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Title: History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire — Volume 5
Author: Gibbon, Edward, 1737-1794
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire — Volume 5" ***

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Edward Gibbon, Esq.

With notes by the Rev. H. H. Milman

Vol. 5

1782 (Written), 1845 (Revised)

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.--Part I.

     Introduction, Worship, And Persecution Of Images.--Revolt Of
     Italy And Rome.--Temporal Dominion Of The Popes.--Conquest
     Of Italy By The Franks.--Establishment Of Images.--Character
     And Coronation Of Charlemagne.--Restoration And Decay Of The
     Roman Empire In The West.--Independence Of Italy.--
     Constitution Of The Germanic Body.

In the connection of the church and state, I have considered the former
as subservient only, and relative, to the latter; a salutary maxim,
if in fact, as well as in narrative, it had ever been held sacred. The
Oriental philosophy of the Gnostics, the dark abyss of predestination
and grace, and the strange transformation of the Eucharist from the sign
to the substance of Christ's body, I have purposely abandoned to the
curiosity of speculative divines. But I have reviewed, with diligence
and pleasure, the objects of ecclesiastical history, by which the
decline and fall of the Roman empire were materially affected, the
propagation of Christianity, the constitution of the Catholic church,
the ruin of Paganism, and the sects that arose from the mysterious
controversies concerning the Trinity and incarnation. At the head
of this class, we may justly rank the worship of images, so fiercely
disputed in the eighth and ninth centuries; since a question of popular
superstition produced the revolt of Italy, the temporal power of the
popes, and the restoration of the Roman empire in the West.

The primitive Christians were possessed with an unconquerable repugnance
to the use and abuse of images; and this aversion may be ascribed to
their descent from the Jews, and their enmity to the Greeks. The Mosaic
law had severely proscribed all representations of the Deity; and that
precept was firmly established in the principles and practice of the
chosen people. The wit of the Christian apologists was pointed against
the foolish idolaters, who bowed before the workmanship of their own
hands; the images of brass and marble, which, had _they_ been endowed
with sense and motion, should have started rather from the pedestal
to adore the creative powers of the artist. Perhaps some recent and
imperfect converts of the Gnostic tribe might crown the statues of
Christ and St. Paul with the profane honors which they paid to those of
Aristotle and Pythagoras; but the public religion of the Catholics
was uniformly simple and spiritual; and the first notice of the use of
pictures is in the censure of the council of Illiberis, three hundred
years after the Christian æra. Under the successors of Constantine, in
the peace and luxury of the triumphant church, the more prudent bishops
condescended to indulge a visible superstition, for the benefit of
the multitude; and, after the ruin of Paganism, they were no longer
restrained by the apprehension of an odious parallel. The first
introduction of a symbolic worship was in the veneration of the cross,
and of relics. The saints and martyrs, whose intercession was implored,
were seated on the right hand if God; but the gracious and often
supernatural favors, which, in the popular belief, were showered round
their tomb, conveyed an unquestionable sanction of the devout pilgrims,
who visited, and touched, and kissed these lifeless remains, the
memorials of their merits and sufferings. But a memorial, more
interesting than the skull or the sandals of a departed worthy, is the
faithful copy of his person and features, delineated by the arts of
painting or sculpture. In every age, such copies, so congenial to human
feelings, have been cherished by the zeal of private friendship, or
public esteem: the images of the Roman emperors were adored with civil,
and almost religious, honors; a reverence less ostentatious, but more
sincere, was applied to the statues of sages and patriots; and these
profane virtues, these splendid sins, disappeared in the presence of the
holy men, who had died for their celestial and everlasting country.
At first, the experiment was made with caution and scruple; and the
venerable pictures were discreetly allowed to instruct the ignorant,
to awaken the cold, and to gratify the prejudices of the heathen
proselytes. By a slow though inevitable progression, the honors of
the original were transferred to the copy: the devout Christian prayed
before the image of a saint; and the Pagan rites of genuflection,
luminaries, and incense, again stole into the Catholic church. The
scruples of reason, or piety, were silenced by the strong evidence of
visions and miracles; and the pictures which speak, and move, and bleed,
must be endowed with a divine energy, and may be considered as the
proper objects of religious adoration. The most audacious pencil might
tremble in the rash attempt of defining, by forms and colors, the
infinite Spirit, the eternal Father, who pervades and sustains the
universe. But the superstitious mind was more easily reconciled to paint
and to worship the angels, and, above all, the Son of God, under the
human shape, which, on earth, they have condescended to assume. The
second person of the Trinity had been clothed with a real and mortal
body; but that body had ascended into heaven: and, had not some
similitude been presented to the eyes of his disciples, the spiritual
worship of Christ might have been obliterated by the visible relics and
representations of the saints. A similar indulgence was requisite and
propitious for the Virgin Mary: the place of her burial was unknown;
and the assumption of her soul and body into heaven was adopted by the
credulity of the Greeks and Latins. The use, and even the worship, of
images was firmly established before the end of the sixth century:
they were fondly cherished by the warm imagination of the Greeks and
Asiatics: the Pantheon and Vatican were adorned with the emblems of
a new superstition; but this semblance of idolatry was more coldly
entertained by the rude Barbarians and the Arian clergy of the West. The
bolder forms of sculpture, in brass or marble, which peopled the temples
of antiquity, were offensive to the fancy or conscience of the Christian
Greeks: and a smooth surface of colors has ever been esteemed a more
decent and harmless mode of imitation.

The merit and effect of a copy depends on its resemblance with the
original; but the primitive Christians were ignorant of the genuine
features of the Son of God, his mother, and his apostles: the statue of
Christ at Paneas in Palestine was more probably that of some temporal
savior; the Gnostics and their profane monuments were reprobated;
and the fancy of the Christian artists could only be guided by the
clandestine imitation of some heathen model. In this distress, a bold
and dexterous invention assured at once the likeness of the image and
the innocence of the worship. A new super structure of fable was raised
on the popular basis of a Syrian legend, on the correspondence of Christ
and Abgarus, so famous in the days of Eusebius, so reluctantly deserted
by our modern advocates. The bishop of Cæsarea records the epistle, but
he most strangely forgets the picture of Christ; the perfect impression
of his face on a linen, with which he gratified the faith of the royal
stranger who had invoked his healing power, and offered the strong city
of Edessa to protect him against the malice of the Jews. The ignorance
of the primitive church is explained by the long imprisonment of the
image in a niche of the wall, from whence, after an oblivion of five
hundred years, it was released by some prudent bishop, and seasonably
presented to the devotion of the times. Its first and most glorious
exploit was the deliverance of the city from the arms of Chosroes
Nushirvan; and it was soon revered as a pledge of the divine promise,
that Edessa should never be taken by a foreign enemy. It is true,
indeed, that the text of Procopius ascribes the double deliverance
of Edessa to the wealth and valor of her citizens, who purchased
the absence and repelled the assaults of the Persian monarch. He was
ignorant, the profane historian, of the testimony which he is compelled
to deliver in the ecclesiastical page of Evagrius, that the Palladium
was exposed on the rampart, and that the water which had been sprinkled
on the holy face, instead of quenching, added new fuel to the flames
of the besieged. After this important service, the image of Edessa was
preserved with respect and gratitude; and if the Armenians rejected the
legend, the more credulous Greeks adored the similitude, which was not
the work of any mortal pencil, but the immediate creation of the divine
original. The style and sentiments of a Byzantine hymn will declare how
far their worship was removed from the grossest idolatry. "How can we
with mortal eyes contemplate this image, whose celestial splendor
the host of heaven presumes not to behold? He who dwells in heaven,
condescends this day to visit us by his venerable image; He who is
seated on the cherubim, visits us this day by a picture, which the
Father has delineated with his immaculate hand, which he has formed in
an ineffable manner, and which we sanctify by adoring it with fear and
love." Before the end of the sixth century, these images, _made without
hands_, (in Greek it is a single word, ) were propagated in the camps
and cities of the Eastern empire: they were the objects of worship, and
the instruments of miracles; and in the hour of danger or tumult, their
venerable presence could revive the hope, rekindle the courage, or
repress the fury, of the Roman legions. Of these pictures, the far
greater part, the transcripts of a human pencil, could only pretend to
a secondary likeness and improper title: but there were some of higher
descent, who derived their resemblance from an immediate contact with
the original, endowed, for that purpose, with a miraculous and prolific
virtue. The most ambitious aspired from a filial to a fraternal relation
with the image of Edessa; and such is the _veronica_ of Rome, or Spain,
or Jerusalem, which Christ in his agony and bloody sweat applied to
his face, and delivered to a holy matron. The fruitful precedent was
speedily transferred to the Virgin Mary, and the saints and martyrs. In
the church of Diospolis, in Palestine, the features of the Mother of God
were deeply inscribed in a marble column; the East and West have been
decorated by the pencil of St. Luke; and the Evangelist, who was perhaps
a physician, has been forced to exercise the occupation of a painter, so
profane and odious in the eyes of the primitive Christians. The Olympian
Jove, created by the muse of Homer and the chisel of Phidias, might
inspire a philosophic mind with momentary devotion; but these Catholic
images were faintly and flatly delineated by monkish artists in the last
degeneracy of taste and genius.

The worship of images had stolen into the church by insensible
degrees, and each petty step was pleasing to the superstitious mind, as
productive of comfort, and innocent of sin. But in the beginning of the
eighth century, in the full magnitude of the abuse, the more timorous
Greeks were awakened by an apprehension, that under the mask of
Christianity, they had restored the religion of their fathers: they
heard, with grief and impatience, the name of idolaters; the incessant
charge of the Jews and Mahometans, who derived from the Law and the
Koran an immortal hatred to graven images and all relative worship.
The servitude of the Jews might curb their zeal, and depreciate their
authority; but the triumphant Mussulmans, who reigned at Damascus,
and threatened Constantinople, cast into the scale of reproach the
accumulated weight of truth and victory. The cities of Syria, Palestine,
and Egypt had been fortified with the images of Christ, his mother, and
his saints; and each city presumed on the hope or promise of miraculous
defence. In a rapid conquest of ten years, the Arabs subdued those
cities and these images; and, in their opinion, the Lord of Hosts
pronounced a decisive judgment between the adoration and contempt of
these mute and inanimate idols. For a while Edessa had braved the
Persian assaults; but the chosen city, the spouse of Christ, was
involved in the common ruin; and his divine resemblance became the slave
and trophy of the infidels. After a servitude of three hundred years,
the Palladium was yielded to the devotion of Constantinople, for a
ransom of twelve thousand pounds of silver, the redemption of two
hundred Mussulmans, and a perpetual truce for the territory of Edessa.
In this season of distress and dismay, the eloquence of the monks was
exercised in the defence of images; and they attempted to prove, that
the sin and schism of the greatest part of the Orientals had forfeited
the favor, and annihilated the virtue, of these precious symbols.
But they were now opposed by the murmurs of many simple or rational
Christians, who appealed to the evidence of texts, of facts, and of the
primitive times, and secretly desired the reformation of the church.
As the worship of images had never been established by any general or
positive law, its progress in the Eastern empire had been retarded, or
accelerated, by the differences of men and manners, the local degrees
of refinement, and the personal characters of the bishops. The splendid
devotion was fondly cherished by the levity of the capital, and the
inventive genius of the Byzantine clergy; while the rude and remote
districts of Asia were strangers to this innovation of sacred luxury.
Many large congregations of Gnostics and Arians maintained, after their
conversion, the simple worship which had preceded their separation; and
the Armenians, the most warlike subjects of Rome, were not reconciled,
in the twelfth century, to the sight of images. These various
denominations of men afforded a fund of prejudice and aversion, of small
account in the villages of Anatolia or Thrace, but which, in the fortune
of a soldier, a prelate, or a eunuch, might be often connected with the
powers of the church and state.

Of such adventurers, the most fortunate was the emperor Leo the Third,
who, from the mountains of Isauria, ascended the throne of the East.
He was ignorant of sacred and profane letters; but his education, his
reason, perhaps his intercourse with the Jews and Arabs, had inspired
the martial peasant with a hatred of images; and it was held to be
the duty of a prince to impose on his subjects the dictates of his own
conscience. But in the outset of an unsettled reign, during ten years
of toil and danger, Leo submitted to the meanness of hypocrisy, bowed
before the idols which he despised, and satisfied the Roman pontiff with
the annual professions of his orthodoxy and zeal. In the reformation
of religion, his first steps were moderate and cautious: he assembled a
great council of senators and bishops, and enacted, with their consent,
that all the images should be removed from the sanctuary and altar to a
proper height in the churches where they might be visible to the
eyes, and inaccessible to the superstition, of the people. But it was
impossible on either side to check the rapid through adverse impulse of
veneration and abhorrence: in their lofty position, the sacred images
still edified their votaries, and reproached the tyrant. He was himself
provoked by resistance and invective; and his own party accused him
of an imperfect discharge of his duty, and urged for his imitation the
example of the Jewish king, who had broken without scruple the brazen
serpent of the temple. By a second edict, he proscribed the existence
as well as the use of religious pictures; the churches of Constantinople
and the provinces were cleansed from idolatry; the images of Christ, the
Virgin, and the saints, were demolished, or a smooth surface of plaster
was spread over the walls of the edifice. The sect of the Iconoclasts
was supported by the zeal and despotism of six emperors, and the East
and West were involved in a noisy conflict of one hundred and
twenty years. It was the design of Leo the Isaurian to pronounce the
condemnation of images as an article of faith, and by the authority of
a general council: but the convocation of such an assembly was reserved
for his son Constantine; and though it is stigmatized by triumphant
bigotry as a meeting of fools and atheists, their own partial and
mutilated acts betray many symptoms of reason and piety. The debates and
decrees of many provincial synods introduced the summons of the general
council which met in the suburbs of Constantinople, and was composed
of the respectable number of three hundred and thirty-eight bishops of
Europe and Anatolia; for the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria
were the slaves of the caliph, and the Roman pontiff had withdrawn the
churches of Italy and the West from the communion of the Greeks. This
Byzantine synod assumed the rank and powers of the seventh general
council; yet even this title was a recognition of the six preceding
assemblies, which had laboriously built the structure of the Catholic
faith. After a serious deliberation of six months, the three hundred and
thirty-eight bishops pronounced and subscribed a unanimous decree, that
all visible symbols of Christ, except in the Eucharist, were either
blasphemous or heretical; that image-worship was a corruption of
Christianity and a renewal of Paganism; that all such monuments of
idolatry should be broken or erased; and that those who should refuse
to deliver the objects of their private superstition, were guilty of
disobedience to the authority of the church and of the emperor. In
their loud and loyal acclamations, they celebrated the merits of their
temporal redeemer; and to his zeal and justice they intrusted the
execution of their spiritual censures. At Constantinople, as in the
former councils, the will of the prince was the rule of episcopal faith;
but on this occasion, I am inclined to suspect that a large majority of
the prelates sacrificed their secret conscience to the temptations of
hope and fear. In the long night of superstition, the Christians had
wandered far away from the simplicity of the gospel: nor was it easy for
them to discern the clew, and tread back the mazes, of the labyrinth.
The worship of images was inseparably blended, at least to a pious
fancy, with the Cross, the Virgin, the Saints and their relics; the holy
ground was involved in a cloud of miracles and visions; and the nerves
of the mind, curiosity and scepticism, were benumbed by the habits of
obedience and belief. Constantine himself is accused of indulging
a royal license to doubt, or deny, or deride the mysteries of the
Catholics, but they were deeply inscribed in the public and private
creed of his bishops; and the boldest Iconoclast might assault with a
secret horror the monuments of popular devotion, which were consecrated
to the honor of his celestial patrons. In the reformation of the
sixteenth century, freedom and knowledge had expanded all the faculties
of man: the thirst of innovation superseded the reverence of antiquity;
and the vigor of Europe could disdain those phantoms which terrified the
sickly and servile weakness of the Greeks.

The scandal of an abstract heresy can be only proclaimed to the people
by the blast of the ecclesiastical trumpet; but the most ignorant can
perceive, the most torpid must feel, the profanation and downfall
of their visible deities. The first hostilities of Leo were directed
against a lofty Christ on the vestibule, and above the gate, of the
palace. A ladder had been planted for the assault, but it was furiously
shaken by a crowd of zealots and women: they beheld, with pious
transport, the ministers of sacrilege tumbling from on high and dashed
against the pavement: and the honors of the ancient martyrs were
prostituted to these criminals, who justly suffered for murder and
rebellion. The execution of the Imperial edicts was resisted by frequent
tumults in Constantinople and the provinces: the person of Leo was
endangered, his officers were massacred, and the popular enthusiasm was
quelled by the strongest efforts of the civil and military power. Of the
Archipelago, or Holy Sea, the numerous islands were filled with images
and monks: their votaries abjured, without scruple, the enemy of Christ,
his mother, and the saints; they armed a fleet of boats and galleys,
displayed their consecrated banners, and boldly steered for the harbor
of Constantinople, to place on the throne a new favorite of God and the
people. They depended on the succor of a miracle: but their miracles
were inefficient against the _Greek fire_; and, after the defeat and
conflagration of the fleet, the naked islands were abandoned to the
clemency or justice of the conqueror. The son of Leo, in the first year
of his reign, had undertaken an expedition against the Saracens: during
his absence, the capital, the palace, and the purple, were occupied by
his kinsman Artavasdes, the ambitious champion of the orthodox faith.
The worship of images was triumphantly restored: the patriarch renounced
his dissimulation, or dissembled his sentiments and the righteous claims
of the usurper was acknowledged, both in the new, and in ancient, Rome.
Constantine flew for refuge to his paternal mountains; but he descended
at the head of the bold and affectionate Isaurians; and his final
victory confounded the arms and predictions of the fanatics. His long
reign was distracted with clamor, sedition, conspiracy, and mutual
hatred, and sanguinary revenge; the persecution of images was the motive
or pretence, of his adversaries; and, if they missed a temporal diadem,
they were rewarded by the Greeks with the crown of martyrdom. In every
act of open and clandestine treason, the emperor felt the unforgiving
enmity of the monks, the faithful slaves of the superstition to which
they owed their riches and influence. They prayed, they preached, they
absolved, they inflamed, they conspired; the solitude of Palestine
poured forth a torrent of invective; and the pen of St. John Damascenus,
the last of the Greek fathers, devoted the tyrant's head, both in this
world and the next. I am not at leisure to examine how far the monks
provoked, nor how much they have exaggerated, their real and pretended
sufferings, nor how many lost their lives or limbs, their eyes or
their beards, by the cruelty of the emperor. From the chastisement of
individuals, he proceeded to the abolition of the order; and, as it was
wealthy and useless, his resentment might be stimulated by avarice,
and justified by patriotism. The formidable name and mission of the
_Dragon_, his visitor-general, excited the terror and abhorrence of the
_black_ nation: the religious communities were dissolved, the buildings
were converted into magazines, or bar racks; the lands, movables, and
cattle were confiscated; and our modern precedents will support the
charge, that much wanton or malicious havoc was exercised against
the relics, and even the books of the monasteries. With the habit
and profession of monks, the public and private worship of images was
rigorously proscribed; and it should seem, that a solemn abjuration of
idolatry was exacted from the subjects, or at least from the clergy, of
the Eastern empire.

The patient East abjured, with reluctance, her sacred images; they were
fondly cherished, and vigorously defended, by the independent zeal of
the Italians. In ecclesiastical rank and jurisdiction, the patriarch
of Constantinople and the pope of Rome were nearly equal. But the Greek
prelate was a domestic slave under the eye of his master, at whose
nod he alternately passed from the convent to the throne, and from
the throne to the convent. A distant and dangerous station, amidst the
Barbarians of the West, excited the spirit and freedom of the Latin
bishops. Their popular election endeared them to the Romans: the public
and private indigence was relieved by their ample revenue; and the
weakness or neglect of the emperors compelled them to consult, both
in peace and war, the temporal safety of the city. In the school of
adversity the priest insensibly imbibed the virtues and the ambition of
a prince; the same character was assumed, the same policy was adopted,
by the Italian, the Greek, or the Syrian, who ascended the chair of St.
Peter; and, after the loss of her legions and provinces, the genius and
fortune of the popes again restored the supremacy of Rome. It is agreed,
that in the eighth century, their dominion was founded on rebellion,
and that the rebellion was produced, and justified, by the heresy of the
Iconoclasts; but the conduct of the second and third Gregory, in this
memorable contest, is variously interpreted by the wishes of their
friends and enemies. The Byzantine writers unanimously declare, that,
after a fruitless admonition, they pronounced the separation of the
East and West, and deprived the sacrilegious tyrant of the revenue
and sovereignty of Italy. Their excommunication is still more clearly
expressed by the Greeks, who beheld the accomplishment of the papal
triumphs; and as they are more strongly attached to their religion
than to their country, they praise, instead of blaming, the zeal and
orthodoxy of these apostolical men. The modern champions of Rome are
eager to accept the praise and the precedent: this great and glorious
example of the deposition of royal heretics is celebrated by the
cardinals Baronius and Bellarmine; and if they are asked, why the same
thunders were not hurled against the Neros and Julians of antiquity,
they reply, that the weakness of the primitive church was the sole cause
of her patient loyalty. On this occasion the effects of love and hatred
are the same; and the zealous Protestants, who seek to kindle the
indignation, and to alarm the fears, of princes and magistrates,
expatiate on the insolence and treason of the two Gregories against
their lawful sovereign. They are defended only by the moderate
Catholics, for the most part, of the Gallican church, who respect the
saint, without approving the sin. These common advocates of the crown
and the mitre circumscribe the truth of facts by the rule of equity,
Scripture, and tradition, and appeal to the evidence of the Latins, and
the lives and epistles of the popes themselves.

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.--Part II.

Two original epistles, from Gregory the Second to the emperor Leo, are
still extant; and if they cannot be praised as the most perfect models
of eloquence and logic, they exhibit the portrait, or at least the mask,
of the founder of the papal monarchy. "During ten pure and fortunate
years," says Gregory to the emperor, "we have tasted the annual comfort
of your royal letters, subscribed in purple ink, with your own hand, the
sacred pledges of your attachment to the orthodox creed of our fathers.
How deplorable is the change! how tremendous the scandal! You now accuse
the Catholics of idolatry; and, by the accusation, you betray your own
impiety and ignorance. To this ignorance we are compelled to adapt the
grossness of our style and arguments: the first elements of holy
letters are sufficient for your confusion; and were you to enter a
grammar-school, and avow yourself the enemy of our worship, the simple
and pious children would be provoked to cast their horn-books at
your head." After this decent salutation, the pope attempts the usual
distinction between the idols of antiquity and the Christian images.
The former were the fanciful representations of phantoms or dæmons, at
a time when the true God had not manifested his person in any visible
likeness. The latter are the genuine forms of Christ, his mother, and
his saints, who had approved, by a crowd of miracles, the innocence
and merit of this relative worship. He must indeed have trusted to the
ignorance of Leo, since he could assert the perpetual use of images,
from the apostolic age, and their venerable presence in the six synods
of the Catholic church. A more specious argument is drawn from present
possession and recent practice the harmony of the Christian world
supersedes the demand of a general council; and Gregory frankly
confesses, than such assemblies can only be useful under the reign of
an orthodox prince. To the impudent and inhuman Leo, more guilty than
a heretic, he recommends peace, silence, and implicit obedience to his
spiritual guides of Constantinople and Rome. The limits of civil and
ecclesiastical powers are defined by the pontiff. To the former he
appropriates the body; to the latter, the soul: the sword of justice
is in the hands of the magistrate: the more formidable weapon of
excommunication is intrusted to the clergy; and in the exercise of their
divine commission a zealous son will not spare his offending father:
the successor of St. Peter may lawfully chastise the kings of the earth.
"You assault us, O tyrant! with a carnal and military hand: unarmed and
naked we can only implore the Christ, the prince of the heavenly host,
that he will send unto you a devil, for the destruction of your body and
the salvation of your soul. You declare, with foolish arrogance, I will
despatch my orders to Rome: I will break in pieces the image of St.
Peter; and Gregory, like his predecessor Martin, shall be transported in
chains, and in exile, to the foot of the Imperial throne. Would to God
that I might be permitted to tread in the footsteps of the holy Martin!
but may the fate of Constans serve as a warning to the persecutors of
the church! After his just condemnation by the bishops of Sicily, the
tyrant was cut off, in the fullness of his sins, by a domestic servant:
the saint is still adored by the nations of Scythia, among whom he
ended his banishment and his life. But it is our duty to live for the
edification and support of the faithful people; nor are we reduced
to risk our safety on the event of a combat. Incapable as you are of
defending your Roman subjects, the maritime situation of the city may
perhaps expose it to your depredation but we can remove to the distance
of four-and-twenty _stadia_, to the first fortress of the Lombards, and
then--you may pursue the winds. Are you ignorant that the popes are the
bond of union, the mediators of peace, between the East and West? The
eyes of the nations are fixed on our humility; and they revere, as a God
upon earth, the apostle St. Peter, whose image you threaten to destroy.
The remote and interior kingdoms of the West present their homage to
Christ and his vicegerent; and we now prepare to visit one of their most
powerful monarchs, who desires to receive from our hands the sacrament
of baptism. The Barbarians have submitted to the yoke of the gospel,
while you alone are deaf to the voice of the shepherd. These pious
Barbarians are kindled into rage: they thirst to avenge the persecution
of the East. Abandon your rash and fatal enterprise; reflect, tremble,
and repent. If you persist, we are innocent of the blood that will be
spilt in the contest; may it fall on your own head!"

The first assault of Leo against the images of Constantinople had been
witnessed by a crowd of strangers from Italy and the West, who related
with grief and indignation the sacrilege of the emperor. But on the
reception of his proscriptive edict, they trembled for their domestic
deities: the images of Christ and the Virgin, of the angels, martyrs,
and saints, were abolished in all the churches of Italy; and a strong
alternative was proposed to the Roman pontiff, the royal favor as the
price of his compliance, degradation and exile as the penalty of his
disobedience. Neither zeal nor policy allowed him to hesitate; and
the haughty strain in which Gregory addressed the emperor displays his
confidence in the truth of his doctrine or the powers of resistance.
Without depending on prayers or miracles, he boldly armed against the
public enemy, and his pastoral letters admonished the Italians of their
danger and their duty. At this signal, Ravenna, Venice, and the cities
of the Exarchate and Pentapolis, adhered to the cause of religion; their
military force by sea and land consisted, for the most part, of the
natives; and the spirit of patriotism and zeal was transfused into the
mercenary strangers. The Italians swore to live and die in the defence
of the pope and the holy images; the Roman people was devoted to their
father, and even the Lombards were ambitious to share the merit and
advantage of this holy war. The most treasonable act, but the most
obvious revenge, was the destruction of the statues of Leo himself: the
most effectual and pleasing measure of rebellion, was the withholding
the tribute of Italy, and depriving him of a power which he had recently
abused by the imposition of a new capitation. A form of administration
was preserved by the election of magistrates and governors; and so high
was the public indignation, that the Italians were prepared to create an
orthodox emperor, and to conduct him with a fleet and army to the palace
of Constantinople. In that palace, the Roman bishops, the second and
third Gregory, were condemned as the authors of the revolt, and every
attempt was made, either by fraud or force, to seize their persons, and
to strike at their lives. The city was repeatedly visited or assaulted
by captains of the guards, and dukes and exarchs of high dignity or
secret trust; they landed with foreign troops, they obtained some
domestic aid, and the superstition of Naples may blush that her fathers
were attached to the cause of heresy. But these clandestine or open
attacks were repelled by the courage and vigilance of the Romans;
the Greeks were overthrown and massacred, their leaders suffered an
ignominious death, and the popes, however inclined to mercy, refused to
intercede for these guilty victims. At Ravenna, the several quarters of
the city had long exercised a bloody and hereditary feud; in religious
controversy they found a new aliment of faction: but the votaries of
images were superior in numbers or spirit, and the exarch, who attempted
to stem the torrent, lost his life in a popular sedition. To punish this
flagitious deed, and restore his dominion in Italy, the emperor sent a
fleet and army into the Adriatic Gulf. After suffering from the winds
and waves much loss and delay, the Greeks made their descent in the
neighborhood of Ravenna: they threatened to depopulate the guilty
capital, and to imitate, perhaps to surpass, the example of Justinian
the Second, who had chastised a former rebellion by the choice and
execution of fifty of the principal inhabitants. The women and clergy,
in sackcloth and ashes, lay prostrate in prayer: the men were in arms
for the defence of their country; the common danger had united the
factions, and the event of a battle was preferred to the slow miseries
of a siege. In a hard-fought day, as the two armies alternately yielded
and advanced, a phantom was seen, a voice was heard, and Ravenna was
victorious by the assurance of victory. The strangers retreated to their
ships, but the populous sea-coast poured forth a multitude of boats;
the waters of the Po were so deeply infected with blood, that during six
years the public prejudice abstained from the fish of the river; and the
institution of an annual feast perpetuated the worship of images, and
the abhorrence of the Greek tyrant. Amidst the triumph of the Catholic
arms, the Roman pontiff convened a synod of ninety-three bishops against
the heresy of the Iconoclasts. With their consent, he pronounced a
general excommunication against all who by word or deed should attack
the tradition of the fathers and the images of the saints: in this
sentence the emperor was tacitly involved, but the vote of a last
and hopeless remonstrance may seem to imply that the anathema was yet
suspended over his guilty head. No sooner had they confirmed their own
safety, the worship of images, and the freedom of Rome and Italy, than
the popes appear to have relaxed of their severity, and to have spared
the relics of the Byzantine dominion. Their moderate councils delayed
and prevented the election of a new emperor, and they exhorted the
Italians not to separate from the body of the Roman monarchy. The exarch
was permitted to reside within the walls of Ravenna, a captive rather
than a master; and till the Imperial coronation of Charlemagne, the
government of Rome and Italy was exercised in the name of the successors
of Constantine.

The liberty of Rome, which had been oppressed by the arms and arts of
Augustus, was rescued, after seven hundred and fifty years of servitude,
from the persecution of Leo the Isaurian. By the Cæsars, the triumphs of
the consuls had been annihilated: in the decline and fall of the empire,
the god Terminus, the sacred boundary, had insensibly receded from the
ocean, the Rhine, the Danube, and the Euphrates; and Rome was reduced to
her ancient territory from Viterbo to Terracina, and from Narni to the
mouth of the Tyber. When the kings were banished, the republic reposed
on the firm basis which had been founded by their wisdom and virtue.
Their perpetual jurisdiction was divided between two annual magistrates:
the senate continued to exercise the powers of administration and
counsel; and the legislative authority was distributed in the assemblies
of the people, by a well-proportioned scale of property and service.
Ignorant of the arts of luxury, the primitive Romans had improved the
science of government and war: the will of the community was absolute:
the rights of individuals were sacred: one hundred and thirty thousand
citizens were armed for defence or conquest; and a band of robbers and
outlaws was moulded into a nation deserving of freedom and ambitious of
glory. When the sovereignty of the Greek emperors was extinguished, the
ruins of Rome presented the sad image of depopulation and decay:
her slavery was a habit, her liberty an accident; the effect of
superstition, and the object of her own amazement and terror. The last
vestige of the substance, or even the forms, of the constitution, was
obliterated from the practice and memory of the Romans; and they
were devoid of knowledge, or virtue, again to build the fabric of
a commonwealth. Their scanty remnant, the offspring of slaves and
strangers, was despicable in the eyes of the victorious Barbarians. As
often as the Franks or Lombards expressed their most bitter contempt
of a foe, they called him a Roman; "and in this name," says the bishop
Liutprand, "we include whatever is base, whatever is cowardly, whatever
is perfidious, the extremes of avarice and luxury, and every vice that
can prostitute the dignity of human nature." By the necessity of their
situation, the inhabitants of Rome were cast into the rough model of
a republican government: they were compelled to elect some judges in
peace, and some leaders in war: the nobles assembled to deliberate, and
their resolves could not be executed without the union and consent of
the multitude. The style of the Roman senate and people was revived,
but the spirit was fled; and their new independence was disgraced by the
tumultuous conflict of licentiousness and oppression. The want of laws
could only be supplied by the influence of religion, and their foreign
and domestic counsels were moderated by the authority of the bishop. His
alms, his sermons, his correspondence with the kings and prelates of
the West, his recent services, their gratitude, and oath, accustomed the
Romans to consider him as the first magistrate or prince of the city.
The Christian humility of the popes was not offended by the name of
_Dominus_, or Lord; and their face and inscription are still apparent on
the most ancient coins. Their temporal dominion is now confirmed by
the reverence of a thousand years; and their noblest title is the free
choice of a people, whom they had redeemed from slavery.

In the quarrels of ancient Greece, the holy people of Elis enjoyed a
perpetual peace, under the protection of Jupiter, and in the exercise of
the Olympic games. Happy would it have been for the Romans, if a similar
privilege had guarded the patrimony of St. Peter from the calamities
of war; if the Christians, who visited the holy threshold, would have
sheathed their swords in the presence of the apostle and his successor.
But this mystic circle could have been traced only by the wand of a
legislator and a sage: this pacific system was incompatible with the
zeal and ambition of the popes the Romans were not addicted, like the
inhabitants of Elis, to the innocent and placid labors of agriculture;
and the Barbarians of Italy, though softened by the climate, were far
below the Grecian states in the institutions of public and private life.
A memorable example of repentance and piety was exhibited by Liutprand,
king of the Lombards. In arms, at the gate of the Vatican, the conqueror
listened to the voice of Gregory the Second, withdrew his troops,
resigned his conquests, respectfully visited the church of St. Peter,
and after performing his devotions, offered his sword and dagger, his
cuirass and mantle, his silver cross, and his crown of gold, on the tomb
of the apostle. But this religious fervor was the illusion, perhaps the
artifice, of the moment; the sense of interest is strong and lasting;
the love of arms and rapine was congenial to the Lombards; and both the
prince and people were irresistibly tempted by the disorders of Italy,
the nakedness of Rome, and the unwarlike profession of her new chief. On
the first edicts of the emperor, they declared themselves the champions
of the holy images: Liutprand invaded the province of Romagna, which
had already assumed that distinctive appellation; the Catholics of the
Exarchate yielded without reluctance to his civil and military
power; and a foreign enemy was introduced for the first time into the
impregnable fortress of Ravenna. That city and fortress were speedily
recovered by the active diligence and maritime forces of the Venetians;
and those faithful subjects obeyed the exhortation of Gregory himself,
in separating the personal guilt of Leo from the general cause of the
Roman empire. The Greeks were less mindful of the service, than the
Lombards of the injury: the two nations, hostile in their faith, were
reconciled in a dangerous and unnatural alliance: the king and the
exarch marched to the conquest of Spoleto and Rome: the storm evaporated
without effect, but the policy of Liutprand alarmed Italy with a
vexatious alternative of hostility and truce. His successor Astolphus
declared himself the equal enemy of the emperor and the pope: Ravenna
was subdued by force or treachery, and this final conquest extinguished
the series of the exarchs, who had reigned with a subordinate power
since the time of Justinian and the ruin of the Gothic kingdom. Rome was
summoned to acknowledge the victorious Lombard as her lawful sovereign;
the annual tribute of a piece of gold was fixed as the ransom of each
citizen, and the sword of destruction was unsheathed to exact the
penalty of her disobedience. The Romans hesitated; they entreated; they
complained; and the threatening Barbarians were checked by arms and
negotiations, till the popes had engaged the friendship of an ally and
avenger beyond the Alps.

In his distress, the first Gregory had implored the aid of the hero
of the age, of Charles Martel, who governed the French monarchy with the
humble title of mayor or duke; and who, by his signal victory over the
Saracens, had saved his country, and perhaps Europe, from the Mahometan
yoke. The ambassadors of the pope were received by Charles with decent
reverence; but the greatness of his occupations, and the shortness of
his life, prevented his interference in the affairs of Italy, except
by a friendly and ineffectual mediation. His son Pepin, the heir of his
power and virtues, assumed the office of champion of the Roman church;
and the zeal of the French prince appears to have been prompted by
the love of glory and religion. But the danger was on the banks of the
Tyber, the succor on those of the Seine, and our sympathy is cold to the
relation of distant misery. Amidst the tears of the city, Stephen the
Third embraced the generous resolution of visiting in person the courts
of Lombardy and France, to deprecate the injustice of his enemy, or to
excite the pity and indignation of his friend. After soothing the public
despair by litanies and orations, he undertook this laborious journey
with the ambassadors of the French monarch and the Greek emperor. The
king of the Lombards was inexorable; but his threats could not silence
the complaints, nor retard the speed of the Roman pontiff, who traversed
the Pennine Alps, reposed in the abbey of St. Maurice, and hastened to
grasp the right hand of his protector; a hand which was never lifted
in vain, either in war or friendship. Stephen was entertained as the
visible successor of the apostle; at the next assembly, the field of
March or of May, his injuries were exposed to a devout and warlike
nation, and he repassed the Alps, not as a suppliant, but as a
conqueror, at the head of a French army, which was led by the king in
person. The Lombards, after a weak resistance, obtained an ignominious
peace, and swore to restore the possessions, and to respect the
sanctity, of the Roman church. But no sooner was Astolphus delivered
from the presence of the French arms, than he forgot his promise and
resented his disgrace. Rome was again encompassed by his arms; and
Stephen, apprehensive of fatiguing the zeal of his Transalpine allies
enforced his complaint and request by an eloquent letter in the name and
person of St. Peter himself. The apostle assures his adopted sons, the
king, the clergy, and the nobles of France, that, dead in the flesh,
he is still alive in the spirit; that they now hear, and must obey, the
voice of the founder and guardian of the Roman church; that the Virgin,
the angels, the saints, and the martyrs, and all the host of heaven,
unanimously urge the request, and will confess the obligation; that
riches, victory, and paradise, will crown their pious enterprise, and
that eternal damnation will be the penalty of their neglect, if they
suffer his tomb, his temple, and his people, to fall into the hands of
the perfidious Lombards. The second expedition of Pepin was not less
rapid and fortunate than the first: St. Peter was satisfied, Rome
was again saved, and Astolphus was taught the lessons of justice
and sincerity by the scourge of a foreign master. After this double
chastisement, the Lombards languished about twenty years in a state
of languor and decay. But their minds were not yet humbled to their
condition; and instead of affecting the pacific virtues of the feeble,
they peevishly harassed the Romans with a repetition of claims,
evasions, and inroads, which they undertook without reflection, and
terminated without glory. On either side, their expiring monarchy was
pressed by the zeal and prudence of Pope Adrian the First, the genius,
the fortune, and greatness of Charlemagne, the son of Pepin; these
heroes of the church and state were united in public and domestic
friendship, and while they trampled on the prostrate, they varnished
their proceedings with the fairest colors of equity and moderation. The
passes of the Alps, and the walls of Pavia, were the only defence of the
Lombards; the former were surprised, the latter were invested, by the
son of Pepin; and after a blockade of two years, Desiderius, the last
of their native princes, surrendered his sceptre and his capital. Under
the dominion of a foreign king, but in the possession of their national
laws, the Lombards became the brethren, rather than the subjects, of
the Franks; who derived their blood, and manners, and language, from the
same Germanic origin.

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.--Part III.

The mutual obligations of the popes and the Carlovingian family form
the important link of ancient and modern, of civil and ecclesiastical,
history. In the conquest of Italy, the champions of the Roman church
obtained a favorable occasion, a specious title, the wishes of the
people, the prayers and intrigues of the clergy. But the most essential
gifts of the popes to the Carlovingian race were the dignities of king
of France, and of patrician of Rome. I. Under the sacerdotal monarchy of
St. Peter, the nations began to resume the practice of seeking, on the
banks of the Tyber, their kings, their laws, and the oracles of their
fate. The Franks were perplexed between the name and substance of their
government. All the powers of royalty were exercised by Pepin, mayor
of the palace; and nothing, except the regal title, was wanting to
his ambition. His enemies were crushed by his valor; his friends
were multiplied by his liberality; his father had been the savior of
Christendom; and the claims of personal merit were repeated and ennobled
in a descent of four generations. The name and image of royalty was
still preserved in the last descendant of Clovis, the feeble Childeric;
but his obsolete right could only be used as an instrument of sedition:
the nation was desirous of restoring the simplicity of the constitution;
and Pepin, a subject and a prince, was ambitious to ascertain his own
rank and the fortune of his family. The mayor and the nobles were bound,
by an oath of fidelity, to the royal phantom: the blood of Clovis was
pure and sacred in their eyes; and their common ambassadors addressed
the Roman pontiff, to dispel their scruples, or to absolve their
promise. The interest of Pope Zachary, the successor of the two
Gregories, prompted him to decide, and to decide in their favor: he
pronounced that the nation might lawfully unite in the same person
the title and authority of king; and that the unfortunate Childeric, a
victim of the public safety, should be degraded, shaved, and confined
in a monastery for the remainder of his days. An answer so agreeable to
their wishes was accepted by the Franks as the opinion of a casuist, the
sentence of a judge, or the oracle of a prophet: the Merovingian race
disappeared from the earth; and Pepin was exalted on a buckler by the
suffrage of a free people, accustomed to obey his laws and to march
under his standard. His coronation was twice performed, with the
sanction of the popes, by their most faithful servant St. Boniface, the
apostle of Germany, and by the grateful hands of Stephen the Third,
who, in the monastery of St. Denys placed the diadem on the head of his
benefactor. The royal unction of the kings of Israel was dexterously
applied: the successor of St. Peter assumed the character of a divine
ambassador: a German chieftain was transformed into the Lord's
anointed; and this Jewish rite has been diffused and maintained by the
superstition and vanity of modern Europe. The Franks were absolved from
their ancient oath; but a dire anathema was thundered against them
and their posterity, if they should dare to renew the same freedom of
choice, or to elect a king, except in the holy and meritorious race of
the Carlovingian princes. Without apprehending the future danger, these
princes gloried in their present security: the secretary of Charlemagne
affirms, that the French sceptre was transferred by the authority of the
popes; and in their boldest enterprises, they insist, with confidence,
on this signal and successful act of temporal jurisdiction.

II. In the change of manners and language the patricians of Rome were
far removed from the senate of Romulus, on the palace of Constantine,
from the free nobles of the republic, or the fictitious parents of
the emperor. After the recovery of Italy and Africa by the arms of
Justinian, the importance and danger of those remote provinces required
the presence of a supreme magistrate; he was indifferently styled the
exarch or the patrician; and these governors of Ravenna, who fill their
place in the chronology of princes, extended their jurisdiction over the
Roman city. Since the revolt of Italy and the loss of the Exarchate, the
distress of the Romans had exacted some sacrifice of their independence.
Yet, even in this act, they exercised the right of disposing of
themselves; and the decrees of the senate and people successively
invested Charles Martel and his posterity with the honors of patrician
of Rome. The leaders of a powerful nation would have disdained a servile
title and subordinate office; but the reign of the Greek emperors
was suspended; and, in the vacancy of the empire, they derived a
more glorious commission from the pope and the republic. The Roman
ambassadors presented these patricians with the keys of the shrine of
St. Peter, as a pledge and symbol of sovereignty; with a holy banner
which it was their right and duty to unfurl in the defence of the church
and city. In the time of Charles Martel and of Pepin, the interposition
of the Lombard kingdom covered the freedom, while it threatened the
safety, of Rome; and the _patriciate_ represented only the title, the
service, the alliance, of these distant protectors. The power and policy
of Charlemagne annihilated an enemy, and imposed a master. In his first
visit to the capital, he was received with all the honors which had
formerly been paid to the exarch, the representative of the emperor; and
these honors obtained some new decorations from the joy and gratitude of
Pope Adrian the First. No sooner was he informed of the sudden approach
of the monarch, than he despatched the magistrates and nobles of Rome
to meet him, with the banner, about thirty miles from the city. At the
distance of one mile, the Flaminian way was lined with the _schools_, or
national communities, of Greeks, Lombards, Saxons, &c.: the Roman youth
were under arms; and the children of a more tender age, with palms
and olive branches in their hands, chanted the praises of their great
deliverer. At the aspect of the holy crosses, and ensigns of the saints,
he dismounted from his horse, led the procession of his nobles to the
Vatican, and, as he ascended the stairs, devoutly kissed each step of
the threshold of the apostles. In the portico, Adrian expected him at
the head of his clergy: they embraced, as friends and equals; but in
their march to the altar, the king or patrician assumed the right
hand of the pope. Nor was the Frank content with these vain and empty
demonstrations of respect. In the twenty-six years that elapsed between
the conquest of Lombardy and his Imperial coronation, Rome, which had
been delivered by the sword, was subject, as his own, to the sceptre of
Charlemagne. The people swore allegiance to his person and family:
in his name money was coined, and justice was administered; and the
election of the popes was examined and confirmed by his authority.
Except an original and self-inherent claim of sovereignty, there was not
any prerogative remaining, which the title of emperor could add to the
patrician of Rome.

The gratitude of the Carlovingians was adequate to these obligations,
and their names are consecrated, as the saviors and benefactors of the
Roman church. Her ancient patrimony of farms and houses was transformed
by their bounty into the temporal dominion of cities and provinces; and
the donation of the Exarchate was the first-fruits of the conquests of
Pepin. Astolphus with a sigh relinquished his prey; the keys and
the hostages of the principal cities were delivered to the French
ambassador; and, in his master's name, he presented them before the tomb
of St. Peter. The ample measure of the Exarchate might comprise all the
provinces of Italy which had obeyed the emperor and his vicegerent;
but its strict and proper limits were included in the territories
of Ravenna, Bologna, and Ferrara: its inseparable dependency was the
Pentapolis, which stretched along the Adriatic from Rimini to Ancona,
and advanced into the midland-country as far as the ridges of the
Apennine. In this transaction, the ambition and avarice of the popes
have been severely condemned. Perhaps the humility of a Christian priest
should have rejected an earthly kingdom, which it was not easy for him
to govern without renouncing the virtues of his profession. Perhaps
a faithful subject, or even a generous enemy, would have been less
impatient to divide the spoils of the Barbarian; and if the emperor
had intrusted Stephen to solicit in his name the restitution of the
Exarchate, I will not absolve the pope from the reproach of treachery
and falsehood. But in the rigid interpretation of the laws, every one
may accept, without injury, whatever his benefactor can bestow without
injustice. The Greek emperor had abdicated, or forfeited, his right to
the Exarchate; and the sword of Astolphus was broken by the stronger
sword of the Carlovingian. It was not in the cause of the Iconoclast
that Pepin has exposed his person and army in a double expedition beyond
the Alps: he possessed, and might lawfully alienate, his conquests:
and to the importunities of the Greeks he piously replied that no human
consideration should tempt him to resume the gift which he had conferred
on the Roman Pontiff for the remission of his sins, and the salvation
of his soul. The splendid donation was granted in supreme and absolute
dominion, and the world beheld for the first time a Christian bishop
invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince; the choice of
magistrates, the exercise of justice, the imposition of taxes, and
the wealth of the palace of Ravenna. In the dissolution of the Lombard
kingdom, the inhabitants of the duchy of Spoleto sought a refuge
from the storm, shaved their heads after the Roman fashion, declared
themselves the servants and subjects of St. Peter, and completed, by
this voluntary surrender, the present circle of the ecclesiastical
state. That mysterious circle was enlarged to an indefinite extent,
by the verbal or written donation of Charlemagne, who, in the first
transports of his victory, despoiled himself and the Greek emperor of
the cities and islands which had formerly been annexed to the Exarchate.
But, in the cooler moments of absence and reflection, he viewed, with
an eye of jealousy and envy, the recent greatness of his ecclesiastical
ally. The execution of his own and his father's promises was
respectfully eluded: the king of the Franks and Lombards asserted the
inalienable rights of the empire; and, in his life and death, Ravenna,
as well as Rome, was numbered in the list of his metropolitan cities.
The sovereignty of the Exarchate melted away in the hands of the popes;
they found in the archbishops of Ravenna a dangerous and domestic
rival: the nobles and people disdained the yoke of a priest; and in the
disorders of the times, they could only retain the memory of an ancient
claim, which, in a more prosperous age, they have revived and realized.

Fraud is the resource of weakness and cunning; and the strong, though
ignorant, Barbarian was often entangled in the net of sacerdotal
policy. The Vatican and Lateran were an arsenal and manufacture,
which, according to the occasion, have produced or concealed a various
collection of false or genuine, of corrupt or suspicious, acts, as they
tended to promote the interest of the Roman church. Before the end
of the eighth century, some apostolic scribe, perhaps the notorious
Isidore, composed the decretals, and the donation of Constantine, the
two magic pillars of the spiritual and temporal monarchy of the popes.
This memorable donation was introduced to the world by an epistle of
Adrian the First, who exhorts Charlemagne to imitate the liberality, and
revive the name, of the great Constantine. According to the legend, the
first of the Christian emperors was healed of the leprosy, and purified
in the waters of baptism, by St. Silvester, the Roman bishop; and never
was physician more gloriously recompensed. His royal proselyte withdrew
from the seat and patrimony of St. Peter; declared his resolution of
founding a new capital in the East; and resigned to the popes the free
and perpetual sovereignty of Rome, Italy, and the provinces of the West.
This fiction was productive of the most beneficial effects. The Greek
princes were convicted of the guilt of usurpation; and the revolt
of Gregory was the claim of his lawful inheritance. The popes were
delivered from their debt of gratitude; and the nominal gifts of the
Carlovingians were no more than the just and irrevocable restitution of
a scanty portion of the ecclesiastical state. The sovereignty of Rome no
longer depended on the choice of a fickle people; and the successors of
St. Peter and Constantine were invested with the purple and prerogatives
of the Cæsars. So deep was the ignorance and credulity of the times,
that the most absurd of fables was received, with equal reverence, in
Greece and in France, and is still enrolled among the decrees of the
canon law. The emperors, and the Romans, were incapable of discerning
a forgery, that subverted their rights and freedom; and the only
opposition proceeded from a Sabine monastery, which, in the beginning of
the twelfth century, disputed the truth and validity of the donation of
Constantine. In the revival of letters and liberty, this fictitious deed
was transpierced by the pen of Laurentius Valla, the pen of an eloquent
critic and a Roman patriot. His contemporaries of the fifteenth century
were astonished at his sacrilegious boldness; yet such is the silent and
irresistible progress of reason, that, before the end of the next age,
the fable was rejected by the contempt of historians and poets, and the
tacit or modest censure of the advocates of the Roman church. The popes
themselves have indulged a smile at the credulity of the vulgar; but a
false and obsolete title still sanctifies their reign; and, by the same
fortune which has attended the decretals and the Sibylline oracles, the
edifice has subsisted after the foundations have been undermined.

While the popes established in Italy their freedom and dominion, the
images, the first cause of their revolt, were restored in the Eastern
empire. Under the reign of Constantine the Fifth, the union of civil and
ecclesiastical power had overthrown the tree, without extirpating the
root, of superstition. The idols (for such they were now held) were
secretly cherished by the order and the sex most prone to devotion; and
the fond alliance of the monks and females obtained a final victory over
the reason and authority of man. Leo the Fourth maintained with less
rigor the religion of his father and grandfather; but his wife, the fair
and ambitious Irene, had imbibed the zeal of the Athenians, the heirs of
the Idolatry, rather than the philosophy, of their ancestors. During
the life of her husband, these sentiments were inflamed by danger and
dissimulation, and she could only labor to protect and promote some
favorite monks whom she drew from their caverns, and seated on the
metropolitan thrones of the East. But as soon as she reigned in her own
name and that of her son, Irene more seriously undertook the ruin of the
Iconoclasts; and the first step of her future persecution was a general
edict for liberty of conscience. In the restoration of the monks,
a thousand images were exposed to the public veneration; a thousand
legends were inverted of their sufferings and miracles. By the
opportunities of death or removal, the episcopal seats were judiciously
filled the most eager competitors for earthly or celestial favor
anticipated and flattered the judgment of their sovereign; and the
promotion of her secretary Tarasius gave Irene the patriarch of
Constantinople, and the command of the Oriental church. But the decrees
of a general council could only be repealed by a similar assembly: the
Iconoclasts whom she convened were bold in possession, and averse to
debate; and the feeble voice of the bishops was reechoed by the more
formidable clamor of the soldiers and people of Constantinople. The
delay and intrigues of a year, the separation of the disaffected troops,
and the choice of Nice for a second orthodox synod, removed these
obstacles; and the episcopal conscience was again, after the Greek
fashion, in the hands of the prince. No more than eighteen days were
allowed for the consummation of this important work: the Iconoclasts
appeared, not as judges, but as criminals or penitents: the scene was
decorated by the legates of Pope Adrian and the Eastern patriarchs,
the decrees were framed by the president Taracius, and ratified by the
acclamations and subscriptions of three hundred and fifty bishops.
They unanimously pronounced, that the worship of images is agreeable
to Scripture and reason, to the fathers and councils of the church: but
they hesitate whether that worship be relative or direct; whether the
Godhead, and the figure of Christ, be entitled to the same mode of
adoration. Of this second Nicene council the acts are still extant; a
curious monument of superstition and ignorance, of falsehood and folly.
I shall only notice the judgment of the bishops on the comparative merit
of image-worship and morality. A monk had concluded a truce with the
dæmon of fornication, on condition of interrupting his daily prayers to
a picture that hung in his cell. His scruples prompted him to consult
the abbot. "Rather than abstain from adoring Christ and his Mother in
their holy images, it would be better for you," replied the casuist, "to
enter every brothel, and visit every prostitute, in the city." For the
honor of orthodoxy, at least the orthodoxy of the Roman church, it is
somewhat unfortunate, that the two princes who convened the two councils
of Nice are both stained with the blood of their sons. The second of
these assemblies was approved and rigorously executed by the despotism
of Irene, and she refused her adversaries the toleration which at first
she had granted to her friends. During the five succeeding reigns, a
period of thirty-eight years, the contest was maintained, with unabated
rage and various success, between the worshippers and the breakers of
the images; but I am not inclined to pursue with minute diligence the
repetition of the same events. Nicephorus allowed a general liberty of
speech and practice; and the only virtue of his reign is accused by the
monks as the cause of his temporal and eternal perdition. Superstition
and weakness formed the character of Michael the First, but the saints
and images were incapable of supporting their votary on the throne. In
the purple, Leo the Fifth asserted the name and religion of an Armenian;
and the idols, with their seditious adherents, were condemned to a
second exile. Their applause would have sanctified the murder of an
impious tyrant, but his assassin and successor, the second Michael,
was tainted from his birth with the Phrygian heresies: he attempted to
mediate between the contending parties; and the intractable spirit
of the Catholics insensibly cast him into the opposite scale. His
moderation was guarded by timidity; but his son Theophilus, alike
ignorant of fear and pity, was the last and most cruel of the
Iconoclasts. The enthusiasm of the times ran strongly against them; and
the emperors who stemmed the torrent were exasperated and punished by
the public hatred. After the death of Theophilus, the final victory of
the images was achieved by a second female, his widow Theodora, whom he
left the guardian of the empire. Her measures were bold and decisive.
The fiction of a tardy repentance absolved the fame and the soul of her
deceased husband; the sentence of the Iconoclast patriarch was commuted
from the loss of his eyes to a whipping of two hundred lashes: the
bishops trembled, the monks shouted, and the festival of orthodoxy
preserves the annual memory of the triumph of the images. A single
question yet remained, whether they are endowed with any proper and
inherent sanctity; it was agitated by the Greeks of the eleventh
century; and as this opinion has the strongest recommendation of
absurdity, I am surprised that it was not more explicitly decided in the
affirmative. In the West, Pope Adrian the First accepted and announced
the decrees of the Nicene assembly, which is now revered by the
Catholics as the seventh in rank of the general councils. Rome and Italy
were docile to the voice of their father; but the greatest part of
the Latin Christians were far behind in the race of superstition. The
churches of France, Germany, England, and Spain, steered a middle course
between the adoration and the destruction of images, which they admitted
into their temples, not as objects of worship, but as lively and
useful memorials of faith and history. An angry book of controversy was
composed and published in the name of Charlemagne: under his authority
a synod of three hundred bishops was assembled at Frankfort: they blamed
the fury of the Iconoclasts, but they pronounced a more severe censure
against the superstition of the Greeks, and the decrees of their
pretended council, which was long despised by the Barbarians of the
West. Among them the worship of images advanced with a silent and
insensible progress; but a large atonement is made for their hesitation
and delay, by the gross idolatry of the ages which precede the
reformation, and of the countries, both in Europe and America, which are
still immersed in the gloom of superstition.

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.--Part IV.

It was after the Nicene synod, and under the reign of the pious Irene,
that the popes consummated the separation of Rome and Italy, by the
translation of the empire to the less orthodox Charlemagne. They were
compelled to choose between the rival nations: religion was not the sole
motive of their choice; and while they dissembled the failings of
their friends, they beheld, with reluctance and suspicion, the Catholic
virtues of their foes. The difference of language and manners had
perpetuated the enmity of the two capitals; and they were alienated from
each other by the hostile opposition of seventy years. In that schism
the Romans had tasted of freedom, and the popes of sovereignty: their
submission would have exposed them to the revenge of a jealous tyrant;
and the revolution of Italy had betrayed the impotence, as well as the
tyranny, of the Byzantine court. The Greek emperors had restored the
images, but they had not restored the Calabrian estates and the Illyrian
diocese, which the Iconoclasts had torn away from the successors of St.
Peter; and Pope Adrian threatens them with a sentence of excommunication
unless they speedily abjure this practical heresy. The Greeks were
now orthodox; but their religion might be tainted by the breath of the
reigning monarch: the Franks were now contumacious; but a discerning
eye might discern their approaching conversion, from the use, to the
adoration, of images. The name of Charlemagne was stained by the polemic
acrimony of his scribes; but the conqueror himself conformed, with the
temper of a statesman, to the various practice of France and Italy. In
his four pilgrimages or visits to the Vatican, he embraced the popes
in the communion of friendship and piety; knelt before the tomb, and
consequently before the image, of the apostle; and joined, without
scruple, in all the prayers and processions of the Roman liturgy. Would
prudence or gratitude allow the pontiffs to renounce their benefactor?
Had they a right to alienate his gift of the Exarchate? Had they power
to abolish his government of Rome? The title of patrician was below
the merit and greatness of Charlemagne; and it was only by reviving the
Western empire that they could pay their obligations or secure their
establishment. By this decisive measure they would finally eradicate
the claims of the Greeks; from the debasement of a provincial town, the
majesty of Rome would be restored: the Latin Christians would be united,
under a supreme head, in their ancient metropolis; and the conquerors of
the West would receive their crown from the successors of St. Peter.
The Roman church would acquire a zealous and respectable advocate; and,
under the shadow of the Carlovingian power, the bishop might exercise,
with honor and safety, the government of the city.

Before the ruin of Paganism in Rome, the competition for a wealthy
bishopric had often been productive of tumult and bloodshed. The people
was less numerous, but the times were more savage, the prize more
important, and the chair of St. Peter was fiercely disputed by the
leading ecclesiastics who aspired to the rank of sovereign. The reign of
Adrian the First surpasses the measure of past or succeeding ages; the
walls of Rome, the sacred patrimony, the ruin of the Lombards, and the
friendship of Charlemagne, were the trophies of his fame: he secretly
edified the throne of his successors, and displayed in a narrow space
the virtues of a great prince. His memory was revered; but in the next
election, a priest of the Lateran, Leo the Third, was preferred to the
nephew and the favorite of Adrian, whom he had promoted to the first
dignities of the church. Their acquiescence or repentance disguised,
above four years, the blackest intention of revenge, till the day of a
procession, when a furious band of conspirators dispersed the unarmed
multitude, and assaulted with blows and wounds the sacred person of
the pope. But their enterprise on his life or liberty was disappointed,
perhaps by their own confusion and remorse. Leo was left for dead on the
ground: on his revival from the swoon, the effect of his loss of blood,
he recovered his speech and sight; and this natural event was improved
to the miraculous restoration of his eyes and tongue, of which he had
been deprived, twice deprived, by the knife of the assassins. From his
prison he escaped to the Vatican: the duke of Spoleto hastened to
his rescue, Charlemagne sympathized in his injury, and in his camp of
Paderborn in Westphalia accepted, or solicited, a visit from the Roman
pontiff. Leo repassed the Alps with a commission of counts and bishops,
the guards of his safety and the judges of his innocence; and it was not
without reluctance, that the conqueror of the Saxons delayed till the
ensuing year the personal discharge of this pious office. In his fourth
and last pilgrimage, he was received at Rome with the due honors of king
and patrician: Leo was permitted to purge himself by oath of the crimes
imputed to his charge: his enemies were silenced, and the sacrilegious
attempt against his life was punished by the mild and insufficient
penalty of exile. On the festival of Christmas, the last year of the
eighth century, Charlemagne appeared in the church of St. Peter; and,
to gratify the vanity of Rome, he had exchanged the simple dress of his
country for the habit of a patrician. After the celebration of the holy
mysteries, Leo suddenly placed a precious crown on his head, and the
dome resounded with the acclamations of the people, "Long life and
victory to Charles, the most pious Augustus, crowned by God the great
and pacific emperor of the Romans!" The head and body of Charlemagne
were consecrated by the royal unction: after the example of the Cæsars,
he was saluted or adored by the pontiff: his coronation oath represents
a promise to maintain the faith and privileges of the church; and
the first-fruits were paid in his rich offerings to the shrine of
his apostle. In his familiar conversation, the emperor protested the
ignorance of the intentions of Leo, which he would have disappointed by
his absence on that memorable day. But the preparations of the ceremony
must have disclosed the secret; and the journey of Charlemagne reveals
his knowledge and expectation: he had acknowledged that the Imperial
title was the object of his ambition, and a Roman synod had pronounced,
that it was the only adequate reward of his merit and services.

The appellation of _great_ has been often bestowed, and sometimes
deserved; but Charlemagne is the only prince in whose favor the title
has been indissolubly blended with the name. That name, with the
addition of _saint_, is inserted in the Roman calendar; and the saint,
by a rare felicity, is crowned with the praises of the historians
and philosophers of an enlightened age. His _real_ merit is doubtless
enhanced by the barbarism of the nation and the times from which he
emerged: but the _apparent_ magnitude of an object is likewise enlarged
by an unequal comparison; and the ruins of Palmyra derive a casual
splendor from the nakedness of the surrounding desert. Without injustice
to his fame, I may discern some blemishes in the sanctity and greatness
of the restorer of the Western empire. Of his moral virtues, chastity
is not the most conspicuous: but the public happiness could not
be materially injured by his nine wives or concubines, the various
indulgence of meaner or more transient amours, the multitude of his
bastards whom he bestowed on the church, and the long celibacy and
licentious manners of his daughters, whom the father was suspected
of loving with too fond a passion. I shall be scarcely permitted to
accuse the ambition of a conqueror; but in a day of equal retribution,
the sons of his brother Carloman, the Merovingian princes of Aquitain,
and the four thousand five hundred Saxons who were beheaded on the same
spot, would have something to allege against the justice and humanity of
Charlemagne. His treatment of the vanquished Saxons was an abuse of the
right of conquest; his laws were not less sanguinary than his arms, and
in the discussion of his motives, whatever is subtracted from bigotry
must be imputed to temper. The sedentary reader is amazed by his
incessant activity of mind and body; and his subjects and enemies were
not less astonished at his sudden presence, at the moment when they
believed him at the most distant extremity of the empire; neither peace
nor war, nor summer nor winter, were a season of repose; and our fancy
cannot easily reconcile the annals of his reign with the geography
of his expeditions. But this activity was a national, rather than a
personal, virtue; the vagrant life of a Frank was spent in the chase, in
pilgrimage, in military adventures; and the journeys of Charlemagne
were distinguished only by a more numerous train and a more important
purpose. His military renown must be tried by the scrutiny of his
troops, his enemies, and his actions. Alexander conquered with the arms
of Philip, but the _two_ heroes who preceded Charlemagne bequeathed him
their name, their examples, and the companions of their victories. At
the head of his veteran and superior armies, he oppressed the savage or
degenerate nations, who were incapable of confederating for their common
safety: nor did he ever encounter an equal antagonist in numbers, in
discipline, or in arms The science of war has been lost and revived with
the arts of peace; but his campaigns are not illustrated by any siege
or battle of singular difficulty and success; and he might behold,
with envy, the Saracen trophies of his grandfather. After the Spanish
expedition, his rear-guard was defeated in the Pyrenæan mountains; and
the soldiers, whose situation was irretrievable, and whose valor was
useless, might accuse, with their last breath, the want of skill
or caution of their general. I touch with reverence the laws of
Charlemagne, so highly applauded by a respectable judge. They compose
not a system, but a series, of occasional and minute edicts, for the
correction of abuses, the reformation of manners, the economy of his
farms, the care of his poultry, and even the sale of his eggs. He wished
to improve the laws and the character of the Franks; and his attempts,
however feeble and imperfect, are deserving of praise: the inveterate
evils of the times were suspended or mollified by his government; but
in his institutions I can seldom discover the general views and the
immortal spirit of a legislator, who survives himself for the benefit of
posterity. The union and stability of his empire depended on the life
of a single man: he imitated the dangerous practice of dividing his
kingdoms among his sons; and after his numerous diets, the whole
constitution was left to fluctuate between the disorders of anarchy and
despotism. His esteem for the piety and knowledge of the clergy tempted
him to intrust that aspiring order with temporal dominion and civil
jurisdiction; and his son Lewis, when he was stripped and degraded
by the bishops, might accuse, in some measure, the imprudence of his
father. His laws enforced the imposition of tithes, because the dæmons
had proclaimed in the air that the default of payment had been the cause
of the last scarcity. The literary merits of Charlemagne are attested
by the foundation of schools, the introduction of arts, the works
which were published in his name, and his familiar connection with the
subjects and strangers whom he invited to his court to educate both the
prince and people. His own studies were tardy, laborious, and imperfect;
if he spoke Latin, and understood Greek, he derived the rudiments of
knowledge from conversation, rather than from books; and, in his mature
age, the emperor strove to acquire the practice of writing, which every
peasant now learns in his infancy. The grammar and logic, the music
and astronomy, of the times, were only cultivated as the handmaids of
superstition; but the curiosity of the human mind must ultimately tend
to its improvement, and the encouragement of learning reflects the
purest and most pleasing lustre on the character of Charlemagne. The
dignity of his person, the length of his reign, the prosperity of his
arms, the vigor of his government, and the reverence of distant nations,
distinguish him from the royal crowd; and Europe dates a new æra from
his restoration of the Western empire.

That empire was not unworthy of its title; and some of the fairest
kingdoms of Europe were the patrimony or conquest of a prince, who
reigned at the same time in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Hungary.
I. The Roman province of Gaul had been transformed into the name and
monarchy of France; but, in the decay of the Merovingian line, its
limits were contracted by the independence of the _Britons_ and the
revolt of _Aquitain_. Charlemagne pursued, and confined, the Britons
on the shores of the ocean; and that ferocious tribe, whose origin
and language are so different from the French, was chastised by the
imposition of tribute, hostages, and peace. After a long and evasive
contest, the rebellion of the dukes of Aquitain was punished by the
forfeiture of their province, their liberty, and their lives. Harsh and
rigorous would have been such treatment of ambitious governors, who had
too faithfully copied the mayors of the palace. But a recent discovery
has proved that these unhappy princes were the last and lawful heirs of
the blood and sceptre of Clovis, and younger branch, from the brother of
Dagobert, of the Merovingian house. Their ancient kingdom was reduced to
the duchy of Gascogne, to the counties of Fesenzac and Armagnac, at the
foot of the Pyrenees: their race was propagated till the beginning of
the sixteenth century; and after surviving their Carlovingian tyrants,
they were reserved to feel the injustice, or the favors, of a third
dynasty. By the reunion of Aquitain, France was enlarged to its present
boundaries, with the additions of the Netherlands and Spain, as far
as the Rhine. II. The Saracens had been expelled from France by the
grandfather and father of Charlemagne; but they still possessed the
greatest part of Spain, from the rock of Gibraltar to the Pyrenees.
Amidst their civil divisions, an Arabian emir of Saragossa implored
his protection in the diet of Paderborn. Charlemagne undertook the
expedition, restored the emir, and, without distinction of faith,
impartially crushed the resistance of the Christians, and rewarded the
obedience and services of the Mahometans. In his absence he instituted
the _Spanish march_, which extended from the Pyrenees to the River Ebro:
Barcelona was the residence of the French governor: he possessed the
counties of _Rousillon_ and _Catalonia_; and the infant kingdoms of
_Navarre_ and _Arragon_ were subject to his jurisdiction. III. As king
of the Lombards, and patrician of Rome, he reigned over the greatest
part of Italy, a tract of a thousand miles from the Alps to the borders
of Calabria. The duchy of _Beneventum_, a Lombard fief, had spread,
at the expense of the Greeks, over the modern kingdom of Naples. But
Arrechis, the reigning duke, refused to be included in the slavery of
his country; assumed the independent title of prince; and opposed his
sword to the Carlovingian monarchy. His defence was firm, his submission
was not inglorious, and the emperor was content with an easy tribute,
the demolition of his fortresses, and the acknowledgment, on his coins,
of a supreme lord. The artful flattery of his son Grimoald added the
appellation of father, but he asserted his dignity with prudence, and
Benventum insensibly escaped from the French yoke. IV. Charlemagne
was the first who united Germany under the same sceptre. The name of
_Oriental France_ is preserved in the circle of _Franconia_; and the
people of _Hesse_ and _Thuringia_ were recently incorporated with the
victors, by the conformity of religion and government. The _Alemanni_,
so formidable to the Romans, were the faithful vassals and confederates
of the Franks; and their country was inscribed within the modern limits
of _Alsace_, _Swabia_, and _Switzerland_. The _Bavarians_, with a
similar indulgence of their laws and manners, were less patient of a
master: the repeated treasons of Tasillo justified the abolition of
their hereditary dukes; and their power was shared among the counts, who
judged and guarded that important frontier. But the north of Germany,
from the Rhine and beyond the Elbe, was still hostile and Pagan; nor was
it till after a war of thirty-three years that the Saxons bowed under
the yoke of Christ and of Charlemagne. The idols and their votaries were
extirpated: the foundation of eight bishoprics, of Munster, Osnaburgh,
Paderborn, and Minden, of Bremen, Verden, Hildesheim, and Halberstadt,
define, on either side of the Weser, the bounds of ancient Saxony these
episcopal seats were the first schools and cities of that savage land;
and the religion and humanity of the children atoned, in some degree,
for the massacre of the parents. Beyond the Elbe, the _Slavi_, or
Sclavonians, of similar manners and various denominations, overspread
the modern dominions of Prussia, Poland, and Bohemia, and some transient
marks of obedience have tempted the French historian to extend the
empire to the Baltic and the Vistula. The conquest or conversion
of those countries is of a more recent age; but the first union of
_Bohemia_ with the Germanic body may be justly ascribed to the arms of
Charlemagne. V. He retaliated on the Avars, or Huns of Pannonia, the
same calamities which they had inflicted on the nations. Their rings,
the wooden fortifications which encircled their districts and villages,
were broken down by the triple effort of a French army, that was poured
into their country by land and water, through the Carpathian mountains
and along the plain of the Danube. After a bloody conflict of eight
years, the loss of some French generals was avenged by the slaughter
of the most noble Huns: the relics of the nation submitted the
royal residence of the chagan was left desolate and unknown; and the
treasures, the rapine of two hundred and fifty years, enriched the
victorious troops, or decorated the churches of Italy and Gaul. After
the reduction of Pannonia, the empire of Charlemagne was bounded only by
the conflux of the Danube with the Teyss and the Save: the provinces
of Istria, Liburnia, and Dalmatia, were an easy, though unprofitable,
accession; and it was an effect of his moderation, that he left the
maritime cities under the real or nominal sovereignty of the Greeks. But
these distant possessions added more to the reputation than to the power
of the Latin emperor; nor did he risk any ecclesiastical foundations to
reclaim the Barbarians from their vagrant life and idolatrous worship.
Some canals of communication between the rivers, the Saone and the
Meuse, the Rhine and the Danube, were faintly attempted. Their execution
would have vivified the empire; and more cost and labor were often
wasted in the structure of a cathedral.

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.--Part V.

If we retrace the outlines of this geographical picture, it will be seen
that the empire of the Franks extended, between east and west, from the
Ebro to the Elbe or Vistula; between the north and south, from the duchy
of Beneventum to the River Eyder, the perpetual boundary of Germany
and Denmark. The personal and political importance of Charlemagne
was magnified by the distress and division of the rest of Europe. The
islands of Great Britain and Ireland were disputed by a crowd of princes
of Saxon or Scottish origin: and, after the loss of Spain, the Christian
and Gothic kingdom of Alphonso the Chaste was confined to the narrow
range of the Asturian mountains. These petty sovereigns revered the
power or virtue of the Carlovingian monarch, implored the honor and
support of his alliance, and styled him their common parent, the sole
and supreme emperor of the West. He maintained a more equal intercourse
with the caliph Harun al Rashid, whose dominion stretched from Africa
to India, and accepted from his ambassadors a tent, a water-clock, an
elephant, and the keys of the Holy Sepulchre. It is not easy to conceive
the private friendship of a Frank and an Arab, who were strangers
to each other's person, and language, and religion: but their public
correspondence was founded on vanity, and their remote situation left no
room for a competition of interest. Two thirds of the Western empire of
Rome were subject to Charlemagne, and the deficiency was amply supplied
by his command of the inaccessible or invincible nations of Germany. But
in the choice of his enemies, we may be reasonably surprised that he
so often preferred the poverty of the north to the riches of the south.
The three-and-thirty campaigns laboriously consumed in the woods and
morasses of Germany would have sufficed to assert the amplitude of his
title by the expulsion of the Greeks from Italy and the Saracens from
Spain. The weakness of the Greeks would have insured an easy victory;
and the holy crusade against the Saracens would have been prompted by
glory and revenge, and loudly justified by religion and policy. Perhaps,
in his expeditions beyond the Rhine and the Elbe, he aspired to save
his monarchy from the fate of the Roman empire, to disarm the enemies of
civilized society, and to eradicate the seed of future emigrations.
But it has been wisely observed, that, in a light of precaution, all
conquest must be ineffectual, unless it could be universal, since the
increasing circle must be involved in a larger sphere of hostility. The
subjugation of Germany withdrew the veil which had so long concealed the
continent or islands of Scandinavia from the knowledge of Europe, and
awakened the torpid courage of their barbarous natives. The fiercest of
the Saxon idolaters escaped from the Christian tyrant to their brethren
of the North; the Ocean and Mediterranean were covered with their
piratical fleets; and Charlemagne beheld with a sigh the destructive
progress of the Normans, who, in less than seventy years, precipitated
the fall of his race and monarchy.

Had the pope and the Romans revived the primitive constitution, the
titles of emperor and Augustus were conferred on Charlemagne for
the term of his life; and his successors, on each vacancy, must have
ascended the throne by a formal or tacit election. But the association
of his son Lewis the Pious asserts the independent right of monarchy and
conquest, and the emperor seems on this occasion to have foreseen and
prevented the latent claims of the clergy. The royal youth was commanded
to take the crown from the altar, and with his own hands to place it on
his head, as a gift which he held from God, his father, and the
nation. The same ceremony was repeated, though with less energy, in
the subsequent associations of Lothaire and Lewis the Second: the
Carlovingian sceptre was transmitted from father to son in a lineal
descent of four generations; and the ambition of the popes was reduced
to the empty honor of crowning and anointing these hereditary princes,
who were already invested with their power and dominions. The
pious Lewis survived his brothers, and embraced the whole empire
of Charlemagne; but the nations and the nobles, his bishops and his
children, quickly discerned that this mighty mass was no longer inspired
by the same soul; and the foundations were undermined to the centre,
while the external surface was yet fair and entire. After a war, or
battle, which consumed one hundred thousand Franks, the empire was
divided by treaty between his three sons, who had violated every filial
and fraternal duty. The kingdoms of Germany and France were forever
separated; the provinces of Gaul, between the Rhone and the Alps, the
Meuse and the Rhine, were assigned, with Italy, to the Imperial dignity
of Lothaire. In the partition of his share, Lorraine and Arles, two
recent and transitory kingdoms, were bestowed on the younger children;
and Lewis the Second, his eldest son, was content with the realm of
Italy, the proper and sufficient patrimony of a Roman emperor. On his
death without any male issue, the vacant throne was disputed by his
uncles and cousins, and the popes most dexterously seized the occasion
of judging the claims and merits of the candidates, and of bestowing on
the most obsequious, or most liberal, the Imperial office of advocate of
the Roman church. The dregs of the Carlovingian race no longer exhibited
any symptoms of virtue or power, and the ridiculous epithets of the
_bard_, the _stammerer_, the _fat_, and the _simple_, distinguished
the tame and uniform features of a crowd of kings alike deserving
of oblivion. By the failure of the collateral branches, the whole
inheritance devolved to Charles the Fat, the last emperor of his family:
his insanity authorized the desertion of Germany, Italy, and France: he
was deposed in a diet, and solicited his daily bread from the rebels by
whose contempt his life and liberty had been spared. According to the
measure of their force, the governors, the bishops, and the lords,
usurped the fragments of the falling empire; and some preference was
shown to the female or illegitimate blood of Charlemagne. Of the greater
part, the title and possession were alike doubtful, and the merit was
adequate to the contracted scale of their dominions. Those who could
appear with an army at the gates of Rome were crowned emperors in
the Vatican; but their modesty was more frequently satisfied with the
appellation of kings of Italy: and the whole term of seventy-four years
may be deemed a vacancy, from the abdication of Charles the Fat to the
establishment of Otho the First.

Otho was of the noble race of the dukes of Saxony; and if he truly
descended from Witikind, the adversary and proselyte of Charlemagne,
the posterity of a vanquished people was exalted to reign over their
conquerors. His father, Henry the Fowler, was elected, by the suffrage
of the nation, to save and institute the kingdom of Germany. Its limits
were enlarged on every side by his son, the first and greatest of the
Othos. A portion of Gaul, to the west of the Rhine, along the banks of
the Meuse and the Moselle, was assigned to the Germans, by whose blood
and language it has been tinged since the time of Cæsar and Tacitus.
Between the Rhine, the Rhone, and the Alps, the successors of Otho
acquired a vain supremacy over the broken kingdoms of Burgundy and
Arles. In the North, Christianity was propagated by the sword of Otho,
the conqueror and apostle of the Slavic nations of the Elbe and Oder:
the marches of Brandenburgh and Sleswick were fortified with German
colonies; and the king of Denmark, the dukes of Poland and Bohemia,
confessed themselves his tributary vassals. At the head of a victorious
army, he passed the Alps, subdued the kingdom of Italy, delivered the
pope, and forever fixed the Imperial crown in the name and nation of
Germany. From that memorable æra, two maxims of public jurisprudence
were introduced by force and ratified by time. I. _That_ the prince, who
was elected in the German diet, acquired, from that instant, the subject
kingdoms of Italy and Rome. II. But that he might not legally assume the
titles of emperor and Augustus, till he had received the crown from the
hands of the Roman pontiff.

The Imperial dignity of Charlemagne was announced to the East by the
alteration of his style; and instead of saluting his fathers, the Greek
emperors, he presumed to adopt the more equal and familiar appellation
of brother. Perhaps in his connection with Irene he aspired to the name
of husband: his embassy to Constantinople spoke the language of peace
and friendship, and might conceal a treaty of marriage with that
ambitious princess, who had renounced the most sacred duties of a
mother. The nature, the duration, the probable consequences of such a
union between two distant and dissonant empires, it is impossible to
conjecture; but the unanimous silence of the Latins may teach us to
suspect, that the report was invented by the enemies of Irene, to charge
her with the guilt of betraying the church and state to the strangers
of the West. The French ambassadors were the spectators, and had nearly
been the victims, of the conspiracy of Nicephorus, and the national
hatred. Constantinople was exasperated by the treason and sacrilege
of ancient Rome: a proverb, "That the Franks were good friends and bad
neighbors," was in every one's mouth; but it was dangerous to provoke a
neighbor who might be tempted to reiterate, in the church of St. Sophia,
the ceremony of his Imperial coronation. After a tedious journey of
circuit and delay, the ambassadors of Nicephorus found him in his camp,
on the banks of the River Sala; and Charlemagne affected to confound
their vanity by displaying, in a Franconian village, the pomp, or at
least the pride, of the Byzantine palace. The Greeks were successively
led through four halls of audience: in the first they were ready to
fall prostrate before a splendid personage in a chair of state, till he
informed them that he was only a servant, the constable, or master of
the horse, of the emperor. The same mistake, and the same answer, were
repeated in the apartments of the count palatine, the steward, and the
chamberlain; and their impatience was gradually heightened, till the
doors of the presence-chamber were thrown open, and they beheld the
genuine monarch, on his throne, enriched with the foreign luxury which
he despised, and encircled with the love and reverence of his victorious
chiefs. A treaty of peace and alliance was concluded between the two
empires, and the limits of the East and West were defined by the right
of present possession. But the Greeks soon forgot this humiliating
equality, or remembered it only to hate the Barbarians by whom it was
extorted. During the short union of virtue and power, they respectfully
saluted the _august_ Charlemagne, with the acclamations of _basileus_,
and emperor of the Romans. As soon as these qualities were separated in
the person of his pious son, the Byzantine letters were inscribed,
"To the king, or, as he styles himself, the emperor of the Franks and
Lombards." When both power and virtue were extinct, they despoiled Lewis
the Second of his hereditary title, and with the barbarous appellation
of rex or _rega_, degraded him among the crowd of Latin princes. His
reply is expressive of his weakness: he proves, with some learning,
that, both in sacred and profane history, the name of king is synonymous
with the Greek word _basileus_: if, at Constantinople, it were assumed
in a more exclusive and imperial sense, he claims from his ancestors,
and from the popes, a just participation of the honors of the Roman
purple. The same controversy was revived in the reign of the Othos;
and their ambassador describes, in lively colors, the insolence of
the Byzantine court. The Greeks affected to despise the poverty and
ignorance of the Franks and Saxons; and in their last decline refused to
prostitute to the kings of Germany the title of Roman emperors.

These emperors, in the election of the popes, continued to exercise the
powers which had been assumed by the Gothic and Grecian princes; and the
importance of this prerogative increased with the temporal estate
and spiritual jurisdiction of the Roman church. In the Christian
aristocracy, the principal members of the clergy still formed a senate
to assist the administration, and to supply the vacancy, of the bishop.
Rome was divided into twenty-eight parishes, and each parish was
governed by a cardinal priest, or presbyter, a title which, however
common or modest in its origin, has aspired to emulate the purple of
kings. Their number was enlarged by the association of the seven deacons
of the most considerable hospitals, the seven palatine judges of the
Lateran, and some dignitaries of the church. This ecclesiastical senate
was directed by the seven cardinal-bishops of the Roman province, who
were less occupied in the suburb dioceses of Ostia, Porto, Velitræ,
Tusculum, Præneste, Tibur, and the Sabines, than by their weekly service
in the Lateran, and their superior share in the honors and authority of
the apostolic see. On the death of the pope, these bishops recommended a
successor to the suffrage of the college of cardinals, and their choice
was ratified or rejected by the applause or clamor of the Roman people.
But the election was imperfect; nor could the pontiff be legally
consecrated till the emperor, the advocate of the church, had graciously
signified his approbation and consent. The royal commissioner examined,
on the spot, the form and freedom of the proceedings; nor was it till
after a previous scrutiny into the qualifications of the candidates,
that he accepted an oath of fidelity, and confirmed the donations which
had successively enriched the patrimony of St. Peter. In the frequent
schisms, the rival claims were submitted to the sentence of the emperor;
and in a synod of bishops he presumed to judge, to condemn, and to
punish, the crimes of a guilty pontiff. Otho the First imposed a treaty
on the senate and people, who engaged to prefer the candidate most
acceptable to his majesty: his successors anticipated or prevented their
choice: they bestowed the Roman benefice, like the bishoprics of Cologne
or Bamberg, on their chancellors or preceptors; and whatever might
be the merit of a Frank or Saxon, his name sufficiently attests the
interposition of foreign power. These acts of prerogative were most
speciously excused by the vices of a popular election. The competitor
who had been excluded by the cardinals appealed to the passions or
avarice of the multitude; the Vatican and the Lateran were stained with
blood; and the most powerful senators, the marquises of Tuscany and the
counts of Tusculum, held the apostolic see in a long and disgraceful
servitude. The Roman pontiffs, of the ninth and tenth centuries, were
insulted, imprisoned, and murdered, by their tyrants; and such was
their indigence, after the loss and usurpation of the ecclesiastical
patrimonies, that they could neither support the state of a prince,
nor exercise the charity of a priest. The influence of two sister
prostitutes, Marozia and Theodora, was founded on their wealth and
beauty, their political and amorous intrigues: the most strenuous of
their lovers were rewarded with the Roman mitre, and their reign may
have suggested to the darker ages the fable of a female pope. The
bastard son, the grandson, and the great-grandson of Marozia, a rare
genealogy, were seated in the chair of St. Peter, and it was at the age
of nineteen years that the second of these became the head of the Latin
church. His youth and manhood were of a suitable complexion; and the
nations of pilgrims could bear testimony to the charges that were urged
against him in a Roman synod, and in the presence of Otho the Great. As
John XII. had renounced the dress and decencies of his profession, the
_soldier_ may not perhaps be dishonored by the wine which he drank,
the blood that he spilt, the flames that he kindled, or the licentious
pursuits of gaming and hunting. His open simony might be the consequence
of distress; and his blasphemous invocation of Jupiter and Venus, if it
be true, could not possibly be serious. But we read, with some surprise,
that the worthy grandson of Marozia lived in public adultery with the
matrons of Rome; that the Lateran palace was turned into a school for
prostitution, and that his rapes of virgins and widows had deterred the
female pilgrims from visiting the tomb of St. Peter, lest, in the devout
act, they should be violated by his successor. The Protestants have
dwelt with malicious pleasure on these characters of Antichrist; but to
a philosophic eye, the vices of the clergy are far less dangerous than
their virtues. After a long series of scandal, the apostolic see was
reformed and exalted by the austerity and zeal of Gregory VII. That
ambitious monk devoted his life to the execution of two projects. I.
To fix in the college of cardinals the freedom and independence of
election, and forever to abolish the right or usurpation of the emperors
and the Roman people. II. To bestow and resume the Western empire as a
fief or benefice of the church, and to extend his temporal dominion over
the kings and kingdoms of the earth. After a contest of fifty years,
the first of these designs was accomplished by the firm support of the
ecclesiastical order, whose liberty was connected with that of their
chief. But the second attempt, though it was crowned with some partial
and apparent success, has been vigorously resisted by the secular power,
and finally extinguished by the improvement of human reason.

In the revival of the empire of empire of Rome, neither the bishop nor
the people could bestow on Charlemagne or Otho the provinces which were
lost, as they had been won, by the chance of arms. But the Romans were
free to choose a master for themselves; and the powers which had been
delegated to the patrician, were irrevocably granted to the French and
Saxon emperors of the West. The broken records of the times preserve
some remembrance of their palace, their mint, their tribunal, their
edicts, and the sword of justice, which, as late as the thirteenth
century, was derived from Cæsar to the præfect of the city. Between the
arts of the popes and the violence of the people, this supremacy
was crushed and annihilated. Content with the titles of emperor and
Augustus, the successors of Charlemagne neglected to assert this local
jurisdiction. In the hour of prosperity, their ambition was diverted by
more alluring objects; and in the decay and division of the empire, they
were oppressed by the defence of their hereditary provinces. Amidst the
ruins of Italy, the famous Marozia invited one of the usurpers to assume
the character of her third husband; and Hugh, king of Burgundy was
introduced by her faction into the mole of Hadrian or Castle of St.
Angelo, which commands the principal bridge and entrance of Rome. Her
son by the first marriage, Alberic, was compelled to attend at the
nuptial banquet; but his reluctant and ungraceful service was chastised
with a blow by his new father. The blow was productive of a revolution.
"Romans," exclaimed the youth, "once you were the masters of the world,
and these Burgundians the most abject of your slaves. They now reign,
these voracious and brutal savages, and my injury is the commencement
of your servitude." The alarum bell rang to arms in every quarter of
the city: the Burgundians retreated with haste and shame; Marozia was
imprisoned by her victorious son, and his brother, Pope John XI., was
reduced to the exercise of his spiritual functions. With the title of
prince, Alberic possessed above twenty years the government of Rome;
and he is said to have gratified the popular prejudice, by restoring the
office, or at least the title, of consuls and tribunes. His son and heir
Octavian assumed, with the pontificate, the name of John XII.: like his
predecessor, he was provoked by the Lombard princes to seek a deliverer
for the church and republic; and the services of Otho were rewarded
with the Imperial dignity. But the Saxon was imperious, the Romans were
impatient, the festival of the coronation was disturbed by the secret
conflict of prerogative and freedom, and Otho commanded his sword-bearer
not to stir from his person, lest he should be assaulted and murdered
at the foot of the altar. Before he repassed the Alps, the emperor
chastised the revolt of the people and the ingratitude of John XII. The
pope was degraded in a synod; the præfect was mounted on an ass, whipped
through the city, and cast into a dungeon; thirteen of the most guilty
were hanged, others were mutilated or banished; and this severe process
was justified by the ancient laws of Theodosius and Justinian. The voice
of fame has accused the second Otho of a perfidious and bloody act, the
massacre of the senators, whom he had invited to his table under the
fair semblance of hospitality and friendship. In the minority of his son
Otho the Third, Rome made a bold attempt to shake off the Saxon yoke,
and the consul Crescentius was the Brutus of the republic. From the
condition of a subject and an exile, he twice rose to the command of
the city, oppressed, expelled, and created the popes, and formed a
conspiracy for restoring the authority of the Greek emperors. In
the fortress of St. Angelo, he maintained an obstinate siege, till the
unfortunate consul was betrayed by a promise of safety: his body was
suspended on a gibbet, and his head was exposed on the battlements of
the castle. By a reverse of fortune, Otho, after separating his troops,
was besieged three days, without food, in his palace; and a disgraceful
escape saved him from the justice or fury of the Romans. The senator
Ptolemy was the leader of the people, and the widow of Crescentius
enjoyed the pleasure or the fame of revenging her husband, by a poison
which she administered to her Imperial lover. It was the design of Otho
the Third to abandon the ruder countries of the North, to erect his
throne in Italy, and to revive the institutions of the Roman monarchy.
But his successors only once in their lives appeared on the banks of
the Tyber, to receive their crown in the Vatican. Their absence was
contemptible, their presence odious and formidable. They descended
from the Alps, at the head of their barbarians, who were strangers and
enemies to the country; and their transient visit was a scene of tumult
and bloodshed. A faint remembrance of their ancestors still tormented
the Romans; and they beheld with pious indignation the succession of
Saxons, Franks, Swabians, and Bohemians, who usurped the purple and
prerogatives of the Cæsars.

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.--Part VI.

There is nothing perhaps more adverse to nature and reason than to hold
in obedience remote countries and foreign nations, in opposition to
their inclination and interest. A torrent of Barbarians may pass over
the earth, but an extensive empire must be supported by a refined system
of policy and oppression; in the centre, an absolute power, prompt in
action and rich in resources; a swift and easy communication with the
extreme parts; fortifications to check the first effort of rebellion;
a regular administration to protect and punish; and a well-disciplined
army to inspire fear, without provoking discontent and despair. Far
different was the situation of the German Cæsars, who were ambitious to
enslave the kingdom of Italy. Their patrimonial estates were stretched
along the Rhine, or scattered in the provinces; but this ample domain
was alienated by the imprudence or distress of successive princes;
and their revenue, from minute and vexatious prerogative, was scarcely
sufficient for the maintenance of their household. Their troops were
formed by the legal or voluntary service of their feudal vassals, who
passed the Alps with reluctance, assumed the license of rapine and
disorder, and capriciously deserted before the end of the campaign.
Whole armies were swept away by the pestilential influence of the
climate: the survivors brought back the bones of their princes and
nobles, and the effects of their own intemperance were often imputed to
the treachery and malice of the Italians, who rejoiced at least in the
calamities of the Barbarians. This irregular tyranny might contend on
equal terms with the petty tyrants of Italy; nor can the people, or
the reader, be much interested in the event of the quarrel. But in the
eleventh and twelfth centuries, the Lombards rekindled the flame of
industry and freedom; and the generous example was at length imitated by
the republics of Tuscany. In the Italian cities a municipal government
had never been totally abolished; and their first privileges were
granted by the favor and policy of the emperors, who were desirous of
erecting a plebeian barrier against the independence of the nobles.
But their rapid progress, the daily extension of their power and
pretensions, were founded on the numbers and spirit of these rising
communities. Each city filled the measure of her diocese or district:
the jurisdiction of the counts and bishops, of the marquises and counts,
was banished from the land; and the proudest nobles were persuaded or
compelled to desert their solitary castles, and to embrace the more
honorable character of freemen and magistrates. The legislative
authority was inherent in the general assembly; but the executive powers
were intrusted to three consuls, annually chosen from the three orders
of _captains_, _valvassors_, and commons, into which the republic was
divided. Under the protection of equal law, the labors of agriculture
and commerce were gradually revived; but the martial spirit of the
Lombards was nourished by the presence of danger; and as often as the
bell was rung, or the standard erected, the gates of the city poured
forth a numerous and intrepid band, whose zeal in their own cause was
soon guided by the use and discipline of arms. At the foot of these
popular ramparts, the pride of the Cæsars was overthrown; and the
invincible genius of liberty prevailed over the two Frederics, the
greatest princes of the middle age; the first, superior perhaps in
military prowess; the second, who undoubtedly excelled in the softer
accomplishments of peace and learning.

Ambitious of restoring the splendor of the purple, Frederic the First
invaded the republics of Lombardy, with the arts of a statesman, the
valor of a soldier, and the cruelty of a tyrant. The recent discovery of
the Pandects had renewed a science most favorable to despotism; and his
venal advocates proclaimed the emperor the absolute master of the lives
and properties of his subjects. His royal prerogatives, in a less odious
sense, were acknowledged in the diet of Roncaglia; and the revenue
of Italy was fixed at thirty thousand pounds of silver, which were
multiplied to an indefinite demand by the rapine of the fiscal officers.
The obstinate cities were reduced by the terror or the force of his
arms: his captives were delivered to the executioner, or shot from
his military engines; and after the siege and surrender of Milan,
the buildings of that stately capital were razed to the ground, three
hundred hostages were sent into Germany, and the inhabitants were
dispersed in four villages, under the yoke of the inflexible conqueror.
But Milan soon rose from her ashes; and the league of Lombardy was
cemented by distress: their cause was espoused by Venice, Pope
Alexander the Third, and the Greek emperor: the fabric of oppression
was overturned in a day; and in the treaty of Constance, Frederic
subscribed, with some reservations, the freedom of four-and-twenty
cities. His grandson contended with their vigor and maturity; but
Frederic the Second was endowed with some personal and peculiar
advantages. His birth and education recommended him to the Italians;
and in the implacable discord of the two factions, the Ghibelins were
attached to the emperor, while the Guelfs displayed the banner of
liberty and the church. The court of Rome had slumbered, when his father
Henry the Sixth was permitted to unite with the empire the kingdoms of
Naples and Sicily; and from these hereditary realms the son derived an
ample and ready supply of troops and treasure. Yet Frederic the Second
was finally oppressed by the arms of the Lombards and the thunders of
the Vatican: his kingdom was given to a stranger, and the last of his
family was beheaded at Naples on a public scaffold. During sixty years,
no emperor appeared in Italy, and the name was remembered only by the
ignominious sale of the last relics of sovereignty.

The Barbarian conquerors of the West were pleased to decorate their
chief with the title of emperor; but it was not their design to invest
him with the despotism of Constantine and Justinian. The persons of the
Germans were free, their conquests were their own, and their
national character was animated by a spirit which scorned the servile
jurisprudence of the new or the ancient Rome. It would have been a vain
and dangerous attempt to impose a monarch on the armed freemen, who
were impatient of a magistrate; on the bold, who refused to obey; on the
powerful, who aspired to command. The empire of Charlemagne and Otho was
distributed among the dukes of the nations or provinces, the counts of
the smaller districts, and the margraves of the marches or frontiers,
who all united the civil and military authority as it had been delegated
to the lieutenants of the first Cæsars. The Roman governors, who,
for the most part, were soldiers of fortune, seduced their mercenary
legions, assumed the Imperial purple, and either failed or succeeded in
their revolt, without wounding the power and unity of government. If the
dukes, margraves, and counts of Germany, were less audacious in
their claims, the consequences of their success were more lasting and
pernicious to the state. Instead of aiming at the supreme rank,
they silently labored to establish and appropriate their provincial
independence. Their ambition was seconded by the weight of their estates
and vassals, their mutual example and support, the common interest
of the subordinate nobility, the change of princes and families, the
minorities of Otho the Third and Henry the Fourth, the ambition of the
popes, and the vain pursuit of the fugitive crowns of Italy and Rome.
All the attributes of regal and territorial jurisdiction were gradually
usurped by the commanders of the provinces; the right of peace and war,
of life and death, of coinage and taxation, of foreign alliance and
domestic economy. Whatever had been seized by violence, was ratified
by favor or distress, was granted as the price of a doubtful vote or a
voluntary service; whatever had been granted to one could not, without
injury, be denied to his successor or equal; and every act of local or
temporary possession was insensibly moulded into the constitution of the
Germanic kingdom. In every province, the visible presence of the duke or
count was interposed between the throne and the nobles; the subjects of
the law became the vassals of a private chief; and the standard which
_he_ received from his sovereign, was often raised against him in the
field. The temporal power of the clergy was cherished and exalted by
the superstition or policy of the Carlovingian and Saxon dynasties, who
blindly depended on their moderation and fidelity; and the bishoprics of
Germany were made equal in extent and privilege, superior in wealth and
population, to the most ample states of the military order. As long
as the emperors retained the prerogative of bestowing on every vacancy
these ecclesiastic and secular benefices, their cause was maintained
by the gratitude or ambition of their friends and favorites. But in the
quarrel of the investitures, they were deprived of their influence over
the episcopal chapters; the freedom of election was restored, and the
sovereign was reduced, by a solemn mockery, to his _first prayers_, the
recommendation, once in his reign, to a single prebend in each church.
The secular governors, instead of being recalled at the will of a
superior, could be degraded only by the sentence of their peers. In the
first age of the monarchy, the appointment of the son to the duchy
or county of his father, was solicited as a favor; it was gradually
obtained as a custom, and extorted as a right: the lineal succession was
often extended to the collateral or female branches; the states of the
empire (their popular, and at length their legal, appellation) were
divided and alienated by testament and sale; and all idea of a public
trust was lost in that of a private and perpetual inheritance. The
emperor could not even be enriched by the casualties of forfeiture and
extinction: within the term of a year, he was obliged to dispose of the
vacant fief; and, in the choice of the candidate, it was his duty to
consult either the general or the provincial diet.

After the death of Frederic the Second, Germany was left a monster with
a hundred heads. A crowd of princes and prelates disputed the ruins of
the empire: the lords of innumerable castles were less prone to obey,
than to imitate, their superiors; and, according to the measure of their
strength, their incessant hostilities received the names of conquest
or robbery. Such anarchy was the inevitable consequence of the laws and
manners of Europe; and the kingdoms of France and Italy were shivered
into fragments by the violence of the same tempest. But the Italian
cities and the French vassals were divided and destroyed, while the
union of the Germans has produced, under the name of an empire, a
great system of a federative republic. In the frequent and at last the
perpetual institution of diets, a national spirit was kept alive, and
the powers of a common legislature are still exercised by the three
branches or colleges of the electors, the princes, and the free and
Imperial cities of Germany. I. Seven of the most powerful feudatories
were permitted to assume, with a distinguished name and rank, the
exclusive privilege of choosing the Roman emperor; and these electors
were the king of Bohemia, the duke of Saxony, the margrave of
Brandenburgh, the count palatine of the Rhine, and the three archbishops
of Mentz, of Treves, and of Cologne. II. The college of princes and
prelates purged themselves of a promiscuous multitude: they reduced to
four representative votes the long series of independent counts, and
excluded the nobles or equestrian order, sixty thousand of whom, as in
the Polish diets, had appeared on horseback in the field of election.
III. The pride of birth and dominion, of the sword and the mitre, wisely
adopted the commons as the third branch of the legislature, and, in the
progress of society, they were introduced about the same æra into the
national assemblies of France England, and Germany. The Hanseatic League
commanded the trade and navigation of the north: the confederates of
the Rhine secured the peace and intercourse of the inland country; the
influence of the cities has been adequate to their wealth and policy,
and their negative still invalidates the acts of the two superior
colleges of electors and princes.

It is in the fourteenth century that we may view in the strongest light
the state and contrast of the Roman empire of Germany, which no longer
held, except on the borders of the Rhine and Danube, a single province
of Trajan or Constantine. Their unworthy successors were the counts of
Hapsburgh, of Nassau, of Luxemburgh, and Schwartzenburgh: the emperor
Henry the Seventh procured for his son the crown of Bohemia, and
his grandson Charles the Fourth was born among a people strange and
barbarous in the estimation of the Germans themselves. After the
excommunication of Lewis of Bavaria, he received the gift or promise
of the vacant empire from the Roman pontiffs, who, in the exile and
captivity of Avignon, affected the dominion of the earth. The death
of his competitors united the electoral college, and Charles was
unanimously saluted king of the Romans, and future emperor; a title
which, in the same age, was prostituted to the Cæsars of Germany and
Greece. The German emperor was no more than the elective and impotent
magistrate of an aristocracy of princes, who had not left him a village
that he might call his own. His best prerogative was the right of
presiding and proposing in the national senate, which was convened at
his summons; and his native kingdom of Bohemia, less opulent than the
adjacent city of Nuremberg, was the firmest seat of his power and the
richest source of his revenue. The army with which he passed the Alps
consisted of three hundred horse. In the cathedral of St. Ambrose,
Charles was crowned with the _iron_ crown, which tradition ascribed to
the Lombard monarchy; but he was admitted only with a peaceful train;
the gates of the city were shut upon him; and the king of Italy was
held a captive by the arms of the Visconti, whom he confirmed in the
sovereignty of Milan. In the Vatican he was again crowned with the
_golden_ crown of the empire; but, in obedience to a secret treaty,
the Roman emperor immediately withdrew, without reposing a single night
within the walls of Rome. The eloquent Petrarch, whose fancy revived the
visionary glories of the Capitol, deplores and upbraids the ignominious
flight of the Bohemian; and even his contemporaries could observe,
that the sole exercise of his authority was in the lucrative sale of
privileges and titles. The gold of Italy secured the election of his
son; but such was the shameful poverty of the Roman emperor, that
his person was arrested by a butcher in the streets of Worms, and was
detained in the public inn, as a pledge or hostage for the payment of
his expenses.

From this humiliating scene, let us turn to the apparent majesty of the
same Charles in the diets of the empire. The golden bull, which fixes
the Germanic constitution, is promulgated in the style of a sovereign
and legislator. A hundred princes bowed before his throne, and exalted
their own dignity by the voluntary honors which they yielded to their
chief or minister. At the royal banquet, the hereditary great officers,
the seven electors, who in rank and title were equal to kings, performed
their solemn and domestic service of the palace. The seals of the triple
kingdom were borne in state by the archbishops of Mentz, Cologne, and
Treves, the perpetual arch-chancellors of Germany, Italy, and Arles.
The great marshal, on horseback, exercised his function with a silver
measure of oats, which he emptied on the ground, and immediately
dismounted to regulate the order of the guests The great steward, the
count palatine of the Rhine, place the dishes on the table. The great
chamberlain, the margrave of Brandenburgh, presented, after the repast,
the golden ewer and basin, to wash. The king of Bohemia, as great
cup-bearer, was represented by the emperor's brother, the duke of
Luxemburgh and Brabant; and the procession was closed by the great
huntsmen, who introduced a boar and a stag, with a loud chorus of horns
and hounds. Nor was the supremacy of the emperor confined to Germany
alone: the hereditary monarchs of Europe confessed the preëminence of
his rank and dignity: he was the first of the Christian princes, the
temporal head of the great republic of the West: to his person the title
of majesty was long appropriated; and he disputed with the pope the
sublime prerogative of creating kings and assembling councils. The
oracle of the civil law, the learned Bartolus, was a pensioner of
Charles the Fourth; and his school resounded with the doctrine, that the
Roman emperor was the rightful sovereign of the earth, from the rising
to the setting sun. The contrary opinion was condemned, not as an error,
but as a heresy, since even the gospel had pronounced, "And there went
forth a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that _all the world_ should be

If we annihilate the interval of time and space between Augustus and
Charles, strong and striking will be the contrast between the two
Cæsars; the Bohemian who concealed his weakness under the mask of
ostentation, and the Roman, who disguised his strength under the
semblance of modesty. At the head of his victorious legions, in his
reign over the sea and land, from the Nile and Euphrates to the Atlantic
Ocean, Augustus professed himself the servant of the state and the equal
of his fellow-citizens. The conqueror of Rome and her provinces assumed
a popular and legal form of a censor, a consul, and a tribune. His will
was the law of mankind, but in the declaration of his laws he borrowed
the voice of the senate and people; and from their decrees their
master accepted and renewed his temporary commission to administer the
republic. In his dress, his domestics, his titles, in all the offices of
social life, Augustus maintained the character of a private Roman; and
his most artful flatterers respected the secret of his absolute and
perpetual monarchy.

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part I.

     Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Birth,
     Character, And Doctrine Of Mahomet.--He Preaches At Mecca.--
     Flies To Medina.--Propagates His Religion By The Sword.--
     Voluntary Or Reluctant Submission Of The Arabs.--His Death
     And Successors.--The Claims And Fortunes Of All And His

After pursuing above six hundred years the fleeting Cæsars of
Constantinople and Germany, I now descend, in the reign of Heraclius, on
the eastern borders of the Greek monarchy. While the state was exhausted
by the Persian war, and the church was distracted by the Nestorian and
Monophysite sects, Mahomet, with the sword in one hand and the Koran in
the other, erected his throne on the ruins of Christianity and of Rome.
The genius of the Arabian prophet, the manners of his nation, and the
spirit of his religion, involve the causes of the decline and fall of
the Eastern empire; and our eyes are curiously intent on one of the most
memorable revolutions, which have impressed a new and lasting character
on the nations of the globe.

In the vacant space between Persia, Syria, Egypt, and Æthiopia, the
Arabian peninsula may be conceived as a triangle of spacious but
irregular dimensions. From the northern point of Beles on the Euphrates,
a line of fifteen hundred miles is terminated by the Straits of
Bebelmandel and the land of frankincense. About half this length may be
allowed for the middle breadth, from east to west, from Bassora to Suez,
from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea. The sides of the triangle are
gradually enlarged, and the southern basis presents a front of a
thousand miles to the Indian Ocean. The entire surface of the peninsula
exceeds in a fourfold proportion that of Germany or France; but the
far greater part has been justly stigmatized with the epithets of the
_stony_ and the _sandy_. Even the wilds of Tartary are decked, by the
hand of nature, with lofty trees and luxuriant herbage; and the lonesome
traveller derives a sort of comfort and society from the presence of
vegetable life. But in the dreary waste of Arabia, a boundless level of
sand is intersected by sharp and naked mountains; and the face of the
desert, without shade or shelter, is scorched by the direct and intense
rays of a tropical sun. Instead of refreshing breezes, the winds,
particularly from the south-west, diffuse a noxious and even deadly
vapor; the hillocks of sand which they alternately raise and scatter,
are compared to the billows of the ocean, and whole caravans, whole
armies, have been lost and buried in the whirlwind. The common benefits
of water are an object of desire and contest; and such is the scarcity
of wood, that some art is requisite to preserve and propagate the
element of fire. Arabia is destitute of navigable rivers, which
fertilize the soil, and convey its produce to the adjacent regions: the
torrents that fall from the hills are imbibed by the thirsty earth: the
rare and hardy plants, the tamarind or the acacia, that strike their
roots into the clefts of the rocks, are nourished by the dews of the
night: a scanty supply of rain is collected in cisterns and aqueducts:
the wells and springs are the secret treasure of the desert; and the
pilgrim of Mecca, after many a dry and sultry march, is disgusted by
the taste of the waters which have rolled over a bed of sulphur or salt.
Such is the general and genuine picture of the climate of Arabia.
The experience of evil enhances the value of any local or partial
enjoyments. A shady grove, a green pasture, a stream of fresh water, are
sufficient to attract a colony of sedentary Arabs to the fortunate spots
which can afford food and refreshment to themselves and their cattle,
and which encourage their industry in the cultivation of the palmtree
and the vine. The high lands that border on the Indian Ocean are
distinguished by their superior plenty of wood and water; the air is
more temperate, the fruits are more delicious, the animals and the human
race more numerous: the fertility of the soil invites and rewards the
toil of the husbandman; and the peculiar gifts of frankincense and
coffee have attracted in different ages the merchants of the world. If
it be compared with the rest of the peninsula, this sequestered region
may truly deserve the appellation of the _happy_; and the splendid
coloring of fancy and fiction has been suggested by contrast, and
countenanced by distance. It was for this earthly paradise that Nature
had reserved her choicest favors and her most curious workmanship: the
incompatible blessings of luxury and innocence were ascribed to the
natives: the soil was impregnated with gold and gems, and both the
land and sea were taught to exhale the odors of aromatic sweets. This
division of the _sandy_, the _stony_, and the _happy_, so familiar to
the Greeks and Latins, is unknown to the Arabians themselves; and it
is singular enough, that a country, whose language and inhabitants have
ever been the same, should scarcely retain a vestige of its ancient
geography. The maritime districts of _Bahrein_ and _Oman_ are opposite
to the realm of Persia. The kingdom of _Yemen_ displays the limits, or
at least the situation, of Arabia Felix: the name of _Neged_ is extended
over the inland space; and the birth of Mahomet has illustrated the
province of _Hejaz_ along the coast of the Red Sea.

The measure of population is regulated by the means of subsistence;
and the inhabitants of this vast peninsula might be outnumbered by the
subjects of a fertile and industrious province. Along the shores of the
Persian Gulf, of the ocean, and even of the Red Sea, the _Icthyophagi_,
or fish eaters, continued to wander in quest of their precarious food.
In this primitive and abject state, which ill deserves the name of
society, the human brute, without arts or laws, almost without sense or
language, is poorly distinguished from the rest of the animal creation.
Generations and ages might roll away in silent oblivion, and the
helpless savage was restrained from multiplying his race by the wants
and pursuits which confined his existence to the narrow margin of the
seacoast. But in an early period of antiquity the great body of the
Arabs had emerged from this scene of misery; and as the naked wilderness
could not maintain a people of hunters, they rose at once to the more
secure and plentiful condition of the pastoral life. The same life
is uniformly pursued by the roving tribes of the desert; and in the
portrait of the modern _Bedoweens_, we may trace the features of their
ancestors, who, in the age of Moses or Mahomet, dwelt under similar
tents, and conducted their horses, and camels, and sheep, to the same
springs and the same pastures. Our toil is lessened, and our wealth
is increased, by our dominion over the useful animals; and the Arabian
shepherd had acquired the absolute possession of a faithful friend and
a laborious slave. Arabia, in the opinion of the naturalist, is
the genuine and original country of the _horse_; the climate most
propitious, not indeed to the size, but to the spirit and swiftness,
of that generous animal. The merit of the Barb, the Spanish, and the
English breed, is derived from a mixture of Arabian blood: the Bedoweens
preserve, with superstitious care, the honors and the memory of the
purest race: the males are sold at a high price, but the females are
seldom alienated; and the birth of a noble foal was esteemed among the
tribes, as a subject of joy and mutual congratulation. These horses are
educated in the tents, among the children of the Arabs, with a
tender familiarity, which trains them in the habits of gentleness
and attachment. They are accustomed only to walk and to gallop: their
sensations are not blunted by the incessant abuse of the spur and the
whip: their powers are reserved for the moments of flight and pursuit:
but no sooner do they feel the touch of the hand or the stirrup, than
they dart away with the swiftness of the wind; and if their friend
be dismounted in the rapid career, they instantly stop till he has
recovered his seat. In the sands of Africa and Arabia, the _camel_ is
a sacred and precious gift. That strong and patient beast of burden can
perform, without eating or drinking, a journey of several days; and a
reservoir of fresh water is preserved in a large bag, a fifth stomach
of the animal, whose body is imprinted with the marks of servitude: the
larger breed is capable of transporting a weight of a thousand pounds;
and the dromedary, of a lighter and more active frame, outstrips the
fleetest courser in the race. Alive or dead, almost every part of the
camel is serviceable to man: her milk is plentiful and nutritious:
the young and tender flesh has the taste of veal: a valuable salt is
extracted from the urine: the dung supplies the deficiency of fuel;
and the long hair, which falls each year and is renewed, is coarsely
manufactured into the garments, the furniture, and the tents of the
Bedoweens. In the rainy seasons, they consume the rare and insufficient
herbage of the desert: during the heats of summer and the scarcity of
winter, they remove their encampments to the sea-coast, the hills of
Yemen, or the neighborhood of the Euphrates, and have often extorted the
dangerous license of visiting the banks of the Nile, and the villages
of Syria and Palestine. The life of a wandering Arab is a life of
danger and distress; and though sometimes, by rapine or exchange, he may
appropriate the fruits of industry, a private citizen in Europe is in
the possession of more solid and pleasing luxury than the proudest emir,
who marches in the field at the head of ten thousand horse.

Yet an essential difference may be found between the hordes of Scythia
and the Arabian tribes; since many of the latter were collected into
towns, and employed in the labors of trade and agriculture. A part of
their time and industry was still devoted to the management of their
cattle: they mingled, in peace and war, with their brethren of the
desert; and the Bedoweens derived from their useful intercourse some
supply of their wants, and some rudiments of art and knowledge. Among
the forty-two cities of Arabia, enumerated by Abulfeda, the most ancient
and populous were situate in the _happy_ Yemen: the towers of Saana, and
the marvellous reservoir of Merab, were constructed by the kings of
the Homerites; but their profane lustre was eclipsed by the prophetic
glories of Medina and Mecca, near the Red Sea, and at the distance from
each other of two hundred and seventy miles. The last of these holy
places was known to the Greeks under the name of Macoraba; and the
termination of the word is expressive of its greatness, which has
not, indeed, in the most flourishing period, exceeded the size and
populousness of Marseilles. Some latent motive, perhaps of superstition,
must have impelled the founders, in the choice of a most unpromising
situation. They erected their habitations of mud or stone, in a plain
about two miles long and one mile broad, at the foot of three barren
mountains: the soil is a rock; the water even of the holy well of Zemzem
is bitter or brackish; the pastures are remote from the city; and grapes
are transported above seventy miles from the gardens of Tayef. The fame
and spirit of the Koreishites, who reigned in Mecca, were conspicuous
among the Arabian tribes; but their ungrateful soil refused the labors
of agriculture, and their position was favorable to the enterprises of
trade. By the seaport of Gedda, at the distance only of forty miles,
they maintained an easy correspondence with Abyssinia; and that
Christian kingdom afforded the first refuge to the disciples of Mahomet.
The treasures of Africa were conveyed over the Peninsula to Gerrha
or Katif, in the province of Bahrein, a city built, as it is said,
of rock-salt, by the Chaldæan exiles; and from thence with the native
pearls of the Persian Gulf, they were floated on rafts to the mouth of
the Euphrates. Mecca is placed almost at an equal distance, a month's
journey, between Yemen on the right, and Syria on the left hand. The
former was the winter, the latter the summer, station of her caravans;
and their seasonable arrival relieved the ships of India from the
tedious and troublesome navigation of the Red Sea. In the markets of
Saana and Merab, in the harbors of Oman and Aden, the camels of the
Koreishites were laden with a precious cargo of aromatics; a supply of
corn and manufactures was purchased in the fairs of Bostra and Damascus;
the lucrative exchange diffused plenty and riches in the streets of
Mecca; and the noblest of her sons united the love of arms with the
profession of merchandise.

The perpetual independence of the Arabs has been the theme of praise
among strangers and natives; and the arts of controversy transform this
singular event into a prophecy and a miracle, in favor of the posterity
of Ismael. Some exceptions, that can neither be dismissed nor eluded,
render this mode of reasoning as indiscreet as it is superfluous; the
kingdom of Yemen has been successively subdued by the Abyssinians, the
Persians, the sultans of Egypt, and the Turks; the holy cities of Mecca
and Medina have repeatedly bowed under a Scythian tyrant; and the Roman
province of Arabia embraced the peculiar wilderness in which Ismael and
his sons must have pitched their tents in the face of their brethren.
Yet these exceptions are temporary or local; the body of the nation has
escaped the yoke of the most powerful monarchies: the arms of Sesostris
and Cyrus, of Pompey and Trajan, could never achieve the conquest of
Arabia; the present sovereign of the Turks may exercise a shadow of
jurisdiction, but his pride is reduced to solicit the friendship of a
people, whom it is dangerous to provoke, and fruitless to attack. The
obvious causes of their freedom are inscribed on the character and
country of the Arabs. Many ages before Mahomet, their intrepid valor had
been severely felt by their neighbors in offensive and defensive war.
The patient and active virtues of a soldier are insensibly nursed in
the habits and discipline of a pastoral life. The care of the sheep and
camels is abandoned to the women of the tribe; but the martial youth,
under the banner of the emir, is ever on horseback, and in the field, to
practise the exercise of the bow, the javelin, and the cimeter. The long
memory of their independence is the firmest pledge of its perpetuity
and succeeding generations are animated to prove their descent, and to
maintain their inheritance. Their domestic feuds are suspended on the
approach of a common enemy; and in their last hostilities against the
Turks, the caravan of Mecca was attacked and pillaged by fourscore
thousand of the confederates. When they advance to battle, the hope of
victory is in the front; in the rear, the assurance of a retreat. Their
horses and camels, who, in eight or ten days, can perform a march of
four or five hundred miles, disappear before the conqueror; the secret
waters of the desert elude his search, and his victorious troops
are consumed with thirst, hunger, and fatigue, in the pursuit of an
invisible foe, who scorns his efforts, and safely reposes in the heart
of the burning solitude. The arms and deserts of the Bedoweens are not
only the safeguards of their own freedom, but the barriers also of the
happy Arabia, whose inhabitants, remote from war, are enervated by the
luxury of the soil and climate. The legions of Augustus melted away
in disease and lassitude; and it is only by a naval power that the
reduction of Yemen has been successfully attempted. When Mahomet erected
his holy standard, that kingdom was a province of the Persian empire;
yet seven princes of the Homerites still reigned in the mountains; and
the vicegerent of Chosroes was tempted to forget his distant country and
his unfortunate master. The historians of the age of Justinian represent
the state of the independent Arabs, who were divided by interest or
affection in the long quarrel of the East: the tribe of _Gassan_ was
allowed to encamp on the Syrian territory: the princes of _Hira_ were
permitted to form a city about forty miles to the southward of the ruins
of Babylon. Their service in the field was speedy and vigorous; but
their friendship was venal, their faith inconstant, their enmity
capricious: it was an easier task to excite than to disarm these roving
barbarians; and, in the familiar intercourse of war, they learned to
see, and to despise, the splendid weakness both of Rome and of Persia.
From Mecca to the Euphrates, the Arabian tribes were confounded by the
Greeks and Latins, under the general appellation of Saracens, a name
which every Christian mouth has been taught to pronounce with terror and

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part II.

The slaves of domestic tyranny may vainly exult in their national
independence: but the Arab is personally free; and he enjoys, in some
degree, the benefits of society, without forfeiting the prerogatives
of nature. In every tribe, superstition, or gratitude, or fortune,
has exalted a particular family above the heads of their equals. The
dignities of sheick and emir invariably descend in this chosen race; but
the order of succession is loose and precarious; and the most worthy or
aged of the noble kinsmen are preferred to the simple, though important,
office of composing disputes by their advice, and guiding valor by their
example. Even a female of sense and spirit has been permitted to command
the countrymen of Zenobia. The momentary junction of several tribes
produces an army: their more lasting union constitutes a nation; and
the supreme chief, the emir of emirs, whose banner is displayed at their
head, may deserve, in the eyes of strangers, the honors of the kingly
name. If the Arabian princes abuse their power, they are quickly
punished by the desertion of their subjects, who had been accustomed to
a mild and parental jurisdiction. Their spirit is free, their steps are
unconfined, the desert is open, and the tribes and families are held
together by a mutual and voluntary compact. The softer natives of Yemen
supported the pomp and majesty of a monarch; but if he could not leave
his palace without endangering his life, the active powers of government
must have been devolved on his nobles and magistrates. The cities of
Mecca and Medina present, in the heart of Asia, the form, or rather the
substance, of a commonwealth. The grandfather of Mahomet, and his lineal
ancestors, appear in foreign and domestic transactions as the princes of
their country; but they reigned, like Pericles at Athens, or the
Medici at Florence, by the opinion of their wisdom and integrity;
their influence was divided with their patrimony; and the sceptre was
transferred from the uncles of the prophet to a younger branch of the
tribe of Koreish. On solemn occasions they convened the assembly of
the people; and, since mankind must be either compelled or persuaded to
obey, the use and reputation of oratory among the ancient Arabs is the
clearest evidence of public freedom. But their simple freedom was of a
very different cast from the nice and artificial machinery of the Greek
and Roman republics, in which each member possessed an undivided share
of the civil and political rights of the community. In the more simple
state of the Arabs, the nation is free, because each of her sons
disdains a base submission to the will of a master. His breast is
fortified by the austere virtues of courage, patience, and sobriety; the
love of independence prompts him to exercise the habits of self-command;
and the fear of dishonor guards him from the meaner apprehension of
pain, of danger, and of death. The gravity and firmness of the mind is
conspicuous in his outward demeanor; his speech is low, weighty, and
concise; he is seldom provoked to laughter; his only gesture is that of
stroking his beard, the venerable symbol of manhood; and the sense of
his own importance teaches him to accost his equals without levity, and
his superiors without awe. The liberty of the Saracens survived their
conquests: the first caliphs indulged the bold and familiar language
of their subjects; they ascended the pulpit to persuade and edify the
congregation; nor was it before the seat of empire was removed to the
Tigris, that the Abbasides adopted the proud and pompous ceremonial of
the Persian and Byzantine courts.

In the study of nations and men, we may observe the causes that render
them hostile or friendly to each other, that tend to narrow or enlarge,
to mollify or exasperate, the social character. The separation of the
Arabs from the rest of mankind has accustomed them to confound the ideas
of stranger and enemy; and the poverty of the land has introduced a
maxim of jurisprudence, which they believe and practise to the present
hour. They pretend, that, in the division of the earth, the rich and
fertile climates were assigned to the other branches of the human
family; and that the posterity of the outlaw Ismael might recover, by
fraud or force, the portion of inheritance of which he had been unjustly
deprived. According to the remark of Pliny, the Arabian tribes are
equally addicted to theft and merchandise; the caravans that traverse
the desert are ransomed or pillaged; and their neighbors, since the
remote times of Job and Sesostris, have been the victims of their
rapacious spirit. If a Bedoween discovers from afar a solitary
traveller, he rides furiously against him, crying, with a loud voice,
"Undress thyself, thy aunt (_my wife_) is without a garment." A ready
submission entitles him to mercy; resistance will provoke the aggressor,
and his own blood must expiate the blood which he presumes to shed in
legitimate defence. A single robber, or a few associates, are branded
with their genuine name; but the exploits of a numerous band assume the
character of lawful and honorable war. The temper of a people thus armed
against mankind was doubly inflamed by the domestic license of rapine,
murder, and revenge. In the constitution of Europe, the right of peace
and war is now confined to a small, and the actual exercise to a much
smaller, list of respectable potentates; but each Arab, with impunity
and renown, might point his javelin against the life of his countrymen.
The union of the nation consisted only in a vague resemblance of
language and manners; and in each community, the jurisdiction of
the magistrate was mute and impotent. Of the time of ignorance which
preceded Mahomet, seventeen hundred battles are recorded by tradition:
hostility was imbittered with the rancor of civil faction; and the
recital, in prose or verse, of an obsolete feud, was sufficient to
rekindle the same passions among the descendants of the hostile tribes.
In private life every man, at least every family, was the judge and
avenger of his own cause. The nice sensibility of honor, which weighs
the insult rather than the injury, sheds its deadly venom on the
quarrels of the Arabs: the honor of their women, and of their _beards_,
is most easily wounded; an indecent action, a contemptuous word, can be
expiated only by the blood of the offender; and such is their patient
inveteracy, that they expect whole months and years the opportunity of
revenge. A fine or compensation for murder is familiar to the Barbarians
of every age: but in Arabia the kinsmen of the dead are at liberty to
accept the atonement, or to exercise with their own hands the law of
retaliation. The refined malice of the Arabs refuses even the head
of the murderer, substitutes an innocent for the guilty person, and
transfers the penalty to the best and most considerable of the race
by whom they have been injured. If he falls by their hands, they are
exposed, in their turn, to the danger of reprisals, the interest and
principal of the bloody debt are accumulated: the individuals of
either family lead a life of malice and suspicion, and fifty years may
sometimes elapse before the account of vengeance be finally settled.
This sanguinary spirit, ignorant of pity or forgiveness, has been
moderated, however, by the maxims of honor, which require in every
private encounter some decent equality of age and strength, of numbers
and weapons. An annual festival of two, perhaps of four, months, was
observed by the Arabs before the time of Mahomet, during which their
swords were religiously sheathed both in foreign and domestic hostility;
and this partial truce is more strongly expressive of the habits of
anarchy and warfare.

But the spirit of rapine and revenge was attempered by the milder
influence of trade and literature. The solitary peninsula is encompassed
by the most civilized nations of the ancient world; the merchant is the
friend of mankind; and the annual caravans imported the first seeds
of knowledge and politeness into the cities, and even the camps of the
desert. Whatever may be the pedigree of the Arabs, their language is
derived from the same original stock with the Hebrew, the Syriac, and
the Chaldæan tongues; the independence of the tribes was marked by their
peculiar dialects; but each, after their own, allowed a just preference
to the pure and perspicuous idiom of Mecca. In Arabia, as well as
in Greece, the perfection of language outstripped the refinement of
manners; and her speech could diversify the fourscore names of honey,
the two hundred of a serpent, the five hundred of a lion, the thousand
of a sword, at a time when this copious dictionary was intrusted to
the memory of an illiterate people. The monuments of the Homerites
were inscribed with an obsolete and mysterious character; but the Cufic
letters, the groundwork of the present alphabet, were invented on the
banks of the Euphrates; and the recent invention was taught at Mecca by
a stranger who settled in that city after the birth of Mahomet. The
arts of grammar, of metre, and of rhetoric, were unknown to the freeborn
eloquence of the Arabians; but their penetration was sharp, their fancy
luxuriant, their wit strong and sententious, and their more elaborate
compositions were addressed with energy and effect to the minds of their
hearers. The genius and merit of a rising poet was celebrated by
the applause of his own and the kindred tribes. A solemn banquet was
prepared, and a chorus of women, striking their tymbals, and displaying
the pomp of their nuptials, sung in the presence of their sons and
husbands the felicity of their native tribe; that a champion had now
appeared to vindicate their rights; that a herald had raised his voice
to immortalize their renown. The distant or hostile tribes resorted
to an annual fair, which was abolished by the fanaticism of the first
Moslems; a national assembly that must have contributed to refine and
harmonize the Barbarians. Thirty days were employed in the exchange,
not only of corn and wine, but of eloquence and poetry. The prize
was disputed by the generous emulation of the bards; the victorious
performance was deposited in the archives of princes and emirs; and
we may read in our own language, the seven original poems which were
inscribed in letters of gold, and suspended in the temple of Mecca. The
Arabian poets were the historians and moralists of the age; and if they
sympathized with the prejudices, they inspired and crowned the virtues,
of their countrymen. The indissoluble union of generosity and valor was
the darling theme of their song; and when they pointed their keenest
satire against a despicable race, they affirmed, in the bitterness of
reproach, that the men knew not how to give, nor the women to deny.
The same hospitality, which was practised by Abraham, and celebrated
by Homer, is still renewed in the camps of the Arabs. The ferocious
Bedoweens, the terror of the desert, embrace, without inquiry or
hesitation, the stranger who dares to confide in their honor and to
enter their tent. His treatment is kind and respectful: he shares the
wealth, or the poverty, of his host; and, after a needful repose, he
is dismissed on his way, with thanks, with blessings, and perhaps with
gifts. The heart and hand are more largely expanded by the wants of a
brother or a friend; but the heroic acts that could deserve the public
applause, must have surpassed the narrow measure of discretion and
experience. A dispute had arisen, who, among the citizens of Mecca, was
entitled to the prize of generosity; and a successive application was
made to the three who were deemed most worthy of the trial. Abdallah,
the son of Abbas, had undertaken a distant journey, and his foot was in
the stirrup when he heard the voice of a suppliant, "O son of the uncle
of the apostle of God, I am a traveller, and in distress!" He instantly
dismounted to present the pilgrim with his camel, her rich caparison,
and a purse of four thousand pieces of gold, excepting only the sword,
either for its intrinsic value, or as the gift of an honored kinsman.
The servant of Kais informed the second suppliant that his master was
asleep: but he immediately added, "Here is a purse of seven thousand
pieces of gold, (it is all we have in the house,) and here is an order,
that will entitle you to a camel and a slave;" the master, as soon as
he awoke, praised and enfranchised his faithful steward, with a gentle
reproof, that by respecting his slumbers he had stinted his bounty.
The third of these heroes, the blind Arabah, at the hour of prayer, was
supporting his steps on the shoulders of two slaves. "Alas!" he replied,
"my coffers are empty! but these you may sell; if you refuse, I renounce
them." At these words, pushing away the youths, he groped along the wall
with his staff. The character of Hatem is the perfect model of Arabian
virtue: he was brave and liberal, an eloquent poet, and a successful
robber; forty camels were roasted at his hospitable feast; and at the
prayer of a suppliant enemy he restored both the captives and the
spoil. The freedom of his countrymen disdained the laws of justice; they
proudly indulged the spontaneous impulse of pity and benevolence.

The religion of the Arabs, as well as of the Indians, consisted in
the worship of the sun, the moon, and the fixed stars; a primitive and
specious mode of superstition. The bright luminaries of the sky display
the visible image of a Deity: their number and distance convey to a
philosophic, or even a vulgar, eye, the idea of boundless space:
the character of eternity is marked on these solid globes, that seem
incapable of corruption or decay: the regularity of their motions may
be ascribed to a principle of reason or instinct; and their real, or
imaginary, influence encourages the vain belief that the earth and
its inhabitants are the object of their peculiar care. The science of
astronomy was cultivated at Babylon; but the school of the Arabs was
a clear firmament and a naked plain. In their nocturnal marches, they
steered by the guidance of the stars: their names, and order, and daily
station, were familiar to the curiosity and devotion of the Bedoween;
and he was taught by experience to divide, in twenty-eight parts, the
zodiac of the moon, and to bless the constellations who refreshed, with
salutary rains, the thirst of the desert. The reign of the heavenly orbs
could not be extended beyond the visible sphere; and some metaphysical
powers were necessary to sustain the transmigration of souls and the
resurrection of bodies: a camel was left to perish on the grave, that he
might serve his master in another life; and the invocation of departed
spirits implies that they were still endowed with consciousness and
power. I am ignorant, and I am careless, of the blind mythology of the
Barbarians; of the local deities, of the stars, the air, and the earth,
of their sex or titles, their attributes or subordination. Each tribe,
each family, each independent warrior, created and changed the rites and
the object of his fantastic worship; but the nation, in every age, has
bowed to the religion, as well as to the language, of Mecca. The genuine
antiquity of the Caaba ascends beyond the Christian æra; in describing
the coast of the Red Sea, the Greek historian Diodorus has remarked,
between the Thamudites and the Sabæans, a famous temple, whose superior
sanctity was revered by _all_ the Arabians; the linen or silken veil,
which is annually renewed by the Turkish emperor, was first offered by a
pious king of the Homerites, who reigned seven hundred years before the
time of Mahomet. A tent, or a cavern, might suffice for the worship of
the savages, but an edifice of stone and clay has been erected in its
place; and the art and power of the monarchs of the East have been
confined to the simplicity of the original model. A spacious portico
encloses the quadrangle of the Caaba; a square chapel, twenty-four
cubits long, twenty-three broad, and twenty-seven high: a door and a
window admit the light; the double roof is supported by three pillars
of wood; a spout (now of gold) discharges the rain-water, and the well
Zemzen is protected by a dome from accidental pollution. The tribe of
Koreish, by fraud and force, had acquired the custody of the Caaba:
the sacerdotal office devolved through four lineal descents to the
grandfather of Mahomet; and the family of the Hashemites, from whence
he sprung, was the most respectable and sacred in the eyes of their
country. The precincts of Mecca enjoyed the rights of sanctuary; and, in
the last month of each year, the city and the temple were crowded with
a long train of pilgrims, who presented their vows and offerings in the
house of God. The same rites which are now accomplished by the faithful
Mussulman, were invented and practised by the superstition of the
idolaters. At an awful distance they cast away their garments: seven
times, with hasty steps, they encircled the Caaba, and kissed the black
stone: seven times they visited and adored the adjacent mountains; seven
times they threw stones into the valley of Mina; and the pilgrimage was
achieved, as at the present hour, by a sacrifice of sheep and camels,
and the burial of their hair and nails in the consecrated ground. Each
tribe either found or introduced in the Caaba their domestic worship:
the temple was adorned, or defiled, with three hundred and sixty idols
of men, eagles, lions, and antelopes; and most conspicuous was the
statue of Hebal, of red agate, holding in his hand seven arrows, without
heads or feathers, the instruments and symbols of profane divination.
But this statue was a monument of Syrian arts: the devotion of the ruder
ages was content with a pillar or a tablet; and the rocks of the desert
were hewn into gods or altars, in imitation of the black stone of Mecca,
which is deeply tainted with the reproach of an idolatrous origin. From
Japan to Peru, the use of sacrifice has universally prevailed; and the
votary has expressed his gratitude, or fear, by destroying or consuming,
in honor of the gods, the dearest and most precious of their gifts.
The life of a man is the most precious oblation to deprecate a public
calamity: the altars of Phnicia and Egypt, of Rome and Carthage, have
been polluted with human gore: the cruel practice was long preserved
among the Arabs; in the third century, a boy was annually sacrificed by
the tribe of the Dumatians; and a royal captive was piously slaughtered
by the prince of the Saracens, the ally and soldier of the emperor
Justinian. A parent who drags his son to the altar, exhibits the most
painful and sublime effort of fanaticism: the deed, or the intention,
was sanctified by the example of saints and heroes; and the father of
Mahomet himself was devoted by a rash vow, and hardly ransomed for the
equivalent of a hundred camels. In the time of ignorance, the Arabs,
like the Jews and Egyptians, abstained from the taste of swine's flesh;
they circumcised their children at the age of puberty: the same customs,
without the censure or the precept of the Koran, have been silently
transmitted to their posterity and proselytes. It has been sagaciously
conjectured, that the artful legislator indulged the stubborn prejudices
of his countrymen. It is more simple to believe that he adhered to the
habits and opinions of his youth, without foreseeing that a practice
congenial to the climate of Mecca might become useless or inconvenient
on the banks of the Danube or the Volga.

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part III.

Arabia was free: the adjacent kingdoms were shaken by the storms of
conquest and tyranny, and the persecuted sects fled to the happy land
where they might profess what they thought, and practise what they
professed. The religions of the Sabians and Magians, of the Jews and
Christians, were disseminated from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea. In
a remote period of antiquity, Sabianism was diffused over Asia by
the science of the Chaldæans and the arms of the Assyrians. From the
observations of two thousand years, the priests and astronomers of
Babylon deduced the eternal laws of nature and providence. They adored
the seven gods or angels, who directed the course of the seven planets,
and shed their irresistible influence on the earth. The attributes
of the seven planets, with the twelve signs of the zodiac, and the
twenty-four constellations of the northern and southern hemisphere, were
represented by images and talismans; the seven days of the week were
dedicated to their respective deities; the Sabians prayed thrice
each day; and the temple of the moon at Haran was the term of their
pilgrimage. But the flexible genius of their faith was always ready
either to teach or to learn: in the tradition of the creation, the
deluge, and the patriarchs, they held a singular agreement with their
Jewish captives; they appealed to the secret books of Adam, Seth, and
Enoch; and a slight infusion of the gospel has transformed the last
remnant of the Polytheists into the Christians of St. John, in the
territory of Bassora. The altars of Babylon were overturned by the
Magians; but the injuries of the Sabians were revenged by the sword of
Alexander; Persia groaned above five hundred years under a foreign yoke;
and the purest disciples of Zoroaster escaped from the contagion of
idolatry, and breathed with their adversaries the freedom of the desert.
Seven hundred years before the death of Mahomet, the Jews were settled
in Arabia; and a far greater multitude was expelled from the Holy Land
in the wars of Titus and Hadrian. The industrious exiles aspired to
liberty and power: they erected synagogues in the cities, and castles
in the wilderness, and their Gentile converts were confounded with
the children of Israel, whom they resembled in the outward mark of
circumcision. The Christian missionaries were still more active and
successful: the Catholics asserted their universal reign; the sects
whom they oppressed, successively retired beyond the limits of the
Roman empire; the Marcionites and Manichæans dispersed their _fantastic_
opinions and apocryphal gospels; the churches of Yemen, and the princes
of Hira and Gassan, were instructed in a purer creed by the Jacobite and
Nestorian bishops. The liberty of choice was presented to the tribes:
each Arab was free to elect or to compose his private religion: and the
rude superstition of his house was mingled with the sublime theology of
saints and philosophers. A fundamental article of faith was inculcated
by the consent of the learned strangers; the existence of one supreme
God who is exalted above the powers of heaven and earth, but who has
often revealed himself to mankind by the ministry of his angels and
prophets, and whose grace or justice has interrupted, by seasonable
miracles, the order of nature. The most rational of the Arabs
acknowledged his power, though they neglected his worship; and it was
habit rather than conviction that still attached them to the relics of
idolatry. The Jews and Christians were the people of the _Book_; the
Bible was already translated into the Arabic language, and the volume
of the Old Testament was accepted by the concord of these implacable
enemies. In the story of the Hebrew patriarchs, the Arabs were pleased
to discover the fathers of their nation. They applauded the birth and
promises of Ismael; revered the faith and virtue of Abraham; traced his
pedigree and their own to the creation of the first man, and imbibed,
with equal credulity, the prodigies of the holy text, and the dreams and
traditions of the Jewish rabbis.

The base and plebeian origin of Mahomet is an unskilful calumny of the
Christians, who exalt instead of degrading the merit of their adversary.
His descent from Ismael was a national privilege or fable; but if the
first steps of the pedigree are dark and doubtful, he could produce many
generations of pure and genuine nobility: he sprung from the tribe of
Koreish and the family of Hashem, the most illustrious of the Arabs,
the princes of Mecca, and the hereditary guardians of the Caaba. The
grandfather of Mahomet was Abdol Motalleb, the son of Hashem, a wealthy
and generous citizen, who relieved the distress of famine with the
supplies of commerce. Mecca, which had been fed by the liberality of the
father, was saved by the courage of the son. The kingdom of Yemen was
subject to the Christian princes of Abyssinia; their vassal Abrahah was
provoked by an insult to avenge the honor of the cross; and the holy
city was invested by a train of elephants and an army of Africans. A
treaty was proposed; and, in the first audience, the grandfather of
Mahomet demanded the restitution of his cattle. "And why," said Abrahah,
"do you not rather implore my clemency in favor of your temple, which I
have threatened to destroy?" "Because," replied the intrepid chief, "the
cattle is my own; the Caaba belongs to the gods, and _they_ will defend
their house from injury and sacrilege." The want of provisions, or
the valor of the Koreish, compelled the Abyssinians to a disgraceful
retreat: their discomfiture has been adorned with a miraculous flight
of birds, who showered down stones on the heads of the infidels; and the
deliverance was long commemorated by the æra of the elephant. The glory
of Abdol Motalleb was crowned with domestic happiness; his life was
prolonged to the age of one hundred and ten years; and he became the
father of six daughters and thirteen sons. His best beloved Abdallah
was the most beautiful and modest of the Arabian youth; and in the first
night, when he consummated his marriage with Amina, of the noble race of
the Zahrites, two hundred virgins are said to have expired of jealousy
and despair. Mahomet, or more properly Mohammed, the only son of
Abdallah and Amina, was born at Mecca, four years after the death of
Justinian, and two months after the defeat of the Abyssinians, whose
victory would have introduced into the Caaba the religion of the
Christians. In his early infancy, he was deprived of his father, his
mother, and his grandfather; his uncles were strong and numerous; and,
in the division of the inheritance, the orphan's share was reduced to
five camels and an Æthiopian maid-servant. At home and abroad, in peace
and war, Abu Taleb, the most respectable of his uncles, was the guide
and guardian of his youth; in his twenty-fifth year, he entered into the
service of Cadijah, a rich and noble widow of Mecca, who soon rewarded
his fidelity with the gift of her hand and fortune. The marriage
contract, in the simple style of antiquity, recites the mutual love of
Mahomet and Cadijah; describes him as the most accomplished of the tribe
of Koreish; and stipulates a dowry of twelve ounces of gold and twenty
camels, which was supplied by the liberality of his uncle. By this
alliance, the son of Abdallah was restored to the station of his
ancestors; and the judicious matron was content with his domestic
virtues, till, in the fortieth year of his age, he assumed the title of
a prophet, and proclaimed the religion of the Koran.

According to the tradition of his companions, Mahomet was distinguished
by the beauty of his person, an outward gift which is seldom despised,
except by those to whom it has been refused. Before he spoke, the orator
engaged on his side the affections of a public or private audience. They
applauded his commanding presence, his majestic aspect, his piercing
eye, his gracious smile, his flowing beard, his countenance that
painted every sensation of the soul, and his gestures that enforced
each expression of the tongue. In the familiar offices of life he
scrupulously adhered to the grave and ceremonious politeness of his
country: his respectful attention to the rich and powerful was dignified
by his condescension and affability to the poorest citizens of Mecca:
the frankness of his manner concealed the artifice of his views; and
the habits of courtesy were imputed to personal friendship or universal
benevolence. His memory was capacious and retentive; his wit easy
and social; his imagination sublime; his judgment clear, rapid, and
decisive. He possessed the courage both of thought and action; and,
although his designs might gradually expand with his success, the first
idea which he entertained of his divine mission bears the stamp of an
original and superior genius. The son of Abdallah was educated in the
bosom of the noblest race, in the use of the purest dialect of Arabia;
and the fluency of his speech was corrected and enhanced by the practice
of discreet and seasonable silence. With these powers of eloquence,
Mahomet was an illiterate Barbarian: his youth had never been instructed
in the arts of reading and writing; the common ignorance exempted
him from shame or reproach, but he was reduced to a narrow circle of
existence, and deprived of those faithful mirrors, which reflect to our
mind the minds of sages and heroes. Yet the book of nature and of man
was open to his view; and some fancy has been indulged in the political
and philosophical observations which are ascribed to the Arabian
_traveller_. He compares the nations and the regions of the earth;
discovers the weakness of the Persian and Roman monarchies; beholds,
with pity and indignation, the degeneracy of the times; and resolves
to unite under one God and one king the invincible spirit and primitive
virtues of the Arabs. Our more accurate inquiry will suggest, that,
instead of visiting the courts, the camps, the temples, of the East, the
two journeys of Mahomet into Syria were confined to the fairs of Bostra
and Damascus; that he was only thirteen years of age when he accompanied
the caravan of his uncle; and that his duty compelled him to return as
soon as he had disposed of the merchandise of Cadijah. In these hasty
and superficial excursions, the eye of genius might discern some objects
invisible to his grosser companions; some seeds of knowledge might be
cast upon a fruitful soil; but his ignorance of the Syriac language
must have checked his curiosity; and I cannot perceive, in the life
or writings of Mahomet, that his prospect was far extended beyond the
limits of the Arabian world. From every region of that solitary world,
the pilgrims of Mecca were annually assembled, by the calls of devotion
and commerce: in the free concourse of multitudes, a simple citizen, in
his native tongue, might study the political state and character of the
tribes, the theory and practice of the Jews and Christians. Some
useful strangers might be tempted, or forced, to implore the rights of
hospitality; and the enemies of Mahomet have named the Jew, the Persian,
and the Syrian monk, whom they accuse of lending their secret aid to the
composition of the Koran. Conversation enriches the understanding, but
solitude is the school of genius; and the uniformity of a work denotes
the hand of a single artist. From his earliest youth Mahomet was
addicted to religious contemplation; each year, during the month of
Ramadan, he withdrew from the world, and from the arms of Cadijah: in
the cave of Hera, three miles from Mecca, he consulted the spirit of
fraud or enthusiasm, whose abode is not in the heavens, but in the mind
of the prophet. The faith which, under the name of _Islam_, he preached
to his family and nation, is compounded of an eternal truth, and a
necessary fiction, That there is only one God, and that Mahomet is the
apostle of God.

It is the boast of the Jewish apologists, that while the learned nations
of antiquity were deluded by the fables of polytheism, their simple
ancestors of Palestine preserved the knowledge and worship of the true
God. The moral attributes of Jehovah may not easily be reconciled with
the standard of _human_ virtue: his metaphysical qualities are darkly
expressed; but each page of the Pentateuch and the Prophets is an
evidence of his power: the unity of his name is inscribed on the first
table of the law; and his sanctuary was never defiled by any visible
image of the invisible essence. After the ruin of the temple, the
faith of the Hebrew exiles was purified, fixed, and enlightened, by the
spiritual devotion of the synagogue; and the authority of Mahomet will
not justify his perpetual reproach, that the Jews of Mecca or Medina
adored Ezra as the son of God. But the children of Israel had ceased to
be a people; and the religions of the world were guilty, at least in the
eyes of the prophet, of giving sons, or daughters, or companions, to the
supreme God. In the rude idolatry of the Arabs, the crime is manifest
and audacious: the Sabians are poorly excused by the preëminence of the
first planet, or intelligence, in their celestial hierarchy; and in
the Magian system the conflict of the two principles betrays the
imperfection of the conqueror. The Christians of the seventh century
had insensibly relapsed into a semblance of Paganism: their public and
private vows were addressed to the relics and images that disgraced the
temples of the East: the throne of the Almighty was darkened by a cloud
of martyrs, and saints, and angels, the objects of popular veneration;
and the Collyridian heretics, who flourished in the fruitful soil of
Arabia, invested the Virgin Mary with the name and honors of a goddess.
The mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation _appear_ to contradict the
principle of the divine unity. In their obvious sense, they introduce
three equal deities, and transform the man Jesus into the substance of
the Son of God: an orthodox commentary will satisfy only a believing
mind: intemperate curiosity and zeal had torn the veil of the sanctuary;
and each of the Oriental sects was eager to confess that all, except
themselves, deserved the reproach of idolatry and polytheism. The creed
of Mahomet is free from suspicion or ambiguity; and the Koran is a
glorious testimony to the unity of God. The prophet of Mecca rejected
the worship of idols and men, of stars and planets, on the rational
principle that whatever rises must set, that whatever is born must die,
that whatever is corruptible must decay and perish. In the Author of the
universe, his rational enthusiasm confessed and adored an infinite
and eternal being, without form or place, without issue or similitude,
present to our most secret thoughts, existing by the necessity of
his own nature, and deriving from himself all moral and intellectual
perfection. These sublime truths, thus announced in the language of the
prophet, are firmly held by his disciples, and defined with metaphysical
precision by the interpreters of the Koran. A philosophic theist might
subscribe the popular creed of the Mahometans; a creed too sublime,
perhaps, for our present faculties. What object remains for the fancy,
or even the understanding, when we have abstracted from the unknown
substance all ideas of time and space, of motion and matter, of
sensation and reflection? The first principle of reason and revolution
was confirmed by the voice of Mahomet: his proselytes, from India to
Morocco, are distinguished by the name of _Unitarians_; and the danger
of idolatry has been prevented by the interdiction of images. The
doctrine of eternal decrees and absolute predestination is strictly
embraced by the Mahometans; and they struggle, with the common
difficulties, _how_ to reconcile the prescience of God with the freedom
and responsibility of man; _how_ to explain the permission of evil under
the reign of infinite power and infinite goodness.

The God of nature has written his existence on all his works, and his
law in the heart of man. To restore the knowledge of the one, and
the practice of the other, has been the real or pretended aim of
the prophets of every age: the liberality of Mahomet allowed to his
predecessors the same credit which he claimed for himself; and the chain
of inspiration was prolonged from the fall of Adam to the promulgation
of the Koran. During that period, some rays of prophetic light had
been imparted to one hundred and twenty-four thousand of the elect,
discriminated by their respective measure of virtue and grace; three
hundred and thirteen apostles were sent with a special commission
to recall their country from idolatry and vice; one hundred and four
volumes have been dictated by the Holy Spirit; and six legislators of
transcendent brightness have announced to mankind the six successive
revelations of various rites, but of one immutable religion. The
authority and station of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, and
Mahomet, rise in just gradation above each other; but whosoever hates
or rejects any one of the prophets is numbered with the infidels. The
writings of the patriarchs were extant only in the apocryphal copies of
the Greeks and Syrians: the conduct of Adam had not entitled him to the
gratitude or respect of his children; the seven precepts of Noah were
observed by an inferior and imperfect class of the proselytes of the
synagogue; and the memory of Abraham was obscurely revered by the
Sabians in his native land of Chaldæa: of the myriads of prophets, Moses
and Christ alone lived and reigned; and the remnant of the inspired
writings was comprised in the books of the Old and the New Testament.
The miraculous story of Moses is consecrated and embellished in the
Koran; and the captive Jews enjoy the secret revenge of imposing their
own belief on the nations whose recent creeds they deride. For the
author of Christianity, the Mahometans are taught by the prophet to
entertain a high and mysterious reverence. "Verily, Christ Jesus, the
son of Mary, is the apostle of God, and his word, which he conveyed unto
Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from him; honorable in this world, and in
the world to come, and one of those who approach near to the presence
of God." The wonders of the genuine and apocryphal gospels are profusely
heaped on his head; and the Latin church has not disdained to borrow
from the Koran the immaculate conception of his virgin mother. Yet Jesus
was a mere mortal; and, at the day of judgment, his testimony will
serve to condemn both the Jews, who reject him as a prophet, and the
Christians, who adore him as the Son of God. The malice of his enemies
aspersed his reputation, and conspired against his life; but their
intention only was guilty; a phantom or a criminal was substituted on
the cross; and the innocent saint was translated to the seventh heaven.
During six hundred years the gospel was the way of truth and salvation;
but the Christians insensibly forgot both the laws and example of
their founder; and Mahomet was instructed by the Gnostics to accuse the
church, as well as the synagogue, of corrupting the integrity of the
sacred text. The piety of Moses and of Christ rejoiced in the assurance
of a future prophet, more illustrious than themselves: the evangelical
promise of the _Paraclete_, or Holy Ghost, was prefigured in the name,
and accomplished in the person, of Mahomet, the greatest and the last of
the apostles of God.

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part IV.

The communication of ideas requires a similitude of thought and
language: the discourse of a philosopher would vibrate without effect
on the ear of a peasant; yet how minute is the distance of _their_
understandings, if it be compared with the contact of an infinite and a
finite mind, with the word of God expressed by the tongue or the pen of
a mortal! The inspiration of the Hebrew prophets, of the apostles and
evangelists of Christ, might not be incompatible with the exercise of
their reason and memory; and the diversity of their genius is strongly
marked in the style and composition of the books of the Old and New
Testament. But Mahomet was content with a character, more humble, yet
more sublime, of a simple editor; the substance of the Koran, according
to himself or his disciples, is uncreated and eternal; subsisting in the
essence of the Deity, and inscribed with a pen of light on the table of
his everlasting decrees. A paper copy, in a volume of silk and gems, was
brought down to the lowest heaven by the angel Gabriel, who, under
the Jewish economy, had indeed been despatched on the most important
errands; and this trusty messenger successively revealed the chapters
and verses to the Arabian prophet. Instead of a perpetual and perfect
measure of the divine will, the fragments of the Koran were produced at
the discretion of Mahomet; each revelation is suited to the emergencies
of his policy or passion; and all contradiction is removed by the
saving maxim, that any text of Scripture is abrogated or modified by any
subsequent passage. The word of God, and of the apostle, was diligently
recorded by his disciples on palm-leaves and the shoulder-bones of
mutton; and the pages, without order or connection, were cast into a
domestic chest, in the custody of one of his wives. Two years after the
death of Mahomet, the sacred volume was collected and published by
his friend and successor Abubeker: the work was revised by the caliph
Othman, in the thirtieth year of the Hegira; and the various editions
of the Koran assert the same miraculous privilege of a uniform and
incorruptible text. In the spirit of enthusiasm or vanity, the prophet
rests the truth of his mission on the merit of his book; audaciously
challenges both men and angels to imitate the beauties of a single page;
and presumes to assert that God alone could dictate this incomparable
performance. This argument is most powerfully addressed to a devout
Arabian, whose mind is attuned to faith and rapture; whose ear is
delighted by the music of sounds; and whose ignorance is incapable of
comparing the productions of human genius. The harmony and copiousness
of style will not reach, in a version, the European infidel: he will
peruse with impatience the endless incoherent rhapsody of fable, and
precept, and declamation, which seldom excites a sentiment or an idea,
which sometimes crawls in the dust, and is sometimes lost in the clouds.
The divine attributes exalt the fancy of the Arabian missionary; but
his loftiest strains must yield to the sublime simplicity of the book
of Job, composed in a remote age, in the same country, and in the same
language. If the composition of the Koran exceed the faculties of a man
to what superior intelligence should we ascribe the Iliad of Homer, or
the Philippics of Demosthenes? In all religions, the life of the founder
supplies the silence of his written revelation: the sayings of Mahomet
were so many lessons of truth; his actions so many examples of virtue;
and the public and private memorials were preserved by his wives and
companions. At the end of two hundred years, the Sonna, or oral law,
was fixed and consecrated by the labors of Al Bochari, who discriminated
seven thousand two hundred and seventy-five genuine traditions, from a
mass of three hundred thousand reports, of a more doubtful or spurious
character. Each day the pious author prayed in the temple of Mecca,
and performed his ablutions with the water of Zemzem: the pages were
successively deposited on the pulpit and the sepulchre of the apostle;
and the work has been approved by the four orthodox sects of the

The mission of the ancient prophets, of Moses and of Jesus had been
confirmed by many splendid prodigies; and Mahomet was repeatedly urged,
by the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina, to produce a similar evidence of
his divine legation; to call down from heaven the angel or the volume
of his revelation, to create a garden in the desert, or to kindle a
conflagration in the unbelieving city. As often as he is pressed by
the demands of the Koreish, he involves himself in the obscure boast of
vision and prophecy, appeals to the internal proofs of his doctrine, and
shields himself behind the providence of God, who refuses those signs
and wonders that would depreciate the merit of faith, and aggravate
the guilt of infidelity But the modest or angry tone of his apologies
betrays his weakness and vexation; and these passages of scandal
established, beyond suspicion, the integrity of the Koran. The votaries
of Mahomet are more assured than himself of his miraculous gifts; and
their confidence and credulity increase as they are farther removed from
the time and place of his spiritual exploits. They believe or affirm
that trees went forth to meet him; that he was saluted by stones; that
water gushed from his fingers; that he fed the hungry, cured the sick,
and raised the dead; that a beam groaned to him; that a camel complained
to him; that a shoulder of mutton informed him of its being poisoned;
and that both animate and inanimate nature were equally subject to the
apostle of God. His dream of a nocturnal journey is seriously described
as a real and corporeal transaction. A mysterious animal, the Borak,
conveyed him from the temple of Mecca to that of Jerusalem: with his
companion Gabriel he successively ascended the seven heavens, and
received and repaid the salutations of the patriarchs, the prophets,
and the angels, in their respective mansions. Beyond the seventh heaven,
Mahomet alone was permitted to proceed; he passed the veil of unity,
approached within two bow-shots of the throne, and felt a cold that
pierced him to the heart, when his shoulder was touched by the hand
of God. After this familiar, though important conversation, he again
descended to Jerusalem, remounted the Borak, returned to Mecca, and
performed in the tenth part of a night the journey of many thousand
years. According to another legend, the apostle confounded in a national
assembly the malicious challenge of the Koreish. His resistless word
split asunder the orb of the moon: the obedient planet stooped from her
station in the sky, accomplished the seven revolutions round the Caaba,
saluted Mahomet in the Arabian tongue, and, suddenly contracting her
dimensions, entered at the collar, and issued forth through the sleeve,
of his shirt. The vulgar are amused with these marvellous tales; but the
gravest of the Mussulman doctors imitate the modesty of their master,
and indulge a latitude of faith or interpretation. They might speciously
allege, that in preaching the religion it was needless to violate the
harmony of nature; that a creed unclouded with mystery may be excused
from miracles; and that the sword of Mahomet was not less potent than
the rod of Moses.

The polytheist is oppressed and distracted by the variety of
superstition: a thousand rites of Egyptian origin were interwoven
with the essence of the Mosaic law; and the spirit of the gospel had
evaporated in the pageantry of the church. The prophet of Mecca was
tempted by prejudice, or policy, or patriotism, to sanctify the rites
of the Arabians, and the custom of visiting the holy stone of the
Caaba. But the precepts of Mahomet himself inculcates a more simple and
rational piety: prayer, fasting, and alms, are the religious duties of a
Mussulman; and he is encouraged to hope, that prayer will carry him half
way to God, fasting will bring him to the door of his palace, and alms
will gain him admittance. I. According to the tradition of the nocturnal
journey, the apostle, in his personal conference with the Deity, was
commanded to impose on his disciples the daily obligation of fifty
prayers. By the advice of Moses, he applied for an alleviation of this
intolerable burden; the number was gradually reduced to five; without
any dispensation of business or pleasure, or time or place: the devotion
of the faithful is repeated at daybreak, at noon, in the afternoon, in
the evening, and at the first watch of the night; and in the present
decay of religious fervor, our travellers are edified by the profound
humility and attention of the Turks and Persians. Cleanliness is the key
of prayer: the frequent lustration of the hands, the face, and the body,
which was practised of old by the Arabs, is solemnly enjoined by the
Koran; and a permission is formally granted to supply with sand the
scarcity of water. The words and attitudes of supplication, as it is
performed either sitting, or standing, or prostrate on the ground, are
prescribed by custom or authority; but the prayer is poured forth in
short and fervent ejaculations; the measure of zeal is not exhausted
by a tedious liturgy; and each Mussulman for his own person is invested
with the character of a priest. Among the theists, who reject the use
of images, it has been found necessary to restrain the wanderings of
the fancy, by directing the eye and the thought towards a _kebla_,
or visible point of the horizon. The prophet was at first inclined to
gratify the Jews by the choice of Jerusalem; but he soon returned to
a more natural partiality; and five times every day the eyes of the
nations at Astracan, at Fez, at Delhi, are devoutly turned to the holy
temple of Mecca. Yet every spot for the service of God is equally pure:
the Mahometans indifferently pray in their chamber or in the street. As
a distinction from the Jews and Christians, the Friday in each week is
set apart for the useful institution of public worship: the people is
assembled in the mosch; and the imam, some respectable elder, ascends
the pulpit, to begin the prayer and pronounce the sermon. But the
Mahometan religion is destitute of priesthood or sacrifice; and the
independent spirit of fanaticism looks down with contempt on the
ministers and the slaves of superstition. II. The voluntary penance
of the ascetics, the torment and glory of their lives, was odious to
a prophet who censured in his companions a rash vow of abstaining from
flesh, and women, and sleep; and firmly declared, that he would suffer
no monks in his religion. Yet he instituted, in each year, a fast of
thirty days; and strenuously recommended the observance as a discipline
which purifies the soul and subdues the body, as a salutary exercise
of obedience to the will of God and his apostle. During the month
of Ramadan, from the rising to the setting of the sun, the Mussulman
abstains from eating, and drinking, and women, and baths, and perfumes;
from all nourishment that can restore his strength, from all pleasure
that can gratify his senses. In the revolution of the lunar year, the
Ramadan coincides, by turns, with the winter cold and the summer heat;
and the patient martyr, without assuaging his thirst with a drop
of water, must expect the close of a tedious and sultry day. The
interdiction of wine, peculiar to some orders of priests or hermits,
is converted by Mahomet alone into a positive and general law; and a
considerable portion of the globe has abjured, at his command, the use
of that salutary, though dangerous, liquor. These painful restraints
are, doubtless, infringed by the libertine, and eluded by the hypocrite;
but the legislator, by whom they are enacted, cannot surely be accused
of alluring his proselytes by the indulgence of their sensual appetites.
III. The charity of the Mahometans descends to the animal creation; and
the Koran repeatedly inculcates, not as a merit, but as a strict and
indispensable duty, the relief of the indigent and unfortunate. Mahomet,
perhaps, is the only lawgiver who has defined the precise measure of
charity: the standard may vary with the degree and nature of property,
as it consists either in money, in corn or cattle, in fruits or
merchandise; but the Mussulman does not accomplish the law, unless he
bestows a _tenth_ of his revenue; and if his conscience accuses him
of fraud or extortion, the tenth, under the idea of restitution, is
enlarged to a _fifth_. Benevolence is the foundation of justice, since
we are forbid to injure those whom we are bound to assist. A prophet may
reveal the secrets of heaven and of futurity; but in his moral precepts
he can only repeat the lessons of our own hearts.

The two articles of belief, and the four practical duties, of Islam, are
guarded by rewards and punishments; and the faith of the Mussulman
is devoutly fixed on the event of the judgment and the last day.
The prophet has not presumed to determine the moment of that awful
catastrophe, though he darkly announces the signs, both in heaven and
earth, which will precede the universal dissolution, when life shall
be destroyed, and the order of creation shall be confounded in the
primitive chaos. At the blast of the trumpet, new worlds will start into
being: angels, genii, and men will arise from the dead, and the human
soul will again be united to the body. The doctrine of the resurrection
was first entertained by the Egyptians; and their mummies were embalmed,
their pyramids were constructed, to preserve the ancient mansion of
the soul, during a period of three thousand years. But the attempt is
partial and unavailing; and it is with a more philosophic spirit
that Mahomet relies on the omnipotence of the Creator, whose word can
reanimate the breathless clay, and collect the innumerable atoms, that
no longer retain their form or substance. The intermediate state of
the soul it is hard to decide; and those who most firmly believe her
immaterial nature, are at a loss to understand how she can think or act
without the agency of the organs of sense.

The reunion of the soul and body will be followed by the final judgment
of mankind; and in his copy of the Magian picture, the prophet has too
faithfully represented the forms of proceeding, and even the slow
and successive operations, of an earthly tribunal. By his intolerant
adversaries he is upbraided for extending, even to themselves, the hope
of salvation, for asserting the blackest heresy, that every man who
believes in God, and accomplishes good works, may expect in the last day
a favorable sentence. Such rational indifference is ill adapted to the
character of a fanatic; nor is it probable that a messenger from heaven
should depreciate the value and necessity of his own revelation. In
the idiom of the Koran, the belief of God is inseparable from that of
Mahomet: the good works are those which he has enjoined, and the two
qualifications imply the profession of Islam, to which all nations and
all sects are equally invited. Their spiritual blindness, though excused
by ignorance and crowned with virtue, will be scourged with everlasting
torments; and the tears which Mahomet shed over the tomb of his mother
for whom he was forbidden to pray, display a striking contrast of
humanity and enthusiasm. The doom of the infidels is common: the measure
of their guilt and punishment is determined by the degree of evidence
which they have rejected, by the magnitude of the errors which they
have entertained: the eternal mansions of the Christians, the Jews, the
Sabians, the Magians, and idolaters, are sunk below each other in the
abyss; and the lowest hell is reserved for the faithless hypocrites who
have assumed the mask of religion. After the greater part of mankind
has been condemned for their opinions, the true believers only will be
judged by their actions. The good and evil of each Mussulman will be
accurately weighed in a real or allegorical balance; and a singular
mode of compensation will be allowed for the payment of injuries: the
aggressor will refund an equivalent of his own good actions, for the
benefit of the person whom he has wronged; and if he should be destitute
of any moral property, the weight of his sins will be loaded with an
adequate share of the demerits of the sufferer. According as the shares
of guilt or virtue shall preponderate, the sentence will be pronounced,
and all, without distinction, will pass over the sharp and perilous
bridge of the abyss; but the innocent, treading in the footsteps of
Mahomet, will gloriously enter the gates of paradise, while the guilty
will fall into the first and mildest of the seven hells. The term of
expiation will vary from nine hundred to seven thousand years; but the
prophet has judiciously promised, that all his disciples, whatever may
be their sins, shall be saved, by their own faith and his intercession
from eternal damnation. It is not surprising that superstition should
act most powerfully on the fears of her votaries, since the human fancy
can paint with more energy the misery than the bliss of a future life.
With the two simple elements of darkness and fire, we create a sensation
of pain, which may be aggravated to an infinite degree by the idea of
endless duration. But the same idea operates with an opposite effect on
the continuity of pleasure; and too much of our present enjoyments is
obtained from the relief, or the comparison, of evil. It is natural
enough that an Arabian prophet should dwell with rapture on the groves,
the fountains, and the rivers of paradise; but instead of inspiring
the blessed inhabitants with a liberal taste for harmony and science,
conversation and friendship, he idly celebrates the pearls and diamonds,
the robes of silk, palaces of marble, dishes of gold, rich wines,
artificial dainties, numerous attendants, and the whole train of sensual
and costly luxury, which becomes insipid to the owner, even in the short
period of this mortal life. Seventy-two _Houris_, or black-eyed girls,
of resplendent beauty, blooming youth, virgin purity, and exquisite
sensibility, will be created for the use of the meanest believer;
a moment of pleasure will be prolonged to a thousand years; and his
faculties will be increased a hundred fold, to render him worthy of his
felicity. Notwithstanding a vulgar prejudice, the gates of heaven will
be open to both sexes; but Mahomet has not specified the male companions
of the female elect, lest he should either alarm the jealousy of their
former husbands, or disturb their felicity, by the suspicion of an
everlasting marriage. This image of a carnal paradise has provoked the
indignation, perhaps the envy, of the monks: they declaim against the
impure religion of Mahomet; and his modest apologists are driven to
the poor excuse of figures and allegories. But the sounder and more
consistent party adhere without shame, to the literal interpretation of
the Koran: useless would be the resurrection of the body, unless it were
restored to the possession and exercise of its worthiest faculties; and
the union of sensual and intellectual enjoyment is requisite to complete
the happiness of the double animal, the perfect man. Yet the joys of the
Mahometan paradise will not be confined to the indulgence of luxury
and appetite; and the prophet has expressly declared that all meaner
happiness will be forgotten and despised by the saints and martyrs, who
shall be admitted to the beatitude of the divine vision.

The first and most arduous conquests of Mahomet were those of his wife,
his servant, his pupil, and his friend; since he presented himself as a
prophet to those who were most conversant with his infirmities as a man.
Yet Cadijah believed the words, and cherished the glory, of her husband;
the obsequious and affectionate Zeid was tempted by the prospect
of freedom; the illustrious Ali, the son of Abu Taleb, embraced the
sentiments of his cousin with the spirit of a youthful hero; and the
wealth, the moderation, the veracity of Abubeker confirmed the religion
of the prophet whom he was destined to succeed. By his persuasion, ten
of the most respectable citizens of Mecca were introduced to the private
lessons of Islam; they yielded to the voice of reason and enthusiasm;
they repeated the fundamental creed, "There is but one God, and Mahomet
is the apostle of God;" and their faith, even in this life, was rewarded
with riches and honors, with the command of armies and the government
of kingdoms. Three years were silently employed in the conversion of
fourteen proselytes, the first-fruits of his mission; but in the fourth
year he assumed the prophetic office, and resolving to impart to his
family the light of divine truth, he prepared a banquet, a lamb, as it
is said, and a bowl of milk, for the entertainment of forty guests of
the race of Hashem. "Friends and kinsmen," said Mahomet to the assembly,
"I offer you, and I alone can offer, the most precious of gifts, the
treasures of this world and of the world to come. God has commanded me
to call you to his service. Who among you will support my burden? Who
among you will be my companion and my vizier?" No answer was returned,
till the silence of astonishment, and doubt, and contempt, was at length
broken by the impatient courage of Ali, a youth in the fourteenth year
of his age. "O prophet, I am the man: whosoever rises against thee, I
will dash out his teeth, tear out his eyes, break his legs, rip up his
belly. O prophet, I will be thy vizier over them." Mahomet accepted his
offer with transport, and Abu Taled was ironically exhorted to respect
the superior dignity of his son. In a more serious tone, the father of
Ali advised his nephew to relinquish his impracticable design. "Spare
your remonstrances," replied the intrepid fanatic to his uncle and
benefactor; "if they should place the sun on my right hand, and the moon
on my left, they should not divert me from my course." He persevered
ten years in the exercise of his mission; and the religion which has
overspread the East and the West advanced with a slow and painful
progress within the walls of Mecca. Yet Mahomet enjoyed the satisfaction
of beholding the increase of his infant congregation of Unitarians,
who revered him as a prophet, and to whom he seasonably dispensed the
spiritual nourishment of the Koran. The number of proselytes may be
esteemed by the absence of eighty-three men and eighteen women, who
retired to Æthiopia in the seventh year of his mission; and his party
was fortified by the timely conversion of his uncle Hamza, and of the
fierce and inflexible Omar, who signalized in the cause of Islam the
same zeal, which he had exerted for its destruction. Nor was the charity
of Mahomet confined to the tribe of Koreish, or the precincts of Mecca:
on solemn festivals, in the days of pilgrimage, he frequented the
Caaba, accosted the strangers of every tribe, and urged, both in private
converse and public discourse, the belief and worship of a sole Deity.
Conscious of his reason and of his weakness, he asserted the liberty of
conscience, and disclaimed the use of religious violence: but he called
the Arabs to repentance, and conjured them to remember the ancient
idolaters of Ad and Thamud, whom the divine justice had swept away from
the face of the earth.

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part V.

The people of Mecca were hardened in their unbelief by superstition and
envy. The elders of the city, the uncles of the prophet, affected to
despise the presumption of an orphan, the reformer of his country: the
pious orations of Mahomet in the Caaba were answered by the clamors of
Abu Taleb. "Citizens and pilgrims, listen not to the tempter, hearken
not to his impious novelties. Stand fast in the worship of Al Lâta and
Al Uzzah." Yet the son of Abdallah was ever dear to the aged chief: and
he protected the fame and person of his nephew against the assaults of
the Koreishites, who had long been jealous of the preëminence of
the family of Hashem. Their malice was colored with the pretence of
religion: in the age of Job, the crime of impiety was punished by the
Arabian magistrate; and Mahomet was guilty of deserting and denying the
national deities. But so loose was the policy of Mecca, that the leaders
of the Koreish, instead of accusing a criminal, were compelled to employ
the measures of persuasion or violence. They repeatedly addressed Abu
Taleb in the style of reproach and menace. "Thy nephew reviles our
religion; he accuses our wise forefathers of ignorance and folly;
silence him quickly, lest he kindle tumult and discord in the city. If
he persevere, we shall draw our swords against him and his adherents,
and thou wilt be responsible for the blood of thy fellow-citizens."
The weight and moderation of Abu Taleb eluded the violence of religious
faction; the most helpless or timid of the disciples retired to
Æthiopia, and the prophet withdrew himself to various places of strength
in the town and country. As he was still supported by his family,
the rest of the tribe of Koreish engaged themselves to renounce all
intercourse with the children of Hashem, neither to buy nor sell,
neither to marry not to give in marriage, but to pursue them with
implacable enmity, till they should deliver the person of Mahomet to the
justice of the gods. The decree was suspended in the Caaba before the
eyes of the nation; the messengers of the Koreish pursued the Mussulman
exiles in the heart of Africa: they besieged the prophet and his most
faithful followers, intercepted their water, and inflamed their mutual
animosity by the retaliation of injuries and insults. A doubtful
truce restored the appearances of concord till the death of Abu Taleb
abandoned Mahomet to the power of his enemies, at the moment when he
was deprived of his domestic comforts by the loss of his faithful and
generous Cadijah. Abu Sophian, the chief of the branch of Ommiyah,
succeeded to the principality of the republic of Mecca. A zealous
votary of the idols, a mortal foe of the line of Hashem, he convened an
assembly of the Koreishites and their allies, to decide the fate of the
apostle. His imprisonment might provoke the despair of his enthusiasm;
and the exile of an eloquent and popular fanatic would diffuse the
mischief through the provinces of Arabia. His death was resolved; and
they agreed that a sword from each tribe should be buried in his heart,
to divide the guilt of his blood, and baffle the vengeance of the
Hashemites. An angel or a spy revealed their conspiracy; and flight was
the only resource of Mahomet. At the dead of night, accompanied by
his friend Abubeker, he silently escaped from his house: the assassins
watched at the door; but they were deceived by the figure of Ali, who
reposed on the bed, and was covered with the green vestment of the
apostle. The Koreish respected the piety of the heroic youth; but some
verses of Ali, which are still extant, exhibit an interesting picture
of his anxiety, his tenderness, and his religious confidence. Three days
Mahomet and his companion were concealed in the cave of Thor, at the
distance of a league from Mecca; and in the close of each evening,
they received from the son and daughter of Abubeker a secret supply of
intelligence and food. The diligence of the Koreish explored every haunt
in the neighborhood of the city: they arrived at the entrance of the
cavern; but the providential deceit of a spider's web and a pigeon's
nest is supposed to convince them that the place was solitary and
inviolate. "We are only two," said the trembling Abubeker. "There is
a third," replied the prophet; "it is God himself." No sooner was the
pursuit abated than the two fugitives issued from the rock, and
mounted their camels: on the road to Medina, they were overtaken by the
emissaries of the Koreish; they redeemed themselves with prayers and
promises from their hands. In this eventful moment, the lance of an Arab
might have changed the history of the world. The flight of the prophet
from Mecca to Medina has fixed the memorable æra of the _Hegira_, which,
at the end of twelve centuries, still discriminates the lunar years of
the Mahometan nations.

The religion of the Koran might have perished in its cradle, had not
Medina embraced with faith and reverence the holy outcasts of Mecca.
Medina, or the _city_, known under the name of Yathreb, before it was
sanctified by the throne of the prophet, was divided between the tribes
of the Charegites and the Awsites, whose hereditary feud was rekindled
by the slightest provocations: two colonies of Jews, who boasted a
sacerdotal race, were their humble allies, and without converting
the Arabs, they introduced the taste of science and religion, which
distinguished Medina as the city of the Book. Some of her noblest
citizens, in a pilgrimage to the Caaba, were converted by the preaching
of Mahomet; on their return, they diffused the belief of God and his
prophet, and the new alliance was ratified by their deputies in two
secret and nocturnal interviews on a hill in the suburbs of Mecca. In
the first, ten Charegites and two Awsites united in faith and love,
protested, in the name of their wives, their children, and their absent
brethren, that they would forever profess the creed, and observe the
precepts, of the Koran. The second was a political association, the
first vital spark of the empire of the Saracens. Seventy-three men and
two women of Medina held a solemn conference with Mahomet, his kinsman,
and his disciples; and pledged themselves to each other by a mutual oath
of fidelity. They promised, in the name of the city, that if he should
be banished, they would receive him as a confederate, obey him as a
leader, and defend him to the last extremity, like their wives and
children. "But if you are recalled by your country," they asked with
a flattering anxiety, "will you not abandon your new allies?" "All
things," replied Mahomet with a smile, "are now common between us your
blood is as my blood, your ruin as my ruin. We are bound to each other
by the ties of honor and interest. I am your friend, and the enemy of
your foes." "But if we are killed in your service, what," exclaimed
the deputies of Medina, "will be our reward?" "Paradise," replied the
prophet. "Stretch forth thy hand." He stretched it forth, and they
reiterated the oath of allegiance and fidelity. Their treaty was
ratified by the people, who unanimously embraced the profession of
Islam; they rejoiced in the exile of the apostle, but they trembled for
his safety, and impatiently expected his arrival. After a perilous and
rapid journey along the sea-coast, he halted at Koba, two miles from
the city, and made his public entry into Medina, sixteen days after his
flight from Mecca. Five hundred of the citizens advanced to meet him;
he was hailed with acclamations of loyalty and devotion; Mahomet was
mounted on a she-camel, an umbrella shaded his head, and a turban was
unfurled before him to supply the deficiency of a standard. His bravest
disciples, who had been scattered by the storm, assembled round
his person; and the equal, though various, merit of the Moslems was
distinguished by the names of _Mohagerians_ and _Ansars_, the fugitives
of Mecca, and the auxiliaries of Medina. To eradicate the seeds of
jealousy, Mahomet judiciously coupled his principal followers with the
rights and obligations of brethren; and when Ali found himself without
a peer, the prophet tenderly declared, that _he_ would be the companion
and brother of the noble youth. The expedient was crowned with success;
the holy fraternity was respected in peace and war, and the two parties
vied with each other in a generous emulation of courage and fidelity.
Once only the concord was slightly ruffled by an accidental quarrel: a
patriot of Medina arraigned the insolence of the strangers, but the
hint of their expulsion was heard with abhorrence; and his own son most
eagerly offered to lay at the apostle's feet the head of his father.

From his establishment at Medina, Mahomet assumed the exercise of the
regal and sacerdotal office; and it was impious to appeal from a judge
whose decrees were inspired by the divine wisdom. A small portion of
ground, the patrimony of two orphans, was acquired by gift or purchase;
on that chosen spot he built a house and a mosch, more venerable in
their rude simplicity than the palaces and temples of the Assyrian
caliphs. His seal of gold, or silver, was inscribed with the apostolic
title; when he prayed and preached in the weekly assembly, he leaned
against the trunk of a palm-tree; and it was long before he indulged
himself in the use of a chair or pulpit of rough timber. After a reign
of six years, fifteen hundred Moslems, in arms and in the field, renewed
their oath of allegiance; and their chief repeated the assurance of
protection till the death of the last member, or the final dissolution
of the party. It was in the same camp that the deputy of Mecca was
astonished by the attention of the faithful to the words and looks of
the prophet, by the eagerness with which they collected his spittle, a
hair that dropped on the ground, the refuse water of his lustrations,
as if they participated in some degree of the prophetic virtue. "I have
seen," said he, "the Chosroes of Persia and the Cæsar of Rome, but
never did I behold a king among his subjects like Mahomet among his
companions." The devout fervor of enthusiasm acts with more energy and
truth than the cold and formal servility of courts.

In the state of nature, every man has a right to defend, by force of
arms, his person and his possessions; to repel, or even to prevent, the
violence of his enemies, and to extend his hostilities to a reasonable
measure of satisfaction and retaliation. In the free society of the
Arabs, the duties of subject and citizen imposed a feeble restraint; and
Mahomet, in the exercise of a peaceful and benevolent mission, had been
despoiled and banished by the injustice of his countrymen. The choice of
an independent people had exalted the fugitive of Mecca to the rank of
a sovereign; and he was invested with the just prerogative of forming
alliances, and of waging offensive or defensive war. The imperfection
of human rights was supplied and armed by the plenitude of divine power:
the prophet of Medina assumed, in his new revelations, a fiercer and
more sanguinary tone, which proves that his former moderation was the
effect of weakness: the means of persuasion had been tried, the season
of forbearance was elapsed, and he was now commanded to propagate
his religion by the sword, to destroy the monuments of idolatry,
and, without regarding the sanctity of days or months, to pursue
the unbelieving nations of the earth. The same bloody precepts, so
repeatedly inculcated in the Koran, are ascribed by the author to the
Pentateuch and the Gospel. But the mild tenor of the evangelic style may
explain an ambiguous text, that Jesus did not bring peace on the earth,
but a sword: his patient and humble virtues should not be confounded
with the intolerant zeal of princes and bishops, who have disgraced
the name of his disciples. In the prosecution of religious war, Mahomet
might appeal with more propriety to the example of Moses, of the Judges,
and the kings of Israel. The military laws of the Hebrews are still more
rigid than those of the Arabian legislator. The Lord of hosts marched
in person before the Jews: if a city resisted their summons, the males,
without distinction, were put to the sword: the seven nations of Canaan
were devoted to destruction; and neither repentance nor conversion,
could shield them from the inevitable doom, that no creature within
their precincts should be left alive. The fair option of friendship,
or submission, or battle, was proposed to the enemies of Mahomet.
If they professed the creed of Islam, they were admitted to all the
temporal and spiritual benefits of his primitive disciples, and marched
under the same banner to extend the religion which they had embraced.
The clemency of the prophet was decided by his interest: yet he seldom
trampled on a prostrate enemy; and he seems to promise, that on the
payment of a tribute, the least guilty of his unbelieving subjects might
be indulged in their worship, or at least in their imperfect faith. In
the first months of his reign he practised the lessons of holy warfare,
and displayed his white banner before the gates of Medina: the
martial apostle fought in person at nine battles or sieges; and
fifty enterprises of war were achieved in ten years by himself or his
lieutenants. The Arab continued to unite the professions of a merchant
and a robber; and his petty excursions for the defence or the attack of
a caravan insensibly prepared his troops for the conquest of Arabia. The
distribution of the spoil was regulated by a divine law: the whole was
faithfully collected in one common mass: a fifth of the gold and silver,
the prisoners and cattle, the movables and immovables, was reserved by
the prophet for pious and charitable uses; the remainder was shared
in adequate portions by the soldiers who had obtained the victory or
guarded the camp: the rewards of the slain devolved to their widows and
orphans; and the increase of cavalry was encouraged by the allotment of
a double share to the horse and to the man. From all sides the roving
Arabs were allured to the standard of religion and plunder: the apostle
sanctified the license of embracing the female captives as their wives
or concubines, and the enjoyment of wealth and beauty was a feeble type
of the joys of paradise prepared for the valiant martyrs of the faith.
"The sword," says Mahomet, "is the key of heaven and of hell; a drop of
blood shed in the cause of God, a night spent in arms, is of more avail
than two months of fasting or prayer: whosoever falls in battle,
his sins are forgiven: at the day of judgment his wounds shall be
resplendent as vermilion, and odoriferous as musk; and the loss of
his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels and cherubim." The
intrepid souls of the Arabs were fired with enthusiasm: the picture of
the invisible world was strongly painted on their imagination; and
the death which they had always despised became an object of hope and
desire. The Koran inculcates, in the most absolute sense, the tenets
of fate and predestination, which would extinguish both industry and
virtue, if the actions of man were governed by his speculative belief.
Yet their influence in every age has exalted the courage of the Saracens
and Turks. The first companions of Mahomet advanced to battle with a
fearless confidence: there is no danger where there is no chance:
they were ordained to perish in their beds; or they were safe and
invulnerable amidst the darts of the enemy.

Perhaps the Koreish would have been content with the flight of Mahomet,
had they not been provoked and alarmed by the vengeance of an enemy, who
could intercept their Syrian trade as it passed and repassed through
the territory of Medina. Abu Sophian himself, with only thirty or forty
followers, conducted a wealthy caravan of a thousand camels; the fortune
or dexterity of his march escaped the vigilance of Mahomet; but the
chief of the Koreish was informed that the holy robbers were placed in
ambush to await his return. He despatched a messenger to his brethren of
Mecca, and they were roused, by the fear of losing their merchandise and
their provisions, unless they hastened to his relief with the military
force of the city. The sacred band of Mahomet was formed of three
hundred and thirteen Moslems, of whom seventy-seven were fugitives, and
the rest auxiliaries; they mounted by turns a train of seventy camels,
(the camels of Yathreb were formidable in war;) but such was the poverty
of his first disciples, that only two could appear on horseback in the
field. In the fertile and famous vale of Beder, three stations from
Medina, he was informed by his scouts of the caravan that approached
on one side; of the Koreish, one hundred horse, eight hundred and fifty
foot, who advanced on the other. After a short debate, he sacrificed
the prospect of wealth to the pursuit of glory and revenge, and a slight
intrenchment was formed, to cover his troops, and a stream of fresh
water, that glided through the valley. "O God," he exclaimed, as the
numbers of the Koreish descended from the hills, "O God, if these are
destroyed, by whom wilt thou be worshipped on the earth?--Courage, my
children; close your ranks; discharge your arrows, and the day is your
own." At these words he placed himself, with Abubeker, on a throne or
pulpit, and instantly demanded the succor of Gabriel and three thousand
angels. His eye was fixed on the field of battle: the Mussulmans fainted
and were pressed: in that decisive moment the prophet started from his
throne, mounted his horse, and cast a handful of sand into the air: "Let
their faces be covered with confusion." Both armies heard the thunder of
his voice: their fancy beheld the angelic warriors: the Koreish trembled
and fled: seventy of the bravest were slain; and seventy captives
adorned the first victory of the faithful. The dead bodies of the
Koreish were despoiled and insulted: two of the most obnoxious prisoners
were punished with death; and the ransom of the others, four thousand
drams of silver, compensated in some degree the escape of the caravan.
But it was in vain that the camels of Abu Sophian explored a new road
through the desert and along the Euphrates: they were overtaken by the
diligence of the Mussulmans; and wealthy must have been the prize, if
twenty thousand drams could be set apart for the fifth of the apostle.
The resentment of the public and private loss stimulated Abu Sophian to
collect a body of three thousand men, seven hundred of whom were
armed with cuirasses, and two hundred were mounted on horseback; three
thousand camels attended his march; and his wife Henda, with fifteen
matrons of Mecca, incessantly sounded their timbrels to animate the
troops, and to magnify the greatness of Hobal, the most popular deity
of the Caaba. The standard of ven and Mahomet was upheld by nine hundred
and fifty believers: the disproportion of numbers was not more alarming
than in the field of Beder; and their presumption of victory prevailed
against the divine and human sense of the apostle. The second battle
was fought on Mount Ohud, six miles to the north of Medina; the Koreish
advanced in the form of a crescent; and the right wing of cavalry was
led by Caled, the fiercest and most successful of the Arabian warriors.
The troops of Mahomet were skilfully posted on the declivity of the
hill; and their rear was guarded by a detachment of fifty archers. The
weight of their charge impelled and broke the centre of the idolaters:
but in the pursuit they lost the advantage of their ground: the archers
deserted their station: the Mussulmans were tempted by the spoil,
disobeyed their general, and disordered their ranks. The intrepid Caled,
wheeling his cavalry on their flank and rear, exclaimed, with a loud
voice, that Mahomet was slain. He was indeed wounded in the face with a
javelin: two of his teeth were shattered with a stone; yet, in the midst
of tumult and dismay, he reproached the infidels with the murder of
a prophet; and blessed the friendly hand that stanched his blood, and
conveyed him to a place of safety Seventy martyrs died for the sins
of the people; they fell, said the apostle, in pairs, each brother
embracing his lifeless companion; their bodies were mangled by the
inhuman females of Mecca; and the wife of Abu Sophian tasted the
entrails of Hamza, the uncle of Mahomet. They might applaud their
superstition, and satiate their fury; but the Mussulmans soon rallied in
the field, and the Koreish wanted strength or courage to undertake the
siege of Medina. It was attacked the ensuing year by an army of ten
thousand enemies; and this third expedition is variously named from
the _nations_, which marched under the banner of Abu Sophian, from the
_ditch_ which was drawn before the city, and a camp of three thousand
Mussulmans. The prudence of Mahomet declined a general engagement: the
valor of Ali was signalized in single combat; and the war was protracted
twenty days, till the final separation of the confederates. A tempest
of wind, rain, and hail, overturned their tents: their private quarrels
were fomented by an insidious adversary; and the Koreish, deserted by
their allies, no longer hoped to subvert the throne, or to check the
conquests, of their invincible exile.

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part VI.

The choice of Jerusalem for the first kebla of prayer discovers the
early propensity of Mahomet in favor of the Jews; and happy would it
have been for their temporal interest, had they recognized, in the
Arabian prophet, the hope of Israel and the promised Messiah. Their
obstinacy converted his friendship into implacable hatred, with which he
pursued that unfortunate people to the last moment of his life; and in
the double character of an apostle and a conqueror, his persecution
was extended to both worlds. The Kainoka dwelt at Medina under the
protection of the city; he seized the occasion of an accidental tumult,
and summoned them to embrace his religion, or contend with him in
battle. "Alas!" replied the trembling Jews, "we are ignorant of the use
of arms, but we persevere in the faith and worship of our fathers; why
wilt thou reduce us to the necessity of a just defence?" The unequal
conflict was terminated in fifteen days; and it was with extreme
reluctance that Mahomet yielded to the importunity of his allies, and
consented to spare the lives of the captives. But their riches were
confiscated, their arms became more effectual in the hands of the
Mussulmans; and a wretched colony of seven hundred exiles was driven,
with their wives and children, to implore a refuge on the confines
of Syria. The Nadhirites were more guilty, since they conspired, in
a friendly interview, to assassinate the prophet. He besieged their
castle, three miles from Medina; but their resolute defence obtained an
honorable capitulation; and the garrison, sounding their trumpets and
beating their drums, was permitted to depart with the honors of war. The
Jews had excited and joined the war of the Koreish: no sooner had the
_nations_ retired from the _ditch_, than Mahomet, without laying aside
his armor, marched on the same day to extirpate the hostile race of
the children of Koraidha. After a resistance of twenty-five days, they
surrendered at discretion. They trusted to the intercession of their old
allies of Medina; they could not be ignorant that fanaticism obliterates
the feelings of humanity. A venerable elder, to whose judgment they
appealed, pronounced the sentence of their death; seven hundred Jews
were dragged in chains to the market-place of the city; they descended
alive into the grave prepared for their execution and burial; and the
apostle beheld with an inflexible eye the slaughter of his helpless
enemies. Their sheep and camels were inherited by the Mussulmans: three
hundred cuirasses, five hundred piles, a thousand lances, composed the
most useful portion of the spoil. Six days' journey to the north-east
of Medina, the ancient and wealthy town of Chaibar was the seat of the
Jewish power in Arabia: the territory, a fertile spot in the desert,
was covered with plantations and cattle, and protected by eight castles,
some of which were esteemed of impregnable strength. The forces of
Mahomet consisted of two hundred horse and fourteen hundred foot: in
the succession of eight regular and painful sieges they were exposed to
danger, and fatigue, and hunger; and the most undaunted chiefs despaired
of the event. The apostle revived their faith and courage by the example
of Ali, on whom he bestowed the surname of the Lion of God: perhaps we
may believe that a Hebrew champion of gigantic stature was cloven to the
chest by his irresistible cimeter; but we cannot praise the modesty of
romance, which represents him as tearing from its hinges the gate of a
fortress and wielding the ponderous buckler in his left hand. After the
reduction of the castles, the town of Chaibar submitted to the yoke. The
chief of the tribe was tortured, in the presence of Mahomet, to force
a confession of his hidden treasure: the industry of the shepherds
and husbandmen was rewarded with a precarious toleration: they were
permitted, so long as it should please the conqueror, to improve their
patrimony, in equal shares, for _his_ emolument and their own. Under the
reign of Omar, the Jews of Chaibar were transported to Syria; and the
caliph alleged the injunction of his dying master; that one and the true
religion should be professed in his native land of Arabia.

Five times each day the eyes of Mahomet were turned towards Mecca, and
he was urged by the most sacred and powerful motives to revisit, as a
conqueror, the city and the temple from whence he had been driven as an
exile. The Caaba was present to his waking and sleeping fancy: an idle
dream was translated into vision and prophecy; he unfurled the holy
banner; and a rash promise of success too hastily dropped from the lips
of the apostle. His march from Medina to Mecca displayed the peaceful
and solemn pomp of a pilgrimage: seventy camels, chosen and bedecked for
sacrifice, preceded the van; the sacred territory was respected; and
the captives were dismissed without ransom to proclaim his clemency and
devotion. But no sooner did Mahomet descend into the plain, within
a day's journey of the city, than he exclaimed, "They have clothed
themselves with the skins of tigers:" the numbers and resolution of the
Koreish opposed his progress; and the roving Arabs of the desert might
desert or betray a leader whom they had followed for the hopes of spoil.
The intrepid fanatic sunk into a cool and cautious politician: he waived
in the treaty his title of apostle of God; concluded with the Koreish
and their allies a truce of ten years; engaged to restore the fugitives
of Mecca who should embrace his religion; and stipulated only, for the
ensuing year, the humble privilege of entering the city as a friend,
and of remaining three days to accomplish the rites of the pilgrimage.
A cloud of shame and sorrow hung on the retreat of the Mussulmans, and
their disappointment might justly accuse the failure of a prophet who
had so often appealed to the evidence of success. The faith and hope of
the pilgrims were rekindled by the prospect of Mecca: their swords were
sheathed; seven times in the footsteps of the apostle they encompassed
the Caaba: the Koreish had retired to the hills, and Mahomet, after the
customary sacrifice, evacuated the city on the fourth day. The people
was edified by his devotion; the hostile chiefs were awed, or divided,
or seduced; and both Kaled and Amrou, the future conquerors of Syria and
Egypt, most seasonably deserted the sinking cause of idolatry. The power
of Mahomet was increased by the submission of the Arabian tribes; ten
thousand soldiers were assembled for the conquest of Mecca; and the
idolaters, the weaker party, were easily convicted of violating the
truce. Enthusiasm and discipline impelled the march, and preserved the
secret till the blaze of ten thousand fires proclaimed to the astonished
Koreish the design, the approach, and the irresistible force of the
enemy. The haughty Abu Sophian presented the keys of the city, admired
the variety of arms and ensigns that passed before him in review;
observed that the son of Abdallah had acquired a mighty kingdom, and
confessed, under the cimeter of Omar, that he was the apostle of the
true God. The return of Marius and Scylla was stained with the blood of
the Romans: the revenge of Mahomet was stimulated by religious zeal, and
his injured followers were eager to execute or to prevent the order of
a massacre. Instead of indulging their passions and his own, the
victorious exile forgave the guilt, and united the factions, of Mecca.
His troops, in three divisions, marched into the city: eight-and-twenty
of the inhabitants were slain by the sword of Caled; eleven men and
six women were proscribed by the sentence of Mahomet; but he blamed the
cruelty of his lieutenant; and several of the most obnoxious victims
were indebted for their lives to his clemency or contempt. The chiefs of
the Koreish were prostrate at his feet. "What mercy can you expect from
the man whom you have wronged?" "We confide in the generosity of our
kinsman." "And you shall not confide in vain: begone! you are safe, you
are free." The people of Mecca deserved their pardon by the profession
of Islam; and after an exile of seven years, the fugitive missionary was
enthroned as the prince and prophet of his native country. But the three
hundred and sixty idols of the Caaba were ignominiously broken: the
house of God was purified and adorned: as an example to future times,
the apostle again fulfilled the duties of a pilgrim; and a perpetual
law was enacted that no unbeliever should dare to set his foot on the
territory of the holy city.

The conquest of Mecca determined the faith and obedience of the Arabian
tribes; who, according to the vicissitudes of fortune, had obeyed, or
disregarded, the eloquence or the arms of the prophet. Indifference for
rites and opinions still marks the character of the Bedoweens; and they
might accept, as loosely as they hold, the doctrine of the Koran. Yet
an obstinate remnant still adhered to the religion and liberty of their
ancestors, and the war of Honain derived a proper appellation from the
_idols_, whom Mahomet had vowed to destroy, and whom the confederates
of Tayef had sworn to defend. Four thousand Pagans advanced with secrecy
and speed to surprise the conqueror: they pitied and despised the supine
negligence of the Koreish, but they depended on the wishes, and perhaps
the aid, of a people who had so lately renounced their gods, and bowed
beneath the yoke of their enemy. The banners of Medina and Mecca were
displayed by the prophet; a crowd of Bedoweens increased the strength or
numbers of the army, and twelve thousand Mussulmans entertained a rash
and sinful presumption of their invincible strength. They descended
without precaution into the valley of Honain: the heights had been
occupied by the archers and slingers of the confederates; their numbers
were oppressed, their discipline was confounded, their courage was
appalled, and the Koreish smiled at their impending destruction. The
prophet, on his white mule, was encompassed by the enemies: he attempted
to rush against their spears in search of a glorious death: ten of his
faithful companions interposed their weapons and their breasts; three of
these fell dead at his feet: "O my brethren," he repeatedly cried, with
sorrow and indignation, "I am the son of Abdallah, I am the apostle of
truth! O man, stand fast in the faith! O God, send down thy succor!" His
uncle Abbas, who, like the heroes of Homer, excelled in the loudness
of his voice, made the valley resound with the recital of the gifts and
promises of God: the flying Moslems returned from all sides to the holy
standard; and Mahomet observed with pleasure that the furnace was again
rekindled: his conduct and example restored the battle, and he animated
his victorious troops to inflict a merciless revenge on the authors of
their shame. From the field of Honain, he marched without delay to the
siege of Tayef, sixty miles to the south-east of Mecca, a fortress of
strength, whose fertile lands produce the fruits of Syria in the midst
of the Arabian desert. A friendly tribe, instructed (I know not how)
in the art of sieges, supplied him with a train of battering-rams and
military engines, with a body of five hundred artificers. But it was in
vain that he offered freedom to the slaves of Tayef; that he violated
his own laws by the extirpation of the fruit-trees; that the ground was
opened by the miners; that the breach was assaulted by the troops. After
a siege of twenty-days, the prophet sounded a retreat; but he retreated
with a song of devout triumph, and affected to pray for the repentance
and safety of the unbelieving city. The spoils of this fortunate
expedition amounted to six thousand captives, twenty-four thousand
camels, forty thousand sheep, and four thousand ounces of silver: a
tribe who had fought at Honain redeemed their prisoners by the sacrifice
of their idols; but Mahomet compensated the loss, by resigning to the
soldiers his fifth of the plunder, and wished, for their sake, that he
possessed as many head of cattle as there were trees in the province
of Tehama. Instead of chastising the disaffection of the Koreish, he
endeavored to cut out their tongues, (his own expression,) and to secure
their attachment by a superior measure of liberality: Abu Sophian alone
was presented with three hundred camels and twenty ounces of silver; and
Mecca was sincerely converted to the profitable religion of the Koran.

The _fugitives_ and _auxiliaries_ complained, that they who had borne
the burden were neglected in the season of victory "Alas!" replied their
artful leader, "suffer me to conciliate these recent enemies, these
doubtful proselytes, by the gift of some perishable goods. To your guard
I intrust my life and fortunes. You are the companions of my exile, of
my kingdom, of my paradise." He was followed by the deputies of Tayef,
who dreaded the repetition of a siege. "Grant us, O apostle of God! a
truce of three years, with the toleration of our ancient worship."
"Not a month, not an hour." "Excuse us at least from the obligation of
prayer." "Without prayer religion is of no avail." They submitted
in silence: their temples were demolished, and the same sentence of
destruction was executed on all the idols of Arabia. His lieutenants,
on the shores of the Red Sea, the Ocean, and the Gulf of Persia, were
saluted by the acclamations of a faithful people; and the ambassadors,
who knelt before the throne of Medina, were as numerous (says the
Arabian proverb) as the dates that fall from the maturity of a
palm-tree. The nation submitted to the God and the sceptre of Mahomet:
the opprobrious name of tribute was abolished: the spontaneous or
reluctant oblations of arms and tithes were applied to the service of
religion; and one hundred and fourteen thousand Moslems accompanied the
last pilgrimage of the apostle.

When Heraclius returned in triumph from the Persian war, he entertained,
at Emesa, one of the ambassadors of Mahomet, who invited the princes and
nations of the earth to the profession of Islam. On this foundation the
zeal of the Arabians has supposed the secret conversion of the Christian
emperor: the vanity of the Greeks has feigned a personal visit of the
prince of Medina, who accepted from the royal bounty a rich domain,
and a secure retreat, in the province of Syria. But the friendship of
Heraclius and Mahomet was of short continuance: the new religion had
inflamed rather than assuaged the rapacious spirit of the Saracens, and
the murder of an envoy afforded a decent pretence for invading, with
three thousand soldiers, the territory of Palestine, that extends to the
eastward of the Jordan. The holy banner was intrusted to Zeid; and such
was the discipline or enthusiasm of the rising sect, that the noblest
chiefs served without reluctance under the slave of the prophet. On the
event of his decease, Jaafar and Abdallah were successively substituted
to the command; and if the three should perish in the war, the troops
were authorized to elect their general. The three leaders were slain in
the battle of Muta, the first military action, which tried the valor of
the Moslems against a foreign enemy. Zeid fell, like a soldier, in the
foremost ranks: the death of Jaafar was heroic and memorable: he lost
his right hand: he shifted the standard to his left: the left was
severed from his body: he embraced the standard with his bleeding
stumps, till he was transfixed to the ground with fifty honorable
wounds. "Advance," cried Abdallah, who stepped into the vacant place,
"advance with confidence: either victory or paradise is our own." The
lance of a Roman decided the alternative; but the falling standard was
rescued by Caled, the proselyte of Mecca: nine swords were broken in his
hand; and his valor withstood and repulsed the superior numbers of
the Christians. In the nocturnal council of the camp he was chosen to
command: his skilful evolutions of the ensuing day secured either the
victory or the retreat of the Saracens; and Caled is renowned among his
brethren and his enemies by the glorious appellation of the _Sword of
God_. In the pulpit, Mahomet described, with prophetic rapture, the
crowns of the blessed martyrs; but in private he betrayed the feelings
of human nature: he was surprised as he wept over the daughter of Zeid:
"What do I see?" said the astonished votary. "You see," replied the
apostle, "a friend who is deploring the loss of his most faithful
friend." After the conquest of Mecca, the sovereign of Arabia affected
to prevent the hostile preparations of Heraclius; and solemnly
proclaimed war against the Romans, without attempting to disguise the
hardships and dangers of the enterprise. The Moslems were discouraged:
they alleged the want of money, or horses, or provisions; the season of
harvest, and the intolerable heat of the summer: "Hell is much hotter,"
said the indignant prophet. He disdained to compel their service: but on
his return he admonished the most guilty, by an excommunication of fifty
days. Their desertion enhanced the merit of Abubeker, Othman, and the
faithful companions who devoted their lives and fortunes; and Mahomet
displayed his banner at the head of ten thousand horse and twenty
thousand foot. Painful indeed was the distress of the march: lassitude
and thirst were aggravated by the scorching and pestilential winds of
the desert: ten men rode by turns on one camel; and they were reduced
to the shameful necessity of drinking the water from the belly of
that useful animal. In the mid-way, ten days' journey from Medina and
Damascus, they reposed near the grove and fountain of Tabuc. Beyond that
place Mahomet declined the prosecution of the war: he declared himself
satisfied with the peaceful intentions, he was more probably daunted
by the martial array, of the emperor of the East. But the active and
intrepid Caled spread around the terror of his name; and the prophet
received the submission of the tribes and cities, from the Euphrates to
Ailah, at the head of the Red Sea. To his Christian subjects, Mahomet
readily granted the security of their persons, the freedom of their
trade, the property of their goods, and the toleration of their worship.
The weakness of their Arabian brethren had restrained them from opposing
his ambition; the disciples of Jesus were endeared to the enemy of
the Jews; and it was the interest of a conqueror to propose a fair
capitulation to the most powerful religion of the earth.

Till the age of sixty-three years, the strength of Mahomet was equal to
the temporal and spiritual fatigues of his mission. His epileptic fits,
an absurd calumny of the Greeks, would be an object of pity rather than
abhorrence; but he seriously believed that he was poisoned at Chaibar
by the revenge of a Jewish female. During four years, the health of the
prophet declined; his infirmities increased; but his mortal disease was
a fever of fourteen days, which deprived him by intervals of the use
of reason. As soon as he was conscious of his danger, he edified his
brethren by the humility of his virtue or penitence. "If there be any
man," said the apostle from the pulpit, "whom I have unjustly scourged,
I submit my own back to the lash of retaliation. Have I aspersed the
reputation of a Mussulman? let him proclaim _my_ thoughts in the face
of the congregation. Has any one been despoiled of his goods? the little
that I possess shall compensate the principal and the interest of the
debt." "Yes," replied a voice from the crowd, "I am entitled to three
drams of silver." Mahomet heard the complaint, satisfied the demand, and
thanked his creditor for accusing him in this world rather than at
the day of judgment. He beheld with temperate firmness the approach of
death; enfranchised his slaves (seventeen men, as they are named, and
eleven women;) minutely directed the order of his funeral, and moderated
the lamentations of his weeping friends, on whom he bestowed the
benediction of peace. Till the third day before his death, he regularly
performed the function of public prayer: the choice of Abubeker to
supply his place, appeared to mark that ancient and faithful friend
as his successor in the sacerdotal and regal office; but he prudently
declined the risk and envy of a more explicit nomination. At a moment
when his faculties were visibly impaired, he called for pen and ink
to write, or, more properly, to dictate, a divine book, the sum and
accomplishment of all his revelations: a dispute arose in the chamber,
whether he should be allowed to supersede the authority of the Koran;
and the prophet was forced to reprove the indecent vehemence of his
disciples. If the slightest credit may be afforded to the traditions of
his wives and companions, he maintained, in the bosom of his family, and
to the last moments of his life, the dignity of an apostle, and the
faith of an enthusiast; described the visits of Gabriel, who bade an
everlasting farewell to the earth, and expressed his lively confidence,
not only of the mercy, but of the favor, of the Supreme Being. In a
familiar discourse he had mentioned his special prerogative, that the
angel of death was not allowed to take his soul till he had respectfully
asked the permission of the prophet. The request was granted; and
Mahomet immediately fell into the agony of his dissolution: his head
was reclined on the lap of Ayesha, the best beloved of all his wives; he
fainted with the violence of pain; recovering his spirits, he raised his
eyes towards the roof of the house, and, with a steady look, though a
faltering voice, uttered the last broken, though articulate, words:
"O God!..... pardon my sins....... Yes,...... I come,...... among my
fellow-citizens on high;" and thus peaceably expired on a carpet spread
upon the floor. An expedition for the conquest of Syria was stopped by
this mournful event; the army halted at the gates of Medina; the chiefs
were assembled round their dying master. The city, more especially
the house, of the prophet, was a scene of clamorous sorrow of silent
despair: fanaticism alone could suggest a ray of hope and consolation.
"How can he be dead, our witness, our intercessor, our mediator, with
God? By God he is not dead: like Moses and Jesus, he is wrapped in a
holy trance, and speedily will he return to his faithful people." The
evidence of sense was disregarded; and Omar, unsheathing his cimeter,
threatened to strike off the heads of the infidels, who should dare
to affirm that the prophet was no more. The tumult was appeased by the
weight and moderation of Abubeker. "Is it Mahomet," said he to Omar
and the multitude, "or the God of Mahomet, whom you worship? The God of
Mahomet liveth forever; but the apostle was a mortal like ourselves, and
according to his own prediction, he has experienced the common fate of
mortality." He was piously interred by the hands of his nearest kinsman,
on the same spot on which he expired: Medina has been sanctified by the
death and burial of Mahomet; and the innumerable pilgrims of Mecca
often turn aside from the way, to bow, in voluntary devotion, before the
simple tomb of the prophet.

At the conclusion of the life of Mahomet, it may perhaps be expected,
that I should balance his faults and virtues, that I should decide
whether the title of enthusiast or impostor more properly belongs to
that extraordinary man. Had I been intimately conversant with the son of
Abdallah, the task would still be difficult, and the success uncertain:
at the distance of twelve centuries, I darkly contemplate his shade
through a cloud of religious incense; and could I truly delineate the
portrait of an hour, the fleeting resemblance would not equally apply
to the solitary of Mount Hera, to the preacher of Mecca, and to the
conqueror of Arabia. The author of a mighty revolution appears to have
been endowed with a pious and contemplative disposition: so soon as
marriage had raised him above the pressure of want, he avoided the
paths of ambition and avarice; and till the age of forty he lived with
innocence, and would have died without a name. The unity of God is an
idea most congenial to nature and reason; and a slight conversation
with the Jews and Christians would teach him to despise and detest the
idolatry of Mecca. It was the duty of a man and a citizen to impart the
doctrine of salvation, to rescue his country from the dominion of sin
and error. The energy of a mind incessantly bent on the same object,
would convert a general obligation into a particular call; the warm
suggestions of the understanding or the fancy would be felt as the
inspirations of Heaven; the labor of thought would expire in rapture
and vision; and the inward sensation, the invisible monitor, would
be described with the form and attributes of an angel of God. From
enthusiasm to imposture, the step is perilous and slippery: the dæmon
of Socrates affords a memorable instance, how a wise man may deceive
himself, how a good man may deceive others, how the conscience may
slumber in a mixed and middle state between self-illusion and voluntary
fraud. Charity may believe that the original motives of Mahomet were
those of pure and genuine benevolence; but a human missionary is
incapable of cherishing the obstinate unbelievers who reject his claims
despise his arguments, and persecute his life; he might forgive his
personal adversaries, he may lawfully hate the enemies of God; the stern
passions of pride and revenge were kindled in the bosom of Mahomet,
and he sighed, like the prophet of Nineveh, for the destruction of the
rebels whom he had condemned. The injustice of Mecca and the choice of
Medina, transformed the citizen into a prince, the humble preacher into
the leader of armies; but his sword was consecrated by the example of
the saints; and the same God who afflicts a sinful world with pestilence
and earthquakes, might inspire for their conversion or chastisement the
valor of his servants. In the exercise of political government, he was
compelled to abate of the stern rigor of fanaticism, to comply in some
measure with the prejudices and passions of his followers, and to employ
even the vices of mankind as the instruments of their salvation. The use
of fraud and perfidy, of cruelty and injustice, were often subservient
to the propagation of the faith; and Mahomet commanded or approved the
assassination of the Jews and idolaters who had escaped from the field
of battle. By the repetition of such acts, the character of Mahomet must
have been gradually stained; and the influence of such pernicious habits
would be poorly compensated by the practice of the personal and social
virtues which are necessary to maintain the reputation of a prophet
among his sectaries and friends. Of his last years, ambition was the
ruling passion; and a politician will suspect, that he secretly smiled
(the victorious impostor!) at the enthusiasm of his youth, and the
credulity of his proselytes. A philosopher will observe, that _their_
credulity and _his_ success would tend more strongly to fortify the
assurance of his divine mission, that his interest and religion were
inseparably connected, and that his conscience would be soothed by the
persuasion, that he alone was absolved by the Deity from the obligation
of positive and moral laws. If he retained any vestige of his native
innocence, the sins of Mahomet may be allowed as an evidence of his
sincerity. In the support of truth, the arts of fraud and fiction may be
deemed less criminal; and he would have started at the foulness of the
means, had he not been satisfied of the importance and justice of the
end. Even in a conqueror or a priest, I can surprise a word or action
of unaffected humanity; and the decree of Mahomet, that, in the sale of
captives, the mothers should never be separated from their children, may
suspend, or moderate, the censure of the historian.

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part VII.

The good sense of Mahomet despised the pomp of royalty: the apostle of
God submitted to the menial offices of the family: he kindled the fire,
swept the floor, milked the ewes, and mended with his own hands his
shoes and his woollen garment. Disdaining the penance and merit of a
hermit, he observed, without effort or vanity, the abstemious diet of an
Arab and a soldier. On solemn occasions he feasted his companions with
rustic and hospitable plenty; but in his domestic life, many weeks would
elapse without a tire being kindled on the hearth of the prophet.
The interdiction of wine was confirmed by his example; his hunger was
appeased with a sparing allowance of barley-bread: he delighted in the
taste of milk and honey; but his ordinary food consisted of dates and
water. Perfumes and women were the two sensual enjoyments which his
nature required, and his religion did not forbid; and Mahomet affirmed,
that the fervor of his devotion was increased by these innocent
pleasures. The heat of the climate inflames the blood of the Arabs;
and their libidinous complexion has been noticed by the writers of
antiquity. Their incontinence was regulated by the civil and religious
laws of the Koran: their incestuous alliances were blamed; the boundless
license of polygamy was reduced to four legitimate wives or concubines;
their rights both of bed and of dowry were equitably determined; the
freedom of divorce was discouraged, adultery was condemned as a capital
offence; and fornication, in either sex, was punished with a hundred
stripes. Such were the calm and rational precepts of the legislator:
but in his private conduct, Mahomet indulged the appetites of a man, and
abused the claims of a prophet. A special revelation dispensed him from
the laws which he had imposed on his nation: the female sex, without
reserve, was abandoned to his desires; and this singular prerogative
excited the envy, rather than the scandal, the veneration, rather than
the envy, of the devout Mussulmans. If we remember the seven hundred
wives and three hundred concubines of the wise Solomon, we shall applaud
the modesty of the Arabian, who espoused no more than seventeen or
fifteen wives; eleven are enumerated who occupied at Medina their
separate apartments round the house of the apostle, and enjoyed in their
turns the favor of his conjugal society. What is singular enough, they
were all widows, excepting only Ayesha, the daughter of Abubeker. She
was doubtless a virgin, since Mahomet consummated his nuptials (such is
the premature ripeness of the climate) when she was only nine years of
age. The youth, the beauty, the spirit of Ayesha, gave her a superior
ascendant: she was beloved and trusted by the prophet; and, after his
death, the daughter of Abubeker was long revered as the mother of the
faithful. Her behavior had been ambiguous and indiscreet: in a nocturnal
march she was accidentally left behind; and in the morning Ayesha
returned to the camp with a man. The temper of Mahomet was inclined
to jealousy; but a divine revelation assured him of her innocence: he
chastised her accusers, and published a law of domestic peace, that no
woman should be condemned unless four male witnesses had seen her in the
act of adultery. In his adventures with Zeineb, the wife of Zeid, and
with Mary, an Egyptian captive, the amorous prophet forgot the interest
of his reputation. At the house of Zeid, his freedman and adopted son,
he beheld, in a loose undress, the beauty of Zeineb, and burst forth
into an ejaculation of devotion and desire. The servile, or grateful,
freedman understood the hint, and yielded without hesitation to the love
of his benefactor. But as the filial relation had excited some doubt and
scandal, the angel Gabriel descended from heaven to ratify the deed, to
annul the adoption, and gently to reprove the apostle for distrusting
the indulgence of his God. One of his wives, Hafna, the daughter of
Omar, surprised him on her own bed, in the embraces of his Egyptian
captive: she promised secrecy and forgiveness, he swore that he would
renounce the possession of Mary. Both parties forgot their engagements;
and Gabriel again descended with a chapter of the Koran, to absolve
him from his oath, and to exhort him freely to enjoy his captives and
concubines, without listening to the clamors of his wives. In a solitary
retreat of thirty days, he labored, alone with Mary, to fulfil the
commands of the angel. When his love and revenge were satiated, he
summoned to his presence his eleven wives, reproached their disobedience
and indiscretion, and threatened them with a sentence of divorce, both
in this world and in the next; a dreadful sentence, since those who had
ascended the bed of the prophet were forever excluded from the hope of a
second marriage. Perhaps the incontinence of Mahomet may be palliated by
the tradition of his natural or preternatural gifts; he united the manly
virtue of thirty of the children of Adam: and the apostle might rival
the thirteenth labor of the Grecian Hercules. A more serious and decent
excuse may be drawn from his fidelity to Cadijah. During the twenty-four
years of their marriage, her youthful husband abstained from the right
of polygamy, and the pride or tenderness of the venerable matron was
never insulted by the society of a rival. After her death, he placed
her in the rank of the four perfect women, with the sister of Moses, the
mother of Jesus, and Fatima, the best beloved of his daughters. "Was she
not old?" said Ayesha, with the insolence of a blooming beauty; "has not
God given you a better in her place?" "No, by God," said Mahomet, with
an effusion of honest gratitude, "there never can be a better! She
believed in me when men despised me; she relieved my wants, when I was
poor and persecuted by the world."

In the largest indulgence of polygamy, the founder of a religion and
empire might aspire to multiply the chances of a numerous posterity and
a lineal succession. The hopes of Mahomet were fatally disappointed. The
virgin Ayesha, and his ten widows of mature age and approved fertility,
were barren in his potent embraces. The four sons of Cadijah died in
their infancy. Mary, his Egyptian concubine, was endeared to him by the
birth of Ibrahim. At the end of fifteen months the prophet wept over his
grave; but he sustained with firmness the raillery of his enemies, and
checked the adulation or credulity of the Moslems, by the assurance that
an eclipse of the sun was not occasioned by the death of the infant.
Cadijah had likewise given him four daughters, who were married to
the most faithful of his disciples: the three eldest died before their
father; but Fatima, who possessed his confidence and love, became the
wife of her cousin Ali, and the mother of an illustrious progeny.
The merit and misfortunes of Ali and his descendants will lead me to
anticipate, in this place, the series of the Saracen caliphs, a title
which describes the commanders of the faithful as the vicars and
successors of the apostle of God.

The birth, the alliance, the character of Ali, which exalted him above
the rest of his countrymen, might justify his claim to the vacant throne
of Arabia. The son of Abu Taleb was, in his own right, the chief of the
family of Hashem, and the hereditary prince or guardian of the city and
temple of Mecca. The light of prophecy was extinct; but the husband
of Fatima might expect the inheritance and blessing of her father:
the Arabs had sometimes been patient of a female reign; and the two
grandsons of the prophet had often been fondled in his lap, and shown
in his pulpit as the hope of his age, and the chief of the youth of
paradise. The first of the true believers might aspire to march before
them in this world and in the next; and if some were of a graver and
more rigid cast, the zeal and virtue of Ali were never outstripped by
any recent proselyte. He united the qualifications of a poet, a soldier,
and a saint: his wisdom still breathes in a collection of moral and
religious sayings; and every antagonist, in the combats of the tongue
or of the sword, was subdued by his eloquence and valor. From the first
hour of his mission to the last rites of his funeral, the apostle was
never forsaken by a generous friend, whom he delighted to name his
brother, his vicegerent, and the faithful Aaron of a second Moses. The
son of Abu Taleb was afterwards reproached for neglecting to secure his
interest by a solemn declaration of his right, which would have silenced
all competition, and sealed his succession by the decrees of Heaven. But
the unsuspecting hero confided in himself: the jealousy of empire,
and perhaps the fear of opposition, might suspend the resolutions of
Mahomet; and the bed of sickness was besieged by the artful Ayesha, the
daughter of Abubeker, and the enemy of Ali.

The silence and death of the prophet restored the liberty of the people;
and his companions convened an assembly to deliberate on the choice
of his successor. The hereditary claim and lofty spirit of Ali were
offensive to an aristocracy of elders, desirous of bestowing and
resuming the sceptre by a free and frequent election: the Koreish could
never be reconciled to the proud preëminence of the line of Hashem; the
ancient discord of the tribes was rekindled, the _fugitives_ of Mecca
and the _auxiliaries_ of Medina asserted their respective merits; and
the rash proposal of choosing two independent caliphs would have crushed
in their infancy the religion and empire of the Saracens. The tumult
was appeased by the disinterested resolution of Omar, who, suddenly
renouncing his own pretensions, stretched forth his hand, and declared
himself the first subject of the mild and venerable Abubeker. The
urgency of the moment, and the acquiescence of the people, might excuse
this illegal and precipitate measure; but Omar himself confessed from
the pulpit, that if any Mussulman should hereafter presume to anticipate
the suffrage of his brethren, both the elector and the elected would
be worthy of death. After the simple inauguration of Abubeker, he was
obeyed in Medina, Mecca, and the provinces of Arabia: the Hashemites
alone declined the oath of fidelity; and their chief, in his own house,
maintained, above six months, a sullen and independent reserve; without
listening to the threats of Omar, who attempted to consume with fire the
habitation of the daughter of the apostle. The death of Fatima, and
the decline of his party, subdued the indignant spirit of Ali: he
condescended to salute the commander of the faithful, accepted his
excuse of the necessity of preventing their common enemies, and wisely
rejected his courteous offer of abdicating the government of the
Arabians. After a reign of two years, the aged caliph was summoned by
the angel of death. In his testament, with the tacit approbation of his
companions, he bequeathed the sceptre to the firm and intrepid virtue of
Omar. "I have no occasion," said the modest candidate, "for the place."
"But the place has occasion for you," replied Abubeker; who expired with
a fervent prayer, that the God of Mahomet would ratify his choice, and
direct the Mussulmans in the way of concord and obedience. The prayer
was not ineffectual, since Ali himself, in a life of privacy and prayer,
professed to revere the superior worth and dignity of his rival; who
comforted him for the loss of empire, by the most flattering marks of
confidence and esteem. In the twelfth year of his reign, Omar received
a mortal wound from the hand of an assassin: he rejected with equal
impartiality the names of his son and of Ali, refused to load his
conscience with the sins of his successor, and devolved on six of the
most respectable companions the arduous task of electing a commander of
the faithful. On this occasion, Ali was again blamed by his friends
for submitting his right to the judgment of men, for recognizing their
jurisdiction by accepting a place among the six electors. He might have
obtained their suffrage, had he deigned to promise a strict and servile
conformity, not only to the Koran and tradition, but likewise to the
determinations of two _seniors_. With these limitations, Othman, the
secretary of Mahomet, accepted the government; nor was it till after the
third caliph, twenty-four years after the death of the prophet, that
Ali was invested, by the popular choice, with the regal and sacerdotal
office. The manners of the Arabians retained their primitive simplicity,
and the son of Abu Taleb despised the pomp and vanity of this world.
At the hour of prayer, he repaired to the mosch of Medina, clothed in a
thin cotton gown, a coarse turban on his head, his slippers in one hand,
and his bow in the other, instead of a walking-staff. The companions of
the prophet, and the chiefs of the tribes, saluted their new sovereign,
and gave him their right hands as a sign of fealty and allegiance.

The mischiefs that flow from the contests of ambition are usually
confined to the times and countries in which they have been agitated.
But the religious discord of the friends and enemies of Ali has been
renewed in every age of the Hegira, and is still maintained in the
immortal hatred of the Persians and Turks. The former, who are branded
with the appellation of _Shiites_ or sectaries, have enriched the
Mahometan creed with a new article of faith; and if Mahomet be the
apostle, his companion Ali is the vicar, of God. In their private
converse, in their public worship, they bitterly execrate the three
usurpers who intercepted his indefeasible right to the dignity of Imam
and Caliph; and the name of Omar expresses in their tongue the perfect
accomplishment of wickedness and impiety. The _Sonnites_, who are
supported by the general consent and orthodox tradition of the
Mussulmans, entertain a more impartial, or at least a more decent,
opinion. They respect the memory of Abubeker, Omar, Othman, and Ali, the
holy and legitimate successors of the prophet. But they assign the last
and most humble place to the husband of Fatima, in the persuasion that
the order of succession was determined by the decrees of sanctity.
An historian who balances the four caliphs with a hand unshaken by
superstition, will calmly pronounce that their manners were alike pure
and exemplary; that their zeal was fervent, and probably sincere; and
that, in the midst of riches and power, their lives were devoted to
the practice of moral and religious duties. But the public virtues
of Abubeker and Omar, the prudence of the first, the severity of the
second, maintained the peace and prosperity of their reigns. The feeble
temper and declining age of Othman were incapable of sustaining the
weight of conquest and empire. He chose, and he was deceived; he
trusted, and he was betrayed: the most deserving of the faithful
became useless or hostile to his government, and his lavish bounty was
productive only of ingratitude and discontent. The spirit of discord
went forth in the provinces: their deputies assembled at Medina; and
the Charegites, the desperate fanatics who disclaimed the yoke of
subordination and reason, were confounded among the free-born Arabs,
who demanded the redress of their wrongs and the punishment of their
oppressors. From Cufa, from Bassora, from Egypt, from the tribes of
the desert, they rose in arms, encamped about a league from Medina,
and despatched a haughty mandate to their sovereign, requiring him to
execute justice, or to descend from the throne. His repentance began to
disarm and disperse the insurgents; but their fury was rekindled by
the arts of his enemies; and the forgery of a perfidious secretary was
contrived to blast his reputation and precipitate his fall. The caliph
had lost the only guard of his predecessors, the esteem and confidence
of the Moslems: during a siege of six weeks his water and provisions
were intercepted, and the feeble gates of the palace were protected only
by the scruples of the more timorous rebels. Forsaken by those who had
abused his simplicity, the hopeless and venerable caliph expected the
approach of death: the brother of Ayesha marched at the head of the
assassins; and Othman, with the Koran in his lap, was pierced with a
multitude of wounds. A tumultuous anarchy of five days was appeased
by the inauguration of Ali: his refusal would have provoked a general
massacre. In this painful situation he supported the becoming pride
of the chief of the Hashemites; declared that he had rather serve
than reign; rebuked the presumption of the strangers; and required the
formal, if not the voluntary, assent of the chiefs of the nation. He
has never been accused of prompting the assassin of Omar; though Persia
indiscreetly celebrates the festival of that holy martyr. The quarrel
between Othman and his subjects was assuaged by the early mediation of
Ali; and Hassan, the eldest of his sons, was insulted and wounded in the
defence of the caliph. Yet it is doubtful whether the father of Hassan
was strenuous and sincere in his opposition to the rebels; and it is
certain that he enjoyed the benefit of their crime. The temptation was
indeed of such magnitude as might stagger and corrupt the most obdurate
virtue. The ambitious candidate no longer aspired to the barren sceptre
of Arabia; the Saracens had been victorious in the East and West; and
the wealthy kingdoms of Persia, Syria, and Egypt were the patrimony of
the commander of the faithful.

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part VIII.

A life of prayer and contemplation had not chilled the martial activity
of Ali; but in a mature age, after a long experience of mankind, he
still betrayed in his conduct the rashness and indiscretion of youth.
In the first days of his reign, he neglected to secure, either by gifts
or fetters, the doubtful allegiance of Telha and Zobeir, two of the most
powerful of the Arabian chiefs. They escaped from Medina to Mecca, and
from thence to Bassora; erected the standard of revolt; and usurped the
government of Irak, or Assyria, which they had vainly solicited as the
reward of their services. The mask of patriotism is allowed to cover the
most glaring inconsistencies; and the enemies, perhaps the assassins,
of Othman now demanded vengeance for his blood. They were accompanied in
their flight by Ayesha, the widow of the prophet, who cherished, to the
last hour of her life, an implacable hatred against the husband and the
posterity of Fatima. The most reasonable Moslems were scandalized,
that the mother of the faithful should expose in a camp her person and
character; but the superstitious crowd was confident that her presence
would sanctify the justice, and assure the success, of their cause.
At the head of twenty thousand of his loyal Arabs, and nine thousand
valiant auxiliaries of Cufa, the caliph encountered and defeated
the superior numbers of the rebels under the walls of Bassora. Their
leaders, Telha and Zobeir, § were slain in the first battle that stained
with civil blood the arms of the Moslems. || After passing through
the ranks to animate the troops, Ayesha had chosen her post amidst the
dangers of the field. In the heat of the action, seventy men, who held
the bridle of her camel, were successively killed or wounded; and the
cage or litter, in which she sat, was stuck with javelins and darts like
the quills of a porcupine. The venerable captive sustained with firmness
the reproaches of the conqueror, and was speedily dismissed to her
proper station at the tomb of Mahomet, with the respect and tenderness
that was still due to the widow of the apostle. After this victory,
which was styled the Day of the Camel, Ali marched against a more
formidable adversary; against Moawiyah, the son of Abu Sophian, who had
assumed the title of caliph, and whose claim was supported by the forces
of Syria and the interest of the house of Ommiyah. From the passage of
Thapsacus, the plain of Siffin extends along the western bank of the
Euphrates. On this spacious and level theatre, the two competitors waged
a desultory war of one hundred and ten days. In the course of ninety
actions or skirmishes, the loss of Ali was estimated at twenty-five,
that of Moawiyah at forty-five, thousand soldiers; and the list of the
slain was dignified with the names of five-and-twenty veterans who
had fought at Beder under the standard of Mahomet. In this sanguinary
contest the lawful caliph displayed a superior character of valor and
humanity. His troops were strictly enjoined to await the first onset of
the enemy, to spare their flying brethren, and to respect the bodies
of the dead, and the chastity of the female captives. He generously
proposed to save the blood of the Moslems by a single combat; but his
trembling rival declined the challenge as a sentence of inevitable
death. The ranks of the Syrians were broken by the charge of a hero who
was mounted on a piebald horse, and wielded with irresistible force his
ponderous and two-edged sword. As often as he smote a rebel, he shouted
the Allah Acbar, "God is victorious!" and in the tumult of a nocturnal
battle, he was heard to repeat four hundred times that tremendous
exclamation. The prince of Damascus already meditated his flight;
but the certain victory was snatched from the grasp of Ali by the
disobedience and enthusiasm of his troops. Their conscience was awed by
the solemn appeal to the books of the Koran which Moawiyah exposed on
the foremost lances; and Ali was compelled to yield to a disgraceful
truce and an insidious compromise. He retreated with sorrow and
indignation to Cufa; his party was discouraged; the distant provinces
of Persia, of Yemen, and of Egypt, were subdued or seduced by his crafty
rival; and the stroke of fanaticism, which was aimed against the three
chiefs of the nation, was fatal only to the cousin of Mahomet. In the
temple of Mecca, three Charegites or enthusiasts discoursed of the
disorders of the church and state: they soon agreed, that the deaths of
Ali, of Moawiyah, and of his friend Amrou, the viceroy of Egypt, would
restore the peace and unity of religion. Each of the assassins chose his
victim, poisoned his dagger, devoted his life, and secretly repaired
to the scene of action. Their resolution was equally desperate: but the
first mistook the person of Amrou, and stabbed the deputy who occupied
his seat; the prince of Damascus was dangerously hurt by the second; the
lawful caliph, in the mosch of Cufa, received a mortal wound from the
hand of the third. He expired in the sixty-third year of his age, and
mercifully recommended to his children, that they would despatch the
murderer by a single stroke. The sepulchre of Ali was concealed
from the tyrants of the house of Ommiyah; but in the fourth age of the
Hegira, a tomb, a temple, a city, arose near the ruins of Cufa. Many
thousands of the Shiites repose in holy ground at the feet of the vicar
of God; and the desert is vivified by the numerous and annual visits of
the Persians, who esteem their devotion not less meritorious than the
pilgrimage of Mecca.

The persecutors of Mahomet usurped the inheritance of his children; and
the champions of idolatry became the supreme heads of his religion and
empire. The opposition of Abu Sophian had been fierce and obstinate;
his conversion was tardy and reluctant; his new faith was fortified by
necessity and interest; he served, he fought, perhaps he believed; and
the sins of the time of ignorance were expiated by the recent merits
of the family of Ommiyah. Moawiyah, the son of Abu Sophian, and of the
cruel Henda, was dignified, in his early youth, with the office or title
of secretary of the prophet: the judgment of Omar intrusted him with the
government of Syria; and he administered that important province above
forty years, either in a subordinate or supreme rank. Without renouncing
the fame of valor and liberality, he affected the reputation of humanity
and moderation: a grateful people was attached to their benefactor;
and the victorious Moslems were enriched with the spoils of Cyprus and
Rhodes. The sacred duty of pursuing the assassins of Othman was the
engine and pretence of his ambition. The bloody shirt of the martyr
was exposed in the mosch of Damascus: the emir deplored the fate of his
injured kinsman; and sixty thousand Syrians were engaged in his service
by an oath of fidelity and revenge. Amrou, the conqueror of Egypt,
himself an army, was the first who saluted the new monarch, and
divulged the dangerous secret, that the Arabian caliphs might be created
elsewhere than in the city of the prophet. The policy of Moawiyah eluded
the valor of his rival; and, after the death of Ali, he negotiated the
abdication of his son Hassan, whose mind was either above or below the
government of the world, and who retired without a sigh from the palace
of Cufa to an humble cell near the tomb of his grandfather. The aspiring
wishes of the caliph were finally crowned by the important change of an
elective to an hereditary kingdom. Some murmurs of freedom or fanaticism
attested the reluctance of the Arabs, and four citizens of Medina
refused the oath of fidelity; but the designs of Moawiyah were conducted
with vigor and address; and his son Yezid, a feeble and dissolute youth,
was proclaimed as the commander of the faithful and the successor on the
apostle of God.

A familiar story is related of the benevolence of one of the sons of
Ali. In serving at table, a slave had inadvertently dropped a dish of
scalding broth on his master: the heedless wretch fell prostrate, to
deprecate his punishment, and repeated a verse of the Koran: "Paradise
is for those who command their anger: "--"I am not angry: "--"and for
those who pardon offences: "--"I pardon your offence: "--"and for those
who return good for evil: "--"I give you your liberty and four hundred
pieces of silver." With an equal measure of piety, Hosein, the younger
brother of Hassan, inherited a remnant of his father's spirit, and
served with honor against the Christians in the siege of Constantinople.
The primogeniture of the line of Hashem, and the holy character of
grandson of the apostle, had centred in his person, and he was at
liberty to prosecute his claim against Yezid, the tyrant of Damascus,
whose vices he despised, and whose title he had never deigned to
acknowledge. A list was secretly transmitted from Cufa to Medina, of one
hundred and forty thousand Moslems, who professed their attachment to
his cause, and who were eager to draw their swords so soon as he should
appear on the banks of the Euphrates. Against the advice of his wisest
friends, he resolved to trust his person and family in the hands of a
perfidious people. He traversed the desert of Arabia with a timorous
retinue of women and children; but as he approached the confines of
Irak he was alarmed by the solitary or hostile face of the country,
and suspected either the defection or ruin of his party. His fears
were just: Obeidollah, the governor of Cufa, had extinguished the first
sparks of an insurrection; and Hosein, in the plain of Kerbela, was
encompassed by a body of five thousand horse, who intercepted his
communication with the city and the river. He might still have escaped
to a fortress in the desert, that had defied the power of Cæsar and
Chosroes, and confided in the fidelity of the tribe of Tai, which would
have armed ten thousand warriors in his defence. In a conference with
the chief of the enemy, he proposed the option of three honorable
conditions: that he should be allowed to return to Medina, or be
stationed in a frontier garrison against the Turks, or safely conducted
to the presence of Yezid. But the commands of the caliph, or his
lieutenant, were stern and absolute; and Hosein was informed that he
must either submit as a captive and a criminal to the commander of the
faithful, or expect the consequences of his rebellion. "Do you think,"
replied he, "to terrify me with death?" And, during the short respite of
a night, he prepared with calm and solemn resignation to encounter his
fate. He checked the lamentations of his sister Fatima, who deplored the
impending ruin of his house. "Our trust," said Hosein, "is in God alone.
All things, both in heaven and earth, must perish and return to their
Creator. My brother, my father, my mother, were better than me, and
every Mussulman has an example in the prophet." He pressed his friends
to consult their safety by a timely flight: they unanimously refused to
desert or survive their beloved master: and their courage was fortified
by a fervent prayer and the assurance of paradise. On the morning of the
fatal day, he mounted on horseback, with his sword in one hand and
the Koran in the other: his generous band of martyrs consisted only of
thirty-two horse and forty foot; but their flanks and rear were secured
by the tent-ropes, and by a deep trench which they had filled with
lighted fagots, according to the practice of the Arabs. The enemy
advanced with reluctance, and one of their chiefs deserted, with thirty
followers, to claim the partnership of inevitable death. In every close
onset, or single combat, the despair of the Fatimites was invincible;
but the surrounding multitudes galled them from a distance with a cloud
of arrows, and the horses and men were successively slain; a truce was
allowed on both sides for the hour of prayer; and the battle at length
expired by the death of the last companions of Hosein. Alone, weary, and
wounded, he seated himself at the door of his tent. As he tasted a
drop of water, he was pierced in the mouth with a dart; and his son and
nephew, two beautiful youths, were killed in his arms. He lifted his
hands to heaven; they were full of blood; and he uttered a funeral
prayer for the living and the dead. In a transport of despair his sister
issued from the tent, and adjured the general of the Cufians, that he
would not suffer Hosein to be murdered before his eyes: a tear trickled
down his venerable beard; and the boldest of his soldiers fell back on
every side as the dying hero threw himself among them. The remorseless
Shamer, a name detested by the faithful, reproached their cowardice;
and the grandson of Mahomet was slain with three-and-thirty strokes of
lances and swords. After they had trampled on his body, they carried his
head to the castle of Cufa, and the inhuman Obeidollah struck him on the
mouth with a cane: "Alas," exclaimed an aged Mussulman, "on these
lips have I seen the lips of the apostle of God!" In a distant age
and climate, the tragic scene of the death of Hosein will awaken
the sympathy of the coldest reader. On the annual festival of his
martyrdom, in the devout pilgrimage to his sepulchre, his Persian
votaries abandon their souls to the religious frenzy of sorrow and

When the sisters and children of Ali were brought in chains to the
throne of Damascus, the caliph was advised to extirpate the enmity of
a popular and hostile race, whom he had injured beyond the hope of
reconciliation. But Yezid preferred the councils of mercy; and the
mourning family was honorably dismissed to mingle their tears with
their kindred at Medina. The glory of martyrdom superseded the right of
primogeniture; and the twelve imams, or pontiffs, of the Persian creed,
are Ali, Hassan, Hosein, and the lineal descendants of Hosein to
the ninth generation. Without arms, or treasures, or subjects, they
successively enjoyed the veneration of the people, and provoked the
jealousy of the reigning caliphs: their tombs, at Mecca or Medina, on
the banks of the Euphrates, or in the province of Chorasan, are still
visited by the devotion of their sect. Their names were often the
pretence of sedition and civil war; but these royal saints despised the
pomp of the world: submitted to the will of God and the injustice of
man; and devoted their innocent lives to the study and practice of
religion. The twelfth and last of the Imams, conspicuous by the title
of _Mahadi_, or the Guide, surpassed the solitude and sanctity of his
predecessors. He concealed himself in a cavern near Bagdad: the time and
place of his death are unknown; and his votaries pretend that he still
lives, and will appear before the day of judgment to overthrow the
tyranny of Dejal, or the Antichrist. In the lapse of two or three
centuries, the posterity of Abbas, the uncle of Mahomet, had multiplied
to the number of thirty-three thousand: the race of Ali might be equally
prolific: the meanest individual was above the first and greatest of
princes; and the most eminent were supposed to excel the perfection of
angels. But their adverse fortune, and the wide extent of the Mussulman
empire, allowed an ample scope for every bold and artful imposture, who
claimed affinity with the holy seed: the sceptre of the Almohades, in
Spain and Africa; of the Fatimites, in Egypt and Syria; of the Sultans
of Yemen; and of the Sophis of Persia; has been consecrated by this
vague and ambiguous title. Under their reigns it might be dangerous to
dispute the legitimacy of their birth; and one of the Fatimite caliphs
silenced an indiscreet question by drawing his cimeter: "This," said
Moez, "is my pedigree; and these," casting a handful of gold to his
soldiers,--"and these are my kindred and my children." In the various
conditions of princes, or doctors, or nobles, or merchants, or beggars,
a swarm of the genuine or fictitious descendants of Mahomet and Ali is
honored with the appellation of sheiks, or sherifs, or emirs. In the
Ottoman empire they are distinguished by a green turban; receive a
stipend from the treasury; are judged only by their chief; and, however
debased by fortune or character, still assert the proud preëminence of
their birth. A family of three hundred persons, the pure and orthodox
branch of the caliph Hassan, is preserved without taint or suspicion
in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and still retains, after the
revolutions of twelve centuries, the custody of the temple, and the
sovereignty of their native land. The fame and merit of Mahomet would
ennoble a plebeian race, and the ancient blood of the Koreish transcends
the recent majesty of the kings of the earth.

The talents of Mahomet are entitled to our applause; but his success
has, perhaps, too strongly attracted our admiration. Are we surprised
that a multitude of proselytes should embrace the doctrine and the
passions of an eloquent fanatic? In the heresies of the church, the same
seduction has been tried and repeated from the time of the apostles to
that of the reformers. Does it seem incredible that a private citizen
should grasp the sword and the sceptre, subdue his native country, and
erect a monarchy by his victorious arms? In the moving picture of the
dynasties of the East, a hundred fortunate usurpers have arisen from a
baser origin, surmounted more formidable obstacles, and filled a larger
scope of empire and conquest. Mahomet was alike instructed to preach and
to fight; and the union of these opposite qualities, while it enhanced
his merit, contributed to his success: the operation of force and
persuasion, of enthusiasm and fear, continually acted on each other,
till every barrier yielded to their irresistible power. His voice
invited the Arabs to freedom and victory, to arms and rapine, to the
indulgence of their darling passions in this world and the other: the
restraints which he imposed were requisite to establish the credit of
the prophet, and to exercise the obedience of the people; and the
only objection to his success was his rational creed of the unity and
perfections of God. It is not the propagation, but the permanency,
of his religion, that deserves our wonder: the same pure and perfect
impression which he engraved at Mecca and Medina, is preserved, after
the revolutions of twelve centuries, by the Indian, the African, and the
Turkish proselytes of the Koran. If the Christian apostles, St. Peter or
St. Paul, could return to the Vatican, they might possibly inquire the
name of the Deity who is worshipped with such mysterious rites in that
magnificent temple: at Oxford or Geneva, they would experience less
surprise; but it might still be incumbent on them to peruse the
catechism of the church, and to study the orthodox commentators on their
own writings and the words of their Master. But the Turkish dome of St.
Sophia, with an increase of splendor and size, represents the humble
tabernacle erected at Medina by the hands of Mahomet. The Mahometans
have uniformly withstood the temptation of reducing the object of their
faith and devotion to a level with the senses and imagination of man. "I
believe in one God, and Mahomet the apostle of God," is the simple and
invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has
never been degraded by any visible idol; the honors of the prophet have
never transgressed the measure of human virtue; and his living precepts
have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of
reason and religion. The votaries of Ali have, indeed, consecrated
the memory of their hero, his wife, and his children; and some of the
Persian doctors pretend that the divine essence was incarnate in the
person of the Imams; but their superstition is universally condemned
by the Sonnites; and their impiety has afforded a seasonable warning
against the worship of saints and martyrs. The metaphysical questions on
the attributes of God, and the liberty of man, have been agitated in the
schools of the Mahometans, as well as in those of the Christians; but
among the former they have never engaged the passions of the people,
or disturbed the tranquillity of the state. The cause of this important
difference may be found in the separation or union of the regal
and sacerdotal characters. It was the interest of the caliphs, the
successors of the prophet and commanders of the faithful, to repress
and discourage all religious innovations: the order, the discipline,
the temporal and spiritual ambition of the clergy, are unknown to the
Moslems; and the sages of the law are the guides of their conscience and
the oracles of their faith. From the Atlantic to the Ganges, the Koran
is acknowledged as the fundamental code, not only of theology, but
of civil and criminal jurisprudence; and the laws which regulate the
actions and the property of mankind are guarded by the infallible and
immutable sanction of the will of God. This religious servitude is
attended with some practical disadvantage; the illiterate legislator had
been often misled by his own prejudices and those of his country; and
the institutions of the Arabian desert may be ill adapted to the wealth
and numbers of Ispahan and Constantinople. On these occasions, the
Cadhi respectfully places on his head the holy volume, and substitutes a
dexterous interpretation more apposite to the principles of equity, and
the manners and policy of the times.

His beneficial or pernicious influence on the public happiness is the
last consideration in the character of Mahomet. The most bitter or
most bigoted of his Christian or Jewish foes will surely allow that
he assumed a false commission to inculcate a salutary doctrine, less
perfect only than their own. He piously supposed, as the basis of his
religion, the truth and sanctity of _their_ prior revolutions, the
virtues and miracles of their founders. The idols of Arabia were broken
before the throne of God; the blood of human victims was expiated
by prayer, and fasting, and alms, the laudable or innocent arts of
devotion; and his rewards and punishments of a future life were painted
by the images most congenial to an ignorant and carnal generation.
Mahomet was, perhaps, incapable of dictating a moral and political
system for the use of his countrymen: but he breathed among the faithful
a spirit of charity and friendship; recommended the practice of the
social virtues; and checked, by his laws and precepts, the thirst of
revenge, and the oppression of widows and orphans. The hostile tribes
were united in faith and obedience, and the valor which had been idly
spent in domestic quarrels was vigorously directed against a foreign
enemy. Had the impulse been less powerful, Arabia, free at home and
formidable abroad, might have flourished under a succession of her
native monarchs. Her sovereignty was lost by the extent and rapidity of
conquest. The colonies of the nation were scattered over the East and
West, and their blood was mingled with the blood of their converts and
captives. After the reign of three caliphs, the throne was transported
from Medina to the valley of Damascus and the banks of the Tigris; the
holy cities were violated by impious war; Arabia was ruled by the rod
of a subject, perhaps of a stranger; and the Bedoweens of the desert,
awakening from their dream of dominion, resumed their old and solitary

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part I.

     The Conquest Of Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, And Spain, By
     The Arabs Or Saracens.--Empire Of The Caliphs, Or Successors
     Of Mahomet.--State Of The Christians, &c., Under Their

The revolution of Arabia had not changed the character of the Arabs: the
death of Mahomet was the signal of independence; and the hasty structure
of his power and religion tottered to its foundations. A small and
faithful band of his primitive disciples had listened to his eloquence,
and shared his distress; had fled with the apostle from the persecution
of Mecca, or had received the fugitive in the walls of Medina. The
increasing myriads, who acknowledged Mahomet as their king and prophet,
had been compelled by his arms, or allured by his prosperity. The
polytheists were confounded by the simple idea of a solitary and
invisible God; the pride of the Christians and Jews disdained the
yoke of a mortal and contemporary legislator. The habits of faith and
obedience were not sufficiently confirmed; and many of the new converts
regretted the venerable antiquity of the law of Moses, or the rites
and mysteries of the Catholic church; or the idols, the sacrifices, the
joyous festivals, of their Pagan ancestors. The jarring interests and
hereditary feuds of the Arabian tribes had not yet coalesced in a system
of union and subordination; and the Barbarians were impatient of the
mildest and most salutary laws that curbed their passions, or violated
their customs. They submitted with reluctance to the religious precepts
of the Koran, the abstinence from wine, the fast of the Ramadan, and the
daily repetition of five prayers; and the alms and tithes, which were
collected for the treasury of Medina, could be distinguished only by
a name from the payment of a perpetual and ignominious tribute. The
example of Mahomet had excited a spirit of fanaticism or imposture,
and several of his rivals presumed to imitate the conduct, and defy the
authority, of the living prophet. At the head of the _fugitives_ and
_auxiliaries_, the first caliph was reduced to the cities of Mecca,
Medina, and Tayef; and perhaps the Koreish would have restored the
idols of the Caaba, if their levity had not been checked by a seasonable
reproof. "Ye men of Mecca, will ye be the last to embrace, and the
first to abandon, the religion of Islam?" After exhorting the Moslems
to confide in the aid of God and his apostle, Abubeker resolved, by a
vigorous attack, to prevent the junction of the rebels. The women
and children were safely lodged in the cavities of the mountains: the
warriors, marching under eleven banners, diffused the terror of their
arms; and the appearance of a military force revived and confirmed the
loyalty of the faithful. The inconstant tribes accepted, with humble
repentance, the duties of prayer, and fasting, and alms; and, after
some examples of success and severity, the most daring apostates fell
prostrate before the sword of the Lord and of Caled. In the fertile
province of Yemanah, between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Persia, in
a city not inferior to Medina itself, a powerful chief (his name was
Moseilama) had assumed the character of a prophet, and the tribe of
Hanifa listened to his voice. A female prophetess was attracted by
his reputation; the decencies of words and actions were spurned by
these favorites of Heaven; and they employed several days in mystic
and amorous converse. An obscure sentence of his Koran, or book, is yet
extant; and in the pride of his mission, Moseilama condescended to offer
a partition of the earth. The proposal was answered by Mahomet with
contempt; but the rapid progress of the impostor awakened the fears of
his successor: forty thousand Moslems were assembled under the standard
of Caled; and the existence of their faith was resigned to the event of
a decisive battle. In the first action they were repulsed by the loss
of twelve hundred men; but the skill and perseverance of their general
prevailed; their defeat was avenged by the slaughter of ten thousand
infidels; and Moseilama himself was pierced by an Æthiopian slave with
the same javelin which had mortally wounded the uncle of Mahomet. The
various rebels of Arabia without a chief or a cause, were speedily
suppressed by the power and discipline of the rising monarchy; and the
whole nation again professed, and more steadfastly held, the religion
of the Koran. The ambition of the caliphs provided an immediate exercise
for the restless spirit of the Saracens: their valor was united in the
prosecution of a holy war; and their enthusiasm was equally confirmed by
opposition and victory.

From the rapid conquests of the Saracens a presumption will naturally
arise, that the caliphs commanded in person the armies of the faithful,
and sought the crown of martyrdom in the foremost ranks of the battle.
The courage of Abubeker, Omar, and Othman, had indeed been tried in
the persecution and wars of the prophet; and the personal assurance of
paradise must have taught them to despise the pleasures and dangers of
the present world. But they ascended the throne in a venerable or mature
age; and esteemed the domestic cares of religion and justice the most
important duties of a sovereign. Except the presence of Omar at
the siege of Jerusalem, their longest expeditions were the frequent
pilgrimage from Medina to Mecca; and they calmly received the tidings of
victory as they prayed or preached before the sepulchre of the prophet.
The austere and frugal measure of their lives was the effect of
virtue or habit, and the pride of their simplicity insulted the vain
magnificence of the kings of the earth. When Abubeker assumed the office
of caliph, he enjoined his daughter Ayesha to take a strict account of
his private patrimony, that it might be evident whether he were enriched
or impoverished by the service of the state. He thought himself entitled
to a stipend of three pieces of gold, with the sufficient maintenance
of a single camel and a black slave; but on the Friday of each week he
distributed the residue of his own and the public money, first to the
most worthy, and then to the most indigent, of the Moslems. The remains
of his wealth, a coarse garment, and five pieces of gold, were delivered
to his successor, who lamented with a modest sigh his own inability to
equal such an admirable model. Yet the abstinence and humility of Omar
were not inferior to the virtues of Abubeker: his food consisted of
barley bread or dates; his drink was water; he preached in a gown that
was torn or tattered in twelve places; and the Persian satrap, who paid
his homage to the conqueror, found him asleep among the beggars on the
steps of the mosch of Medina. Economy is the source of liberality,
and the increase of the revenue enabled Omar to establish a just and
perpetual reward for the past and present services of the faithful.
Careless of his own emolument, he assigned to Abbas, the uncle of the
prophet, the first and most ample allowance of twenty-five thousand
drachms or pieces of silver. Five thousand were allotted to each of
the aged warriors, the relics of the field of Beder; and the last and
meanest of the companions of Mahomet was distinguished by the annual
reward of three thousand pieces. One thousand was the stipend of the
veterans who had fought in the first battles against the Greeks and
Persians; and the decreasing pay, as low as fifty pieces of silver, was
adapted to the respective merit and seniority of the soldiers of Omar.
Under his reign, and that of his predecessor, the conquerors of the East
were the trusty servants of God and the people; the mass of the public
treasure was consecrated to the expenses of peace and war; a prudent
mixture of justice and bounty maintained the discipline of the Saracens,
and they united, by a rare felicity, the despatch and execution of
despotism with the equal and frugal maxims of a republican government.
The heroic courage of Ali, the consummate prudence of Moawiyah,
excited the emulation of their subjects; and the talents which had been
exercised in the school of civil discord were more usefully applied to
propagate the faith and dominion of the prophet. In the sloth and
vanity of the palace of Damascus, the succeeding princes of the house of
Ommiyah were alike destitute of the qualifications of statesmen and of
saints. Yet the spoils of unknown nations were continually laid at the
foot of their throne, and the uniform ascent of the Arabian greatness
must be ascribed to the spirit of the nation rather than the abilities
of their chiefs. A large deduction must be allowed for the weakness of
their enemies. The birth of Mahomet was fortunately placed in the most
degenerate and disorderly period of the Persians, the Romans, and the
Barbarians of Europe: the empires of Trajan, or even of Constantine or
Charlemagne, would have repelled the assault of the naked Saracens, and
the torrent of fanaticism might have been obscurely lost in the sands of

In the victorious days of the Roman republic, it had been the aim of
the senate to confine their councils and legions to a single war,
and completely to suppress a first enemy before they provoked the
hostilities of a second. These timid maxims of policy were disdained
by the magnanimity or enthusiasm of the Arabian caliphs. With the same
vigor and success they invaded the successors of Augustus and those of
Artaxerxes; and the rival monarchies at the same instant became the prey
of an enemy whom they had been so long accustomed to despise. In the
ten years of the administration of Omar, the Saracens reduced to his
obedience thirty-six thousand cities or castles, destroyed four thousand
churches or temples of the unbelievers, and edified fourteen hundred
moschs for the exercise of the religion of Mahomet. One hundred years
after his flight from Mecca, the arms and the reign of his successors
extended from India to the Atlantic Ocean, over the various and distant
provinces, which may be comprised under the names of, I. Persia;
II. Syria; III. Egypt; IV. Africa; and, V. Spain. Under this general
division, I shall proceed to unfold these memorable transactions;
despatching with brevity the remote and less interesting conquests of
the East, and reserving a fuller narrative for those domestic countries
which had been included within the pale of the Roman empire. Yet I
must excuse my own defects by a just complaint of the blindness and
insufficiency of my guides. The Greeks, so loquacious in controversy,
have not been anxious to celebrate the triumphs of their enemies.
After a century of ignorance, the first annals of the Mussulmans were
collected in a great measure from the voice of tradition. Among the
numerous productions of Arabic and Persian literature, our interpreters
have selected the imperfect sketches of a more recent age. The art
and genius of history have ever been unknown to the Asiatics; they are
ignorant of the laws of criticism; and our monkish chronicle of the
same period may be compared to their most popular works, which are never
vivified by the spirit of philosophy and freedom. The _Oriental library_
of a Frenchman would instruct the most learned mufti of the East; and
perhaps the Arabs might not find in a single historian so clear and
comprehensive a narrative of their own exploits as that which will be
deduced in the ensuing sheets.

I. In the first year of the first caliph, his lieutenant Caled, the
Sword of God, and the scourge of the infidels, advanced to the banks of
the Euphrates, and reduced the cities of Anbar and Hira. Westward of the
ruins of Babylon, a tribe of sedentary Arabs had fixed themselves on the
verge of the desert; and Hira was the seat of a race of kings who had
embraced the Christian religion, and reigned above six hundred years
under the shadow of the throne of Persia. The last of the Mondars was
defeated and slain by Caled; his son was sent a captive to Medina; his
nobles bowed before the successor of the prophet; the people was tempted
by the example and success of their countrymen; and the caliph accepted
as the first-fruits of foreign conquest an annual tribute of seventy
thousand pieces of gold. The conquerors, and even their historians, were
astonished by the dawn of their future greatness: "In the same year,"
says Elmacin, "Caled fought many signal battles: an immense multitude of
the infidels was slaughtered; and spoils infinite and innumerable were
acquired by the victorious Moslems." But the invincible Caled was soon
transferred to the Syrian war: the invasion of the Persian frontier was
conducted by less active or less prudent commanders: the Saracens were
repulsed with loss in the passage of the Euphrates; and, though they
chastised the insolent pursuit of the Magians, their remaining forces
still hovered in the desert of Babylon.

The indignation and fears of the Persians suspended for a moment their
intestine divisions. By the unanimous sentence of the priests and
nobles, their queen Arzema was deposed; the sixth of the transient
usurpers, who had arisen and vanished in three or four years since the
death of Chosroes, and the retreat of Heraclius. Her tiara was placed on
the head of Yezdegerd, the grandson of Chosroes; and the same æra, which
coincides with an astronomical period, has recorded the fall of
the Sassanian dynasty and the religion of Zoroaster. The youth and
inexperience of the prince (he was only fifteen years of age) declined
a perilous encounter: the royal standard was delivered into the hands of
his general Rustam; and a remnant of thirty thousand regular troops
was swelled in truth, or in opinion, to one hundred and twenty thousand
subjects, or allies, of the great king. The Moslems, whose numbers were
reënforced from twelve to thirty thousand, had pitched their camp in the
plains of Cadesia: and their line, though it consisted of fewer _men_,
could produce more _soldiers_, than the unwieldy host of the infidels.
I shall here observe, what I must often repeat, that the charge of the
Arabs was not, like that of the Greeks and Romans, the effort of a firm
and compact infantry: their military force was chiefly formed of cavalry
and archers; and the engagement, which was often interrupted and often
renewed by single combats and flying skirmishes, might be protracted
without any decisive event to the continuance of several days. The
periods of the battle of Cadesia were distinguished by their peculiar
appellations. The first, from the well-timed appearance of six thousand
of the Syrian brethren, was denominated the day of _succor_. The day of
_concussion_ might express the disorder of one, or perhaps of both,
of the contending armies. The third, a nocturnal tumult, received the
whimsical name of the night of _barking_, from the discordant clamors,
which were compared to the inarticulate sounds of the fiercest animals.
The morning of the succeeding day determined the fate of Persia; and
a seasonable whirlwind drove a cloud of dust against the faces of the
unbelievers. The clangor of arms was reechoed to the tent of Rustam,
who, far unlike the ancient hero of his name, was gently reclining in a
cool and tranquil shade, amidst the baggage of his camp, and the train
of mules that were laden with gold and silver. On the sound of danger he
started from his couch; but his flight was overtaken by a valiant Arab,
who caught him by the foot, struck off his head, hoisted it on a lance,
and instantly returning to the field of battle, carried slaughter and
dismay among the thickest ranks of the Persians. The Saracens confess
a loss of seven thousand five hundred men; and the battle of Cadesia
is justly described by the epithets of obstinate and atrocious. The
standard of the monarchy was overthrown and captured in the field--a
leathern apron of a blacksmith, who in ancient times had arisen the
deliverer of Persia; but this badge of heroic poverty was disguised, and
almost concealed, by a profusion of precious gems. After this victory,
the wealthy province of Irak, or Assyria, submitted to the caliph,
and his conquests were firmly established by the speedy foundation of
Bassora, a place which ever commands the trade and navigation of
the Persians. As the distance of fourscore miles from the Gulf, the
Euphrates and Tigris unite in a broad and direct current, which is aptly
styled the river of the Arabs. In the midway, between the junction and
the mouth of these famous streams, the new settlement was planted on the
western bank: the first colony was composed of eight hundred Moslems;
but the influence of the situation soon reared a flourishing and
populous capital. The air, though excessively hot, is pure and healthy:
the meadows are filled with palm-trees and cattle; and one of the
adjacent valleys has been celebrated among the four paradises or gardens
of Asia. Under the first caliphs the jurisdiction of this Arabian
colony extended over the southern provinces of Persia: the city has been
sanctified by the tombs of the companions and martyrs; and the vessels
of Europe still frequent the port of Bassora, as a convenient station
and passage of the Indian trade.

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part II.

After the defeat of Cadesia, a country intersected by rivers and canals
might have opposed an insuperable barrier to the victorious cavalry; and
the walls of Ctesiphon or Madayn, which had resisted the battering-rams
of the Romans, would not have yielded to the darts of the Saracens. But
the flying Persians were overcome by the belief, that the last day
of their religion and empire was at hand; the strongest posts were
abandoned by treachery or cowardice; and the king, with a part of his
family and treasures, escaped to Holwan at the foot of the Median hills.
In the third month after the battle, Said, the lieutenant of Omar,
passed the Tigris without opposition; the capital was taken by assault;
and the disorderly resistance of the people gave a keener edge to the
sabres of the Moslems, who shouted with religious transport, "This is
the white palace of Chosroes; this is the promise of the apostle of
God!" The naked robbers of the desert were suddenly enriched beyond the
measure of their hope or knowledge. Each chamber revealed a new treasure
secreted with art, or ostentatiously displayed; the gold and silver, the
various wardrobes and precious furniture, surpassed (says Abulfeda) the
estimate of fancy or numbers; and another historian defines the untold
and almost infinite mass, by the fabulous computation of three thousands
of thousands of thousands of pieces of gold. Some minute though curious
facts represent the contrast of riches and ignorance. From the remote
islands of the Indian Ocean a large provision of camphire had been
imported, which is employed with a mixture of wax to illuminate the
palaces of the East. Strangers to the name and properties of that
odoriferous gum, the Saracens, mistaking it for salt, mingled the
camphire in their bread, and were astonished at the bitterness of the
taste. One of the apartments of the palace was decorated with a carpet
of silk, sixty cubits in length, and as many in breadth: a paradise or
garden was depictured on the ground: the flowers, fruits, and shrubs,
were imitated by the figures of the gold embroidery, and the colors of
the precious stones; and the ample square was encircled by a variegated
and verdant border. The Arabian general persuaded his soldiers to
relinquish their claim, in the reasonable hope that the eyes of the
caliph would be delighted with the splendid workmanship of nature and
industry. Regardless of the merit of art, and the pomp of royalty, the
rigid Omar divided the prize among his brethren of Medina: the picture
was destroyed; but such was the intrinsic value of the materials, that
the share of Ali alone was sold for twenty thousand drams. A mule that
carried away the tiara and cuirass, the belt and bracelets of Chosroes,
was overtaken by the pursuers; the gorgeous trophy was presented to
the commander of the faithful; and the gravest of the companions
condescended to smile when they beheld the white beard, the hairy arms,
and uncouth figure of the veteran, who was invested with the spoils of
the Great King. The sack of Ctesiphon was followed by its desertion and
gradual decay. The Saracens disliked the air and situation of the place,
and Omar was advised by his general to remove the seat of government to
the western side of the Euphrates. In every age, the foundation and ruin
of the Assyrian cities has been easy and rapid: the country is destitute
of stone and timber; and the most solid structures are composed of
bricks baked in the sun, and joined by a cement of the native bitumen.
The name of _Cufa_ describes a habitation of reeds and earth; but the
importance of the new capital was supported by the numbers, wealth, and
spirit, of a colony of veterans; and their licentiousness was indulged
by the wisest caliphs, who were apprehensive of provoking the revolt
of a hundred thousand swords: "Ye men of Cufa," said Ali, who solicited
their aid, "you have been always conspicuous by your valor. You
conquered the Persian king, and scattered his forces, till you had taken
possession of his inheritance." This mighty conquest was achieved by the
battles of Jalula and Nehavend. After the loss of the former, Yezdegerd
fled from Holwan, and concealed his shame and despair in the mountains
of Farsistan, from whence Cyrus had descended with his equal and valiant
companions. The courage of the nation survived that of the monarch:
among the hills to the south of Ecbatana or Hamadan, one hundred and
fifty thousand Persians made a third and final stand for their religion
and country; and the decisive battle of Nehavend was styled by the Arabs
the victory of victories. If it be true that the flying general of the
Persians was stopped and overtaken in a crowd of mules and camels laden
with honey, the incident, however slight and singular, will denote the
luxurious impediments of an Oriental army.

The geography of Persia is darkly delineated by the Greeks and Latins;
but the most illustrious of her cities appear to be more ancient than
the invasion of the Arabs. By the reduction of Hamadan and Ispahan, of
Caswin, Tauris, and Rei, they gradually approached the shores of the
Caspian Sea: and the orators of Mecca might applaud the success and
spirit of the faithful, who had already lost sight of the northern bear,
and had almost transcended the bounds of the habitable world. Again,
turning towards the West and the Roman empire, they repassed the Tigris
over the bridge of Mosul, and, in the captive provinces of Armenia and
Mesopotamia, embraced their victorious brethren of the Syrian army.
From the palace of Madayn their Eastern progress was not less rapid
or extensive. They advanced along the Tigris and the Gulf; penetrated
through the passes of the mountains into the valley of Estachar or
Persepolis, and profaned the last sanctuary of the Magian empire. The
grandson of Chosroes was nearly surprised among the falling columns
and mutilated figures; a sad emblem of the past and present fortune
of Persia: he fled with accelerated haste over the desert of Kirman,
implored the aid of the warlike Segestans, and sought an humble refuge
on the verge of the Turkish and Chinese power. But a victorious army is
insensible of fatigue: the Arabs divided their forces in the pursuit
of a timorous enemy; and the caliph Othman promised the government of
Chorasan to the first general who should enter that large and populous
country, the kingdom of the ancient Bactrians. The condition was
accepted; the prize was deserved; the standard of Mahomet was planted on
the walls of Herat, Merou, and Balch; and the successful leader neither
halted nor reposed till his foaming cavalry had tasted the waters of the
Oxus. In the public anarchy, the independent governors of the cities and
castles obtained their separate capitulations: the terms were granted or
imposed by the esteem, the prudence, or the compassion, of the victors;
and a simple profession of faith established the distinction between
a brother and a slave. After a noble defence, Harmozan, the prince or
satrap of Ahwaz and Susa, was compelled to surrender his person and his
state to the discretion of the caliph; and their interview exhibits a
portrait of the Arabian manners. In the presence, and by the command,
of Omar, the gay Barbarian was despoiled of his silken robes embroidered
with gold, and of his tiara bedecked with rubies and emeralds: "Are you
now sensible," said the conqueror to his naked captive--"are you
now sensible of the judgment of God, and of the different rewards of
infidelity and obedience?" "Alas!" replied Harmozan, "I feel them too
deeply. In the days of our common ignorance, we fought with the weapons
of the flesh, and my nation was superior. God was then neuter: since he
has espoused your quarrel, you have subverted our kingdom and
religion." Oppressed by this painful dialogue, the Persian complained of
intolerable thirst, but discovered some apprehension lest he should be
killed whilst he was drinking a cup of water. "Be of good courage,"
said the caliph; "your life is safe till you have drunk this water:"
the crafty satrap accepted the assurance, and instantly dashed the
vase against the ground. Omar would have avenged the deceit, but
his companions represented the sanctity of an oath; and the speedy
conversion of Harmozan entitled him not only to a free pardon, but
even to a stipend of two thousand pieces of gold. The administration of
Persia was regulated by an actual survey of the people, the cattle, and
the fruits of the earth; and this monument, which attests the vigilance
of the caliphs, might have instructed the philosophers of every age.

The flight of Yezdegerd had carried him beyond the Oxus, and as far as
the Jaxartes, two rivers of ancient and modern renown, which descend
from the mountains of India towards the Caspian Sea. He was hospitably
entertained by Tarkhan, prince of Fargana, a fertile province on the
Jaxartes: the king of Samarcand, with the Turkish tribes of Sogdiana
and Scythia, were moved by the lamentations and promises of the fallen
monarch; and he solicited, by a suppliant embassy, the more solid and
powerful friendship of the emperor of China. The virtuous Taitsong,
the first of the dynasty of the Tang may be justly compared with the
Antonines of Rome: his people enjoyed the blessings of prosperity and
peace; and his dominion was acknowledged by forty-four hordes of
the Barbarians of Tartary. His last garrisons of Cashgar and Khoten
maintained a frequent intercourse with their neighbors of the Jaxartes
and Oxus; a recent colony of Persians had introduced into China the
astronomy of the Magi; and Taitsong might be alarmed by the rapid
progress and dangerous vicinity of the Arabs. The influence, and perhaps
the supplies, of China revived the hopes of Yezdegerd and the zeal
of the worshippers of fire; and he returned with an army of Turks to
conquer the inheritance of his fathers. The fortunate Moslems, without
unsheathing their swords, were the spectators of his ruin and death.
The grandson of Chosroes was betrayed by his servant, insulted by the
seditious inhabitants of Merou, and oppressed, defeated, and pursued by
his Barbarian allies. He reached the banks of a river, and offered his
rings and bracelets for an instant passage in a miller's boat. Ignorant
or insensible of royal distress, the rustic replied, that four drams of
silver were the daily profit of his mill, and that he would not suspend
his work unless the loss were repaid. In this moment of hesitation and
delay, the last of the Sassanian kings was overtaken and slaughtered by
the Turkish cavalry, in the nineteenth year of his unhappy reign. His
son Firuz, an humble client of the Chinese emperor, accepted the station
of captain of his guards; and the Magian worship was long preserved by
a colony of loyal exiles in the province of Bucharia. His grandson
inherited the regal name; but after a faint and fruitless enterprise, he
returned to China, and ended his days in the palace of Sigan. The
male line of the Sassanides was extinct; but the female captives, the
daughters of Persia, were given to the conquerors in servitude, or
marriage; and the race of the caliphs and imams was ennobled by the
blood of their royal mothers.

After the fall of the Persian kingdom, the River Oxus divided the
territories of the Saracens and of the Turks. This narrow boundary was
soon overleaped by the spirit of the Arabs; the governors of Chorasan
extended their successive inroads; and one of their triumphs was adorned
with the buskin of a Turkish queen, which she dropped in her precipitate
flight beyond the hills of Bochara. But the final conquest of
Transoxiana, as well as of Spain, was reserved for the glorious reign of
the inactive Walid; and the name of Catibah, the camel driver, declares
the origin and merit of his successful lieutenant. While one of his
colleagues displayed the first Mahometan banner on the banks of the
Indus, the spacious regions between the Oxus, the Jaxartes, and the
Caspian Sea, were reduced by the arms of Catibah to the obedience of the
prophet and of the caliph. A tribute of two millions of pieces of gold
was imposed on the infidels; their idols were burnt or broken; the
Mussulman chief pronounced a sermon in the new mosch of Carizme; after
several battles, the Turkish hordes were driven back to the desert; and
the emperors of China solicited the friendship of the victorious Arabs.
To their industry, the prosperity of the province, the Sogdiana of the
ancients, may in a great measure be ascribed; but the advantages of the
soil and climate had been understood and cultivated since the reign
of the Macedonian kings. Before the invasion of the Saracens, Carizme,
Bochara, and Samarcand were rich and populous under the yoke of the
shepherds of the north. These cities were surrounded with a double
wall; and the exterior fortification, of a larger circumference,
enclosed the fields and gardens of the adjacent district. The mutual
wants of India and Europe were supplied by the diligence of the Sogdian
merchants; and the inestimable art of transforming linen into paper has
been diffused from the manufacture of Samarcand over the western world.

II. No sooner had Abubeker restored the unity of faith and government,
than he despatched a circular letter to the Arabian tribes. "In the name
of the most merciful God, to the rest of the true believers. Health and
happiness, and the mercy and blessing of God, be upon you. I praise the
most high God, and I pray for his prophet Mahomet. This is to acquaint
you, that I intend to send the true believers into Syria to take it
out of the hands of the infidels. And I would have you know, that the
fighting for religion is an act of obedience to God." His messengers
returned with the tidings of pious and martial ardor which they had
kindled in every province; and the camp of Medina was successively
filled with the intrepid bands of the Saracens, who panted for action,
complained of the heat of the season and the scarcity of provisions,
and accused with impatient murmurs the delays of the caliph. As soon as
their numbers were complete, Abubeker ascended the hill, reviewed the
men, the horses, and the arms, and poured forth a fervent prayer for the
success of their undertaking. In person, and on foot, he accompanied the
first day's march; and when the blushing leaders attempted to dismount,
the caliph removed their scruples by a declaration, that those who
rode, and those who walked, in the service of religion, were equally
meritorious. His instructions to the chiefs of the Syrian army were
inspired by the warlike fanaticism which advances to seize, and affects
to despise, the objects of earthly ambition. "Remember," said the
successor of the prophet, "that you are always in the presence of God,
on the verge of death, in the assurance of judgment, and the hope of
paradise. Avoid injustice and oppression; consult with your brethren,
and study to preserve the love and confidence of your troops. When
you fight the battles of the Lord, acquit yourselves like men, without
turning your backs; but let not your victory be stained with the blood
of women or children. Destroy no palm-trees, nor burn any fields of
corn. Cut down no fruit-trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such
as you kill to eat. When you make any covenant or article, stand to it,
and be as good as your word. As you go on, you will find some religious
persons who live retired in monasteries, and propose to themselves to
serve God that way: let them alone, and neither kill them nor destroy
their monasteries: And you will find another sort of people, that belong
to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns; be sure you cleave
their skulls, and give them no quarter till they either turn Mahometans
or pay tribute." All profane or frivolous conversation, all dangerous
recollection of ancient quarrels, was severely prohibited among
the Arabs: in the tumult of a camp, the exercises of religion were
assiduously practised; and the intervals of action were employed in
prayer, meditation, and the study of the Koran. The abuse, or even the
use, of wine was chastised by fourscore strokes on the soles of the
feet, and in the fervor of their primitive zeal, many secret sinners
revealed their fault, and solicited their punishment. After some
hesitation, the command of the Syrian army was delegated to Abu Obeidah,
one of the fugitives of Mecca, and companions of Mahomet; whose zeal and
devotion was assuaged, without being abated, by the singular mildness
and benevolence of his temper. But in all the emergencies of war, the
soldiers demanded the superior genius of Caled; and whoever might be the
choice of the prince, the _Sword of God_ was both in fact and fame the
foremost leader of the Saracens. He obeyed without reluctance; he
was consulted without jealousy; and such was the spirit of the man, or
rather of the times, that Caled professed his readiness to serve under
the banner of the faith, though it were in the hands of a child or an
enemy. Glory, and riches, and dominion, were indeed promised to the
victorious Mussulman; but he was carefully instructed, that if the goods
of this life were his only incitement, _they_ likewise would be his only

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part III.

One of the fifteen provinces of Syria, the cultivated lands to the
eastward of the Jordan, had been decorated by Roman vanity with the name
of _Arabia_; and the first arms of the Saracens were justified by the
semblance of a national right. The country was enriched by the various
benefits of trade; by the vigilance of the emperors it was covered with
a line of forts; and the populous cities of Gerasa, Philadelphia, and
Bosra, were secure, at least from a surprise, by the solid structure of
their walls. The last of these cities was the eighteenth station from
Medina: the road was familiar to the caravans of Hejaz and Irak, who
annually visited this plenteous market of the province and the desert:
the perpetual jealousy of the Arabs had trained the inhabitants to
arms; and twelve thousand horse could sally from the gates of Bosra, an
appellation which signifies, in the Syriac language, a strong tower of
defence. Encouraged by their first success against the open towns and
flying parties of the borders, a detachment of four thousand Moslems
presumed to summon and attack the fortress of Bosra. They were oppressed
by the numbers of the Syrians; they were saved by the presence of Caled,
with fifteen hundred horse: he blamed the enterprise, restored the
battle, and rescued his friend, the venerable Serjabil, who had vainly
invoked the unity of God and the promises of the apostle. After a short
repose, the Moslems performed their ablutions with sand instead of
water; and the morning prayer was recited by Caled before they mounted
on horseback. Confident in their strength, the people of Bosra threw
open their gates, drew their forces into the plain, and swore to die in
the defence of their religion. But a religion of peace was incapable of
withstanding the fanatic cry of "Fight, fight! Paradise, paradise!" that
reechoed in the ranks of the Saracens; and the uproar of the town,
the ringing of bells, and the exclamations of the priests and monks
increased the dismay and disorder of the Christians. With the loss of
two hundred and thirty men, the Arabs remained masters of the field;
and the ramparts of Bosra, in expectation of human or divine aid, were
crowded with holy crosses and consecrated banners. The governor Romanus
had recommended an early submission: despised by the people, and
degraded from his office, he still retained the desire and opportunity
of revenge. In a nocturnal interview, he informed the enemy of a
subterraneous passage from his house under the wall of the city; the son
of the caliph, with a hundred volunteers, were committed to the faith of
this new ally, and their successful intrepidity gave an easy entrance
to their companions. After Caled had imposed the terms of servitude and
tribute, the apostate or convert avowed in the assembly of the people
his meritorious treason: "I renounce your society," said Romanus, "both
in this world and the world to come. And I deny him that was crucified,
and whosoever worships him. And I choose God for my Lord, Islam for my
faith, Mecca for my temple, the Moslems for my brethren, and Mahomet for
my prophet; who was sent to lead us into the right way, and to exalt the
true religion in spite of those who join partners with God."

The conquest of Bosra, four days' journey from Damascus, encouraged the
Arabs to besiege the ancient capital of Syria. At some distance from the
walls, they encamped among the groves and fountains of that delicious
territory, and the usual option of the Mahometan faith, of tribute or
of war, was proposed to the resolute citizens, who had been lately
strengthened by a reenforcement of five thousand Greeks. In the
decline, as in the infancy, of the military art, a hostile defiance was
frequently offered and accepted by the generals themselves: many a lance
was shivered in the plain of Damascus, and the personal prowess of Caled
was signalized in the first sally of the besieged. After an obstinate
combat, he had overthrown and made prisoner one of the Christian
leaders, a stout and worthy antagonist. He instantly mounted a fresh
horse, the gift of the governor of Palmyra, and pushed forwards to the
front of the battle. "Repose yourself for a moment," said his friend
Derar, "and permit me to supply your place: you are fatigued with
fighting with this dog." "O Dear!" replied the indefatigable Saracen,
"we shall rest in the world to come. He that labors to-day shall rest
to-morrow." With the same unabated ardor, Caled answered, encountered,
and vanquished a second champion; and the heads of his two captives who
refused to abandon their religion were indignantly hurled into the midst
of the city. The event of some general and partial actions reduced the
Damascenes to a closer defence: but a messenger, whom they dropped from
the walls, returned with the promise of speedy and powerful succor, and
their tumultuous joy conveyed the intelligence to the camp of the Arabs.
After some debate, it was resolved by the generals to raise, or rather
to suspend, the siege of Damascus, till they had given battle to the
forces of the emperor. In the retreat, Caled would have chosen the more
perilous station of the rear-guard; he modestly yielded to the wishes
of Abu Obeidah. But in the hour of danger he flew to the rescue of his
companion, who was rudely pressed by a sally of six thousand horse and
ten thousand foot, and few among the Christians could relate at Damascus
the circumstances of their defeat. The importance of the contest
required the junction of the Saracens, who were dispersed on the
frontiers of Syria and Palestine; and I shall transcribe one of the
circular mandates which was addressed to Amrou, the future conqueror
of Egypt. "In the name of the most merciful God: from Caled to Amrou,
health and happiness. Know that thy brethren the Moslems design to march
to Aiznadin, where there is an army of seventy thousand Greeks, who
purpose to come against us, _that they may extinguish the light of
God with their mouths; but God preserveth his light in spite of the
infidels_. As soon therefore as this letter of mine shall be delivered
to thy hands, come with those that are with thee to Aiznadin, where
thou shalt find us if it please the most high God." The summons was
cheerfully obeyed, and the forty-five thousand Moslems, who met on the
same day, on the same spot ascribed to the blessing of Providence the
effects of their activity and zeal.

About four years after the triumph of the Persian war, the repose of
Heraclius and the empire was again disturbed by a new enemy, the
power of whose religion was more strongly felt, than it was
clearly understood, by the Christians of the East. In his palace of
Constantinople or Antioch, he was awakened by the invasion of Syria, the
loss of Bosra, and the danger of Damascus. An army of seventy thousand
veterans, or new levies, was assembled at Hems or Emesa, under the
command of his general Werdan: and these troops consisting chiefly of
cavalry, might be indifferently styled either Syrians, or Greeks, or
Romans: _Syrians_, from the place of their birth or warfare; _Greeks_
from the religion and language of their sovereign; and _Romans_, from
the proud appellation which was still profaned by the successors of
Constantine. On the plain of Aiznadin, as Werdan rode on a white mule
decorated with gold chains, and surrounded with ensigns and standards,
he was surprised by the near approach of a fierce and naked warrior, who
had undertaken to view the state of the enemy. The adventurous valor of
Derar was inspired, and has perhaps been adorned, by the enthusiasm of
his age and country. The hatred of the Christians, the love of spoil,
and the contempt of danger, were the ruling passions of the audacious
Saracen; and the prospect of instant death could never shake his
religious confidence, or ruffle the calmness of his resolution, or
even suspend the frank and martial pleasantry of his humor. In the most
hopeless enterprises, he was bold, and prudent, and fortunate: after
innumerable hazards, after being thrice a prisoner in the hands of the
infidels, he still survived to relate the achievements, and to enjoy
the rewards, of the Syrian conquest. On this occasion, his single lance
maintained a flying fight against thirty Romans, who were detached by
Werdan; and, after killing or unhorsing seventeen of their number, Derar
returned in safety to his applauding brethren. When his rashness was
mildly censured by the general, he excused himself with the simplicity
of a soldier. "Nay," said Derar, "I did not begin first: but they came
out to take me, and I was afraid that God should see me turn my back:
and indeed I fought in good earnest, and without doubt God assisted me
against them; and had I not been apprehensive of disobeying your orders,
I should not have come away as I did; and I perceive already that they
will fall into our hands." In the presence of both armies, a venerable
Greek advanced from the ranks with a liberal offer of peace; and the
departure of the Saracens would have been purchased by a gift to each
soldier, of a turban, a robe, and a piece of gold; ten robes and a
hundred pieces to their leader; one hundred robes and a thousand pieces
to the caliph. A smile of indignation expressed the refusal of Caled.
"Ye Christian dogs, you know your option; the Koran, the tribute, or the
sword. We are a people whose delight is in war, rather than in peace:
and we despise your pitiful alms, since we shall be speedily masters
of your wealth, your families, and your persons." Notwithstanding this
apparent disdain, he was deeply conscious of the public danger: those
who had been in Persia, and had seen the armies of Chosroes confessed
that they never beheld a more formidable array. From the superiority of
the enemy, the artful Saracen derived a fresh incentive of courage: "You
see before you," said he, "the united force of the Romans; you cannot
hope to escape, but you may conquer Syria in a single day. The event
depends on your discipline and patience. Reserve yourselves till the
evening. It was in the evening that the Prophet was accustomed to
vanquish." During two successive engagements, his temperate firmness
sustained the darts of the enemy, and the murmurs of his troops. At
length, when the spirits and quivers of the adverse line were almost
exhausted, Caled gave the signal of onset and victory. The remains of
the Imperial army fled to Antioch, or Cæsarea, or Damascus; and the
death of four hundred and seventy Moslems was compensated by the opinion
that they had sent to hell above fifty thousand of the infidels. The
spoil was inestimable; many banners and crosses of gold and silver,
precious stones, silver and gold chains, and innumerable suits of the
richest armor and apparel. The general distribution was postponed till
Damascus should be taken; but the seasonable supply of arms became the
instrument of new victories. The glorious intelligence was transmitted
to the throne of the caliph; and the Arabian tribes, the coldest or most
hostile to the prophet's mission, were eager and importunate to share
the harvest of Syria.

The sad tidings were carried to Damascus by the speed of grief and
terror; and the inhabitants beheld from their walls the return of the
heroes of Aiznadin. Amrou led the van at the head of nine thousand
horse: the bands of the Saracens succeeded each other in formidable
review; and the rear was closed by Caled in person, with the standard of
the black eagle. To the activity of Derar he intrusted the commission
of patrolling round the city with two thousand horse, of scouring the
plain, and of intercepting all succor or intelligence. The rest of the
Arabian chiefs were fixed in their respective stations before the
seven gates of Damascus; and the siege was renewed with fresh vigor and
confidence. The art, the labor, the military engines, of the Greeks
and Romans are seldom to be found in the simple, though successful,
operations of the Saracens: it was sufficient for them to invest a
city with arms, rather than with trenches; to repel the allies of
the besieged; to attempt a stratagem or an assault; or to expect the
progress of famine and discontent. Damascus would have acquiesced in
the trial of Aiznadin, as a final and peremptory sentence between the
emperor and the caliph; her courage was rekindled by the example and
authority of Thomas, a noble Greek, illustrious in a private condition
by the alliance of Heraclius. The tumult and illumination of the night
proclaimed the design of the morning sally; and the Christian hero, who
affected to despise the enthusiasm of the Arabs, employed the resource
of a similar superstition. At the principal gate, in the sight of both
armies, a lofty crucifix was erected; the bishop, with his clergy,
accompanied the march, and laid the volume of the New Testament before
the image of Jesus; and the contending parties were scandalized or
edified by a prayer that the Son of God would defend his servants and
vindicate his truth. The battle raged with incessant fury; and the
dexterity of Thomas, an incomparable archer, was fatal to the boldest
Saracens, till their death was revenged by a female heroine. The wife
of Aban, who had followed him to the holy war, embraced her expiring
husband. "Happy," said she, "happy art thou, my dear: thou art gone to
they Lord, who first joined us together, and then parted us asunder. I
will revenge thy death, and endeavor to the utmost of my power to come
to the place where thou art, because I love thee. Henceforth shall no
man ever touch me more, for I have dedicated myself to the service of
God." Without a groan, without a tear, she washed the corpse of her
husband, and buried him with the usual rites. Then grasping the manly
weapons, which in her native land she was accustomed to wield, the
intrepid widow of Aban sought the place where his murderer fought in
the thickest of the battle. Her first arrow pierced the hand of his
standard-bearer; her second wounded Thomas in the eye; and the fainting
Christians no longer beheld their ensign or their leader. Yet the
generous champion of Damascus refused to withdraw to his palace: his
wound was dressed on the rampart; the fight was continued till the
evening; and the Syrians rested on their arms. In the silence of the
night, the signal was given by a stroke on the great bell; the gates
were thrown open, and each gate discharged an impetuous column on the
sleeping camp of the Saracens. Caled was the first in arms: at the
head of four hundred horse he flew to the post of danger, and the tears
trickled down his iron cheeks, as he uttered a fervent ejaculation; "O
God, who never sleepest, look upon they servants, and do not deliver
them into the hands of their enemies." The valor and victory of Thomas
were arrested by the presence of the _Sword of God_; with the knowledge
of the peril, the Moslems recovered their ranks, and charged the
assailants in the flank and rear. After the loss of thousands, the
Christian general retreated with a sigh of despair, and the pursuit of
the Saracens was checked by the military engines of the rampart.

After a siege of seventy days, the patience, and perhaps the provisions,
of the Damascenes were exhausted; and the bravest of their chiefs
submitted to the hard dictates of necessity. In the occurrences of peace
and war, they had been taught to dread the fierceness of Caled, and to
revere the mild virtues of Abu Obeidah. At the hour of midnight, one
hundred chosen deputies of the clergy and people were introduced to the
tent of that venerable commander. He received and dismissed them with
courtesy. They returned with a written agreement, on the faith of
a companion of Mahomet, that all hostilities should cease; that the
voluntary emigrants might depart in safety, with as much as they could
carry away of their effects; and that the tributary subjects of the
caliph should enjoy their lands and houses, with the use and possession
of seven churches. On these terms, the most respectable hostages,
and the gate nearest to his camp, were delivered into his hands: his
soldiers imitated the moderation of their chief; and he enjoyed the
submissive gratitude of a people whom he had rescued from destruction.
But the success of the treaty had relaxed their vigilance, and in the
same moment the opposite quarter of the city was betrayed and taken by
assault. A party of a hundred Arabs had opened the eastern gate to a
more inexorable foe. "No quarter," cried the rapacious and sanguinary
Caled, "no quarter to the enemies of the Lord:" his trumpets sounded,
and a torrent of Christian blood was poured down the streets of
Damascus. When he reached the church of St. Mary, he was astonished and
provoked by the peaceful aspect of his companions; their swords were
in the scabbard, and they were surrounded by a multitude of priests and
monks. Abu Obeidah saluted the general: "God," said he, "has delivered
the city into my hands by way of surrender, and has saved the believers
the trouble of fighting." "And am I not," replied the indignant Caled,
"am I not the lieutenant of the commander of the faithful? Have I not
taken the city by storm? The unbelievers shall perish by the sword. Fall
on." The hungry and cruel Arabs would have obeyed the welcome command;
and Damascus was lost, if the benevolence of Abu Obeidah had not been
supported by a decent and dignified firmness. Throwing himself between
the trembling citizens and the most eager of the Barbarians, he adjured
them, by the holy name of God, to respect his promise, to suspend their
fury, and to wait the determination of their chiefs. The chiefs
retired into the church of St. Mary; and after a vehement debate, Caled
submitted in some measure to the reason and authority of his colleague;
who urged the sanctity of a covenant, the advantage as well as the honor
which the Moslems would derive from the punctual performance of their
word, and the obstinate resistance which they must encounter from the
distrust and despair of the rest of the Syrian cities. It was agreed
that the sword should be sheathed, that the part of Damascus which
had surrendered to Abu Obeidah, should be immediately entitled to the
benefit of his capitulation, and that the final decision should be
referred to the justice and wisdom of the caliph. A large majority of
the people accepted the terms of toleration and tribute; and Damascus is
still peopled by twenty thousand Christians. But the valiant Thomas,
and the free-born patriots who had fought under his banner, embraced
the alternative of poverty and exile. In the adjacent meadow, a numerous
encampment was formed of priests and laymen, of soldiers and citizens,
of women and children: they collected, with haste and terror, their
most precious movables; and abandoned, with loud lamentations, or silent
anguish, their native homes, and the pleasant banks of the Pharpar.
The inflexible soul of Caled was not touched by the spectacle of their
distress: he disputed with the Damascenes the property of a magazine of
corn; endeavored to exclude the garrison from the benefit of the treaty;
consented, with reluctance, that each of the fugitives should arm
himself with a sword, or a lance, or a bow; and sternly declared, that,
after a respite of three days, they might be pursued and treated as the
enemies of the Moslems.

The passion of a Syrian youth completed the ruin of the exiles of
Damascus. A nobleman of the city, of the name of Jonas, was betrothed
to a wealthy maiden; but her parents delayed the consummation of his
nuptials, and their daughter was persuaded to escape with the man whom
she had chosen. They corrupted the nightly watchmen of the gate Keisan;
the lover, who led the way, was encompassed by a squadron of Arabs; but
his exclamation in the Greek tongue, "The bird is taken," admonished his
mistress to hasten her return. In the presence of Caled, and of death,
the unfortunate Jonas professed his belief in one God and his apostle
Mahomet; and continued, till the season of his martyrdom, to discharge
the duties of a brave and sincere Mussulman. When the city was taken, he
flew to the monastery, where Eudocia had taken refuge; but the lover was
forgotten; the apostate was scorned; she preferred her religion to her
country; and the justice of Caled, though deaf to mercy, refused to
detain by force a male or female inhabitant of Damascus. Four days was
the general confined to the city by the obligation of the treaty, and
the urgent cares of his new conquest. His appetite for blood and rapine
would have been extinguished by the hopeless computation of time and
distance; but he listened to the importunities of Jonas, who assured
him that the weary fugitives might yet be overtaken. At the head of four
thousand horse, in the disguise of Christian Arabs, Caled undertook the
pursuit. They halted only for the moments of prayer; and their guide had
a perfect knowledge of the country. For a long way the footsteps of the
Damascenes were plain and conspicuous: they vanished on a sudden; but
the Saracens were comforted by the assurance that the caravan had turned
aside into the mountains, and must speedily fall into their hands.
In traversing the ridges of the Libanus, they endured intolerable
hardships, and the sinking spirits of the veteran fanatics were
supported and cheered by the unconquerable ardor of a lover. From a
peasant of the country, they were informed that the emperor had sent
orders to the colony of exiles to pursue without delay the road of
the sea-coast, and of Constantinople, apprehensive, perhaps, that the
soldiers and people of Antioch might be discouraged by the sight and
the story of their sufferings. The Saracens were conducted through the
territories of Gabala and Laodicea, at a cautious distance from the
walls of the cities; the rain was incessant, the night was dark, a
single mountain separated them from the Roman army; and Caled, ever
anxious for the safety of his brethren, whispered an ominous dream
in the ear of his companion. With the dawn of day, the prospect again
cleared, and they saw before them, in a pleasant valley, the tents of
Damascus. After a short interval of repose and prayer, Caled divided his
cavalry into four squadrons, committing the first to his faithful Derar,
and reserving the last for himself. They successively rushed on the
promiscuous multitude, insufficiently provided with arms, and already
vanquished by sorrow and fatigue. Except a captive, who was pardoned and
dismissed, the Arabs enjoyed the satisfaction of believing that not a
Christian of either sex escaped the edge of their cimeters. The gold and
silver of Damascus was scattered over the camp, and a royal wardrobe of
three hundred load of silk might clothe an army of naked Barbarians.
In the tumult of the battle, Jonas sought and found the object of his
pursuit: but her resentment was inflamed by the last act of his perfidy;
and as Eudocia struggled in his hateful embraces, she struck a dagger to
her heart. Another female, the widow of Thomas, and the real or supposed
daughter of Heraclius, was spared and released without a ransom; but
the generosity of Caled was the effect of his contempt; and the haughty
Saracen insulted, by a message of defiance, the throne of the Cæsars.
Caled had penetrated above a hundred and fifty miles into the heart of
the Roman province: he returned to Damascus with the same secrecy and
speed On the accession of Omar, the _Sword of God_ was removed from
the command; but the caliph, who blamed the rashness, was compelled to
applaud the vigor and conduct, of the enterprise.

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part IV.

Another expedition of the conquerors of Damascus will equally display
their avidity and their contempt for the riches of the present world.
They were informed that the produce and manufactures of the country were
annually collected in the fair of Abyla, about thirty miles from the
city; that the cell of a devout hermit was visited at the same time by
a multitude of pilgrims; and that the festival of trade and superstition
would be ennobled by the nuptials of the daughter of the governor
of Tripoli. Abdallah, the son of Jaafar, a glorious and holy martyr,
undertook, with a banner of five hundred horse, the pious and profitable
commission of despoiling the infidels. As he approached the fair of
Abyla, he was astonished by the report of this mighty concourse of
Jews and Christians, Greeks, and Armenians, of natives of Syria and of
strangers of Egypt, to the number of ten thousand, besides a guard of
five thousand horse that attended the person of the bride. The Saracens
paused: "For my own part," said Abdallah, "I _dare not_ go back: our
foes are many, our danger is great, but our reward is splendid and
secure, either in this life or in the life to come. Let every man,
according to his inclination, advance or retire." Not a Mussulman
deserted his standard. "Lead the way," said Abdallah to his Christian
guide, "and you shall see what the companions of the prophet can
perform." They charged in five squadrons; but after the first advantage
of the surprise, they were encompassed and almost overwhelmed by
the multitude of their enemies; and their valiant band is fancifully
compared to a white spot in the skin of a black camel. About the hour of
sunset, when their weapons dropped from their hands, when they panted
on the verge of eternity, they discovered an approaching cloud of dust;
they heard the welcome sound of the _tecbir_, and they soon perceived
the standard of Caled, who flew to their relief with the utmost speed of
his cavalry. The Christians were broken by his attack, and slaughtered
in their flight, as far as the river of Tripoli. They left behind them
the various riches of the fair; the merchandises that were exposed for
sale, the money that was brought for purchase, the gay decorations of
the nuptials, and the governor's daughter, with forty of her female
attendants. The fruits, provisions, and furniture, the money, plate, and
jewels, were diligently laden on the backs of horses, asses, and mules;
and the holy robbers returned in triumph to Damascus. The hermit,
after a short and angry controversy with Caled, declined the crown
of martyrdom, and was left alive in the solitary scene of blood and

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part V.

Syria, one of the countries that have been improved by the most early
cultivation, is not unworthy of the preference. The heat of the climate
is tempered by the vicinity of the sea and mountains, by the plenty
of wood and water; and the produce of a fertile soil affords the
subsistence, and encourages the propagation, of men and animals. From
the age of David to that of Heraclius, the country was overspread
with ancient and flourishing cities: the inhabitants were numerous and
wealthy; and, after the slow ravage of despotism and superstition, after
the recent calamities of the Persian war, Syria could still attract
and reward the rapacious tribes of the desert. A plain, of ten days'
journey, from Damascus to Aleppo and Antioch, is watered, on the western
side, by the winding course of the Orontes. The hills of Libanus and
Anti-Libanus are planted from north to south, between the Orontes and
the Mediterranean; and the epithet of _hollow_ (Clesyria) was applied to
a long and fruitful valley, which is confined in the same direction,
by the two ridges of snowy mountains. Among the cities, which are
enumerated by Greek and Oriental names in the geography and conquest
of Syria, we may distinguish Emesa or Hems, Heliopolis or Baalbec, the
former as the metropolis of the plain, the latter as the capital of the
valley. Under the last of the Cæsars, they were strong and populous; the
turrets glittered from afar: an ample space was covered with public and
private buildings; and the citizens were illustrious by their spirit, or
at least by their pride; by their riches, or at least by their luxury.
In the days of Paganism, both Emesa and Heliopolis were addicted to the
worship of Baal, or the sun; but the decline of their superstition and
splendor has been marked by a singular variety of fortune. Not a vestige
remains of the temple of Emesa, which was equalled in poetic style to
the summits of Mount Libanus, while the ruins of Baalbec, invisible
to the writers of antiquity, excite the curiosity and wonder of the
European traveller. The measure of the temple is two hundred feet in
length, and one hundred in breadth: the front is adorned with a double
portico of eight columns; fourteen may be counted on either side; and
each column, forty-five feet in height, is composed of three massy
blocks of stone or marble. The proportions and ornaments of the
Corinthian order express the architecture of the Greeks: but as Baalbec
has never been the seat of a monarch, we are at a loss to conceive how
the expense of these magnificent structures could be supplied by private
or municipal liberality. From the conquest of Damascus the Saracens
proceeded to Heliopolis and Emesa: but I shall decline the repetition of
the sallies and combats which have been already shown on a larger scale.
In the prosecution of the war, their policy was not less effectual than
their sword. By short and separate truces they dissolved the union of
the enemy; accustomed the Syrians to compare their friendship with their
enmity; familiarized the idea of their language, religion, and manners;
and exhausted, by clandestine purchase, the magazines and arsenals of
the cities which they returned to besiege. They aggravated the ransom of
the more wealthy, or the more obstinate; and Chalcis alone was taxed
at five thousand ounces of gold, five thousand ounces of silver, two
thousand robes of silk, and as many figs and olives as would load five
thousand asses. But the terms of truce or capitulation were faithfully
observed; and the lieutenant of the caliph, who had promised not to
enter the walls of the captive Baalbec, remained tranquil and immovable
in his tent till the jarring factions solicited the interposition of
a foreign master. The conquest of the plain and valley of Syria was
achieved in less than two years. Yet the commander of the faithful
reproved the slowness of their progress; and the Saracens, bewailing
their fault with tears of rage and repentance, called aloud on their
chiefs to lead them forth to fight the battles of the Lord. In a recent
action, under the walls of Emesa, an Arabian youth, the cousin of Caled,
was heard aloud to exclaim, "Methinks I see the black-eyed girls looking
upon me; one of whom, should she appear in this world, all mankind would
die for love of her. And I see in the hand of one of them a handkerchief
of green silk, and a cap of precious stones, and she beckons me, and
calls out, Come hither quickly, for I love thee." With these words,
charging the Christians, he made havoc wherever he went, till, observed
at length by the governor of Hems, he was struck through with a javelin.

It was incumbent on the Saracens to exert the full powers of their valor
and enthusiasm against the forces of the emperor, who was taught, by
repeated losses, that the rovers of the desert had undertaken, and would
speedily achieve, a regular and permanent conquest. From the provinces
of Europe and Asia, fourscore thousand soldiers were transported by sea
and land to Antioch and Cæsarea: the light troops of the army consisted
of sixty thousand Christian Arabs of the tribe of Gassan. Under the
banner of Jabalah, the last of their princes, they marched in the
van; and it was a maxim of the Greeks, that for the purpose of cutting
diamond, a diamond was the most effectual. Heraclius withheld his person
from the dangers of the field; but his presumption, or perhaps his
despondency, suggested a peremptory order, that the fate of the province
and the war should be decided by a single battle. The Syrians were
attached to the standard of Rome and of the cross: but the noble, the
citizen, the peasant, were exasperated by the injustice and cruelty of
a licentious host, who oppressed them as subjects, and despised them as
strangers and aliens. A report of these mighty preparations was conveyed
to the Saracens in their camp of Emesa, and the chiefs, though resolved
to fight, assembled a council: the faith of Abu Obeidah would have
expected on the same spot the glory of martyrdom; the wisdom of Caled
advised an honorable retreat to the skirts of Palestine and Arabia,
where they might await the succors of their friends, and the attack of
the unbelievers. A speedy messenger soon returned from the throne of
Medina, with the blessings of Omar and Ali, the prayers of the widows of
the prophet, and a reënforcement of eight thousand Moslems. In their way
they overturned a detachment of Greeks, and when they joined at Yermuk
the camp of their brethren, they found the pleasing intelligence, that
Caled had already defeated and scattered the Christian Arabs of the
tribe of Gassan. In the neighborhood of Bosra, the springs of Mount
Hermon descend in a torrent to the plain of Decapolis, or ten cities;
and the Hieromax, a name which has been corrupted to Yermuk, is lost,
after a short course, in the Lake of Tiberias. The banks of this obscure
stream were illustrated by a long and bloody encounter. On this
momentous occasion, the public voice, and the modesty of Abu Obeidah,
restored the command to the most deserving of the Moslems. Caled assumed
his station in the front, his colleague was posted in the rear, that the
disorder of the fugitive might be checked by his venerable aspect, and
the sight of the yellow banner which Mahomet had displayed before the
walls of Chaibar. The last line was occupied by the sister of Derar,
with the Arabian women who had enlisted in this holy war, who were
accustomed to wield the bow and the lance, and who in a moment of
captivity had defended, against the uncircumcised ravishers, their
chastity and religion. The exhortation of the generals was brief and
forcible: "Paradise is before you, the devil and hell-fire in your
rear." Yet such was the weight of the Roman cavalry, that the right wing
of the Arabs was broken and separated from the main body. Thrice did
they retreat in disorder, and thrice were they driven back to the charge
by the reproaches and blows of the women. In the intervals of action,
Abu Obeidah visited the tents of his brethren, prolonged their repose
by repeating at once the prayers of two different hours, bound up their
wounds with his own hands, and administered the comfortable reflection,
that the infidels partook of their sufferings without partaking of their
reward. Four thousand and thirty of the Moslems were buried in the field
of battle; and the skill of the Armenian archers enabled seven hundred
to boast that they had lost an eye in that meritorious service. The
veterans of the Syrian war acknowledged that it was the hardest and most
doubtful of the days which they had seen. But it was likewise the most
decisive: many thousands of the Greeks and Syrians fell by the swords
of the Arabs; many were slaughtered, after the defeat, in the woods and
mountains; many, by mistaking the ford, were drowned in the waters of
the Yermuk; and however the loss may be magnified, the Christian writers
confess and bewail the bloody punishment of their sins. Manuel, the
Roman general, was either killed at Damascus, or took refuge in the
monastery of Mount Sinai. An exile in the Byzantine court, Jabalah
lamented the manners of Arabia, and his unlucky preference of the
Christian cause. He had once inclined to the profession of Islam; but
in the pilgrimage of Mecca, Jabalah was provoked to strike one of his
brethren, and fled with amazement from the stern and equal justice of
the caliph These victorious Saracens enjoyed at Damascus a month of
pleasure and repose: the spoil was divided by the discretion of Abu
Obeidah: an equal share was allotted to a soldier and to his horse,
and a double portion was reserved for the noble coursers of the Arabian

After the battle of Yermuk, the Roman army no longer appeared in the
field; and the Saracens might securely choose, among the fortified towns
of Syria, the first object of their attack. They consulted the caliph
whether they should march to Cæsarea or Jerusalem; and the advice of
Ali determined the immediate siege of the latter. To a profane eye,
Jerusalem was the first or second capital of Palestine; but after Mecca
and Medina, it was revered and visited by the devout Moslems, as the
temple of the Holy Land which had been sanctified by the revelation of
Moses, of Jesus, and of Mahomet himself. The son of Abu Sophian was
sent with five thousand Arabs to try the first experiment of surprise
or treaty; but on the eleventh day, the town was invested by the whole
force of Abu Obeidah. He addressed the customary summons to the chief
commanders and people of _Ælia_.

"Health and happiness to every one that follows the right way! We
require of you to testify that there is but one God, and that Mahomet is
his apostle. If you refuse this, consent to pay tribute, and be under us
forthwith. Otherwise I shall bring men against you who love death better
than you do the drinking of wine or eating hog's flesh. Nor will I ever
stir from you, if it please God, till I have destroyed those that fight
for you, and made slaves of your children." But the city was defended
on every side by deep valleys and steep ascents; since the invasion of
Syria, the walls and towers had been anxiously restored; the bravest of
the fugitives of Yermuk had stopped in the nearest place of refuge; and
in the defence of the sepulchre of Christ, the natives and strangers
might feel some sparks of the enthusiasm, which so fiercely glowed in
the bosoms of the Saracens. The siege of Jerusalem lasted four months;
not a day was lost without some action of sally or assault; the military
engines incessantly played from the ramparts; and the inclemency of
the winter was still more painful and destructive to the Arabs. The
Christians yielded at length to the perseverance of the besiegers.
The patriarch Sophronius appeared on the walls, and by the voice of an
interpreter demanded a conference. After a vain attempt to dissuade
the lieutenant of the caliph from his impious enterprise, he proposed,
in the name of the people, a fair capitulation, with this extraordinary
clause, that the articles of security should be ratified by the
authority and presence of Omar himself. The question was debated in the
council of Medina; the sanctity of the place, and the advice of Ali,
persuaded the caliph to gratify the wishes of his soldiers and enemies;
and the simplicity of his journey is more illustrious than the royal
pageants of vanity and oppression. The conqueror of Persia and Syria
was mounted on a red camel, which carried, besides his person, a bag
of corn, a bag of dates, a wooden dish, and a leathern bottle of water.
Wherever he halted, the company, without distinction, was invited to
partake of his homely fare, and the repast was consecrated by the prayer
and exhortation of the commander of the faithful. But in this expedition
or pilgrimage, his power was exercised in the administration of
justice: he reformed the licentious polygamy of the Arabs, relieved the
tributaries from extortion and cruelty, and chastised the luxury of the
Saracens, by despoiling them of their rich silks, and dragging them on
their faces in the dirt. When he came within sight of Jerusalem, the
caliph cried with a loud voice, "God is victorious. O Lord, give us an
easy conquest!" and, pitching his tent of coarse hair, calmly seated
himself on the ground. After signing the capitulation, he entered the
city without fear or precaution; and courteously discoursed with the
patriarch concerning its religious antiquities. Sophronius bowed before
his new master, and secretly muttered, in the words of Daniel, "The
abomination of desolation is in the holy place." At the hour of prayer
they stood together in the church of the resurrection; but the caliph
refused to perform his devotions, and contented himself with praying on
the steps of the church of Constantine. To the patriarch he disclosed
his prudent and honorable motive. "Had I yielded," said Omar, "to your
request, the Moslems of a future age would have infringed the treaty
under color of imitating my example." By his command the ground of
the temple of Solomon was prepared for the foundation of a mosch; and,
during a residence of ten days, he regulated the present and future
state of his Syrian conquests. Medina might be jealous, lest the
caliph should be detained by the sanctity of Jerusalem or the beauty of
Damascus; her apprehensions were dispelled by his prompt and voluntary
return to the tomb of the apostle.

To achieve what yet remained of the Syrian war the caliph had formed two
separate armies; a chosen detachment, under Amrou and Yezid, was left in
the camp of Palestine; while the larger division, under the standard
of Abu Obeidah and Caled, marched away to the north against Antioch
and Aleppo. The latter of these, the Beræa of the Greeks, was not
yet illustrious as the capital of a province or a kingdom; and the
inhabitants, by anticipating their submission and pleading their
poverty, obtained a moderate composition for their lives and religion.
But the castle of Aleppo, distinct from the city, stood erect on a lofty
artificial mound the sides were sharpened to a precipice, and faced with
free-stone; and the breadth of the ditch might be filled with water
from the neighboring springs. After the loss of three thousand men, the
garrison was still equal to the defence; and Youkinna, their valiant and
hereditary chief, had murdered his brother, a holy monk, for daring
to pronounce the name of peace. In a siege of four or five months, the
hardest of the Syrian war, great numbers of the Saracens were killed and
wounded: their removal to the distance of a mile could not seduce the
vigilance of Youkinna; nor could the Christians be terrified by the
execution of three hundred captives, whom they beheaded before the
castle wall. The silence, and at length the complaints, of Abu Obeidah
informed the caliph that their hope and patience were consumed at the
foot of this impregnable fortress. "I am variously affected," replied
Omar, "by the difference of your success; but I charge you by no means
to raise the siege of the castle. Your retreat would diminish the
reputation of our arms, and encourage the infidels to fall upon you on
all sides. Remain before Aleppo till God shall determine the event, and
forage with your horse round the adjacent country." The exhortation of
the commander of the faithful was fortified by a supply of volunteers
from all the tribes of Arabia, who arrived in the camp on horses or
camels. Among these was Dames, of a servile birth, but of gigantic
size and intrepid resolution. The forty-seventh day of his service he
proposed, with only thirty men, to make an attempt on the castle. The
experience and testimony of Caled recommended his offer; and Abu Obeidah
admonished his brethren not to despise the baser origin of Dames, since
he himself, could he relinquish the public care, would cheerfully serve
under the banner of the slave. His design was covered by the appearance
of a retreat; and the camp of the Saracens was pitched about a league
from Aleppo. The thirty adventurers lay in ambush at the foot of the
hill; and Dames at length succeeded in his inquiries, though he was
provoked by the ignorance of his Greek captives. "God curse these
dogs," said the illiterate Arab; "what a strange barbarous language they
speak!" At the darkest hour of the night, he scaled the most accessible
height, which he had diligently surveyed, a place where the stones
were less entire, or the slope less perpendicular, or the guard less
vigilant. Seven of the stoutest Saracens mounted on each other's
shoulders, and the weight of the column was sustained on the broad and
sinewy back of the gigantic slave. The foremost in this painful ascent
could grasp and climb the lowest part of the battlements; they silently
stabbed and cast down the sentinels; and the thirty brethren, repeating
a pious ejaculation, "O apostle of God, help and deliver us!" were
successively drawn up by the long folds of their turbans. With bold
and cautious footsteps, Dames explored the palace of the governor, who
celebrated, in riotous merriment, the festival of his deliverance. From
thence, returning to his companions, he assaulted on the inside the
entrance of the castle. They overpowered the guard, unbolted the gate,
let down the drawbridge, and defended the narrow pass, till the arrival
of Caled, with the dawn of day, relieved their danger and assured
their conquest. Youkinna, a formidable foe, became an active and useful
proselyte; and the general of the Saracens expressed his regard for the
most humble merit, by detaining the army at Aleppo till Dames was cured
of his honorable wounds. The capital of Syria was still covered by the
castle of Aazaz and the iron bridge of the Orontes. After the loss of
those important posts, and the defeat of the last of the Roman armies,
the luxury of Antioch trembled and obeyed. Her safety was ransomed with
three hundred thousand pieces of gold; but the throne of the successors
of Alexander, the seat of the Roman government of the East, which had
been decorated by Cæsar with the titles of free, and holy, and inviolate
was degraded under the yoke of the caliphs to the secondary rank of a
provincial town.

In the life of Heraclius, the glories of the Persian war are clouded on
either hand by the disgrace and weakness of his more early and his later
days. When the successors of Mahomet unsheathed the sword of war and
religion, he was astonished at the boundless prospect of toil and
danger; his nature was indolent, nor could the infirm and frigid age of
the emperor be kindled to a second effort. The sense of shame, and the
importunities of the Syrians, prevented the hasty departure from the
scene of action; but the hero was no more; and the loss of Damascus and
Jerusalem, the bloody fields of Aiznadin and Yermuk, may be imputed in
some degree to the absence or misconduct of the sovereign. Instead of
defending the sepulchre of Christ, he involved the church and state in a
metaphysical controversy for the unity of his will; and while Heraclius
crowned the offspring of his second nuptials, he was tamely stripped
of the most valuable part of their inheritance. In the cathedral of
Antioch, in the presence of the bishops, at the foot of the crucifix,
he bewailed the sins of the prince and people; but his confession
instructed the world, that it was vain, and perhaps impious, to resist
the judgment of God. The Saracens were invincible in fact, since they
were invincible in opinion; and the desertion of Youkinna, his false
repentance and repeated perfidy, might justify the suspicion of
the emperor, that he was encompassed by traitors and apostates, who
conspired to betray his person and their country to the enemies of
Christ. In the hour of adversity, his superstition was agitated by
the omens and dreams of a falling crown; and after bidding an eternal
farewell to Syria, he secretly embarked with a few attendants, and
absolved the faith of his subjects. Constantine, his eldest son, had
been stationed with forty thousand men at Cæsarea, the civil metropolis
of the three provinces of Palestine. But his private interest recalled
him to the Byzantine court; and, after the flight of his father, he
felt himself an unequal champion to the united force of the caliph. His
vanguard was boldly attacked by three hundred Arabs and a thousand black
slaves, who, in the depth of winter, had climbed the snowy mountains of
Libanus, and who were speedily followed by the victorious squadrons
of Caled himself. From the north and south the troops of Antioch and
Jerusalem advanced along the sea-shore till their banners were joined
under the walls of the Phnician cities: Tripoli and Tyre were betrayed;
and a fleet of fifty transports, which entered without distrust the
captive harbors, brought a seasonable supply of arms and provisions to
the camp of the Saracens. Their labors were terminated by the unexpected
surrender of Cæsarea: the Roman prince had embarked in the night; and
the defenceless citizens solicited their pardon with an offering of two
hundred thousand pieces of gold. The remainder of the province, Ramlah,
Ptolemais or Acre, Sichem or Neapolis, Gaza, Ascalon, Berytus, Sidon,
Gabala, Laodicea, Apamea, Hierapolis, no longer presumed to dispute the
will of the conqueror; and Syria bowed under the sceptre of the
caliphs seven hundred years after Pompey had despoiled the last of the
Macedonian kings.

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part VI.

The sieges and battles of six campaigns had consumed many thousands
of the Moslems. They died with the reputation and the cheerfulness of
martyrs; and the simplicity of their faith may be expressed in the words
of an Arabian youth, when he embraced, for the last time, his sister and
mother: "It is not," said he, "the delicacies of Syria, or the fading
delights of this world, that have prompted me to devote my life in the
cause of religion. But I seek the favor of God and his apostle; and I
have heard, from one of the companions of the prophet, that the spirits
of the martyrs will be lodged in the crops of green birds, who shall
taste the fruits, and drink of the rivers, of paradise. Farewell, we
shall meet again among the groves and fountains which God has provided
for his elect." The faithful captives might exercise a passive and more
arduous resolution; and a cousin of Mahomet is celebrated for refusing,
after an abstinence of three days, the wine and pork, the only
nourishment that was allowed by the malice of the infidels. The frailty
of some weaker brethren exasperated the implacable spirit of fanaticism;
and the father of Amer deplored, in pathetic strains, the apostasy
and damnation of a son, who had renounced the promises of God, and the
intercession of the prophet, to occupy, with the priests and deacons,
the lowest mansions of hell. The more fortunate Arabs, who survived the
war and persevered in the faith, were restrained by their abstemious
leader from the abuse of prosperity. After a refreshment of three days,
Abu Obeidah withdrew his troops from the pernicious contagion of the
luxury of Antioch, and assured the caliph that their religion and virtue
could only be preserved by the hard discipline of poverty and labor. But
the virtue of Omar, however rigorous to himself, was kind and liberal
to his brethren. After a just tribute of praise and thanksgiving, he
dropped a tear of compassion; and sitting down on the ground, wrote
an answer, in which he mildly censured the severity of his lieutenant:
"God," said the successor of the prophet, "has not forbidden the use
of the good things of this world to faithful men, and such as have
performed good works. Therefore you ought to have given them leave
to rest themselves, and partake freely of those good things which the
country affordeth. If any of the Saracens have no family in Arabia, they
may marry in Syria; and whosoever of them wants any female slaves, he
may purchase as many as he hath occasion for." The conquerors prepared
to use, or to abuse, this gracious permission; but the year of their
triumph was marked by a mortality of men and cattle; and twenty-five
thousand Saracens were snatched away from the possession of Syria.
The death of Abu Obeidah might be lamented by the Christians; but his
brethren recollected that he was one of the ten elect whom the prophet
had named as the heirs of paradise. Caled survived his brethren
about three years: and the tomb of the Sword of God is shown in the
neighborhood of Emesa. His valor, which founded in Arabia and Syria
the empire of the caliphs, was fortified by the opinion of a special
providence; and as long as he wore a cap, which had been blessed
by Mahomet, he deemed himself invulnerable amidst the darts of the

The place of the first conquerors was supplied by a new generation of
their children and countrymen: Syria became the seat and support of
the house of Ommiyah; and the revenue, the soldiers, the ships of that
powerful kingdom were consecrated to enlarge on every side the empire of
the caliphs. But the Saracens despise a superfluity of fame; and their
historians scarcely condescend to mention the subordinate conquests
which are lost in the splendor and rapidity of their victorious career.
To the _north_ of Syria, they passed Mount Taurus, and reduced to their
obedience the province of Cilicia, with its capital Tarsus, the ancient
monument of the Assyrian kings. Beyond a second ridge of the same
mountains, they spread the flame of war, rather than the light of
religion, as far as the shores of the Euxine, and the neighborhood of
Constantinople. To the _east_ they advanced to the banks and sources of
the Euphrates and Tigris: the long disputed barrier of Rome and Persia
was forever confounded the walls of Edessa and Amida, of Dara and
Nisibis, which had resisted the arms and engines of Sapor or Nushirvan,
were levelled in the dust; and the holy city of Abgarus might vainly
produce the epistle or the image of Christ to an unbelieving conqueror.
To the _west_ the Syrian kingdom is bounded by the sea: and the ruin of
Aradus, a small island or peninsula on the coast, was postponed during
ten years. But the hills of Libanus abounded in timber; the trade of
Phnicia was populous in mariners; and a fleet of seventeen hundred barks
was equipped and manned by the natives of the desert. The Imperial
navy of the Romans fled before them from the Pamphylian rocks to the
Hellespont; but the spirit of the emperor, a grandson of Heraclius, had
been subdued before the combat by a dream and a pun. The Saracens rode
masters of the sea; and the islands of Cyprus, Rhodes, and the Cyclades,
were successively exposed to their rapacious visits. Three hundred years
before the Christian æra, the memorable though fruitless siege of Rhodes
by Demetrius had furnished that maritime republic with the materials
and the subject of a trophy. A gigantic statue of Apollo, or the sun,
seventy cubits in height, was erected at the entrance of the harbor, a
monument of the freedom and the arts of Greece. After standing fifty-six
years, the colossus of Rhodes was overthrown by an earthquake; but the
massy trunk, and huge fragments, lay scattered eight centuries on the
ground, and are often described as one of the wonders of the ancient
world. They were collected by the diligence of the Saracens, and sold
to a Jewish merchant of Edessa, who is said to have laden nine hundred
camels with the weight of the brass metal; an enormous weight, though
we should include the hundred colossal figures, and the three thousand
statues, which adorned the prosperity of the city of the sun.

II. The conquest of Egypt may be explained by the character of the
victorious Saracen, one of the first of his nation, in an age when the
meanest of the brethren was exalted above his nature by the spirit of
enthusiasm. The birth of Amrou was at once base and illustrious; his
mother, a notorious prostitute, was unable to decide among five of the
Koreish; but the proof of resemblance adjudged the child to Aasi, the
oldest of her lovers. The youth of Amrou was impelled by the passions
and prejudices of his kindred: his poetic genius was exercised in
satirical verses against the person and doctrine of Mahomet; his
dexterity was employed by the reigning faction to pursue the religious
exiles who had taken refuge in the court of the Æthiopian king. Yet
he returned from this embassy a secret proselyte; his reason or his
interest determined him to renounce the worship of idols; he escaped
from Mecca with his friend Caled; and the prophet of Medina enjoyed at
the same moment the satisfaction of embracing the two firmest champions
of his cause. The impatience of Amrou to lead the armies of the faithful
was checked by the reproof of Omar, who advised him not to seek
power and dominion, since he who is a subject to-day, may be a prince
to-morrow. Yet his merit was not overlooked by the two first successors
of Mahomet; they were indebted to his arms for the conquest of
Palestine; and in all the battles and sieges of Syria, he united with
the temper of a chief the valor of an adventurous soldier. In a visit
to Medina, the caliph expressed a wish to survey the sword which had cut
down so many Christian warriors; the son of Aasi unsheathed a short and
ordinary cimeter; and as he perceived the surprise of Omar, "Alas," said
the modest Saracen, "the sword itself, without the arm of its master, is
neither sharper nor more weighty than the sword of Pharezdak the poet."
After the conquest of Egypt, he was recalled by the jealousy of the
caliph Othman; but in the subsequent troubles, the ambition of a
soldier, a statesman, and an orator, emerged from a private station.
His powerful support, both in council and in the field, established the
throne of the Ommiades; the administration and revenue of Egypt were
restored by the gratitude of Moawiyah to a faithful friend who had
raised himself above the rank of a subject; and Amrou ended his days in
the palace and city which he had founded on the banks of the Nile. His
dying speech to his children is celebrated by the Arabians as a model
of eloquence and wisdom: he deplored the errors of his youth but if the
penitent was still infected by the vanity of a poet, he might exaggerate
the venom and mischief of his impious compositions.

From his camp in Palestine, Amrou had surprised or anticipated the
caliph's leave for the invasion of Egypt. The magnanimous Omar trusted
in his God and his sword, which had shaken the thrones of Chosroes and
Cæsar: but when he compared the slender force of the Moslems with the
greatness of the enterprise, he condemned his own rashness, and listened
to his timid companions. The pride and the greatness of Pharaoh were
familiar to the readers of the Koran; and a tenfold repetition of
prodigies had been scarcely sufficient to effect, not the victory,
but the flight, of six hundred thousand of the children of Israel: the
cities of Egypt were many and populous; their architecture was
strong and solid; the Nile, with its numerous branches, was alone an
insuperable barrier; and the granary of the Imperial city would be
obstinately defended by the Roman powers. In this perplexity, the
commander of the faithful resigned himself to the decision of chance,
or, in his opinion, of Providence. At the head of only four thousand
Arabs, the intrepid Amrou had marched away from his station of Gaza when
he was overtaken by the messenger of Omar. "If you are still in Syria,"
said the ambiguous mandate, "retreat without delay; but if, at the
receipt of this epistle, you have already reached the frontiers of
Egypt, advance with confidence, and depend on the succor of God and
of your brethren." The experience, perhaps the secret intelligence,
of Amrou had taught him to suspect the mutability of courts; and he
continued his march till his tents were unquestionably pitched on
Egyptian ground. He there assembled his officers, broke the seal,
perused the epistle, gravely inquired the name and situation of the
place, and declared his ready obedience to the commands of the caliph.
After a siege of thirty days, he took possession of Farmah or Pelusium;
and that key of Egypt, as it has been justly named, unlocked the
entrance of the country as far as the ruins of Heliopolis and the
neighborhood of the modern Cairo.

On the Western side of the Nile, at a small distance to the east of the
Pyramids, at a small distance to the south of the Delta, Memphis, one
hundred and fifty furlongs in circumference, displayed the magnificence
of ancient kings. Under the reign of the Ptolemies and Cæsars, the seat
of government was removed to the sea-coast; the ancient capital was
eclipsed by the arts and opulence of Alexandria; the palaces, and at
length the temples, were reduced to a desolate and ruinous condition:
yet, in the age of Augustus, and even in that of Constantine, Memphis
was still numbered among the greatest and most populous of the
provincial cities. The banks of the Nile, in this place of the breadth
of three thousand feet, were united by two bridges of sixty and of
thirty boats, connected in the middle stream by the small island of
Rouda, which was covered with gardens and habitations. The eastern
extremity of the bridge was terminated by the town of Babylon and the
camp of a Roman legion, which protected the passage of the river and the
second capital of Egypt. This important fortress, which might fairly be
described as a part of Memphis or _Misrah_, was invested by the arms of
the lieutenant of Omar: a reënforcement of four thousand Saracens soon
arrived in his camp; and the military engines, which battered the walls,
may be imputed to the art and labor of his Syrian allies. Yet the siege
was protracted to seven months; and the rash invaders were encompassed
and threatened by the inundation of the Nile. Their last assault was
bold and successful: they passed the ditch, which had been fortified
with iron spikes, applied their scaling ladders, entered the fortress
with the shout of "God is victorious!" and drove the remnant of the
Greeks to their boats and the Isle of Rouda. The spot was afterwards
recommended to the conqueror by the easy communication with the gulf and
the peninsula of Arabia; the remains of Memphis were deserted; the tents
of the Arabs were converted into permanent habitations; and the first
mosch was blessed by the presence of fourscore companions of Mahomet. A
new city arose in their camp, on the eastward bank of the Nile; and
the contiguous quarters of Babylon and Fostat are confounded in their
present decay by the appellation of old Misrah, or Cairo, of which they
form an extensive suburb. But the name of Cairo, the town of victory,
more strictly belongs to the modern capital, which was founded in the
tenth century by the Fatimite caliphs. It has gradually receded from the
river; but the continuity of buildings may be traced by an attentive eye
from the monuments of Sesostris to those of Saladin.

Yet the Arabs, after a glorious and profitable enterprise, must have
retreated to the desert, had they not found a powerful alliance in the
heart of the country. The rapid conquest of Alexander was assisted by
the superstition and revolt of the natives: they abhorred their Persian
oppressors, the disciples of the Magi, who had burnt the temples of
Egypt, and feasted with sacrilegious appetite on the flesh of the god
Apis. After a period of ten centuries, the same revolution was renewed
by a similar cause; and in the support of an incomprehensible creed,
the zeal of the Coptic Christians was equally ardent. I have already
explained the origin and progress of the Monophysite controversy, and
the persecution of the emperors, which converted a sect into a nation,
and alienated Egypt from their religion and government. The Saracens
were received as the deliverers of the Jacobite church; and a secret
and effectual treaty was opened during the siege of Memphis between a
victorious army and a people of slaves. A rich and noble Egyptian,
of the name of Mokawkas, had dissembled his faith to obtain the
administration of his province: in the disorders of the Persian war
he aspired to independence: the embassy of Mahomet ranked him among
princes; but he declined, with rich gifts and ambiguous compliments, the
proposal of a new religion. The abuse of his trust exposed him to the
resentment of Heraclius: his submission was delayed by arrogance and
fear; and his conscience was prompted by interest to throw himself on
the favor of the nation and the support of the Saracens. In his first
conference with Amrou, he heard without indignation the usual option of
the Koran, the tribute, or the sword. "The Greeks," replied Mokawkas,
"are determined to abide the determination of the sword; but with the
Greeks I desire no communion, either in this world or in the next, and
I abjure forever the Byzantine tyrant, his synod of Chalcedon, and his
Melchite slaves. For myself and my brethren, we are resolved to live
and die in the profession of the gospel and unity of Christ. It is
impossible for us to embrace the revelations of your prophet; but we are
desirous of peace, and cheerfully submit to pay tribute and obedience to
his temporal successors." The tribute was ascertained at two pieces of
gold for the head of every Christian; but old men, monks, women, and
children, of both sexes, under sixteen years of age, were exempted
from this personal assessment: the Copts above and below Memphis swore
allegiance to the caliph, and promised a hospitable entertainment of
three days to every Mussulman who should travel through their country.
By this charter of security, the ecclesiastical and civil tyranny of the
Melchites was destroyed: the anathemas of St. Cyril were thundered from
every pulpit; and the sacred edifices, with the patrimony of the church,
were restored to the national communion of the Jacobites, who enjoyed
without moderation the moment of triumph and revenge. At the pressing
summons of Amrou, their patriarch Benjamin emerged from his desert; and
after the first interview, the courteous Arab affected to declare that
he had never conversed with a Christian priest of more innocent manners
and a more venerable aspect. In the march from Memphis to Alexandria,
the lieutenant of Omar intrusted his safety to the zeal and gratitude
of the Egyptians: the roads and bridges were diligently repaired; and
in every step of his progress, he could depend on a constant supply of
provisions and intelligence. The Greeks of Egypt, whose numbers could
scarcely equal a tenth of the natives, were overwhelmed by the universal
defection: they had ever been hated, they were no longer feared: the
magistrate fled from his tribunal, the bishop from his altar; and
the distant garrisons were surprised or starved by the surrounding
multitudes. Had not the Nile afforded a safe and ready conveyance to the
sea, not an individual could have escaped, who by birth, or language, or
office, or religion, was connected with their odious name.

By the retreat of the Greeks from the provinces of Upper Egypt, a
considerable force was collected in the Island of Delta; the natural
and artificial channels of the Nile afforded a succession of strong and
defensible posts; and the road to Alexandria was laboriously cleared by
the victory of the Saracens in two-and-twenty days of general or partial
combat. In their annals of conquest, the siege of Alexandria is perhaps
the most arduous and important enterprise. The first trading city in
the world was abundantly replenished with the means of subsistence
and defence. Her numerous inhabitants fought for the dearest of human
rights, religion and property; and the enmity of the natives seemed to
exclude them from the common benefit of peace and toleration. The sea
was continually open; and if Heraclius had been awake to the public
distress, fresh armies of Romans and Barbarians might have been
poured into the harbor to save the second capital of the empire. A
circumference of ten miles would have scattered the forces of the
Greeks, and favored the stratagems of an active enemy; but the two sides
of an oblong square were covered by the sea and the Lake Maræotis, and
each of the narrow ends exposed a front of no more than ten furlongs.
The efforts of the Arabs were not inadequate to the difficulty of the
attempt and the value of the prize. From the throne of Medina, the eyes
of Omar were fixed on the camp and city: his voice excited to arms the
Arabian tribes and the veterans of Syria; and the merit of a holy war
was recommended by the peculiar fame and fertility of Egypt. Anxious
for the ruin or expulsion of their tyrants, the faithful natives devoted
their labors to the service of Amrou: some sparks of martial spirit were
perhaps rekindled by the example of their allies; and the sanguine
hopes of Mokawkas had fixed his sepulchre in the church of St. John of
Alexandria. Eutychius the patriarch observes, that the Saracens fought
with the courage of lions: they repulsed the frequent and almost daily
sallies of the besieged, and soon assaulted in their turn the walls and
towers of the city. In every attack, the sword, the banner of Amrou,
glittered in the van of the Moslems. On a memorable day, he was betrayed
by his imprudent valor: his followers who had entered the citadel
were driven back; and the general, with a friend and slave, remained a
prisoner in the hands of the Christians. When Amrou was conducted before
the præfect, he remembered his dignity, and forgot his situation: a
lofty demeanor, and resolute language, revealed the lieutenant of the
caliph, and the battle-axe of a soldier was already raised to strike off
the head of the audacious captive. His life was saved by the readiness
of his slave, who instantly gave his master a blow on the face, and
commanded him, with an angry tone, to be silent in the presence of his
superiors. The credulous Greek was deceived: he listened to the offer
of a treaty, and his prisoners were dismissed in the hope of a more
respectable embassy, till the joyful acclamations of the camp announced
the return of their general, and insulted the folly of the infidels.
At length, after a siege of fourteen months, and the loss of
three-and-twenty thousand men, the Saracens prevailed: the Greeks
embarked their dispirited and diminished numbers, and the standard
of Mahomet was planted on the walls of the capital of Egypt. "I have
taken," said Amrou to the caliph, "the great city of the West. It is
impossible for me to enumerate the variety of its riches and beauty; and
I shall content myself with observing, that it contains four thousand
palaces, four thousand baths, four hundred theatres or places of
amusement, twelve thousand shops for the sale of vegetable food, and
forty thousand tributary Jews. The town has been subdued by force of
arms, without treaty or capitulation, and the Moslems are impatient
to seize the fruits of their victory." The commander of the faithful
rejected with firmness the idea of pillage, and directed his lieutenant
to reserve the wealth and revenue of Alexandria for the public service
and the propagation of the faith: the inhabitants were numbered; a
tribute was imposed, the zeal and resentment of the Jacobites were
curbed, and the Melchites who submitted to the Arabian yoke were
indulged in the obscure but tranquil exercise of their worship. The
intelligence of this disgraceful and calamitous event afflicted the
declining health of the emperor; and Heraclius died of a dropsy about
seven weeks after the loss of Alexandria. Under the minority of his
grandson, the clamors of a people, deprived of their daily sustenance,
compelled the Byzantine court to undertake the recovery of the capital
of Egypt. In the space of four years, the harbor and fortifications of
Alexandria were twice occupied by a fleet and army of Romans. They were
twice expelled by the valor of Amrou, who was recalled by the domestic
peril from the distant wars of Tripoli and Nubia. But the facility of
the attempt, the repetition of the insult, and the obstinacy of the
resistance, provoked him to swear, that if a third time he drove the
infidels into the sea, he would render Alexandria as accessible on
all sides as the house of a prostitute. Faithful to his promise, he
dismantled several parts of the walls and towers; but the people was
spared in the chastisement of the city, and the mosch of _Mercy_ was
erected on the spot where the victorious general had stopped the fury of
his troops.

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part VII.

I should deceive the expectation of the reader, if I passed in silence
the fate of the Alexandrian library, as it is described by the learned
Abulpharagius. The spirit of Amrou was more curious and liberal than
that of his brethren, and in his leisure hours, the Arabian chief was
pleased with the conversation of John, the last disciple of Ammonius,
and who derived the surname of _Philoponus_ from his laborious studies
of grammar and philosophy. Emboldened by this familiar intercourse,
Philoponus presumed to solicit a gift, inestimable in _his_ opinion,
contemptible in that of the Barbarians--the royal library, which alone,
among the spoils of Alexandria, had not been appropriated by the visit
and the seal of the conqueror. Amrou was inclined to gratify the wish of
the grammarian, but his rigid integrity refused to alienate the minutest
object without the consent of the caliph; and the well-known answer of
Omar was inspired by the ignorance of a fanatic. "If these writings of
the Greeks agree with the book of God, they are useless, and need not
be preserved: if they disagree, they are pernicious, and ought to be
destroyed." The sentence was executed with blind obedience: the volumes
of paper or parchment were distributed to the four thousand baths of
the city; and such was their incredible multitude, that six months were
barely sufficient for the consumption of this precious fuel. Since
the Dynasties of Abulpharagius have been given to the world in a Latin
version, the tale has been repeatedly transcribed; and every scholar,
with pious indignation, has deplored the irreparable shipwreck of the
learning, the arts, and the genius, of antiquity. For my own part, I am
strongly tempted to deny both the fact and the consequences. The fact
is indeed marvellous. "Read and wonder!" says the historian himself: and
the solitary report of a stranger who wrote at the end of six hundred
years on the confines of Media, is overbalanced by the silence of two
annalist of a more early date, both Christians, both natives of Egypt,
and the most ancient of whom, the patriarch Eutychius, has amply
described the conquest of Alexandria. The rigid sentence of Omar is
repugnant to the sound and orthodox precept of the Mahometan casuists
they expressly declare, that the religious books of the Jews and
Christians, which are acquired by the right of war, should never
be committed to the flames; and that the works of profane science,
historians or poets, physicians or philosophers, may be lawfully applied
to the use of the faithful. A more destructive zeal may perhaps be
attributed to the first successors of Mahomet; yet in this instance,
the conflagration would have speedily expired in the deficiency of
materials. I should not recapitulate the disasters of the Alexandrian
library, the involuntary flame that was kindled by Cæsar in his own
defence, or the mischievous bigotry of the Christians, who studied to
destroy the monuments of idolatry. But if we gradually descend from the
age of the Antonines to that of Theodosius, we shall learn from a chain
of contemporary witnesses, that the royal palace and the temple of
Serapis no longer contained the four, or the seven, hundred thousand
volumes, which had been assembled by the curiosity and magnificence of
the Ptolemies. Perhaps the church and seat of the patriarchs might be
enriched with a repository of books; but if the ponderous mass of Arian
and Monophysite controversy were indeed consumed in the public baths, a
philosopher may allow, with a smile, that it was ultimately devoted to
the benefit of mankind. I sincerely regret the more valuable libraries
which have been involved in the ruin of the Roman empire; but when I
seriously compute the lapse of ages, the waste of ignorance, and the
calamities of war, our treasures, rather than our losses, are the
objects of my surprise. Many curious and interesting facts are buried
in oblivion: the three great historians of Rome have been transmitted
to our hands in a mutilated state, and we are deprived of many pleasing
compositions of the lyric, iambic, and dramatic poetry of the Greeks.
Yet we should gratefully remember, that the mischances of time and
accident have spared the classic works to which the suffrage of
antiquity had adjudged the first place of genius and glory: the teachers
of ancient knowledge, who are still extant, had perused and compared the
writings of their predecessors; nor can it fairly be presumed that
any important truth, any useful discovery in art or nature, has been
snatched away from the curiosity of modern ages.

In the administration of Egypt, Amrou balanced the demands of justice
and policy; the interest of the people of the law, who were defended by
God; and of the people of the alliance, who were protected by man. In
the recent tumult of conquest and deliverance, the tongue of the Copts
and the sword of the Arabs were most adverse to the tranquillity of
the province. To the former, Amrou declared, that faction and falsehood
would be doubly chastised; by the punishment of the accusers, whom he
should detest as his personal enemies, and by the promotion of their
innocent brethren, whom their envy had labored to injure and supplant.
He excited the latter by the motives of religion and honor to sustain
the dignity of their character, to endear themselves by a modest and
temperate conduct to God and the caliph, to spare and protect a people
who had trusted to their faith, and to content themselves with the
legitimate and splendid rewards of their victory. In the management
of the revenue, he disapproved the simple but oppressive mode of a
capitation, and preferred with reason a proportion of taxes deducted on
every branch from the clear profits of agriculture and commerce. A third
part of the tribute was appropriated to the annual repairs of the
dikes and canals, so essential to the public welfare. Under his
administration, the fertility of Egypt supplied the dearth of Arabia;
and a string of camels, laden with corn and provisions, covered almost
without an interval the long road from Memphis to Medina. But the
genius of Amrou soon renewed the maritime communication which had been
attempted or achieved by the Pharaohs the Ptolemies, or the Cæsars; and
a canal, at least eighty miles in length, was opened from the Nile
to the Red Sea. This inland navigation, which would have joined the
Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, was soon discontinued as useless
and dangerous: the throne was removed from Medina to Damascus, and
the Grecian fleets might have explored a passage to the holy cities of

Of his new conquest, the caliph Omar had an imperfect knowledge from
the voice of fame and the legends of the Koran. He requested that his
lieutenant would place before his eyes the realm of Pharaoh and the
Amalekites; and the answer of Amrou exhibits a lively and not unfaithful
picture of that singular country. "O commander of the faithful, Egypt
is a compound of black earth and green plants, between a pulverized
mountain and a red sand. The distance from Syene to the sea is a month's
journey for a horseman. Along the valley descends a river, on which the
blessing of the Most High reposes both in the evening and morning, and
which rises and falls with the revolutions of the sun and moon. When the
annual dispensation of Providence unlocks the springs and fountains
that nourish the earth, the Nile rolls his swelling and sounding waters
through the realm of Egypt: the fields are overspread by the salutary
flood; and the villages communicate with each other in their painted
barks. The retreat of the inundation deposits a fertilizing mud for the
reception of the various seeds: the crowds of husbandmen who blacken the
land may be compared to a swarm of industrious ants; and their native
indolence is quickened by the lash of the task-master, and the promise
of the flowers and fruits of a plentiful increase. Their hope is seldom
deceived; but the riches which they extract from the wheat, the
barley, and the rice, the legumes, the fruit-trees, and the cattle,
are unequally shared between those who labor and those who possess.
According to the vicissitudes of the seasons, the face of the country is
adorned with a _silver_ wave, a verdant _emerald_, and the deep
yellow of a _golden_ harvest." Yet this beneficial order is sometimes
interrupted; and the long delay and sudden swell of the river in the
first year of the conquest might afford some color to an edifying fable.
It is said, that the annual sacrifice of a virgin had been interdicted
by the piety of Omar; and that the Nile lay sullen and inactive in his
shallow bed, till the mandate of the caliph was cast into the obedient
stream, which rose in a single night to the height of sixteen cubits.
The admiration of the Arabs for their new conquest encouraged the
license of their romantic spirit. We may read, in the gravest authors,
that Egypt was crowded with twenty thousand cities or villages: _that_,
exclusive of the Greeks and Arabs, the Copts alone were found, on the
assessment, six millions of tributary subjects, or twenty millions of
either sex, and of every age: _that_ three hundred millions of gold or
silver were annually paid to the treasury of the caliphs. Our reason
must be startled by these extravagant assertions; and they will become
more palpable, if we assume the compass and measure the extent of
habitable ground: a valley from the tropic to Memphis seldom broader
than twelve miles, and the triangle of the Delta, a flat surface of
two thousand one hundred square leagues, compose a twelfth part of
the magnitude of France. A more accurate research will justify a more
reasonable estimate. The three hundred millions, created by the error
of a scribe, are reduced to the decent revenue of four millions three
hundred thousand pieces of gold, of which nine hundred thousand were
consumed by the pay of the soldiers. Two authentic lists, of the present
and of the twelfth century, are circumscribed within the respectable
number of two thousand seven hundred villages and towns. After a long
residence at Cairo, a French consul has ventured to assign about four
millions of Mahometans, Christians, and Jews, for the ample, though not
incredible, scope of the population of Egypt.

IV. The conquest of Africa, from the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean, was
first attempted by the arms of the caliph Othman. The pious design was
approved by the companions of Mahomet and the chiefs of the tribes;
and twenty thousand Arabs marched from Medina, with the gifts and the
blessing of the commander of the faithful. They were joined in the camp
of Memphis by twenty thousand of their countrymen; and the conduct
of the war was intrusted to Abdallah, the son of Said and the
foster-brother of the caliph, who had lately supplanted the conqueror
and lieutenant of Egypt. Yet the favor of the prince, and the merit of
his favorite, could not obliterate the guilt of his apostasy. The early
conversion of Abdallah, and his skilful pen, had recommended him to the
important office of transcribing the sheets of the Koran: he betrayed
his trust, corrupted the text, derided the errors which he had made, and
fled to Mecca to escape the justice, and expose the ignorance, of the
apostle. After the conquest of Mecca, he fell prostrate at the feet of
Mahomet; his tears, and the entreaties of Othman, extorted a reluctant
pardon; out the prophet declared that he had so long hesitated, to allow
time for some zealous disciple to avenge his injury in the blood of
the apostate. With apparent fidelity and effective merit, he served the
religion which it was no longer his interest to desert: his birth and
talents gave him an honorable rank among the Koreish; and, in a nation
of cavalry, Abdallah was renowned as the boldest and most dexterous
horseman of Arabia. At the head of forty thousand Moslems, he advanced
from Egypt into the unknown countries of the West. The sands of Barca
might be impervious to a Roman legion but the Arabs were attended by
their faithful camels; and the natives of the desert beheld without
terror the familiar aspect of the soil and climate. After a painful
march, they pitched their tents before the walls of Tripoli, a maritime
city in which the name, the wealth, and the inhabitants of the province
had gradually centred, and which now maintains the third rank among the
states of Barbary. A reënforcement of Greeks was surprised and cut in
pieces on the sea-shore; but the fortifications of Tripoli resisted the
first assaults; and the Saracens were tempted by the approach of the
præfect Gregory to relinquish the labors of the siege for the perils
and the hopes of a decisive action. If his standard was followed by one
hundred and twenty thousand men, the regular bands of the empire must
have been lost in the naked and disorderly crowd of Africans and Moors,
who formed the strength, or rather the numbers, of his host. He rejected
with indignation the option of the Koran or the tribute; and during
several days the two armies were fiercely engaged from the dawn of light
to the hour of noon, when their fatigue and the excessive heat compelled
them to seek shelter and refreshment in their respective camps. The
daughter of Gregory, a maid of incomparable beauty and spirit, is said
to have fought by his side: from her earliest youth she was trained to
mount on horseback, to draw the bow, and to wield the cimeter; and the
richness of her arms and apparel were conspicuous in the foremost ranks
of the battle. Her hand, with a hundred thousand pieces of gold, was
offered for the head of the Arabian general, and the youths of Africa
were excited by the prospect of the glorious prize. At the pressing
solicitation of his brethren, Abdallah withdrew his person from the
field; but the Saracens were discouraged by the retreat of their leader,
and the repetition of these equal or unsuccessful conflicts.

A noble Arabian, who afterwards became the adversary of Ali, and the
father of a caliph, had signalized his valor in Egypt, and Zobeir was
the first who planted the scaling-ladder against the walls of Babylon.
In the African war he was detached from the standard of Abdallah. On the
news of the battle, Zobeir, with twelve companions, cut his way through
the camp of the Greeks, and pressed forwards, without tasting either
food or repose, to partake of the dangers of his brethren. He cast his
eyes round the field: "Where," said he, "is our general?" "In his
tent." "Is the tent a station for the general of the Moslems?" Abdallah
represented with a blush the importance of his own life, and the
temptation that was held forth by the Roman præfect. "Retort," said
Zobeir, "on the infidels their ungenerous attempt. Proclaim through
the ranks that the head of Gregory shall be repaid with his captive
daughter, and the equal sum of one hundred thousand pieces of gold."
To the courage and discretion of Zobeir the lieutenant of the caliph
intrusted the execution of his own stratagem, which inclined the
long-disputed balance in favor of the Saracens. Supplying by activity
and artifice the deficiency of numbers, a part of their forces lay
concealed in their tents, while the remainder prolonged an irregular
skirmish with the enemy till the sun was high in the heavens. On both
sides they retired with fainting steps: their horses were unbridled,
their armor was laid aside, and the hostile nations prepared, or seemed
to prepare, for the refreshment of the evening, and the encounter of the
ensuing day. On a sudden the charge was sounded; the Arabian camp poured
forth a swarm of fresh and intrepid warriors; and the long line of
the Greeks and Africans was surprised, assaulted, overturned, by new
squadrons of the faithful, who, to the eye of fanaticism, might appear
as a band of angels descending from the sky. The præfect himself was
slain by the hand of Zobeir: his daughter, who sought revenge and death,
was surrounded and made prisoner; and the fugitives involved in their
disaster the town of Sufetula, to which they escaped from the sabres and
lances of the Arabs. Sufetula was built one hundred and fifty miles
to the south of Carthage: a gentle declivity is watered by a running
stream, and shaded by a grove of juniper-trees; and, in the ruins of a
triumphal arch, a portico, and three temples of the Corinthian order,
curiosity may yet admire the magnificence of the Romans. After the fall
of this opulent city, the provincials and Barbarians implored on all
sides the mercy of the conqueror. His vanity or his zeal might be
flattered by offers of tribute or professions of faith: but his losses,
his fatigues, and the progress of an epidemical disease, prevented
a solid establishment; and the Saracens, after a campaign of fifteen
months, retreated to the confines of Egypt, with the captives and the
wealth of their African expedition. The caliph's fifth was granted to
a favorite, on the nominal payment of five hundred thousand pieces of
gold; but the state was doubly injured by this fallacious transaction,
if each foot-soldier had shared one thousand, and each horseman three
thousand, pieces, in the real division of the plunder. The author of the
death of Gregory was expected to have claimed the most precious reward
of the victory: from his silence it might be presumed that he had fallen
in the battle, till the tears and exclamations of the præfect's daughter
at the sight of Zobeir revealed the valor and modesty of that gallant
soldier. The unfortunate virgin was offered, and almost rejected as a
slave, by her father's murderer, who coolly declared that his sword
was consecrated to the service of religion; and that he labored for a
recompense far above the charms of mortal beauty, or the riches of this
transitory life. A reward congenial to his temper was the honorable
commission of announcing to the caliph Othman the success of his arms.
The companions the chiefs, and the people, were assembled in the mosch
of Medina, to hear the interesting narrative of Zobeir; and as the
orator forgot nothing except the merit of his own counsels and actions,
the name of Abdallah was joined by the Arabians with the heroic names of
Caled and Amrou.

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part VIII.

The Western conquests of the Saracens were suspended near twenty years,
till their dissensions were composed by the establishment of the house
of Ommiyah; and the caliph Moawiyah was invited by the cries of the
Africans themselves. The successors of Heraclius had been informed of
the tribute which they had been compelled to stipulate with the Arabs,
but instead of being moved to pity and relieve their distress, they
imposed, as an equivalent or a fine, a second tribute of a similar
amount. The ears of the Byzantine ministers were shut against the
complaints of their poverty and ruin: their despair was reduced to
prefer the dominion of a single master; and the extortions of the
patriarch of Carthage, who was invested with civil and military power,
provoked the sectaries, and even the Catholics of the Roman province, to
abjure the religion as well as the authority of their tyrants. The first
lieutenant of Moawiyah acquired a just renown, subdued an important
city, defeated an army of thirty thousand Greeks, swept away fourscore
thousand captives, and enriched with their spoils the bold adventures of
Syria and Egypt. But the title of conqueror of Africa is more justly
due to his successor Akbah. He marched from Damascus at the head of ten
thousand of the bravest Arabs; and the genuine force of the Moslems was
enlarged by the doubtful aid and conversion of many thousand Barbarians.
It would be difficult, nor is it necessary, to trace the accurate line
of the progress of Akbah. The interior regions have been peopled by the
Orientals with fictitious armies and imaginary citadels. In the warlike
province of Zab, or Numidia, fourscore thousand of the natives might
assemble in arms; but the number of three hundred and sixty towns
is incompatible with the ignorance or decay of husbandry; and a
circumference of three leagues will not be justified by the ruins of
Erbe or Lambesa, the ancient metropolis of that inland country. As we
approach the seacoast, the well-known cities of Bugia and Tangier define
the more certain limits of the Saracen victories. A remnant of trade
still adheres to the commodious harbor of Bugia which, in a more
prosperous age, is said to have contained about twenty thousand houses;
and the plenty of iron which is dug from the adjacent mountains might
have supplied a braver people with the instruments of defence. The
remote position and venerable antiquity of Tingi, or Tangier, have
been decorated by the Greek and Arabian fables; but the figurative
expressions of the latter, that the walls were constructed of brass, and
that the roofs were covered with gold and silver, may be interpreted
as the emblems of strength and opulence. The provinces of Mauritania
Tingitana, which assumed the name of the capital, had been imperfectly
discovered and settled by the Romans; the five colonies were confined to
a narrow pale, and the more southern parts were seldom explored except
by the agents of luxury, who searched the forests for ivory and the
citron-wood, and the shores of the ocean for the purple shell-fish.
The fearless Akbah plunged into the heart of the country, traversed the
wilderness in which his successors erected the splendid capitals of Fez
and Morocco, and at length penetrated to the verge of the Atlantic and
the great desert. The river Sus descends from the western sides of Mount
Atlas, fertilizes, like the Nile, the adjacent soil, and falls into the
sea at a moderate distance from the Canary, or Fortunate Islands.
Its banks were inhabited by the last of the Moors, a race of savages,
without laws, or discipline, or religion; they were astonished by the
strange and irresistible terrors of the Oriental arms; and as they
possessed neither gold nor silver, the riches spoil was the beauty of
the female captives, some of whom were afterwards sold for a thousand
pieces of gold. The career, though not the zeal, of Akbah was checked by
the prospect of a boundless ocean. He spurred his horse into the waves,
and raising his eyes to heaven, exclaimed with a tone of a fanatic,
"Great God! if my course were not stopped by this sea, I would still go
on, to the unknown kingdoms of the West, preaching the unity of thy holy
name, and putting to the sword the rebellious nations who worship any
other Gods than thee." Yet this Mahometan Alexander, who sighed for new
worlds, was unable to preserve his recent conquests. By the universal
defection of the Greeks and Africans, he was recalled from the shores of
the Atlantic, and the surrounding multitudes left him only the resource
of an honorable death. The last scene was dignified by an example of
national virtue. An ambitious chief, who had disputed the command and
failed in the attempt, was led about as a prisoner in the camp of
the Arabian general. The insurgents had trusted to his discontent and
revenge; he disdained their offers, and revealed their designs. In the
hour of danger, the grateful Akbah unlocked his fetters, and advised him
to retire; he chose to die under the banner of his rival. Embracing
as friends and martyrs, they unsheathed their cimeters, broke their
scabbards, and maintained an obstinate combat, till they fell by each
other's side on the last of their slaughtered countrymen. The third
general or governor of Africa, Zuheir, avenged and encountered the fate
of his predecessor. He vanquished the natives in many battles; he was
overthrown by a powerful army, which Constantinople had sent to the
relief of Carthage.

It had been the frequent practice of the Moorish tribes to join the
invaders, to share the plunder, to profess the faith, and to revolt to
their savage state of independence and idolatry, on the first retreat or
misfortune of the Moslems. The prudence of Akbah had proposed to found
an Arabian colony in the heart of Africa; a citadel that might curb
the levity of the Barbarians, a place of refuge to secure, against the
accidents of war, the wealth and the families of the Saracens. With this
view, and under the modest title of the station of a caravan, he planted
this colony in the fiftieth year of the Hegira. In the present decay,
Cairoan still holds the second rank in the kingdom of Tunis, from which
it is distant about fifty miles to the south: its inland situation,
twelve miles westward of the sea, has protected the city from the Greek
and Sicilian fleets. When the wild beasts and serpents were extirpated,
when the forest, or rather wilderness, was cleared, the vestiges of
a Roman town were discovered in a sandy plain: the vegetable food of
Cairoan is brought from afar; and the scarcity of springs constrains the
inhabitants to collect in cisterns and reservoirs a precarious supply
of rain-water. These obstacles were subdued by the industry of Akbah; he
traced a circumference of three thousand and six hundred paces, which
he encompassed with a brick wall; in the space of five years, the
governor's palace was surrounded with a sufficient number of private
habitations; a spacious mosch was supported by five hundred columns of
granite, porphyry, and Numidian marble; and Cairoan became the seat of
learning as well as of empire. But these were the glories of a later
age; the new colony was shaken by the successive defeats of Akbah and
Zuheir, and the western expeditions were again interrupted by the
civil discord of the Arabian monarchy. The son of the valiant Zobeir
maintained a war of twelve years, a siege of seven months against the
house of Ommiyah. Abdallah was said to unite the fierceness of the lion
with the subtlety of the fox; but if he inherited the courage, he was
devoid of the generosity, of his father.

The return of domestic peace allowed the caliph Abdalmalek to resume the
conquest of Africa; the standard was delivered to Hassan, governor of
Egypt, and the revenue of that kingdom, with an army of forty thousand
men, was consecrated to the important service. In the vicissitudes of
war, the interior provinces had been alternately won and lost by the
Saracens. But the sea-coast still remained in the hands of the Greeks;
the predecessors of Hassan had respected the name and fortifications of
Carthage; and the number of its defenders was recruited by the
fugitives of Cabes and Tripoli. The arms of Hassan, were bolder and more
fortunate: he reduced and pillaged the metropolis of Africa; and
the mention of scaling-ladders may justify the suspicion that he
anticipated, by a sudden assault, the more tedious operations of a
regular siege. But the joy of the conquerors was soon disturbed by the
appearance of the Christian succors. The præfect and patrician John, a
general of experience and renown, embarked at Constantinople the forces
of the Eastern empire; they were joined by the ships and soldiers of
Sicily, and a powerful reenforcement of Goths was obtained from the
fears and religion of the Spanish monarch. The weight of the confederate
navy broke the chain that guarded the entrance of the harbor; the Arabs
retired to Cairoan, or Tripoli; the Christians landed; the citizens
hailed the ensign of the cross, and the winter was idly wasted in the
dream of victory or deliverance. But Africa was irrecoverably lost; the
zeal and resentment of the commander of the faithful prepared in
the ensuing spring a more numerous armament by sea and land; and
the patrician in his turn was compelled to evacuate the post and
fortifications of Carthage. A second battle was fought in the
neighborhood of Utica: the Greeks and Goths were again defeated; and
their timely embarkation saved them from the sword of Hassan, who had
invested the slight and insufficient rampart of their camp. Whatever yet
remained of Carthage was delivered to the flames, and the colony of Dido
and Cæsar lay desolate above two hundred years, till a part, perhaps a
twentieth, of the old circumference was repeopled by the first of the
Fatimite caliphs. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the second
capital of the West was represented by a mosch, a college without
students, twenty-five or thirty shops, and the huts of five hundred
peasants, who, in their abject poverty, displayed the arrogance of the
Punic senators. Even that paltry village was swept away by the Spaniards
whom Charles the Fifth had stationed in the fortress of the Goletta. The
ruins of Carthage have perished; and the place might be unknown if
some broken arches of an aqueduct did not guide the footsteps of the
inquisitive traveller.

The Greeks were expelled, but the Arabians were not yet masters of the
country. In the interior provinces the Moors or _Berbers_, so feeble
under the first Cæsars, so formidable to the Byzantine princes,
maintained a disorderly resistance to the religion and power of the
successors of Mahomet. Under the standard of their queen Cahina, the
independent tribes acquired some degree of union and discipline; and as
the Moors respected in their females the character of a prophetess,
they attacked the invaders with an enthusiasm similar to their own. The
veteran bands of Hassan were inadequate to the defence of Africa: the
conquests of an age were lost in a single day; and the Arabian chief,
overwhelmed by the torrent, retired to the confines of Egypt, and
expected, five years, the promised succors of the caliph. After the
retreat of the Saracens, the victorious prophetess assembled the Moorish
chiefs, and recommended a measure of strange and savage policy.
"Our cities," said she, "and the gold and silver which they contain,
perpetually attract the arms of the Arabs. These vile metals are not
the objects of our ambition; we content ourselves with the simple
productions of the earth. Let us destroy these cities; let us bury in
their ruins those pernicious treasures; and when the avarice of our foes
shall be destitute of temptation, perhaps they will cease to disturb
the tranquillity of a warlike people." The proposal was accepted with
unanimous applause. From Tangier to Tripoli, the buildings, or at least
the fortifications, were demolished, the fruit-trees were cut down, the
means of subsistence were extirpated, a fertile and populous garden was
changed into a desert, and the historians of a more recent period could
discern the frequent traces of the prosperity and devastation of their
ancestors. Such is the tale of the modern Arabians. Yet I strongly
suspect that their ignorance of antiquity, the love of the marvellous,
and the fashion of extolling the philosophy of Barbarians, has induced
them to describe, as one voluntary act, the calamities of three hundred
years since the first fury of the Donatists and Vandals. In the progress
of the revolt, Cahina had most probably contributed her share of
destruction; and the alarm of universal ruin might terrify and alienate
the cities that had reluctantly yielded to her unworthy yoke. They
no longer hoped, perhaps they no longer wished, the return of their
Byzantine sovereigns: their present servitude was not alleviated by the
benefits of order and justice; and the most zealous Catholic must prefer
the imperfect truths of the Koran to the blind and rude idolatry of the
Moors. The general of the Saracens was again received as the savior of
the province: the friends of civil society conspired against the savages
of the land; and the royal prophetess was slain, in the first battle,
which overturned the baseless fabric of her superstition and empire.
The same spirit revived under the successor of Hassan: it was finally
quelled by the activity of Musa and his two sons; but the number of the
rebels may be presumed from that of three hundred thousand captives;
sixty thousand of whom, the caliph's fifth, were sold for the profit
of the public treasury. Thirty thousand of the Barbarian youth were
enlisted in the troops; and the pious labors of Musa, to inculcate the
knowledge and practice of the Koran, accustomed the Africans to obey the
apostle of God and the commander of the faithful. In their climate and
government, their diet and habitation, the wandering Moors resembled the
Bedoweens of the desert. With the religion they were proud to adopt the
language, name, and origin, of Arabs: the blood of the strangers and
natives was insensibly mingled; and from the Euphrates to the Atlantic,
the same nation might seem to be diffused over the sandy plains of
Asia and Africa. Yet I will not deny that fifty thousand tents of pure
Arabians might be transported over the Nile, and scattered through the
Libyan desert: and I am not ignorant that five of the Moorish tribes
still retain their _barbarous_ idiom, with the appellation and character
of _white_ Africans.

V. In the progress of conquest from the north and south, the Goths
and the Saracens encountered each other on the confines of Europe and
Africa. In the opinion of the latter, the difference of religion is a
reasonable ground of enmity and warfare.

As early as the time of Othman, their piratical squadrons had ravaged
the coast of Andalusia; nor had they forgotten the relief of Carthage by
the Gothic succors. In that age, as well as in the present, the kings
of Spain were possessed of the fortress of Ceuta; one of the columns of
Hercules, which is divided by a narrow strait from the opposite pillar
or point of Europe. A small portion of Mauritania was still wanting to
the African conquest; but Musa, in the pride of victory, was repulsed
from the walls of Ceuta, by the vigilance and courage of Count Julian,
the general of the Goths. From his disappointment and perplexity,
Musa was relieved by an unexpected message of the Christian chief,
who offered his place, his person, and his sword, to the successors of
Mahomet, and solicited the disgraceful honor of introducing their arms
into the heart of Spain. If we inquire into the cause of his treachery,
the Spaniards will repeat the popular story of his daughter Cava; of
a virgin who was seduced, or ravished, by her sovereign; of a father
who sacrificed his religion and country to the thirst of revenge. The
passions of princes have often been licentious and destructive; but
this well-known tale, romantic in itself, is indifferently supported by
external evidence; and the history of Spain will suggest some motive of
interest and policy more congenial to the breast of a veteran statesman.
After the decease or deposition of Witiza, his two sons were supplanted
by the ambition of Roderic, a noble Goth, whose father, the duke or
governor of a province, had fallen a victim to the preceding tyranny.
The monarchy was still elective; but the sons of Witiza, educated on
the steps of the throne, were impatient of a private station. Their
resentment was the more dangerous, as it was varnished with the
dissimulation of courts: their followers were excited by the remembrance
of favors and the promise of a revolution; and their uncle Oppas,
archbishop of Toledo and Seville, was the first person in the church,
and the second in the state. It is probable that Julian was involved in
the disgrace of the unsuccessful faction; that he had little to hope and
much to fear from the new reign; and that the imprudent king could
not forget or forgive the injuries which Roderic and his family had
sustained. The merit and influence of the count rendered him a useful
or formidable subject: his estates were ample, his followers bold and
numerous; and it was too fatally shown, that, by his Andalusian and
Mauritanian commands, he held in his hand the keys of the Spanish
monarchy. Too feeble, however, to meet his sovereign in arms, he sought
the aid of a foreign power; and his rash invitation of the Moors and
Arabs produced the calamities of eight hundred years. In his epistles,
or in a personal interview, he revealed the wealth and nakedness of
his country; the weakness of an unpopular prince; the degeneracy of an
effeminate people. The Goths were no longer the victorious Barbarians,
who had humbled the pride of Rome, despoiled the queen of nations, and
penetrated from the Danube to the Atlantic Ocean. Secluded from the
world by the Pyrenæan mountains, the successors of Alaric had slumbered
in a long peace: the walls of the cities were mouldered into dust: the
youth had abandoned the exercise of arms; and the presumption of their
ancient renown would expose them in a field of battle to the first
assault of the invaders. The ambitious Saracen was fired by the ease
and importance of the attempt; but the execution was delayed till he had
consulted the commander of the faithful; and his messenger returned with
the permission of Walid to annex the unknown kingdoms of the West to the
religion and throne of the caliphs. In his residence of Tangier, Musa,
with secrecy and caution, continued his correspondence and hastened his
preparations. But the remorse of the conspirators was soothed by the
fallacious assurance that he should content himself with the glory and
spoil, without aspiring to establish the Moslems beyond the sea that
separates Africa from Europe.

Before Musa would trust an army of the faithful to the traitors and
infidels of a foreign land, he made a less dangerous trial of their
strength and veracity. One hundred Arabs, and four hundred Africans,
passed over, in four vessels, from Tangier or Ceuta: the place of their
descent on the opposite shore of the strait is marked by the name of
Tarif their chief; and the date of this memorable event is fixed to the
month of Ramadan, of the ninety-first year of the Hegira, to the month
of July, seven hundred and forty-eight years from the Spanish æra of
Cæsar, seven hundred and ten after the birth of Christ. From their first
station, they marched eighteen miles through a hilly country to the
castle and town of Julian: on which (it is still called Algezire) they
bestowed the name of the Green Island, from a verdant cape that advances
into the sea. Their hospitable entertainment, the Christians who joined
their standard, their inroad into a fertile and unguarded province, the
richness of their spoil, and the safety of their return, announced to
their brethren and the most favorable omens of victory. In the ensuing
spring, five thousand veterans and volunteers were embarked under the
command of Tarik, a dauntless and skilful soldier, who surpassed the
expectation of his chief; and the necessary transports were provided
by the industry of their too faithful ally. The Saracens landed at
the pillar or point of Europe; the corrupt and familiar appellation of
Gibraltar (_Gebel al Tarik_) describes the mountain of Tarik; and
the intrenchments of his camp were the first outline of those
fortifications, which, in the hands of our countrymen, have resisted the
art and power of the house of Bourbon. The adjacent governors informed
the court of Toledo of the descent and progress of the Arabs; and the
defeat of his lieutenant Edeco, who had been commanded to seize and bind
the presumptuous strangers, admonished Roderic of the magnitude of the
danger. At the royal summons, the dukes and counts, the bishops and
nobles of the Gothic monarchy, assembled at the head of their followers;
and the title of King of the Romans, which is employed by an Arabic
historian, may be excused by the close affinity of language, religion,
and manners, between the nations of Spain. His army consisted of ninety
or a hundred thousand men; a formidable power, if their fidelity and
discipline had been adequate to their numbers. The troops of Tarik
had been augmented to twelve thousand Saracens; but the Christian
malecontents were attracted by the influence of Julian, and a crowd of
Africans most greedily tasted the temporal blessings of the Koran. In
the neighborhood of Cadiz, the town of Xeres has been illustrated by the
encounter which determined the fate of the kingdom; the stream of the
Guadalete, which falls into the bay, divided the two camps, and marked
the advancing and retreating skirmishes of three successive and bloody
days. On the fourth day, the two armies joined a more serious and
decisive issue; but Alaric would have blushed at the sight of his
unworthy successor, sustaining on his head a diadem of pearls,
encumbered with a flowing robe of gold and silken embroidery, and
reclining on a litter or car of ivory drawn by two white mules.
Notwithstanding the valor of the Saracens, they fainted under the
weight of multitudes, and the plain of Xeres was overspread with
sixteen thousand of their dead bodies. "My brethren," said Tarik to
his surviving companions, "the enemy is before you, the sea is behind;
whither would ye fly? Follow your genera: I am resolved either to lose
my life, or to trample on the prostrate king of the Romans." Besides
the resource of despair, he confided in the secret correspondence and
nocturnal interviews of Count Julian with the sons and the brother of
Witiza. The two princes and the archbishop of Toledo occupied the
most important post: their well-timed defection broke the ranks of the
Christians; each warrior was prompted by fear or suspicion to consult
his personal safety; and the remains of the Gothic army were scattered
or destroyed in the flight and pursuit of the three following days.
Amidst the general disorder, Roderic started from his car, and mounted
Orelia, the fleetest of his horses; but he escaped from a soldier's
death to perish more ignobly in the waters of the Btis or Guadalquivir.
His diadem, his robes, and his courser, were found on the bank; but
as the body of the Gothic prince was lost in the waves, the pride and
ignorance of the caliph must have been gratified with some meaner head,
which was exposed in triumph before the palace of Damascus. "And such,"
continues a valiant historian of the Arabs, "is the fate of those kings
who withdraw themselves from a field of battle."

Count Julian had plunged so deep into guilt and infamy, that his only
hope was in the ruin of his country. After the battle of Xeres, he
recommended the most effectual measures to the victorious Saracen. "The
king of the Goths is slain; their princes have fled before you, the army
is routed, the nation is astonished. Secure with sufficient detachments
the cities of Btica; but in person, and without delay, march to the
royal city of Toledo, and allow not the distracted Christians either
time or tranquillity for the election of a new monarch." Tarik listened
to his advice. A Roman captive and proselyte, who had been enfranchised
by the caliph himself, assaulted Cordova with seven hundred horse: he
swam the river, surprised the town, and drove the Christians into the
great church, where they defended themselves above three months. Another
detachment reduced the sea-coast of Btica, which in the last period of
the Moorish power has comprised in a narrow space the populous kingdom
of Grenada. The march of Tarik from the Btis to the Tagus was directed
through the Sierra Morena, that separates Andalusia and Castille, till
he appeared in arms under the walls of Toledo. The most zealous of the
Catholics had escaped with the relics of their saints; and if the
gates were shut, it was only till the victor had subscribed a fair and
reasonable capitulation. The voluntary exiles were allowed to depart
with their effects; seven churches were appropriated to the Christian
worship; the archbishop and his clergy were at liberty to exercise their
functions, the monks to practise or neglect their penance; and the Goths
and Romans were left in all civil and criminal cases to the subordinate
jurisdiction of their own laws and magistrates. But if the justice of
Tarik protected the Christians, his gratitude and policy rewarded the
Jews, to whose secret or open aid he was indebted for his most important
acquisitions. Persecuted by the kings and synods of Spain, who had often
pressed the alternative of banishment or baptism, that outcast nation
embraced the moment of revenge: the comparison of their past and present
state was the pledge of their fidelity; and the alliance between the
disciples of Moses and of Mahomet was maintained till the final æra
of their common expulsion. From the royal seat of Toledo, the Arabian
leader spread his conquests to the north, over the modern realms of
Castille and Leon; but it is needless to enumerate the cities that
yielded on his approach, or again to describe the table of emerald,
transported from the East by the Romans, acquired by the Goths among the
spoils of Rome, and presented by the Arabs to the throne of Damascus.
Beyond the Asturian mountains, the maritime town of Gijon was the
term of the lieutenant of Musa, who had performed, with the speed of a
traveller, his victorious march, of seven hundred miles, from the rock
of Gibraltar to the Bay of Biscay. The failure of land compelled him
to retreat; and he was recalled to Toledo, to excuse his presumption
of subduing a kingdom in the absence of his general. Spain, which, in a
more savage and disorderly state, had resisted, two hundred years,
the arms of the Romans, was overrun in a few months by those of the
Saracens; and such was the eagerness of submission and treaty, that
the governor of Cordova is recorded as the only chief who fell, without
conditions, a prisoner into their hands. The cause of the Goths had been
irrevocably judged in the field of Xeres; and, in the national dismay,
each part of the monarchy declined a contest with the antagonist who
had vanquished the united strength of the whole. That strength had
been wasted by two successive seasons of famine and pestilence; and
the governors, who were impatient to surrender, might exaggerate the
difficulty of collecting the provisions of a siege. To disarm the
Christians, superstition likewise contributed her terrors: and the
subtle Arab encouraged the report of dreams, omens, and prophecies,
and of the portraits of the destined conquerors of Spain, that were
discovered on breaking open an apartment of the royal palace. Yet a
spark of the vital flame was still alive: some invincible fugitives
preferred a life of poverty and freedom in the Asturian valleys; the
hardy mountaineers repulsed the slaves of the caliph; and the sword of
Pelagius has been transformed into the sceptre of the Catholic kings.

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part IX.

On the intelligence of this rapid success, the applause of Musa
degenerated into envy; and he began, not to complain, but to fear, that
Tarik would leave him nothing to subdue. At the head of ten thousand
Arabs and eight thousand Africans, he passed over in person from
Mauritania to Spain: the first of his companions were the noblest of
the Koreish; his eldest son was left in the command of Africa; the
three younger brethren were of an age and spirit to second the boldest
enterprises of their father. At his landing in Algezire, he was
respectfully entertained by Count Julian, who stifled his inward
remorse, and testified, both in words and actions, that the victory of
the Arabs had not impaired his attachment to their cause. Some enemies
yet remained for the sword of Musa. The tardy repentance of the Goths
had compared their own numbers and those of the invaders; the cities
from which the march of Tarik had declined considered themselves as
impregnable; and the bravest patriots defended the fortifications of
Seville and Merida. They were successively besieged and reduced by the
labor of Musa, who transported his camp from the Btis to the Anas, from
the Guadalquivir to the Guadiana. When he beheld the works of Roman
magnificence, the bridge, the aqueducts, the triumphal arches, and the
theatre, of the ancient metropolis of Lusitania, "I should imagine,"
said he to his four companions, "that the human race must have united
their art and power in the foundation of this city: happy is the man
who shall become its master!" He aspired to that happiness, but the
_Emeritans_ sustained on this occasion the honor of their descent from
the veteran legionaries of Augustus Disdaining the confinement of their
walls, they gave battle to the Arabs on the plain; but an ambuscade
rising from the shelter of a quarry, or a ruin, chastised their
indiscretion, and intercepted their return. The wooden turrets of
assault were rolled forwards to the foot of the rampart; but the defence
of Merida was obstinate and long; and the _castle of the martyrs_ was a
perpetual testimony of the losses of the Moslems. The constancy of the
besieged was at length subdued by famine and despair; and the prudent
victor disguised his impatience under the names of clemency and esteem.
The alternative of exile or tribute was allowed; the churches were
divided between the two religions; and the wealth of those who had
fallen in the siege, or retired to Gallicia, was confiscated as the
reward of the faithful. In the midway between Merida and Toledo, the
lieutenant of Musa saluted the vicegerent of the caliph, and conducted
him to the palace of the Gothic kings. Their first interview was cold
and formal: a rigid account was exacted of the treasures of Spain: the
character of Tarik was exposed to suspicion and obloquy; and the hero
was imprisoned, reviled, and ignominiously scourged by the hand, or the
command, of Musa. Yet so strict was the discipline, so pure the zeal,
or so tame the spirit, of the primitive Moslems, that, after this public
indignity, Tarik could serve and be trusted in the reduction of
the Tarragonest province. A mosch was erected at Saragossa, by the
liberality of the Koreish: the port of Barcelona was opened to the
vessels of Syria; and the Goths were pursued beyond the Pyrenæan
mountains into their Gallic province of Septimania or Languedoc. In the
church of St. Mary at Carcassone, Musa found, but it is improbable that
he left, seven equestrian statues of massy silver; and from his _ter_
or column of Narbonne, he returned on his footsteps to the Gallician and
Lusitanian shores of the ocean. During the absence of the father, his
son Abdelaziz chastised the insurgents of Seville, and reduced, from
Malaga to Valentia, the sea-coast of the Mediterranean: his original
treaty with the discreet and valiant Theodemir will represent the
manners and policy of the times. "_The conditions of peace agreed
and sworn between Abdelaziz, the son of Musa, the son of Nassir, and
Theodemir prince of the Goths_. In the name of the most merciful God,
Abdelaziz makes peace on these conditions: _that_ Theodemir shall not be
disturbed in his principality; nor any injury be offered to the life
or property, the wives and children, the religion and temples, of the
Christians: _that_ Theodemir shall freely deliver his seven cities,
Orihuela, Valentola, Alicanti Mola, Vacasora, Bigerra, (now Bejar,)
Ora, (or Opta,) and Lorca: _that_ he shall not assist or entertain the
enemies of the caliph, but shall faithfully communicate his knowledge
of their hostile designs: _that_ himself, and each of the Gothic nobles,
shall annually pay one piece of gold, four measures of wheat, as many of
barley, with a certain proportion of honey, oil, and vinegar; and
that each of their vassals shall be taxed at one moiety of the said
imposition. Given the fourth of Regeb, in the year of the Hegira
ninety-four, and subscribed with the names of four Mussulman witnesses."
Theodemir and his subjects were treated with uncommon lenity; but the
rate of tribute appears to have fluctuated from a tenth to a fifth,
according to the submission or obstinacy of the Christians. In this
revolution, many partial calamities were inflicted by the carnal or
religious passions of the enthusiasts: some churches were profaned by
the new worship: some relics or images were confounded with idols: the
rebels were put to the sword; and one town (an obscure place between
Cordova and Seville) was razed to its foundations. Yet if we compare the
invasion of Spain by the Goths, or its recovery by the kings of Castile
and Arragon, we must applaud the moderation and discipline of the
Arabian conquerors.

The exploits of Musa were performed in the evening of life, though he
affected to disguise his age by coloring with a red powder the whiteness
of his beard. But in the love of action and glory, his breast was
still fired with the ardor of youth; and the possession of Spain was
considered only as the first step to the monarchy of Europe. With
a powerful armament by sea and land, he was preparing to repass the
Pyrenees, to extinguish in Gaul and Italy the declining kingdoms of the
Franks and Lombards, and to preach the unity of God on the altar of the
Vatican. From thence, subduing the Barbarians of Germany, he proposed
to follow the course of the Danube from its source to the Euxine Sea,
to overthrow the Greek or Roman empire of Constantinople, and returning
from Europe to Asia, to unite his new acquisitions with Antioch and the
provinces of Syria. But his vast enterprise, perhaps of easy execution,
must have seemed extravagant to vulgar minds; and the visionary
conqueror was soon reminded of his dependence and servitude. The friends
of Tarik had effectually stated his services and wrongs: at the court
of Damascus, the proceedings of Musa were blamed, his intentions were
suspected, and his delay in complying with the first invitation
was chastised by a harsher and more peremptory summons. An intrepid
messenger of the caliph entered his camp at Lugo in Gallicia, and in
the presence of the Saracens and Christians arrested the bridle of his
horse. His own loyalty, or that of his troops, inculcated the duty of
obedience: and his disgrace was alleviated by the recall of his rival,
and the permission of investing with his two governments his two
sons, Abdallah and Abdelaziz. His long triumph from Ceuta to Damascus
displayed the spoils of Africa and the treasures of Spain: four hundred
Gothic nobles, with gold coronets and girdles, were distinguished in his
train; and the number of male and female captives, selected for their
birth or beauty, was computed at eighteen, or even at thirty, thousand
persons. As soon as he reached Tiberias in Palestine, he was apprised
of the sickness and danger of the caliph, by a private message from
Soliman, his brother and presumptive heir; who wished to reserve for his
own reign the spectacle of victory. Had Walid recovered, the delay of
Musa would have been criminal: he pursued his march, and found an enemy
on the throne. In his trial before a partial judge against a popular
antagonist, he was convicted of vanity and falsehood; and a fine of two
hundred thousand pieces of gold either exhausted his poverty or proved
his rapaciousness. The unworthy treatment of Tarik was revenged by a
similar indignity; and the veteran commander, after a public whipping,
stood a whole day in the sun before the palace gate, till he obtained
a decent exile, under the pious name of a pilgrimage to Mecca. The
resentment of the caliph might have been satiated with the ruin of Musa;
but his fears demanded the extirpation of a potent and injured family.
A sentence of death was intimated with secrecy and speed to the trusty
servants of the throne both in Africa and Spain; and the forms, if not
the substance, of justice were superseded in this bloody execution. In
the mosch or palace of Cordova, Abdelaziz was slain by the swords of
the conspirators; they accused their governor of claiming the honors of
royalty; and his scandalous marriage with Egilona, the widow of Roderic,
offended the prejudices both of the Christians and Moslems. By a
refinement of cruelty, the head of the son was presented to the father,
with an insulting question, whether he acknowledged the features of the
rebel? "I know his features," he exclaimed with indignation: "I assert
his innocence; and I imprecate the same, a juster fate, against the
authors of his death." The age and despair of Musa raised him above
the power of kings; and he expired at Mecca of the anguish of a broken
heart. His rival was more favorably treated: his services were forgiven;
and Tarik was permitted to mingle with the crowd of slaves. I am
ignorant whether Count Julian was rewarded with the death which he
deserved indeed, though not from the hands of the Saracens; but the
tale of their ingratitude to the sons of Witiza is disproved by the most
unquestionable evidence. The two royal youths were reinstated in the
private patrimony of their father; but on the decease of Eba, the elder,
his daughter was unjustly despoiled of her portion by the violence of
her uncle Sigebut. The Gothic maid pleaded her cause before the caliph
Hashem, and obtained the restitution of her inheritance; but she was
given in marriage to a noble Arabian, and their two sons, Isaac and
Ibrahim, were received in Spain with the consideration that was due to
their origin and riches.

A province is assimilated to the victorious state by the introduction of
strangers and the imitative spirit of the natives; and Spain, which had
been successively tinctured with Punic, and Roman, and Gothic blood,
imbibed, in a few generations, the name and manners of the Arabs. The
first conquerors, and the twenty successive lieutenants of the caliphs,
were attended by a numerous train of civil and military followers, who
preferred a distant fortune to a narrow home: the private and public
interest was promoted by the establishment of faithful colonies; and the
cities of Spain were proud to commemorate the tribe or country of their
Eastern progenitors. The victorious though motley bands of Tarik and
Musa asserted, by the name of _Spaniards_, their original claim of
conquest; yet they allowed their brethren of Egypt to share their
establishments of Murcia and Lisbon. The royal legion of Damascus was
planted at Cordova; that of Emesa at Seville; that of Kinnisrin or
Chalcis at Jaen; that of Palestine at Algezire and Medina Sidonia. The
natives of Yemen and Persia were scattered round Toledo and the inland
country, and the fertile seats of Grenada were bestowed on ten thousand
horsemen of Syria and Irak, the children of the purest and most noble
of the Arabian tribes. A spirit of emulation, sometimes beneficial, more
frequently dangerous, was nourished by these hereditary factions. Ten
years after the conquest, a map of the province was presented to the
caliph: the seas, the rivers, and the harbors, the inhabitants and
cities, the climate, the soil, and the mineral productions of the earth.
In the space of two centuries, the gifts of nature were improved by
the agriculture, the manufactures, and the commerce, of an industrious
people; and the effects of their diligence have been magnified by the
idleness of their fancy. The first of the Ommiades who reigned in Spain
solicited the support of the Christians; and in his edict of peace and
protection, he contents himself with a modest imposition of ten thousand
ounces of gold, ten thousand pounds of silver, ten thousand horses, as
many mules, one thousand cuirasses, with an equal number of helmets
and lances. The most powerful of his successors derived from the same
kingdom the annual tribute of twelve millions and forty-five thousand
dinars or pieces of gold, about six millions of sterling money; a sum
which, in the tenth century, most probably surpassed the united revenues
of the Christians monarchs. His royal seat of Cordova contained six
hundred moschs, nine hundred baths, and two hundred thousand houses; he
gave laws to eighty cities of the first, to three hundred of the second
and third order; and the fertile banks of the Guadalquivir were adorned
with twelve thousand villages and hamlets. The Arabs might exaggerate
the truth, but they created and they describe the most prosperous æra of
the riches, the cultivation, and the populousness of Spain.

The wars of the Moslems were sanctified by the prophet; but among the
various precepts and examples of his life, the caliphs selected the
lessons of toleration that might tend to disarm the resistance of the
unbelievers. Arabia was the temple and patrimony of the God of Mahomet;
but he beheld with less jealousy and affection the nations of the earth.
The polytheists and idolaters, who were ignorant of his name, might
be lawfully extirpated by his votaries; but a wise policy supplied
the obligation of justice; and after some acts of intolerant zeal, the
Mahometan conquerors of Hindostan have spared the pagods of that devout
and populous country. The disciples of Abraham, of Moses, and of
Jesus, were solemnly invited to accept the more _perfect_ revelation of
Mahomet; but if they preferred the payment of a moderate tribute, they
were entitled to the freedom of conscience and religious worship. In a
field of battle the forfeit lives of the prisoners were redeemed by the
profession of _Islam_; the females were bound to embrace the religion of
their masters, and a race of sincere proselytes was gradually multiplied
by the education of the infant captives. But the millions of African
and Asiatic converts, who swelled the native band of the faithful Arabs,
must have been allured, rather than constrained, to declare their belief
in one God and the apostle of God. By the repetition of a sentence and
the loss of a foreskin, the subject or the slave, the captive or
the criminal, arose in a moment the free and equal companion of the
victorious Moslems. Every sin was expiated, every engagement was
dissolved: the vow of celibacy was superseded by the indulgence of
nature; the active spirits who slept in the cloister were awakened by
the trumpet of the Saracens; and in the convulsion of the world, every
member of a new society ascended to the natural level of his capacity
and courage. The minds of the multitude were tempted by the invisible as
well as temporal blessings of the Arabian prophet; and charity will
hope that many of his proselytes entertained a serious conviction of
the truth and sanctity of his revelation. In the eyes of an inquisitive
polytheist, it must appear worthy of the human and the divine nature.
More pure than the system of Zoroaster, more liberal than the law of
Moses, the religion of Mahomet might seem less inconsistent with reason
than the creed of mystery and superstition, which, in the seventh
century, disgraced the simplicity of the gospel.

In the extensive provinces of Persia and Africa, the national religion
has been eradicated by the Mahometan faith. The ambiguous theology
of the Magi stood alone among the sects of the East; but the profane
writings of Zoroaster might, under the reverend name of Abraham, be
dexterously connected with the chain of divine revelation. Their evil
principle, the dæmon Ahriman, might be represented as the rival, or as
the creature, of the God of light. The temples of Persia were devoid of
images; but the worship of the sun and of fire might be stigmatized as a
gross and criminal idolatry. The milder sentiment was consecrated by
the practice of Mahomet and the prudence of the caliphs; the Magians or
Ghebers were ranked with the Jews and Christians among the people of the
written law; and as late as the third century of the Hegira, the city
of Herat will afford a lively contrast of private zeal and public
toleration. Under the payment of an annual tribute, the Mahometan law
secured to the Ghebers of Herat their civil and religious liberties: but
the recent and humble mosch was overshadowed by the antique splendor of
the adjoining temple of fire. A fanatic Iman deplored, in his sermons,
the scandalous neighborhood, and accused the weakness or indifference of
the faithful. Excited by his voice, the people assembled in tumult; the
two houses of prayer were consumed by the flames, but the vacant ground
was immediately occupied by the foundations of a new mosch. The injured
Magi appealed to the sovereign of Chorasan; he promised justice and
relief; when, behold! four thousand citizens of Herat, of a grave
character and mature age, unanimously swore that the idolatrous fane had
_never_ existed; the inquisition was silenced and their conscience was
satisfied (says the historian Mirchond ) with this holy and meritorious
perjury. But the greatest part of the temples of Persia were ruined
by the insensible and general desertion of their votaries. It was
_insensible_, since it is not accompanied with any memorial of time or
place, of persecution or resistance. It was _general_, since the whole
realm, from Shiraz to Samarcand, imbibed the faith of the Koran; and the
preservation of the native tongue reveals the descent of the Mahometans
of Persia. In the mountains and deserts, an obstinate race of
unbelievers adhered to the superstition of their fathers; and a faint
tradition of the Magian theology is kept alive in the province of
Kirman, along the banks of the Indus, among the exiles of Surat, and in
the colony which, in the last century, was planted by Shaw Abbas at
the gates of Ispahan. The chief pontiff has retired to Mount Elbourz,
eighteen leagues from the city of Yezd: the perpetual fire (if it
continues to burn) is inaccessible to the profane; but his residence is
the school, the oracle, and the pilgrimage of the Ghebers, whose hard
and uniform features attest the unmingled purity of their blood. Under
the jurisdiction of their elders, eighty thousand families maintain an
innocent and industrious life: their subsistence is derived from some
curious manufactures and mechanic trades; and they cultivate the earth
with the fervor of a religious duty. Their ignorance withstood the
despotism of Shaw Abbas, who demanded with threats and tortures the
prophetic books of Zoroaster; and this obscure remnant of the Magians is
spared by the moderation or contempt of their present sovereigns.

The Northern coast of Africa is the only land in which the light of
the gospel, after a long and perfect establishment, has been totally
extinguished. The arts, which had been taught by Carthage and Rome, were
involved in a cloud of ignorance; the doctrine of Cyprian and Augustin
was no longer studied. Five hundred episcopal churches were overturned
by the hostile fury of the Donatists, the Vandals, and the Moors.
The zeal and numbers of the clergy declined; and the people, without
discipline, or knowledge, or hope, submissively sunk under the yoke
of the Arabian prophet Within fifty years after the expulsion of the
Greeks, a lieutenant of Africa informed the caliph that the tribute of
the infidels was abolished by their conversion; and, though he sought to
disguise his fraud and rebellion, his specious pretence was drawn from
the rapid and extensive progress of the Mahometan faith. In the
next age, an extraordinary mission of five bishops was detached from
Alexandria to Cairoan. They were ordained by the Jacobite patriarch
to cherish and revive the dying embers of Christianity: but the
interposition of a foreign prelate, a stranger to the Latins, an enemy
to the Catholics, supposes the decay and dissolution of the African
hierarchy. It was no longer the time when the successor of St. Cyprian,
at the head of a numerous synod, could maintain an equal contest
with the ambition of the Roman pontiff. In the eleventh century, the
unfortunate priest who was seated on the ruins of Carthage implored the
arms and the protection of the Vatican; and he bitterly complains that
his naked body had been scourged by the Saracens, and that his authority
was disputed by the four suffragans, the tottering pillars of his
throne. Two epistles of Gregory the Seventh are destined to soothe the
distress of the Catholics and the pride of a Moorish prince. The pope
assures the sultan that they both worship the same God, and may hope to
meet in the bosom of Abraham; but the complaint that three bishops could
no longer be found to consecrate a brother, announces the speedy and
inevitable ruin of the episcopal order. The Christians of Africa and
Spain had long since submitted to the practice of circumcision and
the legal abstinence from wine and pork; and the name of _Mozarabe_
(adoptive Arabs) was applied to their civil or religious conformity.
About the middle of the twelfth century, the worship of Christ and the
succession of pastors were abolished along the coast of Barbary, and in
the kingdoms of Cordova and Seville, of Valencia and Grenada. The throne
of the Almohades, or Unitarians, was founded on the blindest fanaticism,
and their extraordinary rigor might be provoked or justified by the
recent victories and intolerant zeal of the princes of Sicily and
Castille, of Arragon and Portugal. The faith of the Mozarabes was
occasionally revived by the papal missionaries; and, on the landing of
Charles the Fifth, some families of Latin Christians were encouraged to
rear their heads at Tunis and Algiers. But the seed of the gospel was
quickly eradicated, and the long province from Tripoli to the Atlantic
has lost all memory of the language and religion of Rome.

After the revolution of eleven centuries, the Jews and Christians of the
Turkish empire enjoy the liberty of conscience which was granted by the
Arabian caliphs. During the first age of the conquest, they suspected
the loyalty of the Catholics, whose name of Melchites betrayed their
secret attachment to the Greek emperor, while the Nestorians and
Jacobites, his inveterate enemies, approved themselves the sincere and
voluntary friends of the Mahometan government. Yet this partial jealousy
was healed by time and submission; the churches of Egypt were shared
with the Catholics; and all the Oriental sects were included in the
common benefits of toleration. The rank, the immunities, the domestic
jurisdiction of the patriarchs, the bishops, and the clergy, were
protected by the civil magistrate: the learning of individuals
recommended them to the employments of secretaries and physicians: they
were enriched by the lucrative collection of the revenue; and their
merit was sometimes raised to the command of cities and provinces. A
caliph of the house of Abbas was heard to declare that the Christians
were most worthy of trust in the administration of Persia. "The
Moslems," said he, "will abuse their present fortune; the Magians regret
their fallen greatness; and the Jews are impatient for their
approaching deliverance." But the slaves of despotism are exposed to
the alternatives of favor and disgrace. The captive churches of the
East have been afflicted in every age by the avarice or bigotry of their
rulers; and the ordinary and legal restraints must be offensive to the
pride, or the zeal, of the Christians. About two hundred years after
Mahomet, they were separated from their fellow-subjects by a turban or
girdle of a less honorable color; instead of horses or mules, they were
condemned to ride on asses, in the attitude of women. Their public and
private building were measured by a diminutive standard; in the streets
or the baths it is their duty to give way or bow down before the meanest
of the people; and their testimony is rejected, if it may tend to the
prejudice of a true believer. The pomp of processions, the sound
of bells or of psalmody, is interdicted in their worship; a decent
reverence for the national faith is imposed on their sermons and
conversations; and the sacrilegious attempt to enter a mosch, or to
seduce a Mussulman, will not be suffered to escape with impunity. In a
time, however, of tranquillity and justice, the Christians have never
been compelled to renounce the Gospel, or to embrace the Koran; but the
punishment of death is inflicted upon the apostates who have professed
and deserted the law of Mahomet. The martyrs of Cordova provoked the
sentence of the cadhi, by the public confession of their inconstancy,
or their passionate invectives against the person and religion of the

At the end of the first century of the Hegira, the caliphs were the most
potent and absolute monarchs of the globe. Their prerogative was not
circumscribed, either in right or in fact, by the power of the nobles,
the freedom of the commons, the privileges of the church, the votes of
a senate, or the memory of a free constitution. The authority of the
companions of Mahomet expired with their lives; and the chiefs or emirs
of the Arabian tribes left behind, in the desert, the spirit of equality
and independence. The regal and sacerdotal characters were united in the
successors of Mahomet; and if the Koran was the rule of their actions,
they were the supreme judges and interpreters of that divine book. They
reigned by the right of conquest over the nations of the East, to whom
the name of liberty was unknown, and who were accustomed to applaud in
their tyrants the acts of violence and severity that were exercised at
their own expense. Under the last of the Ommiades, the Arabian empire
extended two hundred days' journey from east to west, from the confines
of Tartary and India to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. And if we
retrench the sleeve of the robe, as it is styled by their writers, the
long and narrow province of Africa, the solid and compact dominion from
Fargana to Aden, from Tarsus to Surat, will spread on every side to
the measure of four or five months of the march of a caravan. We should
vainly seek the indissoluble union and easy obedience that pervaded
the government of Augustus and the Antonines; but the progress of the
Mahometan religion diffused over this ample space a general resemblance
of manners and opinions. The language and laws of the Koran were studied
with equal devotion at Samarcand and Seville: the Moor and the Indian
embraced as countrymen and brothers in the pilgrimage of Mecca; and the
Arabian language was adopted as the popular idiom in all the provinces
to the westward of the Tigris.

Chapter LII: More Conquests By The Arabs.--Part I.

     The Two Sieges Of Constantinople By The Arabs.--Their
     Invasion Of France, And Defeat By Charles Martel.--Civil War
     Of The Ommiades And Abbassides.--Learning Of The Arabs.--
     Luxury Of The Caliphs.--Naval Enterprises On Crete, Sicily,
     And Rome.--Decay And Division Of The Empire Of The Caliphs.--
     Defeats And Victories Of The Greek Emperors.

When the Arabs first issued from the desert, they must have been
surprised at the ease and rapidity of their own success. But when they
advanced in the career of victory to the banks of the Indus and the
summit of the Pyrenees; when they had repeatedly tried the edge of their
cimeters and the energy of their faith, they might be equally astonished
that any nation could resist their invincible arms; that any boundary
should confine the dominion of the successor of the prophet. The
confidence of soldiers and fanatics may indeed be excused, since the
calm historian of the present hour, who strives to follow the rapid
course of the Saracens, must study to explain by what means the church
and state were saved from this impending, and, as it should seem, from
this inevitable, danger. The deserts of Scythia and Sarmatia might be
guarded by their extent, their climate, their poverty, and the courage
of the northern shepherds; China was remote and inaccessible; but
the greatest part of the temperate zone was subject to the Mahometan
conquerors, the Greeks were exhausted by the calamities of war and the
loss of their fairest provinces, and the Barbarians of Europe might
justly tremble at the precipitate fall of the Gothic monarchy. In this
inquiry I shall unfold the events that rescued our ancestors of Britain,
and our neighbors of Gaul, from the civil and religious yoke of the
Koran; that protected the majesty of Rome, and delayed the servitude
of Constantinople; that invigorated the defence of the Christians, and
scattered among their enemies the seeds of division and decay.

Forty-six years after the flight of Mahomet from Mecca, his disciples
appeared in arms under the walls of Constantinople. They were animated
by a genuine or fictitious saying of the prophet, that, to the first
army which besieged the city of the Cæsars, their sins were forgiven:
the long series of Roman triumphs would be meritoriously transferred to
the conquerors of New Rome; and the wealth of nations was deposited in
this well-chosen seat of royalty and commerce. No sooner had the caliph
Moawiyah suppressed his rivals and established his throne, than he
aspired to expiate the guilt of civil blood, by the success and glory of
this holy expedition; his preparations by sea and land were adequate to
the importance of the object; his standard was intrusted to Sophian,
a veteran warrior, but the troops were encouraged by the example and
presence of Yezid, the son and presumptive heir of the commander of
the faithful. The Greeks had little to hope, nor had their enemies any
reason of fear, from the courage and vigilance of the reigning emperor,
who disgraced the name of Constantine, and imitated only the inglorious
years of his grandfather Heraclius. Without delay or opposition, the
naval forces of the Saracens passed through the unguarded channel of the
Hellespont, which even now, under the feeble and disorderly government
of the Turks, is maintained as the natural bulwark of the capital. The
Arabian fleet cast anchor, and the troops were disembarked near the
palace of Hebdomon, seven miles from the city. During many days, from
the dawn of light to the evening, the line of assault was extended from
the golden gate to the eastern promontory and the foremost warriors were
impelled by the weight and effort of the succeeding columns. But the
besiegers had formed an insufficient estimate of the strength and
resources of Constantinople. The solid and lofty walls were guarded by
numbers and discipline: the spirit of the Romans was rekindled by
the last danger of their religion and empire: the fugitives from the
conquered provinces more successfully renewed the defence of Damascus
and Alexandria; and the Saracens were dismayed by the strange and
prodigious effects of artificial fire. This firm and effectual
resistance diverted their arms to the more easy attempt of plundering
the European and Asiatic coasts of the Propontis; and, after keeping
the sea from the month of April to that of September, on the approach of
winter they retreated fourscore miles from the capital, to the Isle
of Cyzicus, in which they had established their magazine of spoil and
provisions. So patient was their perseverance, or so languid were their
operations, that they repeated in the six following summers the same
attack and retreat, with a gradual abatement of hope and vigor, till the
mischances of shipwreck and disease, of the sword and of fire, compelled
them to relinquish the fruitless enterprise. They might bewail the loss,
or commemorate the martyrdom, of thirty thousand Moslems, who fell in
the siege of Constantinople; and the solemn funeral of Abu Ayub, or Job,
excited the curiosity of the Christians themselves. That venerable Arab,
one of the last of the companions of Mahomet, was numbered among the
_ansars_, or auxiliaries, of Medina, who sheltered the head of the
flying prophet. In his youth he fought, at Beder and Ohud, under the
holy standard: in his mature age he was the friend and follower of Ali;
and the last remnant of his strength and life was consumed in a distant
and dangerous war against the enemies of the Koran. His memory was
revered; but the place of his burial was neglected and unknown, during
a period of seven hundred and eighty years, till the conquest of
Constantinople by Mahomet the Second. A seasonable vision (for such are
the manufacture of every religion) revealed the holy spot at the foot of
the walls and the bottom of the harbor; and the mosch of Ayub has been
deservedly chosen for the simple and martial inauguration of the Turkish

The event of the siege revived, both in the East and West, the
reputation of the Roman arms, and cast a momentary shade over the
glories of the Saracens. The Greek ambassador was favorably received at
Damascus, a general council of the emirs or Koreish: a peace, or
truce, of thirty years was ratified between the two empires; and the
stipulation of an annual tribute, fifty horses of a noble breed, fifty
slaves, and three thousand pieces of gold, degraded the majesty of the
commander of the faithful. The aged caliph was desirous of possessing
his dominions, and ending his days in tranquillity and repose: while the
Moors and Indians trembled at his name, his palace and city of Damascus
was insulted by the Mardaites, or Maronites, of Mount Libanus, the
firmest barrier of the empire, till they were disarmed and transplanted
by the suspicious policy of the Greeks. After the revolt of Arabia and
Persia, the house of Ommiyah was reduced to the kingdoms of Syria
and Egypt: their distress and fear enforced their compliance with the
pressing demands of the Christians; and the tribute was increased to
a slave, a horse, and a thousand pieces of gold, for each of the three
hundred and sixty-five days of the solar year. But as soon as the empire
was again united by the arms and policy of Abdalmalek, he disclaimed
a badge of servitude not less injurious to his conscience than to his
pride; he discontinued the payment of the tribute; and the resentment
of the Greeks was disabled from action by the mad tyranny of the second
Justinian, the just rebellion of his subjects, and the frequent change
of his antagonists and successors. Till the reign of Abdalmalek, the
Saracens had been content with the free possession of the Persian and
Roman treasures, in the coins of Chosroes and Cæsar. By the command of
that caliph, a national mint was established, both for silver and gold,
and the inscription of the Dinar, though it might be censured by some
timorous casuists, proclaimed the unity of the God of Mahomet. Under
the reign of the caliph Walid, the Greek language and characters were
excluded from the accounts of the public revenue. If this change was
productive of the invention or familiar use of our present numerals, the
Arabic or Indian ciphers, as they are commonly styled, a regulation
of office has promoted the most important discoveries of arithmetic,
algebra, and the mathematical sciences.

Whilst the caliph Walid sat idle on the throne of Damascus, whilst his
lieutenants achieved the conquest of Transoxiana and Spain, a third army
of Saracens overspread the provinces of Asia Minor, and approached the
borders of the Byzantine capital. But the attempt and disgrace of
the second siege was reserved for his brother Soliman, whose ambition
appears to have been quickened by a more active and martial spirit. In
the revolutions of the Greek empire, after the tyrant Justinian had been
punished and avenged, an humble secretary, Anastasius or Artemius, was
promoted by chance or merit to the vacant purple. He was alarmed by
the sound of war; and his ambassador returned from Damascus with the
tremendous news, that the Saracens were preparing an armament by sea and
land, such as would transcend the experience of the past, or the belief
of the present age. The precautions of Anastasius were not unworthy of
his station, or of the impending danger. He issued a peremptory mandate,
that all persons who were not provided with the means of subsistence for
a three years' siege should evacuate the city: the public granaries
and arsenals were abundantly replenished; the walls were restored and
strengthened; and the engines for casting stones, or darts, or fire,
were stationed along the ramparts, or in the brigantines of war, of
which an additional number was hastily constructed. To prevent is safer,
as well as more honorable, than to repel, an attack; and a design was
meditated, above the usual spirit of the Greeks, of burning the naval
stores of the enemy, the cypress timber that had been hewn in Mount
Libanus, and was piled along the sea-shore of Phnicia, for the service
of the Egyptian fleet. This generous enterprise was defeated by the
cowardice or treachery of the troops, who, in the new language of the
empire, were styled of the _Obsequian Theme_. They murdered their chief,
deserted their standard in the Isle of Rhodes, dispersed themselves over
the adjacent continent, and deserved pardon or reward by investing with
the purple a simple officer of the revenue. The name of Theodosius might
recommend him to the senate and people; but, after some months, he sunk
into a cloister, and resigned, to the firmer hand of Leo the Isaurian,
the urgent defence of the capital and empire. The most formidable of the
Saracens, Moslemah, the brother of the caliph, was advancing at the head
of one hundred and twenty thousand Arabs and Persians, the greater
part mounted on horses or camels; and the successful sieges of Tyana,
Amorium, and Pergamus, were of sufficient duration to exercise their
skill and to elevate their hopes. At the well-known passage of Abydus,
on the Hellespont, the Mahometan arms were transported, for the first
time, from Asia to Europe. From thence, wheeling round the Thracian
cities of the Propontis, Moslemah invested Constantinople on the land
side, surrounded his camp with a ditch and rampart, prepared and planted
his engines of assault, and declared, by words and actions, a patient
resolution of expecting the return of seed-time and harvest, should
the obstinacy of the besieged prove equal to his own. The Greeks would
gladly have ransomed their religion and empire, by a fine or assessment
of a piece of gold on the head of each inhabitant of the city; but the
liberal offer was rejected with disdain, and the presumption of Moslemah
was exalted by the speedy approach and invincible force of the natives
of Egypt and Syria. They are said to have amounted to eighteen hundred
ships: the number betrays their inconsiderable size; and of the twenty
stout and capacious vessels, whose magnitude impeded their progress,
each was manned with no more than one hundred heavy-armed soldiers. This
huge armada proceeded on a smooth sea, and with a gentle gale, towards
the mouth of the Bosphorus; the surface of the strait was overshadowed,
in the language of the Greeks, with a moving forest, and the same fatal
night had been fixed by the Saracen chief for a general assault by sea
and land. To allure the confidence of the enemy, the emperor had thrown
aside the chain that usually guarded the entrance of the harbor; but
while they hesitated whether they should seize the opportunity, or
apprehend the snare, the ministers of destruction were at hand. The
fire-ships of the Greeks were launched against them; the Arabs, their
arms, and vessels, were involved in the same flames; the disorderly
fugitives were dashed against each other or overwhelmed in the waves;
and I no longer find a vestige of the fleet, that had threatened to
extirpate the Roman name. A still more fatal and irreparable loss was
that of the caliph Soliman, who died of an indigestion, in his camp
near Kinnisrin or Chalcis in Syria, as he was preparing to lead against
Constantinople the remaining forces of the East. The brother of Moslemah
was succeeded by a kinsman and an enemy; and the throne of an active
and able prince was degraded by the useless and pernicious virtues of
a bigot. While he started and satisfied the scruples of a blind
conscience, the siege was continued through the winter by the neglect,
rather than by the resolution of the caliph Omar. The winter proved
uncommonly rigorous: above a hundred days the ground was covered with
deep snow, and the natives of the sultry climes of Egypt and Arabia lay
torpid and almost lifeless in their frozen camp. They revived on the
return of spring; a second effort had been made in their favor; and
their distress was relieved by the arrival of two numerous fleets, laden
with corn, and arms, and soldiers; the first from Alexandria, of four
hundred transports and galleys; the second of three hundred and sixty
vessels from the ports of Africa. But the Greek fires were again
kindled; and if the destruction was less complete, it was owing to the
experience which had taught the Moslems to remain at a safe distance, or
to the perfidy of the Egyptian mariners, who deserted with their ships
to the emperor of the Christians. The trade and navigation of the
capital were restored; and the produce of the fisheries supplied the
wants, and even the luxury, of the inhabitants. But the calamities of
famine and disease were soon felt by the troops of Moslemah, and as the
former was miserably assuaged, so the latter was dreadfully propagated,
by the pernicious nutriment which hunger compelled them to extract from
the most unclean or unnatural food. The spirit of conquest, and even of
enthusiasm, was extinct: the Saracens could no longer struggle, beyond
their lines, either single or in small parties, without exposing
themselves to the merciless retaliation of the Thracian peasants.
An army of Bulgarians was attracted from the Danube by the gifts and
promises of Leo; and these savage auxiliaries made some atonement for
the evils which they had inflicted on the empire, by the defeat and
slaughter of twenty-two thousand Asiatics. A report was dexterously
scattered, that the Franks, the unknown nations of the Latin world, were
arming by sea and land in the defence of the Christian cause, and their
formidable aid was expected with far different sensations in the camp
and city. At length, after a siege of thirteen months, the hopeless
Moslemah received from the caliph the welcome permission of retreat.
* The march of the Arabian cavalry over the Hellespont and through the
provinces of Asia, was executed without delay or molestation; but an
army of their brethren had been cut in pieces on the side of Bithynia,
and the remains of the fleet were so repeatedly damaged by tempest and
fire, that only five galleys entered the port of Alexandria to relate
the tale of their various and almost incredible disasters.

In the two sieges, the deliverance of Constantinople may be chiefly
ascribed to the novelty, the terrors, and the real efficacy of the
_Greek fire_. The important secret of compounding and directing this
artificial flame was imparted by Callinicus, a native of Heliopolis
in Syria, who deserted from the service of the caliph to that of the
emperor. The skill of a chemist and engineer was equivalent to the
succor of fleets and armies; and this discovery or improvement of the
military art was fortunately reserved for the distressful period, when
the degenerate Romans of the East were incapable of contending with the
warlike enthusiasm and youthful vigor of the Saracens. The historian who
presumes to analyze this extraordinary composition should suspect
his own ignorance and that of his Byzantine guides, so prone to the
marvellous, so careless, and, in this instance, so jealous of the truth.
From their obscure, and perhaps fallacious, hints it should seem that
the principal ingredient of the Greek fire was the _naphtha_, or liquid
bitumen, a light, tenacious, and inflammable oil, which springs from the
earth, and catches fire as soon as it comes in contact with the air. The
naphtha was mingled, I know not by what methods or in what proportions,
with sulphur and with the pitch that is extracted from evergreen firs.
From this mixture, which produced a thick smoke and a loud explosion,
proceeded a fierce and obstinate flame, which not only rose in
perpendicular ascent, but likewise burnt with equal vehemence in descent
or lateral progress; instead of being extinguished, it was nourished and
quickened by the element of water; and sand, urine, or vinegar, were the
only remedies that could damp the fury of this powerful agent, which was
justly denominated by the Greeks the _liquid_, or the _maritime_, fire.
For the annoyance of the enemy, it was employed with equal effect, by
sea and land, in battles or in sieges. It was either poured from the
rampart in large boilers, or launched in red-hot balls of stone and
iron, or darted in arrows and javelins, twisted round with flax and tow,
which had deeply imbibed the inflammable oil; sometimes it was deposited
in fire-ships, the victims and instruments of a more ample revenge, and
was most commonly blown through long tubes of copper which were planted
on the prow of a galley, and fancifully shaped into the mouths of savage
monsters, that seemed to vomit a stream of liquid and consuming fire.
This important art was preserved at Constantinople, as the palladium of
the state: the galleys and _artillery_ might occasionally be lent to the
allies of Rome; but the composition of the Greek fire was concealed with
the most jealous scruple, and the terror of the enemies was increased
and prolonged by their ignorance and surprise. In the treaties of the
administration of the empire, the royal author suggests the answers and
excuses that might best elude the indiscreet curiosity and importunate
demands of the Barbarians. They should be told that the mystery of the
Greek fire had been revealed by an angel to the first and greatest of
the Constantines, with a sacred injunction, that this gift of Heaven,
this peculiar blessing of the Romans, should never be communicated to
any foreign nation; that the prince and the subject were alike bound to
religious silence under the temporal and spiritual penalties of treason
and sacrilege; and that the impious attempt would provoke the sudden
and supernatural vengeance of the God of the Christians. By these
precautions, the secret was confined, above four hundred years, to the
Romans of the East; and at the end of the eleventh century, the Pisans,
to whom every sea and every art were familiar, suffered the effects,
without understanding the composition, of the Greek fire. It was at
length either discovered or stolen by the Mahometans; and, in the holy
wars of Syria and Egypt, they retorted an invention, contrived against
themselves, on the heads of the Christians. A knight, who despised the
swords and lances of the Saracens, relates, with heartfelt sincerity,
his own fears, and those of his companions, at the sight and sound of
the mischievous engine that discharged a torrent of the Greek fire, the
_feu Gregeois_, as it is styled by the more early of the French
writers. It came flying through the air, says Joinville, like a winged
long-tailed dragon, about the thickness of a hogshead, with the report
of thunder and the velocity of lightning; and the darkness of the night
was dispelled by this deadly illumination. The use of the Greek, or, as
it might now be called, of the Saracen fire, was continued to the middle
of the fourteenth century, when the scientific or casual compound of
nitre, sulphur, and charcoal, effected a new revolution in the art of
war and the history of mankind.

Chapter LII: More Conquests By The Arabs.--Part II.

Constantinople and the Greek fire might exclude the Arabs from the
eastern entrance of Europe; but in the West, on the side of the
Pyrenees, the provinces of Gaul were threatened and invaded by the
conquerors of Spain. The decline of the French monarchy invited the
attack of these insatiate fanatics. The descendants of Clovis had
lost the inheritance of his martial and ferocious spirit; and their
misfortune or demerit has affixed the epithet of _lazy_ to the last
kings of the Merovingian race. They ascended the throne without power,
and sunk into the grave without a name. A country palace, in the
neighborhood of Compiegne was allotted for their residence or prison:
but each year, in the month of March or May, they were conducted in a
wagon drawn by oxen to the assembly of the Franks, to give audience to
foreign ambassadors, and to ratify the acts of the mayor of the palace.
That domestic officer was become the minister of the nation and the
master of the prince. A public employment was converted into the
patrimony of a private family: the elder Pepin left a king of mature
years under the guardianship of his own widow and her child; and these
feeble regents were forcibly dispossessed by the most active of his
bastards. A government, half savage and half corrupt, was almost
dissolved; and the tributary dukes, and provincial counts, and the
territorial lords, were tempted to despise the weakness of the monarch,
and to imitate the ambition of the mayor. Among these independent
chiefs, one of the boldest and most successful was Eudes, duke of
Aquitain, who in the southern provinces of Gaul usurped the authority,
and even the title of king. The Goths, the Gascons, and the Franks,
assembled under the standard of this Christian hero: he repelled the
first invasion of the Saracens; and Zama, lieutenant of the caliph, lost
his army and his life under the walls of Thoulouse. The ambition of his
successors was stimulated by revenge; they repassed the Pyrenees with
the means and the resolution of conquest. The advantageous situation
which had recommended Narbonne as the first Roman colony, was again
chosen by the Moslems: they claimed the province of Septimania or
Languedoc as a just dependence of the Spanish monarchy: the vineyards
of Gascony and the city of Bourdeaux were possessed by the sovereign of
Damascus and Samarcand; and the south of France, from the mouth of
the Garonne to that of the Rhone, assumed the manners and religion of

But these narrow limits were scorned by the spirit of Abdalraman, or
Abderame, who had been restored by the caliph Hashem to the wishes of
the soldiers and people of Spain. That veteran and daring commander
adjudged to the obedience of the prophet whatever yet remained of France
or of Europe; and prepared to execute the sentence, at the head of a
formidable host, in the full confidence of surmounting all opposition
either of nature or of man. His first care was to suppress a domestic
rebel, who commanded the most important passes of the Pyrenees: Manuza,
a Moorish chief, had accepted the alliance of the duke of Aquitain;
and Eudes, from a motive of private or public interest, devoted his
beauteous daughter to the embraces of the African misbeliever. But the
strongest fortresses of Cerdagne were invested by a superior force; the
rebel was overtaken and slain in the mountains; and his widow was sent
a captive to Damascus, to gratify the desires, or more probably the
vanity, of the commander of the faithful. From the Pyrenees, Abderame
proceeded without delay to the passage of the Rhone and the siege of
Arles. An army of Christians attempted the relief of the city: the tombs
of their leaders were yet visible in the thirteenth century; and many
thousands of their dead bodies were carried down the rapid stream into
the Mediterranean Sea. The arms of Abderame were not less successful
on the side of the ocean. He passed without opposition the Garonne and
Dordogne, which unite their waters in the Gulf of Bourdeaux; but he
found, beyond those rivers, the camp of the intrepid Eudes, who had
formed a second army and sustained a second defeat, so fatal to the
Christians, that, according to their sad confession, God alone could
reckon the number of the slain. The victorious Saracen overran the
provinces of Aquitain, whose Gallic names are disguised, rather than
lost, in the modern appellations of Perigord, Saintonge, and Poitou: his
standards were planted on the walls, or at least before the gates,
of Tours and of Sens; and his detachments overspread the kingdom of
Burgundy as far as the well-known cities of Lyons and Besancon. The
memory of these devastations (for Abderame did not spare the country or
the people) was long preserved by tradition; and the invasion of France
by the Moors or Mahometans affords the groundwork of those fables,
which have been so wildly disfigured in the romances of chivalry, and
so elegantly adorned by the Italian muse. In the decline of society and
art, the deserted cities could supply a slender booty to the Saracens;
their richest spoil was found in the churches and monasteries, which
they stripped of their ornaments and delivered to the flames: and the
tutelar saints, both Hilary of Poitiers and Martin of Tours, forgot
their miraculous powers in the defence of their own sepulchres. A
victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from
the rock of Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the repetition of an
equal space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland
and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable than
the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have sailed without a
naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of
the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits
might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the
revelation of Mahomet.

From such calamities was Christendom delivered by the genius and fortune
of one man. Charles, the illegitimate son of the elder Pepin, was
content with the titles of mayor or duke of the Franks; but he deserved
to become the father of a line of kings. In a laborious administration
of twenty-four years, he restored and supported the dignity of the
throne, and the rebels of Germany and Gaul were successively crushed by
the activity of a warrior, who, in the same campaign, could display
his banner on the Elbe, the Rhone, and the shores of the ocean. In
the public danger he was summoned by the voice of his country; and his
rival, the duke of Aquitain, was reduced to appear among the fugitives
and suppliants. "Alas!" exclaimed the Franks, "what a misfortune! what
an indignity! We have long heard of the name and conquests of the
Arabs: we were apprehensive of their attack from the East; they have
now conquered Spain, and invade our country on the side of the West. Yet
their numbers, and (since they have no buckler) their arms, are inferior
to our own." "If you follow my advice," replied the prudent mayor of
the palace, "you will not interrupt their march, nor precipitate your
attack. They are like a torrent, which it is dangerous to stem in its
career. The thirst of riches, and the consciousness of success, redouble
their valor, and valor is of more avail than arms or numbers. Be patient
till they have loaded themselves with the encumbrance of wealth.
The possession of wealth will divide their councils and assure your
victory." This subtile policy is perhaps a refinement of the Arabian
writers; and the situation of Charles will suggest a more narrow and
selfish motive of procrastination--the secret desire of humbling the
pride and wasting the provinces of the rebel duke of Aquitain. It is yet
more probable, that the delays of Charles were inevitable and reluctant.
A standing army was unknown under the first and second race; more than
half the kingdom was now in the hands of the Saracens: according to
their respective situation, the Franks of Neustria and Austrasia were
to conscious or too careless of the impending danger; and the voluntary
aids of the Gepidæ and Germans were separated by a long interval from
the standard of the Christian general. No sooner had he collected his
forces, than he sought and found the enemy in the centre of France,
between Tours and Poitiers. His well-conducted march was covered with
a range of hills, and Abderame appears to have been surprised by his
unexpected presence. The nations of Asia, Africa, and Europe, advanced
with equal ardor to an encounter which would change the history of
the world. In the six first days of desultory combat, the horsemen and
archers of the East maintained their advantage: but in the closer onset
of the seventh day, the Orientals were oppressed by the strength
and stature of the Germans, who, with stout hearts and _iron_ hands,
asserted the civil and religious freedom of their posterity. The epithet
of _Martel_, the _Hammer_, which has been added to the name of Charles,
is expressive of his weighty and irresistible strokes: the valor of
Eudes was excited by resentment and emulation; and their companions, in
the eye of history, are the true Peers and Paladins of French chivalry.
After a bloody field, in which Abderame was slain, the Saracens, in the
close of the evening, retired to their camp. In the disorder and despair
of the night, the various tribes of Yemen and Damascus, of Africa and
Spain, were provoked to turn their arms against each other: the remains
of their host were suddenly dissolved, and each _emir_ consulted his
safety by a hasty and separate retreat. At the dawn of the day, the
stillness of a hostile camp was suspected by the victorious Christians:
on the report of their spies, they ventured to explore the riches of the
vacant tents; but if we except some celebrated relics, a small portion
of the spoil was restored to the innocent and lawful owners. The joyful
tidings were soon diffused over the Catholic world, and the monks of
Italy could affirm and believe that three hundred and fifty, or three
hundred and seventy-five, thousand of the Mahometans had been crushed
by the hammer of Charles, while no more than fifteen hundred Christians
were slain in the field of Tours. But this incredible tale is
sufficiently disproved by the caution of the French general, who
apprehended the snares and accidents of a pursuit, and dismissed his
German allies to their native forests. The inactivity of a conqueror
betrays the loss of strength and blood, and the most cruel execution
is inflicted, not in the ranks of battle, but on the backs of a flying
enemy. Yet the victory of the Franks was complete and final; Aquitain
was recovered by the arms of Eudes; the Arabs never resumed the conquest
of Gaul, and they were soon driven beyond the Pyrenees by Charles Martel
and his valiant race. It might have been expected that the savior of
Christendom would have been canonized, or at least applauded, by the
gratitude of the clergy, who are indebted to his sword for their present
existence. But in the public distress, the mayor of the palace had been
compelled to apply the riches, or at least the revenues, of the bishops
and abbots, to the relief of the state and the reward of the soldiers.
His merits were forgotten, his sacrilege alone was remembered, and, in
an epistle to a Carlovingian prince, a Gallic synod presumes to declare
that his ancestor was damned; that on the opening of his tomb, the
spectators were affrighted by a smell of fire and the aspect of a horrid
dragon; and that a saint of the times was indulged with a pleasant
vision of the soul and body of Charles Martel, burning, to all eternity,
in the abyss of hell.

The loss of an army, or a province, in the Western world, was less
painful to the court of Damascus, than the rise and progress of a
domestic competitor. Except among the Syrians, the caliphs of the house
of Ommiyah had never been the objects of the public favor. The life of
Mahomet recorded their perseverance in idolatry and rebellion: their
conversion had been reluctant, their elevation irregular and factious,
and their throne was cemented with the most holy and noble blood of
Arabia. The best of their race, the pious Omar, was dissatisfied with
his own title: their personal virtues were insufficient to justify a
departure from the order of succession; and the eyes and wishes of the
faithful were turned towards the line of Hashem, and the kindred of
the apostle of God. Of these the Fatimites were either rash or
pusillanimous; but the descendants of Abbas cherished, with courage
and discretion, the hopes of their rising fortunes. From an obscure
residence in Syria, they secretly despatched their agents and
missionaries, who preached in the Eastern provinces their hereditary
indefeasible right; and Mohammed, the son of Ali, the son of Abdallah,
the son of Abbas, the uncle of the prophet, gave audience to the
deputies of Chorasan, and accepted their free gift of four hundred
thousand pieces of gold. After the death of Mohammed, the oath of
allegiance was administered in the name of his son Ibrahim to a numerous
band of votaries, who expected only a signal and a leader; and the
governor of Chorasan continued to deplore his fruitless admonitions and
the deadly slumber of the caliphs of Damascus, till he himself, with
all his adherents, was driven from the city and palace of Meru, by the
rebellious arms of Abu Moslem. That maker of kings, the author, as he is
named, of the _call_ of the Abbassides, was at length rewarded for his
presumption of merit with the usual gratitude of courts. A mean, perhaps
a foreign, extraction could not repress the aspiring energy of Abu
Moslem. Jealous of his wives, liberal of his wealth, prodigal of his own
blood and of that of others, he could boast with pleasure, and possibly
with truth, that he had destroyed six hundred thousand of his enemies;
and such was the intrepid gravity of his mind and countenance, that
he was never seen to smile except on a day of battle. In the visible
separation of parties, the _green_ was consecrated to the Fatimites; the
Ommiades were distinguished by the _white_; and the _black_, as the
most adverse, was naturally adopted by the Abbassides. Their turbans and
garments were stained with that gloomy color: two black standards, on
pike staves nine cubits long, were borne aloft in the van of Abu Moslem;
and their allegorical names of the night and the shadow obscurely
represented the indissoluble union and perpetual succession of the line
of Hashem. From the Indus to the Euphrates, the East was convulsed by
the quarrel of the white and the black factions: the Abbassides were
most frequently victorious; but their public success was clouded by the
personal misfortune of their chief. The court of Damascus, awakening
from a long slumber, resolved to prevent the pilgrimage of Mecca, which
Ibrahim had undertaken with a splendid retinue, to recommend himself
at once to the favor of the prophet and of the people. A detachment of
cavalry intercepted his march and arrested his person; and the unhappy
Ibrahim, snatched away from the promise of untasted royalty, expired in
iron fetters in the dungeons of Haran. His two younger brothers, Saffah
* and Almansor, eluded the search of the tyrant, and lay concealed
at Cufa, till the zeal of the people and the approach of his Eastern
friends allowed them to expose their persons to the impatient public.
On Friday, in the dress of a caliph, in the colors of the sect, Saffah
proceeded with religious and military pomp to the mosch: ascending the
pulpit, he prayed and preached as the lawful successor of Mahomet; and
after his departure, his kinsmen bound a willing people by an oath of
fidelity. But it was on the banks of the Zab, and not in the mosch of
Cufa, that this important controversy was determined. Every advantage
appeared to be on the side of the white faction: the authority of
established government; an army of a hundred and twenty thousand
soldiers, against a sixth part of that number; and the presence and
merit of the caliph Mervan, the fourteenth and last of the house of
Ommiyah. Before his accession to the throne, he had deserved, by his
Georgian warfare, the honorable epithet of the ass of Mesopotamia; and
he might have been ranked amongst the greatest princes, had not, says
Abulfeda, the eternal order decreed that moment for the ruin of his
family; a decree against which all human fortitude and prudence must
struggle in vain. The orders of Mervan were mistaken, or disobeyed:
the return of his horse, from which he had dismounted on a necessary
occasion, impressed the belief of his death; and the enthusiasm of
the black squadrons was ably conducted by Abdallah, the uncle of his
competitor. After an irretrievable defeat, the caliph escaped to Mosul;
but the colors of the Abbassides were displayed from the rampart; he
suddenly repassed the Tigris, cast a melancholy look on his palace of
Haran, crossed the Euphrates, abandoned the fortifications of Damascus,
and, without halting in Palestine, pitched his last and fatal camp at
Busir, on the banks of the Nile. His speed was urged by the incessant
diligence of Abdallah, who in every step of the pursuit acquired
strength and reputation: the remains of the white faction were finally
vanquished in Egypt; and the lance, which terminated the life and
anxiety of Mervan, was not less welcome perhaps to the unfortunate than
to the victorious chief. The merciless inquisition of the conqueror
eradicated the most distant branches of the hostile race: their bones
were scattered, their memory was accursed, and the martyrdom of Hossein
was abundantly revenged on the posterity of his tyrants. Fourscore of
the Ommiades, who had yielded to the faith or clemency of their foes,
were invited to a banquet at Damascus. The laws of hospitality were
violated by a promiscuous massacre: the board was spread over their
fallen bodies; and the festivity of the guests was enlivened by the
music of their dying groans. By the event of the civil war, the dynasty
of the Abbassides was firmly established; but the Christians only
could triumph in the mutual hatred and common loss of the disciples of

Yet the thousands who were swept away by the sword of war might
have been speedily retrieved in the succeeding generation, if the
consequences of the revolution had not tended to dissolve the power
and unity of the empire of the Saracens. In the proscription of the
Ommiades, a royal youth of the name of Abdalrahman alone escaped the
rage of his enemies, who hunted the wandering exile from the banks
of the Euphrates to the valleys of Mount Atlas. His presence in the
neighborhood of Spain revived the zeal of the white faction. The name
and cause of the Abbassides had been first vindicated by the Persians:
the West had been pure from civil arms; and the servants of the
abdicated family still held, by a precarious tenure, the inheritance
of their lands and the offices of government. Strongly prompted by
gratitude, indignation, and fear, they invited the grandson of the
caliph Hashem to ascend the throne of his ancestors; and, in his
desperate condition, the extremes of rashness and prudence were almost
the same. The acclamations of the people saluted his landing on the
coast of Andalusia: and, after a successful struggle, Abdalrahman
established the throne of Cordova, and was the father of the Ommiades of
Spain, who reigned above two hundred and fifty years from the Atlantic
to the Pyrenees. He slew in battle a lieutenant of the Abbassides, who
had invaded his dominions with a fleet and army: the head of Ala, in
salt and camphire, was suspended by a daring messenger before the palace
of Mecca; and the caliph Almansor rejoiced in his safety, that he was
removed by seas and lands from such a formidable adversary. Their mutual
designs or declarations of offensive war evaporated without effect;
but instead of opening a door to the conquest of Europe, Spain was
dissevered from the trunk of the monarchy, engaged in perpetual
hostility with the East, and inclined to peace and friendship with the
Christian sovereigns of Constantinople and France. The example of the
Ommiades was imitated by the real or fictitious progeny of Ali, the
Edrissites of Mauritania, and the more powerful Fatimites of Africa and
Egypt. In the tenth century, the chair of Mahomet was disputed by three
caliphs or commanders of the faithful, who reigned at Bagdad, Cairoan,
and Cordova, excommunicating each other, and agreed only in a principle
of discord, that a sectary is more odious and criminal than an

Mecca was the patrimony of the line of Hashem, yet the Abbassides were
never tempted to reside either in the birthplace or the city of the
prophet. Damascus was disgraced by the choice, and polluted with the
blood, of the Ommiades; and, after some hesitation, Almansor, the
brother and successor of Saffah, laid the foundations of Bagdad, the
Imperial seat of his posterity during a reign of five hundred years. The
chosen spot is on the eastern bank of the Tigris, about fifteen miles
above the ruins of Modain: the double wall was of a circular form; and
such was the rapid increase of a capital, now dwindled to a provincial
town, that the funeral of a popular saint might be attended by eight
hundred thousand men and sixty thousand women of Bagdad and the adjacent
villages. In this _city of peace_, amidst the riches of the East, the
Abbassides soon disdained the abstinence and frugality of the first
caliphs, and aspired to emulate the magnificence of the Persian kings.
After his wars and buildings, Almansor left behind him in gold and
silver about thirty millions sterling: and this treasure was exhausted
in a few years by the vices or virtues of his children. His son Mahadi,
in a single pilgrimage to Mecca, expended six millions of dinars of
gold. A pious and charitable motive may sanctify the foundation of
cisterns and caravanseras, which he distributed along a measured road
of seven hundred miles; but his train of camels, laden with snow, could
serve only to astonish the natives of Arabia, and to refresh the fruits
and liquors of the royal banquet. The courtiers would surely praise the
liberality of his grandson Almamon, who gave away four fifths of the
income of a province, a sum of two millions four hundred thousand gold
dinars, before he drew his foot from the stirrup. At the nuptials of the
same prince, a thousand pearls of the largest size were showered on
the head of the bride, and a lottery of lands and houses displayed the
capricious bounty of fortune. The glories of the court were brightened,
rather than impaired, in the decline of the empire, and a Greek
ambassador might admire, or pity, the magnificence of the feeble
Moctader. "The caliph's whole army," says the historian Abulfeda,
"both horse and foot, was under arms, which together made a body of one
hundred and sixty thousand men. His state officers, the favorite slaves,
stood near him in splendid apparel, their belts glittering with gold
and gems. Near them were seven thousand eunuchs, four thousand of them
white, the remainder black. The porters or door-keepers were in number
seven hundred. Barges and boats, with the most superb decorations, were
seen swimming upon the Tigris. Nor was the palace itself less splendid,
in which were hung up thirty-eight thousand pieces of tapestry, twelve
thousand five hundred of which were of silk embroidered with gold. The
carpets on the floor were twenty-two thousand. A hundred lions were
brought out, with a keeper to each lion. Among the other spectacles of
rare and stupendous luxury was a tree of gold and silver spreading
into eighteen large branches, on which, and on the lesser boughs, sat a
variety of birds made of the same precious metals, as well as the leaves
of the tree. While the machinery affected spontaneous motions, the
several birds warbled their natural harmony. Through this scene of
magnificence, the Greek ambassador was led by the vizier to the foot of
the caliph's throne." In the West, the Ommiades of Spain supported, with
equal pomp, the title of commander of the faithful. Three miles from
Cordova, in honor of his favorite sultana, the third and greatest of
the Abdalrahmans constructed the city, palace, and gardens of Zehra.
Twenty-five years, and above three millions sterling, were employed by
the founder: his liberal taste invited the artists of Constantinople,
the most skilful sculptors and architects of the age; and the buildings
were sustained or adorned by twelve hundred columns of Spanish and
African, of Greek and Italian marble. The hall of audience was incrusted
with gold and pearls, and a great basin in the centre was surrounded
with the curious and costly figures of birds and quadrupeds. In a
lofty pavilion of the gardens, one of these basins and fountains, so
delightful in a sultry climate, was replenished not with water, but
with the purest quicksilver. The seraglio of Abdalrahman, his wives,
concubines, and black eunuchs, amounted to six thousand three hundred
persons: and he was attended to the field by a guard of twelve thousand
horse, whose belts and cimeters were studded with gold.

Chapter LII: More Conquests By The Arabs.--Part III.

In a private condition, our desires are perpetually repressed by poverty
and subordination; but the lives and labors of millions are devoted to
the service of a despotic prince, whose laws are blindly obeyed, and
whose wishes are instantly gratified. Our imagination is dazzled by the
splendid picture; and whatever may be the cool dictates of reason, there
are few among us who would obstinately refuse a trial of the comforts
and the cares of royalty. It may therefore be of some use to borrow
the experience of the same Abdalrahman, whose magnificence has perhaps
excited our admiration and envy, and to transcribe an authentic memorial
which was found in the closet of the deceased caliph. "I have now
reigned above fifty years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects,
dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors,
power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly
blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation,
I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which
have fallen to my lot: they amount to Fourteen:--O man! place not thy
confidence in this present world!" The luxury of the caliphs, so useless
to their private happiness, relaxed the nerves, and terminated the
progress, of the Arabian empire. Temporal and spiritual conquest had
been the sole occupation of the first successors of Mahomet; and after
supplying themselves with the necessaries of life, the whole revenue
was scrupulously devoted to that salutary work. The Abbassides were
impoverished by the multitude of their wants, and their contempt of
economy. Instead of pursuing the great object of ambition, their leisure,
their affections, the powers of their mind, were diverted by pomp and
pleasure: the rewards of valor were embezzled by women and eunuchs, and
the royal camp was encumbered by the luxury of the palace. A similar
temper was diffused among the subjects of the caliph. Their stern
enthusiasm was softened by time and prosperity. They sought riches in
the occupations of industry, fame in the pursuits of literature, and
happiness in the tranquillity of domestic life. War was no longer the
passion of the Saracens; and the increase of pay, the repetition of
donatives, were insufficient to allure the posterity of those voluntary
champions who had crowded to the standard of Abubeker and Omar for the
hopes of spoil and of paradise.

Under the reign of the Ommiades, the studies of the Moslems were
confined to the interpretation of the Koran, and the eloquence and
poetry of their native tongue. A people continually exposed to the
dangers of the field must esteem the healing powers of medicine, or
rather of surgery; but the starving physicians of Arabia murmured a
complaint that exercise and temperance deprived them of the greatest
part of their practice. After their civil and domestic wars, the
subjects of the Abbassides, awakening from this mental lethargy, found
leisure and felt curiosity for the acquisition of profane science. This
spirit was first encouraged by the caliph Almansor, who, besides his
knowledge of the Mahometan law, had applied himself with success to
the study of astronomy. But when the sceptre devolved to Almamon, the
seventh of the Abbassides, he completed the designs of his grandfather,
and invited the muses from their ancient seats. His ambassadors at
Constantinople, his agents in Armenia, Syria, and Egypt, collected the
volumes of Grecian science at his command they were translated by the
most skilful interpreters into the Arabic language: his subjects were
exhorted assiduously to peruse these instructive writings; and
the successor of Mahomet assisted with pleasure and modesty at the
assemblies and disputations of the learned. "He was not ignorant," says
Abulpharagius, "that they are the elect of God, his best and most useful
servants, whose lives are devoted to the improvement of their rational
faculties. The mean ambition of the Chinese or the Turks may glory in
the industry of their hands or the indulgence of their brutal appetites.
Yet these dexterous artists must view, with hopeless emulation, the
hexagons and pyramids of the cells of a beehive: these fortitudinous
heroes are awed by the superior fierceness of the lions and tigers; and
in their amorous enjoyments they are much inferior to the vigor of the
grossest and most sordid quadrupeds. The teachers of wisdom are the true
luminaries and legislators of a world, which, without their aid, would
again sink in ignorance and barbarism." The zeal and curiosity of
Almamon were imitated by succeeding princes of the line of Abbas: their
rivals, the Fatimites of Africa and the Ommiades of Spain, were the
patrons of the learned, as well as the commanders of the faithful; the
same royal prerogative was claimed by their independent emirs of the
provinces; and their emulation diffused the taste and the rewards of
science from Samarcand and Bochara to Fez and Cordova. The vizier of a
sultan consecrated a sum of two hundred thousand pieces of gold to
the foundation of a college at Bagdad, which he endowed with an annual
revenue of fifteen thousand dinars. The fruits of instruction were
communicated, perhaps at different times, to six thousand disciples
of every degree, from the son of the noble to that of the mechanic: a
sufficient allowance was provided for the indigent scholars; and the
merit or industry of the professors was repaid with adequate stipends.
In every city the productions of Arabic literature were copied and
collected by the curiosity of the studious and the vanity of the rich. A
private doctor refused the invitation of the sultan of Bochara, because
the carriage of his books would have required four hundred camels.
The royal library of the Fatimites consisted of one hundred thousand
manuscripts, elegantly transcribed and splendidly bound, which were
lent, without jealousy or avarice, to the students of Cairo. Yet this
collection must appear moderate, if we can believe that the Ommiades of
Spain had formed a library of six hundred thousand volumes, forty-four
of which were employed in the mere catalogue. Their capital, Cordova,
with the adjacent towns of Malaga, Almeria, and Murcia, had given birth
to more than three hundred writers, and above seventy public libraries
were opened in the cities of the Andalusian kingdom. The age of Arabian
learning continued about five hundred years, till the great eruption of
the Moguls, and was coeval with the darkest and most slothful period of
European annals; but since the sun of science has arisen in the West, it
should seem that the Oriental studies have languished and declined.

In the libraries of the Arabians, as in those of Europe, the far greater
part of the innumerable volumes were possessed only of local value or
imaginary merit. The shelves were crowded with orators and poets, whose
style was adapted to the taste and manners of their countrymen; with
general and partial histories, which each revolving generation supplied
with a new harvest of persons and events; with codes and commentaries
of jurisprudence, which derived their authority from the law of the
prophet; with the interpreters of the Koran, and orthodox tradition; and
with the whole theological tribe, polemics, mystics, scholastics, and
moralists, the first or the last of writers, according to the different
estimates of sceptics or believers. The works of speculation or
science may be reduced to the four classes of philosophy, mathematics,
astronomy, and physic. The sages of Greece were translated and
illustrated in the Arabic language, and some treatises, now lost in
the original, have been recovered in the versions of the East, which
possessed and studied the writings of Aristotle and Plato, of Euclid and
Apollonius, of Ptolemy, Hippocrates, and Galen. Among the ideal systems
which have varied with the fashion of the times, the Arabians adopted
the philosophy of the Stagirite, alike intelligible or alike obscure
for the readers of every age. Plato wrote for the Athenians, and his
allegorical genius is too closely blended with the language and religion
of Greece. After the fall of that religion, the Peripatetics, emerging
from their obscurity, prevailed in the controversies of the Oriental
sects, and their founder was long afterwards restored by the Mahometans
of Spain to the Latin schools. The physics, both of the Academy and the
Lycæum, as they are built, not on observation, but on argument, have
retarded the progress of real knowledge. The metaphysics of infinite,
or finite, spirit, have too often been enlisted in the service of
superstition. But the human faculties are fortified by the art and
practice of dialectics; the ten predicaments of Aristotle collect and
methodize our ideas, and his syllogism is the keenest weapon of dispute.
It was dexterously wielded in the schools of the Saracens, but as it is
more effectual for the detection of error than for the investigation
of truth, it is not surprising that new generations of masters and
disciples should still revolve in the same circle of logical argument.
The mathematics are distinguished by a peculiar privilege, that, in the
course of ages, they may always advance, and can never recede. But the
ancient geometry, if I am not misinformed, was resumed in the same state
by the Italians of the fifteenth century; and whatever may be the
origin of the name, the science of algebra is ascribed to the Grecian
Diophantus by the modest testimony of the Arabs themselves. They
cultivated with more success the sublime science of astronomy, which
elevates the mind of man to disdain his diminutive planet and momentary
existence. The costly instruments of observation were supplied by the
caliph Almamon, and the land of the Chaldæans still afforded the same
spacious level, the same unclouded horizon. In the plains of Sinaar, and
a second time in those of Cufa, his mathematicians accurately measured
a degree of the great circle of the earth, and determined at twenty-four
thousand miles the entire circumference of our globe. From the reign
of the Abbassides to that of the grandchildren of Tamerlane, the
stars, without the aid of glasses, were diligently observed; and the
astronomical tables of Bagdad, Spain, and Samarcand, correct some minute
errors, without daring to renounce the hypothesis of Ptolemy, without
advancing a step towards the discovery of the solar system. In the
Eastern courts, the truths of science could be recommended only by
ignorance and folly, and the astronomer would have been disregarded,
had he not debased his wisdom or honesty by the vain predictions of
astrology. But in the science of medicine, the Arabians have been
deservedly applauded. The names of Mesua and Geber, of Razis and
Avicenna, are ranked with the Grecian masters; in the city of Bagdad,
eight hundred and sixty physicians were licensed to exercise their
lucrative profession: in Spain, the life of the Catholic princes was
intrusted to the skill of the Saracens, and the school of Salerno, their
legitimate offspring, revived in Italy and Europe the precepts of the
healing art. The success of each professor must have been influenced by
personal and accidental causes; but we may form a less fanciful estimate
of their general knowledge of anatomy, botany, and chemistry, the
threefold basis of their theory and practice. A superstitious reverence
for the dead confined both the Greeks and the Arabians to the dissection
of apes and quadrupeds; the more solid and visible parts were known
in the time of Galen, and the finer scrutiny of the human frame was
reserved for the microscope and the injections of modern artists. Botany
is an active science, and the discoveries of the torrid zone might
enrich the herbal of Dioscorides with two thousand plants. Some
traditionary knowledge might be secreted in the temples and monasteries
of Egypt; much useful experience had been acquired in the practice of
arts and manufactures; but the _science_ of chemistry owes its origin
and improvement to the industry of the Saracens. They first invented
and named the alembic for the purposes of distillation, analyzed the
substances of the three kingdoms of nature, tried the distinction and
affinities of alcalis and acids, and converted the poisonous minerals
into soft and salutary medicines. But the most eager search of Arabian
chemistry was the transmutation of metals, and the elixir of immortal
health: the reason and the fortunes of thousands were evaporated in
the crucibles of alchemy, and the consummation of the great work was
promoted by the worthy aid of mystery, fable, and superstition.

But the Moslems deprived themselves of the principal benefits of a
familiar intercourse with Greece and Rome, the knowledge of antiquity,
the purity of taste, and the freedom of thought. Confident in the riches
of their native tongue, the Arabians disdained the study of any
foreign idiom. The Greek interpreters were chosen among their Christian
subjects; they formed their translations, sometimes on the original
text, more frequently perhaps on a Syriac version; and in the crowd of
astronomers and physicians, there is no example of a poet, an orator, or
even an historian, being taught to speak the language of the Saracens.
The mythology of Homer would have provoked the abhorrence of those
stern fanatics: they possessed in lazy ignorance the colonies of the
Macedonians, and the provinces of Carthage and Rome: the heroes of
Plutarch and Livy were buried in oblivion; and the history of the world
before Mahomet was reduced to a short legend of the patriarchs, the
prophets, and the Persian kings. Our education in the Greek and Latin
schools may have fixed in our minds a standard of exclusive taste; and
I am not forward to condemn the literature and judgment of nations, of
whose language I am ignorant. Yet I _know_ that the classics have much
to teach, and I _believe_ that the Orientals have much to learn; the
temperate dignity of style, the graceful proportions of art, the forms
of visible and intellectual beauty, the just delineation of character
and passion, the rhetoric of narrative and argument, the regular fabric
of epic and dramatic poetry. The influence of truth and reason is of a
less ambiguous complexion. The philosophers of Athens and Rome enjoyed
the blessings, and asserted the rights, of civil and religious freedom.
Their moral and political writings might have gradually unlocked the
fetters of Eastern despotism, diffused a liberal spirit of inquiry
and toleration, and encouraged the Arabian sages to suspect that their
caliph was a tyrant, and their prophet an impostor. The instinct of
superstition was alarmed by the introduction even of the abstract
sciences; and the more rigid doctors of the law condemned the rash and
pernicious curiosity of Almamon. To the thirst of martyrdom, the vision
of paradise, and the belief of predestination, we must ascribe the
invincible enthusiasm of the prince and people. And the sword of the
Saracens became less formidable when their youth was drawn away from the
camp to the college, when the armies of the faithful presumed to read
and to reflect. Yet the foolish vanity of the Greeks was jealous
of their studies, and reluctantly imparted the sacred fire to the
Barbarians of the East.

In the bloody conflict of the Ommiades and Abbassides, the Greeks had
stolen the opportunity of avenging their wrongs and enlarging their
limits. But a severe retribution was exacted by Mohadi, the third caliph
of the new dynasty, who seized, in his turn, the favorable opportunity,
while a woman and a child, Irene and Constantine, were seated on the
Byzantine throne. An army of ninety-five thousand Persians and Arabs
was sent from the Tigris to the Thracian Bosphorus, under the command
of Harun, or Aaron, the second son of the commander of the faithful. His
encampment on the opposite heights of Chrysopolis, or Scutari, informed
Irene, in her palace of Constantinople, of the loss of her troops
and provinces. With the consent or connivance of their sovereign, her
ministers subscribed an ignominious peace; and the exchange of some
royal gifts could not disguise the annual tribute of seventy thousand
dinars of gold, which was imposed on the Roman empire. The Saracens had
too rashly advanced into the midst of a distant and hostile land: their
retreat was solicited by the promise of faithful guides and plentiful
markets; and not a Greek had courage to whisper, that their weary forces
might be surrounded and destroyed in their necessary passage between
a slippery mountain and the River Sangarius. Five years after this
expedition, Harun ascended the throne of his father and his elder
brother; the most powerful and vigorous monarch of his race, illustrious
in the West, as the ally of Charlemagne, and familiar to the most
childish readers, as the perpetual hero of the Arabian tales. His title
to the name of _Al Rashid_ (the _Just_) is sullied by the extirpation of
the generous, perhaps the innocent, Barmecides; yet he could listen to
the complaint of a poor widow who had been pillaged by his troops, and
who dared, in a passage of the Koran, to threaten the inattentive despot
with the judgment of God and posterity. His court was adorned with
luxury and science; but, in a reign of three-and-twenty years, Harun
repeatedly visited his provinces from Chorasan to Egypt; nine times
he performed the pilgrimage of Mecca; eight times he invaded the
territories of the Romans; and as often as they declined the payment of
the tribute, they were taught to feel that a month of depredation was
more costly than a year of submission. But when the unnatural mother
of Constantine was deposed and banished, her successor, Nicephorus,
resolved to obliterate this badge of servitude and disgrace. The epistle
of the emperor to the caliph was pointed with an allusion to the game
of chess, which had already spread from Persia to Greece. "The queen (he
spoke of Irene) considered you as a rook, and herself as a pawn. That
pusillanimous female submitted to pay a tribute, the double of which she
ought to have exacted from the Barbarians. Restore therefore the fruits
of your injustice, or abide the determination of the sword." At these
words the ambassadors cast a bundle of swords before the foot of the
throne. The caliph smiled at the menace, and drawing his cimeter,
_samsamah_, a weapon of historic or fabulous renown, he cut asunder the
feeble arms of the Greeks, without turning the edge, or endangering the
temper, of his blade. He then dictated an epistle of tremendous brevity:
"In the name of the most merciful God, Harun al Rashid, commander of the
faithful, to Nicephorus, the Roman dog. I have read thy letter, O thou
son of an unbelieving mother. Thou shalt not hear, thou shalt behold, my
reply." It was written in characters of blood and fire on the plains of
Phrygia; and the warlike celerity of the Arabs could only be checked
by the arts of deceit and the show of repentance. The triumphant caliph
retired, after the fatigues of the campaign, to his favorite palace of
Racca on the Euphrates: but the distance of five hundred miles, and the
inclemency of the season, encouraged his adversary to violate the peace.
Nicephorus was astonished by the bold and rapid march of the commander
of the faithful, who repassed, in the depth of winter, the snows of
Mount Taurus: his stratagems of policy and war were exhausted; and
the perfidious Greek escaped with three wounds from a field of battle
overspread with forty thousand of his subjects. Yet the emperor was
ashamed of submission, and the caliph was resolved on victory. One
hundred and thirty-five thousand regular soldiers received pay, and were
inscribed in the military roll; and above three hundred thousand
persons of every denomination marched under the black standard of the
Abbassides. They swept the surface of Asia Minor far beyond Tyana and
Ancyra, and invested the Pontic Heraclea, once a flourishing state, now
a paltry town; at that time capable of sustaining, in her antique walls,
a month's siege against the forces of the East. The ruin was complete,
the spoil was ample; but if Harun had been conversant with Grecian
story, he would have regretted the statue of Hercules, whose attributes,
the club, the bow, the quiver, and the lion's hide, were sculptured in
massy gold. The progress of desolation by sea and land, from the Euxine
to the Isle of Cyprus, compelled the emperor Nicephorus to retract his
haughty defiance. In the new treaty, the ruins of Heraclea were left
forever as a lesson and a trophy; and the coin of the tribute was marked
with the image and superscription of Harun and his three sons. Yet this
plurality of lords might contribute to remove the dishonor of the Roman
name. After the death of their father, the heirs of the caliph were
involved in civil discord, and the conqueror, the liberal Almamon,
was sufficiently engaged in the restoration of domestic peace and the
introduction of foreign science.

Chapter LII: More Conquests By The Arabs.--Part IV.

Under the reign of Almamon at Bagdad, of Michael the Stammerer at
Constantinople, the islands of Crete and Sicily were subdued by the
Arabs. The former of these conquests is disdained by their own writers,
who were ignorant of the fame of Jupiter and Minos, but it has not been
overlooked by the Byzantine historians, who now begin to cast a
clearer light on the affairs of their own times. A band of Andalusian
volunteers, discontented with the climate or government of Spain,
explored the adventures of the sea; but as they sailed in no more than
ten or twenty galleys, their warfare must be branded with the name of
piracy. As the subjects and sectaries of the _white_ party, they might
lawfully invade the dominions of the _black_ caliphs. A rebellious
faction introduced them into Alexandria; they cut in pieces both friends
and foes, pillaged the churches and the moschs, sold above six thousand
Christian captives, and maintained their station in the capital of
Egypt, till they were oppressed by the forces and the presence of
Almamon himself. From the mouth of the Nile to the Hellespont, the
islands and sea-coasts both of the Greeks and Moslems were exposed to
their depredations; they saw, they envied, they tasted the fertility of
Crete, and soon returned with forty galleys to a more serious attack.
The Andalusians wandered over the land fearless and unmolested; but when
they descended with their plunder to the sea-shore, their vessels were
in flames, and their chief, Abu Caab, confessed himself the author of
the mischief. Their clamors accused his madness or treachery. "Of what
do you complain?" replied the crafty emir. "I have brought you to a land
flowing with milk and honey. Here is your true country; repose from your
toils, and forget the barren place of your nativity." "And our wives and
children?" "Your beauteous captives will supply the place of your
wives, and in their embraces you will soon become the fathers of a new
progeny." The first habitation was their camp, with a ditch and rampart,
in the Bay of Suda; but an apostate monk led them to a more desirable
position in the eastern parts; and the name of Candax, their fortress
and colony, has been extended to the whole island, under the corrupt and
modern appellation of _Candia_. The hundred cities of the age of
Minos were diminished to thirty; and of these, only one, most probably
Cydonia, had courage to retain the substance of freedom and the
profession of Christianity. The Saracens of Crete soon repaired the loss
of their navy; and the timbers of Mount Ida were launched into the
main. During a hostile period of one hundred and thirty-eight years,
the princes of Constantinople attacked these licentious corsairs with
fruitless curses and ineffectual arms.

The loss of Sicily was occasioned by an act of superstitious rigor. An
amorous youth, who had stolen a nun from her cloister, was sentenced by
the emperor to the amputation of his tongue. Euphemius appealed to the
reason and policy of the Saracens of Africa; and soon returned with
the Imperial purple, a fleet of one hundred ships, and an army of seven
hundred horse and ten thousand foot. They landed at Mazara near the
ruins of the ancient Selinus; but after some partial victories, Syracuse
was delivered by the Greeks, the apostate was slain before her walls,
and his African friends were reduced to the necessity of feeding on
the flesh of their own horses. In their turn they were relieved by a
powerful reënforcement of their brethren of Andalusia; the largest and
western part of the island was gradually reduced, and the commodious
harbor of Palermo was chosen for the seat of the naval and military
power of the Saracens. Syracuse preserved about fifty years the faith
which she had sworn to Christ and to Cæsar. In the last and fatal siege,
her citizens displayed some remnant of the spirit which had formerly
resisted the powers of Athens and Carthage. They stood above twenty days
against the battering-rams and _catapult_, the mines and tortoises of
the besiegers; and the place might have been relieved, if the mariners
of the Imperial fleet had not been detained at Constantinople in
building a church to the Virgin Mary. The deacon Theodosius, with the
bishop and clergy, was dragged in chains from the altar to Palermo, cast
into a subterraneous dungeon, and exposed to the hourly peril of death
or apostasy. His pathetic, and not inelegant, complaint may be read
as the epitaph of his country. From the Roman conquest to this final
calamity, Syracuse, now dwindled to the primitive Isle of Ortygea, had
insensibly declined. Yet the relics were still precious; the plate of
the cathedral weighed five thousand pounds of silver; the entire spoil
was computed at one million of pieces of gold, (about four hundred
thousand pounds sterling,) and the captives must outnumber the seventeen
thousand Christians, who were transported from the sack of Tauromenium
into African servitude. In Sicily, the religion and language of
the Greeks were eradicated; and such was the docility of the rising
generation, that fifteen thousand boys were circumcised and clothed on
the same day with the son of the Fatimite caliph. The Arabian squadrons
issued from the harbors of Palermo, Biserta, and Tunis; a hundred and
fifty towns of Calabria and Campania were attacked and pillaged; nor
could the suburbs of Rome be defended by the name of the Cæsars and
apostles. Had the Mahometans been united, Italy must have fallen an easy
and glorious accession to the empire of the prophet. But the caliphs of
Bagdad had lost their authority in the West; the Aglabites and Fatimites
usurped the provinces of Africa, their emirs of Sicily aspired to
independence; and the design of conquest and dominion was degraded to a
repetition of predatory inroads.

In the sufferings of prostrate Italy, the name of Rome awakens a solemn
and mournful recollection. A fleet of Saracens from the African coast
presumed to enter the mouth of the Tyber, and to approach a city which
even yet, in her fallen state, was revered as the metropolis of the
Christian world. The gates and ramparts were guarded by a trembling
people; but the tombs and temples of St. Peter and St. Paul were left
exposed in the suburbs of the Vatican and of the Ostian way. Their
invisible sanctity had protected them against the Goths, the Vandals,
and the Lombards; but the Arabs disdained both the gospel and the
legend; and their rapacious spirit was approved and animated by the
precepts of the Koran. The Christian _idols_ were stripped of their
costly offerings; a silver altar was torn away from the shrine of
St. Peter; and if the bodies or the buildings were left entire, their
deliverance must be imputed to the haste, rather than the scruples, of
the Saracens. In their course along the Appian way, they pillaged Fundi
and besieged Gayeta; but they had turned aside from the walls of Rome,
and by their divisions, the Capitol was saved from the yoke of the
prophet of Mecca. The same danger still impended on the heads of the
Roman people; and their domestic force was unequal to the assault of an
African emir. They claimed the protection of their Latin sovereign;
but the Carlovingian standard was overthrown by a detachment of the
Barbarians: they meditated the restoration of the Greek emperors; but
the attempt was treasonable, and the succor remote and precarious. Their
distress appeared to receive some aggravation from the death of their
spiritual and temporal chief; but the pressing emergency superseded the
forms and intrigues of an election; and the unanimous choice of Pope Leo
the Fourth was the safety of the church and city. This pontiff was born
a Roman; the courage of the first ages of the republic glowed in his
breast; and, amidst the ruins of his country, he stood erect, like one
of the firm and lofty columns that rear their heads above the fragments
of the Roman forum. The first days of his reign were consecrated to the
purification and removal of relics, to prayers and processions, and to
all the solemn offices of religion, which served at least to heal the
imagination, and restore the hopes, of the multitude. The public defence
had been long neglected, not from the presumption of peace, but from the
distress and poverty of the times. As far as the scantiness of his means
and the shortness of his leisure would allow, the ancient walls were
repaired by the command of Leo; fifteen towers, in the most accessible
stations, were built or renewed; two of these commanded on either side
of the Tyber; and an iron chain was drawn across the stream to impede
the ascent of a hostile navy. The Romans were assured of a short respite
by the welcome news, that the siege of Gayeta had been raised, and that
a part of the enemy, with their sacrilegious plunder, had perished in
the waves.

But the storm, which had been delayed, soon burst upon them with
redoubled violence. The Aglabite, who reigned in Africa, had inherited
from his father a treasure and an army: a fleet of Arabs and Moors,
after a short refreshment in the harbors of Sardinia, cast anchor
before the mouth of the Tyber, sixteen miles from the city: and their
discipline and numbers appeared to threaten, not a transient inroad, but
a serious design of conquest and dominion. But the vigilance of Leo had
formed an alliance with the vassals of the Greek empire, the free
and maritime states of Gayeta, Naples, and Amalfi; and in the hour of
danger, their galleys appeared in the port of Ostia under the command of
Cæsarius, the son of the Neapolitan duke, a noble and valiant youth, who
had already vanquished the fleets of the Saracens. With his principal
companions, Cæsarius was invited to the Lateran palace, and the
dexterous pontiff affected to inquire their errand, and to accept with
joy and surprise their providential succor. The city bands, in arms,
attended their father to Ostia, where he reviewed and blessed his
generous deliverers. They kissed his feet, received the communion with
martial devotion, and listened to the prayer of Leo, that the same God
who had supported St. Peter and St. Paul on the waves of the sea, would
strengthen the hands of his champions against the adversaries of his
holy name. After a similar prayer, and with equal resolution, the
Moslems advanced to the attack of the Christian galleys, which preserved
their advantageous station along the coast. The victory inclined to the
side of the allies, when it was less gloriously decided in their favor
by a sudden tempest, which confounded the skill and courage of the
stoutest mariners. The Christians were sheltered in a friendly harbor,
while the Africans were scattered and dashed in pieces among the rocks
and islands of a hostile shore. Those who escaped from shipwreck
and hunger neither found, nor deserved, mercy at the hands of their
implacable pursuers. The sword and the gibbet reduced the dangerous
multitude of captives; and the remainder was more usefully employed,
to restore the sacred edifices which they had attempted to subvert.
The pontiff, at the head of the citizens and allies, paid his grateful
devotion at the shrines of the apostles; and, among the spoils of this
naval victory, thirteen Arabian bows of pure and massy silver were
suspended round the altar of the fishermen of Galilee. The reign of Leo
the Fourth was employed in the defence and ornament of the Roman state.
The churches were renewed and embellished: near four thousand pounds
of silver were consecrated to repair the losses of St. Peter; and
his sanctuary was decorated with a plate of gold of the weight of two
hundred and sixteen pounds, embossed with the portraits of the pope
and emperor, and encircled with a string of pearls. Yet this vain
magnificence reflects less glory on the character of Leo than the
paternal care with which he rebuilt the walls of Horta and Ameria;
and transported the wandering inhabitants of Centumcellæ to his
new foundation of Leopolis, twelve miles from the sea-shore. By his
liberality, a colony of Corsicans, with their wives and children, was
planted in the station of Porto, at the mouth of the Tyber: the falling
city was restored for their use, the fields and vineyards were divided
among the new settlers: their first efforts were assisted by a gift of
horses and cattle; and the hardy exiles, who breathed revenge against
the Saracens, swore to live and die under the standard of St. Peter. The
nations of the West and North who visited the threshold of the apostles
had gradually formed the large and populous suburb of the Vatican, and
their various habitations were distinguished, in the language of the
times, as the schools of the Greeks and Goths, of the Lombards and
Saxons. But this venerable spot was still open to sacrilegious insult:
the design of enclosing it with walls and towers exhausted all that
authority could command, or charity would supply: and the pious labor
of four years was animated in every season, and at every hour, by the
presence of the indefatigable pontiff. The love of fame, a generous
but worldly passion, may be detected in the name of the _Leonine city_,
which he bestowed on the Vatican; yet the pride of the dedication was
tempered with Christian penance and humility. The boundary was trod by
the bishop and his clergy, barefoot, in sackcloth and ashes; the
songs of triumph were modulated to psalms and litanies; the walls were
besprinkled with holy water; and the ceremony was concluded with a
prayer, that, under the guardian care of the apostles and the angelic
host, both the old and the new Rome might ever be preserved pure,
prosperous, and impregnable.

The emperor Theophilus, son of Michael the Stammerer, was one of the
most active and high-spirited princes who reigned at Constantinople
during the middle age. In offensive or defensive war, he marched in
person five times against the Saracens, formidable in his attack,
esteemed by the enemy in his losses and defeats. In the last of these
expeditions he penetrated into Syria, and besieged the obscure town of
Sozopetra; the casual birthplace of the caliph Motassem, whose father
Harun was attended in peace or war by the most favored of his wives and
concubines. The revolt of a Persian impostor employed at that moment the
arms of the Saracen, and he could only intercede in favor of a place for
which he felt and acknowledged some degree of filial affection. These
solicitations determined the emperor to wound his pride in so sensible a
part. Sozopetra was levelled with the ground, the Syrian prisoners were
marked or mutilated with ignominious cruelty, and a thousand female
captives were forced away from the adjacent territory. Among these a
matron of the house of Abbas invoked, in an agony of despair, the name
of Motassem; and the insults of the Greeks engaged the honor of her
kinsman to avenge his indignity, and to answer her appeal. Under the
reign of the two elder brothers, the inheritance of the youngest
had been confined to Anatolia, Armenia, Georgia, and Circassia; this
frontier station had exercised his military talents; and among his
accidental claims to the name of _Octonary_, the most meritorious are
the _eight_ battles which he gained or fought against the enemies of the
Koran. In this personal quarrel, the troops of Irak, Syria, and Egypt,
were recruited from the tribes of Arabia and the Turkish hordes; his
cavalry might be numerous, though we should deduct some myriads from the
hundred and thirty thousand horses of the royal stables; and the expense
of the armament was computed at four millions sterling, or one hundred
thousand pounds of gold. From Tarsus, the place of assembly,
the Saracens advanced in three divisions along the high road of
Constantinople: Motassem himself commanded the centre, and the vanguard
was given to his son Abbas, who, in the trial of the first adventures,
might succeed with the more glory, or fail with the least reproach. In
the revenge of his injury, the caliph prepared to retaliate a similar
affront. The father of Theophilus was a native of Amorium in Phrygia:
the original seat of the Imperial house had been adorned with privileges
and monuments; and, whatever might be the indifference of the people,
Constantinople itself was scarcely of more value in the eyes of the
sovereign and his court. The name of Amorium was inscribed on the
shields of the Saracens; and their three armies were again united
under the walls of the devoted city. It had been proposed by the wisest
counsellors, to evacuate Amorium, to remove the inhabitants, and to
abandon the empty structures to the vain resentment of the Barbarians.
The emperor embraced the more generous resolution of defending, in a
siege and battle, the country of his ancestors. When the armies drew
near, the front of the Mahometan line appeared to a Roman eye more
closely planted with spears and javelins; but the event of the action
was not glorious on either side to the national troops. The Arabs were
broken, but it was by the swords of thirty thousand Persians, who had
obtained service and settlement in the Byzantine empire. The Greeks
were repulsed and vanquished, but it was by the arrows of the Turkish
cavalry; and had not their bowstrings been damped and relaxed by the
evening rain, very few of the Christians could have escaped with the
emperor from the field of battle. They breathed at Dorylæum, at
the distance of three days; and Theophilus, reviewing his trembling
squadrons, forgave the common flight both of the prince and people.
After this discovery of his weakness, he vainly hoped to deprecate
the fate of Amorium: the inexorable caliph rejected with contempt his
prayers and promises; and detained the Roman ambassadors to be the
witnesses of his great revenge. They had nearly been the witnesses of
his shame. The vigorous assaults of fifty-five days were encountered by
a faithful governor, a veteran garrison, and a desperate people; and
the Saracens must have raised the siege, if a domestic traitor had not
pointed to the weakest part of the wall, a place which was decorated
with the statues of a lion and a bull. The vow of Motassem was
accomplished with unrelenting rigor: tired, rather than satiated,
with destruction, he returned to his new palace of Samara, in the
neighborhood of Bagdad, while the _unfortunate_ Theophilus implored the
tardy and doubtful aid of his Western rival the emperor of the Franks.
Yet in the siege of Amorium about seventy thousand Moslems had perished:
their loss had been revenged by the slaughter of thirty thousand
Christians, and the sufferings of an equal number of captives, who
were treated as the most atrocious criminals. Mutual necessity could
sometimes extort the exchange or ransom of prisoners: but in the
national and religious conflict of the two empires, peace was without
confidence, and war without mercy. Quarter was seldom given in the
field; those who escaped the edge of the sword were condemned to
hopeless servitude, or exquisite torture; and a Catholic emperor
relates, with visible satisfaction, the execution of the Saracens of
Crete, who were flayed alive, or plunged into caldrons of boiling oil.
To a point of honor Motassem had sacrificed a flourishing city, two
hundred thousand lives, and the property of millions. The same caliph
descended from his horse, and dirtied his robe, to relieve the distress
of a decrepit old man, who, with his laden ass, had tumbled into a
ditch. On which of these actions did he reflect with the most pleasure,
when he was summoned by the angel of death?

With Motassem, the eighth of the Abbassides, the glory of his family and
nation expired. When the Arabian conquerors had spread themselves over
the East, and were mingled with the servile crowds of Persia, Syria,
and Egypt, they insensibly lost the freeborn and martial virtues of the
desert. The courage of the South is the artificial fruit of discipline
and prejudice; the active power of enthusiasm had decayed, and the
mercenary forces of the caliphs were recruited in those climates of the
North, of which valor is the hardy and spontaneous production. Of the
Turks who dwelt beyond the Oxus and Jaxartes, the robust youths, either
taken in war or purchased in trade, were educated in the exercises of
the field, and the profession of the Mahometan faith. The Turkish guards
stood in arms round the throne of their benefactor, and their chiefs
usurped the dominion of the palace and the provinces. Motassem, the
first author of this dangerous example, introduced into the capital
above fifty thousand Turks: their licentious conduct provoked the public
indignation, and the quarrels of the soldiers and people induced the
caliph to retire from Bagdad, and establish his own residence and the
camp of his Barbarian favorites at Samara on the Tigris, about twelve
leagues above the city of Peace. His son Motawakkel was a jealous and
cruel tyrant: odious to his subjects, he cast himself on the fidelity
of the strangers, and these strangers, ambitious and apprehensive, were
tempted by the rich promise of a revolution. At the instigation, or at
least in the cause of his son, they burst into his apartment at the hour
of supper, and the caliph was cut into seven pieces by the same swords
which he had recently distributed among the guards of his life and
throne. To this throne, yet streaming with a father's blood, Montasser
was triumphantly led; but in a reign of six months, he found only the
pangs of a guilty conscience. If he wept at the sight of an old tapestry
which represented the crime and punishment of the son of Chosroes, if
his days were abridged by grief and remorse, we may allow some pity to
a parricide, who exclaimed, in the bitterness of death, that he had lost
both this world and the world to come. After this act of treason, the
ensigns of royalty, the garment and walking-staff of Mahomet, were given
and torn away by the foreign mercenaries, who in four years created,
deposed, and murdered, three commanders of the faithful. As often as
the Turks were inflamed by fear, or rage, or avarice, these caliphs were
dragged by the feet, exposed naked to the scorching sun, beaten with
iron clubs, and compelled to purchase, by the abdication of their
dignity, a short reprieve of inevitable fate. At length, however, the
fury of the tempest was spent or diverted: the Abbassides returned to
the less turbulent residence of Bagdad; the insolence of the Turks
was curbed with a firmer and more skilful hand, and their numbers were
divided and destroyed in foreign warfare. But the nations of the East
had been taught to trample on the successors of the prophet; and the
blessings of domestic peace were obtained by the relaxation of strength
and discipline. So uniform are the mischiefs of military despotism, that
I seem to repeat the story of the prætorians of Rome.

While the flame of enthusiasm was damped by the business, the pleasure,
and the knowledge, of the age, it burnt with concentrated heat in the
breasts of the chosen few, the congenial spirits, who were ambitious of
reigning either in this world or in the next. How carefully soever the
book of prophecy had been sealed by the apostle of Mecca, the wishes,
and (if we may profane the word) even the reason, of fanaticism might
believe that, after the successive missions of Adam, Noah, Abraham,
Moses, Jesus, and Mahomet, the same God, in the fulness of time, would
reveal a still more perfect and permanent law. In the two hundred and
seventy-seventh year of the Hegira, and in the neighborhood of Cufa,
an Arabian preacher, of the name of Carmath, assumed the lofty and
incomprehensible style of the Guide, the Director, the Demonstration,
the Word, the Holy Ghost, the Camel, the Herald of the Messiah, who had
conversed with him in a human shape, and the representative of Mohammed
the son of Ali, of St. John the Baptist, and of the angel Gabriel. In
his mystic volume, the precepts of the Koran were refined to a more
spiritual sense: he relaxed the duties of ablution, fasting, and
pilgrimage; allowed the indiscriminate use of wine and forbidden food;
and nourished the fervor of his disciples by the daily repetition of
fifty prayers. The idleness and ferment of the rustic crowd awakened the
attention of the magistrates of Cufa; a timid persecution assisted
the progress of the new sect; and the name of the prophet became more
revered after his person had been withdrawn from the world. His twelve
apostles dispersed themselves among the Bedoweens, "a race of men," says
Abulfeda, "equally devoid of reason and of religion;" and the success
of their preaching seemed to threaten Arabia with a new revolution. The
Carmathians were ripe for rebellion, since they disclaimed the title
of the house of Abbas, and abhorred the worldly pomp of the caliphs of
Bagdad. They were susceptible of discipline, since they vowed a blind
and absolute submission to their Imam, who was called to the prophetic
office by the voice of God and the people. Instead of the legal tithes,
he claimed the fifth of their substance and spoil; the most flagitious
sins were no more than the type of disobedience; and the brethren were
united and concealed by an oath of secrecy. After a bloody conflict,
they prevailed in the province of Bahrein, along the Persian Gulf:
far and wide, the tribes of the desert were subject to the sceptre,
or rather to the sword of Abu Said and his son Abu Taher; and these
rebellious imams could muster in the field a hundred and seven thousand
fanatics. The mercenaries of the caliph were dismayed at the approach
of an enemy who neither asked nor accepted quarter; and the difference
between, them in fortitude and patience, is expressive of the change
which three centuries of prosperity had effected in the character of the
Arabians. Such troops were discomfited in every action; the cities of
Racca and Baalbec, of Cufa and Bassora, were taken and pillaged; Bagdad
was filled with consternation; and the caliph trembled behind the veils
of his palace. In a daring inroad beyond the Tigris, Abu Taher advanced
to the gates of the capital with no more than five hundred horse. By
the special order of Moctader, the bridges had been broken down, and the
person or head of the rebel was expected every hour by the commander of
the faithful. His lieutenant, from a motive of fear or pity, apprised
Abu Taher of his danger, and recommended a speedy escape. "Your master,"
said the intrepid Carmathian to the messenger, "is at the head of thirty
thousand soldiers: three such men as these are wanting in his host:" at
the same instant, turning to three of his companions, he commanded the
first to plunge a dagger into his breast, the second to leap into the
Tigris, and the third to cast himself headlong down a precipice. They
obeyed without a murmur. "Relate," continued the imam, "what you have
seen: before the evening your general shall be chained among my dogs."
Before the evening, the camp was surprised, and the menace was executed.
The rapine of the Carmathians was sanctified by their aversion to the
worship of Mecca: they robbed a caravan of pilgrims, and twenty thousand
devout Moslems were abandoned on the burning sands to a death of hunger
and thirst. Another year they suffered the pilgrims to proceed without
interruption; but, in the festival of devotion, Abu Taher stormed the
holy city, and trampled on the most venerable relics of the Mahometan
faith. Thirty thousand citizens and strangers were put to the sword;
the sacred precincts were polluted by the burial of three thousand dead
bodies; the well of Zemzem overflowed with blood; the golden spout was
forced from its place; the veil of the Caaba was divided among these
impious sectaries; and the black stone, the first monument of the
nation, was borne away in triumph to their capital. After this deed of
sacrilege and cruelty, they continued to infest the confines of Irak,
Syria, and Egypt: but the vital principle of enthusiasm had withered at
the root. Their scruples, or their avarice, again opened the pilgrimage
of Mecca, and restored the black stone of the Caaba; and it is needless
to inquire into what factions they were broken, or by whose swords they
were finally extirpated. The sect of the Carmathians may be considered
as the second visible cause of the decline and fall of the empire of the

Chapter LII: More Conquests By The Arabs.--Part V.

The third and most obvious cause was the weight and magnitude of the
empire itself. The caliph Almamon might proudly assert, that it
was easier for him to rule the East and the West, than to manage a
chess-board of two feet square: yet I suspect that in both those games
he was guilty of many fatal mistakes; and I perceive, that in the
distant provinces the authority of the first and most powerful of the
Abbassides was already impaired. The analogy of despotism invests the
representative with the full majesty of the prince; the division and
balance of powers might relax the habits of obedience, might encourage
the passive subject to inquire into the origin and administration of
civil government. He who is born in the purple is seldom worthy to
reign; but the elevation of a private man, of a peasant, perhaps, or
a slave, affords a strong presumption of his courage and capacity.
The viceroy of a remote kingdom aspires to secure the property and
inheritance of his precarious trust; the nations must rejoice in the
presence of their sovereign; and the command of armies and treasures
are at once the object and the instrument of his ambition. A change was
scarcely visible as long as the lieutenants of the caliph were content
with their vicarious title; while they solicited for themselves or their
sons a renewal of the Imperial grant, and still maintained on the coin
and in the public prayers the name and prerogative of the commander of
the faithful. But in the long and hereditary exercise of power, they
assumed the pride and attributes of royalty; the alternative of peace
or war, of reward or punishment, depended solely on their will; and the
revenues of their government were reserved for local services or
private magnificence. Instead of a regular supply of men and money, the
successors of the prophet were flattered with the ostentatious gift of
an elephant, or a cast of hawks, a suit of silk hangings, or some pounds
of musk and amber.

After the revolt of Spain from the temporal and spiritual supremacy of
the Abbassides, the first symptoms of disobedience broke forth in the
province of Africa. Ibrahim, the son of Aglab, the lieutenant of the
vigilant and rigid Harun, bequeathed to the dynasty of the _Aglabite_
the inheritance of his name and power. The indolence or policy of the
caliphs dissembled the injury and loss, and pursued only with poison the
founder of the _Edrisites_, who erected the kingdom and city of Fez on
the shores of the Western ocean. In the East, the first dynasty was
that of the _Taherites_; the posterity of the valiant Taher, who, in
the civil wars of the sons of Harun, had served with too much zeal and
success the cause of Almamon, the younger brother. He was sent
into honorable exile, to command on the banks of the Oxus; and the
independence of his successors, who reigned in Chorasan till the fourth
generation, was palliated by their modest and respectful demeanor, the
happiness of their subjects and the security of their frontier. They
were supplanted by one of those adventures so frequent in the annals
of the East, who left his trade of a brazier (from whence the name of
_Soffarides_) for the profession of a robber. In a nocturnal visit to
the treasure of the prince of Sistan, Jacob, the son of Leith, stumbled
over a lump of salt, which he unwarily tasted with his tongue. Salt,
among the Orientals, is the symbol of hospitality, and the pious robber
immediately retired without spoil or damage. The discovery of this
honorable behavior recommended Jacob to pardon and trust; he led an army
at first for his benefactor, at last for himself, subdued Persia, and
threatened the residence of the Abbassides. On his march towards Bagdad,
the conqueror was arrested by a fever. He gave audience in bed to the
ambassador of the caliph; and beside him on a table were exposed a naked
cimeter, a crust of brown bread, and a bunch of onions. "If I die,"
said he, "your master is delivered from his fears. If I live, _this_ must
determine between us. If I am vanquished, I can return without
reluctance to the homely fare of my youth." From the height where he
stood, the descent would not have been so soft or harmless: a timely
death secured his own repose and that of the caliph, who paid with the
most lavish concessions the retreat of his brother Amrou to the palaces
of Shiraz and Ispahan. The Abbassides were too feeble to contend, too
proud to forgive: they invited the powerful dynasty of the _Samanides_,
who passed the Oxus with ten thousand horse so poor, that their stirrups
were of wood: so brave, that they vanquished the Soffarian army, eight
times more numerous than their own. The captive Amrou was sent in
chains, a grateful offering to the court of Bagdad; and as the victor
was content with the inheritance of Transoxiana and Chorasan, the realms
of Persia returned for a while to the allegiance of the caliphs. The
provinces of Syria and Egypt were twice dismembered by their Turkish
slaves of the race of _Toulon_ and _Ilkshid_. These Barbarians, in
religion and manners the countrymen of Mahomet, emerged from the bloody
factions of the palace to a provincial command and an independent
throne: their names became famous and formidable in their time; but the
founders of these two potent dynasties confessed, either in words or
actions, the vanity of ambition. The first on his death-bed implored the
mercy of God to a sinner, ignorant of the limits of his own power:
the second, in the midst of four hundred thousand soldiers and eight
thousand slaves, concealed from every human eye the chamber where he
attempted to sleep. Their sons were educated in the vices of kings;
and both Egypt and Syria were recovered and possessed by the Abbassides
during an interval of thirty years. In the decline of their empire,
Mesopotamia, with the important cities of Mosul and Aleppo, was occupied
by the Arabian princes of the tribe of _Hamadan_. The poets of their
court could repeat without a blush, that nature had formed their
countenances for beauty, their tongues for eloquence, and their hands
for liberality and valor: but the genuine tale of the elevation and
reign of the _Hamadanites_ exhibits a scene of treachery, murder, and
parricide. At the same fatal period, the Persian kingdom was again
usurped by the dynasty of the _Bowides_, by the sword of three brothers,
who, under various names, were styled the support and columns of the
state, and who, from the Caspian Sea to the ocean, would suffer no
tyrants but themselves. Under their reign, the language and genius of
Persia revived, and the Arabs, three hundred and four years after the
death of Mahomet, were deprived of the sceptre of the East.

Rahadi, the twentieth of the Abbassides, and the thirty-ninth of the
successors of Mahomet, was the last who deserved the title of commander
of the faithful; the last (says Abulfeda) who spoke to the people,
or conversed with the learned; the last who, in the expense of his
household, represented the wealth and magnificence of the ancient
caliphs. After him, the lords of the Eastern world were reduced to the
most abject misery, and exposed to the blows and insults of a servile
condition. The revolt of the provinces circumscribed their dominions
within the walls of Bagdad: but that capital still contained an
innumerable multitude, vain of their past fortune, discontented with
their present state, and oppressed by the demands of a treasury which
had formerly been replenished by the spoil and tribute of nations. Their
idleness was exercised by faction and controversy. Under the mask of
piety, the rigid followers of Hanbal invaded the pleasures of domestic
life, burst into the houses of plebeians and princes, the wine, broke
the instruments, beat the musicians, and dishonored, with infamous
suspicions, the associates of every handsome youth. In each profession,
which allowed room for two persons, the one was a votary, the other an
antagonist, of Ali; and the Abbassides were awakened by the clamorous
grief of the sectaries, who denied their title, and cursed their
progenitors. A turbulent people could only be repressed by a military
force; but who could satisfy the avarice or assert the discipline of the
mercenaries themselves? The African and the Turkish guards drew their
swords against each other, and the chief commanders, the emirs al Omra,
imprisoned or deposed their sovereigns, and violated the sanctuary of
the mosch and harem. If the caliphs escaped to the camp or court of any
neighboring prince, their deliverance was a change of servitude, till
they were prompted by despair to invite the Bowides, the sultans of
Persia, who silenced the factions of Bagdad by their irresistible arms.
The civil and military powers were assumed by Moezaldowlat, the second
of the three brothers, and a stipend of sixty thousand pounds sterling
was assigned by his generosity for the private expense of the commander
of the faithful. But on the fortieth day, at the audience of the
ambassadors of Chorasan, and in the presence of a trembling multitude,
the caliph was dragged from his throne to a dungeon, by the command
of the stranger, and the rude hands of his Dilemites. His palace was
pillaged, his eyes were put out, and the mean ambition of the Abbassides
aspired to the vacant station of danger and disgrace. In the school
of adversity, the luxurious caliphs resumed the grave and abstemious
virtues of the primitive times. Despoiled of their armor and silken
robes, they fasted, they prayed, they studied the Koran and the
tradition of the Sonnites: they performed, with zeal and knowledge,
the functions of their ecclesiastical character. The respect of nations
still waited on the successors of the apostle, the oracles of the law
and conscience of the faithful; and the weakness or division of their
tyrants sometimes restored the Abbassides to the sovereignty of
Bagdad. But their misfortunes had been imbittered by the triumph of
the Fatimites, the real or spurious progeny of Ali. Arising from the
extremity of Africa, these successful rivals extinguished, in Egypt and
Syria, both the spiritual and temporal authority of the Abbassides; and
the monarch of the Nile insulted the humble pontiff on the banks of the

In the declining age of the caliphs, in the century which elapsed after
the war of Theophilus and Motassem, the hostile transactions of the two
nations were confined to some inroads by sea and land, the fruits of
their close vicinity and indelible hatred. But when the Eastern world
was convulsed and broken, the Greeks were roused from their lethargy
by the hopes of conquest and revenge. The Byzantine empire, since the
accession of the Basilian race, had reposed in peace and dignity; and
they might encounter with their entire strength the front of some petty
emir, whose rear was assaulted and threatened by his national foes of
the Mahometan faith. The lofty titles of the morning star, and the death
of the Saracens, were applied in the public acclamations to Nicephorus
Phocas, a prince as renowned in the camp, as he was unpopular in the
city. In the subordinate station of great domestic, or general of the
East, he reduced the Island of Crete, and extirpated the nest of pirates
who had so long defied, with impunity, the majesty of the empire.
His military genius was displayed in the conduct and success of the
enterprise, which had so often failed with loss and dishonor. The
Saracens were confounded by the landing of his troops on safe and level
bridges, which he cast from the vessels to the shore. Seven months were
consumed in the siege of Candia; the despair of the native Cretans was
stimulated by the frequent aid of their brethren of Africa and Spain;
and after the massy wall and double ditch had been stormed by the Greeks
a hopeless conflict was still maintained in the streets and houses
of the city. The whole island was subdued in the capital, and a
submissive people accepted, without resistance, the baptism of the
conqueror. Constantinople applauded the long-forgotten pomp of a
triumph; but the Imperial diadem was the sole reward that could repay
the services, or satisfy the ambition, of Nicephorus.

After the death of the younger Romanus, the fourth in lineal descent of
the Basilian race, his widow Theophania successively married Nicephorus
Phocas and his assassin John Zimisces, the two heroes of the age. They
reigned as the guardians and colleagues of her infant sons; and the
twelve years of their military command form the most splendid period of
the Byzantine annals. The subjects and confederates, whom they led to
war, appeared, at least in the eyes of an enemy, two hundred thousand
strong; and of these about thirty thousand were armed with cuirasses:
a train of four thousand mules attended their march; and their evening
camp was regularly fortified with an enclosure of iron spikes. A series
of bloody and undecisive combats is nothing more than an anticipation
of what would have been effected in a few years by the course of nature;
but I shall briefly prosecute the conquests of the two emperors from the
hills of Cappadocia to the desert of Bagdad. The sieges of Mopsuestia
and Tarsus, in Cilicia, first exercised the skill and perseverance of
their troops, on whom, at this moment, I shall not hesitate to bestow
the name of Romans. In the double city of Mopsuestia, which is divided
by the River Sarus, two hundred thousand Moslems were predestined to
death or slavery, a surprising degree of population, which must at least
include the inhabitants of the dependent districts. They were surrounded
and taken by assault; but Tarsus was reduced by the slow progress of
famine; and no sooner had the Saracens yielded on honorable terms than
they were mortified by the distant and unprofitable view of the naval
succors of Egypt. They were dismissed with a safe-conduct to the
confines of Syria: a part of the old Christians had quietly lived under
their dominion; and the vacant habitations were replenished by a new
colony. But the mosch was converted into a stable; the pulpit was
delivered to the flames; many rich crosses of gold and gems, the spoils
of Asiatic churches, were made a grateful offering to the piety or
avarice of the emperor; and he transported the gates of Mopsuestia and
Tarsus, which were fixed in the walls of Constantinople, an eternal
monument of his victory. After they had forced and secured the narrow
passes of Mount Amanus, the two Roman princes repeatedly carried their
arms into the heart of Syria. Yet, instead of assaulting the walls of
Antioch, the humanity or superstition of Nicephorus appeared to respect
the ancient metropolis of the East: he contented himself with drawing
round the city a line of circumvallation; left a stationary army; and
instructed his lieutenant to expect, without impatience, the return
of spring. But in the depth of winter, in a dark and rainy night, an
adventurous subaltern, with three hundred soldiers, approached the
rampart, applied his scaling-ladders, occupied two adjacent towers,
stood firm against the pressure of multitudes, and bravely maintained
his post till he was relieved by the tardy, though effectual, support of
his reluctant chief. The first tumult of slaughter and rapine subsided;
the reign of Cæsar and of Christ was restored; and the efforts of a
hundred thousand Saracens, of the armies of Syria and the fleets of
Africa, were consumed without effect before the walls of Antioch. The
royal city of Aleppo was subject to Seifeddowlat, of the dynasty of
Hamadan, who clouded his past glory by the precipitate retreat which
abandoned his kingdom and capital to the Roman invaders. In his stately
palace, that stood without the walls of Aleppo, they joyfully seized a
well-furnished magazine of arms, a stable of fourteen hundred mules,
and three hundred bags of silver and gold. But the walls of the city
withstood the strokes of their battering-rams: and the besiegers pitched
their tents on the neighboring mountain of Jaushan. Their retreat
exasperated the quarrel of the townsmen and mercenaries; the guard of
the gates and ramparts was deserted; and while they furiously charged
each other in the market-place, they were surprised and destroyed by the
sword of a common enemy. The male sex was exterminated by the sword;
ten thousand youths were led into captivity; the weight of the precious
spoil exceeded the strength and number of the beasts of burden; the
superfluous remainder was burnt; and, after a licentious possession of
ten days, the Romans marched away from the naked and bleeding city. In
their Syrian inroads they commanded the husbandmen to cultivate their
lands, that they themselves, in the ensuing season, might reap the
benefit; more than a hundred cities were reduced to obedience; and
eighteen pulpits of the principal moschs were committed to the flames to
expiate the sacrilege of the disciples of Mahomet. The classic names
of Hierapolis, Apamea, and Emesa, revive for a moment in the list of
conquest: the emperor Zimisces encamped in the paradise of Damascus,
and accepted the ransom of a submissive people; and the torrent was
only stopped by the impregnable fortress of Tripoli, on the sea-coast of
Phnicia. Since the days of Heraclius, the Euphrates, below the passage
of Mount Taurus, had been impervious, and almost invisible, to the
Greeks. The river yielded a free passage to the victorious Zimisces;
and the historian may imitate the speed with which he overran the once
famous cities of Samosata, Edessa, Martyropolis, Amida, and Nisibis, the
ancient limit of the empire in the neighborhood of the Tigris. His
ardor was quickened by the desire of grasping the virgin treasures
of Ecbatana, a well-known name, under which the Byzantine writer has
concealed the capital of the Abbassides. The consternation of the
fugitives had already diffused the terror of his name; but the fancied
riches of Bagdad had already been dissipated by the avarice and
prodigality of domestic tyrants. The prayers of the people, and the
stern demands of the lieutenant of the Bowides, required the caliph to
provide for the defence of the city. The helpless Mothi replied, that
his arms, his revenues, and his provinces, had been torn from his hands,
and that he was ready to abdicate a dignity which he was unable to
support. The emir was inexorable; the furniture of the palace was sold;
and the paltry price of forty thousand pieces of gold was instantly
consumed in private luxury. But the apprehensions of Bagdad were
relieved by the retreat of the Greeks: thirst and hunger guarded the
desert of Mesopotamia; and the emperor, satiated with glory, and laden
with Oriental spoils, returned to Constantinople, and displayed, in his
triumph, the silk, the aromatics, and three hundred myriads of gold and
silver. Yet the powers of the East had been bent, not broken, by this
transient hurricane. After the departure of the Greeks, the fugitive
princes returned to their capitals; the subjects disclaimed their
involuntary oaths of allegiance; the Moslems again purified their
temples, and overturned the idols of the saints and martyrs; the
Nestorians and Jacobites preferred a Saracen to an orthodox master; and
the numbers and spirit of the Melchites were inadequate to the support
of the church and state. Of these extensive conquests, Antioch, with
the cities of Cilicia and the Isle of Cyprus, was alone restored, a
permanent and useful accession to the Roman empire.

Chapter LIII: Fate Of The Eastern Empire.--Part I.

     Fate Of The Eastern Empire In The Tenth Century.--Extent And
     Division.--Wealth And Revenue.--Palace Of Constantinople.--
     Titles And Offices.--Pride And Power Of The Emperors.--
     Tactics Of The Greeks, Arabs, And Franks.--Loss Of The Latin
     Tongue.--Studies And Solitude Of The Greeks.

A ray of historic light seems to beam from the darkness of the tenth
century. We open with curiosity and respect the royal volumes of
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, which he composed at a mature age for the
instruction of his son, and which promise to unfold the state of the
eastern empire, both in peace and war, both at home and abroad. In the
first of these works he minutely describes the pompous ceremonies of the
church and palace of Constantinople, according to his own practice, and
that of his predecessors. In the second, he attempts an accurate survey
of the provinces, the _themes_, as they were then denominated, both of
Europe and Asia. The system of Roman tactics, the discipline and
order of the troops, and the military operations by land and sea, are
explained in the third of these didactic collections, which may be
ascribed to Constantine or his father Leo. In the fourth, of the
administration of the empire, he reveals the secrets of the Byzantine
policy, in friendly or hostile intercourse with the nations of the
earth. The literary labors of the age, the practical systems of law,
agriculture, and history, might redound to the benefit of the subject
and the honor of the Macedonian princes. The sixty books of the
_Basilics_, the code and pandects of civil jurisprudence, were gradually
framed in the three first reigns of that prosperous dynasty. The art of
agriculture had amused the leisure, and exercised the pens, of the best
and wisest of the ancients; and their chosen precepts are comprised in
the twenty books of the _Geoponics_ of Constantine. At his command, the
historical examples of vice and virtue were methodized in fifty-three
books, and every citizen might apply, to his contemporaries or himself,
the lesson or the warning of past times. From the august character of a
legislator, the sovereign of the East descends to the more humble office
of a teacher and a scribe; and if his successors and subjects were
regardless of his paternal cares, _we_ may inherit and enjoy the
everlasting legacy.

A closer survey will indeed reduce the value of the gift, and the
gratitude of posterity: in the possession of these Imperial treasures we
may still deplore our poverty and ignorance; and the fading glories
of their authors will be obliterated by indifference or contempt. The
Basilics will sink to a broken copy, a partial and mutilated version, in
the Greek language, of the laws of Justinian; but the sense of the
old civilians is often superseded by the influence of bigotry: and the
absolute prohibition of divorce, concubinage, and interest for money,
enslaves the freedom of trade and the happiness of private life. In the
historical book, a subject of Constantine might admire the inimitable
virtues of Greece and Rome: he might learn to what a pitch of energy
and elevation the human character had formerly aspired. But a contrary
effect must have been produced by a new edition of the lives of the
saints, which the great logothete, or chancellor of the empire, was
directed to prepare; and the dark fund of superstition was enriched by
the fabulous and florid legends of Simon the _Metaphrast_. The merits
and miracles of the whole calendar are of less account in the eyes of a
sage, than the toil of a single husbandman, who multiplies the gifts
of the Creator, and supplies the food of his brethren. Yet the royal
authors of the _Geoponics_ were more seriously employed in expounding
the precepts of the destroying art, which had been taught since the days
of Xenophon, as the art of heroes and kings. But the _Tactics_ of Leo
and Constantine are mingled with the baser alloy of the age in which
they lived. It was destitute of original genius; they implicitly
transcribe the rules and maxims which had been confirmed by victories.
It was unskilled in the propriety of style and method; they blindly
confound the most distant and discordant institutions, the phalanx of
Sparta and that of Macedon, the legions of Cato and Trajan, of Augustus
and Theodosius. Even the use, or at least the importance, of these
military rudiments may be fairly questioned: their general theory is
dictated by reason; but the merit, as well as difficulty, consists
in the application. The discipline of a soldier is formed by exercise
rather than by study: the talents of a commander are appropriated to
those calm, though rapid, minds, which nature produces to decide the
fate of armies and nations: the former is the habit of a life, the
latter the glance of a moment; and the battles won by lessons of tactics
may be numbered with the epic poems created from the rules of criticism.
The book of ceremonies is a recital, tedious yet imperfect, of the
despicable pageantry which had infected the church and state since the
gradual decay of the purity of the one and the power of the other.
A review of the themes or provinces might promise such authentic and
useful information, as the curiosity of government only can obtain,
instead of traditionary fables on the origin of the cities, and
malicious epigrams on the vices of their inhabitants. Such information
the historian would have been pleased to record; nor should his silence
be condemned if the most interesting objects, the population of the
capital and provinces, the amount of the taxes and revenues, the numbers
of subjects and strangers who served under the Imperial standard, have
been unnoticed by Leo the philosopher, and his son Constantine.
His treatise of the public administration is stained with the same
blemishes; yet it is discriminated by peculiar merit; the antiquities of
the nations may be doubtful or fabulous; but the geography and manners
of the Barbaric world are delineated with curious accuracy. Of these
nations, the Franks alone were qualified to observe in their turn, and
to describe, the metropolis of the East. The ambassador of the great
Otho, a bishop of Cremona, has painted the state of Constantinople about
the middle of the tenth century: his style is glowing, his narrative
lively, his observation keen; and even the prejudices and passions of
Liutprand are stamped with an original character of freedom and genius.
From this scanty fund of foreign and domestic materials, I shall
investigate the form and substance of the Byzantine empire; the
provinces and wealth, the civil government and military force, the
character and literature, of the Greeks in a period of six hundred
years, from the reign of Heraclius to his successful invasion of the
Franks or Latins.

After the final division between the sons of Theodosius, the swarms
of Barbarians from Scythia and Germany over-spread the provinces and
extinguished the empire of ancient Rome. The weakness of Constantinople
was concealed by extent of dominion: her limits were inviolate, or at
least entire; and the kingdom of Justinian was enlarged by the splendid
acquisition of Africa and Italy. But the possession of these new
conquests was transient and precarious; and almost a moiety of the
Eastern empire was torn away by the arms of the Saracens. Syria and
Egypt were oppressed by the Arabian caliphs; and, after the reduction of
Africa, their lieutenants invaded and subdued the Roman province which
had been changed into the Gothic monarchy of Spain. The islands of the
Mediterranean were not inaccessible to their naval powers; and it was
from their extreme stations, the harbors of Crete and the fortresses of
Cilicia, that the faithful or rebel emirs insulted the majesty of the
throne and capital. The remaining provinces, under the obedience of
the emperors, were cast into a new mould; and the jurisdiction of
the presidents, the consulars, and the counts were superseded by the
institution of the _themes_, or military governments, which prevailed
under the successors of Heraclius, and are described by the pen of the
royal author. Of the twenty-nine themes, twelve in Europe and seventeen
in Asia, the origin is obscure, the etymology doubtful or capricious:
the limits were arbitrary and fluctuating; but some particular names,
that sound the most strangely to our ear, were derived from the
character and attributes of the troops that were maintained at the
expense, and for the guard, of the respective divisions. The vanity of
the Greek princes most eagerly grasped the shadow of conquest and the
memory of lost dominion. A new Mesopotamia was created on the western
side of the Euphrates: the appellation and prætor of Sicily were
transferred to a narrow slip of Calabria; and a fragment of the duchy of
Beneventum was promoted to the style and title of the theme of Lombardy.
In the decline of the Arabian empire, the successors of Constantine
might indulge their pride in more solid advantages. The victories of
Nicephorus, John Zimisces, and Basil the Second, revived the fame, and
enlarged the boundaries, of the Roman name: the province of Cilicia, the
metropolis of Antioch, the islands of Crete and Cyprus, were restored
to the allegiance of Christ and Cæsar: one third of Italy was annexed to
the throne of Constantinople: the kingdom of Bulgaria was destroyed; and
the last sovereigns of the Macedonian dynasty extended their sway from
the sources of the Tigris to the neighborhood of Rome. In the eleventh
century, the prospect was again clouded by new enemies and new
misfortunes: the relics of Italy were swept away by the Norman
adventures; and almost all the Asiatic branches were dissevered from the
Roman trunk by the Turkish conquerors. After these losses, the
emperors of the Comnenian family continued to reign from the Danube
to Peloponnesus, and from Belgrade to Nice, Trebizond, and the winding
stream of the Meander. The spacious provinces of Thrace, Macedonia,
and Greece, were obedient to their sceptre; the possession of Cyprus,
Rhodes, and Crete, was accompanied by the fifty islands of the Ægean or
Holy Sea; and the remnant of their empire transcends the measure of the
largest of the European kingdoms.

The same princes might assert, with dignity and truth, that of all the
monarchs of Christendom they possessed the greatest city, the most ample
revenue, the most flourishing and populous state. With the decline and
fall of the empire, the cities of the West had decayed and fallen; nor
could the ruins of Rome, or the mud walls, wooden hovels, and narrow
precincts of Paris and London, prepare the Latin stranger to contemplate
the situation and extent of Constantinople, her stately palaces
and churches, and the arts and luxury of an innumerable people. Her
treasures might attract, but her virgin strength had repelled, and still
promised to repel, the audacious invasion of the Persian and Bulgarian,
the Arab and the Russian. The provinces were less fortunate and
impregnable; and few districts, few cities, could be discovered which
had not been violated by some fierce Barbarian, impatient to despoil,
because he was hopeless to possess. From the age of Justinian the
Eastern empire was sinking below its former level; the powers of
destruction were more active than those of improvement; and the
calamities of war were imbittered by the more permanent evils of
civil and ecclesiastical tyranny. The captive who had escaped from the
Barbarians was often stripped and imprisoned by the ministers of his
sovereign: the Greek superstition relaxed the mind by prayer, and
emaciated the body by fasting; and the multitude of convents and
festivals diverted many hands and many days from the temporal service
of mankind. Yet the subjects of the Byzantine empire were still the most
dexterous and diligent of nations; their country was blessed by nature
with every advantage of soil, climate, and situation; and, in the
support and restoration of the arts, their patient and peaceful temper
was more useful than the warlike spirit and feudal anarchy of Europe.
The provinces that still adhered to the empire were repeopled and
enriched by the misfortunes of those which were irrecoverably lost.
From the yoke of the caliphs, the Catholics of Syria, Egypt, and Africa
retired to the allegiance of their prince, to the society of their
brethren: the movable wealth, which eludes the search of oppression,
accompanied and alleviated their exile, and Constantinople received
into her bosom the fugitive trade of Alexandria and Tyre. The chiefs
of Armenia and Scythia, who fled from hostile or religious persecution,
were hospitably entertained: their followers were encouraged to build
new cities and to cultivate waste lands; and many spots, both in Europe
and Asia, preserved the name, the manners, or at least the memory, of
these national colonies. Even the tribes of Barbarians, who had seated
themselves in arms on the territory of the empire, were gradually
reclaimed to the laws of the church and state; and as long as they were
separated from the Greeks, their posterity supplied a race of faithful
and obedient soldiers. Did we possess sufficient materials to survey
the twenty-nine themes of the Byzantine monarchy, our curiosity might
be satisfied with a chosen example: it is fortunate enough that the
clearest light should be thrown on the most interesting province,
and the name of Peloponnesus will awaken the attention of the classic

As early as the eighth century, in the troubled reign of the
Iconoclasts, Greece, and even Peloponnesus, were overrun by some
Sclavonian bands who outstripped the royal standard of Bulgaria. The
strangers of old, Cadmus, and Danaus, and Pelops, had planted in that
fruitful soil the seeds of policy and learning; but the savages of the
north eradicated what yet remained of their sickly and withered roots.
In this irruption, the country and the inhabitants were transformed; the
Grecian blood was contaminated; and the proudest nobles of Peloponnesus
were branded with the names of foreigners and _slaves_. By the diligence
of succeeding princes, the land was in some measure purified from the
Barbarians; and the humble remnant was bound by an oath of obedience,
tribute, and military service, which they often renewed and often
violated. The siege of Patras was formed by a singular concurrence of
the Sclavonians of Peloponnesus and the Saracens of Africa. In their
last distress, a pious fiction of the approach of the prætor of
Corinth revived the courage of the citizens. Their sally was bold and
successful; the strangers embarked, the rebels submitted, and the glory
of the day was ascribed to a phantom or a stranger, who fought in the
foremost ranks under the character of St. Andrew the Apostle. The shrine
which contained his relics was decorated with the trophies of victory,
and the captive race was forever devoted to the service and vassalage
of the metropolitan church of Patras. By the revolt of two Sclavonian
tribes, in the neighborhood of Helos and Lacedæmon, the peace of the
peninsula was often disturbed. They sometimes insulted the weakness, and
sometimes resisted the oppression, of the Byzantine government, till at
length the approach of their hostile brethren extorted a golden bull
to define the rites and obligations of the Ezzerites and Milengi, whose
annual tribute was defined at twelve hundred pieces of gold. From
these strangers the Imperial geographer has accurately distinguished a
domestic, and perhaps original, race, who, in some degree, might derive
their blood from the much-injured Helots. The liberality of the Romans,
and especially of Augustus, had enfranchised the maritime cities from
the dominion of Sparta; and the continuance of the same benefit ennobled
them with the title of _Eleuthero_, or Free-Laconians. In the time of
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, they had acquired the name of _Mainotes_,
under which they dishonor the claim of liberty by the inhuman pillage of
all that is shipwrecked on their rocky shores. Their territory, barren
of corn, but fruitful of olives, extended to the Cape of Malea: they
accepted a chief or prince from the Byzantine prætor, and a light
tribute of four hundred pieces of gold was the badge of their immunity,
rather than of their dependence. The freemen of Laconia assumed the
character of Romans, and long adhered to the religion of the Greeks.
By the zeal of the emperor Basil, they were baptized in the faith of
Christ: but the altars of Venus and Neptune had been crowned by these
rustic votaries five hundred years after they were proscribed in the
Roman world. In the theme of Peloponnesus, forty cities were still
numbered, and the declining state of Sparta, Argos, and Corinth, may be
suspended in the tenth century, at an equal distance, perhaps, between
their antique splendor and their present desolation. The duty of
military service, either in person or by substitute, was imposed on the
lands or benefices of the province; a sum of five pieces of gold was
assessed on each of the substantial tenants; and the same capitation was
shared among several heads of inferior value. On the proclamation of
an Italian war, the Peloponnesians excused themselves by a voluntary
oblation of one hundred pounds of gold, (four thousand pounds sterling,)
and a thousand horses with their arms and trappings. The churches
and monasteries furnished their contingent; a sacrilegious profit was
extorted from the sale of ecclesiastical honors; and the indigent bishop
of Leucadia was made responsible for a pension of one hundred pieces of

But the wealth of the province, and the trust of the revenue, were
founded on the fair and plentiful produce of trade and manufacturers;
and some symptoms of liberal policy may be traced in a law which exempts
from all personal taxes the mariners of Peloponnesus, and the workmen
in parchment and purple. This denomination may be fairly applied or
extended to the manufacturers of linen, woollen, and more especially of
silk: the two former of which had flourished in Greece since the days
of Homer; and the last was introduced perhaps as early as the reign
of Justinian. These arts, which were exercised at Corinth, Thebes,
and Argos, afforded food and occupation to a numerous people: the
men, women, and children were distributed according to their age and
strength; and, if many of these were domestic slaves, their masters, who
directed the work and enjoyed the profit, were of a free and honorable
condition. The gifts which a rich and generous matron of Peloponnesus
presented to the emperor Basil, her adopted son, were doubtless
fabricated in the Grecian looms. Danielis bestowed a carpet of fine
wool, of a pattern which imitated the spots of a peacock's tail, of a
magnitude to overspread the floor of a new church, erected in the triple
name of Christ, of Michael the archangel, and of the prophet Elijah.
She gave six hundred pieces of silk and linen, of various use and
denomination: the silk was painted with the Tyrian dye, and adorned by
the labors of the needle; and the linen was so exquisitely fine, that an
entire piece might be rolled in the hollow of a cane. In his description
of the Greek manufactures, an historian of Sicily discriminates their
price, according to the weight and quality of the silk, the closeness
of the texture, the beauty of the colors, and the taste and materials of
the embroidery. A single, or even a double or treble thread was thought
sufficient for ordinary sale; but the union of six threads composed
a piece of stronger and more costly workmanship. Among the colors,
he celebrates, with affectation of eloquence, the fiery blaze of the
scarlet, and the softer lustre of the green. The embroidery was raised
either in silk or gold: the more simple ornament of stripes or circles
was surpassed by the nicer imitation of flowers: the vestments that were
fabricated for the palace or the altar often glittered with precious
stones; and the figures were delineated in strings of Oriental pearls.
Till the twelfth century, Greece alone, of all the countries of
Christendom, was possessed of the insect who is taught by nature, and of
the workmen who are instructed by art, to prepare this elegant luxury.
But the secret had been stolen by the dexterity and diligence of the
Arabs: the caliphs of the East and West scorned to borrow from the
unbelievers their furniture and apparel; and two cities of Spain,
Almeria and Lisbon, were famous for the manufacture, the use, and,
perhaps, the exportation, of silk. It was first introduced into Sicily
by the Normans; and this emigration of trade distinguishes the victory
of Roger from the uniform and fruitless hostilities of every age. After
the sack of Corinth, Athens, and Thebes, his lieutenant embarked with a
captive train of weavers and artificers of both sexes, a trophy glorious
to their master, and disgraceful to the Greek emperor. The king of
Sicily was not insensible of the value of the present; and, in the
restitution of the prisoners, he excepted only the male and female
manufacturers of Thebes and Corinth, who labor, says the Byzantine
historian, under a barbarous lord, like the old Eretrians in the service
of Darius. A stately edifice, in the palace of Palermo, was erected for
the use of this industrious colony; and the art was propagated by their
children and disciples to satisfy the increasing demand of the western
world. The decay of the looms of Sicily may be ascribed to the troubles
of the island, and the competition of the Italian cities. In the year
thirteen hundred and fourteen, Lucca alone, among her sister republics,
enjoyed the lucrative monopoly. A domestic revolution dispersed
the manufacturers to Florence, Bologna, Venice, Milan, and even the
countries beyond the Alps; and thirteen years after this event the
statutes of Modena enjoin the planting of mulberry-trees, and regulate
the duties on raw silk. The northern climates are less propitious to
the education of the silkworm; but the industry of France and England is
supplied and enriched by the productions of Italy and China.

Chapter LIII: Fate Of The Eastern Empire.--Part II.

I must repeat the complaint that the vague and scanty memorials of the
times will not afford any just estimate of the taxes, the revenue, and
the resources of the Greek empire. From every province of Europe and
Asia the rivulets of gold and silver discharged into the Imperial
reservoir a copious and perennial stream. The separation of the branches
from the trunk increased the relative magnitude of Constantinople; and
the maxims of despotism contracted the state to the capital, the capital
to the palace, and the palace to the royal person. A Jewish traveller,
who visited the East in the twelfth century, is lost in his admiration
of the Byzantine riches. "It is here," says Benjamin of Tudela, "in
the queen of cities, that the tributes of the Greek empire are annually
deposited and the lofty towers are filled with precious magazines of
silk, purple, and gold. It is said, that Constantinople pays each day
to her sovereign twenty thousand pieces of gold; which are levied on the
shops, taverns, and markets, on the merchants of Persia and Egypt, of
Russia and Hungary, of Italy and Spain, who frequent the capital by sea
and land." In all pecuniary matters, the authority of a Jew is doubtless
respectable; but as the three hundred and sixty-five days would produce
a yearly income exceeding seven millions sterling, I am tempted to
retrench at least the numerous festivals of the Greek calendar. The mass
of treasure that was saved by Theodora and Basil the Second will suggest
a splendid, though indefinite, idea of their supplies and resources. The
mother of Michael, before she retired to a cloister, attempted to check
or expose the prodigality of her ungrateful son, by a free and faithful
account of the wealth which he inherited; one hundred and nine thousand
pounds of gold, and three hundred thousand of silver, the fruits of her
own economy and that of her deceased husband. The avarice of Basil is
not less renowned than his valor and fortune: his victorious armies were
paid and rewarded without breaking into the mass of two hundred thousand
pounds of gold, (about eight millions sterling,) which he had buried in
the subterraneous vaults of the palace. Such accumulation of treasure
is rejected by the theory and practice of modern policy; and we are more
apt to compute the national riches by the use and abuse of the public
credit. Yet the maxims of antiquity are still embraced by a monarch
formidable to his enemies; by a republic respectable to her allies; and
both have attained their respective ends of military power and domestic

Whatever might be consumed for the present wants, or reserved for the
future use, of the state, the first and most sacred demand was for the
pomp and pleasure of the emperor, and his discretion only could define
the measure of his private expense. The princes of Constantinople were
far removed from the simplicity of nature; yet, with the revolving
seasons, they were led by taste or fashion to withdraw to a purer air,
from the smoke and tumult of the capital. They enjoyed, or affected to
enjoy, the rustic festival of the vintage: their leisure was amused by
the exercise of the chase and the calmer occupation of fishing, and in
the summer heats, they were shaded from the sun, and refreshed by the
cooling breezes from the sea. The coasts and islands of Asia and Europe
were covered with their magnificent villas; but, instead of the modest
art which secretly strives to hide itself and to decorate the scenery of
nature, the marble structure of their gardens served only to expose
the riches of the lord, and the labors of the architect. The successive
casualties of inheritance and forfeiture had rendered the sovereign
proprietor of many stately houses in the city and suburbs, of which
twelve were appropriated to the ministers of state; but the great
palace, the centre of the Imperial residence, was fixed during eleven
centuries to the same position, between the hippodrome, the cathedral
of St. Sophia, and the gardens, which descended by many a terrace to the
shores of the Propontis. The primitive edifice of the first Constantine
was a copy, or rival, of ancient Rome; the gradual improvements of his
successors aspired to emulate the wonders of the old world, and in the
tenth century, the Byzantine palace excited the admiration, at least
of the Latins, by an unquestionable preëminence of strength, size, and
magnificence. But the toil and treasure of so many ages had produced
a vast and irregular pile: each separate building was marked with the
character of the times and of the founder; and the want of space
might excuse the reigning monarch, who demolished, perhaps with secret
satisfaction, the works of his predecessors. The economy of the emperor
Theophilus allowed a more free and ample scope for his domestic luxury
and splendor. A favorite ambassador, who had astonished the Abbassides
themselves by his pride and liberality, presented on his return the
model of a palace, which the caliph of Bagdad had recently constructed
on the banks of the Tigris. The model was instantly copied and
surpassed: the new buildings of Theophilus were accompanied with
gardens, and with five churches, one of which was conspicuous for size
and beauty: it was crowned with three domes, the roof of gilt brass
reposed on columns of Italian marble, and the walls were incrusted with
marbles of various colors. In the face of the church, a semicircular
portico, of the figure and name of the Greek _sigma_, was supported by
fifteen columns of Phrygian marble, and the subterraneous vaults were of
a similar construction. The square before the sigma was decorated with
a fountain, and the margin of the basin was lined and encompassed with
plates of silver. In the beginning of each season, the basin, instead
of water, was replenished with the most exquisite fruits, which were
abandoned to the populace for the entertainment of the prince. He
enjoyed this tumultuous spectacle from a throne resplendent with gold
and gems, which was raised by a marble staircase to the height of a
lofty terrace. Below the throne were seated the officers of his guards,
the magistrates, the chiefs of the factions of the circus; the inferior
steps were occupied by the people, and the place below was covered with
troops of dancers, singers, and pantomimes. The square was surrounded
by the hall of justice, the arsenal, and the various offices of business
and pleasure; and the _purple_ chamber was named from the annual
distribution of robes of scarlet and purple by the hand of the empress
herself. The long series of the apartments was adapted to the seasons,
and decorated with marble and porphyry, with painting, sculpture, and
mosaics, with a profusion of gold, silver, and precious stones. His
fanciful magnificence employed the skill and patience of such artists
as the times could afford: but the taste of Athens would have despised
their frivolous and costly labors; a golden tree, with its leaves and
branches, which sheltered a multitude of birds warbling their artificial
notes, and two lions of massy gold, and of natural size, who looked and
roared like their brethren of the forest. The successors of Theophilus,
of the Basilian and Comnenian dynasties, were not less ambitious of
leaving some memorial of their residence; and the portion of the palace
most splendid and august was dignified with the title of the golden
_triclinium_. With becoming modesty, the rich and noble Greeks aspired
to imitate their sovereign, and when they passed through the streets on
horseback, in their robes of silk and embroidery, they were mistaken by
the children for kings. A matron of Peloponnesus, who had cherished the
infant fortunes of Basil the Macedonian, was excited by tenderness or
vanity to visit the greatness of her adopted son. In a journey of
five hundred miles from Patras to Constantinople, her age or indolence
declined the fatigue of a horse or carriage: the soft litter or bed of
Danielis was transported on the shoulders of ten robust slaves; and
as they were relieved at easy distances, a band of three hundred were
selected for the performance of this service. She was entertained in the
Byzantine palace with filial reverence, and the honors of a queen; and
whatever might be the origin of her wealth, her gifts were not unworthy
of the regal dignity. I have already described the fine and curious
manufactures of Peloponnesus, of linen, silk, and woollen; but the most
acceptable of her presents consisted in three hundred beautiful youths,
of whom one hundred were eunuchs; "for she was not ignorant," says
the historian, "that the air of the palace is more congenial to such
insects, than a shepherd's dairy to the flies of the summer." During her
lifetime, she bestowed the greater part of her estates in Peloponnesus,
and her testament instituted Leo, the son of Basil, her universal heir.
After the payment of the legacies, fourscore villas or farms were added
to the Imperial domain; and three thousand slaves of Danielis were
enfranchised by their new lord, and transplanted as a colony to the
Italian coast. From this example of a private matron, we may estimate
the wealth and magnificence of the emperors. Yet our enjoyments are
confined by a narrow circle; and, whatsoever may be its value, the
luxury of life is possessed with more innocence and safety by the master
of his own, than by the steward of the public, fortune.

In an absolute government, which levels the distinctions of noble and
plebeian birth, the sovereign is the sole fountain of honor; and the
rank, both in the palace and the empire, depends on the titles and
offices which are bestowed and resumed by his arbitrary will. Above a
thousand years, from Vespasian to Alexius Comnenus, the _Cæsar_ was the
second person, or at least the second degree, after the supreme title of
_Augustus_ was more freely communicated to the sons and brothers of the
reigning monarch. To elude without violating his promise to a powerful
associate, the husband of his sister, and, without giving himself an
equal, to reward the piety of his brother Isaac, the crafty Alexius
interposed a new and supereminent dignity. The happy flexibility of the
Greek tongue allowed him to compound the names of Augustus and Emperor
(Sebastos and Autocrator,) and the union produces the sonorous title of
_Sebastocrator_. He was exalted above the Cæsar on the first step of
the throne: the public acclamations repeated his name; and he was only
distinguished from the sovereign by some peculiar ornaments of the head
and feet. The emperor alone could assume the purple or red buskins, and
the close diadem or tiara, which imitated the fashion of the Persian
kings. It was a high pyramidal cap of cloth or silk, almost concealed by
a profusion of pearls and jewels: the crown was formed by a horizontal
circle and two arches of gold: at the summit, the point of their
intersection, was placed a globe or cross, and two strings or lappets
of pearl depended on either cheek. Instead of red, the buskins of the
Sebastocrator and Cæsar were green; and on their _open_ coronets or
crowns, the precious gems were more sparingly distributed. Beside and
below the Cæsar the fancy of Alexius created the _Panhypersebasto_
and the _Protosebastos_, whose sound and signification will satisfy a
Grecian ear. They imply a superiority and a priority above the simple
name of Augustus; and this sacred and primitive title of the Roman
prince was degraded to the kinsmen and servants of the Byzantine court.
The daughter of Alexius applauds, with fond complacency, this artful
gradation of hopes and honors; but the science of words is accessible
to the meanest capacity; and this vain dictionary was easily enriched
by the pride of his successors. To their favorite sons or brothers,
they imparted the more lofty appellation of Lord or _Despot_, which was
illustrated with new ornaments, and prerogatives, and placed immediately
after the person of the emperor himself. The five titles of, 1. _Despot_;
2. _Sebastocrator_; 3. _Cæsar_; 4. _Panhypersebastos_; and,
5. _Protosebastos_; were usually confined to the princes of his blood: they
were the emanations of his majesty; but as they exercised no regular
functions, their existence was useless, and their authority precarious.

But in every monarchy the substantial powers of government must be
divided and exercised by the ministers of the palace and treasury, the
fleet and army. The titles alone can differ; and in the revolution
of ages, the counts and præfects, the prætor and quæstor, insensibly
descended, while their servants rose above their heads to the first
honors of the state. 1. In a monarchy, which refers every object to the
person of the prince, the care and ceremonies of the palace form the
most respectable department. The _Curopalata_, so illustrious in the
age of Justinian, was supplanted by the _Protovestiare_, whose primitive
functions were limited to the custody of the wardrobe. From thence his
jurisdiction was extended over the numerous menials of pomp and luxury;
and he presided with his silver wand at the public and private audience.
2. In the ancient system of Constantine, the name of _Logothete_, or
accountant, was applied to the receivers of the finances: the principal
officers were distinguished as the Logothetes of the domain, of the
posts, the army, the private and public treasure; and the _great
Logothete_, the supreme guardian of the laws and revenues, is compared
with the chancellor of the Latin monarchies. His discerning eye pervaded
the civil administration; and he was assisted, in due subordination, by
the eparch or præfect of the city, the first secretary, and the keepers
of the privy seal, the archives, and the red or purple ink which was
reserved for the sacred signature of the emperor alone. The introductor
and interpreter of foreign ambassadors were the great _Chiauss_ and the
_Dragoman_, two names of Turkish origin, and which are still familiar to
the Sublime Porte. 3. From the humble style and service of guards, the
_Domestics_ insensibly rose to the station of generals; the military
themes of the East and West, the legions of Europe and Asia, were often
divided, till the great Domestic was finally invested with the universal
and absolute command of the land forces. The _Protostrator_, in his
original functions, was the assistant of the emperor when he mounted on
horseback: he gradually became the lieutenant of the great Domestic in
the field; and his jurisdiction extended over the stables, the cavalry,
and the royal train of hunting and hawking. The _Stratopedarch_ was the
great judge of the camp: the _Protospathaire_ commanded the guards; the
_Constable_, the _great Æteriarch_, and the _Acolyth_, were the separate
chiefs of the Franks, the Barbarians, and the Varangi, or English, the
mercenary strangers, who, a the decay of the national spirit, formed
the nerve of the Byzantine armies. 4. The naval powers were under the
command of the _great Duke_; in his absence they obeyed the _great
Drungaire_ of the fleet; and, in _his_ place, the _Emir_, or _Admiral_,
a name of Saracen extraction, but which has been naturalized in all the
modern languages of Europe. Of these officers, and of many more whom
it would be useless to enumerate, the civil and military hierarchy
was framed. Their honors and emoluments, their dress and titles, their
mutual salutations and respective preëminence, were balanced with more
exquisite labor than would have fixed the constitution of a free people;
and the code was almost perfect when this baseless fabric, the monument
of pride and servitude, was forever buried in the ruins of the empire.

Chapter LIII: Fate Of The Eastern Empire.--Part III.

The most lofty titles, and the most humble postures, which devotion has
applied to the Supreme Being, have been prostituted by flattery and fear
to creatures of the same nature with ourselves. The mode of _adoration_,
of falling prostrate on the ground, and kissing the feet of the emperor,
was borrowed by Diocletian from Persian servitude; but it was continued
and aggravated till the last age of the Greek monarchy. Excepting only
on Sundays, when it was waived, from a motive of religious pride,
this humiliating reverence was exacted from all who entered the royal
presence, from the princes invested with the diadem and purple, and
from the ambassadors who represented their independent sovereigns, the
caliphs of Asia, Egypt, or Spain, the kings of France and Italy, and
the Latin emperors of ancient Rome. In his transactions of business,
Liutprand, bishop of Cremona, asserted the free spirit of a Frank and
the dignity of his master Otho. Yet his sincerity cannot disguise the
abasement of his first audience. When he approached the throne, the
birds of the golden tree began to warble their notes, which were
accompanied by the roarings of the two lions of gold. With his two
companions Liutprand was compelled to bow and to fall prostrate; and
thrice to touch the ground with his forehead. He arose, but in the short
interval, the throne had been hoisted from the floor to the ceiling,
the Imperial figure appeared in new and more gorgeous apparel, and the
interview was concluded in haughty and majestic silence. In this honest
and curious narrative, the Bishop of Cremona represents the ceremonies
of the Byzantine court, which are still practised in the Sublime Porte,
and which were preserved in the last age by the dukes of Muscovy
or Russia. After a long journey by sea and land, from Venice to
Constantinople, the ambassador halted at the golden gate, till he was
conducted by the formal officers to the hospitable palace prepared for
his reception; but this palace was a prison, and his jealous keepers
prohibited all social intercourse either with strangers or natives.
At his first audience, he offered the gifts of his master, slaves, and
golden vases, and costly armor. The ostentatious payment of the officers
and troops displayed before his eyes the riches of the empire: he was
entertained at a royal banquet, in which the ambassadors of the nations
were marshalled by the esteem or contempt of the Greeks: from his own
table, the emperor, as the most signal favor, sent the plates which he
had tasted; and his favorites were dismissed with a robe of honor. In
the morning and evening of each day, his civil and military servants
attended their duty in the palace; their labors were repaid by the
sight, perhaps by the smile, of their lord; his commands were signified
by a nod or a sign: but all earthly greatness _stood_ silent and
submissive in his presence. In his regular or extraordinary processions
through the capital, he unveiled his person to the public view: the
rites of policy were connected with those of religion, and his visits
to the principal churches were regulated by the festivals of the Greek
calendar. On the eve of these processions, the gracious or devout
intention of the monarch was proclaimed by the heralds. The streets were
cleared and purified; the pavement was strewed with flowers; the most
precious furniture, the gold and silver plate, and silken hangings,
were displayed from the windows and balconies, and a severe discipline
restrained and silenced the tumult of the populace. The march was opened
by the military officers at the head of their troops: they were followed
in long order by the magistrates and ministers of the civil government:
the person of the emperor was guarded by his eunuchs and domestics, and
at the church door he was solemnly received by the patriarch and
his clergy. The task of applause was not abandoned to the rude and
spontaneous voices of the crowd. The most convenient stations were
occupied by the bands of the blue and green factions of the circus; and
their furious conflicts, which had shaken the capital, were insensibly
sunk to an emulation of servitude. From either side they echoed in
responsive melody the praises of the emperor; their poets and musicians
directed the choir, and long life and victory were the burden of every
song. The same acclamations were performed at the audience, the banquet,
and the church; and as an evidence of boundless sway, they were repeated
in the Latin, Gothic, Persian, French, and even English language, by
the mercenaries who sustained the real or fictitious character of those
nations. By the pen of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, this science of form
and flattery has been reduced into a pompous and trifling volume, which
the vanity of succeeding times might enrich with an ample supplement.
Yet the calmer reflection of a prince would surely suggest that the same
acclamations were applied to every character and every reign: and if he
had risen from a private rank, he might remember, that his own voice had
been the loudest and most eager in applause, at the very moment when he
envied the fortune, or conspired against the life, of his predecessor.

The princes of the North, of the nations, says Constantine, without
faith or fame, were ambitious of mingling their blood with the blood of
the Cæsars, by their marriage with a royal virgin, or by the nuptials
of their daughters with a Roman prince. The aged monarch, in his
instructions to his son, reveals the secret maxims of policy and pride;
and suggests the most decent reasons for refusing these insolent and
unreasonable demands. Every animal, says the discreet emperor, is
prompted by the distinction of language, religion, and manners. A just
regard to the purity of descent preserves the harmony of public and
private life; but the mixture of foreign blood is the fruitful source of
disorder and discord. Such had ever been the opinion and practice of the
sage Romans: their jurisprudence proscribed the marriage of a citizen
and a stranger: in the days of freedom and virtue, a senator would have
scorned to match his daughter with a king: the glory of Mark Antony was
sullied by an Egyptian wife: and the emperor Titus was compelled, by
popular censure, to dismiss with reluctance the reluctant Berenice. This
perpetual interdict was ratified by the fabulous sanction of the great
Constantine. The ambassadors of the nations, more especially of the
unbelieving nations, were solemnly admonished, that such strange
alliances had been condemned by the founder of the church and city.
The irrevocable law was inscribed on the altar of St. Sophia; and the
impious prince who should stain the majesty of the purple was excluded
from the civil and ecclesiastical communion of the Romans. If the
ambassadors were instructed by any false brethren in the Byzantine
history, they might produce three memorable examples of the violation
of this imaginary law: the marriage of Leo, or rather of his father
Constantine the Fourth, with the daughter of the king of the Chozars,
the nuptials of the granddaughter of Romanus with a Bulgarian prince,
and the union of Bertha of France or Italy with young Romanus, the
son of Constantine Porphyrogenitus himself. To these objections three
answers were prepared, which solved the difficulty and established
the law. I. The deed and the guilt of Constantine Copronymus were
acknowledged. The Isaurian heretic, who sullied the baptismal font, and
declared war against the holy images, had indeed embraced a Barbarian
wife. By this impious alliance he accomplished the measure of his
crimes, and was devoted to the just censure of the church and of
posterity. II. Romanus could not be alleged as a legitimate emperor;
he was a plebeian usurper, ignorant of the laws, and regardless of the
honor, of the monarchy. His son Christopher, the father of the bride,
was the third in rank in the college of princes, at once the subject and
the accomplice of a rebellious parent. The Bulgarians were sincere and
devout Christians; and the safety of the empire, with the redemption of
many thousand captives, depended on this preposterous alliance. Yet no
consideration could dispense from the law of Constantine: the clergy,
the senate, and the people, disapproved the conduct of Romanus; and he
was reproached, both in his life and death, as the author of the public
disgrace. III. For the marriage of his own son with the daughter of
Hugo, king of Italy, a more honorable defence is contrived by the wise
Porphyrogenitus. Constantine, the great and holy, esteemed the fidelity
and valor of the Franks; and his prophetic spirit beheld the vision
of their future greatness. They alone were excepted from the general
prohibition: Hugo, king of France, was the lineal descendant of
Charlemagne; and his daughter Bertha inherited the prerogatives of her
family and nation. The voice of truth and malice insensibly betrayed the
fraud or error of the Imperial court. The patrimonial estate of Hugo
was reduced from the monarchy of France to the simple county of Arles;
though it was not denied, that, in the confusion of the times, he had
usurped the sovereignty of Provence, and invaded the kingdom of Italy.
His father was a private noble; and if Bertha derived her female descent
from the Carlovingian line, every step was polluted with illegitimacy
or vice. The grandmother of Hugo was the famous Valdrada, the concubine,
rather than the wife, of the second Lothair; whose adultery, divorce,
and second nuptials, had provoked against him the thunders of
the Vatican. His mother, as she was styled, the great Bertha, was
successively the wife of the count of Arles and of the marquis of
Tuscany: France and Italy were scandalized by her gallantries; and, till
the age of threescore, her lovers, of every degree, were the zealous
servants of her ambition. The example of maternal incontinence was
copied by the king of Italy; and the three favorite concubines of Hugo
were decorated with the classic names of Venus, Juno, and Semele. The
daughter of Venus was granted to the solicitations of the Byzantine
court: her name of Bertha was changed to that of Eudoxia; and she was
wedded, or rather betrothed, to young Romanus, the future heir of
the empire of the East. The consummation of this foreign alliance was
suspended by the tender age of the two parties; and, at the end of five
years, the union was dissolved by the death of the virgin spouse. The
second wife of the emperor Romanus was a maiden of plebeian, but of
Roman, birth; and their two daughters, Theophano and Anne, were given
in marriage to the princes of the earth. The eldest was bestowed, as the
pledge of peace, on the eldest son of the great Otho, who had solicited
this alliance with arms and embassies. It might legally be questioned
how far a Saxon was entitled to the privilege of the French nation;
but every scruple was silenced by the fame and piety of a hero who had
restored the empire of the West. After the death of her father-in-law
and husband, Theophano governed Rome, Italy, and Germany, during the
minority of her son, the third Otho; and the Latins have praised the
virtues of an empress, who sacrificed to a superior duty the remembrance
of her country. In the nuptials of her sister Anne, every prejudice was
lost, and every consideration of dignity was superseded, by the stronger
argument of necessity and fear. A Pagan of the North, Wolodomir, great
prince of Russia, aspired to a daughter of the Roman purple; and his
claim was enforced by the threats of war, the promise of conversion, and
the offer of a powerful succor against a domestic rebel. A victim of her
religion and country, the Grecian princess was torn from the palace of
her fathers, and condemned to a savage reign, and a hopeless exile
on the banks of the Borysthenes, or in the neighborhood of the Polar
circle. Yet the marriage of Anne was fortunate and fruitful: the
daughter of her grandson Joroslaus was recommended by her Imperial
descent; and the king of France, Henry I., sought a wife on the last
borders of Europe and Christendom.

In the Byzantine palace, the emperor was the first slave of the
ceremonies which he imposed, of the rigid forms which regulated each
word and gesture, besieged him in the palace, and violated the leisure
of his rural solitude. But the lives and fortunes of millions hung on
his arbitrary will; and the firmest minds, superior to the allurements
of pomp and luxury, may be seduced by the more active pleasure of
commanding their equals. The legislative and executive powers were
centred in the person of the monarch, and the last remains of the
authority of the senate were finally eradicated by Leo the philosopher.
A lethargy of servitude had benumbed the minds of the Greeks: in the
wildest tumults of rebellion they never aspired to the idea of a free
constitution; and the private character of the prince was the only
source and measure of their public happiness. Superstition rivetted
their chains; in the church of St. Sophia he was solemnly crowned by
the patriarch; at the foot of the altar, they pledged their passive and
unconditional obedience to his government and family. On his side he
engaged to abstain as much as possible from the capital punishments of
death and mutilation; his orthodox creed was subscribed with his own
hand, and he promised to obey the decrees of the seven synods, and the
canons of the holy church. But the assurance of mercy was loose and
indefinite: he swore, not to his people, but to an invisible judge; and
except in the inexpiable guilt of heresy, the ministers of heaven were
always prepared to preach the indefeasible right, and to absolve the
venial transgressions, of their sovereign. The Greek ecclesiastics were
themselves the subjects of the civil magistrate: at the nod of a tyrant,
the bishops were created, or transferred, or deposed, or punished with
an ignominious death: whatever might be their wealth or influence, they
could never succeed like the Latin clergy in the establishment of an
independent republic; and the patriarch of Constantinople condemned,
what he secretly envied, the temporal greatness of his Roman brother.
Yet the exercise of boundless despotism is happily checked by the laws
of nature and necessity. In proportion to his wisdom and virtue, the
master of an empire is confined to the path of his sacred and laborious
duty. In proportion to his vice and folly, he drops the sceptre too
weighty for his hands; and the motions of the royal image are ruled by
the imperceptible thread of some minister or favorite, who undertakes
for his private interest to exercise the task of the public oppression.
In some fatal moment, the most absolute monarch may dread the reason
or the caprice of a nation of slaves; and experience has proved, that
whatever is gained in the extent, is lost in the safety and solidity, of
regal power.

Whatever titles a despot may assume, whatever claims he may assert, it
is on the sword that he must ultimately depend to guard him against his
foreign and domestic enemies. From the age of Charlemagne to that of the
Crusades, the world (for I overlook the remote monarchy of China) was
occupied and disputed by the three great empires or nations of the
Greeks, the Saracens, and the Franks. Their military strength may be
ascertained by a comparison of their courage, their arts and riches, and
their obedience to a supreme head, who might call into action all the
energies of the state. The Greeks, far inferior to their rivals in the
first, were superior to the Franks, and at least equal to the Saracens,
in the second and third of these warlike qualifications.

The wealth of the Greeks enabled them to purchase the service of the
poorer nations, and to maintain a naval power for the protection of
their coasts and the annoyance of their enemies. A commerce of
mutual benefit exchanged the gold of Constantinople for the blood
of Sclavonians and Turks, the Bulgarians and Russians: their valor
contributed to the victories of Nicephorus and Zimisces; and if a
hostile people pressed too closely on the frontier, they were recalled
to the defence of their country, and the desire of peace, by the
well-managed attack of a more distant tribe. The command of the
Mediterranean, from the mouth of the Tanais to the columns of
Hercules, was always claimed, and often possessed, by the successors of
Constantine. Their capital was filled with naval stores and dexterous
artificers: the situation of Greece and Asia, the long coasts, deep
gulfs, and numerous islands, accustomed their subjects to the exercise
of navigation; and the trade of Venice and Amalfi supplied a nursery of
seamen to the Imperial fleet. Since the time of the Peloponnesian and
Punic wars, the sphere of action had not been enlarged; and the science
of naval architecture appears to have declined. The art of constructing
those stupendous machines which displayed three, or six, or ten, ranges
of oars, rising above, or falling behind, each other, was unknown to
the ship-builders of Constantinople, as well as to the mechanicians of
modern days. The _Dromones_, or light galleys of the Byzantine
empire, were content with two tier of oars; each tier was composed of
five-and-twenty benches; and two rowers were seated on each bench, who
plied their oars on either side of the vessel. To these we must add
the captain or centurion, who, in time of action, stood erect with his
armor-bearer on the poop, two steersmen at the helm, and two officers
at the prow, the one to manage the anchor, the other to point and play
against the enemy the tube of liquid fire. The whole crew, as in
the infancy of the art, performed the double service of mariners and
soldiers; they were provided with defensive and offensive arms, with
bows and arrows, which they used from the upper deck, with long pikes,
which they pushed through the portholes of the lower tier. Sometimes,
indeed, the ships of war were of a larger and more solid construction;
and the labors of combat and navigation were more regularly divided
between seventy soldiers and two hundred and thirty mariners. But for
the most part they were of the light and manageable size; and as
the Cape of Malea in Peloponnesus was still clothed with its ancient
terrors, an Imperial fleet was transported five miles over land across
the Isthmus of Corinth. The principles of maritime tactics had not
undergone any change since the time of Thucydides: a squadron of galleys
still advanced in a crescent, charged to the front, and strove to impel
their sharp beaks against the feeble sides of their antagonists. A
machine for casting stones and darts was built of strong timbers, in the
midst of the deck; and the operation of boarding was effected by a crane
that hoisted baskets of armed men. The language of signals, so clear and
copious in the naval grammar of the moderns, was imperfectly expressed
by the various positions and colors of a commanding flag. In the
darkness of the night, the same orders to chase, to attack, to halt, to
retreat, to break, to form, were conveyed by the lights of the leading
galley. By land, the fire-signals were repeated from one mountain to
another; a chain of eight stations commanded a space of five hundred
miles; and Constantinople in a few hours was apprised of the hostile
motions of the Saracens of Tarsus. Some estimate may be formed of the
power of the Greek emperors, by the curious and minute detail of the
armament which was prepared for the reduction of Crete. A fleet of one
hundred and twelve galleys, and seventy-five vessels of the Pamphylian
style, was equipped in the capital, the islands of the Ægean Sea, and
the seaports of Asia, Macedonia, and Greece. It carried thirty-four
thousand mariners, seven thousand three hundred and forty soldiers,
seven hundred Russians, and five thousand and eighty-seven Mardaites,
whose fathers had been transplanted from the mountains of Libanus. Their
pay, most probably of a month, was computed at thirty-four centenaries
of gold, about one hundred and thirty-six thousand pounds sterling. Our
fancy is bewildered by the endless recapitulation of arms and engines,
of clothes and linen, of bread for the men and forage for the horses,
and of stores and utensils of every description, inadequate to the
conquest of a petty island, but amply sufficient for the establishment
of a flourishing colony.

The invention of the Greek fire did not, like that of gun powder,
produce a total revolution in the art of war. To these liquid
combustibles the city and empire of Constantine owed their deliverance;
and they were employed in sieges and sea-fights with terrible effect.
But they were either less improved, or less susceptible of improvement:
the engines of antiquity, the catapultæ, balistæ, and battering-rams,
were still of most frequent and powerful use in the attack and defence
of fortifications; nor was the decision of battles reduced to the
quick and heavy _fire_ of a line of infantry, whom it were fruitless to
protect with armor against a similar fire of their enemies. Steel and
iron were still the common instruments of destruction and safety; and
the helmets, cuirasses, and shields, of the tenth century did not,
either in form or substance, essentially differ from those which
had covered the companions of Alexander or Achilles. But instead of
accustoming the modern Greeks, like the legionaries of old, to the
constant and easy use of this salutary weight, their armor was laid
aside in light chariots, which followed the march, till, on the
approach of an enemy, they resumed with haste and reluctance the unusual
encumbrance. Their offensive weapons consisted of swords, battle-axes,
and spears; but the Macedonian pike was shortened a fourth of its
length, and reduced to the more convenient measure of twelve cubits or
feet. The sharpness of the Scythian and Arabian arrows had been severely
felt; and the emperors lament the decay of archery as a cause of the
public misfortunes, and recommend, as an advice and a command, that the
military youth, till the age of forty, should assiduously practise
the exercise of the bow. The _bands_, or regiments, were usually three
hundred strong; and, as a medium between the extremes of four and
sixteen, the foot soldiers of Leo and Constantine were formed eight
deep; but the cavalry charged in four ranks, from the reasonable
consideration, that the weight of the front could not be increased by
any pressure of the hindmost horses. If the ranks of the infantry or
cavalry were sometimes doubled, this cautious array betrayed a secret
distrust of the courage of the troops, whose numbers might swell the
appearance of the line, but of whom only a chosen band would dare to
encounter the spears and swords of the Barbarians. The order of battle
must have varied according to the ground, the object, and the adversary;
but their ordinary disposition, in two lines and a reserve, presented a
succession of hopes and resources most agreeable to the temper as well
as the judgment of the Greeks. In case of a repulse, the first line fell
back into the intervals of the second; and the reserve, breaking into
two divisions, wheeled round the flanks to improve the victory or cover
the retreat. Whatever authority could enact was accomplished, at least
in theory, by the camps and marches, the exercises and evolutions, the
edicts and books, of the Byzantine monarch. Whatever art could produce
from the forge, the loom, or the laboratory, was abundantly supplied by
the riches of the prince, and the industry of his numerous workmen. But
neither authority nor art could frame the most important machine, the
soldier himself; and if the _ceremonies_ of Constantine always suppose
the safe and triumphal return of the emperor, his _tactics_ seldom
soar above the means of escaping a defeat, and procrastinating the war.
Notwithstanding some transient success, the Greeks were sunk in their
own esteem and that of their neighbors. A cold hand and a loquacious
tongue was the vulgar description of the nation: the author of the
tactics was besieged in his capital; and the last of the Barbarians, who
trembled at the name of the Saracens, or Franks, could proudly exhibit
the medals of gold and silver which they had extorted from the feeble
sovereign of Constantinople. What spirit their government and character
denied, might have been inspired in some degree by the influence of
religion; but the religion of the Greeks could only teach them to suffer
and to yield. The emperor Nicephorus, who restored for a moment the
discipline and glory of the Roman name, was desirous of bestowing the
honors of martyrdom on the Christians who lost their lives in a holy
war against the infidels. But this political law was defeated by the
opposition of the patriarch, the bishops, and the principal senators;
and they strenuously urged the canons of St. Basil, that all who were
polluted by the bloody trade of a soldier should be separated, during
three years, from the communion of the faithful.

These scruples of the Greeks have been compared with the tears of
the primitive Moslems when they were held back from battle; and this
contrast of base superstition and high-spirited enthusiasm, unfolds to
a philosophic eye the history of the rival nations. The subjects of the
last caliphs had undoubtedly degenerated from the zeal and faith of the
companions of the prophet. Yet their martial creed still represented the
Deity as the author of war: the vital though latent spark of fanaticism
still glowed in the heart of their religion, and among the Saracens, who
dwelt on the Christian borders, it was frequently rekindled to a lively
and active flame. Their regular force was formed of the valiant slaves
who had been educated to guard the person and accompany the standard of
their lord: but the Mussulman people of Syria and Cilicia, of Africa and
Spain, was awakened by the trumpet which proclaimed a holy war against
the infidels. The rich were ambitious of death or victory in the cause
of God; the poor were allured by the hopes of plunder; and the old, the
infirm, and the women, assumed their share of meritorious service by
sending their substitutes, with arms and horses, into the field. These
offensive and defensive arms were similar in strength and temper to
those of the Romans, whom they far excelled in the management of the
horse and the bow: the massy silver of their belts, their bridles, and
their swords, displayed the magnificence of a prosperous nation; and
except some black archers of the South, the Arabs disdained the naked
bravery of their ancestors. Instead of wagons, they were attended by a
long train of camels, mules, and asses: the multitude of these animals,
whom they bedecked with flags and streamers, appeared to swell the pomp
and magnitude of their host; and the horses of the enemy were often
disordered by the uncouth figure and odious smell of the camels of the
East. Invincible by their patience of thirst and heat, their spirits
were frozen by a winter's cold, and the consciousness of their
propensity to sleep exacted the most rigorous precautions against the
surprises of the night. Their order of battle was a long square of two
deep and solid lines; the first of archers, the second of cavalry. In
their engagements by sea and land, they sustained with patient firmness
the fury of the attack, and seldom advanced to the charge till they
could discern and oppress the lassitude of their foes. But if they were
repulsed and broken, they knew not how to rally or renew the combat; and
their dismay was heightened by the superstitious prejudice, that God had
declared himself on the side of their enemies. The decline and fall of
the caliphs countenanced this fearful opinion; nor were there wanting,
among the Mahometans and Christians, some obscure prophecies which
prognosticated their alternate defeats. The unity of the Arabian empire
was dissolved, but the independent fragments were equal to populous and
powerful kingdoms; and in their naval and military armaments, an emir of
Aleppo or Tunis might command no despicable fund of skill, and industry,
and treasure. In their transactions of peace and war with the Saracens,
the princes of Constantinople too often felt that these Barbarians had
nothing barbarous in their discipline; and that if they were destitute
of original genius, they had been endowed with a quick spirit of
curiosity and imitation. The model was indeed more perfect than the
copy; their ships, and engines, and fortifications, were of a less
skilful construction; and they confess, without shame, that the same God
who has given a tongue to the Arabians, had more nicely fashioned the
hands of the Chinese, and the heads of the Greeks.

Chapter LIII: Fate Of The Eastern Empire.--Part IV.

A name of some German tribes between the Rhine and the Weser had spread
its victorious influence over the greatest part of Gaul, Germany, and
Italy; and the common appellation of Franks was applied by the Greeks
and Arabians to the Christians of the Latin church, the nations of
the West, who stretched beyond _their_ knowledge to the shores of the
Atlantic Ocean. The vast body had been inspired and united by the
soul of Charlemagne; but the division and degeneracy of his race soon
annihilated the Imperial power, which would have rivalled the Cæsars
of Byzantium, and revenged the indignities of the Christian name. The
enemies no longer feared, nor could the subjects any longer trust, the
application of a public revenue, the labors of trade and manufactures
in the military service, the mutual aid of provinces and armies, and
the naval squadrons which were regularly stationed from the mouth of the
Elbe to that of the Tyber. In the beginning of the tenth century, the
family of Charlemagne had almost disappeared; his monarchy was broken
into many hostile and independent states; the regal title was assumed
by the most ambitious chiefs; their revolt was imitated in a long
subordination of anarchy and discord, and the nobles of every province
disobeyed their sovereign, oppressed their vassals, and exercised
perpetual hostilities against their equals and neighbors. Their private
wars, which overturned the fabric of government, fomented the martial
spirit of the nation. In the system of modern Europe, the power of the
sword is possessed, at least in fact, by five or six mighty potentates;
their operations are conducted on a distant frontier, by an order of men
who devote their lives to the study and practice of the military art:
the rest of the country and community enjoys in the midst of war the
tranquillity of peace, and is only made sensible of the change by the
aggravation or decrease of the public taxes. In the disorders of the
tenth and eleventh centuries, every peasant was a soldier, and every
village a fortification; each wood or valley was a scene of murder
and rapine; and the lords of each castle were compelled to assume the
character of princes and warriors. To their own courage and policy they
boldly trusted for the safety of their family, the protection of their
lands, and the revenge of their injuries; and, like the conquerors of a
larger size, they were too apt to transgress the privilege of defensive
war. The powers of the mind and body were hardened by the presence of
danger and necessity of resolution: the same spirit refused to desert
a friend and to forgive an enemy; and, instead of sleeping under the
guardian care of a magistrate, they proudly disdained the authority of
the laws. In the days of feudal anarchy, the instruments of agriculture
and art were converted into the weapons of bloodshed: the peaceful
occupations of civil and ecclesiastical society were abolished or
corrupted; and the bishop who exchanged his mitre for a helmet, was more
forcibly urged by the manners of the times than by the obligation of his

The love of freedom and of arms was felt, with conscious pride, by the
Franks themselves, and is observed by the Greeks with some degree of
amazement and terror. "The Franks," says the emperor Constantine, "are
bold and valiant to the verge of temerity; and their dauntless spirit is
supported by the contempt of danger and death. In the field and in close
onset, they press to the front, and rush headlong against the enemy,
without deigning to compute either his numbers or their own. Their ranks
are formed by the firm connections of consanguinity and friendship; and
their martial deeds are prompted by the desire of saving or revenging
their dearest companions. In their eyes, a retreat is a shameful flight;
and flight is indelible infamy." A nation endowed with such high and
intrepid spirit, must have been secure of victory if these advantages
had not been counter-balanced by many weighty defects. The decay of
their naval power left the Greeks and Saracens in possession of the sea,
for every purpose of annoyance and supply. In the age which preceded
the institution of knighthood, the Franks were rude and unskilful in the
service of cavalry; and in all perilous emergencies, their warriors were
so conscious of their ignorance, that they chose to dismount from their
horses and fight on foot. Unpractised in the use of pikes, or of missile
weapons, they were encumbered by the length of their swords, the weight
of their armor, the magnitude of their shields, and, if I may repeat
the satire of the meagre Greeks, by their unwieldy intemperance. Their
independent spirit disdained the yoke of subordination, and abandoned
the standard of their chief, if he attempted to keep the field beyond
the term of their stipulation or service. On all sides they were open to
the snares of an enemy less brave but more artful than themselves. They
might be bribed, for the Barbarians were venal; or surprised in the
night, for they neglected the precautions of a close encampment or
vigilant sentinels. The fatigues of a summer's campaign exhausted their
strength and patience, and they sunk in despair if their voracious
appetite was disappointed of a plentiful supply of wine and of food.
This general character of the Franks was marked with some national and
local shades, which I should ascribe to accident rather than to climate,
but which were visible both to natives and to foreigners. An ambassador
of the great Otho declared, in the palace of Constantinople, that the
Saxons could dispute with swords better than with pens, and that they
preferred inevitable death to the dishonor of turning their backs to an
enemy. It was the glory of the nobles of France, that, in their humble
dwellings, war and rapine were the only pleasure, the sole occupation,
of their lives. They affected to deride the palaces, the banquets,
the polished manner of the Italians, who in the estimate of the Greeks
themselves had degenerated from the liberty and valor of the ancient

By the well-known edict of Caracalla, his subjects, from Britain to
Egypt, were entitled to the name and privileges of Romans, and their
national sovereign might fix his occasional or permanent residence in
any province of their common country. In the division of the East and
West, an ideal unity was scrupulously observed, and in their titles,
laws, and statutes, the successors of Arcadius and Honorius announced
themselves as the inseparable colleagues of the same office, as the
joint sovereigns of the Roman world and city, which were bounded by the
same limits. After the fall of the Western monarchy, the majesty of the
purple resided solely in the princes of Constantinople; and of these,
Justinian was the first who, after a divorce of sixty years, regained
the dominion of ancient Rome, and asserted, by the right of conquest,
the august title of Emperor of the Romans. A motive of vanity or
discontent solicited one of his successors, Constans the Second, to
abandon the Thracian Bosphorus, and to restore the pristine honors of
the Tyber: an extravagant project, (exclaims the malicious Byzantine,)
as if he had despoiled a beautiful and blooming virgin, to enrich, or
rather to expose, the deformity of a wrinkled and decrepit matron. But
the sword of the Lombards opposed his settlement in Italy: he entered
Rome not as a conqueror, but as a fugitive, and, after a visit of twelve
days, he pillaged, and forever deserted, the ancient capital of the
world. The final revolt and separation of Italy was accomplished about
two centuries after the conquests of Justinian, and from his reign we
may date the gradual oblivion of the Latin tongue. That legislator had
composed his Institutes, his Code, and his Pandects, in a language which
he celebrates as the proper and public style of the Roman government,
the consecrated idiom of the palace and senate of Constantinople, of the
campus and tribunals of the East. But this foreign dialect was unknown
to the people and soldiers of the Asiatic provinces, it was imperfectly
understood by the greater part of the interpreters of the laws and
the ministers of the state. After a short conflict, nature and habit
prevailed over the obsolete institutions of human power: for the general
benefit of his subjects, Justinian promulgated his novels in the two
languages: the several parts of his voluminous jurisprudence were
successively translated; the original was forgotten, the version was
studied, and the Greek, whose intrinsic merit deserved indeed the
preference, obtained a legal, as well as popular establishment in
the Byzantine monarchy. The birth and residence of succeeding princes
estranged them from the Roman idiom: Tiberius by the Arabs, and Maurice
by the Italians, are distinguished as the first of the Greek Cæsars,
as the founders of a new dynasty and empire: the silent revolution was
accomplished before the death of Heraclius; and the ruins of the Latin
speech were darkly preserved in the terms of jurisprudence and the
acclamations of the palace. After the restoration of the Western empire
by Charlemagne and the Othos, the names of Franks and Latins acquired an
equal signification and extent; and these haughty Barbarians asserted,
with some justice, their superior claim to the language and dominion of
Rome. They insulted the alien of the East who had renounced the dress
and idiom of Romans; and their reasonable practice will justify the
frequent appellation of Greeks. But this contemptuous appellation was
indignantly rejected by the prince and people to whom it was applied.
Whatsoever changes had been introduced by the lapse of ages, they
alleged a lineal and unbroken succession from Augustus and Constantine;
and, in the lowest period of degeneracy and decay, the name of Romans
adhered to the last fragments of the empire of Constantinople.

While the government of the East was transacted in Latin, the Greek was
the language of literature and philosophy; nor could the masters of
this rich and perfect idiom be tempted to envy the borrowed learning and
imitative taste of their Roman disciples. After the fall of Paganism,
the loss of Syria and Egypt, and the extinction of the schools of
Alexandria and Athens, the studies of the Greeks insensibly retired
to some regular monasteries, and above all, to the royal college of
Constantinople, which was burnt in the reign of Leo the Isaurian. In the
pompous style of the age, the president of that foundation was named the
Sun of Science: his twelve associates, the professors in the different
arts and faculties, were the twelve signs of the zodiac; a library of
thirty-six thousand five hundred volumes was open to their inquiries;
and they could show an ancient manuscript of Homer, on a roll of
parchment one hundred and twenty feet in length, the intestines, as it
was fabled, of a prodigious serpent. But the seventh and eight centuries
were a period of discord and darkness: the library was burnt, the
college was abolished, the Iconoclasts are represented as the foes of
antiquity; and a savage ignorance and contempt of letters has disgraced
the princes of the Heraclean and Isaurian dynasties.

In the ninth century we trace the first dawnings of the restoration of
science. After the fanaticism of the Arabs had subsided, the caliphs
aspired to conquer the arts, rather than the provinces, of the empire:
their liberal curiosity rekindled the emulation of the Greeks, brushed
away the dust from their ancient libraries, and taught them to know and
reward the philosophers, whose labors had been hitherto repaid by the
pleasure of study and the pursuit of truth. The Cæsar Bardas, the uncle
of Michael the Third, was the generous protector of letters, a title
which alone has preserved his memory and excused his ambition. A
particle of the treasures of his nephew was sometimes diverted from
the indulgence of vice and folly; a school was opened in the palace
of Magnaura; and the presence of Bardas excited the emulation of the
masters and students. At their head was the philosopher Leo, archbishop
of Thessalonica: his profound skill in astronomy and the mathematics
was admired by the strangers of the East; and this occult science
was magnified by vulgar credulity, which modestly supposes that all
knowledge superior to its own must be the effect of inspiration or
magic. At the pressing entreaty of the Cæsar, his friend, the celebrated
Photius, renounced the freedom of a secular and studious life, ascended
the patriarchal throne, and was alternately excommunicated and absolved
by the synods of the East and West. By the confession even of priestly
hatred, no art or science, except poetry, was foreign to this universal
scholar, who was deep in thought, indefatigable in reading, and eloquent
in diction. Whilst he exercised the office of protospathaire or captain
of the guards, Photius was sent ambassador to the caliph of Bagdad. The
tedious hours of exile, perhaps of confinement, were beguiled by the
hasty composition of his _Library_, a living monument of erudition
and criticism. Two hundred and fourscore writers, historians, orators,
philosophers, theologians, are reviewed without any regular method:
he abridges their narrative or doctrine, appreciates their style and
character, and judges even the fathers of the church with a discreet
freedom, which often breaks through the superstition of the times. The
emperor Basil, who lamented the defects of his own education, intrusted
to the care of Photius his son and successor, Leo the philosopher; and
the reign of that prince and of his son Constantine Porphyrogenitus
forms one of the most prosperous æras of the Byzantine literature.
By their munificence the treasures of antiquity were deposited in the
Imperial library; by their pens, or those of their associates, they were
imparted in such extracts and abridgments as might amuse the curiosity,
without oppressing the indolence, of the public. Besides the _Basilics_,
or code of laws, the arts of husbandry and war, of feeding or destroying
the human species, were propagated with equal diligence; and the history
of Greece and Rome was digested into fifty-three heads or titles, of
which two only (of embassies, and of virtues and vices) have escaped
the injuries of time. In every station, the reader might contemplate the
image of the past world, apply the lesson or warning of each page, and
learn to admire, perhaps to imitate, the examples of a brighter period.
I shall not expatiate on the works of the Byzantine Greeks, who, by the
assiduous study of the ancients, have deserved, in some measure, the
remembrance and gratitude of the moderns. The scholars of the present
age may still enjoy the benefit of the philosophical commonplace book of
Stobæus, the grammatical and historical lexicon of Suidas, the Chiliads
of Tzetzes, which comprise six hundred narratives in twelve thousand
verses, and the commentaries on Homer of Eustathius, archbishop of
Thessalonica, who, from his horn of plenty, has poured the names and
authorities of four hundred writers. From these originals, and from the
numerous tribe of scholiasts and critics, some estimate may be formed
of the literary wealth of the twelfth century: Constantinople was
enlightened by the genius of Homer and Demosthenes, of Aristotle and
Plato: and in the enjoyment or neglect of our present riches, we must
envy the generation that could still peruse the history of Theopompus,
the orations of Hyperides, the comedies of Menander, and the odes of
Alcæus and Sappho. The frequent labor of illustration attests not only
the existence, but the popularity, of the Grecian classics: the general
knowledge of the age may be deduced from the example of two learned
females, the empress Eudocia, and the princess Anna Comnena, who
cultivated, in the purple, the arts of rhetoric and philosophy. The
vulgar dialect of the city was gross and barbarous: a more correct
and elaborate style distinguished the discourse, or at least the
compositions, of the church and palace, which sometimes affected to copy
the purity of the Attic models.

In our modern education, the painful though necessary attainment of two
languages, which are no longer living, may consume the time and damp
the ardor of the youthful student. The poets and orators were long
imprisoned in the barbarous dialects of our Western ancestors, devoid
of harmony or grace; and their genius, without precept or example, was
abandoned to the rule and native powers of their judgment and fancy. But
the Greeks of Constantinople, after purging away the impurities of their
vulgar speech, acquired the free use of their ancient language, the most
happy composition of human art, and a familiar knowledge of the sublime
masters who had pleased or instructed the first of nations. But these
advantages only tend to aggravate the reproach and shame of a degenerate
people. They held in their lifeless hands the riches of their fathers,
without inheriting the spirit which had created and improved that sacred
patrimony: they read, they praised, they compiled, but their languid
souls seemed alike incapable of thought and action. In the revolution of
ten centuries, not a single discovery was made to exalt the dignity or
promote the happiness of mankind. Not a single idea has been added
to the speculative systems of antiquity, and a succession of patient
disciples became in their turn the dogmatic teachers of the next
servile generation. Not a single composition of history, philosophy, or
literature, has been saved from oblivion by the intrinsic beauties of
style or sentiment, of original fancy, or even of successful imitation.
In prose, the least offensive of the Byzantine writers are absolved from
censure by their naked and unpresuming simplicity: but the orators, most
eloquent in their own conceit, are the farthest removed from the models
whom they affect to emulate. In every page our taste and reason are
wounded by the choice of gigantic and obsolete words, a stiff and
intricate phraseology, the discord of images, the childish play of false
or unseasonable ornament, and the painful attempt to elevate themselves,
to astonish the reader, and to involve a trivial meaning in the smoke
of obscurity and exaggeration. Their prose is soaring to the vicious
affectation of poetry: their poetry is sinking below the flatness and
insipidity of prose. The tragic, epic, and lyric muses, were silent and
inglorious: the bards of Constantinople seldom rose above a riddle or
epigram, a panegyric or tale; they forgot even the rules of prosody; and
with the melody of Homer yet sounding in their ears, they confound
all measure of feet and syllables in the impotent strains which have
received the name of _political_ or city verses. The minds of the Greek
were bound in the fetters of a base and imperious superstition which
extends her dominion round the circle of profane science. Their
understandings were bewildered in metaphysical controversy: in the
belief of visions and miracles, they had lost all principles of moral
evidence, and their taste was vitiates by the homilies of the monks,
an absurd medley of declamation and Scripture. Even these contemptible
studies were no longer dignified by the abuse of superior talents: the
leaders of the Greek church were humbly content to admire and copy the
oracles of antiquity, nor did the schools of pulpit produce any rivals
of the fame of Athanasius and Chrysostom.

In all the pursuits of active and speculative life, the emulation of
states and individuals is the most powerful spring of the efforts and
improvements of mankind. The cities of ancient Greece were cast in the
happy mixture of union and independence, which is repeated on a larger
scale, but in a looser form, by the nations of modern Europe; the union
of language, religion, and manners, which renders them the spectators
and judges of each other's merit; the independence of government and
interest, which asserts their separate freedom, and excites them to
strive for preëminence in the career of glory. The situation of the
Romans was less favorable; yet in the early ages of the republic, which
fixed the national character, a similar emulation was kindled among the
states of Latium and Italy; and in the arts and sciences, they aspired
to equal or surpass their Grecian masters. The empire of the Cæsars
undoubtedly checked the activity and progress of the human mind; its
magnitude might indeed allow some scope for domestic competition; but
when it was gradually reduced, at first to the East and at last to
Greece and Constantinople, the Byzantine subjects were degraded to an
abject and languid temper, the natural effect of their solitary and
insulated state. From the North they were oppressed by nameless tribes
of Barbarians, to whom they scarcely imparted the appellation of
men. The language and religion of the more polished Arabs were an
insurmountable bar to all social intercourse. The conquerors of Europe
were their brethren in the Christian faith; but the speech of the Franks
or Latins was unknown, their manners were rude, and they were rarely
connected, in peace or war, with the successors of Heraclius. Alone in
the universe, the self-satisfied pride of the Greeks was not disturbed
by the comparison of foreign merit; and it is no wonder if they fainted
in the race, since they had neither competitors to urge their speed,
nor judges to crown their victory. The nations of Europe and Asia
were mingled by the expeditions to the Holy Land; and it is under the
Comnenian dynasty that a faint emulation of knowledge and military
virtue was rekindled in the Byzantine empire.

Chapter LIV: Origin And Doctrine Of The Paulicians.--Part I.

     Origin And Doctrine Of The Paulicians.--Their Persecution By
     The Greek Emperors.--Revolt In Armenia &c.--Transplantation
     Into Thrace.--Propagation In The West.--The Seeds,
     Character, And Consequences Of The Reformation.

In the profession of Christianity, the variety of national characters
may be clearly distinguished. The natives of Syria and Egypt abandoned
their lives to lazy and contemplative devotion: Rome again aspired to
the dominion of the world; and the wit of the lively and loquacious
Greeks was consumed in the disputes of metaphysical theology. The
incomprehensible mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation, instead
of commanding their silent submission, were agitated in vehement and
subtile controversies, which enlarged their faith at the expense,
perhaps, of their charity and reason. From the council of Nice to
the end of the seventh century, the peace and unity of the church was
invaded by these spiritual wars; and so deeply did they affect the
decline and fall of the empire, that the historian has too often been
compelled to attend the synods, to explore the creeds, and to enumerate
the sects, of this busy period of ecclesiastical annals. From the
beginning of the eighth century to the last ages of the Byzantine
empire, the sound of controversy was seldom heard: curiosity was
exhausted, zeal was fatigued, and, in the decrees of six councils, the
articles of the Catholic faith had been irrevocably defined. The spirit
of dispute, however vain and pernicious, requires some energy and
exercise of the mental faculties; and the prostrate Greeks were content
to fast, to pray, and to believe in blind obedience to the patriarch
and his clergy. During a long dream of superstition, the Virgin and
the Saints, their visions and miracles, their relics and images, were
preached by the monks, and worshipped by the people; and the appellation
of people might be extended, without injustice, to the first ranks
of civil society. At an unseasonable moment, the Isaurian emperors
attempted somewhat rudely to awaken their subjects: under their
influence reason might obtain some proselytes, a far greater number was
swayed by interest or fear; but the Eastern world embraced or deplored
their visible deities, and the restoration of images was celebrated
as the feast of orthodoxy. In this passive and unanimous state the
ecclesiastical rulers were relieved from the toil, or deprived of the
pleasure, of persecution. The Pagans had disappeared; the Jews were
silent and obscure; the disputes with the Latins were rare and remote
hostilities against a national enemy; and the sects of Egypt and Syria
enjoyed a free toleration under the shadow of the Arabian caliphs. About
the middle of the seventh century, a branch of Manichæans was selected
as the victims of spiritual tyranny; their patience was at length
exasperated to despair and rebellion; and their exile has scattered over
the West the seeds of reformation. These important events will justify
some inquiry into the doctrine and story of the Paulicians; and, as
they cannot plead for themselves, our candid criticism will magnify
the _good_, and abate or suspect the _evil_, that is reported by their

The Gnostics, who had distracted the infancy, were oppressed by
the greatness and authority, of the church. Instead of emulating or
surpassing the wealth, learning, and numbers of the Catholics, their
obscure remnant was driven from the capitals of the East and West,
and confined to the villages and mountains along the borders of the
Euphrates. Some vestige of the Marcionites may be detected in the fifth
century; but the numerous sects were finally lost in the odious name
of the Manichæans; and these heretics, who presumed to reconcile the
doctrines of Zoroaster and Christ, were pursued by the two religions
with equal and unrelenting hatred. Under the grandson of Heraclius, in
the neighborhood of Samosata, more famous for the birth of Lucian than
for the title of a Syrian kingdom, a reformer arose, esteemed by the
_Paulicians_ as the chosen messenger of truth. In his humble dwelling
of Mananalis, Constantine entertained a deacon, who returned from Syrian
captivity, and received the inestimable gift of the New Testament, which
was already concealed from the vulgar by the prudence of the Greek, and
perhaps of the Gnostic, clergy. These books became the measure of his
studies and the rule of his faith; and the Catholics, who dispute his
interpretation, acknowledge that his text was genuine and sincere. But
he attached himself with peculiar devotion to the writings and character
of St. Paul: the name of the Paulicians is derived by their enemies from
some unknown and domestic teacher; but I am confident that they gloried
in their affinity to the apostle of the Gentiles. His disciples, Titus,
Timothy, Sylvanus, Tychicus, were represented by Constantine and his
fellow-laborers: the names of the apostolic churches were applied to the
congregations which they assembled in Armenia and Cappadocia; and this
innocent allegory revived the example and memory of the first ages.
In the Gospel, and the Epistles of St. Paul, his faithful follower
investigated the Creed of primitive Christianity; and, whatever might
be the success, a Protestant reader will applaud the spirit, of the
inquiry. But if the Scriptures of the Paulicians were pure, they were
not perfect. Their founders rejected the two Epistles of St. Peter, the
apostle of the circumcision, whose dispute with their favorite for the
observance of the law could not easily be forgiven. They agreed with
their Gnostic brethren in the universal contempt for the Old Testament,
the books of Moses and the prophets, which have been consecrated by the
decrees of the Catholic church. With equal boldness, and doubtless with
more reason, Constantine, the new Sylvanus, disclaimed the visions,
which, in so many bulky and splendid volumes, had been published by the
Oriental sects; the fabulous productions of the Hebrew patriarchs and
the sages of the East; the spurious gospels, epistles, and acts, which
in the first age had overwhelmed the orthodox code; the theology
of Manes, and the authors of the kindred heresies; and the thirty
generations, or æons, which had been created by the fruitful fancy of
Valentine. The Paulicians sincerely condemned the memory and opinions of
the Manichæan sect, and complained of the injustice which impressed that
invidious name on the simple votaries of St. Paul and of Christ.

Of the ecclesiastical chain, many links had been broken by the Paulician
reformers; and their liberty was enlarged, as they reduced the number of
masters, at whose voice profane reason must bow to mystery and miracle.
The early separation of the Gnostics had preceded the establishment of
the Catholic worship; and against the gradual innovations of discipline
and doctrine they were as strongly guarded by habit and aversion, as by
the silence of St. Paul and the evangelists. The objects which had been
transformed by the magic of superstition, appeared to the eyes of the
Paulicians in their genuine and naked colors. An image made without
hands was the common workmanship of a mortal artist, to whose skill
alone the wood and canvas must be indebted for their merit or value. The
miraculous relics were a heap of bones and ashes, destitute of life or
virtue, or of any relation, perhaps, with the person to whom they were
ascribed. The true and vivifying cross was a piece of sound or rotten
timber, the body and blood of Christ, a loaf of bread and a cup of wine,
the gifts of nature and the symbols of grace. The mother of God was
degraded from her celestial honors and immaculate virginity; and the
saints and angels were no longer solicited to exercise the laborious
office of meditation in heaven, and ministry upon earth. In the
practice, or at least in the theory, of the sacraments, the Paulicians
were inclined to abolish all visible objects of worship, and the words
of the gospel were, in their judgment, the baptism and communion of the
faithful. They indulged a convenient latitude for the interpretation of
Scripture: and as often as they were pressed by the literal sense, they
could escape to the intricate mazes of figure and allegory. Their utmost
diligence must have been employed to dissolve the connection between the
Old and the New Testament; since they adored the latter as the oracles
of God, and abhorred the former as the fabulous and absurd invention of
men or dæmons. We cannot be surprised, that they should have found
in the Gospel the orthodox mystery of the Trinity: but, instead of
confessing the human nature and substantial sufferings of Christ, they
amused their fancy with a celestial body that passed through the virgin
like water through a pipe; with a fantastic crucifixion, that eluded the
vain and important malice of the Jews. A creed thus simple and spiritual
was not adapted to the genius of the times; and the rational Christian,
who might have been contented with the light yoke and easy burden of
Jesus and his apostles, was justly offended, that the Paulicians should
dare to violate the unity of God, the first article of natural and
revealed religion. Their belief and their trust was in the Father, of
Christ, of the human soul, and of the invisible world. But they likewise
held the eternity of matter; a stubborn and rebellious substance, the
origin of a second principle of an active being, who has created
this visible world, and exercises his temporal reign till the final
consummation of death and sin. The appearances of moral and physical
evil had established the two principles in the ancient philosophy and
religion of the East; from whence this doctrine was transfused to the
various swarms of the Gnostics. A thousand shades may be devised in the
nature and character of _Ahriman_, from a rival god to a subordinate
dæmon, from passion and frailty to pure and perfect malevolence: but, in
spite of our efforts, the goodness, and the power, of Ormusd are placed
at the opposite extremities of the line; and every step that approaches
the one must recede in equal proportion from the other.

The apostolic labors of Constantine Sylvanus soon multiplied the number
of his disciples, the secret recompense of spiritual ambition. The
remnant of the Gnostic sects, and especially the Manichæans of Armenia,
were united under his standard; many Catholics were converted or seduced
by his arguments; and he preached with success in the regions of Pontus
and Cappadocia, which had long since imbibed the religion of Zoroaster.
The Paulician teachers were distinguished only by their Scriptural
names, by the modest title of Fellow-pilgrims, by the austerity of their
lives, their zeal or knowledge, and the credit of some extraordinary
gifts of the Holy Spirit. But they were incapable of desiring, or at
least of obtaining, the wealth and honors of the Catholic prelacy; such
anti-Christian pride they bitterly censured; and even the rank of elders
or presbyters was condemned as an institution of the Jewish synagogue.
The new sect was loosely spread over the provinces of Asia Minor to
the westward of the Euphrates; six of their principal congregations
represented the churches to which St. Paul had addressed his epistles;
and their founder chose his residence in the neighborhood of Colonia, in
the same district of Pontus which had been celebrated by the altars of
Bellona and the miracles of Gregory. After a mission of twenty-seven
years, Sylvanus, who had retired from the tolerating government of the
Arabs, fell a sacrifice to Roman persecution. The laws of the pious
emperors, which seldom touched the lives of less odious heretics,
proscribed without mercy or disguise the tenets, the books, and the
persons of the Montanists and Manichæans: the books were delivered to
the flames; and all who should presume to secrete such writings, or to
profess such opinions, were devoted to an ignominious death. A Greek
minister, armed with legal and military powers, appeared at Colonia to
strike the shepherd, and to reclaim, if possible, the lost sheep. By a
refinement of cruelty, Simeon placed the unfortunate Sylvanus before a
line of his disciples, who were commanded, as the price of their pardon
and the proof of their repentance, to massacre their spiritual father.
They turned aside from the impious office; the stones dropped from their
filial hands, and of the whole number, only one executioner could
be found, a new David, as he is styled by the Catholics, who boldly
overthrew the giant of heresy. This apostate (Justin was his name) again
deceived and betrayed his unsuspecting brethren, and a new conformity to
the acts of St. Paul may be found in the conversion of Simeon: like the
apostle, he embraced the doctrine which he had been sent to persecute,
renounced his honors and fortunes, and required among the Paulicians the
fame of a missionary and a martyr. They were not ambitious of martyrdom,
but in a calamitous period of one hundred and fifty years, their
patience sustained whatever zeal could inflict; and power was
insufficient to eradicate the obstinate vegetation of fanaticism and
reason. From the blood and ashes of the first victims, a succession
of teachers and congregations repeatedly arose: amidst their foreign
hostilities, they found leisure for domestic quarrels: they preached,
they disputed, they suffered; and the virtues, the apparent virtues,
of Sergius, in a pilgrimage of thirty-three years, are reluctantly
confessed by the orthodox historians. The native cruelty of Justinian
the Second was stimulated by a pious cause; and he vainly hoped to
extinguish, in a single conflagration, the name and memory of the
Paulicians. By their primitive simplicity, their abhorrence of popular
superstition, the Iconoclast princes might have been reconciled to some
erroneous doctrines; but they themselves were exposed to the calumnies
of the monks, and they chose to be the tyrants, lest they should be
accused as the accomplices, of the Manichæans. Such a reproach has
sullied the clemency of Nicephorus, who relaxed in their favor the
severity of the penal statutes, nor will his character sustain the honor
of a more liberal motive. The feeble Michael the First, the rigid Leo
the Armenian, were foremost in the race of persecution; but the prize
must doubtless be adjudged to the sanguinary devotion of Theodora, who
restored the images to the Oriental church. Her inquisitors explored
the cities and mountains of the Lesser Asia, and the flatterers of
the empress have affirmed that, in a short reign, one hundred thousand
Paulicians were extirpated by the sword, the gibbet, or the flames. Her
guilt or merit has perhaps been stretched beyond the measure of truth:
but if the account be allowed, it must be presumed that many simple
Iconoclasts were punished under a more odious name; and that some who
were driven from the church, unwillingly took refuge in the bosom of

The most furious and desperate of rebels are the sectaries of a religion
long persecuted, and at length provoked. In a holy cause they are no
longer susceptible of fear or remorse: the justice of their arms hardens
them against the feelings of humanity; and they revenge their fathers'
wrongs on the children of their tyrants. Such have been the Hussites of
Bohemia and the Calvinists of France, and such, in the ninth century,
were the Paulicians of Armenia and the adjacent provinces. They were
first awakened to the massacre of a governor and bishop, who exercised
the Imperial mandate of converting or destroying the heretics; and
the deepest recesses of Mount Argæus protected their independence
and revenge. A more dangerous and consuming flame was kindled by the
persecution of Theodora, and the revolt of Carbeas, a valiant Paulician,
who commanded the guards of the general of the East. His father had been
impaled by the Catholic inquisitors; and religion, or at least nature,
might justify his desertion and revenge. Five thousand of his brethren
were united by the same motives; they renounced the allegiance of
anti-Christian Rome; a Saracen emir introduced Carbeas to the caliph;
and the commander of the faithful extended his sceptre to the implacable
enemy of the Greeks. In the mountains between Siwas and Trebizond he
founded or fortified the city of Tephrice, which is still occupied by a
fierce or licentious people, and the neighboring hills were covered with
the Paulician fugitives, who now reconciled the use of the Bible and
the sword. During more than thirty years, Asia was afflicted by the
calamities of foreign and domestic war; in their hostile inroads,
the disciples of St. Paul were joined with those of Mahomet; and
the peaceful Christians, the aged parent and tender virgin, who were
delivered into barbarous servitude, might justly accuse the intolerant
spirit of their sovereign. So urgent was the mischief, so intolerable
the shame, that even the dissolute Michael, the son of Theodora, was
compelled to march in person against the Paulicians: he was defeated
under the walls of Samosata; and the Roman emperor fled before the
heretics whom his mother had condemned to the flames. The Saracens
fought under the same banners, but the victory was ascribed to Carbeas;
and the captive generals, with more than a hundred tribunes, were either
released by his avarice, or tortured by his fanaticism. The valor and
ambition of Chrysocheir, his successor, embraced a wider circle of
rapine and revenge. In alliance with his faithful Moslems, he boldly
penetrated into the heart of Asia; the troops of the frontier and
the palace were repeatedly overthrown; the edicts of persecution were
answered by the pillage of Nice and Nicomedia, of Ancyra and Ephesus;
nor could the apostle St. John protect from violation his city and
sepulchre. The cathedral of Ephesus was turned into a stable for mules
and horses; and the Paulicians vied with the Saracens in their contempt
and abhorrence of images and relics. It is not unpleasing to observe
the triumph of rebellion over the same despotism which had disdained
the prayers of an injured people. The emperor Basil, the Macedonian,
was reduced to sue for peace, to offer a ransom for the captives, and
to request, in the language of moderation and charity, that Chrysocheir
would spare his fellow-Christians, and content himself with a royal
donative of gold and silver and silk garments. "If the emperor," replied
the insolent fanatic, "be desirous of peace, let him abdicate the East,
and reign without molestation in the West. If he refuse, the servants
of the Lord will precipitate him from the throne." The reluctant Basil
suspended the treaty, accepted the defiance, and led his army into the
land of heresy, which he wasted with fire and sword. The open country
of the Paulicians was exposed to the same calamities which they had
inflicted; but when he had explored the strength of Tephrice, the
multitude of the Barbarians, and the ample magazines of arms and
provisions, he desisted with a sigh from the hopeless siege. On his
return to Constantinople, he labored, by the foundation of convents and
churches, to secure the aid of his celestial patrons, of Michael the
archangel and the prophet Elijah; and it was his daily prayer that he
might live to transpierce, with three arrows, the head of his impious
adversary. Beyond his expectations, the wish was accomplished: after a
successful inroad, Chrysocheir was surprised and slain in his retreat;
and the rebel's head was triumphantly presented at the foot of the
throne. On the reception of this welcome trophy, Basil instantly called
for his bow, discharged three arrows with unerring aim, and accepted the
applause of the court, who hailed the victory of the royal archer. With
Chrysocheir, the glory of the Paulicians faded and withered: on the
second expedition of the emperor, the impregnable Tephrice, was deserted
by the heretics, who sued for mercy or escaped to the borders. The city
was ruined, but the spirit of independence survived in the mountains:
the Paulicians defended, above a century, their religion and liberty,
infested the Roman limits, and maintained their perpetual alliance with
the enemies of the empire and the gospel.

Chapter LIV: Origin And Doctrine Of The Paulicians.--Part II.

About the middle of the eight century, Constantine, surnamed Copronymus
by the worshippers of images, had made an expedition into Armenia, and
found, in the cities of Melitene and Theodosiopolis, a great number
of Paulicians, his kindred heretics. As a favor, or punishment, he
transplanted them from the banks of the Euphrates to Constantinople
and Thrace; and by this emigration their doctrine was introduced and
diffused in Europe. If the sectaries of the metropolis were soon mingled
with the promiscuous mass, those of the country struck a deep root in
a foreign soil. The Paulicians of Thrace resisted the storms of
persecution, maintained a secret correspondence with their Armenian
brethren, and gave aid and comfort to their preachers, who solicited,
not without success, the infant faith of the Bulgarians. In the tenth
century, they were restored and multiplied by a more powerful colony,
which John Zimisces transported from the Chalybian hills to the valleys
of Mount Hæmus. The Oriental clergy who would have preferred the
destruction, impatiently sighed for the absence, of the Manichæans: the
warlike emperor had felt and esteemed their valor: their attachment to
the Saracens was pregnant with mischief; but, on the side of the Danube,
against the Barbarians of Scythia, their service might be useful,
and their loss would be desirable. Their exile in a distant land
was softened by a free toleration: the Paulicians held the city of
Philippopolis and the keys of Thrace; the Catholics were their subjects;
the Jacobite emigrants their associates: they occupied a line of
villages and castles in Macedonia and Epirus; and many native Bulgarians
were associated to the communion of arms and heresy. As long as they
were awed by power and treated with moderation, their voluntary bands
were distinguished in the armies of the empire; and the courage of these
_dogs_, ever greedy of war, ever thirsty of human blood, is noticed with
astonishment, and almost with reproach, by the pusillanimous Greeks. The
same spirit rendered them arrogant and contumacious: they were easily
provoked by caprice or injury; and their privileges were often violated
by the faithless bigotry of the government and clergy. In the midst
of the Norman war, two thousand five hundred Manichæans deserted the
standard of Alexius Comnenus, and retired to their native homes. He
dissembled till the moment of revenge; invited the chiefs to a friendly
conference; and punished the innocent and guilty by imprisonment,
confiscation, and baptism. In an interval of peace, the emperor
undertook the pious office of reconciling them to the church and state:
his winter quarters were fixed at Philippopolis; and the thirteenth
apostle, as he is styled by his pious daughter, consumed whole days and
nights in theological controversy. His arguments were fortified, their
obstinacy was melted, by the honors and rewards which he bestowed on
the most eminent proselytes; and a new city, surrounded with gardens,
enriched with immunities, and dignified with his own name, was founded
by Alexius for the residence of his vulgar converts. The important
station of Philippopolis was wrested from their hands; the contumacious
leaders were secured in a dungeon, or banished from their country; and
their lives were spared by the prudence, rather than the mercy, of an
emperor, at whose command a poor and solitary heretic was burnt alive
before the church of St. Sophia. But the proud hope of eradicating the
prejudices of a nation was speedily overturned by the invincible zeal
of the Paulicians, who ceased to dissemble or refused to obey. After
the departure and death of Alexius, they soon resumed their civil and
religious laws. In the beginning of the thirteenth century, their pope
or primate (a manifest corruption) resided on the confines of Bulgaria,
Croatia, and Dalmatia, and governed, by his vicars, the filial
congregations of Italy and France. From that æra, a minute scrutiny
might prolong and perpetuate the chain of tradition. At the end of the
last age, the sect or colony still inhabited the valleys of Mount Hæmus,
where their ignorance and poverty were more frequently tormented by the
Greek clergy than by the Turkish government. The modern Paulicians have
lost all memory of their origin; and their religion is disgraced by the
worship of the cross, and the practice of bloody sacrifice, which some
captives have imported from the wilds of Tartary.

In the West, the first teachers of the Manichæan theology had been
repulsed by the people, or suppressed by the prince. The favor and
success of the Paulicians in the eleventh and twelfth centuries must be
imputed to the strong, though secret, discontent which armed the most
pious Christians against the church of Rome. Her avarice was oppressive,
her despotism odious; less degenerate perhaps than the Greeks in the
worship of saints and images, her innovations were more rapid and
scandalous: she had rigorously defined and imposed the doctrine of
transubstantiation: the lives of the Latin clergy were more corrupt, and
the Eastern bishops might pass for the successors of the apostles, if
they were compared with the lordly prelates, who wielded by turns
the crosier, the sceptre, and the sword. Three different roads might
introduce the Paulicians into the heart of Europe. After the conversion
of Hungary, the pilgrims who visited Jerusalem might safely follow the
course of the Danube: in their journey and return they passed through
Philippopolis; and the sectaries, disguising their name and heresy,
might accompany the French or German caravans to their respective
countries. The trade and dominion of Venice pervaded the coast of the
Adriatic, and the hospitable republic opened her bosom to foreigners of
every climate and religion. Under the Byzantine standard, the Paulicians
were often transported to the Greek provinces of Italy and Sicily: in
peace and war, they freely conversed with strangers and natives, and
their opinions were silently propagated in Rome, Milan, and the kingdoms
beyond the Alps. It was soon discovered, that many thousand Catholics
of every rank, and of either sex, had embraced the Manichæan heresy; and
the flames which consumed twelve canons of Orleans was the first act and
signal of persecution. The Bulgarians, a name so innocent in its origin,
so odious in its application, spread their branches over the face
of Europe. United in common hatred of idolatry and Rome, they were
connected by a form of episcopal and presbyterian government; their
various sects were discriminated by some fainter or darker shades of
theology; but they generally agreed in the two principles, the contempt
of the Old Testament and the denial of the body of Christ, either on the
cross or in the eucharist. A confession of simple worship and blameless
manners is extorted from their enemies; and so high was their standard
of perfection, that the increasing congregations were divided into two
classes of disciples, of those who practised, and of those who aspired.
It was in the country of the Albigeois, in the southern provinces of
France, that the Paulicians were most deeply implanted; and the same
vicissitudes of martyrdom and revenge which had been displayed in the
neighborhood of the Euphrates, were repeated in the thirteenth century
on the banks of the Rhone. The laws of the Eastern emperors were revived
by Frederic the Second. The insurgents of Tephrice were represented by
the barons and cities of Languedoc: Pope Innocent III. surpassed the
sanguinary fame of Theodora. It was in cruelty alone that her soldiers
could equal the heroes of the Crusades, and the cruelty of her priests
was far excelled by the founders of the Inquisition; an office more
adapted to confirm, than to refute, the belief of an evil principle. The
visible assemblies of the Paulicians, or Albigeois, were extirpated by
fire and sword; and the bleeding remnant escaped by flight, concealment,
or Catholic conformity. But the invincible spirit which they had kindled
still lived and breathed in the Western world. In the state, in the
church, and even in the cloister, a latent succession was preserved of
the disciples of St. Paul; who protested against the tyranny of Rome,
embraced the Bible as the rule of faith, and purified their creed from
all the visions of the Gnostic theology. The struggles of Wickliff
in England, of Huss in Bohemia, were premature and ineffectual; but the
names of Zuinglius, Luther, and Calvin, are pronounced with gratitude as
the deliverers of nations.

A philosopher, who calculates the degree of their merit and the value
of their reformation, will prudently ask from what articles of faith,
_above_ or _against_ our reason, they have enfranchised the Christians;
for such enfranchisement is doubtless a benefit so far as it may be
compatible with truth and piety. After a fair discussion, we shall
rather be surprised by the timidity, than scandalized by the freedom, of
our first reformers. With the Jews, they adopted the belief and defence
of all the Hebrew Scriptures, with all their prodigies, from the garden
of Eden to the visions of the prophet Daniel; and they were bound, like
the Catholics, to justify against the Jews the abolition of a divine
law. In the great mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation the reformers
were severely orthodox: they freely adopted the theology of the four, or
the six first councils; and with the Athanasian creed, they pronounced
the eternal damnation of all who did not believe the Catholic faith.
Transubstantiation, the invisible change of the bread and wine into the
body and blood of Christ, is a tenet that may defy the power of argument
and pleasantry; but instead of consulting the evidence of their senses,
of their sight, their feeling, and their taste, the first Protestants
were entangled in their own scruples, and awed by the words of Jesus in
the institution of the sacrament. Luther maintained a _corporeal_, and
Calvin a _real_, presence of Christ in the eucharist; and the opinion
of Zuinglius, that it is no more than a spiritual communion, a simple
memorial, has slowly prevailed in the reformed churches. But the loss
of one mystery was amply compensated by the stupendous doctrines of
original sin, redemption, faith, grace, and predestination, which have
been strained from the epistles of St. Paul. These subtile questions had
most assuredly been prepared by the fathers and schoolmen; but the final
improvement and popular use may be attributed to the first reformers,
who enforced them as the absolute and essential terms of salvation.
Hitherto the weight of supernatural belief inclines against the
Protestants; and many a sober Christian would rather admit that a wafer
is God, than that God is a cruel and capricious tyrant.

Yet the services of Luther and his rivals are solid and important; and
the philosopher must own his obligations to these fearless enthusiasts.
I. By their hands the lofty fabric of superstition, from the abuse of
indulgences to the intercession of the Virgin, has been levelled with
the ground. Myriads of both sexes of the monastic profession were
restored to the liberty and labors of social life. A hierarchy of saints
and angels, of imperfect and subordinate deities, were stripped of their
temporal power, and reduced to the enjoyment of celestial happiness;
their images and relics were banished from the church; and the credulity
of the people was no longer nourished with the daily repetition of
miracles and visions. The imitation of Paganism was supplied by a pure
and spiritual worship of prayer and thanksgiving, the most worthy
of man, the least unworthy of the Deity. It only remains to observe,
whether such sublime simplicity be consistent with popular devotion;
whether the vulgar, in the absence of all visible objects, will not
be inflamed by enthusiasm, or insensibly subside in languor and
indifference. II. The chain of authority was broken, which restrains
the bigot from thinking as he pleases, and the slave from speaking as he
thinks: the popes, fathers, and councils, were no longer the supreme
and infallible judges of the world; and each Christian was taught
to acknowledge no law but the Scriptures, no interpreter but his own
conscience. This freedom, however, was the consequence, rather than
the design, of the Reformation. The patriot reformers were ambitious of
succeeding the tyrants whom they had dethroned. They imposed with equal
rigor their creeds and confessions; they asserted the right of the
magistrate to punish heretics with death. The pious or personal
animosity of Calvin proscribed in Servetus the guilt of his own
rebellion; and the flames of Smithfield, in which he was afterwards
consumed, had been kindled for the Anabaptists by the zeal of Cranmer.
The nature of the tiger was the same, but he was gradually deprived of
his teeth and fangs. A spiritual and temporal kingdom was possessed by
the Roman pontiff; the Protestant doctors were subjects of an humble
rank, without revenue or jurisdiction. _His_ decrees were consecrated
by the antiquity of the Catholic church: _their_ arguments and disputes
were submitted to the people; and their appeal to private judgment was
accepted beyond their wishes, by curiosity and enthusiasm. Since the
days of Luther and Calvin, a secret reformation has been silently
working in the bosom of the reformed churches; many weeds of prejudice
were eradicated; and the disciples of Erasmus diffused a spirit of
freedom and moderation. The liberty of conscience has been claimed as
a common benefit, an inalienable right: the free governments of Holland
and England introduced the practice of toleration; and the narrow
allowance of the laws has been enlarged by the prudence and humanity of
the times. In the exercise, the mind has understood the limits of its
powers, and the words and shadows that might amuse the child can
no longer satisfy his manly reason. The volumes of controversy are
overspread with cobwebs: the doctrine of a Protestant church is far
removed from the knowledge or belief of its private members; and the
forms of orthodoxy, the articles of faith, are subscribed with a sigh,
or a smile, by the modern clergy. Yet the friends of Christianity
are alarmed at the boundless impulse of inquiry and scepticism. The
predictions of the Catholics are accomplished: the web of mystery is
unravelled by the Arminians, Arians, and Socinians, whose number must
not be computed from their separate congregations; and the pillars of
Revelation are shaken by those men who preserve the name without the
substance of religion, who indulge the license without the temper of

Chapter LV: The Bulgarians, The Hungarians And The Russians.--Part I.

     The Bulgarians.--Origin, Migrations, And Settlement Of The
     Hungarians.--Their Inroads In The East And West.--The
     Monarchy Of Russia.--Geography And Trade.--Wars Of The
     Russians Against The Greek Empire.--Conversion Of The

Under the reign of Constantine the grandson of Heraclius, the ancient
barrier of the Danube, so often violated and so often restored, was
irretrievably swept away by a new deluge of Barbarians. Their progress
was favored by the caliphs, their unknown and accidental auxiliaries:
the Roman legions were occupied in Asia; and after the loss of Syria,
Egypt, and Africa, the Cæsars were twice reduced to the danger and
disgrace of defending their capital against the Saracens. If, in the
account of this interesting people, I have deviated from the strict and
original line of my undertaking, the merit of the subject will hide my
transgression, or solicit my excuse. In the East, in the West, in war,
in religion, in science, in their prosperity, and in their decay, the
Arabians press themselves on our curiosity: the first overthrow of the
church and empire of the Greeks may be imputed to their arms; and the
disciples of Mahomet still hold the civil and religious sceptre of the
Oriental world. But the same labor would be unworthily bestowed on the
swarms of savages, who, between the seventh and the twelfth century,
descended from the plains of Scythia, in transient inroad or perpetual
emigration. Their names are uncouth, their origins doubtful, their
actions obscure, their superstition was blind, their valor brutal, and
the uniformity of their public and private lives was neither softened
by innocence nor refined by policy. The majesty of the Byzantine throne
repelled and survived their disorderly attacks; the greater part of
these Barbarians has disappeared without leaving any memorial of their
existence, and the despicable remnant continues, and may long continue,
to groan under the dominion of a foreign tyrant. From the antiquities
of, I. _Bulgarians_, II. _Hungarians_, and, III. _Russians_, I
shall content myself with selecting such facts as yet deserve to be
remembered. The conquests of the, IV. Normans, and the monarchy of the,
V. Turks, will naturally terminate in the memorable Crusades to the Holy
Land, and the double fall of the city and empire of Constantine.

I. In his march to Italy, Theodoric the Ostrogoth had trampled on the
arms of the Bulgarians. After this defeat, the name and the nation are
lost during a century and a half; and it may be suspected that the
same or a similar appellation was revived by strange colonies from the
Borysthenes, the Tanais, or the Volga. A king of the ancient Bulgaria
bequeathed to his five sons a last lesson of moderation and concord.
It was received as youth has ever received the counsels of age and
experience: the five princes buried their father; divided his subjects
and cattle; forgot his advice; separated from each other; and wandered
in quest of fortune till we find the most adventurous in the heart of
Italy, under the protection of the exarch of Ravenna. But the stream
of emigration was directed or impelled towards the capital. The modern
Bulgaria, along the southern banks of the Danube, was stamped with
the name and image which it has retained to the present hour: the new
conquerors successively acquired, by war or treaty, the Roman provinces
of Dardania, Thessaly, and the two Epirus; the ecclesiastical supremacy
was translated from the native city of Justinian; and, in their
prosperous age, the obscure town of Lychnidus, or Achrida, was honored
with the throne of a king and a patriarch. The unquestionable evidence
of language attests the descent of the Bulgarians from the original
stock of the Sclavonian, or more properly Slavonian, race; and the
kindred bands of Servians, Bosnians, Rascians, Croatians, Walachians,
&c., followed either the standard or the example of the leading tribe.
From the Euxine to the Adriatic, in the state of captives, or subjects,
or allies, or enemies, of the Greek empire, they overspread the land;
and the national appellation of the slaves has been degraded by chance
or malice from the signification of glory to that of servitude. Among
these colonies, the Chrobatians, or Croats, who now attend the motions
of an Austrian army, are the descendants of a mighty people, the
conquerors and sovereigns of Dalmatia. The maritime cities, and of these
the infant republic of Ragusa, implored the aid and instructions of the
Byzantine court: they were advised by the magnanimous Basil to reserve
a small acknowledgment of their fidelity to the Roman empire, and
to appease, by an annual tribute, the wrath of these irresistible
Barbarians. The kingdom of Croatia was shared by eleven _Zoupans_, or
feudatory lords; and their united forces were numbered at sixty thousand
horse and one hundred thousand foot. A long sea-coast, indented with
capacious harbors, covered with a string of islands, and almost in sight
of the Italian shores, disposed both the natives and strangers to the
practice of navigation. The boats or brigantines of the Croats were
constructed after the fashion of the old Liburnians: one hundred and
eighty vessels may excite the idea of a respectable navy; but our seamen
will smile at the allowance of ten, or twenty, or forty, men for each of
these ships of war. They were gradually converted to the more honorable
service of commerce; yet the Sclavonian pirates were still frequent and
dangerous; and it was not before the close of the tenth century that the
freedom and sovereignty of the Gulf were effectually vindicated by the
Venetian republic. The ancestors of these Dalmatian kings were equally
removed from the use and abuse of navigation: they dwelt in the White
Croatia, in the inland regions of Silesia and Little Poland, thirty
days' journey, according to the Greek computation, from the sea of

The glory of the Bulgarians was confined to a narrow scope both of time
and place. In the ninth and tenth centuries, they reigned to the south
of the Danube; but the more powerful nations that had followed their
emigration repelled all return to the north and all progress to the
west. Yet in the obscure catalogue of their exploits, they might boast
an honor which had hitherto been appropriated to the Goths: that of
slaying in battle one of the successors of Augustus and Constantine. The
emperor Nicephorus had lost his fame in the Arabian, he lost his life in
the Sclavonian, war. In his first operations he advanced with boldness
and success into the centre of Bulgaria, and burnt the _royal court_,
which was probably no more than an edifice and village of timber.
But while he searched the spoil and refused all offers of treaty, his
enemies collected their spirits and their forces: the passes of retreat
were insuperably barred; and the trembling Nicephorus was heard to
exclaim, "Alas, alas! unless we could assume the wings of birds, we
cannot hope to escape." Two days he waited his fate in the inactivity of
despair; but, on the morning of the third, the Bulgarians surprised the
camp, and the Roman prince, with the great officers of the empire,
were slaughtered in their tents. The body of Valens had been saved
from insult; but the head of Nicephorus was exposed on a spear, and
his skull, enchased with gold, was often replenished in the feasts
of victory. The Greeks bewailed the dishonor of the throne; but they
acknowledged the just punishment of avarice and cruelty. This savage cup
was deeply tinctured with the manners of the Scythian wilderness; but
they were softened before the end of the same century by a peaceful
intercourse with the Greeks, the possession of a cultivated region, and
the introduction of the Christian worship. The nobles of Bulgaria were
educated in the schools and palace of Constantinople; and Simeon, a
youth of the royal line, was instructed in the rhetoric of Demosthenes
and the logic of Aristotle. He relinquished the profession of a monk for
that of a king and warrior; and in his reign of more than forty years,
Bulgaria assumed a rank among the civilized powers of the earth. The
Greeks, whom he repeatedly attacked, derived a faint consolation from
indulging themselves in the reproaches of perfidy and sacrilege. They
purchased the aid of the Pagan Turks; but Simeon, in a second battle,
redeemed the loss of the first, at a time when it was esteemed a
victory to elude the arms of that formidable nation. The Servians
were overthrown, made captive and dispersed; and those who visited
the country before their restoration could discover no more than
fifty vagrants, without women or children, who extorted a precarious
subsistence from the chase. On classic ground, on the banks of Achelöus,
the Greeks were defeated; their horn was broken by the strength of the
Barbaric Hercules. He formed the siege of Constantinople; and, in a
personal conference with the emperor, Simeon imposed the conditions of
peace. They met with the most jealous precautions: the royal gallery
was drawn close to an artificial and well-fortified platform; and the
majesty of the purple was emulated by the pomp of the Bulgarian. "Are
you a Christian?" said the humble Romanus: "it is your duty to abstain
from the blood of your fellow-Christians. Has the thirst of riches
seduced you from the blessings of peace? Sheathe your sword, open
your hand, and I will satiate the utmost measure of your desires." The
reconciliation was sealed by a domestic alliance; the freedom of trade
was granted or restored; the first honors of the court were secured to
the friends of Bulgaria, above the ambassadors of enemies or strangers;
and her princes were dignified with the high and invidious title of
_Basileus_, or emperor. But this friendship was soon disturbed:
after the death of Simeon, the nations were again in arms; his feeble
successors were divided and extinguished; and, in the beginning of the
eleventh century, the second Basil, who was born in the purple, deserved
the appellation of conqueror of the Bulgarians. His avarice was in
some measure gratified by a treasure of four hundred thousand pounds
sterling, (ten thousand pounds' weight of gold,) which he found in
the palace of Lychnidus. His cruelty inflicted a cool and exquisite
vengeance on fifteen thousand captives who had been guilty of the
defence of their country. They were deprived of sight; but to one of
each hundred a single eye was left, that he might conduct his blind
century to the presence of their king. Their king is said to have
expired of grief and horror; the nation was awed by this terrible
example; the Bulgarians were swept away from their settlements, and
circumscribed within a narrow province; the surviving chiefs bequeathed
to their children the advice of patience and the duty of revenge.

II. When the black swarm of Hungarians first hung over Europe, above
nine hundred years after the Christian æra, they were mistaken by fear
and superstition for the Gog and Magog of the Scriptures, the signs and
forerunners of the end of the world. Since the introduction of letters,
they have explored their own antiquities with a strong and laudable
impulse of patriotic curiosity. Their rational criticism can no longer
be amused with a vain pedigree of Attila and the Huns; but they complain
that their primitive records have perished in the Tartar war; that the
truth or fiction of their rustic songs is long since forgotten; and that
the fragments of a rude chronicle must be painfully reconciled with the
contemporary though foreign intelligence of the imperial geographer.
_Magiar_ is the national and oriental denomination of the Hungarians;
but, among the tribes of Scythia, they are distinguished by the Greeks
under the proper and peculiar name of _Turks_, as the descendants of
that mighty people who had conquered and reigned from China to the
Volga. The Pannonian colony preserved a correspondence of trade and
amity with the eastern Turks on the confines of Persia and after a
separation of three hundred and fifty years, the missionaries of the
king of Hungary discovered and visited their ancient country near the
banks of the Volga. They were hospitably entertained by a people of
Pagans and Savages who still bore the name of Hungarians; conversed
in their native tongue, recollected a tradition of their long-lost
brethren, and listened with amazement to the marvellous tale of their
new kingdom and religion. The zeal of conversion was animated by the
interest of consanguinity; and one of the greatest of their princes
had formed the generous, though fruitless, design of replenishing the
solitude of Pannonia by this domestic colony from the heart of Tartary.
From this primitive country they were driven to the West by the tide of
war and emigration, by the weight of the more distant tribes, who at the
same time were fugitives and conquerors. Reason or fortune directed
their course towards the frontiers of the Roman empire: they halted
in the usual stations along the banks of the great rivers; and in the
territories of Moscow, Kiow, and Moldavia, some vestiges have been
discovered of their temporary residence. In this long and various
peregrination, they could not always escape the dominion of the
stronger; and the purity of their blood was improved or sullied by
the mixture of a foreign race: from a motive of compulsion, or choice,
several tribes of the Chazars were associated to the standard of their
ancient vassals; introduced the use of a second language; and obtained
by their superior renown the most honorable place in the front of
battle. The military force of the Turks and their allies marched in
seven equal and artificial divisions; each division was formed of thirty
thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven warriors, and the proportion of
women, children, and servants, supposes and requires at least a million
of emigrants. Their public counsels were directed by seven _vayvods_,
or hereditary chiefs; but the experience of discord and weakness
recommended the more simple and vigorous administration of a single
person. The sceptre, which had been declined by the modest Lebedias,
was granted to the birth or merit of Almus and his son Arpad, and the
authority of the supreme khan of the Chazars confirmed the engagement of
the prince and people; of the people to obey his commands, of the prince
to consult their happiness and glory.

With this narrative we might be reasonably content, if the penetration
of modern learning had not opened a new and larger prospect of the
antiquities of nations. The Hungarian language stands alone, and as it
were insulated, among the Sclavonian dialects; but it bears a close
and clear affinity to the idioms of the Fennic race, of an obsolete and
savage race, which formerly occupied the northern regions of Asia and
Europe. The genuine appellation of _Ugri_ or _Igours_ is found on the
western confines of China; their migration to the banks of the Irtish is
attested by Tartar evidence; a similar name and language are detected in
the southern parts of Siberia; and the remains of the Fennic tribes
are widely, though thinly scattered from the sources of the Oby to the
shores of Lapland. The consanguinity of the Hungarians and Laplanders
would display the powerful energy of climate on the children of a
common parent; the lively contrast between the bold adventurers who are
intoxicated with the wines of the Danube, and the wretched fugitives
who are immersed beneath the snows of the polar circle. Arms and freedom
have ever been the ruling, though too often the unsuccessful, passion of
the Hungarians, who are endowed by nature with a vigorous constitution
of soul and body. Extreme cold has diminished the stature and congealed
the faculties of the Laplanders; and the arctic tribes, alone among
the sons of men, are ignorant of war, and unconscious of human blood; a
happy ignorance, if reason and virtue were the guardians of their peace!

Chapter LV: The Bulgarians, The Hungarians And The Russians.--Part II.

It is the observation of the Imperial author of the Tactics, that all
the Scythian hordes resembled each other in their pastoral and military
life, that they all practised the same means of subsistence, and
employed the same instruments of destruction. But he adds, that the two
nations of Bulgarians and Hungarians were superior to their brethren,
and similar to each other in the improvements, however rude, of their
discipline and government: their visible likeness determines Leo to
confound his friends and enemies in one common description; and the
picture may be heightened by some strokes from their contemporaries of
the tenth century. Except the merit and fame of military prowess,
all that is valued by mankind appeared vile and contemptible to these
Barbarians, whose native fierceness was stimulated by the consciousness
of numbers and freedom. The tents of the Hungarians were of leather,
their garments of fur; they shaved their hair, and scarified their
faces: in speech they were slow, in action prompt, in treaty perfidious;
and they shared the common reproach of Barbarians, too ignorant to
conceive the importance of truth, too proud to deny or palliate the
breach of their most solemn engagements. Their simplicity has been
praised; yet they abstained only from the luxury they had never known;
whatever they saw they coveted; their desires were insatiate, and their
sole industry was the hand of violence and rapine. By the definition of
a pastoral nation, I have recalled a long description of the economy,
the warfare, and the government that prevail in that state of society;
I may add, that to fishing, as well as to the chase, the Hungarians
were indebted for a part of their subsistence; and since they _seldom_
cultivated the ground, they must, at least in their new settlements,
have sometimes practised a slight and unskilful husbandry. In their
emigrations, perhaps in their expeditions, the host was accompanied
by thousands of sheep and oxen which increased the cloud of formidable
dust, and afforded a constant and wholesale supply of milk and animal
food. A plentiful command of forage was the first care of the general,
and if the flocks and herds were secure of their pastures, the hardy
warrior was alike insensible of danger and fatigue. The confusion of men
and cattle that overspread the country exposed their camp to a nocturnal
surprise, had not a still wider circuit been occupied by their light
cavalry, perpetually in motion to discover and delay the approach of the
enemy. After some experience of the Roman tactics, they adopted the
use of the sword and spear, the helmet of the soldier, and the iron
breastplate of his steed: but their native and deadly weapon was the
Tartar bow: from the earliest infancy their children and servants were
exercised in the double science of archery and horsemanship; their arm
was strong; their aim was sure; and in the most rapid career, they were
taught to throw themselves backwards, and to shoot a volley of arrows
into the air. In open combat, in secret ambush, in flight, or pursuit,
they were equally formidable; an appearance of order was maintained
in the foremost ranks, but their charge was driven forwards by the
impatient pressure of succeeding crowds. They pursued, headlong and
rash, with loosened reins and horrific outcries; but, if they fled, with
real or dissembled fear, the ardor of a pursuing foe was checked and
chastised by the same habits of irregular speed and sudden evolution.
In the abuse of victory, they astonished Europe, yet smarting from the
wounds of the Saracen and the Dane: mercy they rarely asked, and more
rarely bestowed: both sexes were accused is equally inaccessible to
pity, and their appetite for raw flesh might countenance the popular
tale, that they drank the blood, and feasted on the hearts of the slain.
Yet the Hungarians were not devoid of those principles of justice and
humanity, which nature has implanted in every bosom. The license of
public and private injuries was restrained by laws and punishments; and
in the security of an open camp, theft is the most tempting and
most dangerous offence. Among the Barbarians there were many, whose
spontaneous virtue supplied their laws and corrected their manners, who
performed the duties, and sympathized with the affections, of social

After a long pilgrimage of flight or victory, the Turkish hordes
approached the common limits of the French and Byzantine empires. Their
first conquests and final settlements extended on either side of the
Danube above Vienna, below Belgrade, and beyond the measure of the Roman
province of Pannonia, or the modern kingdom of Hungary. That ample and
fertile land was loosely occupied by the Moravians, a Sclavonian name
and tribe, which were driven by the invaders into the compass of a
narrow province. Charlemagne had stretched a vague and nominal empire
as far as the edge of Transylvania; but, after the failure of his
legitimate line, the dukes of Moravia forgot their obedience and tribute
to the monarchs of Oriental France. The bastard Arnulph was provoked to
invite the arms of the Turks: they rushed through the real or figurative
wall, which his indiscretion had thrown open; and the king of Germany
has been justly reproached as a traitor to the civil and ecclesiastical
society of the Christians. During the life of Arnulph, the Hungarians
were checked by gratitude or fear; but in the infancy of his son Lewis
they discovered and invaded Bavaria; and such was their Scythian speed,
that in a single day a circuit of fifty miles was stripped and consumed.
In the battle of Augsburgh the Christians maintained their advantage
till the seventh hour of the day, they were deceived and vanquished by
the flying stratagems of the Turkish cavalry. The conflagration spread
over the provinces of Bavaria, Swabia, and Franconia; and the Hungarians
promoted the reign of anarchy, by forcing the stoutest barons to
discipline their vassals and fortify their castles. The origin of walled
towns is ascribed to this calamitous period; nor could any distance be
secure against an enemy, who, almost at the same instant, laid in ashes
the Helvetian monastery of St. Gall, and the city of Bremen, on the
shores of the northern ocean. Above thirty years the Germanic empire,
or kingdom, was subject to the ignominy of tribute; and resistance was
disarmed by the menace, the serious and effectual menace of dragging the
women and children into captivity, and of slaughtering the males above
the age of ten years. I have neither power nor inclination to follow the
Hungarians beyond the Rhine; but I must observe with surprise, that
the southern provinces of France were blasted by the tempest, and that
Spain, behind her Pyrenees, was astonished at the approach of these
formidable strangers. The vicinity of Italy had tempted their early
inroads; but from their camp on the Brenta, they beheld with some terror
the apparent strength and populousness of the new discovered country.
They requested leave to retire; their request was proudly rejected by
the Italian king; and the lives of twenty thousand Christians paid the
forfeit of his obstinacy and rashness. Among the cities of the West, the
royal Pavia was conspicuous in fame and splendor; and the preëminence
of Rome itself was only derived from the relics of the apostles. The
Hungarians appeared; Pavia was in flames; forty-three churches were
consumed; and, after the massacre of the people, they spared about two
hundred wretches who had gathered some bushels of gold and silver (a
vague exaggeration) from the smoking ruins of their country. In these
annual excursions from the Alps to the neighborhood of Rome and Capua,
the churches, that yet escaped, resounded with a fearful litany: "O,
save and deliver us from the arrows of the Hungarians!" But the saints
were deaf or inexorable; and the torrent rolled forwards, till it was
stopped by the extreme land of Calabria. A composition was offered and
accepted for the head of each Italian subject; and ten bushels of silver
were poured forth in the Turkish camp. But falsehood is the natural
antagonist of violence; and the robbers were defrauded both in the
numbers of the assessment and the standard of the metal. On the side of
the East, the Hungarians were opposed in doubtful conflict by the equal
arms of the Bulgarians, whose faith forbade an alliance with the Pagans,
and whose situation formed the barrier of the Byzantine empire. The
barrier was overturned; the emperor of Constantinople beheld the waving
banners of the Turks; and one of their boldest warriors presumed to
strike a battle-axe into the golden gate. The arts and treasures of the
Greeks diverted the assault; but the Hungarians might boast, in their
retreat, that they had imposed a tribute on the spirit of Bulgaria and
the majesty of the Cæsars. The remote and rapid operations of the same
campaign appear to magnify the power and numbers of the Turks; but their
courage is most deserving of praise, since a light troop of three or
four hundred horse would often attempt and execute the most daring
inroads to the gates of Thessalonica and Constantinople. At this
disastrous æra of the ninth and tenth centuries, Europe was afflicted
by a triple scourge from the North, the East, and the South: the Norman,
the Hungarian, and the Saracen, sometimes trod the same ground of
desolation; and these savage foes might have been compared by Homer to
the two lions growling over the carcass of a mangled stag.

The deliverance of Germany and Christendom was achieved by the Saxon
princes, Henry the Fowler and Otho the Great, who, in two memorable
battles, forever broke the power of the Hungarians. The valiant Henry
was roused from a bed of sickness by the invasion of his country; but
his mind was vigorous and his prudence successful. "My companions," said
he, on the morning of the combat, "maintain your ranks, receive on
your bucklers the first arrows of the Pagans, and prevent their second
discharge by the equal and rapid career of your lances." They obeyed
and conquered: and the historical picture of the castle of Merseburgh
expressed the features, or at least the character, of Henry, who, in
an age of ignorance, intrusted to the finer arts the perpetuity of his
name. At the end of twenty years, the children of the Turks who had
fallen by his sword invaded the empire of his son; and their force is
defined, in the lowest estimate, at one hundred thousand horse.
They were invited by domestic faction; the gates of Germany were
treacherously unlocked; and they spread, far beyond the Rhine and the
Meuse, into the heart of Flanders. But the vigor and prudence of Otho
dispelled the conspiracy; the princes were made sensible that
unless they were true to each other, their religion and country were
irrecoverably lost; and the national powers were reviewed in the plains
of Augsburgh. They marched and fought in eight legions, according to
the division of provinces and tribes; the first, second, and third, were
composed of Bavarians; the fourth, of Franconians; the fifth, of Saxons,
under the immediate command of the monarch; the sixth and seventh
consisted of Swabians; and the eighth legion, of a thousand Bohemians,
closed the rear of the host. The resources of discipline and valor were
fortified by the arts of superstition, which, on this occasion, may
deserve the epithets of generous and salutary. The soldiers were
purified with a fast; the camp was blessed with the relics of saints
and martyrs; and the Christian hero girded on his side the sword of
Constantine, grasped the invincible spear of Charlemagne, and waved
the banner of St. Maurice, the præfect of the Thebæan legion. But
his firmest confidence was placed in the holy lance, whose point was
fashioned of the nails of the cross, and which his father had extorted
from the king of Burgundy, by the threats of war, and the gift of a
province. The Hungarians were expected in the front; they secretly
passed the Lech, a river of Bavaria that falls into the Danube; turned
the rear of the Christian army; plundered the baggage, and disordered
the legion of Bohemia and Swabia. The battle was restored by the
Franconians, whose duke, the valiant Conrad, was pierced with an arrow
as he rested from his fatigues: the Saxons fought under the eyes of
their king; and his victory surpassed, in merit and importance, the
triumphs of the last two hundred years. The loss of the Hungarians was
still greater in the flight than in the action; they were encompassed by
the rivers of Bavaria; and their past cruelties excluded them from
the hope of mercy. Three captive princes were hanged at Ratisbon, the
multitude of prisoners was slain or mutilated, and the fugitives, who
presumed to appear in the face of their country, were condemned to
everlasting poverty and disgrace. Yet the spirit of the nation was
humbled, and the most accessible passes of Hungary were fortified with
a ditch and rampart. Adversity suggested the counsels of moderation and
peace: the robbers of the West acquiesced in a sedentary life; and the
next generation was taught, by a discerning prince, that far more might
be gained by multiplying and exchanging the produce of a fruitful soil.
The native race, the Turkish or Fennic blood, was mingled with new
colonies of Scythian or Sclavonian origin; many thousands of robust and
industrious captives had been imported from all the countries of Europe;
and after the marriage of Geisa with a Bavarian princess, he bestowed
honors and estates on the nobles of Germany. The son of Geisa was
invested with the regal title, and the house of Arpad reigned three
hundred years in the kingdom of Hungary. But the freeborn Barbarians
were not dazzled by the lustre of the diadem, and the people asserted
their indefeasible right of choosing, deposing, and punishing the
hereditary servant of the state.

III. The name of Russians was first divulged, in the ninth century, by
an embassy of Theophilus, emperor of the East, to the emperor of the
West, Lewis, the son of Charlemagne. The Greeks were accompanied by
the envoys of the great duke, or chagan, or _czar_, of the Russians.
In their journey to Constantinople, they had traversed many hostile
nations; and they hoped to escape the dangers of their return, by
requesting the French monarch to transport them by sea to their native
country. A closer examination detected their origin: they were the
brethren of the Swedes and Normans, whose name was already odious and
formidable in France; and it might justly be apprehended, that these
Russian strangers were not the messengers of peace, but the emissaries
of war. They were detained, while the Greeks were dismissed; and Lewis
expected a more satisfactory account, that he might obey the laws of
hospitality or prudence, according to the interest of both empires. This
Scandinavian origin of the people, or at least the princes, of Russia,
may be confirmed and illustrated by the national annals and the general
history of the North. The Normans, who had so long been concealed by
a veil of impenetrable darkness, suddenly burst forth in the spirit
of naval and military enterprise. The vast, and, as it is said, the
populous regions of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, were crowded with
independent chieftains and desperate adventurers, who sighed in the
laziness of peace, and smiled in the agonies of death. Piracy was the
exercise, the trade, the glory, and the virtue, of the Scandinavian
youth. Impatient of a bleak climate and narrow limits, they started
from the banquet, grasped their arms, sounded their horn, ascended
their vessels, and explored every coast that promised either spoil or
settlement. The Baltic was the first scene of their naval achievements
they visited the eastern shores, the silent residence of Fennic and
Sclavonic tribes, and the primitive Russians of the Lake Ladoga paid
a tribute, the skins of white squirrels, to these strangers, whom they
saluted with the title of _Varangians_ or Corsairs. Their superiority
in arms, discipline, and renown, commanded the fear and reverence of the
natives. In their wars against the more inland savages, the Varangians
condescended to serve as friends and auxiliaries, and gradually, by
choice or conquest, obtained the dominion of a people whom they were
qualified to protect. Their tyranny was expelled, their valor was again
recalled, till at length Ruric, a Scandinavian chief, became the father
of a dynasty which reigned above seven hundred years. His brothers
extended his influence: the example of service and usurpation was
imitated by his companions in the southern provinces of Russia; and
their establishments, by the usual methods of war and assassination,
were cemented into the fabric of a powerful monarchy.

As long as the descendants of Ruric were considered as aliens and
conquerors, they ruled by the sword of the Varangians, distributed
estates and subjects to their faithful captains, and supplied their
numbers with fresh streams of adventurers from the Baltic coast. But
when the Scandinavian chiefs had struck a deep and permanent root
into the soil, they mingled with the Russians in blood, religion,
and language, and the first Waladimir had the merit of delivering his
country from these foreign mercenaries. They had seated him on the
throne; his riches were insufficient to satisfy their demands; but
they listened to his pleasing advice, that they should seek, not a
more grateful, but a more wealthy, master; that they should embark for
Greece, where, instead of the skins of squirrels, silk and gold would
be the recompense of their service. At the same time, the Russian prince
admonished his Byzantine ally to disperse and employ, to recompense and
restrain, these impetuous children of the North. Contemporary
writers have recorded the introduction, name, and character, of the
_Varangians_: each day they rose in confidence and esteem; the whole
body was assembled at Constantinople to perform the duty of guards; and
their strength was recruited by a numerous band of their countrymen from
the Island of Thule. On this occasion, the vague appellation of Thule is
applied to England; and the new Varangians were a colony of English
and Danes who fled from the yoke of the Norman conqueror. The habits of
pilgrimage and piracy had approximated the countries of the earth; these
exiles were entertained in the Byzantine court; and they preserved, till
the last age of the empire, the inheritance of spotless loyalty, and the
use of the Danish or English tongue. With their broad and double-edged
battle-axes on their shoulders, they attended the Greek emperor to the
temple, the senate, and the hippodrome; he slept and feasted under their
trusty guard; and the keys of the palace, the treasury, and the capital,
were held by the firm and faithful hands of the Varangians.

In the tenth century, the geography of Scythia was extended far beyond
the limits of ancient knowledge; and the monarchy of the Russians
obtains a vast and conspicuous place in the map of Constantine. The sons
of Ruric were masters of the spacious province of Wolodomir, or Moscow;
and, if they were confined on that side by the hordes of the East, their
western frontier in those early days was enlarged to the Baltic Sea and
the country of the Prussians. Their northern reign ascended above the
sixtieth degree of latitude over the Hyperborean regions, which fancy
had peopled with monsters, or clouded with eternal darkness. To the
south they followed the course of the Borysthenes, and approached with
that river the neighborhood of the Euxine Sea. The tribes that dwelt, or
wandered, in this ample circuit were obedient to the same conqueror,
and insensibly blended into the same nation. The language of Russia is a
dialect of the Sclavonian; but in the tenth century, these two modes of
speech were different from each other; and, as the Sclavonian prevailed
in the South, it may be presumed that the original Russians of the
North, the primitive subjects of the Varangian chief, were a portion
of the Fennic race. With the emigration, union, or dissolution, of
the wandering tribes, the loose and indefinite picture of the Scythian
desert has continually shifted. But the most ancient map of Russia
affords some places which still retain their name and position; and the
two capitals, Novogorod and Kiow, are coeval with the first age of the
monarchy. Novogorod had not yet deserved the epithet of great, nor the
alliance of the Hanseatic League, which diffused the streams of opulence
and the principles of freedom. Kiow could not yet boast of three hundred
churches, an innumerable people, and a degree of greatness and splendor
which was compared with Constantinople by those who had never seen the
residence of the Cæsars. In their origin, the two cities were no
more than camps or fairs, the most convenient stations in which the
Barbarians might assemble for the occasional business of war or trade.
Yet even these assemblies announce some progress in the arts of society;
a new breed of cattle was imported from the southern provinces; and
the spirit of commercial enterprise pervaded the sea and land, from
the Baltic to the Euxine, from the mouth of the Oder to the port of
Constantinople. In the days of idolatry and barbarism, the Sclavonic
city of Julin was frequented and enriched by the Normans, who had
prudently secured a free mart of purchase and exchange. From this
harbor, at the entrance of the Oder, the corsair, or merchant, sailed in
forty-three days to the eastern shores of the Baltic, the most distant
nations were intermingled, and the holy groves of Curland _are said_ to
have been decorated with _Grecian_ and Spanish gold. Between the sea and
Novogorod an easy intercourse was discovered; in the summer, through a
gulf, a lake, and a navigable river; in the winter season, over the
hard and level surface of boundless snows. From the neighborhood of that
city, the Russians descended the streams that fall into the Borysthenes;
their canoes, of a single tree, were laden with slaves of every age,
furs of every species, the spoil of their beehives, and the hides of
their cattle; and the whole produce of the North was collected and
discharged in the magazines of Kiow. The month of June was the ordinary
season of the departure of the fleet: the timber of the canoes was
framed into the oars and benches of more solid and capacious boats;
and they proceeded without obstacle down the Borysthenes, as far as
the seven or thirteen ridges of rocks, which traverse the bed, and
precipitate the waters, of the river. At the more shallow falls it
was sufficient to lighten the vessels; but the deeper cataracts were
impassable; and the mariners, who dragged their vessels and their
slaves six miles over land, were exposed in this toilsome journey to the
robbers of the desert. At the first island below the falls, the Russians
celebrated the festival of their escape: at a second, near the mouth of
the river, they repaired their shattered vessels for the longer and more
perilous voyage of the Black Sea. If they steered along the coast, the
Danube was accessible; with a fair wind they could reach in thirty-six
or forty hours the opposite shores of Anatolia; and Constantinople
admitted the annual visit of the strangers of the North. They returned
at the stated season with a rich cargo of corn, wine, and oil,
the manufactures of Greece, and the spices of India. Some of their
countrymen resided in the capital and provinces; and the national
treaties protected the persons, effects, and privileges, of the Russian

Chapter LV: The Bulgarians, The Hungarians And The Russians.--Part III.

But the same communication which had been opened for the benefit, was
soon abused for the injury, of mankind. In a period of one hundred and
ninety years, the Russians made four attempts to plunder the treasures
of Constantinople: the event was various, but the motive, the means,
and the object, were the same in these naval expeditions. The Russian
traders had seen the magnificence, and tasted the luxury of the city of
the Cæsars. A marvellous tale, and a scanty supply, excited the desires
of their savage countrymen: they envied the gifts of nature which their
climate denied; they coveted the works of art, which they were too lazy
to imitate and too indigent to purchase; the Varangian princes unfurled
the banners of piratical adventure, and their bravest soldiers were
drawn from the nations that dwelt in the northern isles of the ocean.
The image of their naval armaments was revived in the last century,
in the fleets of the Cossacks, which issued from the Borysthenes, to
navigate the same seas for a similar purpose. The Greek appellation of
_monoxyla_, or single canoes, might justly be applied to the bottom of
their vessels. It was scooped out of the long stem of a beech or willow,
but the slight and narrow foundation was raised and continued on either
side with planks, till it attained the length of sixty, and the height
of about twelve, feet. These boats were built without a deck, but with
two rudders and a mast; to move with sails and oars; and to contain from
forty to seventy men, with their arms, and provisions of fresh water
and salt fish. The first trial of the Russians was made with two hundred
boats; but when the national force was exerted, they might arm against
Constantinople a thousand or twelve hundred vessels. Their fleet was not
much inferior to the royal navy of Agamemnon, but it was magnified in
the eyes of fear to ten or fifteen times the real proportion of its
strength and numbers. Had the Greek emperors been endowed with foresight
to discern, and vigor to prevent, perhaps they might have sealed with a
maritime force the mouth of the Borysthenes. Their indolence abandoned
the coast of Anatolia to the calamities of a piratical war, which, after
an interval of six hundred years, again infested the Euxine; but as
long as the capital was respected, the sufferings of a distant province
escaped the notice both of the prince and the historian. The storm which
had swept along from the Phasis and Trebizond, at length burst on
the Bosphorus of Thrace; a strait of fifteen miles, in which the rude
vessels of the Russians might have been stopped and destroyed by a more
skilful adversary. In their first enterprise under the princes of Kiow,
they passed without opposition, and occupied the port of Constantinople
in the absence of the emperor Michael, the son of Theophilus. Through
a crowd of perils, he landed at the palace-stairs, and immediately
repaired to a church of the Virgin Mary. By the advice of the patriarch,
her garment, a precious relic, was drawn from the sanctuary and dipped
in the sea; and a seasonable tempest, which determined the retreat of
the Russians, was devoutly ascribed to the mother of God. The silence
of the Greeks may inspire some doubt of the truth, or at least of the
importance, of the second attempt by Oleg, the guardian of the sons
of Ruric. A strong barrier of arms and fortifications defended the
Bosphorus: they were eluded by the usual expedient of drawing the boats
over the isthmus; and this simple operation is described in the national
chronicles, as if the Russian fleet had sailed over dry land with a
brisk and favorable gale. The leader of the third armament, Igor, the
son of Ruric, had chosen a moment of weakness and decay, when the naval
powers of the empire were employed against the Saracens. But if courage
be not wanting, the instruments of defence are seldom deficient. Fifteen
broken and decayed galleys were boldly launched against the enemy; but
instead of the single tube of Greek fire usually planted on the prow,
the sides and stern of each vessel were abundantly supplied with that
liquid combustible. The engineers were dexterous; the weather was
propitious; many thousand Russians, who chose rather to be drowned than
burnt, leaped into the sea; and those who escaped to the Thracian shore
were inhumanly slaughtered by the peasants and soldiers. Yet one third
of the canoes escaped into shallow water; and the next spring Igor was
again prepared to retrieve his disgrace and claim his revenge. After
a long peace, Jaroslaus, the great grandson of Igor, resumed the same
project of a naval invasion. A fleet, under the command of his son, was
repulsed at the entrance of the Bosphorus by the same artificial
flames. But in the rashness of pursuit, the vanguard of the Greeks
was encompassed by an irresistible multitude of boats and men; their
provision of fire was probably exhausted; and twenty-four galleys were
either taken, sunk, or destroyed.

Yet the threats or calamities of a Russian war were more frequently
diverted by treaty than by arms. In these naval hostilities, every
disadvantage was on the side of the Greeks; their savage enemy afforded
no mercy: his poverty promised no spoil; his impenetrable retreat
deprived the conqueror of the hopes of revenge; and the pride or
weakness of empire indulged an opinion, that no honor could be gained
or lost in the intercourse with Barbarians. At first their demands were
high and inadmissible, three pounds of gold for each soldier or mariner
of the fleet: the Russian youth adhered to the design of conquest and
glory; but the counsels of moderation were recommended by the hoary
sages. "Be content," they said, "with the liberal offers of Cæsar; it
is not far better to obtain without a combat the possession of gold,
silver, silks, and all the objects of our desires? Are we sure of
victory? Can we conclude a treaty with the sea? We do not tread on the
land; we float on the abyss of water, and a common death hangs over our
heads." The memory of these Arctic fleets that seemed to descend from
the polar circle left deep impression of terror on the Imperial city.
By the vulgar of every rank, it was asserted and believed, that an
equestrian statue in the square of Taurus was secretly inscribed with a
prophecy, how the Russians, in the last days, should become masters of
Constantinople. In our own time, a Russian armament, instead of sailing
from the Borysthenes, has circumnavigated the continent of Europe; and
the Turkish capital has been threatened by a squadron of strong and
lofty ships of war, each of which, with its naval science and thundering
artillery, could have sunk or scattered a hundred canoes, such as those
of their ancestors. Perhaps the present generation may yet behold the
accomplishment of the prediction, of a rare prediction, of which the
style is unambiguous and the date unquestionable.

By land the Russians were less formidable than by sea; and as they
fought for the most part on foot, their irregular legions must often
have been broken and overthrown by the cavalry of the Scythian hordes.
Yet their growing towns, however slight and imperfect, presented a
shelter to the subject, and a barrier to the enemy: the monarchy of
Kiow, till a fatal partition, assumed the dominion of the North; and
the nations from the Volga to the Danube were subdued or repelled by the
arms of Swatoslaus, the son of Igor, the son of Oleg, the son of Ruric.
The vigor of his mind and body was fortified by the hardships of a
military and savage life. Wrapped in a bear-skin, Swatoslaus usually
slept on the ground, his head reclining on a saddle; his diet was
coarse and frugal, and, like the heroes of Homer, his meat (it was often
horse-flesh) was broiled or roasted on the coals. The exercise of war
gave stability and discipline to his army; and it may be presumed, that
no soldier was permitted to transcend the luxury of his chief. By an
embassy from Nicephorus, the Greek emperor, he was moved to undertake
the conquest of Bulgaria; and a gift of fifteen hundred pounds of gold
was laid at his feet to defray the expense, or reward the toils, of the
expedition. An army of sixty thousand men was assembled and embarked;
they sailed from the Borysthenes to the Danube; their landing was
effected on the Mæsian shore; and, after a sharp encounter, the swords
of the Russians prevailed against the arrows of the Bulgarian horse. The
vanquished king sunk into the grave; his children were made captive;
and his dominions, as far as Mount Hæmus, were subdued or ravaged by the
northern invaders. But instead of relinquishing his prey, and performing
his engagements, the Varangian prince was more disposed to advance than
to retire; and, had his ambition been crowned with success, the seat
of empire in that early period might have been transferred to a more
temperate and fruitful climate. Swatoslaus enjoyed and acknowledged the
advantages of his new position, in which he could unite, by exchange or
rapine, the various productions of the earth. By an easy navigation
he might draw from Russia the native commodities of furs, wax, and
hydromel: Hungary supplied him with a breed of horses and the spoils
of the West; and Greece abounded with gold, silver, and the foreign
luxuries, which his poverty had affected to disdain. The bands of
Patzinacites, Chozars, and Turks, repaired to the standard of victory;
and the ambassador of Nicephorus betrayed his trust, assumed the purple,
and promised to share with his new allies the treasures of the Eastern
world. From the banks of the Danube the Russian prince pursued his march
as far as Adrianople; a formal summons to evacuate the Roman province
was dismissed with contempt; and Swatoslaus fiercely replied, that
Constantinople might soon expect the presence of an enemy and a master.

Nicephorus could no longer expel the mischief which he had introduced;
but his throne and wife were inherited by John Zimisces, who, in a
diminutive body, possessed the spirit and abilities of a hero. The
first victory of his lieutenants deprived the Russians of their foreign
allies, twenty thousand of whom were either destroyed by the sword,
or provoked to revolt, or tempted to desert. Thrace was delivered, but
seventy thousand Barbarians were still in arms; and the legions that had
been recalled from the new conquests of Syria, prepared, with the return
of the spring, to march under the banners of a warlike prince, who
declared himself the friend and avenger of the injured Bulgaria. The
passes of Mount Hæmus had been left unguarded; they were instantly
occupied; the Roman vanguard was formed of the _immortals_, (a proud
imitation of the Persian style;) the emperor led the main body of ten
thousand five hundred foot; and the rest of his forces followed in slow
and cautious array, with the baggage and military engines. The first
exploit of Zimisces was the reduction of Marcianopolis, or Peristhlaba,
in two days; the trumpets sounded; the walls were scaled; eight thousand
five hundred Russians were put to the sword; and the sons of the
Bulgarian king were rescued from an ignominious prison, and invested
with a nominal diadem. After these repeated losses, Swatoslaus retired
to the strong post of Drista, on the banks of the Danube, and was
pursued by an enemy who alternately employed the arms of celerity and
delay. The Byzantine galleys ascended the river, the legions completed
a line of circumvallation; and the Russian prince was encompassed,
assaulted, and famished, in the fortifications of the camp and city.
Many deeds of valor were performed; several desperate sallies were
attempted; nor was it till after a siege of sixty-five days that
Swatoslaus yielded to his adverse fortune. The liberal terms which he
obtained announce the prudence of the victor, who respected the valor,
and apprehended the despair, of an unconquered mind. The great duke of
Russia bound himself, by solemn imprecations, to relinquish all hostile
designs; a safe passage was opened for his return; the liberty of trade
and navigation was restored; a measure of corn was distributed to each
of his soldiers; and the allowance of twenty-two thousand measures
attests the loss and the remnant of the Barbarians. After a painful
voyage, they again reached the mouth of the Borysthenes; but their
provisions were exhausted; the season was unfavorable; they passed
the winter on the ice; and, before they could prosecute their march,
Swatoslaus was surprised and oppressed by the neighboring tribes with
whom the Greeks entertained a perpetual and useful correspondence. Far
different was the return of Zimisces, who was received in his capital
like Camillus or Marius, the saviors of ancient Rome. But the merit of
the victory was attributed by the pious emperor to the mother of God;
and the image of the Virgin Mary, with the divine infant in her arms,
was placed on a triumphal car, adorned with the spoils of war, and
the ensigns of Bulgarian royalty. Zimisces made his public entry on
horseback; the diadem on his head, a crown of laurel in his hand; and
Constantinople was astonished to applaud the martial virtues of her

Photius of Constantinople, a patriarch, whose ambition was equal to his
curiosity, congratulates himself and the Greek church on the conversion
of the Russians. Those fierce and bloody Barbarians had been persuaded,
by the voice of reason and religion, to acknowledge Jesus for their God,
the Christian missionaries for their teachers, and the Romans for their
friends and brethren. His triumph was transient and premature. In the
various fortune of their piratical adventures, some Russian chiefs might
allow themselves to be sprinkled with the waters of baptism; and a Greek
bishop, with the name of metropolitan, might administer the sacraments
in the church of Kiow, to a congregation of slaves and natives. But the
seed of the gospel was sown on a barren soil: many were the apostates,
the converts were few; and the baptism of Olga may be fixed as the æra
of Russian Christianity. A female, perhaps of the basest origin, who
could revenge the death, and assume the sceptre, of her husband Igor,
must have been endowed with those active virtues which command the fear
and obedience of Barbarians. In a moment of foreign and domestic peace,
she sailed from Kiow to Constantinople; and the emperor Constantine
Porphyrogenitus has described, with minute diligence, the ceremonial
of her reception in his capital and palace. The steps, the titles, the
salutations, the banquet, the presents, were exquisitely adjusted to
gratify the vanity of the stranger, with due reverence to the superior
majesty of the purple. In the sacrament of baptism, she received the
venerable name of the empress Helena; and her conversion might be
preceded or followed by her uncle, two interpreters, sixteen damsels
of a higher, and eighteen of a lower rank, twenty-two domestics or
ministers, and forty-four Russian merchants, who composed the retinue
of the great princess Olga. After her return to Kiow and Novogorod, she
firmly persisted in her new religion; but her labors in the propagation
of the gospel were not crowned with success; and both her family and
nation adhered with obstinacy or indifference to the gods of their
fathers. Her son Swatoslaus was apprehensive of the scorn and ridicule
of his companions; and her grandson Wolodomir devoted his youthful zeal
to multiply and decorate the monuments of ancient worship. The savage
deities of the North were still propitiated with human sacrifices:
in the choice of the victim, a citizen was preferred to a stranger, a
Christian to an idolater; and the father, who defended his son from the
sacerdotal knife, was involved in the same doom by the rage of a fanatic
tumult. Yet the lessons and example of the pious Olga had made a deep,
though secret, impression in the minds of the prince and people: the
Greek missionaries continued to preach, to dispute, and to baptize:
and the ambassadors or merchants of Russia compared the idolatry of the
woods with the elegant superstition of Constantinople. They had gazed
with admiration on the dome of St. Sophia: the lively pictures of saints
and martyrs, the riches of the altar, the number and vestments of the
priests, the pomp and order of the ceremonies; they were edified by the
alternate succession of devout silence and harmonious song; nor was it
difficult to persuade them, that a choir of angels descended each
day from heaven to join in the devotion of the Christians. But the
conversion of Wolodomir was determined, or hastened, by his desire of a
Roman bride. At the same time, and in the city of Cherson, the rites of
baptism and marriage were celebrated by the Christian pontiff: the city
he restored to the emperor Basil, the brother of his spouse; but the
brazen gates were transported, as it is said, to Novogorod, and erected
before the first church as a trophy of his victory and faith. At his
despotic command, Peround, the god of thunder, whom he had so long
adored, was dragged through the streets of Kiow; and twelve sturdy
Barbarians battered with clubs the misshapen image, which was
indignantly cast into the waters of the Borysthenes. The edict of
Wolodomir had proclaimed, that all who should refuse the rites of
baptism would be treated as the enemies of God and their prince; and the
rivers were instantly filled with many thousands of obedient Russians,
who acquiesced in the truth and excellence of a doctrine which had been
embraced by the great duke and his boyars. In the next generation, the
relics of Paganism were finally extirpated; but as the two brothers
of Wolodomir had died without baptism, their bones were taken from the
grave, and sanctified by an irregular and posthumous sacrament.

In the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries of the Christian æra,
the reign of the gospel and of the church was extended over Bulgaria,
Hungary, Bohemia, Saxony, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland, and Russia.
The triumphs of apostolic zeal were repeated in the iron age of
Christianity; and the northern and eastern regions of Europe submitted
to a religion, more different in theory than in practice, from the
worship of their native idols. A laudable ambition excited the
monks both of Germany and Greece, to visit the tents and huts of the
Barbarians: poverty, hardships, and dangers, were the lot of the first
missionaries; their courage was active and patient; their motive pure
and meritorious; their present reward consisted in the testimony of
their conscience and the respect of a grateful people; but the fruitful
harvest of their toils was inherited and enjoyed by the proud and
wealthy prelates of succeeding times. The first conversions were free
and spontaneous: a holy life and an eloquent tongue were the only arms
of the missionaries; but the domestic fables of the Pagans were silenced
by the miracles and visions of the strangers; and the favorable temper
of the chiefs was accelerated by the dictates of vanity and interest.
The leaders of nations, who were saluted with the titles of kings and
saints, held it lawful and pious to impose the Catholic faith on their
subjects and neighbors; the coast of the Baltic, from Holstein to the
Gulf of Finland, was invaded under the standard of the cross; and the
reign of idolatry was closed by the conversion of Lithuania in the
fourteenth century. Yet truth and candor must acknowledge, that the
conversion of the North imparted many temporal benefits both to the old
and the new Christians. The rage of war, inherent to the human species,
could not be healed by the evangelic precepts of charity and peace; and
the ambition of Catholic princes has renewed in every age the calamities
of hostile contention. But the admission of the Barbarians into the
pale of civil and ecclesiastical society delivered Europe from the
depredations, by sea and land, of the Normans, the Hungarians, and
the Russians, who learned to spare their brethren and cultivate their
possessions. The establishment of law and order was promoted by the
influence of the clergy; and the rudiments of art and science were
introduced into the savage countries of the globe. The liberal piety
of the Russian princes engaged in their service the most skilful of the
Greeks, to decorate the cities and instruct the inhabitants: the dome
and the paintings of St. Sophia were rudely copied in the churches of
Kiow and Novogorod: the writings of the fathers were translated into
the Sclavonic idiom; and three hundred noble youths were invited or
compelled to attend the lessons of the college of Jaroslaus. It should
appear that Russia might have derived an early and rapid improvement
from her peculiar connection with the church and state of
Constantinople, which at that age so justly despised the ignorance of
the Latins. But the Byzantine nation was servile, solitary, and verging
to a hasty decline: after the fall of Kiow, the navigation of the
Borysthenes was forgotten; the great princes of Wolodomir and Moscow
were separated from the sea and Christendom; and the divided monarchy
was oppressed by the ignominy and blindness of Tartar servitude. The
Sclavonic and Scandinavian kingdoms, which had been converted by
the Latin missionaries, were exposed, it is true, to the spiritual
jurisdiction and temporal claims of the popes; but they were united in
language and religious worship, with each other, and with Rome; they
imbibed the free and generous spirit of the European republic, and
gradually shared the light of knowledge which arose on the western

Chapter LVI: The Saracens, The Franks And The Normans.--Part I.

     The Saracens, Franks, And Greeks, In Italy.--First
     Adventures And Settlement Of The Normans.--Character And
     Conquest Of Robert Guiscard, Duke Of Apulia--Deliverance Of
     Sicily By His Brother Roger.--Victories Of Robert Over The
     Emperors Of The East And West.--Roger, King Of Sicily,
     Invades Africa And Greece.--The Emperor Manuel Comnenus.--
     Wars Of The Greeks And Normans.--Extinction Of The Normans.

The three great nations of the world, the Greeks, the Saracens, and the
Franks, encountered each other on the theatre of Italy. The southern
provinces, which now compose the kingdom of Naples, were subject,
for the most part, to the Lombard dukes and princes of Beneventum;
so powerful in war, that they checked for a moment the genius of
Charlemagne; so liberal in peace, that they maintained in their capital
an academy of thirty-two philosophers and grammarians. The division of
this flourishing state produced the rival principalities of Benevento,
Salerno, and Capua; and the thoughtless ambition or revenge of
the competitors invited the Saracens to the ruin of their common
inheritance. During a calamitous period of two hundred years, Italy was
exposed to a repetition of wounds, which the invaders were not capable
of healing by the union and tranquility of a perfect conquest. Their
frequent and almost annual squadrons issued from the port of Palermo,
and were entertained with too much indulgence by the Christians of
Naples: the more formidable fleets were prepared on the African coast;
and even the Arabs of Andalusia were sometimes tempted to assist or
oppose the Moslems of an adverse sect. In the revolution of human
events, a new ambuscade was concealed in the Caudine Forks, the fields
of Cannæ were bedewed a second time with the blood of the Africans, and
the sovereign of Rome again attacked or defended the walls of Capua and
Tarentum. A colony of Saracens had been planted at Bari, which commands
the entrance of the Adriatic Gulf; and their impartial depredations
provoked the resentment, and conciliated the union of the two emperors.
An offensive alliance was concluded between Basil the Macedonian, the
first of his race, and Lewis the great-grandson of Charlemagne; and each
party supplied the deficiencies of his associate. It would have been
imprudent in the Byzantine monarch to transport his stationary troops
of Asia to an Italian campaign; and the Latin arms would have been
insufficient if his superior navy had not occupied the mouth of the
Gulf. The fortress of Bari was invested by the infantry of the Franks,
and by the cavalry and galleys of the Greeks; and, after a defence of
four years, the Arabian emir submitted to the clemency of Lewis, who
commanded in person the operations of the siege. This important conquest
had been achieved by the concord of the East and West; but their recent
amity was soon imbittered by the mutual complaints of jealousy and
pride. The Greeks assumed as their own the merit of the conquest and
the pomp of the triumph; extolled the greatness of their powers,
and affected to deride the intemperance and sloth of the handful of
Barbarians who appeared under the banners of the Carlovingian prince.
His reply is expressed with the eloquence of indignation and truth: "We
confess the magnitude of your preparation," says the great-grandson of
Charlemagne. "Your armies were indeed as numerous as a cloud of summer
locusts, who darken the day, flap their wings, and, after a short
flight, tumble weary and breathless to the ground. Like them, ye sunk
after a feeble effort; ye were vanquished by your own cowardice; and
withdrew from the scene of action to injure and despoil our Christian
subjects of the Sclavonian coast. We were few in number, and why were
we few? Because, after a tedious expectation of your arrival, I had
dismissed my host, and retained only a chosen band of warriors to
continue the blockade of the city. If they indulged their hospitable
feasts in the face of danger and death, did these feasts abate the vigor
of their enterprise? Is it by your fasting that the walls of Bari have
been overturned? Did not these valiant Franks, diminished as they were
by languor and fatigue, intercept and vanish the three most powerful
emirs of the Saracens? and did not their defeat precipitate the fall
of the city? Bari is now fallen; Tarentum trembles; Calabria will be
delivered; and, if we command the sea, the Island of Sicily may be
rescued from the hands of the infidels. My brother," accelerate (a
name most offensive to the vanity of the Greek,) "accelerate your naval
succors, respect your allies, and distrust your flatterers."

These lofty hopes were soon extinguished by the death of Lewis, and the
decay of the Carlovingian house; and whoever might deserve the honor,
the Greek emperors, Basil, and his son Leo, secured the advantage, of
the reduction of Bari The Italians of Apulia and Calabria were persuaded
or compelled to acknowledge their supremacy, and an ideal line from
Mount Garganus to the Bay of Salerno, leaves the far greater part of the
kingdom of Naples under the dominion of the Eastern empire. Beyond
that line, the dukes or republics of Amalfi and Naples, who had never
forfeited their voluntary allegiance, rejoiced in the neighborhood of
their lawful sovereign; and Amalfi was enriched by supplying Europe
with the produce and manufactures of Asia. But the Lombard princes of
Benevento, Salerno, and Capua, were reluctantly torn from the communion
of the Latin world, and too often violated their oaths of servitude and
tribute. The city of Bari rose to dignity and wealth, as the metropolis
of the new theme or province of Lombardy: the title of patrician, and
afterwards the singular name of _Catapan_, was assigned to the supreme
governor; and the policy both of the church and state was modelled in
exact subordination to the throne of Constantinople. As long as the
sceptre was disputed by the princes of Italy, their efforts were feeble
and adverse; and the Greeks resisted or eluded the forces of Germany,
which descended from the Alps under the Imperial standard of the
Othos. The first and greatest of those Saxon princes was compelled to
relinquish the siege of Bari: the second, after the loss of his stoutest
bishops and barons, escaped with honor from the bloody field of Crotona.
On that day the scale of war was turned against the Franks by the valor
of the Saracens. These corsairs had indeed been driven by the Byzantine
fleets from the fortresses and coasts of Italy; but a sense of interest
was more prevalent than superstition or resentment, and the caliph of
Egypt had transported forty thousand Moslems to the aid of his Christian
ally. The successors of Basil amused themselves with the belief, that
the conquest of Lombardy had been achieved, and was still preserved
by the justice of their laws, the virtues of their ministers, and the
gratitude of a people whom they had rescued from anarchy and oppression.
A series of rebellions might dart a ray of truth into the palace of
Constantinople; and the illusions of flattery were dispelled by the easy
and rapid success of the Norman adventurers.

The revolution of human affairs had produced in Apulia and Calabria a
melancholy contrast between the age of Pythagoras and the tenth century
of the Christian æra. At the former period, the coast of Great Greece
(as it was then styled) was planted with free and opulent cities: these
cities were peopled with soldiers, artists, and philosophers; and the
military strength of Tarentum; Sybaris, or Crotona, was not inferior to
that of a powerful kingdom. At the second æra, these once flourishing
provinces were clouded with ignorance impoverished by tyranny, and
depopulated by Barbarian war nor can we severely accuse the exaggeration
of a contemporary, that a fair and ample district was reduced to the
same desolation which had covered the earth after the general deluge.
Among the hostilities of the Arabs, the Franks, and the Greeks, in the
southern Italy, I shall select two or three anecdotes expressive of
their national manners. _1._ It was the amusement of the Saracens to
profane, as well as to pillage, the monasteries and churches. At
the siege of Salerno, a Mussulman chief spread his couch on the
communion-table, and on that altar sacrificed each night the virginity
of a Christian nun. As he wrestled with a reluctant maid, a beam in the
roof was accidentally or dexterously thrown down on his head; and the
death of the lustful emir was imputed to the wrath of Christ, which
was at length awakened to the defence of his faithful spouse. _2._
The Saracens besieged the cities of Beneventum and Capua: after a vain
appeal to the successors of Charlemagne, the Lombards implored the
clemency and aid of the Greek emperor. A fearless citizen dropped from
the walls, passed the intrenchments, accomplished his commission, and
fell into the hands of the Barbarians as he was returning with the
welcome news. They commanded him to assist their enterprise, and deceive
his countrymen, with the assurance that wealth and honors should be the
reward of his falsehood, and that his sincerity would be punished with
immediate death. He affected to yield, but as soon as he was conducted
within hearing of the Christians on the rampart, "Friends and brethren,"
he cried with a loud voice, "be bold and patient, maintain the city;
your sovereign is informed of your distress, and your deliverers are
at hand. I know my doom, and commit my wife and children to your
gratitude." The rage of the Arabs confirmed his evidence; and the
self-devoted patriot was transpierced with a hundred spears. He deserves
to live in the memory of the virtuous, but the repetition of the same
story in ancient and modern times, may sprinkle some doubts on the
reality of this generous deed. _3._ The recital of a third incident may
provoke a smile amidst the horrors of war. Theobald, marquis of Camerino
and Spoleto, supported the rebels of Beneventum; and his wanton cruelty
was not incompatible in that age with the character of a hero. His
captives of the Greek nation or party were castrated without mercy, and
the outrage was aggravated by a cruel jest, that he wished to present
the emperor with a supply of eunuchs, the most precious ornaments of the
Byzantine court. The garrison of a castle had been defeated in a sally,
and the prisoners were sentenced to the customary operation. But the
sacrifice was disturbed by the intrusion of a frantic female, who, with
bleeding cheeks dishevelled hair, and importunate clamors, compelled
the marquis to listen to her complaint. "Is it thus," she cried, "ye
magnanimous heroes, that ye wage war against women, against women who
have never injured ye, and whose only arms are the distaff and the
loom?" Theobald denied the charge, and protested that, since the
Amazons, he had never heard of a female war. "And how," she furiously
exclaimed, "can you attack us more directly, how can you wound us in
a more vital part, than by robbing our husbands of what we most dearly
cherish, the source of our joys, and the hope of our posterity? The
plunder of our flocks and herds I have endured without a murmur, but
this fatal injury, this irreparable loss, subdues my patience, and calls
aloud on the justice of heaven and earth." A general laugh applauded her
eloquence; the savage Franks, inaccessible to pity, were moved by
her ridiculous, yet rational despair; and with the deliverance of the
captives, she obtained the restitution of her effects. As she returned
in triumph to the castle, she was overtaken by a messenger, to inquire,
in the name of Theobald, what punishment should be inflicted on her
husband, were he again taken in arms. "Should such," she answered
without hesitation, "be his guilt and misfortune, he has eyes, and a
nose, and hands, and feet. These are his own, and these he may deserve
to forfeit by his personal offences. But let my lord be pleased to spare
what his little handmaid presumes to claim as her peculiar and lawful

The establishment of the Normans in the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily
is an event most romantic in its origin, and in its consequences most
important both to Italy and the Eastern empire. The broken provinces of
the Greeks, Lombards, and Saracens, were exposed to every invader,
and every sea and land were invaded by the adventurous spirit of the
Scandinavian pirates. After a long indulgence of rapine and slaughter,
a fair and ample territory was accepted, occupied, and named, by
the Normans of France: they renounced their gods for the God of the
Christians; and the dukes of Normandy acknowledged themselves the
vassals of the successors of Charlemagne and Capet. The savage
fierceness which they had brought from the snowy mountains of Norway was
refined, without being corrupted, in a warmer climate; the companions
of Rollo insensibly mingled with the natives; they imbibed the manners,
language, and gallantry, of the French nation; and in a martial age, the
Normans might claim the palm of valor and glorious achievements. Of the
fashionable superstitions, they embraced with ardor the pilgrimages of
Rome, Italy, and the Holy Land. In this active devotion, the minds and
bodies were invigorated by exercise: danger was the incentive, novelty
the recompense; and the prospect of the world was decorated by wonder,
credulity, and ambitious hope. They confederated for their mutual
defence; and the robbers of the Alps, who had been allured by the garb
of a pilgrim, were often chastised by the arm of a warrior. In one of
these pious visits to the cavern of Mount Garganus in Apulia, which had
been sanctified by the apparition of the archangel Michael, they were
accosted by a stranger in the Greek habit, but who soon revealed himself
as a rebel, a fugitive, and a mortal foe of the Greek empire. His name
was Melo; a noble citizen of Bari, who, after an unsuccessful revolt,
was compelled to seek new allies and avengers of his country. The
bold appearance of the Normans revived his hopes and solicited his
confidence: they listened to the complaints, and still more to the
promises, of the patriot. The assurance of wealth demonstrated the
justice of his cause; and they viewed, as the inheritance of the brave,
the fruitful land which was oppressed by effeminate tyrants. On their
return to Normandy, they kindled a spark of enterprise, and a small but
intrepid band was freely associated for the deliverance of Apulia. They
passed the Alps by separate roads, and in the disguise of pilgrims; but
in the neighborhood of Rome they were saluted by the chief of Bari, who
supplied the more indigent with arms and horses, and instantly led them
to the field of action. In the first conflict, their valor prevailed;
but in the second engagement they were overwhelmed by the numbers and
military engines of the Greeks, and indignantly retreated with their
faces to the enemy. The unfortunate Melo ended his life a suppliant at
the court of Germany: his Norman followers, excluded from their native
and their promised land, wandered among the hills and valleys of Italy,
and earned their daily subsistence by the sword. To that formidable
sword the princes of Capua, Beneventum, Salerno, and Naples, alternately
appealed in their domestic quarrels; the superior spirit and discipline
of the Normans gave victory to the side which they espoused; and their
cautious policy observed the balance of power, lest the preponderance
of any rival state should render their aid less important, and their
service less profitable. Their first asylum was a strong camp in the
depth of the marshes of Campania: but they were soon endowed by the
liberality of the duke of Naples with a more plentiful and permanent
seat. Eight miles from his residence, as a bulwark against Capua, the
town of Aversa was built and fortified for their use; and they enjoyed
as their own the corn and fruits, the meadows and groves, of that
fertile district. The report of their success attracted every year new
swarms of pilgrims and soldiers: the poor were urged by necessity; the
rich were excited by hope; and the brave and active spirits of Normandy
were impatient of ease and ambitious of renown. The independent standard
of Aversa afforded shelter and encouragement to the outlaws of the
province, to every fugitive who had escaped from the injustice or
justice of his superiors; and these foreign associates were quickly
assimilated in manners and language to the Gallic colony. The first
leader of the Normans was Count Rainulf; and, in the origin of society,
preëminence of rank is the reward and the proof of superior merit.

Since the conquest of Sicily by the Arabs, the Grecian emperors had been
anxious to regain that valuable possession; but their efforts, however
strenuous, had been opposed by the distance and the sea. Their costly
armaments, after a gleam of success, added new pages of calamity and
disgrace to the Byzantine annals: twenty thousand of their best troops
were lost in a single expedition; and the victorious Moslems derided the
policy of a nation which intrusted eunuchs not only with the custody
of their women, but with the command of their men After a reign of two
hundred years, the Saracens were ruined by their divisions. The emir
disclaimed the authority of the king of Tunis; the people rose against
the emir; the cities were usurped by the chiefs; each meaner rebel
was independent in his village or castle; and the weaker of two rival
brothers implored the friendship of the Christians. In every service of
danger the Normans were prompt and useful; and five hundred _knights_,
or warriors on horseback, were enrolled by Arduin, the agent and
interpreter of the Greeks, under the standard of Maniaces, governor of
Lombardy. Before their landing, the brothers were reconciled; the union
of Sicily and Africa was restored; and the island was guarded to the
water's edge. The Normans led the van and the Arabs of Messina felt the
valor of an untried foe. In a second action the emir of Syracuse was
unhorsed and transpierced by the _iron arm_ of William of Hauteville.
In a third engagement, his intrepid companions discomfited the host of
sixty thousand Saracens, and left the Greeks no more than the labor of
the pursuit: a splendid victory; but of which the pen of the historian
may divide the merit with the lance of the Normans. It is, however,
true, that they essentially promoted the success of Maniaces, who
reduced thirteen cities, and the greater part of Sicily, under
the obedience of the emperor. But his military fame was sullied by
ingratitude and tyranny. In the division of the spoils, the deserts
of his brave auxiliaries were forgotten; and neither their avarice nor
their pride could brook this injurious treatment. They complained by
the mouth of their interpreter: their complaint was disregarded; their
interpreter was scourged; the sufferings were _his_; the insult and
resentment belonged to _those_ whose sentiments he had delivered. Yet
they dissembled till they had obtained, or stolen, a safe passage to
the Italian continent: their brethren of Aversa sympathized in their
indignation, and the province of Apulia was invaded as the forfeit of
the debt. Above twenty years after the first emigration, the Normans
took the field with no more than seven hundred horse and five hundred
foot; and after the recall of the Byzantine legions from the Sicilian
war, their numbers are magnified to the amount of threescore thousand
men. Their herald proposed the option of battle or retreat; "of
battle," was the unanimous cry of the Normans; and one of their stoutest
warriors, with a stroke of his fist, felled to the ground the horse of
the Greek messenger. He was dismissed with a fresh horse; the insult was
concealed from the Imperial troops; but in two successive battles they
were more fatally instructed of the prowess of their adversaries. In the
plains of Cannæ, the Asiatics fled before the adventurers of France;
the duke of Lombardy was made prisoner; the Apulians acquiesced in a
new dominion; and the four places of Bari, Otranto, Brundusium, and
Tarentum, were alone saved in the shipwreck of the Grecian fortunes.
From this æra we may date the establishment of the Norman power, which
soon eclipsed the infant colony of Aversa. Twelve counts were chosen
by the popular suffrage; and age, birth, and merit, were the motives of
their choice. The tributes of their peculiar districts were appropriated
to their use; and each count erected a fortress in the midst of his
lands, and at the head of his vassals. In the centre of the province,
the common habitation of Melphi was reserved as the metropolis and
citadel of the republic; a house and separate quarter was allotted to
each of the twelve counts: and the national concerns were regulated
by this military senate. The first of his peers, their president and
general, was entitled count of Apulia; and this dignity was conferred
on William of the iron arm, who, in the language of the age, is styled a
lion in battle, a lamb in society, and an angel in council. The manners
of his countrymen are fairly delineated by a contemporary and national
historian. "The Normans," says Malaterra, "are a cunning and revengeful
people; eloquence and dissimulation appear to be their hereditary
qualities: they can stoop to flatter; but unless they are curbed by the
restraint of law, they indulge the licentiousness of nature and passion.
Their princes affect the praises of popular munificence; the people
observe the medium, or rather blond the extremes, of avarice and
prodigality; and in their eager thirst of wealth and dominion, they
despise whatever they possess, and hope whatever they desire. Arms and
horses, the luxury of dress, the exercises of hunting and hawking are
the delight of the Normans; but, on pressing occasions, they can endure
with incredible patience the inclemency of every climate, and the toil
and absence of a military life."

Chapter LVI: The Saracens, The Franks And The Normans.--Part II.

The Normans of Apulia were seated on the verge of the two empires; and,
according to the policy of the hour, they accepted the investiture of
their lands, from the sovereigns of Germany or Constantinople. But
the firmest title of these adventurers was the right of conquest: they
neither loved nor trusted; they were neither trusted nor beloved: the
contempt of the princes was mixed with fear, and the fear of the natives
was mingled with hatred and resentment. Every object of desire, a
horse, a woman, a garden, tempted and gratified the rapaciousness of the
strangers; and the avarice of their chiefs was only colored by the more
specious names of ambition and glory. The twelve counts were sometimes
joined in the league of injustice: in their domestic quarrels they
disputed the spoils of the people: the virtues of William were buried in
his grave; and Drogo, his brother and successor, was better qualified to
lead the valor, than to restrain the violence, of his peers. Under the
reign of Constantine Monomachus, the policy, rather than benevolence,
of the Byzantine court, attempted to relieve Italy from this adherent
mischief, more grievous than a flight of Barbarians; and Argyrus, the
son of Melo, was invested for this purpose with the most lofty titles
and the most ample commission. The memory of his father might recommend
him to the Normans; and he had already engaged their voluntary service
to quell the revolt of Maniaces, and to avenge their own and the public
injury. It was the design of Constantine to transplant the warlike
colony from the Italian provinces to the Persian war; and the son of
Melo distributed among the chiefs the gold and manufactures of Greece,
as the first-fruits of the Imperial bounty. But his arts were baffled by
the sense and spirit of the conquerors of Apulia: his gifts, or at least
his proposals, were rejected; and they unanimously refused to relinquish
their possessions and their hopes for the distant prospect of Asiatic
fortune. After the means of persuasion had failed, Argyrus resolved to
compel or to destroy: the Latin powers were solicited against the common
enemy; and an offensive alliance was formed of the pope and the two
emperors of the East and West. The throne of St. Peter was occupied by
Leo the Ninth, a simple saint, of a temper most apt to deceive himself
and the world, and whose venerable character would consecrate with
the name of piety the measures least compatible with the practice of
religion. His humanity was affected by the complaints, perhaps the
calumnies, of an injured people: the impious Normans had interrupted the
payment of tithes; and the temporal sword might be lawfully unsheathed
against the sacrilegious robbers, who were deaf to the censures of
the church. As a German of noble birth and royal kindred, Leo had free
access to the court and confidence of the emperor Henry the Third;
and in search of arms and allies, his ardent zeal transported him from
Apulia to Saxony, from the Elbe to the Tyber. During these hostile
preparations, Argyrus indulged himself in the use of secret and guilty
weapons: a crowd of Normans became the victims of public or private
revenge; and the valiant Drogo was murdered in a church. But his
spirit survived in his brother Humphrey, the third count of Apulia. The
assassins were chastised; and the son of Melo, overthrown and wounded,
was driven from the field, to hide his shame behind the walls of Bari,
and to await the tardy succor of his allies.

But the power of Constantine was distracted by a Turkish war; the mind
of Henry was feeble and irresolute; and the pope, instead of repassing
the Alps with a German army, was accompanied only by a guard of seven
hundred Swabians and some volunteers of Lorraine. In his long progress
from Mantua to Beneventum, a vile and promiscuous multitude of Italians
was enlisted under the holy standard: the priest and the robber slept in
the same tent; the pikes and crosses were intermingled in the front;
and the martial saint repeated the lessons of his youth in the order of
march, of encampment, and of combat. The Normans of Apulia could muster
in the field no more than three thousand horse, with a handful of
infantry: the defection of the natives intercepted their provisions and
retreat; and their spirit, incapable of fear, was chilled for a moment
by superstitious awe. On the hostile approach of Leo, they knelt without
disgrace or reluctance before their spiritual father. But the pope was
inexorable; his lofty Germans affected to deride the diminutive stature
of their adversaries; and the Normans were informed that death or exile
was their only alternative. Flight they disdained, and, as many of them
had been three days without tasting food, they embraced the assurance
of a more easy and honorable death. They climbed the hill of Civitella,
descended into the plain, and charged in three divisions the army of
the pope. On the left, and in the centre, Richard count of Aversa, and
Robert the famous Guiscard, attacked, broke, routed, and pursued the
Italian multitudes, who fought without discipline, and fled without
shame. A harder trial was reserved for the valor of Count Humphrey, who
led the cavalry of the right wing. The Germans have been described as
unskillful in the management of the horse and the lance, but on foot
they formed a strong and impenetrable phalanx; and neither man, nor
steed, nor armor, could resist the weight of their long and two-handed
swords. After a severe conflict, they were encompassed by the squadrons
returning from the pursuit; and died in the ranks with the esteem of
their foes, and the satisfaction of revenge. The gates of Civitella
were shut against the flying pope, and he was overtaken by the pious
conquerors, who kissed his feet, to implore his blessing and the
absolution of their sinful victory. The soldiers beheld in their enemy
and captive the vicar of Christ; and, though we may suppose the policy
of the chiefs, it is probable that they were infected by the popular
superstition. In the calm of retirement, the well-meaning pope deplored
the effusion of Christian blood, which must be imputed to his account:
he felt, that he had been the author of sin and scandal; and as his
undertaking had failed, the indecency of his military character was
universally condemned. With these dispositions, he listened to the
offers of a beneficial treaty; deserted an alliance which he had
preached as the cause of God; and ratified the past and future conquests
of the Normans. By whatever hands they had been usurped, the provinces
of Apulia and Calabria were a part of the donation of Constantine and
the patrimony of St. Peter: the grant and the acceptance confirmed
the mutual claims of the pontiff and the adventurers. They promised
to support each other with spiritual and temporal arms; a tribute or
quitrent of twelve pence was afterwards stipulated for every ploughland;
and since this memorable transaction, the kingdom of Naples has remained
above seven hundred years a fief of the Holy See.

The pedigree of Robert of Guiscard is variously deduced from the
peasants and the dukes of Normandy: from the peasants, by the pride and
ignorance of a Grecian princess; from the dukes, by the ignorance and
flattery of the Italian subjects. His genuine descent may be ascribed to
the second or middle order of private nobility. He sprang from a race of
_valvassors_ or _bannerets_, of the diocese of Coutances, in the Lower
Normandy: the castle of Hauteville was their honorable seat: his father
Tancred was conspicuous in the court and army of the duke; and
his military service was furnished by ten soldiers or knights. Two
marriages, of a rank not unworthy of his own, made him the father of
twelve sons, who were educated at home by the impartial tenderness
of his second wife. But a narrow patrimony was insufficient for this
numerous and daring progeny; they saw around the neighborhood the
mischiefs of poverty and discord, and resolved to seek in foreign wars a
more glorious inheritance. Two only remained to perpetuate the race,
and cherish their father's age: their ten brothers, as they successfully
attained the vigor of manhood, departed from the castle, passed the
Alps, and joined the Apulian camp of the Normans. The elder were
prompted by native spirit; their success encouraged their younger
brethren, and the three first in seniority, William, Drogo, and
Humphrey, deserved to be the chiefs of their nation and the founders of
the new republic. Robert was the eldest of the seven sons of the second
marriage; and even the reluctant praise of his foes has endowed him with
the heroic qualities of a soldier and a statesman. His lofty stature
surpassed the tallest of his army: his limbs were cast in the true
proportion of strength and gracefulness; and to the decline of life, he
maintained the patient vigor of health and the commanding dignity of his
form. His complexion was ruddy, his shoulders were broad, his hair and
beard were long and of a flaxen color, his eyes sparkled with fire, and
his voice, like that of Achilles, could impress obedience and terror
amidst the tumult of battle. In the ruder ages of chivalry, such
qualifications are not below the notice of the poet or historians: they
may observe that Robert, at once, and with equal dexterity, could wield
in the right hand his sword, his lance in the left; that in the battle
of Civitella he was thrice unhorsed; and that in the close of that
memorable day he was adjudged to have borne away the prize of valor from
the warriors of the two armies. His boundless ambition was founded on
the consciousness of superior worth: in the pursuit of greatness, he
was never arrested by the scruples of justice, and seldom moved by the
feelings of humanity: though not insensible of fame, the choice of open
or clandestine means was determined only by his present advantage. The
surname of _Guiscard_ was applied to this master of political wisdom,
which is too often confounded with the practice of dissimulation and
deceit; and Robert is praised by the Apulian poet for excelling the
cunning of Ulysses and the eloquence of Cicero. Yet these arts were
disguised by an appearance of military frankness: in his highest
fortune, he was accessible and courteous to his fellow-soldiers; and
while he indulged the prejudices of his new subjects, he affected in
his dress and manners to maintain the ancient fashion of his country. He
grasped with a rapacious, that he might distribute with a liberal, hand:
his primitive indigence had taught the habits of frugality; the gain of
a merchant was not below his attention; and his prisoners were tortured
with slow and unfeeling cruelty, to force a discovery of their secret
treasure. According to the Greeks, he departed from Normandy with only
five followers on horseback and thirty on foot; yet even this allowance
appears too bountiful: the sixth son of Tancred of Hauteville passed
the Alps as a pilgrim; and his first military band was levied among
the adventurers of Italy. His brothers and countrymen had divided the
fertile lands of Apulia; but they guarded their shares with the jealousy
of avarice; the aspiring youth was driven forwards to the mountains of
Calabria, and in his first exploits against the Greeks and the natives,
it is not easy to discriminate the hero from the robber. To surprise
a castle or a convent, to ensnare a wealthy citizen, to plunder the
adjacent villages for necessary food, were the obscure labors which
formed and exercised the powers of his mind and body. The volunteers of
Normandy adhered to his standard; and, under his command, the peasants
of Calabria assumed the name and character of Normans.

As the genius of Robert expanded with his fortune, he awakened the
jealousy of his elder brother, by whom, in a transient quarrel, his life
was threatened and his liberty restrained. After the death of Humphrey,
the tender age of his sons excluded them from the command; they were
reduced to a private estate, by the ambition of their guardian and
uncle; and Guiscard was exalted on a buckler, and saluted count of
Apulia and general of the republic. With an increase of authority and of
force, he resumed the conquest of Calabria, and soon aspired to a rank
that should raise him forever above the heads of his equals. By some
acts of rapine or sacrilege, he had incurred a papal excommunication;
but Nicholas the Second was easily persuaded that the divisions of
friends could terminate only in their mutual prejudice; that the Normans
were the faithful champions of the Holy See; and it was safer to trust
the alliance of a prince than the caprice of an aristocracy. A synod of
one hundred bishops was convened at Melphi; and the count interrupted an
important enterprise to guard the person and execute the decrees of
the Roman pontiff. His gratitude and policy conferred on Robert and his
posterity the ducal title, with the investiture of Apulia, Calabria, and
all the lands, both in Italy and Sicily, which his sword could rescue
from the schismatic Greeks and the unbelieving Saracens. This apostolic
sanction might justify his arms; but the obedience of a free and
victorious people could not be transferred without their consent; and
Guiscard dissembled his elevation till the ensuing campaign had been
illustrated by the conquest of Consenza and Reggio. In the hour of
triumph, he assembled his troops, and solicited the Normans to confirm
by their suffrage the judgment of the vicar of Christ: the soldiers
hailed with joyful acclamations their valiant duke; and the counts, his
former equals, pronounced the oath of fidelity with hollow smiles and
secret indignation. After this inauguration, Robert styled himself, "By
the grace of God and St. Peter, duke of Apulia, Calabria, and hereafter
of Sicily;" and it was the labor of twenty years to deserve and realize
these lofty appellations. Such tardy progress, in a narrow space,
may seem unworthy of the abilities of the chief and the spirit of the
nation; but the Normans were few in number; their resources were scanty;
their service was voluntary and precarious. The bravest designs of
the duke were sometimes opposed by the free voice of his parliament
of barons: the twelve counts of popular election conspired against his
authority; and against their perfidious uncle, the sons of Humphrey
demanded justice and revenge. By his policy and vigor, Guiscard
discovered their plots, suppressed their rebellions, and punished the
guilty with death or exile: but in these domestic feuds, his years, and
the national strength, were unprofitably consumed. After the defeat of
his foreign enemies, the Greeks, Lombards, and Saracens, their broken
forces retreated to the strong and populous cities of the sea-coast.
They excelled in the arts of fortification and defence; the Normans were
accustomed to serve on horseback in the field, and their rude attempts
could only succeed by the efforts of persevering courage. The resistance
of Salerno was maintained above eight months; the siege or blockade of
Bari lasted near four years. In these actions the Norman duke was the
foremost in every danger; in every fatigue the last and most patient.
As he pressed the citadel of Salerno, a huge stone from the rampart
shattered one of his military engines; and by a splinter he was wounded
in the breast. Before the gates of Bari, he lodged in a miserable hut or
barrack, composed of dry branches, and thatched with straw; a perilous
station, on all sides open to the inclemency of the winter and the
spears of the enemy.

The Italian conquests of Robert correspond with the limits of the
present kingdom of Naples; and the countries united by his arms have not
been dissevered by the revolutions of seven hundred years. The monarchy
has been composed of the Greek provinces of Calabria and Apulia, of the
Lombard principality of Salerno, the republic of Amalphi, and the
inland dependencies of the large and ancient duchy of Beneventum. Three
districts only were exempted from the common law of subjection; the
first forever, the two last till the middle of the succeeding century.
The city and immediate territory of Benevento had been transferred,
by gift or exchange, from the German emperor to the Roman pontiff; and
although this holy land was sometimes invaded, the name of St. Peter was
finally more potent than the sword of the Normans. Their first colony of
Aversa subdued and held the state of Capua; and her princes were reduced
to beg their bread before the palace of their fathers. The dukes of
Naples, the present metropolis, maintained the popular freedom, under
the shadow of the Byzantine empire. Among the new acquisitions of
Guiscard, the science of Salerno, and the trade of Amalphi, may detain
for a moment the curiosity of the reader. I. Of the learned faculties,
jurisprudence implies the previous establishment of laws and property;
and theology may perhaps be superseded by the full light of religion and
reason. But the savage and the sage must alike implore the assistance
of physic; and, if our diseases are inflamed by luxury, the mischiefs
of blows and wounds would be more frequent in the ruder ages of society.
The treasures of Grecian medicine had been communicated to the Arabian
colonies of Africa, Spain, and Sicily; and in the intercourse of peace
and war, a spark of knowledge had been kindled and cherished at
Salerno, an illustrious city, in which the men were honest and the women
beautiful. A school, the first that arose in the darkness of Europe, was
consecrated to the healing art: the conscience of monks and bishops was
reconciled to that salutary and lucrative profession; and a crowd of
patients, of the most eminent rank, and most distant climates, invited
or visited the physicians of Salerno. They were protected by the Norman
conquerors; and Guiscard, though bred in arms, could discern the merit
and value of a philosopher. After a pilgrimage of thirty-nine years,
Constantine, an African Christian, returned from Bagdad, a master of the
language and learning of the Arabians; and Salerno was enriched by the
practice, the lessons, and the writings of the pupil of Avicenna. The
school of medicine has long slept in the name of a university; but her
precepts are abridged in a string of aphorisms, bound together in the
Leonine verses, or Latin rhymes, of the twelfth century. II. Seven miles
to the west of Salerno, and thirty to the south of Naples, the obscure
town of Amalphi displayed the power and rewards of industry. The land,
however fertile, was of narrow extent; but the sea was accessible and
open: the inhabitants first assumed the office of supplying the western
world with the manufactures and productions of the East; and this useful
traffic was the source of their opulence and freedom. The government
was popular, under the administration of a duke and the supremacy of
the Greek emperor. Fifty thousand citizens were numbered in the walls
of Amalphi; nor was any city more abundantly provided with gold, silver,
and the objects of precious luxury. The mariners who swarmed in her
port, excelled in the theory and practice of navigation and astronomy:
and the discovery of the compass, which has opened the globe, is owing
to their ingenuity or good fortune. Their trade was extended to the
coasts, or at least to the commodities, of Africa, Arabia, and India:
and their settlements in Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and
Alexandria, acquired the privileges of independent colonies. After three
hundred years of prosperity, Amalphi was oppressed by the arms of the
Normans, and sacked by the jealousy of Pisa; but the poverty of one
thousand fisherman is yet dignified by the remains of an arsenal, a
cathedral, and the palaces of royal merchants.

Chapter LVI: The Saracens, The Franks And The Normans.--Part III.

Roger, the twelfth and last of the sons of Tancred, had been long
detained in Normandy by his own and his father' age. He accepted the
welcome summons; hastened to the Apulian camp; and deserved at first the
esteem, and afterwards the envy, of his elder brother. Their valor and
ambition were equal; but the youth, the beauty, the elegant manners,
of Roger engaged the disinterested love of the soldiers and people.
So scanty was his allowance for himself and forty followers, that he
descended from conquest to robbery, and from robbery to domestic theft;
and so loose were the notions of property, that, by his own historian,
at his special command, he is accused of stealing horses from a stable
at Melphi. His spirit emerged from poverty and disgrace: from these base
practices he rose to the merit and glory of a holy war; and the invasion
of Sicily was seconded by the zeal and policy of his brother Guiscard.
After the retreat of the Greeks, the _idolaters_, a most audacious
reproach of the Catholics, had retrieved their losses and possessions;
but the deliverance of the island, so vainly undertaken by the forces
of the Eastern empire, was achieved by a small and private band of
adventurers. In the first attempt, Roger braved, in an open boat, the
real and fabulous dangers of Scylla and Charybdis; landed with only
sixty soldiers on a hostile shore; drove the Saracens to the gates of
Messina and safely returned with the spoils of the adjacent country.
In the fortress of Trani, his active and patient courage were equally
conspicuous. In his old age he related with pleasure, that, by the
distress of the siege, himself, and the countess his wife, had been
reduced to a single cloak or mantle, which they wore alternately; that
in a sally his horse had been slain, and he was dragged away by the
Saracens; but that he owed his rescue to his good sword, and had
retreated with his saddle on his back, lest the meanest trophy might
be left in the hands of the miscreants. In the siege of Trani, three
hundred Normans withstood and repulsed the forces of the island. In the
field of Ceramio, fifty thousand horse and foot were overthrown by one
hundred and thirty-six Christian soldiers, without reckoning St. George,
who fought on horseback in the foremost ranks. The captive banners, with
four camels, were reserved for the successor of St. Peter; and had these
barbaric spoils been exposed, not in the Vatican, but in the Capitol,
they might have revived the memory of the Punic triumphs. These
insufficient numbers of the Normans most probably denote their knights,
the soldiers of honorable and equestrian rank, each of whom was attended
by five or six followers in the field; yet, with the aid of this
interpretation, and after every fair allowance on the side of valor,
arms, and reputation, the discomfiture of so many myriads will reduce
the prudent reader to the alternative of a miracle or a fable. The Arabs
of Sicily derived a frequent and powerful succor from their countrymen
of Africa: in the siege of Palermo, the Norman cavalry was assisted by
the galleys of Pisa; and, in the hour of action, the envy of the two
brothers was sublimed to a generous and invincible emulation. After a
war of thirty years, Roger, with the title of great count, obtained
the sovereignty of the largest and most fruitful island of the
Mediterranean; and his administration displays a liberal and enlightened
mind, above the limits of his age and education. The Moslems were
maintained in the free enjoyment of their religion and property: a
philosopher and physician of Mazara, of the race of Mahomet, harangued
the conqueror, and was invited to court; his geography of the seven
climates was translated into Latin; and Roger, after a diligent perusal,
preferred the work of the Arabian to the writings of the Grecian
Ptolemy. A remnant of Christian natives had promoted the success of the
Normans: they were rewarded by the triumph of the cross. The island
was restored to the jurisdiction of the Roman pontiff; new bishops
were planted in the principal cities; and the clergy was satisfied by
a liberal endowment of churches and monasteries. Yet the Catholic hero
asserted the rights of the civil magistrate. Instead of resigning the
investiture of benefices, he dexterously applied to his own profit the
papal claims: the supremacy of the crown was secured and enlarged, by
the singular bull, which declares the princes of Sicily hereditary and
perpetual legates of the Holy See.

To Robert Guiscard, the conquest of Sicily was more glorious than
beneficial: the possession of Apulia and Calabria was inadequate to his
ambition; and he resolved to embrace or create the first occasion of
invading, perhaps of subduing, the Roman empire of the East. From his
first wife, the partner of his humble fortune, he had been divorced
under the pretence of consanguinity; and her son Bohemond was destined
to imitate, rather than to succeed, his illustrious father. The second
wife of Guiscard was the daughter of the princes of Salerno; the
Lombards acquiesced in the lineal succession of their son Roger; their
five daughters were given in honorable nuptials, and one of them was
betrothed, in a tender age, to Constantine, a beautiful youth, the son
and heir of the emperor Michael. But the throne of Constantinople was
shaken by a revolution: the Imperial family of Ducas was confined to the
palace or the cloister; and Robert deplored, and resented, the disgrace
of his daughter and the expulsion of his ally. A Greek, who styled
himself the father of Constantine, soon appeared at Salerno, and related
the adventures of his fall and flight. That unfortunate friend was
acknowledged by the duke, and adorned with the pomp and titles of
Imperial dignity: in his triumphal progress through Apulia and Calabria,
Michael was saluted with the tears and acclamations of the people;
and Pope Gregory the Seventh exhorted the bishops to preach, and
the Catholics to fight, in the pious work of his restoration. His
conversations with Robert were frequent and familiar; and their mutual
promises were justified by the valor of the Normans and the treasures of
the East. Yet this Michael, by the confession of the Greeks and Latins,
was a pageant and an impostor; a monk who had fled from his convent, or
a domestic who had served in the palace. The fraud had been contrived by
the subtle Guiscard; and he trusted, that after this pretender had given
a decent color to his arms, he would sink, at the nod of the conqueror,
into his primitive obscurity. But victory was the only argument that
could determine the belief of the Greeks; and the ardor of the Latins
was much inferior to their credulity: the Norman veterans wished to
enjoy the harvest of their toils, and the unwarlike Italians trembled
at the known and unknown dangers of a transmarine expedition. In his new
levies, Robert exerted the influence of gifts and promises, the terrors
of civil and ecclesiastical authority; and some acts of violence
might justify the reproach, that age and infancy were pressed without
distinction into the service of their unrelenting prince. After two
years' incessant preparations the land and naval forces were assembled
at Otranto, at the heel, or extreme promontory, of Italy; and Robert was
accompanied by his wife, who fought by his side, his son Bohemond, and
the representative of the emperor Michael. Thirteen hundred knights of
Norman race or discipline, formed the sinews of the army, which might be
swelled to thirty thousand followers of every denomination. The men,
the horses, the arms, the engines, the wooden towers, covered with
raw hides, were embarked on board one hundred and fifty vessels: the
transports had been built in the ports of Italy, and the galleys were
supplied by the alliance of the republic of Ragusa.

At the mouth of the Adriatic Gulf, the shores of Italy and Epirus
incline towards each other. The space between Brundusium and Durazzo,
the Roman passage, is no more than one hundred miles; at the last
station of Otranto, it is contracted to fifty; and this narrow distance
had suggested to Pyrrhus and Pompey the sublime or extravagant idea of
a bridge. Before the general embarkation, the Norman duke despatched
Bohemond with fifteen galleys to seize or threaten the Isle of Corfu, to
survey the opposite coast, and to secure a harbor in the neighborhood
of Vallona for the landing of the troops. They passed and landed without
perceiving an enemy; and this successful experiment displayed the
neglect and decay of the naval power of the Greeks. The islands of
Epirus and the maritime towns were subdued by the arms or the name
of Robert, who led his fleet and army from Corfu (I use the modern
appellation) to the siege of Durazzo. That city, the western key of the
empire, was guarded by ancient renown, and recent fortifications, by
George Palæologus, a patrician, victorious in the Oriental wars, and a
numerous garrison of Albanians and Macedonians, who, in every age,
have maintained the character of soldiers. In the prosecution of his
enterprise, the courage of Guiscard was assailed by every form of danger
and mischance. In the most propitious season of the year, as his fleet
passed along the coast, a storm of wind and snow unexpectedly arose:
the Adriatic was swelled by the raging blast of the south, and a new
shipwreck confirmed the old infamy of the Acroceraunian rocks. The
sails, the masts, and the oars, were shattered or torn away; the sea
and shore were covered with the fragments of vessels, with arms and dead
bodies; and the greatest part of the provisions were either drowned or
damaged. The ducal galley was laboriously rescued from the waves, and
Robert halted seven days on the adjacent cape, to collect the relics of
his loss, and revive the drooping spirits of his soldiers. The Normans
were no longer the bold and experienced mariners who had explored the
ocean from Greenland to Mount Atlas, and who smiled at the petty dangers
of the Mediterranean. They had wept during the tempest; they were
alarmed by the hostile approach of the Venetians, who had been solicited
by the prayers and promises of the Byzantine court. The first day's
action was not disadvantageous to Bohemond, a beardless youth, who led
the naval powers of his father. All night the galleys of the republic
lay on their anchors in the form of a crescent; and the victory of the
second day was decided by the dexterity of their evolutions, the station
of their archers, the weight of their javelins, and the borrowed aid
of the Greek fire. The Apulian and Ragusian vessels fled to the shore,
several were cut from their cables, and dragged away by the conqueror;
and a sally from the town carried slaughter and dismay to the tents of
the Norman duke. A seasonable relief was poured into Durazzo, and as
soon as the besiegers had lost the command of the sea, the islands
and maritime towns withdrew from the camp the supply of tribute and
provision. That camp was soon afflicted with a pestilential disease;
five hundred knights perished by an inglorious death; and the list of
burials (if all could obtain a decent burial) amounted to ten thousand
persons. Under these calamities, the mind of Guiscard alone was firm and
invincible; and while he collected new forces from Apulia and Sicily, he
battered, or scaled, or sapped, the walls of Durazzo. But his industry
and valor were encountered by equal valor and more perfect industry. A
movable turret, of a size and capacity to contain five hundred soldiers,
had been rolled forwards to the foot of the rampart: but the descent of
the door or drawbridge was checked by an enormous beam, and the wooden
structure was constantly consumed by artificial flames.

While the Roman empire was attacked by the Turks in the East, east, and
the Normans in the West, the aged successor of Michael surrendered the
sceptre to the hands of Alexius, an illustrious captain, and the founder
of the Comnenian dynasty. The princess Anne, his daughter and historian,
observes, in her affected style, that even Hercules was unequal to a
double combat; and, on this principle, she approves a hasty peace with
the Turks, which allowed her father to undertake in person the relief of
Durazzo. On his accession, Alexius found the camp without soldiers, and
the treasury without money; yet such were the vigor and activity of his
measures, that in six months he assembled an army of seventy thousand
men, and performed a march of five hundred miles. His troops were levied
in Europe and Asia, from Peloponnesus to the Black Sea; his majesty
was displayed in the silver arms and rich trappings of the companies
of Horse-guards; and the emperor was attended by a train of nobles and
princes, some of whom, in rapid succession, had been clothed with
the purple, and were indulged by the lenity of the times in a life of
affluence and dignity. Their youthful ardor might animate the multitude;
but their love of pleasure and contempt of subordination were pregnant
with disorder and mischief; and their importunate clamors for speedy
and decisive action disconcerted the prudence of Alexius, who might have
surrounded and starved the besieging army. The enumeration of provinces
recalls a sad comparison of the past and present limits of the Roman
world: the raw levies were drawn together in haste and terror; and
the garrisons of Anatolia, or Asia Minor, had been purchased by the
evacuation of the cities which were immediately occupied by the
Turks. The strength of the Greek army consisted in the Varangians, the
Scandinavian guards, whose numbers were recently augmented by a colony
of exiles and volunteers from the British Island of Thule. Under the
yoke of the Norman conqueror, the Danes and English were oppressed
and united; a band of adventurous youths resolved to desert a land
of slavery; the sea was open to their escape; and, in their long
pilgrimage, they visited every coast that afforded any hope of liberty
and revenge. They were entertained in the service of the Greek emperor;
and their first station was in a new city on the Asiatic shore: but
Alexius soon recalled them to the defence of his person and palace; and
bequeathed to his successors the inheritance of their faith and valor.
The name of a Norman invader revived the memory of their wrongs: they
marched with alacrity against the national foe, and panted to regain
in Epirus the glory which they had lost in the battle of Hastings. The
Varangians were supported by some companies of Franks or Latins; and
the rebels, who had fled to Constantinople from the tyranny of Guiscard,
were eager to signalize their zeal and gratify their revenge. In
this emergency, the emperor had not disdained the impure aid of the
Paulicians or Manichæans of Thrace and Bulgaria; and these heretics
united with the patience of martyrdom the spirit and discipline of
active valor. The treaty with the sultan had procured a supply of some
thousand Turks; and the arrows of the Scythian horse were opposed to
the lances of the Norman cavalry. On the report and distant prospect of
these formidable numbers, Robert assembled a council of his principal
officers. "You behold," said he, "your danger: it is urgent and
inevitable. The hills are covered with arms and standards; and the
emperor of the Greeks is accustomed to wars and triumphs. Obedience and
union are our only safety; and I am ready to yield the command to a more
worthy leader." The vote and acclamation even of his secret enemies,
assured him, in that perilous moment, of their esteem and confidence;
and the duke thus continued: "Let us trust in the rewards of victory,
and deprive cowardice of the means of escape. Let us burn our vessels
and our baggage, and give battle on this spot, as if it were the
place of our nativity and our burial." The resolution was unanimously
approved; and, without confining himself to his lines, Guiscard awaited
in battle-array the nearer approach of the enemy. His rear was covered
by a small river; his right wing extended to the sea; his left to the
hills: nor was he conscious, perhaps, that on the same ground Cæsar and
Pompey had formerly disputed the empire of the world.

Against the advice of his wisest captains, Alexius resolved to risk
the event of a general action, and exhorted the garrison of Durazzo to
assist their own deliverance by a well-timed sally from the town. He
marched in two columns to surprise the Normans before daybreak on two
different sides: his light cavalry was scattered over the plain; the
archers formed the second line; and the Varangians claimed the honors of
the vanguard. In the first onset, the battle-axes of the strangers made
a deep and bloody impression on the army of Guiscard, which was
now reduced to fifteen thousand men. The Lombards and Calabrians
ignominiously turned their backs; they fled towards the river and the
sea; but the bridge had been broken down to check the sally of the
garrison, and the coast was lined with the Venetian galleys, who played
their engines among the disorderly throng. On the verge of ruin, they
were saved by the spirit and conduct of their chiefs. Gaita, the wife of
Robert, is painted by the Greeks as a warlike Amazon, a second Pallas;
less skilful in arts, but not less terrible in arms, than the Athenian
goddess: though wounded by an arrow, she stood her ground, and strove,
by her exhortation and example, to rally the flying troops. Her female
voice was seconded by the more powerful voice and arm of the Norman
duke, as calm in action as he was magnanimous in council: "Whither," he
cried aloud, "whither do ye fly? Your enemy is implacable; and death
is less grievous than servitude." The moment was decisive: as the
Varangians advanced before the line, they discovered the nakedness of
their flanks: the main battle of the duke, of eight hundred knights,
stood firm and entire; they couched their lances, and the Greeks deplore
the furious and irresistible shock of the French cavalry. Alexius was
not deficient in the duties of a soldier or a general; but he no sooner
beheld the slaughter of the Varangians, and the flight of the Turks,
than he despised his subjects, and despaired of his fortune. The
princess Anne, who drops a tear on this melancholy event, is reduced
to praise the strength and swiftness of her father's horse, and his
vigorous struggle when he was almost overthrown by the stroke of a
lance, which had shivered the Imperial helmet. His desperate valor broke
through a squadron of Franks who opposed his flight; and after wandering
two days and as many nights in the mountains, he found some repose,
of body, though not of mind, in the walls of Lychnidus. The victorious
Robert reproached the tardy and feeble pursuit which had suffered the
escape of so illustrious a prize: but he consoled his disappointment by
the trophies and standards of the field, the wealth and luxury of the
Byzantine camp, and the glory of defeating an army five times more
numerous than his own. A multitude of Italians had been the victims
of their own fears; but only thirty of his knights were slain in
this memorable day. In the Roman host, the loss of Greeks, Turks, and
English, amounted to five or six thousand: the plain of Durazzo was
stained with noble and royal blood; and the end of the impostor Michael
was more honorable than his life.

It is more than probable that Guiscard was not afflicted by the loss of
a costly pageant, which had merited only the contempt and derision of
the Greeks. After their defeat, they still persevered in the defence
of Durazzo; and a Venetian commander supplied the place of George
Palæologus, who had been imprudently called away from his station. The
tents of the besiegers were converted into barracks, to sustain the
inclemency of the winter; and in answer to the defiance of the garrison,
Robert insinuated, that his patience was at least equal to their
obstinacy. Perhaps he already trusted to his secret correspondence with
a Venetian noble, who sold the city for a rich and honorable marriage.
At the dead of night, several rope-ladders were dropped from the walls;
the light Calabrians ascended in silence; and the Greeks were awakened
by the name and trumpets of the conqueror. Yet they defended the streets
three days against an enemy already master of the rampart; and near
seven months elapsed between the first investment and the final
surrender of the place. From Durazzo, the Norman duke advanced into the
heart of Epirus or Albania; traversed the first mountains of Thessaly;
surprised three hundred English in the city of Castoria; approached
Thessalonica; and made Constantinople tremble. A more pressing duty
suspended the prosecution of his ambitious designs. By shipwreck,
pestilence, and the sword, his army was reduced to a third of the
original numbers; and instead of being recruited from Italy, he was
informed, by plaintive epistles, of the mischiefs and dangers which had
been produced by his absence: the revolt of the cities and barons of
Apulia; the distress of the pope; and the approach or invasion of Henry
king of Germany. Highly presuming that his person was sufficient for the
public safety, he repassed the sea in a single brigantine, and left the
remains of the army under the command of his son and the Norman counts,
exhorting Bohemond to respect the freedom of his peers, and the counts
to obey the authority of their leader. The son of Guiscard trod in the
footsteps of his father; and the two destroyers are compared, by the
Greeks, to the caterpillar and the locust, the last of whom devours
whatever has escaped the teeth of the former. After winning two battles
against the emperor, he descended into the plain of Thessaly, and
besieged Larissa, the fabulous realm of Achilles, which contained the
treasure and magazines of the Byzantine camp. Yet a just praise must
not be refused to the fortitude and prudence of Alexius, who bravely
struggled with the calamities of the times. In the poverty of the state,
he presumed to borrow the superfluous ornaments of the churches: the
desertion of the Manichæans was supplied by some tribes of Moldavia: a
reënforcement of seven thousand Turks replaced and revenged the loss of
their brethren; and the Greek soldiers were exercised to ride, to draw
the bow, and to the daily practice of ambuscades and evolutions. Alexius
had been taught by experience, that the formidable cavalry of the
Franks on foot was unfit for action, and almost incapable of motion; his
archers were directed to aim their arrows at the horse rather than the
man; and a variety of spikes and snares were scattered over the ground
on which he might expect an attack. In the neighborhood of Larissa the
events of war were protracted and balanced. The courage of Bohemond was
always conspicuous, and often successful; but his camp was pillaged by
a stratagem of the Greeks; the city was impregnable; and the venal or
discontented counts deserted his standard, betrayed their trusts,
and enlisted in the service of the emperor. Alexius returned to
Constantinople with the advantage, rather than the honor, of victory.
After evacuating the conquests which he could no longer defend, the
son of Guiscard embarked for Italy, and was embraced by a father who
esteemed his merit, and sympathized in his misfortune.

Chapter LVI: The Saracens, The Franks And The Normans.--Part IV.

Of the Latin princes, the allies of Alexius and enemies of Robert, the
most prompt and powerful was Henry the Third or Fourth, king of Germany
and Italy, and future emperor of the West. The epistle of the Greek
monarch to his brother is filled with the warmest professions of
friendship, and the most lively desire of strengthening their alliance
by every public and private tie. He congratulates Henry on his success
in a just and pious war; and complains that the prosperity of his own
empire is disturbed by the audacious enterprises of the Norman Robert.
The lists of his presents expresses the manners of the age--a radiated
crown of gold, a cross set with pearls to hang on the breast, a case of
relics, with the names and titles of the saints, a vase of crystal, a
vase of sardonyx, some balm, most probably of Mecca, and one hundred
pieces of purple. To these he added a more solid present, of one hundred
and forty-four thousand Byzantines of gold, with a further assurance of
two hundred and sixteen thousand, so soon as Henry should have entered
in arms the Apulian territories, and confirmed by an oath the league
against the common enemy. The German, who was already in Lombardy at
the head of an army and a faction, accepted these liberal offers, and
marched towards the south: his speed was checked by the sound of the
battle of Durazzo; but the influence of his arms, or name, in the hasty
return of Robert, was a full equivalent for the Grecian bribe. Henry was
the severe adversary of the Normans, the allies and vassals of Gregory
the Seventh, his implacable foe. The long quarrel of the throne and
mitre had been recently kindled by the zeal and ambition of that haughty
priest: the king and the pope had degraded each other; and each had
seated a rival on the temporal or spiritual throne of his antagonist.
After the defeat and death of his Swabian rebel, Henry descended into
Italy, to assume the Imperial crown, and to drive from the Vatican
the tyrant of the church. But the Roman people adhered to the cause of
Gregory: their resolution was fortified by supplies of men and money
from Apulia; and the city was thrice ineffectually besieged by the
king of Germany. In the fourth year he corrupted, as it is said, with
Byzantine gold, the nobles of Rome, whose estates and castles had been
ruined by the war. The gates, the bridges, and fifty hostages, were
delivered into his hands: the anti-pope, Clement the Third, was
consecrated in the Lateran: the grateful pontiff crowned his protector
in the Vatican; and the emperor Henry fixed his residence in the
Capitol, as the lawful successor of Augustus and Charlemagne. The ruins
of the Septizonium were still defended by the nephew of Gregory: the
pope himself was invested in the castle of St. Angelo; and his last hope
was in the courage and fidelity of his Norman vassal. Their friendship
had been interrupted by some reciprocal injuries and complaints; but,
on this pressing occasion, Guiscard was urged by the obligation of his
oath, by his interest, more potent than oaths, by the love of fame, and
his enmity to the two emperors. Unfurling the holy banner, he resolved
to fly to the relief of the prince of the apostles: the most numerous of
his armies, six thousand horse, and thirty thousand foot, was instantly
assembled; and his march from Salerno to Rome was animated by the public
applause and the promise of the divine favor. Henry, invincible
in sixty-six battles, trembled at his approach; recollected some
indispensable affairs that required his presence in Lombardy; exhorted
the Romans to persevere in their allegiance; and hastily retreated three
days before the entrance of the Normans. In less than three years, the
son of Tancred of Hauteville enjoyed the glory of delivering the pope,
and of compelling the two emperors, of the East and West, to fly before
his victorious arms. But the triumph of Robert was clouded by the
calamities of Rome. By the aid of the friends of Gregory, the walls had
been perforated or scaled; but the Imperial faction was still powerful
and active; on the third day, the people rose in a furious tumult; and
a hasty word of the conqueror, in his defence or revenge, was the signal
of fire and pillage. The Saracens of Sicily, the subjects of Roger, and
auxiliaries of his brother, embraced this fair occasion of rifling
and profaning the holy city of the Christians: many thousands of the
citizens, in the sight, and by the allies, of their spiritual father
were exposed to violation, captivity, or death; and a spacious quarter
of the city, from the Lateran to the Coliseum, was consumed by the
flames, and devoted to perpetual solitude. From a city, where he was now
hated, and might be no longer feared, Gregory retired to end his days
in the palace of Salerno. The artful pontiff might flatter the vanity of
Guiscard with the hope of a Roman or Imperial crown; but this dangerous
measure, which would have inflamed the ambition of the Norman, must
forever have alienated the most faithful princes of Germany.

The deliverer and scourge of Rome might have indulged himself in a
season of repose; but in the same year of the flight of the German
emperor, the indefatigable Robert resumed the design of his eastern
conquests. The zeal or gratitude of Gregory had promised to his valor
the kingdoms of Greece and Asia; his troops were assembled in arms,
flushed with success, and eager for action. Their numbers, in the
language of Homer, are compared by Anna to a swarm of bees; yet the
utmost and moderate limits of the powers of Guiscard have been already
defined; they were contained on this second occasion in one hundred
and twenty vessels; and as the season was far advanced, the harbor
of Brundusium was preferred to the open road of Otranto. Alexius,
apprehensive of a second attack, had assiduously labored to restore the
naval forces of the empire; and obtained from the republic of Venice an
important succor of thirty-six transports, fourteen galleys, and
nine galiots or ships of extra-ordinary strength and magnitude. Their
services were liberally paid by the license or monopoly of trade, a
profitable gift of many shops and houses in the port of Constantinople,
and a tribute to St. Mark, the more acceptable, as it was the produce
of a tax on their rivals at Amalphi. By the union of the Greeks and
Venetians, the Adriatic was covered with a hostile fleet; but their
own neglect, or the vigilance of Robert, the change of a wind, or the
shelter of a mist, opened a free passage; and the Norman troops were
safely disembarked on the coast of Epirus. With twenty strong and
well-appointed galleys, their intrepid duke immediately sought the
enemy, and though more accustomed to fight on horseback, he trusted his
own life, and the lives of his brother and two sons, to the event of a
naval combat. The dominion of the sea was disputed in three engagements,
in sight of the Isle of Corfu: in the two former, the skill and numbers
of the allies were superior; but in the third, the Normans obtained a
final and complete victory. The light brigantines of the Greeks were
scattered in ignominious flight: the nine castles of the Venetians
maintained a more obstinate conflict; seven were sunk, two were taken;
two thousand five hundred captives implored in vain the mercy of the
victor; and the daughter of Alexius deplores the loss of thirteen
thousand of his subjects or allies. The want of experience had been
supplied by the genius of Guiscard; and each evening, when he had
sounded a retreat, he calmly explored the causes of his repulse, and
invented new methods how to remedy his own defects, and to baffle the
advantages of the enemy. The winter season suspended his progress: with
the return of spring he again aspired to the conquest of Constantinople;
but, instead of traversing the hills of Epirus, he turned his arms
against Greece and the islands, where the spoils would repay the labor,
and where the land and sea forces might pursue their joint operations
with vigor and effect. But, in the Isle of Cephalonia, his projects
were fatally blasted by an epidemical disease: Robert himself, in the
seventieth year of his age, expired in his tent; and a suspicion of
poison was imputed, by public rumor, to his wife, or to the Greek
emperor. This premature death might allow a boundless scope for the
imagination of his future exploits; and the event sufficiently
declares, that the Norman greatness was founded on his life. Without
the appearance of an enemy, a victorious army dispersed or retreated
in disorder and consternation; and Alexius, who had trembled for his
empire, rejoiced in his deliverance. The galley which transported the
remains of Guiscard was ship-wrecked on the Italian shore; but the
duke's body was recovered from the sea, and deposited in the sepulchre
of Venusia, a place more illustrious for the birth of Horace than for
the burial of the Norman heroes. Roger, his second son and successor,
immediately sunk to the humble station of a duke of Apulia: the esteem
or partiality of his father left the valiant Bohemond to the inheritance
of his sword. The national tranquillity was disturbed by his claims,
till the first crusade against the infidels of the East opened a more
splendid field of glory and conquest.

Of human life, the most glorious or humble prospects are alike and
soon bounded by the sepulchre. The male line of Robert Guiscard was
extinguished, both in Apulia and at Antioch, in the second generation;
but his younger brother became the father of a line of kings; and the
son of the great count was endowed with the name, the conquests, and the
spirit, of the first Roger. The heir of that Norman adventurer was
born in Sicily; and, at the age of only four years, he succeeded to
the sovereignty of the island, a lot which reason might envy, could she
indulge for a moment the visionary, though virtuous wish of dominion.
Had Roger been content with his fruitful patrimony, a happy and grateful
people might have blessed their benefactor; and if a wise administration
could have restored the prosperous times of the Greek colonies, the
opulence and power of Sicily alone might have equalled the widest
scope that could be acquired and desolated by the sword of war. But the
ambition of the great count was ignorant of these noble pursuits; it
was gratified by the vulgar means of violence and artifice. He sought to
obtain the undivided possession of Palermo, of which one moiety had been
ceded to the elder branch; struggled to enlarge his Calabrian limits
beyond the measure of former treaties; and impatiently watched the
declining health of his cousin William of Apulia, the grandson of
Robert. On the first intelligence of his premature death, Roger sailed
from Palermo with seven galleys, cast anchor in the Bay of Salerno,
received, after ten days' negotiation, an oath of fidelity from the
Norman capital, commanded the submission of the barons, and extorted a
legal investiture from the reluctant popes, who could not long endure
either the friendship or enmity of a powerful vassal. The sacred spot
of Benevento was respectfully spared, as the patrimony of St. Peter;
but the reduction of Capua and Naples completed the design of his uncle
Guiscard; and the sole inheritance of the Norman conquests was possessed
by the victorious Roger. A conscious superiority of power and merit
prompted him to disdain the titles of duke and of count; and the Isle of
Sicily, with a third perhaps of the continent of Italy, might form the
basis of a kingdom which would only yield to the monarchies of France
and England. The chiefs of the nation who attended his coronation at
Palermo might doubtless pronounce under what name he should reign
over them; but the example of a Greek tyrant or a Saracen emir was
insufficient to justify his regal character; and the nine kings of
the Latin world might disclaim their new associate, unless he were
consecrated by the authority of the supreme pontiff. The pride of
Anacletus was pleased to confer a title, which the pride of the Norman
had stooped to solicit; but his own legitimacy was attacked by the
adverse election of Innocent the Second; and while Anacletus sat in
the Vatican, the successful fugitive was acknowledged by the nations of
Europe. The infant monarchy of Roger was shaken, and almost overthrown,
by the unlucky choice of an ecclesiastical patron; and the sword of
Lothaire the Second of Germany, the excommunications of Innocent, the
fleets of Pisa, and the zeal of St. Bernard, were united for the ruin of
the Sicilian robber. After a gallant resistance, the Norman prince was
driven from the continent of Italy: a new duke of Apulia was invested by
the pope and the emperor, each of whom held one end of the _gonfanon_,
or flagstaff, as a token that they asserted their right, and suspended
their quarrel. But such jealous friendship was of short and precarious
duration: the German armies soon vanished in disease and desertion: the
Apulian duke, with all his adherents, was exterminated by a conqueror
who seldom forgave either the dead or the living; like his predecessor
Leo the Ninth, the feeble though haughty pontiff became the captive and
friend of the Normans; and their reconciliation was celebrated by the
eloquence of Bernard, who now revered the title and virtues of the king
of Sicily.

As a penance for his impious war against the successor of St. Peter,
that monarch might have promised to display the banner of the cross,
and he accomplished with ardor a vow so propitious to his interest and
revenge. The recent injuries of Sicily might provoke a just retaliation
on the heads of the Saracens: the Normans, whose blood had been mingled
with so many subject streams, were encouraged to remember and emulate
the naval trophies of their fathers, and in the maturity of their
strength they contended with the decline of an African power. When the
Fatimite caliph departed for the conquest of Egypt, he rewarded the real
merit and apparent fidelity of his servant Joseph with a gift of his
royal mantle, and forty Arabian horses, his palace with its sumptuous
furniture, and the government of the kingdoms of Tunis and Algiers.
The Zeirides, the descendants of Joseph, forgot their allegiance and
gratitude to a distant benefactor, grasped and abused the fruits of
prosperity; and after running the little course of an Oriental dynasty,
were now fainting in their own weakness. On the side of the land, they
were pressed by the Almohades, the fanatic princes of Morocco, while
the sea-coast was open to the enterprises of the Greeks and Franks, who,
before the close of the eleventh century, had extorted a ransom of two
hundred thousand pieces of gold. By the first arms of Roger, the island
or rock of Malta, which has been since ennobled by a military and
religious colony, was inseparably annexed to the crown of Sicily.
Tripoli, a strong and maritime city, was the next object of his attack;
and the slaughter of the males, the captivity of the females, might
be justified by the frequent practice of the Moslems themselves. The
capital of the Zeirides was named Africa from the country, and Mahadia
from the Arabian founder: it is strongly built on a neck of land, but
the imperfection of the harbor is not compensated by the fertility of
the adjacent plain. Mahadia was besieged by George the Sicilian admiral,
with a fleet of one hundred and fifty galleys, amply provided with men
and the instruments of mischief: the sovereign had fled, the Moorish
governor refused to capitulate, declined the last and irresistible
assault, and secretly escaping with the Moslem inhabitants abandoned
the place and its treasures to the rapacious Franks. In successive
expeditions, the king of Sicily or his lieutenants reduced the cities
of Tunis, Safax, Capsia, Bona, and a long tract of the sea-coast; the
fortresses were garrisoned, the country was tributary, and a boast that
it held Africa in subjection might be inscribed with some flattery on
the sword of Roger. After his death, that sword was broken; and these
transmarine possessions were neglected, evacuated, or lost, under the
troubled reign of his successor. The triumphs of Scipio and Belisarius
have proved, that the African continent is neither inaccessible nor
invincible; yet the great princes and powers of Christendom have
repeatedly failed in their armaments against the Moors, who may still
glory in the easy conquest and long servitude of Spain.

Since the decease of Robert Guiscard, the Normans had relinquished,
above sixty years, their hostile designs against the empire of the East.
The policy of Roger solicited a public and private union with the Greek
princes, whose alliance would dignify his regal character: he demanded
in marriage a daughter of the Comnenian family, and the first steps of
the treaty seemed to promise a favorable event. But the contemptuous
treatment of his ambassadors exasperated the vanity of the new monarch;
and the insolence of the Byzantine court was expiated, according to the
laws of nations, by the sufferings of a guiltless people. With the
fleet of seventy galleys, George, the admiral of Sicily, appeared before
Corfu; and both the island and city were delivered into his hands by the
disaffected inhabitants, who had yet to learn that a siege is still
more calamitous than a tribute. In this invasion, of some moment in the
annals of commerce, the Normans spread themselves by sea, and over
the provinces of Greece; and the venerable age of Athens, Thebes, and
Corinth, was violated by rapine and cruelty. Of the wrongs of Athens,
no memorial remains. The ancient walls, which encompassed, without
guarding, the opulence of Thebes, were scaled by the Latin Christians;
but their sole use of the gospel was to sanctify an oath, that the
lawful owners had not secreted any relic of their inheritance or
industry. On the approach of the Normans, the lower town of Corinth
was evacuated; the Greeks retired to the citadel, which was seated on a
lofty eminence, abundantly watered by the classic fountain of Pirene;
an impregnable fortress, if the want of courage could be balanced by any
advantages of art or nature. As soon as the besiegers had surmounted the
labor (their sole labor) of climbing the hill, their general, from
the commanding eminence, admired his own victory, and testified his
gratitude to Heaven, by tearing from the altar the precious image of
Theodore, the tutelary saint. The silk weavers of both sexes, whom
George transported to Sicily, composed the most valuable part of the
spoil; and in comparing the skilful industry of the mechanic with the
sloth and cowardice of the soldier, he was heard to exclaim that the
distaff and loom were the only weapons which the Greeks were capable of
using. The progress of this naval armament was marked by two conspicuous
events, the rescue of the king of France, and the insult of the
Byzantine capital. In his return by sea from an unfortunate crusade,
Louis the Seventh was intercepted by the Greeks, who basely violated the
laws of honor and religion. The fortunate encounter of the Norman
fleet delivered the royal captive; and after a free and honorable
entertainment in the court of Sicily, Louis continued his journey to
Rome and Paris. In the absence of the emperor, Constantinople and
the Hellespont were left without defence and without the suspicion
of danger. The clergy and people (for the soldiers had followed
the standard of Manuel) were astonished and dismayed at the hostile
appearance of a line of galleys, which boldly cast anchor in the front
of the Imperial city. The forces of the Sicilian admiral were inadequate
to the siege or assault of an immense and populous metropolis; but
George enjoyed the glory of humbling the Greek arrogance, and of marking
the path of conquest to the navies of the West. He landed some soldiers
to rifle the fruits of the royal gardens, and pointed with silver, or
most probably with fire, the arrows which he discharged against the
palace of the Cæsars. This playful outrage of the pirates of Sicily, who
had surprised an unguarded moment, Manuel affected to despise, while his
martial spirit, and the forces of the empire, were awakened to revenge.
The Archipelago and Ionian Sea were covered with his squadrons and those
of Venice; but I know not by what favorable allowance of transports,
victuallers, and pinnaces, our reason, or even our fancy, can be
reconciled to the stupendous account of fifteen hundred vessels, which
is proposed by a Byzantine historian. These operations were directed
with prudence and energy: in his homeward voyage George lost nineteen of
his galleys, which were separated and taken: after an obstinate defence,
Corfu implored the clemency of her lawful sovereign; nor could a ship, a
soldier, of the Norman prince, be found, unless as a captive, within
the limits of the Eastern empire. The prosperity and the health of Roger
were already in a declining state: while he listened in his palace of
Palermo to the messengers of victory or defeat, the invincible Manuel,
the foremost in every assault, was celebrated by the Greeks and Latins
as the Alexander or the Hercules of the age.

Chapter LVI: The Saracens, The Franks And The Normans.--Part V.

A prince of such a temper could not be satisfied with having repelled
the insolence of a Barbarian. It was the right and duty, it might be
the interest and glory, of Manuel to restore the ancient majesty of the
empire, to recover the provinces of Italy and Sicily, and to chastise
this pretended king, the grandson of a Norman vassal. The natives of
Calabria were still attached to the Greek language and worship, which
had been inexorably proscribed by the Latin clergy: after the loss of
her dukes, Apulia was chained as a servile appendage to the crown of
Sicily; the founder of the monarchy had ruled by the sword; and his
death had abated the fear, without healing the discontent, of his
subjects: the feudal government was always pregnant with the seeds of
rebellion; and a nephew of Roger himself invited the enemies of his
family and nation. The majesty of the purple, and a series of Hungarian
and Turkish wars, prevented Manuel from embarking his person in the
Italian expedition. To the brave and noble Palæologus, his lieutenant,
the Greek monarch intrusted a fleet and army: the siege of Bari was his
first exploit; and, in every operation, gold as well as steel was the
instrument of victory. Salerno, and some places along the western
coast, maintained their fidelity to the Norman king; but he lost in
two campaigns the greater part of his continental possessions; and the
modest emperor, disdaining all flattery and falsehood, was content
with the reduction of three hundred cities or villages of Apulia and
Calabria, whose names and titles were inscribed on all the walls of
the palace. The prejudices of the Latins were gratified by a genuine
or fictitious donation under the seal of the German Cæsars; but the
successor of Constantine soon renounced this ignominious pretence,
claimed the indefeasible dominion of Italy, and professed his design of
chasing the Barbarians beyond the Alps. By the artful speeches, liberal
gifts, and unbounded promises, of their Eastern ally, the free cities
were encouraged to persevere in their generous struggle against the
despotism of Frederic Barbarossa: the walls of Milan were rebuilt by the
contributions of Manuel; and he poured, says the historian, a river
of gold into the bosom of Ancona, whose attachment to the Greeks was
fortified by the jealous enmity of the Venetians. The situation and
trade of Ancona rendered it an important garrison in the heart of Italy:
it was twice besieged by the arms of Frederic; the imperial forces were
twice repulsed by the spirit of freedom; that spirit was animated by the
ambassador of Constantinople; and the most intrepid patriots, the
most faithful servants, were rewarded by the wealth and honors of the
Byzantine court. The pride of Manuel disdained and rejected a Barbarian
colleague; his ambition was excited by the hope of stripping the purple
from the German usurpers, and of establishing, in the West, as in the
East, his lawful title of sole emperor of the Romans. With this view, he
solicited the alliance of the people and the bishop of Rome. Several
of the nobles embraced the cause of the Greek monarch; the splendid
nuptials of his niece with Odo Frangipani secured the support of that
powerful family, and his royal standard or image was entertained with
due reverence in the ancient metropolis. During the quarrel between
Frederic and Alexander the Third, the pope twice received in the Vatican
the ambassadors of Constantinople. They flattered his piety by the
long-promised union of the two churches, tempted the avarice of
his venal court, and exhorted the Roman pontiff to seize the just
provocation, the favorable moment, to humble the savage insolence of the
Alemanni and to acknowledge the true representative of Constantine and

But these Italian conquests, this universal reign, soon escaped from the
hand of the Greek emperor. His first demands were eluded by the
prudence of Alexander the Third, who paused on this deep and momentous
revolution; nor could the pope be seduced by a personal dispute to
renounce the perpetual inheritance of the Latin name. After the reunion
with Frederic, he spoke a more peremptory language, confirmed the
acts of his predecessors, excommunicated the adherents of Manuel,
and pronounced the final separation of the churches, or at least the
empires, of Constantinople and Rome. The free cities of Lombardy no
longer remembered their foreign benefactor, and without preserving the
friendship of Ancona, he soon incurred the enmity of Venice. By his
own avarice, or the complaints of his subjects, the Greek emperor was
provoked to arrest the persons, and confiscate the effects, of the
Venetian merchants. This violation of the public faith exasperated a
free and commercial people: one hundred galleys were launched and armed
in as many days; they swept the coasts of Dalmatia and Greece: but after
some mutual wounds, the war was terminated by an agreement, inglorious
to the empire, insufficient for the republic; and a complete vengeance
of these and of fresh injuries was reserved for the succeeding
generation. The lieutenant of Manuel had informed his sovereign that he
was strong enough to quell any domestic revolt of Apulia and Calabria;
but that his forces were inadequate to resist the impending attack
of the king of Sicily. His prophecy was soon verified: the death of
Palæologus devolved the command on several chiefs, alike eminent in
rank, alike defective in military talents; the Greeks were oppressed
by land and sea; and a captive remnant that escaped the swords of the
Normans and Saracens, abjured all future hostility against the person
or dominions of their conqueror. Yet the king of Sicily esteemed the
courage and constancy of Manuel, who had landed a second army on the
Italian shore; he respectfully addressed the new Justinian; solicited a
peace or truce of thirty years, accepted as a gift the regal title;
and acknowledged himself the military vassal of the Roman empire.
The Byzantine Cæsars acquiesced in this shadow of dominion, without
expecting, perhaps without desiring, the service of a Norman army; and
the truce of thirty years was not disturbed by any hostilities between
Sicily and Constantinople. About the end of that period, the throne of
Manuel was usurped by an inhuman tyrant, who had deserved the abhorrence
of his country and mankind: the sword of William the Second, the
grandson of Roger, was drawn by a fugitive of the Comnenian race; and
the subjects of Andronicus might salute the strangers as friends,
since they detested their sovereign as the worst of enemies. The Latin
historians expatiate on the rapid progress of the four counts who
invaded Romania with a fleet and army, and reduced many castles and
cities to the obedience of the king of Sicily. The Greeks accuse and
magnify the wanton and sacrilegious cruelties that were perpetrated
in the sack of Thessalonica, the second city of the empire. The former
deplore the fate of those invincible but unsuspecting warriors who were
destroyed by the arts of a vanquished foe. The latter applaud, in songs
of triumph, the repeated victories of their countrymen on the Sea of
Marmora or Propontis, on the banks of the Strymon, and under the walls
of Durazzo. A revolution which punished the crimes of Andronicus,
had united against the Franks the zeal and courage of the successful
insurgents: ten thousand were slain in battle, and Isaac Angelus, the
new emperor, might indulge his vanity or vengeance in the treatment of
four thousand captives. Such was the event of the last contest between
the Greeks and Normans: before the expiration of twenty years, the rival
nations were lost or degraded in foreign servitude; and the successors
of Constantine did not long survive to insult the fall of the Sicilian

The sceptre of Roger successively devolved to his son and grandson:
they might be confounded under the name of William: they are strongly
discriminated by the epithets of the _bad_ and the _good_; but these
epithets, which appear to describe the perfection of vice and virtue,
cannot strictly be applied to either of the Norman princes. When he was
roused to arms by danger and shame, the first William did not degenerate
from the valor of his race; but his temper was slothful; his manners
were dissolute; his passions headstrong and mischievous; and the monarch
is responsible, not only for his personal vices, but for those of Majo,
the great admiral, who abused the confidence, and conspired against the
life, of his benefactor. From the Arabian conquest, Sicily had imbibed a
deep tincture of Oriental manners; the despotism, the pomp, and even the
harem, of a sultan; and a Christian people was oppressed and insulted
by the ascendant of the eunuchs, who openly professed, or secretly
cherished, the religion of Mahomet. An eloquent historian of the times
has delineated the misfortunes of his country: the ambition and fall
of the ungrateful Majo; the revolt and punishment of his assassins; the
imprisonment and deliverance of the king himself; the private feuds that
arose from the public confusion; and the various forms of calamity and
discord which afflicted Palermo, the island, and the continent, during
the reign of William the First, and the minority of his son. The youth,
innocence, and beauty of William the Second, endeared him to the nation:
the factions were reconciled; the laws were revived; and from the
manhood to the premature death of that amiable prince, Sicily enjoyed a
short season of peace, justice, and happiness, whose value was enhanced
by the remembrance of the past and the dread of futurity. The legitimate
male posterity of Tancred of Hauteville was extinct in the person of
the second William; but his aunt, the daughter of Roger, had married
the most powerful prince of the age; and Henry the Sixth, the son of
Frederic Barbarossa, descended from the Alps to claim the Imperial crown
and the inheritance of his wife. Against the unanimous wish of a free
people, this inheritance could only be acquired by arms; and I am
pleased to transcribe the style and sense of the historian Falcandus,
who writes at the moment, and on the spot, with the feelings of a
patriot, and the prophetic eye of a statesman. "Constantia, the daughter
of Sicily, nursed from her cradle in the pleasures and plenty, and
educated in the arts and manners, of this fortunate isle, departed long
since to enrich the Barbarians with our treasures, and now returns, with
her savage allies, to contaminate the beauties of her venerable parent.
Already I behold the swarms of angry Barbarians: our opulent cities, the
places flourishing in a long peace, are shaken with fear, desolated by
slaughter, consumed by rapine, and polluted by intemperance and lust. I
see the massacre or captivity of our citizens, the rapes of our virgins
and matrons. In this extremity (he interrogates a friend) how must
the Sicilians act? By the unanimous election of a king of valor and
experience, Sicily and Calabria might yet be preserved; for in the
levity of the Apulians, ever eager for new revolutions, I can repose
neither confidence nor hope. Should Calabria be lost, the lofty towers,
the numerous youth, and the naval strength, of Messina, might guard the
passage against a foreign invader. If the savage Germans coalesce with
the pirates of Messina; if they destroy with fire the fruitful region,
so often wasted by the fires of Mount Ætna, what resource will be left
for the interior parts of the island, these noble cities which should
never be violated by the hostile footsteps of a Barbarian? Catana has
again been overwhelmed by an earthquake: the ancient virtue of Syracuse
expires in poverty and solitude; but Palermo is still crowned with a
diadem, and her triple walls enclose the active multitudes of Christians
and Saracens. If the two nations, under one king, can unite for their
common safety, they may rush on the Barbarians with invincible arms. But
if the Saracens, fatigued by a repetition of injuries, should now
retire and rebel; if they should occupy the castles of the mountains and
sea-coast, the unfortunate Christians, exposed to a double attack,
and placed as it were between the hammer and the anvil, must resign
themselves to hopeless and inevitable servitude." We must not forget,
that a priest here prefers his country to his religion; and that the
Moslems, whose alliance he seeks, were still numerous and powerful in
the state of Sicily.

The hopes, or at least the wishes, of Falcandus were at first gratified
by the free and unanimous election of Tancred, the grandson of the first
king, whose birth was illegitimate, but whose civil and military virtues
shone without a blemish. During four years, the term of his life and
reign, he stood in arms on the farthest verge of the Apulian frontier,
against the powers of Germany; and the restitution of a royal captive,
of Constantia herself, without injury or ransom, may appear to surpass
the most liberal measure of policy or reason. After his decease, the
kingdom of his widow and infant son fell without a struggle; and Henry
pursued his victorious march from Capua to Palermo. The political
balance of Italy was destroyed by his success; and if the pope and the
free cities had consulted their obvious and real interest, they would
have combined the powers of earth and heaven to prevent the dangerous
union of the German empire with the kingdom of Sicily. But the subtle
policy, for which the Vatican has so often been praised or arraigned,
was on this occasion blind and inactive; and if it were true that
Celestine the Third had kicked away the Imperial crown from the head of
the prostrate Henry, such an act of impotent pride could serve only to
cancel an obligation and provoke an enemy. The Genoese, who enjoyed a
beneficial trade and establishment in Sicily, listened to the promise of
his boundless gratitude and speedy departure: their fleet commanded the
straits of Messina, and opened the harbor of Palermo; and the first
act of his government was to abolish the privileges, and to seize the
property, of these imprudent allies. The last hope of Falcandus was
defeated by the discord of the Christians and Mahometans: they fought
in the capital; several thousands of the latter were slain; but their
surviving brethren fortified the mountains, and disturbed above thirty
years the peace of the island. By the policy of Frederic the Second,
sixty thousand Saracens were transplanted to Nocera in Apulia. In their
wars against the Roman church, the emperor and his son Mainfroy were
strengthened and disgraced by the service of the enemies of Christ; and
this national colony maintained their religion and manners in the
heart of Italy, till they were extirpated, at the end of the thirteenth
century, by the zeal and revenge of the house of Anjou. All the
calamities which the prophetic orator had deplored were surpassed by
the cruelty and avarice of the German conqueror. He violated the royal
sepulchres, and explored the secret treasures of the palace, Palermo,
and the whole kingdom: the pearls and jewels, however precious, might
be easily removed; but one hundred and sixty horses were laden with the
gold and silver of Sicily. The young king, his mother and sisters, and
the nobles of both sexes, were separately confined in the fortresses of
the Alps; and, on the slightest rumor of rebellion, the captives were
deprived of life, of their eyes, or of the hope of posterity. Constantia
herself was touched with sympathy for the miseries of her country; and
the heiress of the Norman line might struggle to check her despotic
husband, and to save the patrimony of her new-born son, of an emperor so
famous in the next age under the name of Frederic the Second. Ten years
after this revolution, the French monarchs annexed to their crown
the duchy of Normandy: the sceptre of her ancient dukes had been
transmitted, by a granddaughter of William the Conqueror, to the house
of Plantagenet; and the adventurous Normans, who had raised so many
trophies in France, England, and Ireland, in Apulia, Sicily, and the
East, were lost, either in victory or servitude, among the vanquished

Chapter LVII: The Turks.--Part I.

     The Turks Of The House Of Seljuk.--Their Revolt Against
     Mahmud Conqueror Of Hindostan.--Togrul Subdues Persia, And
     Protects The Caliphs.--Defeat And Captivity Of The Emperor
     Romanus Diogenes By Alp Arslan.--Power And Magnificence Of
     Malek Shah.--Conquest Of Asia Minor And Syria.--State And
     Oppression Of Jerusalem.--Pilgrimages To The Holy Sepulchre.

From the Isle of Sicily, the reader must transport himself beyond the
Caspian Sea, to the original seat of the Turks or Turkmans, against whom
the first crusade was principally directed. Their Scythian empire of the
sixth century was long since dissolved; but the name was still famous
among the Greeks and Orientals; and the fragments of the nation, each
a powerful and independent people, were scattered over the desert from
China to the Oxus and the Danube: the colony of Hungarians was admitted
into the republic of Europe, and the thrones of Asia were occupied by
slaves and soldiers of Turkish extraction. While Apulia and Sicily
were subdued by the Norman lance, a swarm of these northern shepherds
overspread the kingdoms of Persia; their princes of the race of Seljuk
erected a splendid and solid empire from Samarcand to the confines of
Greece and Egypt; and the Turks have maintained their dominion in Asia
Minor, till the victorious crescent has been planted on the dome of St.

One of the greatest of the Turkish princes was Mahmood or Mahmud, the
Gaznevide, who reigned in the eastern provinces of Persia, one thousand
years after the birth of Christ. His father Sebectagi was the slave of
the slave of the slave of the commander of the faithful. But in this
descent of servitude, the first degree was merely titular, since it was
filled by the sovereign of Transoxiana and Chorasan, who still paid a
nominal allegiance to the caliph of Bagdad. The second rank was that of
a minister of state, a lieutenant of the Samanides, who broke, by his
revolt, the bonds of political slavery. But the third step was a state
of real and domestic servitude in the family of that rebel; from which
Sebectagi, by his courage and dexterity, ascended to the supreme command
of the city and provinces of Gazna, as the son-in-law and successor of
his grateful master. The falling dynasty of the Samanides was at first
protected, and at last overthrown, by their servants; and, in the public
disorders, the fortune of Mahmud continually increased. From him the
title of _Sultan_ was first invented; and his kingdom was enlarged
from Transoxiana to the neighborhood of Ispahan, from the shores of the
Caspian to the mouth of the Indus. But the principal source of his
fame and riches was the holy war which he waged against the Gentoos of
Hindostan. In this foreign narrative I may not consume a page; and a
volume would scarcely suffice to recapitulate the battles and sieges
of his twelve expeditions. Never was the Mussulman hero dismayed by the
inclemency of the seasons, the height of the mountains, the breadth of
the rivers, the barrenness of the desert, the multitudes of the enemy,
or the formidable array of their elephants of war. The sultan of Gazna
surpassed the limits of the conquests of Alexander: after a march of
three months, over the hills of Cashmir and Thibet, he reached the
famous city of Kinnoge, on the Upper Ganges; and, in a naval combat on
one of the branches of the Indus, he fought and vanquished four thousand
boats of the natives. Delhi, Lahor, and Multan, were compelled to open
their gates: the fertile kingdom of Guzarat attracted his ambition and
tempted his stay; and his avarice indulged the fruitless project of
discovering the golden and aromatic isles of the Southern Ocean. On
the payment of a tribute, the _rajahs_ preserved their dominions; the
people, their lives and fortunes; but to the religion of Hindostan the
zealous Mussulman was cruel and inexorable: many hundred temples,
or pagodas, were levelled with the ground; many thousand idols were
demolished; and the servants of the prophet were stimulated and rewarded
by the precious materials of which they were composed. The pagoda of
Sumnat was situate on the promontory of Guzarat, in the neighborhood
of Diu, one of the last remaining possessions of the Portuguese. It was
endowed with the revenue of two thousand villages; two thousand Brahmins
were consecrated to the service of the Deity, whom they washed each
morning and evening in water from the distant Ganges: the subordinate
ministers consisted of three hundred musicians, three hundred barbers,
and five hundred dancing girls, conspicuous for their birth or beauty.
Three sides of the temple were protected by the ocean, the narrow
isthmus was fortified by a natural or artificial precipice; and the
city and adjacent country were peopled by a nation of fanatics. They
confessed the sins and the punishment of Kinnoge and Delhi; but if the
impious stranger should presume to approach _their_ holy precincts, he
would surely be overwhelmed by a blast of the divine vengeance. By this
challenge, the faith of Mahmud was animated to a personal trial of the
strength of this Indian deity. Fifty thousand of his worshippers
were pierced by the spear of the Moslems; the walls were scaled; the
sanctuary was profaned; and the conqueror aimed a blow of his iron mace
at the head of the idol. The trembling Brahmins are said to have offered
ten millions sterling for his ransom; and it was urged by the wisest
counsellors, that the destruction of a stone image would not change the
hearts of the Gentoos; and that such a sum might be dedicated to the
relief of the true believers. "Your reasons," replied the sultan, "are
specious and strong; but never in the eyes of posterity shall Mahmud
appear as a merchant of idols." He repeated his blows, and a treasure
of pearls and rubies, concealed in the belly of the statue, explained in
some degree the devout prodigality of the Brahmins. The fragments of the
idol were distributed to Gazna, Mecca, and Medina. Bagdad listened to
the edifying tale; and Mahmud was saluted by the caliph with the title
of guardian of the fortune and faith of Mahomet.

From the paths of blood (and such is the history of nations) I cannot
refuse to turn aside to gather some flowers of science or virtue.
The name of Mahmud the Gaznevide is still venerable in the East: his
subjects enjoyed the blessings of prosperity and peace; his vices
were concealed by the veil of religion; and two familiar examples will
testify his justice and magnanimity. I. As he sat in the Divan, an
unhappy subject bowed before the throne to accuse the insolence of a
Turkish soldier who had driven him from his house and bed. "Suspend
your clamors," said Mahmud; "inform me of his next visit, and ourself
in person will judge and punish the offender." The sultan followed
his guide, invested the house with his guards, and extinguishing the
torches, pronounced the death of the criminal, who had been seized in
the act of rapine and adultery. After the execution of his sentence, the
lights were rekindled, Mahmud fell prostrate in prayer, and rising
from the ground, demanded some homely fare, which he devoured with the
voraciousness of hunger. The poor man, whose injury he had avenged, was
unable to suppress his astonishment and curiosity; and the courteous
monarch condescended to explain the motives of this singular behavior.
"I had reason to suspect that none, except one of my sons, could dare
to perpetrate such an outrage; and I extinguished the lights, that my
justice might be blind and inexorable. My prayer was a thanksgiving on
the discovery of the offender; and so painful was my anxiety, that I
had passed three days without food since the first moment of your
complaint." II. The sultan of Gazna had declared war against the dynasty
of the Bowides, the sovereigns of the western Persia: he was disarmed
by an epistle of the sultana mother, and delayed his invasion till the
manhood of her son. "During the life of my husband," said the artful
regent, "I was ever apprehensive of your ambition: he was a prince and a
soldier worthy of your arms. He is now no more his sceptre has passed
to a woman and a child, and you _dare not_ attack their infancy and
weakness. How inglorious would be your conquest, how shameful your
defeat! and yet the event of war is in the hand of the Almighty."
Avarice was the only defect that tarnished the illustrious character
of Mahmud; and never has that passion been more richly satiated. The
Orientals exceed the measure of credibility in the account of millions
of gold and silver, such as the avidity of man has never accumulated; in
the magnitude of pearls, diamonds, and rubies, such as have never been
produced by the workmanship of nature. Yet the soil of Hindostan
is impregnated with precious minerals: her trade, in every age, has
attracted the gold and silver of the world; and her virgin spoils were
rifled by the first of the Mahometan conquerors. His behavior, in the
last days of his life, evinces the vanity of these possessions, so
laboriously won, so dangerously held, and so inevitably lost. He
surveyed the vast and various chambers of the treasury of Gazna, burst
into tears, and again closed the doors, without bestowing any portion of
the wealth which he could no longer hope to preserve. The following day
he reviewed the state of his military force; one hundred thousand foot,
fifty-five thousand horse, and thirteen hundred elephants of battle.
He again wept the instability of human greatness; and his grief
was imbittered by the hostile progress of the Turkmans, whom he had
introduced into the heart of his Persian kingdom.

In the modern depopulation of Asia, the regular operation of government
and agriculture is confined to the neighborhood of cities; and the
distant country is abandoned to the pastoral tribes of Arabs, Curds,
and _Turkmans_. Of the last-mentioned people, two considerable branches
extend on either side of the Caspian Sea: the western colony can muster
forty thousand soldiers; the eastern, less obvious to the traveller,
but more strong and populous, has increased to the number of one hundred
thousand families. In the midst of civilized nations, they preserve the
manners of the Scythian desert, remove their encampments with a change
of seasons, and feed their cattle among the ruins of palaces and
temples. Their flocks and herds are their only riches; their tents,
either black or white, according to the color of the banner, are covered
with felt, and of a circular form; their winter apparel is a sheep-skin;
a robe of cloth or cotton their summer garment: the features of the
men are harsh and ferocious; the countenance of their women is soft
and pleasing. Their wandering life maintains the spirit and exercise
of arms; they fight on horseback; and their courage is displayed in
frequent contests with each other and with their neighbors. For the
license of pasture they pay a slight tribute to the sovereign of the
land; but the domestic jurisdiction is in the hands of the chiefs and
elders. The first emigration of the Eastern Turkmans, the most ancient
of the race, may be ascribed to the tenth century of the Christian æra.
In the decline of the caliphs, and the weakness of their lieutenants,
the barrier of the Jaxartes was often violated; in each invasion,
after the victory or retreat of their countrymen, some wandering
tribe, embracing the Mahometan faith, obtained a free encampment in the
spacious plains and pleasant climate of Transoxiana and Carizme. The
Turkish slaves who aspired to the throne encouraged these emigrations
which recruited their armies, awed their subjects and rivals, and
protected the frontier against the wilder natives of Turkestan; and this
policy was abused by Mahmud the Gaznevide beyond the example of former
times. He was admonished of his error by the chief of the race of
Seljuk, who dwelt in the territory of Bochara. The sultan had inquired
what supply of men he could furnish for military service. "If you send,"
replied Ismael, "one of these arrows into our camp, fifty thousand of
your servants will mount on horseback."--"And if that number," continued
Mahmud, "should not be sufficient?"--"Send this second arrow to the
horde of Balik, and you will find fifty thousand more."--"But," said the
Gaznevide, dissembling his anxiety, "if I should stand in need of the
whole force of your kindred tribes?"--"Despatch my bow," was the last
reply of Ismael, "and as it is circulated around, the summons will
be obeyed by two hundred thousand horse." The apprehension of such
formidable friendship induced Mahmud to transport the most obnoxious
tribes into the heart of Chorasan, where they would be separated from
their brethren of the River Oxus, and enclosed on all sides by the
walls of obedient cities. But the face of the country was an object of
temptation rather than terror; and the vigor of government was relaxed
by the absence and death of the sultan of Gazna. The shepherds were
converted into robbers; the bands of robbers were collected into an army
of conquerors: as far as Ispahan and the Tigris, Persia was afflicted by
their predatory inroads; and the Turkmans were not ashamed or afraid to
measure their courage and numbers with the proudest sovereigns of Asia.
Massoud, the son and successor of Mahmud, had too long neglected the
advice of his wisest Omrahs. "Your enemies," they repeatedly urged,
"were in their origin a swarm of ants; they are now little snakes;
and, unless they be instantly crushed, they will acquire the venom and
magnitude of serpents." After some alternatives of truce and hostility,
after the repulse or partial success of his lieutenants, the sultan
marched in person against the Turkmans, who attacked him on all sides
with barbarous shouts and irregular onset. "Massoud," says the Persian
historian, "plunged singly to oppose the torrent of gleaming arms,
exhibiting such acts of gigantic force and valor as never king had
before displayed. A few of his friends, roused by his words and actions,
and that innate honor which inspires the brave, seconded their lord so
well, that wheresoever he turned his fatal sword, the enemies were mowed
down, or retreated before him. But now, when victory seemed to blow on
his standard, misfortune was active behind it; for when he looked round,
he beheld almost his whole army, excepting that body he commanded in
person, devouring the paths of flight." The Gaznevide was abandoned by
the cowardice or treachery of some generals of Turkish race; and this
memorable day of Zendecan founded in Persia the dynasty of the shepherd

The victorious Turkmans immediately proceeded to the election of a king;
and, if the probable tale of a Latin historian deserves any credit, they
determined by lot the choice of their new master. A number of arrows
were successively inscribed with the name of a tribe, a family, and a
candidate; they were drawn from the bundle by the hand of a child; and
the important prize was obtained by Togrul Beg, the son of Michael the
son of Seljuk, whose surname was immortalized in the greatness of
his posterity. The sultan Mahmud, who valued himself on his skill in
national genealogy, professed his ignorance of the family of Seljuk;
yet the father of that race appears to have been a chief of power and
renown. For a daring intrusion into the harem of his prince. Seljuk
was banished from Turkestan: with a numerous tribe of his friends
and vassals, he passed the Jaxartes, encamped in the neighborhood of
Samarcand, embraced the religion of Mahomet, and acquired the crown of
martyrdom in a war against the infidels. His age, of a hundred and seven
years, surpassed the life of his son, and Seljuk adopted the care of
his two grandsons, Togrul and Jaafar; the eldest of whom, at the age of
forty-five, was invested with the title of Sultan, in the royal city of
Nishabur. The blind determination of chance was justified by the virtues
of the successful candidate. It would be superfluous to praise the valor
of a Turk; and the ambition of Togrul was equal to his valor. By his
arms, the Gasnevides were expelled from the eastern kingdoms of Persia,
and gradually driven to the banks of the Indus, in search of a softer
and more wealthy conquest. In the West he annihilated the dynasty of the
Bowides; and the sceptre of Irak passed from the Persian to the Turkish
nation. The princes who had felt, or who feared, the Seljukian arrows,
bowed their heads in the dust; by the conquest of Aderbijan, or Media,
he approached the Roman confines; and the shepherd presumed to despatch
an ambassador, or herald, to demand the tribute and obedience of the
emperor of Constantinople. In his own dominions, Togrul was the father
of his soldiers and people; by a firm and equal administration, Persia
was relieved from the evils of anarchy; and the same hands which had
been imbrued in blood became the guardians of justice and the public
peace. The more rustic, perhaps the wisest, portion of the Turkmans
continued to dwell in the tents of their ancestors; and, from the Oxus
to the Euphrates, these military colonies were protected and propagated
by their native princes. But the Turks of the court and city were
refined by business and softened by pleasure: they imitated the dress,
language, and manners of Persia; and the royal palaces of Nishabur and
Rei displayed the order and magnificence of a great monarchy. The most
deserving of the Arabians and Persians were promoted to the honors
of the state; and the whole body of the Turkish nation embraced, with
fervor and sincerity, the religion of Mahomet. The northern swarms
of Barbarians, who overspread both Europe and Asia, have been
irreconcilably separated by the consequences of a similar conduct. Among
the Moslems, as among the Christians, their vague and local traditions
have yielded to the reason and authority of the prevailing system, to
the fame of antiquity, and the consent of nations. But the triumph of
the Koran is more pure and meritorious, as it was not assisted by
any visible splendor of worship which might allure the Pagans by
some resemblance of idolatry. The first of the Seljukian sultans was
conspicuous by his zeal and faith: each day he repeated the five prayers
which are enjoined to the true believers; of each week, the two first
days were consecrated by an extraordinary fast; and in every city a
mosch was completed, before Togrul presumed to lay the foundations of a

With the belief of the Koran, the son of Seljuk imbibed a lively
reverence for the successor of the prophet. But that sublime character
was still disputed by the caliphs of Bagdad and Egypt, and each of the
rivals was solicitous to prove his title in the judgment of the strong,
though illiterate Barbarians. Mahmud the Gaznevide had declared himself
in favor of the line of Abbas; and had treated with indignity the
robe of honor which was presented by the Fatimite ambassador. Yet
the ungrateful Hashemite had changed with the change of fortune; he
applauded the victory of Zendecan, and named the Seljukian sultan
his temporal vicegerent over the Moslem world. As Togrul executed and
enlarged this important trust, he was called to the deliverance of the
caliph Cayem, and obeyed the holy summons, which gave a new kingdom to
his arms. In the palace of Bagdad, the commander of the faithful still
slumbered, a venerable phantom. His servant or master, the prince of
the Bowides, could no longer protect him from the insolence of meaner
tyrants; and the Euphrates and Tigris were oppressed by the revolt of
the Turkish and Arabian emirs. The presence of a conqueror was implored
as a blessing; and the transient mischiefs of fire and sword were
excused as the sharp but salutary remedies which alone could restore the
health of the republic. At the head of an irresistible force, the sultan
of Persia marched from Hamadan: the proud were crushed, the prostrate
were spared; the prince of the Bowides disappeared; the heads of the
most obstinate rebels were laid at the feet of Togrul; and he inflicted
a lesson of obedience on the people of Mosul and Bagdad. After the
chastisement of the guilty, and the restoration of peace, the royal
shepherd accepted the reward of his labors; and a solemn comedy
represented the triumph of religious prejudice over Barbarian power. The
Turkish sultan embarked on the Tigris, landed at the gate of Racca, and
made his public entry on horseback. At the palace-gate he respectfully
dismounted, and walked on foot, preceded by his emirs without arms.
The caliph was seated behind his black veil: the black garment of the
Abbassides was cast over his shoulders, and he held in his hand the
staff of the apostle of God. The conqueror of the East kissed the
ground, stood some time in a modest posture, and was led towards the
throne by the vizier and interpreter. After Togrul had seated himself on
another throne, his commission was publicly read, which declared him
the temporal lieutenant of the vicar of the prophet. He was successively
invested with seven robes of honor, and presented with seven slaves, the
natives of the seven climates of the Arabian empire. His mystic veil was
perfumed with musk; two crowns were placed on his head; two cimeters
were girded to his side, as the symbols of a double reign over the
East and West. After this inauguration, the sultan was prevented from
prostrating himself a second time; but he twice kissed the hand of the
commander of the faithful, and his titles were proclaimed by the voice
of heralds and the applause of the Moslems. In a second visit to Bagdad,
the Seljukian prince again rescued the caliph from his enemies and
devoutly, on foot, led the bridle of his mule from the prison to the
palace. Their alliance was cemented by the marriage of Togrul's sister
with the successor of the prophet. Without reluctance he had introduced
a Turkish virgin into his harem; but Cayem proudly refused his daughter
to the sultan, disdained to mingle the blood of the Hashemites with
the blood of a Scythian shepherd; and protracted the negotiation many
months, till the gradual diminution of his revenue admonished him that
he was still in the hands of a master. The royal nuptials were followed
by the death of Togrul himself; as he left no children, his nephew Alp
Arslan succeeded to the title and prerogatives of sultan; and his name,
after that of the caliph, was pronounced in the public prayers of
the Moslems. Yet in this revolution, the Abbassides acquired a larger
measure of liberty and power. On the throne of Asia, the Turkish
monarchs were less jealous of the domestic administration of Bagdad;
and the commanders of the faithful were relieved from the ignominious
vexations to which they had been exposed by the presence and poverty of
the Persian dynasty.

Chapter LVII: The Turks.--Part II.

Since the fall of the caliphs, the discord and degeneracy of the
Saracens respected the Asiatic provinces of Rome; which, by the
victories of Nicephorus, Zimisces, and Basil, had been extended as far
as Antioch and the eastern boundaries of Armenia. Twenty-five years
after the death of Basil, his successors were suddenly assaulted by
an unknown race of Barbarians, who united the Scythian valor with the
fanaticism of new proselytes, and the art and riches of a powerful
monarchy. The myriads of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of six
hundred miles from Tauris to Arzeroum, and the blood of one hundred
and thirty thousand Christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian
prophet. Yet the arms of Togrul did not make any deep or lasting
impression on the Greek empire. The torrent rolled away from the open
country; the sultan retired without glory or success from the siege of
an Armenian city; the obscure hostilities were continued or suspended
with a vicissitude of events; and the bravery of the Macedonian legions
renewed the fame of the conqueror of Asia. The name of Alp Arslan, the
valiant lion, is expressive of the popular idea of the perfection of
man; and the successor of Togrul displayed the fierceness and generosity
of the royal animal. He passed the Euphrates at the head of the Turkish
cavalry, and entered Cæsarea, the metropolis of Cappadocia, to which he
had been attracted by the fame and wealth of the temple of St. Basil.
The solid structure resisted the destroyer: but he carried away the
doors of the shrine incrusted with gold and pearls, and profaned the
relics of the tutelar saint, whose mortal frailties were now covered
by the venerable rust of antiquity. The final conquest of Armenia and
Georgia was achieved by Alp Arslan. In Armenia, the title of a
kingdom, and the spirit of a nation, were annihilated: the artificial
fortifications were yielded by the mercenaries of Constantinople; by
strangers without faith, veterans without pay or arms, and recruits
without experience or discipline. The loss of this important frontier
was the news of a day; and the Catholics were neither surprised nor
displeased, that a people so deeply infected with the Nestorian and
Eutychian errors had been delivered by Christ and his mother into the
hands of the infidels. The woods and valleys of Mount Caucasus were
more strenuously defended by the native Georgians or Iberians; but the
Turkish sultan and his son Malek were indefatigable in this holy
war: their captives were compelled to promise a spiritual, as well as
temporal, obedience; and, instead of their collars and bracelets, an
iron horseshoe, a badge of ignominy, was imposed on the infidels who
still adhered to the worship of their fathers. The change, however, was
not sincere or universal; and, through ages of servitude, the Georgians
have maintained the succession of their princes and bishops. But a race
of men, whom nature has cast in her most perfect mould, is degraded by
poverty, ignorance, and vice; their profession, and still more their
practice, of Christianity is an empty name; and if they have emerged
from heresy, it is only because they are too illiterate to remember a
metaphysical creed.

The false or genuine magnanimity of Mahmud the Gaznevide was not
imitated by Alp Arslan; and he attacked without scruple the Greek
empress Eudocia and her children. His alarming progress compelled her
to give herself and her sceptre to the hand of a soldier; and Romanus
Diogenes was invested with the Imperial purple. His patriotism, and
perhaps his pride, urged him from Constantinople within two months after
his accession; and the next campaign he most scandalously took the field
during the holy festival of Easter. In the palace, Diogenes was no more
than the husband of Eudocia: in the camp, he was the emperor of the
Romans, and he sustained that character with feeble resources and
invincible courage. By his spirit and success the soldiers were taught
to act, the subjects to hope, and the enemies to fear. The Turks
had penetrated into the heart of Phrygia; but the sultan himself had
resigned to his emirs the prosecution of the war; and their numerous
detachments were scattered over Asia in the security of conquest. Laden
with spoil, and careless of discipline, they were separately surprised
and defeated by the Greeks: the activity of the emperor seemed to
multiply his presence: and while they heard of his expedition to
Antioch, the enemy felt his sword on the hills of Trebizond. In three
laborious campaigns, the Turks were driven beyond the Euphrates; in
the fourth and last, Romanus undertook the deliverance of Armenia. The
desolation of the land obliged him to transport a supply of two months'
provisions; and he marched forwards to the siege of Malazkerd, an
important fortress in the midway between the modern cities of Arzeroum
and Van. His army amounted, at the least, to one hundred thousand
men. The troops of Constantinople were reënforced by the disorderly
multitudes of Phrygia and Cappadocia; but the real strength was composed
of the subjects and allies of Europe, the legions of Macedonia, and the
squadrons of Bulgaria; the Uzi, a Moldavian horde, who were themselves
of the Turkish race; and, above all, the mercenary and adventurous bands
of French and Normans. Their lances were commanded by the valiant Ursel
of Baliol, the kinsman or father of the Scottish kings, and were allowed
to excel in the exercise of arms, or, according to the Greek style, in
the practice of the Pyrrhic dance.

On the report of this bold invasion, which threatened his hereditary
dominions, Alp Arslan flew to the scene of action at the head of forty
thousand horse. His rapid and skilful evolutions distressed and dismayed
the superior numbers of the Greeks; and in the defeat of Basilacius, one
of their principal generals, he displayed the first example of his valor
and clemency. The imprudence of the emperor had separated his forces
after the reduction of Malazkerd. It was in vain that he attempted
to recall the mercenary Franks: they refused to obey his summons; he
disdained to await their return: the desertion of the Uzi filled his
mind with anxiety and suspicion; and against the most salutary advice
he rushed forwards to speedy and decisive action. Had he listened to
the fair proposals of the sultan, Romanus might have secured a retreat,
perhaps a peace; but in these overtures he supposed the fear or weakness
of the enemy, and his answer was conceived in the tone of insult and
defiance. "If the Barbarian wishes for peace, let him evacuate the
ground which he occupies for the encampment of the Romans, and surrender
his city and palace of Rei as a pledge of his sincerity." Alp Arslan
smiled at the vanity of the demand, but he wept the death of so
many faithful Moslems; and, after a devout prayer, proclaimed a free
permission to all who were desirous of retiring from the field. With his
own hands he tied up his horse's tail, exchanged his bow and arrows for
a mace and cimeter, clothed himself in a white garment, perfumed his
body with musk, and declared that if he were vanquished, that spot
should be the place of his burial. The sultan himself had affected to
cast away his missile weapons: but his hopes of victory were placed
in the arrows of the Turkish cavalry, whose squadrons were loosely
distributed in the form of a crescent. Instead of the successive lines
and reserves of the Grecian tactics, Romulus led his army in a single
and solid phalanx, and pressed with vigor and impatience the artful and
yielding resistance of the Barbarians. In this desultory and fruitless
combat he spent the greater part of a summer's day, till prudence and
fatigue compelled him to return to his camp. But a retreat is always
perilous in the face of an active foe; and no sooner had the standard
been turned to the rear than the phalanx was broken by the base
cowardice, or the baser jealousy, of Andronicus, a rival prince, who
disgraced his birth and the purple of the Cæsars. The Turkish squadrons
poured a cloud of arrows on this moment of confusion and lassitude; and
the horns of their formidable crescent were closed in the rear of the
Greeks. In the destruction of the army and pillage of the camp, it
would be needless to mention the number of the slain or captives. The
Byzantine writers deplore the loss of an inestimable pearl: they forgot
to mention, that in this fatal day the Asiatic provinces of Rome were
irretrievably sacrificed.

As long as a hope survived, Romanus attempted to rally and save the
relics of his army. When the centre, the Imperial station, was left
naked on all sides, and encompassed by the victorious Turks, he still,
with desperate courage, maintained the fight till the close of day, at
the head of the brave and faithful subjects who adhered to his standard.
They fell around him; his horse was slain; the emperor was wounded;
yet he stood alone and intrepid, till he was oppressed and bound by the
strength of multitudes. The glory of this illustrious prize was disputed
by a slave and a soldier; a slave who had seen him on the throne of
Constantinople, and a soldier whose extreme deformity had been excused
on the promise of some signal service. Despoiled of his arms, his
jewels, and his purple, Romanus spent a dreary and perilous night on the
field of battle, amidst a disorderly crowd of the meaner Barbarians. In
the morning the royal captive was presented to Alp Arslan, who doubted
of his fortune, till the identity of the person was ascertained by
the report of his ambassadors, and by the more pathetic evidence of
Basilacius, who embraced with tears the feet of his unhappy sovereign.
The successor of Constantine, in a plebeian habit, was led into the
Turkish divan, and commanded to kiss the ground before the lord of Asia.
He reluctantly obeyed; and Alp Arslan, starting from his throne, is said
to have planted his foot on the neck of the Roman emperor. But the fact
is doubtful; and if, in this moment of insolence, the sultan complied
with the national custom, the rest of his conduct has extorted the
praise of his bigoted foes, and may afford a lesson to the most
civilized ages. He instantly raised the royal captive from the ground;
and thrice clasping his hand with tender sympathy, assured him, that his
life and dignity should be inviolate in the hands of a prince who had
learned to respect the majesty of his equals and the vicissitudes of
fortune. From the divan, Romanus was conducted to an adjacent tent,
where he was served with pomp and reverence by the officers of the
sultan, who, twice each day, seated him in the place of honor at his own
table. In a free and familiar conversation of eight days, not a word,
not a look, of insult escaped from the conqueror; but he severely
censured the unworthy subjects who had deserted their valiant prince in
the hour of danger, and gently admonished his antagonist of some
errors which he had committed in the management of the war. In the
preliminaries of negotiation, Alp Arslan asked him what treatment he
expected to receive, and the calm indifference of the emperor displays
the freedom of his mind. "If you are cruel," said he, "you will take my
life; if you listen to pride, you will drag me at your chariot-wheels;
if you consult your interest, you will accept a ransom, and restore me
to my country." "And what," continued the sultan, "would have been your
own behavior, had fortune smiled on your arms?" The reply of the Greek
betrays a sentiment, which prudence, and even gratitude, should have
taught him to suppress. "Had I vanquished," he fiercely said, "I would
have inflicted on thy body many a stripe." The Turkish conqueror
smiled at the insolence of his captive observed that the Christian law
inculcated the love of enemies and forgiveness of injuries; and nobly
declared, that he would not imitate an example which he condemned. After
mature deliberation, Alp Arslan dictated the terms of liberty and peace,
a ransom of a million, an annual tribute of three hundred and sixty
thousand pieces of gold, the marriage of the royal children, and the
deliverance of all the Moslems, who were in the power of the Greeks.
Romanus, with a sigh, subscribed this treaty, so disgraceful to the
majesty of the empire; he was immediately invested with a Turkish robe
of honor; his nobles and patricians were restored to their sovereign;
and the sultan, after a courteous embrace, dismissed him with rich
presents and a military guard. No sooner did he reach the confines
of the empire, than he was informed that the palace and provinces had
disclaimed their allegiance to a captive: a sum of two hundred thousand
pieces was painfully collected; and the fallen monarch transmitted this
part of his ransom, with a sad confession of his impotence and disgrace.
The generosity, or perhaps the ambition, of the sultan, prepared to
espouse the cause of his ally; but his designs were prevented by the
defeat, imprisonment, and death, of Romanus Diogenes.

In the treaty of peace, it does not appear that Alp Arslan extorted any
province or city from the captive emperor; and his revenge was satisfied
with the trophies of his victory, and the spoils of Anatolia, from
Antioch to the Black Sea. The fairest part of Asia was subject to his
laws: twelve hundred princes, or the sons of princes, stood before his
throne; and two hundred thousand soldiers marched under his banners.
The sultan disdained to pursue the fugitive Greeks; but he meditated the
more glorious conquest of Turkestan, the original seat of the house
of Seljuk. He moved from Bagdad to the banks of the Oxus; a bridge was
thrown over the river; and twenty days were consumed in the passage
of his troops. But the progress of the great king was retarded by the
governor of Berzem; and Joseph the Carizmian presumed to defend his
fortress against the powers of the East. When he was produced a captive
in the royal tent, the sultan, instead of praising his valor, severely
reproached his obstinate folly: and the insolent replies of the rebel
provoked a sentence, that he should be fastened to four stakes, and
left to expire in that painful situation. At this command, the desperate
Carizmian, drawing a dagger, rushed headlong towards the throne: the
guards raised their battle-axes; their zeal was checked by Alp Arslan,
the most skilful archer of the age: he drew his bow, but his foot
slipped, the arrow glanced aside, and he received in his breast the
dagger of Joseph, who was instantly cut in pieces. The wound was mortal;
and the Turkish prince bequeathed a dying admonition to the pride of
kings. "In my youth," said Alp Arslan, "I was advised by a sage to
humble myself before God; to distrust my own strength; and never to
despise the most contemptible foe. I have neglected these lessons; and
my neglect has been deservedly punished. Yesterday, as from an eminence
I beheld the numbers, the discipline, and the spirit, of my armies, the
earth seemed to tremble under my feet; and I said in my heart, Surely
thou art the king of the world, the greatest and most invincible of
warriors. These armies are no longer mine; and, in the confidence of my
personal strength, I now fall by the hand of an assassin." Alp Arslan
possessed the virtues of a Turk and a Mussulman; his voice and stature
commanded the reverence of mankind; his face was shaded with long
whiskers; and his ample turban was fashioned in the shape of a crown.
The remains of the sultan were deposited in the tomb of the Seljukian
dynasty; and the passenger might read and meditate this useful
inscription: "O ye who have seen the glory of Alp Arslan exalted to the
heavens, repair to Maru, and you will behold it buried in the dust."
The annihilation of the inscription, and the tomb itself, more forcibly
proclaims the instability of human greatness.

During the life of Alp Arslan, his eldest son had been acknowledged as
the future sultan of the Turks. On his father's death the inheritance
was disputed by an uncle, a cousin, and a brother: they drew their
cimeters, and assembled their followers; and the triple victory of Malek
Shah established his own reputation and the right of primogeniture. In
every age, and more especially in Asia, the thirst of power has inspired
the same passions, and occasioned the same disorders; but, from the long
series of civil war, it would not be easy to extract a sentiment more
pure and magnanimous than is contained in the saying of the Turkish
prince. On the eve of the battle, he performed his devotions at Thous,
before the tomb of the Imam Riza. As the sultan rose from the ground,
he asked his vizier Nizam, who had knelt beside him, what had been
the object of his secret petition: "That your arms may be crowned with
victory," was the prudent, and most probably the sincere, answer of the
minister. "For my part," replied the generous Malek, "I implored the
Lord of Hosts that he would take from me my life and crown, if my
brother be more worthy than myself to reign over the Moslems." The
favorable judgment of heaven was ratified by the caliph; and for
the first time, the sacred title of Commander of the Faithful was
communicated to a Barbarian. But this Barbarian, by his personal merit,
and the extent of his empire, was the greatest prince of his age.
After the settlement of Persia and Syria, he marched at the head of
innumerable armies to achieve the conquest of Turkestan, which had been
undertaken by his father. In his passage of the Oxus, the boatmen, who
had been employed in transporting some troops, complained, that their
payment was assigned on the revenues of Antioch. The sultan frowned at
this preposterous choice; but he smiled at the artful flattery of his
vizier. "It was not to postpone their reward, that I selected those
remote places, but to leave a memorial to posterity, that, under your
reign, Antioch and the Oxus were subject to the same sovereign." But
this description of his limits was unjust and parsimonious: beyond the
Oxus, he reduced to his obedience the cities of Bochara, Carizme, and
Samarcand, and crushed each rebellious slave, or independent savage, who
dared to resist. Malek passed the Sihon or Jaxartes, the last boundary
of Persian civilization: the hordes of Turkestan yielded to his
supremacy: his name was inserted on the coins, and in the prayers of
Cashgar, a Tartar kingdom on the extreme borders of China. From the
Chinese frontier, he stretched his immediate jurisdiction or feudatory
sway to the west and south, as far as the mountains of Georgia, the
neighborhood of Constantinople, the holy city of Jerusalem, and the
spicy groves of Arabia Felix. Instead of resigning himself to the luxury
of his harem, the shepherd king, both in peace and war, was in action
and in the field. By the perpetual motion of the royal camp, each
province was successively blessed with his presence; and he is said to
have perambulated twelve times the wide extent of his dominions,
which surpassed the _Asiatic_ reign of Cyrus and the caliphs. Of these
expeditions, the most pious and splendid was the pilgrimage of Mecca:
the freedom and safety of the caravans were protected by his arms; the
citizens and pilgrims were enriched by the profusion of his alms; and
the desert was cheered by the places of relief and refreshment, which
he instituted for the use of his brethren. Hunting was the pleasure, and
even the passion, of the sultan, and his train consisted of forty-seven
thousand horses; but after the massacre of a Turkish chase, for each
piece of game, he bestowed a piece of gold on the poor, a slight
atonement, at the expense of the people, for the cost and mischief of
the amusement of kings. In the peaceful prosperity of his reign, the
cities of Asia were adorned with palaces and hospitals with moschs and
colleges; few departed from his Divan without reward, and none without
justice. The language and literature of Persia revived under the house
of Seljuk; and if Malek emulated the liberality of a Turk less potent
than himself, his palace might resound with the songs of a hundred
poets. The sultan bestowed a more serious and learned care on the
reformation of the calendar, which was effected by a general assembly
of the astronomers of the East. By a law of the prophet, the Moslems are
confined to the irregular course of the lunar months; in Persia, since
the age of Zoroaster, the revolution of the sun has been known and
celebrated as an annual festival; but after the fall of the Magian
empire, the intercalation had been neglected; the fractions of minutes
and hours were multiplied into days; and the date of the springs was
removed from the sign of Aries to that of Pisces. The reign of Malek was
illustrated by the _Gelalan_ æra; and all errors, either past or future,
were corrected by a computation of time, which surpasses the Julian, and
approaches the accuracy of the Gregorian, style.

In a period when Europe was plunged in the deepest barbarism, the light
and splendor of Asia may be ascribed to the docility rather than the
knowledge of the Turkish conquerors. An ample share of their wisdom and
virtue is due to a Persian vizier, who ruled the empire under the reigns
of Alp Arslan and his son. Nizam, one of the most illustrious ministers
of the East, was honored by the caliph as an oracle of religion and
science; he was trusted by the sultan as the faithful vicegerent of his
power and justice. After an administration of thirty years, the fame
of the vizier, his wealth, and even his services, were transformed into
crimes. He was overthrown by the insidious arts of a woman and a rival;
and his fall was hastened by a rash declaration, that his cap and
ink-horn, the badges of his office, were connected by the divine decree
with the throne and diadem of the sultan. At the age of ninety-three
years, the venerable statesman was dismissed by his master, accused
by his enemies, and murdered by a fanatic: the last words of Nizam
attested his innocence, and the remainder of Malek's life was short and
inglorious. From Ispahan, the scene of this disgraceful transaction, the
sultan moved to Bagdad, with the design of transplanting the caliph,
and of fixing his own residence in the capital of the Moslem world. The
feeble successor of Mahomet obtained a respite of ten days; and before
the expiration of the term, the Barbarian was summoned by the angel of
death. His ambassadors at Constantinople had asked in marriage a Roman
princess; but the proposal was decently eluded; and the daughter
of Alexius, who might herself have been the victim, expresses her
abhorrence of his unnatural conjunction. The daughter of the sultan
was bestowed on the caliph Moctadi, with the imperious condition, that,
renouncing the society of his wives and concubines, he should forever
confine himself to this honorable alliance.

Chapter LVII: The Turks.--Part III.

The greatness and unity of the Turkish empire expired in the person of
Malek Shah. His vacant throne was disputed by his brother and his four
sons; and, after a series of civil wars, the treaty which reconciled
the surviving candidates confirmed a lasting separation in the _Persia_
dynasty, the eldest and principal branch of the house of Seljuk. The
three younger dynasties were those of _Kerman_, of _Syria_, and of
_Roum_: the first of these commanded an extensive, though obscure,
dominion on the shores of the Indian Ocean: the second expelled the
Arabian princes of Aleppo and Damascus; and the third, our peculiar
care, invaded the Roman provinces of Asia Minor. The generous policy
of Malek contributed to their elevation: he allowed the princes of
his blood, even those whom he had vanquished in the field, to seek
new kingdoms worthy of their ambition; nor was he displeased that they
should draw away the more ardent spirits, who might have disturbed the
tranquillity of his reign. As the supreme head of his family and nation,
the great sultan of Persia commanded the obedience and tribute of his
royal brethren: the thrones of Kerman and Nice, of Aleppo and Damascus;
the Atabeks, and emirs of Syria and Mesopotamia, erected their standards
under the shadow of his sceptre: and the hordes of Turkmans overspread
the plains of the Western Asia. After the death of Malek, the bands
of union and subordination were relaxed and finally dissolved: the
indulgence of the house of Seljuk invested their slaves with the
inheritance of kingdoms; and, in the Oriental style, a crowd of princes
arose from the dust of their feet.

A prince of the royal line, Cutulmish, the son of Izrail, the son of
Seljuk, had fallen in a battle against Alp Arslan and the humane victor
had dropped a tear over his grave. His five sons, strong in arms,
ambitious of power, and eager for revenge, unsheathed their cimeters
against the son of Alp Arslan. The two armies expected the signal when
the caliph, forgetful of the majesty which secluded him from vulgar
eyes, interposed his venerable mediation. "Instead of shedding the blood
of your brethren, your brethren both in descent and faith, unite your
forces in a holy war against the Greeks, the enemies of God and his
apostle." They listened to his voice; the sultan embraced his rebellious
kinsmen; and the eldest, the valiant Soliman, accepted the royal
standard, which gave him the free conquest and hereditary command of the
provinces of the Roman empire, from Arzeroum to Constantinople, and the
unknown regions of the West. Accompanied by his four brothers, he passed
the Euphrates; the Turkish camp was soon seated in the neighborhood of
Kutaieh in Phrygia; and his flying cavalry laid waste the country as far
as the Hellespont and the Black Sea. Since the decline of the empire,
the peninsula of Asia Minor had been exposed to the transient, though
destructive, inroads of the Persians and Saracens; but the fruits of a
lasting conquest were reserved for the Turkish sultan; and his arms were
introduced by the Greeks, who aspired to reign on the ruins of their
country. Since the captivity of Romanus, six years the feeble son of
Eudocia had trembled under the weight of the Imperial crown, till the
provinces of the East and West were lost in the same month by a double
rebellion: of either chief Nicephorus was the common name; but the
surnames of Bryennius and Botoniates distinguish the European and
Asiatic candidates. Their reasons, or rather their promises, were
weighed in the Divan; and, after some hesitation, Soliman declared
himself in favor of Botoniates, opened a free passage to his troops in
their march from Antioch to Nice, and joined the banner of the Crescent
to that of the Cross. After his ally had ascended the throne of
Constantinople, the sultan was hospitably entertained in the suburb of
Chrysopolis or Scutari; and a body of two thousand Turks was transported
into Europe, to whose dexterity and courage the new emperor was indebted
for the defeat and captivity of his rival, Bryennius. But the conquest
of Europe was dearly purchased by the sacrifice of Asia: Constantinople
was deprived of the obedience and revenue of the provinces beyond the
Bosphorus and Hellespont; and the regular progress of the Turks, who
fortified the passes of the rivers and mountains, left not a hope of
their retreat or expulsion. Another candidate implored the aid of the
sultan: Melissenus, in his purple robes and red buskins, attended the
motions of the Turkish camp; and the desponding cities were tempted by
the summons of a Roman prince, who immediately surrendered them into the
hands of the Barbarians. These acquisitions were confirmed by a treaty
of peace with the emperor Alexius: his fear of Robert compelled him to
seek the friendship of Soliman; and it was not till after the sultan's
death that he extended as far as Nicomedia, about sixty miles from
Constantinople, the eastern boundary of the Roman world. Trebizond
alone, defended on either side by the sea and mountains, preserved at
the extremity of the Euxine the ancient character of a Greek colony, and
the future destiny of a Christian empire.

Since the first conquests of the caliphs, the establishment of the Turks
in Anatolia or Asia Minor was the most deplorable loss which the church
and empire had sustained. By the propagation of the Moslem faith,
Soliman deserved the name of _Gazi_, a holy champion; and his new
kingdoms, of the Romans, or of _Roum_, was added to the tables of
Oriental geography. It is described as extending from the Euphrates to
Constantinople, from the Black Sea to the confines of Syria; pregnant
with mines of silver and iron, of alum and copper, fruitful in corn
and wine, and productive of cattle and excellent horses. The wealth of
Lydia, the arts of the Greeks, the splendor of the Augustan age, existed
only in books and ruins, which were equally obscure in the eyes of the
Scythian conquerors. Yet, in the present decay, Anatolia still contains
_some_ wealthy and populous cities; and, under the Byzantine empire,
they were far more flourishing in numbers, size, and opulence. By the
choice of the sultan, Nice, the metropolis of Bithynia, was preferred
for his palace and fortress: the seat of the Seljukian dynasty of Roum
was planted one hundred miles from Constantinople; and the divinity of
Christ was denied and derided in the same temple in which it had been
pronounced by the first general synod of the Catholics. The unity
of God, and the mission of Mahomet, were preached in the moschs; the
Arabian learning was taught in the schools; the Cadhis judged according
to the law of the Koran; the Turkish manners and language prevailed
in the cities; and Turkman camps were scattered over the plains and
mountains of Anatolia. On the hard conditions of tribute and servitude,
the Greek Christians might enjoy the exercise of their religion; but
their most holy churches were profaned; their priests and bishops were
insulted; they were compelled to suffer the triumph of the _Pagans_, and
the apostasy of their brethren; many thousand children were marked by
the knife of circumcision; and many thousand captives were devoted to
the service or the pleasures of their masters. After the loss of Asia,
Antioch still maintained her primitive allegiance to Christ and
Cæsar; but the solitary province was separated from all Roman aid,
and surrounded on all sides by the Mahometan powers. The despair of
Philaretus the governor prepared the sacrifice of his religion and
loyalty, had not his guilt been prevented by his son, who hastened to
the Nicene palace, and offered to deliver this valuable prize into the
hands of Soliman. The ambitious sultan mounted on horseback, and in
twelve nights (for he reposed in the day) performed a march of six
hundred miles. Antioch was oppressed by the speed and secrecy of
his enterprise; and the dependent cities, as far as Laodicea and the
confines of Aleppo, obeyed the example of the metropolis. From Laodicea
to the Thracian Bosphorus, or arm of St. George, the conquests and reign
of Soliman extended thirty days' journey in length, and in breadth
about ten or fifteen, between the rocks of Lycia and the Black Sea. The
Turkish ignorance of navigation protected, for a while, the inglorious
safety of the emperor; but no sooner had a fleet of two hundred ships
been constructed by the hands of the captive Greeks, than Alexius
trembled behind the walls of his capital. His plaintive epistles were
dispersed over Europe, to excite the compassion of the Latins, and
to paint the danger, the weakness, and the riches of the city of

But the most interesting conquest of the Seljukian Turks was that
of Jerusalem, which soon became the theatre of nations. In their
capitulation with Omar, the inhabitants had stipulated the assurance
of their religion and property; but the articles were interpreted by a
master against whom it was dangerous to dispute; and in the four hundred
years of the reign of the caliphs, the political climate of Jerusalem
was exposed to the vicissitudes of storm and sunshine. By the increase
of proselytes and population, the Mahometans might excuse the usurpation
of three fourths of the city: but a peculiar quarter was resolved for
the patriarch with his clergy and people; a tribute of two pieces of
gold was the price of protection; and the sepulchre of Christ, with the
church of the Resurrection, was still left in the hands of his votaries.
Of these votaries, the most numerous and respectable portion were
strangers to Jerusalem: the pilgrimages to the Holy Land had been
stimulated, rather than suppressed, by the conquest of the Arabs; and
the enthusiasm which had always prompted these perilous journeys, was
nourished by the congenial passions of grief and indignation. A crowd of
pilgrims from the East and West continued to visit the holy sepulchre,
and the adjacent sanctuaries, more especially at the festival of Easter;
and the Greeks and Latins, the Nestorians and Jacobites, the Copts and
Abyssinians, the Armenians and Georgians, maintained the chapels, the
clergy, and the poor of their respective communions. The harmony of
prayer in so many various tongues, the worship of so many nations in
the common temple of their religion, might have afforded a spectacle
of edification and peace; but the zeal of the Christian sects was
imbittered by hatred and revenge; and in the kingdom of a suffering
Messiah, who had pardoned his enemies, they aspired to command and
persecute their spiritual brethren. The preëminence was asserted by
the spirit and numbers of the Franks; and the greatness of Charlemagne
protected both the Latin pilgrims and the Catholics of the East. The
poverty of Carthage, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, was relieved by the alms
of that pious emperor; and many monasteries of Palestine were founded
or restored by his liberal devotion. Harun Alrashid, the greatest of
the Abbassides, esteemed in his Christian brother a similar supremacy
of genius and power: their friendship was cemented by a frequent
intercourse of gifts and embassies; and the caliph, without resigning
the substantial dominion, presented the emperor with the keys of the
holy sepulchre, and perhaps of the city of Jerusalem. In the decline of
the Carlovingian monarchy, the republic of Amalphi promoted the interest
of trade and religion in the East. Her vessels transported the Latin
pilgrims to the coasts of Egypt and Palestine, and deserved, by their
useful imports, the favor and alliance of the Fatimite caliphs: an
annual fair was instituted on Mount Calvary: and the Italian merchants
founded the convent and hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, the cradle of
the monastic and military order, which has since reigned in the isles of
Rhodes and of Malta. Had the Christian pilgrims been content to revere
the tomb of a prophet, the disciples of Mahomet, instead of blaming,
would have imitated, their piety: but these rigid _Unitarians_ were
scandalized by a worship which represents the birth, death, and
resurrection, of a God; the Catholic images were branded with the name
of idols; and the Moslems smiled with indignation at the miraculous
flame which was kindled on the eve of Easter in the holy sepulchre. This
pious fraud, first devised in the ninth century, was devoutly cherished
by the Latin crusaders, and is annually repeated by the clergy of
the Greek, Armenian, and Coptic sects, who impose on the credulous
spectators for their own benefit, and that of their tyrants. In
every age, a principle of toleration has been fortified by a sense of
interest: and the revenue of the prince and his emir was increased each
year, by the expense and tribute of so many thousand strangers.

The revolution which transferred the sceptre from the Abbassides to
the Fatimites was a benefit, rather than an injury, to the Holy Land.
A sovereign resident in Egypt was more sensible of the importance of
Christian trade; and the emirs of Palestine were less remote from the
justice and power of the throne. But the third of these Fatimite caliphs
was the famous Hakem, a frantic youth, who was delivered by his impiety
and despotism from the fear either of God or man; and whose reign was a
wild mixture of vice and folly. Regardless of the most ancient customs
of Egypt, he imposed on the women an absolute confinement; the restraint
excited the clamors of both sexes; their clamors provoked his fury;
a part of Old Cairo was delivered to the flames and the guards and
citizens were engaged many days in a bloody conflict. At first the
caliph declared himself a zealous Mussulman, the founder or benefactor
of moschs and colleges: twelve hundred and ninety copies of the Koran
were transcribed at his expense in letters of gold; and his edict
extirpated the vineyards of the Upper Egypt. But his vanity was soon
flattered by the hope of introducing a new religion; he aspired above
the fame of a prophet, and styled himself the visible image of the Most
High God, who, after nine apparitions on earth, was at length manifest
in his royal person. At the name of Hakem, the lord of the living and
the dead, every knee was bent in religious adoration: his mysteries were
performed on a mountain near Cairo: sixteen thousand converts had signed
his profession of faith; and at the present hour, a free and warlike
people, the Druses of Mount Libanus, are persuaded of the life and
divinity of a madman and tyrant. In his divine character, Hakem hated
the Jews and Christians, as the servants of his rivals; while some
remains of prejudice or prudence still pleaded in favor of the law of
Mahomet. Both in Egypt and Palestine, his cruel and wanton persecution
made some martyrs and many apostles: the common rights and special
privileges of the sectaries were equally disregarded; and a general
interdict was laid on the devotion of strangers and natives. The temple
of the Christian world, the church of the Resurrection, was demolished
to its foundations; the luminous prodigy of Easter was interrupted, and
much profane labor was exhausted to destroy the cave in the rock
which properly constitutes the holy sepulchre. At the report of this
sacrilege, the nations of Europe were astonished and afflicted: but
instead of arming in the defence of the Holy Land, they contented
themselves with burning, or banishing, the Jews, as the secret advisers
of the impious Barbarian. Yet the calamities of Jerusalem were in some
measure alleviated by the inconstancy or repentance of Hakem himself;
and the royal mandate was sealed for the restitution of the churches,
when the tyrant was assassinated by the emissaries of his sister. The
succeeding caliphs resumed the maxims of religion and policy: a free
toleration was again granted; with the pious aid of the emperor of
Constantinople, the holy sepulchre arose from its ruins; and, after a
short abstinence, the pilgrims returned with an increase of appetite to
the spiritual feast. In the sea-voyage of Palestine, the dangers were
frequent, and the opportunities rare: but the conversion of Hungary
opened a safe communication between Germany and Greece. The charity
of St. Stephen, the apostle of his kingdom, relieved and conducted his
itinerant brethren; and from Belgrade to Antioch, they traversed fifteen
hundred miles of a Christian empire. Among the Franks, the zeal of
pilgrimage prevailed beyond the example of former times: and the roads
were covered with multitudes of either sex, and of every rank, who
professed their contempt of life, so soon as they should have kissed the
tomb of their Redeemer. Princes and prelates abandoned the care of their
dominions; and the numbers of these pious caravans were a prelude to the
armies which marched in the ensuing age under the banner of the cross.
About thirty years before the first crusade, the arch bishop of Mentz,
with the bishops of Utrecht, Bamberg, and Ratisbon, undertook this
laborious journey from the Rhine to the Jordan; and the multitude of
their followers amounted to seven thousand persons. At Constantinople,
they were hospitably entertained by the emperor; but the ostentation
of their wealth provoked the assault of the wild Arabs: they drew their
swords with scrupulous reluctance, and sustained siege in the village
of Capernaum, till they were rescued by the venal protection of the
Fatimite emir. After visiting the holy places, they embarked for Italy,
but only a remnant of two thousand arrived in safety in their native
land. Ingulphus, a secretary of William the Conqueror, was a companion
of this pilgrimage: he observes that they sailed from Normandy, thirty
stout and well-appointed horsemen; but that they repassed the Alps,
twenty miserable palmers, with the staff in their hand, and the wallet
at their back.

After the defeat of the Romans, the tranquillity of the Fatimite caliphs
was invaded by the Turks. One of the lieutenants of Malek Shah, Atsiz
the Carizmian, marched into Syria at the head of a powerful army, and
reduced Damascus by famine and the sword. Hems, and the other cities
of the province, acknowledged the caliph of Bagdad and the sultan of
Persia; and the victorious emir advanced without resistance to the banks
of the Nile: the Fatimite was preparing to fly into the heart of
Africa; but the negroes of his guard and the inhabitants of Cairo made
a desperate sally, and repulsed the Turk from the confines of Egypt. In
his retreat he indulged the license of slaughter and rapine: the judge
and notaries of Jerusalem were invited to his camp; and their execution
was followed by the massacre of three thousand citizens. The cruelty or
the defeat of Atsiz was soon punished by the sultan Toucush, the brother
of Malek Shah, who, with a higher title and more formidable powers,
asserted the dominion of Syria and Palestine. The house of Seljuk
reigned about twenty years in Jerusalem; but the hereditary command
of the holy city and territory was intrusted or abandoned to the emir
Ortok, the chief of a tribe of Turkmans, whose children, after their
expulsion from Palestine, formed two dynasties on the borders of Armenia
and Assyria. The Oriental Christians and the Latin pilgrims deplored a
revolution, which, instead of the regular government and old alliance
of the caliphs, imposed on their necks the iron yoke of the strangers
of the North. In his court and camp the great sultan had adopted in
some degree the arts and manners of Persia; but the body of the Turkish
nation, and more especially the pastoral tribes, still breathed the
fierceness of the desert. From Nice to Jerusalem, the western countries
of Asia were a scene of foreign and domestic hostility; and the
shepherds of Palestine, who held a precarious sway on a doubtful
frontier, had neither leisure nor capacity to await the slow profits of
commercial and religious freedom. The pilgrims, who, through innumerable
perils, had reached the gates of Jerusalem, were the victims of private
rapine or public oppression, and often sunk under the pressure of famine
and disease, before they were permitted to salute the holy sepulchre.
A spirit of native barbarism, or recent zeal, prompted the Turkmans to
insult the clergy of every sect: the patriarch was dragged by the hair
along the pavement, and cast into a dungeon, to extort a ransom from
the sympathy of his flock; and the divine worship in the church of the
Resurrection was often disturbed by the savage rudeness of its masters.
The pathetic tale excited the millions of the West to march under
the standard of the cross to the relief of the Holy Land; and yet how
trifling is the sum of these accumulated evils, if compared with the
single act of the sacrilege of Hakem, which had been so patiently
endured by the Latin Christians! A slighter provocation inflamed the
more irascible temper of their descendants: a new spirit had arisen of
religious chivalry and papal dominion; a nerve was touched of exquisite
feeling; and the sensation vibrated to the heart of Europe.

Chapter LVIII: The First Crusade.--Part I.

     Origin And Numbers Of The First Crusade.--Characters Of The
     Latin Princes.--Their March To Constantinople.--Policy Of
     The Greek Emperor Alexius.--Conquest Of Nice, Antioch, And
     Jerusalem, By The Franks.--Deliverance Of The Holy
     Sepulchre.--Godfrey Of Bouillon, First King Of Jerusalem.--
     Institutions Of The French Or Latin Kingdom.

About twenty years after the conquest of Jerusalem by the Turks, the
holy sepulchre was visited by a hermit of the name of Peter, a native
of Amiens, in the province of Picardy in France. His resentment and
sympathy were excited by his own injuries and the oppression of the
Christian name; he mingled his tears with those of the patriarch, and
earnestly inquired, if no hopes of relief could be entertained from the
Greek emperors of the East. The patriarch exposed the vices and weakness
of the successors of Constantine. "I will rouse," exclaimed the hermit,
"the martial nations of Europe in your cause;" and Europe was obedient
to the call of the hermit. The astonished patriarch dismissed him with
epistles of credit and complaint; and no sooner did he land at Bari,
than Peter hastened to kiss the feet of the Roman pontiff. His stature
was small, his appearance contemptible; but his eye was keen and lively;
and he possessed that vehemence of speech, which seldom fails to impart
the persuasion of the soul. He was born of a gentleman's family, (for we
must now adopt a modern idiom,) and his military service was under the
neighboring counts of Boulogne, the heroes of the first crusade. But he
soon relinquished the sword and the world; and if it be true, that his
wife, however noble, was aged and ugly, he might withdraw, with the less
reluctance, from her bed to a convent, and at length to a hermitage.
* In this austere solitude, his body was emaciated, his fancy was
inflamed; whatever he wished, he believed; whatever he believed, he
saw in dreams and revelations. From Jerusalem the pilgrim returned an
accomplished fanatic; but as he excelled in the popular madness of the
times, Pope Urban the Second received him as a prophet, applauded
his glorious design, promised to support it in a general council, and
encouraged him to proclaim the deliverance of the Holy Land. Invigorated
by the approbation of the pontiff, his zealous missionary traversed.
with speed and success, the provinces of Italy and France. His diet was
abstemious, his prayers long and fervent, and the alms which he received
with one hand, he distributed with the other: his head was bare, his
feet naked, his meagre body was wrapped in a coarse garment; he bore
and displayed a weighty crucifix; and the ass on which he rode was
sanctified, in the public eye, by the service of the man of God. He
preached to innumerable crowds in the churches, the streets, and the
highways: the hermit entered with equal confidence the palace and the
cottage; and the people (for all was people) was impetuously moved by
his call to repentance and arms. When he painted the sufferings of the
natives and pilgrims of Palestine, every heart was melted to compassion;
every breast glowed with indignation, when he challenged the warriors of
the age to defend their brethren, and rescue their Savior: his
ignorance of art and language was compensated by sighs, and tears, and
ejaculations; and Peter supplied the deficiency of reason by loud and
frequent appeals to Christ and his mother, to the saints and angels of
paradise, with whom he had personally conversed. The most perfect orator
of Athens might have envied the success of his eloquence; the rustic
enthusiast inspired the passions which he felt, and Christendom expected
with impatience the counsels and decrees of the supreme pontiff.

The magnanimous spirit of Gregory the Seventh had already embraced the
design of arming Europe against Asia; the ardor of his zeal and ambition
still breathes in his epistles: from either side of the Alps, fifty
thousand Catholics had enlisted under the banner of St. Peter; and his
successor reveals his intention of marching at their head against the
impious sectaries of Mahomet. But the glory or reproach of executing,
though not in person, this holy enterprise, was reserved for Urban the
Second, the most faithful of his disciples. He undertook the conquest of
the East, whilst the larger portion of Rome was possessed and fortified
by his rival Guibert of Ravenna, who contended with Urban for the name
and honors of the pontificate. He attempted to unite the powers of the
West, at a time when the princes were separated from the church, and the
people from their princes, by the excommunication which himself and his
predecessors had thundered against the emperor and the king of France.
Philip the First, of France, supported with patience the censures which
he had provoked by his scandalous life and adulterous marriage.
Henry the Fourth, of Germany, asserted the right of investitures, the
prerogative of confirming his bishops by the delivery of the ring and
crosier. But the emperor's party was crushed in Italy by the arms of
the Normans and the Countess Mathilda; and the long quarrel had been
recently envenomed by the revolt of his son Conrad and the shame of
his wife, who, in the synods of Constance and Placentia, confessed
the manifold prostitutions to which she had been exposed by a husband
regardless of her honor and his own. So popular was the cause of Urban,
so weighty was his influence, that the council which he summoned
at Placentia was composed of two hundred bishops of Italy, France,
Burgandy, Swabia, and Bavaria. Four thousand of the clergy, and thirty
thousand of the laity, attended this important meeting; and, as the
most spacious cathedral would have been inadequate to the multitude,
the session of seven days was held in a plain adjacent to the city. The
ambassadors of the Greek emperor, Alexius Comnenus, were introduced to
plead the distress of their sovereign, and the danger of Constantinople,
which was divided only by a narrow sea from the victorious Turks, the
common enemies of the Christian name. In their suppliant address they
flattered the pride of the Latin princes; and, appealing at once to
their policy and religion, exhorted them to repel the Barbarians on the
confines of Asia, rather than to expect them in the heart of Europe.
At the sad tale of the misery and perils of their Eastern brethren,
the assembly burst into tears; the most eager champions declared their
readiness to march; and the Greek ambassadors were dismissed with the
assurance of a speedy and powerful succor. The relief of Constantinople
was included in the larger and most distant project of the deliverance
of Jerusalem; but the prudent Urban adjourned the final decision to a
second synod, which he proposed to celebrate in some city of France in
the autumn of the same year. The short delay would propagate the flame
of enthusiasm; and his firmest hope was in a nation of soldiers still
proud of the preëminence of their name, and ambitious to emulate their
hero Charlemagne, who, in the popular romance of Turpin, had achieved
the conquest of the Holy Land. A latent motive of affection or vanity
might influence the choice of Urban: he was himself a native of France,
a monk of Clugny, and the first of his countrymen who ascended the
throne of St. Peter. The pope had illustrated his family and province;
nor is there perhaps a more exquisite gratification than to revisit, in
a conspicuous dignity, the humble and laborious scenes of our youth.

It may occasion some surprise that the Roman pontiff should erect, in
the heart of France, the tribunal from whence he hurled his anathemas
against the king; but our surprise will vanish so soon as we form a just
estimate of a king of France of the eleventh century. Philip the First
was the great-grandson of Hugh Capet, the founder of the present race,
who, in the decline of Charlemagne's posterity, added the regal title to
his patrimonial estates of Paris and Orleans. In this narrow compass,
he was possessed of wealth and jurisdiction; but in the rest of France,
Hugh and his first descendants were no more than the feudal lords of
about sixty dukes and counts, of independent and hereditary power, who
disdained the control of laws and legal assemblies, and whose disregard
of their sovereign was revenged by the disobedience of their inferior
vassals. At Clermont, in the territories of the count of Auvergne, the
pope might brave with impunity the resentment of Philip; and the council
which he convened in that city was not less numerous or respectable
than the synod of Placentia. Besides his court and council of Roman
cardinals, he was supported by thirteen archbishops and two hundred and
twenty-five bishops: the number of mitred prelates was computed at four
hundred; and the fathers of the church were blessed by the saints and
enlightened by the doctors of the age. From the adjacent kingdoms, a
martial train of lords and knights of power and renown attended the
council, in high expectation of its resolves; and such was the ardor of
zeal and curiosity, that the city was filled, and many thousands, in
the month of November, erected their tents or huts in the open field.
A session of eight days produced some useful or edifying canons for
the reformation of manners; a severe censure was pronounced against the
license of private war; the Truce of God was confirmed, a suspension of
hostilities during four days of the week; women and priests were placed
under the safeguard of the church; and a protection of three years
was extended to husbandmen and merchants, the defenceless victims of
military rapine. But a law, however venerable be the sanction, cannot
suddenly transform the temper of the times; and the benevolent efforts
of Urban deserve the less praise, since he labored to appease some
domestic quarrels that he might spread the flames of war from the
Atlantic to the Euphrates. From the synod of Placentia, the rumor of
his great design had gone forth among the nations: the clergy on
their return had preached in every diocese the merit and glory of
the deliverance of the Holy Land; and when the pope ascended a lofty
scaffold in the market-place of Clermont, his eloquence was addressed
to a well-prepared and impatient audience. His topics were obvious,
his exhortation was vehement, his success inevitable. The orator was
interrupted by the shout of thousands, who with one voice, and in their
rustic idiom, exclaimed aloud, "God wills it, God wills it." "It is
indeed the will of God," replied the pope; "and let this memorable word,
the inspiration surely of the Holy Spirit, be forever adopted as your
cry of battle, to animate the devotion and courage of the champions of
Christ. His cross is the symbol of your salvation; wear it, a red, a
bloody cross, as an external mark, on your breasts or shoulders, as
a pledge of your sacred and irrevocable engagement." The proposal
was joyfully accepted; great numbers, both of the clergy and laity,
impressed on their garments the sign of the cross, and solicited the
pope to march at their head. This dangerous honor was declined by the
more prudent successor of Gregory, who alleged the schism of the church,
and the duties of his pastoral office, recommending to the faithful,
who were disqualified by sex or profession, by age or infirmity, to
aid, with their prayers and alms, the personal service of their robust
brethren. The name and powers of his legate he devolved on Adhemar
bishop of Puy, the first who had received the cross at his hands. The
foremost of the temporal chiefs was Raymond count of Thoulouse, whose
ambassadors in the council excused the absence, and pledged the honor,
of their master. After the confession and absolution of their sins, the
champions of the cross were dismissed with a superfluous admonition to
invite their countrymen and friends; and their departure for the Holy
Land was fixed to the festival of the Assumption, the fifteenth of
August, of the ensuing year.

So familiar, and as it were so natural to man, is the practice of
violence, that our indulgence allows the slightest provocation, the most
disputable right, as a sufficient ground of national hostility. But the
name and nature of a _holy war_ demands a more rigorous scrutiny; nor
can we hastily believe, that the servants of the Prince of Peace would
unsheathe the sword of destruction, unless the motive were pure, the
quarrel legitimate, and the necessity inevitable. The policy of an
action may be determined from the tardy lessons of experience; but,
before we act, our conscience should be satisfied of the justice and
propriety of our enterprise. In the age of the crusades, the Christians,
both of the East and West, were persuaded of their lawfulness and merit;
their arguments are clouded by the perpetual abuse of Scripture and
rhetoric; but they seem to insist on the right of natural and religious
defence, their peculiar title to the Holy Land, and the impiety of their
Pagan and Mahometan foes. I. The right of a just defence may fairly
include our civil and spiritual allies: it depends on the existence of
danger; and that danger must be estimated by the twofold consideration
of the malice, and the power, of our enemies. A pernicious tenet has
been imputed to the Mahometans, the duty of _extirpating_ all other
religions by the sword. This charge of ignorance and bigotry is refuted
by the Koran, by the history of the Mussulman conquerors, and by their
public and legal toleration of the Christian worship. But it cannot be
denied, that the Oriental churches are depressed under their iron yoke;
that, in peace and war, they assert a divine and indefeasible claim of
universal empire; and that, in their orthodox creed, the unbelieving
nations are continually threatened with the loss of religion or liberty.
In the eleventh century, the victorious arms of the Turks presented a
real and urgent apprehension of these losses. They had subdued, in less
than thirty years, the kingdoms of Asia, as far as Jerusalem and the
Hellespont; and the Greek empire tottered on the verge of destruction.
Besides an honest sympathy for their brethren, the Latins had a right
and interest in the support of Constantinople, the most important
barrier of the West; and the privilege of defence must reach to prevent,
as well as to repel, an impending assault. But this salutary purpose
might have been accomplished by a moderate succor; and our calmer
reason must disclaim the innumerable hosts, and remote operations,
which overwhelmed Asia and depopulated Europe. II. Palestine could add
nothing to the strength or safety of the Latins; and fanaticism alone
could pretend to justify the conquest of that distant and narrow
province. The Christians affirmed that their inalienable title to the
promised land had been sealed by the blood of their divine Savior; it
was their right and duty to rescue their inheritance from the unjust
possessors, who profaned his sepulchre, and oppressed the pilgrimage
of his disciples. Vainly would it be alleged that the preëminence of
Jerusalem, and the sanctity of Palestine, have been abolished with the
Mosaic law; that the God of the Christians is not a local deity, and
that the recovery of Bethlem or Calvary, his cradle or his tomb, will
not atone for the violation of the moral precepts of the gospel. Such
arguments glance aside from the leaden shield of superstition; and the
religious mind will not easily relinquish its hold on the sacred ground
of mystery and miracle. III. But the holy wars which have been waged
in every climate of the globe, from Egypt to Livonia, and from Peru to
Hindostan, require the support of some more general and flexible tenet.
It has been often supposed, and sometimes affirmed, that a difference of
religion is a worthy cause of hostility; that obstinate unbelievers may
be slain or subdued by the champions of the cross; and that grace is
the sole fountain of dominion as well as of mercy. Above four hundred
years before the first crusade, the eastern and western provinces of
the Roman empire had been acquired about the same time, and in the same
manner, by the Barbarians of Germany and Arabia. Time and treaties had
legitimated the conquest of the _Christian_ Franks; but in the eyes of
their subjects and neighbors, the Mahometan princes were still tyrants
and usurpers, who, by the arms of war or rebellion, might be lawfully
driven from their unlawful possession.

As the manners of the Christians were relaxed, their discipline of
penance was enforced; and with the multiplication of sins, the
remedies were multiplied. In the primitive church, a voluntary and
open confession prepared the work of atonement. In the middle ages, the
bishops and priests interrogated the criminal; compelled him to account
for his thoughts, words, and actions; and prescribed the terms of
his reconciliation with God. But as this discretionary power might
alternately be abused by indulgence and tyranny, a rule of discipline
was framed, to inform and regulate the spiritual judges. This mode
of legislation was invented by the Greeks; their _penitentials_ were
translated, or imitated, in the Latin church; and, in the time of
Charlemagne, the clergy of every diocese were provided with a code,
which they prudently concealed from the knowledge of the vulgar. In this
dangerous estimate of crimes and punishments, each case was supposed,
each difference was remarked, by the experience or penetration of
the monks; some sins are enumerated which innocence could not have
suspected, and others which reason cannot believe; and the more ordinary
offences of fornication and adultery, of perjury and sacrilege, of
rapine and murder, were expiated by a penance, which, according to the
various circumstances, was prolonged from forty days to seven years.
During this term of mortification, the patient was healed, the criminal
was absolved, by a salutary regimen of fasts and prayers: the disorder
of his dress was expressive of grief and remorse; and he humbly
abstained from all the business and pleasure of social life. But the
rigid execution of these laws would have depopulated the palace, the
camp, and the city; the Barbarians of the West believed and trembled;
but nature often rebelled against principle; and the magistrate labored
without effect to enforce the jurisdiction of the priest. A literal
accomplishment of penance was indeed impracticable: the guilt of
adultery was multiplied by daily repetition; that of homicide might
involve the massacre of a whole people; each act was separately
numbered; and, in those times of anarchy and vice, a modest sinner might
easily incur a debt of three hundred years. His insolvency was relieved
by a commutation, or _indulgence_: a year of penance was appreciated at
twenty-six _solidi_ of silver, about four pounds sterling, for the rich;
at three solidi, or nine shillings, for the indigent: and these alms
were soon appropriated to the use of the church, which derived, from the
redemption of sins, an inexhaustible source of opulence and dominion.
A debt of three hundred years, or twelve hundred pounds, was enough
to impoverish a plentiful fortune; the scarcity of gold and silver was
supplied by the alienation of land; and the princely donations of Pepin
and Charlemagne are expressly given for the _remedy_ of their soul. It
is a maxim of the civil law, that whosoever cannot pay with his purse,
must pay with his body; and the practice of flagellation was adopted
by the monks, a cheap, though painful equivalent. By a fantastic
arithmetic, a year of penance was taxed at three thousand lashes; and
such was the skill and patience of a famous hermit, St. Dominic of the
iron Cuirass, that in six days he could discharge an entire century, by
a whipping of three hundred thousand stripes. His example was followed
by many penitents of both sexes; and, as a vicarious sacrifice was
accepted, a sturdy disciplinarian might expiate on his own back the
sins of his benefactors. These compensations of the purse and the
person introduced, in the eleventh century, a more honorable mode of
satisfaction. The merit of military service against the Saracens of
Africa and Spain had been allowed by the predecessors of Urban the
Second. In the council of Clermont, that pope proclaimed a _plenary
indulgence_ to those who should enlist under the banner of the cross;
the absolution of all their sins, and a full receipt for _all_ that
might be due of canonical penance. The cold philosophy of modern times
is incapable of feeling the impression that was made on a sinful and
fanatic world. At the voice of their pastor, the robber, the incendiary,
the homicide, arose by thousands to redeem their souls, by repeating
on the infidels the same deeds which they had exercised against their
Christian brethren; and the terms of atonement were eagerly embraced
by offenders of every rank and denomination. None were pure; none were
exempt from the guilt and penalty of sin; and those who were the least
amenable to the justice of God and the church were the best entitled
to the temporal and eternal recompense of their pious courage. If they
fell, the spirit of the Latin clergy did not hesitate to adorn their
tomb with the crown of martyrdom; and should they survive, they could
expect without impatience the delay and increase of their heavenly
reward. They offered their blood to the Son of God, who had laid down
his life for their salvation: they took up the cross, and entered with
confidence into the way of the Lord. His providence would watch over
their safety; perhaps his visible and miraculous power would smooth the
difficulties of their holy enterprise. The cloud and pillar of Jehovah
had marched before the Israelites into the promised land. Might not the
Christians more reasonably hope that the rivers would open for their
passage; that the walls of their strongest cities would fall at the
sound of their trumpets; and that the sun would be arrested in his mid
career, to allow them time for the destruction of the infidels?

Chapter LVIII: The First Crusade.--Part II.

Of the chiefs and soldiers who marched to the holy sepulchre, I will
dare to affirm, that _all_ were prompted by the spirit of enthusiasm;
the belief of merit, the hope of reward, and the assurance of divine
aid. But I am equally persuaded, that in many it was not the sole, that
in _some_ it was not the leading, principle of action. The use and abuse
of religion are feeble to stem, they are strong and irresistible to
impel, the stream of national manners. Against the private wars of the
Barbarians, their bloody tournaments, licentious love, and judicial
duels, the popes and synods might ineffectually thunder. It is a more
easy task to provoke the metaphysical disputes of the Greeks, to drive
into the cloister the victims of anarchy or despotism, to sanctify the
patience of slaves and cowards, or to assume the merit of the humanity
and benevolence of modern Christians. War and exercise were the reigning
passions of the Franks or Latins; they were enjoined, as a penance, to
gratify those passions, to visit distant lands, and to draw their swords
against the nation of the East. Their victory, or even their attempt,
would immortalize the names of the intrepid heroes of the cross; and the
purest piety could not be insensible to the most splendid prospect of
military glory. In the petty quarrels of Europe, they shed the blood of
their friends and countrymen, for the acquisition perhaps of a castle
or a village. They could march with alacrity against the distant and
hostile nations who were devoted to their arms; their fancy already
grasped the golden sceptres of Asia; and the conquest of Apulia and
Sicily by the Normans might exalt to royalty the hopes of the most
private adventurer. Christendom, in her rudest state, must have yielded
to the climate and cultivation of the Mahometan countries; and their
natural and artificial wealth had been magnified by the tales of
pilgrims, and the gifts of an imperfect commerce. The vulgar, both the
great and small, were taught to believe every wonder, of lands flowing
with milk and honey, of mines and treasures, of gold and diamonds, of
palaces of marble and jasper, and of odoriferous groves of cinnamon and
frankincense. In this earthly paradise, each warrior depended on
his sword to carve a plenteous and honorable establishment, which he
measured only by the extent of his wishes. Their vassals and soldiers
trusted their fortunes to God and their master: the spoils of a Turkish
emir might enrich the meanest follower of the camp; and the flavor
of the wines, the beauty of the Grecian women, were temptations more
adapted to the nature, than to the profession, of the champions of the
cross. The love of freedom was a powerful incitement to the multitudes
who were oppressed by feudal or ecclesiastical tyranny. Under this holy
sign, the peasants and burghers, who were attached to the servitude of
the glebe, might escape from a haughty lord, and transplant themselves
and their families to a land of liberty. The monk might release himself
from the discipline of his convent: the debtor might suspend the
accumulation of usury, and the pursuit of his creditors; and outlaws and
malefactors of every cast might continue to brave the laws and elude the
punishment of their crimes.

These motives were potent and numerous: when we have singly computed
their weight on the mind of each individual, we must add the infinite
series, the multiplying powers, of example and fashion. The first
proselytes became the warmest and most effectual missionaries of the
cross: among their friends and countrymen they preached the duty, the
merit, and the recompense, of their holy vow; and the most reluctant
hearers were insensibly drawn within the whirlpool of persuasion and
authority. The martial youths were fired by the reproach or suspicion
of cowardice; the opportunity of visiting with an army the sepulchre of
Christ was embraced by the old and infirm, by women and children, who
consulted rather their zeal than their strength; and those who in the
evening had derided the folly of their companions, were the most eager,
the ensuing day, to tread in their footsteps. The ignorance, which
magnified the hopes, diminished the perils, of the enterprise. Since the
Turkish conquest, the paths of pilgrimage were obliterated; the chiefs
themselves had an imperfect notion of the length of the way and the
state of their enemies; and such was the stupidity of the people, that,
at the sight of the first city or castle beyond the limits of their
knowledge, they were ready to ask whether that was not the Jerusalem,
the term and object of their labors. Yet the more prudent of the
crusaders, who were not sure that they should be fed from heaven with
a shower of quails or manna, provided themselves with those precious
metals, which, in every country, are the representatives of every
commodity. To defray, according to their rank, the expenses of the
road, princes alienated their provinces, nobles their lands and castles,
peasants their cattle and the instruments of husbandry. The value of
property was depreciated by the eager competition of multitudes; while
the price of arms and horses was raised to an exorbitant height by the
wants and impatience of the buyers. Those who remained at home, with
sense and money, were enriched by the epidemical disease: the sovereigns
acquired at a cheap rate the domains of their vassals; and the
ecclesiastical purchasers completed the payment by the assurance of
their prayers. The cross, which was commonly sewed on the garment, in
cloth or silk, was inscribed by some zealots on their skin: a hot iron,
or indelible liquor, was applied to perpetuate the mark; and a crafty
monk, who showed the miraculous impression on his breast was repaid with
the popular veneration and the richest benefices of Palestine.

The fifteenth of August had been fixed in the council of Clermont
for the departure of the pilgrims; but the day was anticipated by the
thoughtless and needy crowd of plebeians, and I shall briefly despatch
the calamities which they inflicted and suffered, before I enter on
the more serious and successful enterprise of the chiefs. Early in the
spring, from the confines of France and Lorraine, above sixty thousand
of the populace of both sexes flocked round the first missionary of the
crusade, and pressed him with clamorous importunity to lead them to the
holy sepulchre. The hermit, assuming the character, without the talents
or authority, of a general, impelled or obeyed the forward impulse of
his votaries along the banks of the Rhine and Danube. Their wants and
numbers soon compelled them to separate, and his lieutenant, Walter
the Penniless, a valiant though needy soldier, conducted a van guard of
pilgrims, whose condition may be determined from the proportion of eight
horsemen to fifteen thousand foot. The example and footsteps of Peter
were closely pursued by another fanatic, the monk Godescal, whose
sermons had swept away fifteen or twenty thousand peasants from the
villages of Germany. Their rear was again pressed by a herd of two
hundred thousand, the most stupid and savage refuse of the people, who
mingled with their devotion a brutal license of rapine, prostitution,
and drunkenness. Some counts and gentlemen, at the head of three
thousand horse, attended the motions of the multitude to partake in
the spoil; but their genuine leaders (may we credit such folly?) were
a goose and a goat, who were carried in the front, and to whom these
worthy Christians ascribed an infusion of the divine spirit. Of these,
and of other bands of enthusiasts, the first and most easy warfare was
against the Jews, the murderers of the Son of God. In the trading cities
of the Moselle and the Rhine, their colonies were numerous and rich; and
they enjoyed, under the protection of the emperor and the bishops,
the free exercise of their religion. At Verdun, Treves, Mentz,
Spires, Worms, many thousands of that unhappy people were pillaged and
massacred: nor had they felt a more bloody stroke since the persecution
of Hadrian. A remnant was saved by the firmness of their bishops, who
accepted a feigned and transient conversion; but the more obstinate
Jews opposed their fanaticism to the fanaticism of the Christians,
barricadoed their houses, and precipitating themselves, their families,
and their wealth, into the rivers or the flames, disappointed the
malice, or at least the avarice, of their implacable foes.

Between the frontiers of Austria and the seat of the Byzan tine
monarchy, the crusaders were compelled to traverse as interval of six
hundred miles; the wild and desolate countries of Hungary and Bulgaria.
The soil is fruitful, and intersected with rivers; but it was then
covered with morasses and forests, which spread to a boundless extent,
whenever man has ceased to exercise his dominion over the earth. Both
nations had imbibed the rudiments of Christianity; the Hungarians were
ruled by their native princes; the Bulgarians by a lieutenant of the
Greek emperor; but, on the slightest provocation, their ferocious nature
was rekindled, and ample provocation was afforded by the disorders of
the first pilgrims Agriculture must have been unskilful and languid
among a people, whose cities were built of reeds and timber, which were
deserted in the summer season for the tents of hunters and shepherds.
A scanty supply of provisions was rudely demanded, forcibly seized, and
greedily consumed; and on the first quarrel, the crusaders gave a loose
to indignation and revenge. But their ignorance of the country, of war,
and of discipline, exposed them to every snare. The Greek præfect of
Bulgaria commanded a regular force; at the trumpet of the Hungarian
king, the eighth or the tenth of his martial subjects bent their
bows and mounted on horseback; their policy was insidious, and their
retaliation on these pious robbers was unrelenting and bloody. About a
third of the naked fugitives (and the hermit Peter was of the number)
escaped to the Thracian mountains; and the emperor, who respected the
pilgrimage and succor of the Latins, conducted them by secure and easy
journeys to Constantinople, and advised them to await the arrival of
their brethren. For a while they remembered their faults and losses; but
no sooner were they revived by the hospitable entertainment, than their
venom was again inflamed; they stung their benefactor, and neither
gardens, nor palaces, nor churches, were safe from their depredations.
For his own safety, Alexius allured them to pass over to the Asiatic
side of the Bosphorus; but their blind impetuosity soon urged them to
desert the station which he had assigned, and to rush headlong against
the Turks, who occupied the road to Jerusalem. The hermit, conscious
of his shame, had withdrawn from the camp to Constantinople; and his
lieutenant, Walter the Penniless, who was worthy of a better command,
attempted without success to introduce some order and prudence among the
herd of savages. They separated in quest of prey, and themselves fell
an easy prey to the arts of the sultan. By a rumor that their foremost
companions were rioting in the spoils of his capital, Soliman tempted
the main body to descend into the plain of Nice: they were overwhelmed
by the Turkish arrows; and a pyramid of bones informed their companions
of the place of their defeat. Of the first crusaders, three hundred
thousand had already perished, before a single city was rescued from the
infidels, before their graver and more noble brethren had completed the
preparations of their enterprise.

"To save time and space, I shall represent, in a short table, the
particular references to the great events of the first crusade."

[See Table 1.: Events Of The First Crusade.]

None of the great sovereigns of Europe embarked their persons in the
first crusade. The emperor Henry the Fourth was not disposed to obey
the summons of the pope: Philip the First of France was occupied by his
pleasures; William Rufus of England by a recent conquest; the kings of
Spain were engaged in a domestic war against the Moors; and the northern
monarchs of Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, and Poland, were yet strangers
to the passions and interests of the South. The religious ardor was more
strongly felt by the princes of the second order, who held an important
place in the feudal system. Their situation will naturally cast under
four distinct heads the review of their names and characters; but I may
escape some needless repetition, by observing at once, that courage
and the exercise of arms are the common attribute of these Christian
adventurers. I. The first rank both in war and council is justly due to
Godfrey of Bouillon; and happy would it have been for the crusaders,
if they had trusted themselves to the sole conduct of that accomplished
hero, a worthy representative of Charlemagne, from whom he was descended
in the female line. His father was of the noble race of the counts of
Boulogne: Brabant, the lower province of Lorraine, was the inheritance
of his mother; and by the emperor's bounty he was himself invested with
that ducal title, which has been improperly transferred to his lordship
of Bouillon in the Ardennes. In the service of Henry the Fourth, he bore
the great standard of the empire, and pierced with his lance the breast
of Rodolph, the rebel king: Godfrey was the first who ascended the walls
of Rome; and his sickness, his vow, perhaps his remorse for bearing arms
against the pope, confirmed an early resolution of visiting the holy
sepulchre, not as a pilgrim, but a deliverer. His valor was matured by
prudence and moderation; his piety, though blind, was sincere; and, in
the tumult of a camp, he practised the real and fictitious virtues of a
convent. Superior to the private factions of the chiefs, he reserved his
enmity for the enemies of Christ; and though he gained a kingdom by the
attempt, his pure and disinterested zeal was acknowledged by his rivals.
Godfrey of Bouillon was accompanied by his two brothers, by Eustace the
elder, who had succeeded to the county of Boulogne, and by the younger,
Baldwin, a character of more ambiguous virtue. The duke of Lorraine,
was alike celebrated on either side of the Rhine: from his birth and
education, he was equally conversant with the French and Teutonic
languages: the barons of France, Germany, and Lorraine, assembled their
vassals; and the confederate force that marched under his banner was
composed of fourscore thousand foot and about ten thousand horse. II. In
the parliament that was held at Paris, in the king's presence, about two
months after the council of Clermont, Hugh, count of Vermandois, was
the most conspicuous of the princes who assumed the cross. But the
appellation of _the Great_ was applied, not so much to his merit or
possessions, (though neither were contemptible,) as to the royal birth
of the brother of the king of France. Robert, duke of Normandy, was the
eldest son of William the Conqueror; but on his father's death he
was deprived of the kingdom of England, by his own indolence and the
activity of his brother Rufus. The worth of Robert was degraded by an
excessive levity and easiness of temper: his cheerfulness seduced him
to the indulgence of pleasure; his profuse liberality impoverished the
prince and people; his indiscriminate clemency multiplied the number
of offenders; and the amiable qualities of a private man became the
essential defects of a sovereign. For the trifling sum of ten thousand
marks, he mortgaged Normandy during his absence to the English usurper;
but his engagement and behavior in the holy war announced in Robert a
reformation of manners, and restored him in some degree to the public
esteem. Another Robert was count of Flanders, a royal province, which,
in this century, gave three queens to the thrones of France, England,
and Denmark: he was surnamed the Sword and Lance of the Christians;
but in the exploits of a soldier he sometimes forgot the duties of a
general. Stephen, count of Chartres, of Blois, and of Troyes, was one of
the richest princes of the age; and the number of his castles has been
compared to the three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. His
mind was improved by literature; and, in the council of the chiefs, the
eloquent Stephen was chosen to discharge the office of their president.
These four were the principal leaders of the French, the Normans, and
the pilgrims of the British isles: but the list of the barons who were
possessed of three or four towns would exceed, says a contemporary, the
catalogue of the Trojan war. III. In the south of France, the command
was assumed by Adhemar bishop of Puy, the pope legate, and by Raymond
count of St. Giles and Thoulouse who added the prouder titles of duke of
Narbonne and marquis of Provence. The former was a respectable prelate,
alike qualified for this world and the next. The latter was a veteran
warrior, who had fought against the Saracens of Spain, and who
consecrated his declining age, not only to the deliverance, but to the
perpetual service, of the holy sepulchre. His experience and riches
gave him a strong ascendant in the Christian camp, whose distress he was
often able, and sometimes willing, to relieve. But it was easier for him
to extort the praise of the Infidels, than to preserve the love of his
subjects and associates. His eminent qualities were clouded by a temper
haughty, envious, and obstinate; and, though he resigned an ample
patrimony for the cause of God, his piety, in the public opinion,
was not exempt from avarice and ambition. A mercantile, rather than a
martial, spirit prevailed among his _provincials_, a common name, which
included the natives of Auvergne and Languedoc, the vassals of the
kingdom of Burgundy or Arles. From the adjacent frontier of Spain he
drew a band of hardy adventurers; as he marched through Lombardy,
a crowd of Italians flocked to his standard, and his united force
consisted of one hundred thousand horse and foot. If Raymond was the
first to enlist and the last to depart, the delay may be excused by the
greatness of his preparation and the promise of an everlasting farewell.
IV. The name of Bohemond, the son of Robert Guiscard, was already famous
by his double victory over the Greek emperor; but his father's will had
reduced him to the principality of Tarentum, and the remembrance of his
Eastern trophies, till he was awakened by the rumor and passage of the
French pilgrims. It is in the person of this Norman chief that we
may seek for the coolest policy and ambition, with a small allay of
religious fanaticism. His conduct may justify a belief that he had
secretly directed the design of the pope, which he affected to second
with astonishment and zeal: at the siege of Amalphi, his example and
discourse inflamed the passions of a confederate army; he instantly tore
his garment to supply crosses for the numerous candidates, and prepared
to visit Constantinople and Asia at the head of ten thousand horse and
twenty thousand foot. Several princes of the Norman race accompanied
this veteran general; and his cousin Tancred was the partner, rather
than the servant, of the war. In the accomplished character of Tancred
we discover all the virtues of a perfect knight, the true spirit of
chivalry, which inspired the generous sentiments and social offices of
man far better than the base philosophy, or the baser religion, of the

Chapter LVIII: The First Crusade.--Part III.

Between the age of Charlemagne and that of the crusades, a revolution
had taken place among the Spaniards, the Normans, and the French,
which was gradually extended to the rest of Europe. The service of the
infantry was degraded to the plebeians; the cavalry formed the strength
of the armies, and the honorable name of _miles_, or soldier, was
confined to the gentlemen who served on horseback, and were invested
with the character of knighthood. The dukes and counts, who had usurped
the rights of sovereignty, divided the provinces among their faithful
barons: the barons distributed among their vassals the fiefs or
benefices of their jurisdiction; and these military tenants, the peers
of each other and of their lord, composed the noble or equestrian
order, which disdained to conceive the peasant or burgher as of the same
species with themselves. The dignity of their birth was preserved by
pure and equal alliances; their sons alone, who could produce four
quarters or lines of ancestry without spot or reproach, might legally
pretend to the honor of knighthood; but a valiant plebeian was sometimes
enriched and ennobled by the sword, and became the father of a new race.
A single knight could impart, according to his judgment, the character
which he received; and the warlike sovereigns of Europe derived more
glory from this personal distinction than from the lustre of their
diadem. This ceremony, of which some traces may be found in Tacitus
and the woods of Germany, was in its origin simple and profane; the
candidate, after some previous trial, was invested with the sword and
spurs; and his cheek or shoulder was touched with a slight blow, as an
emblem of the last affront which it was lawful for him to endure. But
superstition mingled in every public and private action of life: in
the holy wars, it sanctified the profession of arms; and the order of
chivalry was assimilated in its rights and privileges to the sacred
orders of priesthood. The bath and white garment of the novice were
an indecent copy of the regeneration of baptism: his sword, which he
offered on the altar, was blessed by the ministers of religion: his
solemn reception was preceded by fasts and vigils; and he was created
a knight in the name of God, of St. George, and of St. Michael the
archangel. He swore to accomplish the duties of his profession;
and education, example, and the public opinion, were the inviolable
guardians of his oath. As the champion of God and the ladies, (I blush
to unite such discordant names,) he devoted himself to speak the
truth; to maintain the right; to protect the distressed; to practise
_courtesy_, a virtue less familiar to the ancients; to pursue the
infidels; to despise the allurements of ease and safety; and to
vindicate in every perilous adventure the honor of his character. The
abuse of the same spirit provoked the illiterate knight to disdain the
arts of industry and peace; to esteem himself the sole judge and avenger
of his own injuries; and proudly to neglect the laws of civil society
and military discipline. Yet the benefits of this institution, to
refine the temper of Barbarians, and to infuse some principles of faith,
justice, and humanity, were strongly felt, and have been often observed.
The asperity of national prejudice was softened; and the community of
religion and arms spread a similar color and generous emulation over
the face of Christendom. Abroad in enterprise and pilgrimage, at home
in martial exercise, the warriors of every country were perpetually
associated; and impartial taste must prefer a Gothic tournament to the
Olympic games of classic antiquity. Instead of the naked spectacles
which corrupted the manners of the Greeks, and banished from the stadium
the virgins and matrons, the pompous decoration of the lists was crowned
with the presence of chaste and high-born beauty, from whose hands the
conqueror received the prize of his dexterity and courage. The skill and
strength that were exerted in wrestling and boxing bear a distant and
doubtful relation to the merit of a soldier; but the tournaments, as
they were invented in France, and eagerly adopted both in the East and
West, presented a lively image of the business of the field. The single
combats, the general skirmish, the defence of a pass, or castle, were
rehearsed as in actual service; and the contest, both in real and mimic
war, was decided by the superior management of the horse and lance. The
lance was the proper and peculiar weapon of the knight: his horse was
of a large and heavy breed; but this charger, till he was roused by the
approaching danger, was usually led by an attendant, and he quietly rode
a pad or palfrey of a more easy pace. His helmet and sword, his greaves
and buckler, it would be superfluous to describe; but I may remark,
that, at the period of the crusades, the armor was less ponderous than
in later times; and that, instead of a massy cuirass, his breast was
defended by a hauberk or coat of mail. When their long lances were fixed
in the rest, the warriors furiously spurred their horses against the
foe; and the light cavalry of the Turks and Arabs could seldom stand
against the direct and impetuous weight of their charge. Each knight was
attended to the field by his faithful squire, a youth of equal birth and
similar hopes; he was followed by his archers and men at arms, and four,
or five, or six soldiers were computed as the furniture of a complete
_lance_. In the expeditions to the neighboring kingdoms or the Holy
Land, the duties of the feudal tenure no longer subsisted; the voluntary
service of the knights and their followers were either prompted by zeal
or attachment, or purchased with rewards and promises; and the numbers
of each squadron were measured by the power, the wealth, and the fame,
of each independent chieftain. They were distinguished by his banner,
his armorial coat, and his cry of war; and the most ancient families
of Europe must seek in these achievements the origin and proof of
their nobility. In this rapid portrait of chivalry I have been urged to
anticipate on the story of the crusades, at once an effect and a cause,
of this memorable institution.

Such were the troops, and such the leaders, who assumed the cross for
the deliverance of the holy sepulchre. As soon as they were relieved by
the absence of the plebeian multitude, they encouraged each other,
by interviews and messages, to accomplish their vow, and hasten their
departure. Their wives and sisters were desirous of partaking the danger
and merit of the pilgrimage: their portable treasures were conveyed in
bars of silver and gold; and the princes and barons were attended by
their equipage of hounds and hawks to amuse their leisure and to supply
their table. The difficulty of procuring subsistence for so many myriads
of men and horses engaged them to separate their forces: their choice
or situation determined the road; and it was agreed to meet in
the neighborhood of Constantinople, and from thence to begin their
operations against the Turks. From the banks of the Meuse and the
Moselle, Godfrey of Bouillon followed the direct way of Germany,
Hungary, and Bulgaria; and, as long as he exercised the sole command
every step afforded some proof of his prudence and virtue. On the
confines of Hungary he was stopped three weeks by a Christian people,
to whom the name, or at least the abuse, of the cross was justly odious.
The Hungarians still smarted with the wounds which they had received
from the first pilgrims: in their turn they had abused the right of
defence and retaliation; and they had reason to apprehend a severe
revenge from a hero of the same nation, and who was engaged in the same
cause. But, after weighing the motives and the events, the virtuous
duke was content to pity the crimes and misfortunes of his worthless
brethren; and his twelve deputies, the messengers of peace, requested in
his name a free passage and an equal market. To remove their suspicions,
Godfrey trusted himself, and afterwards his brother, to the faith
of Carloman, king of Hungary, who treated them with a simple but
hospitable entertainment: the treaty was sanctified by their common
gospel; and a proclamation, under pain of death, restrained the
animosity and license of the Latin soldiers. From Austria to Belgrade,
they traversed the plains of Hungary, without enduring or offering an
injury; and the proximity of Carloman, who hovered on their flanks with
his numerous cavalry, was a precaution not less useful for their safety
than for his own. They reached the banks of the Save; and no sooner had
they passed the river, than the king of Hungary restored the hostages,
and saluted their departure with the fairest wishes for the success of
their enterprise. With the same conduct and discipline, Godfrey
pervaded the woods of Bulgaria and the frontiers of Thrace; and might
congratulate himself that he had almost reached the first term of his
pilgrimage, without drawing his sword against a Christian adversary.
After an easy and pleasant journey through Lombardy, from Turin to
Aquileia, Raymond and his provincials marched forty days through the
savage country of Dalmatia and Sclavonia. The weather was a perpetual
fog; the land was mountainous and desolate; the natives were either
fugitive or hostile: loose in their religion and government, they
refused to furnish provisions or guides; murdered the stragglers; and
exercised by night and day the vigilance of the count, who derived
more security from the punishment of some captive robbers than from
his interview and treaty with the prince of Scodra. His march between
Durazzo and Constantinople was harassed, without being stopped, by
the peasants and soldiers of the Greek emperor; and the same faint and
ambiguous hostility was prepared for the remaining chiefs, who passed
the Adriatic from the coast of Italy. Bohemond had arms and vessels,
and foresight and discipline; and his name was not forgotten in the
provinces of Epirus and Thessaly. Whatever obstacles he encountered were
surmounted by his military conduct and the valor of Tancred; and if the
Norman prince affected to spare the Greeks, he gorged his soldiers with
the full plunder of an heretical castle. The nobles of France pressed
forwards with the vain and thoughtless ardor of which their nation has
been sometimes accused. From the Alps to Apulia the march of Hugh the
Great, of the two Roberts, and of Stephen of Chartres, through a wealthy
country, and amidst the applauding Catholics, was a devout or triumphant
progress: they kissed the feet of the Roman pontiff; and the golden
standard of St. Peter was delivered to the brother of the French
monarch. But in this visit of piety and pleasure, they neglected to
secure the season, and the means of their embarkation: the winter was
insensibly lost: their troops were scattered and corrupted in the towns
of Italy. They separately accomplished their passage, regardless
of safety or dignity; and within nine months from the feast of the
Assumption, the day appointed by Urban, all the Latin princes had
reached Constantinople. But the count of Vermandois was produced as
a captive; his foremost vessels were scattered by a tempest; and his
person, against the law of nations, was detained by the lieutenants of
Alexius. Yet the arrival of Hugh had been announced by four-and-twenty
knights in golden armor, who commanded the emperor to revere the general
of the Latin Christians, the brother of the king of kings.

In some oriental tale I have read the fable of a shepherd, who was
ruined by the accomplishment of his own wishes: he had prayed for water;
the Ganges was turned into his grounds, and his flock and cottage were
swept away by the inundation. Such was the fortune, or at least the
apprehension of the Greek emperor Alexius Comnenus, whose name has
already appeared in this history, and whose conduct is so differently
represented by his daughter Anne, and by the Latin writers. In the
council of Placentia, his ambassadors had solicited a moderate succor,
perhaps of ten thousand soldiers, but he was astonished by the approach
of so many potent chiefs and fanatic nations. The emperor fluctuated
between hope and fear, between timidity and courage; but in the crooked
policy which he mistook for wisdom, I cannot believe, I cannot discern,
that he maliciously conspired against the life or honor of the French
heroes. The promiscuous multitudes of Peter the Hermit were savage
beasts, alike destitute of humanity and reason: nor was it possible for
Alexius to prevent or deplore their destruction. The troops of Godfrey
and his peers were less contemptible, but not less suspicious, to the
Greek emperor. Their motives _might_ be pure and pious: but he was
equally alarmed by his knowledge of the ambitious Bohemond, and his
ignorance of the Transalpine chiefs: the courage of the French was
blind and headstrong; they might be tempted by the luxury and wealth of
Greece, and elated by the view and opinion of their invincible strength:
and Jerusalem might be forgotten in the prospect of Constantinople.
After a long march and painful abstinence, the troops of Godfrey
encamped in the plains of Thrace; they heard with indignation, that
their brother, the count of Vermandois, was imprisoned by the Greeks;
and their reluctant duke was compelled to indulge them in some freedom
of retaliation and rapine. They were appeased by the submission of
Alexius: he promised to supply their camp; and as they refused, in the
midst of winter, to pass the Bosphorus, their quarters were assigned
among the gardens and palaces on the shores of that narrow sea. But an
incurable jealousy still rankled in the minds of the two nations, who
despised each other as slaves and Barbarians. Ignorance is the ground of
suspicion, and suspicion was inflamed into daily provocations: prejudice
is blind, hunger is deaf; and Alexius is accused of a design to starve
or assault the Latins in a dangerous post, on all sides encompassed with
the waters. Godfrey sounded his trumpets, burst the net, overspread the
plain, and insulted the suburbs; but the gates of Constantinople were
strongly fortified; the ramparts were lined with archers; and, after
a doubtful conflict, both parties listened to the voice of peace and
religion. The gifts and promises of the emperor insensibly soothed
the fierce spirit of the western strangers; as a Christian warrior, he
rekindled their zeal for the prosecution of their holy enterprise, which
he engaged to second with his troops and treasures. On the return of
spring, Godfrey was persuaded to occupy a pleasant and plentiful camp in
Asia; and no sooner had he passed the Bosphorus, than the Greek vessels
were suddenly recalled to the opposite shore. The same policy was
repeated with the succeeding chiefs, who were swayed by the example, and
weakened by the departure, of their foremost companions. By his skill
and diligence, Alexius prevented the union of any two of the confederate
armies at the same moment under the walls of Constantinople; and before
the feast of the Pentecost not a Latin pilgrim was left on the coast of

The same arms which threatened Europe might deliver Asia, and repel the
Turks from the neighboring shores of the Bosphorus and Hellespont. The
fair provinces from Nice to Antioch were the recent patrimony of the
Roman emperor; and his ancient and perpetual claim still embraced the
kingdoms of Syria and Egypt. In his enthusiasm, Alexius indulged, or
affected, the ambitious hope of leading his new allies to subvert
the thrones of the East; but the calmer dictates of reason and temper
dissuaded him from exposing his royal person to the faith of unknown
and lawless Barbarians. His prudence, or his pride, was content with
extorting from the French princes an oath of homage and fidelity, and a
solemn promise, that they would either restore, or hold, their Asiatic
conquests as the humble and loyal vassals of the Roman empire. Their
independent spirit was fired at the mention of this foreign and
voluntary servitude: they successively yielded to the dexterous
application of gifts and flattery; and the first proselytes became the
most eloquent and effectual missionaries to multiply the companions of
their shame. The pride of Hugh of Vermandois was soothed by the honors
of his captivity; and in the brother of the French king, the example of
submission was prevalent and weighty. In the mind of Godfrey of Bouillon
every human consideration was subordinate to the glory of God and
the success of the crusade. He had firmly resisted the temptations
of Bohemond and Raymond, who urged the attack and conquest of
Constantinople. Alexius esteemed his virtues, deservedly named him the
champion of the empire, and dignified his homage with the filial name
and the rights of adoption. The hateful Bohemond was received as a true
and ancient ally; and if the emperor reminded him of former hostilities,
it was only to praise the valor that he had displayed, and the glory
that he had acquired, in the fields of Durazzo and Larissa. The son of
Guiscard was lodged and entertained, and served with Imperial pomp:
one day, as he passed through the gallery of the palace, a door was
carelessly left open to expose a pile of gold and silver, of silk and
gems, of curious and costly furniture, that was heaped, in seeming
disorder, from the floor to the roof of the chamber. "What conquests,"
exclaimed the ambitious miser, "might not be achieved by the possession
of such a treasure!"--"It is your own," replied a Greek attendant, who
watched the motions of his soul; and Bohemond, after some hesitation,
condescended to accept this magnificent present. The Norman was
flattered by the assurance of an independent principality; and Alexius
eluded, rather than denied, his daring demand of the office of great
domestic, or general of the East. The two Roberts, the son of the
conqueror of England, and the kinsmen of three queens, bowed in their
turn before the Byzantine throne. A private letter of Stephen of
Chartres attests his admiration of the emperor, the most excellent and
liberal of men, who taught him to believe that he was a favorite, and
promised to educate and establish his youngest son. In his southern
province, the count of St. Giles and Thoulouse faintly recognized
the supremacy of the king of France, a prince of a foreign nation and
language. At the head of a hundred thousand men, he declared that he
was the soldier and servant of Christ alone, and that the Greek might be
satisfied with an equal treaty of alliance and friendship. His obstinate
resistance enhanced the value and the price of his submission; and he
shone, says the princess Anne, among the Barbarians, as the sun amidst
the stars of heaven. His disgust of the noise and insolence of the
French, his suspicions of the designs of Bohemond, the emperor imparted
to his faithful Raymond; and that aged statesman might clearly discern,
that however false in friendship, he was sincere in his enmity. The
spirit of chivalry was last subdued in the person of Tancred; and
none could deem themselves dishonored by the imitation of that gallant
knight. He disdained the gold and flattery of the Greek monarch;
assaulted in his presence an insolent patrician; escaped to Asia in the
habit of a private soldier; and yielded with a sigh to the authority
of Bohemond, and the interest of the Christian cause. The best and
most ostensible reason was the impossibility of passing the sea and
accomplishing their vow, without the license and the vessels of
Alexius; but they cherished a secret hope, that as soon as they trod
the continent of Asia, their swords would obliterate their shame, and
dissolve the engagement, which on his side might not be very faithfully
performed. The ceremony of their homage was grateful to a people who
had long since considered pride as the substitute of power. High on his
throne, the emperor sat mute and immovable: his majesty was adored by
the Latin princes; and they submitted to kiss either his feet or his
knees, an indignity which their own writers are ashamed to confess and
unable to deny.

Private or public interest suppressed the murmurs of the dukes and
counts; but a French baron (he is supposed to be Robert of Paris )
presumed to ascend the throne, and to place himself by the side of
Alexius. The sage reproof of Baldwin provoked him to exclaim, in his
barbarous idiom, "Who is this rustic, that keeps his seat, while so many
valiant captains are standing round him?" The emperor maintained his
silence, dissembled his indignation, and questioned his interpreter
concerning the meaning of the words, which he partly suspected from the
universal language of gesture and countenance. Before the departure
of the pilgrims, he endeavored to learn the name and condition of the
audacious baron. "I am a Frenchman," replied Robert, "of the purest and
most ancient nobility of my country. All that I know is, that there is
a church in my neighborhood, the resort of those who are desirous of
approving their valor in single combat. Till an enemy appears, they
address their prayers to God and his saints. That church I have
frequently visited. But never have I found an antagonist who dared to
accept my defiance." Alexius dismissed the challenger with some prudent
advice for his conduct in the Turkish warfare; and history repeats with
pleasure this lively example of the manners of his age and country.

The conquest of Asia was undertaken and achieved by Alexander, with
thirty-five thousand Macedonians and Greeks; and his best hope was in
the strength and discipline of his phalanx of infantry. The principal
force of the crusaders consisted in their cavalry; and when that force
was mustered in the plains of Bithynia, the knights and their martial
attendants on horseback amounted to one hundred thousand fighting men,
completely armed with the helmet and coat of mail. The value of these
soldiers deserved a strict and authentic account; and the flower of
European chivalry might furnish, in a first effort, this formidable body
of heavy horse. A part of the infantry might be enrolled for the service
of scouts, pioneers, and archers; but the promiscuous crowd were lost in
their own disorder; and we depend not on the eyes and knowledge, but on
the belief and fancy, of a chaplain of Count Baldwin, in the estimate of
six hundred thousand pilgrims able to bear arms, besides the priests and
monks, the women and children of the Latin camp. The reader starts;
and before he is recovered from his surprise, I shall add, on the same
testimony, that if all who took the cross had accomplished their vow,
above six millions would have migrated from Europe to Asia. Under this
oppression of faith, I derive some relief from a more sagacious and
thinking writer, who, after the same review of the cavalry, accuses
the credulity of the priest of Chartres, and even doubts whether the
_Cisalpine_ regions (in the geography of a Frenchman) were sufficient
to produce and pour forth such incredible multitudes. The coolest
scepticism will remember, that of these religious volunteers great
numbers never beheld Constantinople and Nice. Of enthusiasm the
influence is irregular and transient: many were detained at home by
reason or cowardice, by poverty or weakness; and many were repulsed by
the obstacles of the way, the more insuperable as they were unforeseen,
to these ignorant fanatics. The savage countries of Hungary and Bulgaria
were whitened with their bones: their vanguard was cut in pieces by the
Turkish sultan; and the loss of the first adventure, by the sword, or
climate, or fatigue, has already been stated at three hundred thousand
men. Yet the myriads that survived, that marched, that pressed forwards
on the holy pilgrimage, were a subject of astonishment to themselves
and to the Greeks. The copious energy of her language sinks under the
efforts of the princess Anne: the images of locusts, of leaves and
flowers, of the sands of the sea, or the stars of heaven, imperfectly
represent what she had seen and heard; and the daughter of Alexius
exclaims, that Europe was loosened from its foundations, and hurled
against Asia. The ancient hosts of Darius and Xerxes labor under the
same doubt of a vague and indefinite magnitude; but I am inclined to
believe, that a larger number has never been contained within the lines
of a single camp, than at the siege of Nice, the first operation of the
Latin princes. Their motives, their characters, and their arms, have
been already displayed. Of their troops the most numerous portion
were natives of France: the Low Countries, the banks of the Rhine, and
Apulia, sent a powerful reënforcement: some bands of adventurers were
drawn from Spain, Lombardy, and England; and from the distant bogs and
mountains of Ireland or Scotland issued some naked and savage fanatics,
ferocious at home but unwarlike abroad. Had not superstition condemned
the sacrilegious prudence of depriving the poorest or weakest Christian
of the merit of the pilgrimage, the useless crowd, with mouths but
without hands, might have been stationed in the Greek empire, till their
companions had opened and secured the way of the Lord. A small remnant
of the pilgrims, who passed the Bosphorus, was permitted to visit the
holy sepulchre. Their northern constitution was scorched by the rays,
and infected by the vapors, of a Syrian sun. They consumed, with
heedless prodigality, their stores of water and provision: their numbers
exhausted the inland country: the sea was remote, the Greeks were
unfriendly, and the Christians of every sect fled before the voracious
and cruel rapine of their brethren. In the dire necessity of famine,
they sometimes roasted and devoured the flesh of their infant or adult
captives. Among the Turks and Saracens, the idolaters of Europe were
rendered more odious by the name and reputation of Cannibals; the spies,
who introduced themselves into the kitchen of Bohemond, were shown
several human bodies turning on the spit: and the artful Norman
encouraged a report, which increased at the same time the abhorrence and
the terror of the infidels.

Chapter LVIII: The First Crusade.--Part IV.

I have expiated with pleasure on the first steps of the crusaders, as
they paint the manners and character of Europe: but I shall abridge the
tedious and uniform narrative of their blind achievements, which were
performed by strength and are described by ignorance. From their first
station in the neighborhood of Nicomedia, they advanced in successive
divisions; passed the contracted limit of the Greek empire; opened a
road through the hills, and commenced, by the siege of his capital,
their pious warfare against the Turkish sultan. His kingdom of Roum
extended from the Hellespont to the confines of Syria, and barred the
pilgrimage of Jerusalem, his name was Kilidge-Arslan, or Soliman, of the
race of Seljuk, and son of the first conqueror; and in the defence of a
land which the Turks considered as their own, he deserved the praise
of his enemies, by whom alone he is known to posterity. Yielding to the
first impulse of the torrent, he deposited his family and treasure in
Nice; retired to the mountains with fifty thousand horse; and twice
descended to assault the camps or quarters of the Christian besiegers,
which formed an imperfect circle of above six miles. The lofty and solid
walls of Nice were covered by a deep ditch, and flanked by three hundred
and seventy towers; and on the verge of Christendom, the Moslems were
trained in arms, and inflamed by religion. Before this city, the French
princes occupied their stations, and prosecuted their attacks without
correspondence or subordination: emulation prompted their valor; but
their valor was sullied by cruelty, and their emulation degenerated into
envy and civil discord. In the siege of Nice, the arts and engines of
antiquity were employed by the Latins; the mine and the battering-ram,
the tortoise, and the belfrey or movable turret, artificial fire, and
the _catapult_ and _balist_, the sling, and the crossbow for the casting
of stones and darts. In the space of seven weeks much labor and blood
were expended, and some progress, especially by Count Raymond, was
made on the side of the besiegers. But the Turks could protract their
resistance and secure their escape, as long as they were masters of
the Lake Ascanius, which stretches several miles to the westward of the
city. The means of conquest were supplied by the prudence and industry
of Alexius; a great number of boats was transported on sledges from
the sea to the lake; they were filled with the most dexterous of his
archers; the flight of the sultana was intercepted; Nice was invested by
land and water; and a Greek emissary persuaded the inhabitants to accept
his master's protection, and to save themselves, by a timely surrender,
from the rage of the savages of Europe. In the moment of victory, or at
least of hope, the crusaders, thirsting for blood and plunder, were awed
by the Imperial banner that streamed from the citadel; and Alexius
guarded with jealous vigilance this important conquest. The murmurs of
the chiefs were stifled by honor or interest; and after a halt of nine
days, they directed their march towards Phrygia under the guidance of
a Greek general, whom they suspected of a secret connivance with the
sultan. The consort and the principal servants of Soliman had been
honorably restored without ransom; and the emperor's generosity to the
_miscreants_ was interpreted as treason to the Christian cause.

Soliman was rather provoked than dismayed by the loss of his capital:
he admonished his subjects and allies of this strange invasion of the
Western Barbarians; the Turkish emirs obeyed the call of loyalty or
religion; the Turkman hordes encamped round his standard; and his whole
force is loosely stated by the Christians at two hundred, or even three
hundred and sixty thousand horse. Yet he patiently waited till they had
left behind them the sea and the Greek frontier; and hovering on the
flanks, observed their careless and confident progress in two columns
beyond the view of each other. Some miles before they could reach
Dorylæum in Phrygia, the left, and least numerous, division was
surprised, and attacked, and almost oppressed, by the Turkish cavalry.
The heat of the weather, the clouds of arrows, and the barbarous onset,
overwhelmed the crusaders; they lost their order and confidence, and the
fainting fight was sustained by the personal valor, rather than by the
military conduct, of Bohemond, Tancred, and Robert of Normandy. They
were revived by the welcome banners of Duke Godfrey, who flew to their
succor, with the count of Vermandois, and sixty thousand horse; and was
followed by Raymond of Tholouse, the bishop of Puy, and the remainder of
the sacred army. Without a moment's pause, they formed in new order, and
advanced t