural history, etc. He taught Europeans the road to India, and gave them the first glimpses of that magnificence and splendor which has dazzled and captivated their imagination for more than two thousand years. See Freeman's "Historical Essays" (2d series, 1873), and Mahaffy's "Alexander's Empire" (1887).

The wonderful element in the campaigns of Alexander, and his tragical death at the height of his power, threw a rare romantic interest around his figure. It is ever the fate of a great name to be enshrined in fable, and Alexander soon became the hero of romantic story, scarcely more wonderful than the actual, but growing from age to age with the mythopœic spirit which can work as freely in fact as fiction. The earliest form of the story which we know is the great romance connected with the name of Callisthenes, which, under the influence of the living popular tradition, arose in Egypt about 200 A.D., and was carried through Latin translations to the West, through Armenian and Syriac versions to the East. It became widely popular during the middle ages, and was worked into poetic form by many writers in French and German. Alberich of Besançon wrote in Middle High German an epic on the subject in the first half of the twelfth century, which was the basis of the German "Pfaffe" Lamprecht's "Alexanderbuch," also of the twelfth century. The French poets Lambert li Court and Alexandre de Bernay composed, between 1180 and 1190, a romance (p. 014) of Alexander, the twelve-syllable metre of which gave rise to the name Alexandrines. The German poem of Rudolf of Ems was based on the Latin epic of Walter of Châtillon, about 1200, which became henceforward the prevailing form of the story. In contrast with it is the thirteenth century Old English epic of Alexander (in vol. i. of Weber's "Metrical Romances," 1810), based on the Callisthenes version. The story appears also in the East, worked up in conjunction with myths of other nationalities, especially the Persian. It appears in Firdusi, and among later writers, in Nizami. From the Persians both the substance of the story and its form in poetical treatment have extended to Turks and other Mohammedans, who have interpreted Alexander as the Dsulkarnein ('two horned') of the Koran, and to the Hindus, which last had preserved no independent traditions of Alexander.[Back to Contents]

HANNIBAL
By Walter Whyte
(247-183 B.C.)

Hannibal.

Hannibal (the grace of Baal, the Hanniel of Scripture) was the son of the great Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, and was born in 247 B.C. It is said that in his ninth year his father led him to an altar and bade him swear eternal enmity to Rome. From the age of nine to eighteen he was trained in war and diplomacy under Hamilcar in Spain; and from his eighteenth to his twenty-fifth year he was the chief agent in carrying out the plans by which his brother-in-law, Hasdrubal, extended and consolidated the Carthaginian dominion in the Peninsula. On the death of Hasdrubal, in 221 B.C., the soldiers with one voice chose Hannibal, then in his twenty-sixth year, as their general. Forthwith he crossed the Tagus, and in two years reduced all Spain up to the Ebro, with the exception of the Greek colony of Saguntum. That town, which claimed the protection of Rome, fell in 218 B.C., and the Second Punic War, or, as the Romans justly called it, "the War of Hannibal," began. Garrisoning Libya with Spaniards, and Spain with Libyans (a precaution against treachery), Hannibal (p. 015) set out on his march for Rome. In the summer of 218 B.C. he left New Carthage with 90,000 foot, 12,000 horse, and 37 elephants, crossed the Pyrenees, and gained the Rhone, where his passage was barred by a host of Gauls. The general thereupon sent part of his troops two days' journey up-stream, with orders to cross the Rhone and fall on the rear of the barbarians. His orders were executed by Hanno, and the passage of the river was safely effected. He crossed the Alps in fifteen days, in the face of obstacles which would have proved insuperable to almost any other commander. His troops, reared under African and Spanish suns, perished in thousands amid ice and snow. The native tribes threatened the annihilation of his force, and were only dispersed by his matchless courage and address. The beasts of burden fell over precipices, or stuck fast and were frozen to death. In places, rocks had to be shattered and roads constructed to enable the men to creep round projecting crags. When he gained the valley of Aosta, Hannibal had but 20,000 foot and 6,000 horse to attempt the conquest of a power which had lately shown that she could put an army of 170,000 unrivalled soldiers into the field.

Hannibal crossing the Rhone.

After allowing his men to recruit in the villages of the friendly Insubres, he overcame the Taurini, besieging and taking Turin, and forced the Ligurian and Celtic tribes on the Upper Po to serve in his army. At the Ticinus, a stream which enters the Po near Pavia, he encountered the Romans under Scipio, the father of Scipio Africanus. The cavalry of both armies joined battle, Hannibal's Numidian horse proved their superiority, and Scipio fell back beyond the Po. The Carthaginians crossed the river, and the first great battle of the campaign was fought in the plain of the Trebia. Placing Mago in ambush with 2,000 men, Hannibal enticed the Romans across the stream. His light troops retired before the legionaries, and as Scipio was pressing on to fancied victory he was taken in flank by the terrible Numidian horse, Mago came down in the rear, and the 40,000 men of the consular army were either cut to pieces or scattered in flight. Wintering in the valley of the Po, in the early spring Hannibal crossed the Apennines and pushed through a region of lakes, flooded by the melting of the snow, to Fæsulæ. The beasts of burden perished in vast numbers amid the morasses; the Gauls, disheartened by the perils of the journey, had to be driven forward by Mago's horsemen, and the general lost an eye. Quitting Fæsulæ, Hannibal wasted Etruria with fire and sword, and marched toward Rome, leaving behind him two consular armies of 60,000 men. He awaited the consul Flaminius by the Lake Trasimene, where the hills, retiring in a semicircle from the shore, inclose a plain entered by two narrow passes. Concealing the main body of his army amid the hills, he placed his Numidians in ambush at the pass by which the Romans must enter; while he stationed part of his infantry in a conspicuous position near the other defile. The Romans pushed into the valley; the pass in their rear was secured by the Carthaginians who had lain in ambush; Hannibal's men charged from the heights, and the army of Flaminius was annihilated. Six thousand infantry cut their way through the farther pass, but these were overtaken by the horse under Maherbal and forced to yield on the following day.

(p. 016) After recruiting his men in the champaign country of Picenum, where the Numidian horses, we are told, were groomed with old Italian wine, Hannibal marched through Apulia and ravaged Campania, dogged by the dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus, whom he vainly endeavored to entice into an engagement. He wintered at Gerontium, and in the spring took up a position at Cannæ, on the Aufidus. A Roman army of 80,000 men, under the consuls L. Æmilius Paulus and P. Terentius Varro, marched against him. Hannibal flung his troops (he had but 30,000) into a space inclosed on the rear and wings by a loop of the river. He placed his Spanish infantry in the centre, with the African foot on either flank. His Numidian horse, now reduced to 2,000 men, he posted on the right wing; while Hasdrubal, with 8,000 heavy cavalry, was opposed to the Roman cavalry on the left. The legionaries pressed into the loop, and Hannibal drew back his centre before them. Hasdrubal, on the left, broke the Roman cavalry, swept round to the left wing of the Romans, drove the second detachment of Roman horse into flight, and then came thundering in the rear of the legionaries. The Libyans, who had by the general's orders fallen back as the Romans pressed after the retiring Spanish infantry, now closed on the enemy's flanks. Packed together so closely that they could not use their weapons, assailed in front, flank, and rear, the legionaries were hewn down through eight hours of carnage, till 50,000 lay dead on the field. The battle became a butchery. Nearly 20,000 men were taken prisoners. The consul Paulus, the proconsul Servilius, the master of the horse Minucius, 21 military tribunes, and 60 senators lay amid the slain. On his side Hannibal lost but 5,700 men. "Send me on with the horse, general," said Maherbal, "and in five days thou shalt sup in the Capitol."

But the general was wiser than the fiery captain of the horse. It has been common to censure Hannibal for neglecting to march on Rome after the battle of Cannæ. But his dazzling triumph did not for a moment unsettle his clear judgment. He knew that his forces were unequal to the task of storming a walled city garrisoned by a population of fighting men. An attack which he had made on Spoletium had proved the inadequacy of the small Carthaginian army to carry a strongly fortified town. Had he followed the advice of Maherbal, he would in all likelihood have dashed his army to pieces against the walls of Rome. His aim was to destroy the common oppressor by raising the Italian allies against her; and the hope was partly justified by the revolt of Lucania and Bruttium, Samnium and Apulia. The soundness of judgment, the patience and self-control which he evinced in this hour of intoxicating success, are hardly less marvellous than the genius by which the success had been won. After the battle of Cannæ the character of the war changes. Hitherto Hannibal had swept everything before him. Rivers and mountains and morasses had been powerless to thwart his progress. Army after army, vastly superior in numbers and composed of the best fighting men the ancient world ever saw, had come against him to be broken, scattered, and destroyed. His career through Italy had been, in the words of Horace, as the rush of the flames through a forest of pines. But after Cannæ (p. 017) the tide turned. His niggardly, short-sighted countrymen denied him the support without which success was impossible. As his veterans were lost to him he had no means of filling their places, while the Romans could put army after army into the field. But through the long years during which he maintained a hopeless struggle in Italy he was never defeated. Nor did one of his veterans desert him; never was there a murmur of disaffection in his camp. It has been well said that his victories over his motley followers were hardly less wonderful than his victories over nature and over Rome.

Hannibal spent the winter of 216-215 B.C. at Capua, where his men are said to have been demoralized by luxurious living. When he again took the field the Romans wisely avoided a pitched battle, though the Carthaginians overran Italy, capturing Locri, Thurii, Metapontum, Tarentum, and other towns. In 211 B.C. he marched on Rome, rode up to the Colline gate, and, it is said, flung his spear over the walls. But the fall of Capua smote the Italian allies with dismay, and ruined his hopes of recruiting his ever-diminishing forces from their ranks. In 210 B.C. he overcame the prætor Fulvius at Herdonea, and in the following year gained two battles in Apulia. Thereafter, he fell upon the consuls Crispinus and Marcellus, both of whom were slain and their forces routed, while he almost annihilated the Roman army which was besieging Locri. In 207 B.C. his brother Hasdrubal marched from Spain to his aid, but was surprised, defeated, and slain at the Metaurus by the consul Nero. By the barbarous commands of Nero, Hasdrubal's head was flung into the camp of Hannibal, who had been till then in ignorance of his brother's doom. The battle of the Metaurus sealed the fate of "the lion's brood"—of the great house of Hamilcar. But for four years Hannibal stood at bay in the hill-country of Bruttium, defying with his thinned army every general who was sent against him, till in 202 B.C., after an absence of fifteen years, he was recalled to Africa to repel the Roman invasion. In the same year he met Scipio at Zama; his raw levies fled, and in part went over to the enemy; his veterans were cut to pieces where they stood, and Carthage was at the mercy of Rome. So ended the Second Punic War—the war, as Arnold so truly said, of a man with a nation, and the war which is perhaps the most wonderful in all history. Three hundred thousand Italians had fallen, and three hundred towns had been destroyed in the struggle.

Peace being made, Hannibal turned his genius to political toils. He amended the constitution, cut down the power of the ignoble oligarchy, checked corruption, and placed the city's finances on a sounder footing. The enemies whom he made by his reforms denounced him to the Romans, and the Romans demanded that he should be surrendered into their hands. Setting out as a voluntary exile, Hannibal visited Tyre, the mother-city of Carthage, and then betook himself to the court of Antiochus, at Ephesus. He was well received by the king, who nevertheless rejected his advice to carry the war with Rome into Italy. On the conclusion of peace, to avoid being given up to the Romans, he repaired to Prusias, king of Bithynia, for whom he gained a naval victory over the king of Pergamus. The Romans again demanding that he should be surrendered, he baffled (p. 018) his enemies by taking poison, which, we are told, he carried about with him in a ring, and died at Lybyssa about the year 183 B.C.

In judging of the character and achievements of Hannibal, it must never be forgotten, that for all we know of him, we are indebted to his implacable enemies. No Carthaginian record of that astounding career has come down to us. The Romans did all that unscrupulous malignity can, to blacken the fame and belittle the deeds of the most terrible of their foes. Yet, though calumny has done its bitterest against him, Hannibal not only dazzles the imagination, but takes captive the heart. He stands out as the incarnation of magnanimity and patriotism and self-sacrificing heroism, no less than of incomparable military genius. Napoleon, the only general who could plausibly challenge the Carthaginian's supremacy, had throughout the greater part of his career an immense superiority to his adversaries in the quality of the forces which he wielded. He had the enthusiasm of the Revolution behind him, and he was unhampered by authorities at home. Hannibal, on the contrary, saw his plans thwarted and finally wrecked by the sordid merchant-nobles of the city he strove so hard to save. He had not, like Alexander, to lead picked troops against effeminate Asiatics. He had to mould his little army out of raw and barbarous levies. He had no reinforcements to fall back on. With a motley army of Libyans, Gauls, and Spaniards he had to encounter a nation in arms—a nation of the stoutest and most highly trained warriors of ancient times. There is not in all history so wonderful an example of what a single man of genius may achieve against the most tremendous odds, as the story of the Phoenician hero—the greatest captain that the world has seen.[Back to Contents]

SCIPIO AFRICANUS MAJOR
(235-183 B.C.)

P. Cornelius Scipio, Africanus Major, was the son of that P. Cornelius Scipio who was defeated by Hannibal at the Ticinus. If it be true that at the age of seventeen Scipio fought in this battle, and rescued his wounded father, he must have been born in B.C. 235. He was in the battle of Cannæ (B.C. 216) as a tribune, and was among those who, after the defeat, escaped to Canusium. Here the chief command of the remaining troops was unanimously entrusted to him and another. On this occasion it was owing to his presence of mind that the remnants of the Roman army did not, in their despair, quit Italy.

Scipio.

In B.C. 212, Scipio was curule ædile, though he had not yet attained the legitimate age. The tribunes of the people endeavored to prevent his election, but they were obliged to give up their opposition, for the people, who seem to have perceived the extraordinary abilities of the young man, elected him almost (p. 019) unanimously. In B.C. 211 his father and uncle fell in Spain, and the Carthaginians again took possession of the country, which they had almost entirely lost. When Capua had fallen again into their hands, and Italy no longer required their exclusive attention, the Romans determined to act with more energy against the Carthaginians in Spain. On the day of the election, no one ventured to come forward to undertake the command in this war. Young Scipio, then scarcely twenty-four years of age, at last offered to take the command of the army in Spain. The people were struck with admiration at the courage of the young man, and gave him command, with proconsular power, which was afterward prolonged to him for several years (B.C. 210-206).

The extraordinary power which young Scipio exercised over his contemporaries was perhaps partly owing to superstition, for he was believed to be a favorite of the gods. Ever since he had risen to manhood, he went every morning into the Capitol, where he spent some hours in solitude and meditation. Hence all he did was considered by the people to be the result of his intercourse with the gods. Scipio himself partook in this opinion, and cherished it; and the extraordinary success of all his enterprises must have strengthened his belief.

Toward the end of the summer, in B.C. 210, or, as Livy says, at the beginning of spring, Scipio set out for Spain with an army of 11,000 men, landed at the mouth of the Iberus, and undertook the command of the whole Roman forces in Spain. He was accompanied by his friend, Lælius. His first object was to gain possession of New Carthage, where the Carthaginians kept their Spanish hostages. Lælius made the attack with the fleet from the seaside, while Scipio conducted the operations on land. The town soon fell into the hands of the Romans, and the generosity with which Scipio treated the Spanish hostages gained over a great number of Spaniards. The hostages of those tribes who declared themselves allies of the Romans were sent home without ransom. It is also related that a very beautiful maiden having fallen to his special lot in the division of the booty, Scipio finding her sad, inquired the cause, and learning that she was betrothed to a neighboring chief, sent for the lover, and personally restored the maid in all honor to his arms. A short time after the conquest of this place Scipio went to Tarraco, where he received embassies from various Spanish tribes, who offered to become the allies of the Romans or to recognize their supremacy.

Scipio is said not to have set out against Hasdrubal until the year following, but it can scarcely be conceived why the Carthaginians should have been so long (p. 020) inactive, and it is a probable supposition that the battle with Hasdrubal, which Livy and Polybius assign to the year B.C. 209, was fought very soon after the taking of New Carthage. In this battle Scipio gained a great victory; 8,000 Carthaginians were slain, and 22,000, with their camp, fell into the hands of the victor. Many of the Spaniards now wished to proclaim Scipio their king, but he refused the honor.

Hasdrubal fled with the remainder of his army toward the Tagus and the Pyrenees. Scipio did not follow him, partly because he thought his enemy too much weakened to be dangerous, and partly because he feared lest he might expose himself to the combined attacks of the two other Carthaginian generals, Mago, and Hasdrubal, son of Gisco. Hasdrubal Barcas, the defeated general, however, had carried considerable wealth with him in his flight, and with these means he raised an army in Spain, to lead into Italy to the assistance of his brother Hannibal, hoping thus to bring the war to an end in Italy. During these preparations of Hasdrubal, Scipio was engaged against the two other Carthaginian generals, one of whom (Mago) was defeated, in B.C. 208, by the proprætor Silanus, in the country of the Celtiberians, and Hanno, who came with an auxiliary army from Africa, was taken prisoner. After this success of the proprætor, Scipio united his forces with those of Silanus to attack Hasdrubal, son of Gisco. But as this general had retired to the south of Spain, and had distributed his army in the fortified places on the Bætis as far as Gades, Scipio (through his brother Lucius) only took the important town of Oringis, and then gradually returned across the Iberus. The power of the Carthaginians in Spain was, however, already broken, and in the year following (B.C. 207) Scipio gained possession of nearly all Spain by a victory, the place of which is not clearly ascertained, some calling it Silpia or Bæcula, some Ilipa, and others Carmo.

Scipio, now in the almost undisputed possession of Spain, began to turn his eyes to Africa, and, accompanied by his friend Lælius, he ventured to pay a visit to King Syphax, with whom Lælius had already commenced negotiations. Here Scipio is said to have met Hasdrubal, son of Gisco, and to have made a very favorable impression on Syphax as well as on Hasdrubal. After a short stay in Africa, Scipio returned to Spain, where he first punished several towns for their faithlessness, and subdued some of the Spanish chiefs who ventured to claim their former independence. During these occupations Scipio was attacked by a severe illness, from which, however, he recovered in time to quell an insurrection of 8,000 Roman soldiers, who were discontented from not having derived from their conquests those advantages which they had expected, and who are said also to have been bribed by the Carthaginians. Mago had in the meantime withdrawn to the Balearic Islands, and thence to Liguria. Gades, the last place which the Carthaginians possessed in Spain, was now taken from them, and thus the war in Spain was at an end.

Generosity of Scipio.

Toward the close of the year B.C. 206, Scipio surrendered the command of the Roman forces in Spain to the proconsuls L. Lentulus and L. Manlius Acidinus, and returned to Rome. He delivered to the ærarium the immense treasures (p. 021) which he brought from Spain. He evidently wished for a triumph, but the senate paid no attention to his wishes, for no one had ever triumphed at Rome before he had held the consulship. In the year B.C. 205, Scipio was made consul with P. Licinius Crassus, who was at the same time pontifex maximus, and was consequently not allowed to leave Italy. If, therefore, a war was to be carried on abroad, the command necessarily devolved upon Scipio. His wish was immediately to sail with an army to Africa, but the more cautious senators, and especially Q. Fabius, were decidedly opposed to his plan, partly because Hannibal, as long as he was in Italy, appeared too formidable to be neglected, and partly because they were influenced by jealousy.

All that Scipio could obtain was that Sicily should be assigned to him as his province, with thirty vessels, and with permission to sail over to Africa in case he should think it advantageous to the republic. But he did not obtain from the Senate permission to levy an army, and he therefore called upon the Italian allies to provide him with troops and other things necessary for carrying on the war. As they were all willing to support the conqueror of the Carthaginians in Spain, he was soon enabled to sail to Sicily with nearly seven thousand volunteers and thirty ships. Soon after his arrival in Sicily he sent his friend Lælius with a part of his fleet to Africa, partly to keep up the connection which he had formed there, on his visit from Spain, with Syphax and Massinissa (for to the latter Scipio had sent back a nephew who had been taken prisoner in the battle of Bæcula), and partly to show to his timid opponents at Rome how groundless their fears were. He himself employed his time in Sicily most actively, in preparing and disciplining his new army.

Massinissa, dissatisfied with the Carthaginians, was anxious for the arrival of Scipio in Africa, but Syphax had altered his policy, and again joined the Carthaginians. The enemies of Scipio at Rome at last got an opportunity of attacking him, and they nearly succeeded in depriving him of his post. Without being authorized by the Senate, Scipio had taken part in the conquest of Locri, in Southern Italy, and had left his legate, Q. Flaminius, as commander of the Roman garrison in that place. The legate treated the Locrians with such severity and cruelty that they sent an embassy to Rome to lay their complaints before the Senate. As Scipio, although acquainted with the conduct of Flaminius, had nevertheless left him in command, his enemies attacked him on this and other grounds, and Fabius Maximus even proposed that he should be recalled. A commission was sent out to inquire into the state of affairs and to bring Scipio home, if the charges against him were found true. Scipio proved that his army was in the best possible condition; and the commissioners were so surprised at what they saw, that instead of recalling the consul, they bade him sail to Africa as soon as he might think it proper, and to adopt any measures that he might think useful.

Scipio, in consequence of this, sailed in B.C. 204 as proconsul, with a large army, from Lilybæum to Africa, and landed in the neighborhood of Utica. Here he made successful incursions into the neighboring country, and Hasdrubal, (p. 022) who attempted to prevent them, suffered a great defeat. But Scipio could not gain possession of Utica, which was of the greater importance to him and his fleet as the winter was approaching, and he was obliged to spend the season on a piece of land extending into the sea, which he fortified as well as he could. Toward the close of the winter the Carthaginians, united with Syphax, intended to make a general attack on Scipio's army and fleet, but being informed of their plans, he surprised the camps of Hasdrubal and Syphax in the night, and only a small number of the enemy escaped. Syphax withdrew into his own dominions, but was defeated by Massinissa and Lælius, and taken prisoner with his wife and one of his sons. Massinissa married Sophonisba, the wife of Syphax, who had formerly been engaged to him, but had been given to Syphax for political reasons. Scipio, fearing the influence she might have on Massinissa (for she was a Carthaginian), claimed her as a prisoner belonging to the Romans, and Massinissa poisoned her, to save her from the humiliation of captivity.

The fears and apprehensions of the Carthaginians now increased to such a degree that they thought it necessary to recall Hannibal from Italy, and at the same time they sued for peace. The terms which Scipio proposed would have concluded the war in a manner honorable to the Romans. The Carthaginians, however, whose only object was to gain time, made no objections to the conditions, but only concluded a truce of forty-five days, during which an embassy was to be sent to Rome. Before this truce was at an end, the Carthaginian populace plundered some Roman vessels with provisions, which were wrecked off Carthage, and even insulted the Roman envoys who came to demand reparation. Scipio did not resent this conduct and allowed the Carthaginian ambassadors, on their return from Rome, to pass on to Carthage unmolested. About this time (it was the autumn of the year B.C. 203) Hannibal arrived in Africa, and soon collected an army in numbers far exceeding that of Scipio. He first made a successful campaign against Massinissa. Scipio was at this time informed that the consul Tib. Claudius Nero would come with an army to co-operate with him against Hannibal.

Scipio, who wished to bring the war to a conclusion, and was unwilling to share the glory with anyone else, determined to bring Hannibal to a decisive battle. The Carthaginian at first avoided an engagement; but when Scipio, in order to deceive the enemy, hastily retreated as if he intended to take to flight, Hannibal followed him with his cavalry and lost a battle in the neighborhood of Zama. A tribune of Scipio soon afterward cut off a large convoy of provisions which was on its way to the camp of Hannibal, and this suddenly threw him into such difficulties that he began to negotiate with Scipio for peace. The conditions, however, which Scipio now proposed were so humiliating, that the Carthaginians would not accept them. Hannibal, therefore, though he saw the impossibility of gaining any further advantages, was compelled to decide the affair by a last and desperate effort. In a personal interview between the two generals Scipio was inexorable as to the conditions. Hannibal's army was in a bad condition; and in the ensuing battle, to the west of Zama, the victory (p. 023) of Scipio was complete. This defeat (in B.C. 202) was the death-blow to Carthage.

Scipio, on his return to Italy, was received with the greatest enthusiasm; he entered Rome in triumph, and was henceforward distinguished by the name of Africanus. He now for several years continued to live at Rome, apparently without taking any part in public affairs. In B.C. 199 he obtained the office of censor with P. Ælius Pætus, and in B.C. 194 he was made consul a second time with Tib. Sempronius Longus, and princeps senatus, a distinction with which he had already been honored in B.C. 196, and which was conferred upon him for the third time in B.C. 190. In B.C. 193, during one of the disputes between the Carthaginians and Massinissa, Scipio was sent with two other commissioners to mediate between the parties; but nothing was settled, though, as Livy observes, Scipio might easily have put an end to the disputes. Scipio was the only Roman who thought it unworthy of the republic to support those Carthaginians who persecuted Hannibal; and there was a tradition that Scipio, in B.C. 193, was sent on an embassy to Antiochus, and that he met Hannibal in his exile, who in the conversation which took place, declared Scipio the greatest of all generals. Whether the story of the conversation be true or not, the judgment ascribed to Hannibal is just; for Scipio as a general was second to none but Hannibal himself.

In the year B.C. 190, some discussions arose in the Senate as to what provinces should be assigned to the two consuls, Lælius and L. Cornelius Scipio, brother of the great Africanus. Africanus, although he was princeps senatus, offered to accompany his brother, as legate, if the Senate would give him Greece as his province, for this province conferred upon Lucius the command in the war against Antiochus. The offer was accepted, and the two brothers set out for Greece, and thence for Asia. Africanus took his son with him on this expedition, but by some unlucky chance the boy was taken prisoner, and sent to Antiochus. The king offered to restore him to freedom, and to give a considerable sum of money, if the father would interpose his influence to obtain favorable terms for the king. Africanus refused; but the king, notwithstanding, soon after sent the boy back to his father, who just then was suffering from illness, and was absent from the camp. To show his gratitude, Africanus sent a message to Antiochus, advising him not to engage in a battle until he himself had returned to the Roman camp. After the great battle near Mount Sipylus, Antiochus again applied to Scipio for peace, and the latter now used his influence with his brother Lucius and the council of war, on behalf of the king. The conditions of the peace were tolerably mild, but they were afterward made much more severe when the peace was ratified at Rome.

The enemies of Africanus at Rome had now another charge against him. The peace with Antiochus, and the conditions proposed by Africanus and his brother Lucius, were regarded by the hostile party as the result of bribes from Antiochus, and of the liberation of the son of Africanus. A charge was therefore brought against the two brothers, on their return to Rome, of having accepted bribes of the king, and of having retained a part of the treasures which (p. 024) they ought to have delivered up to the ærarium. At the same time they were called upon to give an account of the sums of money they had taken from Antiochus. Lucius was ready to obey; but his brother Africanus with indignation snatched the accounts from the hands of his brother and tore them to pieces before the Senate. The tribune of the people, C. Minucius Augurinus, however, fined Lucius; and when he was going to be thrown into prison until he should pay the heavy fine, Africanus dragged him away; and the tribune Tib. Gracchus, though disapproving of the violence of Africanus, liberated Lucius from imprisonment. Africanus himself was now summoned before the people by the tribune M. Nævius; but instead of answering the charges he reminded the people that it was the anniversary of his victory at Zama, and bade them rather thank the gods for such citizens as he.

After these troubles he withdrew to his villa near Liternum, and it was owing to the interposition of Tib. Gracchus that he was not compelled to obey another summons. The estates of his brother Lucius, however, were confiscated (B.C. 187), but the sum produced by their sale did not make up the amount of the fine. His friends and clients not only offered to make up the sum, but their generosity would even have made him richer than he had been before; but he refused to accept anything beyond what was absolutely necessary for his support. Africanus never returned from his voluntary exile, and he spent the last years of his life in quiet retirement at his villa. He is said to have wished to be buried on his estate; but there was, as Livy says, a tradition that he died at Rome, and was buried in the tomb of his family near the Porta Capena, where statues of him, his brother Lucius, and their friend Q. Ennius, were erected. The year of his death is not quite certain; for, according to Polybius, he died in the same year with Hannibal and Philopœmen (B.C. 183); according to others, two years earlier (B.C. 185).

In judging of Scipio Africanus as a general, we may adopt the judgment ascribed to Hannibal; but as a Roman citizen he is very far from deserving such praise. His pride and haughtiness were intolerable, and the laws of the constitution were set at nought whenever they opposed his own views and passions. As a statesman he scarcely did anything worth mentioning. By his wife Æmilia, daughter of Æmilius Paullus, he had two daughters, one of whom married P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum, the other, the celebrated Cornelia, married Tib. Sempronius Gracchus, and was the mother of the two Gracchi, the tribunes of the people.[Back to Contents]

(p. 025) CAIUS MARIUS
Extracts from "Cæsar, a Sketch," by James Anthony Froude, LL.D.
(157-86 B.C.)

Caius Marius.

Caius Marius was at this time forty-eight years old.[3] Two-thirds of his life were over, and a name which was to sound throughout the world and be remembered through all ages, had as yet been scarcely heard of beyond the army and the political clubs in Rome. He was born at Arpinum, a Latin township, seventy miles from the capital, in the year 157 B.C. His father was a small farmer, and he was himself bred to the plough. He joined the army early, and soon attracted notice by his punctual discharge of his duties. In a time of growing looseness, Marius was strict himself in keeping discipline and in enforcing it as he rose in the service. He was in Spain when Jugurtha[4] was there, and made himself especially useful to Scipio; he forced his way steadily upward, by his mere soldierlike qualities, to the rank of military tribune. Rome, too, had learnt to know him, for he was chosen tribune of the people the year after the murder of Caius Gracchus. Being a self-made man, he belonged naturally to the popular party. While in office he gave offence in some way to the men in power, and was called before the Senate to answer for himself. But he had the right on his side, it is likely, for they found him stubborn and impertinent, and they could make nothing of their charges against him. He was not bidding at this time, however, for the support of the mob. He had the integrity and sense to oppose the largesses of corn; and he forfeited his popularity by trying to close the public granaries before the practice had passed into a system. He seemed as if made of a block of hard Roman oak, gnarled and knotted, but sound in all its fibres. His professional merit continued to recommend him. At the age of forty he became prætor, and was sent to Spain, where he left a mark again by the successful severity by which he cleared the province of banditti. He was a man neither given himself to talking, nor much talked about in the world; but he was sought for wherever work was to be done, and he had made himself respected and valued in high circles, for after his return from the Peninsula he had married into one of the most distinguished of the patrician families.

Marius by this marriage became a person of social consideration. His father had been a client of the Metelli; and Cæcilius Metellus, who must have known Marius by reputation and probably in person, invited him to go as second in command (p. 026) in the African campaign. He was moderately successful. Towns were taken, battles were won: Metellus was incorruptible, and the Numidians sued for peace. But Jugurtha wanted terms, and the consul demanded unconditional surrender. Jugurtha withdrew into the desert; the war dragged on; and Marius, perhaps ambitious, perhaps impatient at the general's want of vigor, began to think that he could make quicker work of it. The popular party were stirring again in Rome, the Senate having so notoriously disgraced itself. There was just irritation that a petty African prince could defy the whole power of Rome for so many years; and though a democratic consul had been unheard of for a century, the name of Marius began to be spoken of as a possible candidate. Marius consented to stand. The law required that he must be present in person at the election, and he applied to his commander for leave of absence. Metellus laughed at his pretensions, and bade him wait another twenty years. Marius, however, persisted, and was allowed to go. The patricians strained their resources to defeat him, but he was chosen with enthusiasm. Metellus was recalled, and the conduct of the Numidian war was assigned to the new hero of the "Populares."

A shudder of alarm ran, no doubt, through the Senate house, when the determination of the people was known. A successful general could not be disposed of so easily as oratorical tribunes. Fortunately, Marius was not a politician. He had no belief in democracy. He was a soldier, and had a soldier's way of thinking on government and the methods of it. His first step was a reformation in the army. Hitherto the Roman legions had been no more than the citizens in arms, called for the moment from their various occupations, to return to them when the occasion for their services was past. Marius had perceived that fewer men, better trained and disciplined, could be made more effective and be more easily handled. He had studied war as a science. He had perceived that the present weakness need be no more than an accident, and that there was a latent force in the Roman state, which needed only organization to resume its ascendency. "He enlisted," it was said, "the worst of the citizens," men, that is to say, who had no occupation, and who became soldiers by profession; and as persons without property could not have furnished themselves at their own cost, he must have carried out the scheme proposed by Gracchus, and equipped them at the expense of the state. His discipline was of the sternest. The experiment was new; and men of rank who had a taste for war in earnest, and did not wish that the popular party should have the whole benefit and credit of the improvements, were willing to go with him; among them a dissipated young patrician, called Lucius Sulla, whose name also was destined to be memorable.

By these methods, and out of these materials, an army was formed, such as no Roman general had hitherto led. It performed extraordinary marches, carried its water-supplies with it in skins, and followed the enemy across sandy deserts hitherto found impassable. In less than two years the war was over. The Moors, to whom Jugurtha had fled, surrendered him to Sulla; and he was brought in chains to Rome, where he finished his life in a dungeon.

(p. 027) Marius had formed an army barely in time to save Italy from being totally overwhelmed. A vast migratory wave of population had been set in motion behind the Rhine and the Danube. The German forests were uncultivated. The hunting and pasture grounds were too straight for the numbers crowded into them, and two enormous hordes were rolling westward and southward in search of some new abiding-place. Each division consisted of hundreds of thousands. They travelled, with their wives and children, their wagons, as with the ancient Scythians and with the modern South African Dutch, being at once their conveyance and their home. Gray-haired priestesses tramped along among them, barefooted, in white linen dresses, the knife at their girdle; northern Iphigenias, sacrificing prisoners as they were taken, to the gods of Valhalla. On they swept, eating up the country, and the people flying before them. In 113 B.C. the skirts of the Cimbri had encountered a small Roman force near Trieste, and destroyed it. Four years later another attempt was made to stop them, but the Roman army was beaten and its camp taken. The Cimbrian host did not, however, turn at that time upon Italy. Their aim was the south of France. They made their way through the Alps into Switzerland, where the Helvetii joined them and the united mass rolled over the Jura and down the bank of the Rhone. Roused at last into the exertion, the Senate sent into Gaul the largest force which the Romans had ever brought into the field. They met the Cimbri at Orange, and were simply annihilated. Eighty thousand Romans and forty thousand camp-followers were said to have fallen. The numbers in such cases are generally exaggerated, but the extravagance of the report is a witness to the greatness of the overthrow. The Romans had received a worse blow than at Cannæ. They were brave enough, but they were commanded by persons whose recommendations for command were birth or fortune; "preposterous men," as Marius termed them, who had waited for their appointment to open the military manuals.

Had the Cimbri chosen at this moment to recross the Alps into Italy, they had only to go and take possession, and Alaric would have been antedated by five centuries. In great danger it was the Senate's business to suspend the constitution. The constitution was set aside now, but it was set aside by the people themselves, not by the Senate. One man only could save the country, and that man was Marius. His consulship was over, and custom forbade his re-election. The Senate might have appointed him Dictator, but would not. The people, custom or no custom, chose him consul a second time—a significant acknowledgment that the Empire, which had been won by the sword, must be held by the sword, and that the sword itself must be held by the hand that was best fitted to use it. Marius first triumphed for his African victory, and, as an intimation to the Senate that the power for the moment was his and not theirs, he entered the Curia in his triumphal dress. He then prepared for the barbarians who, to the alarmed imagination of the city, were already knocking at its gates. Time was the important element in the matter. Had the Cimbri come at once after their victory at Orange, Italy had been theirs. But they did not come. With the unguided (p. 028) movements of some wild force of nature, they swerved away through Aquitaine to the Pyrenees. They swept across the mountains into Spain. Thence, turning north, they passed up the Atlantic coast and round to the Seine, the Gauls flying before them; thence on to the Rhine, where the vast body of the Teutons joined them, and fresh detachments of the Helvetii. It was as if some vast tide-wave had surged over the country and rolled through it, searching out the easiest passages. At length, in two divisions, the invaders moved definitely toward Italy, the Cimbri following their old tracks by the Eastern Alps toward Aquileia and the Adriatic, the Teutons passing down through Provence, and making for the road along the Mediterranean. Two years had been consumed in these wanderings, and Marius was by this time ready for them. The Senate had dropped the reins, and no longer governed or misgoverned; the popular party, represented by the army, was supreme. Marius was continued in office, and was a fourth time consul. He had completed his military reforms, and the army was now a professional service, with regular pay. Trained corps of engineers were attached to each legion. The campaigns of the Romans were thenceforward to be conducted with spade and pickaxe as much as with sword and javelin, and the soldiers learnt the use of tools as well as arms.

The effect of the change was like enchantment. The delay of the Germans made it unnecessary to wait for them in Italy. Leaving Catulus, his colleague in the consulship, to check the Cimbri in Venetia, Marius went himself, taking Sulla with him, into the south of France. As the barbarian host came on, he occupied a fortified camp near Aix. He allowed the enormous procession to roll past him in their wagons toward the Alps. Then, following cautiously, he watched his opportunity to fall on them. The Teutons were brave, but they had no longer mere legionaries to fight with, but a powerful machine, and the entire mass of them, men, women, and children, in numbers which, however uncertain, were rather those of a nation than an army, were swept out of existence. The Teutons were destroyed on the 20th of July, 102. In the year following, the same fate overtook their comrades. The Cimbri had forced the passes through the mountains. They had beaten the unscientific patrician Catulus, and had driven him back on the Po. But Marius came to his rescue. The Cimbri were cut to pieces near Mantua, in the summer of 101, and Italy was saved.

The victories of Marius mark a new epoch in Roman history.[5] The legions were no longer the levy of the citizens in arms, who were themselves the state for which they fought. The legionaries were citizens still. They had votes, and they used them; but they were professional soldiers with the modes of thought which belong to soldiers; and besides, the power of the hustings was now the power of the sword. The constitution remained to appearance intact, and means were devised sufficient to encounter, it might be supposed, the new danger. Standing armies were prohibited in Italy. Victorious generals returning from campaigns abroad were required to disband their legions on entering the sacred soil. But the materials of these legions remained a distinct order from the rest (p. 029) of the population, capable of instant combination, and in combination, irresistible, save by opposing combinations of the same kind.

The danger from the Germans was no sooner gone than political anarchy broke loose again. Marius, the man of the people, was the saviour of his country. He was made consul a fifth time, and a sixth. The party which had given him his command shared, of course, in his pre-eminence. The elections could be no longer interfered with or the voters intimidated. The public offices were filled with the most violent agitators, who believed that the time had come to revenge the Gracchi, and carry out the democratic revolution, to establish the ideal Republic, and the direct rule of the citizen assembly. This, too, was a chimera. If the Roman Senate could not govern, far less could the Roman mob govern. Marius stood aside, and let the voices rage. He could not be expected to support a system which had brought the country so near to ruin. He had no belief in the visions of the demagogues, but the time was not ripe to make an end of it all. Had he tried, the army would not have gone with him; so he sat still, till faction had done its work. The popular heroes of the hour were the tribune Saturninus and the prætor Glaucia. They carried corn laws and land laws—whatever laws they pleased to propose. The administration remaining with the Senate, they carried a vote that every senator should take an oath to execute their laws under penalty of fine and expulsion. Marius did not like it, and even opposed it, but let it pass at last.

Marius was an indifferent politician. He perceived as well as any one that violence must not go on, but he hesitated to put it down. He knew that the aristocracy feared and hated him. Between them and the people's consul no alliance was possible. He did not care to alienate his friends, and there may have been other difficulties which we do not know, in his way. The army itself was perhaps divided. On the popular side there were two parties: a moderate one, represented by Memmius, who, as tribune, had impeached the senators for the Jugurthine infamies; the other, the advanced radicals, led by Glaucia and Saturninus. Memmius and Glaucia were both candidates for the consulship; and as Memmius was likely to succeed, he was murdered.

Above the tumults of the factions in the Capitol a cry rising into shrillness began to be heard from Italy. Caius Gracchus had wished to extend the Roman franchise to the Italian states, and the suggestion had cost him his popularity and his life. The Italian provinces had furnished their share of the armies which had beaten Jugurtha, and had destroyed the German invaders. They now demanded that they should have the position which Gracchus designed for them: that they should be allowed to legislate for themselves, and no longer lie at the mercy of others, who neither understood their necessities, nor cared for their interests. They had no friends in the city, save a few far-sighted statesmen. Senate and mob had at least one point of agreement, that the spoils of the Empire should be fought for among themselves; and at the first mention of the invasion of their monopoly a law was passed making the very agitation of the subject punishable by death.

(p. 030) The contrast of character between two classes of population, became at once uncomfortably evident. The provincials had been the right arm of the Empire. Rome, a city of rich men with families of slaves, and of a crowd of impoverished freemen without employment to keep them in health and strength, could no longer bring into the field a force which could hold its ground against the gentry and peasants of Samnium. The Senate enlisted Greeks, Numidians, any one whose services they could purchase. They had to encounter soldiers who had been trained and disciplined by Marius, and they were taught, by defeat upon defeat, that they had a worse enemy before them than the Germans. Marius himself had almost withdrawn from public life. He had no heart for the quarrel, and did not care greatly to exert himself. At the bottom, perhaps, he thought that the Italians were in the right. The Senate discovered that they were helpless, and must come to terms if they would escape destruction. They abandoned the original point of difference, and they offered to open the franchise to every Italian state south of the Po, which had not taken arms, or which returned immediately to its allegiance. The war had broken out for a definite cause. When the cause was removed no reason remained for its continuance.

The panting Senate was thus able to breathe again. The war continued, but under better auspices. Sound material could now be collected again for the army. Marius being in the background, the chosen knight of the aristocracy, Lucius Sulla, whose fame in the Cimbrian war had been only second to that of his commander's, came at once to the front. Too late the democratic leaders repented of their folly in encouraging the Senate to refuse the franchise to the Italians. The Italians, they began to perceive, would be their surest political allies. Caius Gracchus had been right after all. The Roman democracy must make haste to offer the Italians more than all which the Senate was ready to concede to them. Together they could make an end of misrule, and place Marius once more at their head.

Much of this was perhaps the scheming passion of revolution; much of it was legitimate indignation, penitent for its errors and anxious to atone for them. Marius had his personal grievances. The aristocrats were stealing from him even his military reputation, and claiming for Sulla the capture of Jugurtha. He was willing, perhaps anxious, to take the Eastern command. Sulpicius Rufus, once a champion of the Senate and the most brilliant orator in Rome, went over to the people in the excitement. Rufus was chosen tribune, and at once proposed to enfranchise the remainder of Italy.

But Sulla was not so easily got rid of. It was no time for nice considerations. He had formed an army in Campania out of the legions which had served against the Italians. He had made his soldiers devoted to him. They were ready to go anywhere and do anything which Sulla bade them. After so many murders, and so many commotions, the constitution had lost its sacred character; a popular assembly was, of all conceivable bodies, the least fit to govern an empire; and in Sulla's eyes the Senate, whatever its deficiencies, was the only possible sovereign of Rome. The people were a rabble, and their voices (p. 031) the clamor of fools, who must be taught to know their masters. His reply to Sulpicius and to the vote for his recall, was to march on the city. He led his troops within the circle which no legionary in arms was allowed to enter, and he lighted his watch-fires in the Forum itself. The people resisted; Sulpicius was killed; Marius, the saviour of his country, had to fly for his life, pursued by assassins, with a price set upon his head.[6] Twelve of the prominent popular leaders were immediately executed without trial; and in hot haste, swift, decisive measures were taken, which permanently, as Sulla hoped, or if not permanently, at least for the moment, would lame the limbs of the democracy.

He was no sooner out of Italy than the democratic party rose, with Cinna at their head, to demand the restoration of the old constitution. Cinna had been sworn to maintain Sulla's reforms, but no oath could be held binding which was extorted at the sword's point. A fresh Sulpicius was found in Carbo, a popular tribune. A more valuable supporter was found in Quintus Sertorius, a soldier of fortune, but a man of real gifts, and even of genius. Disregarding the new obligation to obtain the previous consent of the Senate, Cinna called the assembly together to repeal the acts which Sulla had forced on them.

The wounds of the social war were scarcely cicatrized, and the peace had left the allies imperfectly satisfied. Their dispersed armies gathered again about Cinna and Sertorius. Old Marius, who had been hunted through marsh and forest, and had been hiding with difficulty in Africa, came back at the news that Italy had risen again; and six thousand of his veterans flocked to him at the sound of his name. The Senate issued proclamations. The limitations on the Italian franchise left by Sulla were abandoned. Every privilege which had been asked for was conceded. It was too late. Concessions made in fear might be withdrawn on the return of safety. Marius and Cinna joined their forces. The few troops in the pay of the Senate deserted to them. They appeared together at the gates of the city, and Rome capitulated.

There was a bloody score to be wiped out. Marius bears the chief blame for the scenes which followed. Undoubtedly he was in no pleasant humor. A price had been set on his head, his house had been destroyed, his property had been confiscated, he himself had been chased like a wild beast, and he had not deserved such treatment. He had saved Italy when but for him it would have been wasted by the swords of the Germans. His power had afterward been absolute, but he had not abused it for party purposes. The Senate had no reason to complain of him. He had touched none of their privileges, incapable and dishonest as he knew them to be. His crime in their eyes had been his eminence. They had now shown themselves as cruel as they were worthless; and if public justice was disposed to make an end of them, he saw no cause for interference.

Thus the familiar story repeated itself: wrong was punished by wrong, and another item was entered on the bloody account which was being scored up year (p. 032) after year. The noble lords and their friends had killed the people in the Forum. They were killed in turn by the soldiers of Marius. Fifty senators perished, not those who were specially guilty, but those who were most politically marked as patrician leaders. With them fell a thousand equites, commoners of fortune, who had thrown in their lot with the aristocracy. From retaliatory political revenge the transition was easy to pillage and wholesale murder; and for many days the wretched city was made a prey to robbers and cut-throats.

So ended the year 87, the darkest and bloodiest which the guilty city had yet experienced. Marius and Cinna were chosen consuls for the year ensuing, and a witches' prophecy was fulfilled, that Marius should have a seventh consulate. But the glory had departed from him. His sun was already setting, redly, among crimson clouds. He lived but a fortnight after his inauguration, and he died in his bed on the 13th of January, at the age of seventy-one.

"The mother of the Gracchi," said Mirabeau, "cast the dust of her murdered sons into the air, and out of it sprang Caius Marius."[Back to Contents]

JULIUS CÆSAR
By E. Spencer Beesly, M.A.
(100-44 B.C.)

Julius Cæsar.

Rome solved the great political problem of the ancient world in the best practicable, if not in the best conceivable, way. To Cæsar it fell to put the crowning stroke to that work. The several states of modern Europe have all contributed, though in different degrees, to political progress, and therefore no one of them has the unique importance and glory that belongs to Rome. For the same reason, no modern statesman stands on a level with Cæsar. He remains, in Shakespeare's phrase, "the foremost man of all this world." It was the high fortune of Rome that, in the principal crisis of her history, she possessed a citizen so splendidly endowed in intellect, character, and heart. Free to an extraordinary degree from the prejudices belonging to his age and country, with piercing and far-sweeping vision, he saw as from some superior height, the political situation of his own time in its (p. 033) relation to the past and the future of the ancient world. If Rome had till then carried out the work of conquest with considerable method, and upon the whole, with steadiness, she had very inadequately satisfied the need for incorporation. Her oligarchical constitution, admirably adapted for the first task, could not easily reconcile itself to the second. In its best days, and while Carthage and Macedon were still formidable, the Senate had from time to time, prudently though grudgingly, extended the privilege of citizenship to some of the subject Italian states. But the great mass of Italians had only extorted it by rebellion during the boyhood of Cæsar, and outside Italy, the conquered nations were still on the footing of subject allies, trampled upon and fleeced for the benefit of Rome, or rather of the Roman nobles and capitalists. If the great dominion was to be maintained in some tolerable degree of well-being for all its members, or even maintained at all, it was absolutely necessary that the so-called Republican constitution, always oppressive for the provinces, and now shamefully corrupt, should be replaced by personal government. For a complete incorporation of the subject peoples was not to be expected from the suffrages of a dominant people, to even the poorest of whom, it would mean the cessation of highly prized privileges and immunities. The provinces would from the earliest moment of their subjection have welcomed such a change. The time was more than ripe for it when the Roman world lay at the feet of Sulla. Sulla had all the ability, self-reliance, prestige, and opportunity that were needed. But his moral nature was below the task. He had neither the insight, nor the sympathy, nor the noble ambition of Cæsar, and he preferred to re-establish the senatorial oligarchy.

Marius on the ruins of Carthage.

When Sulla crushed the Marian party Cæsar had just arrived at manhood. Though of an old patrician house, he had yet a family connection with the democratic party, Marius having married his aunt. He himself had married a daughter of the democratic leader Cinna, and for refusing to divorce her he was proscribed by Sulla, but managed to keep in hiding till the storm was past. After the death of the great reactionist (B.C. 78), he seized every opportunity of reviving the spirit of the popular party; as, for instance, by publicly honoring the memory of Marius, bringing to justice murderers of the proscription, and courageously raising his single voice in the Senate against the illegal execution of Catiline's (p. 034) partisans (B.C. 63). Clearly seeing the necessity for personal government, at a time when his own services and distinctions were not such as to entitle him to aspire to it, Cæsar did his best to secure it for Pompey, then far the foremost man in Rome, by strenuously supporting measures which virtually placed the empire at his absolute disposal for an indefinite period. A fairly good soldier, but a most vain, unreliable, and incompetent statesman, Pompey after five years let these powers slip through his hands.

Julius Cæsar.

Cæsar was by this time thirty-eight (B.C. 62). He had steadily risen in influence and official rank; and it was, no doubt, now that he determined to take the great task into his own hands. He was the recognized chief of the popular party, which aimed at concentrating Republican government in the hands of a single person, as the only means of bridling the oligarchy. But this was not to be accomplished merely by popular votes, as many a democratic leader had found to his cost. Cæsar needed an army and a military reputation, and with rare patience he set himself to acquire both. By a coalition with Pompey—now obliged to treat him as an equal—he obtained the consulship (B.C. 59), which on its expiration entitled him to a great military command.

Roman generals had of late preferred to extend their conquests eastward, and to win comparatively easy and lucrative triumphs in Asia, over people who had possessed for long ages a type of civilization suited to them, and who therefore could never thoroughly assimilate Western manners and institutions. All this time Gaul, lying at the gates of Italy, was neglected (only the district between the Cevennes and the Alps having been reduced), because the people were more warlike, and less booty was to be gained. Yet, till that conquest should be effected, Rome's work of civilizing the world was standing still; nay, it was always menaced by northern invasions. This field of action, then, Cæsar marked out for himself, in which he could prepare the means for assuming power at home, and at the same time render the highest service to his country and humanity. His ardent spirit, his incredible energy in all circumstances of his life, astonished his contemporaries. Time pressed, for he was no longer young. While he was absent from Rome, what revolutions might not mar his plans! Yet, ten continuous years did he devote to this great task, which, if he had achieved nothing else, would make his name one of the greatest in history. In those ten years he conquered Gaul, from the Pyrenees to the Rhine and the British Channel; conquered her so thoroughly, and treated her so sensibly, that when the fierce struggle was over, she frankly and even proudly accepted her new position. The culture, the institutions, even the language of the victors, were eagerly adopted. The grandsons of the men who had fought so gallantly against Cæsar, won full citizenship, took their seats in the Senate, and commanded Roman armies.

These ten years decided the future of the West, and therefore of Humanity. It is not merely the central position and natural advantages of France, nor yet the admirable qualities of her people, which have made her throughout mediæval and modern history, the foremost of European states. It is even more the result (p. 035) of her rapid and thorough acceptance of Roman civilization. This made her the heir of Rome. This enabled her, long afterward, to Romanize Germany and England in some degree, and as it were at second-hand, by the arms of Charlemagne and William.

It had been arranged between Cæsar and Pompey, that during the absence of the former in Gaul, the latter should act with the popular party, and keep the nobility in the condition of impotence to which it had been reduced in the consulship of Cæsar. Partly from jealousy of Cæsar, partly from sheer incapacity, Pompey, after much vacillation and duplicity, finally allied himself with the nobles, thinking with their aid to crush his rival and thereafter to be supreme. The nobles, for their part, thought they would know how to deal with Pompey if once Cæsar was out of the way. In the negotiations which preceded the civil war, Cæsar showed a moderation and fairness in striking contrast with the unscrupulous and headstrong violence of the nobles, who had not even formal legality on their side. But when he was finally summoned to hand over his province and army to a nominee of the Senate, on pain of being declared a public enemy, and when the tribunes who had reversed the resolution of the Senate were obliged to fly for their lives to his camp, he suddenly crossed the river Rubicon, the boundary of his province, and marched on Rome (B.C. 49).

He had but one legion with him; the bulk of his army was far away in its Gallic cantonments. The forces of Pompey were overwhelmingly superior in numbers. But the rapid and daring advance of Cæsar prevented their concentration. He came, not merely the adored general of a veteran army, but the long-tried and consistent leader of the liberal party, who had never swerved from his principles, never betrayed his friends, never flinched from dangers. Fascinated by his success and encouraged by his clemency, towns everywhere opened their gates and Pompeian levies joined him, swelling his army at every stage as he swept down Italy.

Pompey, for his part, was not sorry to have a pretext for moving eastward toward the scene of his early triumphs, where his military prestige and his personal influence would cause all the client states to rally round him, and the sulky and suspicious nobles would find themselves overshadowed. So he crossed the Adriatic, leaving the large veteran army in Spain, which was under his orders, to take care of itself. Thither Cæsar proceeded as soon as he had secured Italy, bent on making sure of the West before doing anything else. When the Spanish legions were beaten, he lost no time in following Pompey, who had found the respite all too short for drilling his large but raw force of Romans, and organizing the masses of Asiatics whom he had summoned to his standard. In the campaign that ensued, the conqueror of the East fully maintained his old military reputation; but at length, driven by the clamor of the nobles to risk a pitched battle, he suffered a crushing defeat on the field of Pharsalia (B.C. 48). Flying to Egypt, still an independent kingdom, he was assassinated by order of the government.

The beaten party rallied again, first in Africa, then in Spain; and of the (p. 036) three years and nine months of life that remained to Cæsar, much the greater portion was spent at the head of his army. He, therefore, had not time to give any complete organization to his new government. But his intentions are clearly discernible in outline. Supreme power, legislative as well as executive, was to be vested in a single ruler, governing not by divine right, but as the representative of the community, and in its interest. This was indeed an ideal by no means novel to Romans. Scipio had brooded over it. Caius Gracchus had for a moment realized it. The oldest institutions and traditions told of it. It was the power of the ancient kings theoretically continued to, and in grave emergencies actually exercised by, the magistrates of the Republic during its best days. It had been increasingly overshadowed by the Senate. That body was now to be reduced to its original consultative office. The functions of the executive had been gradually divided among several magistrates. They were now to be re-concentrated. Above all, annual election—the cherished institution of all oligarchies, open or disguised—was to be replaced by life-tenure, with power to name a successor. The subjects of Rome were to be admitted to citizenship, wherever and whenever fit for it; and there is reason to believe that Cæsar intended to move much faster in this direction than his successor did. Rome itself, from the mistress of the Empire, was to become its capital and most dignified municipality. All old parties—Cæsar's own included—were to consider themselves at an end. "To the victors the spoils!" was a cry rebuked from the first. For the vanquished of Pharsalia there was not only amnesty, but admission to the highest grades of the public service, if they would bury their old grudge and recognize the government. Pauperism among the lower class, and insolvency among the upper—ulcers not admitting of a radical cure—were treated with judicious palliatives. Taxation was reduced, expenditure was increased, and yet the balance in the treasury at Cæsar's death was tenfold what it had ever been before—a proof of the frightful waste and corruption from which the Roman world was rescued by the overthrow of the oligarchy.

Of the administrative work of Cæsar it is impossible here to give any adequate idea. A reform of the calendar, which served the West till 1582, and serves Russia still; a recasting of the whole provincial administration; a codification of Roman law; a census of the Empire; a uniform gold coinage; a public library; a metropolitan police; building regulations; sanitary regulations; an alteration of the course of the Tiber, which would have drained the marshes—all these grand projects, and more, some carried to completion, some only sketched out, teemed from the active brain of the great organizer, in the brief moments he could spare from military cares in these last months of his life—a devouring activity, an all-embracing capacity, such as perhaps never shone forth in man before or since. What Roman incorporation meant for the ancient world was at last revealed. The war havoc of seven centuries had found its justification.

The Ides of March.

In the midst of this glorious and beneficent career, at the age of fifty-five (57?), Cæsar, whose frank and fearless spirit disdained suspicion or precaution, (p. 037) was assassinated by a knot of rancorous, perfidious aristocrats, whom he had pardoned and promoted. Their purblind spite was powerless to avert the inevitable advent of monocracy. What they did effectually extinguish for more than a century, was the possibility of amnesty, conciliation, and mutual confidence. Careless as usual of historical truth, the great English poet has glorified the murderers of Cæsar. Dante, never forgetting the moral responsibility of art, has reserved the lowest circle of hell for Brutus, Cassius, and Judas Iscariot.

It imports little to the greatness of such a one as Cæsar, to add that in an age of oratory he stood in the first rank of orators; that his historical writings are an unrivalled model of vigor, lucidity, and elegance; that he carried his scientific culture to a point very unusual among his countrymen; and that his personal prowess and feats of endurance were the admiration of veteran soldiers. Women loved him, and he loved them. Enjoying life thoroughly, he was temperate in all things. To no man has it been given to approach more nearly to the perfection of human nature—complete, evenly balanced, and self-controlled.[Back to Contents]

MARC ANTONY
(83-30 B.C.)

Marc Antony.

Marcus Antonius, or Marc Antony, grandson of Antonius the orator, and son of Antonius Creticus, seems to have been born about 83 B.C. While still a child he lost his father, whose example however, had he been spared, would have done little for the improvement of his character. Brought up under the influence of the disreputable Cornelius Lentulus Sura, whom his mother had married, Antony spent his youth in profligacy and extravagance. For a time he co-operated with the reprobate Clodius in his political plans, chiefly, it is supposed, through hostility to Cicero, who had caused Lentulus, his stepfather, to be put to death as one of the Catiline conspirators; but he soon withdrew from the connection, on account of a disagreement which, appropriately enough, arose in regard to his relations to his associate's wife, Flavia. Not long after, in 58 B.C., he fled to Greece, to escape the importunity of his creditors; and at length, after a short time spent in attendance on the philosophers at (p. 038) Athens, found an occasion for displaying some of the better features of his character, in the wars that were being carried on by Gabinius against Aristobulus in Palestine, and in support of Ptolemy Auletes in Egypt.

A new chapter in his life was opened by the visit which he made to Julius Cæsar in Gaul (54 B.C.). Welcomed by the victorious general as a valuable assistant in his ambitious designs, and raised by his influence to the offices of quæstor, augur, and tribune of the plebes, he displayed admirable boldness and activity in the maintenance of his patron's cause, in opposition to the violence and intrigues of the oligarchical party. At length his antagonists prevailed, and expelled him from the curia; and the political contest became a civil war. The Rubicon was crossed; Cæsar was victorious, and Antony shared in his triumph. Deputy-governor of Italy during Cæsar's absence in Spain (49), second in command in the decisive battle of Pharsalia (48), and again deputy-governor of Italy while Cæsar was in Africa (47), Antony was now inferior in power only to the dictator himself, and eagerly seized the opportunity of indulging in the most extravagant excesses of luxurious licentiousness—excesses which Cicero depicted in the "Philippics" with all the elaborate eloquence of political hatred. In 46 he seems to have taken offence at Cæsar, because he insisted on payment for the property of Pompey which Antony professedly had purchased, but had merely appropriated. But the estrangement was not of long continuance, for we find Antony meeting the dictator at Narbo the following year, and rejecting the advances of Trebonius, who endeavored to discover if there was any hope of getting Antony to join in the conspiracy that was already on foot. In 44 he was consul along with Cæsar, and seconded his ambition by the famous offer of the crown on the 15th of February, thus unconsciously preparing the way for the tragedy on the 15th of March. To the sincerity of his adherence to Cæsar, the conspirators themselves bore witness on that memorable day, by the care which they took to keep him engaged without, while the daggers were doing their work within.

This was the second great epoch in Antony's life. A brighter prospect than ever was then opened to his ambition. By his eloquence—a hereditary gift—he managed to stir up the minds of the populace against the assassins of Cæsar, and drove them from the city. He made peace with the remaining representatives of the senatorial party, and seemed almost to have succeeded to the power and position of his unfortunate patron. But the youthful Octavius, whom Cæsar had adopted as his son, arrived from Illyria, and claimed the inheritance of his "father." Agreement was impossible, and war ensued. Octavius obtained the support of the Senate and of Cicero; and the veteran troops of the dictator flocked to his standard. Antony was denounced as a public enemy; and the city gave its loudest applause to the tirades of his most eloquent accuser. His cause gradually lost ground, and seemed to be totally ruined when his army was defeated in the siege of Mutina (43 B.C.). But escaping to Cisalpine Gaul, he formed a junction with Lepidus, and they marched toward Rome with 17 legions and 10,000 cavalry.

(p. 039) The wily Octavius now betrayed his party, and entered into terms with Antony and Lepidus. It was agreed that they three should adopt the title—so beautifully ironical—of Triumviri reipublicæ constituendæ, and share the power and the provinces among them. Gaul was to be Antony's; Spain fell to the lot of Lepidus, and Africa, Sardinia, and Sicily were to belong to Octavius. A conjunct proscription followed, each of the partners in the villanous design bartering the life of his friends, for the pleasure of destroying his foes. The detested author of the "Philippics" was given up to Antony's revenge; and, according to Appian, the number of the victims amounted to 300 senators and 2,000 knights. In the following year Antony and Octavius proceeded against the conspirators, Cassius and Brutus, who still maintained themselves in Macedonia; and, in the battles of Philippi, stamped out the last embers of republican Rome.

While Octavius returned to Italy, Antony proceeded to Greece, and thence to Asia Minor, for the sake of recruiting his funds, completing the subjugation of the Eastern provinces, and obtaining satisfaction about the conduct of the Egyptian queen during the recent contest. On his passage through Cilicia, in 41, he was visited by Cleopatra, who came to answer the charges in person. She sailed up the Cydnus in a gorgeous bark, with a fantastic and brilliant equipage, and brought all her allurements to bear on the heart of the voluptuous Roman. Her success was complete; and he who was to have been her judge, was led captive to Alexandria as her slave. All was forgotten in the fascination and delight of the passing hour; and feasting and revelry found perpetual and ever-varying renewal.

At length Antony was aroused by the Parthian invasion of Syria, and the report of an outbreak between Fulvia, his wife, and Lucius, his brother, on the one hand, and Octavius on the other. On arriving in Italy he found that the war was over, and Octavius the victor; and the chief cause of disagreement being soon after removed by the death of Fulvia, a reconciliation was speedily effected between the triumvirs, and cemented by the marriage of Antony with Octavia, the sister of his colleague. A new division of the Roman world was agreed on at Brundusium, Lepidus receiving Africa, Octavius the West, and Antony the East.

Returning to his province, Antony was for a time successful; his general, Ventidius, beating the Parthians, and Socius capturing Jerusalem and conquering Antigonus. But after another visit to Italy, during which the triumvirate was prolonged for five years, Antony sent away his wife, yielded himself completely to the evil influence of Cleopatra, indulged not only in licentiousness, but in tyranny, and allowed his affairs to be neglected or delayed. An expedition against the Parthians was a failure; but for this, his success against Artavasdes, the Armenian king, in some measure compensated. Octavius at length determined to get rid of Antony, and had little need of invention to bring charges sufficient against him. About two years were spent in preparations and delays on both sides, and it was not till the year 31 that the fate of Antony was decided by the battle of Actium.

(p. 040) Defeated and deserted, he once more sought refuge and repose in the society of Cleopatra, but was followed even there by his relentless rival. At first he made a gallant effort to defend himself, and partially succeeded. But convinced of the hopelessness of his position, and assured of the suicide of his mistress, he followed the example which he was falsely informed she had given (30 B.C.). Antony had been married in succession to Fadia, Antonia, Fulvia, and Octavia, and left behind him a number of children. A short but vivid sketch of Antony is given by De Quincey in his "Essay on the Cæsars."[Back to Contents]

HERMANN
(16 B.C.-21 A.D.)

Hermann.

Hermann, the Arminius of the Roman historians, the son of Sigimer, chief of the Cherusci, was born about B.C. 16 or 17. Being sent in early youth as a hostage to Rome, probably in consequence of the victories of Drusus, which had established the supremacy of Rome over the Catti, Cherusci, and other tribes of North Germany, he obtained the favor of Augustus, and was inscribed among the Roman knights. On his return to his native country, he resolved to deliver it from the Romans, whose oppression had become intolerable. Quintilius Varus, a rapacious man, was then the Roman governor in Germany. He had held office in Syria, where he had ruled with great harshness; and fancying that he might act in the same way toward the fierce tribes of the North, he roused among them a bitter hatred of the Romans.

Hermann's triumph over the Romans.

They found in Hermann a leader of extraordinary bravery and resource. He laid his plans with the chiefs of the Catti, Bructeri, and other tribes that lived between the Rhine and the Albis (Elbe), some of which broke out into insurrection. Hermann then offered Varus his assistance in reducing them to subjection, and thus led him to advance some distance from the Rhine into the interior. Varus began his march with three legions, six cohorts, and a body of cavalry, and Hermann served him as a guide through the wilds. The Romans were thus drawn into an ambuscade in the Teutoburg forest, and found themselves all at once surrounded by numerous bodies of Germans, who were directed by Hermann (p. 041) himself. The Romans fought desperately; but being unacquainted with the localities, and unable to form their ranks owing to the thickness of the forests and the marshy nature of the ground, they were defeated after a three days' battle, by the Germans, who destroyed them in detail. At last, Varus, being wounded and seeing no chance of escape, fell upon his sword, and the other chief officers followed his example.

The legions were entirely destroyed, and the cavalry alone cut their way through the enemy and regained the banks of the Rhine. By this defeat the Romans lost all their conquests beyond that river; and although Germanicus some years after again carried their arms to the Weser, they never established anything like a solid dominion over those regions. The defeat of Varus occurred, according to various chronologists, in the year 763 of Rome (A.D. 9). The scene of the defeat is conjectured to have been in the country of the Bructeri, near the sources of the Ems and the Lippe. The news of this calamity, the greatest that had befallen the Roman arms since the defeat of Crassus, was received with universal amazement and terror. The despairing cry of Augustus, "Varus, Varus, give me back my legions!" testified to the consternation even at Rome, where it was expected that the barbarians would take a terrible revenge for the wrongs they had suffered.

The fears of invasion, however, were not realized. L. Asprena guarded the banks of the Rhine, and the Germans were too little united among themselves to attack the Empire. Augustus in the following year sent Tiberius to the Rhine with a fresh army; but he does not seem to have effected anything of importance. Hermann meantime quarrelled with Segestes, chief of the Catti, whose daughter Tusnelda, he had carried off and married against her father's consent. When Germanicus, after the death of Augustus, marched into the interior of Germany to avenge the defeat of Varus, he was assisted by Segestes, and also by the Chauci and other tribes. In the first battle against Hermann, his wife Tusnelda, was taken prisoner by the Romans, and she afterward figured in the triumph of Germanicus. Germanicus, having reached the scene of Varus's defeat, paid funeral honors to the remains of the legions; but Hermann, who was hovering about his line of march, without coming to a pitched battle, harassed him in his retreat, and occasioned a great loss to Cæcina, the lieutenant of Germanicus.

In the following year, Germanicus advanced again as far as the Visurgis, or Weser, where he found Hermann encamped ready for battle. A desperate fight took place, in which Hermann, after performing prodigies of valor, was defeated, and escaped with difficulty. But the victory was gained at such cost that Germanicus and his army had to take refuge in their ships, nor did the Romans ever again attempt the conquest of the fiercer German tribes.

When Tiberius recalled Germanicus, he observed that the Cherusci, Bructeri, and other unsubdued tribes, might be left to their own internal dissensions. He seems to have guessed right.

No sooner had the Romans been driven off, than Hermann had to protect his people against an internal danger. Maroboduus, the chief of the Marcomanni, a (p. 042) man of great ambition, had by treachery or by open fighting, made himself master of several neighboring tribes. Hermann began to fear his designs, and after the defeat of Varus, warned him of his peril by sending him the Roman general's head. When Germanicus finally left the country, Hermann declared war against Maroboduus, and, being joined by the Semnones and Longobards, defeated him on the borders of the Hercynian forest, broke up his kingdom, and drove him from Germany. The fugitive applied to Rome for assistance. Tiberius then sent his son Drusus into the Illyricum; but the Romans did not advance beyond the Danube, and Hermann remained unmolested in Northern Germany. Shortly after, however, Hermann was killed by his own relatives, being accused, as it would seem, of aspiring to absolute dominion. He died at the age of thirty-seven, in the twenty-first year of our era, after being for twelve years the leader and champion of Germany.[Back to Contents]

TRAJAN
By J. S. Reid, Litt.D.
(53-117)

Trajan.

The Roman Empire reached its greatest extent under Marcus Ulpius Traianus, the fourteenth emperor. Of him it was said that he "built the world over," and the Romans themselves regarded him as the best, and perhaps the greatest of their emperors. He was a native of Italica, in Spain. The family to which he belonged was probably Italian, and not Iberian, by blood. His father began life as a common legionary soldier, and fought his way up to the consulship and the governorship of Asia. He was one of the hardest fighters in Judæa under Vespasian and Titus; he served, too, against the Parthians, and won the highest military distinction open to a subject, the grant of the triumphal insignia. Thus he acquired a prominent place among the brand new patricians created by the Flavians as substitutes for the nobles of old descent who had succumbed to the cruelty and rapacity of the emperors from Tiberius to Nero.

The younger Trajan was rigorously trained by his father, and deeply imbued with the same principles and tastes. He was a soldier born and bred. No better representative of the true old hardy Roman type, little softened either by luxury (p. 043) or education, had come to the head of affairs since the days of Marius. The date of his birth was probably 53 A.D. His training was almost exclusively military, but his experience as an officer gave him an acquaintance with almost every important province of the empire, which was of priceless value to him when he came to the throne. For ten years he held a commission as military tribune, which took him to many lands far asunder; then he filled important posts in Syria and Spain. How much actual warfare Trajan saw in those days we can hardly tell; he certainly went through some severe service under his father's command against the Parthians. By the year 89 he had achieved a considerable reputation. At that time L. Antonius Saturninus headed a rebellion in Germany, which threatened seriously to bring Domitian's rule to an end. Trajan was ordered in hot haste from Farther Spain to the Rhine. Although he carried his troops over that long and arduous march with almost unexampled rapidity, he only arrived after the insurrection had been put down. But his promptitude raised him higher in the favor of Domitian, and he was advanced to the consulship in 91. Of the next five years of his life we know nothing positively. It is not unlikely that they were spent at Rome or in Italy in the fulfilment of some official duties.

When the revolution of 96 came, and Nerva replaced the murdered Domitian, Trajan had conferred upon him one of the most important posts in the Empire, that of consular legate of Upper Germany. An officer whose nature, as the event showed, was interpenetrated with the spirit of legality, was a fitting servant of a revolution whose aim it was to substitute legality for personal caprice, as the dominant principle of affairs. The short reign of Nerva really did start the Empire on a new career, which lasted more than three-quarters of a century. But it also demonstrated how impossible it was for any one to govern at all who had no claim, either personal or inherited, to the respect of the legions. Nerva saw that if he could not find an Augustus to control the army, the army would find another Domitian to trample the Senate under foot. In his difficulties he took counsel with L. Licinius Sura, a lifelong friend of Trajan, and in October, 97, he ascended the Capitol, and with all due solemnity proclaimed that he adopted Trajan as his son.

The Senate confirmed the choice, and acknowledged the emperor's adopted son as his successor. In a letter which Nerva sent at once to Trajan, he quoted most significantly a line from the beginning of the "Iliad," where Chryses, insulted by Achilles, prays to Apollo: "May thy shafts afford me vengeance on the Greeks for my tears." After a little hesitation Trajan accepted the position, which was marked by the titles of Imperator, Cæsar, and Germanicus, and by the tribunician authority. He immediately proceeded to Lower Germany, to assure himself of the fidelity of the troops in that province, and while at Cologne he received news of Nerva's death (January, 98).

The authority of the new emperor was recognized at once all the Empire over. The novel fact that a master of the Romans should have been born on Spanish soil seems to have passed with little remark, and this very absence of (p. 044) notice is significant. Trajan's first care as emperor was to write to the Senate an assurance like that which had been given by Nerva, that he would neither kill nor degrade any senator. He ordered the establishment of a temple and cult in honor of his adoptive father, but he did not present himself at Rome for nearly two years after his accession. Possibly he had taken measures before Nerva's death to secure the revenge which Nerva craved, but probably did not live to see. In his dealings with the mutinous prætorians the strength of the new emperor's hand was shown at once. He ordered a portion of the force to Germany. They did not venture to disobey, and were distributed among the legions there. Those who remained at Rome were easily overawed and reformed. It is still more surprising that the soldiers should have quietly submitted to a reduction in the amount of the donative or gift which it was customary for them to receive from a new emperor, though the civil population of the capital were paid their largess (congiarium) in full. By politic management Trajan was able to represent the diminution as a sort of discount for immediate payment, while the civilians had to wait a considerable time before their full due was handed to them.

The secret of Trajan's power lay in his close personal relations with the officers and men of the army, and in the soldierly qualities which commanded their esteem. He possessed courage, justice, and frankness to a high degree. Having a good title to military distinction himself, he could afford, as the unwarlike emperors could not, to be generous to his officers. The common soldiers, on the other hand, were fascinated by his personal prowess and his somewhat ostentatious camaraderie. His features were firm and clearly cut; his figure was tall and soldierly, and exhibited the sinewy hard health of a veteran campaigner. His hair was already gray before he came to the throne, though he was not more than forty-four years old. The stoutness of the emperor's arm had been proved in the face of his men in many a hard fight. When on service he used the mean fare of the common private, dining on salt pork, cheese, and sour wine. Nothing pleased him better than to take part with the centurion, or the soldier in fencing or other military exercise, and he would applaud any shrewd blow which fell upon his own helmet. He loved to display his acquaintance with the career of distinguished veterans, and to talk with them of their battles and their wounds. Probably he lost nothing of his popularity with the army by occasional free indulgence in sensual pleasures, with which, as Bacon remarks, the soldier is apt to pay himself for the perils he encounters. Yet every man felt and knew that no detail of military duty, however minute, escaped the emperor's eye, and that any relaxation of discipline would be rigidly punished, yet with unwavering justice.

Trajan emphasized at once his personal control and the constitutionality of his sway, by bearing on his campaigns the actual title of "proconsul," which no other emperor had done. All things considered, it is not surprising that he was able, without serious opposition from the army, to remodel the whole military institutions of the empire, and to bring them into a shape from which there was (p. 045) comparatively little departure so long as the army lasted. In disciplinary matters no emperor since Augustus had been able to keep so strong a control over the troops. Pliny rightly praises Trajan as the lawgiver and the founder of discipline, and Vegetius classes Augustus, Trajan, and Hadrian together as restorers of the morale of the army. The confidence which existed between Trajan and his army finds expression in some of the coins of his reign.

For nearly two years after his election Trajan did not appear in Rome. He had decided already what the great task of his reign should be—the establishment of security upon the dangerous north-eastern frontier. Before visiting the capital he determined to put affairs in train for the attainment of this great object. He made a thorough inspection of the great lines of defence between the Danube and the Rhine, and framed, and partly carried out, a vast scheme for strengthening and securing them. The policy of opposing uncivilized tribes by the construction of the limes, a raised embankment of earth or other material, intersected here and there by fortifications, was not his invention, but it owed in great measure its development to him. This grand work, which would have excited the envy of Augustus, is traceable in its main extent at the present day. Among a people of roadmakers, Trajan was one of the greatest, and we have definite evidence from inscriptions that some of the military roads in this region were constructed by him. The more secure control which the Romans now maintained over the territory within the limes, tended to its rapid civilization, and the Roman influence, if not the Roman arms, soon began to affect powerfully the regions beyond.

After his careful survey of the Rhine end of the great defensive barrier, Trajan proceeded to consider it and plan it from the Danube. From the age of Tiberius onward, the Romans possessed the whole southern bank of the river from its source to the Euxine. But the precarious tenure of their possession, had been deeply impressed on them by the disasters and humiliations they had undergone in these districts during the reign of Domitian. A prince had arisen among the Dacians, Decebalus by name, worthy to be placed at the head of all the great barbarian antagonists of Rome. Like Maroboduus, he was able to combine the forces of tribes commonly hostile to each other, and his military ability almost went the length of genius. After he had swept the province of Mœsia bare, he was defeated by one of Domitian's lieutenants, but the position of affairs on the Danubio-Rhenish border was still so threatening, that the emperor was glad to conclude a treaty which conferred extraordinary advantages on his foe. Not only did the Romans stipulate to pay to Decebalus an annual subsidy, which he must have regarded as a tribute, but they agreed to supply him with engineers and craftsmen skilled in all kinds of construction, but particularly in the erection of fortifications and defensive works. During the nine or ten years which had elapsed since the conclusion of this remarkable treaty, the Dacian prince had immensely strengthened the approaches to his kingdom from the Roman side. He had also equipped and drilled his formidable army after the Roman fashion. It was impossible for a soldier like Trajan to endure (p. 046) the conditions laid down by Domitian; but the conquest of Dacia had become one of the most formidable tasks that had ever confronted the Empire. Trajan, no doubt, planned a war before he left the Danube for Rome late in 99.

The arrival of the emperor had been awaited in the capital with an impatience which is expressed by Pliny and by Martial. All that had happened since Trajan's elevation to the throne had raised high at Rome the hope of a prosperous and glorious reign. As he entered the city and went on foot to the Capitol, the plaudits of the people were unmistakably genuine. During his stay in the city he riveted more firmly still the affections both of the Senate and of the people. The reconciliation of the Empire with liberty, inaugurated, as Tacitus says, by Nerva, seemed now to be securely achieved. Trajan was absolutely open and simple, and lived with men at Rome as he had lived with his soldiers while on service. He realized the Senate's ideal of the citizen ruler. The assurance that no senator should suffer was renewed by oath. All the old republican formalities were most punctiliously observed—even those attendant on the emperor's election to the consulate, so far as they did not involve a restoration of the old order of voting at the comitia. The veneration for republican tradition is curiously attested by the reproduction of many republican types of coin struck by senatorial officers.

Trajan seized every opportunity for emphasizing his view that the princeps was merely the greatest of the magistrates, and so was not above but under the laws. He was determined, he said, to be to his subjects such a ruler as he had desired for himself when a subject. There is a pretty story to the effect that he handed the commander of the prætorians his sword, and said, "Use it for me if I do well, but against me if I do ill." Martial, who had called Domitian his lord and his god, now cried, "In him we have no lord, but an imperator!" Real power and influence were accorded to the Senate, which had now, by the incorporation of members whose origin was provincial, become in a manner representative of the whole empire. Trajan associated with the senators on equal terms, and enjoyed in their company every kind of recreation. All pomp was distasteful to him, and discarded by him. There was practically no court, and no intrigues of any kind were possible. The approach to his house was free, and he loved to pass through the city unattended, and to pay unexpected visits to his friends. He thirsted for no senator's blood, and used severity against the delatores alone. There was but one insignificant conspiracy against him during his whole reign.

Though not literary himself, Trajan conciliated the literary men, who at all times had close relations with the Senate. His intimate, M. Licinius, played an excellent Mæcenas to his Augustus. In his efforts to win the affections of Roman society, Trajan was excellently aided by his wife Plotina, who was as simple as her husband, benevolent, pure in character, and entirely unambitious. The hold which Trajan acquired over the people was no less firm than that which he maintained upon the army and the Senate. His largesses, his distributions of food, his public works, and his spectacles were all on a generous scale. (p. 047) The exhibitions in the arena were perhaps at their zenith during his tenure of power. Though, for some unexplained reason, he abolished the mimes, so beloved of the populace, at the outset of his reign, he availed himself of the occasion of his first triumph to restore them again. The people were delighted by the removal of the imperial exedra in the circus, whereby five thousand additional places were provided. Taxation was in many directions reduced, and the financial exactions of the imperial officers controlled by the erection of a special court. Elaborate precautions were taken to save Italy from famine; it is said that corn for seven years' consumption at the capital was retained in the granaries. Special encouragement was given to merchants to import articles of food. The corporation of bakers was organized, and made more effective for the service of the public. The internal trade of Italy was powerfully stimulated by the careful maintenance and extension of the different lines of road.

But the most striking evidence of Trajan's solicitude for his people's welfare is found in his institution of the alimenta, whereby means were provided for the rearing of poor and orphan children in Italy. The method had been sketched out by Nerva, but its great development was due to Trajan. The moneys allotted by the emperor were in many cases supplemented by private benevolence. As a soldier, Trajan realized the need of men for the maintenance of the Empire against the outer barbarians, and he preferred that these men should be of Italian birth. He was only carrying a step further the policy of Augustus, who by a system of rewards and penalties had tried to encourage marriage and the nurture of children. The annual effect of Trajan's regulations is hard to measure; they were probably more effectual for their object than those of Augustus. The foundations were confiscated by Pertinax, after they had existed less than a century.

Toward the end of 100, or early in 101, Trajan left Rome for the Danube. Pretexts for a Dacian war were not difficult to find. Although there was no lack of hard fighting, victory in this war depended largely on the work of the engineer. The great military road connecting the posts in Upper Germany with those on the Danube, which had been begun by Tiberius, was now extended along the right bank of the river as far as the modern Orsova. The year 101 was spent mainly in roadmaking and fortification. In the following campaign, after desperate fighting to the north of the Danube in the mountainous region of Transylvania, such as Cæsar never encountered in all his Gaulish wars, the capital of Decebalus was taken, and he was forced to terms. He agreed to raze all fortresses, to surrender all weapons, prisoners, and Roman deserters, and to become a dependent prince under the suzerainty of Rome. Trajan came back to Italy with Dacian envoys, who in ancient style begged the Senate to confirm the conditions granted by the commander in the field. The emperor now enjoyed his first Dacian triumph, and assumed the title of Dacicus. At the same time he royally entertained the people, and no less royally rewarded his brave officers.

But the Dacian chief could not school his high spirit to endure the conditions of the treaty, and Trajan soon found it necessary to prepare for another war. A (p. 048) massive stone bridge was built across the Danube, near the modern Turn Severin, by Apollodorus, the gifted architect who afterward designed the forum of Trajan. In 105 began the new struggle, which on the side of Decebalus could now only lead to victory or to destruction. The Dacians fought their ground inch by inch, and their army as a whole may be said to have bled to death. The prince put an end to his own life. His kingdom became an imperial province; in it many colonies were founded, and peopled by settlers drawn from different parts of the empire. The work done by Trajan in the Danubian regions left a lasting mark upon their history. The emperor returned to the capital in 106, laden with captured treasure. His triumph outdid in splendor all those that went before it. Games are said to have been held continuously for four months. The chariot races were the grandest ever seen. Ten thousand gladiators contended in the arena, and eleven thousand beasts were killed in the contests. Congratulatory embassies came from all lands, even from India. The grand and enduring monument of the Dacian wars is the noble pillar which still stands on the site of Trajan's forum at Rome. The end of the Dacian wars was followed by seven years of peace.

Many details in the administration of the law, and particularly of the criminal law, were improved. To cure corruption in the Senate the ballot was introduced at elections to magistracies. The finances of the state were economically managed, and taxpayers were most carefully guarded from oppression. Trajan never lacked money to expend on great works of public utility; as a builder, he may fairly be compared with Augustus. His forum and its numerous appendages were constructed on a magnificent scale. Many regions of Italy and the provinces, besides the city itself, benefited by the care and munificence which the emperor bestowed on such public improvements. His attitude toward religion was, like that of Augustus, moderate and conservative. The famous letter to Pliny about the Christians is, according to Roman ideas, merciful and considerate. It was impossible, however, for a Roman magistrate of the time to rid himself of the idea that all forms of religion must do homage to the civil power. Hence the conflict which made Trajan appear in the eyes of Christians like Tertullian, the most infamous of monsters. On the whole, Trajan's civil administration was sound, careful, and sensible, rather than brilliant or epoch-making.

Rome under Trajan—A chariot race.

In 113 or 114 Trajan left Italy to make war in the East. The never-ending Parthian problem confronted him, and with it were more or less connected a number of minor difficulties. Already by 106 the position of Rome in the East had been materially improved by the peaceful annexation of districts bordering on the province of Syria. The district of Damascus, hitherto a dependency, and the last remaining fragment of the Jewish kingdom, were incorporated with Syria; Bostra and Petra were permanently occupied, and a great portion of the Nabathæan kingdom was constituted the Roman province of Arabia. Rome thus obtained mastery of the most important positions lying on the great trade-routes from East to West. These changes could not but affect the relations of the Roman with the Parthian empire, and the affairs of Armenia became, in 114, the occasion of war. Trajan's campaigns in the East ended in complete (p. 049) though brilliant failure. In the retreat from Ctesiphon (117), the old emperor tasted for almost the first time the bitterness of defeat in the field. He attacked the desert city of Hatra, westward of the Tigris, whose importance is still attested by grand ruins. The want of water made it impossible to maintain a large force near the city, and the brave Arabs routed the Roman cavalry. Trajan, who narrowly escaped being killed, was forced to withdraw.

A more alarming difficulty lay before him. Taking advantage of the absence of the emperor in the far East, and possibly by an understanding with the leaders of the rising in Armenia and the annexed portions of Parthia, the Jews all over the East had taken up arms at the same moment, and at a given signal. The massacres they committed were portentous. In Cyprus 240,000 men are said to have been put to death, and at Cyrene 220,000. At Alexandria, on the other hand, many Jews were killed. The Romans punished massacre by massacre, and the complete suppression of the insurrection was long delayed, but the Jews made no great stand against disciplined troops. Trajan still thought of returning to Mesopotamia, and of avenging his defeat at Hatra, but he was stricken with sickness and compelled to take ship for Italy. His illness increasing, he landed in Cilicia, and died at Selinus in that country about the end of July, 117.

Trajan, who had no children, had continually delayed to settle the succession to the throne, though Pliny, in the "Panegyric" had pointedly drawn his attention to the matter, and it must have caused the Senate much anxiety. Whether Hadrian, the cousin of Trajan, was actually adopted by him or not, is impossible to determine; certainly Hadrian had not been advanced to any great honors by Trajan. Even his military service had not been distinguished. Plotina asserted the adoption, and it was readily and most fortunately accepted, if not believed, as a fact.

The Senate had decreed to Trajan as many triumphs as he chose to celebrate. For the first time a dead general triumphed. When Trajan was deified, he appropriately retained, alone among the emperors, a title he had won for himself in the field, that of "Parthicus." He was a patient organizer of victory rather than a strategic genius. He laboriously perfected the military machine, which when once set in motion went on to victory. Much of the work he did was great and enduring, but the last year of his life forbade the Romans to attribute to him that felicitas which they regarded as an inborn quality of the highest generals. Each succeeding emperor was saluted with the wish that he might be "better than Trajan and more fortunate than Augustus." Yet the breach made in Trajan's felicitas by the failure in the East was no greater than that made in the felicitas of Augustus by his retirement from the right bank of the Rhine.[Back to Contents]

(p. 050) DIOCLETIAN
(245-313)

Circus scene.

Caius Valerius Diocletianus, one of the most famous of the Roman emperors, was, as De Quincey says, "doubtless that man of iron whom the times demanded." He was born at Dioclea, in Dalmatia, some say at Salona, about A.D. 245 according to some, but others make him ten years older. His original name was Diocles, which he afterward changed into Diocletianus. He is said by some to have been the son of a notary, by others the freedman of a senator named Anulinus. He entered the army at an early age, and rose gradually to rank; he served in Gaul, in Mœsia, under Probus, and was present at the campaign against the Persians, in which Carus, then emperor, perished in a mysterious manner. Diocletian commanded the household or imperial body-guards when young Numerianus, the son of Carus, was secretly put to death by Aper his father-in-law, while travelling in a close litter on account of illness, on the return of the army from Persia. The death of Numerianus being discovered after several days by the soldiers near Calchedon, they arrested Aper and proclaimed Diocletian emperor, who addressing the soldiers from his tribunal in the camp, protested his innocence of the death of Numerianus, and then upbraiding Aper for the crime, plunged his sword into the traitor's body.

The new emperor observed to a friend that "he had now killed the boar," punning on the word Aper, which means a boar, and alluding to the prediction of a soothsayer in Gaul, who had told him that he would become emperor after having killed a boar (Vopiscus, in "Hist. Aug."). Diocletian, self-composed and strong-minded in other respects, was all his life an anxious believer in divination, which superstition led him probably to inflict summary punishment upon Aper with his own hands. He made his solemn entrance into Nicomedia in September, 284, which town he afterward chose for his favorite residence.

Carinus, the other son of Carus, who had remained in Italy, having collected a force to attack Diocletian, the two armies met at Margum, in Mœsia, where the soldiers of Carinus had the advantage at first, but Carinus himself being killed during the battle by his officers, who detested him for his cruelty and debauchery, (p. 051) both armies joined in acknowledging Diocletian emperor in 285. Diocletian was generous after his victory, and, contrary to the common practice, there were no executions, proscriptions, or confiscations of property; he even retained most of the officers of Carinus in their places.

Diocletian, on assuming the imperial power, found the Empire assailed by enemies in various quarters—on the Persian frontiers, on the side of Germany and of Illyricum, and in Britain; besides which a serious revolt had broken out in Gaul among the rural population, under two leaders who had assumed the title of emperor. To quell the disturbance in Gaul, Diocletian sent his old friend Maximianus, a native of Pannonia, and a brave but rude uncultivated soldier. Maximianus defeated the Bagaudi, for such was the name the rustic insurgents had assumed. In the year 286, Diocletian chose Maximianus as his colleague in the Empire, under the name of Marcus Valerius Maximianus Augustus, and it is to the credit of both that the latter continued ever after faithful to Diocletian and willing to follow his advice. Maximianus was stationed in Gaul and on the German frontier to repel invasion; Diocletian resided chiefly in the East to watch the Persians, though he appears to have visited Rome in the early part of his reign. About 287 the revolt of Carausius took place. In the following year Maximianus defeated the Germans near Treviri, and Diocletian himself marched against other tribes on the Rhætian frontier; the year after he defeated the Sarmatians on the lower Danube. In the same year, 289, peace was made between Carausius and the two emperors, Carausius being allowed to retain possession of Britain. In 290 Maximianus and Diocletian met at Milan to confer together on the state of the Empire, after which Diocletian returned to Nicomedia. The Persians soon after again invaded Mesopotamia and threatened Syria; the Quinquegentiani, a federation of tribes in the Mauritania Cæsariensis, revolted; another revolt under one Achillæus broke out in Egypt; another in Italy under a certain Julianus.

Diocletian thought it necessary to increase the number of his colleagues in order to face the attacks in the various quarters. On the 1st of March, 292, or 291, according to some chronologists, he appointed Galerius as Cæsar, and presented him to the troops at Nicomedia. At the same time Maximianus adopted on his part Constantius called Chlorus. The two Cæsars repudiated their respective wives; Galerius married Valeria, Diocletian's daughter, adding to his name that of Valerianus; and Constantius married Theodora, daughter of Maximianus. Galerius was a native of Dacia, and a good soldier, but violent and cruel; he had been a herdsman in his youth, for which he has been styled, in derision, Armentarius. The two Cæsars remained subordinate to the two Augusti, though each of the four was entrusted with the administration of a part of the Empire. Diocletian kept to himself Asia and Egypt; Maximianus had Italy and Africa; Galerius, Thrace and Illyricum; and Constantius had Gaul and Spain. But it was rather an administrative than a political division. At the head of the edicts of each prince were put the names of all the four, beginning with that of Diocletian.

(p. 052) Diocletian resorted to this arrangement probably as much for reasons of internal as of external policy. For nearly a hundred years before, ever since the death of Commodus, the soldiers had been in the habit of giving or selling the imperial crown, to which any general might aspire. Between thirty and forty emperors had been thus successively made and unmade many of whom only reigned a few months. By fixing upon four colleagues, one in each of the great divisions of the Empire, each having his army, and all mutually checking one another, Diocletian put a stop to military insolence and anarchy. The Empire was no longer put up to sale, the immediate and intolerable evil was effectually cured, though another danger remained, that of disputes and wars between the various sharers of the imperial power; still it was a smaller danger and one which did not manifest itself so long as Diocletian remained at the helm. Writers have been very free of their censure upon this emperor for parcelling, as they call it, the Empire; but this was the only chance there was of preventing its crumbling to pieces. Italy, and Rome in particular, lost by the change: they no longer monopolized the wealth and power of the world, but the other provinces gained. The Empire was much too large for one single man or a single central administration, under the dwindled influence of the Roman name, and amidst the numerous causes of local dissension and discontent, private ambition, social corruption, and foreign hostility, that had accumulated for three centuries, since the time of Augustus.

Army on horse.

The new Cæsars justified Diocletian's expectations. Constantius defeated the Franks and the Alemanni, and soon after reconquered Britain. Galerius subjugated the Carpi, and transported the whole tribe into Pannonia. In the year 296, the Persians, under their king Narses, again invaded Mesopotamia and part of Syria. Galerius marched against them, but being too confident was defeated by superior numbers, and obliged to retire. On his meeting Diocletian, the emperor showed his dissatisfaction by letting Galerius walk for a mile, clad in purple as he was, by the side of his car. The following year Galerius again attacked the Persians, and completely defeated them, taking an immense booty. The wives and children of Narses, who were among the prisoners, were treated by Galerius with humanity and respect. Narses sued for peace, which was granted by Diocletian on condition of the Persians giving up all the territory on the right or western bank of the Tigris. This peace was concluded in 297, and lasted forty years.

At the same time Diocletian marched into Egypt against Achillæus, whom he besieged in Alexandria, which he took after a siege of eight months, when the (p. 053) usurper and his chief adherents were put to death. Diocletian is said to have behaved on this occasion with unusual sternness. Several towns of Egypt, among others Busiris and Coptos, were destroyed. Constantine, the son of Constantius, who was educated at Nicomedia, accompanied the emperor in this expedition. Diocletian fixed the limits of the Empire on that side at the island of Elephantina, where he built a castle, and made peace with the neighboring tribes, called by some Nubæ and by others Nabatæ, to whom he gave up the strip of territory which the Romans had conquered, of seven days' march above the first cataract, on condition that they should prevent the Blemmyes and Ethiopians from attacking Egypt. Maximianus in the meantime was engaged in putting down the revolt in Mauritania, which he effected with full success.

For several years after this the empire enjoyed peace, and Diocletian and his colleagues were chiefly employed in framing laws and administrative regulations, and in constructing forts on the frontiers. Diocletian kept a splendid court at Nicomedia, which town he embellished with numerous structures. He, or rather Maximianus by his order, caused the magnificent Thermæ at Rome to be built, the remains of which still bear Diocletian's name, and which contained, besides the baths, a library, a museum, public walks, and other establishments.

In February, 303, Diocletian issued an edict against the Christians, ordering their churches to be pulled down, their sacred books to be burnt, and all Christians to be dismissed from offices civil or military, with other penalties, exclusive however of death. Various causes have been assigned for this measure. It is known that Galerius had always been hostile to the Christians, while Diocletian had openly favored them, had employed them in his armies and about his person; and Eusebius speaks of the prosperity, security, and protection which the Christians enjoyed under his reign. They had churches in most towns, and one at Nicomedia in particular under the eye of the emperor. Just before the edict was issued, Galerius had repaired to Nicomedia to induce Diocletian to proscribe the Christians. He filled the emperor's mind with reports of conspiracies and seditions. The imperial palace took fire, Constantine ("Oratio ad Cœtum Sanctorum") says, from lightning, and Galerius suggested to the emperor that it was a Christian plot.

The heathen priests on their part exerted themselves for the same purpose. It happened that on the occasion of a solemn sacrifice in presence of the emperor, while priests were consulting the entrails of the victims, the Christian officers in the imperial retinue crossed themselves; upon which the priests declared that the presence of profane men prevented them from discovering the auspices. Diocletian, who was very anxious to pry into futurity, became irritated, and ordered all his Christian officers to sacrifice to the gods under pain of flagellation and dismissal, which many of them underwent. Several oracles which he consulted gave answers unfavorable to the Christians. The church of Nicomedia was the first pulled down by order of the emperor. The rashness of a Christian who publicly tore down the imperial edict exasperated Diocletian still more: the culprit was put to a cruel death. Then came a second edict, ordering all magistrates to arrest (p. 054) the Christian bishops and presbyters, and compel them to sacrifice to the gods. This was giving to their enemies power over their lives, and it proved, in fact, the beginning of a cruel persecution, whose ravages were the more extensive in proportion to the great diffusion of Christianity during a long period of toleration. This was the last persecution under the Roman Empire, and it has been called by the name of Diocletian. But that emperor issued the two edicts reluctantly and after long hesitation, according to Lactantius's acknowledgment: he fell ill a few months after, and on recovering from his long illness he abdicated. Galerius, who had instigated the persecution, was the most zealous minister of it; the persecution raged with most fury in the provinces subject to his rule, and he continued it for several years after Diocletian's abdication, so that it might with more propriety be called the Galerian persecution. Legend says that he died of a horrible disease, filled with remorse and imagining himself haunted by the martyred spirits. The countries under the government of Constantius suffered the least from it.

In November of that year (303) Diocletian repaired to Rome, where he and Maximianus enjoyed the honor of a triumph, followed by festive games. This was the last triumph that Rome saw. The populace of that city complained of the economy of Diocletian on the occasion, who replied that moderation and temperance were most required when the censor was present. They vented their displeasure in jibes and sarcasms, which so hurt Diocletian that he left Rome abruptly in the month of December for Ravenna, in very cold weather. In this journey he was seized by an illness which affected him the whole of the following year, which he spent at Nicomedia. At one time he was reported to be dead. He rallied, however, in the spring of 305, and showed himself in public, but greatly altered in appearance. Galerius soon after came to Nicomedia, and it is said that he persuaded Diocletian to abdicate. Others say that Diocletian did it spontaneously.

On the 1st of May he repaired with his guards to a spot three miles out of Nicomedia, where he had thirteen years before proclaimed Galerius as Cæsar, and there addressing his officers and court, he said that the infirmities of age warned him to retire from power, and to deliver the administration of the state into stronger hands. He then proclaimed Galerius as Augustus, and Maximinus Daza as the new Cæsar. Constantine, who has given an account of the ceremony, which is quoted by Eusebius in his life of that prince, was present, and the troops fully expected that he would be the new Cæsar; when they heard another mentioned, they asked each other whether Constantine had changed his name. But Galerius did not leave them long in suspense; he pushed forward Maximinus and showed him to the assembly, and Diocletian clothed him with the purple vest, after which the old emperor returned privately in his carriage to Nicomedia, and immediately after set off for Salona in Dalmatia, near which he built himself an extensive palace by the sea-shore, in which he lived for the rest of his life, respected by the other emperors, without cares and without regret.

The Victims of Galerius.

Part of the external walls which inclosed the area belonging to his palace (p. 055) and other buildings still remain, with three of the gates, as well as a temple, which is now a church at Spalatro, or Spalato, in Dalmatia, a comparatively modern town, grown out of the decay of the ancient Salona, and built in great part within the walls of Diocletian's residence, from the name of which, "Palatium," it is believed that "Spalato" is derived.

At the same time that Diocletian abdicated at Nicomedia, Maximianus, according to an agreement between them, performed a similar ceremony at Milan, proclaiming Constantius as Augustus, and Severus as Cæsar. Both Severus and Maximinus Daza were inferior persons, and creatures of Galerius, who insisted upon their nomination in preference to that of Maxentius and Constantine, whom Diocletian had at first proposed. Maximianus retired to his seat in Lucania, but not being endowed with the firmness of Diocletian he tried some time after to recover his former power, and wrote to his old colleague to induce him to do the same. "Were you but to come to Salona," answered Diocletian, "and see the vegetables which I grow in my garden with my own hands, you would no longer talk to me of empire." In his retirement he used to observe to his associates how difficult it is, even for the best-intentioned man, to govern well, as he cannot see everything with his own eyes, but must trust to others, who often deceive him.

Once only he left his retirement to meet Galerius in Pannonia for the purpose of appointing a new Cæsar, Licinius, in the place of Severus, who had died. Licinius, however, did not prove grateful, for after the death of Galerius, in 311, he ill-treated his widow, Valeria, Diocletian's daughter, who then, with her mother, Prisca, took refuge in the territories of Maximinus Daza. The latter offered to marry Valeria, but on her refusal exiled both her and her mother into the deserts of Syria, and put to death several of their attendants. Diocletian remonstrated in favor of his wife and daughter, but to no purpose, and his grief on this occasion probably hastened his death, which took place at his residence near Salona in July, 313. In the following year his wife and daughter were put to death by order of Licinius.

Diocletian ranks among the most distinguished emperors of Rome; his reign of twenty-one years was upon the whole prosperous for the empire, and creditable to the Roman name. He was severe, but not wantonly cruel, and we ought to remember that mercy was not a Roman virtue. His conduct after his abdication shows that his was no common mind. The chief charge against him is his haughtiness in introducing the Oriental ceremonial of prostration into the Roman court. The Christian writers, and especially Lactantius, have spoken unfavorably of him; but Lactantius cannot be implicitly trusted. Of the regular historians of his reign we have only the meagre narratives of Eutropius and Aurelius Victor, the others being now lost; but notices of Diocletian's life are scattered about in various authors, Libanius, Vopiscus, Eusebius, Julian in his "Cæsars," and the contemporary panegyrists, Eumenes and Mamertinus. His laws or edicts are in the "Code." Among other useful reforms, he abolished the frumentarii, or licensed informers, who were stationed in every province to (p. 056) report any attempt at mutiny or rebellion, and who basely enriched themselves by working on the fears of the inhabitants. He also reformed and reduced the number of the insolent Prætorians, who were afterward totally disbanded by Constantine.[Back to Contents]

ALARIC THE BOLD
By Archdeacon Farrar, D.D., F.R.S.
(360-410)

Men on a river raft.

Alaric, the "All-ruler," surnamed the Baltha, or Bold, was born, about 360, on an island in the delta of the Danube. As long as the great Theodosius lived, the Goths continued in his pay; but when he died in 395, and Alaric was elevated on the shield as king of the Visigoths, he determined to lead his nation to independent victory. In 395 and 396 he invaded Greece,[7] and Stilicho, the Vandal general of the Western Emperor, advanced against him. The strategy of Stilicho was masterly, and it would probably have gone hard with Alaric had not Stilicho been suddenly bidden by the Eastern Emperor, Arcadius, to withdraw his western troops. Again, in 396, Stilicho penned Alaric in the Peloponnesus, but for some unknown reason allowed him to escape into Illyricum. The Gothic chief had, however, struck deadly terror into the Eastern Empire; and by way of pacifying him Arcadius made him Master-General of Illyricum.

Alaric had already found the way to Italy when he accompanied Theodosius in his campaign against the usurper Maximus in 394. In 400 he descended into Italy, not with an army only, but with the migration of his entire people. He defeated the Romans under the walls of Aquileia, and in 401 besieged Honorius (p. 057) in Milan. In 402 a vast army under Stilicho met him at Pollentia; and when an old chieftain advised him to retire, Alaric, with fierce indignation, silenced his timid counsellor, and told him that he had been assured by a voice which came from the grave and said to him, "Thou shalt penetrate to the City" (ad Urbem). But the oracle on this occasion had "paltered" with him in a double sense. He penetrated indeed ad Urbem, not however "to the City" but to the little river Urbis (or Borbo), near Pollenzo. On Good Friday, April 4, 402, the Western army, under a dwarfish Hun chieftain named Saulus, attacked and routed Alaric, recovering the splendid spoils of Greece, freeing his captives, and winning back the purple robes which the Emperor Valens had lost in the battle of Adrianople. In that disastrous defeat even the wife of Alaric, if we may believe the poet Claudian, was taken prisoner.

Alaric in Athens.

Alaric retreated through Lombardy, and the feeble Emperor Honorius—"a crowned nothingness"—celebrated at Rome, in 404, that triumph which was signalized by the last display of the brutal gladiatorial games. No sooner had the first blood been shed than the Eastern monk Telemachus sprang down into the arena to part the combatants. His life paid the price of his glorious temerity. He was hewn and stoned to death. But that death was not in vain. The horrid massacres, at which not only men but women gazed in demoniac pleasure and excitement, had been condemned centuries before by the genius of Christianity. It was monstrous that an emperor calling himself a Christian should preside at such a spectacle. But the martyrdom of Telemachus at last touched the callous and torpid consciences of nominal Christians. Thenceforth the games of the amphitheatre were abolished. But it was too late for repentance. Alike "the incomparable wickedness and the incomparable splendor" of the Imperial City were doomed to destruction. Even the blood of a Christian martyr voluntarily shed would not atone for the blood of hundreds of brave barbarians who, in that huge Flavian amphitheatre, had been

"Butchered to make a Roman holiday."

The day was near at hand when the Goths would arise and glut their ire.

Alaric, though he had retreated, was still in a position to dictate terms to Stilicho. He fixed his camp at Æmona, and was promised large pay and the government of a Western province under nominal allegiance to the Western Emperor. But the pledges made to him were broken, and their fulfilment delayed. In 408 the promise of the oracle was fulfilled, for he led his troops under the walls of Rome. The feeble and timid Honorius had retired to Ravenna, where he was safe behind the marshes, the pine-woods, and the stone walls against which Alaric said that he did not fight. In 408 the wretched court filled to the full the brimming cup of its iniquities—first by a massacre of barbarian auxiliaries at Pavia, and then by the foul, ungrateful murder of Stilicho himself, at the command of Honorius. No army barred the path of Alaric, but an Italian hermit denounced on him the wrath of heaven. This might have awoke the superstitious terrors of the Gothic soldiers if Alaric had not assured them, with confidence, that he was (p. 058) obeying a divine and irresistible command. The Goths encamped under the walls which for six hundred and nineteen years had never been threatened by a foreign enemy. The wealthy, effeminate, corrupted nobles, and people of the Eternal City thought to terrify Alaric back by boasts of their numbers. His scornful answer simply was, "The thicker the hay, the easier it is mowed." He demanded all their gold, silver, movables, and barbarian slaves. "What then, O King, will you leave us?" He grimly said, "Your lives."

He was content, however, this time to accept a ransom, of which the most curious element was three thousand pounds of pepper.

The folly, pride, and braggadocio of Honorius, or rather of his miserable court, brought Alaric a second time to Rome in 409. The city capitulated, and he raised Attalus to the purple as a rival to Honorius. But Attalus proved utterly incompetent, and the next year Alaric publicly and insultingly degraded him to a private position. In 410 a fresh insult and wrong inflicted on the Goths by Honorius brought Alaric once more to Rome. He burst in by the Salarian gate, and sacked the city, which was only saved from irretrievable destruction by the respect of the Goths for the churches, which they regarded as inviolable asylums. The pillage and conflagration of Rome, and the resultant ruin and misery, came on the world like a shock of earthquake; but the Pagans saw that the catastrophe would have been yet more awful if the conquerors had not been Christians as well as the conquered.

It seemed as if even the Imperial City could not fall without some circumstance of irony and insult. Paganism may be said to have perished in two bursts of laughter: one when in Alexandria the Christian mob burst into merriment to see the rats scurry out of the rotten head of the shattered statue of Serapis; and again when Theodosius and his soldiers laughed at the golden thunderbolts torn from the uplifted arms of the menacing statue of Jupiter. And Honorius managed to invest even the fall of Rome with ludicrous associations. He was a great fancier of fowls, and had a particularly large hen, which, out of compliment, he called Roma. When the agitated eunuch entered to tell him that "Rome had perished," "What!" cried the Emperor, in a voice of deep concern, "why, she was feeding out of my hand only an hour ago!" "It is the city of Rome that has fallen, sire!" "Oh, my friend," said the Emperor, with a sigh of relief, "but I thought you meant that my hen 'Roma' had died."

Laden with spoils of priceless value, the creaking wagons of the Gauls went southward. Alaric meant to lead them to the conquest first of Sicily, then of Africa. But death overtook him amid the schemes of his ambition. He died after a short illness, and was buried in the bed of the river which washes the walls of Cosentia. The captives who reared the tomb were massacred, that none might know where the hero lay. The Visigothic kingdom of Spain, founded by the warrior tribe which he first led into the West, is one of the most permanent results of his invasion.[Back to Contents]

The Last Gladiatorial Contest.

(p. 059) ATTILA
By Archdeacon Farrar, D.D., F.R.S.
(REIGNED 434-453)

Attila.

The Goths were "improvable barbarians;" but the Huns whom Attila led to ravage the fair peninsula were mere Tartar savages of the lowest stamp.

All the other invaders of Italy were of Teutonic origin, but the Huns were Mongols—of such perfect hideousness that Jornandes regarded them as the offspring of witches and demons. Attila, son of Mundzuk, "the scourge of God," resembled his soldiers in his flat, swarthy features, deep-set, fierce, rolling black eyes, and stunted figure. The Huns were uncivilizable savages, who might harry a continent, but neither under Attila, nor Genghis, nor Timour, could ever found an organized kingdom. This terrific and brutal little Kalmuck, with his bead-like eyes, this skin-clad devourer of raw flesh, delighted to lay waste whole empires with fire and sword, and to terrify the world. In 434 he became king of the Huns with his brother Bleda. In 445 Bleda died, possibly by murder; and in 445 Attila, now sole king of the Huns, invaded the Eastern Empire, and ravaged it even to the gates of Constantinople. He was only bought off from destroying it by an enormous tribute. The infamous plot to assassinate him by the treachery of Edecon, who was one of his counsellors, was discovered and foiled, and Attila sent message after message filled with insults to Theodosius II. In 451 his vast army moved westward, and devastated Gaul. It was met in the Mauriac plain and defeated by Ætius in the tremendous battle of Chalons, after a carnage among the most frightful that the world has ever seen. The Huns were only saved from final destruction by the heroic boldness of Attila. He had a vast hill of saddles and other spoils erected, and declared his determination to burn himself alive rather than be taken captive. He led back his shattered host to Pannonia, and there in his wooden palace meditated revenge. In the one authentic glimpse which we get of his mode of life, we see him at a banquet, while his nobles and warriors caroused and burst into peals of laughter at the buffooneries of an idiot and a jester. But the Hunnish king sat grave and silent, caressing the cheeks of the boy Ernak, his favorite son, whom the augur pointed out as the heir of his destinies.

In 452 he once more put his myriads in motion and invaded Italy. Every (p. 060) where the land was as the garden of Eden before him; behind him it was a desolate wilderness. Encouraged by the omen of some storks leaving their nest, he stormed and destroyed Aquileia, and, razing city after city into heaps of blackened ruins, advanced to Milan, boasting that "where his horses' hoofs trod the grass never grew." Rome awaited with trembling a fate which seemed to threaten unprecedented catastrophe. But in this awful crisis the Pope, Leo I., showed himself the true Defensor civitatis. He headed a splendid embassy to the camp of Attila. Already Leo had helped to trace with firm hand the deep lines of Christian orthodoxy which were accepted by the Church at the fourth great Œcumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 as her final utterance as to the true Godhead, the perfect Manhood, the invisible yet distinct union of both Godhead and Manhood, in the person of her Lord. Now Leo showed what miracle could be achieved by the irresistible might of weakness. Attila's god was a naked iron sword of gigantic size, which had been accidentally found by a herdsman and presented to him, but which he palmed off on his nation as the authentic sword of the Scythian war-god. Yet he was easily overawed by the majesty of religion. He scorned the guilty, corrupt courtiers of Constantinople, but he almost trembled before a holy man. Already in 451 he had spared the defenceless city of Troyes at the entreaty of its bishop, St. Lupus, and had asked the benefit of his prayers. And when he gazed on the calm countenance, noble presence, and dauntless demeanor of Pope Leo, an awful dread fell upon him. Alaric had conquered Rome, but Alaric had died immediately afterward. How if it would be so with Attila? He yielded, he retired; he said—or perhaps he said—that he could conquer men, but that the wolf (Lupus) and the lion (Leo) had learnt how to conquer him. The tide of brutal and barbarous invasion was rolled back again, and the world and the city saw that while the Emperor Valentinian had been ready to fly, the Pope Leo was not afraid to advance, and that "when the successor of Cæsar had been proved useless, the successor of St. Peter had been a very present help." Indirectly Attila was the strengthener of the Papacy, and the founder of Venice. That stately and gorgeous city owes its origin to the Italians who fled in terror before the brutal Huns from ruined Padua to the islands and lagoons at the mouth of the Piave.

In retiring, Attila had demanded once more the hand and dower of Honoria, the disgraced sister of Theodosius II. But in 453 he added a beautiful maiden, Ildico, to his innumerable wives. He retired from the banquet after a deep carouse, and in the morning was found dead amid a flood of gore by which he had been suffocated, while Ildico sat weeping beneath her veil by the dead king's bedside. He died as a fool dieth; and his warriors gashed their cheeks and wept tears of blood, and gave him a splendid burial. And his name passed into legend as the King Etzel of the Niebelungen Lied, and Alti of the Saga. But his "loutish sons" quarrelled among themselves. The Teutons, Goths, Gepidæ, Alani, and Heruli reasserted their independence in the great victory of Netad in Pannonia in 454; and though the Huns left their name in Hungary, henceforth the empire of Attila became mere "drift-wood, on its way to inevitable oblivion."[Back to Contents]

(p. 061) CLOVIS THE FIRST
By Thomas Wyatt, A.M.
(465-511)

Clovis on horse.

The honor of having established the French monarchy and the French nation, of having raised himself from his position as chief of a petty and turbulent tribe to be the ruler of a powerful and permanent kingdom, unquestionably belongs to Clovis the First, who was born in the year 465. The multitude of petty kingdoms subsisting in Gaul at this time, forms, says an illustrious historian, one of the greatest difficulties in the ancient history of France. In a manuscript work, still preserved in the King's library at Paris, it is imputed to the disorders which prevailed after the expulsion of Childeric, father of Clovis, when such as were sufficiently powerful took advantage of the anarchy in which the nation was involved, to establish independent monarchies of their own. Clovis ascended the throne at the age of fifteen, and at the early age of twenty began to show his jealousy toward those whom he considered usurpers of his territories. His courtiers, ever ready to fan into a flame the spark they had discovered in the breast of their master, incited him to challenge Syagrius, a Roman who still had possession of Soissons and a part of the adjacent country.

The challenge was accepted by this self-made prince, and a bloody battle was the result. Syagrius saved himself by flight, taking refuge among the Visigoths; but Alaric II., then king, fearing the threats of Clovis delivered the refugee into his power, who caused him to be beheaded.

The Frankish leader was now a man of note in the world; but he was still nothing more than the leader of a band of warriors, often retaining his authority only by brute force. At one time, his band having stormed the Christian city of Rheims and carried off from its church a vase "of marvellous size and beauty," the bishop sent word to their leader entreating him to return it. "That will I," responded Clovis to the envoy, "if when we divide our spoil the vase falls to my lot." In his desire to gratify the bishop, who was an old friend, the chieftain went a step beyond his promise and requested his companions to give him the great vase as his share. Then cried one of their number, striking (p. 062) the trophy angrily with his axe, "No, you shall draw lots with the rest of us, and take what comes honestly to you." His comrades, however, felt that this was going too far. The vase was given to their leader, and by him returned to Rheims. A year passed, and Clovis gave no sign that he remembered the affront. Then, having called his band together for a review, he passed them one by one, examining and approving their arms, till, last of all, he reached the warrior who had opposed him; and he eyed this man sternly. "Your weapons suit you poorly," he said, "none of them are fit for service." And, snatching the man's axe from him he threw it to the ground. The other stooped to recover it, when, whirling up his own axe, Clovis crashed it through the rebel's skull. "'Twas so you struck my vase," he cried.

Such a leader, who could so long await a fitting opportunity, and then so sternly avenge an insult to his power, was well calculated to wield great authority among these stern and hardy warriors. He had enjoyed several years of uninterrupted tranquillity, when Basinus, King of Thuringia, made a sudden irruption into that part of the dominions of Clovis situated beyond the Rhine. Clovis was no sooner informed of this invasion, than he assembled his army, and entering the enemy's country, laid it waste with fire and sword, and imposed a perpetual tribute on the offending monarch.

Clovis now bent his thoughts on the formation of an alliance by marriage with some of the neighboring princes. He accordingly despatched his ambassadors to the King of Burgundy, asking for the hand of the Princess Clotildis, his niece, the accounts of whose extraordinary piety and beauty had made a deep impression on his heart. The court of Burgundy, fearful of offending a young and powerful prince, whose arms had hitherto been everywhere victorious, complied with his request.

Great preparations were made for the departure of the queen elect, and she began her journey in a kind of wagon, called basterne, drawn by oxen, which was the most elegant vehicle then in use. The marriage was celebrated at Soissons, amid the joyful acclamations of the people.

Heaven smiled on this propitious union; Clotildis became mother of a prince, who received baptism with the king's consent, and was named Ingomer. The subsequent death of this child, on whom Clovis had so firmly set his affections, inspired him, notwithstanding the prayers and remonstrances of his affectionate and pious princess, with an aversion to the Christian religion. He was prevailed on, however, to suffer his second son to undergo the ceremony of baptism. He also was attacked by a severe indisposition, but the prayers of this pious woman were heard and answered, the young prince restored to health, and the anxiety of his father dispelled.

Clovis punishing a rebel.

The conversion to Christianity of Clovis, soon after this, is thus related by historians: The Germans had commenced preparing for incursions into the dominions of Clovis; he, being apprised of their intentions, hastened to impede their progress, and met them on the plains of Tolbiac, not far from Cologne, where a bloody battle was fought. Clovis, perceiving that the strength of his (p. 063) army was diminishing, lifted up his eyes to Heaven, and exclaimed, "God of my Queen Clotildis, grant me victory, and I here vow to worship none other than you." He immediately rallied his yielding forces, again led the charge, pierced with irresistible ardor the enemy's battalions, and entirely put them to flight. He then followed them into Germany, where he dispersed the remains of the vanquished army, reduced to obedience a nation hitherto invincible, and compelled them to pay him an annual tribute.

Faithful to his vow, he requested to be made acquainted with the mysteries of the Christian religion; and on Christmas-day, 496, received baptism at the church of St. Martin, in Paris, from Remigius, Bishop of Rheims, a prelate equally distinguished for his birth and piety. His sister Albofleda, and about three thousand of his subjects, followed his example. An improbable legend prevails, that during the ceremony of the baptism of Clovis, a dove descended from Heaven, bringing a phial of balsam, with which he was consecrated. This is what is now called La Sainte Ampoule, the Holy Phial; which was kept with extreme care, and contained the oil used by the monarchs of France at their coronation.

The conversion of Clovis had not repressed his warlike ambition. Brabant, the country of Liege, and that part of Flanders which was situated on the sea-coast, had not yet submitted to the new conqueror of Gaul.

The most considerable of these small states was the Arborici, a Christian nation, firmly attached to the Christian religion, and thence maintaining an enmity against the French, who were pagans. But the recent conversion to Christianity of Clovis and so many of his subjects, diminished the aversion of the people of this peaceful nation; they were induced to consent to an alliance with him, acknowledge him for their sovereign, and became subjects of the French kingdom. The Roman garrisons, following the example, capitulated and gave up all the places that were still in their possession, toward the ocean and on the banks of the Rhine.

Clovis did not as yet consider his victories complete; the conquest of Brittany was soon followed by that of Alaric II., King of the Visigoths. Before the French set out on this latter expedition, they made a vow not to shave themselves till they had subdued their enemies. Vows of this kind were very common at that period. It was the custom of those times to draw an omen from the verse that was chanting, when a person entered the church. The king's envoys, at their entrance into the church of St. Martin, heard these words from the Psalms: "Thou hast endued me with strength for the wars; thou hast supplanted those that had risen up against me; and hast put mine enemies to flight." This fortunate prognostic was confirmed on the banks of the Vienne. The army was at a loss where to pass that river, when a hind plunged into the stream in sight of the whole camp, and showed them a ford which still retains the name of the Passage of the Hind.

The two armies met in the plains of Vouille, near Poictiers. Soon after the commencement of the battle, the monarchs of either nation perceiving each (p. 064) other, rushed forward at the same instant, and engaged in single combat, when the superior skill and strength of Clovis decided the victory in his favor; he dismounted his adversary, and slew him on the spot. Nothing now remained to impede the progress of the conqueror, who extended his empire from the banks of the Loire to the Pyrenean mountains. Clovis then withdrew to Paris, and fixed his residence in a palace in the southern part of the capital, which had formerly been inhabited by the emperors Julian and Valentinian the First. Success had hitherto attended all the plans of Clovis, and allowing for the ferocious and martial spirit which then prevailed, he had preserved his fame from any material pollution.

The assembling of the Council of Orleans was the last remarkable event of the reign of Clovis, who died the same year, A.D. 511, at the age of forty-five, and was buried in the church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, which he had caused to be built. It has been a subject of dispute with historians, whether the military or the political talents of this prince were the most eminent. Gaul, subdued by his arms, preserved by his prudence, affords a proof that he was equally skillful in the cabinet and formidable in the field.[Back to Contents]

BELISARIUS[8]
By Charlotte M. Yonge
(505-565)

Few men have performed greater achievements than this general, to whom it was given to be conqueror again and again over nations hitherto invincible, and to arrest, during his own lifetime, the disintegration of the Roman Empire. He lived in the early part of the sixth century of the Christian era, though the date of his birth is not certainly known, and he was in the prime of life about 530. He is believed to have been the son of a peasant of Thrace, probably of Slavonian descent, as his name, stripped of its classical form, would belong to that language and would be Beli-than, or the White Prince. Apparently he began life as a common soldier, and gradually rose by courage and ability. His master, the Emperor Justinian, was an equally remarkable personage, capable of conceiving and accomplishing magnificent designs, yet withal of a mean, ungenerous, ungrateful character. The codification under Christian conditions of the old Roman law, so as to serve as the foundation of jurisprudence to all the European nations except the English; the building of the church of St. Sophia, and the rolling back for a time the flood that on all sides was overwhelming the ancient Empire of Rome were all due to this prince.

For the last two centuries the East and the West had been separated, though (p. 065) sometimes coalescing under one head, but in 476, the last titular Emperor of the West had been deposed. Italy had been the prey of successive swarms of Teutonic nations. Vandals and Ostro-or Eastern Goths had burst upon Rome, and while the Vandals proceeded to devastate the great Roman province of Northern Africa and set up a kingdom there, the Goths had established another in Italy. Constantinople still held its ground as the magnificent capital of the Eastern Empire, maintaining the old civilization, but her dominions were threatened by the vigorous Persians on the east, and on the north by the Bulgarians, a nation chiefly Slavonic and very savage and formidable.

Man carrying a child.

This was the inheritance to which Justinian succeeded, in right of his uncle Justin, a successful soldier. He was forty-five years old at the time, 527, having had an entirely civil and literary training, and though warfare continued through the thirty-eight years of his reign, he never once appeared at the head of his armies. Yet his foresight and ambition were great, and he had not long been on the throne before he decided on an endeavor to recover the African provinces. The Vandals were Arian heretics, denying the Godhead and Eternity of our Blessed Lord, and they had cruelly persecuted and constantly oppressed the Catholics, who entreated the Eastern Empire to deliver them, so that religious zeal added strength to Justinian's ambition. The luxuries of Carthage and the other African cities had in a couple of generations done much to destroy the vigor of the Vandals, so that the conjuncture was favorable.

Belisarius had proved his abilities in a dangerous retreat in the Persian war, but he probably owed his appointment to the African expedition to his wife Antonina. She was the daughter of a charioteer in the exhibitions of the hippodrome, which were loved to a passionate, almost incredible degree, by the people of the Eastern cities; and Theodora, the wife of the emperor was likewise the child of one of these competitors in the races. Both ladies were devotedly loved by their husbands, though scarcely worthy of their affection, and it was thus that Belisarius obtained the opportunity for his career, a curious parallel in this, as in other respects, to the great Duke of Marlborough.

Belisarius only took on this expedition 10,000 foot and 6,000 horse, picked men, with carefully selected officers, bred in the old Roman discipline, for he (p. 066) much preferred a small army whom he could trust, to a large and unwieldy host; and his fleet amounted to 500 vessels of different sizes.

The expedition sailed from Heraclea in June, 533, and one of the first acts of the general showed his sternness of discipline. A murder was committed in a drunken fit by two Huns, and he immediately hung them both, and silenced the murmurs of the rest by a speech in which he declared that Roman arms must be carried in pure hands, and that no courage would obtain pardon for violence or insubordination.

He landed in September at Caput Vadas, five days' distance from Carthage, without opposition and with an eager welcome from the natives, who rejoiced to be delivered from the Vandal oppression, and Belisarius preserved their goodwill by hindering his soldiers from committing any act of plunder or violence. Indeed Gelimer, king of the Vandal horde, was only like an enemy occupying the place; there had been no amalgamation, and persecution had sown seeds of bitter hatred. Gelimer, however, marched out to meet the invaders, and at ten miles from Carthage was totally defeated, and his brother and nephew killed. He fled into the deserts of Numidia, recalling his brother who was putting down a revolt in Sardinia, and leaving the city to Belisarius, who entered on the feast of the great Carthaginian martyr, St. Cyprian, amid the extreme joy of the populace. When the brother of Gelimer returned from Sardinia there was still another battle to fight, but as usual Belisarius conquered. Gelimer submitted and received an estate in Galatia, and lived there in honor and prosperity for the rest of his days. The bravest of his warriors took service in the Roman army under their victor! Gelimer had, however, first to march in the triumph of Belisarius, the only one ever held at Constantinople! Justinian had recalled the general, though it would have been far wiser to have left him to consolidate his conquest; but no Roman emperor could be free from the suspicion that a victorious general might become his rival, nor could the scrupulous loyalty of Belisarius disarm him. It is said that Gelimer marched along, repeating, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

The next scheme of Justinian was the recovery of Italy from the Goths. This people had never shown the same savage cruelty as the Vandals, but had settled amicably among the Italians, and adopted much of their civilization and learning. They had recently had a truly great monarch, Theodoric, who deserves to rank with Alfred or Charlemagne, but he had left only a daughter, Amalasanta, a noble woman, and an ally of Justinian. She was stifled in her bath by Theodatus, the husband whom she had raised to the throne. The Gothic kingdom was convulsed by the crime, and Justinian saw both motive and opportunity for conquest. Yet he only gave Belisarius 4,500 horse and 3,000 infantry when this great enterprise was begun in 535, besides some choice troops of the imperial guard.

Sailing to Sicily he met no resistance except at Panormis (Palermo), but observing that his masts overtopped the walls, he hung up small rafts full of archers, whose arrows disconcerted the inhabitants so that they surrendered, and the whole island was restored to the Roman power. Theodatus tried to treat with (p. 067) Justinian, and while the negotiations were going on, Belisarius crossed over to the African province, which was threatened by the Moors of Mount Atlas. Strong measures were needed, but for the time the incursions were repressed, and by the time the bad faith of Theodatus had disgusted the Greeks, Belisarius was ready to cross into Italy and besiege Naples. As usual, the native inhabitants were his friends, but were in terror of the Gothic garrison, and these, on their side, were afraid of treating with the Greek general because Theodatus had their wives and children as hostages.

Theodatus, however, shut himself up in Rome and gave no aid to Naples, and Belisarius had made up his mind to raise the siege and attack Rome itself, when one of his soldiers came to tell him that in exploring an aqueduct which had been stopped, he had found that the passage for the water could easily be enlarged so as to admit armed men. Once more he summoned the native magistrates, but the inhabitants would not submit, and he sent on the bravest of his men, with two trumpets and with lanterns, while he made an attack to divert the attention of the Goths. The way was long, and the soldiers found themselves in the very heart of Naples, in a basin with very steep sides, impossible, as it seemed, to climb. One man however, scrambled up and found himself in a hovel, where he obtained a rope and pulled up his companions. The Goths who were resisting the escalade, threw down their arms when they were attacked from behind. Belisarius did his utmost to stop slaughter and plunder, but could not entirely succeed, for many of his soldiers were savage Huns, barely kept under restraint at any time.

Theodatus remained in Rome, and appointed a brave general called Vetiges by the Greeks, but whose name was probably Wittich, to the command. The army suspected treachery, raised Wittich on their shields and proclaimed him king. Theodatus fled, and was murdered on his way, in 536. Wittich thought it better to draw off to Ravenna to reorganize his army, so the way to Rome was left open to Belisarius, who had only to summon a small garrison to submit. He gained it in the March of 537, and immediately repaired the defences; and indeed there was need, for Wittich besieged him there for a whole year, and he had terrible difficulties to contend with. The Roman populace had lost all their spirit of patriotism, and murmured from the first that with a mere handful of soldiers, he should bring down the Goths upon them, and when the distresses of a protracted siege came on them, they loudly complained, though all the useless mouths were safely sent off by sea to the fertile fields about Naples.

It is impossible to dwell at length on the events of the siege and the gallant deeds on either side. The Goths, under Wittich, were gallant enemies, but the diseases of the Campagna reduced their numbers, and finally, late in the March of 538, Wittich broke up his camp and retreated to Ravenna. There he called the Franks to his assistance, but they were mere barbarians, who plundered Goths as well as Italians and added to the general misery of the country. At last, in 539, Wittich yielded Ravenna to Belisarius who sent him to Constantinople, where he lived in honor and prosperity.

Justinian recalled his general, always fearing the result of his success. The (p. 068) city of Pavia was still left to the Goths, and here they chose as king, a kinsman of Wittich, called Totila, young, gallant, and generous. The utter incapacity and greed of Justinian's governors left the country open to him, and he traversed the whole peninsula collecting Goths again to his standard, till their kingdom was restored. Indeed the whole of the land was so desolate that hardly any opposition was offered. In 544 Justinian was obliged to send Belisarius back to Italy, but most insufficiently supplied with men and money. He had in the meantime been fighting on the Persian frontier, with the great King Chosroës, and with more success than could have been hoped for with such means as were at his disposal. He came to Ravenna, but his forces were too scanty to enable him to undertake any enterprise, and where he did not command in person, the so-called Roman captains were uniformly beaten. Totila occupied Rome in 546, and tried to destroy it, overthrowing the walls and beginning to ruin the ancient buildings. Belisarius wrote to him a remonstrance, telling him how after-ages would regard such destruction, and he actually thanked the great general for his advice and spared the churches and monuments, but carried off all the inhabitants, so that when, forty days later, Belisarius re-entered the city not a man was found there. He tried to rebuild the defences, but Justinian would not send him money or men, and when Totila again advanced, he was forced to abandon the beloved and honored city. Justinian then recalled him, preferring to leave Italy to its fate rather than trust to his unswerving loyalty. An unwarlike despot, who knew that the will of an army might at any time raise a popular captain in his stead, could hardly fail to dread the one man who was beloved by his soldiers and always successful. The Empress Theodora was dead, and no honors awaited Belisarius, only undeserved suspicion.

Once again, however, the great man was called for. The Bulgarians were desolating Thrace. There was an outcry that none but Belisarius could save the Empire. He was placed at the head of only 300 old soldiers, and found the peasants helpless and incapable, yet he succeeded in repulsing the enemy and driving them beyond the Danube. The outcries of admiration alarmed the emperor, now in his eightieth year, and the notion that Belisarius, almost as old, must be a traitor, haunted him. There was a real conspiracy, and the enemies of the general accused him of sharing in it. The acts of accusation were read to the old man, but he stood, listening and not answering a single word, no doubt in his disdain. The emperor caused the brave old man's eyes to be put out, and he was stripped of all his possessions. It is said that he stood in front of his former palace with a wooden dish for alms. "Date obolum Belisario," give a penny to Belisarius, has become a proverb. However, Justinian seems to have repented, and he restored to Belisarius his wealth and his palace, in which, shortly after, the old man died on the 13th of March, 565, only eight months before his ungrateful sovereign.[Back to Contents]

Author signature.

Belisarius receiving alms.

(p. 069) CHARLES MARTEL
By Henry G. Hewlett
(694-741)

Fight on horses.

Toward the close of the seventh century of our era, the kingdom which we now name France was peopled by a half-barbarous, professedly Christian race, of mixed tribes, the ruling portion of which originally sprang from Germany. The Frankish kingdom, as it was called, had risen upon the ruins of the Roman Empire, and for about a century was remarkable for the ability of its sovereigns. But after the death of King Dagobert I., in A.D. 638, the royal family seemed devoid of any mental or moral strength whatsoever, and the kings of this line have been always known as fainéants—weak idlers. The real power of the government was held by a succession of chief officers of the household, styled "Mayors of the Palace." The most distinguished of these noblemen was Pepin d'Héristal, who, from the year 688 to his death in 715, was virtually king of France—the nominal sovereigns being but puppets in his hands. The country was then divided into two great districts—the eastern, known as Austrasia; and the western, as Neustria. At his death Pepin left the reins of government to his grandson, Theodebald, an infant under the guardianship of his mother, Plectrude. The lawful king, Dagobert III., was also a child. It was clear that a fierce race of warriors required a strong arm to keep them in check, and could not long brook an infant's sway. The Neustrians commenced the revolt by expelling Theodebald and his mother, and choosing for their ruler a Mayor of the Palace named Raginfred. They then attacked Austrasia, which had not joined in the revolt. It was without fitting defences, and had no able man to direct its resistance against this assault. What course should the Austrasians take? Pepin, as we have said, left the government of France to a grandson; but he had a natural son, Charles, then in the flower of his youth. Whether on account of his not having been born in wedlock, or his having offended Pepin by some misconduct, Charles had been slighted, and even hated, by his father, who banished him to a monastery at Cologne, far from the intrigues of statecraft and the tumult of war. "Here," said the Austrasians, "is the likeliest man for our leader; a son of the wisest and firmest ruler the kingdom has yet acknowledged." It was agreed, therefore, by the people, that he should be invited to come, and a summons (p. 070) was sent from Metz, the then capital of the district, to the cloister at Cologne. Young and brave, pining in uncongenial society, and debarred from the employment of his talents, Charles seized this opportunity of release. Eagerly accepting the invitation, he hastened to return with the messengers, and soon, amidst the shouts of the delighted Austrasians, put himself at their head, under the title of Duke. The family of Pepin was not royal, and Charles doubtless saw the wisdom of yielding to the popular reverence for the ancient race of kings. The Neustrians had the same prejudice; and, accordingly, while Charles in the one district, and Raginfred in the other, virtually governed, their respective tools were Clothaire IV., King of Austrasia, and Chilperic II., King of Neustria, two descendents of the old dynasty. These events took place in A.D. 716.

The two countries now prepared for war. The Franks of Neustria were not so thoroughly and habitually warlike as their brethren of Austrasia, whose military system was better developed, in consequence of their position near the Rhine continually exposing them to conflicts with bands of Germans, which crossed the river in hopes of conquest. Nevertheless, the Austrasian Franks were now at a disadvantage, by reason of the unprepared state in which the Neustrian attack found them. Charles and Raginfred collected each an army, and marched at its head. The encounter was for some time doubtful, but the Neustrians gained a considerable advantage in the first campaign, and Charles was obliged to seek an asylum in the forests of the Ardennes region. Here, however, he did not long remain in concealment. Issuing forth at the head of a fresh body of men, he came upon the Neustrian army by surprise. A fearful slaughter took place, which he followed up by a vigorous pursuit. The Neustrians made a stand at Vincy, near Cambray. Charles met them here, and after a gallant struggle completely routed the force of Raginfred. This victory decided the fate of Neustria, and the crown of both countries was, in the year 719, placed on the head of Chilperic II. Either from motives of policy or of generosity, Charles did not abuse his success by the punishment of his rival, Raginfred, on whom he conferred the earldom and province of Anjou. He himself was content to remain sole Mayor of the Palace, under a show of obedience to a powerless king.

A brave, iron-willed man, this Charles Martel appears to us—dimly as the light of historic tradition permits us to behold him. He made his army the sole engine of his power, and cultivated it to the fullest extent then possible to him. Even the Church was not able to resist him; and at his pleasure he seized on benefices which he deemed too important to be placed in priestly hands, and bestowed them on his warriors. A rebellion among the nobles of Aquitaine demanded his attention; and thither he marched with ruthless determination, stemming revolt and establishing order. But he had a work to do in his generation far more important to Europe than any he had yet performed.

The Arab tribes, which in the last century had been converted, by the genius of Mohammed, from idolatry to the worship of God, and from lawless bandits into disciplined soldiers, were at this period pursuing their career of religious (p. 071) conquest into the heart of Christendom. The Gothic monarchy of Spain, under its last king, Roderick, had fallen beneath the invading force, which now threatened France. The Duchy of Aquitaine, which considered itself independent of France, but which Charles had reduced to comparative submission, opposed the only barrier to Arabian aggression. Eudes (or Eudin), then Duke, was a gallant prince, and did all that in him lay to resist the claim which the new lords of Spain asserted to his province of Septimania (Languedoc). He defeated one invading army before Toulouse in the year 721; but the tide of invasion still flowed in. He then tried intrigue, and bestowed his daughter on Musa, a revolted general of the great Arabian leader, Abd-er-rahman. But all was in vain. In 732 the Moslem once more appeared, in tremendous force, all over the south of France, ravaging as they came, finally besieging Arles and defeating its relieving army.

The wives and children of the invaders followed in their train, as though they intended to settle in the country. Abd-er-rahman was advancing yet farther on his victorious way, when Eudes, as a last resource, applied for aid to his enemy, Charles. What were personal enmities now? This common, national danger must be averted at all hazards. So thought Eudes when he sent to Charles. So thought Charles when he quickly summoned an army, and marched toward the plains between Poitiers and Tours, where the Arabs were quartered. The importance of the struggle that ensued cannot well be over-estimated. Christianity and Mohammedanism were at issue for the possession of Europe. The difficulties that lay in the way of the success of Charles were very great. The Arabs were animated with the fanatical zeal of a new faith, and a greedy desire of domination. The Franks, on the other hand, were probably not at all conscious of, or concerned for, the religious interests which were at stake, and aimed at no more than a vigorous rebuff of an unprovoked assault. They had the advantage of familiarity with the country and climate; but were outmatched, beyond comparison, in numbers. The old monkish chronicles tell us that the battle lasted seven days. The Arab army was mainly composed of cavalry and bowmen, and the Franks suffered greatly from the charges of the former and the unerring shots of the latter. But on the seventh day the combatants closed with each other. Heavily fell the iron hands of the sturdy Franks upon the sinewy, but slender frames of their Asiatic opponents. Nevertheless, Charles had no cavalry; and the swift steeds of Arabia, with their daring riders, trampled down his battalions. Suddenly there was a cry in the rear of the Moslem army that the infidels were spoiling the camp. More eager to save their treasure than to slay their foes, the Arabs turned in this direction. Skilfully interpreting the movement as a flight, Charles cheered on his men to pursue. The crisis was fatal to Abd-er-rahman. He tried to rally his cavalry. It was too late; and he fell, pierced through with many a Frankish spear. Night separated the contestants, and when in the morning the Franks would have renewed the battle, they found that their foes had stolen away in the night, fled, leaving their treasure and their dead upon the field. The incredible number of 300,000 Arabs is said to have (p. 072) fallen in this memorable defeat. The remainder fled through Aquitaine before the avenging sword of Charles. Well was he named "Martel," from the hammer-like might of his good arm! Who can say whether France and Germany, ay, England and all Europe, might not at this hour be sunk in such poverty and degradation of moral and intellectual life as Turkey now exhibits, had Charles Martel and his bold Franks fought less valiantly and enduringly at Tours?

History tells us but little more of Charles. He carried his arms into the Netherlands, conquered the Frisians and other tribes which then dwelt there, made them Christians by force, and vassals of the Frankish crown. In Saxony, and other parts of Germany also, his power was feared and obeyed. Pope Gregory II. offered to transfer to him the allegiance due from Rome to the Greek emperor, but the scheme was ended by the death of Charles. After the decease of King Chilperic II., in 720, Thierry IV. reigned in the same feeble manner as the other kings of his degenerate race. On his death, in 736, the people did not care to appoint a successor, being satisfied with the government which Charles continued to exercise under the title of "Duke of the Franks." He died in 741, at the age of forty-seven, leaving the monarchy to his three sons, Pepin, Carloman, and Griffo. Of the elder of these, we shall hear more anon. Charles Martel is the first hero who succeeded in stamping his image upon the surface of European history, after the chaos of the broken Roman empire had in some measure yielded to the spirit of order. He was chieftain of an unruly tribe, rather than king of a settled state. In this light we must regard him if we would judge his character fairly; and thus considered, he may be said to have governed France wisely and well. If his memory cannot be cleared from the reproach of certain deeds of violence, we can afford to pardon him when we remember the good service that his strong hammer once wrought for Europe.[Back to Contents]

Charles Martel at Tours.

PEPIN THE SHORT
By Henry G. Hewlett
(714-768)

Charles Martel, as we have seen, was never king of the Franks, and his sons were too politic to assume the title on his death. Griffo, the third son, may be dismissed from our notice at once, as he was from the government of the kingdom, his brothers, Carloman and Pepin, taking advantage of his weakness to dispossess him. After this act of supremacy they were for some time content to act as Mayors of the Palace, in the districts of Neustria and Austrasia respectively, under the nominal sovereignty of Childeric III., the last of the fainéant kings, whom they set up as a puppet. Carloman distinguished himself by attacking the Saxons and other tribes which threatened (p. 073) aggression; and in 744 Pepin severely punished a revolt of his father's old enemy (Eudes, Duke of Aquitaine), who, as already stated, had been compelled to do homage to the Frankish crown. Pepin soon had no sharer in his power or fame. Carloman was not made for a soldier, and, under the sudden impulse of devotional feeling, resigned his office in 747, and retired into a Roman monastery.

Ox carriage in a forest.

Pepin, thus left sole lord of France, did not hastily attempt to cut prejudice against the grain. Feeling his way gradually, he sounded popular opinion for three years, on the subject of changing the royal dynasty, and placing the crown on the head of one who had a good right arm to defend it. Finding himself strong enough at last to take decided measures, he quietly dethroned Childeric III.; and shaving off his long hair, the symbol of royalty among the early Frankish kings, sent him to one monastery at St. Omer, and his son Thierry to another at Fontenelle. This accomplished, Pepin proceeded to obtain justification for his acts from the Pope. This was a novel step; for although the bishops of Rome had great spiritual influence over Christendom, in virtue of their alleged descent from St. Peter, their temporal authority was by no means admitted out of their own diocese. Pepin was a wise man in his generation, though short-sighted as far as posterity was concerned. He saw clearly enough that no sanction which he could obtain for his acts was likely to be so binding upon the minds of his subjects, and the world at large, as that pronounced by a power which had already fastened its yoke on the soul and conscience. The Pope, Zachariah, was not insensible to the importance of the Frankish monarchy, being at the time of Pepin's accession especially in need of help against Astolpho, king of the Lombards, who threatened to seize on the Eternal City itself. When, therefore, Pepin's envoys arrived at Rome, and conveyed their master's application, the pontiff did not hesitate to answer that it was truly fitting for one to be king in name who was king in deed. Thus fortified against opposition, Pepin proceeded to fulfil all the ceremonies attaching to the kingly dignity. He and his queen, Bertha, were duly crowned and consecrated by Boniface, the "Apostle of Germany," and Bishop of Mainz. This rite was performed at Soissons, in 752, with all the pomp that the Jewish kings had been wont to employ on such occasions. The national assembly was summoned; and in presence of the great Frank nobles Boniface produced a phial of oil, announcing it as that which had fallen from heaven on the day when the first king of the Franks (Clovis) had received baptism. (p. 074) The sacred oil was then poured upon the head of Pepin, and amid the acclamations of nobles, soldiers, and peasants, he was crowned their king.

He was a man, like his father, well fitted to rule over a warlike and rude people. What was most admired in a king at that period was personal courage, and, what was most needed, strength of will. Pepin had both; but he had one defect which, though to us it may seem a trifle, to men who prized the body far more than soul or mind, was a serious matter. He was of small stature, and acquired the name of "the Short" in consequence. Fully conscious that this was a disadvantage to him, and, indeed, hearing his name once derided by his courtiers, Pepin took a speedy opportunity of proving that what he lacked in height he more than made up in strength and bravery. It was common in those days to exhibit animal fights at the Frankish court, as indeed, to her shame be it spoken, is common in Spain to this day. On one of these occasions a lion and a bull were engaged in a savage and mortal struggle. Pepin and his courtiers were seated round the arena looking on, when suddenly the king started up, and cried: "Who will dare to separate those beasts?" There was a dead silence. The attempt was madness—certain destruction. Unsheathing his sword, and glancing scornfully round upon his courtiers, Pepin leapt into the arena, and drew the attention of the combatants upon himself. Raging with fury, they turned to attack him; but with cool and measured steps he evaded their onset, and by a succession of well-aimed blows struck off, one after the other, the heads of lion and bull. Then, throwing down his streaming sword, he accosted the astonished courtiers: "Am I worthy to be your king?" A deafening shout was the reply, and the name of "Pepin the Short" was no longer a term of derision but of honor.

Having thus established his reputation for those qualities which were most essential to his influence, Pepin took measures to render it permanent by acts of wisdom and liberality. He frequently called together the national assemblies, and included in the summons bishops as well as chieftains. Consulting with them as to the most prudent course of action, he preserved their affection to his person and obedience to his orders. He especially courted the favor of the Church, and showed his gratitude for the sanction which Pope Zachariah had given to his accession, by assisting the next Pope, Stephen III., in a serious contest which broke out in 753 with the Lombards. Their king, Astolpho, took an active part in the great religious quarrel which then agitated Christendom, with respect to the worship of images, espousing the cause of the image-breakers, while Pope Stephen supported the opposite side. Threatened with invasion, the Pope flew to the court of Pepin, who received him with much reverence, and in return was crowned king for the second time. Stephen even pronounced sentence of excommunication against all who should dare to choose a king of France from any other than Pepin's family. At the Pope's request the king assembled an army, and marched against Astolpho. The war lasted for two years, but eventually terminated in the success of Pepin, who compelled Astolpho to yield up to the Pope the exarchate of Ravenna, the last relic of the great Roman empire in Italy, and of which the Lombards had deprived the Eastern emperors.

Pepin after the murder of Duke Waifre.

(p. 075) Pepin, however, had in view a more national war than this. The duchy of Aquitaine was perpetually in a state of resistance to the authority of the Frankish kings. This was owing, in some measure, to the difference of language and civilization which prevailed between the people of the duchy and those of the kingdom. A spirit of hostility was also fostered by the increase of population which Aquitaine obtained from the Gascons, a tribe from the Pyrenees, not subject to the Franks. After a long period of uncertain warfare, Pepin determined to decide the struggle by active operations. He accordingly, in 759, took advantage of a rising of the people of Septimania against their Arabian rulers. He made himself master of Narbonne and other towns, and freed the Septimanians. Then turning upon Waifre, Duke of Aquitaine, he summoned him to disgorge the spoils which he had seized from the Aquitanian lands of certain churches of France. Waifre replied in defiant terms, and for nine years resisted the attempts of Pepin to reduce him to submission. It was a sanguinary and desolating war. The fairest districts of Auvergne, Limousin, and Berry, were laid waste and burnt by Pepin; and in the Frankish territories Waifre levied an equally terrible retribution. He was murdered at last by some of his own subjects, at the instigation of the Frankish king. This is the one instance of actual crime which we find recorded against Pepin; and legend tells that its shadow rested heavily upon his mind. Aquitaine was annexed to the kingdom.

It was Pepin's last achievement. He did not, as we might have expected he would, die in harness on the battle-field, but of dropsy, at the age of fifty-four. This event occurred in 768, at St. Denis. Long before his death he had obtained the coronation of his two sons, Charles and Carloman, jointly with his own, and directed his territories to be divided between them.

To be the successful founder of a new dynasty demands a genius which we may justly entitle heroic, expressive as that word is of strength of character merely, without regard to moral worth. Pepin, however, was not devoid of the latter, to a limited extent, and has left a memory which, if not remarkable for virtue, is at least not disfigured by vice.[Back to Contents]

CHARLEMAGNE
By Sir J. Bernard Burke
(742-814)

The birthplace of Charlemagne is unknown, but from various data we may infer that he was born somewhere about the year 742, nearly seven years before his father, Pepin the Short, assumed the title of king. His mother was Bertha, daughter of Charibert, Count of Leon.

Of his boyhood we know as little as of his birth, but he seems at an early age to have mingled in the real business of life, for when only twelve years old (p. 076) we find him despatched to receive and welcome the sovereign pontiff who came to implore his father's aid against the barbarians that threatened Rome. From the usual habits of the Franks, it is also probable that he accompanied Pepin in his campaigns at an early age; but the first time that we really see him in the field, is on the renewal of the war with the rebellious Duke of Aquitaine.

Charlemagne.

Upon the death of Pepin, 768, Charlemagne and his younger brother, Carloman, succeeded to equal portions of one of the most powerful European kingdoms, bounded by the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Mediterranean, and the ocean. But this would hardly have enabled the monarchs, even had they been united, to resist successfully the incursions of the barbarous tribes on the German frontiers of France, which had commenced with the first establishment of the Frankish dominion in Gaul; and which was kept alive by the constant pouring out of fresh hordes from the overpopulated North. The situation of Charlemagne was rendered yet more perilous by the passive enmity of his brother, and the rebellion of Hunald, the turbulent Duke of Aquitaine. But fortunately, Charlemagne had a genius equal to the difficulties of his situation; though his brother refused to aid him, he defeated Hunald; and no less illustrious by his clemency than by his valor and military skill, he forgave the vanquished rebel.

Desiderius, the king of Lombardy, had made large encroachments upon the states of the Roman pontiff, whose cause was taken up by Charlemagne. This led to feuds, which Bertha, the mother of the Frankish king, endeavored to appease by bringing about a union between her son and the daughter of the Lombard. But Charlemagne soon took a disgust to the wife thus imposed upon him, and repudiated her, that he might marry Hildegarde, the daughter of a noble family in Suabia.

In 771 Carloman died, and Charlemagne was elected to the vacant throne, to the exclusion of his nephews, whose extreme youth, indeed, made them incapable of wearing the crown in such troubled times. Gilberga, the widow of Carloman, immediately fled, and sought an asylum with Desiderius, the common place of refuge for all who were hostile to the Frankish monarch. But the attention of Charlemagne was called off to a more immediate danger from the Saxons, of whom the Frisons were either a branch or the perpetual allies. Had the tribes of which this people were composed been united under one head, instead of being governed by various independent chiefs, the result would probably have been fatal to France. Such a day, however, might come; a second Attila might (p. 077) arise; and with a full conviction of these perils, Charlemagne, when he marched against the barbarians, determined to put them down effectually. He took and destroyed the famous temple of the Irminsule, the great idol of their nation—that is, the Hermansaule, or Pillar of Hermann, which had originally been raised to commemorate the defeat of the Roman Varus by that hero, though in time the name had got corrupted, and the cause of its erection been forgotten. The Saxons were too wise to meet their powerful opponent in the field, and when, as often happened, they were brought to bay, they made a feigned submission, and obtained mercy by vows they never meant to keep. Meanwhile events had been taking place in another quarter, that called away Charlemagne, and obliged him to leave his generals to watch over them.

The Lombard king, Desiderius, had made use of his absence to plunder the papal see, to which Adrian had now succeeded. With some difficulty the Pope contrived to give his friend notice of his danger, when Charlemagne assembled a vast army, one division of which he himself led into Italy over the Alps by Mount Cenis, while the other was conducted to the same ground by his uncle, Duke Bernard, over the Mons Jovis, or Mount Joux, which from this event received the name it has borne ever since, of the Great Saint Bernard. Although surprised by an invasion from a quarter so unexpected, Desiderius marched out to meet his enemy, but his flank being turned, he fled hastily to Pavia, without having struck a blow; Charlemagne pursued the fugitives, but finding the city too strong to be taken by storm, he blockaded it with one portion of his army, while with the other he proceeded against Verona, having reduced which, he returned to the siege of Pavia. Month after month passed, till at length Easter approached, when, leaving the city blockaded as before, he determined to visit Rome in his capacity of patrician or governor. His march through the Italian towns was one of uninterrupted triumph; everywhere he was met with acclamations, and at Rome he was received by the Pope, as well as the people, with the liveliest expressions of gratitude for having freed them from the tyranny of the Lombards. The friendship then cemented between Adrian and his young deliverer lasted through the remainder of their lives without any serious interruption.

Having thus asserted his rights of Patrician or Exarch, Charlemagne was liberal in his donations to the Church, and soon afterward returned to the siege of Pavia, which it now became important for him to bring to a speedy conclusion, the Saxons having again taken advantage of his absence to ravage his frontiers. About the middle of the year, the city surrendered, and he was crowned with the iron crown of Lombardy. He then marched against the Saxons, defeating them whenever they ventured to make a stand, till they found their best resource was in submission.

It was not long before a fresh revolt amongst the Lombards recalled him to their country. Once more he was victorious and once more he was summoned from his career of conquest to meet the Saxons. As usual, they were beaten out of the field, and so completely, that many of them, seeming to have lost all (p. 078) faith in their gods, from repeated defeats, presented themselves with their wives and children to receive baptism.

Amid all these fatigues and battles, which might appear sufficient to have occupied the attention of any one man, Charlemagne retained in his own hands the general government of the state. The local administration was distributed among twelve provincial officers, with the title of Dukes, each of them having the command of a county. Subordinate to these officers were the Counts, who, in fact, were the judges of the land, and had full authority to decide and punish within their jurisdiction. To secure the faithful performance of their duties by these Dukes and Counts, certain officers, under the name of Missi Dominici, were sent in visitations from time to time to inquire into their conduct. In great ecclesiastical questions, or those affecting the more powerful vassals of the crown, either the king himself, or the count of his palace, sat as judge.

Spain next demanded his attention. That country had been subdued by the Arabs, but the descendants of the first conquerors quarrelled among themselves, and Ibn al Arabi, a powerful chief, sought aid of Charlemagne, who marched thither, and being, as usual, victorious, secured to himself a barrier against the Saracens and Gascons. This was seen with ill-will by Lupo, Duke of Gascony, who when the Frankish king was leaving Spain to meet fresh dangers on the Rhine, treacherously laid an ambush for his destruction in the gorges of the Pyrenees. The monarch himself was allowed to pass with the first division of his army, the second was assailed and destroyed in the valley of Roncesvalles, and the conquerors secreting themselves in their mountain fastnesses, presented no object for the vengeance of the indignant monarch. Besides, the barbarians were again ravaging his frontiers, under the command of Witikind, with a fierceness that went far beyond even the worst of their earlier incursions. Their cruelty, however, was retaliated by their almost total annihilation while attempting to retreat across the Adern, and in the ensuing season Charlemagne reduced them, as it seemed, to a state of total submission. But no sooner had he set out for Italy, whither he was called by many pressing affairs, than Witikind, the great leader of the Westphalians, started forth from his retreat in Denmark and stimulated all Saxony to a renewed contest. The time was well chosen. Witikind, who appears to have been as superior to the generals of Charlemagne as he was inferior to the king himself, gave the Franks a complete overthrow.

Charlemagne at Witikind's baptism.

When these tidings were brought to Charlemagne, he returned in all haste to the northern frontiers. The scene was at once reversed. Cowed by his name alone, they had recourse, as usual, to submission, guaranteed by oaths which they never meant to keep, and by hostages who did not hesitate to incur the fatal penalty attached to the certain faithlessness of their countrymen. But this time the king would listen to no terms short of ample vengeance. He demanded that four thousand of the most hostile and turbulent should be delivered up to him, all of whom he had executed in one day, in order to do by intimidation what he had failed to do by kindness. His severity, however, failed in producing the (p. 079) desired effect. It was not long before the Saxons again flew to arms, when they sustained so signal a defeat that very few of all their host escaped from the bloody field. Yet still the spirit of the barbarians, supported by an indomitable passion for war and plunder, continued as little quelled as ever. Witikind and Albion, their most popular chiefs, still maintained the contest, even when suffering nothing but disasters, until at length, their conqueror, subduing them more by policy than by arms, won them over to the Christian faith, which was then embraced by all Saxony.[9] This, for the time, produced a better feeling, though the truce was not of long duration.

Hildegarde, the wife of Charlemagne, had now been dead some short time, when he married Fastrada, the daughter of a Frankish noble. It is said that from this union there arose a spirit of discontent among some of the leading men of his nation, who in consequence rebelled against him; but, finding themselves too weak to contend with him, dispersed, and endeavored to find safety in concealment. They did not, however, escape their merited punishment. Being sooner or later taken, some had their eyes put out, others were degraded from their rank, none were condemned to death, but all to exile. Even these severe examples did not prevent the rise of many petty revolts, the different parts of which the Frankish kingdom was composed not being as yet sufficiently amalgamated; but they were suppressed by the united wisdom and vigor of the monarch.

The short interval of peace now allowed him, Charlemagne employed in endeavoring to educate and civilize his people. He made a tour through his dominions, spreading local and general improvement, reforming laws, advancing knowledge, and building churches and monasteries, Christianity being one of the chief means to which he trusted for the attainment of his grand objects. In this he was no less successful than he had before been in war. With the exception of the Eastern Empire, France was now the most cultivated nation in Europe, even Rome herself sending thither for skilful workmen, while commerce, roads, and mechanics must have been much advanced, as we may infer from the facility with which marble columns and immense stone crosses were often carried through the whole extent of France upon carriages of native construction. Luxury, too, with its attendant arts, had made considerable strides. Vases of gold and silver richly carved, silver tables brightly wrought, bracelets, rings, and table-cloths of fine linen, might be seen in the houses of the nobles. The people must have been dexterous in working iron, for their superiority in this respect is evinced by the severe laws forbidding the exportation of arms.

The calm, thus wisely employed, did not last long. Charlemagne was soon aroused from his peaceful occupations to put down a revolt of Tassilo, Duke of Bavaria, as well as a meditated attack upon Italy by Adalgisus, the son of the deposed Lombard king, Desiderius, who was assisted underhand by the Greek empress, Irene, and had besides formed a secret alliance with the Duke of Beneventum. Tassilo, being seized, was condemned to death by the great council. He (p. 080) appealed to the clemency of the king, who, ever averse to shed blood, mitigated the sentence into a lifelong seclusion from the world in a cloister. Adalgisus was met by the Duke of Beneventum, not to assist him, as he had expected, but to oppose him, for the duke had in good time discovered that loyalty was more likely to prosper than treason. He therefore joined the army of France under Grimwold, and in the battle which succeeded the Greek forces were entirely routed, and Adalgisus disappears from the busy scene.

The empire of Charlemagne was next to be assailed by the Huns, not the same people whose fathers had fought under Attila, though probably descended from the same stock. Upon the death of that ferocious conqueror, the tribes whom his talents had kept united, again sundered. Shortly afterward a warlike nation, calling themselves Avars, approached the northern parts of Europe, having been driven from their native country by the Turks. They spread rapidly, acquiring territory and power, until they were invited by Tassilo to aid him in his meditated treachery. They lost more than one battle against the Franks, but neither their own defeat, nor the total overthrow of their ally, made any change in their purposes. They persisted; fought a hard battle, and were so utterly routed, that they drew back and remained quiet for a while, in order to collect their strength before venturing upon a fresh contest with their tremendous adversary, who, on his part, was no less desirous of a respite for the same object. Little rest, however, was allowed him. No sooner had he beaten back these Huns, than he had to contend with a new enemy, the Weletabes, a Slavonian tribe inhabiting the northern part of Germany, near Brandenburg and Pomerania, from the Elbe to the Baltic. In themselves they might not have excited much alarm, but, if they met with only a temporary success, their example might have been fatal, by rousing the Saxons, who still with reluctance submitted to the yoke imposed upon them. The king, therefore, without loss of time, met and defeated the Weletabes; when he received them into grace, and ever afterward found them faithful.

Having freed himself from this peril, Charlemagne next found that he must turn his arms against the Huns of Hungary, which appears to have been defended by them after a singular fashion. The whole country was surrounded by nine circles of double palisading, formed of trunks of trees twenty feet in height. The interstices of the palisade were twenty feet wide, filled with stone and lime compacted, the top being covered with earth, and planted with shrubs. At the distance of twenty Teutonic, or forty Italian miles, was a second fortified line of the same kind; and thus the circles were repeated, the circumference always narrowing till you came to the innermost, or ring, in which the Avars kept all their wealth, the accumulation of centuries of rapine. Such, at least, is the account, however improbable, handed down to us by an historian of the day.

In the outset fortune favored Charlemagne as usual. He took the first three of the defensive circles sword in hand, and laid waste the country to the junction of the Raab with the Danube, while his son Pepin had met and routed their army in another quarter. But unhappily a pestilential disease broke out among (p. 081) the horses, who died by thousands, and he was obliged to retreat, unpursued, however, by the Avars, their surprise and terror not having yet subsided.

In the doubtful lull that followed, a conspiracy was raised against the life and throne of the monarch, in which his natural son, Pepin the Hunchback, was implicated. It was discovered in time, and all the conspirators were put to death, with the exception of Pepin, who was confined for life within a monastery.

Scarcely had the king escaped this danger, than he was alarmed by news that the Saxons had revolted, and uniting themselves with the Huns, had given a bloody defeat to his cousin, Theodoric. Close upon this came other tidings of equally evil import. In the late campaign against the Huns, Charlemagne had called to his aid his son Pepin, King of Italy, who, notwithstanding he was himself embroiled with Grimbald, Duke of Beneventum, did not hesitate to obey. To reward this prompt obedience, Charlemagne early in the winter had despatched another son, Louis, King of Aquitaine, to the help of his brother, when the Saracens took advantage of the latter's absence to attack his frontiers, and even penetrated to Narbonne before any forces were ready to oppose them. From this expedition they returned home laden with plunder, and satisfied with this success, remained for a while in quiet. Charles therefore had a brief respite to turn against the Saxons; and as he had hitherto found all his precautions unavailing to keep them within the bounds of good order, he broke up the nation, and transported an immense number of the most turbulent to a distance from their own country. Multitudes of men, women, and children were dispersed over France, and not a few were transported to Brabant and various parts of Flanders.

About this time, 793, the first collision took place between the Franks and the piratical Northmen.

It would be alien from our present purpose to follow Charlemagne step by step in his march of conquest and civilization. We need only say in general terms, that he drove back the Arabs, reduced the Huns, became the friend of Haroun al Raschid, his only rival in the paths of greatness, and effectually protected his long line of coast from the attempted incursion of the Northmen. It is said that upon one occasion he arrived at a certain port just as the pirates were preparing to land; but the moment they by some means learnt the presence of the monarch, they immediately fled in terror at his mere name. He remained gazing on the departing vessels, while the tears rolled down his cheeks. His nobles could not help showing surprise at such unusual emotion in the monarch, which being observed by him he exclaimed, "I weep not, my friends, because I myself fear these miserable savages; but I weep that they should dare to show themselves upon my coast while I am living, for I foresee the evils they will bring upon my people when I am dead."

It was always an object of first importance with Charlemagne to support the papal authority, as holding out the only means of spreading Christianity, which he justly considered the most effectual instrument he could employ to enlighten and civilize the world. An attempt had been made to mutilate the Pope, and thus disqualify him for his office, by Campulus and Paschal, two disappointed aspirants (p. 082) to the papacy; but he escaped from their hands and brought his complaints before Charlemagne. The conspirators then attempted to justify the deed, by accusing the Pope of atrocious crimes; and the king calling to his aid certain of the Roman prelates, proceeded to sit in judgment on him. The prelates, however, declared that by all the canonical rules they could not judge their superior; and Leo therefore was allowed, according to an old custom, to purge himself, by a solemn oath, of the crimes which had been laid to his charge.

Many motives of policy at this time induced the Pope to set up an emperor of the West in opposition to the Eastern Empire. It was Christmas-day, when, with the rest of the Catholic world, Charlemagne presented himself in the church of St. Peter. At the desire of the Romans he was dressed in the long robe of the patrician, and unsuspicious, it is said, of the honor intended him, knelt at the high altar; but, just as he was about to rise, Leo advanced, and suddenly placed upon his head the crown of the Western world, amidst the popular acclamations, "Long life and victory to Charles Augustus, crowned by God, great and pacific Emperor of the Romans!"

To end the long-existing feuds between the Western and Eastern Empires, Charlemagne now proposed to marry Irene, who, having deposed her son and put out his eyes, had usurped the throne of Constantinople. Irene herself was not unwilling to accept the offer; but she was overruled by a faction, and a treaty of peace was substituted for a treaty of marriage. But while the negotiations were going on, Irene herself was deposed by the great treasurer, Nicephorus, who even refused to grant her the smallest pittance, so that the degraded empress was obliged to support herself by the labors of the distaff. He was, however, glad to conclude a peace with Charlemagne.

Though troubled from time to time by disputes among the neighboring barbarians, the Frankish monarch might now be said to enjoy peace; and while still in the possession of robust health, he resolved to prepare for death, by allotting among his children such portions of territory as he wished them to possess when he should be removed from the scene. Both his sons and the people willingly consented to the proposed arrangements, which, indeed, bore the stamp of his usual wisdom and justice. But the advanced age which he attained, brought with it the usual evils of protracted life. He saw his friends and children swept away before him. His son Louis alone remained to inherit his vast dominions. With this single drawback the remainder of his time was as prosperous as his earlier career had been; till at length, being suddenly attacked with pleurisy, he expired, after a short illness, in the seventy-second year of his age and the forty-seventh of his reign, January 28, 814.[Back to Contents]

(p. 083) OLAF TRYGGVESON
Extracts from "Early Kings of Norway," by Thomas Carlyle
(955-1000)

Boat on the sea.

Olaf Tryggveson also makes a great figure in the Faröer Saga, and recounts there his early troubles, which were strange and many. He is still reckoned a grand hero of the North, though his vates now is only Snorro Sturrleson of Iceland. Tryggveson had indeed many adventures in the world. His poor mother, Astrid, was obliged to fly with him, on murder of her husband[10] by Gunhild—to fly for life, three months before her little Olaf was born. She lay concealed in reedy island, fled through trackless forests, reached her father's with the little baby in her arms, and lay deep-hidden there; tended only by her father himself; Gunhild's pursuit being so incessant and keen as with sleuth-hounds. Poor Astrid had to fly again deviously to Sweden, to Esthland (Esthonia), to Russia. In Esthland she was sold as a slave, quite parted from her boy, who also was sold, and again sold; but did at last fall in with a kinsman high in the Russian service; did from him find redemption and help, and so rose, in a distinguished manner, to manhood, victorious self-help, and recovery of his kingdom at last. He even met his mother again, he as King of Norway, she as one wonderfully lifted out of darkness into new life, and happiness still in store.

Grown to manhood, Tryggveson, now become acquainted with his birth, and with his, alas! hopeless claims, left Russia for the one profession open to him, that of sea-robbery; and did feats without number in that questionable line in many seas and scenes,—in England latterly, and most conspicuously of all. In one of his courses thither, after long labors in the Hebrides, Man, Wales, and down the western shores to the very Land's End and farther, he paused at the Scilly Islands for a little while. He was told of a wonderful Christian hermit living strangely in these sea-solitudes; had the curiosity to seek him out, examine, (p. 084) question, and discourse with him; and, after some reflection, accepted Christian baptism from the venerable man. In Snorro the story is involved in miracle, rumor, and fable; but the fact itself seems certain, and is very interesting; the great, wild, noble soul of fierce Olaf opening to this wonderful gospel of tidings from beyond the world, tidings which infinitely transcended all else he had ever heard or dreamt of! It seems certain he was baptized here; date not fixable; shortly before poor heart-broken Dunstan's death, or shortly after; most English churches, monasteries especially, lying burnt, under continual visitation of the Danes. Olaf, such baptism notwithstanding, did not quit his viking profession; indeed, what other was there for him in the world as yet?

We mentioned his occasional copartneries with Svein of the Double-beard, now become King of Denmark, but the greatest of these, and the alone interesting at this time, is their joint invasion of England, and Tryggveson's exploits and fortunes there some years after that adventure of baptism in the Scilly Isles. Svein and he "were above a year in England together," this time: they steered up the Thames with three hundred ships and many fighters; siege, or at least furious assault, of London was their first or main enterprise, but it did not succeed. The "Saxon Chronicle" gives date to it, A.D. 994, and names expressly, as Svein's copartner, "Olaus, King of Norway,"—which he was as yet far from being; but in regard to the Year of Grace the "Saxon Chronicle" is to be held indisputable, and, indeed, has the field to itself in this matter. But finding London impregnable for the moment (no ship able to get athwart the bridge, and many Danes perishing in the attempt to do it by swimming), Svein and Olaf turned to other enterprises; all England in a manner lying open to them, turn which way they liked. They burnt and plundered over Kent, over Hampshire, Sussex; they stormed far and wide; world lying all before them where to choose. Wretched Ethelred, as the one invention he could fall upon, offered them Danegelt (£16,000 of silver this year, but it rose in other years as high as £48,000); the desperate Ethelred, a clear method of quenching fire by pouring oil on it! Svein and Olaf accepted; withdrew to Southampton—Olaf at least did—till the money was got ready. Strange to think of, fierce Svein of the Double-beard, and conquest of England by him; this had at last become the one salutary result which remained for that distracted, down-trodden, now utterly chaotic and anarchic country. A conquering Svein, followed by an ably and earnestly administrative, as well as conquering, Knut (whom Dahlmann compares to Charlemagne), were thus by the mysterious destinies appointed the effective saviours of England.

A Norse raid under Olaf.

Tryggveson, on this occasion, was a good while at Southampton; and roamed extensively about, easily victorious over everything, if resistance were attempted, but finding little or none; and acting now in a peaceable or even friendly capacity. In the Southampton country he came in contact with the then Bishop of Winchester, afterward Archbishop of Canterbury, excellent Elphegus, still dimly decipherable to us as a man of great natural discernment, piety, and inborn veracity; a hero-soul, probably of real brotherhood with Olaf's own. He even (p. 085) made court visits to King Ethelred; one visit to him at Andover of a very serious nature. By Elphegus, as we can discover, he was introduced into the real depths of the Christian faith. Elphegus, with due solemnity of apparatus, in presence of the king, at Andover baptized Olaf anew, and to him Olaf engaged that he would never plunder in England any more; which promise, too, he kept. In fact, not long after, Svein's conquest of England being in an evidently forward state, Tryggveson (having made, withal, a great English or Irish marriage,—a dowager princess, who had voluntarily fallen in love with him,—see Snorro for this fine romantic fact!) mainly resided in our island for two or three years, or else in Dublin, in the precincts of the Danish Court there in the Sister Isle. Accordingly it was in Dublin, as above noted, that Hakon's spy found him; and from the Liffey that his squadron sailed, through the Hebrides, through the Orkneys, plundering and baptizing in their strange way, toward such success as we have seen.[11]

Tryggveson made a stout, and, in effect, victorious and glorious struggle for himself as king. Daily and hourly vigilant to do so, often enough by soft and even merry methods,—for he was a witty, jocund man, and had a fine ringing laugh in him, and clear pregnant words ever ready,—or if soft methods would not serve, then by hard, and even hardest, he put down a great deal of miscellaneous anarchy in Norway; was especially busy against heathenism (devil-worship and its rites): this, indeed, may be called the focus and heart of all his royal endeavor in Norway, and of all the troubles he now had with his people there. For this was a serious, vital, all-comprehending matter: devil-worship, a thing not to be tolerated one moment longer than you could by any method help! Olaf's success was intermittent, of varying complexion; but his effort, swift or slow, was strong and continual; and on the whole he did succeed. Take a sample or two of that wonderful conversion process:

At one of his first Things he found the Bonders all assembled in arms; resolute to the death seemingly, against his proposal and him. Tryggveson said little; waited impassive, "What your reasons are, good men?" One zealous Bonder started up in passionate parliamentary eloquence; but after a sentence or two broke down; one, and then another, and still another, and remained all three staring in open-mouthed silence there! The peasant-proprietors accepted the phenomenon as ludicrous, perhaps partly as miraculous withal, and consented to baptism this time.

On another occasion of a Thing, which had assembled near some heathen temple to meet him,—temple where Hakon Jarl had done much repairing, and set up many idol figures and sumptuous ornaments, regardless of expense, especially a very big and splendid Thor, with massive gold collar round the neck of him, not the like of it in Norway,—King Tryggveson was clamorously invited (p. 086) by the Bonders to step in there, enlighten his eyes, and partake of the sacred rites. Instead of which he rushed into the temple with his armed men; smashed down, with his own battle-axe, the god Thor prostrate on the floor at one stroke, to set an example; and in a few minutes had the whole Hakon Pantheon wrecked; packing up, meanwhile, all the gold and preciosities accumulated there (not forgetting Thor's illustrious gold collar, of which we shall hear again), and victoriously took the plunder home with him for his own royal uses and behoof of the state.

By unwearied industry of this and better kinds, Tryggveson had trampled down idolatry, so far as form went,—how far in substance may be greatly doubted. But it is to be remembered withal, that always on the back of these compulsory adventures there followed English bishops, priests, and preachers; whereby to the open-minded, conviction, to all degrees of it, was attainable, while silence and passivity became the duty or necessity of the unconvinced party.

In about two years Norway was all gone over with a rough harrow of conversion. Heathenism at least constrained to be silent and outwardly conformable. Tryggveson next turned his attention to Iceland, sent one Thangbrand, priest from Saxony, of wonderful qualities, military, as well as theological, to try and convert Iceland. Thangbrand made a few converts; for Olaf had already many estimable Iceland friends, whom he liked much, and was much liked by; and conversion was the ready road to his favor. Thangbrand, I find, lodged with Hall of Sida (familiar acquaintance of "Burnt Njal," whose Saga has its admirers among us even now). Thangbrand converted Hall and one or two other leading men; but in general he was reckoned quarrelsome and blusterous rather than eloquent and piously convincing. Two skalds of repute made biting lampoons upon Thangbrand, whom Thangbrand, by two opportunities that offered, cut down and did to death because of their skaldic quality. Another he killed with his own hand, I know not for what reason. In brief, after about a year, Thangbrand returned to Norway and King Olaf, declaring the Icelanders to be a perverse, satirical, and inconvertible people, having himself, the record says, been "the death of three men there." King Olaf was in high rage at this result; but was persuaded by the Icelanders about him to try farther, and by a milder instrument. He accordingly chose one Thormod, a pious, patient, and kindly man, who, within the next year or so, did actually accomplish the matter; namely, get Christianity, by open vote, declared at Thingvalla by the general Thing of Iceland there; the roar of a volcanic eruption at the right moment rather helping the conclusion, if I recollect. Whereupon Olaf's joy was no doubt great.

One general result of these successful operations was the discontent, to all manner of degrees, on the part of many Norse individuals, against this glorious and victorious, but peremptory and terrible king of theirs. Tryggveson, I fancy, did not much regard all that; a man of joyful, cheery temper, habitually contemptuous of danger. Another trivial misfortune that befell in these conversion (p. 087) operations, and became important to him, he did not even know of, and would have much despised if he had. It was this: Sigrid, queen-dowager of Sweden, thought to be among the most shining women of the world, was also known for one of the most imperious, revengeful, and relentless, and had got for herself the name of Sigrid the Proud. In her high widowhood she had naturally many wooers; but treated them in a manner unexampled.

In spite of which, however, there went from Tryggveson, who was now a widower, some incipient marriage proposals to this proud widow; by whom they were favorably received; as from the brightest man in all the world, they might seem worth being. Now, in one of these anti-heathen onslaughts of King Olaf's on the idol temples of Hakon—(I think it was that case where Olaf's own battle-axe struck down the monstrous refulgent Thor, and conquered an immense gold ring from the neck of him, or from the door of his temple)—a huge gold ring, at any rate, had come into Olaf's hands; and this he bethought him might be a pretty present to Queen Sigrid, the now favorable, though the proud. Sigrid received the ring with joy; fancied what a collar it would make for her own fair neck; but noticed that her two goldsmiths, weighing it on their fingers, exchanged a glance. "What is that?" exclaimed Queen Sigrid. "Nothing," answered they, or endeavored to answer, dreading mischief. But Sigrid compelled them to break open the ring; and there was found, all along the inside of it, an occult ring of copper, not a heart of gold at all! "Ha," said the proud queen, flinging it away, "he that could deceive in this matter can deceive in many others!" And was in hot wrath with Olaf; though, by degrees, again she took milder thoughts.

Milder thoughts, we say; and consented to a meeting next autumn at some half-way station, where their great business might be brought to a happy settlement and betrothment. Both Olaf Tryggveson and the high dowager appear to have been tolerably of willing mind at this meeting; but Olaf interposed, what was always one condition with him, "Thou must consent to baptism, and give up thy idol-gods." "They are the gods of all my forefathers," answered the lady; "choose thou what gods thou pleasest, but leave me mine." Whereupon an altercation; and Tryggveson, as was his wont, towered up into shining wrath, and exclaimed at last, "Why should I care about thee then, old faded heathen creature?" And impatiently wagging his glove, hit her, or slightly switched her, on the face with it, and contemptuously turning away, walked out of the adventure. "This is a feat that may cost thee dear one day," said Sigrid. And in the end it came to do so, little as the magnificent Olaf deigned to think of it at the moment.

Olaf Tryggveson, though his kingdom was the smallest of the Norse Three, had risen to a renown over all the Norse world which neither he of Denmark nor he of Sweden could pretend to rival. A magnificent, far-shining man; more expert in all "bodily exercises," as the Norse called them, than any man had ever been before him, or after was. Could keep five daggers in the air, always catching the proper fifth by its handle, and sending it aloft again; could shoot supremely, throw a javelin with either hand; and, in fact, in battle usually threw (p. 088) two together. These, with swimming, climbing, leaping, were the then admirable Fine Arts of the North; in all which Tryggveson appears to have been the Raphael and the Michael Angelo at once. Essentially definable, too, if we look well into him, as a wild bit of real heroism, in such rude guise and environment; a high, true, and great human soul. A jovial burst of laughter in him, too; a bright, airy, wise way of speech; dressed beautifully and with care; a man admired and loved exceedingly by those he liked; dreaded as death by those he did not like. "Hardly any king," says Snorro, "was ever so well obeyed, by one class out of zeal and love, by the rest out of dread." His glorious course, however, was not to last long.

King Svein of the Double-beard had not yet completed his conquest of England,—by no means yet, some thirteen horrid years of that still before him!—when, over in Denmark, he found that complaints against him and intricacies had arisen, on the part principally of one Burislav, King of the Wends (far up the Baltic), and in a less degree with the King of Sweden and other minor individuals. Svein earnestly applied himself to settle these, and have his hands free. Burislav, an aged heathen gentleman, proved reasonable and conciliatory; so, too, the King of Sweden, and Dowager Queen Sigrid, his managing mother. Bargain in both these cases got sealed and crowned by marriage. Svein, who had become a widower lately, now wedded Sigrid; and might think, possibly enough, he had got a proud bargain, though a heathen one. Burislav also insisted on marriage with Princess Thyri, the Double-beard's sister. Thyri, inexpressibly disinclined to wed an aged heathen of that stamp, pleaded hard with her brother; but the Double-bearded was inexorable; Thyri's wailings and entreaties went for nothing. With some guardian foster-brother, and a serving-maid or two, she had to go on this hated journey. Old Burislav, at sight of her, blazed out into marriage feast of supreme magnificence, and was charmed to see her, but Thyri would not join the marriage party, refused to eat with it or sit with it at all. Day after day, for six days, flatly refused; and after nightfall of the sixth, glided out with her foster-brother into the woods, into by-paths and inconceivable wanderings; and, in effect, got home to Denmark. Brother Svein was not for the moment there; probably enough gone to England again. But Thyri knew too well he would not allow her to stay here, or anywhere that he could help, except with the old heathen she had just fled from.

Thyri, looking round the world, saw no likely road for her, but to Olaf Tryggveson in Norway; to beg protection from the most heroic man she knew of in the world. Olaf, except by renown, was not known to her; but by renown he well was. Olaf, at sight of her, promised protection and asylum against all mortals. Nay, in discoursing with Thyri Olaf perceived more and more clearly what a fine handsome being, soul and body, Thyri was; and in a short space of time winded up by proposing to Thyri, who, humbly, and we may fancy with what secret joy, consented to say yes, and become Queen of Norway. In the due months they had a little son, Harald; who, it is credibly recorded, was the joy of both his parents; but who, to their inexpressible sorrow, in about a year (p. 089) died, and vanished from them. This, and one other fact now to be mentioned, is all the wedded history we have of Thyri.

The other fact is, that Thyri had, by inheritance or covenant, not depending on her marriage with old Burislav, considerable properties in Wendland, which she often reflected might be not a little behooveful to her here in Norway, where her civil-list was probably but straitened. She spoke of this to her husband; but her husband would take no hold, merely made her gifts, and said, "Pooh, pooh, can't we live without old Burislav and his Wendland properties?" So that the lady sank into ever deeper anxiety and eagerness about this Wendland object; took to weeping; sat weeping whole days; and when Olaf asked, "What ails thee, then?" would answer, or did answer once, "What a different man my father Harald Gormson was" (vulgarly called Blue-tooth), "compared with some that are now kings! For no King Svein in the world would Harald Gormson have given up his own or his wife's just rights!" Whereupon Tryggveson started up, exclaiming, in some heat, "Of thy brother Svein I never was afraid; if Svein and I meet in contest, it will not be Svein, I believe, that conquers;" and went off in a towering fume. Consented, however, at last, had to consent, to get his fine fleet equipped and armed, and decide to sail with it to Wendland to have speech and settlement with King Burislav.

Tryggveson had already ships and navies that were the wonder of the North. Especially in building war-ships—the Crane, the Serpent, last of all the Long Serpent—he had, for size, for outward beauty, and inward perfection of equipment, transcended all example.

This new sea expedition became an object of attention to all neighbors; especially Queen Sigrid the Proud and Svein Forkbeard, her now king, were attentive to it.

"This insolent Tryggveson," Queen Sigrid would often say, and had long been saying, to her Svein, "to marry thy sister without leave had or asked of thee; and now flaunting forth his war navies, as if he, king only of paltry Norway, were the big hero of the North! Why do you suffer it, you kings really great?"

By such persuasions, and reiterations, King Svein of Denmark, King Olaf of Sweden, and Jarl Eric,[12] now a great man there, grown rich by prosperous sea-robbery and other good management, were brought to take the matter up, and combine strenuously for destruction of King Olaf Tryggveson on this grand Wendland expedition of his. Fleets and forces were with best diligence got ready; and, withal, a certain Jarl Sigwald of Jomsburg, chieftain of the Jomsvikings, a powerful, plausible, and cunning man, was appointed to find means of joining himself to Tryggveson's grand voyage; of getting into Tryggveson's confidence, and keeping Svein Forkbeard, Eric, and the Swedish king aware of all his movements.

King Olaf Tryggveson, unacquainted with all this, sailed away in summer, with his splendid fleet; went through the Belts with prosperous winds, under bright skies, to the admiration of both shores. Such a fleet, with its shining (p. 090) Serpents, long and short, and perfection of equipment and appearance, the Baltic never saw before. Jarl Sigwald joined with new ships by the way. "Had," he too, "a visit to King Burislav to pay; how could he ever do it in better company?" and studiously and skilfully ingratiated himself with King Olaf. Old Burislav, when they arrived, proved altogether courteous, handsome, and amenable; agreed at once to Olaf's claims for his now queen, did the rites of hospitality with a generous plenitude to Olaf; who cheerily renewed acquaintance with that country, known to him in early days (the cradle of his fortunes in the viking line), and found old friends there still surviving, joyful to meet him again. Jarl Sigwald encouraged these delays, King Svein & Co. not being yet quite ready. "Get ready!" Sigwald directed them, and they diligently did. Olaf's men their business now done, were impatient to be home, and grudged every day of loitering there; but, till Sigwald pleased, such his power of flattering and cajoling Tryggveson, they could not get away.

At length, Sigwald's secret messengers reporting all ready on the part of Svein & Co., Olaf took farewell of Burislav and Wendland, and all gladly sailed away. Svein, Eric, and the Swedish king, with their combined fleets, lay in wait behind some cape in a safe little bay of some island, then called Svolde, but not in our time to be found: the Baltic tumults in the fourteenth century having swallowed it, as some think, and leaving us uncertain whether it was in the neighborhood of Rugen Island or in the Sound of Elsinore. There lay Svein, Eric & Co. waiting till Tryggveson and his fleet came up, Sigwald's spy messengers daily reporting what progress he and it had made. At length, one bright summer morning, the fleet made appearance, sailing in loose order, Sigwald, as one acquainted with the shoal places, steering ahead, and showing them the way.

Snorro rises into one of his pictorial fits, seized with enthusiasm at the thought of such a fleet, and reports to us largely in what order Tryggveson's winged Coursers of the Deep, in long series, for perhaps an hour or more, came on, and what the three potentates, from their knoll of vantage, said of each as it hove in sight. Svein thrice over guessed this and the other noble vessel to be the Long Serpent; Eric always correcting him: "No, that is not the Long Serpent yet" (and aside always), "Nor shall you be lord of it, King, when it does come." The Long Serpent itself did make appearance. Eric, Svein, and the Swedish king hurried on board, and pushed out of their hiding-place into the open sea. Treacherous Sigwald, at the beginning of all this, had suddenly doubled that cape of theirs, and struck into the bay out of sight, leaving the foremost Tryggveson ships astonished, and uncertain what to do, if it were not simply to strike sail and wait till Olaf himself with the Long Serpent arrived.

Olaf's chief captains, seeing the enemy's huge fleet come out, and how the matter lay, strongly advised King Olaf to elude this stroke of treachery, and, with all sail, hold on his course, fight being now on so unequal terms. Snorro says, the king, high on the quarter-deck where he stood, replied, "Strike the sails! never shall men of mine think of flight. I never fled from battle. Let (p. 091) God dispose of my life; but flight I will never take." And so the battle arrangements immediately began, and the battle with all fury went loose, and lasted hour after hour, till almost sunset, if I well recollect. "Olaf stood on the Serpent's quarter-deck," says Snorro, "high over the others. He had a gilt shield and a helmet inlaid with gold; over his armor he had a short red coat, and was easily distinguished from other men." Snorro's account of the battle is altogether animated, graphic, and so minute that antiquaries gather from it, if so disposed (which we but little are), what the methods of Norse sea-fighting were; their shooting of arrows, casting of javelins, pitching of big stones, ultimately boarding, and mutual clashing and smashing, which it would not avail us to speak of here. Olaf stood conspicuous all day, throwing javelins, of deadly aim, with both hands at once; encouraging, fighting, and commanding like a highest sea-king.

The Danish fleet, the Swedish fleet, were, both of them, quickly dealt with, and successively withdrew out of shot-range. And then Jarl Eric came up, and fiercely grappled with the Long Serpent, or, rather, with her surrounding comrades; and gradually, as they were beaten empty of men, with the Long Serpent herself. The fight grew ever fiercer, more furious. Eric was supplied with new men from the Swedes and Danes; Olaf had no such resource, except from the crews of his own beaten ships; and at length this also failed him; all his ships, except the Long Serpent, being beaten and emptied. Olaf fought on unyielding. Eric twice boarded him, was twice repulsed. Olaf kept his quarter-deck; unconquerable, though left now more and more hopeless, fatally short of help. A tall young man, called Einar Tamberskelver, very celebrated and important afterward in Norway, and already the best archer known, kept busy with his bow. Twice he nearly shot Jarl Eric in his ship. "Shoot me that man," said Jarl Eric to a bowman near him; and, just as Tamberskelver was drawing his bow the third time, an arrow hit it in the middle and broke it in two. "What is this that has broken?" asked King Olaf. "Norway from thy hand, King," answered Tamberskelver. Tryggveson's men, he observed with surprise, were striking violently on Eric's; but to no purpose; nobody fell. "How is this?" asked Tryggveson. "Our swords are notched and blunted, King; they do not cut." Olaf stept down to his arm-chest; delivered out new swords; and it was observed as he did it, blood ran trickling from his wrist; but none knew where the wound was. Eric boarded a third time. Olaf, left with hardly more than one man, sprang overboard (one sees that red coat of his still glancing in the evening sun), and sank in the deep waters to his long rest.

Rumor ran among his people that he still was not dead; grounding on some movement by the ships of that traitorous Sigwald, they fancied Olaf had dived beneath the keels of his enemies, and got away with Sigwald, as Sigwald himself evidently did. "Much was hoped, supposed, spoken," says one old mourning Skald; "but the truth was, Olaf Tryggveson was never seen in Norseland more." Strangely he remains still a shining figure to us; the wildly beautifullest man, in body and in soul, that one has ever heard of in the North.[Back to Contents]

(p. 092) WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR
By G. W. Prothero
(1027-1087)

William the Conqueror.

William I., King of England, surnamed the Conqueror, was born in 1027 or 1028. He was the son of Robert, Duke of Normandy and Herleva, daughter of Fulbert, a tanner of Falaise. When he was about seven years old his father, intending to go on pilgrimage and having no legitimate sons, proposed him as his heir. The great men of the duchy did homage to the child, and a year later (1035) his father's death left him to make good his claim. Anarchy was the natural result of a minority. William's life was on more than one occasion in danger, and several of his guardians perished in his service. At the earliest possible age he received knighthood from the hands of Henry I. of France, and speedily began to show signs of his capacity for government.

In 1042 he insisted that the "truce of God" should be proclaimed and observed in Normandy. When he was about twenty years old his authority was threatened by a general conspiracy, which spread through the western half of his duchy. An attempt was made to seize him at Valognes, and he only escaped by riding hard all night to his own castle at Falaise. Bessin and Cotentin, the most Norman parts of Normandy, rose in rebellion. William sought and obtained aid from King Henry, and completely defeated the rebels at Val-es-Dunes near Caen (1047). The battle was but a combat of horse, but it decided the fate of the war and left William master of his duchy. The debt which he owed to Henry was repaid next year. War broke out between Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, and Henry (1048), and William came to his suzerain's assistance. Alençon, one of the chief border fortresses between Normandy and Maine, which had received an Angevin garrison, was captured by the duke. The inhabitants had taunted him with his birth, and William, who had dealt leniently with the rebels after Val-es-Dunes, took a cruel revenge. Soon afterward Domfront, another important border fortress, fell into his hands.

(p. 093) In 1051 William visited England. Two years later he married Matilda, daughter of Baldwin, Earl of Flanders, and a descendant of Alfred. The marriage had been forbidden by a council at Rheims as uncanonical, and was opposed by Lanfranc, Prior of Bec. This produced a quarrel between Lanfranc and William, who ravaged the lands of the abbey and ordered the banishment of its prior. Lanfranc, however, soon came to terms with the duke, and engaged to obtain a dispensation from Rome, which, however, was not granted till 1059.

Strengthened by this alliance with Flanders, William showed himself more than a match for all his enemies. Henry, who had hitherto been for the most part friendly, now turned against him. After the suppression of some isolated revolts, William was threatened in 1054 by a great confederacy. His dominions were invaded by the forces of the French king, in combination with those of Geoffrey of Anjou, Theobald of Blois, and others. William remained at first on the defensive; then, falling suddenly on one of the French armies at Mortemer, in the north-eastern corner of his duchy, he cut it to pieces. This blow put an end to the war; Henry made peace (1055), and William took the opportunity of extending his dominions in a southerly direction. He built fresh fortresses and exacted homage from Count Geoffrey of Mayenne.

In 1058 Henry and Count Geoffrey made a final effort to crush their dangerous neighbor; but the effort failed, like those which preceded it. William again allowed the allies to enter and ravage his territory; but, while the French army was crossing the Dive at Varaville, he attacked and completely destroyed their rear-guard, which was cut off from the van by the advancing tide. Henry again made peace, and soon afterward died (1060). The death of Geoffrey of Anjou in the same year relieved William of his most formidable rival for the possession of Maine. Herbert Wake-Dog, the lawful ruler of that territory, who had been dispossessed by Geoffrey, recovered his dominions on the latter's death. He at once "commended" himself to William, thus making the duke his heir. On his death in 1063, William took possession of Le Mans and the county of which it was the capital—an acquisition which extended his southern frontier nearly to the Loire, almost severed Brittany from the rest of France, and paved the way for the subsequent junction with Anjou.

It was apparently soon after this event, in the year 1064, that Harold, then Earl of Wessex, visited Normandy, and, according to legend, was entrapped into an oath to support William as heir to the English throne. When Harold was elected and crowned King of England (1066), William's first step was to send an embassy to him demanding the fulfilment of his promise. The purport of the demand is as uncertain as that of the pledge; but, whatever it was, Harold rejected it. The duke thereupon summoned a council of his supporters, who advised him to call together an assembly representing the whole duchy. This assembly, a typical feudal parliament, met at Lillebonne. While acting together it appears to have opposed the scheme for the conquest of England which William laid before it, but its members were won over singly. He then made a compact with Tostig, the banished brother of Harold; he came to terms with the Emperor (p. 094) Henry; he conciliated Philip, King of France, by offering to hold England as his vassal; and—most important of all—he obtained the sanction of Rome.

Pope Alexander II., not only issued a bull declaring William to be the rightful heir to the throne, but sent him a ring and a banner as symbols that the blessing of heaven was on his claim. Embarking at St. Valéry, William landed, on 28th of September, at Pevensey. The battle of Senlac or Hastings (October 14, 1066), was a decisive victory for the Duke of Normandy; but it took five years more to complete the conquest of England.

Early in 1067 William made a progress through the eastern and central parts of his new dominions. All that had as yet submitted to him was comprised in the old kingdoms of Wessex and East Anglia, and a small portion of Mercia. He at once secured his hold over these districts by the erection of fortresses in London, Norwich, and elsewhere. He received homage from the great men; he confiscated the lands of those who had resisted him; and, while keeping a large number of manors for himself, he granted others to his followers. Even those who had not resisted were regarded as having legally forfeited their title and had to submit to a re-grant on less advantageous terms. In March, 1067, William returned to Normandy, taking with him as hostages the Earls Eadwine, Morkere, and Waltheof.

The revolts which broke out in the north and southwest compelled him to return to England in December. Early in 1068 he marched on Exeter, as the centre of the western revolt. He took the town and built a castle, after which he subdued Cornwall, and then marching northward forced Bristol to submit. In the summer of 1068 there was a general rising of the North, of which Eadgar was the nominal head; but Eadwine and Morkere were the moving spirits. The insurgents were aided by Malcolm, King of Scotland. William had, however, only to show himself in order to put down the insurrection. He journeyed northward, by way of Warwick and Nottingham, to York, received the submission of Eadwine, Morkere, and Malcolm, and returned by way of Lincoln and Cambridge. His march was accompanied by heavy confiscations, and great castles, rising in places of vantage, rendered the Norman power at once visible and secure.

In the spring of 1069 a fresh revolt broke out. Robert of Comines, the newly appointed Earl of Northumberland, was slain at Durham; a Danish fleet entered the Humber, and a Danish army, joined by Eadgar and Waltheof, seized and burned York. The sons of Harold attacked Devon, while other isolated outbreaks took place in the west. These were speedily put down by William's lieutenants; and in the autumn the king himself, going northward a second time, recovered York, and harried Northumberland with ruthless deliberation. Returning to keep Christmas at York, he set out again in January, 1070, to oppose Malcolm, who had crossed the border in aid of the insurgents. He forced Waltheof to submit, and drove the Scottish king back into his own country; then, marching over pathless fells in the depth of winter, he reached Chester, took the town, and founded another castle.

William at Hastings.

(p. 095) Northumbria, exhausted and ruined, gave up the struggle, and the omission of the northern counties from the Domesday survey throws a grim light on the completeness of the Conquest. In one district only, the fens of Cambridgeshire, where Hereward still held out, the spirit of resistance survived. In April, 1071, William arrived at Cambridge and commenced a regular blockade. Advancing cautiously by means of a causeway through the fens, he entered Ely in October, and therewith the last flicker of independence died out. The conquest of England was completed. To guard against any fresh incitements to rebellion from Scotland, William in 1072 invaded that country and forced Malcolm to do him homage—an event which had an important effect on the subsequent relations of the two countries.

Henceforward such trouble as William met with came, not from the English, but from his Norman vassals or his own family. In 1073 the citizens of Le Mans took advantage of his absence to set up a "commune," and invited Fulk of Anjou to protect them. William was soon in the field, this time assisted by English troops. He harried the country, recovered Le Mans, and made an advantageous peace with the count. By a skilful compromise he recognized Fulk as overlord of Maine, but kept actual possession of the district, for which his son Robert did homage. A year later a formidable revolt broke out in England. Two of William's great vassals, Ralph, Earl of Norfolk, and Roger, Earl of Hereford, rebelled, and a Danish fleet, probably in alliance with them, appeared in the Humber. William returned at once to England and put down the insurrection. A great meeting of the witan was summoned to try Roger and Waltheof, for the latter, though he took no part in the rebellion, had undoubtedly been privy to it. Roger was imprisoned for life and Waltheof was condemned to death.

This was the last instance of opposition to William in England; but the remaining ten years of his life were occupied with almost continuous troubles on the Continent. In 1076 he was engaged in a war with Brittany, which the interference of Philip of France forced him to bring to an unsuccessful conclusion. Next year he quarrelled with his son Robert. Matilda took the young man's side against her husband, and Philip lent him his assistance. In 1080 William was at open war with his son. While besieging him at Gerberoi he received a wound and was forced to raise the siege. A temporary reconciliation followed, soon to give way to another and a final quarrel. Three years later Matilda died, and troubles thickened upon William. A rebellious vassal, Hubert of Beaumont, seems to have held him at bay for nearly three years. Rival claims to Vexin, a district on the eastern frontier of Normandy, involved him in another war with France. He was growing old and weary, and, as he lay sick at Rouen in the summer of 1087, the French army harried his territories with impunity. When he had recovered sufficiently to take the field, he invaded Vexin and burned the town of Mantes. But his horse, plunging in the burning cinders, inflicted on him an internal injury, which proved his death-wound He was carried to St. Gervais, where, on September 9, 1087, he died. His body was conveyed to Caen and buried in the great minster which he had built.

(p. 096) The career of William as a warrior and conqueror occupies of necessity the largest space in his life; but his fame as a statesman and administrator is not less than that which he won on the battle-field. This is not the place to discuss the results of the Conquest, but the policy of the Conqueror in regard to Church and State cannot be overlooked. An orthodox churchman, a supporter of union under the successor of Peter against the schismatic tendencies of the English Church, he nevertheless repelled any claim on the part of Rome to interference with his political sovereignty. He allowed Peter's pence to be collected, but refused to pay tribute to the Pope. While recognizing him as head of the Church, he declined to hold his kingdom as his vassal, nor would he permit papal bulls to enter England or excommunications to be issued against any of his subjects without his leave. He controlled all appointments to important ecclesiastical dignities; he made laws for the Church; he dealt justice to ecclesiastics, high and low, in his own courts. At the same time he had no desire to humiliate the Church; on the contrary, he sought to elevate it to a higher position in the State, to make it a more potent agent of civilization. A weaker statesman might have seen his own advantage in encouraging the rivalry between Canterbury and York; William strengthened the Church by forcing the younger to give way to the elder see. With the same object, that of increasing the efficiency of ecclesiastical organization, he severed the temporal and spiritual jurisdictions and furthered the enforcement of clerical celibacy. Finally, the trust which he reposed in Lanfranc from the time of his appointment to the see of Canterbury in 1070 shows not only his insight into character but his respect for the head of the English Church.

In regard to temporal affairs William was rather an administrator than a lawgiver. His reign is not marked by a series of legislative acts like those of Henry II. or Edward I.; but his work was the indispensable preliminary to theirs, for a strong monarchy was the first requisite of the state. To establish the power of the crown was William's principal care. The disintegrating tendencies of feudalism had already been visible under the Anglo-Saxon kings. William, while he established fully developed feudalism as a social, territorial, and military system in his new dominions, took measures to prevent it from undermining his own authority. He scattered the estates of his great vassals, so as to hinder them from building up provincial principalities; he maintained the higher popular courts against the encroachments of manorial jurisdictions; he prevented the claims of feudal lordship from standing between himself and the mass of his subjects, by exacting an oath from every landholder at the meeting of Salisbury plain; finally, by the great survey which resulted in "Domesday Book" he not only asserted his right to make a general inquisition into property, but laid the firm basis of knowledge which was indispensable to centralized government and taxation.

The care which he took to maintain English laws and institutions is part of the same policy. He balanced the two nationalities over which he ruled, and obliged each to depend upon him as its leader or protector against the other. He ruled as an English king; his feudal council was the witenagemot with a new qualification; (p. 097) but at the same time he was lord of the land as no king had been before him, and he enjoyed not only all the income of his predecessors but in addition all the dues which came to him as feudal sovereign. He was thus perhaps the strongest and most absolute monarch that has ever sat upon the English throne.

In character William was stern, self-reliant, and imperious in a high degree. He was not naturally cruel; but he was ruthless if it served his purpose, and could take pitiless vengeance for an insult or a wrong. He was too strong to prefer deceit when force would serve as well, but his diplomacy was subtle and guileful, and no scruple turned him aside from his aim. His temper, originally forgiving, was soured by opposition toward the end of his life, and his tyrannical tendencies were strengthened by the long exercise of uncontrolled power. His passionate devotion to the chase is only too clearly shown in the harshness of his forest laws. In private life he displayed domestic virtues, and his fidelity to his wife was exceptional in the annals of his house and time.[Back to Contents]

GODFREY DE BOUILLON
By Henry G. Hewlett
(1060-1100)

Crusaders.

In the year 1094 the Turks besieged the Holy City of Jerusalem, then ruled by the Fatimite caliphs, and took it. Pilgrims were then subjected to every form of violence and insult. The Greek emperor Alexius Comnenus, whom the Turks had recently defeated, implored the assistance of the great Christian states against this new and formidable foe. Pope Urban, to whom the letter was addressed, summoned a council of nobles and prelates in Auvergne and, with solemn and weighty words, appealed to the princes and soldiers of France who were seated before him. He reminded them of the national exploits of their fathers, whom Charles Martel and Charlemagne led against the Saracens, and called on the sons of such fathers to achieve yet greater deeds. As the burning words dropped from his lips they lighted a flame in every heart, and the whole assembly suddenly rose, and shouted with one voice, "It is God's will! It is God's will!" Urban caught up the cry: "Yes, without doubt, (p. 098) it is God's will. He has dictated to you the words, let them be your war-cry, and be this your badge!" As he spoke he held up a crucifix. The great meeting was moved like one man; and, falling on their knees, all confessed their sins, received absolution, and took vows of service in the Holy War. A red cross, embroidered on the right shoulder, was the common sign assumed by all the soldiers, who thence acquired the name of "Crusaders." Estates were pawned and sold to obtain money for the expenses of the undertaking, and many commercial cities purchased important liberties from their lords at this favorable opportunity. The chief of one of three great divisions into which the Christian army was formed was a man whom we have taken as the very type and model of a true Crusader,—Godfrey de Bouillon.

Godfrey de Bouillon.

He was the son of Gustavus, Count of Bouillon, or Boulogne, in the district of Ardennes and province of Luxembourg, and was born about the year 1060. His profession had been from his youth that of arms, and his earliest services in the field were rendered to his lord, the Emperor of Germany. In the war of Investiture he had taken an active part against Gregory VII., and bore the Imperial standard at the battle of Merseberg. By his hand the usurper, Rudolph, Duke of Suabia, fell in that decisive encounter. Godfrey's sword, swayed by his young and powerful wrist, is said to have shorn off the right arm of Rudolph at a single stroke. For this valiant deed, Henry IV. created Godfrey Duke of his province of Bouillon; or, according to some historians, Lower Lorraine. At the subsequent siege of Rome, Godfrey made himself again prominent by scaling the city walls among the first. This action colored his whole life. All his contemporaries portray his nature as displaying the loftiest integrity and deepest piety. Sound and clear as his intellect was, he yet shared in the superstition of his times, and was led by reflection to believe that, in bearing arms against God's vicegerent, and attacking a city where so many apostles and martyrs lay buried, he had been guilty of a heinous sin. Remorse worked on his mind so heavily that he took a vow to join in the Crusade, from a conviction that his glaring crime could only be blotted out by a heroism equally conspicuous. His noble birth, and yet nobler character, won for him so high a place in the estimation of his fellows, that, on announcing his intention of undertaking the Crusade, hundreds flocked to his standard. A worthy general, truly, of soldiers thus ardent in a cause which they deemed divine! To the qualities of bodily strength and beauty, which in those days were chiefly valued in the head of an army, Godfrey happily united the more durable strength of intellect and beauty of soul. His knightly heart and statesman's mind never ran counter, and whatever generous policy the one dictated, was carried into effect by the wisdom of the other. Although averse to distinction, it was thrust upon him by the votes of his fellow-chiefs, and their decision was gladly hailed by the common soldiers, who loved Godfrey as a father. He would not, therefore, refuse the post of general, but applied himself to its duties with activity. He first set an example of unselfish zeal to his brother nobles, by disposing of his duchy for the purpose of his expedition,—an example faithfully followed by the leading nobility of France and the Rhine. He then (p. 099) summoned his army to join him in August, 1096, on the banks of the rivers Meuse and Moselle. At the appointed time, a force of 80,000 foot and 10,000 horse assembled under his banner, and set out on its march through Germany,—the two other divisions of the Christian army taking a different route. On reaching Hungary, Carloman, who then ruled that country, showed some signs of objection to the passage of so formidable a body,—remembering the licentious excesses that had been committed by the rabble which followed Peter the Hermit. Here Godfrey's wisdom was admirably displayed. By his firm measures of restraint on the impetuosity of his troops he first proved that they were under the influence of strict discipline. Then, confiding himself to the justice and good faith of Carloman, he disarmed that monarch's suspicions by frankness and simplicity. The result was that, instead of opposition, the Hungarian prince gave him help, and escorted the Crusaders with a body of cavalry into the territories of Greece. Alexius Comnenus was by this time alarmed at the eagerness with which the Christian states had responded to his appeal for aid against the infidel. He mistrusted, not without reason, the intentions of some of the chiefs of the expedition,—mere adventurers, like the Norman Bohemond of Tarentum for example, who was his avowed foe,—and therefore deemed it politic to guard against danger to himself by demanding homage from all the Crusaders who entered his dominions. The two other divisions of the Christian army were now on their way to Constantinople, by a different road from that taken by Godfrey. One of the French nobles, the Count de Vermandois, was shipwrecked on the coast of Epirus, and Alexius unjustifiably detained him as a prisoner or hostage for the good faith of the other leaders. On learning these tidings, Godfrey, who was now in Thrace, sent to the emperor, requiring the count's release. This was not accorded, and Godfrey therefore treated the country as hostile, levying contributions on the people as he marched through. The emperor immediately saw his error, and promised to grant the count's release on the arrival of the French army. This promise satisfied Godfrey, and his march was once more peaceful. The wily emperor, in the meanwhile, obtained from his prisoner an oath of homage, hoping to induce the other Crusaders to follow the example. Godfrey, on his (p. 100) arrival, at first refused this, as unbecoming the rank and character which he bore; but, finding that the act would appease the jealousies which had already broken out between the Greeks and Franks, and put a check on the schemes of those leaders in the crusading ranks whom Alexius especially dreaded, he at last consented. The other chieftains made a like submission; and this sacrifice of pride, by healing internal discords, served for a season to promote the success of the Crusade.

After a sojourn of some time at Constantinople, the Crusaders, now formed into one army, crossed the Bosphorus, and entered Bithynia. Here the sight of the carnage which the Turks had inflicted on the weak and disorderly body that Peter had led forth, stimulated the zeal and indignation of the Christian host. Its passage through the Turkish kingdom of Roum was not unresisted. David, then Sultan, a valiant prince, had already prepared an army, and fortified his capital of Nice,—a position of great natural strength.

The Crusaders advanced in excellent order, and, after twice routing the Turkish army of defence, commenced the siege. Godfrey is said to have distinguished himself by a feat of skill on one occasion during this assault. A gigantic Turk, who was the hero of the Moslem army, had greatly harassed the Christians by his wondrous success in the use of the javelin. Having spent his shafts one day, he ascended a tower, and showered masses of rock on the besiegers, whom he at the same time abused and defied to combat. The Christian archers played upon his person, without bringing him down; until Godfrey grasped a cross-bow, and at one shot pierced the giant's heart. The siege lasted seven weeks; and was prosecuted with such vigor and ingenuity by the Crusaders that the Turks were on the point of yielding, when Alexius, who had sent a body of Greeks with the army, craftily procured to himself the glory of conquest by instructing his general to intrigue with the enemy secretly, and persuade them to yield to his power, on condition of protection. The Greek general so worked upon the fears and hopes of the garrison, that his advice was accepted; and, to the surprise and anger of the Franks, the emperor's flag one day appeared on the towers of Nice, and the city surrendered. This act of perfidy reopened the jealousy between the Eastern and Western Christians, which Godfrey had labored to extinguish; and from this time may be dated the rise of those internal divisions which eventually proved so fatal to the Crusaders.

Leaving Nice, the Crusaders advanced in two divisions, both without guides, and through a hostile and desert country. The Turks, in great numbers, followed in their rear. Godfrey and the Count of Toulouse headed one division; Bohemond, Prince of Tarentum, and Robert, Duke of Normandy (son of William the Conqueror), the other. The latter body had separated from the former at some distance, and was traversing the plains near Dorylæum, in Phrygia, when a sudden attack was made upon it by a powerful army of Turks. The Christians were taken by surprise, while exhausted with heat and fatigue, and in an unfavorable situation. In spite of the heroic valor of Bohemond, Robert, and other knights, the battle was turning against them, when Godfrey's division, to which a message had been despatched, came up. He shouted aloud the Crusaders' (p. 101) war-cry: "It is God's will!" and the whole army, echoing the shout, by a gallant charge retrieved the fortunes of the day and completely routed the Turks. After this success the Crusaders resolved to march in a single body, and thus prevent a recurrence of the hazard which they had escaped. The Turks preceded them, burning the crops as they went, and the Christians, in consequence, suffered fearful privations from famine during the march. Hundreds perished from exhaustion. The horses died for want of sufficient food and water; and knights were seen either walking on foot, or riding on oxen and asses, carrying their own armor. In passing through Pisidia, an anecdote is related of Godfrey which is characteristic of his courage and gallantry. He was wandering among the recesses of a forest in pursuit of game, which was needed for the supply of the troops, when he came upon a private soldier of the army, who was defending himself from the attack of a bear. Godfrey struck at the beast, which at once turned on its new assailant, inflicting a deep wound in his thigh. Another stroke from the skilful hunter's arm terminated the contest; but the blood streamed from his wound so rapidly, that he scarcely reached the camp alive. The grief of his soldiers was intense, as they beheld their beloved leader stretched on a litter, and borne into his tent as if dead. The skill of his physicians and a long interval of rest triumphed over the weakness occasioned by the loss of blood, and Godfrey once more appeared at the head of his army.

Antiochetta, the capital of Pisidia, attempted no resistance; and here the main body of the Christians recruited for some time. Meanwhile, a party of Crusaders, headed by Baldwin, brother of Godfrey, and a famous knight named Tancred, had been sent forward to clear a passage for the army. Tancred subdued the city of Tarsus; but his victory was usurped by Baldwin, whose ambitions and covetous nature bore no resemblance to that of his brother. Tancred, a man after Godfrey's heart, surrendered this conquest for the sake of peace; but, when Baldwin showed symptoms of repeating his injustice, resisted by force. Tancred was defeated, but a reconciliation took place between the combatants. Baldwin, who had no real interest in the success of the Crusade, soon afterwards turned aside into Mesopotamia, where he made himself master of Edessa, and formed a Christian state there. Though founded by merely personal ambition, this eventually proved of great assistance to the Crusaders, by checking the progress of the Turkish arms in Asia.

The main body now crossed the Taurus, after a tedious and painful passage, and presented itself before the walls of Antioch, then ruled by an independent Turkish emir named Accien. This city was especially dear to the Christians, as the first in which their title had been assumed; and the sight of its walls roused their flagging spirits. Some of the generals advised that the siege should be deferred for some months, until reinforcements arrived, and the winter was over; but the majority of the chiefs, among whom Godfrey was conspicuous, confident of success, and dreading the depressing influences of delay, urged an immediate attack, which was accordingly made. The Turks adopted the stratagem of apparently neglecting to defend the city; and the Christians, falling into the snare, (p. 102) scattered their forces. The licentiousness of some of their number, moreover, proved fatal to their vigilance, and a sudden sortie of the garrison inflicted deadly havoc. The siege was then commenced in earnest; but the city was so strongly guarded, that months elapsed without any impression being made upon its walls; and disease, famine, and the inclemency of the season, united with the missiles of the Turks to weaken the Christian force. Many of the leaders (Robert, Duke of Normandy, among them), withdrew in cowardly disgust at the failure of the siege and the pressure of want; while despair drove many of those who remained to courses of reckless vice. Godfrey, firm to his duty and strong in faith, aided the exertions of the clergy in encouraging the spirits of his troops, and restraining their profligate excesses. A timely supply of provisions from some of the Armenian monasteries, and a brilliant victory obtained by Bohemond and the Count of Toulouse over an army which the Sultans of Aleppo and Damascus had sent to the succor of Antioch, rewarded Godfrey's confidence and infused new vigor into the hearts of his army. This was needed to sustain the brunt of a desperate encounter which shortly afterward took place between the besieged and their besiegers. A reinforcement of Italian Crusaders having arrived, it was suddenly attacked by a large Turkish force, and thrown into disorder. Godfrey, who had been engaged on the siege, rapidly marshalled his men, and fell upon the enemy. A sortie of the garrison was immediately made, and a fearful conflict ensued under the walls of the city. The Turks were put to flight with immense loss, and the Christians pursued them up to the very gates. In this scene of carnage, Godfrey's recorded feats of valor approached the incredible. His sword clave the stoutest armor asunder at a blow. A gigantic Arab horseman offered him single combat, and broke his shield by way of challenge. Godfrey rose in his stirrups, and smote the Arab on the shoulder with such tremendous force as to split his whole body in twain; half of which, with the head, fell into the river Orontes, while the remainder, yet clinging to the terrified horse, was carried back into the city.

Notwithstanding all these exploits, the Turks held out, and were only defeated at last by stratagem. This was achieved by the skill of Bohemond, who intrigued with Phirous, one of the leaders of the garrison, for the surrender of the city, upon favorable terms to himself. Bohemond stipulated with his fellow-chiefs that the principality of Antioch should be granted him in return for his services; and, after some opposition, this was conceded. Phirous managed the perilous task of admitting the Crusaders with the utmost adroitness. At the dead of night the walls were scaled by Bohemond and his followers, and Antioch was taken, in June, 1098, after a siege of eight months. Accien, its prince, and 6,000 Turks, are said to have fallen on this eventful night.

The Crusaders had no sooner obtained this signal success than they were in their turn besieged by an army raised by the Sultans of Mossoul and other cities. Antioch had just sustained so long a siege, that the Christians found scarcely any provisions on their entrance, and their besiegers now cut off all supplies from without. Famine soon raged in the city to such an extent, that horses, roots, (p. 103) leaves, leathern shoes, and even human bodies, were eagerly devoured by the starving soldiers. Godfrey shared his scanty meals with his comrades, and is related to have slain his last charger for food. Desertion from the ranks now occurred in great numbers, and despair led many to blaspheme who were ashamed to fly. To add to the misery of the Christians, they learned that the Emperor Alexius, who was advancing with reinforcements, had judged their case hopeless, and retraced his steps. The city was now scarcely defended, and many proposed to surrender it, even on degrading terms, so that their lives were spared.

Godfrey and the clergy again exerted themselves successfully. They ventured to challenge the Turkish army to a combat of picked troops; and when the proposal was spurned, boldly advanced to attack the whole force. The appearance of the Crusaders, as they marched out of the city, must have been indeed pitiable. Privations had so reduced them, that many had no clothing. Some were nearly fainting from weakness. The barons and knights proceeded chiefly on foot, and camels and asses supplied the place of horses to most of those who rode. Yet the burning zeal of the Christians made the march seem like a triumphal procession; and while the clergy sang hymns of consolation and victory, the soldiers responded with the war-cry, "It is God's will! It is God's will!" The Turkish general, fearing nothing from an army so scantily provided with the means of war, was taken by surprise, but hastily arranged his troops in order of battle. The sight of several natural prodigies, such as the sudden appearance of a meteor, and the favorable direction of the wind, acting upon the superstitious fancy of the Christians, impelled them to extraordinary exertions. The Moslem forces, on the other hand, were weakened by the existence of rivalries and discords in their midst, and lacked the stimulus which the Christians derived from desperation. The attack was commenced by a volley of arrows, followed by a charge of the Turkish and Arabian archers, which the Crusaders not only steadily sustained, but vigorously returned. Godfrey, who commanded their right wing, broke the left wing of the Moslem; but the latter had encompassed the river with a large force, and attacked the Christians in the rear. In spite of the heroism of Godfrey and Tancred, who slaughtered all that ventured to compete with them, and the brave resistance of the whole army, the enemy was evidently gaining ground, when (according to the historians) three horsemen, in brilliant armor, suddenly appeared at the head of a reinforcement descending from the adjacent mountains. Some of the clergy seized on this circumstance to reanimate the Crusaders. "Behold your heavenly succor!" cried a bishop. "Heaven has sent the holy martyrs, George, Demetrius, and Theodore to fight for you!" As he spoke, the whole army seemed inspired with irresistible strength; and, shouting the well-known war-cry, made another vigorous charge which broke the Moslem ranks. The Sultan of Mossoul fled, and his immense force dispersed in the utmost disorder. The extravagant number of 100,000 is said to have fallen in this engagement.

The Crusaders, instead of proceeding at once to Jerusalem, remained for several months in Antioch, employing the time in re-establishing Christianity in (p. 104) that city, and sending to their brethren in the West for further aid. The delay was prejudicial, as the disputes between the rival chiefs, which the din of war had silenced, again broke out, and disease committed terrible ravages in the camp. Certain expeditions, however, were made in the neighborhood, and several towns fell into the hands of the Christians. Meantime, news arrived that an army of Egyptian Arabs—who acknowledged the Fatimite caliphs, and had as yet resisted the attempt of the Turks to usurp dominion over all the followers of the Prophet—had captured Jerusalem. The Crusaders, filled with indignation, resumed their march to the Holy City, conquering on their way several towns. Embassadors were sent from the Caliph of Cairo with superb presents to the Christian leaders, and proposals of peace between them and the Egyptians. But Godfrey would not be bribed to accept the humiliating terms proposed; one of which was, that only unarmed Christians should be admitted into the city. The embassadors were sent back with the answer that the Crusaders were on their march, and, if opposed, might extend their conquests even to the Nile.

By daybreak on June 10, 1099, the Christian army came in sight of Jerusalem. The spectacle transported all with mingled feelings of joy, reverence, and remorse. Some fell on their knees and prayed; others kissed the sacred soil; many wept for their sins; and the air ever and anon resounded with the shout: "It is God's will!" The siege was commenced at once, Godfrey fixing his camp on Mount Calvary. The Egyptians had prepared for a protracted defence, by strengthening the fortifications and furnishing the garrison with ample provisions. They had likewise ravaged the neighboring country, and filled up the cisterns so as to harass the besiegers as much as possible. Owing to these impediments the Christians made slow progress. After various disappointments, however, they at length manufactured engines of great size and strength, shaped like towers, which were to be wheeled up to the walls, so as to enable the besiegers to enter by means of drawbridges. On July 14, 1099, at daybreak, the Crusaders were in arms, and at the same moment the assault was made on various points. Godfrey stood on his wooden tower, which was stationed near one of the gates, and by voice and action stimulated his soldiers to deeds of daring. His death-dealing javelin never missed its aim. The Egyptians employed every possible agent of defence,—showering down boiling oil, combustible materials, and various descriptions of missile, on the heads of their assailants. During the first day the Crusaders were repulsed at every point; but on the morrow fortune turned. The first half of the day was with the Egyptians, who cast lighted torches against the wooden engines of the Crusaders, and effected the destruction of many. Godfrey was, as usual, conspicuous, and became the mark of repeated attacks,—the cross of gold which surmounted his tower especially enraging the Moslem. An incident, supposed to be supernatural, was the immediate cause of the Christians' success. Godfrey and the Count of Toulouse at the same time observed the figure of a knight on the Mount of Olives, who with his buckler signalled to the Christians that they should enter the city. The two leaders, animated by a common feeling, cried out, "Behold (p. 105) St. George!" The enthusiasm of the Crusaders from this moment was irresistible. Godfrey's tower was first pushed close beside the walls, and in spite of flame and missile the drawbridge was lowered. Then, accompanied by several of his bravest knights, he dashed into the city. Others followed at the same point; the gates were broken down, and Jerusalem was taken. A horrible carnage of the Moslem ensued, in which Godfrey, although unable to check, refused to share. His first act was to retire from his comrades, and with three attendants to repair, unarmed and barefooted, to the Church of the Sepulchre. His vow was accomplished, and the desecration of one holy site atoned for by the preservation of another yet holier. This act of devotion, so worthy of the true Crusader, recalled from carnage those who had forgotten their vows in the thirst for vengeance, and the whole army, led by the clergy, followed him to the same church in penitential procession.

Godfrey De Bouillon entering Jerusalem.

Godfrey's work was now nearly ended, and his reward came. The leaders of the army, soon after the capture of the city, held a council for the purpose of deciding to whom should be given the crown of Jerusalem. No decision was arrived at; so many various opinions being expressed, and so many interests at stake. Ten of the most esteemed chiefs were then formed into an elective body, and proceeded to make careful inquiries into the fitness of those who were proposed for the kingly office. Godfrey took no part, it would seem, in either discussion or inquiry, and displayed no sort of anxiety as to his own claims. But the clergy and the mass of the soldiers were devoted to him,—endeared as he was by a thousand memories of his piety, courage, and generosity. On all hands the electors heard his praises sounded, and, to the joy of the whole army, they concluded their labors by announcing the choice to have fallen upon him. But, to the surprise of all, he declined the offered rank. "I will not wear a golden crown," said he, "in a city where my king and Saviour has been only crowned with thorns." All that his fellow-chiefs could persuade him to accept was the title of Defender and Baron of the Holy Sepulchre, though he did not deem it right to refuse the kingly authority. He soon had occasion to exert his power, for the Caliph of Cairo had by this time collected a large army, and was on his march to Jerusalem. The Crusaders, though unfitted for a fresh campaign, prepared to defend their conquest, and, at the head of his troops, Godfrey advanced toward Ascalon, where the enemy was stationed. A battle took place on the adjoining plains, in which the Moslem force was routed with terrific slaughter. The city itself would have fallen but for the covetous spirit displayed by the Count of Toulouse, who, unable to obtain a promise that the possession of the place should be given him, deserted Godfrey with all his men. A quarrel ensued between the two leaders, but was terminated through the influence of their brothers in arms,—Godfrey being ready to forgive any injury to himself for the sake of the common cause.

The Crusade was now completed, but Godfrey's duties as king were yet to commence. He set about fulfilling them with activity, fortifying various important positions, subduing revolts of hostile tribes, dividing the conquered territories (p. 106) equally among his generals, according to the feudal system, and summoning an Assize, or Assembly of his wisest councillors to draw up a code of laws. This code, which long remained in operation, amply testified to the legislative wisdom of the Crusaders. But the new state was not long favored with his presence to enforce and exemplify its constitution. In returning from a successful expedition against some Arabs of Galilee, he was met by the Emir of Cæsarea, who offered him a present of fruits. Godfrey tasted a cedar apple, and immediately was seized with illness. He died, not without suspicion of poison having been thus administered, shortly after reaching Jerusalem, commending to his comrades the care of the holy places, and the state which he had founded. His age scarcely exceeded forty years.

One of the most celebrated and beautiful Italian poems, the "Jerusalem Delivered" of Tasso, has "the pious Godfrey" for the presiding hero of the glorious scenes which it narrates. But there are no grounds for supposing that his fame belongs to romance rather than history. Contemporary writers have painted his portrait in no less flattering colors than Tasso has used, and the poet's affectionate fancy has scarcely exaggerated the tribute which the soberest historian may feel warranted in rendering to the memory of the great and good Crusader, Godfrey de Bouillon.[Back to Contents]

SALADIN[13]
By Walter Besant
(1137-1192)

There are two great names in the tangled and somewhat tedious story of Islam which stand out, deathless, from the crowd of sultans, viziers, and Moslem conquerors—the names of Haroun al Raschid and Saladin. The former has become the accepted type of a good and just despot; the latter is the Bayard of his religion, the knight and captain, king and magistrate, sans peur et sans reproche; whose enemies respected and trusted him as much as his own people loved him. His conquest of Jerusalem and overthrow of the Latin kingdom were but episodes, and from his point of view, not the most important episodes in his thirty years of war and victory. The History of Egypt, the History of Syria, the History of the Mohammedan faith, contain more pages filled with the achievements of Saladin than even the History of the Crusades. Everyone has read of the battle of Hattin;[14] but of the healing of the great schism and the restoration of Egypt to orthodoxy—a step thought to be impossible and of the highest importance to (p. 107) Islam—very few know anything. Let us endeavor to present the history of this great man with some attempt to show the true proportions of his achievements in the eyes of the East, if not the West.

Yûssuf ibn Ayûb—Joseph the son of Job—was by descent a Kurd. His father was a retainer or follower of the celebrated Nûr-ed-Din (Light of Religion), Sultan of Syria, the prince who, after many years of humiliation, recovered some of the lost prestige of the Mohammedan name, wrested many of their outlying strongholds from the Christians, and prepared the way for his more illustrious successor.

Saladin and Christians.

The caliphate was then divided into the Fatimite line, which reigned at Cairo, and the Abbaside, which reigned at Baghdad. Both branches had by this time fallen into a mere semblance of authority. The bitterness of theological differences survived, and though for the re-establishment of Moslem power, it was absolutely necessary that the schism should cease, there seemed no likelihood whatever of any change. The weaker of the two, since the rise of Nûr-ed-Din, was undoubtedly the Egyptian house. The last of the Fatimite caliphs were mere tools in the hands of rival ministers, and passed their ignoble lives—Rois Fainéants—in their luxurious palaces. Syria, which had been theirs, was lost to them, and occupied partly by Mohammedans of the rival sect, and partly by the Christians. Their final fall, however, was caused by internal dissensions and the quarrels of two candidates for the post of Grand Vizier. Their names were Shawer and Dargham. The former, unable to contend against his rival, applied for assistance to Nûr-ed-Din, offering for reward a third of the Egyptian revenues. The expedition which was sent in reply was the first chance of distinction which young Yûssuf had obtained. The army, commanded by his uncle Shirkoh, easily defeated Dargham and reinstated Shawer. Then followed the reluctance to keep the terms of the agreement which is so common in history; and when Shirkoh in return seized the city of Balbek and held it as security, Shawer sent to Amaury, King of Jerusalem, for succor. Amaury, the bravest if not the wisest of the Crusader kings, thinking that here was a chance of striking a double blow, readily acceded, and joining the Fatimite army forced Shirkoh to retire. It was, however, (p. 108) only in order to collect new forces. Next year he was back again. Alexandria was taken by his nephew, and held for three months against the combined forces of Christians and Fatimites. At last a peace was agreed upon: both Christians and Damascenes were to retire, each party to have a share in the revenues of Egypt. The first part of the contract was faithfully carried out; the second part neither Syrian nor Christian expected to be obeyed. And now the same ambition possessed the mind both of Amaury and of Nûr-ed-Din. This was nothing less than the conquest of Egypt. Both perceived that the Fatimite power was gone. Both realized the fact that the country could easily be overrun. As for the Christian king, he had dreams of a splendid and luxurious capital, grander than his own narrow city set in the midst of the mountains; his knights, orientals now and fallen from the old western rudeness, looked on with envy at the luxuries of these weak Mohammedans; it would be a fine thing to transfer the capital of the Christian kingdom in the East to Cairo, leaving Jerusalem as a Christian Mecca, a city for the priests. And the Syrian sultan, for his part, would restore the unity of Islam, would unite Egypt with Syria, and by the strength of that union would destroy the Christian and recover the Holy Places. These were schemes worthy of statesman or of soldier. The only question was—how were they to be realized?

The point which Amaury failed to understand was this. He who moved first was bound to lose. For he would draw upon himself the other two. Amaury moved first. We cannot follow the Christian king on his disastrous attempt. It is sufficient to say that Shirkoh, after a brief struggle, remained master of the field and of Egypt, and that the fall of the Latin kingdom, thus rendered possible, was only delayed until the consolidation of the new power was complete.

Immediately after his final victory Shirkoh died, and was succeeded by his nephew Yûssuf ibn Ayûb, now called Salah-ed-Din (Shield of Religion), el Melek el Mansûr (the Victorious King), and Emir el Jayûsh (Commander-in-chief of the Forces). The Fatimite caliph, not yet deposed, made him Grand Vizier. In other words this soldier of fortune was master of Egypt and of the Fatimite caliphate. More important still, if the King of Jerusalem understood the importance of the fact, he acknowledged himself to be the vassal of Nûr-ed-Din, Sultan of Syria.

The first step taken by Saladin, a coup d'état which restored Egypt to the orthodox sect, was the substitution of the Abbaside caliph's name for that of their own prince in the Friday prayers. This was done without the slightest opposition; contempt for the head of their religion could not be more effectually shown; Saladin therefore boldly proclaimed the name of the Baghdad caliph. It was received so quietly, as the Arab historian says, "that not a brace of goats butted over it." The last of the Fatimite caliphs died a few days after: it was one of those deaths, so frequent in history, which occur so exactly at the moment most convenient. Did Saladin order him to be bowstrung? Probably. Such an act would be regarded as perfectly legitimate and in accordance with the rules of the game.

Saladin.

How the victorious emir, on the death of Nûr-ed-Din, succeeded in making himself master of Syria and succeeding his lord; how he carried on the war with (p. 109) the Christians unceasingly, would require in the telling volumes. Many volumes indeed have been devoted to this history. His two great achievements were the reunion of Islam and the destruction of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. The latter at least, he effectually accomplished. Western Europe was incapable of a second effort so great as that mighty wave of enthusiasm which won back the Holy Land and covered the plains of Asia Minor with the bones of Crusaders. Richard Cœur de Lion and Philip Augustus, Frederick II., the kings of Cyprus, the Knights of St. John, carried on the long, interminable struggle, but Jerusalem was lost.

Of the chivalry and honor of Saladin his biographers are never weary. When, for instance, the Christians took Jerusalem they slaughtered every soul in the place; their horses were knee-deep in blood. When Saladin took the city he suffered none to be slain; when there was no more money for ransom he suffered thousands to go free; to the weeping widows and fatherless girls he gave purses of money and suffered no outrage to be done to them. He divided them into three bands and assigned an escort to each company. And then was seen the strange spectacle, when the women and children grew fatigued, of the victors placing them on their horses and walking afoot, or even carrying the children in their arms. Again, why has no one painted that famous scene when Richard Cœur de Lion wanted no oaths, but instead gave his hand to Saladin in token of respect for his enemy and his own loyalty?

Such is the brief history of Saladin, a soldier first, always a soldier, spending his whole life on the battle-field; the perfect knight of the Mohammedans, fierce in fight, generous in victory, faithful to his word, true to his religion, of a larger heart and nobler soul than Cœur de Lion, the only antagonist who can be named with him; one of the few out of the countless millions of humanity, whose name lives and whose memory will never die; his life an example; his history a monument.[Back to Contents]

Author signature.

EDWARD I. OF ENGLAND
By Thomas Davidson
(1239-1307)

Edward I., King of England, was the elder of the two sons of Henry III., by his queen, Eleanor, daughter of Count Raymond Berenger of Provence, and was born at Westminster, June 17, 1239. His name was given him by his father out of reverence for the memory of Edward the Confessor, and in its English sound, as well as in the honest English temper, no less than the yellow hair and stalwart figure with which the young prince grew up, Englishmen might well have read the promise, that once more, after two hundred years, England would be ruled by (p. 110) a native English king. Edward was brought up at Windsor, was given by his father in 1252 the government of Gascony, and in 1254 married, in the monastery of Las Huelgas, Eleanor, sister of Alfonso X. of Castile, receiving immediately thereafter from his father Gascony, Ireland, and the Welsh march betwixt the Conway and the Dee, where, in fighting with the turbulent Welshmen, he learned his first lessons in warfare.

Edward I. of England.

At the Parliament of Oxford (1258) he took part with his father in his contest with his troublesome nobles, but thereafter appears to have at first sided with the great Earl Simon de Montfort, the leader of the barons or national party, without, however, impairing his own personal loyalty and affection for his father, with whom ere long he was reconciled. It was his rash eagerness in pursuing an advantage gained over the Londoners, who were devoted to the party of Simon, that lost the battle of Lewes (1264), one immediate consequence of which was the prince's imprisonment as a hostage for his father's pledges. Conditions for his liberation, discussed at Simon's famous parliament of 1265, were frustrated through Edward's escape by a stratagem from Hereford Castle; and at the final battle at Evesham (August 4), where Simon recognized in the skilful disposition of his enemy's forces a fatal lesson learned from himself, the struggle practically ended with the great popular champion's death on the battle-field. Edward gained much influence by the wise prudence and moderation with which he stamped out the last embers of rebellion.

In 1270 he started, at the instigation of Louis IX. of France, to join the last of the Crusades, but when he reached Tunis, found that king dead, and the expedition already desperate of success. He went on to Acre, and won great renown as a knight, but failed to save the Frankish kingdom in the East from its inevitable fate. In June, 1272, while sitting alone on his bed, his own strength and energy saved him from being murdered by one of the infamous sect of the Assassins. Hastily guarding himself with his arms, and receiving a desperate wound, from which he afterward suffered much, he tore the knife from his assailant's hand, and buried it in his heart. The ancient story that his queen Eleanor, who had followed him in his pilgrimage, saved his life at the risk of her own by sucking the poison from the wound, unfortunately lacks historical support, but fits well with the romantic temper of the times, as well as with the deep affection that survived throughout life betwixt husband and wife.

(p. 111) Two months later he started for home, and at Capua, in the January of 1273, heard of his father's death two months before. Meantime he had been quietly proclaimed king, and as things went well in England, he visited the pope, did homage at Paris for his French provinces, and did not return to his kingdom till the August of 1274. At his coronation he received the homage of Alexander III. of Scotland for his lands in England, but Prince Llewelyn of Wales neglected the summons to attend, and only did his homage in 1276, under the combined terrors of excommunication and the royal army. Edward at once commenced that wise and large policy of domestic consolidation and financial as well as legal reform, that has shed such lustre upon the reign of the English Justinian, as he has been called, and made it almost the most important epoch in the constitutional history of England.

His first warfare was with the turbulent and disaffected Welshmen, who had profited by the intestine turmoil of the preceding reign, and intrigued perpetually with the rebellious nobles of Henry III. for their own ends. The forced peace of 1277, and the national dissatisfaction at the stringent terms granted by Edward, which was not abated by the personal favors he heaped upon the princes Llewelyn and his brother David, were but the preludes to the final struggle which commenced three years later, and ended in the complete suppression of Welsh nationalism, with the defeat and death of Llewelyn, near Builth, in Brecknockshire, and the cruel execution of David at Shrewsbury, as a traitor, in 1284. By the famous Statute of Wales in the same year, the ancient principality was finally annexed to the English crown, while English laws and English institutions were forced upon the conquered people.

Edward devoted the next year to legislation, then went abroad to mediate, without success, in the quarrel between France and Aragon. He had soon to return to quell fresh disturbances in Wales, and even in England, where the great Statute of Winchester, which had been passed in 1285 to place the defence of the country on a really national basis, had not yet had time to effect its end. Finding that most of his judges had been corrupting justice, he punished them with an iron hand, next banished in 1290 all the Jews to the number of over sixteen thousand from the kingdom, on the plea of extortionate usury. Earlier in the reign he had hanged 280 for money-clipping and forgery.

Just at this time the death of the young Scottish queen, the Maid of Norway, whom Edward had caused to be betrothed to his eldest surviving son, Edward of Caernarvon, opened up a fatal contest for the Scottish crown, which gave Edward his opportunity to assert anew the old but somewhat shadowy claim of the English crown to the over-lordship of Scotland. The southern half of that composite kingdom was inhabited by people of English blood and English institutions; its southeastern part, the Lothians, had undoubtedly once formed part of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria; while its southwestern, Strathclyde or Scottish Cumbria, the population of which was in great part Celtic, had in 945 been given by the English king Edmund I. to Malcolm as a fief. The northern portion of the kingdom was purely Celtic in blood, and had at no time been subject (p. 112) to English influences, but though the reigning family was itself of Celtic origin, its authority hardly extended effectively beyond the region inhabited by men of English blood. Undoubtedly the Scottish king in 921 chose Edward the Elder "to father and to lord," and the right then acknowledged was claimed successively by William the Conqueror, Rufus, and other English kings. Moreover, from the twelfth century it had been customary for the Scottish kings or their sons to receive English earldoms, and do homage for them, but it continued to remain somewhat vague whether such homage was understood to be extended beyond these earldoms, so as to include the Lowland provinces and the whole Scottish kingdom. William the Lion, taken prisoner at Alnwick in 1174, for his freedom acknowledged the supremacy of Henry II. in the treaty concluded at Felaise on December 7; but on his return found his subjects ill-disposed to accede to his cowardly submission; and fifteen years later the claim founded on this special act of submission was formally renounced for a sum of 10,000 merks by Richard I., who was eager to raise money for his Crusade. Such was the ill-defined position of this ancient controversy, when fate seemed to fling into Edward's hands the opportunity of defining it anew with all the clearness dear to his legal mind. It was easy for him to secure a recognition of his superiority from the selfish and eager candidates for the crown, and meantime he secured the Scottish castles, and after a deliberate examination of the rival claims, decided in favor of John Baliol, who, on his accession, paid homage distinctly for the whole kingdom of Scotland. He soon found his position as a vassal-king intolerable, betwixt the unruly turbulence of his subjects and the imperious demands of his overlord, who allowed appeals to be led from Baliol's subjects to himself.

Meantime the ambitious projects of the new King of France, Philip IV., involved Edward in anxieties for the safety of Guienne and his other possessions in France. Ere long the high-handed conduct of the French king made war necessary, and Edward, with characteristic energy, at once began his preparations, and summoned in 1295 an assembly of the estates of the realm, which was practically the beginning of the modern parliaments.

The ever-increasing exasperation of the Scots at length broke out into open warfare in 1296. Edward at once marched northward, captured Berwick, and carried his victorious arms as far north as Aberdeen, Banff, and Elgin, taking the great castles on the way, formally accepted Baliol's surrender of the crown at Montrose, and returned to Berwick (August 22), carrying with him the famous coronation-stone from Scone, after having subdued the whole kingdom in about five months. Here, six days later, he received the fealty of the clergy, barons, and gentry of Scotland, whose names fill the thirty-five skins of parchment known as the "Ragman Roll."

At length he was at liberty to turn to France, but the great cost of his late expenditure had already driven him to make such heavy demands upon the revenues of the Church, that the clergy now refused fresh subsidies, headed by Archbishop Winchelsea and supported by the bull "Clericis Laicos" of Pope Boniface VIII. The king retaliated by placing the clergy of the kingdom in (p. 113) outlawry. At the Salisbury parliament in February, 1297, the great barons also refused to take part in foreign war, while the merchants were exasperated because their wool had been seized. A compromise was soon effected with the clergy, and a temporary illegal grant for the immediate purposes of the war was procured from the nobles and commons who were with him. Edward sailed for Flanders, and at Ghent confirmed the Charter with such supplementary clauses as were demanded by his refractory nobles, thus finally establishing the right of the people themselves to determine taxation.

This is only second in importance to Magna Charta itself as a landmark in the history of England. The suspicious fears of his people compelled Edward to repeat the confirmation at London in 1300, and again at Lincoln in 1301—an insult to his honesty which the king never forgave, and to which his subsequent banishment of Winchelsea was due. In 1303, and again the year after, Edward, in desperate straits for money, levied, by agreement with the foreign merchants, some new customs—the beginning of import duties, without consent of the estates, and collected a tallage from the royal demesne; and again, in 1305, he obtained from Clement V. a formal absolution from the obligations of 1297. It is true that the first two measures were contrary to the spirit rather than the letter of his promise, and that he never sought to avail himself of the dangerous power granted him by the papal absolution, yet these three facts, says Bishop Stubbs, "remain on record as illustrations of Edward's chief weakness, the legal captiousness, which was the one drawback on his greatness."

It was the dangerous aspect of affairs in Scotland that forced the king to submit so easily to the demands of his barons. Already, in the spring of 1297, Wallace, without any countenance from the Scottish nobility, had commenced a guerilla warfare, and his handful of desperate men soon increased into an army, which completely defeated Earl Warenne and Cressingham at Cambuskenneth (Stirling Bridge), in September, 1297, and ravaged England, with the most atrocious cruelties, from Newcastle to Carlisle. Edward's expedition to Flanders had been a failure, but he hastened to conclude a truce, so as to find time to chastise the Scots, cementing it by his betrothal to Philip's sister Margaret. The good Queen Eleanor had been already dead nine years.

Meantime, Wallace's success had merely earned him the bitter jealousy of the Scottish nobles, and his power was finally broken in the disastrous defeat by Edward's army at Falkirk in July, 1298. The king had two of his ribs broken by a kick from his horse on the morning of the battle, but rode throughout the day as if unhurt. The struggle lingered on some years under various leaders, as Edward found his energy paralyzed the while by the intrigues of Philip, and the constitutional struggle with his barons. Pope Boniface, in 1301, put forth a claim to the over-lordship of Scotland, which was repudiated by the whole body of the estates at Lincoln. It was not till the June of 1303 that the king was able to resume his conquest. Accompanied by a fleet carrying his supplies, he penetrated again into the far North, tarried a while in Dunfermline, and settled the kingdom after the reduction of Stirling, the last place of strength that held out. In 1305 (p. 114) Wallace was betrayed into his hands, sent to London, and cruelly executed as a traitor. The fate of this noble-hearted patriot is a fatal blot upon his conqueror's memory, but it should not be forgotten that Edward was profoundly convinced of the legality of his own claims over Scotland, and that Wallace to him was merely a pestilent rebel, who had earned his doom by treason to his lord and by the cruelties he had inflicted upon Englishmen. The same year the king prepared a new constitution for the conquered kingdom, divided it into sheriffdoms like the English counties, and made arrangements for the representation of the Scots in the English parliament—a measure which, had it been successful, might have anticipated by four centuries the benefits of the union.

It might now have been expected that Scotland was effectively subdued, but ere long Robert Bruce, who had hitherto played a dubious game, raised a revolt in the beginning of 1306, got rid of the regent Comyn, his most serious rival, by a foul murder in Dumfries church, was crowned king at Scone, and kept up an incessant but varying struggle during the winter of 1306 and the spring of 1307. The treachery of those who had sworn fealty to him, and whom he had trusted implicitly, roused Edward to the pitch of exasperation, and at the knighting of Prince Edward at Westminster, he swore a solemn vow to be revenged upon Bruce. He at once despatched a force to Scotland, and though now old and infirm, began preparations for his fourth expedition; but he was attacked with dysentery on the march, and his malady increased so much upon him that he died on the 7th of July, 1307, at Burgh-on-Sands, near Carlisle, within sight of Scotland, leaving for his son Edward the dying command not to bury his body till he had utterly subdued the Scots, but to carry his bones with the army until the victory was complete. Eleven days later the young prince reached Carlisle, but returned a few weeks after to London, and buried his father's body in Westminster, where it still rests under a slab, with the simple but truly descriptive inscription: "Eduardus primus, Scotorum malleus, hic est."[Back to Contents]

EDWARD III. OF ENGLAND
(1312-1377)

Edward III., King of England, the eldest son of Edward II. and of Isabella, was born at Windsor, November 13, 1312. He was appointed guardian of the kingdom, October 26, 1326, and received the crown February 1, 1327. On January 24, 1328, he was married to Philippa, daughter of the Count of Hainault. During his minority the government of the kingdom was intrusted to a body of guardians with Henry of Lancaster at their head, but was virtually usurped by Roger Mortimer, until the king, irritated by his arrogance, caused him to be seized at (p. 115) Nottingham on October 15, 1330, and conveyed to the Tower. He was executed at Tyburn on November 29.

Edward III. of England.

The overthrow of Mortimer made Edward, at the age of eighteen, a king in fact as well as in name. In person he was graceful; and his face was 'as the face of a god.' His manners were courtly and his voice winning. He was strong and active, and loved hunting, hawking, the practice of knightly exercises, and, above all, war itself. Considerable care must have been spent on his education, for he certainly spoke English as well as French, and evidently understood German. He was fearless in battle, and, though over-fond of pleasure was, until his later years, energetic in all his undertakings. Although according to modern notions his ambition is to be reckoned a grave defect in his character, it seemed in his day a kingly quality. Nor were his wars undertaken without cause, or indeed, according to the ideas of the time, without ample justification. His attempts to bring Scotland under his power were at first merely a continuation of an inherited policy that it would have been held shameful to repudiate, and later were forced upon him by the alliance between that country and France. And the French War was in the first instance provoked by the aggressions of Philip, though Edward's assumption of the title of King of France, a measure of political expediency, rendered peace impossible. He was liberal in his gifts, magnificent in his doings, profuse in his expenditure, and, though not boastful, inordinately ostentatious. No sense of duty beyond what was then held to become a knight influenced his conduct. Although the early glories of his reign were greeted with applause, he never won the love of his people; they groaned under the effects of his extravagance, and fled at his coming lest his officers should seize their goods. His commercial policy was enlightened, and has won him the title of the "father of English commerce" but it was mainly inspired by selfish motives, and he never scrupled to sacrifice the interests of the English merchants, to obtain a supply of money or secure an ally. In foreign politics he showed genius; his alliances were well devised and skilfully obtained, but he seems to have expected more from his allies than they were likely to do for him, for England still stood so far apart from continental affairs, that her alliance was not of much practical importance, except commercially. As a leader in war Edward could order a battle and inspire his army with his own confidence, but he could not plan a campaign; he was rash, and left too much to chance. During the first part of his reign he paid much attention to naval administration; he successfully asserted the maritime supremacy of the country, and was entitled by parliament (p. 116) the "king of the sea;" he neglected the navy in his later years. Little as the nation owed him in other respects, his achievements by sea and land made the English name respected.

It is said to have been chiefly through Mortimer's influence that, on April 24, 1328, a peace was concluded between England and Scotland, the chief provisions of which were that the Scots agreed to pay the sum of £20,000, and that Edward agreed to recognize the independence of the Scotch crown.

The treaty was very unpopular in England, and it is not surprising, therefore, that, when Edward Baliol in 1332 made his attempt to mount the Scotch throne, Edward III. gave him indirect assistance, and that after Baliol's dethronement in 1333 an invasion of Scotland was resolved on. On July 19 Edward defeated the Scots at the battle of Halidon Hill. His army was in great danger, and was hemmed in by the sea, the Tweed, the garrison of Berwick, and the Scottish host, which far outnumbered the English. On the 20th he drew up his men in four battles, placing his archers on the wings of each; all fought on foot, and he himself in the van. The English archers began the fight; the Scots fell in great numbers, and others fled, the rest charged up the hill and engaged the enemy hand to hand. They were defeated with tremendous loss; many nobles were slain, and it was commonly said in England that the war was over, for that there was not a Scot left to raise a force or lead it to battle. Edward ordered a general thanksgiving for this victory. Receiving as the result of his victory the submission of the principal Scotch nobles, he annexed the whole of Scotland south of the Forth to his own crown, and allowed Baliol to reign over the remainder as titular king. Soon after, Baliol was again a fugitive, but was again aided by Edward to mount a nominal throne.

After a short period of peace Edward, in July, 1336, ravaged and burned Scotland as far as Aberdeen, but growing complications with France compelled him in the same year to return to England. Though he professed to have a claim, through his mother, on the French throne against Philip of Valois, that claim was left in abeyance until several acts of aggression on the part of Philip brought about a rupture between the two kings. The Count of Flanders, at Philip's instigation, had broken off commercial relations with England; French privateers were daily committing ravages on English commerce; Aquitaine was continually threatened by desultory attacks; and Philip, though he hesitated to accept the responsibility of being the first to declare war, scarcely attempted to conceal his endeavors to throw that responsibility on Edward. Edward sailed for Flanders July 16, 1338, and at Coblentz held a conference with the Emperor Louis V., at which the latter appointed him his vicar-general, and gave orders for all the princes of the Low Countries to follow him in war for the space of seven years. In 1339 Edward laid siege to Cambrai, but soon afterward raised the siege and invaded France. Philip advanced to meet him, but declined battle, and Edward concluded his first campaign without achieving anything to compensate him for its cost.

In 1340 he defeated the French fleet before Sluys. The French fleet of one (p. 117) hundred and ninety galleys and great barges was superior to his in strength, for many of his ships were small. Nineteen of their ships were the biggest that had ever been seen, and grandest of all was the Christopher that had been taken from the English. Edward's fleet seems to have been "to the leeward and westward" of the enemy, and about noon he ordered his ships to sail on the starboard tack, so as to get the wind which presumably was north-east, and avoid having the sun in the faces of the archers. Then, having made their tack and got the wind, his ships entered the port and engaged just inside it. The French ships seem to have hugged the shore, and could not manœuvre, for they were lashed together in four lines. All in three of the lines were taken or sunk, the Christopher and other English ships being retaken; the fourth line escaped in the darkness, for the battle lasted into the night. The king's victory was complete, and the naval power of France was destroyed.

Shortly after his return to England a great tournament was held by him at Windsor in memory of King Arthur. In 1346 he set sail on the expedition which resulted in the great victory of Crécy[15] and the capture of Calais. It was a strong place, and the inhabitants had done much harm to the English and Flemings by their piracies. He built a regular town before the walls, sent for a fleet to blockade the harbor, and laid siege to the town with about thirty thousand men. Meanwhile the Scots, who at Philip's instance had invaded England, were routed at Neville's Cross, Durham, on October 17, and King David was taken prisoner and confined in the Tower. In April some stores were brought into Calais by sea, and after this Edward ordered a stricter blockade; his fleet dispersed a convoy of forty-four ships laden with provisions on June 25, and the next day a letter was intercepted from the governor to the French king informing him of the starving condition of the garrison, and asking for relief. Edward sent the letter on to Philip, bidding him come to the relief of the town. In July Philip led an army toward Calais. A portion of it sent to dislodge the Flemings, who were acting with Edward at Quesnoy was defeated. He appeared at Sangatte on the 27th. He was unable to get at the English who were securely posted behind the marshes, and challenged Edward to come out to battle. It is said that Edward declared that he accepted the challenge; but it is probable that he answered more wisely. Anyway, two days later, on August 2, the French decamped. The next day the town surrendered at discretion. The garrison came forth with swords reversed, and a deputation of the townsmen with bare heads and ropes about their necks, prostrated themselves before Edward, offering him the keys of the city. He at first intended, or made as though he intended, to put the inhabitants to the sword as a punishment for their piracies, but spared them at the intercession of his queen. During the summer his army suffered much sickness, arising from lack of good water. With some few exceptions he banished the people of Calais; and sent over to England offering grants and privileges to those who would colonize the town. After agreeing to a truce for nine months, he returned home with his wife and son, and after a stormy passage, (p. 118) landed at Sandwich on October 12. All England was filled with the spoils of Edward's expedition, so that there was not a woman who did not wear some ornament, or have in her house fine linen or some goblet, part of the booty the king sent home from Caen or brought back from Calais.

One more great sea-fight there was in 1349, when the Spanish fleet was defeated, and now, indeed, the English were masters of the sea. From this time Edward, as a warrior, retires somewhat into the background, his place being taken by the Prince of Wales, who in 1356 won the battle of Poitiers, and took King John prisoner. In 1359 Edward again invaded France, and in 1360 he signed the peace of Bretigny, according to which the French agreed to pay for King John a ransom of three million crowns, and Edward renounced his title to the throne of France, but retained his full sovereignty over the whole of the ancient duchy of Aquitaine, the counties of Ponthieu and Guignes, and the town of Calais. Peace was again broken in 1369 by Charles of France, and when he concluded a truce with England in 1375 all of France that remained in Edward's hands was Bayonne and Bordeaux in the south, and Calais in the north. The last years of Edward's reign form a sad and gloomy close to a career which had had a vigorous and energetic commencement, and had afterward been rendered illustrious by great achievements. His empire in France was virtually overthrown; the vast expenditure which had had such a fruitless result was sorely burdening his subjects, and awakening increasing discontent; and he himself, through the gradual decay of his mental faculties, had become a mere tool in the hands of Anne Travers, and of ministers whose only aim was their own aggrandizement. In 1367 the "Good Parliament" virtually seized the helm of the state from the hands of the king and his ministers. The Black Prince was the chief agent in urging these reforms, but his death, in the midst of the Parliament's deliberations, for a time rendered almost abortive the good work he had begun. Edward died June 21, 1377. Both in his home and foreign relations he showed considerable prudence and sagacity, and he may be allowed the merit of having endeavored as much as possible to keep on good terms with his subjects. His expeditions were planned on a scale of great magnificence, but he entered on his campaigns without any definite aim, and his splendid victories were mere isolated achievements, won partly by good fortune, but chiefly by the valor of Welsh and Irish yeomen and the skill of English archers.

It has been observed, in regard to Edward III., by Sir James Mackintosh, that "though his victories left few lasting acquisitions, yet they surrounded the name of his country with a lustre which produced strength and safety; which perhaps also gave a loftier tone to the feelings of England, and a more vigorous activity to her faculties."

Edward III. and the burghers of Calais.

"During a reign of fifty years," it is added, "Edward III. issued writs of summons, which are extant to this day, to assemble seventy parliaments or great councils: he thus engaged the pride and passions of the parliament and the people so deeply in support of his projects of aggrandizement, that they became his zealous and enthusiastic followers. His ambition was caught by the nation, and (p. 119) men of the humblest station became proud of his brilliant victories. To form and keep up this state of public temper was the mainspring of his domestic administration, and satisfactorily explains the internal tranquillity of England during the forty years of his effective reign. It was the natural consequence of so long and watchful a pursuit of popularity that most grievances were redressed as soon as felt, that parliamentary authority was yearly strengthened by exercise, and that the minds of the turbulent barons were exclusively turned toward a share in their sovereign's glory. Quiet at home was partly the fruit of fame abroad."[Back to Contents]

EDWARD THE BLACK PRINCE
By L. Drake
(1330-1376)

The black Prince's seal.

Edward, Prince of Wales, commonly called the Black Prince, was born in 1330. He was the eldest son of Edward III., and a model of the highest virtues of his times, a loyal son, and a brave, yet merciful, warrior. He sailed with his father to attack the French in 1346, and though only sixteen was knighted by the king immediately on reaching France. He "made a right good beginning," for he rode with a small force on a daring foray, and then distinguished himself at the taking of Caen and in the engagement with the force under Gondemar du Fay, which endeavored to prevent the English army from crossing the Somme. King Edward and his small army compelled to face a far larger French force, made some of the most daring and successful marches on record in the annals of warfare.

At length they encamped in a forest, a little to the west of the small town of Crécy. The French army, outnumbering them some say as four, some say as twelve to one, was not far distant; but, confident in his troops and himself, and animated by the memory of many triumphs, the English king resolved to make a stand. The field of Crécy, from the capabilities of the ground, was made choice of for the expected battle; and the plan being drawn out by Edward and his counsellors, the king, as the greatest and most chivalrous favor he could confer, determined to yield the place of danger and of honor to the prince, and in his own words, "to let the day be his."

To insure his success, most of the famous knights were placed in the division which the Black Prince (as he was now called, from the sable suit of armor he usually wore) was to command; while the Earl of Warwick and the celebrated (p. 120) Sir John Chandos were ordered not to quit his side, but be ever ready to direct and aid him.

Early on the morning of August 26, 1346, the trumpets sounded, and the army marched to take up the position which had been selected on the previous day. The ground was an irregular slope, looking toward the south and east—the quarters from which the army were expected. The prince's division, composed of 800 men-at-arms, 4,000 archers, and 6,000 Welsh foot, was stationed nearly at the bottom of the hill; the archers, as usual, in front, the light troops next, and then the men-at-arms, in the midst of whom was the prince himself, with twelve earls and lords, as his staff. To the left of this, and higher on the slope, appeared the second division, of about 7,000 men, commanded by the Earls of Arundel and Northampton. On a rising ground, surmounted by a windmill, aloof from the rest, was King Edward himself, with 12,000 men, as a reserve. The wagons and baggage were in the rear of the prince, under the charge of a small body of archers. As the battle was to be fought entirely on foot, all the horses were also left with these.

Mounted on a palfrey, with a white staff in his hand, the king, with a smiling and cheerful countenance, rode from rank to rank. By noon he had passed through all the lines exhorting the men to do their duty gallantly, and defend his honor and right.

The soldiers now had permission to refresh themselves, while waiting the enemy's approach. They accordingly ate and drank at ease, and afterward lay down in ranks on the long grass, with their bows and steel caps beside them.

Meantime the French army had approached very near. Four knights had ridden forward, and observed King Edward's plan of battle; when, having seen how fresh and vigorous the English troops appeared, they advised Philip, the French king, to delay the engagement till next day, by which time his troops, now hungry and wearied, would be refreshed. Philip at once saw the wisdom of this counsel, and one of his marshals immediately galloped to the front, and the other to the rear.

"Halt your banners, in the name of God, the king, and St. Denis!" was the command given to the leaders. The advanced troops instantly obeyed; but the others pressed on, hoping to be among the foremost. This obliged the soldiers in front to move on again. In vain the king commanded, and the marshals threatened; hurrying forward in disgraceful confusion, the French, passing through a small wood, suddenly found themselves in the presence of the English. The surprise caused the first line to fall back, and thus increase the confusion.

The English soldiers now rose steadily from the grass, and stood in fair and martial order on the hillside, with the standard of the Black Prince in their front.

The sky had by this time become clouded; a thunder-storm came on, and torrents of rain soon fell—slackening the strings of the cross-bows of the Genoese archers, who had advanced to break the firm front of the English bowmen. The clouds cleared quickly away, and the western sun soon shone out bright and clear, full in the faces of the French. At the moment the Genoese drew their arbalists, and commenced their discharge, each English archer stepped forward a single pace, as he took his bow from the case in which it had been protected (p. 121) from the rain; and a flight of arrows fell among the Genoese, piercing their heads, arms, and faces, and causing them instantly to retreat in confusion among the horsemen in their rear.

The passionate French king, instead of trying to rally the fugitives, at once ordered the men-at-arms to fall upon them. The cavalry, the heavy troops, and the cross-bow men, soon formed a wild and reeling crowd, amid which the English poured a continued flight of unerring arrows, and not a single bowstring was drawn in vain.

Meantime the Count of Alençon, dividing his men into two parties, swept round on one side of this scene of confusion; while the Count of Flanders did the same on the other side, and, avoiding the archers, furiously attacked the men-at-arms around the prince. England's chivalry, headed by the gallant boy, met the impetuous charge with equal valor and with greater success; and as each headlong effort of the French deranged the ranks for a moment, they were formed anew, each man fighting where he stood, none quitting his place to make a prisoner, while growing piles of dead told of their courage and vigor. The two counts were slain, and terror began to spread through their troops. A large body of German cavalry now bore down on the prince's archers, and, in spite of the terrible flight of arrows, cut their way through, and charged the men-at-arms. By this time nearly forty thousand men were pressing round the little English phalanx; but the combat was renewed, hand to hand, with more energy than ever, while the Earls of Northampton and Arundel moved up with their division, to repel the tremendous attack.

King Edward still remained with his powerful reserve, viewing the battle from the windmill above. The Earl of Warwick now called a knight, named Thomas of Norwich, and despatched him to the king.

"Sir Thomas," demanded Edward, "is my son killed, or overthrown, or wounded beyond help?"

"Not so, my liege," answered the knight; "yet he is in a rude shock of arms, and much does he need your aid."

"Go back, Sir Thomas, to those who sent you," rejoined the king, "and tell them from me, that whatever happens, to require no aid from me, so long as my son is in life. Tell them, also, that I command them to let the boy win his spurs; for, God willing, the day shall be his, and the honor shall rest with him, and those into whose charge I have given him."

The prince, and those around him, seemed inspired with fresh courage by this message; and efforts surpassing all that had preceded were made by the English soldiers. The French men-at-arms, as they still dashed down on the ranks, met the same fate as their predecessors; and, hurled wounded from their dying horses, were thrust through by the short lances of the half-armed Welshmen, who rushed hither and thither through the midst of the fight. Charles of Luxembourg, who led the German cavalry, seeing his banner down, his friends slain, his troops routed, and himself wounded severely in three places, fled, casting off his rich surcoat, to avoid recognition.

(p. 122) This prince's father, the veteran King of Bohemia, was seated on horseback at a little distance from the fight. The old man had fought in almost every quarter of Europe; but, though still full of valor, he was now blind. Unable himself to mark the progress of the fight, he continued to inquire anxiously, and soon discovered that the day was lost.

"My son," demanded the veteran monarch of his attendants; "my son!—can you still see my son?"

"The King of the Romans is not in sight, sire," was the reply; "but doubtless he is somewhere engaged in the mêlée."

"Lords," continued the old king,—drawing his own conclusions from what he heard, and resolved not to quit the field alive—"Lords, you are my vassals, my friends, and my companions; and on this day, I command and beseech you to lead me forward so far that I may deal one blow of my sword in the battle."

They linked their horses' bridles to one another, and placing their venerable lord in the centre, galloped down into the field. Entering the thickest strife, they advanced directly against the Prince of Wales. Here the blind monarch was seen fighting valiantly for some time; but at length his banner went down. Next day he was found dead on the field of Crécy—his friends around him—their horses still linked to each other by the bridles.

It was growing dark ere the angry Philip could force his way through the confusion he had himself chiefly caused by the imprudent command he gave at the commencement of the battle. The unremitting arrows of the English still continued to pour like hail; and his followers fell thickly around him. Many fled, leaving him to his fate; and presently his own horse was killed by an arrow.

One of his attendants, John of Hainault, who had remained by his side the whole day, mounted him on one of his own chargers, and entreated him to quit the field. Philip refused; and, making his way into the thickest battle, fought for some time with great courage. At length—his troops almost annihilated, himself wounded in two places—he suffered John to half force him from the field; and, with a few of his lords, and only sixty men-at-arms, reached his nearest castle of Broye in safety. At midnight he again set out, and did not slacken his flight till he reached Amiens.

The gallant Prince of Wales still held his station firmly in the battle; the utmost efforts of the French had not made him yield a single step. By degrees, as night fell, the assailants decreased in numbers, the banners disappeared, and the shouts of the knights and the clang of arms died away. Silence at last crept over the field, and told that victory was completed by the flight of the enemy. Torches were then lighted, in immense numbers, along the English lines to dispel the darkness.

King Edward now first quitted his station on the hill; he hastily sought his conquering boy, and clasped him proudly to his bosom.

"God give you perseverance in your course, my child!" cried the king, as he still held him. "You are indeed my son! Nobly have you acquitted yourself, and worthy are you of the place you hold!"

(p. 123) The youthful hero had hitherto, in the excitement and energy of the battle, felt only the necessity of immense exertion, and had been unmindful of all but the immediate efforts of the moment; but now, the thought of his great victory—which his father's praise seemed first to bring fully to his mind—overcame him, and he sank on his knees before the king, and entreated his blessing, after a day of such glory and peril. And thus ended the battle of Crécy.

The prince had now fully established his character as a warrior. Two or three years afterward, he showed that he could display equal courage at sea as on land; this was in an engagement with the Spaniards.

Peter the Cruel—as he was termed—was at that time King of Castile, and encouraged, to a great extent, the pirates who infested the English seas. His own fleet even, in passing through the British Channel, had captured a number of English merchantmen, returning from Bordeaux, and after putting into Sluys, were preparing to sail back in triumph with the prizes and merchandise.

King Edward determined to oppose their return, and collected his fleet off the coast of Sussex, near Winchelsea. When he heard that the Spaniards were about putting to sea, he immediately embarked to command the expedition in person. The Black Prince, now in his twentieth year, accompanied him, and commanded one of the largest vessels. The day on which the Spanish fleet would make its appearance had been nicely calculated. Edward waited impatiently for its approach, and, to beguile the time, made the musicians play an air which the famous Chandos, who was now with him, had brought from Germany. During the concert, the king, from time to time, turned his eye to the watcher at the masthead. In a short time the music was interrupted by the cry of—"A sail!" Ordering wine to be brought, Edward drank one cup with his knights, and, throwing off the cap he had worn till now, put on his casque, and closed his visor for the day.

The Spanish ships came on in gallant trim. The number of fighting men which they contained was, compared with the English, as ten to one; and their vessels were of a much greater size. They had also large wooden towers on board, filled with cross-bowmen, and were further provided with immense bars of iron, with which to sink the ships of their opponents. They approached, with their tops filled with cross-bowmen and engineers, the decks covered with men-at-arms, and with the banners and pennons of different knights and commanders flying from every mast. They came up, in order of battle, a few hours before night. King Edward immediately steered direct against a large Spanish ship; endeavoring, according to the custom of ancient naval warfare, to run her down with his prow. The vessel, which was much superior to his own in magnitude, withstood the tremendous shock—both ships recoiling from each other. The king now found his ship had sprung a leak, and was sinking fast. In the confusion the Spanish vessel passed on; but Edward immediately ordering his ship to be lashed to another of the enemy, after a desperate struggle, made himself master of a sound vessel.

The battle now raged on all sides. Showers of bolts and quarrels from the (p. 124) cross-bows, and immense stones, hurled by powerful engines, were poured upon the English. The Black Prince, imitating the example of his father, had fixed on one of the largest ships of the enemy; but, while steering toward her, the missiles she discharged pierced his own vessel in several places. The speedy capture of his enemy was now necessary; for, as he came alongside, his barque was absolutely sinking. The sides of his opponent's vessel being much higher than his own rendered the attempt very hazardous; and while, sword in hand, he attempted to force his way, bolts and arrows poured on his head from every quarter. The Earl of Lancaster, sweeping by to engage one of the enemy, saw the situation of the prince, and immediately dashed to the other side of the antagonist, and after a fierce but short struggle, the Spanish ship remained in the hands of the prince; and scarcely had he and his crew left their own vessel, before she filled and went down.

Twenty-four of the enemy's ships had by this time been captured; the rest were sunk, or in full flight; and, night having fallen, King Edward measured back the short distance to the shore. Father and son, then mounting horse, rode to the Abbey of Winchelsea, where Queen Philippa had been left, and soon turned the suspense she had suffered, since darkness had hidden the battle from her sight, into joy and gratitude.

The French king, Philip, was now dead, and had been succeeded by his eldest son John. Some proceedings, on the part of the new monarch, were regarded as a signal to break the truce which had subsisted for a short time between the English and the French. Various displays of hostilities followed, and many negotiations were entered into without success. The Black Prince, being appointed captain-general, sailed for Bordeaux in August, 1355, and arrived there after an easy passage. His first movements were always successful; and, even when winter set in, the judicious manner in which he employed his troops enabled him to add five fortified towns and seventeen castles to the English possessions.

Spring and summer passed by—the prince still continuing active. At length, the French king collected an immense army, and marched to intercept him. Though well aware that John was endeavoring to cut off his retreat, the Black Prince was ignorant of the exact position of the French army, until, one day, a small foraging party fell in with a troop of three hundred horsemen, who, pursuing the little band across some bushes, suddenly found themselves under the banner of the Black Prince. After a few blows they surrendered, and from them the prince learned that King John was a day's march in advance of him.

A party, despatched to reconnoitre, brought back intelligence that an army of eight times his force lay between him and Poitiers. Though without fear, the prince felt all the difficulties of his situation; yet his simple reply was—"God be our help!—now let us think how we may fight them to the best advantage."

A high ground, commanding the country toward Poitiers, defended by the hedges of a vineyard, and accessible from the city only by a hollow way scarcely wide enough to admit four men abreast, presented to him a most defensible position. Here he encamped, and early next morning, disposed his troops for battle. (p. 125) He dismounted his whole force; placed a body of archers, drawn up in the form of a harrow, in front, the men-at-arms behind, and stationed strong bodies of bowmen along the hedges, on each side of the hollow way. Thus, while climbing the hill, the French would be exposed to the galling flights of arrows, while the nature of the ground would further render their superiority in numbers of little avail.

The French host now began to advance;—yet, as its ocean of waving plumes rolled up the hill, the prince, in the same firm tone which had declared the day before, that England should never have to pay his ransom, now spoke the hope of victory.

Three hundred chosen horsemen soon reached the narrow way, and, putting their horses at full gallop, poured in to charge the harrow of archers. The instant they were completely within the banks, the English bowmen along the hedges poured a flight of arrows, which threw them at once into confusion.

The bodies of the slain men and horses soon blocked up the way; but a considerable number, forcing a path through every obstacle, nearly approached the first line of archers. A gallant knight, named James Audley, with his four squires, rushed against them; and thus, almost single-handed, he fought during the whole day, hewing a path through the thickest of the foe, until late in the evening; when, covered with many wounds, and fainting from loss of blood, he was borne from the field.

Meantime the shower of arrows continued to pour death, while the English men-at-arms, passing between the lines of the archers, drove back the foremost of the enemy, and the hollow soon became one scene of carnage. One of Edward's officers, named the Captal de Buch, at the same time issued from a woody ravine situated near the foot of the hill,—where, with three hundred men-at-arms and three hundred archers on horseback, he had lain concealed,—and attacked the flank of one of the divisions of the French army, commanded by the Dauphin, as it commenced the ascent. This, with the confusion in front, and a rumor that part of the army was beaten, carried terror into the rear ranks, and vast numbers, who had hardly seen an enemy, galloped madly from the field. The arrows discharged by the horse-archers now began to tell on the front line of the enemy:—the quick eye of Sir John Chandos marked it waver and open.

"Now, sir," he exclaimed, turning to the prince, "ride forward, and the day is yours. Let us charge right upon the King of France, for there lies the fate of the day. His courage, I know well, will not let him fly; but he shall be well encountered."

"On! on! Chandos," replied the prince, "you shall not see me tread one step back, but ever in advance. Bear on my banner! God and St. George be with us!"

The horses had been kept in readiness; and each man now springing into saddle, the army bore down on the enemy with levelled lances, the Captal de Buch forcing his way onward to regain the main body. The hostile forces met with a terrible shock, while the cries of "Denis Mountjoye!" "St. George, Guienne!" mingled with the clashing of steel, the shivering of lances, and the sound of the galloping steeds. The sight of the conflict struck terror into a body of sixteen (p. 126) thousand men, who had not yet drawn a sword. Panic seemed to seize them; and these fresh troops, instead of aiding their companions, fled disgracefully with their commander, the Duke of Orleans. This probably decided the day.

King John was now seen advancing with his reserve, in numbers still double the force of the English at the commencement of the battle. He saw his nobles flying, but though indignant, felt no alarm; then, dismounting with all his men, he led them, battle-axe in hand, against the English charge. The black armor of the young leader of the English rendered him also conspicuous; and, while the French king did feats of valor enough to win twenty battles if courage could have done all, the prince was seen raging like a young lion amid the thickest of the enemy. Knight to knight, and hand to hand, the battle was now fought. The French were driven back, step by step, till John found himself nearly at the gates of Poitiers, now shut against him. While, however, the oriflamme waved over his head, he would not believe the day lost; but, at length it went down, and his hopes fell with it. Surrounded on every side by foes eager to make him prisoner, he still wielded his battle-axe, clearing at each stroke the space around him and his little son, who had accompanied him through the fatal field. A knight of Artois, of gigantic height, who had been outlawed and had taken service with England, seeing that the monarch's life would be lost if he protracted his resistance, suddenly rushed into the circle.

"Yield, sire, yield!" he exclaimed in French.

"Who art thou?" inquired John.

"I am Denis de Mortbec, a poor knight of Artois," answered the outlaw, "but now in the service of England, because a banished man from my own country."

"Well, I yield me to you," cried the king, giving him in sign of surrender, his right gauntlet.

By this time nothing was seen but dead and dying on the field, with groups of prisoners, and parties of fugitives escaping over the distant country. The prince, by the advice of Chandos, now pitched his banner on a high spot; and, while the trumpets sounded a recall to the standard he dismounted, and, unbracing his helmet, took a draught of wine with the band of knights who had accompanied him throughout the arduous day.

The unfortunate French king was soon brought to him by the Earl of Warwick and Lord Cobham. The prince received his vanquished adversary with deep and touching respect. Bending his knee before John, he called for wine, and, with his own hands, presented the cup to the unhappy king.

By mid-day the battle was over; but, as the pursuing parties did not return till evening, it was only then that the prince learned the greatness of his victory. With eight thousand men he had vanquished more than sixty thousand, and the captives were double the number of the conquerors.

At night a sumptuous entertainment was served in the tent of the Black Prince to the King of France and the principal prisoners. John, his son, and six of his chief nobles, were seated at a table raised higher than the rest; but no place was reserved for the prince himself. Great was the surprise when the victor appeared (p. 127) to officiate as page. This in the days of chivalry implied no degradation, though it showed the generous humility of the young hero. John repeatedly entreated the prince to seat himself beside him, and could scarcely be persuaded to taste the food while his vanquisher remained standing, or handed him the cup on bended knee. The respectful manner in which the prince conducted himself, and the feeling he expressed for the misfortunes of his foe, so touched John, that at last the tears burst from his eyes, and mingled with the marks of blood on his checks.

The example of their leader was followed throughout the English camp; every one treating his prisoners as friends, and admitting them to ransom on terms named, in most cases, by the vanquished themselves.

After this event the prince again distinguished himself in France, for the claims of his father, which the treaty had in part recognized, were again disputed. Many battles were fought, and much negotiation was carried on, extending over several years; while in the midst of these harassments, the prince, who had long been ill, became worse. His surgeons advised his return to England. He complied; but day after day his strength failed him, and fainting fits of long continuance often led those around him to suppose him dead. At length, on Sunday, June 8, 1376, he closed a life which for years had been one sad scene of suffering. He was interred with due pomp in Canterbury Cathedral, his favorite suit of black armor being suspended over his tomb. Thus, scarcely past his prime, died "the valiant and gentle Prince of Wales, the flower of all chivalry in the world at that time."[Back to Contents]

BERTRAND DU GUESCLIN
(1314-1380)

Bertrand du Guesclin.

Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France, the most famous French warrior of his age, was born of an ancient but undistinguished family, at the castle of La Motte-Broon, near Rennes, about 1314. The date is doubtful, the authorities varying between 1311 and 1324. The name is spelt in various ways in contemporary records, e.g., Claquin, Klesquin, Guescquin, Glayaquin, etc. The familiar form is found on his monument at St. Denis, and in some legal documents of the time. In his boyhood Bertrand was a dull learner, spending his time in open-air sports and exercises, and could never read or write. He was remarkable for ugliness, and was an object of aversion to his parents. He first made himself a name as a soldier at the (p. 128) tournament held at Rennes in 1338 to celebrate the marriage of Charles of Blois with Jeanne de Penthièvere, at which he unseated the most famous competitors.

But this playing at fighting was not enough for his ambition; and in the war which followed between Charles of Blois and John de Montfort, for the possession of the Duchy of Brittany, he served his apprenticeship as a soldier. As he was not a great baron with a body of vassals at his command, he put himself at the head of a band of adventurers, and fought on the side of Charles and of France. He distinguished himself by a brilliant action at the siege of Vannes in 1342; and after that he disappears from history for some years. In 1351, having shortly before been made a knight, he was sent into England with the lords of Brittany to treat for the ransom of Charles of Blois, who had been defeated and captured by the English in 1347. When Rennes was besieged by the Duke of Lancaster, in 1356, Du Guesclin forced his way with a handful of men into the town, and successfully defended it till June, 1357, when the siege was raised in pursuance of the truce of Bordeaux. For this service he was rewarded with the lordship of Roche d'Airien.

At the expiration of the truce he distinguished himself by the defence of Dinan, and here he engaged in single combat with Sir Thomas Canterbury. Shortly afterward he married; and about the same time he passed into the service of France, and greatly distinguished himself at the siege of Melun (1359). In April, 1364, in conjunction with Boucicault, he recovered Mantes and Meulan from the King of Navarre; and in May he defeated the Navarrese under Captal de Buch at Cocherel, and took their leader prisoner. The king now created him Marshal of Normandy and Count of Longueville. At the battle of Auray, in September of the same year, Charles of Blois was defeated and killed, and Du Guesclin taken prisoner, by Sir John Chandos.

The grand companies beginning, after the close of the war, to play the part of brigands in France, it was necessary to get rid of them. Du Guesclin was ransomed for 100,000 crowns, and was charged to lead them out of France. He marched with them into Spain, visiting Avignon on the way, and extorting from the Pope a large sum of money and his absolution. Du Guesclin now supported Henry of Trastamare against Peter the Cruel, set the former upon the throne of Castile (1366), and was made Constable of Castile and Count of Trastamare. In the following year he was defeated and captured by the Black Prince, ally of Peter the Cruel, at Najara, but was soon released for a heavy ransom. Once more he fought for Henry, reinstated him on the throne (1369), and was created Duke of Molinas.

Bertrand du Guesclin.

In May, 1370, at the command of Charles V., who named him Constable of France, he returned to France. War had just been declared against England, and Du Guesclin was called to take part in it. For nearly ten years he was engaged in fighting against the English in the south and the west of France, recovering from them the provinces of Poitou, Guienne, and Auvergne, and thus powerfully contributing to the establishment of a united France. In 1373, when the Duke of Brittany sought English aid against a threatened invasion by Charles V., (p. 129) Du Guesclin was sent at the head of a powerful army to seize the duchy, which he did; and two years later he frustrated, by a defensive policy, the attempt of the duke with an English army to recover it. Finding, in 1379, that the king entertained suspicions of his fidelity to him, he resolved to give up his constable's sword and retire to Spain. His resolution was at first proof against remonstrance; but ultimately he received back the sword, and continued in the service of France.

In 1380 he was sent into Languedoc to suppress disturbances and brigandage provoked by the harsh government of the Duke of Anjou. His first act was to lay siege to the fortress of Châteauneuf-Randou, held by the English, strongly garrisoned and well provisioned. A day was fixed conditionally for capitulation. Meanwhile the great warrior was smitten with a mortal illness, and died, July 13, 1380. The commander led out the garrison and deposited the keys of the castle on the coffin of the hero. Du Guesclin lost his first wife in 1371, and married a second in 1373. His remains were interred, by order of the king, in the church of St Denis.[Back to Contents]

HENRY V. OF ENGLAND
Extracts from "Memoirs of Great Commanders," by G. P. R. James
(1388-1422)

Ritter's arms.

Henry, the fifth English monarch of that name, was born at Monmouth, on the banks of the pleasant Wye, in the year 1388. He was the eldest son of Henry, Earl of Derby, and of Mary de Bohun, daughter of the Earl of Hereford. During his infancy reverses and successes passed rapidly over his father's head, and at the age of thirteen years he found himself the eldest son of the King of England, and was created by his father Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, and Earl of Chester. The early education of Henry the Fifth is unknown; but it may be inferred, that during the life of his mother, principles of high honor and virtue had been instilled into his bosom, which became dormant, though not extinct, as rising toward manhood, evil companions took advantage of idleness and indulgence to call into action the passions of the young prince, in order to lead him to their own purposes.

The tales of his debauchery, and the depravity of his taste, while a youth, have been doubted and contradicted, but not disproved by modern historians; (p. 130) but the positive assertions of older writers, whose means of information was great and immediate, must always be more valuable than the theoretical doubts of persons who live when a thousand sources of knowledge have been buried under the lumber of ages. It is therefore more than probable that, in his youth, Henry the Fifth gave himself up to low companions, unworthy a prince and a gentleman, and yielded to his passions indulgences which were forbidden by his reason. Nevertheless, through the whole course of his youthful errors, as portrayed by those least favorable in their account, there is to be seen the gleaming forth of those better principles, that nobler soul, which rendered him in after years one of the greatest and best of English monarchs.

Out of a multitude of events which might be brought forward to prove this fact, one of the best authenticated, and the most striking, is his submission to Chief-justice Gascoigne. Henry, it would appear, had entered the Court of Justice in support of one of his dissolute companions, who had rendered himself amenable to the laws of his country. Notwithstanding the presence and influence of the prince, the magistrate did his duty toward the offender, without fear or favor, and in the heat of the moment, Henry struck the judge upon the judgment-seat. Still unmoved and unruffled, the chief-justice, without a hesitation on the score of the prince's rank or power, at once committed him for contempt of court.

Time had been given for the better spirit to assume her influence, and struck with the conscientious courage of the judge, the heir-apparent of the British throne submitted to the punishment he had merited, and suffered himself without opposition to be led to prison, thus setting a noble example of obedience to the laws. His father was of a mind well qualified to appreciate the conduct both of his son and of his son's judge, and when the news was brought him—probably by those who sought to inflame the monarch's mind against the punisher of his son—he exclaimed, with joy: "Blessed is the king whose magistrates possess courage to execute the laws upon such an offender; and still more happy is he who has for a son a prince willing to endure such wholesome chastisement."

Although from all accounts it would appear that many parts of the prince's conduct gave great pain and offence to his father, yet we find that Henry IV. never scrupled to entrust to his care some of the greatest and most important military operations of his reign. Whether the prince had already displayed the qualities of a soldier, in a degree sufficient to attract the notice of his father, or whether the king sought only to habituate him early to that inevitable career of arms which was in those days one of the misfortunes of royalty, we are not informed; but so early as his sixteenth or seventeenth year he fought at the battle of Shrewsbury, in which Henry Hotspur was slain. What was the part assigned to the prince on this occasion I do not find stated precisely; but all accounts agree that he proved of infinite assistance and service to his father, and fought long in the thickest of the battle, after having been severely wounded by an arrow in the face.

The death of Percy spread dismay among his soldiers and allies, and after a fight of nearly four hours the party of Northumberland fled, leaving the king (p. 131) master of the field of battle, and a number of noble prisoners. Many of these were executed either at Shrewsbury or London; and the Earl of Northumberland, the chief support of the rebellion, made his peace for the time to meditate his rebellions.

Owen Glendower, however, one of the confederates, was still in arms in Wales; and while Henry IV. returned in triumph to London, he despatched his eldest son, at the head of considerable forces, to reduce the Principality to obedience. The unhappy Glendower, unable to oppose the army led against him, was forced to fly, and, abandoned by his friends and followers, is said to have died of starvation among the caves and wildernesses in which he sought refuge. In the meanwhile the Prince of Wales conducted his expedition with skill and wisdom; the whole country submitted to his power; and having re-established order and tranquillity, he returned to London with honor and praise.

Little further occurs in the history of Henry as Prince of Wales which is interesting in itself, if stripped of the embellishments added to it by the fancy of our great poet. A project of marriage between the heir of the British crown and a daughter of the Duke of Burgundy, was entertained for some time, but died away, and the opposite, or Orleans party in France, was afterward supported by the English Crown. At length Henry the Fourth, on the eve of an expedition to the Holy Land, undertaken, it is said, in expiation of his usurpation of the throne, was struck with apoplexy; and a tale, in regard to his death, is current among the historians of the period, on which Shakespeare has founded one of the most beautiful scenes in his historical dramas. The poet, however, is far more indebted for the splendor of his materials to his own imagination, than any historical record. The facts, as related by the best authorities, are simply as follows.

After the first attack of apoplexy the king was carried to a chamber in the house of the Abbot of Westminster, and put to bed, and at his own desire the crown was laid upon his pillow. He languished in a state of great weakness for some time, and at length, after a second attack, appeared to those who were watching him to have yielded the spirit. The chamberlain immediately spread a linen cloth over the face of the king, and hastened to communicate his supposed death to the heir-apparent, who, entering the room to take a last look at his father's body, removed the crown from his pillow, and carried it into another apartment. After a short time the monarch revived, and sending for his son demanded, angrily, why he had removed the crown. The prince replied that all men had thought him dead, and therefore he had taken the symbol of royalty as his by right.

"What right I have to it myself, God knows," replied the king, "and how I have enjoyed it."

"Of that," replied the prince, "it is not for me to judge; but if you die king, my father, I will have the garland, and will defend it with my sword against all enemies as you have done."

Not long after this conversation Henry IV. expired, and his son, the Prince of Wales, was immediately proclaimed king by the title of Henry V. But his (p. 132) change was not alone in name or station; his vices and his follies he cast from him, as an unworthy garment, and assumed with royalty a royal mind. The debauched companions of his youth were banished from his presence and his counsels, and forbidden to approach within ten miles of his dwelling. But at the same time we are assured that they were not left in indigence or necessity. Wisdom and virtue became the only recommendations which raised any one to his service, and those who had proved themselves most worthy, under the government of the former monarch, found themselves most readily welcomed by the new king.

No sooner was the truce at an end which then existed between France and England, than Henry himself proceeded to Southampton to take the command of his army in person. The English armament put to sea, and notwithstanding great preparations which had been made for defending the French coast, Henry landed his troops in safety at the mouth of the Seine, and immediately laid siege to Harfleur, at that time the principal sea-port of Normandy.

The Dauphin himself advanced to Vernon on the Seine, and the famous Marshal Boucicault, one of the most celebrated knights of his time, gathered together a large force, and advanced toward the English army.

Nevertheless Henry did not suffer his courage to fail, and the siege was continued with unabated vigor. At length the means of defence began to fail within the town. Two wagons of powder, which the French attempted to introduce, fell into the hands of the English; the walls were ruined by the effects of the artillery, and at length the governor agreed to surrender, if he remained unrelieved at the end of three days. The three days expired without succor, and Harfleur was surrendered to the King of England.

[Here follows a long and glowing account of Henry's retreat in the face of the overwhelming French forces, and of his greatest victory, the famous battle of Agincourt.]

Shortly after his return to England, Henry was visited by Sigismund, Emperor of Germany, accompanied by French ambassadors commissioned to treat for peace under his mediation. But while Henry continued to exact severe terms, the French gave him constant excuses for proceeding in the war, by their efforts to recover Harfleur, which, however, were constantly defeated by the activity of the English monarch and his officers.

Henry V. rejects Falstaff.

To conquer the former patrimony of the British kings seemed the monarch's first object, and in a very short time he made himself master of almost all the principal cities of the duchy. Caen, indeed, resisted with devoted courage, and, after a severe siege, was taken by assault; but the governors of the other fortified places in Normandy, divided between the Armagnac and the Burgundian parties, had no confidence in their soldiers or each other, and one after another submitted to the power of the conqueror. Nor, indeed, did Henry spare any means to obtain his purpose in such a bloodless manner. All his proclamations announced that those who submitted should be safe in person and property; and his address to all the French people holds out to them that prospect of peace and protection which had long been unknown amongst the dissensions of their (p. 133) nobles. The first person of great influence, however, who joined the forces of the English king, was the Duke of Brittany; and, though Henry exacted no very great exertions from his new ally, the example of such a defection from the crown of France was greatly in behalf of the invader. Rouen, the capital of Normandy, however, still resolutely closed her gates against the English.

The attack and capture of the Pont de l'Arche announced to the people of Rouen, and to the King of France, that the war was about to approach the gates of the Norman capital, and every exertion was made, both by the Burgundian faction, who now held the king in their hands, and the burghers of the city itself, to repel the English in the attempt. A number of famous knights and commanders were thrown into the city, which was, besides, garrisoned by upward of four thousand men-at-arms, and fifteen thousand armed citizens, all eager in the cause.

Immense efforts were now made by the English to force an entrance, but the defences of the place were so strong, and the defenders so resolute, that no hope appeared of effecting a practicable breach in the walls. Many a sally took place, and many an assault, and many a feat of arms was performed between the two armies. But in the meanwhile the provisions of the people of the town began to decrease, and a smaller and smaller portion of food became the allowance of each day. At length the inhabitants, by murmurs and threats, compelled the garrison to treat; and, after a long and painful negotiation, Rouen capitulated, upon terms which could hardly be called unfavorable, in the situation to which its defenders were reduced.

The news of the fall of Rouen had the greatest effect on the rest of Normandy, and twenty-seven towns, or castles, immediately made submission to the King of England, without even being summoned to surrender. Nor was this immediate benefit the only advantage which followed from the capture of Rouen. Dismay and doubt spread through all France, and thoughts of peace and concession were entertained by those who had hitherto breathed nothing but war and defiance to the King of England.

Pontoise was almost immediately taken by surprise, Gisors and Chateau Gaillard fell after a short siege, and the terrific news of the advance of the English reached Paris, and induced the King, the Queen, and the Duke of Burgundy to abandon the capital and retire to Troyes.

Henry's ambassadors, according to the desire of the French court, were instantly sent to Troyes—where the weak king remained under the guidance of his evil wife and her counsellors—and they soon sketched out a treaty by which, on marrying the Princess Catharine, the English monarch should be declared heir to the crown of France, to the exclusion of the Dauphin and his lineage. This hasty treaty was as hastily ratified, and Henry, with fifteen thousand men departed from Rouen, and marching with all speed to Troyes, put the seal to an arrangement which conveyed to him the throne for which he had fought, by marrying the daughter of the French monarch. To the first articles proposed was now added, at the request of Henry, that the Regency of the kingdom, to the government of which Charles was totally incompetent, should be entrusted to him, and (p. 134) no sooner was the solemnity of his marriage completed, than he instantly took the field against the Dauphin, leading the unhappy King of France and his whole court against the natural heir to his throne. The town of Sens first fell before the arms of England and Burgundy, and immediately after siege was laid to Montereau, where the assassination of John the Bold had been committed.

Henry also now took upon him the whole executive power of the government. The governors of towns, the officers of state, the magistrates and the dignitaries, were placed and displaced at his pleasure. The currency of the country was altered at his suggestion, and his counsels swayed everything in France. However, England was still at his heart, and leaving a country that his sword and his policy had conquered, as soon as he could do so with any security, he carried his beautiful bride to be crowned in London.

The moment, however, that his foot was out of France, his interests in that country declined; and the rashness of his officers brought confusion and ruin into his affairs. Town after town was taken by the Dauphin; and at length the Duke of Clarence, the English monarch's brother, with all the chivalry that accompanied him, were defeated at Baugé, in Anjou, and the duke himself, as well as three thousand of his men, remained dead upon the field. This news, accompanied by the further tidings that the Dauphin was advancing to besiege Chartres, called upon the king imperatively to return to France; and leaving the queen to follow at a future time, Henry set out for Calais accompanied by four thousand men-at-arms and twenty-four thousand archers.

His coming gave new courage to the Burgundian faction, and struck fear into the followers of the Dauphin. Scarcely pausing at all in the capital, the English monarch advanced direct toward Chartres, before which the Dauphin had already been encamped three weeks; but long ere the English reached the town the gates were free, and the adverse army with all speed retreated toward Touraine. Thither the English monarch followed, breathing revenge for the death of his brother. Dreux and Beaugency-sur-Loire were conquered by the way; but after pursuing the Dauphin ineffectually for some time, the scarcity of provisions obliged him to return toward Normandy. On his march back, he is said to have fallen in with a party of the Armagnac faction, who retreated before him into a castle called Rougemont, which was instantly assailed and taken by the English. All who were within, the French historians assert, to the number of sixty persons, were, by the king's order, drowned in the Loire, a fact which accords too well with the manners of the time and some parts of the monarch's own character. The town of Meaux was the next object of attack, and a long and courageous defence was made by the Dauphinois within.

The fall of Meaux, like that of Rouen, brought with it the surrender of an immense number of other places, but this was the last great military undertaking which Henry conducted in person. From Meaux he went direct to Vincennes to meet his queen, who was at this time on her journey from Calais, and thence proceeded with the King and Queen of France to Paris, where various transactions took place relative to the internal policy of the country. The court soon (p. 135) removed thence to Senlis, where Henry continued to make his principal abode, till news from the banks of the Loire roused him from inactivity.

Arms.

The Dauphin, now finding the English monarch removed from his immediate neighborhood, again advanced with all the forces he could gather, and laid siege to Cône-sur-Loire, then garrisoned by the troops of Burgundy. The town, hard pressed, was obliged to treat, and agreed to surrender, without the Duke of Burgundy should give battle to the Dauphin in its defence, before the sixteenth day of August ensuing. The tidings were communicated to the duke by the garrison, and at the same time a herald from the Dauphin defied him to the field the day named. The duke instantly accepted the challenge, and sent to all his allies, as customary on such occasions, begging their aid and support in the day of battle. Among the rest he demanded the assistance of forces from the King of England, to be led by such of his famous leaders as he could well spare. Henry, however, though already unwell, declared that he would send no one to the aid of his good cousin of Burgundy, but go himself, and, accordingly, commanding his brother the Duke of Bedford, to lead his troops from Paris and that neighborhood, he himself set out from Senlis on horseback. At Melun, however, his sickness had so far increased, that, no longer able to sit on his horse, he attempted to proceed on a litter, but at length was obliged to turn toward Vincennes, where each day brought him nearer to the tomb.

The Duke of Bedford, led the English forces to Cône, from which the Dauphin had already retreated, and the English prince returned just in time to witness the death of his brother.

Henry already felt his danger, and calling his relations around him, made those dispositions which he thought necessary for securing his dominions to his child. He then insisted upon his physicians informing him how long he had to live, and being told that his life could not last much more than two hours, he prepared to meet death with the same courage which he had evinced during life. After going through all the ceremonial duties of the Catholic religion, he commanded some particular psalms to be sung in his chamber, and died very nearly the time his physicians had predicted.

Henry V. was a great conqueror, and a wise, prudent, and politic prince. His two greatest faults seem to have been ambition and cruelty; the first was an inheritance, and the second, perhaps, was less an effect of a harsh nature than of hasty passion. We seldom find that he committed any deliberate act of barbarity, and those things which most stain his name were generally done under feelings of great irritation. His conduct to the Earl of March, the heir of Richard II., and the respect he paid to the memory of that unhappy king himself, are proofs of a generous nature; and of all his conquests, the greatest he ever achieved was the first—that over himself.[Back to Contents]

(p. 136) JOHN HUNIADES[16]
By Professor A. Vambéry
(1388-1456)

John Huniades.

Of his grandfather we do not know even the name; his father was a Wallach, a common soldier; yet he himself was the greatest of Hungarian heroes, the Grand Marshal, and later on the "Governor" or Regent of Hungary; and his son king of that country. At the present day, in the age of democracy, such rapid elevation is no such rare phenomenon, but in the aristocratic middle ages it was really a miracle, one that points to exceptional circumstances and an exceptional man.

In Europe at that time the circumstances were indeed exceptional. A new power pulsating with youthful life had arrived from somewhere in the interior of Asia with the intention of conquering the world. This power was the Turk—not merely a single nation, but a whole group of peoples clustered round a nation, inspired by one single idea which urged them ever forward. "There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the Apostle of God."

The Mohammedan flood already beat upon the bounds of Catholic Christendom, in the forefront of which stood Hungary. Hungary's king, Sigismund, was able for a moment in 1396 to unite the nations of Europe against the common danger, but the proud array of mail-clad knights were swept away like chaff before the steady ranks of the janissaries.

And herewith began the long series of desolating inroads into Hungary, for the Turk was wont to suck the blood of the nation he had marked down as his prey. He took the country by surprise, secretly, suddenly, like a summer storm, appearing in overwhelming numbers, burning, murdering, robbing, especially, men in the hopes of a rich ransom, or children whom they might bring up as Mohammedans and janissaries. This body, the flower of the Turkish armies, owed its origin for the most part to the Christian children thus stolen from their parents and their country. This infantry of the janissaries was the first standing army in Europe. Living constantly together under a common discipline, like the inmates of a cloister, they rushed blindly forward to the cry of "God and his Prophet" like some splendid, powerful wild beast, eager for prey. The Turkish (p. 137) sultans published the proud order: "Forward, let us conquer the whole world, wheresoever we tie up our horses' heads that land is our own."

To resist such a nation, that would not listen to negotiation, but only thirsted for war and conquest, seemed already an impossibility. Europe trembled with fear at the reports of the formidable attacks designed against her, and listened anxiously for news from distant Hungary which lay, so to say, in the lion's very mouth.

Against such an enemy a soldier of the modern type was useless, one who slays only in defence of his own life and at the word of command, whose force consists in the high development of the military art and the murderous instruments of modern technical science. What was wanted was an heroic soul, inspired by a burning faith like to that which impelled the Mohammedan soldier.

This heroic soul, this burning faith, united to the tenacious energy of youth, were all found united in the greatest Hungarian hero, John Huniades, accompanied withal by a singular talent for leadership in war. He could not rely for support upon the haughty magnates who could trace their descent back for centuries and despised the parvenu with a shorter pedigree and a smaller estate. He was consequently obliged to cast in his lot with the mass of the lesser nobility, individually weaker, it is true, but not deficient in spirit and a consciousness of their own worth. Of this class he soon became the idolized leader. Around him gathered the hitherto latent forces of Hungarian society, especially from Transylvania and South Hungary and the Great Hungarian Plain (Alföld), which suffered most from the incursions of the Turks and were therefore most impressed with the necessity of organizing a system of defence. It was these who were the first to be inspired by Huniades' heroic spirit.

Before commencing his career as independent commander he, following his father's example, attached himself to the court of Sigismund, the Emperor-king, in whose train he visited the countries of Western Europe, Germany, England, and Italy, till he at length returned home, his mind enriched by experience but with the fervor of his first faith unchilled.

He had thus passed the flower of his age when nearly sixty years old, he repaired at his sovereign's command to the south of Hungary to organize the resistance to the Turks. At first he was appointed Ban of Severin, and as such had the chief command of the fortified places built by the Hungarians for the defence of the Lower Danube. After that he became Voyvode of Transylvania, the civil and military governor of the southeastern corner of the Hungarian kingdom.

Before, however, he had reached these dignities he had fought a succession of battles and skirmishes with such success that for the fanatical Turkish soldiery his form, nay, his very name was an object of terror. It was Huniades alone whom they sought to slay on the field of battle, well persuaded that he once slain they would easily deal with the rest of Hungary. Thus in 1442 a Turkish leader, named Mezid Bey, burst into Transylvania at the head of 80,000 men in pursuance of the sultan's commands, with no other aim than to take Huniades dead or alive.

(p. 138) Nor indeed did Huniades keep them waiting for him. He hurried at the head of his troops to attack the Turkish leader who was laying siege to Hermannstadt. Upon this Mezid Bey, calling his bravest soldiers around him, described to them once more Huniades' appearance, his arms, his dress, his stature, and his horse, that they might certainly recognize him. "Slay him only," he exclaimed; "and we shall easily deal with the rest of them; we shall drive them like a flock of sheep into the presence of our august master."

On that occasion was seen with what self-sacrificing enthusiasm his soldiers loved their heroic leader. When they learned from their spies the purpose of the Turks, they took all possible measures to secure his precious life. One of their number, Simon Kemeny, who bore a striking resemblance to Huniades, determined to sacrifice himself for his leader. He announced that he would put on Huniades' clothes and armor. The Turks would then attack him under the belief that he was the celebrated chief, and while they were thus engaged the real Huniades would fall upon them unexpectedly and put them to flight. At first Huniades would by no means consent to this plan, as he did not wish to expose Kemeny to such mortal danger; but at last seeing the great military advantages likely to accrue from it he consented.

And so indeed it fell out. As soon as the battle began, the Turks, perceiving Simon Kemeny in the garb of Huniades, directed all their force against him. Kemeny, after a stout defence, fell together with a great number of his followers, and the Turks, seeing him fall, set up a general cry of triumph and exultation. Just at this critical moment they were hotly attacked in the flank by the genuine Huniades. Thus attacked in the very moment when they imagined that they had already gained the day, the Turks were thrown into confusion and took wildly to flight. Twenty thousand corpses were left on the battle-field; among them were Mezid Bey himself, together with his sons.

Fearful was the rage of the Turkish sultan when he heard of the defeat and death of Mezid Bey, and he at once despatched another army against Huniades, which like the first numbered 80,000 men. This time, however, Huniades did not let them enter Transylvania, but waited for them at the pass, known as the Iron Gate, among the high mountains on the southern boundary of Hungary.

The Hungarian army was not more than 15,000 men, so that the Turks were at least five times as strong. But the military genius of Huniades made up for the small number of his followers. He posted them in a strong position in the rough pass, and attacked the enemy in places where it was impossible for him to make use of his strength. Thus more than half the Turkish army perished miserably in the battle. Again their commander-in-chief fell on the field together with six subordinate commanders, while two hundred horse-tail standards fell into Huniades' hands as trophies of his victory.

These two splendid victories filled all Europe with joy and admiration. Christendom again breathed freely; for she felt that a champion, sent by a special Providence, had appeared, who had both the courage and the ability to meet and to repel the haughty and formidable foe. But Huniades was not content (p. 139) with doing so much. He thought that by this time he might carry the war into the enemy's country. The plan of operations was exceptionally daring, yet Huniades had not resolved on it without careful consideration. In the meantime through Huniades' exertions, Vladislaus, the young King of Poland, had been elected King of Hungary. Huniades gained the new king over to his plans, and by this means secured the co-operation of the higher aristocracy and the armed bands which they were bound to lead into the field at the king's summons. Huniades counted besides on the assistance of Europe; in the first place on the Popes, who were zealous advocates of the war against the Mohammedans; next on Venice, which as the first commercial city and state at that time had suffered severe losses owing to the spread of Turkish dominions; on the gallant Poles whose king now wore the Hungarian crown; and lastly upon the peoples of Christendom in general, whose enthusiasm for a war against the infidels had been quickened by the report of Huniades' victories. And indeed at his request the Pope sent some small sums of money, the Poles furnished an auxiliary force, while numerous volunteers from the rest of Europe flocked to serve under his banner. Although the assistance thus furnished was comparatively unimportant, it nevertheless served to increase his zeal for the daring undertaking. He and his heroic companions were not only proud of defending their own native country, but felt that they were the champions of all Christendom against Ottoman aggression, and their religious enthusiasm kept pace with their patriotism. If they did not get regiments sent to their aid, they felt that the eyes of all Europe were upon them, ready to grieve at their possible ill success, while their victories would be celebrated by Te deums in the cathedrals of every capital in Europe.

The aggressive campaign was commenced without delay; Huniades' resolves were at once translated into fact; he would not allow the beaten foe time to recover breath. His plan was to cross the Danube, and penetrate through the passes of the Balkan to Philippopolis, at that time the capital of the sultan's dominions, where he kept the main body of his army. About Christmas, a season in which the Turk does not like to fight, amid heavy snow and severe cold, the Hungarian army of about thirty thousand men pressed forward. Huniades marched in advance with the vanguard of 12,000 picked men; after him the king and the Pope's legate, with the rest of the army. The sultan, however, with a large body of men had occupied the passes of the Balkans and prevented their farther advance. This impediment, coupled with the cold and severe weather, depressed the spirits of the troops, worn out with fatigue. Huniades, however, raised their spirits by gaining a victory; lighting one night upon a body of the enemy, 20,000 in number, he attacked them at once and after a few hours' struggle succeeded in dispersing them. Later on he took two large towns with their citadels; and in three engagements triumphed over three separate divisions of the enemy. Learning that a still larger body of Turks was attempting to cut off his communications with the king's army he attacked that also and put it to flight. After that he joined his corps with the main army under the king; and indeed none too soon. Sultan Murad suddenly arrived with the main body of (p. 140) his forces, which he strongly intrenched in the narrowest passes of the Balkans. Huniades saw that these intrenchments could not be forced, and did all he could to entice his enemy down into the plain. This he succeeded in doing. In the battle that ensued the king too played a conspicuous part and received a wound. In the end, however, the Hungarians gained the victory, and the younger brother of the Grand Vizier was taken prisoner. So much success was sufficient for Huniades for the time, especially as the natural obstacles had proved insurmountable. The Hungarian army returned home in good order, and the young king made a triumphal entry into his capital, preceded by a crowd of Turkish prisoners and captured Turkish ensigns. These last trophies of victory were deposited in the Coronation Church in the fortress of Buda.

And now something happened which had hitherto been deemed incredible; the Sultan sued for peace, a true believer and a sovereign, from an unbelieving giaour. The peace was concluded, and Hungary again became possessed of those dependent (South Slavonic) provinces, which lay between the territories of the Sultan and the kingdom of Hungary in the narrower sense of the word. In three short years Huniades had undone the work of years on the part of the Turks. The Sultan, however, soon repented of what he had done, and continually delayed the fulfilment of his promise to evacuate certain frontier fortresses. For this cause the young king, especially incited thereto by the Pope, determined to renew the war. Huniades at first opposed the king's resolution, and wished to wait; later on he was gained over to the king's view, and took up the matter with his whole soul. The opportunity was inviting, for the Sultan with his main army was engaged somewhere in Asia, and the Venetians promised to prevent with their fleet his return to Europe across the narrow seas in the neighborhood of Constantinople.

The Hungarian army indeed set out (1444) on its expedition, and continually expecting the arrival of the troops of their allies—the Emperor of Constantinople and the Princes of Albania—penetrated ever farther and farther into the hostile territory. They were to be joined by their allies at the town of Varna on the shores of the Black Sea. When, however, the Hungarians had arrived at that town, they found no trace of their expected allies, but on the contrary learned with certainty that the Sultan had succeeded in eluding the vigilance of the Venetians, had brought his army in small boats over into Europe, and was now following fast on their track.

Thus all hope of aid from allies was at an end, the brave general and his small Hungarian force had to rely on their own resources, separated as they were by some weeks' journey from their own country, while the enemy would be soon upon them in numbers five times their own. Yet even so Huniades' faith and courage did not desert him. The proverb says: "If thy sword be short, lengthen it by a step forward." And Huniades boldly, but yet with the caution that behoved a careful general, took up his position before the Sultan's army. Both he and his Hungarians fought with dauntless courage, availing themselves of every advantage and beating back every assault. Already victory seemed to be assured. (p. 141) A few hours after the battle had begun both the Turkish wings had been broken, and even the Sultan and the brave janissaries were thinking of flight, when the young king, the Pole Vladislaus, whom Huniades had adjured by God to remain in a place of safety, until the combat should be decided, was persuaded by his Polish suite to fling himself with the small band in immediate attendance upon him right on the centre of the janissaries, so that he too might have a share in the victory and not leave it all to Huniades. The janissaries wavered for a moment under this new and unexpected attack, but soon perceiving that they had to do with the King of Hungary they closed round his band which had penetrated far into their ranks. The king's horse was first hamstrung, and, as it fell, the king's head was severed from his body, stuck upon the point of a spear and exposed to the view of both armies. The Hungarians, shocked at the unexpected sight, wavered and, feeling themselves lost, began to fly. All the entreaties and exhortations of Huniades were in vain. Such was the confusion that he could be neither seen nor heard, and in a few minutes the whole Hungarian army was in confused flight.

Huniades, left to himself, had too to seek safety in flight. Alone, deserted by all, he had to make his way from one place of concealment to another till after some weeks' wandering he arrived in Hungary. The bad news had preceded him; and in consequence everything was in confusion. Again arose that difficult question: Who should be the new king under such difficult circumstances? The Sultan's army had, however, suffered so much in the battle of Varna that for the time he left the Hungarians unmolested.

The nation was disposed to choose for its king the child, Ladislaus, son of King Albert, the predecessor of Vladislaus. The child, however, was in the power of the neighboring prince, Frederick, the Archduke of Austria, who was not disposed to let him go out of his hands without a heavy ransom. Under these circumstances the more powerful nobles in Hungary took advantage of the confusion to strengthen each his own position at the expense of the nation. At first the government of the country was entrusted to a number of captains, but this proved so evidently disastrous that the better sort of people succeeded in having them abolished and Huniades established as sole governor. For all that, however, Huniades had a good deal of trouble with the chief aristocrats, Garay, Czillei, Ujlaki, who, envying the parvenu his sudden promotion and despising his obscure origin, took up arms to resist his authority. Thus Huniades, instead of blunting the edge of his sword upon foreign foes, had to bridle the insubordination of his own countrymen. Luckily it did not take long to force the discontented to own the weight of his arm and his superiority as a military leader.

Order being thus to some extent re-established at home, Huniades was again able to turn his attention to the Turks. He felt that he had in fact gained the battle of Varna, which was only lost through the jealous humor of a youthful king; that it behoved him not to stop half way; that it was his duty to continue offensive operations. But in so doing he had to rely upon his own proper forces. It is true that he was governor of the country, but for the purpose of (p. 142) offensive warfare beyond the frontier he could not gain the consent of the great nobles.

Luckily his private property had enormously increased by this time. The Hungarian Constitution ordered the king to bestow the estates of such noblemen, as died without male heirs or had been condemned for any offence, on such noblemen as had approved themselves valiant defenders of the country. Now where could be found a more worthy recipient of such estates than Huniades, to whom the public treasury was besides a debtor on account of the sums he disbursed for the constant warfare he maintained against the Turks? Especially in the south of Hungary a whole series of lordly estates, many of them belonging to the crown, had come into Huniades' hands, either as pledges for the repayment of the money he had paid his soldiers, or as his own private property.

The yearly revenue arising from these vast estates was employed by Huniades not in personal expenditure but in the defence of his country. He himself lived as simply as anyone of his soldiers, and recognized no other use of money than as a weapon to be used for the defence of Christendom against Islam. In the early morn while all his suite still slept he passed hours in prayer before the altar in the dimly lighted church, imploring the help of the Almighty for the attainment of his sole object in life—the destruction of the Turkish power. At last (1448) he set out against the Sultan with a picked army of 24,000 of his most trusty soldiers.

This time it was on the frontier of Servia, on the so-called Field of Blackbirds, that Huniades encountered Sultan Murad, as before with an army of 150,000 men—more than five times the number of the Christians. Huniades at first withdrew himself into his intrenched camp, but in a few days felt himself strong enough to engage with the enemy on the open field. The battle lasted without interruption for two days and a night. Huniades himself was several times in deadly peril. Once his horse was shot under him. He was to be found wherever assistance, support, encouragement were needed. At last on the morning of the third day as the Turks who had received reinforcements were about to renew the attack, the Voyvode of Wallachia passed over to the side of the Turks. The voyvode belonged to the Orthodox Eastern Church. He had joined Huniades on the way, and his desertion transferred 6,000 men from one side to the other, and decided the battle in favor of the Turks. The Hungarians, worn out by fatigue, fell into a discouragement, while Huniades had no fresh troops to bring up to their support. The battle came to a sudden end. Seventeen thousand Hungarian corpses strewed the field, but the loss of the Turks was more than 30,000 men.

Huniades again left to himself had again to make his escape. At first he only dismissed his military suite; afterwards he separated from his faithful servant in the hope that separately they might more easily baffle their pursuers. Next he had to turn his horse adrift, as the poor animal was incapable of continuing his journey. Thus he made his way alone and on foot toward the frontiers of his native land. After a while looking down from the top of a piece of elevated (p. 143) ground he perceived a large body of Turks from whom he hid himself in a neighboring lake. He thus escaped this danger, but only to encounter another. At a turn of the road he came so suddenly upon a party of Turkish plunderers as to be unable to escape from them, and thus became their prisoner. But the Turks did not recognize him, and leaving him in the hands of two of their number the rest went on in search of more prey. His two guards soon came to blows with one another about a heavy gold cross which they had found on the person of their captive, and, while they were thus quarrelling, Huniades suddenly wrenched his sword out of the hand of one of the two Turks and cut off his head, upon which the other took to flight, and Huniades was again free.

In the meantime, however, George, the Prince of Servia, who took part with the aristocratic malcontents, and out of pure hatred to Huniades had, in spite of his being a Christian, gone over to the side of the Turks, had given strict orders that all Hungarian stragglers were to be apprehended and brought before him. In this way Huniades fell into the hands of some Servian peasants who delivered him to their prince. Nor did he regain his liberty without the payment of a heavy ransom, leaving his son, Ladislaus, as hostage in his stead.

He thus returned home amid a thousand perils and with the painful experience that Europe left him to his own resources to fight as he best could against the ever-advancing Turks. The dependencies of the Hungarian crown, Servia and Wallachia, on whose recovery he had spent so much blood and treasure, instead of supporting him as might be expected of Christian countries threw themselves in a suicidal manner into the arms of the Turks. They hoped by their ready submission to find favor in the eyes of the irresistible conquerors, by whom, however, they were a little later on devoured.

After these events Huniades continued to act as Governor or Regent of Hungary for five years more, by which time the young Ladislaus, son of King Albert, attained his majority. In 1453 he finally laid down his dignity as governor, and gave over the power into the hands of the young king, Ladislaus V., whom Huniades had first to liberate by force of arms from his uncle, Frederick of Austria, before he could set him on the throne of Hungary. The young king, of German origin had, however, hardly become emancipated from his guardian, when he fell under the influence of his other uncle, Ulric Czillei. This Czillei was a great nobleman of Styria, but was withal possessed of large estates in Hungary. As a foreigner and as a relative of King Sigismund, he had long viewed with an evil eye Huniades' elevation. On one occasion Huniades had to inflict punishment on him. He consequently now did everything he could to induce the young king, his nephew, to hate the great captain as he himself did. He sought to infuse jealousy into his mind and to lead him to believe that Huniades aimed at the crown. His slanders found the readier credence in the mind of the youthful sovereign as he was completely stupefied by an uninterrupted course of debauchery. At last the king was brought to agree to a plan for ensnaring the great man who so often jeoparded his life and his substance in the defence of his country and religion. They summoned him in the king's name to Vienna, where (p. 144) Ladislaus as an Austrian prince was then staying, with the intention of waylaying and murdering him. But Huniades got wind of the whole plot, and, when he arrived at the place of ambush, it was at the head of 2,000 picked Hungarian warriors. Thus it was Czillei who fell into the snare. "Wretched creature!" exclaimed Huniades; "thou hast fallen into the pit thou diggedst for me; were it not that I regard the dignity of the king and my own humanity, thou shouldst suffer a punishment proportioned to thy crime. As it is, I let thee off this time, but come no more into my sight or thou shalt pay for it with thy life."

Such magnanimity, however, did not disarm the hostility of those who surrounded the king. On the pretence of treason against the king Huniades was deprived of all his offices and all his estates. The document is still to be seen in the Hungarian State Archives, in which the king, led astray by the jealousies that prevailed among his councillors, represents every virtue of the hero as a crime, and condemns him to exile.

Fortunately Czillei himself soon fell into disfavor; the Germans themselves overthrew him; and the king, now better informed, replaced Huniades in the post of Captain-General of the Kingdom.

Huniades, who had been living meanwhile retired in one of his castles, now complied with the king's wish without difficulty or hesitation, and again assumed the highest military command. Instead of seeking how to revenge himself after the manner of ordinary men, he only thought of the great enemy of his country, the Turk. And indeed, as it was, threatening clouds hung over the horizon in the southeast.

A new sultan had come to the throne, Mohammed II., one of the greatest sovereigns of the house of Othman. He began his reign with the occupation of Constantinople (1453), and thus destroyed the last refuge of the Byzantine Empire. At the news of this event all Europe burst into a chorus of lamentation. The whole importance of the Eastern Question at once presented itself before the nations of Christendom. It was at once understood that the new conqueror would not remain idle within the crumbling walls of Constantinople. And indeed in no long time was published the proud mot d'ordre "As there is but one God in heaven, so there shall be but one master upon earth."

Huniades looked toward Constantinople with heavy heart. He foresaw the outburst of the storm which would in the first place fall upon his own country, threatening it with utter ruin. Huniades, so it seemed, was again left alone in the defence of Christendom.

The approaching danger was delayed for a few years, but in 1456 Mohammed, having finally established himself in Constantinople, set out with the intention of striking a fatal blow against Hungary. On the borders of that country, on the bank of the Danube, on what was, properly speaking Servian territory, stood the fortress of Belgrade. When the danger from the Turks became imminent, the kings of Hungary purchased the place from the despots of Servia, giving them in exchange several extensive estates in Hungary, and had at great expense turned it into a vast fortress, at that time supposed to be impregnable. (p. 145) Mohammed determined to take the place, and to this end made the most extensive preparations. He led to the walls of Belgrade an army of not less than 150,000 men. The approach of this immense host so terrified the young king that he left Hungary and took refuge in Vienna along with his uncle and counsellor, Czillei.

Huniades alone remained at his post, resolute like a lion attacked. The energy of the old leader—he was now sixty-eight years old—was only steeled by the greatness of the danger; his forethought and his mental resources were but increased. As he saw that it would be impossible to do anything with a small army, he sent his friend, John Capistran, an Italian Franciscan, a man animated by a burning zeal akin to his own, to preach a crusade against the enemies of Christendom through the towns and villages of the Great Hungarian Plain. This the friar did to such effect that in a few weeks he had collected 60,000 men, ready to fight in defence of the Cross. This army of Crusaders—the last in the history of the nations—had for its gathering cry the bells of the churches, for its arms, scythes and axes, Christ for its leader, and John Huniades and John Capistran for his lieutenants.

The two greatest leaders in war of that day contended for the possession of Belgrade. The same army now surrounded that fortress which a few years before had stormed Constantinople reputed impregnable. The same hero defended it who had so often in the course of a single decennium defeated the Turkish foe in an offensive war, who now, regardless of danger, with a small but faithful band of followers, was prepared to do all that courage, resolution, and prudence might effect.

Many hundred large cannon began to break down the stone ramparts; many hundred boats forming a river flotilla covered the Danube, so as to cut off all communication between the fortress and Hungary. During this time Huniades' son Ladislaus, and his brother-in-law Michael Szilágyi, were in command in the fortress. Huniades' first daring plan was to force his way through the blockading flotilla, and enter Belgrade before the eyes of the whole Turkish army, taking with him his own soldiers and Capistran's crusaders. The plan completely succeeded. With his own flotilla of boats he broke through that of the Turks and made his entrance into the fortress in triumph. After this the struggle was continued with equal resolution and ability on both sides; such advantage as the Christians derived from the protection afforded by the fortifications being fully compensated by the enormous superiority in numbers both of men and cannon on the part of the Turks. Without example in the history of the storming of fortresses was the stratagem practised by Huniades when he permitted the picked troops of the enemy, the janissaries, to penetrate within the fortification and there destroyed them in the place they thought they had taken. Ten thousand janissaries had already swarmed into the town and were preparing to attack the bridges and gates of the citadel, when Huniades ordered fagots soaked in pitch and sulphur and other combustibles to be flung from the ramparts into the midst of the crowded ranks of the janissaries. The fire seized on their loose garments, and in (p. 146) a short time the whole body was a sea of fire. Every one sought to fly. Then it was that Huniades sallied out with his picked band, while Capistran with a tall cross in his hand and the cry of "Jesus" on his lips followed with his crowd of fanatics, the cannon of the fortress played upon the Turkish camp, the Sultan himself was wounded and swept along by the stream of fugitives. Forty thousand Turks were left dead upon the field, four thousand were taken prisoners and three thousand cannon were captured.

According to the opinion of Huniades himself the Turks had never suffered such a severe defeat. Its value as far as the Hungarians were concerned was heightened by the fact that the ambitious Sultan was personally humiliated. There was now great joy in Europe. At the news of the brilliant victory Te deum was sung in all the more important cities throughout Europe, and the Pope wished to compliment Huniades with a crown.

Alas! a crown of another character awaited him—that of his Redeemer, in whose name he lived, fought, and fell. The exhalations from the vast number of unburied or imperfectly buried bodies, festering in the heat of summer, gave rise to an epidemic in the Christian camp, and to this the great leader fell a victim. Huniades died August 11, 1456, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. He died amid the intoxication of his greatest victory, idolized by his followers, having once more preserved his country from imminent ruin. Could he have desired a more glorious death?

He went to his last rest with the consciousness that he had fulfilled his mission, having designed great things and having accomplished them.

And the result of his lifelong efforts survived him. His great enemy the Turk for half a century after his death could only harass the frontier of his native land; and his country, a few years after his death placed on the royal throne his son Matthias.[Back to Contents]

Author signature.

Huniades at Belgrade.

WARWICK, THE KING-MAKER
(1420-1471)

Warwick.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, called the king-maker, eldest son of Richard, Earl of Salisbury and Alice Montacute, was born November 22, 1428. The history of this mighty peer is that of the whole of the contest between the two houses of York and Lancaster. The house of Neville had been built up by a series of wealthy marriages, and Richard made no exception to the rule. While yet a boy he was married to Anne, daughter of the Earl of Warwick, and through her, after the (p. 147) death of her brother and niece, he took his place at the age of twenty-one among the chief earls of the English realm. By this time the English rule in France had broken down, bringing the reigning house of Lancaster into great unpopularity, and throwing a correspondingly greater influence into the hands of the leader of the opposition, Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York. He was brother-in-law to the Earl of Salisbury, and so attached to his party the powerful influence of the Nevilles.

The Duke of York at first made no claim to the throne, demanding only that he should have his place in the councils of the king, and even when swords were drawn the Yorkists swore their allegiance to the king, Henry VI., while fighting against his advisers. Of these favorites of the king, the chief was the Earl of Somerset, whom many suspected of a design to establish himself as the successor to the throne. It was between these two factions of York and Somerset, that the white and red roses were first employed as distinguishing badges.

Plantagenet. Let him, that is a true born gentleman,
And stands upon the honor of his birth,
If he suppose that I have pleaded truth,
From off this brier pluck a white rose with me.

Somerset. Let him that is no coward, nor no flatterer,
But dare maintain the party of the truth,
Pluck a red rose from off this thorn with me.

Warwick. I love no colors; and, without all color
Of base insinuating flattery,
I pluck this white rose with Plantagenet.

Shakespeare: I Henry VI.

The Wars of the Roses began with the battle of St. Albans (1455), in which Somerset was killed. The victory was gained to the Yorkists chiefly by the help of Warwick. By a sudden sally into the streets of the town he routed the royal forces, and gained for himself that character of daring and courage which he maintained to the end. He was rewarded with the post of Captain of Calais, which he retained throughout the changes of the parties. In this position he was practically independent, and scoured the Channel at his pleasure.

In 1458 he attacked some vessels which were under a treaty of peace with England, and being summoned to London to answer before the king, was violently attacked by the followers of Somerset and barely escaped with his life. In 1459 the civil war finally broke out. In the first campaign the Yorkists failed, owing to their inactivity. The leaders fled to the coast of Devon, where they hired five men to carry them to Bristol. As soon as they left land, Warwick, (p. 148) stripped to the doublet, took the helm, and steered straight for Calais, where he arrived in a few days. When Somerset, son of the earl slain at St. Albans, came to claim the keys of the stronghold, he had the mortification to find Warwick there before him.

Warwick was next in England on June 27, 1460, when he landed at Sandwich with fifteen hundred men. In four days he was before the walls of London, having marched in that time a distance of seventy miles. According to some accounts, the common people so flocked to his standard, that in those four days his force had swelled to forty thousand. The city threw open its gates and joyfully welcomed him, while Henry fled to the north. In the beginning of July the battle of Northampton was fought. The Yorkists gained a complete victory, and took Henry prisoner. Before the fight Warwick issued the command to spare the common people but to slay the nobles, judging the quarrel to be more especially theirs; and it is significant that throughout the Wars of the Roses the proportion of leaders slain far exceeds that in any other war.

Up to this time Warwick's conception of the war was merely the natural struggle of the one party with the other for power, using as their means the rude arguments of the time. He still maintained his loyalty to King Henry, and when the Duke of York, after the battle of Northampton, presented his claim to the throne Warwick opposed him, and prevailed upon him to waive it till the death of the king. But naturally such a state of things could not long endure. Warwick, while respecting the person of the king, was fighting against his orders, and so, while professing loyalty, was actually a rebel.

Soon the struggle blazed out anew, and in December, 1460, the Duke of York was defeated and slain at Wakefield. Early in 1461 Warwick was defeated in the second battle of St. Albans, but the royalists not taking advantage of their victory, Edward, son of the Duke of York, accompanied by Warwick, marched on London, and was proclaimed king as Edward IV. Soon after the Yorkists gained a complete victory at Towton (1461), the bloodiest field of the whole war. Nearly all the Lancastrian chiefs were slain, Henry's cause was lost, and ere long he was captured by Warwick and lodged in the Tower. The credit of the crowning victory of Towton does not rest with Warwick alone, for he had the help of young Edward, perhaps as great a military genius as himself. Little is known of the details of the fighting, but we are told that wherever the Earl of Warwick was, there the fight raged hottest.

York and Lancaster—The White and Red Roses.

The earl was now the greatest man in England. His extended connections and immense possessions were joined to the most distinguished personal qualities, intrepidity, decision, and all the military virtues, eloquence and general talent, an affability and frankness of bearing that captivated equally all classes, a boundless hospitality and magnificence that enthroned him in the hearts of the commons. Wherever he resided, we are told he kept open house, and the number of people daily fed at his various mansions, when he was at the height of his prosperity, exceeded thirty thousand. "When he came to London," says Stowe in his "Chronicle," "he held such an house that six oxen were eaten at a breakfast, and (p. 149) every tavern was full of his meat; for who that had any acquaintance in that house he should have had as much sodden and roast as he might carry upon a long dagger."

But now, when Warwick might have expected to reap the reward of his labors, new troubles arose. King Edward began to feel jealous of his power, his unique influence, and vast popularity. It is said that Warwick was sent to France to arrange a treaty with Louis, and to propose a marriage between Edward and his wife's sister. On his return he found the king married to Elizabeth Woodville, daughter of Lord Rivers, and an alliance made with the enemy of Louis, the Duke of Burgundy. Edward now lavished all his kindness on the Woodvilles, intending to use them as a counterfoil to the Nevilles, and for this purpose he deprived the Nevilles of some of their posts. By a series of deliberate insults Warwick was driven farther and farther away from the king, till he was forced into open revolt.

In July, 1468, his forces defeated the royalists with great slaughter at Edgecote, and a few days later he made Edward his prisoner. The Lancastrians at once rose again in favor of the aged King Henry; but Warwick, maintaining his allegiance to his royal captive, suppressed all revolts with an iron hand, and, having received renewed pledges of good faith, soon after restored Edward to his throne.

Two years later the king declared Warwick a rebel; and he was compelled to flee to France. Louis XI. used his influence in bringing Warwick and Margaret, wife of King Henry, together, and they agreed to forget their differences in the face of a common enemy. Clarence, the new king's brother, had previously married Warwick's daughter, and joined his party.

Once more the king-maker landed in England and advanced on London. Edward fled to Holland and Henry was again placed upon the throne. But ere long Edward secretly landed in England, raised an army, not without difficulty, and met Warwick at Barnet. The faithless Clarence had in the meantime deserted Warwick and joined his brother's army. The army of Warwick was composed of strangely different elements—old enemies fighting side by side as friends. The battle was lost mainly through a grievous blunder. In the heavy mist which hung around, the party of the Earl of Oxford were mistaken for the enemy and were attacked by their own friends. The cry of treachery was raised, and the whole army broke into utter rout. Warwick resisted till all hope was gone. He had fought on foot throughout the battle, and his heavy armor did not suffer him to escape. He was surrounded and slain, fighting manfully, April 14, 1471.

Thus fell on the field of battle Richard, Earl of Warwick, in the prime of his life, after sixteen years of deep intrigue and desperate fighting. Had he been born in a more peaceful time he would have been a great statesman, and have done much for the good of his country, for his talents were more political than military, and almost alone among the self-seeking rivals of the time, he shows something of the instincts of patriotism. Cast as he was in the troublous times of the Wars of the Roses, he stands out in character and genius above all those of his generation. He was the best beloved man in the kingdom. When he was (p. 150) away from England, says Hall, the common people thought the sun had gone out of the heavens. His personality cast a charm over even Louis XI. The heart of the Yorkist party, he was true to its cause till he found that his service was no longer desired. He was not the man to sit quietly under insult, and when it came from King Edward, who owed all that he was to him, it was more than he could endure. Yet it was only when he found his every project thwarted, and especially those that were dearest to his heart, that he was driven into open warfare with the king. His treason is capable of much justification: he cannot be accused of forsaking his master. He had in him the making of a great king, and how great and useful might have been his career had fortune placed him over the councils of a Charles VII. or a Henry VI.! As it is, he stands in worth and character far above any of his time, a figure that commands not merely admiration but affection.[Back to Contents]

HERNANDO CORTES[17]
By H. Rider Haggard
(1485-1547)

Hernando Cortes.

Among the millions that from age to age are born into this world there arise in every generation one or two pre-eminent men and women who are objects of the wonder and the envy, the admiration and the hatred of their contemporaries, and whose names, after their deaths, stand out as landmarks by which we shape a course across the dark and doubtful seas of history. Cæsar and Cromwell, Mahomet and Napoleon, to mention no others, were such men, and such a man was Hernando Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico. They have been called, and well called, Men of Destiny, since it is impossible in studying their lives and tracing their vast influence upon human affairs, to avoid the conclusion that they were raised up and endowed with great talents and opportunities in order that by their agency the ends of Providence might be shaped.

Hernando Cortes was born of a good family, at the town of Medellin in Spain, in 1485, and educated at the college of Salamanca. At the age of nineteen having proved himself unfit to follow the profession of the law to which his parents had destined him, he emigrated to the Indian Island of Hispaniola where he (p. 151) was appointed notary of the town of Acua, and in 1511 assisted in the conquest of Cuba under the command of Velasquez. Here after many curious adventures and vacillations he married a lady named Catalina Xuarez, and being created alcade of the settlement of St. Jago realized a moderate fortune by the practice of agriculture and mining. In 1518 there came to Cuba news of the discoveries made by Grijalva in Yucatan on the coast of the country now known as Mexico, and the Governor, Velasquez, determined to despatch a force to explore this new land. After much intriguing and in consideration of the payment of a considerable sum of money toward the expenses, Cortes whose ambitious spirit had already wearied of a life of peace and indolence, contrived to persuade Velasquez to appoint him Captain General of the expedition. Before the ships sailed, however, Velasquez repented him of the appointment, for in Cortes he recognized a servant who might well become his master, and made arrangements to invest some other hidalgo with the leadership of the expedition. Now it was that Cortes showed what manner of man he was. Many in his position on learning the wishes of their superior would have tamely yielded up their posts. Not so Cortes, who on the first hint that he was to be deprived of his authority, collected his men, and all unprepared as was his squadron, weighed anchor while the governor slept. At the town of Trinidad he landed to collect stores and volunteers, treating with contempt the orders that reached the commander of the town from Velasquez to depose him from his command and detain his person. Here it was that Cortes made his famous address to the volunteers, wherein he shows that although his instructions were to undertake a trading voyage and acquire information of the country, his real aim was far different, since he promises unimagined wealth to those who are true to him, and by a curious flash of prescience prophesies immortal renown to their enterprise. On February 10, 1519, he sailed to the conquest of Mexico, accompanied by some six hundred and fifty white men and a few Indians. Cortes was in his thirty-fourth year when he entered on this the greatest of his enterprises. He was pale faced and dark eyed, somewhat slender in build, but of an iron strength and constitution. In temper he was patient though liable to fits of passion, and in disposition frank, merry, and generous, but most determined. He dressed richly and was constant in his religious exercises. Such was the great captain, a man suited by circumstances and nature to the desperate undertaking which it was his destiny to bring to a successful issue.

Having touched at the island of Cozumel on the coast of Yucatan, Cortes sailed up the Tabasco River and began his work of conquest by attacking a great army of Indians in the neighborhood of that town. For a while the natives held their own notwithstanding their dismay at the sound and effects of fire-arms; but the appearance of the horsemen, whom they took to be strange animals, caused them to flee in terror leaving many hundreds of their warriors dead upon the field. On the morrow they made their submission, bringing women and other gifts as a peace-offering. Among these women was one named Malinche, or by the Spaniards Marina, whom Cortes took as a mistress and who is described (p. 152) by Camargo as having been "beautiful as a goddess." It was this lady, born to be the evil genius of her country, who instructed her lord and master in the habits, traditions, and history of the Aztecs, and of the land of Anahuac which they inhabited together with other tribes. She was Cortes' interpreter and confidante, whose business it was to gain information from the Indians, which he could use, and whose wit and devotion more than once saved him from disaster. So invaluable were her services to Cortes that it is doubtful if without her aid he would have succeeded in conquering Mexico, and it was from her that he acquired the name of Malinche by which he was known among the Indian races. Her reward, when she had served his purpose and he was weary of her, was to be given by him in marriage to another man.

Leaving Tabasco Cortes sailed along the coast till he reached the spot where the city of Vera Cruz now stands, whence he opened communications with Montezuma, Emperor of the Aztecs. In due course envoys arrived from the monarch laden with magnificent gifts, who delivered a civil but none the less peremptory message requesting the Spaniards to return whence they came. By this time Cortes had learned that although the Aztecs were the greatest power in Anahuac, their supremacy was not acknowledged by all the tribes; notably was it contested by the Tlascalans and their allies the Otomies. The Tlascalans were republicans having their home in the mountains almost midway between Mexico and the coast. For fifty years or more they had been at bitter enmity with the Aztecs, who again and again had vainly attempted to subjugate them. To this people Cortes despatched an embassy asking for a safe passage through their territories on his road to Mexico, for his political insight told him that they might prove valuable allies. No answer was returned by the Tlascalans who when the Spaniards advanced attacked them furiously, only to be defeated by Cortes in several engagements, till, discouraged and believing the white men to be invincible, they sued for peace, and from enemies were converted into firm allies. From Tlascala the Spaniards proceeded to the neighboring city of Cholula where Marina discovered a plot to put them to death. For this offence Cortes took a terrible vengeance. Falling on the inhabitants of the city when they were unprepared he butchered vast numbers of them, giving their houses and temples to sack. Having thus established the terror of his name he marched on to Mexico accompanied by a body of about five thousand Tlascalan allies. Meanwhile the counsels of the Aztecs were darkened with doubt. The Spaniards might easily have been kept out of Mexico by force, but the arm of Montezuma was paralyzed by superstitious fears. Prophecy foretold that the children of the white god Quetzalcoatl should rise from the sea to possess the land, and in the Spaniards he beheld the fate fulfilled. To him they were not mortal but divine and when diplomacy had failed to keep them at a distance he feared to lift a sword against them. Thus it came about that without a blow being struck to drive them back Cortes and his little band of adventurers found themselves established at the heart of the strange and rich civilization that they had discovered, not as enemies, but as the guests of the king. They were not slow to avail themselves of the (p. 153) opportunities of their position in order to advance their ends which were, first plunder, secondly conquest, and, thirdly the extension of the authority of Spain and of the Christian religion. In pursuit of these ends upon some slight pretext Cortes seized the person of Montezuma, the great emperor, and imprisoned him in one of his own palaces whence, however, he was still allowed to direct the government and issue his commands.

Meanwhile reports of Cortes' doings and success had reached Velasquez the Governor of Cuba, who determined to despatch an expedition to conquer or capture him as a traitor. Accordingly eighteen vessels containing nearly a thousand white men were placed under the command of Panfilo de Narvaez, and reached Vera Cruz in April, 1520. When Cortes heard of the arrival of this armament and its object which was to punish him for his supposed rebellion, he marched from Mexico, leaving the little garrison and the person of Montezuma in charge of his comrade Alvarado. Although he had with him but two hundred and fifty men in all, he did not hesitate to hazard a night attack upon Narvaez who was strongly encamped at Cempoalla. It was completely successful; Narvaez was wounded, captured, and sent in chains to Vera Cruz, while the army that had come to conquer him swore allegiance to Cortes as Captain-General and marched with him back to Mexico. Here great events were in progress. Moved to the deed by fear or by the discovery of some real or fancied plot against the Spaniards, Alvarado, the deputy of Cortes, had fallen upon the unarmed Aztec nobles while they were celebrating a feast in the courtyard of the great temple, and butchered some six hundred of them with every circumstance of brutality. Then at last the patient Aztecs rose and until the womanly Montezuma begged them to desist, attacked the palace where the Spaniards were quartered, with fury. At the intervention of their monarch the attack was turned to a blockade and Cortes arrived from his victory over Narvaez to find his companions in desperate straits. Reinforced by fresh soldiers the Spaniards carried on the war with activity. They assaulted and captured the great pyramid, putting to the sword the priests of human sacrifice and burning the blood-stained temples of the gods. Also they made several sallies into the city and repelled onslaughts upon the palace. It was in the course of one of these attacks that Montezuma received the wound that brought about his death. Mounting the central tower of the palace he implored his subjects to cease from attacking his friends the Spaniards, whereupon in their fury they overwhelmed him with a shower of darts and stones, inflicting injuries from which in course of a few days he died. Surrounded as he was on every side by thousands of fierce enemies determined to stretch every Spaniard upon the stone of sacrifice, Cortes saw the impossibility of maintaining the unequal fight and determined on retreat. Accordingly on the night of July 1, 1520, the Spaniards and their native allies sallied from the fortress, and laden with gold from Montezuma's treasury, took the route of Tlacopan. Soon their escape was detected and instantly a fierce attack was made upon them from every quarter. The bridge that they had brought with them to span the gaps in the causeway became fixed in the mud, so that their only path across the canals lay over (p. 154) the bodies of their comrades. At length they won through, but out of their small force there had perished, or been taken captive as victims for sacrifice, some four hundred and fifty Spaniards and four thousand native allies. It is said that when the shattered army reached a place of safety outside the city, Cortes sat down beneath an ancient cedar-tree which is still shown to travellers, and wept. Yet within a week fortune smiled on him again, for he and the few comrades who remained to him fought and won the battle of Otompan against thousands of the Indians, Cortes killing their chief Cihuaca with his own hand.

The Aztecs rejoiced at the departure of the Spaniards from their capital Mexico or Tenoctitlan, but their joy was premature. First the small-pox, introduced into the country by the white men, fell upon the city and swept away thousands, among them Cuitlahua, the emperor who succeeded to Montezuma, and then came the news that the indomitable Cortes was marching upon them with a great army of native allies and large reinforcements of Spaniards from overseas. Guatimozin, the new emperor, made every possible preparation for defence and the siege began, a siege as cruel as that of Jerusalem and perhaps more bloody. First Cortes laid waste the cities about Mexico, then he attacked the Queen of the Valley herself—attacked it again and again till at length it was a ruin and tens of thousands of its inhabitants were dead by starvation, by pestilence, and by the sword. On either side the combat was one of desperate courage, but notwithstanding occasional successes on the part of the Aztecs, such as that when they captured and sacrificed some sixty Spaniards, from the first the genius of Cortes made the end inevitable. When nothing remained of Tenoctitlan and its people save some blackened walls and a few thousand wretches reduced to skeletons by hunger, the capture of Guatimozin while attempting to escape in a canoe, made an end of the fighting in August, 1521. Cortes promised honorable treatment to the fallen king, but before long he put him and some of his companions to the torture in order to force the discovery of hidden treasure. This brutality proved ineffectual, but taken together with the subsequent hanging of Guatimozin upon an unproved charge of conspiracy against the Spaniards, it constitutes the blackest blot upon the fame of Cortes. It is fair to add, however, that he was not by nature a harsh man, and that he was driven to the commission of these cruelties by the clamor of his soldiers who were infuriated at finding so little treasure in the devastated city. With the capture of Mexico the fortunes of Cortes culminated. He was appointed Captain-General of the land of New Spain in October, 1522, and the next few years he occupied in rebuilding the city, and in bringing the surrounding territories under the rule of Spain. Wearying of these comparatively peaceful occupations, in 1524 he undertook an expedition of discovery and conquest to Honduras, upon which he was absent until May, 1526, when he returned after enduring much hardship and suffering, to find that enemies had been plotting against him in Mexico. This discovery and the desire of clearing himself with the emperor, caused him to determine to visit Spain where he arrived in May, 1528. Charles the Fifth received him with much favor creating him Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca and military commander of New (p. 155) Spain, and endowing him with vast estates in the lands that he had conquered. In 1530 he returned to Mexico accompanied by his second wife, a lady of good family whom he had married while in Spain. Very soon he entered on a course of expeditions of discovery and maritime adventures which involved him in great pecuniary losses and a quarrel with the viceroy Mendoza; and in 1540 he sailed a second time for Spain to obtain redress from the emperor. But Cortes was no longer the power that he had been; his youth was gone and his work was done, therefore his prayers and remonstrances were treated with cold neglect. For nearly four years he pressed his suit and in February, 1544, we find him writing a letter to the emperor begging him to direct the Council of the Indies to come to a decision upon it. This letter in which pathetically enough, he speaks of himself as "old and poor and indebted," produced no result and once again, worn out and bitterly disappointed, its writer turned his face toward the land that he had won for Spain. But he was never to behold it more. At Seville he was seized with dysentery and passed away December 2, 1547, being then in his sixty-third year. His body was taken to Mexico for burial.

In Hernando Cortes died one of the great men of the world, though how much of his greatness was due to chance is difficult to determine. It is certain that again and again fortune stood his friend in a manner that was little short of miraculous, as in the instances of the unexpected victory over Narvaez and of the death of the general at the battle of Otampan. But if chance or fate gave him opportunities it was Cortes' own genius and unconquerable will that enabled him to avail himself of them. These qualities were the most striking characteristics of the man. He showed them when having determined on the conquest of Mexico he burnt his ships that there might be no escape from the decision; when he hit upon the expedient of using rival tribes to accomplish the overthrow of the Aztecs; when, driven from Mexico with the loss of the half of his army he returned to the attack; and in many another time and place. He had great good qualities, he was a true friend, and according to his lights, an honorable and even a religious man, and his faults were those of his time and training, or at worst such as are not inconsistent with a generous nature. His cruelties may be urged against him, but no Spaniard of his age thought it cruel to slaughter enemies of the Faith who practised human sacrifice; also having once embarked upon his colossal undertaking he and his companions must either slay or be slain. There is evidence to show that personally he was not a cruel man. Thus when called upon to sign the death-warrant of a soldier he lamented that he had ever been taught to write, and there are passages in his will which show his conscience to have been troubled by questions as to the right to enslave human beings. With a handful of followers Cortes overthrew the fabric of the Aztec Empire, broke the spirit of its people so effectually that to this day it has not recovered itself, and swept away its religion. Whether for good or evil this was a stupendous achievement and one that must make his name immortal.[Back to Contents]

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(p. 156) FRANCISCO PIZARRO[18]
By J. T. Trowbridge
(1471-1541)

Francisco Pizarro.

The old Spanish province of Estremadura, though distant from the sea, shut in by mountain-chains, furnished numerous adventurers for the expeditions of discovery, conquest, and plunder that followed Columbus to the New World; two of whom achieved astonishing renown. One was the conqueror of Mexico; the other, the conqueror of Peru.

Of the early life of Francisco Pizarro not much is known with certainty. He was born about the year 1471; but even that date is a matter of conjecture, so little care was had of the coming into the world of the actor who was to play so stirring a part in it. The family from which he inherited his name must have been one of some note in its day. His kinsman and great rival in fame, Cortes, was a Pizarro on his mother's side.

Francisco was the second of four brothers, all of whom were men of ability and valor, and all of whom fought in the Peruvian wars. Their father was Colonel Gonzalo Pizarro, concerning whom little is known, save that he was a soldier of Spain, and that he served creditably in Italy and Navarre.

The mother of Francisco was Francisca Gonzales, a woman of low condition, from whom he seems to have received hardly more parental care than from his father, by whom he was utterly neglected. The story told by Gomara, and quoted by Prescott, that, abandoned as a foundling, he was nursed by a sow, though as mythical as that of Romulus and the wolf, which probably suggested it, indicates nevertheless the degradation of his childhood. He grew up in ignorance and vagabondage. Of what the world calls education he had not the first rudiments; to the day of his death he could neither read nor write. The only occupation in which we hear of his being engaged in his boyhood, was that of a swineherd.

At what age he escaped from this mean employment is not known. The claim set up for him by his descendants, that he served with his father in Italy, hardly deserves consideration. He was about twenty-one years old when all Spain began to ring with the discoveries of Columbus and his companions beyond the western (p. 157) seas. Pizarro left his employer and his pigs, ran away to Seville, and embarked in one of the early expeditions that sailed from that port to the New World.

Of his years of apprenticeship in the stern warfare of the times we have no trustworthy details, until at Hispaniola, in 1510, he joined, as second in command, Ojeda's disastrous expedition to Uraba, on the main coast. Sanguinary fights with swarms of savages armed with poisoned arrows, marked the fortunes of the adventurers. And when Ojeda returned to the islands for assistance, which he did not bring, Pizarro remained in command of the starving colony, amid hardships and horrors from which only his resolute daring brought off a remnant alive.

He was with Balboa in his famous march across the mountains to the Pacific, which no European eyes had hitherto beheld; and shared with him the joy of that discovery, which Keats wrongly ascribes to Cortes, when the hardy band, first beholding the unknown ocean outspread before them—

"Looked at each other with a wild surmise,
Silent, upon a peak in Darien."

He remained with Balboa on the isthmus until the death of that valiant commander, when he united his fortunes with those of the governor, Pedrarias, and headed various expeditions along the Pacific coast and to the islands beyond, in quest of pearls and gold. He was occupied in this way, or in cultivating with the aid of Indian slaves a malarious tract of land he had acquired near Panama, when a new career invited him.

Rumors of a rich empire far to the south, where gold was as common with the natives as iron was with the Spaniards, had long inflamed the imaginations of the colonists; then news came of the prodigious exploits of Cortes in Mexico. Pizarro burned to emulate his kinsman. Having formed a partnership with Diego de Almagro, a soldier of experience, and Hernando de Luque, a priest supplied with worldly means, he secured an old vessel that had been designed by Balboa for a similar expedition, refitted it with Luque's money, and with a hundred adventurers sailed from the port of Panama in November, 1524; leaving Almagro to follow in a smaller vessel.

Pizarro was then more than fifty years old, but still in possession of all his masterful qualities. And he had need of all, amid the perils of sea and land, the tempests, swamps, battles, sickness, and famine, which rendered his first voyage down the coast a deplorable failure. Almagro met with no better success. Both returned to the isthmus buffeted, baffled, humiliated, but too stout of heart to be cast down. They brought back but little gold, but with that little they had gathered evidence of the indubitable existence of the opulent empire they sought.

The governor was hugely dissatisfied with the results of the expedition, of which he had expected to share some of the profits; and his consent to another could hardly have been obtained, but for the persuasive eloquence of the priest, backed by the offer of a sum in ready cash. For a thousand pesos de oro Pedrarias gave his consent, and signed away his right to the spoils of an empire.

(p. 158) A new contract was entered into by the three partners, and an elaborate and solemn document was drawn up, in sonorous Spanish, which is curious reading at this day. Father Luque signed it with his own hand, and the two soldiers by the hands of witnesses, since neither Pizarro nor Almagro could write his name. About one hundred and sixty men were enlisted, and again the two chiefs set sail from Panama in separate ships.

They made their first landing at the mouth of the Rio San Juan, where by the plunder of a small village, they secured some ornaments of gold and a few prisoners. Almagro hastened to carry the treasure back to Panama, as a bait to other followers, while Pizarro and his pilot Ruiz remained to explore the interior and the coast. Ruiz sailed as far south as the equator, and after a memorable voyage of some weeks, returned to his chief with a cheering report. He had fallen in with what seemed at first a ship at sea, where no European ship had ever been, and found it to be an Indian balsa, a huge raft across which was stretched a sail of cotton-cloth. It had a rudder and a keel. On board were men and women clad in a curious sort of woollen stuff, skilfully woven, and beautifully dyed and embroidered. They were making a voyage of traffic along the coast. They wore ornaments of gold, and had with them, besides vessels and mirrors of burnished silver, balances for weighing the precious metals, which by signs they assured Ruiz were common in their country.

Pizarro in the meanwhile vainly endeavored to pass the yawning gorges, bottomless swamps, and dense dark forests that lay between him and the snow-covered peaks of the Cordilleras. Entangled vines and trees of a luxuriant tropical vegetation, huge boas coiling in the branches, ready to spring upon their prey, screaming parrots, chattering and grimacing monkeys, mosquitoes, alligators, prowling savages,—amid such scenes as these he and his band had once more confronted famine and death in the absence of Almagro and Ruiz.

Ruiz came opportunely with his good news, and Almagro returned with eighty recruits. The expedition re-embarked and proceeded southward. The aspect of the coast became more inviting as they advanced. There were signs of an extensive civilization; fields cultivated with maize, cacao, and potatoes; many villages; and at length a town of more than two thousand houses, laid out with streets, and thronging with inhabitants. Among the Spaniards wild enthusiasm prevailed. But it was quickly checked by the hostile demonstrations with which they were met, when they attempted to gain a foothold on the soil of the Incas. It was useless to make front against such numbers as opposed them. Divided counsels and a violent quarrel between the two captains ensued, and the expedition sailed back northward. Once more Almagro returned to Panama for more men, while Pizarro and his followers remained to starve on the barren isle of Gallo.

Pizarro exhorting his band at Gallo.

Instead of permitting any more of his people to depart on what seemed so foolhardy and fatal a business, Rios, the new governor of Panama, despatched to the island two vessels, under a commander named Tafur, with orders to bring away every Spaniard left alive there. Then occurred the famous episode that decided (p. 159) so dramatically the fortunes of Pizarro and the fate of Peru. Tafur had brought supplies of provisions to the famished and emaciated, but now jubilant soldiers; and all except Pizarro appeared eager to abandon their barren adventure and return in the ships. Pizarro alone refused obedience to the governor's agent. Drawing a line on the sand with his sword, he cried: "Comrades! on that side lie hunger and hardship; on this side, ease and safety. There lies Peru with its riches; here, Panama and poverty. Choose, every man for himself, like brave Castilians. For me, I go to the south."

He stepped across the line. There was a minute of dismay and silence. Then Ruiz followed, and after him twelve others went over, an act of as desperate and resolute courage as ever inspired a forlorn band.

They saw the ships containing their comrades sail away without them; Ruiz also returned, pledged to bring assistance to his companions left behind; while Pizarro remained with his twelve Spaniards, and three or four Indian captives whom he had made friends, on the desolate island.

Not even a ship was left them, and they had to build a raft to convey them to a less inhospitable island, that of Gorgona, farther north. There they lived seven months, subsisting on small game brought down by their cross-bows, and shell-fish found on the shores, until Ruiz, after weary delays, returned in a small vessel, bringing supplies, but not the expected reinforcement of troops.

In this frail craft the dauntless rovers put to sea. Pizarro pursued his explorations southward, beyond the point where he afterward founded Truxillo, named after his native town; visited several Peruvian ports, and learned much of the country he proposed to subjugate. He then returned to Panama, which he reached after an absence of eighteen months. The reappearance of the little group of wanderers bringing news of their discoveries, was the cause of great astonishment in the colony, and of joyful enthusiasm among their friends, who had long given them up for dead.

The governor, however, resenting Pizarro's disobedience of his orders at the isle of Gallo, refused to sanction another expedition; and Pizarro resolved upon the bold course of returning to Spain and appealing to the Crown. This was in the spring of 1528.

Arriving at Seville, he was immediately thrown into prison for a debt incurred at Darien. But he was released by order of the emperor, Charles V., who received him graciously at Toledo, heard the wondrous story of his wanderings, which Pizarro knew how to tell, and saw the vessels of gold and silver, the fine fabrics, the llamas, and other evidences of the Peruvian civilization, which were displayed before his royal eyes. He was also, no doubt influenced by the recent achievements of Cortes, who was then at court, and who perhaps spoke for his kinsman a friendly word.

The monarch turned over Pizarro and his enterprise, with his recommendation, to the Council of the Indies. Yet a year passed, and nothing was done. Pizarro was fast sinking into obscurity, and he would likewise have sunk into despair, if he had been less stout of heart. Then, as Queen Isabella had aided (p. 160) Columbus, so the queen of Charles V. came to the assistance of Pizarro, and caused to be executed the extraordinary instrument which bestowed on him, with the rights of discovery and conquest, the titles of Governor and Captain-General of New Castile, as Peru was then called, and a salary of 725,000 maravedis, to be drawn however from the conquered country. Almagro and Luque were also provided for, but in a more modest way, which proved the beginning of a long, bitter, and deadly feud between Almagro and his chief. Nor did the instrument fail to make the usual provision for the conversion to Christianity of the nations to be subjugated and plundered.

In mustering his recruits Pizarro had the satisfaction of revisiting his native town of Truxillo, where he had lived in degradation, and to which he now returned a renowned discoverer and soldier, and a titled magnate. There he found his three brothers, the Pizarros, all poor and proud and eager for adventure; and a fourth brother, on his mother's side. With these and other followers, hardly exceeding one hundred, he sailed from Seville, in January, 1530; and a year later, namely, in January, 1531, after a solemn consecration of his enterprise in the cathedral of Panama, he put forth from that port with one hundred and eighty men and twenty-seven horses, on his fourth, last, and finally successful expedition, to overthrow a populous empire.

That empire lay in the bosom and on both sides of the mighty ranges of the Andes, occupying thirty-seven degrees of the coast south of the equator, and extending eastward far over the valleys of the Amazon and its numerous tributaries. It was under the rule of the Incas, a parental despotism, which spread an iron network of laws over millions of subjects of different races and languages. Its mountain slopes, table-lands, sea-coasts, and plains comprised every variety of climate and almost every diversity of physical features. Its capital was Cuzco, where dwelt the adored Incas; there also was the famous Temple of the Sun, with its gorgeous decorations of gold and gems. Canals, aqueducts, complete systems of irrigation for the rainless regions; magnificent mountain roads, built to endure for centuries; fine textile fabrics, utensils of clay and copper, vessels and ornaments of silver and gold; bridges, fortresses, and edifices of a rude but massy and symmetrical architecture, well adapted to the climate and the needs of the inhabitants; armies, magistrates, courts of justice,—such were some of the tokens of a wide semi-civilized prosperity, which less than two hundred Spanish adventurers were proceeding ruthlessly to destroy.

With incredible difficulties still to overcome, Pizarro had in his favor a circumstance of immense importance. The country was at that time distracted by civil war. Two brothers, Huascar and Atahualpa, sons of the last Inca, were engaged in a fratricidal strife for the imperial power, and their armies were turned against each other.

Pizarro resolved to strike his first blow at Tumbez; but was constrained by baffling winds to put into the Bay St. Matthew. There he landed his force, and soon fell upon a peaceful village, putting the inhabitants to flight and pillaging their dwellings. A considerable treasure thus obtained was sent back to Panama, (p. 161) where it had the desired effect of rallying new recruits for the conquest. A most welcome reinforcement was headed by Hernando de Soto, afterwards famed as the discoverer of the Mississippi, who sailed to join Pizarro with one hundred men and a number of horses.

De Soto arrived in time to aid in extricating him from a harassing situation on the island of Puna. Pizarro had been so indiscreet as to get into a quarrel with the inhabitants, whom he had defeated in battle and slaughtered in large numbers, and from whose incessant attacks he was suffering great annoyance.

He now felt himself strong enough to invade the interior. The story of that invasion is one of the most astonishing in history. It has been many times told, but nowhere else so effectively as in the full, flowing, and lucid narrative of Prescott. It can be but briefly sketched here.

Having established near the sea-coast a settlement which he named San Miguel, to serve as a key of communication between him and his ships, Pizarro set out boldly on his march, having with him but one hundred and seventy-seven men, nine of whom showing signs of sinking courage, were soon sent back to the settlement. By pretences of a friendly mission to their Inca, he won his way among such of the surprised inhabitants as were not frightened from their villages by his approach; and penetrated the wild defiles of the Cordilleras, behind which, near Caxamalca—now Caxamarca—the Inca Atahualpa, with an immense army lay encamped. He was fresh from a great and decisive victory over his elder brother, and was resting, and enjoying the warm baths near the city,—the "baths of the Incas," as they are called to this day.

Instead of disputing the passage of the strangers in the mountain fortresses, and hurling destruction upon them from a thousand crags, the monarch sent to exchange gifts with them, and assurances of friendship; and awaited them in his camp, the pavilions of which whitened the wide hillsides for miles.

On a dull afternoon in November, 1532, Pizarro entered Caxamalca, and undismayed by the innumerable host that confronted him, went to pay a visit of courtesy to the Inca. He was gloomily received by Atahualpa, who chanced to be observing a fast, but who promised to return his visit on the following day.

Pizarro felt that a crisis in his audacious business was close at hand; and endured the deepest anxiety until late the next afternoon, that of November 16th, when, after long delays and apparent waverings on the part of the Inca, which severely tried the patience of the Spaniards lying in wait with their heavy armor on, he at length appeared, borne in a gorgeous palanquin, and accompanied by an immense and magnificent procession.

With ferocious satisfaction Pizarro beheld his august victim advancing to his doom. The procession entered the grand plaza of Caxamalca, on three sides of which, under cover of low buildings opening into it, spearmen and horsemen stood to their arms. Not a Spaniard was to be seen, until a priest with interpreters advanced to meet the monarch, and to confuse him with an astonishing harangue concerning the true faith and the supremacy of Spain. Pizarro saw that (p. 162) his opportunity had come. He waved his scarf; from the fortress sounded a signal-gun; and with fierce battle-cries the Spaniards rushed from all sides upon the Peruvians.

The shouts, the blaze and smoke of fire-arms, the terrible detonations, the sight of plunging horses and their riders, with the sudden fury of the onset, paralyzed with terror the multitude of unarmed attendants, who fell the victims of a horrible massacre. The Inca was seized and borne off a captive. And yet the pursuit and slaughter did not cease until thousands of the panic-stricken and defenceless Peruvians had been slain, and more prisoners had been taken than were required to provide every Spaniard with a retinue of servants.

Pizarro treated his captive with the consideration due to a great but fallen potentate; he granted him ample apartments, and the society of his favorite wives and nobles. He at the same time endeavored to save his soul, by enforcing upon his mind the truths of the Catholic faith. Atahualpa accepted with dignity the fortunes of war; and as a ransom offered to fill a large room in which he one day was, with vessels of gold, as high as he could reach. Pizarro agreed to the proposal, and by the Inca's orders messengers were despatched to Cuzco and other important cities of the empire, for the required booty.

This arrangement reached the ears of Huascar, then a prisoner in the hands of his younger brother's adherents; he thereupon sent word to the Spaniards that he would pay a much larger reward if they would espouse his cause and set him free. Unfortunately for both him and Pizarro, the offer reached the ears of Atahualpa, who secretly caused Huascar to be put to death.

The golden treasure soon began to come in, borne on the backs of Indians,—goblets, vases, salvers, massy plates and tiles from the walls of palaces and temples, and images of plants and animals. Some of these objects weighed individually several pounds; and the art displayed in their manufacture was often admirable. But they were all ruthlessly melted down into ingots, to be divided among the conquerors. Gold to the value of more than seventeen million dollars, measured by our modern standard, was thus secured, besides a vast amount of silver. Certainly no prince in all the world's history had ever paid such a ransom.

The treasure was a long while coming in; and Pizarro had ample time to consider how he should keep his part of the contract. He could never have had any intention of giving the Inca his liberty; nor was he deep enough in his craft to perceive the immense advantage he might gain by holding him a captive. He resolved upon his death. The unhappy prince was tried by a military court of his enemies, charged with the usurpation of the empire, with the murder of his brother, and with attempts to incite an insurrection against the Spaniards. He was condemned, received as a convert to the Catholic faith, baptized, and executed. This event occurred August 29, 1533.

Meanwhile Almagro had arrived with a much-needed reinforcement; and adventurers of all sorts, from Spain and her western colonies, soon began to flock to the newly opened land of gold. Pizarro marched upon Cuzco, which he took (p. 163) after a fierce battle, and pillaged of what gold had not been already removed for Atahualpa's ransom. He caused Manco Capae, a young prince of the royal blood, to be proclaimed Inca; drove him by his oppressions to revolt; and was besieged by him in Cuzco. The Peruvians assaulted the city in countless numbers, set fire to the houses with flaming arrows and red-hot stones, and might have starved or destroyed the Spaniards, had not they themselves been forced by starvation to raise the siege.

In June, 1538, the old feud between Pizarro and Almagro culminated in a battle between their two factions, and Almagro was defeated and killed. Pizarro now ruled the country with red-handed despotism. The benignant laws of the Incas were replaced by the rapine of the conquerors. Not only gold and silver, but the land itself and its former peaceful occupants, were apportioned among them; and slavery and concubinage prevailed in their most revolting forms. The rumors of these wrongs reached Spain, and a commissioner was sent out to inquire into them; but before his arrival Pizarro died by violence in his own Ciudad de los Reyes, "City of the Kings,"—now Lima,—which he had founded in 1535.

His death was worthy of his life. Attacked in his own house by the avengers of Almagro, he fought furiously, and cut down three of his assailants; but fell, overcome by numbers, and pierced by as many blades as met in the body of Cæsar. His last word was "Jesu!" and his last act, to stoop and kiss the symbol of a cross which he traced with his finger on the bloody floor.

Thus lived and died one of the most extraordinary men of his time, indeed of all times. It is hard to sum up briefly the good and evil of such a character. He was said to be of a pleasing and dignified presence, simple and self-reliant. We know that he was possessed of indomitable courage, endurance, and persistency of purpose; avaricious, perfidious, devout; and conspicuous for his cruelty even in a cruel age. Greedy as he was of gold, he spent little of it upon himself, and seemed to desire it chiefly for the power and honor it would command. He founded settlements and cities, and was lavish in his expenditures upon public works; no doubt ambitious of building up a new empire on the ruins of the one he had destroyed. But he exhibited none of the great qualities of a born ruler and lawgiver; in the coarseness of his moral nature, a swineherd to the last. He never married, but by a daughter of Atahualpa he had a daughter, who survived him. In his native town of Truxillo her descendants are still to be found, with the mingled blood of the conqueror and of the last of the Incas in their veins.[Back to Contents]

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(p. 164) GASPARD DE COLIGNI
By Professor Creasy
(1517-1572)

Burning of a house.

There was a time, when the doctrines of the Reformation seemed destined to achieve far ampler conquests over the dominion of Papal Rome than they have ultimately realized. France, in particular, at the commencement of the second half of the sixteenth century, appeared to be almost won over to Protestantism. The Huguenots (as the followers of the Reformed Faith in that country were termed) formed the most influential, if not the largest part of the population of many of the principal provinces, and of nearly all the provincial capitals; they were numerous in Paris; nor was there a single district or town in France in which they had not obtained converts and power, before the war of 1562.

The history of the Reformation in France is a mournful one; but it presents names to our notice which every good heart must delight to honor; and foremost of these is the name of Gaspard de Coligni, the statesman, the soldier, and the saint; who long was the stoutest champion of the Protestant cause, and finally became the most glorious of its many martyrs. Unlike his comrade Condé, he was proof against the vicious blandishments of the enemy's court, as well as against the terrors of their camps. Familiar with defeat, he never learned despair. Hallam has well compared his indomitable energy to the

"Atrocem animam Catonis;"

but the Huguenot chief, while fully equal to the ancient Roman in probity, in self-reliance, and in unflinching fortitude, was far superior to him in comprehensiveness of judgment and in fertility of resources; and moreover, the affectionate gentleness which marked the private life of Coligni, contrasts favorably with the stoic coarseness by which the character of Cato was deformed.

(p. 165) The father of Coligni was head of an ancient and noble house, and was the seigneur of Châtillon-sur-Lion. At his death, in 1522, he left three sons, then of tender years, all of whom became eminent in French history, and all of whom embraced the Protestant doctrines, though trained up in the Romish Church. The elder brother, who is known as the Cardinal de Châtillon, was raised to that high ecclesiastical dignity by Clement VII., in 1533. Chiefly through the influence which his younger brother exerted over him, he became a convert to the tenets of the Reformers in his middle age, and took part in the early scenes of the civil wars. After the reverse which his party sustained at the battle of St. Denys, he fled to England, where he died in 1571. The younger brother, Dandelot, was the first of the three who became a Protestant. He was a skilful and gallant soldier, and signalized himself repeatedly by his enterprise, his inexhaustible resources, and undaunted spirit, as a commander of the Huguenot forces from the first outbreak of the religious wars until his death soon after the battle of Jarnac, in 1569. Gaspard, the great Coligni, or the Admiral (as he is often termed, from having held the titular office of Admiral of France), was the middle one of the three brothers, and was born at Châtillon-sur-Lion, February 16, 1517. He served with distinction in the later wars of Francis I. against Spain; and with his brother Dandelot received knighthood on the field of battle at Cerisoles. He was afterward raised to the important post of colonel-general of the French infantry, and in 1552 was nominated by Henry II. Admiral of France. He was taken prisoner at St. Quentin by the Spaniards, and underwent a long captivity in Spain before he regained his liberty by payment of a heavy ransom.

During the long hours of solitude and compulsory inaction which he passed in his Spanish prison, he meditated deeply and earnestly on religious subjects; and after his return to France, the conversation of his brother Dandelot, who had already joined the Huguenots, confirmed the bias to the Protestant doctrines, which his own studies and deliberations had created. Coligni now resigned all his appointments and preferments, except the nominal rank of admiral, and retired to his estates, where he passed his time in fervent devotion, and in the enjoyment of the calm happiness of domestic life. But the cry of suffering which rose from his fellow-Protestants, against whom the pernicious influence of the Princes of Lorraine in the French court kindled the fires of persecution throughout France, soon drew him from his blameless and cherished repose. He at first sought to provide for them a refuge from oppression, by founding colonies of French Protestants in America; but his projects proved unsuccessful; and as the tyranny of the violent party among the French Catholics grew more and more alarming, Coligni deemed that both honor and conscience required him to stand openly forward in behalf of his co-religionists.

No class of men ever were more long-suffering, or showed more unwillingness to rise in arms against their domestic tyrants, than the much-calumniated Huguenots of France. When we read the hideous edicts that were promulgated against them, and which were not mere empty threats, but were carried into execution (p. 166) throughout the land with unrelenting and strenuous ferocity, we feel that if ever the right of self-defence can make an appeal to arms justifiable, it was so in their instance. Extermination or apostasy formed the only choice that their rulers offered them. Mackintosh, in his "History of the English Revolution of 1688," has truly termed the question of when subjects are justified in making war on their sovereign, "a tremendous problem." But the same admirable writer has bequeathed to us a full and luminous code of the rules and principles of immutable morality, by which this awful issue must be tried, and no one who is familiar with these principles can hesitate in pronouncing that the war on the part of the French Huguenots was lawful and laudable before God and man.

Coligni is peculiarly free from the heavy imputation, which insurrectionary leaders incur, however great their provocation, who introduce the appeal of battle in civil controversy, and, to use the emphatic language of Milton, "let loose the sword of intestine war, soaking the land in her own gore," before every other possible mode of obtaining protection from further enormous wrong has been attempted, and attempted in vain. He was wholly unconnected with the enterprise (known in French history as the conspiracy of Amboise) by which some of the Protestant chiefs designed to withdraw the young king, Francis II., forcibly from the influence of the Guises, and which may be considered the first overt act of insurrection. Not that Condé is to be condemned for that effort, but the Admiral's exceeding loyalty is proved by his having kept aloof from it. Coligni continued to seek security for his co-religionists by peaceable means, for two years after that unsuccessful enterprise, from the savage reprisals of the Court upon its authors. He seemed at one time to be successful in his blameless exertions; and in the Assembly of Notables, held in January, 1562, an edict was issued, called the "Edict of Pacification," giving a partial toleration of the Protestant creed, and suspending all penal proceedings on the ground of religion.

This was all that Coligni strove for. He said at the time to some of his adherents: "If we have our religion, what do we want more?" But those who had made this concession were treacherous as they were cruel, and the fair promise which France seemed to have acquired of tranquillity was destined to be soon destroyed.

Two powerful parties were arrayed against the Huguenots, one of which consisted of their avowed and implacable enemies. This was headed by the Guises, with whom the Constable Montmorenci, and the Maréchal St. André had been induced to enter into league. Less fanatically violent, but far more formidable, through its false show of moderation and favor, was the party of the Queen-mother, Catherine de Medici. Catherine dreaded the power of the house of Guise; and was often glad to avail herself of the Protestant interest as a counterpoise against them. But though the jealousy which animated herself and her sons against the Princes of Lorraine was great, their hatred of the Huguenots was greater; and their occasional simulation of friendship enabled them to wreak it more malignantly and more completely.

(p. 167) They had sided with Coligni and Condé and the other Protestant chiefs in enacting the Edict of Pacification, and had thereby given a check to the power of the Duke of Guise and his confederates. But when their temporary purpose was served, the wise provisions of that edict were set at naught; the Protestants were again exposed to outrage and slaughter at the hands of their foes, nor could any redress be obtained from the royal tribunals. At length occurred the massacre of Vassi, where the armed followers of the Duke of Guise attacked a defenceless body of Protestants, while engaged in the services of their church, and slaughtered several hundreds of them under the eye of Guise, if not by his orders. Reeking from this carnage, the bands of the Lorraines entered Paris, where they were enthusiastically received by the fanatic populace, which was devoted to the Catholic cause.

Condé now left the capital, and summoned the Protestant nobility and gentry to rally round him in defence of their lives and their creed. Coligni long delayed joining him, and evinced a hesitation and a reluctance to embark in civil war, which emphatically attest the goodness while they in no degree detract from the greatness of his character. His wife, who naturally thought that anxiety on her account aided in restraining him, exhorted him in words of more than Roman magnanimity to arm in defence of the thousand destined victims, who looked up to him for guidance and protection. Coligni urged on her and on the friends who thronged round him, the fearful risks of the enterprise, and his earnest desire to wait in patience for better times, and rest upon the public faith rather than justify persecution by having recourse to violence. Unconvinced and undaunted, the heroine renewed her entreaties to the lingering hero. She told him that such prudence was not wisdom toward God. D'Aubigné professes to report this remarkable conversation from the lips of those who were present; and he states that she proceeded to urge on him these words:—

"God has bestowed on you the genius of a great captain—will you refuse the use of it to his children? You have confessed to the justice of their cause—is not the knightly sword you bear pledged to the defence of the oppressed? Sir, my heart bleeds for our slaughtered brethren—and their blood cries out to God and Heaven against you as the murderer of those whom you might have saved."

"Since," replied the Admiral, "the reasons which I have this evening alleged against an ineffectual resistance have made so little impression upon your mind, lay your hand upon your heart and answer me this question, Could you, without murmuring against Providence and the husband to whom Heaven has united you, receive the news of a general defeat? Are you prepared to endure the opprobrium of your enemies—the reproaches of your friends—the treachery of partisans—the curses of the people—confiscation, flight, exile—the insolence of the English, the quarrels of the Germans—shame, nakedness, hunger—and, what is worse, to suffer all this in your children? Are you prepared to see your husband branded as a rebel and dragged to a scaffold; while your children, disgraced and ruined, are begging their bread at the hands of their enemies? I give you eight days to reflect upon it, and when you shall be well prepared for such reverses, (p. 168) I will be ready to set forward, and perish with you and our mutual friends."

"The eight days are already expired!" she cried. "Go, sir, where your duty calls you. Heaven will not give the victory to our enemies. In the name of God, I call upon you to resist no longer, but to save our brethren, or die in the attempt."

On the next morning Coligni was on horseback, with all his retainers round him; and with a heavy heart but a clear conscience, he rode on his way to join Condé at Meaux, which was now, in the early spring of 1562, the head-quarters of the insurgent Huguenots.

The high rank of the Prince of Condé, as well as his brilliant abilities and chivalrous courage, caused him to be acknowledged as chief of the Protestant party; but Coligni was looked on by friends and foes as the main pillar of their cause; and it was he that gave organization to the volunteers who flocked around himself and the prince, first at Meaux, and afterward in greater numbers at Orleans, when toward the end of March they succeeded in occupying that important city, and making it a centre of operations for the Huguenot confederacy. Like Cromwell in after times, Coligni relied on the religious enthusiasm as well as the natural bravery of his troops. He exercised them by preaching and prayer as well as by drilling and manœuvring. He inspired them with his own spirit of austere devotion to their cause; and the Huguenot army was in its first campaigns as conspicuous for good order and morality as for valor; though by degrees it became tainted with a tendency to marauding and to brutal violence.

The Roman Catholic party now sought support from Philip II. of Spain, from the Duke of Savoy, the emperor and other foreign princes of their creed, and the Huguenots, to the deep regret of Coligni, were compelled to strengthen themselves by similar negotiations. The English queen, Elizabeth, promised succors in men and money, on condition of Havre (which city, like most of the other strong places in Normandy, was devoted to the Protestant cause) being placed in her power as a security for repayment. The German Lutheran princes permitted a large auxiliary force of lansquenets and heavy-armed cavalry to be raised among their subjects in behalf of the French Protestants; and Dandelot was despatched into Germany to place himself at their head, and lead them across the Rhine; a difficult operation, which he accomplished with great skill, and joined his brothers and Condé at Pluviers, near Orleans, late in the year, and at a crisis when the fortunes of the Protestant party appeared reduced to a very low ebb, as in the interval which had elapsed since the commencement of the war, though there had been no engagement between the main armies, the Royalists had gained numerous advantages, and had captured many towns, both in the South and in Normandy, which had originally declared for the insurgents.

Coligni and Condé with their own troops and their German allies now (December, 1562) marched upon Paris; but finding it hopeless to attempt the storm or siege of the capital, they led their army toward Normandy, desiring to form a junction with the English troops at Havre. The Royal forces, commanded (p. 169) nominally by the Constable Montmorenci and the Maréchal de St. André, but in which the Duke of Guise was also present, marched for some days on their flank, till the two armies came into collision on December 19th at Dreux, where the first battle of the civil wars was fought. In this action, after many vicissitudes of fortune, the Duke of Guise secured the victory for the Roman Catholics, and Condé was taken prisoner. Coligni led the remains of the Protestant army back to Orleans; whither the Duke of Guise, at the head of a largely recruited army, flushed by their recent victory, soon advanced, with the intention of crushing insurrection and Protestantism, by the capture of their stronghold.

Coligni's situation now seemed desperate. His German mercenaries in arrear of pay, threatened to desert him; the funds which he had been able to collect for the conduct of the war were exhausted; and he was utterly unable to encounter the numerous and well-appointed forces of Guise. In this emergency he formed the bold plan of leaving his brother, Dandelot, with the bulk of the infantry to defend Orleans, while he himself led the cavalry and a few companies of foot again to Normandy, and again attempted to avail himself of the English supplies of money and troops. In spite of the mutinous murmurings of the German reisters, in spite of the attempts which the Roman Catholic commanders made to intercept him, Coligni executed his daring scheme. Havre was reached. The English subsidies were secured, and the rich and powerful city of Caen voluntarily placed itself in Coligni's power. Meanwhile Orleans had been well defended by Dandelot; and the great chief of the Roman Catholics, the Duke of Guise, had died by the hand of an assassin. Some attempts were made to implicate Coligni in the guilt of this murder, but the Admiral indignantly denied the charge; nor is there any ground for believing him to have had the least cognizance of Poltrot's crime.

The death of Guise made a temporary pacification easy; and the edict of Amboise, on March 19, 1563, by which a narrow and restricted permission for the exercise of the Protestant religion was allowed, closed the first war.

This peace on the part of the Royalists was only a hollow and a treacherous truce. Fresh communications with Philip II. were opened; and an interview took place in 1564 at Bayonne, between Catherine, her son Charles IX., and the Duke of Alva. There is every reason to believe that at that meeting the destruction of the Protestants by craft or by force was concerted. The treaty of Amboise was now openly and repeatedly violated by the fanatic party of the French Roman Catholics; and the Huguenots were again driven to take up arms in self-defence. Condé and Coligni advanced upon Paris, and fought on November 10, 1567, the sanguinary battle of St. Denys against the Royalist forces. The Huguenots were beaten, but Coligni rallied them, and marching toward the Meuse, effected a junction with fresh bands of German auxiliaries. The war now raged with redoubled horror in every district of France. Alarmed at the strength of the Huguenot army, Catherine tried and successfully exerted her powers of persuasion and deceit over Condé, and a second faithless peace, called the treaty of Longjumeau, was concluded; but when the Huguenot (p. 170) forces were disbanded, and their German auxiliaries dismissed, the Royalists renewed the war.

In 1569, the indiscreet spirit of Condé brought the Protestants into action at Jarnac, under heavy disadvantages, against the flower of the Catholic army. Condé was killed in the battle, and a large part of his forces routed with heavy slaughter; but Coligni was again the Ajax of the cause, covered the retreat, and reorganized the fugitives for fresh exertions. But the waves of calamity were not yet spent. The hostile armies met again at Moncontour, and the Protestants sustained the most complete and murderous overthrow that had been dealt to them throughout the war. Coligni's brother, the gallant Dandelot, was mortally wounded in this disastrous field; many of his stanchest friends had fallen; many abandoned him; and he found himself a fugitive, with only a few bands of mutineers around him, the wreck of the gallant army that he had lately led.

But it was in this depth of gloom that the true heroic lustre of his soul was seen. Fearless himself of what man could do unto him, he calmed the panic of his followers, and inspired them with his own energy. He who has innate strength to stand amid the storm, will soon find others flock around and fortify him while they seek support for themselves. When it was known that Coligni's banner still was flying, the Protestants of France and Eastern Germany, who at first had been stunned by the report of Moncontour, thronged to him as to a strong tower in the midst of trouble. While the Royalists were exulting at the fancied annihilation of their foe, they suddenly learned that Coligni was approaching the capital, at the head of the largest army that the Huguenots had yet sent into the field. Again the device of a treacherous pacification was attempted, and again it prevailed. Coligni was warned of the personal danger that he incurred by trusting the faith of a Medici and a Guise; but he replied that he would rather lay down his life, than see France continue the victim of the woes of civil war.

The treaty of St. Germains was signed on August 8, 1570, and on August 24, 1572, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew attested with what worse than Punic faith the crowned conspirators of the French Court had planned it. In the interval, the most detestable and elaborate hypocrisy was employed to lull the suspicions of the Huguenot chiefs, and to bring them defenceless into the power of their enemies. At last, in the summer of 1572, they were collected in Paris, under the pretence of being the honored guests of the French king, at the nuptials of his sister with Henry of Navarre. An attempt was made on the life of Coligni by an assassin, in which the Admiral was severely wounded. The king and his courtiers affected the utmost indignation at this crime, and the warmest sympathy with the suffering veteran. But in the early dawn of the day appointed for the most unchristian carnage that ever defiled the earth, a party of murderers, headed by the young Duke of Guise himself, broke open the doors of the house where Coligni lay, and Besme, one of the duke's domestics, entered with a drawn sword, into the room where the Admiral was sitting in an arm-chair.

(p. 171) "Young man," said he, undisturbed, "you ought to respect my gray hairs; but do as you please, you can only shorten my life a few days."

Besme thrust him through in many places, and then threw his body, still breathing, out of the window into the court, where it fell at the feet of the Duke of Guise. The minions of the Louvre flocked around in hideous glee, to insult the lifeless form of him, before whom they had so long quailed and trembled. They gibbeted their own infamy in vainly seeking to dishonor the illustrious dead. His memory is at once the glory and the shame of France: and the very land of the St. Bartholomew is, to some extent, hallowed by having been the birthplace of Coligni, and the scene of his heroic career.

I do not pause to describe the tardy homage which his countrymen afterward paid to the name and relics of the fallen great. These obsequies and panegyrics may be looked on as some small expiation for the national guilt of France, but Coligni needed them not.[Back to Contents]

HENRY IV. OF FRANCE
(1553-1610)

Henry IV.

Henry IV., the most celebrated, the most beloved, and perhaps, in spite of his many faults, the best of the French monarchs, was born at Pau, the capital of Béarn, in 1553. His parents were Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, and in right of his wife, titular king of Navarre, and Jeanne d'Albert, the heiress of that kingdom. On the paternal side he traced his descent to Robert of Clermont, fifth son of Louis IX., and thus, on the failure of the elder branches, became heir to the crown of France. Educated by a Protestant mother in the Protestant faith, he was for many years the rallying point and leader of the Huguenots. In boyhood the prince of Béarn displayed sense and spirit above his years. Early inured to war, he was present and exhibited strong proofs of military talent at the battle of Jarnac, and that of Moncontour, both fought in 1569. In the same year he was declared chief of the Protestant League. The treaty of St. Germain, concluded in 1570, guaranteed to the Huguenots the civil rights for which they had been striving; and, in appearance, to cement the union of the two parties, a marriage was proposed between Henry, who, by the death of his mother, had just succeeded to the throne of Navarre, and Margaret (p. 172) of Valois, sister of Charles IX. This match brought Condé, Coligni, and all the leaders of their party, to Paris. The ceremony took place August 17, 1572, and a week later came the massacre of St. Bartholomew. For three years afterward Henry, who to save his life had conformed to the established religion, was kept as a kind of state-prisoner. He escaped in 1576, and put himself at the head of the Huguenot party. In the war which ensued, with the sagacity and fiery courage of the high-born general, he showed the indifference to hardships of the meanest soldier. Content with the worst fare and meanest lodging, in future times the magnificent monarch of France could recollect when his wardrobe could not furnish him with a change of linen. He shared all fortunes with his followers, and was rewarded by their unbounded devotion.

Upon the extinction of the house of Valois, by the assassination of Henry III. in 1589, Henry of Navarre became the rightful owner of the French throne. But his religion interfered with his claims. The League was strong in force against him: he had few friends, few fortresses, no money, and a small army. But his courage and activity made up for the scantiness of his resources. With five thousand men he withstood the Duc de Mayenne, who was pursuing him with twenty-five thousand, and gained the battle of Arques, in spite of the disparity. This extraordinary result may probably be ascribed in great measure to the contrast of personal character in the two generals. Mayenne was slow and indolent. Of Henry it was said, that he lost less time in bed than Mayenne lost at table; and that he wore out very little broad-cloth, but a great deal of boot-leather. A person was once extolling the skill and courage of Mayenne in Henry's presence. "You are right," said Henry, "he is a great captain, but I have always five hours' start of him." Henry got up at four in the morning, and Mayenne about ten.

The battle of Arques was fought in the year of his accession. In the following year, 1590, he gained a splendid victory at Ivri, over the Leaguers commanded by Mayenne, and a Spanish army superior in numbers. On this occasion he made that celebrated speech to his soldiers before the battle: "If you lose sight of your standards, rally round my white plume; you will always find it in the path of honor and glory." Nor is his exclamation to his victorious troops less worthy of record: "Spare the French!"

Paris was soon blockaded, but the Parliament swore on the Gospels, in the presence of the Legate and the Spanish Ambassador, to refuse all proposals of accommodation. The siege was pushed to such extremities, and the famine became so cruel, that bread was made of human bones ground to powder. That Henry did not then master the capital, where two hundred thousand men were maddened with want, was owing to his own lenity. He declared that he had rather lose Paris, than gain possession of it by the death of so many persons. He gave a free passage through his lines to all who were not soldiers, and allowed his own troops to send in refreshments to their friends. By this paternal kindness he lost the fruit of his labors to himself; but he also prolonged the civil war, and the calamities of the kingdom at large.

(p. 173) The approach of the Duke of Parma with a Spanish army obliged Henry to raise the siege of Paris. It was not the policy of the Spanish court to render the Leaguers independent of its assistance, and the duke, satisfied with having relieved the metropolis, avoided an engagement, and returned to his government in the Low Countries, followed by Henry as far as the frontiers of Picardy. In 1591 Henry received succors from England and Germany, and laid siege to Rouen; but his prey was again snatched from him by the Duke of Parma. Again battle was offered and declined; and the retiring army passed the Seine in the night on a bridge of boats; a retreat the more glorious, as Henry believed it to be impossible. The duke once said of his adversary, that other generals made war like lions or wild boars; but that Henry hovered over it like an eagle.

During the siege of Paris, some conferences had been held between the chiefs of the two parties, which ended in a kind of accommodation. The Catholics of the king's party began to complain of his perseverance in Calvinism; and some influential men who were of the latter persuasion, especially his confidential friend and minister Rosny, represented to him the necessity of a change. Even some of the reformed ministers softened the difficulty, by acknowledging salvation to be possible in the Roman Church. In 1593 the ceremony of abjuration was performed at St. Denis, in presence of a multitude of the Parisians. If, as we cannot but suppose, the monarch's conversion was owing to political motives, the apostacy must be answered for at a higher than any human tribunal; politically viewed, it was perhaps one of the most beneficial steps ever taken toward the pacification and renewal of prosperity of a great kingdom. In the same year he was crowned at Chartres, and in 1594 Paris opened her gates to him. He had just been received into the capital, where he was conspicuously manifesting his beneficence and zeal for the public good, when he was wounded in the throat by John Châtel, a young fanatic. When the assassin was questioned, he avowed the doctrine of tyrannicide, and quoted the sermons of the Jesuits in his justification. That society therefore was banished by the Parliament.

For two years after his ostensible conversion, the king was obliged daily to perform the most humiliating ceremonies, by way of penance; and it was not till 1594 that he was absolved by Clement VIII. The Leaguers then had no further pretext for rebellion, and the League necessarily was dissolved. Its chiefs exacted high terms for their submission; but the civil wars had so exhausted the kingdom, that tranquillity could not be too dearly purchased; and Henry was faithful to all his promises, even after his authority was so firmly established, that he might have broken his word with safety to all but his own conscience and honor. Although the obligations which he had to discharge were most burdensome, he found means to relieve his people, and make his kingdom prosper. The Duke de Mayenne, in Burgundy, and the Duke de Mercœur in Brittany, were the last to protract an unavailing resistance; but the former was reduced in 1596, and the latter in 1598, and thenceforth France enjoyed almost uninterrupted peace till Henry's death. But the Protestants gave him almost as much uneasiness as the Catholic Leaguers. He had granted liberty of conscience to the former; (p. 174) a measure which was admitted to be necessary by the prudent even among the latter. Nevertheless, either from vexation at his having abjured their religion, from the violence of party zeal, or disgust at being no longer the objects of royal preference, the Calvinists preferred their demands in so seditious a tone, as stopped little short of a rebellious one. While on the road to Brittany, he determined to avoid greater evils by timely compromise. The edict of Nantes was then promulgated, authorizing the public exercise of their religion in several towns, granting them the right of holding offices, putting them in possession of certain places for eight years, as pledges for their security, and establishing salaries for their ministers. The clergy and preachers demurred, but to no purpose; the Parliament ceased to resist the arguments of the Prince, when he represented to them as magistrates, that the peace of the state and the prosperity of the Church must be inseparable. At the same time he endeavored to convince the bigots among the priesthood on both sides, that the love of country and the performance of civil and political duties may be completely reconciled with difference of worship.

But it would be unjust to attribute these enlightened views to Henry, without noticing that he had a friend as well as minister in Rosny, best known as the Duke de Sully, who probably suggested many of his wisest measures, and at all events superintended their execution, and did his best to prevent or retrieve his sovereign's errors by uncompromising honesty of advice and remonstrance. The allurements of pleasure were powerful over the enthusiastic and impassioned temperament of Henry; it was love that most frequently prevailed over the claims of duty. The beautiful Gabrielle d'Estrées became the absolute mistress of his heart; and he entertained hopes of obtaining permission from Rome to divorce Margaret de Valois, from whom he had long lived in a state of separation. Had he succeeded time enough, he contemplated the dangerous project of marrying the favorite; but her death saved him both from the hazard and disgrace. The sentence of divorce, so long solicited, was at last granted, and the king married Mary de Medici, who bore Louis XIII. to him in 1601. The match, however, contributed little to his domestic happiness.

While France was flourishing under a vigilant and paternal administration, while her strength was beginning to keep pace with her internal happiness, new conspiracies were incessantly formed against the king. Henriette d'Entragues, another favorite, not only exasperated the Queen's peevish humor against him, but was ungrateful enough to combine with her father, the Count d'Auvergne, and the Spanish Court, in a plot which was timely discovered. Spite of the many virtues and conciliatory manners of Henry, the fanatics could never pardon his former attachment to the Protestant cause. He was continually surrounded with traitors and assassins; almost every year produced some attempt on his life, and he fell at last by the weapon of a misguided enthusiast.

Shortly before his untimely end, Henry is said by some historians to have disclosed a project for forming a Christian republic. The proposal is stated to have been, to divide Europe into fifteen fixed powers, none of which should be (p. 175) allowed to make any new acquisition, but should together form an association for maintaining a mutual balance, and preserving peace. This political reverie, impossible to be realized, is not likely ever to have been actually divulged, even if meditated by Henry, nor is there any trace of it to be found in the history, or among the state-papers of England, Venice, or Holland, the supposed co-operators in the scheme. His more rational design in arming went no further than to set bounds to the ambition and power of the house of Austria, both in Germany and Italy. Whatever may have been the motive, his means of success were imposing. He was to march into Germany at the head of forty thousand excellent troops. The army, provisions, and every other necessary were in readiness. Money no longer failed; Sully had laid up forty millions of livres in the treasury, which were destined for this war. His alliances were already assured, his generals had been formed by himself, and all seemed to forebode such a storm as must probably have overwhelmed an emperor devoted to the search after the philosopher's stone, and a king of Spain under the dominion of the Inquisition. Henry was impatient to join his army; but his mind had become harassed with sinister forebodings, and his chagrin was increased by a temporary alienation from his faithful minister. He was on his way to pay a visit of reconciliation to Sully, when his coach was entangled as it passed along the street. His attendants left the carriage to remove the obstruction, and during the delay thus caused he was stabbed to the heart by Francis Ravaillac, a native of Angoulême. This calamitous event took place on May 14, 1610, in the fifty-seventh year of his age. The Spaniards, who had the strongest interest in the catastrophe, were supposed to have been the instigators; but the fear of implicating other powers, and plunging France into greater evils than those from which their hero had rescued them, deterred not only statesmen, but even the judges on Ravaillac's trial, from pressing for the names of accomplices. Hardouin de Perefixe, in his "History of Henry the Great," says, "If it be asked who inspired the monster with the thought, history answers that she does not know; and that in so mysterious an affair, it is not allowable to vent suspicions and conjectures as assured truths; that even the judges who conducted the examinations opened not their mouths, and spoke only with their shoulders."

The assertions of Ravaillac, as far as they have any weight, discountenance the belief of an extended political conspiracy. The house of Austria, Mary de Medici his wife, Henriette d'Entragues his mistress, as well as the Duke d'Epernon, have been subjected to the hateful conjectures of Mazarin and other historians; but he who actually struck the blow invariably affirmed that he had no accomplice, and that he was carried forward by an uncontrollable instinct. If his mind were at all acted on from without, it was probably by the epidemic fanaticism of the times, rather than by personal influence.

Henry left three sons and three daughters by Mary de Medici. Of no prince recorded in history, probably, are so many personal anecdotes related, as of Henry IV. These are for the most part well known, and of easy access. Among them stands out prominently the tale of the Spanish ambassador who to (p. 176) his astonishment, found Henry on the floor playing hobby-horse for his children. "Are you a father?" asked Henry, looking up without any apparent embarrassment. "Yes, your majesty." "Then we will finish our game," said the king. And he did so, before taking up his business with the ambassador.

The whole tenor of Henry's life exhibits a lofty, generous, forgiving temper, the fearless spirit which loves the excitement of danger, and that suavity of feeling and manners, which, above all qualities, wins the affection of those who come within its sphere: it does not exhibit high moral or religious principle. But his weaknesses were those which the world most readily pardons, especially in a great man. If Henry had emulated the pure morals and fervent piety of his noble ancestor, Louis IX., he would have been a far better king, as well as a better man; yet we doubt whether in that case his memory would have been cherished with such enthusiastic attachment by his countrymen.[Back to Contents]

Henry IV. of France at home.

SIR FRANCIS DRAKE
(1540-1596)

Francis Drake.

Francis Drake, the first British circumnavigator of the globe, was born in Devonshire, of humble parents. So much is admitted; with respect to the date of his birth, and the method of his nurture, the annalists, Camden and Stowe, are not agreed. By the latter we are told that Drake was born at Tavistock, about 1545, and brought up under the care of a kinsman, the well-known navigator, Sir John Hawkins. Camden, on the other hand, anticipates his birth by several years, and says that he was bound apprentice to a small shipowner on the coast of Kent, who, dying unmarried, in reward of his industry bestowed his bark upon him as a legacy. Both accounts agree that in 1567 he went with Hawkins to the West Indies on a trading voyage, which gave its color to the rest of his life. Their little squadron was obliged by stress of weather to put into St. Juan de Ulloa, on the coast of Mexico; where, after being received with a show of amity, it was beset and attacked by a superior force, and only two vessels escaped. To make amends for his losses in this adventure, in the quaint language of the biographer Prince, in his "Worthies of Devon," "Mr. Drake was (p. 177) persuaded by the minister of his ship that he might lawfully recover the value of the King of Spain by reprisal, and repair his losses upon him anywhere else. The case was clear in sea divinity; and few are such infidels as not to believe in doctrines which make for their profit. Whereupon Drake, though then a poor private man, undertook to revenge himself upon so mighty a monarch."

In the years 1570-71 Drake made two voyages to the West Indies, apparently to gain a more precise acquaintance with the seas, the situation, strength, and wealth of the Spanish settlements. In 1572 he sailed with two ships, one of seventy-five tons, the other of twenty-five tons, their united crews mustering only seventy-three men and boys, all volunteers. His object was to capture the now ruined city of Nombre de Dios, situated on the Isthmus of Panama, a few miles east of Porto Bello, then the great repository of all the treasure conveyed from Mexico to Spain. Off this coast of America his little armament was augmented by an English bark, with thirty men on board; so that, deducting those whom it was necessary to leave in charge of the ships, his available force fell short of a hundred men. This handful of bold men attacked the town, which was unwalled, on the night of July 22d, and found their way to the marketplace, where the captain received a severe wound. He concealed his hurt until the public treasury was reached; but before it could be broken open, he became faint from loss of blood, and his disheartened followers abandoned the attempt, and carried him perforce on board ship. Such at least, is the account of the English; there is a Portuguese statement in "Hakluyt's Voyages," vol. iii., p. 525, less favorable both to the daring and success of the assailants.

Failing in this attempt, Drake continued for some time on the coast, visiting Carthagena and other places, and making prize of various ships; and if we wonder at his hardihood in adventuring with such scanty means to remain for months in the midst of an awakened and inveterate enemy, how much more surprising is it that the wealthy, proud, and powerful monarchy of Spain should so neglect the care of its most precious colonies, as to leave them unable to crush so slight a foe! The English appear to have felt perfectly at their ease; they cruised about, formed an intimate alliance with an Indian tribe, named Symerons, the bond of union being a common hatred of the Spaniards, and built a fort on a small island of difficult access, at the mouth of a river, where they remained from September 24 to February 3, 1573. On the latter day, Drake set forth with one portion of his associates, under the conduct of the Symerons, to cross the isthmus. On the fourth day they reached a central hill, where stood a remarkable "goodly and great high tree, in which the Indians had cut and made divers steps to ascend up neere unto the top, where they had also made a convenient bower, wherein ten or twelve men might easily sitt; and from thence wee might without any difficulty plainly see the Atlantic Ocean, whence now wee came, and the South Atlantic (i.e., Pacific), so much desired. After our captain had ascended to this bower with the chief Symeron, and having, as it pleased God at that time, by reason of the brize, a very faire day, had seen that sea of which he had heard such golden reports, he besought Almighty God of (p. 178) his goodness to give him life and leave to sayle once in an English ship in that sea." We quote from a tract entitled "Sir Francis Drake Revived," written by some of Drake's companions, corrected, it is said, by himself, and published by his nephew in 1626, which contains a full and interesting account of this adventurous expedition. Drake's present object was to intercept a convoy of treasure on the way from Panama to Nombre de Dios. By this route the treasures of Peru and Chili, as well as Mexico, were brought to Europe, for the passage round Cape Horn was then unknown, and no ship but Magellan's had yet accomplished the passage round the world to Europe. Guided by the Symerons, the English approached Panama, learned that a valuable treasure was expected to pass, and beset the lonely forest road which it had to travel. But the haste of one drunken man gave a premature alarm, in consequence of which the march of the caravan was stopped; and Drake with his party, their golden hopes being thus defeated, forced their way through Venta Cruz, and returned by a shorter route to their encampment, after a toilsome and fruitless journey of three weeks. It was not till April 1st, that the long-desired opportunity presented itself, on which day they took a caravan of mules laden with silver and a small quantity of gold. They carried off part of the spoil, and buried about fifteen tons of silver; but on returning for it, they found that it had been recovered by the Spaniards.

Drake returned to England, August 9, 1573. In dividing the treasure he showed the strictest honor, and even generosity; yet his share was large enough to pay for fitting out three ships, with which he served as a volunteer in Ireland, under the Earl of Essex, and "did excellent service both by sea and land in the winning of divers strong forts." In 1577, he obtained a commission from Queen Elizabeth to conduct a squadron into the South Seas. What was the purport of the commission we do not find; it appears from subsequent passages that it gave to Drake the power of life and death over his followers; but it would seem from the queen's hesitation in approving his proceedings, that it was not intended to authorize (at least formally) his depradations on Spanish property.

With five ships, the largest the Pelican, of one hundred tons burden, the smallest a pinnace of fifteen tons, manned in all with only 164 men, Drake sailed from Plymouth, November 15, 1577, to visit seas where no English vessel had ever sailed. Without serious loss, or adventure worthy of notice, the fleet arrived at Port St. Julian, on the coast of Patagonia, June 20, 1578. Here the discoverer Magellan had tried and executed his second in command on the charge of mutiny, and the same spot did Drake select to perform a similar tragedy. He accused the officer next to himself, Thomas Doughty, of plots to defeat the expedition and take his life; plots undertaken, he said, before they had left England. "Proofs were required and alleged, so many and so evident, that the gentleman himself, stricken with remorse, acknowledged himself to have deserved death;" and of three things presented to him, either immediate execution, or to be set on shore on the main, or to be sent home to answer for his conduct, he chose the former; and having at his own request received the sacrament, (p. 179) together with Drake, and dined with him in further token of amity, he cheerfully laid his head on the block, according to the sentence pronounced by forty of the chiefest persons in the fleet. Such is the account published by Drake's nephew, in "The World Encompassed," of which we shall only observe, without passing judgment on the action, that Drake's conduct in taking out a person whom he knew to be ill affected to him, was as singular as is the behavior and sudden and acute penitence attributed to Doughty. But we have no account from any friend of the sufferer. It is fair to state the judgment of Camden, who says, "that the more unprejudiced men in the fleet thought Doughty had been guilty of insubordination, and that Drake in jealousy removed him as a rival. But some persons, who thought they could see farther than others, said that Drake had been ordered by the Earl of Leicester to take off Doughty, because he spread a report that Leicester had procured the death of the Earl of Essex."

Having remained at Port St. Julian until August 15th, they sailed for the Straits, reached them August 20th, and passed safely into the Pacific, September 6th, with three ships, having taken out the men and stores, and abandoned the two smaller vessels. But there arose on the 7th a dreadful storm, which dispersed the ships. The Marigold was no more heard of, while the dispirited crew of the Elizabeth returned to England, being the first who ever passed back to the eastward through Magellan's Strait. Drake's ship was driven southward to the fifty-sixth degree, where he ran in among the islands of the extreme south of America. He fixes the farthest land to be near the fifty-sixth degree of south latitude, and thus appears to claim the honor of having discovered Cape Horn. From September 7th to October 28th, the adventurers were buffeted by one continued and dreadful storm; and in estimating the merits of our intrepid seamen, it is to be considered that the seas were utterly unknown, and feared by all, those who had tried to follow in Magellan's course having seldom succeeded, and then with much pain and loss, and little fruit of their voyage; that their vessels were of a class which is now hardly used for more than coasting service; and that the imperfection of instruments and observations laid them under disadvantages which are now removed by the ingenuity of our artists. Add to this, that as the Spaniards gave out that it was impossible to repass the Straits, there remained no known way to quit the hostile shores of America, but by traversing the unexplored Pacific.

The storm at length ceased, and the lonely Pelican (which Drake, however, had renamed the Golden Hind) ran along the coast of Lima and Peru, reaping a golden harvest from the careless security of those who never thought to see an enemy on that side of the globe. There is something rather revolting, but very indicative of the temper of the age, in the constant reference to the guidance and protection of God, mixed with a quiet jocularity with which "Master Francis Fletcher, preacher in this employment," from whose notes the "World Encompassed," which is a narrative of this voyage, was compiled, speaks of acts very little different from highway robbery, such as would now be held disgraceful in (p. 180) open war; as for instance, on meeting a Spaniard driving eight llamas, each laden with one hundred pounds' weight of silver, "they offered their service without entreaty, and became drovers, not enduring to see a gentleman Spaniard turned carrier." Enriched by the most valuable spoil, jewels, gold, and silver, Drake steered to the northward, hoping to discover a homeward passage in that quarter. In the forty-eighth degree of north latitude, in what is now the State of Washington, he was stopped by the cold; and, determining to traverse the Pacific, he landed, careened his ship, and, in the queen's name, took possession of the country, which he named New Albion, September 29, 1579; he sailed again, and reached the Molucca Islands November 4th. In his passage thence to the island of Celebes, he incurred the most imminent danger of the whole voyage. The ship struck, as they were sailing before a fair wind, on a reef of rocks, so precipitous that it was impossible to lay out an anchor to heave her off. They stuck fast in this most hazardous situation for eight hours. At the end of that time the wind shifted, and the ship, lightened of part of her guns and cargo, reeled off into deep water, without serious injury. Had the sea risen, she must have been wrecked. This was Drake's last mishap. He reached Plymouth in the autumn of 1580, after nearly three years' absence. Accounts differ as to the exact date of his arrival.

Since Drake had for this voyage the queen's commission, by which we must suppose the license to rob the Spaniards to have been at least tacitly conceded, he seems to have been rather hardly used, in being left from November to April in ignorance how his bold adventure was received at court. Among the people it created a great sensation, with much diversity of opinion; some commending it as a notable instance of English valor and maritime skill, and a just reprisal upon the Spaniards for their faithless and cruel practices; others styling it a breach of treaties, little better than piracy, and such as it was neither expedient nor decent for a trading nation to encourage. During this interval, Drake must have felt his situation unpleasant and precarious; but the queen turned the scale in his favor by going, April 4, 1581, to dine on board his ship at Deptford, on which occasion she declared her entire approbation of his conduct, and conferred on him the honor, and such it then was, of knighthood. His ship she ordered to be preserved as a monument of his glory. Having fallen to decay, it was at length broken up: a chair, made out of its planks, was presented to the University of Oxford, and probably is still to be seen in the Bodleian Library. Cowley wrote a Pindaric ode upon it.

The admiral of the Spanish Armada surrenders to Drake.

Drake had now established his reputation as the first seaman of the day; and in 1585 the queen, having resolved on war, intrusted him with the command of an expedition against the Spanish colonies. He burnt or put to ransom the cities of St. Jago, near Cape Verde, St. Domingo, Carthagena, and others, and returned to England, having fully answered the high expectations which were entertained of him. He was again employed with a larger force of thirty ships, in 1587, with which he entered the port of Cadiz, burnt ten thousand tons of shipping, which were to form part of the Armada, took the castle of Cape St. Vincent, (p. 181) and sailing to the Azores, made prize of a large and wealthy ship on its way from the Indies. Still more eminent were his services against the Armada in the following year, in which he served as vice-admiral under Lord Howard of Effingham. But these are well-known passages of history, and we have shortened our account of them, to relate at more length the early incidents of Drake's adventurous life.

In 1589 Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Norris were joined in the command of an expedition, meant to deliver Portugal from the dominion of Spain. This failed, as many expeditions have done in which the sea and land services were meant to act together; and as usual, each party threw the blame on the other. Drake's plan appears to have been most judicious: it was at least accordant with his character, downright and daring. He wished to sail straight for Lisbon and surprise the place; but Norris was bent on landing at Corunna, where he did indeed some harm to the Spaniards, but no service toward the real objects of the expedition. When the land forces did at last besiege Lisbon, Drake was unwilling or unable to force his way up the Tagus to co-operate with them, and for this he was afterward warmly blamed by Norris. He defended himself by stating that the time misspent by the English at Corunna, had been well employed by the Spaniards in fortifying Lisbon; and we fully believe that neither fear nor jealousy would have made him hesitate at anything which he thought to be for the good of the service. This miscarriage, though for a time it cast something of a cloud upon Drake's fame, did not prevent his being again employed in 1595, when the queen, at the suggestion of himself and Sir John Hawkins, determined to send out another expedition against Spanish America, under those two eminent navigators, the expenses of which were in great part to be defrayed by themselves and their friends. Great hope was naturally conceived of this expedition, the largest which had yet been sent against that quarter, for it consisted of thirty vessels and 2,500 men. The chief object was to sail to Nombre de Dios, march to Panama, and there seize the treasure from Peru. But the blow, which should have been struck immediately, was delayed by a feint on the part of the Spaniards to invade England; the Plate fleet arrived in safety, and the Spanish colonies were forewarned. Hawkins died, it was said of grief at the ruined prospects of the expedition, November 12th, while the fleet lay before Porto Rico; and on the same evening Drake had a narrow escape from a cannon-ball, which carried the stool from under him as he sat at supper and killed two of his chief officers. Repulsed from Porto Rico, the admiral steered for the Spanish main, where he burnt several towns, and among them Nombre de Dios. He then sent a strong detachment of 750 men against Panama; but they found the capture of that city impracticable. Soon afterward he fell sick of a fever, and died January 28, 1596. His death, like that of his coadjutor, is attributed to mental distress, and nothing is more probable than that disappointment may have made that noxious climate more deadly. Hints of poisoning were thrown out, but this is a surmise easily and often lightly made. "Thus," says Fuller, in his "Holy State," "an extempore performance, scarce heard to be begun before we hear it (p. 182) is ended, comes off with better applause, or miscarries with less disgrace, than a long-studied and openly premeditated action. Besides, we see how great spirits, having mounted up to the highest pitch of performance, afterward strain and break their credits in trying to go beyond it. We will not justify all the actions of any man, though of a tamer profession than a sea-captain, in whom civility is often counted preciseness. For the main, we say that this our captain was a religious man toward God, and his houses, generally speaking, churches, where he came chaste in his life, just in his dealings, true of his word, and merciful to those that were under him, hating nothing so much as idleness." To these good qualities we may add that he was kind and considerate to his sailors, though strict in the maintenance of discipline; and liberal on fit occasions, though a strict economist. He cut a water-course from Buckland Abbey to Plymouth, a distance of seven miles in a straight line, and thirty by the windings of the conduit, to supply the latter town with fresh water, which before was not to be procured within the distance of a mile. He is honorably distinguished from the atrocious race of buccaneers, to whom his example in some sort gave rise, by the humanity with which he treated his prisoners. And it should be mentioned, as a proof of his judicious benevolence, that in conjunction with Sir John Hawkins, he procured the establishment of the Chest at Chatham for the relief of aged or sick seamen, out of their own voluntary contributions. The faults ascribed to him are ambition, inconstancy in friendship, and too much desire of popularity.

In person Drake was low, but strongly made, "well favoured, fayre, and of a cheerefull countenance." He left no issue: his nephew was created a baronet by James I., and the title is still extant.[Back to Contents]

SIR WALTER RALEIGH
(1552-1618)

Very little is known concerning the youth of Sir Walter Raleigh. He was a younger son, descended of an ancient family, and was born at a farm called Hayes, near the mouth of the river Otter, in Devonshire, in the year 1552. He went to Oriel College, Oxford, at an early age, and gained high praise for the quickness and precocity of his talents. In 1569 he began his military career in the civil wars of France, as a volunteer in the Protestant cause. It is conjectured that he remained in France for more than six years, and returned to England in 1576. Soon after he repaired to the Netherlands, and served as a volunteer against the Spaniards. In such schools, and under such leaders as Coligni and the Prince of Orange, Raleigh's natural aptitude for political and military science received the best nurture; but he was soon drawn from the war in Holland by a pursuit which had captivated his imagination from an early age—the prosecution of discovery (p. 183) in the New World. In conjunction with his half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, a man of courage and ability, and a skilful sailor, he made an unsuccessful attempt to establish a colony in North America. Returning home in 1579, he immediately entered the Queen's army in Ireland, and served with good esteem for personal courage and professional skill, until the suppression of the rebellion in that country. He owed his introduction to court, and the personal favor of Elizabeth, as is traditionally reported, to a fortunate and well-improved accident, which is too familiar to need repetition here. It is probable, however, that his name and talents were not unknown, for we find him employed almost immediately in certain matters of diplomacy.

Walter Raleigh.

Among the cares and pleasures of a courtier's life, Raleigh preserved his zeal for American discovery. He applied his own resources to the fitting out of another expedition in 1583, under command of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, which proved more unfortunate than the former one; two out of five vessels returned home in consequence of sickness, and two were wrecked, including that in which the admiral sailed; and the only result of the enterprise was the taking possession of Newfoundland in the name of England. Still Raleigh's desire for American adventure was not damped. The continent northward of the Gulf of Florida was at this time unknown. But Raleigh, upon careful study of the best authorities, had concluded that there was good reason for believing that a considerable tract of land did exist in that quarter; and with the assent of the Queen in council, from whom he obtained letters patent, granting to himself and his heirs, under certain reservations, property in such countries as he should discover, with a right to provide for their protection and administration, he fitted out two ships, which sailed in April, 1584. The first land which they made was an island named Okakoke, running parallel to the coast of North Carolina. They were well received by the natives, and returned to England in the following autumn, highly pleased. Nor was less satisfaction felt by Raleigh, or even by the Queen, who conferred on him the honor of knighthood, a title which was then in high esteem, inasmuch as it was bestowed by that wise princess with a most frugal and just discrimination. She also gave him a very lucrative mark of favor, in the shape of a patent for licensing the selling of wine throughout the kingdom; and she directed that the new country, in allusion to herself, should be called Virginia. Raleigh did not think it politic, perhaps was not allowed, to quit the court to take charge in person of his undertaking; and those to whom he entrusted the difficult task of directing the infant colony, appear to have been unequal to their office. It is not necessary to pursue the history of an enterprise which proved unsuccessful, and in which Sir Walter personally bore no share. (p. 184) He showed his earnestness by fitting out several expeditions, which must have been a heavy drain upon his fortune. But he is said to have derived immense wealth from prizes captured from the Spaniards; and we may here observe that the lavish magnificence in dress, especially in jewels, for which Raleigh was remarkable, even in the gorgeous court of Elizabeth (his state dress is said to have been enriched with jewels to the value of £60,000), may be considered less as an extravagance, than as a safe and portable investment of treasure. A mind less active might have found employment more than enough in the variety of occupations which pressed upon it at home. He possessed a large estate, granted out of forfeited lands in Ireland; but this was always a source rather of expense than of profit, until, in 1601, he sold it to the Earl of Cork. He was Seneschal of the Duchies of Cornwall and Exeter, and held the wardenship of the Stannaries; and in 1586, as well as formerly in 1584, we find that he possessed a seat in Parliament. In 1587, the formidable preparation of the Spanish Armada withdrew the mind of Raleigh, as of all Englishmen, from objects of minor importance, to the defence of their country. He was a member of the council of war directed to prepare a general scheme of defence, and held the office of Lieutenant-General of Cornwall, in addition to the charge of the Isle of Portland; but as on this occasion he possessed no naval command, he was not actively engaged in the destruction of that mighty armament. In 1589 he served as a volunteer in the expedition of Norris and Drake to Portugal, of which some account has been given in the life of the latter. Nor were his labors unrewarded even in that unfortunate enterprise; for he captured several prizes, and received the present of a gold chain from the Queen, in testimony of her approbation of his conduct.

Soon after these events, Raleigh retired to his Irish property, being driven from court, according to some authorities, by the enmity of the Earl of Essex, then a young man just rising into favor. He there renewed a former intimacy with the poet Spenser, who, like himself, had been rewarded with a grant of land out of forfeited estates, and then resided at Kilcolman Castle. Spenser has celebrated the return of his friend in the beautiful pastoral, "Colin Clout's come home again;" and in that, and various passages of his works, has made honorable mention of the highly poetic spirit which enabled the "Shepherd of the Ocean," as he is there denominated, to appreciate the merit of the "Fairy Queen," and led him to promote the publication of it by every means in his power. The loss of Raleigh's court-favor, if such there were, could not have been of long duration on this occasion But he incurred more serious displeasure in consequence of a private marriage contracted with Elizabeth Throgmorton, one of the Queen's maids of honor, a lady of beauty and accomplishments, who proved her worth and fidelity in the long train of misfortunes which beset the latter years of Raleigh's life. In consequence of this intrigue, he was committed to the Tower. One or two amusing anecdotes are related of the devices which he employed to obtain forgiveness, by working on that vanity which was the Queen's chief foible. He succeeded in appeasing his indignant mistress so far as to procure his release; and about the same time, in 1594, she granted to him the valuable manor (p. 185) of Sherborne, in Dorsetshire; but though she requited his services, she still forbade his appearance at court, where he now held the office of Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard. Raleigh was peculiarly fitted to adorn a court by his imposing person, the graceful magnificence of his taste and habits, the elegance of his manners, and the interest of his conversation. These accomplishments were sure passports to the favor of Elizabeth; and he improved to the utmost the constant opportunities of intercourse with her which his post afforded, insomuch that, except the Earls of Leicester and Essex, no one ever seems to have stood higher in her graces. But Elizabeth's jealousy on the subject of her favorites' marriages is well known, and her anger was lasting, in proportion to the value which she set on the incense of Raleigh's flattery. He retired, on his disgrace, to his new estate, in the improvement and embellishment of which he felt great interest. But though deeply alive to the beauties of nature, he had been too long trained to a life of ambition and adventure to rest contented in the tranquil routine of a country life; and during this period of seclusion he again turned his thoughts to his favorite subject of American adventure, and laid the scheme of his first expedition to Guiana, in search of the celebrated El Dorado, the fabled seat of inexhaustible wealth. Having fitted out, with the assistance of other private persons, a considerable fleet, Raleigh sailed from Plymouth, February 6, 1595. He left his ships in the mouth of the river Orinoco, and sailed 400 miles into the interior in boats. It is to be recorded to his honor, that he treated the Indians with great kindness; which, contrasted with the savage conduct of the Spaniards, raised so friendly a feeling toward him, that for years his return was eagerly expected, and at length was hailed with delight. The hardships of the undertaking, and the natural advantages of the country which he explored, are eloquently described in his own account of the "Discovery of Guiana." But the setting in of the rainy season rendered it necessary to return, without having reached the promised land of wealth; and Raleigh reaped no other fruit of his adventure than a certain quantity of geographical knowledge, and a full conviction of the importance of colonizing and taking possession of the newly discovered region. This continued through life to be his favorite scheme; but neither Elizabeth nor her successor could be induced to view it in the same favorable light.

On reaching England, he found the Queen still unappeased; nor was he suffered to appear at court, and he complains in pathetic terms of the cold return with which his perils and losses were requited. But he was invested with a high command in the expedition of 1596, by which the Spanish fleet was destroyed in the harbor of Cadiz; and to his judgment and temper in overruling the faulty schemes proposed by others, the success of that enterprise was chiefly due. Indeed, his services were perhaps too important, and too justly appreciated by the public, for his own interests; for the great and general praise bestowed on him on this occasion tended to confirm a jealousy of long standing on the part of the commander-in-chief, the Earl of Essex; and it was probably owing to that favorite's influence that Raleigh was still forbidden the Queen's presence. (p. 186) Essex, and the Secretary of State, Sir Robert Cecil, regarded each other with mutual distrust and dislike. Cecil and Raleigh were connected by ties of common interest, and, as the latter supposed, of friendship. Still Raleigh found the interest of the minister too weak to serve his purpose, while the interest of the favorite was employed against him; and, as the only method of effecting his own restoration to the Queen's favor, he undertook to work a reconciliation between these two powerful rivals. In this he succeeded, to the great admiration of all spectators; and the fruit of his policy was seen in his re-admission to the execution of his official duties at court, June 1, 1597. In the following August he was appointed Rear Admiral in the expedition called the Island Voyage, of which Essex held the chief command. The slight successes which were obtained were again due to the military talents of Raleigh; the main objects of the voyage were lost through the Earl's inexperience.

From this time to the death of the Queen, Raleigh enjoyed an uninterrupted course of favor. Elizabeth was now old; Cecil took no steps to diminish the high esteem in which she held Sir Walter Raleigh, but he secretly labored to prejudice her successor against him, and he succeeded to his wish. Very soon after the accession of James I., Raleigh's post of captain of the guard was taken from him; and his patent of wines was revoked, though not without a nominal compensation being made. To complete his ruin, it was contrived to involve him in a charge of treason. Most writers have concurred in speaking of this passage of history as inexplicable; it is the opinion of the last historian of Raleigh, Mr. Tytler, that he has found sufficient evidence for regarding the whole plot as a device of Cecil, and he has supported this opinion by cogent arguments. Lord Cobham, a violent and ambitious but weak man, had engaged in private dealings with the Spanish ambassador, which brought him under the suspicion of the government. By a device of Cecil's (we here follow the account of Mr. Tytler) he was induced, in a fit of anger, and in the belief that Raleigh had given information against him, to accuse Sir Walter himself of being privy to a conspiracy against the government. This charge Cobham retracted, confirmed, and retracted again, behaving in so equivocal a manner, that no reliance whatever can be placed on any of his assertions. But as the King was afraid of Raleigh as much as the secretary hated him, this vague charge, unsupported by other evidence, was made sufficient to commit him to the Tower; and, after being plied with private examinations, in which nothing criminal could be elicited, he was brought to trial, November 17, 1603. For an account of that memorable scene we shall refer to Mr. Jardine's "Criminal Trials," Vol. I. It is reported to have been said by one of the judges who presided over it, on his death-bed, that "the justice of England had never been so degraded and injured as by the condemnation of Sir Walter Raleigh." The behavior of the victim himself was the object of universal admiration, for the tempered mixture of patience and noble spirit with which he bore the oppressive measure dealt to him. He had before been unpopular; but it was recorded by an eye-witness that "he behaved himself so worthily, so wisely, and so temperately, (p. 187) that in half a day the mind of all the company was changed from the extremest hate to the extremest pity."

The sentence of death thus unfairly and disgracefully obtained was not immediately carried into execution. James was not satisfied with the evidence adduced on the trial; and believing at the same time that Raleigh had been plotting against him, he set his royal wit to dive into the mystery. Of the singular scene which the British Solomon devised it is not necessary to speak, since Raleigh was not an actor in it. But as no more evidence could be obtained against him, even by the King's sagacity, he was reprieved, and remanded to the Tower, where the next twelve years of his life were spent in confinement. Fortunately, he had never ceased to cultivate literature with a zeal not often found in the soldier and politician, and he now beguiled the tedium of his lot by an entire devotion to those studies which before had only served to diversify his more active and engrossing pursuits. Of his poetical talents we have already made short mention; to the end of life he continued the practice of pouring out his mind in verse, and there are several well-known and beautiful pieces expressive of his feelings in prison, and in the anticipation of immediate death; especially "The Lie," and the beautiful little poem called "The Pilgrimage." He also possessed a strong turn for mathematics, and studied them with much success in the society and under the guidance of his friend, Thomas Hariot, one of the most accomplished mathematicians of the age. Chemistry was another favorite pursuit, in which, according to the standard of his contemporaries, he made great progress. But the most important occupation of his imprisonment was the composition of the "History of the World." The work extends from the creation to the end of the second Macedonian war. Raleigh meant to bring it down to modern times; but the untimely death of Henry, Prince of Wales, for whose use it was composed, deprived him of the spirit to proceed with so laborious an undertaking. He enjoyed the confidence of that generous youth in a remarkable degree, and maintained a close correspondence with him on civil, military, and naval subjects. Several discourses on these topics, addressed to the prince, will be found in the editions of Raleigh's works. Henry repaid these services with sincere friendship and admiration; and we may presume that his adviser looked forward to that friendship, not only for a cessation of misfortune, but for a more brilliant period of favor and power than he had yet enjoyed. Fortunately, however, his patron's death was preceded by that of his arch-enemy, Cecil; and through the mediation of the Duke of Buckingham, Raleigh was released from the Tower in March, 1615; and obtained permission to follow up his long-cherished scheme of establishing a colony in Guiana, and working a gold mine, of which he had ascertained the existence and situation.

The results of this disastrous voyage must be shortly given. Raleigh sailed March 28, 1617, and reached the coast of Guiana in November following. Being himself disabled by sickness from proceeding farther, he despatched a party to the mine under the command of Captain Keymis, an officer who had served in the former voyage to Guiana. But during the interval which had elapsed (p. 188) since Raleigh's first discovery of that country, the Spaniards had extended their settlements into it, and in particular had built a town called Santa Thome in the immediate neighborhood of the mine in question. James, with his usual duplicity, while he authorized the expedition, revealed every particular connected with it to the Spanish ambassador. The English, therefore, were expected in the Orinoco, and preparation had been made for repelling them by force. Keymis and his men were unexpectedly attacked by the garrison of Santa Thome, and a sharp contest ensued, in which the English gained the advantage, and burnt the town. In this action Raleigh's eldest son was killed. The Spaniards still occupied the passes to the mine, and after an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge them, Keymis abandoned the enterprise and returned to the ships. Raleigh's correspondence expresses in affecting terms his grief and indignation at this double misfortune: the loss of a brave and promising son, and the destruction of the hopes which he had founded on this long-cherished adventure. On his return to England, he found himself marked out for a victim to appease the resentment of the Spanish Court, to which he had long been an object of fear and hatred.

His conduct abroad had already been closely scrutinized, in the hope of finding some act of piracy, or unauthorized aggression against Spain, for which he might be brought to trial. Both these hopes failing, and his death, in compliment to Spain, being resolved on, it was determined to carry into effect the sentence passed fifteen years before, from which he had never been legally released; and a warrant was accordingly issued to the judges, requiring them to order execution. He insisted on the nature of his late commission, and on that plea being overruled, submitted with his usual calmness and dignity. The execution, with indecent haste, was ordered to take place on the following morning. In this last stage of life, his greatness of mind shone with even more than its usual lustre. Calm, and fearless without bravado, his behavior and speech expressed the piety and resignation of a Christian, with the habitual coolness of one who has braved death too often to shrink at its approach. His farewell to his faithful wife was manly, tender, and most affecting. The accounts of his deportment on the scaffold effectually refute the charges of irreligion and atheism, which some writers have brought against him, unless we make up our minds to believe him an accomplished hypocrite. He spoke at considerable length, and his dying words have been faithfully reported. They contain a denial of all the serious offences laid to his charge, and express his forgiveness of those even who had betrayed him under the mask of friendship. After delivering this address, and spending some time in prayer, he laid his head on the block, and breathing a short private prayer, gave the signal to the executioner. Not being immediately obeyed, he partially raised his head, and said, "What dost thou fear? Strike, man!" and underwent the fatal blow without shrinking or alteration of position. He died in his sixty-sixth year.

Raleigh parting from his wife.

Raleigh sat in several Parliaments, and took an active part in the business of the house. His speeches, preserved in the Journals, are said by Mr. Tytler to be remarkable for an originality and freedom of thought far in advance of the (p. 189) time. His expression was varied and animated, and his powers of conversation remarkable. His person was dignified and handsome, and he excelled in bodily accomplishments and martial exercises. He was very fond of paintings, and of music; and, in literature as in art, he possessed a cultivated and correct taste. He was one of those rare men who seem qualified to excel in all pursuits alike; and his talents were set off by an extraordinary laboriousness and capacity of application. As a navigator, soldier, statesman, and historian, his name is intimately and honorably linked with one of the most brilliant periods of British history.[Back to Contents]

MILES STANDISH[19]
By Elbridge S. Brooks
(1584-1656)

Relics of Miles Standish.

Three hundred years ago the house of Standish was a notable one in England. The family had numerous possessions; their Lancashire estate of Duxbury Hall, in the shadow of Rivington Pike and the Pennine Hills, was pleasant and extensive, and there they had lived for generations, as there they live to-day. Of this Lancashire home was that John Standish, "squire to the king," who killed Wat Tyler, the agitator, on that memorable June day of 1381 when the boy-king of England, Richard the Second, so pluckily faced his rebellious subjects on the plain of Smithfield; of it was that Sir John Standish who fought under the leopard-banner of King Edward at the stone mill of Crécy; and of it was that gallant soldier Miles Standish, the Puritan captain, the first commissioned military officer of New England, famous in American history, song, and story, as the stay and bulwark of the Pilgrims of Plymouth in their days of struggle and beginning.

Miles Standish (or Myles, as the old spelling has it) was born in Lancashire, presumably in the family manor house of Duxbury Hall, in the year 1584. The story of his life is simple. The absolute facts upon which it is based are meagre, but enough is known to warrant the assertion that Miles Standish was heir to the name and estates of the Standishes of Lancashire, from which, by some device not on record, he was, as he sturdily maintained in his will, "surreptitiously" defrauded.

(p. 190) At the beginning of the seventeenth century the provinces of the Netherlands were battling for life against the tyranny of Spain. The Protestant Elizabeth of England gave help and support to the Protestant Stadtholder Maurice, and many of her fighting men carried pike or arquebus at the sack of Cadiz, fought at Nieuport and Ostend, or served the guns in the great sea-fight off Gibraltar that, in 1607, broke the power of Spain. Among these fighting-men was young Miles Standish, and he fought so stoutly and to such good purpose that, before he was twenty-one he had attained the rank and title of captain, and was known to Englishmen in the Low Countries as a brave and gallant soldier. In 1609 came the twelve years' truce between tired Spain and not less wearied Holland, that gave way in 1621 to the stubborn and bloody Thirty Years' War. It was, probably, in the early years of this truce that Captain Miles Standish, a born fighter, went back to England to battle for his heritage. Not being the match for the law men in England that he was for Spanish dons in Holland, he was forced to retire from the unequal contest, defeated but not conquered. This belief in his rights to the inheritance of the Standishes he sturdily maintained to the last; for, dying forty years after in the new land his sword had helped to conquer and his wisdom to found, he left by his last will and testament unto his son and heir, Alexander: "Ormistic, Bonsconge, Wrightington, Maudeslay, and the estates in the Isle of Man"—none of which he nor his descendants were ever to occupy or hold.

It was after this unsuccessful struggle for his heritage that he crossed again to Holland and, from some cause not apparent—perhaps his disgust at English law, perhaps the attractions of one who, later, became Mistress Rose Standish, may supply the motive—settled among the self-exiled English folk in Leyden who, because of religious differences with the established Church, had left their English homes and, calling themselves Pilgrims because of their wanderings, had made a settlement in the Dutch city of Leyden, "fair and beautiful and of a sweet situation."

Although not of the religious faith and following of the Pilgrims of Leyden—indeed the story runs that the fiery little captain had been, at one time, a Romanist—he must have been settled among them for years, for, on the eve of their emigration to America, we find him as one of their leaders, accepted and commissioned as the military adviser of the colonists. The time of his life in Leyden was one of religious unrest in Europe; and in Holland, during that twelve years' truce with Spain, the theological disputes between Calvinists and Arminians ran so high as to bring John of Barneald to the scaffold, and to drive Grotius the scholar into exile. These days of stern dispute may have had their influence on the sturdy English soldier living in the midst of Dutch life and Dutch disputations, and made him lean to the side of Puritanism, even if never openly avowing it as his religious faith. It is, indeed, a singular fact that the mainstay and chief protector of the first Puritan colonists of America was neither of their communion nor of their connection, and is openly censured by Puritan writers as one who, so says Hubbard, "had been a soldier in the Low Countries and had never entered (p. 191) the school of our Saviour Christ or of John the Baptist." But his companions and associates seem not to have permitted the dissociation to have had special weight with them. They gladly welcomed Captain Standish and his wife, Rose, among the little company of exiles that set out from Delft Haven for Virginia, and gave their names place on that memorable passenger list of the little schooner Mayflower, which, leaving the harbor of old Plymouth, in England, in September, 1620, finally dropped anchor in the harbor of new Plymouth, in New England, in December following.

From the outset of this novel "adventure"—itself a turning-point in American history—this soldier of fortune was given place and prominence in the councils of a community which seems to have enlisted his support, not so much on its religious as on its adventurous side; and to this "dissenter from dissent" was intrusted the defence of a company of religious enthusiasts, sailing upon what they deemed a divine mission, only in the practical side of which did their military adviser find occupation or interest.

The up-bringing of Miles Standish had been such as to fit him for leadership, and this he assumed early in the history of the enterprise. Even on the deck of the Mayflower, he was recognized as one whose counsels were wise and whose actions were inspiring, and when in the cabin of the Mayflower, in the harbor of Provincetown, the famous compact was drawn up, said to be "the first written constitution in the world," the bold signature of "Myles Standish" was the clearest of the forty-one Pilgrim autographs that were affixed to that famous document. It was Captain Standish who, with his sixteen "well-armed men," made a thorough exploration of the Provincetown peninsula; he organized and headed the party of observation which, later, sailed the shallop and marched with watchful eyes along the shores of Cape Cod, seeking the best place for settlement; and, on December 6th following, he sailed with a picked party across Massachusetts Bay and, in much peril and with many adventures, spied out the land and determined upon the harbor of Plymouth as the best spot for permanent settlement. It was to Captain Standish's knowledge as to the best locations and to his skill as a surveyor, that the colonists were indebted for the selection of their town site and the laying-out of their town; as, later, the same skill came in play when were laid out the new towns that followed after the Plymouth beginnings. Through all that dreary and dreadful first winter, when half their number died, Captain Standish was their mainstay, as one whose word was ever reassuring and whose arm was as ready for protection as was his brain for planning methods of defence. Though his wife, Mistress Rose Standish, was one of the early victims of that bitter winter of death, his courage never faltered, his vigilance never slackened. And when, in the midst of all the peril and suffering, in February, 1621, Miles Standish was appointed military captain of the colony, confidence was restored and courage renewed in the bosoms of that suffering but heroic and indomitable band; so that when spring came and the Mayflower sailed for England, not one of the settlers returned in her, nor would desert the cause to which they had pledged themselves.

(p. 192) It is customary to credit the final success of the Pilgrims of Plymouth to the religious element that held sway over them, making them patient, persistent, uncompromising, faithful, and earnest. But the wisdom of Carver, the genius of Bradford, the fervor of Brewster, the zeal of Winslow, would have been of small avail had they not been backed by the decision, the resolution, the courage, the constancy, and the forethought of their brave captain, Miles Standish, "the John Smith of New England" as he has been called, the man of helpful measures and of iron nerves, who could "hew down forests and live on crumbs."

From first to last he was the loyal supporter and trusty defender of the Plymouth colony. No danger unnerved him, no duty staggered him. With but eight men he started out, in 1623, to overawe and subdue the Indians of Massachusetts—then an unknown and perplexing quantity; single-handed he checked the conspiracy at Weymouth and turned the tables upon the savage plotters, by himself assassinating the assassins—a deed that saved the colony from Indian massacre, but called forth the mild protest of the Pilgrim preacher at Leyden, Mr. Robinson, who wrote of it: "Concerning the killing of these poor Indians, oh! how happy a thing had it been, if you had converted some before you had killed any.... Let me be bold to exhort you seriously to consider of the disposition of your captain, whom I love. There is cause to fear that by occasion, especially of provocation, there may be wanting (in him) that tenderness of the life of man which is meet." But the Pilgrims of Plymouth seem not to have questioned the decisive measures of the man who knew when and how to act in their defence. Alone he faced the roystering Morton at Merrymount, unarming that vaporing rebel and putting his riotous colony upon its good behavior. He led out the forty men of Plymouth enlisted for the Pequot War, headed the expedition that in 1635, sailed against the encroaching French in Penobscot Bay, and, as late as 1653, when "very auncient and full of dolorous paines," expressed himself as ready to take the command intrusted to him when the colony forces were about to enter upon a struggle for the right of occupation of the Connecticut country with the Dutch colonists of Manhattan.

He never refused any burden however heavy nor shirked any duty however onerous; he cheerfully yielded obedience to the civil power, never exceeding his orders, nor rashly assuming responsibilities, nor leading his men upon unwise ventures. While always the military commander of the colony, his counsel and help were counted as equally valuable in matters of administration. He served repeatedly as one of the governor's council; he was at one time assistant-governor or deputy, and, from 1644 to 1649, was treasurer of the Plymouth colony. He went to England as the envoy of the colonists in 1625, and in the midst of plague, of evil times and of bitter jealousies, withstood the tyranny of the London traders who owned the Pilgrims' labor; and braving both heavy debt and the possibility of censure, bought out the traders' rights in the name of his associates.

Departure of the Mayflower.

The personal descriptions of this remarkable man that have come down to us, show him as a man of small stature, quick-tempered, choleric, sturdy and bluff. "As a little chimney is soon fired," wrote the Puritan historian Hubbard, (p. 193) "so was the Plymouth captain, a man of very little stature, yet of a very hot and angry temper." And yet his relations with such men as the noble Bradford, the blameless Brewster, the politic Winslow, were so close and of so personal a character that one can hardly accept unquestioningly the story of his hot and unreasoning temper. He was a soldier and a fighter; but he loved peace and quiet, and his life was full of friendly offices and of kindly deeds. On Nantasket Beach he built the first "house of refuge" and life-saving station in America. He was a gentle nurse in the winter of sickness, a friend and adviser to those in trouble or distress, a loving father in the days when parents were not unfrequently tyrants, and a forgiving spirit, as the old story of his famous "courtship" (with sufficient foundation to warrant its acceptance) amply proves.

The communism of the early Pilgrim days gave place in time to personal possession and, as the colony grew, certain of those who had been leaders desired more extended holdings. Captain Standish was one of these, and despite his friend Bradford's protests, he moved across the bay and in 1632 occupied a large and fertile stretch north of Plymouth, to which, still clinging to his old claim of a stolen heritage, he gave the name of Duxbury. Here in the midst of peaceful pursuits, but ever ready to obey the colony's call for counsel or for leadership, he lived for over twenty years, dying October 3, 1656, at the age of seventy-two.

A notable figure in American history, Miles Standish is a type of that mingled spirit of adventure, liberty, and distrust that impelled emigration across the sea and, combined with the uncompromising stand for freedom of conscience, founded and up-built the Pilgrim Colony of Plymouth.

His existence among these Pilgrims is in itself an anomaly. But it is one of those strange associations and unfaltering friendships that have left their mark for good upon the world since the days when the Roman fighting-man stood stanchly by the side of the Christian proselyte even to the death.

Tradition says that Miles Standish was buried between two pointed stones in the graveyard of South Duxbury, but the question of his burial-place is still unsettled. The tall shaft, rising from the crest of Captain's Hill in Duxbury, and surmounted with a statue of the famous colonial captain, fitly commemorates a life that has won a place in the American heart that only grows stronger and more enduring as time goes on.[Back to Contents]

Author signature.

(p. 194) ALBRECHT VON WALLENSTEIN
By Henry G. Hewlett
(1583-1634)

Albrecht von Wallenstein.

The declaration of the great founder of Christianity that he "came not to bring peace, but a sword," receives its completest justification in the history of Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Ignorant of the constitution of the human mind, and blind to the absurdity of attempting to enforce opinion, the adherents of the old and of the reformed faith, during these two hundred years, scarcely sheathed their swords. The offenders, it is just to say, were generally, but by no means invariably, the Catholics; and the retaliation of the Protestants was seldom inferior in ferocity to the offence received. The "Thirty Years' War" was the bloodiest, as happily it was the last, scene in this great religious tragedy. The greatest Catholic leader of this period was Wallenstein.

After a term of peace, consequent on the Diet of Augsburg in 1555, which secured toleration to Protestantism in Germany, persecution recommenced in 1578, under the weak Emperor Rudolph II. His cousin Ferdinand, Duke of Styria, a pupil of the Jesuits, was the most deadly foe of Protestantism, which had taken deepest root in Bohemia and Transylvania. The incapacity and bigotry of the emperor at last provoked his subjects to bring about his deposition, and, in 1610, he was forced to abdicate in favor of his brother Matthias. He, though himself tolerant, unwisely committed the government to Ferdinand, whose tyranny in ordering the destruction of the Protestant churches in Bohemia, led to the expulsion of his officers and the Jesuits, in May, 1618, and the commencement of the Thirty Years' War. Matthias died in the following year, and Ferdinand was elected emperor.

In 1619 the name of Wallenstein first became prominent. Albrecht von Waldstein, as he was properly called, was the third son of a Bohemian baron, of old family, and was born in September, 1583. As a boy, he displayed signs of a singularly proud and independent temper, and foreshowed his bent by the delight which he took in the society of military men. His family was Protestant; but having lost his parents when quite young, he was educated, by the (p. 195) wish of his guardians, at the Jesuit college of Olmutz, and soon changed his faith. In Italy, where he next studied, he made great advances in mathematics, law, languages, and the delusive science of astrology, in which he was a firm believer ever afterward. On his return to Germany, he fought in the imperial army against the Turks, who invaded Hungary. He had considerable estates in Bohemia, which were increased by his marriage, in 1606, with a rich Moravian widow, who died in 1614, and left him her property. In the peaceful occupation of farming he spent several years, and acquired great wealth by his skill and economy. In 1617, he took part in a campaign against the republic of Venice, with which Ferdinand had quarreled, and, on the termination of the war in the same year, was ennobled as Count. The lavish generosity of Wallenstein during this war greatly endeared him to the army.

Such was his popularity that in 1619, on the Bohemian revolution breaking out, he was offered by the insurgents the command of their army, although a Catholic. But he steadily refused the offer, and warmly espoused the imperial cause, upon which the Bohemians confiscated his estates. He, however, soon retrieved his fortunes by a second rich marriage, and the favor of the emperor. The Bohemians, under their heroic leaders, the Counts von Mansfeldt and Thurn, ventured to march upon Vienna, and threaten Ferdinand in his capital; but Wallenstein, on June 10, 1619, gained a signal victory over their army, and saved his master's throne. In the following year the Bohemians and Hungarians formally renounced their allegiance; the former setting up Frederick, Elector-Count Palatine of the Rhine, as their king; and the latter, Bethlem Gabor, Prince of Transylvania. Frederick, who was the son-in-law of James I. of England, was as unfit to govern as his father-in-law, and spent his time in a frivolous parade of his rank. He obtained but a doubtful support from the Protestant princes in Germany, who were jealous of his popularity. Ferdinand, assisted by Spain and other Catholic powers, sent a large force into Bohemia, under the command of Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria, and totally routed Frederick's army at Prague,—the king fleeing to Breslau, and thence to Holland. The Palatinate was then declared forfeited to the Empire, and was devastated by the Spanish commander, Spinola. Wallenstein, during this campaign, spent his treasures in the imperial cause with the utmost readiness and liberality, and obtained as a reward the lordship of Friedland, which brought him a large revenue. To this he added by the purchase of several forfeited estates in Bohemia, and thus became possessed of immense wealth. In 1621-23 he distinguished himself by defeating Bethlem Gabor, the new King of Hungary, and forcing him to surrender his claim to the crown. For this service Wallenstein was created Duke of Friedland.

A cruel persecution of the Protestants in Bohemia and Silesia dishonored the emperor's success; and the attempt of his officers in Austria to suppress Lutheranism by force, produced a revolution in 1625. It was put down by the energy of Tilly and Pappenheim, two of the greatest generals of their day. The Count von Mansfeldt gallantly upheld the Protestant cause in Westphalia, and other parts of Germany, but was defeated by Tilly, who imposed Catholicism (p. 196) upon all the revolted provinces. In their despair the German Protestants applied for aid to their northern brethren. Gustavus Adolphus, the young and brave King of Sweden, an ardent champion of the Reformed faith, and Christian, King of Denmark, responded to their appeal,—the latter immediately invading the Empire. The imperial finances being considerably reduced by the war, Ferdinand was glad to avail himself of an offer made at this crisis by Wallenstein, to levy an army at his own cost. This offer was abundantly fulfilled. In a few months an army of 30,000 men was collected, as if by magic. Wallenstein was enviously suspected of being in league with the devil, but the secret of his sway was the fascination of his bold and generous nature. He maintained at once thorough toleration, and strict discipline in his ranks. These results, however, were not attained without injustice. Contributions were levied on the most fertile districts, as yet undesolated by war, to the extent, as it is said, of $60,000,000 in seven years. His popularity with the army procured him the jealousy of Tilly, who, in the campaign of 1625-26, outrivalled him, by successfully combating the invasion of Christian and his Danish forces, and driving them beyond the Elbe. Wallenstein, nevertheless, in the following campaign, won his laurels, both as a statesman and a general, by his intrigues and conquests. Displaying the greatest ardor in the cause of the Empire, he attempted to render it an absolute despotism. After routing Count Mansfeldt on the Elbe, he marched into Hungary, and defeated the united armies of the count and Bethlem Gabor. Christian of Denmark having assembled a new army in 1628, Wallenstein marched to meet it; and, by a series of brilliant successes, recaptured all the towns garrisoned by the Danes, and forced the king to sue for peace. At the Congress of Lubeck, in May, 1629, this was accorded on favorable terms to Denmark. Wallenstein during these campaigns astonished his compeers, and excited their envy, by the wondrous rapidity of his movements, and the skill with which he surmounted difficulties that seemed insuperable. He was rewarded with the duchy of Mecklenburg, which was forfeited to the Empire by the treason of its former owner.

The envious schemes of Tilly and Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria, induced Ferdinand to remove Wallenstein from his rank of commander in 1630. He had hardly withdrawn to his Bohemian estates, when Gustavus Adolphus, who had been hitherto prevented from affording active assistance to the Protestant party, landed in Pomerania with a small but highly disciplined army. This illustrious monarch, eminent for virtue and piety, no less than for political wisdom and military skill, was now the sole hope of the Reformation in Germany. The princes who professed its tenets were lukewarm and unready,—divided by jealousies among themselves, and careless of all but their own worldly interests. He, on the contrary, was devoted to the cause of his faith, and his solemn disavowal of personal ambition in undertaking its championship is stamped with sincerity.

He soon commenced a career of conquest. New Brandenburg and other districts yielded to his arms, and he formed an alliance with France, now under the sway of Cardinal Richelieu, which the emperor had vainly negotiated to prevent. (p. 197) The rich city of Magdeburg declared for him, and was accordingly besieged by Tilly. The selfishness of the Lutheran leaders, the Electors of Brandenburg and Saxony, in not responding to the appeal of the Protestants in the city, led to its fall in 1631, before Gustavus could reach it. The most atrocious cruelties were perpetrated by the Catholics at the sack; no consideration of age or sex availing to prevent the massacre, which lasted for two days, and extended to 30,000 of the inhabitants. This monstrous crime was severely avenged by the indignant Gustavus. He forced the Electors of Brandenburg and Saxony to render him assistance, and, with an augmented army, hesitated not to give battle to Tilly at Leipsic, and defeated him September 7, 1631. The Protestants took courage and joined Gustavus in great numbers. He continued his victorious march, defeating the enemy at Merseberg, capturing Wurzburg, then advancing on the Rhine, and reducing on the way Frankfort-on-the-Main, Mentz, Spires, Mannheim, and other cities. He next turned to Bavaria, where Tilly and Maximilian entrenched themselves at Rain-on-the-Lech. The former was killed by a cannon-ball during the siege, in 1632. Gustavus marched through Augsburg, where the citizens did him homage, and besieged Munich, which speedily surrendered. He now threatened to subdue Bavaria and Austria, when his progress was stopped from an unexpected quarter.

The emperor, justly mistrusting the loyalty of Maximilian, who was in league with France, now saw himself deprived of his ablest generals, and felt his power failing. He turned to Wallenstein as the only man who could save the Empire. That leader was meantime living in retirement, and secretly glad of the success of Gustavus. He refused at first to take the command of the imperial army, and only consented at last on condition of having sole and absolute authority, with the right of disposing as he pleased of his conquests. These humiliating terms were accepted by Ferdinand, and in a few months after the death of Tilly, Wallenstein was in the field with a large and powerful army, raised, as before, by his own exertions. He drove the Saxons from Bohemia, and thence marched to Leipsic, which capitulated. At Nuremberg, where Gustavus offered him battle, he wisely refused, and for three months the two camps remained close to each other, each general trying to exhaust the patience of his adversary, and relying on the destructive effects of famine and pestilence. Gustavus was forced to withdraw, after losing 20,000 men; a yet heavier loss, nevertheless, having befallen Wallenstein, whose numbers were better able to bear it.

Gustavus marched southward, but soon returned to attack Wallenstein, who had moved northward, and was pillaging the neighborhood of Leipsic. The two armies met at Lutzen on November 6, 1632. A dense fog shrouded the movements of each side from the other, and created a fearful confusion. Wallenstein ranged his infantry in squares, having a ditch in front, and flanked by his cavalry. Gustavus headed his men and charged the enemy across the ditch. But his own infantry was borne down by the black cuirassiers of Wallenstein, and, as he turned to attack them, the thick fog concealed their approach. His horse was wounded, and he himself had his arm broken. In moving off the field he was (p. 198) shot in the back, and falling from his saddle was dragged in the stirrup. He fell into the hands of the cuirassiers, one of whom, as the Swedes came up to the succor of their king, shot him through the head. His corpse was discovered after the battle, and honorably buried. The death of their king caused the deepest affliction to the Swedes, but aroused instead of enfeebling their courage. A charge of the Duke of Weimar, one of the Protestant leaders, threw Wallenstein's infantry and cavalry into disorder. An attempt of the Imperialist General Pappenheim, who now came up with a reserve to retrieve the battle, was for a time successful. But as the tide of fortune seemed turning against the Swedes, a reserve of their own army made a last desperate charge, carried the ditch which protected Wallenstein's infantry, and won the day; the Imperialists fleeing in all directions and their great leader escaping into Bohemia.

This defeat was the death-blow to Wallenstein's fortunate career. The Swedes continued to carry on the war successfully under the able minister of Gustavus, Oxenstiern, and the valiant Duke of Weimar. Meantime Wallenstein, after some slight victories in Saxony and Silesia, remained inactive. He at the same time assumed an air of extreme pride and self-sufficiency, which exasperated his enemies and gave occasion for their slanders. He was accused to Ferdinand of designing to seize the Empire,—a charge which seemed the more credible, on account of an offer having been made by France to assist him in obtaining the Bohemian crown. This proposition, however, he had firmly refused. The emperor's intention of removing him from the command of the army having reached his ears, he declared he would resign, but was persuaded to remain by his officers, who at a great banquet, all, with wild and perhaps drunken enthusiasm, signed a promise of inviolable attachment to his person. This, too, was interpreted by his enemies as a conspiracy against the emperor. His destruction was resolved on by the Duke of Bavaria and others, among whom an Italian mercenary general, named Piccolomini, was the most perfidious and savage. A plot was formed against him by certain traitors among his own officers,—the names of Devereaux, Butler, Gordon, and Leslie, to the shame of their nations, appearing in the list.

On February 25, 1634, an entertainment was given to the whole body of officers by Gordon, who commanded the castle of Eger, where Wallenstein was residing. He himself being indisposed, had retired from the table to his chamber. He was roused by loud cries proceeding from the mess-room, where his faithful officers were being murdered by the traitors. He opened the window to inquire the cause of the disturbance, when Devereaux entered, with thirty Irishmen at his back. The cowards shrank at the sight of their great general, standing calm and stern, unarmed, and at their mercy. But Devereaux, a callous and brutal soldier, in a moment stepped forward, and cried: "Art thou the traitor who wilt ruin the Empire?" Wallenstein did not speak, but opened his arms, as if to accept the blow which was aimed at his heart. He was slain at the age of fifty-one. His wealth was chiefly shared among his enemies.

Wallenstein's last banquet.

Though undoubtedly ambitious and intriguing, Wallenstein's alleged treachery (p. 199) to the emperor, whom he kept informed of all his schemes, has never been proved, and by many recent historians is disbelieved. He fell a victim to the jealousy of his rivals, which he augmented by his own pride. His fall, however, reflects lasting disgrace on the character of the Emperor Ferdinand, and was justly avenged by the subsequent humiliation of the German Empire.[Back to Contents]

GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS[20]
By Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen
(1594-1632)

Gustavus Adolphus.

There is a theory which has much currency nowadays, that the great man, being a product of his century, exerts an influence upon his age which is but vanishing, compared to the influence which the age exerts upon him. The great man is, according to this view, personally of small account, except in so far as the tendencies and ideas which are fermenting in the age find their expression in him. He does not so much shape the events as he is shaped and moulded by them.

There is scarcely a hero to be found in all the annals of history who is better qualified to refute this theory than the Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus. It would be futile to assert, of course, that he was an isolated phenomenon, who sprang like Jonah's luxuriant gourd out of the arid sands of the desert. No, he had deep and intricate roots in the past of his race and in the soil of his fatherland. But yet, how far are all the influences which we can trace, from accounting for the forceful energy, the clear-sighted sagacity, and the dominant genius of the man! As far as we can judge at this distance, his personality was the mightiest element that entered into the dénouement of that bloody world-drama, the Thirty Years' War. Had he been other than he was, had he been a man of less heroic mould, it would seem that Protestantism must have perished in Central Europe, or been confined, at least, to England and the Scandinavian North. The rights of conscience and individual judgment, for which Luther and his co-reformers had fought so valiantly, would then have succumbed to the power of authority, as embodied in the (p. 200) Papacy and the Catholic League; and Germany, after its mighty effort at release, would have lapsed back into the Middle Ages. To few men the opportunity is offered to exercise such a far-reaching influence upon the history of mankind; but fewer still are those who see its full significance, and seeing it, seize it, and without one look behind march into the storm and stress of world-shaping events.

Gustavus Adolphus was born December 9, 1594. He was the son of King Charles IX. of Sweden, and the grandson of the renowned Gustavus Vasa. He was a precocious child, and it is told (though it appears rather incredible) that at the age of twelve he spoke Latin, French, German, Dutch, and Italian with great fluency, besides having a superficial acquaintance with Polish and Russian. There can be no doubt, however, that he was well taught, and that he possessed a remarkable facility in acquiring languages. For all that, he was far from being a bookish boy. In riding, fencing, and all chivalrous accomplishments he took a lively interest and exhibited much skill. It was in stormy times that his boyhood fell, Sweden being at that time involved in frequent wars, and his father, in order to train him in the duties of a military commander, took him early into his camp and made him share his campaigns. Many of the famous captains of that day who had fought in the Low Countries and in France, were made welcome at the Swedish court; and the favorite pastime of the young Gustavus was to question them concerning the battles, sieges, and military exploits in which they had been engaged.

When Charles IX. died, in 1611, Gustavus, being then seventeen years old, was declared to be of age and succeeded to the throne. There was need of an able and resolute man to cope with the many difficulties which sprang up round about him. In the first place there was one war with Denmark, already raging; the strained relations with Russia and Poland threatened to precipitate two more. Norway, which was then united with Denmark under the same king, was also jealous of Sweden; and the Norwegian peasantry destroyed at Kringelen, in Guldbrandsdal, an army of Scottish mercenaries, under the command of Colonel Sinclair, which was marching to the relief of Gustavus. The Danes had occupied two important Swedish cities, Calmar and Elfsborg, and being determined to utilize their advantages to the full, repelled all overtures for peace. It was of no avail that Gustavus renounced his title of King of the Laplanders, the assumption of which by his father had been one of the causes of the war. Christian IV., of Denmark, continued to push hostilities with unflagging vigor, and several battles were fought with varying fortunes. In 1612, he set sail with a fleet of thirty-six vessels for Stockholm, intending to capture the city. The Swedish fleet, being much inferior in numbers, was forced to retire under shelter of the fortress of Waxholm, which guards the access to the capital. In this dire dilemma, Gustavus strained every nerve to avert the threatened disaster. With a small force, chiefly of Dalecarlians, he marched day and night, and hastened to Waxholm in the hope of surprising the Danish fleet which had been detained by adverse winds. But the enemy, being probably informed of his approach, saw (p. 201) that their opportunity for capturing the capital was gone, and returned again to their own coast. Negotiations were now resumed and peace was concluded in 1613. The Danes were to surrender Calmar immediately and Elfsborg at the end of six years; the Swedes agreeing to pay a war indemnity of one million thalers.

The war with Russia, which Gustavus had inherited from his father, had of late been in a state of suspension. The Swedes had occupied a large amount of Russian territory, in which were several strong fortresses. In the confusion which reigned as to the succession, after the extinction of the ancient house of Rurik, there was a capital chance of fishing in troubled waters. A strong party in Russia desired to elect a Swedish prince as sovereign, and actually sent an embassy to Stockholm to offer the throne to Charles Philip, a younger brother of Gustavus. But the king did not favor this plan. For four years he continued the war and secured important advantages. But what was more valuable than territorial gains, he acquired a wide experience in strategy and the conduct of campaigns, a habit of dealing promptly with large questions, and a sharpened judgment of men. In February, 1617, the treaty of peace was signed, Russia ceding to Sweden a large territory on the east of the Baltic. Gustavus was now in a position to prosecute with greater energy the war with Poland. Sigismund III., of Poland, was the only son of King John III., of Sweden, and was, therefore, as a scion of the ancient royal house, the legitimate heir to the Swedish throne. But in the first place he was a Catholic; and in the second place, the house of Vasa, had by force of arms and with the support of the people, successfully asserted its right to the crown which Gustavus I. had won.

After repeated extensions of the armistice which by common consent prevailed, the King of Sweden resumed hostilities in July, 1621; and the war raged with varying success until September, 1629, when another armistice was concluded for six years. The chief result of this exhausting warfare was the stipulation which was agreed to, that liberty of conscience should be granted to Protestants and Catholics, and that the commerce between Poland and Sweden was declared free.

The renown of these wars, two of which had been brought to a triumphant issue, spread far over Europe; and the Protestant princes of Germany became aware that there was a great military captain of their own faith in the Scandinavian North. They were at that time sorely oppressed, the success of the imperial arms, under Tilly and Wallenstein, seeming to threaten the very existence of the Reformed Faith. The Emperor Ferdinand II. was carrying everything with a high hand after the defeat of King Christian IV. of Denmark, who, with more courage than success, had undertaken to champion the Protestant cause. It was in this desperate strait that all eyes turned toward the young King of Sweden. An appeal was sent to him for aid, in the name of their common religion; and Gustavus, after a brief hesitation, accepted the call. He had long watched with deep concern the war of devastation by which Wallenstein and the scarcely less terrible Tilly were seeking to destroy the fruits of the Reformation; and it is said that he had a clear presentiment that sooner or later he would be drawn (p. 202) into the struggle. Leaving his domestic affairs in the hands of his friend, the Chancellor Oxenstiern, he embarked in June, 1630, with a force of but fifteen thousand men, for Germany, and landed on midsummer day on the island of Usedom, on the coast of Pomerania.

The Emperor Ferdinand professed to be much amused when he heard that Gustavus Adolphus had invaded his dominions.

"So we have got another kingling on our hands," he exclaimed mockingly. He was far from foreseeing what trouble he was to have for eighteen years to come, in getting that kingling and his troops off his hands.

Gustavus was the first to step upon the German soil, at the disembarkation; and in the sight of all his army he fell upon his knees and prayed for the blessing of God upon the vast enterprise which had been confided to him. As he arose from his prayer, he seized a spade and began instantly the work upon the intrenchments of the camp.

If his troops were few in number, it is not to be denied that they were excellent in quality. Many were hardened veterans from the king's earlier campaigns; among his recently acquired mercenaries there was a Scotch brigade, from which he drew many of his best officers. We hear much during the following years, of Hepburn, Seaton, Leslie, Mackay, and Monroe, whose names betray their Caledonian origin. You would have supposed now that the Protestant princes, having secured the aid of Gustavus, would have made haste to identify themselves with his cause and to reinforce him with money and troops. But, strange to relate, no sooner had he landed than they began to grow afraid of him and to ask themselves whether they might not after all, be able to make more tolerable terms with the emperor by the sacrifice of their religion, than with this foreign invader, who, if he was victorious, might dictate his own terms. Had they not, in other words, jumped from the frying-pan into the fire?

The two princes who had hitherto been the most prominent champions of Protestantism in Germany (though both half-hearted and pusillanimous shufflers) were Gustavus's brother-in-law, the Elector of Brandenburg, and the Elector of Saxony. They were now doing their best to wriggle out of their obligations, and by a shameful neutrality avert the emperor's displeasure. But they had reckoned without their host if they supposed that Gustavus would lend himself to such a scheme. The reply which he gave to Herr von Wilmerstorff, who had been sent to him by the Elector to urge an armistice, was refreshingly plain, while the argument which accompanied it was completely unanswerable. When nevertheless the Elector continued to resort to shilly-shallying and all sorts of ambiguous tactics, Gustavus lost his patience, marched his army to the gates of Berlin, and compelled him to make his choice of party once, for all. The treaty of alliance was then signed, on the Elector's part reluctantly and with a heavy heart; for these two brothers-in-law were so vastly different, that it was scarcely to be expected that they would be congenial. Gustavus, though he was not without personal ambition, was fired with noble zeal for the Protestant cause, and believed it worthy of any sacrifice, however great; while the Elector was only (p. 203) bent on saving his own precious skin and extricating himself with the least possible damage from the dangerous situation in which he had been caught.

Gustavus Adolphus before the battle of Lutzen.

With the same promptness with which he had brought his brother-in-law of Brandenburg to terms, Gustavus forced the hand of the Elector of Saxony, who now overcame his scruples and sent him the needed reinforcements. An imperial army of forty thousand men, under the command of an Italian adventurer named Torquato Conti, had been sent against him, immediately on his landing in Pomerania, but no battle had been fought, and beyond laying waste the country the Imperialists had so far accomplished nothing. The emperor, who had predicted that "the Snow-king would melt under the rays of the Imperial sun," became alarmed at his successes and selected Tilly to stay his southward advance. This able and experienced general promptly assumed the command of the forces of the Catholic League, and in order to strike terror into the hearts of the Protestant princes, sacked and pillaged the city of Magdeburg in Lower Saxony, giving it over without restraint to devastation and ruin by the brutal soldiery. The horrors which were here enacted beggar description, and leave a hideous stain upon the page of history. Tilly himself, in announcing his success to the emperor, wrote: "Since the destruction of Troy and Jerusalem never has such a siege been seen."

Gustavus had, indeed, come too late to relieve Magdeburg, but the report of the unspeakable atrocities which that unhappy city had witnessed, fired his generous heart with wrath and an eager determination to punish a general so devoid of humanity. And the opportunity was soon to present itself. Advancing rapidly into Saxony, he met Tilly on the plains of Breitenfeld, near Leipsic, September 7, 1631; and not only defeated him, but utterly annihilated his army, scattering it like dust before the storm. He was now, until a new army could be raised, master of all Germany. Nothing apparently could have hindered him from marching on Vienna and dictating to the emperor his own terms of peace. It has been and is yet a matter of speculation, why Gustavus did not relentlessly follow up the results of this great victory, instead of going into winter quarters and affording Ferdinand and the discomfited princes of the League a chance of recovering from their utter demoralization. The answer is, no doubt, that he did not feel himself strong enough to lay siege to Vienna, without covering his rear and securing his base of supplies. He had always, like the good general he was, been careful to keep open a possible line of retreat. For the moment he was indeed irresistible. At Merseburg two thousand Imperialists were cut to pieces. Cities opened their gates to receive him. The Protestant population, in their ecstacy at his victories, were ready to worship him as a demigod. Proceeding southward to Nuremberg and Munich, he was met again by Tilly at the river Lech, where a brief battle was fought; Gustavus was again victorious and Tilly lost his life. This feat of crossing the Lech in the face of a hostile force is by military experts regarded as the greatest strategic feat of Gustavus.

In the meanwhile the emperor had not been idle. There was but one man whose name was potent enough to summon an army adequate for so perilous a (p. 204) situation; and that man was Albrecht von Wallenstein. He was himself, too, fully aware of his preciousness and the terms which he exacted of Ferdinand were hard, not to say extortionate. Ferdinand II., however, had no choice but to accept them. It was not long before Gustavus became aware that Wallenstein, with an army which seemed to have risen out of the ground, was moving in his rear, resolved, apparently, to cut him off from his communication with Sweden. He had no alternative then but to return northward to face this new enemy. On the field of Lutzen in Saxony they met November 6, 1632. A thick mist covered the battle-field, and both armies tarried with the attack in the hope that it would lift. Toward noon, however, Gustavus made a brief address to his soldiers and knelt in prayer before them, whereupon all sang Luther's hymn, "Our God he is a fortress strong." Then the signal was given for the attack. The army of Gustavus, including his German allies, numbered from twenty to twenty-five thousand, and the Imperialists about thirty thousand. The king, who suffered from an imperfectly healed wound which he had received in the Polish war, found it painful to wear a cuirass; and on the morning of the day of Lutzen refused to put it on. "God is my armor," he said, and mounted his horse.

It was this sublime confidence in divine Providence which led him perhaps to expose himself overmuch. He led the attack in person. Before the battle was far advanced, a report reached him that his left wing was wavering. With prompt resolution he started across the field, but, mistaking the direction in the fog, found himself in the midst of a detachment of imperial cuirassiers. A pistol shot pierced his arm; but he still pressed on. Growing faint from pain and loss of blood, he turned to one of the German princes who accompanied him and said: "Cousin, lead me out of this tumult; for I am hurt."

But scarcely had he spoken, when a second shot hit him between the shoulders and he fell from his horse, dead.

The rumor instantly spread through the Swedish army that the king had been taken prisoner. The troops rushed like an avalanche upon the Imperialists, who wavered and gave way. In the end the victory was claimed by both sides, the advantage remaining however with the Swedes.

Gustavus Adolphus was a man of handsome appearance, tall of stature, and of most impressive presence. He was hot-tempered; but at the same time kindly, generous, and affable. He possessed all the qualities required of a military leader, and has justly been accounted one of the world's greatest generals. He was thirty-eight years old at the time of his death. Having no son, he was succeeded on the Swedish throne by his daughter Christina.[Back to Contents]

Author signature.

Footnote 1: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 2: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 3: B.C. 109.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 4: King of Numidia. He successfully withstood the Romans during several years.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 5: He was ranked with Romulus and Camillus and given the title of the third founder of Rome.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 6: According to legend Marius took refuge among the ruins of Carthage, comparing his own fallen greatness to that of the city. His dignity in misfortune awed the soldiers who came to seize him, and they left him in peace.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 7: In this first invasion he overran all Greece, and took Athens with little resistance. He spared her art treasures, and acted with great moderation and humanity. Our illustration "Alaric in Athens" represents him seated among the inhabitants, who welcomed him as a conqueror, with every demonstration of reverence.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 8: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 9: Witikind was baptized with solemn ceremony by the great bishops of the realm, in presence of his conqueror. Paul Thumann has vividly portrayed the scene in the painting here copied.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 10: Tryggve, one of the Norwegian sub-kings, slain by order of Gunhild, Queen of Norway.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 11: Hakon, now King of Norway, sent a spy to learn if Olaf thought of regaining his inheritance. Guided by the spy, Olaf did sail with his fleet for Norway, found the people there in unexpected rebellion against Hakon's tyranny, set himself at their head, easily overthrew the king, executed him amid general rejoicing and established himself upon the throne.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 12: Eric, son of King Hakon.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 13: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 14: In the battle of Tiberias, or Hattin, Saladin completely overthrew the Christians and conquered their kingdom.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 15: See Edward the Black Prince for this battle, as also for the great sea-fight with the Spaniards.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 16: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 17: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 18: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 19: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 20: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]






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