The History Of France, From Its Conquest By Clovis To The Invasion Of Naples

History Of Europe During The Middle Ages
Book: Book I: The History Of France
Author: Hallam, Henry

Part Two


By Charles VIII.

Fall of the Roman Empire - Invasion of Clovis - First Race of French
Kings - Accession of Pepin - State of Italy - Charlemagne - His Reign and
Character - Louis the Debonair - His Successors - Calamitous State of the
Empire in the ninth and tenth Centuries - Accession of Hugh Capet - His first
Successors - Louis VII. - Philip Augustus - Conquest of Normandy - War in
Languedoc - Louis IX. - His Character - Digression upon the Crusades - Philip
III. - Philip IV. - Aggrandizement of French Monarchy under his Reign - Reigns
of his Children - Question of Salic Law - Claim of Edward III.

Before the conclusion of the fifth century the mighty fabric of empire
which valor and policy had founded upon the seven hills of Rome was finally
overthrown in all the west of Europe by the barbarous nations from the north,
whose martial energy and whose numbers were irresistible. A race of men,
formerly unknown or despised, had not only dismembered that proud sovereignty,
but permanently settled themselves in its fairest provinces, and imposed their
yoke upon the ancient possessors. The Vandals were masters of Africa; the
Suevi held part of Spain; the Visigoths possessed the remainder, with a large
portion of Gaul; the Burgundians occupied the provinces watered by the Rhone
and Saone; the Ostrogoths almost all Italy. The north-west of Gaul, between
the Seine and the Loire, some writers have filled with an Armorican republic;
^a while the remainder was still nominally subject to the Roman empire, and
governed by a certain Syagrius, rather with an independent than a deputed
authority.

[Footnote a: It is impossible not to speak sceptically as to this republic, or
rather confederation of independent cities under the rule of their respective
bishops, which Dubos has with great ingenuity raised upon a passage of
Zosimus, but in defiance of the silence of Gregory, whose see of Tours
bordered upon their supposed territory. Yet his hypothesis is not to be
absolutely rejected, because it is by no means deficient in internal
probability, and the early part of Gregory's history is brief and negligent.
Dubos, Hist. Critique de l'Etablissement des Francais dans les Gaules, t. i.
p. 253. Gibbon, c. 38, after following Dubos in his text, whispers as usual,
his suspicions in a note. [Note I.]]

At this time Clovis, king of the Salian Franks, a tribe of Germans long
connected with Rome, and originally settled upon the right bank of the Rhine,
^b but who had latterly penetrated as far as Tournay and Cambray, ^c invaded
Gaul, and defeated Syagrius at Soissons. [A.D. 486.] The result of this
victory was the subjugation of those provinces which had previously been
considered as Roman. But as their allegiance had not been very strict, so
their loss was not very severely felt; since the emperors of Constantinople
were not too proud to confer upon Clovis the titles of consul and patrician,
which he was too prudent to refuse. ^d

[Footnote b: [Note II.]]

[Footnote c: The system of Pere Daniel who denies any permanent settlement of
the Franks on the left bank of the Rhine before Clovis, seems incapable of
being supported. It is difficult to resist the presumption that arises from
the discovery of the tomb and skeleton of Childeric, father of Clovis, at
Tournay, in 1653. See Montfaucon, Monumens de la Monarchie Francaise, tome i.
p. 10.]

[Footnote d: The theory of Dubos, who considers Clovis as a sort of lieutenant
of the emperors, and as governing the Roman part of his subjects by no other
title, has justly seemed extravagant to later critical inquirers into the
history of France. But it may nevertheless be true that the connection
between him and the empire, and the emblems of Roman magistracy which he bore,
reconciled the conquered to their new masters. This is judiciously stated by
the Duke de Nivernois, Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscrip., tome xx. p. 174. [Note
III.] In the sixth century, however, the Greeks appear to have been nearly
ignorant of Clovis' countrymen. Nothing can be made out of a passage in
Procopius where he seems to mention the Armoricans and Agathias gives a
strangely romantic account of the Franks, whom he extols for their conformity
to Roman Laws. He goes on to commend their mutual union, and observes
particularly that, in partitions of the kingdom, which had frequently been
made, they had never taken up arms against each other, nor polluted the land
with civil bloodshed. One would almost believe him ironical. The history of
Agathias comes down to A.D. 559. At this time many of the savage murders and
other crimes which fill the pages of Gregory of Tours, a writer somewhat more
likely to know the truth than a Byzantine rhetorician, had taken place.]

Some years after this, Clovis defeated the Alemanni, or Swabians, in a
great battle at Zulpich, near Cologne. In consequence of a vow, as it is
said, made during this engagement, ^e and at the instigation of his wife
Clotilda, a princess of Burgundy, he became a convert to Christianity. [A.D.
496.] It would be a fruitless inquiry whether he was sincere in this change;
but it is certain, at least, that no policy could have been more successful.
The Arian sect, which had been early introduced among the barbarous nations,
was predominant, though apparently without intolerance, ^f in the Burgundian
and Visigoth courts; but the clergy of Gaul were strenuously attached to the
Catholic side, and, even before his conversion, had favored the arms of
Clovis. They now became his most zealous supporters, and were rewarded by him
with artful gratitude, and by his descendants with lavish munificence. Upon
the pretence of religion, he attacked Alaric, king of the Visigoths, and, by
one great victory near Poitiers overthrowing their empire in Gaul, reduced
them to the maritime province of Septimania, a narrow strip of coast between
the Rhone and the Pyrenees. [A.D. 507.] The last exploits of Clovis were the
reduction of certain independent chiefs of his own tribe and family, who were
settled in the neighborhood of the Rhine. ^g All these he put to death by
force or treachery; for he was cast in the true mould of conquerors, and may
justly be ranked among the first of his class, both for the splendor and the
guiltiness of his ambition. ^h

[See Clovis: He was cast in the true mould of conquerors, and may justly be
ranked among the first of his class.]

[Footnote e: Gregory of Tours makes a very rhetorical story of this famous
vow, which, though we cannot disprove, it may be permitted to suspect. - L.
ii. c. 30.]

[Footnote f: Hist. de Languedoc, par Vich et Vaissette, tome i. p. 238;
Gibbon, c. 37. A specious objection might be drawn from the history of the
Gothic monarchies in Italy, as well as Gaul and Spain, to the great principles
of religious toleration. These Arian sovereigns treated their Catholic
subjects, it may be said, with tenderness, leaving them in possession of every
civil privilege, and were rewarded for it by their defection or sedition. But
in answer to this it may be observed: - 1. That the system of persecution
adopted by the Vandals in Africa succeeded no better, the Catholics of that
province having risen against them upon the landing of Belisarius: 2. That we
do not know what insults and discouragements the Catholics of Gaul and Italy
may have endured, especially from the Arian bishops, in that age of bigotry;
although the administrations of Alaric and Theodoric were liberal and
tolerant: 3. That the distinction of Arian and Catholic was intimately
connected with that of Goth and Roman, of conqueror and conquered; so that it
is difficult to separate the effects of national from those of sectarian
animosity.

The tolerance of the Visigoth sovereigns must not be praised without
making an exception for Euric, predecessor of Alaric. He was a prince of some
eminent qualities, but so zealous in his religion as to bear hardly on his
Catholic subjects. Sidonius Apollinaris loudly proclaims that no bishoprics
were permitted to be filled, that the churches went to ruin, and that Arianism
made a great progress. (Fauriel, Hist. de la Gaule Meridionale, vol. i. p.
578.) Under Alaric himself, however, as well as under the earlier kings of the
Visigothic dynasty, a more liberal spirit prevailed. Salvian, about the
middle of the fifth century, extols the Visigothic government, in comparison
with that of the empire, whose vices and despotism had met with a deserved
termination. Eucherius speaks of the Burgundians in the same manner. (Id.
ibid. and vol. ii. p. 28.) Yet it must have been in itself mortifying to live
in subjection to barbarians and heretics; not to mention the hospitality, as
it was called, which the natives were obliged to exercise towards the
invaders, by ceding two-thirds of their lands. What, then, must the Western
empire have been, when such a condition was comparatively enviable! But it is
more than probable that the Gaulish bishops subject to the Visigoths hailed
the invasion of the Franks with sanguine hope, and were undoubtedly great
gainers by the exchange.]

[Footnote g: Modern historians, in enumerating these reguli, call one of them
King of Mans. But it is difficult to understand how a chieftain, independent
of Clovis, could have been settled in that part of France. In fact, Gregory
of Tours, our only authority, does not say that this prince, Regnomeris, was
King of Mans, but that he was put to death in that city: apud Cenomannis
civitatem jussu Chlodovechi interfectus est.

The late French writers, as far as I have observed, continue to place a
kingdom at Mans. It is certain, nevertheless, that Gregory of Tours, and they
have no other evidence, does not assert this; and his expressions rather lead
to the contrary; since, if Regnomeris were King of Mans, why should we not
have been informed of it? It is, indeed, impossible to determine such a point
negatively from our scanty materials; but if a Frank kingdom had been formed
at Mans before the battle of Soissons, this must considerably alter the
received notions of the history of Gaul in the fifth century; and it seems
difficult to understand how it could have sprung up afterwards during the
reign of Clovis.]

[Footnote h: The reader will be gratified by an admirable memoir, by the Duke
de Nivernois, on the policy of Clovis, in the twentieth volume of the Academy
of Inscriptions.]

Clovis left four sons; one illegitimate, or at least born before his
conversion; and three by his queen Clotilda. [A.D. 511.] These four made, it
is said, an equal partition of his dominions, which comprehended not only
France, but the western and central parts of Germany, besides Bavaria, and
perhaps Swabia, which were governed by their own dependent, but hereditary,
chiefs. Thierry, the eldest, had what was called Austrasia, the eastern or
German division, and fixed his capital at Metz; Clodomir, at Orleans;
Childebert, at Paris; and Clotaire, at Soissons. ^i During their reigns the
monarchy was aggrandized by the conquest of Burgundy. Clotaire, the youngest
brother, ultimately reunited all the kingdoms [A.D. 558]; but upon his death
they were again divided among his four sons, and brought together a second
time by another Clotaire, the grandson to the first. [A.D. 613.] It is a
weary and unprofitable task to follow these changes in detail, through scenes
of tumult and bloodshed, in which the eye meets with no sunshine, nor can rest
upon any interesting spot. It would be difficult, as Gibbon has justly
observed, to find anywhere more vice or less virtue. The names of two queens
are distinguished even in that age for the magnitude of their crimes:
Fredegonde, the wife of Chilperic, of whose atrocities none have doubted; and
Brunehaut, Queen of Austrasia, who has met with advocates in modern times,
less, perhaps, from any fair presumptions of her innocence than from
compassion for the cruel death which she underwent. ^j

[Footnote i: Quatuor filii regnum accipiunt, et inter se aequa lance dividunt.
- Greg. Tur. l. iii. c. I. It would rather perplex a geographer to make an
equal division of Clovis' empire into portions, of which Paris, Orleans,
Metz, and Soissons should be the respective capitals. I apprehend, in fact,
that Gregory's expression is not very precise. The kingdom of Soissons seems
to have been the least of the four, and that of Austrasia the greatest. But
the partitions made by these princes were exceedingly complex; insulated
fragments of territory, and even undivided shares of cities, being allotted to
the worse-provided brothers, by way of compensation, out of the larger
kingdoms. It would be very difficult to ascertain the limits of these minor
monarchies. But the French empire was always considered as one, whatever
might be the number of its inheritors; and from accidental circumstances it
was so frequently reunited as fully to keep up this notion.

M. Fauriel endeavors to show the equality of this partition (Hist. de la
Gaule Meridionale, vol. ii. p. 92.) But he is obliged to suppose that Germany
beyond the Rhine, part of which owned the dominion of Clovis, was counted as
nothing, not being inhabited by Franks. It was something, nevertheless, in
the scale of power; since from this fertile source the Austrasian kings
continually recruited their armies. Aquitaine, that is, the provinces south
of the Loire, was divided into three, or rather perhaps two portions. For
though Thierry and Childebert had considerable territories, it seems not
certain that Clodomir took any share, and improbable that Clotaire had one.
Thierry, therefore, King of Austrasia, may be reckoned the best provided of
the brethren. It will be obvious from the map that the four capitals, Metz,
Soissons, Paris, and Orleans, are situated at no great distance from each
other, relatively to the whole of France. They were, therefore, in the centre
of force; and the brothers might have lent assistance to each other in case of
a national revolt.

The cause of this complexity in the partition of France among the sons of
Clovis has been conjectured by Dubos, with whom Sismondi (vol. i. p. 242)
agrees, to have been their desire of owning as subjects an equal number of
Franks. This is supported by a passage in Agathias, quoted by the former,
Hist. de l'Etablissement, vol. ii. p. 413. Others have fancied that Aquitaine
was reckoned too delicious a morsel to be enjoyed by only one brother. In the
second great partition, that of 567 (for that of 561 did not last long), when
Sigebert, Gontran, and Chilperic took the kingdoms of Austrasia, Burgundy, and
what was afterwards called Neustria, the southern provinces were again equally
divided. Thus Marseilles fell to the king of Paris, or Neustria, while Aix
and Avignon were in the lot of Burgundy.]

[Footnote j: Every history will give a sufficient epitome of the Merovingian
dynasty. The facts of these times are of little other importance than as they
impress on the mind a thorough notion of the extreme wickedness of almost
every person concerned in them, and consequently of the state to which society
was reduced. But there is no advantage in crowding the memory with barbarian
wars and assassinations. [Note IV.]

For the question about Brunehaut's character, who has had partisans
almost as enthusiastic as those of Mary of Scotland, the reader may consult
Pasquier, Recherches de la France, I. viii., or Velly, Hist. de France, tome
i., on one side, and a dissertation by Gaillard, in the Memoirs of the Academy
of Inscriptions, tome xxx., on the other. The last is unfavorable to
Brunehaut, and perfectly satisfactory to my judgment.

Brunehaut was no unimportant personage in this history. She had become
hateful to the Austrasian aristocracy by her Gothic blood, and still more by
her Roman principles of government. There was evidently a combination to
throw off the yoke of civilized tyranny. It was a great conflict, which ended
in the virtual dethronement of the house of Clovis. Much, therefore, may have
been exaggerated by Fredegarius, a Burgundian by birth, in relating the crimes
of Brunehaut. But, unhappily, the antecedent presumption, in the history of
that age, is always on the worse side. She was unquestionably endowed with a
masculine energy of mind, and very superior to such a mere imp of audacious
wickedness as Fredegonde. Brunehaut left a great and almost fabulous name;
public causeways, towers, castles, in different parts of France, are popularly
ascribed to her. It has even been suspected by some that she suggested the
appellation of Brunhild in the Nibelungen Lied. That there is no resemblance
in the story, or in the character, courage excepted, of the two heroines,
cannot be thought an objection.]

But after Dagobert, son of Clotaire II., the kings of France dwindled
into personal insignificance, and are generally treated by later historians as
insensati, or idiots. ^k The whole power of the kingdom devolved upon the
mayors of the palace, originally officers of the household, through whom
petitions or representations were laid before the king. ^l The weakness of
sovereigns rendered this office important, and still greater weakness suffered
it to become elective; men of energetic talents and ambition united it with
military command; and the history of France for half a century presents no
names more conspicuous than those of Ebroin and Grimoald, mayors of Neustria
and Austrasia, the western and eastern divisions of the French monarchy. ^m
These, however, met with violent ends; but a more successful usurper of the
royal authority was Pepin Heristal, first mayor, and afterwards duke, of
Austrasia; who united with almost an avowed sovereignty over that division a
paramount command over the French or Neustrian provinces, where nominal kings
of the Merovingian family were still permitted to exist. ^n This authority he
transmitted to a more renowned hero, his son, Charles Martel, who, after some
less important exploits, was called upon to encounter a new and terrible
enemy. The Saracens, after subjugating Spain, had penetrated into the very
heart of France. Charles Martel gained a complete victory over them between
Tours and Poitiers, ^o in which 300,000 Mohammedans are hyperbolically
asserted to have fallen. [A.D. 732.] The reward of this victory was the
province of Septimania, which the Saracens had conquered from the Visigoths.
^p

[Footnote k: An ingenious attempt is made by the Abbe Vertot, Mem. de
l'Academie, tome vi., to rescue these monarchs from this long-established
imputation. But the leading fact is irresistible, that all the royal
authority was lost during their reigns. However, the best apology seems to
be, that, after the victories of Pepin Heristal, the Merovingian kings were,
in effect, conquered, and their inefficiency was a matter of necessary
submission to a master.]

[Footnote l: [Note V.]]

[Footnote m: The original kingdoms of Soissons, Paris, and Orleans were
consolidated into that denominated Neustria, to which Burgundy was generally
appendant, though distinctly governed by a mayor of its own election. But
Aquitaine, the exact bounds of which I do not know, was, from the time of
Dagobert I., separated from the rest of the monarchy, under a ducal dynasty,
sprung from Aribert, brother of that monarch. [Note VI.]]

[Footnote n: [Note VII.]]

[Footnote o: Tours is above seventy miles distant from Poitiers; but I do not
find that any French antiquary has been able to ascertain the place of this
great battle with more precision; which is remarkable, since, after so immense
a slaughter, we should expect the testimony of "grandia effossis ossa
sepulcris." It is now, however, believed that the slaughter at the battle near
Poitiers was by no means immense, and even that the Saracens retired without a
decisive action. (Sismondi, ii. 132; Michelet, ii. 13.) There can be no doubt
but that the battle was fought much nearer to Poitiers than to Tours.

The victory of Charles Martel has immortalized his name, and may justly
be reckoned among those few battles of which a contrary event would have
essentially varied the drama of the world in all its subsequent scenes; with
Marathon, Arbela, the Metaurus, Chalons, and Leipsic. Yet do we not judge a
little too much by the event, and follow, as usual, in the wake of fortune?
Has not more frequent experience condemned those who set the fate of empires
upon a single cast, and risk a general battle with invaders, whose greater
peril is in delay? Was not this the fatal error by which Roderic had lost his
kingdom? Was it possible that the Saracens could have retained any permanent
possession of France, except by means of a victory? And did not the contest
upon the broad champaign of Poitou afford them a considerable prospect of
success, which a more cautious policy would have withheld?]

[Footnote p: This conquest was completed by Pepin in 759. The inhabitants
preserved their liberties by treaty; and Vaissette deduces from this solemn
assurance the privileges of Languedoc. - Hist. de Lang, tome i. p. 412.]

Such powerful subjects were not likely to remain long contented without
the crown; but the circumstances under which it was transferred from the race
of Clovis are connected with one of the most important revolutions in the
history of Europe. The mayor Pepin, inheriting his father Charles Martel's
talents and ambition, made, in the name and with the consent of the nation, a
solemn reference to the Pope Zacharias, as to the deposition of Childeric
III., under whose nominal authority he himself was reigning. The decision was
favorable; that he who possessed the power should also bear the title of king.
The unfortunate Merovingian was dismissed into a convent, and the Franks, with
one consent, raised Pepin to the throne, the founder of a more illustrious
dynasty. ^q In order to judge of the importance of this revolution to the see
of Rome, as well as to France, we must turn our eyes upon the affairs of
Italy.

[Footnote q: [Note VIII.]]

The dominion of the Ostrogoths was annihilated by the arms of Belisarius
and Narses in the sixth century, and that nation appears no more in history.
But not long afterwards, the Lombards, a people for some time settled in
Pannonia, not only subdued that northern part of Italy which has retained
their name, but, extending themselves southward, formed the powerful duchies
of Spoleto and Benevento. The residence of their kings was in Pavia; but the
hereditary vassals, who held those two duchies, might be deemed almost
independent sovereigns. ^r The rest of Italy was governed by exarchs, deputed
by the Greek emperors, and fixed at Ravenna. In Rome itself neither the
people nor the bishops, who had already conceived in part their schemes of
ambition, were much inclined to endure the superiority of Constantinople; yet
their disaffection was counterbalanced by the inveterate hatred as well as
jealousy, with which they regarded the Lombards. But an impolitic and
intemperate persecution, carried on by two or three Greek emperors against a
favorite superstition, the worship of images, excited commotions throughout
Italy, of which the Lombards took advantage, and easily wrested the exarchate
of Ravenna [A.D. 752] from the eastern empire. It was far from the design of
the popes to see their nearest enemies so much aggrandized; and any effectual
assistance from the Emperor Constantine Copronymus would have kept Rome still
faithful. But having no hope from his arms, and provoked by his obstinate
intolerance, the pontiffs had recourse to France; ^s and the service they had
rendered to Pepin led to reciprocal obligations of the greatest magnitude. At
the request of Stephen II. the new King of France descended from the Alps,
drove the Lombards from their recent conquests, and conferred them upon the
pope. This memorable donation nearly comprised the modern provinces of
Romagna and the March of Ancona. ^t

[Footnote r: The history, character, and policy of the Lombards are well
treated by Gibbon, c. 45. See, too, the fourth and fifth books of Giannone,
and some papers by Gaillard in the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions,
tomes xxxii., xxxv., xlv.]

[Footnote s: There had been some previous overtures to Charles Martel as well
as to Pepin himself; the habitual sagacity of the court of Rome perceiving the
growth of a new western monarchy, which would be, in faith and arms, their
surest ally. Muratori, Ann. d'Ital. A.D. 741.]

[Footnote t: Giannone, l. v. c. 2.]

The state of Italy, which had undergone no change for nearly two
centuries, was now rapidly verging to a great revolution. [A.D. 768.] Under
the shadow of a mighty name the Greek empire had concealed the extent of its
decline. That charm was now broken: and the Lombard kingdom, which had
hitherto appeared the only competitor in the lists, proved to have lost his
own energy in awaiting the occasion for its display. France was far more than
a match for the power of Italy, even if she had not been guided by the
towering ambition and restless activity of the son of Pepin. It was almost
the first exploit of Charlemagne, after the death of his brother Carloman
[A.D. 772] had reunited the Frankish empire under his dominion, ^u to
subjugate the kingdom of Lombardy. [A.D. 774.] Neither Pavia nor Verona, its
most considerable cities, interposed any material delay to his arms: and the
chief resistance he encountered was from the dukes of Friuli and Benevento,
the latter of whom could never be brought into thorough subjection to the
conqueror. Italy, however, be the cause what it might, seems to have tempted
Charlemagne far less than the dark forests of Germany. For neither the
southern provinces, nor Sicily, could have withstood his power if it had been
steadily directed against them. Even Spain hardly drew so much of his
attention as the splendor of the prize might naturally have excited. He
gained, however, a very important accession to his empire, by conquering from
the Saracens the territory contained between the Pyrenees and the Ebro. This
was formed into the Spanish March, governed by the Count of Barcelona, part of
which at least must be considered as appertaining to France till the twelfth
century. ^v

[Footnote u: Carloman, younger brother of Charles, took the Austrasian or
German provinces of the empire. The custom of partition was so fully
established, that those wise and ambitious princes, Charles Martel, Pepin, and
Charlemagne himself, did not venture to thwart the public opinion by
introducing primogeniture. Carloman would not long have stood against his
brother; who, after his death, usurped the inheritance of his two infant
children.]

[Footnote v: The counts of Barcelona always acknowledged the feudal
superiority of the kings of France, till some time after their own title had
been merged in that of kings of Aragon. In 1180 legal instruments executed in
Catalonia ceased to be dated by the year of the King of France; and as there
certainly remained no other mark of dependence, the separation of the
principality may be referred to that year. But the rights of the French crown
over it were finally ceded by Louis IX. in 1258. De Marca, Marca Hispanica,
p. 514. Art de verifier les Dates, t. ii. p. 291.]

But the most tedious and difficult achievement of Charlemagne was the
reduction of the Saxons. The wars with this nation, who occupied nearly the
modern circles of Westphalia and Lower Saxony, lasted for thirty years.
Whenever the conqueror withdrew his armies, or even his person, the Saxons
broke into fresh rebellion, which his unparalleled rapidity of movement seldom
failed to crush without delay. From such perseverance on either side,
destruction of the weaker could alone result. A large colony of Saxons were
finally transplanted into Flanders and Brabant, countries hitherto
ill-peopled, in which their descendants preserved the same unconquerable
spirit of resistance to oppression. Many fled to the kingdoms of Scandinavia,
and, mingling with the Northmen, who were just preparing to run their
memorable career, revenged upon the children and subjects of Charlemagne the
devastation of Saxony. The remnant embraced Christianity, their aversion to
which had been the chief cause of their rebellions, and acknowledged the
sovereignty of Charlemagne - a submission which even Witikind, the second
Arminius of Germany, after such irresistible conviction of her destiny, did
not disdain to make. But they retained, in the main, their own laws; they
were governed by a duke of their own nation, if not of their own election; and
for many ages they were distinguished by their original character among the
nations of Germany. ^w

[Footnote w: Note IX.]

The successes of Charlemagne on the eastern frontier of his empire
against the Sclavonians of Bohemia and Huns or Avars of Pannonia, though
obtained with less cost, were hardly less eminent. In all his wars the newly
conquered nations, or those whom fear had made dependent allies, were employed
to subjugate their neighbors, and the incessant waste of fatigue and the sword
was supplied by a fresh population that swelled the expanding circle of
dominion. I do not know that the limits of the new western empire are very
exactly defined by contemporary writers, nor would it be easy to appreciate
the degree of subjection in which the Sclavonian tribes were held. As an
organized mass of provinces, regularly governed by imperial officers, it seems
to have been nearly bounded, in Germany, by the Elbe, the Saale, the Bohemian
mountains, and a line drawn from thence crossing the Danube above Vienna, and
prolonged to the Gulf of Istria. Part of Dalmatia was comprised in the duchy
of Friuli. In Italy the empire extended not much beyond the modern frontier
of Naples, if we exclude, as was the fact, the duchy of Benevento from
anything more than a titular subjection. The Spanish boundary, as has been
said already, was the Ebro. ^x

[Footnote x: I follow in this the map of Koch, in his Tableau des Revolutions
de l'Europe, tome i. That of Vaugondy, Paris, 1752, includes the dependent
Sclavonic tribes, and carries the limit of the empire to the Oder and
frontiers of Poland. The authors of L'Art de verifier les Dates extend it to
the Raab. It would require a long examination to give a precise statement.]

A seal was put to the glory of Charlemagne when Leo III., in the name of
the Roman people, placed upon his head the imperial crown. [A.D. 800.] His
father, Pepin, had borne the title of Patrician, and he had himself exercised,
with that title, a regular sovereignty over Rome. ^y Money was coined in his
name, and an oath of fidelity was taken by the clergy and people. But the
appellation of Emperor seemed to place his authority over all his subjects on
a new footing. It was full of high and indefinite pretension, tending to
overshadow the free election of the Franks by a fictitious descent from
Augustus. A fresh oath of fidelity to him as emperor was demanded from his
subjects. His own discretion, however, prevented him from affecting those
more despotic prerogatives which the imperial name might still be supposed to
convey. ^z

[Footnote y: The Patricians of the lower empire were governors sent from
Constantinople to the provinces. Rome had long been accustomed to their name
and power. The subjection of the Romans, both clergy and laity, to
Charlemagne, as well before as after he bore the imperial name, seems to be
established. See Dissertation Historique, par le Blanc, subjoined to his
Traite de Monnoyes de France, p. 18; and St. Marc, Abrege Chronologique de
l'Histoire de l'Italie, t. i. The first of these writers does not allow that
Pepin exercised any authority at Rome. A good deal of obscurity rests over
its internal government for nearly fifty years; but there is some reason to
believe that the nominal sovereignty of the Greek emperors was not entirely
abrogated. Muratori, Annali d'Italia, ad. ann. 772; St. Marc, t. i. pp. 356,
372. A mosaic, still extant in the Lateran palace, represents our Saviour
giving the keys to St. Peter with one hand, and with the other a standard to a
crowned prince, bearing the inscription Constantine V. But Constantine V. did
not begin to reign till 780; and if this piece of workmanship was made under
Leo III., as the authors of L'Art de verifier les Dates imagine, it could not
be earlier than 795. T. i. p. 262; Muratori ad. ann. 798. However this may
be, there can be no question that a considerable share of jurisdiction and
authority was practically exercised by the popes during this period. Vid.
Murat. ad. ann. 789.]

[Footnote z: [Note X.]

 

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