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Title: The Boys' Book of Rulers
Author: Farmer, Lydia Hoyt
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.

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[Illustration: CHARLEMAGNE.]




    No. 13 ASTOR PLACE.





THE aim of this book is to give in as concise manner as possible,
consistent with graphic narration and biographical completeness, the
most important and interesting events in the lives of these famous
rulers; together with a brief history of the various epochs in which
they lived, and a description of the manners and customs of the people
comprising the several nations governed by these illustrious monarchs.


    AGAMEMNON                       1
    CYRUS THE GREAT                30
    ALEXANDER THE GREAT            71
    JULIUS CÆSAR                  110
    CHARLEMAGNE                   142
    ALFRED THE GREAT              169
    RICHARD CŒUR DE LION          195
    ROBERT BRUCE                  233
    FERDINAND V. OF SPAIN         266
    PHILIP II. OF SPAIN           291
    GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS             312
    LOUIS XIV.                    334
    PETER THE GREAT               367
    FREDERICK THE GREAT           398
    NAPOLEON I.                   433


  Charlemagne                                           _Frontispiece_
  Jupiter sending the Evil Dream to Agamemnon                _Page_ 9
  Hector chiding Paris                                             11
  Diomed casting his Spear against Mars                            17
  Ajax defending the Greek Ships against the Trojans               18
  Hector’s Body dragged at the Car of Achilles                     26
  The Funeral of Hector                                            27
  Persian Guardsman carrying Bow and Quiver                        37
  Persian Soldier with Battle-Axe                                  37
  Persian Foot Soldiers                                            37
  Persian King seated on his Throne                                38
  Persian Subjects bringing Tribute                                58
  Chart of the Country around Babylon                              60
  Supposed Plan of Ancient Babylon                                 62
  Babylonian King                                                  64
  Persian Chariot                                                  67
  Tomb of Cyrus                                                    67
  Ruins of Babylon                                                 70
  Temple of Diana at Ephesus                                       72
  Alexander the Great                                              74
  Demosthenes                                                      80
  Darius                                                           92
  Julius Cæsar—from the Antique Bust                              110
  Julius Cæsar                                                    116
  Cæsar in Gaul                                                   122
  The Landing of Julius Cæsar in Britain                          124
  Charlemagne—from Early Engraving                                142
  The Huns at Châlons                                             144
  “Thrust him away or thou diest in his stead”                    147
  Charlemagne                                                     152
  Death of Roland                                                 160
  Alfred the Great                                                170
  The Northmen invading France                                    174
  Alfred the Great                                                182
  Alfred and the Cakes                                            186
  Richard Cœur de Lion                                            196
  Richard Cœur de Lion                                            208
  Richard tearing down the Austrian Banner                        221
  “Most Holy Land, Farewell!”                                     228
  King John                                                       230
  Warren, Earl of Surrey, Governor of Scotland under Edward I.    235
  Robert Bruce                                                    238
  “Bruce was not slow in taking the warning”                      243
  “See! I have spoiled my good battle-axe”                        260
  Ferdinand of Aragon                                             266
  Isabella of Castile                                             268
  Segovia: The Alcazar and Cathedral                              271
  The Cathedral and Port of Malaga                                274
  Court of Lions, Alhambra                                        280
  Columbus                                                        282
  Prison of the Inquisition at Barcelona                          286
  Tomb of Ferdinand and Isabella in the Cathedral of Granada      289
  Philip II.                                                      291
  Queen Mary plighting her Troth to Philip                        292
  Destroying Statues, etc., in the Cathedral at Antwerp           304
  Philip II.                                                      308
  Gustavus Adolphus                                               312
  Gustavus Adolphus—from a picture by Van Dyck                    318
  Death of Gustavus and his Page                                  332
  Louis XIV.                                                      334
  Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin                            340
  Louis XIV. taking leave of Fouquet                              344
  Death of Turenne                                                350
  Jean Baptiste Colbert                                           352
  Revocation of the Edict of Nantes                               354
  Peter the Great                                                 368
  The Krémlin of Moscow                                           373
  Peter saved from Slaughter by his Mother                        374
  Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in the Fortress                 385
  Peter the Great in the Dutch Ship-yard                          389
  Peter the Great                                                 392
  Frederick II., King of Prussia, æt. 58                          398
  Frederick the Great                                             418
  Arrest of Voltaire by order of Frederick                        427
  Equestrian Statue of Frederick the Great, æt. 73                430
  Napoleon                                                        434
  Napoleon in the Prison of Nice, 1794                            442
  Napoleon at Fontainebleau                                       462
  Napoleon on Board the Bellerophon                               466
  The Rock at St. Helena                                          474



1184 B.C.

                          “The rule
    Of many is not well. One must be chief
    In war, and one the king.”—_Iliad._

FOR nine years the Greeks had besieged the city of Troy. This famous
Trojan War, which is said to have occurred about 1184 B.C., has been
embellished by romance and poetry; and although the real events have
been much distorted by fabulous tales, it holds an important place in
ancient Grecian history.

The marvellous Greek poet Homer has immortalized the wonderful story
of this contest, in which, according to the old Grecian belief, gods
and heroes fought for mastery; and it seems more fitting to the subject
that we should view these events through the eyes of those ancient
Greeks, whose weird yet fascinating fables peopled the mountains
and seas with gods and goddesses; over whom proud Zeus or Jupiter
ruled on the dread Mount of Olympus, from whence he hurled his awful
thunderbolts, and shook the earth and heavens in his wrathful moods,
when gods or mortals had dared to defy his imperial will. Agamemnon,
king of Mycenæ, was the commander of all the Grecian hosts which for
these nine years had surrounded the walls of Troy. The cause of the
quarrel may be thus briefly stated:—

Priam was the richest and most powerful of all the kings of Troy. His
wife, Queen Hecuba, had dreamed that one of her children should become
a firebrand which should consume the whole city. Whereupon, Priam was
so alarmed, that he ordered that her next child should be exposed in a
desert place among the mountains, and left to perish. Paris was this
child, and when an infant, was hidden by his mother, that he might not
be thus destroyed. Paris grew to be a youth of marvellous beauty, and
was at length brought by his mother to the court of Priam. The king was
so charmed by his beauty and accomplishments, that Paris ventured to
make himself known, and was received by Priam, his father, with great
kindness; for he was so pleased with the noble youth, that he ceased
to remember the evil dream. This dream, however, was very strangely
fulfilled years afterwards. Paris made an expedition into Greece, which
country was at that time divided into many small kingdoms or states,
each governed by its own king. Agamemnon was king of Mycenæ, and his
brother Menelaüs was king of Sparta.

Agamemnon and Menelaüs were the sons of Plisthenes; but as their father
died when they were very young, their mother Aërope was afterwards
married to Atreus; and these two brothers were brought up by their
step-father as his own children, to whom his name was given, as they
were called Atridæ.

Atreus was afterwards murdered, and Agamemnon’s uncle Thyestes ascended
the throne of Mycenæ. Agamemnon and his brother Menelaüs then fled to
Sparta. The king of Sparta agreed to recover the kingdom for Agamemnon,
if he would marry his daughter Clytemnestra, and make her his queen.
To this Agamemnon consented, and with the aid of Tyndarus, king of
Sparta, he recovered his own kingdom, and married Clytemnestra. His
brother Menelaüs afterwards became king of Sparta.

During the expedition into Greece, of Paris, the son of King Priam,
he visited the court of Sparta, and was received most kindly by King
Menelaüs. But the handsome and fascinating Paris ill-repaid this
courteous reception, for he fell in love with Helen, the beautiful
wife of Menelaüs, and carried her off with him on his return to Troy.
Menelaüs, enraged at this wicked treachery, persuaded his brother
Agamemnon, king of Mycenæ, to espouse his quarrel, and to join him
in waging war with the Trojans, to revenge his indignity, and to
recover, if possible, his wife, the fair Helen, who was so exquisitely
beautiful, that all who saw her fell in love with her. Agamemnon was
chosen commander-in-chief of all the powerful Grecian princes who now
combined their forces to fight against Troy. Homer gives us the names
of the most famous of these Grecian warriors. Agamemnon was sovereign
lord of all the host, and Achilles was the bravest and most valiant man
amongst them. But besides these, there was the yellow-haired Menelaüs,
king of Sparta, and husband of the beautiful Helen; Ajax Oïleus, or, as
men called him, the lesser Ajax, king of the Locri, swiftest of foot
among the Greeks, after the great Achilles; Ajax Telamon, from Salamis;
Diomed, son of Tydeus, king of Argos, and with him Sthenelus; Nestor,
king of Pylos, oldest and wisest among the Greeks; Ulysses, king of
Ithaca, most crafty in counsel; Idomeneus, grandson of the great
judge Minos, king of Crete, and with him Meriones; Tlepolemus, son of
Hercules, from Rhodes; Eumelus, from Pheræ, son of that Alcestis, who
died for her husband, and was brought back from death by Hercules,
according to Grecian mythology; and many more heroes too numerous to
mention: but the bravest and strongest of all was Ajax, son of Telamon,
and the best horses were those of Eumelus; but there was none that
could compare with Achilles and the horses of Achilles, bravest of men,
and swiftest of steeds.

The heroes upon the Trojan side were also great and brave. The most
famous of their chiefs were Hector, son of King Priam, most valiant
of all the Trojan warriors; Æneas, whose father was Anchises, and
whose mother was supposed to be the goddess Aphrodité; Pandarus, from
Mount Ida, to whom Apollo had given a marvellous bow; Asius, the son
of Hyrtacus, who came from the broad salt river, the Hellespont;
Pylæmenes, king of Paphlagonia; and Sarpedon from Lycia, whom men
affirmed to be the son of Zeus himself; and lastly, Glaucus his friend.

When the Grecian fleet had started upon this expedition against Troy, a
wonderful incident had occurred. The fleet of the Greeks was detained
by contrary winds at Aulis, owing to the wrath of the goddess Diana,
whom King Agamemnon had offended by killing one of her favorite deer.
In this emergency Calchas the soothsayer was consulted, and he declared
that to appease the anger of the goddess. Iphigenia, the eldest
daughter of King Agamemnon, must be sacrificed. She was accordingly
led to the altar, and was about to be offered as a victim, when she
is said to have suddenly disappeared, being caught up by Diana, who
in pity substituted a stag in her place. Virgil, however, tells
this story somewhat differently; for he relates that Iphigenia was
actually sacrificed. The goddess having been appeased, the winds were
favorable, and the Grecian fleet sailed onward, and arrived safely at
Troy; and for nine long years these famous warriors had been waging war
around the walls of that city, within which, in the palace of Paris,
son of King Priam, was concealed the matchlessly beautiful Helen, and
much rich treasure, which that treacherous but fascinating prince had
stolen from the Greeks.

But now within the Grecian camp a strife arises between King Agamemnon
and Achilles, bravest of all his host. The Greeks, having been away
from home so many years, were accustomed to make frequent raids upon
the surrounding cities to supply their needs, and thus to enable them
to continue still longer this weary siege. They had thus ruthlessly
attacked a city called Chrysa, sacred to Apollo, where was a temple of
that god.

The Greeks, in their plunderings, had not dared to molest the temple
or its priest; but they had carried off, with other prisoners, the
daughter of the priest of Apollo, named Chryseïs. The spoils obtained
from these expeditions were divided between the various kings
and heroes in the Grecian host; and the maiden Chryseïs had been
apportioned as the share of King Agamemnon. The next day the priest
Chryses came to the Grecian camp, bringing much gold, and wearing on
his head the priest’s crown, that men might thereby reverence him the
more. He demanded the return of his daughter, and offered his gold as
her ransom. The Grecian chiefs were favorable to his suit, but King
Agamemnon angrily repulsed him, exclaiming,—

    “Hence, on thy life, and fly these hostile plains,
     Nor ask, presumptuous, what the king detains.
     Hence with thy laurel crown and golden rod;
     Nor trust too far those ensigns of thy god.
     Mine is thy daughter, priest, and shall remain,
     And prayers, and tears, and bribes, shall plead in vain.”

The sorrowful priest turned away in silence, and as he walked along
the seashore, he besought the aid of his god, Apollo, praying: “Hear
me, God of the silver bow! If I have built thee a temple, and offered
thee the fat of many bullocks and rams, hear me! and avenge me on these

And Apollo heard him and descended with awful wrath from dread Olympus,
where dwelt the gods. The rattle of his arrows filled the air, as he
twanged his deadly bow, and sent the fateful shafts of pestilence
upon the Grecian fleet below; meanwhile, enwrapping his own form in
shadows black as night, from which his baleful darts shot forth like
lightning’s flash. And so for ten long days the pestilence raged, till
heaps of dead men and beasts lined the shore, and the black smoke
ascended from myriad funeral piles. Then Achilles called upon the seer,
Calchas, to tell them why Apollo was so wroth with them. To whom the
sage replied,—

“It is on behalf of his priest that Apollo is so wroth; for when he
came to ransom his daughter, Agamemnon would not let the maiden go. Now
then, ye must send her back to Chrysa without ransom, and with her a
hundred beasts for sacrifice, so that the plague may be stayed.”

Then, with a threatening frown, King Agamemnon started from his
gorgeous throne, with eyes which flashed with angry light, as he
exclaimed in fury,—

“Prophet of plagues, forever boding ill! Still must that tongue some
evil message bring. I will release the maid, that my people may be
spared. But for this, my share of booty, shall the Greeks requite me.”

Then Achilles answered,—

“We have no treasures from which to make up thy loss. Let the maiden
go! and when we capture Troy, we will repay thee fourfold.”

Then Agamemnon replied,—

“Shall I my prize resign while thou art possessed of thine? I will send
back the maid to please Apollo; but know thou that I will seize thy
share, even the girl Briseïs, that all may know that I am sovereign

Whereupon, Achilles was so fierce with anger, that he fain would have
slain the monarch, and had, forsooth, half drawn his sword from the
scabbard, to thrust it into the haughty king. But lo! the goddess
Athené stood behind him, and caught him by his long yellow locks of
hair. None saw the goddess, save only Achilles, to whom he said,—

“Art thou come, fair Minerva, to witness these wrongs I bear from
Atreus’ son? If thou dost see his crime, see also my proud vengeance.”

Whereupon, he raised his sword to strike; but the goddess said,—

“Forbear thy fury! Let great Achilles yield to reason. Put up thy
sword; but if thou pleasest, use the dagger of thy tongue alone. With
that, the gods permit thee to reproach him; but vengeance, leave thou
to the care of heaven.”

So spake the goddess, and Achilles thrust his sword back into its
sheath, and in proud scorn exclaimed, while turning to the king with
blazing eyes,—

“Coward! thou rulest sure a puny race, else this had been thy last
affront. Thou darest not to fight, but cowerest like a dog in safe
retreat within the camp; but after we have fought and conquered, thou
claimest the richest booty! But know, for this my grievous wrong,
the gods shall avenge it! And when the Greeks lie in heaps before the
walls of Troy, slain by the dreadful Hector, then shalt thou miss the
strong arm of Achilles from thy side, and thy proud heart shalt mourn
the affront thy madness gave. For thou hast made the bravest Greek thy
bitterest enemy.”

Then did Achilles dash his sacred sceptre on the ground, saying,—

“As surely as this sceptre, which was once a branch from off a tree,
now starred with golden studs and bound with bronze, an ensign of
Jove’s favor, shall never blossom more, so surely shalt thou miss the
arm of brave Achilles, when the Trojans press thee sore. Thou canst
play the master over others, but think not to master me! As to the
maid, my prize, which the Greeks gave me, let them take it again if
they will, but if thou darest to invade my tent and touch whate’er is
mine, thy blood shall stream forth at the point of my revengeful blade.”

So saying, the great Achilles strode forth from the counsel-tent with
wrathful looks, and the august brow of Agamemnon was overcast with
threatening gloom. In vain had Nestor, eldest of the Grecian kings
and wisest of counsellors, endeavored to quell this ominous quarrel.
His words of reason moved not the two fierce warriors. And surely, in
this strife, Achilles held the right, and Agamemnon showed himself a
selfish, proud, and haughty monarch.

The priest’s daughter, Chryseïs, was sent back to her home with
offerings to the god, and Ulysses was appointed to conduct her thither.
But King Agamemnon would not be persuaded to renounce his purpose
of seizing upon the war-prize which had been awarded to Achilles,
namely, the maiden Briseïs; and forthwith he sent heralds to the
tent of Achilles to obtain her. The heralds approached the warrior with
much dread, for they feared his awful wrath. But Achilles said to them,—


“Fear not, ye heralds! It is no fault of yours that you are sent on
such an errand.”

Whereupon he commanded that the maiden should be brought from her tent
and given to the heralds, who led her, much against her will, to the
haughty Agamemnon. Then Achilles called upon his mother Thetis, who was
a goddess of the sea, to avenge his wrongs. Thetis rose like a mist
from the waves, and coming to Achilles, who sat upon the seashore, she
comforted him and asked his trouble. Whereupon Achilles told her the
cause of his anger, and besought her to go to the great Zeus, whom
Thetis had once aided, when the other gods would have bound great Jove,
by bringing Briareus of the hundred hands, who so fought for the mighty
Jupiter, that the other gods dared no longer defy his power. And owing
this kindness to the goddess Thetis, her son thought rightly that the
great Jove would listen to her petitions on his behalf. So Achilles
asked his mother to go to Olympus, and pray Zeus that he would help the
sons of Troy and give them victory over the Greeks, whose sovereign
king had thus dishonored the bravest of all his host.

This, Thetis did, going to the palace of Jupiter on the top of Olympus,
and making her prayer in her son’s behalf. Zeus was loath to grant it,
for he knew that it would anger his wife Heré, who loved the Greeks and
hated the Trojans. Yet on account of the past favor of Thetis, he would
not refuse, and in giving assent, nodded his awful head, thus causing
Olympus to shake and tremble. So Zeus called one of his swift-winged
messengers, called a Dream, and said,—

“Fly hence, swift Dream, and to the tent of Agamemnon go! Bid him lead
all the Grecians forth to battle against Troy. Persuade him that the
gods intend to give him victory.”

So this false Dream, flying to Agamemnon’s side, took to itself the
shape of wise old Nestor, whom the king honored more than all beside,
and thus the false Nestor counselled,—

“Sleepest thou, Agamemnon? Arise! for now Zeus declares that the
immortal gods are favorable to thy plans, and through thy mighty hosts
will send the doom of destruction upon the city of Troy; and thou shalt
reap the eternal glory.”

Then Agamemnon awoke from sleep and, little thinking how he had
been duped by this false Dream, quickly donned his tunic, fastened
his sandals on his feet, and hung from his shoulders his mighty
silver-studded sword. Wrapping his great cloak around him, he took in
his right hand his royal sceptre, token of his sovereignty over all the
Greeks. Thus attired, in martial grandeur, he went forth and roused his
chiefs, and then the heralds called the hosts to battle. Only Achilles
sat apart within his tent and went not forth to battle with the Greeks.

Now, as the two forces were about to fight, Paris, the Trojan prince,
rushed forth and challenged the bravest of the Greeks to fight with
him. Then Menelaüs, whom he had so greatly wronged, leapt from his
chariot and rushed to meet his treacherous foe. But Paris was more
beautiful in form and feature than brave in heart, and seeing the man
whom he had so cruelly wronged, he was afraid to fight, and cowardlike
ran back into the Trojan ranks. Then his brother, brave Hector, thus
rebuked his cowardice.


“Fair art thou, Paris, beauteous indeed, but ill thy soul supplies a
form so fair! Thou makest us the scorn of the proud Greeks, by thy
unmanly fear. Little will it avail thee that thou art in form so
stately, when thy soft curling locks and shapely limbs are lying in the
dust. Thy silver lyre, nor all thy blandishments, will naught avert thy
doom, for thou hast been the curse of Troy and ruin of thy race.”

Then Paris, stricken with just shame, replied,—

“Thou speakest well, Hector, and thy rebuke is just. Thy heart is like
iron; yet are beauty and love also the gift of the gods, and not to be
despised. Now let Menelaüs and me fight for the fair Helen and all her
possessions, and if he prevail, let him take her, and them, and depart
to Greece. But if I prevail, then shall the Greeks depart in peace
without her.”

This saying, which at last betokened some spirit, pleased Hector well;
and going before the Trojan ranks, holding his spear by the middle,
he kept them back. The Greeks would have hurled spears upon him, but
Agamemnon cried out,—

“Hold! Hector has somewhat to say to us.”

Then Hector announced that Paris would fight with Menelaüs for the
fair Helen and all her wealth. To which Menelaüs readily agreed, but
demanded that King Priam should himself come and, with King Agamemnon,
make a covenant with sacrifice, that the fair Helen and all her wealth
should go to the one who should prevail.

When the heralds went to bring the old King Priam, he was found on
the wall with the beautiful Helen near him, to whom he was talking
and asking the names of brave Grecian heroes whom he beheld among the
hostile host. And in this wise he spake to fair Helen,—

“Come near, my daughter, tell me about these old friends of thine.
Who is that warrior, that I see, so fair and strong? There are others
taller than he, but none of such majesty.”

And Helen answered,—

“Ah, my father, would that I had died before I left the fair land of
Greece! That one is King Agamemnon, a good and brave soldier, and my
brother-in-law, in the old days. And that one is Ulysses of Ithaca, who
is better in craft and counsel than all other men.”

Then Priam said,—

“Who is that stalwart hero overtopping all others?”

“That,” said Helen, “is mighty Ajax, the bulwark of the Greeks; and
as for the other chiefs, I could name them all. But I see not my two
brothers, Castor and Pollux;” for she wot not that they were already

Thereupon came the heralds and told King Priam that the armies had
called for him. After the covenant between the Trojan and Grecian
kings, Priam and Agamemnon, Hector and Ulysses marked out a space for
the fight, and Hector shook two pebbles in a helmet, to decide which
one should be the first to throw the spear, Paris or Menelaüs.

The lot fell upon Paris, and the two warriors having armed themselves,
came forth into the space and brandished their spears with wrathful
eyes. Then Paris threw his spear. It struck the shield of Menelaüs,
but pierced it not; and thereupon Menelaüs, with a prayer to Jupiter,
cast his long-shafted spear. It struck the shield of Paris, pierced
it through, and passing through both corselet and tunic, would have
bruised the side of Paris, but he shrank aside, and so was wounded not.
Then Menelaüs drew his sword and struck a mighty blow upon the top of
Paris’ helmet; but the sword brake in four pieces in his hand. Then
he rushed forward and seized Paris by the helmet, and fain would have
dragged him to the Grecian host, but the goddess Aphrodité loosed the
strap that was beneath the chin, and the helmet came off in the hand
of Menelaüs, and the goddess snatched Paris away, covering him with a
mist, and put him safely in his own palace in Troy.

Then King Agamemnon said,—

“Now, ye sons of Troy, give back the fair Helen and her wealth!”

But just at this time the goddess Athené took upon herself the shape of
Laodocus, and going to Pandarus, the false Laodocus, said,—

“Darest thou aim an arrow at Menelaüs?”

Now Pandarus had a marvellous bow made from the horns of a wild
goat and tipped with beaten gold, and Pandarus strung his bow, his
comrades, meanwhile, hiding him behind their shields. Then took he a
sharp-pointed arrow from his quiver and laid it on the bow-string and
let it fly. Right well the aim was made; but the gods decreed that
the dart should not be fatal. For though it passed through belt and
corselet and strong girdle, and pierced the skin so that the red blood
rushed out, which sight filled Menelaüs and King Agamemnon with sore
dismay, Menelaüs soon perceived the barb of the arrow, and so knew that
the wound was not fatal; and when it was drawn forth by the physician
Machaon, and the blood was staunched with healing drugs, King Agamemnon
rejoiced that he should not thus lose his brave brother Menelaüs.

Then the mighty hosts of Greeks and Trojans went forward to the battle,
and on either side the gods urged them on, Athené aiding the Greeks,
and Ares—called also Mars—strengthening the Trojan warriors. Many
were the valiant exploits that day performed; but we can mention but
a few of them. So close pressed host on host, that the armies dashed
together, shield on shield and spear on spear. Ajax Telamon slew
Simoisius, and Antiphon, son of King Priam, aimed at Ajax, but missing
him, slew Leucus, the friend of the valiant Ulysses.

Whereupon, Ulysses, in great anger, to avenge his death, strode boldly
midst the Trojan ranks and hurled his spear at Democoön, a son of
Priam, whom he slew. At length the Trojan hosts were borne backward by
the mighty onslaught of the Greeks, till Apollo cried from the heights
of Pergamos,—

“On, Trojans! The flesh of these Greeks is not stone or iron, that ye
cannot pierce it; and remember that the great Achilles fights not with
them to-day!”

Athené also urged the Greeks to valiant deeds. This goddess aroused
Diomed to battle, making a wondrous fire shine forth from his helmet,
which made him seem a god, and he raged through the battle so
furiously, that he was now seen amongst the Grecian ranks, now boldly
invading the Trojan forces, and striking down his foes with mighty arm.
Then Pandarus aimed an arrow at him and smote him on the shoulder. But
the brave Diomed cared not for the arrow, and leaping from his chariot
he called to Sthenelus, his charioteer, to draw the arrow from the
wound; and praying to Athené for aid, he rushed madly into the Trojan
ranks, slaying a man at every blow.

Meanwhile, Æneas, driving his swift chariot, said to Pandarus,—

“Climb up into my chariot, and thou shalt fight, and I will drive.”

So Pandarus mounted the chariot, and the two drove towards Diomed, and
as they came near, Pandarus cast his spear, which passed through the
shield of Diomed and reached his corselet; whereupon Pandarus cried,—

“Ha, now he bleeds! Low will this haughty Grecian lie!”

But Diomed replied,—

“Thy dart has erred! Now I will try my spear.”

And straightway he hurled his keen lance toward his boasting foe.
Through nose and jaw it crashed, and cleft the tongue in two; and the
bright point came forth beneath the chin.

Pandarus fell from the chariot mortally wounded, and Æneas leapt to
the ground with drawn spear to defend the dead body of his friend. But
Diomed raised a huge stone and hurled it at Æneas, and crushed his
hip-bone, felling him to the earth.

Then had brave Æneas perished, but his goddess mother, Aphrodité,
caught him in her white arms and threw her veil about him. But so
great was the rage of Diomed, that he spared not even the goddess, but
rushing upon her, he wounded her in the wrist, and with a shriek of
pain she dropped her son; but Apollo caught him up and covered him with
a thick mist. Thrice Diomed pursued, and thrice Apollo drove him back.
But as the rash Diomed advanced a fourth time, the god exclaimed,—

“O son of Tydeus, beware! Nor think to match the immortal gods!”

So Apollo carried Æneas out of the battle and placed him in safety
in Troy. Meanwhile, fair Venus, pale from the wound which mortal man
had dared inflict, was conducted by swift-winged Iris to the stern
god Mars, her brother; and Venus begged his car to mount the distant
skies, where in the fair realms of the gods her wounded hand was healed
by sacred balm. Then Mars went down upon the field of battle to aid the
Trojans, and Hector rushed to the front with the god Mars by his side;
and he dealt death and destruction through the Grecian ranks. Juno and
Minerva saw him from Mount Olympus, and they prayed Jupiter to allow
them to stop him in his fury. The mighty Zeus consented, and the two
goddesses yoked horses to the chariot of Juno and passed down to earth
with flying strides. Having reached the battle-field, Juno took the
shape of Stentor with the lungs of brass, whose voice was as the voices
of fifty men, and thus she cried,—

“Shame, men of Greece! When Achilles fought, the Trojans dare not leave
the city; but now they fight even by the very ships.” Then Minerva
chided Diomed for want of bravery, to whom he replied: “I know thee,
great goddess, daughter of Jupiter! and ’tis thy commands I obey. Thou
didst bid me fight with none of the immortals save only with Aphrodité;
and therefore I gave place to Hector, for I perceived that he was aided
by great Mars.”

But Athené answered: “Heed not Ares! drive thy chariot at him and hurl
thy spear. This morning did stern Mars promise to aid the Greeks, and
now he joins with our Trojan foes.”

So saying, the goddess pushed the charioteer of Diomed from his
place, and herself mounted and seized the reins and lashed the horses
furiously. With swift speed they drove together till they found the god
Mars, or Ares, where he had just slain Periphas the Ætolian. Minerva
was even invisible to the god, for she had donned the helmet of Hades;
and so Ares, not seeing her, cast his spear at Diomed; but the goddess
caught the spear and turned it aside. Then Diomed thrust forth his
spear, and Minerva leaned upon it, so that it even pierced the side of
the god Mars, who shouted so loudly with the pain that the Greeks and
Trojans trembled with fear; while the god of war, wounded by the fair
goddess Athené, covered himself with a thunder-cloud, and in much rage
ascended to Olympus.


When Ares had departed, the Greeks prevailed again; but the seer
Helenus said to Hector and Æneas: “Draw back the Trojan army and
encourage them; and you, Hector, go within the city and bid thy mother
queen, with the daughters of Troy, take the costliest robe she hath,
and go to the temple of Athené and offer it to the goddess with prayers
and sacrifice, that perchance she may relent and have pity on us and
keep this terrible Diomed from our walls.”

This counsel prevailed, and Hector departed to the city, whence he
dispatched his queen mother to Athené’s temple, and exhorted his
brother Paris to arm himself and come forth to battle. Hector then took
a fond farewell of his much-loved wife Andromaché and his only child,
called beautiful-headed as a star, and departed with Paris, who came
forth clad in shining armor; and they fell upon the hosts of the Greeks
and slew many chiefs of fame.

Again came Athené to help the Greeks; and meeting the god Apollo, they
agreed to stay the battle for that day; and to this end inspired Hector
and King Agamemnon to agree that Hector should fight alone with the
bravest of the Greeks, while both armies should rest from battle.

Then Menelaüs desired to meet brave Hector in single combat. But King
Agamemnon would not consent to this, fearing his brother would perish.
Whereupon it was resolved to decide the matter by lot, which fell
upon Ajax the Greater, who, having armed himself, stepped forth to
battle with the mighty Hector. First Hector hurled his spear, which
passed through six folds of Ajax’s shield. Then Ajax threw his lance,
striking proud Hector’s shield. Through shield, corselet, and tunic it
passed, but Hector shrank from the sharp point, and the flesh was not
pierced. Then again they rushed together with wild fury. And Ajax drove
his spear at Hector’s shield and grazed his neck, so that the blood
leaped forth. Then Hector hurled a mighty stone at Ajax; but his shield
broke not. Whereupon Ajax raised a mightier stone and threw it with
such aim that it broke the shield of Hector and felled him backwards
to the ground. But Apollo raised him up, and as they drew their swords
for deadlier conflict, the heralds held their sceptres between them
and bid them cease. So Hector and Ajax, both mighty warriors and brave
of heart, agreed to part as friends; in token whereof, Hector gave to
Ajax a silver-studded sword, and Ajax to Hector a buckler splendid with
purple. So they parted, and the conflict was stayed that night. In the
morning came Trojan heralds to King Agamemnon’s host, saying: “This is
the word of Priam and the sons of Troy. Paris will give back all the
treasures of the fair Helen and much more besides, but the fair Helen
herself will he not give up. But grant a truce that we may bury our


So the truce was given, and the dead of both armies were burnt. Then
the Greeks and Trojans both feasted through the night. But all through
the hours of darkness the terrible thunder rolled on Mount Olympus; for
mighty Zeus was counselling evil against the hapless Trojans.

When the morning came, the two hosts again went forth to battle with
each other. Till midday neither side prevailed; but then great Jupiter
sent fear and panic amidst the Grecian forces, and they fled to their
ships in terror.

As the Greeks were flying in wild confusion, brave Hector driving in
his chariot pursued them; and called to his horses, “Now Xanthus,
Æthon, Lampus, and Podargus, speed ye well! Ye Flame of Fire, White
Foot, and Brilliant, named! carry me fast, and well repay the tender
care of my sweet wife Andromaché, who often from her fair white hands
has fed thee! For I would win old Nestor’s marvellous shield of purest
gold, and strip from off proud Diomed his boasted breastplate, wrought
by the mighty Vulcan.”

But Jupiter willed not that this should be; for King Agamemnon prayed
aloud to Zeus for succor, and Jupiter heard his prayer, in token
whereof he sent a sign, namely: an eagle flew above the Grecian hosts
and dropped a kid out of his claws. Then did the Greeks take courage
and renewed the fight with vigor. But the darkness came, and each host
rested on their arms.

Meanwhile, King Agamemnon called a council of war, and fain would
have returned to Greece and leave this invincible city of Troy. But
brave King Diomed would not receive such craven counsel, and angrily

“Even though all the men of Greece depart, yet will I and Sthenelus
abide the doom of Troy, for surely the gods have brought us hither.”

To these brave words the Grecian chiefs agreed; and wise Nestor
counselled that King Agamemnon should send to brave Achilles and seek
to make peace with him that they might have the strong help of his
mighty arm. To which King Agamemnon consented, and sent messengers to
the tent of Achilles to seek his favor, promising him seven kettles of
brass, ten talents of gold, twenty caldrons, twelve fleet horses, seven
women slaves skilled in the work of the loom, and, more than all, the
return of the maid Briseïs, the cause of all their quarrel; and when
Troy should be taken, much spoil besides. And even more; for when they
should return to Greece, King Agamemnon promised him one of his own
daughters for his wife, and seven cities by the sea. But all this moved
not the wrathful soul of stern Achilles, and he would not be appeased;
nor would he come to help the Greeks against the Trojans, but still sat
silent in his tent. Then it was decided that Diomed and Ulysses should
go that night disguised into the Trojan camp, to spy out, if possible,
their strength and plans. This same strategy had Hector also planned,
and had already sent one Dolon, swift of foot, towards the Grecian
host. But as he ran he met Diomed and Ulysses, who seized him, and
under threatenings forced him to reveal the Trojan secrets. Then did
they slay Dolon, and forthwith proceeded to where some men of Thrace,
allies of the Trojans, lay sleeping. These Thracians possessed most
matchless steeds—horses so fair and tall, whiter than snow and fleeter
than the winds. Diomed and Ulysses would fain secure these as a rich
prize, and so they slew the sleeping Thracians and led the captured
horses back to the Grecian hosts, and arrived in safety at the ships.
The next day the battle waged hot again. Ulysses was wounded, and Paris
shot an arrow and pierced the brave physician Machaon. Meanwhile,
Achilles was standing on his ship and looking upon the conflict. When
he beheld Nestor bearing the wounded Machaon to the ships, he called to
his friend Patroclus and bid him see if Machaon’s wound was fatal.

Most fierce the battle raged. On the left, the Grecians prevailed, but
on the right brave Hector and his host fought even to the very ships,
dealing most deadly blows. So great were the shouts of battle that old
Nestor, who was tending the wounded Machaon, was roused; and going
forth he met King Agamemnon, and with him Diomed and Ulysses, who had
been wounded that day. Then they counselled together. Again Agamemnon
advised flight; but the others thought it not good to flee thus, and
they counselled King Agamemnon that he should go to the Grecian ranks,
bidding them bear themselves bravely and put courage into their hearts.
This did he do, and roused their waning strength to fresh exploits.
Then Ajax smote brave Hector with a mighty stone, which felled him to
the ground; and the Greeks, with a great cry, rushed forth to bear him
to their ranks; but the Trojans held their shields before him, and his
friends lifted him up and carried him to a place of safety. But he was
sorely bruised. Then Apollo, at Jupiter’s bidding, poured courage into
his heart and healed him of his wound, so that he rushed once more upon
the field of battle, strong and well and valiant as ever. Then were the
Greeks struck with dire dismay. Then did Patroclus lament to Achilles
on account of the ill fortune of the Greeks, and besought the mighty
warrior, if he would not fight himself in their behalf, to let him
go accompanied by the valiant Myrmidons, whom Achilles always led to
battle. At which the heart of Achilles was moved; and he said,—

“I will not go to battle until it reaches my own ships, but thou mayest
put my armor upon thee and lead my Myrmidons to the fight.”

So this was done; and when the Trojans beheld these famous Myrmidons
led by one who wore the armor of the mighty Achilles, their hearts were
faint with fear, for they supposed great Achilles himself had come
against them. Thrice did Patroclus rush against the men of Troy, and
each time slew nine chiefs of fame; but the fourth time Apollo stood
behind him and struck him, and his eyes were darkened, and the helmet
fell off his head, so that the waving plumes were soiled with dust.
Never before had this proud helmet of Achilles touched the ground. Then
Apollo broke his spear, and struck the shield from his arms, and loosed
his corselet. Then all-amazed, poor Patroclus stood defenceless; so
Hector struck him dead, and seized the matchless armor of the mighty

Fierce was the fight about the body of Patroclus, and many chiefs fell
dead striving to obtain the prize. Then fled Antilochus to bear the ill
tidings to the great Achilles, who, upon hearing of this dire defeat,
poured dust upon his head, and called upon his goddess-mother to come
to his aid.

“Why weepest thou, my son?” said the sea-goddess Thetis, rising from
the waves.

“My friend Patroclus is dead, and Hector has my arms I gave him to
wear, and, as for me, I care not to live unless I can avenge myself.”

Thus Thetis said,—

“Be comforted, my son; to-morrow I will go to mighty Vulcan; he shall
forge new arms for thee.”

Even as they spoke together, so sore the Trojans pressed the Greeks,
that Jupiter sent Iris to Achilles, and bade him show himself to the
Greeks that they might be filled with courage.

“How can I go without arms?” replied Achilles.

But the gods gave him courage, and he went, and Athené put her
matchless shield upon his shoulders, and wrapped a golden halo round
his head, so that he seemed clothed in godlike armor; and he shouted to
the Trojans with a mighty voice, which so filled them with fear that
they fell back, and the horses of the Trojan chariots were so terrified
at the flaming fire above his head that they thrice fell back, and
trampled on the Trojans, as thrice the awful voice of Achilles was
heard and his shining form revealed. Thus was the body of Patroclus
then secured, and carried on a bier, Achilles walking, weeping by his

That night the conflict rested. Meanwhile, Thetis the goddess went to
the dread Vulcan, and prayed him make new armor for her son Achilles.
To this did stern Hephæstus consent, saying, “Be of good cheer! I will
obey thy wish; for kind thou wast to me when my mother thrust me forth
from heaven because she saw I was deformed and lame. I will make such
arms for Achilles as the gods themselves might proudly wear.”

So great Vulcan wrought at his mighty forge. First he made a ponderous
shield, and wrought upon it the earth, and sky, and sea, and sun, and
moon, and stars. He pictured upon it, also, two cities; one at peace,
and one in dire confusion where war raged. In the peaceful city, they
led a bride to her home with music and dancing, and women stood to
see the show, and in the market-place judges sat, and men bartered.
But around the other city, an army was besieging, and soldiers stood
upon the walls, defending. Also, he wrought fields where men ploughed,
and others reaped, and vineyards where youths and maidens gathered
baskets of grapes while minstrels played on harps of gold. Also, he
wrought herds of oxen going to the pasture, and sheepfolds, and a
dance of youths and maidens who wore coronets of gold and belts of
silver. Then, too, he pictured a fierce fight between lions and angry
bulls. Around the shield he wrought the mighty ocean. He made also a
corselet, brighter than fire, and a helmet of gold. At dawn the goddess
Thetis brought to her son this marvellous armor, which when Achilles
saw, his eyes flashed wild with joy; and seizing them, he put them on
most eagerly, and rushed forth to rouse the Greeks to battle. Then an
assembly was called, and Achilles stood up in the midst, saying, he had
put away his wrath, and King Agamemnon, who had been wounded in the
battle, declared that he had been wrong, and straightway commanded to
be sent to the tent of Achilles all that he had promised him, including
the maid Briseïs, which was done. The Greeks gathered again to battle.
Then did the fight wage sore against the Trojans, who fled within the
city gates; only brave Hector remained outside to meet the mighty
Achilles, who rushed towards him to engage in single combat. Then did
King Priam and Queen Hecuba beseech their much-loved son that he would
come within the city walls, and not risk his life by thus meeting this
dread foe; but Hector answered,—

“Woe is me if I go within the walls!”

But as Achilles came near, brandishing his great Pelian spear, while
the flash of his arms was as a flame of fire, Hector trembled, and
dared not abide to meet him, but fled around the walls, Achilles
pursuing. Thrice they ran round the city, while the immortal gods
looked down upon them from dread Olympus, and Jupiter said: “My heart
is grieved for Hector. Come, ye gods! shall we save him?”

But Minerva—she who was called the goddess of wisdom, for she sprang
forth from the mighty head of Jove completely armed—thus counselled,—

“Great Sire, is it well to rescue a man already doomed to die? If it be
thy august will, then do it; but the other gods approve not.”

To whom Zeus answered,—

“My heart is loath, but be it as thou wilt.”

Then did the goddess descend down from high Olympus in hot haste, and
Athené lighted from the air at Achilles’ side, and whispered: “This is
our day of glory, great Achilles! Hector shall be slain; but tarry a
moment, that I may give him heart to meet thee in battle; so shalt thou
slay him.”

Then Minerva took the form of Deïphobus, and came near to Hector,
saying, “Achilles presseth thee hard, my brother; let us stay and fight

Then was brave Hector glad to find one of his brothers faithful to him,
and answered,—

“I always loved thee best of all my brothers, good Deïphobus, and much
more now to know thou darest to stand by my side in this hour of deadly

Thus was Hector encouraged to meet Achilles, and Hector said to him:
“Thrice, great Achilles, hast thou pursued me round the walls of
Troy, and I dared not withstand thee; but now I will meet thee like a
warrior. If Jupiter gives me the victory, I will do no dishonor to thy
body; only thine armor will I take. Do thou the same to me.”

But Achilles frowned, and answered,—

“I make no covenants with thee. There is no agreement between wolves
and sheep. Show thyself a warrior if thou canst. Athené shall kill thee
by my spear.”


Then did they meet in deadliest conflict. Achilles threw his mighty
spear; but Hector, crouching, avoided it, and the great spear fixed
itself in the ground beyond. But, unseen by Hector, Athené brought it
back to proud Achilles. Whereupon, Hector cried, “Thou hast missed thy
aim, great Achilles. Look out for my spear!”

And as he spake, he threw his long-shafted spear with so good an aim,
that it struck the very middle of Achilles’ shield; but it pierced it
not, and it bounded far away. And when Hector turned to his supposed
brother, Deïphobus, to get from him another spear, lo! he was gone; and
Hector knew then that his doom had come. Then thought he to himself:
“Though Athené has cheated me, and Jupiter and Apollo are against me,
if I must die, I will die in such manner as shall do honor to my name.”
Then he drew his mighty sword, and rushed upon Achilles. But at that
same instant Achilles charged to meet him, and holding his shining
shield before him, with his helmet plumes waving in the air, he raised
his long-pointed spear, which gleamed like a star, and drove it through
the neck of the brave Hector, so that the point stood out behind; and
Hector fell dying in the dust. Then with his last breath, he besought
Achilles to spare his body from the Greeks; for King Priam would ransom
it with much gold and treasure, to give it burial rites. But Achilles,
moved with fierce wrath, cried,—

“Dog, seek not to entreat me! No gold could ransom thee.”

Then Hector died, and Achilles drew out the spear from the corpse, and
stripped off the arms. Then great Achilles did a shocking deed; for he
bound the body of the dead Hector to his chariot, letting the brave
and noble head lie in the dust; and so he dragged the corpse of the
valiant Trojan round the walls of Troy, even to the Grecian ships. And
sorrowing Priam saw him from the walls; and fair Andromaché, the wife
of Hector, also beheld this dreadful spectacle, and thereupon fell in a
deadly swoon; and from her beautiful head dropped the golden wreath and
diadem, which Aphrodité gave her on her bridal day.

[Illustration: THE FUNERAL OF HECTOR.]

Then did old King Priam gather rich gifts, and aided by the gods, mount
his swift chariot and go to the tent of great Achilles, to beg the body
of his much loved son, brave Hector, praying to Jupiter that Achilles
might have pity on him. This did Jove grant; for Achilles received
him kindly, and gave up the body of dead Hector, which King Priam
carried back into the city of Troy. For nine days the people wailed and
mourned, and gathered much wood for a funeral pile, upon which they
laid brave Hector; and when his body was burnt to ashes, they gathered
up the white bones and put them in a chest of gold, and covered it
with purple. This chest they placed in a coffin and laid upon it many
stones, even until they had raised a mighty mound above it. Thus did
they bury the valiant Hector, bravest of Trojan princes.

Such is a brief outline of the story of the famous Trojan War, as told
by the illustrious Homer in his matchless poem of the “Iliad.” Now we
return to the few further facts regarding King Agamemnon which can be
culled from history.

There are two different accounts of the final overthrow and capture
of Troy. According to one of these, Antenor and Æneas treacherously
betrayed the Palladium to the Greeks, and at the same time threw open
the gates of the city at night. The other account relates that the
capture was effected by the stratagem of the wooden horse, which was
planned by the cunning of Ulysses. A huge, hollow structure resembling
a horse, was filled with armed men, and left standing in the plain,
while the Greeks went on board their ships and sailed to the island of
Tenedos, which lay not far distant. By an artful manœuvre, the Trojans
were made to believe that this horse was an offering to Minerva, and
that they would achieve a great triumph by carrying it into the city.
Accordingly they made a breach in the wall, and transported the horse
within. In the dead of night the Greeks broke out of their concealment,
and set the city on fire. The fleet, on a signal given, sailed back
from Tenedos; the army landed. Troy was taken and destroyed.

This event is usually placed about 1184 B.C. In the division of the
spoils, after the taking of Troy, Cassandra, one of the daughters
of King Priam, fell to the lot of Agamemnon. She was endued with
the gift of prophecy, and warned Agamemnon not to return to Mycenæ.
This warning, however, was disregarded by the king, who, upon his
return from Troy, was carried by a storm to that part of the coast
of Argolis where Ægisthus, the son of Thyestes, resided. This king,
Ægisthus, had entered into a wicked agreement with Clytemnestra, wife
of Agamemnon, to put that monarch to death upon his return from Troy,
so that Ægisthus could seize the throne of Mycenæ, and marry Queen
Clytemnestra. There are two accounts of the death of Agamemnon. One
states that Ægisthus had set a watchman, with a promise of a large
reward, to give him the earliest tidings of the return of the king. As
soon as he learned that Agamemnon’s fleet was on the coast, he went
out to welcome him, and invited him to his mansion. At the banquet in
the evening, with the consent of Clytemnestra, he placed twenty
armed men in concealment, who fell on King Agamemnon and killed him,
together with Cassandra and all their attendants. Another account makes
Agamemnon to have fallen by the hands of his wife Clytemnestra, after
he had just come forth from a bath, and while he was endeavoring to put
on a garment, the sleeves of which she had previously sewed together,
as well as the opening for his head; thus giving her time to commit the
bloody deed before any succor could reach him. His death, however, was
avenged by his son Orestes.

With regard to the extent of Agamemnon’s sway, Homer states that
he ruled over many islands, and over all Argos; meaning not the
city Argos, over which Diomed ruled, but a large portion of the
Peloponnesus, including particularly the cities of Mycenæ and Tiryns.
Homer also says that Agamemnon possessed the most powerful fleet;
and as he was chosen the sovereign of all the Grecian kings, and
commander-in-chief of all the Grecian hosts during the Trojan War, he
may doubtless be called the greatest and most famous of all the more
ancient Grecian rulers.


599-529 B.C.

    “Death makes no conquest of this conqueror;
     For now he lives in fame, though not in life.”

IN a lonely and desolate country, in the depths of a dark forest, at
the edge of a yawning precipice, there once lay an infant, robed in
costly garments, which betokened noble or royal birth. The baby lay
in a small basket cradle, made of golden wires and lined with richly
embroidered cushions. It seemed to be slumbering, for it moved not,
even when the afternoon shadows gathered more densely around it; and
a rapacious bird of prey might have been seen hovering above its
dangerous retreat, and the noise of wild beasts was heard in the dark
forests around. Was there no one near to protect and care for this
lovely child? Ah, see! as that vulture swoops down towards its helpless
victim, a lonely watcher rushes forth from the forest, and drawing
his bow, an arrow flies into the heart of the bird, which falls dead
into the awful chasm below. But why does not the babe awake? and why
is it left in this desolate spot? Just then a lion steals out of the
brushwood, and after a stealthy glance at the tempting prey so near
his reach, he prepares to spring. But again the watcher leaps forth
from the shadow, and hurls a sharp javelin with so true an aim that the
lordly beast is mortally wounded, and retreats to the forest, roaring
with pain. And still the infant sleeps on.

Just outside of the dreary forest is a poor herdsman’s hut. Here, too,
might have been found an infant; but it is crowing and smiling as it
raises its chubby fists to its mouth and tries to catch the sunshine,
which streams in through the open door, and falls upon the wall over
its head. This baby is clothed in the coarse garments of a peasant’s
child. And yet the infant in the costly robes, in the wild forest, is
really the dead child of a poor herdsman; and this crowing, laughing
baby, dressed in peasant clothes, and lying in the lowly hut, is none
other than the future Cyrus the Great, upon whom hang the destinies
of a vast empire. The remarkable story regarding the birth and early
boyhood of Cyrus the Great is recounted by Herodotus, one of the
greatest and earliest of Grecian historians. Herodotus and Xenophon—a
noted Grecian general, as well as historian—are the chief sources of
information regarding most of the important historical events of that
period of the world. Some parts of their accounts are thought to be
historical romances, founded on facts; but as they have become a part
of the history of those times, I shall gather the story of Cyrus from
the events related by both these writers.

About 599 B.C. there were three kingdoms in the centre of Asia:
Assyria, Media, and Persia. Astyages was king of Media. One night
Astyages awoke from a terrible dream: he had dreamed that a fearful
inundation had overwhelmed his kingdom. As the deluge seemed in some
mysterious manner to be connected in his mind with his only daughter,
Mandane, he imagined that it portended that evil should come to his
throne through her children. And so he arranged that she should marry
Cambyses, ruling prince of Persia. In this manner he hoped to remove
her so far distant, and place her in so weak a kingdom, that he need
have no fears.

A year after his daughter’s marriage to the king of Persia, Astyages
had another dream,—of a great vine which overspread his kingdom. This
vine also appeared to be associated in his mind with his daughter. So
he called the soothsayers, who declared that it portended the future
power of his daughter’s son, who should become a king.

Astyages was now so alarmed that he determined to destroy the child.
So, with seeming kindness, he invited his daughter Mandane to make
him a visit. He placed her in a palace and surrounded her with his
own spies and servants. As soon as the infant son was born, Astyages
sent for an officer of his court, named Harpagus, whom he thought
was unscrupulous enough to obey his evil commands. Astyages ordered
Harpagus to go and request the attendants of Mandane to allow him to
see the infant; and then, under pretence that his grandfather Astyages
desired that the infant should be brought to him, Harpagus should take
the child away, and in some manner cause it to be put to death.

Harpagus did not dare to refuse, and accordingly went to the palace in
which Mandane was residing. Her attendants, not suspecting his evil
designs, arrayed the infant in its most beautiful robes, and delivered
it into his care. Harpagus took the child home and consulted with his
wife what he should do. He did not dare to disobey the king, and also,
as Mandane was the daughter of the king, he feared to carry out the
terrible deed himself.

In his perplexity he sent for one of his herdsmen, named Mitridates,
living near wild and desolate forests. When Mitridates arrived,
Harpagus gave the infant to him, commanding him to expose it in the
forests for three days, and when the child was dead, to send him word.

The herdsman dared not refuse this wicked mission, and took the child
home to his hut. His wife Spaco had at that time just lost an infant of
the same age, and its dead body was still unburied. When she saw the
beautiful babe of Mandane, she implored her husband to let her keep it
in place of her dead child, who was accordingly arrayed in the costly
robes of the young prince, while the royal baby was dressed in the
coarse garments of the little dead peasant. The body of the dead infant
was then placed in the royal cradle, or basket, in which the little
prince had been carried from the palace; and after being exposed in
the forest for three days, attended by watchers to keep away the wild
beasts, the herdsman sent word to Harpagus that the infant was dead.
Harpagus sent trusty messengers to see if the report was true; and when
they saw the dead infant in the royal robes, they returned with the
assurance that his orders had been complied with, and that they had
seen the dead child. Harpagus gave orders to have the body buried, and
sent word to King Astyages that the infant was dead.

The truth about the young Cyrus was not discovered until ten years
after, and came about in a very strange way. Cyrus had now grown to be
a strong, bright boy of ten years of age, and was supposed to be the
son of the peasant herdsman. Several of the sons of the Median nobles
were accustomed to meet in the neighborhood where he lived, for their
sports, and Cyrus was always their leader in all pursuits. The story
goes that he was once chosen as their king in a boyish game; and one
of the nobles’ sons, being one of his subjects, and having disobeyed
his commands, the boy king Cyrus punished him very severely. The father
of the young noble complained to King Astyages of this ill treatment
which his son had suffered at the hands of a peasant boy. Whereupon,
the herdsman Mitridates and his supposed son were summoned to appear at

When the young Cyrus entered the presence of the king, Astyages was
astonished at his manly bearing and his unusual beauty, and with an
unaccountable feeling of interest in the supposed peasant boy, he
inquired if the complaint of the noble was true. The little disguised
prince looked up into the face of the dread monarch, in whose presence
all his subjects trembled, and with perfect self-possession, replied,—

“My lord, what I have done I am able to justify. I did punish this boy,
and I had a right to do so. I was king, and he was my subject, and he
would not obey me. If you think that for this I deserve punishment
myself, here I am; I am ready to suffer for it.”

Astyages was so surprised at this unlooked-for answer that he hastily
commanded that Mitridates should be brought before him; and under
threats of severe punishment, he demanded that he should tell him
the truth about the lad; for he had grave doubts about his being the
peasant’s son. Mitridates, frightened by the stern manner of the king,
confessed the truth, and related all the circumstances regarding the
infant who had been committed to him by Harpagus.

Astyages had deeply regretted his evil intentions towards his grandson,
which, as he supposed, had ended in his death, and gladly claimed Cyrus
as his own. But with strange inconsistency, he was equally incensed
against Harpagus, who had dared to disobey his commands, by not
causing the infant to be put to death; and he determined to celebrate
in a strange and most shocking manner his joy at the recovery of his
grandson, and his anger at the disobedience of Harpagus. So with
wicked craftiness he sent word to Harpagus that his grandson had been
discovered, and commanded that Harpagus should send his son, a boy
about thirteen years of age, up to the palace to be a companion for
young Cyrus. Furthermore, he announced that he was about to celebrate
his joy at the recovery of his grandson, by a grand festival, at which
he invited Harpagus to be present.

Harpagus suspecting no evil, and rejoicing at the happy sequel of
that deed which had occasioned him much disquiet, having sent his son
to the palace, according to the command of the king, related to his
wife the strange events which had taken place. Neither of them were
suspicious of any evil design in this seeming kindliness of Astyages,
and thought it a fitting honor for their son, that he should be chosen
as the companion of Prince Cyrus. Harpagus went to the festival, and
was given a seat of honor at the table. Various dishes were set before
the guests, and the attendants were especially attentive to see that
Harpagus was most bountifully served. At the end of the feast, Astyages
asked Harpagus how he had liked his fare. Harpagus expressed himself as
being well pleased. The king then ordered the servants to bring in a
basket, which they uncovered before Harpagus, and he beheld with horror
the head, hands, and feet of his own son.

The story relates that Harpagus did not display his terrible despair by
word or look; and when the wicked king asked him if he knew what he had
been eating, he replied that he did, and whatever was the will of the
king was pleasing to him. Such shocking cruelties reveal the wickedness
of those despotic times.

Harpagus satisfied his revenge against the cruel Astyages, many
years afterwards, in a manner which will be disclosed as this story
continues. A king whose greed of power could condemn an own grandson to
death would not scruple at other crimes. Astyages now again consulted
the soothsayers as to his safety in recognizing Cyrus as his grandson
and giving him his royal place at court. The Magi now replied, that as
Cyrus had already been a king, even though it was only in a childish
game, still, as he had been called a king, the oracles had been
fulfilled, and Astyages need fear no further danger to his kingdom.
Astyages therefore sent Cyrus to his parents in Persia, who received
their long-lost son with overwhelming delight; and the youthful Cyrus
was no doubt astonished and rejoiced to find himself the son and
grandson of powerful kings, rather than a simple peasant boy, the son
of a poor herdsman.




Cyrus is described by the historians as being tall and handsome, and
excelling in all youthful exploits.

Xenophon describes the life of young Cyrus in the court of his father
Cambyses, king of Persia. The sons of all the nobles and officers
of the court were educated together in the royal palace. They were
not taught to read, as there were no books, but they had certain
teachers who explained to them the principles of right and wrong, and
described to them the various laws of the land, and the rules by which
controversies should be settled. These were put to practical use in
deciding the various cases which occurred among the boys themselves;
and judges were chosen from their number who should discuss and
decide these questions. Right decisions were rewarded, and wrong ones
punished. Cyrus himself was once punished for a wrong decision. The
case was this:—

A larger boy took away the coat of a smaller boy, whose coat was
bigger than his own, and gave him his own smaller coat. The smaller boy
appealed to Cyrus, who decided that each boy should keep the coat that
fitted him. The teacher condemned his decision in these words,—

“When you are called upon to consider a question of what fits best,
then you should determine as you have done in this case; but when
you are appointed to decide whose each coat is, and to adjudge it to
the proper owner, then you are to consider what constitutes right
possession, and whether he who takes a thing by force from one who
is weaker than himself, should have it, or whether he who made it or
purchased it, should be protected in his property. You have decided
against law and in favor of violence and wrong.”

The boys at this Persian court were taught many kinds of manly
exercises. They were trained to wrestle and run, and were instructed in
the use of all kinds of arms then known. Each one was furnished with
a bow and arrows, a shield, a sword, or dagger, which was worn at the
side in a scabbard, and two javelins, one of which they were to throw,
and the other to keep in the hand for use in close combat with the wild
beasts which they might encounter in their hunting expeditions. These
excursions were often long and fatiguing, which they took by turns with
the king in the neighboring forests.

They were subjected to long marches, to cold and hunger and storms,
and sometimes dangerous conflicts. These experiences were considered
necessary to fit them to become good soldiers in the future.

When Cyrus was about twelve years of age, he was invited by his
grandfather Astyages to make him a visit in Media. When Cyrus arrived
in Media with his mother Mandane, he was surprised at the magnificence
and pomp of the royal court; as the manners and habits of the Persians
were very simple, and as he had been sent to Persia as soon as his
royal rank had been discovered, he had not before had an opportunity of
seeing the splendor of his grandfather’s court.


In his first interview with Astyages, Cyrus displayed his great
tact and natural courtesy. When he came into the presence of his
grandfather, who wore a purple robe richly embroidered with gold and
covered with precious stones, and bracelets upon his arms, and a long,
flowing wig, while his face was painted and powdered, Cyrus exclaimed,—

“Why, mother, what a handsome man my grandfather is!”

Cyrus was dazzled by the great display around him, for in the Persian
court, Cambyses his father, and all his nobles, were clothed with great
simplicity. Mandane then said to Cyrus,—

“Which one do you think the handsomer man, your father or your

It was a very unwise question to ask a child, but Cyrus was equal to
the emergency, and replied with great tact and politeness,—

“My father is the handsomest man in Persia, but my grandfather is the
handsomest of all the Medes.”

Astyages was much pleased with the aptness of this reply, and Cyrus
became a great favorite with his grandfather, who lavished upon him
costly garments, rich feasts, rare jewels, and the attentions of a
retinue of servants. But after the first novelty had passed away, Cyrus
preferred his more simple raiment and plainer food.

At one time, Astyages invited Cyrus and his mother to one of his
grand feasts in his palace, and ordered the rarest viands to be served
for Cyrus in the most elegant and costly dishes. Instead of being
flattered, Cyrus showed no particular pleasure or surprise, and when
Astyages asked him if he did not delight in such rich and delicate
food, and if the feast before him was not much finer than any he had
seen in Persia, Cyrus replied,—

“We manage much better in Persia; it is very troublesome to eat a
little of so many things.”

“How do you manage in Persia?” asked Astyages.

“When we are hungry, we eat plain meat and bread, and so we get health
and strength and have very little trouble,” answered Cyrus.

Astyages then told Cyrus that he might continue his plain fare in
Media, if he thought it was better for his health. Cyrus then asked his
grandfather if he would give him all the costly dishes before him to do
as he wished with them. To this Astyages consented, and Cyrus, calling
up one of the attendants after another, presented to them as gifts the
various elegant dishes with their contents. To one he said, “I give you
this because you serve the king faithfully”; to another, “I make you
this present because you are faithful to my mother”; and to another,
“Because you have taught me to throw the javelin.” Thus he went on
until all the gifts had been disposed of. Now the king had one servant,
whom he honored above all others, who held the office of cup-bearer.

In those days this was an important trust, for those despotic
monarchs possessed so many enemies that they were in constant danger
of assassination or of being poisoned. The king’s cup-bearer must
superintend the food of his master, and taste all wines himself before
offering them to the king.

Great dexterity and grace were necessary to perform the latter service
acceptably, as the king’s cup must not be placed to the lips of his
cup-bearer, but a small portion must be poured into the palm of his
hand, and lifted gracefully to his mouth.

Astyages’ cup-bearer was a Sacian; he was an officer of high rank,
tall and handsome, and magnificently dressed. In distributing his
gifts, Cyrus had neglected this officer, and when Astyages asked him
his reason, Cyrus replied that he did not like the Sacian. Astyages
inquired the cause of this dislike, and remarked, “Have you not
observed how gracefully and elegantly he pours out the wine for me, and
then hands me the cup?”

Cyrus replied that he could pour out the wine and offer the cup as well
as the Sacian, and requested his grandfather to allow him to try. To
this the amused king consented, and Cyrus, taking a goblet of wine in
his hand, retired from the room. He soon re-entered with the pompous
and dignified bearing of the Sacian, and so mimicked his manner of
gravity and self-importance as to occasion much mirth amongst the
assembled guests.

Cyrus, having advanced to the king, presented him with the cup,
neglecting not even one single motion of the usual ceremony, except
tasting the wine himself. Mandane and the king laughed heartily, and
the would-be cup-bearer, becoming the child again, jumped into his
grandfather’s arms, exclaiming, “Now, Sacian, you are ruined; I shall
get my grandfather to appoint me in your place. I can hand the wine as
well as you, and without tasting it myself at all.”

“But why did you not taste it?” asked his grandfather.

“Because the wine was poisoned,” replied Cyrus.

“What makes you think it is poisoned?” inquired Astyages.

“Because,” said Cyrus, “it was poisoned the other day when you made a
feast for your friends on your birthday. It made you all crazy. The
things that you do not allow us boys to do you did yourselves, for you
were very rude and noisy; you all bawled together so that nobody could
hear or understand what any other person said. Presently you went to
singing in a very ridiculous manner, and when a singer ended his song,
you applauded him, and declared that he had sung admirably, though
nobody had paid attention. You went to telling stories too, each one
of his own accord, without succeeding in making anybody listen to him.
Finally, you got up and began to dance, but it was out of all rule and
measure; you could not even stand erect and steadily. Then you all
seemed to forget who and what you were; the guests paid no regard to
you as their king, but treated you in a very familiar and disrespectful
manner, and you treated them in the same way; so I thought that the
wine that produced these effects must be poisoned.”

“But have not you ever seen such things before?” asked Astyages. “Does
not your father ever drink wine until it makes him merry?”

“No,” replied Cyrus, “indeed, he does not; he drinks only when he is
thirsty, and then only enough for his thirst, and so he is not harmed.”
He then added in a contemptuous tone, “He has no Sacian cup-bearer, you
may depend, about him.”

“But why do you dislike this Sacian so much, my son?” asked Mandane.

“Why, every time that I want to come and see my grandfather,” replied
Cyrus, “he always stops me, and will not let me come in. I wish,
grandfather, you would let me have the rule of him for just three

“What would you do?” asked Astyages.

“I would treat him as he treats me now,” answered Cyrus. “I would stand
at the door, as he does when I want to come in, and when he was coming
for his dinner, I would stop him and say, ‘You cannot come in now; he
is busy.’” Cyrus repeated these words in the tones and with the grave
manner of the Sacian.

“Then,” continued Cyrus, “when he was coming to get his supper, I would
say, ‘You must not come in now; he is bathing, or he is going to sleep;
you must come some other time, for he cannot be disturbed.’ Thus I
would torment him all the time, as he now torments me in keeping me
from you when I want to see you.”

When the time arrived for Mandane to return to Persia, Astyages was
very desirous to have Cyrus remain with him; Mandane gave her consent
if Cyrus should wish to do so. Astyages told Cyrus that if he would
stay, the Sacian should torment him no more, but that he should be
allowed to come into his presence whenever he wished to do so, and,
moreover, he should have the use of all his grandfather’s horses. He
should also have boys of his own age for companions, and they would
be allowed to hunt the animals in the park. They could pursue them on
horseback and shoot them with bows and arrows, or throw the javelins
at their prey. This pleasure of riding and hunting was a rare one to
Cyrus, for the Persians had few horses, and there were no bodies of
cavalry in their armies. Cyrus represented to his mother the great
advantage it would be to him to be a skilful horseman, as that would
give him a superiority over all the Persian youths. Mandane was
somewhat anxious lest the luxurious habits and haughty manners of his
grandfather should prove a bad example for Cyrus, but he assured her
that she need have no fears, as his grandfather required all to be
submissive to himself, and allowed imperiousness in no one but the
king. So it was decided that Cyrus should remain in Media, and Mandane
departed for Persia.

Cyrus now applied himself with great diligence to acquire all the
various accomplishments and arts then most highly prized, such as
leaping, vaulting, racing, riding, throwing the javelin, and drawing
the bow. In the friendly contests among the boys, Cyrus would
courteously challenge those superior to himself in these exercises,
thus giving them the pleasure of winning the prize, and benefiting
himself by thus having the greater stimulus of contesting with
attainments higher than his own. He accordingly made rapid progress,
and speedily learned to equal and then surpass his companions without
occasioning any envy or jealousy.

It was their favorite amusement to hunt the deer in his grandfather’s
park; but at last, so vigorous had been their onslaught, that the
animals were wellnigh exhausted, and Astyages went to great trouble to
secure further supplies. Cyrus then requested that they be allowed to
hunt in the forests, and hunt the wild beasts with the men. As Cyrus
had now grown up into a tall, robust young man, able to sustain the
fatigues of the hunt, his grandfather consented that Cyrus should go
out with his son Cyaxares. The party set out in high spirits. There
were certain attendants appointed to keep particular guard over Cyrus,
and prevent him from rushing rashly into danger. His attendants told
him that the dangerous animals were bears, lions, tigers, boars, and
leopards; and as they often attacked man, he must avoid them; but that
he could hunt the stags, goats, and wild sheep as much as he pleased.
They also told him of the dangers in riding over a rough country where
the broken ground and steep, rocky precipices made riding difficult,
and hunters driving impetuously over such a country were often thrown
from their horses, or fell with them into the chasms and were killed.
Cyrus promised to remember their warning; but no sooner had he entered
into the excitement of the chase than he forgot all their counsels,
and riding furiously after a stag, his horse came to a chasm which he
was obliged to leap. But the distance was too great, and the horse
fell upon his knees as he reached the farther side, and for a moment
before he recovered his footing Cyrus was in imminent danger of being
precipitated to the bottom of the deep precipice. But Cyrus was
fearless; and as soon as his horse had regained his feet and cleared
the chasm, he pressed on after the stag, overtook him, and killed him
with his javelin. As soon as his frightened attendants came up to him,
they reproved him for his reckless daring, and they threatened to
report to his grandfather. Just at the instant he heard a new halloo,
as fresh game had been started, and forgetting all his resolutions,
Cyrus sprang upon his horse with a loud shout and followed the chase.
The game now started was a dangerous wild boar, and Cyrus instead
of shunning the peril, as he should have done in obedience to his
grandfather’s orders, dashed after the boar, and aimed so true a thrust
with his javelin against the beast as to transfix him in the forehead.
The boar fell dying upon the ground, and Cyrus waited for the party to
arrive, with pride and triumph. When his uncle Cyaxares came near, he
reproved Cyrus for running such risks, and said that if his grandfather
knew what he had done, he would punish him. “Let him punish me,” said
Cyrus, “if he wishes after I have shown him the stag and the hoar, and
you may punish me too if you will only let me show him the animals I
have killed.” Cyaxares consented, and ordered the bodies of the beasts
and the bloody javelins to be carried home. Cyrus presented them to
his grandfather, who thanked him for the presents, but said he had no
such need of game as to require his grandson to thus expose himself to
danger. “Well, grandfather,” said Cyrus, “if you don’t wish the meat
yourself, will you let me give it to my friends.” Astyages agreed to
this, and Cyrus divided his booty amongst all his young companions who
had hunted with him in the park. The boys took their several portions
home, giving glowing accounts of the skilful exploits of the giver.
Thus was Cyrus thus early ambitious of spreading his own fame.

When Cyrus was about sixteen years of age he went with his uncle
Cyaxares on an excursion for plunder into some neighboring provinces.
Neither the kings of those times nor their historians seem to have
considered such expeditions as unjust or wrong, but rather as a more
noble enterprise than even their favorite hunting. In this expedition
Cyrus so distinguished himself by his exploits, that his father,
hearing the reports thereof, concluded that if his son was beginning to
take part as a soldier in military campaigns, it was time to recall him
to his own country. He therefore sent for Cyrus to return home.

There was great sadness in the Median court when Cyrus departed, for he
had become a special favorite with king and people.

The succeeding events of Cyrus’ life take us more out of the field of
romance and are more strictly confined to the facts of history. Cyrus
on his return to Persia grew rapidly in strength and stature, and
soon became distinguished for his manly beauty, his personal grace,
and winning manners, as well as excelling all others in the martial
accomplishments he had acquired in Media. He gained great ascendancy
over the minds of others, and as he advanced to manhood his thoughts
turned from athletic sports and hunting to plans of war and ambitions
for more extended dominions.

Meanwhile, Harpagus, who had always meditated revenge upon Astyages
for the horrible death of his son, though at the time he had been too
wary to express resentment, was constantly watching every opportunity
to work evil against the king. Fifteen years had now passed since the
terrible deed was committed. He remained all this time in the court of
Astyages, where he outwardly demeaned himself as the friend and zealous
subject of the king, but meanwhile he plotted revenge.

He kept up a constant communication with Cyrus, and at last went so far
as to try to induce him to collect an army and march into Media against
Astyages. The plausible motives which he suggested made it appear to
Cyrus as though he would only be endeavoring to free his own Persia
from ignoble bondage, as Persia was a Median dependency. Meanwhile,
Harpagus sympathized with all the disaffected Medians, whose numbers
rapidly increased, as the tyranny of Astyages made numerous enemies.

At length the time came when Harpagus thought the right moment
had arrived for a revolt. Cyrus had now determined to attempt
the enterprise. Astyages had been guilty of some unusual acts of
oppression, by which he had produced great dissatisfaction among his
people. Harpagus found the principal men around him willing to enter
into the conspiracy, so he desired that Cyrus should come into Media
with as large a force as he could raise, and head the insurrection
against the government of Astyages.

Harpagus did not dare to trust this message to any messenger, and so
he took this novel way of communicating with Cyrus. He wrote a letter
to Cyrus, and then taking a dead hare he opened the body and concealed
the letter within, and then neatly sewed up the skin again so that no
signs remained of the incision. He then delivered the hare to some
trusty servants, who should also carry hunting weapons, as though about
to go upon some hunting expedition. He also commanded that they should
give the hare to Cyrus himself, and that he should open it alone. The
plan was successful; the hare reached the hands of Cyrus in safety, and
opening it, he read a letter which was in substance as follows:—

“It is plain, Cyrus, that you are a favorite of Heaven, and that you
are destined to a great and glorious career. You could not otherwise
have escaped, in so miraculous a manner, the snares set for you in your
infancy. Astyages meditated your death, and he took such measures to
effect it as would seem to have made your destruction sure. You were
saved by the special interposition of Heaven. You are aware by what
extraordinary incidents you were preserved and discovered, and what
great and unusual prosperity has since attended you. You know, too,
what cruel punishments Astyages inflicted upon me for my humanity in
saving you. The time has now come for retribution. From this time the
authority and the dominions of Astyages may be yours. Persuade the
Persians to revolt. Put yourself at the head of an army and march into
Media. I shall probably myself be appointed to command the army sent
out to oppose you. If so, we will join our forces when we meet, and I
will enter your service. I have conferred with the leading nobles in
Media, and they are all ready to espouse your cause. You may rely upon
finding everything thus prepared for you here. Come, therefore, without

Cyrus determined to comply with the proposal of Harpagus. He therefore
resorted to deceit, or, as he called it, stratagem. Thus war upholds
and justifies falsehood and treachery under the name of stratagem.
Cyrus had a letter prepared in the form of a commission from Astyages,
appointing him commander of a body of Persian forces to be raised in
the service of the king. He then read this false letter at a public
assembly, and called upon all the Persian warriors to join him.

Cyrus did not at first make known to them his designs, but commanded
them all to assemble on a certain day at a place named, and each one
was to provide himself with an axe. When they were thus mustered, he
marched them into the forest, and employed them all day in felling
trees. He gave them, moreover, only the coarsest food. When the day was
over, he ordered them all to assemble again on the morrow. When they
came the next day, instead of hard work and poor food, most sumptuous
feasts had been provided for them, and they spent the day in merriment
and revelry.

In the evening Cyrus called them all together and revealed to them his
plans, and said to them that if they would follow him, they should live
in ease and plenty; otherwise, if they should continue as they were,
they would spend their lives in toil and privation; and he reminded
them of the two days just spent, and asked them which they preferred
to live. The soldiers received his proposals with joy, and eagerly
promised to follow him into Media. When everything was ready, Cyrus
led his army into Media. In the meantime Astyages, hearing of his
insurrection, had collected a large force, and as had been anticipated,
placed it under the command of Harpagus. When the battle was joined,
the honest part of the Median army fought valiantly at first; but
discovering that they were being deserted by their comrades, they fled
in confusion. Cyrus, thus reinforced by the deserting Medians with
Harpagus at their head, now found himself the leader of a large force,
and advanced toward the capital. When Astyages heard of the treachery
of Harpagus and the desertion of his army, he was frenzied with rage.
The long-dreaded prediction of his dream seemed about to be fulfilled,
and the Magi who had assured him that he was safe, as Cyrus had been a
king when a boy, had proved themselves false.

He directed them all to be seized and crucified. He then ordered every
man capable of bearing arms, into the ranks, and putting himself at
the head of this large force, he marched against Cyrus. But he was
defeated, and he himself was taken prisoner. Harpagus was present when
he was taken, and he exulted in triumph over his downfall. Harpagus
asked him what he thought now of the supper in which he had compelled a
father to feed upon the flesh of his own child. Astyages asked Harpagus
if he thought the success of Cyrus was owing to what he had done.
Harpagus replied that it was, and revealed to him how he had schemed
for his destruction, and the preparation he had made in aid of Cyrus,
so that Astyages might see that his downfall had been effected by
Harpagus himself, in terrible retribution for the shocking crime he had
committed so many years before.

The result of this battle was the complete overthrow of the power and
kingdom of Astyages, and the establishment of Cyrus on the throne of
the united kingdoms of Media and Persia.

Cyrus treated his grandfather with kindness, though he kept him in a
sort of imprisonment. The people rejoiced in his downfall, and were
well pleased with the milder and more equitable government of Cyrus.
Astyages met His death years after, in a strange manner. Cyrus sent
for him to come into Persia, where he was then himself residing. The
officer who had Astyages in charge, led him into a desolate wilderness,
where he perished from hunger and exposure. Cyrus punished the officer
for this crime, though it was supposed by some that it was done by the
secret order of Cyrus, in retribution, perhaps, for the evil intentions
of Astyages toward himself in his infancy, which, if they had been
obeyed, would have resulted in his own death from the same cause.

The character and nobleness of Cyrus, as evinced by numerous generous
deeds throughout his life, would, however, seem to refute such a
supposition. Harpagus continued in the service of Cyrus, and became one
of his most celebrated generals.

Such is one of the stories of the accession of Cyrus to the thrones
of Media and Persia. Another account gives a different version of it,
and states that Astyages died while king of Media, and was succeeded
by his son Cyaxares, brother to Cyrus’ mother Mandane, or Mandana, as
her name is given by some historians. The years of the reign of Cyrus
are computed differently. Some make his reign thirty years, beginning
from his first setting out from Persia at the head of an army to succor
his uncle Cyaxares, who was in war with the Babylonians. Others make
the duration of it to be but seven years, because they date only from
the time when, by the death of Cambyses and Cyaxares, Cyrus became
sole monarch of the entire empire of both Media and Persia. But as
Cyrus seems to have been the leader in both the Median and Persian
empires long before the death of these kings, he probably ruled them
both in partnership with them; and notwithstanding Cyrus conquered and
acquired Babylon by his own valor, he complacently allowed his uncle
Cyaxares, whose forces had been engaged with his own, to hold the
first rank. This Cyaxares is called in the Bible Darius the Mede; and
it was under his reign in Babylon, which only lasted two years, that
Daniel the prophet had several revelations. But as our interest is more
particularly in the life and conquests of Cyrus himself, rather than
those of Cyaxares and Cambyses, and as the vast power and dominion
of both Media and Persia seemed to have been owing to the valor and
executive ability of Cyrus alone, our story will confine itself to the
achievements of Cyrus the Great, without further mention of Cambyses or

We now come to the history of Cyrus and Crœsus, and before we recount
the conquest of the kingdom of Lydia, it will make it more interesting,
perhaps, to give a slight sketch of Crœsus, king of Lydia, and also to
mention the oracles which played such an important part in the history
of this king. The country of Lydia, over which this famous king ruled,
was in the western part of Asia Minor bordering on the Ægean Sea.
Crœsus, king of Lydia, acquired the enormous riches for which he was
so famous, from the golden sands of the river Pactolus, which flowed
through his kingdom. The river brought down the gold particles from
the mountains above, and the slaves of Crœsus washed the sands, thus
separating the metal, which was obtained in such vast quantities that
this king’s name has become a proverb for fabulous wealth, in the old
saying, “Rich as Crœsus.”

The people of those days, however, had a very different story of the
origin of the gold in the river Pactolus. Their legend was that ages
before, a certain king named Midas had rendered some service to a god,
who thereupon promised to grant him any favor he should ask. Midas
prayed that the power might be granted him of turning everything he
touched into gold. This power was bestowed by the god, and after Midas
had turned many objects into gold, he began to find his gift very
inconvenient, and was in danger of starving to death in the midst
of all his wealth. For no sooner had he touched any food than it
straightway became gold. Midas was then as anxious to get rid of his
dangerous gift as he had been to secure it.

He implored the god to take back the gift.

The god told him to go and bathe in the river Pactolus, and he should
be restored to his former state.

Midas did so, and was saved, but in the operation a great portion of
the sands of the river were transformed to gold.

Crœsus was at one time visited by a famous Grecian lawgiver, named
Solon. Crœsus received Solon with great distinction, and showed him all
his treasures.

One day the king asked Solon, who of all the persons he had ever met,
he considered to be the happiest man.

Of course Crœsus imagined that the sage would name himself, the king,
as the happiest mortal. But Solon gave him the name of Tellus, a quiet
Athenian citizen.

Crœsus asked why he should place such a man before a monarch occupying
such a throne as his own.

Solon replied,—

“You are now at the height of your power, but I cannot decide whether
you are a fortunate and happy man, until I know your end.”

Crœsus had two sons. One was deaf and dumb, the other was a young man
of much promise; but he was killed while hunting.

As soon as Cyrus had become established on his throne as king of the
Medes and Persians, his power began to extend westward toward the
empire of Crœsus, king of Lydia.

Crœsus was roused from the dejection into which he had been plunged by
the death of his son, by the danger which now threatened his kingdom.
In his uncertainty regarding the future, he determined to consult the
oracles. The three most important of these oracles were situated, one
at Delphi, one at Dodona, and the third at the Oasis of Jupiter Ammon.

Delphi was a small town built on the southern side of Mount Parnassus.
This mount was a famous place. From a deep cavern in the rocks there
issued a stream of gaseous vapor, which was said to inspire all persons
inhaling it with a spirit of divination and poetry. A temple was
built upon this mountain, in which a priestess resided, and she gave
responses to all who came to consult the oracle. When she gave her
answers, she sat upon a three-legged stool, which was afterwards called
the sacred tripod. This oracle became so renowned that many monarchs
came great distances to consult it; and they made very costly presents
to the shrine. The deity who was supposed to dictate the predictions
was Apollo. Crœsus sent messengers to all of the various oracles to
ask what should be the result of his contest with Cyrus. The replies
were all unsatisfactory, except the Delphic oracle. Crœsus now decided
that this was the oracle upon which he must rely, and immediately
made preparations to send most magnificent and costly presents to the
Delphic shrine. Some of the treasures were to be deposited in the
temple, and some were to be offered as a burnt sacrifice to the god.

After the ceremonies were completed, everything that had been used in
the services, including gold and silver vessels, richly embroidered
garments, and numerous other costly articles, were gathered into one
vast funeral pile and burnt. So much gold had been employed in making
these things, that it melted in the fire and ran into plates of great
size. These were then collected and formed into an image of a lion,
which was placed in the temple. Crœsus also presented the temple with
a silver cistern, or tank, large enough to hold three thousand gallons
of wine. There was one strange piece of statuary which he sent to this
shrine, which we must not omit to mention. It was a statue of gold of a
woman-servant in the household of Crœsus. It was called The Breadmaker.
Its origin was this:—

When Crœsus was a child, his mother died, and his father married
again. His stepmother desired to have one of her children succeed to
the throne instead of Crœsus. So she gave some poison to the woman who
was accustomed to make the bread for the family, telling her to put
it in the portion intended for Crœsus. This servant, however, instead
of minding the wicked queen, revealed the plot to Crœsus, and put the
poison in the bread of the queen’s own children. In gratitude for his
preservation by this slave, Crœsus ordered a statue of gold to be made
in her honor, when he came to the throne; and this he sent to the
temple at Delphi. After Crœsus had presented all these magnificent
gifts to the shrine, he consulted the oracle. The answer was as

“If Crœsus crosses the Halys and prosecutes a war with Persia, a mighty
empire will be overthrown. It will be best for him to form an alliance
with the most powerful states of Greece.”

Crœsus was much pleased with this answer, and then asked furthermore,
whether his power would ever decline.

The oracle replied,—

“Whenever a mule shall mount upon the Median throne, then, and not till
then, shall great Crœsus fear to lose his own.”

These replies strengthened the belief of Crœsus that he should be
victorious; but as the sequel shows, we will learn how vague and
indefinite were the answers of the oracles, and so given that they
could correspond with the event, whatever might be the result.

Crœsus now sent ambassadors to Sparta to seek their aid, and meanwhile
went on making great preparations for his campaign. When all things
were ready, the army commenced its march eastward until it reached the
river Halys.

The army encamped upon its banks until some plan could be formed for
crossing the river. Crœsus had with his army a very celebrated engineer
named Thales. This engineer succeeded in getting the army of Crœsus
over the river by ordering a large force of laborers to cut a new
channel for the river behind the army, into which the water flowed, and
Crœsus and his force passed on. Cyrus had heard of his approach, and
soon the armies were face to face.

Cyrus had been conquering all the nations in his path, as he went
forward to meet Crœsus, and thus had been reinforced by all of the
neighboring people, except the Babylonians, who were allied with Crœsus
against him. A great battle was fought at Pteria, which continued all
day, and at its close the combatants separated without either of them
having gained much advantage.

Crœsus thinking that this battle was enough for the present, and
supposing that Cyrus would now go home, having found that he could not
overcome him, determined to return to his own city Sardis, and there
prepare for a more vigorous campaign in the spring.

Cyrus quietly remained in his position until Crœsus had time to return
to Sardis. Whereupon, he followed with his entire army.

Crœsus was now thoroughly alarmed, and collecting all the forces he
could command, he marched forth to a great plain just without the city,
to meet Cyrus.

The Lydian army was superior to that of Cyrus in cavalry, and upon
this plain they would have a much greater advantage. To avoid this,
Cyrus ordered all his large train of camels, which had been employed as
beasts of burden, to be drawn up in line in front of his army, each one
having a soldier upon his back, armed with a spear.

It is said that horses cannot endure the sight or smell of a camel; and
when the two armies met, the cavalry of Crœsus, riding furiously to the
attack, were confronted by the line of huge, awkward camels, with their
soldier riders. The horses were so frightened by the spectacle, that
they turned and fled in dismay, trampling down their own forces, and
causing complete confusion in the Lydian army. The army of Crœsus was
totally defeated, and they fled into the city of Sardis and entrenched
themselves there.

Cyrus now besieged the city for fourteen days, endeavoring to find
some place to scale the walls which surrounded it. One part of the
wall passed over rocky precipices which were considered impassable.
At length one of the soldiers of Cyrus, named Hyræades, observed
one of the sentinels, who was stationed on the wall overlooking the
precipice, leave his post, and come partway down the rocks to get his
helmet, which had dropped down. Hyræades reported this incident to
Cyrus, and so an attempt was made to scale the walls at that point. It
was successful, and thus the city was taken. It is reported that in
the confusion and noise of storming the city the life of Crœsus was
saved by the miraculous speaking of his deaf-and-dumb son. Cyrus had
commanded his soldiers not to kill Crœsus, but that they should take
him alive, and he should then be brought to him. As Crœsus was escaping
with his son a party of Persian soldiers took him prisoner, and were
about to kill him, not knowing who he was, when the dumb boy cried out,—

“It is Crœsus; do not kill him!”

Cyrus had not ordered Crœsus to be spared from any motives of kindness;
but that he himself might determine his fate.

He commanded Crœsus to be put in chains, and a huge funeral pile to be
built in a public square, and Crœsus and fourteen of the young Lydian
nobles were placed upon the pile.

Just as the torch was applied, Crœsus cried out in a tone of anguish
and despair,—

“Oh, Solon! Solon! Solon!”

The officers who had charge of the execution asked him what he meant,
and Cyrus, also hearing him, and being desirous of receiving an
explanation of his mysterious words, commanded the fires to be put out,
and ordered Crœsus to be unbound and to be brought to him. Cyrus now
treated Crœsus with much kindness.


Crœsus was very much incensed against the oracle at Delphi for having
deceived him by false predictions; but the priests of the oracle
replied that the destruction of the Lydian dynasty had long been
decreed by fate on account of the guilt of Gyges, the founder of the
line, who had murdered the rightful monarch, and usurped the crown.
The oracles had foretold that a mighty empire would be overthrown, and
Crœsus had wrongly imagined that it referred to the destruction of the
kingdom of Cyrus. As to the other prediction made by the oracle, that
when he should find a mule upon the throne of Media, he would lose his
own, this had been fulfilled, as Cyrus, who was descended from the
Persians on his father’s side, and from the Medians on his mother’s,
had thus become a hybrid sovereign, represented by the mule.

In his advance towards the dominions of Crœsus in Asia Minor, Cyrus had
passed to the northward of the great and celebrated city of Babylon.
He had now conquered all the nations from the Ægean Sea to the river
Euphrates. He then subdued Syria and Arabia. After this he entered into
Assyria and advanced towards Babylon, the only large city of the East
yet unsubdued.

The taking of Babylon is one of the greatest events in ancient history,
and the principal circumstances with which it was attended were
foretold in the Bible many years before it happened. Babylon, at this
time, was the most magnificent city in the world. It was situated in
a large plain, and was surrounded by walls which were eighty-seven
feet thick, three hundred and fifty feet high, and sixty miles in
circumference. These walls were in the form of a square, each side of
which was fifteen miles long. They were built of large bricks cemented
together with bitumen, which bound bricks so firmly together that the
mortar soon became harder than the bricks themselves. This wall was
surrounded by a deep, wide trench filled with water. The great wall of
Babylon contained 200,000,000 yards of solid masonry, or nearly twice
the cubic contents of the famous wall of China. Each of the bricks
was stamped with the name of Nebuchadnezzar. The wall was so wide
that four chariots could move abreast upon its summit. Two hundred
and fifty towers, each ten feet higher than the walls, rose above
the parapet. One hundred gates of brass opened to as many streets.
Each of the fifty streets was fifteen miles long, and one hundred and
forty feet broad, crossing each other at right angles; these avenues
divided the city into six hundred and seventy-six squares, each being
two and a half miles in circuit. The buildings were erected around
these squares with an open court in the centre, containing beautiful
gardens and fountains. The river Euphrates flowed through the city, and
was spanned by a bridge, five hundred feet long and thirty feet wide.
Above the bridge rose an obelisk one hundred and twenty-five feet high.
As the melting of the snows upon the mountains of Armenia caused the
river Euphrates to overflow its banks in the months of June, July, and
August, two artificial canals were cut, some distance above the city,
which turned the course of these waters into the Tigris before they
reached Babylon. To keep the river within its channel, they raised
immense artificial banks on both sides, built with bricks cemented with
bitumen. In making these works it was necessary to turn the course of
the river another way. For this purpose a prodigious artificial lake
was dug, forty miles square, one hundred and sixty in circumference,
and thirty-five feet deep.


Into this lake the whole river was turned by an artificial canal, cut
from the west side of it, until the entire work was finished, when
the river was allowed to flow into its former channel. This lake was
kept, however, as a reservoir, as a means of irrigating the surrounding

Along the banks of the river were the famous Hanging Gardens, where the
many terraces bloomed with brilliant flowers, and were shaded by groves
of trees, and cooled by fountains of sparkling water. These beautiful
gardens, which were considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World,
were constructed by Nebuchadnezzar to please his wife Amytis, whose
native land was Media, as she was the daughter of Astyages.

Surrounded by a triple wall, and guarded by gates of brass, rose the
magnificent royal palace, whose walls were adorned by pictures of
the chase, and martial and festive processions, and whose apartments
were furnished with the rich carpets of Persia, the costly fabrics of
Damascus, and the jewels of Bokhara.

Rising above all the other structures was the lofty Tower of Belus,
or Babel. The tower was six hundred feet high, and was crowned with
a statue of Belus, forty feet high, made of pure gold, which shone
resplendent in the sunlight, or gleamed with matchless beauty in the
soft moonlight. It is said that this tower far exceeded the greatest
pyramid of Egypt in height. The ascent to the top was by stairs round
the outside of it; and as the tower proper was composed of eight
stories, each decreasing gradually in size, the entire tower formed
a pyramid. In the different stories were many rooms, which were
richly adorned with tables, censers, cups, and other sacred vessels of
massive gold. Diodorus, one of the ancient historians, estimates the
value of the riches contained in this temple to amount to $93,240,000.
This temple stood in the time of Xerxes, but on his return from his
Grecian expedition, he entirely destroyed it, having plundered it of
all its immense treasures. Alexander the Great purposed to rebuild
it, and employed ten thousand men to remove the rubbish which had
accumulated around it, but after they had labored two months, Alexander
died, and that put an end to the undertaking.

Belshazzar gave a great feast in his palace to all his chief officers
and nobles, even though Cyrus the Great was then besieging Babylon.
It was during this impious feast, after Belshazzar had commanded that
the sacred vessels, which had been taken from the Temple of Jehovah in
Jerusalem, should be desecrated by being used by his drunken guests
as wine-goblets, that the marvellous writing appeared upon his palace
wall, and the words “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” were traced in
letters of fire by a mysterious hand. Belshazzar was aroused from his
drunken carousal and filled with terror on account of the strange omen.
None of his magicians could interpret its meaning. At last his mother,
Queen Nitocris, remembered the old prophet Daniel, and his previous
wonderful interpretations for Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel, being summoned,
declared that it predicted the destruction of his kingdom, which should
be divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

Swiftly, indeed, did the dread catastrophe overtake the wicked king.
Cyrus had caused great ditches to be dug on both sides of the city,
above and below, so that the water of the river Euphrates might run
into them. That very night he caused those great receptacles to be
opened; and while Belshazzar and his drunken army were carousing in
mad revellings, the channel of the river was emptied, and the hostile
forces marched into the dry channel in two bodies of troops; one
entering above the city, and one below. A guide who had promised to
open all the gates to Cyrus left open the gates of brass which were
made to shut up the descents from the quays to the river.


Thus the army of Cyrus was enabled to penetrate into the very heart
of the city without opposition. Arriving at the royal palace, they
surprised the guards and killed them. Then rushing into the palace, and
meeting the king, who had seized a sword, and stood in the midst of his
frightened and helpless guests, the soldiers of Cyrus killed Belshazzar.

Cyrus, having entered the city, put all to the sword who were found
in the streets. He then commanded the citizens to bring him all their
arms, and afterwards to shut themselves up in their houses. Early the
next morning, the garrison which kept the citadel, learning that the
city had been taken, and their king killed, surrendered themselves
to Cyrus. Thus did this prince, almost without striking a blow, find
himself in possession of the strongest place in the world.

In the first year after Cyrus conquered Babylon, he published the
famous edict permitting the Jews to return to Jerusalem. Cyrus at the
same time restored to the Jews all the vessels of the temple of the
Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought from Jerusalem, and placed in
the temple of his god Belus, or Baal.

After this conquest, Cyrus established his residence in the midst of
the countries within his vast dominions. He spent seven months of
the year at Babylon in the winter season, because of the warmth of
that climate; three months at Susa in the spring; and two months at
Ecbatana, during the heat of summer.

There is an interesting story, told by Xenophon, of a princess, named
Panthea, in connection with the expedition of Cyrus against the
Assyrians. Among the prisoners of war taken by his army was a very
beautiful princess, Panthea, the wife of Abradates, king of Susiana.
Her husband was an Assyrian general, though he himself was not captured
at this time with his wife. Cyrus committed this princess to the care
of one of his young nobles, named Araspes. This nobleman fell in love
with Panthea, and ventured to express to her his admiration for her.
She was offended; and when Araspes continued his declarations of
love, she complained to Cyrus. Cyrus severely reproved his officer
for proving unworthy of the trust reposed in him. Araspes, mortified
and repentant, was overwhelmed with fear and remorse. Cyrus, hearing
of this, sent for Araspes, and instead of upbraiding him, sent him
upon a trusty and difficult mission as a spy among the Assyrians. The
loss of so brave an officer, who was supposed to have gone over to the
enemy, greatly affected the army. Panthea, who imagined that she had
been the cause of this loss to Cyrus, told him that she would supply
the place of Araspes with an officer of equal merit. Accordingly, she
sent for her husband Abradates. Upon his arrival, she told him of the
kindness and consideration with which she had been treated by Cyrus,
the generous conqueror.

“And how,” said Abradates, “shall I be able to acknowledge so important
a service?”

[Illustration: BABYLONIAN KING.]

“By behaving towards him as he has done towards me,” replied Panthea.

Whereupon, Abradates immediately expressed his gratitude to Cyrus, and
offered to espouse his cause as his faithful ally. Cyrus received him
with a noble and courteous manner and accepted his offer. Abradates
then fitted up for Cyrus one hundred chariots at his own expense,
and provided horses to draw them, from his own troop. These armed
chariots were a very expensive sort of force. The carriages were heavy
and strong and were usually drawn by two horses. They had short,
scythe-like blades of steel projecting from the axletrees on each side,
by which the ranks of the enemy were mowed down when the chariots
were driven among them. Each chariot could hold one or more warriors
beside the driver of the horses. The warriors stood on the floor of
the carriage, and fought with javelins and spears. Abradates made
one chariot much larger than the rest for himself, as he intended to
command this corps of chariots.

His wife Panthea took much interest in these preparations, and
unknown to Abradates, she furnished from her own treasures a helmet,
a corselet, and arm-pieces of gold for her husband. She also provided
breast-pieces and side-pieces for the horses. When the day arrived
for Abradates to go into battle with his chariot corps, Panthea
presented her munificent gifts to him, which were most royal. Besides
the defences of gold, there were other articles for ornament. There
was a purple robe, a violet crest for the helmet, waving plumes, and
costly bracelets. Abradates was greatly astonished, and exclaimed with
surprise and pleasure,—

“And so to provide me with this splendid armor and dress, you have been
depriving yourself of all your finest and most beautiful ornaments!”

“No,” lovingly replied Panthea; “you are yourself my finest ornament,
if you appear in the eyes of others as you do in mine; and I have not
deprived myself of you.”

There were many spectators present to see Abradates mount in his
gorgeous chariot and drive away; but the attention of the beholders was
centred upon the exquisite beauty of Panthea, as she stood by the side
of his chariot to bid adieu to her husband. This was their last parting.

As Panthea turned away from the royal train, her husband waved her a
fond farewell.

On the field of battle Abradates displayed heroic courage. His chariot
was observed by Cyrus, in the thickest of the fight, rushing fearlessly
into the places of the greatest danger.

The victory was gained by Cyrus; but Abradates was killed in his
chariot; and when Cyrus inquired about him, it was reported that
Panthea was then attending to the interment of the body on the banks of
a river which flowed near the field of battle.

Cyrus immediately went to the spot, where Panthea sat weeping over the
remains of her beloved husband. Cyrus leaped from his horse, and knelt
beside the corpse, exclaiming,—

“Alas! thou brave and faithful soul, and art thou gone?”

Cyrus said what he could to console Panthea; but she was unconsolable.
He gave directions that everything should be furnished for her comfort.
Panthea thanked him for his kindness.

After Cyrus had left her, Panthea sent away all her servants but her
waiting-maid, saying that she wished to be alone with the dead body of
her husband. She then drew forth a small dagger, which she had kept
concealed beneath her robe; and telling her maid to envelop her dead
body in the same mantle with her husband, and to have them buried
together in the same grave, she pierced her heart with the weapon
before her affrighted servant could prevent the fatal wound. Abradates
and Panthea were buried together in one grave, as the heart-broken
wife had requested, over which Cyrus erected a lofty monument to their

Cyrus, finding himself master of all the East by the taking of Babylon,
did not imitate the example of most other conquerors, who sully the
glory of their victories by their cruelties and wicked lives. Cyrus
is justly considered one of the wisest conquerors and one of the most
accomplished of the princes to be found in profane history. He was
possessed of all the qualities necessary to make a great man. Cicero
observes, that during the entire time of the rule of Cyrus he was never
heard to speak one rough or angry word.

Cyrus, according to his belief, was very religious. He was, to be sure,
a pagan; but he reverenced sacred things, and as his deliverance of the
Jews showed, he acknowledged the power of Jehovah, even though we have
no account of his complete conversion from idolatry. But his devotion
to what he held to be religion is an example for the worshippers of the
one true God.

Cyrus, having established himself in the midst of his wide kingdom,
with his chief residence at Babylon, resolved to appear before the
people in an august religious ceremony, by marching in a grand
cavalcade to the places consecrated to the gods, in order to offer
sacrifices to them. He ordered the superior officers of the Persians
and allies to attend him; and he presented each one with a suit of
clothes of the Median fashion. These were long garments, of various
colors, of the finest and brightest dyes, richly embroidered with
gold and silver. One of the historians gives this description of this
gorgeous pageant.

[Illustration: PERSIAN CHARIOT.]

[Illustration: TOMB OF CYRUS.]

“When the time appointed for the ceremony was come, the whole company
assembled at the king’s palace by break of day. Four thousand of the
guards, drawn up four deep, placed themselves in front of the palace,
and two thousand on the two sides of it, ranged in the same order. All
the cavalry were also drawn out, the Persians on the right, and that
of the allies on the left. The chariots of war were ranged half on one
side and half on the other. As soon as the palace gates were opened,
a great number of bulls of exquisite beauty were led out, by four and
four. These were to be sacrificed to Jupiter and other gods, according
to the ceremonies prescribed by the Magi. Next followed the horses
that were to be sacrificed to the sun. Immediately after them a white
chariot, crowned with flowers, the pole of which was gilt; this was to
be offered to Jupiter. Then came a second chariot of the same color,
and adorned in the same manner, to be offered to the sun. After these
followed a third, the horses of which were caparisoned with scarlet
housings. Behind came the men who carried the sacred fire in a large

“When all these were on the march, Cyrus himself made his appearance
upon his car, with his upright tiara upon his head, encircled with the
royal diadem. His under-tunic was of purple mixed with white, which
was a color peculiar to kings; over his other garments he wore a large
purple cloak. His hands were uncovered. A little below him sat the
master of the horse, who was of a comely stature, but not so tall as
Cyrus, for which reason the stature of the latter appeared still more

“As soon as the people perceived the prince, they all fell prostrate
before him and worshipped him; whether it was that certain persons
appointed on purpose, and placed at proper distances, led others
by their example, or that the people were moved to do it of their
own accord, being struck by the appearance of so much pomp and
magnificence, and with so many awful circumstances of majesty and

“The Persians had never prostrated themselves in this manner before
Cyrus till on this occasion. When Cyrus’ chariot was come out of the
palace, the four thousand guards began to march; the other two thousand
moved at the same time, and placed themselves on each side of the

“The eunuchs, or great officers of the king’s household, to the number
of three hundred, richly clad, with javelins in their hands and mounted
upon stately horses, marched immediately after the chariot. After
them were led two hundred horses of the king’s stable, each of them
having embroidered furniture and bits of gold. Next came the Persian
cavalry divided into four bodies, each consisting of ten thousand men;
then the Median horse, and after those the cavalry of the allies. The
chariots of war, four abreast, brought up the rear and closed the
procession. When they came to the fields consecrated to the gods, they
offered their sacrifices first to Jupiter and then to the sun. To the
honor of the first, bulls were burnt, and to the honor of the second,
horses. They likewise sacrificed some victims to the earth, according
to the appointment of the Magi; then to the demigods, the patrons and
protectors of Syria. In order to amuse the people after this grave and
solemn ceremony, Cyrus thought fit that it should conclude with games
and horse and chariot races.

“The place chosen for them was large and spacious. He ordered a certain
portion of it to be marked out, and proposed prizes for the victors of
each nation, which were to encounter separately and among themselves.
He himself won the prize in the Persian horse-races, for nobody was
so complete a horseman as he. The chariots ran but two at a time, one
against another. Some days after, Cyrus, to celebrate the victory he
had obtained in the horse-races, gave a great entertainment to all
his chief officers, as well strangers as Medes and Persians. They had
never yet seen anything of the kind so sumptuous and magnificent. At
the conclusion of the feast he made every one a noble present, so
that they all went home with hearts overflowing with joy, admiration,
and gratitude; and all-powerful as he was, master of all the East and
so many kingdoms, he did not think it descending from his majesty to
conduct the whole company to the door of his apartment.

“Such were the manners and behavior of those ancient times, when men
understood how to unite great simplicity with the highest degree of
human grandeur.”

There are two accounts given of the death of Cyrus. Herodotus relates
that Cyrus made war against the Scythians, and after having attacked
them, made a feint of retreating, leaving a great quantity of
provisions and wine behind him. The Scythians, supposing he had indeed
departed, seized the booty and were soon thoroughly drunk from the
effects of the wine. While they were still in a drunken slumber, they
were surprised by Cyrus and completely routed. The son of Tomyris,
queen of the Scythians, had commanded the vanquished army, and was
taken prisoner. When he recovered from his drunken fit and found
himself in captivity, with a disgrace hanging over his head which
he could never hope to wipe out, he killed himself in despair. His
mother, Queen Tomyris, determining to avenge the death of her son,
collected a large force; and meeting the Persians in a second battle,
they were defeated, and more than two hundred thousand of their number
were killed, together with their king, Cyrus. Tomyris was so enraged
against Cyrus, that even his death did not suffice her vengeance; but
it is said that she ordered his head to be cut off and flung into a
vessel full of blood. This shocking account, however, is not given
by Xenophon, who relates that when Cyrus perceived the time of his
death to be near, he ordered his children and officers of state to be
assembled about him. After thanking the gods for their favors to him,
he declared his oldest son, Cambyses, to be his successor, and left the
other, whose name was Tanaoxares, several important governments. Having
taken his leave of them all, he addressed these words to his sons:—

[Illustration: RUINS OF BABYLON.]

“I could never imagine that the soul only lived while in a mortal body,
and died when separated from it. But if I mistake, and nothing of me
shall remain after death, at least fear the gods, who never die, who
see all things, and whose power is infinite. Fear them, and let that
fear prevent you from ever doing, or deliberating to do, anything
contrary to religion and justice. For my body, my sons, when life has
forsaken it, enclose it neither in gold or silver, nor any other matter
whatever; restore it immediately to the earth. Adieu, my dear children;
may your lives be happy. Carry my last remembrance to your mother. And
for you, my faithful friends, receive this last farewell, and may you
live in peace.” Having said these words, he covered his face and died,
sincerely lamented by all his people.


356-323 B.C.

    “Self-conquest is the greatest of victories.”—PLATO.

ONE day a terrible event transpired in the ancient city of Ephesus.
The magnificent temple of Diana, one of the famous Seven Wonders of
the World, was in flames. The people from all parts of the country
flocked to the scene of the imposing conflagration. This marvellous
temple had been built at the expense of all Asia Minor. One hundred
and twenty-seven kings had contributed one hundred and twenty-seven
magnificent columns of Parian marble, which were sixty feet in height,
and wrought by the most famous artists. Pliny says that two hundred
and twenty years were occupied in rearing this vast structure. But now
the flames mount higher and higher. All the efforts of the distracted
people to subdue them are in vain. See! the rapacious tongues of fire
are nearing the sacred image of the goddess, which the Ephesians
believed had fallen from heaven. Why does not Diana, the great goddess,
prevent the destruction of this, her most imposing and sacred shrine?
The people call upon her in their wild despair; but still the flames
devour with fury the magnificent structure, and the air is rent with
the cries of the horror-stricken multitude. That very night, while the
heavens were still red with the lurid light of the burning temple,
another event occurred upon the other side of the Ægean Sea, in the
royal palace of the kingdom of Macedon. A tiny infant first opened
its eyes upon this strange world; and above his royal cradle, king and
nobles bent in gratified delight, and welcomed the little stranger
with proud joy. But what had this helpless babe to do with the burning
temple in Ephesus? This baby was the infant Alexander the Great; and
so superstitious were the people of those times that in order to
explain the strange fatality of a great goddess like Diana allowing her
magnificent temple to be burned and destroyed without any miraculous
intervention on her part, to punish such a sacrilegious desecration of
her shrine by wicked mortals, the historians of those days declared
that as Diana was at that time lending her aid and presence to insure
the future greatness of the new-born infant Alexander, it was on
account of her absence on so beneficent an errand, that her temple was
not guarded from this impious destruction.


But what mortal had so dared to insult the gods, as to apply the torch
to this most sacred shrine? At last it was discovered that a person
named Herostratus had fired the temple; not by accident, but with
wicked intent. Upon being put to the torture in order to force him to
confess the motive for so infamous a crime, he declared that it was to
immortalize his own name, that he might be known to all posterity as
the destroyer of this famous structure. A decree was then published
that all should be prohibited from mentioning his name. But this decree
only caused greater curiosity, and scarcely one of the historians of
those times have failed to mention the name of this wicked and vain man.

These events happened about 356 B.C. Alexander was born the heir to the
throne of one of the Grecian kingdoms. His father was King Philip of
Macedon. The kingdom of Macedon was in the northern part of Greece.
The mother of Alexander was Olympias, the daughter of the king of
Epirus, which was a kingdom lying west of Macedon. Olympias was a woman
of very strong character, but possessed also some unlovely traits. His
father, King Philip, was a great warrior, and during the boyhood of
Alexander, he made many conquests in various parts of Greece. Alexander
was much favored in the circumstances of his early life, and also in
the possession of a superior mind, and handsome face and figure, and
most winning manners. He was born to rule; and had he always used his
many gifts as wisely as he employed his executive powers and physical
courage, he would have been one of the greatest of men, whereas now he
can be called only one of the greatest of conquerors, whose life was
marred by some of the most terrible of vices.

But the boy Alexander is intensely attractive and interesting. He
seemed to possess few of the faults of youth. He was active, and full
of ardor and enthusiasm, and at the same time he was calm and prudent
in emergencies, and very thoughtful and far-seeing. He was kind and
considerate, faithful to his friends, and generous to his foes. He
possessed a remarkable mind, and delighted in study and in improving
conversation with his teachers. He was privileged to be a pupil of the
famous Aristotle. The progress of the pupil was equal to the care and
ability of the preceptor. Alexander became very fond of philosophy and
metaphysics, even though a young boy; and he did not omit mathematics
and the study of the wonders of nature. But Alexander applied himself
chiefly to the study of morality, as it contributes to the good conduct
of a prince and the best government of a people. How sad it was that,
with all these desirable qualities of heart and mind, his later years
were marred by the greatest of vices, and his natural noble impulses
were deadened by a life of brutal ferocity and drunken debauchery,
which tarnished the brightness of his glory and sullied the reputation
of a great conqueror, whose brilliant actions and intrepid bravery
dazzled the eyes of friends and foes!

[Illustration: ALEXANDER THE GREAT.]

But we must not suppose that the youthful Alexander was a melancholy
dreamer or an embryo philosopher. His greatest delight was to read of
the exploits of the Grecian heroes, which were described by Homer, an
ancient poet who lived four or five hundred years before the time of
Alexander. There were then no printed books, but these and other works
were written on parchment rolls, which the young scholars were taught
to read. As Homer’s tales were written in Greek, which was the native
language of Alexander, he could understand them very easily, and was
greatly excited with the stirring scenes there depicted. Aristotle
ordered a beautiful copy of Homer’s poems to be prepared expressly for
his princely pupil. Alexander afterwards carried this copy with him in
all his campaigns; and years after, when he was fighting the Persians,
among the spoils taken from them was a very costly casket, which King
Darius had used for jewels or perfumes. This box was always afterwards
employed by Alexander as a receptacle for his beautiful copy of Homer;
and he placed it with his sword beneath his pillow at night. Although
he was a prince, he was not brought up in habits of luxury. The Greeks
in those days had no firearms, and in battle combatants fought in
hand-to-hand conflicts. It was the business of the officers to lead the
men on, and set them the example of bravery by performing themselves
deeds of daring and valor. It was considered necessary to accustom the
young, even though princes, to hardship and fatigue. Alexander was
full of energy and spirit. He early evinced a great degree of ambition;
and when news of his father’s many conquests would be brought to the
court in Macedon, Alexander often remarked to his companions, in a tone
of sorrow and dejection,—

“There will be nothing left for us to conquer.”

The story of Bucephalus, his famous horse, illustrates the courage and
also the keen observation of Alexander. A spirited war-horse had been
sent to Philip while Alexander was quite a young boy. The king and his
courtiers went out into one of the parks to view and try the horse; but
so furious was the animal that no one dared to mount him, as he seemed
entirely unmanageable. Philip was very much provoked, and gave orders
that the horse should be sent back into Thessaly, as useless.

Alexander had stood quietly by, noticing the actions of the animal and
attentively studying his traits. He perceived that the horse seemed
to be frightened at his own shadow; and he begged the consent of his
father to allow him to try the experiment of mounting him. Philip at
last gave a reluctant consent, as the attempt seemed so hazardous
for a young boy, when all his experienced grooms condemned the horse
as too vicious to be subdued. Alexander, however, quickly turned
the frightened creature round, so that he could not see his shadow;
and patting him on the head and neck, reassured him with the gentle
tones of his voice; and as he became less restive, he sprang upon
the animal and gave him full rein to run as he pleased. King Philip
and his nobles first looked on in terror, then in admiration, as the
splendid steed flew over the plains like the wind, with his intrepid
rider seated in calm grace upon his back, evidently perfectly fearless
and self-possessed. Having allowed the horse to tire himself with
his free run, Alexander reined him in with perfect ease, and returned
safely to the king. Philip was so pleased and proud of his son that he
embraced Alexander when he had alighted, and kissing his forehead, he
said to him, “My son, seek a kingdom more worthy of thee, for Macedon
is below thy merit.” This Bucephalus afterwards became the famous
war-horse of Alexander the Great, and many surprising stories are told
of his marvellous sagacity. When this horse was saddled and equipped
for battle, he seemed to realize his proud position, and would allow
no one to approach him but Alexander. When his master wished to mount
him, he would kneel upon his forelegs. Some historians relate that
when Alexander was fighting in a desperate battle, and had plunged too
imprudently amidst his infuriated foes, Bucephalus, though severely
wounded, bore his master to a place of safety, although he was himself
bleeding to death, pierced with the fatal darts of the enemy. Then,
perceiving that Alexander was safe, he fell exhausted, and expired.
Others say that Bucephalus lived to be thirty years of age, and that
Alexander so mourned for him at his death that he built a city on the
spot where his faithful horse had been buried, and called it Bucephalia
in honor of the noble and trusty steed.

When Alexander was only sixteen years of age, his father, Philip, made
him regent of Macedon while he was absent on a great military campaign
against the other Grecian states.

At this time some ambassadors from the Persian court arrived in
Macedon. In the absence of Philip, Alexander received them with
courtesy. They, supposing that he would be interested in hearing about
the splendors of the Persian court, entertained him with stories of
the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon; and the vine of gold, the grapes
of which were emeralds, rubies, and other precious stones; and the
marvellous golden plantain-tree. But Alexander, instead of appearing
absorbed and delighted with these glowing accounts of fabulous wealth,
inquired about the geography of the country, the various roads, and the
strength and power of the Persian king. What battles he had fought,
how he behaved towards his enemies, and how he governed his people.
The ambassadors, astonished at such maturity in one so young, and
filled with admiration for the Grecian prince, began to compare among
themselves Alexander and their own Artaxerxes, saying, “This young
prince is great, while our king is only rich.”

When Alexander was eighteen years of age, King Philip took him with him
on one of his military campaigns, during which Philip fought one of his
great battles in Bœotia. Philip gave the command of one of the wings
of his army to Alexander; and so valiantly did he lead his troops,
that his wing was victorious, and Philip and his command had to exert
themselves to prevent being outdone by the youthful prince. His mother,
Olympias, was of a haughty and imperious temper, and Philip himself was
headstrong and obstinate, and the result of their frequent quarrels
was a final separation, and Philip obtained a divorce from his wife,
she returning to the court of her father. Philip then married a young
and beautiful princess, and at the wedding festivities an incident
occurred which illustrated the traits of both father and son. The uncle
of the new queen, having made some disparaging remark about Olympias,
the mother of Alexander, that prince threw the cup from which he had
been drinking at the offender’s head. Attalus, the queen’s uncle, then
threw his cup at Alexander, and Philip, enraged at such disturbance at
the feast, seized his sword, and rushed towards his son. Having a lame
foot, he stumbled, and fell upon the floor; and Alexander, looking upon
him with scorn and contempt, exclaimed, “What a fine hero the states of
Greece have to lead their armies, a man who cannot get across the floor
without tumbling down!” He then turned away and left the palace, and
afterwards joined his mother in Epirus, and espoused her cause in the
quarrel with his father.

Philip had been planning a great expedition into Asia. He had formed a
strong combination among the states of Greece, and had raised a large
army. Alexander is said to have taken sides with his mother, not so
much out of filial devotion, as because he was jealous of his father’s
conquests, and desirous himself of reaping the glory which seemed to
await the Grecian army in the coming campaign. Before setting forth
upon this expedition, Philip desired to become reconciled to his son
Alexander, and Olympias. He realized the importance of securing the
co-operation of Alexander in his plans; and it would be dangerous to
leave his own kingdom with a son so near in open hostility. Whereupon,
Philip sent conciliatory messages to Olympias and Alexander, and he
proposed that one of his own daughters should marry the present king of
Epirus, who was the brother of Olympias. His overtures were peacefully
received; and Olympias and Alexander returned to Macedon, where great
preparations were made for the proposed wedding festivities. Philip
determined that this event should be celebrated with most gorgeous pomp
and splendor.

He received very costly presents from the other states of Greece;
and though their professions of friendship were very hollow on both
sides, he took this occasion to pay marked attention to their kings and
generals; and they sent him golden crowns, most beautifully wrought,
and large embassies, expressing their good wishes. Athens, the seat of
literature in Greece, sent a poem, in which the history of Philip’s
expedition into Persia was related in anticipation, and in which he was
described as being most triumphantly successful.

The wedding was at length celebrated with much splendor, and the day
after the nuptials was devoted to games and processions. In one of the
latter, which was a religious ceremony, twelve statues of the gods,
carved with marvellous art, were carried with great pomp through the
streets. A thirteenth, which surpassed them all in magnificence, was
a statue of Philip, representing him as a god. The procession was
moving towards a great theatre, where games and spectacles were to be
exhibited. At length Philip himself appeared in the procession. He
had ordered that a wide space should be left around him, so that he
might be more plainly visible to the populace, and also as a proof
of his confidence in the love of his people, thus to expose himself
without a guard. He was clothed in white robes, and adorned with a
sparkling crown. Just as the statues of the gods had been carried into
the theatre, and as that of Philip was about to be born in, an officer
of the guards, a young Macedonian nobleman, named Pausanias, advanced
quickly towards King Philip, and before the spectators suspected his
design, he plunged his dagger into the heart of the king, who fell dead
upon the ground. All was now confusion. The murderer was instantly cut
to pieces by the guards; and an officer of state hastened to inform
Alexander of his father’s death, and his succession to the throne. An
assembly of the leading statesmen was hastily summoned, and Alexander
was proclaimed king. It was by some supposed that the motive which
induced Pausanias to murder Philip was a private revenge for a personal
insult he had received from the uncle of Philip’s present wife, which
insult Philip would not notice. But others believed that the murder was
instigated by the other states of Greece, who were hostile to Philip.
Demosthenes, the celebrated orator, was Philip’s bitterest enemy, and
he used his eloquence in stirring up the Grecians against him. These
orations were called his Philippics.

[Illustration: DEMOSTHENES.]

Alexander’s first measures were to punish his father’s murderers.
Although it could not be ascertained who were involved in the plot,
several were suspected, and put to death. Alexander decided not to make
any change in his father’s appointments, and to carry out his proposed
campaigns. There were two officers in particular, who were the especial
confidants of Philip,—Antipater and Parmenio. Antipater had charge
of the civil, and Parmenio of military affairs. Alexander, at this
time, was only twenty years of age; and Parmenio, a very distinguished
general, was sixty years old. But the genius, power, and enthusiasm of
Alexander’s character made even men of such age and experience willing
to obey his orders, and aid in the execution of his plans.

The Macedonians advised Alexander not to attempt to hold all the states
of Greece; but to relinquish the conquests of Philip, and join with
them in an alliance. But Alexander determined to march boldly into
their midst, and demand their continued subjection, which his father
had gained. This was a bold measure for so young a prince. He thereupon
collected his forces, and set forth at their head. He first marched
his troops to the banks of the Danube, which he crossed in one night.
He defeated the king of the Triballi in a great battle, and subdued
several barbarous nations. While he was thus engaged, several of the
Grecian cities, inflamed by the eloquence of Demosthenes, who harangued
the people, calling Alexander “a child, a hare-brained boy,” formed
a powerful alliance against him. A false report that Alexander was
dead inspired the Thebians with a boldness which proved their ruin.
Alexander, having secured his kingdom from the barbarians, marched with
much expedition towards Greece, and passed the Strait of Thermopylæ.
He then said to his army, “Demosthenes called me, in his orations,
a child, when I was in Illyria, and among Triballi; he called me a
young man, when I was in Thessaly; and I must now show him, before the
walls of Athens, that I am a man grown.” At the Pass of Thermopylæ, a
great council was held between Alexander and the Thessalians, who were
favorable to his claims. Alexander now appeared so suddenly before
the city of Thebes, as to astonish them. He demanded only that they
should deliver up to him the two ringleaders of the revolt against
him, and then he promised a general freedom to the citizens. But the
Thebans insultingly replied that they would only comply, if two of
his generals were delivered to them. Alexander now determined upon a
speedy punishment, and attacked them so vigorously, that the city was
taken, and a large number of the Thebans were killed. Alexander then
resolved to make Thebes a warning to all the Grecian states, and the
city was accordingly destroyed, and thirty thousand of the Thebans were
sold into slavery. He, however, set the priests at liberty; and those
who had opposed the revolt, and also the descendants of Pindar, the
famous poet. Alexander now sent word to Athens, and demanded that they
should deliver up to him ten orators, whom he supposed had influenced
the people against Philip and himself. The Athenians, though in this
dilemma, were still unwilling to deliver up their orators to death;
and at last, one Demades, who was a friend of Alexander’s, offered to
undertake the embassy alone, and plead for them. Alexander, having
now satiated his revenge, and believing that the Grecians were enough
subdued to be controlled, waived his demand.

He then summoned all the monarchs and potentates of Greece, to meet him
at Corinth, that he might obtain from them the same supreme command
against the Persians which had been conferred by them upon his father
Philip. The deliberations of the assembly were short, and Alexander was
appointed generalissimo against the Persians.

There is a story told of Alexander and the philosopher Diogenes, who
was then at Corinth. Alexander supposed that Diogenes would of course
come with the officers and governors of cities, and philosophers, who
waited upon him immediately to congratulate him upon his election. But
Diogenes did not come, and so Alexander, having curiosity to see a
man who would thus slight a king, condescended to call upon Diogenes.
Attended by his courtiers, he paid the philosopher a visit.

Diogenes was found lying in the sun, and seeing the crowd of people
advance toward him, he sat up and fixed his eyes upon Alexander.

That prince was surprised to see so great a philosopher in such seeming
poverty, and accosting him kindly, asked him courteously if there was
anything he wanted.

“Yes,” replied Diogenes, “that you would stand a little out of my

The courtiers of the monarch were astounded at such audacious boldness;
but Alexander exclaimed,—

“Were I not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.” For Alexander perceived,
that even with all his wealth and power, he was in some sense inferior
to a man to whom he could give, and from whom he could take, nothing.

Alexander now returned to Macedon to prepare for his great expedition
into Asia. As king of Macedon he possessed large estates and revenues,
which were his own personal property, independent of the state. He
apportioned these among his officers and generals, both those who were
to go with him, and those who were to remain to guard his kingdom, over
which he placed Antipater as viceregent during his absence.

He displayed such generosity in his gifts, that his friends asked him
what he had reserved for himself.

“Hope,” replied Alexander.

After all things were ready, Alexander celebrated the religious
sacrifices and ceremonies. This great Macedonian festival was held in
honor of the Muses, as well as Jupiter. The Muses, according to the
belief of the Greeks, were nine singing and dancing maidens, who were
very beautiful in face and form, graceful in motion, and brilliant in
mind. They were supposed to have first come from Thrace, and having
gone to Mount Olympus, they were made goddesses by Jupiter. At last
they selected for their place of residence a palace in Mount Parnassus.
They were worshipped all over Greece and Italy as the goddesses of
music and dancing. Afterwards arts and sciences were assigned to
them,—one being the goddess of history, another of astronomy, another
of tragedy, etc.

Alexander celebrated these festivities with great magnificence and
pomp, and then bid a long farewell to his native land. His army
consisted of about thirty thousand foot and four or five thousand
horse. But they were all brave men. His officers were experienced men
of sixty years of age, who had served under Philip his father. Parmenio
commanded the infantry, Philotas his son the cavalry. Alexander sent a
fleet of one hundred and fifty galleys over the Ægean Sea, to land at
Sestos, to be ready to transport his army across the Hellespont. The
army marched to Sestos by land. Having arrived there, Alexander left
Parmenio to conduct the transportation of the army, while he himself
went in a single galley to visit the ruins of Troy, which city was the
scene of Homer’s poems, which had so charmed Alexander in his early
years. So Alexander resolved that his first landing in Asia should be
at Troy. As they approached the Asiatic shore, Alexander took the helm
and steered the galley himself, and just before he reached the land, he
stood upon the prow and threw a javelin at the shore as he approached,
as a sign of his purpose to take possession. He then leaped upon the
land before any of his crew, and afterwards offered sacrifices to the
gods, having erected altars on the shore to Jupiter, Minerva, and to

A large part of Asia Minor had been settled by the Greeks, and
sometimes these cities had been under Grecian rule, and sometimes under
Persian. They were now included in the dominion of Persia. One of
these cities, called Lampsacus, had incurred the anger of the Greeks,
because it had formerly revolted from their rule. Alexander determined
to destroy this city. The ambassador sent by the city to implore his
mercy was a famous historian, who had once been Alexander’s teacher.
Alexander knowing his errand, and fearing his former friendship might
weaken his resolve, declared with a solemn oath, as the ambassador
approached him, that he would not grant the request he was about to
make. The witty historian replied,—

“I have come to implore you to _destroy_ Lampsacus.”

Alexander, pleased with the readiness of the reply, kept his oath; and
of course the city was saved.

In his progress onward, Alexander found himself obliged to cross either
Mount Ida, or a river which descended from its slopes, called the
Granicus. As they neared the river, some of the Grecian scouts, or as
they were called by the Greeks, _prodromi_, reported that the opposite
side was lined with Persian troops, waiting to dispute the passage.

Parmenio counselled Alexander against an immediate crossing, but
Alexander was unwilling to delay. Accordingly, the army advanced to
the banks in order of battle. The centre portion of the Grecian troops
was arranged in a peculiar manner, and was called a phalanx. The men
composing it were heavily armed. They bore a shield upon the left
arm, and they carried spears sixteen feet long and pointed with iron,
which they clasped firmly with both hands, with the points projecting
in front. These men were placed in line, one behind another, to the
number of sixteen, all facing the enemy. So that a phalanx contained
sixteen thousand men. The spears were so long, that when drawn up in
close lines, the points of eight or ten of the ranks projected in
front, forming a bristling wall of sharp points of steel. This wall no
force could penetrate; men, horses, elephants, rushed upon it, only to
meet inevitable destruction. If their enemies threw javelins from a
distance, the shields upon their arms were held in such a manner as
to form a mass of close scales of metal, upon which the javelins fell
harmlessly. The troops upon the sides of the phalanx were called the
wings, and were composed of cavalry and foot-soldiers, who were more
lightly armed, and could therefore move with greater speed.

Alexander commanded one wing, and Parmenio the other. The Persians had
assembled in vast numbers upon the opposite shore. The Grecian army,
led by Alexander, descended into the stream, and moved on through the
water. The Persians dashed down the farther banks, and strove to oppose
their landing. A terrible battle ensued, the soldiers grappling with
each other in the midst of the waves, and the Granicus ran red with the
blood of the wounded. Alexander was fearless and irresistible, and his
long white plume, waving from his shining helmet, was a conspicuous
target for the arrows and javelins of the enemy. At one time, meeting
the foe in close combat, a Persian horseman aimed a blow at his head
with a sword. The weapon took off the white plume, and cut into the
helmet of Alexander, who immediately stabbed his antagonist through the
heart. Just as a second Persian had raised his sword to strike a fatal
blow upon the exposed head of the Grecian hero, a Macedonian general
cut the uplifted arm from the assailant’s body, and saved the life of
Alexander the Great. The Persians were defeated, and Alexander landed
his brave band of warriors upon the opposite bank, while the terrified
Persians fled in dire confusion.

Darius himself had not commanded this Persian force, and he employed
all of the following winter in preparing for a vigorous defence of his
dominions from the encroaching foe.

Alexander, however, did not remain idle during the winter. He marched
from province to province, meeting with many adventures. During this
time Parmenio had remained in the western part of Asia Minor, with
quite a large force. As the spring approached, Alexander ordered him to
meet him at Gordium. One reason which influenced Alexander in this plan
was the desire to attempt to untie the famous Gordian knot. The story
of the Gordian knot was this:—

Gordius was a sort of mountain farmer. One day he was plowing, and an
eagle flew down and alighted upon his yoke, and remained there until he
had finished his plowing. This was an omen; but Gordius did not know
what it meant. So he went to a neighboring town to consult the prophets
and soothsayers. On his way he met a maiden who was going forth to draw
water. Gordius fell into conversation with her, and related to her
the occurrence which had just transpired. The maiden advised him to
go back and offer a sacrifice to Jupiter. Finally she consented to go
back with him and aid him. The affair ended in her becoming his wife,
and they lived in peace and happiness for many years upon their farm.
They had a son named Midas. The father and mother were accustomed to
go out in their wagon drawn by oxen, with Midas as their driver. One
day they were going into the town in this manner, at a time when it
happened that there was an assembly convened, which was in a state
of great perplexity, on account of civil dissensions in the country.
They had just inquired of an oracle what they should do. The oracle
said that “a cart would bring them a king who would terminate their
eternal broils.” Just then Midas came up, driving the cart in which his
father and mother were seated. The assembly thought at once that this
must be the cart meant by the oracle, and they made Gordius king by
acclamation. They took the cart and yoke to preserve as sacred relics,
consecrating them to Jupiter, and Gordius tied the yoke to the pole of
the cart by a thong of leather, making a knot so close and complicated
that nobody could untie it again. It was called the Gordian knot. The
oracle afterwards said that whoever should untie this knot should
become monarch of all Asia. Thus far, nobody had succeeded.

Alexander was very desirous of examining this wonderful knot and
trying his own fortune. He accordingly went into the temple where the
sacred cart had been placed, and after looking at the knot, he became
convinced that it could not be untied, whereupon he cut it to pieces
with his sword.

From this story comes the old saying, when any one gets out of a
difficulty by very violent means, “He has cut the Gordian knot.”

After leaving Gordium, Alexander proceeded with his whole army against
Darius, who was now advancing to meet him.

On a very warm day, after a long and fatiguing march, the Grecian army
reached the river Cydnus, a small stream which came down from Mount
Taurus, near the city of Tarsus. Alexander, warm and weary, plunged
into the cold mountain stream, and was taken with a violent chill, and
as he was lifted out of the water, he fainted away. He was borne to his
tent. A severe and protracted fever came on. Alexander bewailed this
enforced delay, and summoned his physicians, to whom he said,—

“The present condition of my affairs will not admit either of slow
remedies or fearful physicians. A speedy death is more eligible to me
than a slow cure. In case the physicians think it is in their power to
do me any good, they are to know that I do not so much wish to live as
to fight.”

All his physicians but one, however, were afraid to dare any violent
and hazardous remedies, especially as an unfavorable result would
endanger their honor; for Darius had published that he would reward
with a thousand talents the man who should kill Alexander.

His old family physician, named Philip, who had attended him from
childhood, offered to give him a dose of medicine which would be speedy
in its effects, but desired three days to prepare it. During this
interval of waiting Alexander received a letter from Parmenio, who had
been left behind in Cappadocia, warning him against this physician
Philip, and stating that Darius had bribed him by promising a thousand
talents, and his sister in marriage. Alexander courageously refrained
from divulging its contents, and placed the letter under his pillow.

When Philip entered the tent with the medicine, Alexander took the cup,
and handing the letter at the same time to the physician, he swallowed
the dose without waiting his perusal of it. After reading the letter,
Philip replied,—

“Royal sir, your recovery will soon clear me of the guilt of murder,
with which I am charged.”

Three days after, Alexander showed himself to his army, who were filled
with delight at his wonderful recovery; and the accused physician was
now the recipient of the most lavish praises, and looked upon with the
deepest reverence, because he had saved the life of their sovereign.

Slowly Darius marched in stately grandeur to meet his advancing enemy.
A description of his martial procession reads more like a picture of a
grand tournament than the march of an army. One of the historians thus
describes this gorgeous pageant:—

“The king advanced with his troops towards the Euphrates. It was a
custom long used by the Persians never to set out upon a march till
after sunrise, at which time the trumpet was sounded for that purpose
from the king’s tent. Over this tent was exhibited to the view of the
whole army the image of the sun set in crystal, as the Persians were
worshippers of the sun and fire.

“The order they observed in their march was as follows: First, they
carried silver altars, on which there was fire, called by them sacred
and eternal; and these were followed by the Magi, singing hymns after
the manner of their country. They were accompanied by three hundred
and sixty-five youths, corresponding to the number of days in a
year, clothed in purple robes. Afterwards came a chariot consecrated
to Jupiter, drawn by white horses, and followed by a courser of a
prodigious size, to whom they gave the name of the sun’s horse; and the
equerries were dressed in white, each having a rod of gold in his hand.

“Ten chariots, adorned with sculptures in gold and silver, followed
after. Then marched a body of horse, composed of twelve nations,
whose manners and customs were various, and all armed in a different
style. Next advanced those whom the Persians called the Immortals,
amounting to ten thousand, who surpassed the rest of the barbarians in
the sumptuousness of their apparel. They all wore gold collars, were
clothed in robes of gold tissues, with surtouts completely covered with
precious stones. Then followed those called the king’s relations, to
the number of fifteen thousand, in habits very much resembling those
worn by women, and more remarkable for the vain pomp of their dress
than the glitter of their arms. Then came the king’s guards; they
carried the cloak of the monarch, and walked before his chariot, in
which he seemed to sit as on a high throne. This chariot was enriched
on both sides with images of the gods in gold and silver; and from the
middle of the yoke, which was covered with jewels, rose two statues
a cubit in height, the one representing war, the other peace, having
a gold eagle between them, with wings extended, as ready to take its

“But nothing could equal the magnificence of the king. He was clothed
in a vest of purple, striped with silver, and over it a long robe
glittering all over with gold and precious stones, that represented two
falcons rushing from the clouds and pecking at one another. Around his
waist he wore a gold girdle, called cidaris, after the manner of women,
from which hung his scimitar, the scabbard of which flamed all over
with gems. On his head he wore a tiara, or mitre, round which was a
fillet of blue mixed with white. On each side of him walked two hundred
of his nearest relations, followed by ten thousand pikemen, whose pikes
were adorned with silver and tipped with gold; and lastly, thirty
thousand infantry, who composed the rear-guard. These were followed by
the king’s horses, four hundred in number, all of which were led.

“Then came the chariots of his wife Statira and his mother Sysigambis,
with the several female attendants of both queens, riding on horseback.
After them came fifteen large chariots, in which were the king’s
children and those who had the care of their education, escorted by
a band of household officers. Then followed three hundred and sixty
carriages, containing the ladies of the court, dressed in the costumes
of princesses.

[Illustration: DARIUS.]

“After these marched six hundred mules and three hundred camels,
which carried the king’s treasure, and were guarded by a great body
of archers. After these came other chariots, in which rode the wives
of the crown officers and of the greatest lords of the court; then
the sutlers and servants of the army. In the rear were a body of
light-armed troops, with their commanders, who closed the imposing

Darius, at the head of six hundred thousand men, and surrounded with
this mighty pomp, considered himself invincible, and imagined that he
had only to show his gorgeous army to the few Grecian troops led by the
boy Alexander, in order to inspire such awe as should cause them to fly
in terror.

The two opposing forces came in sight of each other upon a plain
near the city of Issus. It was now evening. At midnight the army
of Alexander had reached a defile in the chain of mountains called
Mount Taurus. Among these mountains there are various tracts of open
country, and upon one of these the army of Darius was encamped.
Alexander ascended one of the eminences from whence he could look
down upon the great plain beyond, which was dimly illuminated by the
smouldering fires of the Persian encampment. Alexander there sacrificed
by torchlight to the gods of the Grecians, and returning to his army,
prepared for an early conflict. In the morning, at break of day,
Alexander began his march down to the plain. The battle waged hotly
all day, and at sunset all the valleys and defiles around the plain of
Issus were thronged with the vast masses of the Persian hosts, flying
in confusion from the victorious Macedonians. The flight of Darius had
been so sudden that he had left his wife and mother and children and
much of his treasure behind in the deserted camp. He pressed on
in his chariot as far as he could, and then mounted a horse and fled
for his life. Alexander and his army soon abandoned the pursuit, and
returned to take possession of the Persian camp. The tents of King
Darius were filled with gold and silver vessels, caskets, boxes of rich
perfumes, and many articles of luxury. The greater part of his vast
treasures, however, he had previously sent to Damascus, where they were
afterwards captured by Parmenio. So that Alexander came into possession
of all his splendid treasures, upon which he had so prided himself.
Alexander treated the captive wife, mother, and children of Darius with
great kindness, and gave them every attention he would have paid to
honored guests.

Darius got together a small remnant of his army and continued his
flight. After he had crossed the Euphrates, he sent an ambassador to
Alexander to make propositions for peace. He offered him any sum he
desired as a ransom for his wife, mother, and child, and agreed to
become his ally and friend if he would deliver them up and depart to
his own dominions. Alexander replied by a brief letter. He reminded him
that the Persians had been the first to invade Greece. “I am acting
only on the defensive,” wrote Alexander. “The gods, who always favor
the right, have given me the victory. I am now monarch of a large part
of Asia, and your sovereign king. If you will admit this, and come to
me as my subject, I will restore your wife, mother, and child without
any ransom. And, at any rate, whatever you decide in respect to these
proposals, if you wish to communicate with me on any subject hereafter,
I shall pay no attention to what you send unless you address it to me
as your king.”

As the vast army of the Persian king had now been defeated, none of the
smaller kingdoms or provinces thought of resisting. They yielded one
after another, and Alexander appointed governors of his own to rule
over them. He then advanced along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea,
until he reached the city of Tyre.

The Tyrians wished to avoid a quarrel if possible, and so sent
complimentary congratulations to Alexander, presenting him with a
golden crown. Alexander replied courteously, and stated that his reason
for coming to Tyre was to offer sacrifices to Hercules, a god whom the
Tyrians worshipped. The Tyrians, fearful of allowing him to enter the
city, sent him word that it would not be in their power to receive
him in the city, but that he could offer the sacrifice on the site of
ancient Tyre, as there was a temple sacred to Hercules among the ruins

This answer displeased Alexander, and he now determined to build a
broad causeway from the mainland to the island upon which the present
city of Tyre stood. This causeway he would build out of the ruins of
old Tyre, and then march his army over it and take the new city. His
soldiers accordingly commenced this work. But the Tyrians constantly
harassed the workers; now attacking them with arrows and javelins;
then they took a large galley and filled it with combustibles, and
towing it near the enemy’s works, they set fire to it; and putting it
in motion towards the pier where there was the largest collection of
engines and machines, the vessel drifted down upon Alexander’s works,
and notwithstanding the most strenuous efforts of the Macedonians, the
whole mass was destroyed. Not long after this the sea itself came to
the aid of the Tyrians, and a fearful storm destroyed the portions of
the work which had escaped the fire. Whereupon the Tyrians deridingly
inquired, “Whether Alexander was greater than Neptune, and if they
pretended to prevail over that God?”

But Alexander was not to be defeated by fire, or storm, or the hostile
Tyrians, and again ordered his men to repair the pier. Meanwhile,
Alexander himself collected and equipped a fleet, and sailed into the
Tyrian seas.

The fleet of galleys now protected the men at work on the pier, and
Alexander began to prepare for the final assault. He proposed to force
his entrance on the southern side of the city, where there was a large
breach in the wall.

The plan was successful. He prepared a number of ships, with platforms
raised upon them in such a manner that on getting near the walls they
could be let down, and form a sort of bridge, over which the men could
pass to the broken fragments of the wall, and thence ascend through the
breach above.

The ships advanced to the proposed place of landing. The bridges were
lowered, and before the Tyrians realized their danger the city was
filled with thirty thousand infuriated soldiers, who showed them no
mercy. Thus the city was stormed.

Alexander here displayed a brutal ferocity which tarnished the
brightness of his victory. The inhabitants were put to the sword,
some were executed, some thrown into the sea; and it is said that two
thousand were crucified along the seashore.

Prosperity and power were beginning to exert a baneful influence upon
the character of Alexander. He became haughty, imperious, and cruel.
About this time Darius sent him a second communication, proposing terms
of peace. Darius offered him a large sum of money for the ransom of
his wife, mother, and child, and agreed to give him all the country he
had conquered. He also offered him his daughter Statira in marriage.
He recommended that he should be content with his conquests, and added
that he could not hope to succeed in crossing the mighty rivers of the
East, which were in the way of his march toward the Persian dominions.

Alexander replied “that if he wished to marry the daughter of Darius,
he could do it without his consent; as to ransom, he was not in want
of money; and as to the offer of Darius to give him all the territory
west of the Euphrates, it was absurd for a man to speak of giving
what was no longer his own; that he had crossed too many seas in his
military expeditions, since he left Macedon, to feel any concern about
the _rivers_ that he might find in his way; and that he should continue
to pursue Darius wherever he might retreat in search of safety and
protection, and he had no fear but that he should find and conquer him
at last.”

The siege and storming of Tyre has been considered one of the greatest
of Alexander’s exploits.

After the subjugation of Tyre, Alexander commenced his march for
Egypt. His route led him through Judea. This was about three hundred
years before the birth of Christ. A Jewish writer, named Josephus, who
lived and wrote a few years after Christ, relates the circumstances of
Alexander’s visit to Jerusalem.

When Alexander had been besieging Tyre, he had sent to Judea for
supplies, which were refused, as the Jews were subjects of Darius.
Hearing that Alexander was about to pass through Jerusalem, they began
to fear a fate like that of Tyre. Accordingly the high priest Jaddus,
who was the chief magistrate at Jerusalem, caused great sacrifices to
be offered to Almighty God, and public and solemn prayers were made, to
implore his guidance and protection.

The day after these services he told the people that they need fear
nothing; for God had appeared to him in a dream, and directed him what
to do. “We are not to resist the conqueror,” said he, “but go forth to
meet him and welcome him. We are to strew the city with flowers, and
adorn it as for a festive celebration. The priests are to be dressed in
their pontifical robes, and lead the procession, and the people are to
follow. In this way we are to go out to meet Alexander as he advances,
and all will be well.”

When Alexander met this procession he stopped, and appeared both
pleased and surprised. He advanced to meet the high priest with an air
of the profoundest reverence.

Parmenio, astonished at such a sudden change in his sovereign, asked
for an explanation. To which Alexander replied,—

“When I was in Macedon, before setting out on this expedition, one
night I had a remarkable dream. In my dream this very priest appeared
before me, dressed just as he is now. He exhorted me to banish every
fear, to cross the Hellespont boldly, and to push forward into the
heart of Asia. He said that God would march at the head of my army, and
give me the victory over the Persians. I recognize this priest as the
same person who appeared to me then. It is through his encouragement
and aid that I am here, and I am ready to worship and adore the God
whose service he administers.”

Alexander then joined the high priest in the procession, and returned
with him to Jerusalem. The high priest afterwards read and interpreted
to Alexander some of the prophecies of Daniel, which were supposed to
refer to that conqueror; and Alexander then assured the Jews that they
should be protected in their rights, and especially in their religious

Alexander next proceeded to the city of Gaza. This was a place of
considerable importance, and was under command of a governor, named
Betis, whom Darius had appointed. This Betis refused to surrender the
place to Alexander; whereupon, he besieged it for two months. Having
captured the city, Alexander treated the wretched captives with extreme
cruelty. He cut the garrison to pieces, and sold the inhabitants into
slavery. Then becoming still more brutal, his punishment of Betis was
most shocking. He ordered him into his presence, and said to him, “You
are not going to die the simple death that you desire. You must suffer
the worst torments that revenge can invent.”

Betis calmly looked at Alexander, without reply. This still more
incensed the cruel conqueror.

“Observe his dumb arrogance,” said Alexander; “but I will conquer him.
I will show him that I can draw groans from him, if nothing else.”

He then ordered holes to be made through the heels of his helpless
victim; and passing a rope through the wounds, commanded the body
to be fastened to a chariot, and dragged about the city until the
poor captive was dead. Thus had prosperity and conquest degraded the
character of Alexander.

Having destroyed Gaza, with such inhuman brutality, Alexander now
formed a more ambitious project. The heroes of Homer were represented
as sons of the gods; and Alexander now began to aspire to supernatural
honors, and accordingly resolved that he should be declared to be the
son of a god. He determined to visit the temple of Jupiter Ammon, in
the Oasis of Siwah, and bribe the priests there to declare his divine

The priests at the great temple of Jupiter Ammon received Alexander
with marks of distinction and honor. After most solemn and magnificent
ceremonies, the priests, pretending to confer with the god in the
temple, declared that Alexander was indeed his son; and accordingly
they paid him almost divine honors. Alexander, in his subsequent orders
and decrees, styled himself Alexander king, son of Jupiter Ammon.

On his return from the Oasis, Alexander began building a city at the
mouth of the river Nile. This city he called Alexandria. This city
is the only monument of his greatness which still remains. Upon an
island near the coast, opposite the city of Alexandria, a magnificent
lighthouse was erected, which was considered in those days one of the
Seven Wonders of the world. It was said to have been five hundred feet

The building of the city of Alexandria was one of the most beneficent
acts of Alexander. How much better for the world, as well as for
his own true glory, if good deeds had been the rule instead of the
exception in the life of this famous man!

Alexander was now master of Asia Minor, Phœnicia, Judea, and Egypt. He
now continued his pursuit of Darius.

The Persian army had crossed the Tigris river, and encamped upon the
extensive plain of Arbela. Here Darius waited the approach of his
relentless foe.

The night before the noted battle between Alexander and Darius, the
conqueror, who had come within sight of the Persian host, having
completed his arrangements for the morrow’s conflict, retired to rest.
Early in the morning Parmenio awoke him, and expressed surprise at his
sleeping so quietly when such vast issues were at stake. “You seem
as calm,” said he, “as if you had fought the battle and gained the

“I have done so,” replied Alexander; “I consider the whole work done,
when we have gained access to Darius, and forced him to give us battle.”

Alexander is thus described as he appeared at the head of the army on
this important occasion. “He wore a short tunic, girt close around him,
and over it a linen breastplate, strongly quilted. The belt by which
the tunic was held was embossed with figures of beautiful workmanship.
Upon his head was a helmet of polished steel, surmounted with a white
plume. He wore also a neck-piece of steel, ornamented with precious
stones; he carried a shield, lance, and sword.”

The Persians employed elephants in their wars. They also had chariots,
armed with long scythes. But the terrible Macedonian phalanx, with
columns of infantry and flying troops of horsemen on either side, cut
through the mighty mass of their enemies with irresistible force. The
elephants turned and fled. The Persian troops were routed, and Darius
himself was obliged to flee. Alexander went to Babylon, where he was
received as a conqueror. The storehouse of the Persian treasures
were at Susa, a strong city east of Babylon. Alexander then marched
to Susa, and took possession of the vast treasures collected there.
Besides these treasures, Alexander here found a number of trophies
which had been brought from Greece by Xerxes, some hundred years
before. Alexander sent them all back to Greece. He then proceeded
in a triumphal march to Persepolis, the great Persian capital. Here
Alexander exhibited another striking instance of wicked weakness. He
was giving a great banquet to his officers. Among the women at this
feast was a vain and foolish woman named Thais. While the guests were
half intoxicated from the effects of wine, this Thais, seizing a
burning torch and waving it above her head, proposed that they should
set fire to the great palace of Persepolis, which had been built by
Xerxes, and amuse themselves by watching the imposing conflagration.
Alexander, flushed with wine, consented; and the drunken guests
sallied forth, alarming the inhabitants with their boisterous shouts
and flaming torches. Arriving at the magnificent palace, they applied
their torches, and the gorgeous structure was soon a frightful mass of
lurid flames. Alexander, sobered by the sublime and awful spectacle,
repented of his wild folly. He ordered the fire to be extinguished; but
it was too late; the infamous deed was done; the grand old palace was a
hopeless mass of ruins, and another blot, which never can be effaced,
tarnished the fame and character of Alexander.

Notwithstanding Alexander’s evil deeds, he was kind to his mother. He
sent her rich presents after his conquests; and though she was proud
and imperious, and made Antipater, whom Alexander had left in command
in Macedon, much trouble, so that Antipater was forced to complain of
her, Alexander said that a single tear of his mother’s would outweigh
ten thousand accusations against her. Olympias, however, did not
repay his devotion with equal nobleness; she wrote frequent letters
to him full of petty fault-finding, and making unkind comments upon
his officers and generals; and though Alexander showed her respect,
he evinced more love towards the mother of Darius, treating her
and the captive children of his foe with the greatest kindness and
consideration. After the battle of Arbela, while Alexander marched to
Babylon and Susa, Darius had fled to Ecbatana. He was thus in one of
the Persian royal palaces, while his family were with his conqueror
at another. The wife of Darius had died before this time, while still
a captive in the Grecian camp. Many of the forces of Darius had gone
over to Alexander’s side, about forty thousand remaining faithful to
him. But among these seeming friends were treacherous foes. A general,
names Bessus, formed the plan of seizing Darius, and making him a
prisoner, and then taking the command of the army himself. If Alexander
should be likely to conquer him, he would then try to save himself
by giving up Darius. If, on the other hand, their forces should be
successful, he would then get Darius out of his way by assassinating
him, and usurping the throne. Bessus communicated his plans to many
of the chief officers, who agreed to become parties in the plot. The
Grecian soldiers in the Persian army revealed this conspiracy to
Darius, but he would not believe in the treachery of his countrymen. As
Alexander advanced, Darius had retreated from Ecbatana, and Alexander
followed him. While halting for rest, a Persian nobleman came into the
Macedonian camp, and informed Alexander that the enemies’ forces were
two days’ march in advance. Bessus was in command, and Darius deposed,
the plot having been successfully carried out. Alexander immediately
set forward in pursuit of Bessus and his royal prisoner. Alexander
had now been two years advancing from Macedon into the heart of Asia,
in pursuit of Darius. His conquest would not be complete until that
monarch was captured. As soon as Bessus and the Persian army found
that Alexander was close upon them, they attempted to hurry forward in
the hope of escaping. Darius was in a chariot. They urged this chariot
on, but it was too cumbersome for rapid flight. Bessus and his chief
conspirators then called upon Darius to mount a horse and escape with
them, leaving the rest of the army to its fate. Darius refused. Having
become convinced of their treachery, he said he would rather trust
himself in the hands of Alexander than to such traitors as they. Bessus
and his confederates, exasperated by this reply, thrust their spears
into Darius’ body as he sat in the chariot, and galloped away. Darius
remained in his chariot, wounded and bleeding. His many sorrows had at
last overwhelmed him. His kingdom was lost; his beloved wife was in
the grave; his family were in captivity; his cities were sacked; his
palaces and treasures plundered; and now, betrayed and abandoned, he
was dying, slain by his treacherous countrymen, whom he had trusted
as his friends. Alone, deserted by all the world, he, the once mighty
monarch of vast dominions, now lay there, faint and bleeding, waiting
the coming of death or his victorious conqueror.

The Macedonians at last discovered the chariot in which Darius was
lying pierced with spears. The floor of the chariot was covered with
blood. They raised him a little, and he spoke; he called for water. A
Macedonian soldier went to get some; others hurried to find Alexander,
and bring him to the spot where his long-pursued enemy was dying. When
the soldier returned with the water, Darius received the drink, and
then said to those about him, “That he charged them to tell Alexander
that he died in his debt, though he had never obliged him; that he gave
him a multitude of thanks for the great humanity he had exercised
towards his wife, mother, and his children, whose lives he had not only
spared, but treated them with the greatest consideration and care,
and had endeavored to make them happy; that he besought the gods to
give victory to his arms, and make him monarch of the universe; that
he thought it was not necessary to entreat him to revenge his murder,
as this was the common cause of kings.” Then taking Polystratus, one
of the Macedonians who had brought him the desired water to relieve
his agonizing thirst, he continued, “Give Alexander thy hand, as I
give thee mine, and carry him in my name the only pledge I am able
to offer,—of my gratitude and affection.” Saying these words, Darius
breathed his last.

Alexander, coming up a moment after, was shocked at the spectacle
before him, and wept bitterly. He then spread his own military cloak
over the dead monarch. Having ordered the body to be embalmed, it was
then enclosed in a costly coffin, and sent to Sysigambis, the mother of
Darius, in order that it might be buried with the ceremonies usually
paid to Persian monarchs, and be entombed with his ancestors.

The Persian generals under Bessus now resolved to betray him, as he
had betrayed his master. They sent word to Alexander that they would
deliver him into his hands if he would send a small force to the place
where they designated. Accordingly this command was entrusted to a
Macedonian officer named Ptolemy, who found Bessus in a small walled
town, to which he had fled for refuge.

When Bessus was brought to Alexander, that monarch ordered the prisoner
to be publicly scourged, and then caused his face to be mutilated in
a manner customary in those days when a criminal was condemned to
be stamped with a perpetual mark of infamy. Alexander then sent the
traitor as a second present to Sysigambis, to be dealt with as her
revenge for the death of Darius might dictate.

After being terribly tortured, the miserable Bessus paid the last
penalty of his crimes by a most shocking death, inflicted upon him by
Sysigambis, to avenge her murdered son.

Alexander was now twenty-six years of age. He was now the undisputed
master of all western Asia. His wealth was boundless, his power was
supreme, but his character was fearfully demoralized. He lived in the
palaces of the Persian kings, and gave himself up to all sorts of
vices. He spent his time in drunken debaucheries. The strong sentiment
of love and respect with which he had formerly inspired all around him
was gone, and conspiracies and treason prevailed. When the suspicions
of Alexander were aroused, he put to death some of his most trusted

At last there was a conspiracy, in which Philotas, the son of the
faithful Parmenio, was implicated. Being arrested and put to the
torture, Philotas accused his father, in the hopes of saving himself.
Though there was no evidence against that trusty general, Alexander
caused them both to be put to death.

The death of Parmenio and his son, in this violent manner, raised much
unfavorable feeling against Alexander.

Another case exemplifies the wicked deeds of Alexander when under the
influence of wine, and puffed up with vain-glorious pride.

One of his oldest and most faithful generals, named Clitus, was present
at one of the frequent banquets given by Alexander. That monarch,
excited with wine, had been boastfully recounting his own exploits, and
had spoken disparagingly of those of his father Philip in comparison.
Clitus, also heated with wine, began to praise Philip, under whom he
had fought; and then growing bolder, he upbraided Alexander for the
death of Parmenio. Alexander, frenzied with wine and rage, seized a
javelin, hurled it at Clitus, and struck him down, saying, “Go then,
and join Philip and Parmenio.” Alexander, as soon as he came to
himself, was overwhelmed with remorse and shame. He could not, however,
restore Clitus to life, or remove the disgrace from his own name.

Alexander continued for two or three years his expeditions and
conquests in Asia. He penetrated into India as far as the banks of the
Indus. But his soldiers refused to go further. He made an address to
his army, but he could not change their decision. At last one of his
officers said to him:—

“We have done all for you that it was possible for man to do. We have
crossed seas and land. We have marched to the end of the world, and you
are now meditating the conquest of another, by going in search of new
Indias, unknown to the Indians themselves. Such a thought may be worthy
of your courage and resolution, but it surpasses ours, and our strength
still more. Look at these ghastly faces, and these bodies covered with
wounds and scars. Remember how numerous we were when first we set out
with you, and see how few of us remain. The few who have escaped so
many toils and dangers have neither courage nor strength to follow you
any further. They all long to revisit their country and their homes,
and to enjoy for the remainder of their lives the fruits of all their
toils. Forgive them these desires so natural to man.”

Alexander was bitterly disappointed, but found himself obliged to
relinquish further conquest. He returned to Babylon, where his
triumphal entrance was a scene of magnificence and gorgeous splendor.

But his life soon evinced the hopeless degradation into which he had
fallen. He not only indulged in vice himself, but encouraged others
to follow his evil example. He would offer prizes at his banquets to
those who would drink the most, thus causing forty deaths at one of his

Alexander now entered upon a life of the most effeminate luxury and
profligate dissipation. He separated himself more and more from his old
Macedonian friends, and delighted in Persian associates. He married
Statira, the eldest daughter of Darius, and gave the youngest daughter
to his particular friend Hephæstion, who was his chosen companion in
all his drunken revels.

Alexander’s habits of intoxication and vice rapidly increased. On one
occasion, after he had spent a whole night in drinking and carousing,
some of the guests proposed that they should begin a second banquet
instead of retiring.

Alexander half intoxicated, agreed. There were twenty present at this
new feast. Alexander, to show how much he was able to drink, pledged
each one separately, and then all together.

There was a very large cup, called the bowl of Hercules, which he now
called for, and having filled it to the brim, he drank it off, and
again filled the huge bowl, and again drank the entire contents. His
strength soon failed him, and he sank to the floor.

They bore him away to his apartments. A violent fever followed this
terrible debauch, which his physicians in vain tried to allay. At
last, finding he must die, he drew his signet ring off from his finger;
this was the token that he felt all was over. He handed the ring to one
of his friends, saying, “When I am gone, take my body to the temple of
Jupiter Ammon, and inter it there.”

Being asked to whom he left his kingdom, he replied: “To the most
worthy.” Thus died Alexander the Great, at the age of thirty-two.

Preparations were now made to convey his body with royal pomp to its
last resting-place, in accordance with his orders.

A very large and magnificent funeral carriage was built. “The spokes
of the wheels were overlaid with gold, and the axles were adorned upon
the outside with massive golden ornaments. The platform, or floor, of
the carriage was eighteen feet long and twelve feet wide. Upon this
there was erected a magnificent pavilion, supported by Ionic columns,
profusely ornamented, both within and without, with purple and gold.
The interior of the pavilion was resplendent with gems and precious

“A throne was raised in the centre of the platform, richly carved and
gilded. It was empty; but the crowns of the various nations over which
Alexander had ruled were hung upon it. At the foot of the throne was
the coffin, made of solid gold, containing the remains of the great
conqueror. The arms of Alexander were placed between the throne and the

“On the four sides of the carriage were sculptured figures representing
Alexander. There were Macedonian soldiers, Persian squadrons, elephants
of India, troops of horse, and various other emblems of the departed
hero’s conquests, sculptured upon this magnificent funeral carriage.
Around the pavilion was a network of golden lace, to which bells were
attached, which tolled mournfully as the carriage moved slowly along.
Sixty-four mules, selected for their great size, drew this ponderous
car. Their harness was mounted with gold and enriched with precious

Notwithstanding all this gorgeous pomp, the body of Alexander never
reached its first destination. Ptolemy, the officer, to whom Egypt was
given in the division of Alexander’s empire, came forth to meet this
solemn procession, and preferring that the body of Alexander should
be buried in the city of Alexandria, it was interred there, and an
imposing monument was erected over his grave. This monument is said to
have remained standing for fifteen hundred years, though no remains of
it are to be found.

The most fitting comment upon the life and character of Alexander the
Great will be found in these brief words of Napoleon Bonaparte, who
said of Alexander: “He commenced his career with the mind of Trajan,
but closed it with the heart of Nero and the morals of Heliogabalus.”


100-44 B.C.

                            “The elements
    So mix’d in him, that Nature might stand up
    And say to all the world, This was a man!”

THERE was wild tumult in the ancient city of Rome. The populace
thronged the streets, carrying stones and bludgeons. Armed troops
hurried hither and thither. The members of the Senate, a sort of
House of Lords, were assembled in confusion; and their blanched faces
denoted the terror which rendered them powerless to help. Several of
the principal citizens had been murdered, and the other Roman lords,
or patricians, knew not how soon their doom might come. But who was
their terrible foe? Had some wild barbarian horde invaded their land
and taken possession of their proud and magnificent city? Why did the
nobles and men of rank tremble; and why were the common people roused
to this wild outburst of fury?

[Illustration: JULIUS CÆSAR.]

It was no barbarian enemy, but civil discord amongst themselves, which
thus filled the streets with murderers and the patricians with terror.
Two powerful rivals were fighting for the possession of the Eternal
City, which, at that time, was mistress of the world.

Marius, the plebian, or champion of the common people, had roused the
populace to fight against Sylla, the patrician, who had been absent
with his army in Italy. Sylla had been appointed by the Senate to
command the forces which were to wage war with Mithridates, a powerful
Asiatic monarch. But during his absence, his enemy, Marius, had
contrived to have this appointment revoked, and to gain for himself
this coveted command. Two officers, called tribunes, were sent to
Sylla’s camp, to inform him of this advantage which his rival had
gained over him. Sylla killed the two officers for daring to bring him
such a message, and immediately marched towards Rome.

Marius, in retaliation, caused some of Sylla’s friends in the city to
be put to death, and with his bands of soldiers endeavored to resist
the entrance of Sylla and his army by throwing stones upon the troops
from the roofs of the houses as they entered the city. Sylla then
ordered every house to be set on fire, from which missiles had been
thrown, and thus the helpless citizens were endangered by lawless and
infuriated mobs on the one side, and relentless flames on the other.
Marius was conquered, and obliged to flee for his life. He was an old
man of seventy years of age. The Senate declared him a public enemy,
and offered a large sum for his head. Alone and friendless, Marius
wandered from place to place, enduring the greatest privations, and
encountering many dangers, till at last he crossed the Mediterranean
Sea, and took refuge in a poor hut among the ruins of ancient Carthage.
Surely it would seem that his days of conquest were over. Alone,
starving, helpless, old, and banished, with a heavy price set upon his
head, his fortunes seemed indeed hopeless.

Leaving this fallen champion in his hut, amidst the ruins of a past
power which could only remind him of his own hopeless prospects, we
must return to the city of Rome, and look upon another scene.

A religious procession is wending its way through the famous Forum.
This Forum was a magnificent square, surrounded by splendid edifices
and adorned with sculptures and statues and many gorgeous trophies of
past victories. There were vast colonnades forming covered porticoes,
where the populace assembled and where courts of justice were held.
This Forum was constantly embellished with new monuments, temples,
statues, arches, and columns by the successful generals, as they
returned in triumph from foreign campaigns. Here the various orators
delivered their famous orations which inflamed the people to arms, or
moved them to wild outbursts of enthusiastic applause in favor of some
successful candidate, or calmed their boisterous tumult into silent and
breathless attention to the impassioned and eloquent words which fell
from the lips of these intellectual monarchs over the minds of their
less gifted countrymen. It is night now in this great public square,
and as the procession of priests and attendants slowly pass beneath a
row of majestic colonnades and enter one of the temples, we note the
face and figure of the foremost one. He is scarcely more than a boy,
but he wears the purple robe called _læna_, and a conical mitre known
as the _apex_, which mark his distinguished rank as holding the office
of _Flamen Dialis_, or High Priest of Jupiter. This youth, seventeen
years of age, is tall and fair, and though slender in form, is handsome
and noble in bearing. He is descended from patrician families of
high rank and proud position; and as he passes within the portal of
the sacred temple, the beholder would involuntarily cast upon him an
admiring glance, and if a stranger, would surely inquire who was this
comely, noble youth who so early in life was distinguished by so high
an office and royal bearing.

Again we enter the Forum, but it is now high noon. A noted orator
has ascended the pulpit, where public speakers were accustomed to
stand when addressing the assemblies. This pulpit was ornamented with
brazen beaks of ships, which had been taken by the Romans in their
many wars. Such a beak was named a rostrum, and the pulpit so adorned
was called the _Rostra_, or the Beaks,—often termed in modern books
a rostrum. As the orator of the day began to speak, a youth might
have been seen pressing through the crowd, and listening with wrapt
attention to the eloquent words which fell from the speaker’s lips. As
the burst of impassioned appeal became more persuasive, the dark eyes
of the youth flashed with responsive fire, and his cheek glowed with
a flush of kindling enthusiasm. Though he wears now the robes of a
Roman patrician, we recognize him as the same person whom we beheld at
midnight entering the temple in the attire of a High Priest of Jupiter.

Again the scene changes to midnight, but it is not in the Roman Forum,
but at a grand feast in one of the sumptuous palaces of a Roman lord.
Amidst a party of gay and joyous young men, seemingly intent only upon
luxurious pleasures, we see once more the face and figure of this
same youth who has already so attracted our interest and admiration.
Priest, student, devotée of pleasure, little did his companions or
acquaintances imagine that this young Julius Cæsar, patrician born,
but at the same time personally inclined towards the plebeian party,
would become Julius Cæsar, future Master of Rome, and therefore ruler
of nearly all of the then known world. This Julius Cæsar became the
greatest hero of Roman history, and ranks as one of the three heroes of
ancient days,—Alexander of the Greeks, Hannibal of the Carthaginians,
and Julius Cæsar of the Romans, forming the famous trio.

Again we must return to the old exile among the ruins of Carthage.
One day he is awakened from his hopeless despondency by wild rumors
from Rome. His rival and enemy, Sylla, had equipped a fleet and sailed
away to wage war with Mithridates. The friends of Marius now rally
again, and the old exile is brought back from Africa in triumph and
given the command of a large army. As he pretended to be the friend of
the common people, they flocked to his standard. Vast multitudes of
revolted slaves, outlaws, and desperadoes joined his forces, which now
advanced toward Rome. As soon as Marius gained possession of the city,
he began a dreadful work of murder and destruction. He beheaded one of
the consuls, and ordered his head to be set up as a spectacle of horror
in the public square. Blood ran like a red river in the streets of
Rome. Patricians of the highest rank and station were everywhere seized
without warning, without trial, and put to torture and death.

It is midnight in the great city, and under cover of the darkness, the
evil deeds of blood-thirsty men, fired by hatred and lawless ambition,
are renewed with fresh ferocity.

Against his bitterest enemies Marius contrived special modes of
execution, in order to wreak upon them his insatiable revenge for his
exile, and consequent sufferings and privations.

See! a party of men, composed of soldiers, and an enfuriated mob of
people are dragging a lord of noble rank up to the top of a high rock,
known as the Tarpeian Rock, from the summit of which state criminals
were hurled down the precipice, upon sharp rocks below, where they
were left to die in awful torture. This patrician, or Roman noble, had
incurred the especial animosity of Marius, and so by his orders, the
proud old man is torn from family and friends; and without trial, with
the senate powerless to help, he is dragged here at midnight to suffer
the ignominious and terrible death of a state criminal. This noted
Tarpeian Rock still stands in Rome, and it received its name from this
ancient story. In early times there was a Roman girl, named Tarpeia,
living in the ancient city, when it was besieged by an army from a
neighboring country. The soldiers of the besieging forces wore golden
bracelets upon their arms, as well as shields; and upon demanding
that Tarpeia should open the gates to them, she declared that if they
would give her, “those things they wore upon their arms,” she would
comply with their demands. She meant, of course, their bracelets; but
not knowing the word by which they were designated, she brought upon
herself a fearful doom. The soldiers agreed to grant her desire, and
so she opened to them the gates. As they passed within, they threw
their shields upon the poor girl, in proud derision, instead of giving
her the coveted bracelets, exclaiming, “Here are the things we wear
upon our arms.” Tarpeia was crushed to death beneath the weight of the
ponderous shields; and so the spot where she fell became a rock of
blood, and was ever afterwards called, in remembrance of her sad fate,
the Tarpeian Rock. There is a further legend connected with this spot,
for some of the ignorant people believe that in the interior of one of
the many caverns, which have been found perforating this rock, Tarpeia
still sits, enchanted, covered with gold and jewels. But should any one
attempt to find her, he is fated to lose his way, and never to return
from his reckless adventure. But the bloody triumph of Marius was of
short duration. He was seized with a fatal sickness, and the cruel
tyrant was obliged to meet an enemy he could not conquer. Death meted
out to him some of the horrible torments he had inflicted upon others,
as he died in delirious ravings, haunted by the presence of phantom
foes. His son Marius assumed his father’s power; but Sylla, having
returned from the Asiatic wars, and in his turn taking possession of
the city of Rome, the followers of Marius were put to death with the
same ferocity with which they had murdered others, and Sylla even
exceeded the bloody deeds which had so brutally been performed by
his hated rival. Thus the city of Rome was again plunged into wild
confusion, and the scenes of murder and massacre, with all their
shocking horrors, were re-enacted.

[Illustration: JULIUS CÆSAR.

(From Photograph of Bust in Capitol, Rome.)]

It is at this time that the young Julius Cæsar first becomes a
prominent figure in that bloody drama. Although Julius Cæsar was a
patrician by birth, he was favorable to the plebian party. The elder
Marius had married his aunt, and Cæsar himself had married a daughter
of Cinna, who was four times consul, and was a powerful and ardent
partisan of the party of Marius. Julius Cæsar, although at this time a
very young man, was too prominent a person to be overlooked by Sylla,
in his vengeance against the plebian party. The friends of Julius
Cæsar tried to plead his youth with Sylla, saying that surely such a
mere boy could do no harm. But Sylla had marked the aspiring spirit of
the young nobleman, who with all his love of gayety and pleasure had
not neglected his studies, and who was already gaining the dangerous
reputation of an eloquent orator. Sylla now demanded that Julius
Cæsar should divorce his wife Cornelia, the daughter of Cinna. Cæsar
absolutely refused, partly from devotion to his wife, and partly
from a proud indomitable spirit, which thus early was a prominent
trait in his character, and which made him brave any danger rather than
allow himself to be controlled. Knowing that punishment for his refusal
to comply with the commands of Sylla would be destruction, Cæsar fled
from Rome. Sylla deprived him of his rank and titles, confiscated the
property of his wife and his own estates, and placed his name on the
list of public enemies.

Cæsar was now a fugitive and exile. He was also suffering from
intermittent fever, and was obliged to seek some new place of refuge
each day, as a price was set upon his head. He was at one time seized
by a centurion, but Cæsar offered him a bribe sufficient to secure
his release. After various adventures, he wandered into Asia Minor,
and coming to the kingdom of Bithynia, he joined himself to the
court of the king Nicomedes, and remained some time in that country.
After leaving Bithynia, Julius Cæsar, while sailing near the isle of
Pharmacusa, was taken prisoner by some pirates from a mountainous
country called Cilicia. These Cilician pirates were half sailors and
half mountaineers. They built swift galleys, and made excursions
over the Mediterranean Sea for conquest and plunder. Cæsar asked the
pirates what sum they demanded for his ransom. They replied twenty
talents, whereupon Cæsar laughed at such a paltry sum being considered
sufficient for his ransom, and told them they evidently did not know
who he was. He then declared he would give them fifty talents, and
forthwith sent all of his companions and attendants to the shore to
go to the cities where he was known, and secure the sum required.
Meanwhile he boldly remained among these rough men, with no attendants
but a physician and two servants. Cæsar now assumed command over his
very captors, giving orders, and demanding quiet when he wished to
sleep. He joined them in their sports, and wrote and read orations to
them as though he was their ruler. His boldness and skill elicited
their profound admiration. The pirates one day asked him what he would
do to them if he should ever capture them after obtaining his own
release. He replied laughingly that he would crucify them all. This,
though a seeming jest, was well fulfilled. His attendants, having
returned with the ransom money, Julius Cæsar was released. He proceeded
immediately to Miletus, equipped a small fleet, then sailed back to the
place where the ships of the pirates still lay at anchor, and having
attacked them, he recovered the ransom money, seized their ships, and
took all the men prisoners. He carried his captives to the land, and
having cut all their throats he hung their dead bodies upon crosses, in
fulfilment of his threat.

Julius Cæsar then went to Rhodes, where his former teacher Apollonius,
a noted philosopher and rhetorician, resided. Cicero was also one of
the pupils of this philosopher. Cæsar at length obtained pardon from
Sylla, through the intercession of the vestal virgins and some of his
friends. When Sylla at last yielded to their importunity, he exclaimed,
“Your suit is granted; but know that this man, for whose safety you are
so extremely anxious, will some day or other be the ruin of the party
of the nobles, in defence of which you are leagued with me, for in
this one Cæsar you will find many a Marius.” Sylla had since died, and
though the aristocratical party were still in the ascendency, the party
of Marius were recovering somewhat from their overthrow.

Julius Cæsar now returned to Rome, and boldly espoused the popular
cause. His first public act was the arraignment of Dolabella,
governor of the province of Macedonia. When the trial came on Cæsar
appeared in the Forum, and gained great applause for his eloquence and
daring. Dolabella was defended by noted orators, and was acquitted by
the Senate. But Julius Cæsar had displayed his marvellous powers of
eloquence, which immediately gave him great renown.

Cæsar now devoted himself to public speaking in the Forum, and acquired
much celebrity. He pronounced a splendid panegyric upon the wife of
Marius at her funeral; and also upon his wife Cornelia, who died
soon after. Cæsar now became ambitious of securing public offices,
and lavished large sums in shows and spectacles to amuse the people
and secure their votes. He thus became deeply involved in debt, but
he was still successful in rising from one office to still higher
positions, until he obtained that of _quæstor_ in the province of
Spain. This was the second office in command, the first officer being
called a _prætor_. During his absence in Spain, Cæsar beheld a statue
of Alexander the Great, which adorned one of the public buildings in
the city of Cadiz, or Hades, as it was then called. Cæsar was now
about thirty-five years of age, and reflecting upon the conquests of
Alexander, who had died when only thirty-two years of age, Cæsar sighed
over his own tardy accomplishment of his lofty ambitions, and leaving
his post, returned to Rome, determined to seek higher honors.

He was chosen _ædile_ by the people. He now had charge of the public
edifices of the city, and of the games and spectacles which were
exhibited in them. The arrangements made by him for the amusement of
the people were on the most magnificent and extravagant scale. He
exhibited three hundred and twenty pair of gladiators, and he made
great additions to the public buildings. He now endeavored to have
Egypt assigned to him as a province; but the senate resisted this plan,
and Cæsar was obliged to abandon it. About this time, Cæsar obtained
a triumph over the senate, who were very jealous of his increasing
power. He replaced the statues and trophies of Marius in the capital,
which had been taken down and destroyed by the order of Sylla when
he returned to power. In their place, Cæsar had ordered magnificent
new ones to be made, and put up secretly in the night. The senate
endeavored to take them down again, but the people rallied in such
vast numbers, as to prevent the work of destruction, and Cæsar was

A dangerous conspiracy, headed by the notorious Catiline, was now
discovered, and several conspirators were arrested. It was when the
senate was debating whether they should be put to death, that Cæsar
made his noted speech which was replied to so hotly by Cato.

Cæsar was by some accused of being cognizant of this plot, if he were
not indeed a participant.

After the death of Cornelia, Cæsar had married Pompeia, but he
afterwards divorced her. Julius Cæsar now began to plan for a still
higher office, and upon the death of Metellus, the chief pontiff, Cæsar
solicited the office.

He was now so heavily involved in debt, that he faced ruin if defeated,
or glory if elected. When the day of election came, Cæsar parted with
his mother, saving,—“You will see me this day either chief pontiff or
an exile.”

But he succeeded in gaining the election. Having obtained this added
power, he desired to procure the position of _prætor_ in Spain. This
he also secured, but so large were his debts, that Crassus, a man of
immense wealth, was, by Cæsar’s promises of using his political power
in his behalf, persuaded to lend him the sum needed to satisfy his

Cæsar was very successful in his province in Spain, and he returned in
a short time with military glory, and with money sufficient to pay his
debts, and furnish fresh supplies for further bribes to secure still
higher positions. He now aspired to the office of consul, which was the
highest office in the Roman state.

At this time, Pompey was the military idol of the people, and Crassus,
powerful on account of his vast wealth, was Pompey’s bitter enemy.
Cæsar conceived the plan of reconciling these two dangerous foes,
and availing himself of the aid of both to further his own ambitious

Cæsar was successful in this plan, and they then formed a triple
league, binding themselves to promote the political elevation of each
other. Having secured such powerful adherents, Cæsar now pushed his
claims for consulship. He chose a man of great wealth, named Lucceius,
to be associated with himself, who agreed to pay all the expenses of
the election, for the sake of the honor of being consul with Cæsar. But
the political enemies of Cæsar, knowing that they could not defeat his
election, determined to place Bibulus, in the place of Lucceius, as the
associate of Cæsar. Accordingly they raised as much money to expend for
Bibulus as Lucceius should employ. The result was the election of Cæsar
and Bibulus as the two consuls. But having entered upon the duties
of that office, Cæsar so completely ignored Bibulus, and assumed so
entirely the whole control of the consular power, that Bibulus retired
to his house in chagrin and mortification, and allowed Cæsar to have
his own way. Two consuls were always required by law, and so the wags
of the city, in speaking of Cæsar’s consulship, instead of saying, “In
the year of Cæsar and Bibulus, consuls,” according to the usual form,
would often say, “In the year of Julius and Cæsar, consuls,” ignoring
the name of Bibulus, and taking the two names of Cæsar to denote his
supreme rule.

[Illustration: CÆSAR IN GAUL.]

Cæsar’s ambition was not yet satisfied. He had secured the highest
place in the state, and now he aspired to military glory and foreign
conquest. Having obtained the command of an army, he entered upon a
campaign in the heart of Europe, which he continued for eight years.

The large tract of country now known as Northern Italy, Switzerland,
France, Germany, and England, was then spoken of as Gaul. The part on
the Italian side of the Alps was called Cisalpine Gaul, and that which
lay beyond was termed Transalpine Gaul.

Cæsar now placed himself at the head of an army of three Roman legions,
and set out for Gaul. The first battle he fought was with the German
king Ariovistus. Cæsar was victorious, and the Germans were put in
complete subjection. Other provinces of Gaul now submitted without
resistance, and those who determined to league together to resist this
new military power were soon brought to submission.

One of the most interesting of the various excursions made by Cæsar
during these eight years was his expedition into Great Britain.

When Cæsar arrived on the northern shores of France, he began to
inquire of all the travelling merchants whom he met, and who in those
days journeyed from one nation to another to buy and sell goods, about
the best manner of crossing the channel, and regarding the people on
the English side of the water. But the merchants could give him little
information, and so he fitted out a galley, manned with many oarsmen,
and placing it under the command of an officer, he directed him to
cross the channel and discover the best harbors to land on the other
side, and then to return and report. This officer was gone five days,
and upon his return, Cæsar determined to transport his troops across
the channel. Cæsar had collected a large number of sailing vessels upon
which he embarked his forces, and upon a given day, at one o’clock in
the morning, the fleet set sail.

The Britons had in the meantime learned of Cæsar’s intended invasion,
and they collected in vast numbers to guard the shore.

When the Roman fleet approached the land, the cliffs were everywhere
lined with troops of Britons, and every available point was well

Cæsar now proceeded with his fleet along the shore, the Britons
following on the land until a level plain was reached. Here Cæsar
determined to attempt to disembark. A dreadful struggle ensued. The
Britons plunged into the water, and the Romans shot darts and arrows
from the decks of the vessels upon the assailants of their comrades,
who were endeavoring to make the landing. The Britons were at last
driven back, and Cæsar succeeded in obtaining possession of the shore.

These campaigns of Cæsar, in a military point of view, were a
succession of magnificent exploits. The people at Rome were unbounded
in their enthusiastic praise, and decreed him triumph after triumph,
and were prepared to welcome him with high honors when he should
return. Plutarch says of these eight years of foreign conquest, that
Cæsar took eight hundred cities, conquered three hundred nations,
fought pitched battles, at separate times, with three millions of men,
took one million of them prisoners, and killed another million on the


From a humane standpoint, however, what a fearful destruction of
human lives, to satisfy the insatiable ambition of one man. How much
more desirable would have been the fame of blessing, rather than
destroying and injuring three millions of his fellow men. The time
was now drawing near for Cæsar’s return to Rome. During his absence a
dangerous rival had become the idol of the fickle people. After the
death of Pompey’s wife Julia, who was the daughter of Julius Cæsar, the
former alliance between these two powerful rivals had been broken, and
they were now open foes. While Cæsar was absent in Gaul, he had not
neglected to endeavor to retain his hold upon the populace of Rome. He
had distributed vast sums for the adornment of the city. He expended
over four million dollars in purchasing ground for the enlargement of
the Forum; and when he heard of the death of his daughter Julia, the
wife of Pompey, he ordered her funeral to be celebrated with gorgeous
splendor. He distributed corn in immense quantities among the people,
and sent home many captives to be trained as gladiators to amuse the
populace in the theatres. Men were astounded at the magnitude of these
vast expenditures; but Pompey was, nevertheless, fast securing the
heart of the people. Pompey, in his vanity, imagined that he was so far
above Cæsar that he need feel no solicitude at the return of his rival,
and therefore took no precautions to resist any hostile designs. Cæsar
had now advanced toward the Rubicon, which was a little stream that
formed the boundary line between the north of Italy, which was a Roman
province called Hither Gaul, and the immediate jurisdiction of the city
of Rome.

Generals commanding in Gaul were never allowed to pass this river
with an army. Hence, to cross the Rubicon with an armed force, was
rebellion and treason. When Cæsar arrived at the farther shore of this
small but significant stream, he halted at a small town called Ravenna,
and established his headquarters there. Pompey now sent to him to
demand the return of a legion he had lent him when they were friends.
Cæsar returned the legion immediately, adding some of his own troops to
show his indifference to the size of his own force.

In the meantime, the partisans of Cæsar and Pompey in the city of Rome,
grew more threatening in their struggles. The friends of Cæsar demanded
that he should be elected consul. The friends of Pompey replied that
Cæsar must first resign the command of his army, and come to Rome and
present himself as a candidate in the character of a private citizen,
as the constitution of the state required. Cæsar replied that if
Pompey would lay down his arms, he would also do so; but otherwise,
it was unjust to require it of him. This privilege he demanded as a
recompense for the services he had rendered to the state. A large part
of the people sided with Cæsar; but the partisans of Pompey, with the
inflexible Cato at their head, withstood the demand. The city was much
excited over the impending conflict. Pompey displayed no fear, and
urged the Senate to resist all of Cæsar’s claims, saying, that if Cæsar
should presumptuously dare to march with his forces to Rome, he could
raise troops enough to subdue him by merely stamping on the ground.
Cæsar meanwhile had been quietly making his preparations at Ravenna.
It was his policy to move as privately as possible. Accordingly, he
sent some cohorts to march secretly to the banks of the river, and
encamp there, while he employed himself in his usual occupation. He had
established a fencing school, and on the very eve of his departure
he went as usual to this school, then feasted with his friends, going
afterwards with them to a public entertainment. As soon as it was
dark enough, and the streets were deserted, he stole away with a few
attendants. During the night, Cæsar and his guides found themselves
lost, and they wandered about until nearly break of day, when a peasant
guided them to the shore, where he found his troops awaiting him.
Having arrived at the banks of the stream, Cæsar stood for some moments
musing upon the step he was about to take. If he crossed that narrow
stream retreat would be impossible. The story is told that a shepherd
coming up took the trumpet from one of Cæsar’s trumpeters, and sounded
a charge, marching rapidly over the bridge at the same time. “An omen!
a prodigy!” exclaimed Cæsar. “Let us march where we are called by such
a divine intimation—_The die is cast!_”

As soon as the bridge was crossed, Cæsar called an assembly of his
troops, and made an eloquent appeal to them, urging them to stand
faithful to him, and promising them large rewards should he be
successful. The soldiers responded with enthusiastic applause. As
Cæsar advanced towards Rome, several towns surrendered to him without
resistance. He met with but one opposition. The Senate had deposed
Cæsar from his command during the hot debates preceding his crossing of
the Rubicon, and had appointed Domitius to succeed him. That general
had crossed the Apennines at the head of an army, and had reached the
town of Corfinium. Cæsar advanced and besieged him there. The town was
soon captured; and Cæsar, to the surprise of everyone, who supposed he
would wreak vengeance upon his foes, received the troops into his own
service, and let Domitius go free. News had now reached the city of
Rome, of Cæsar’s crossing the Rubicon, and rapid advance. The Senate
were terribly alarmed, and looked to Pompey in vain for help. Pompey
himself was terrified, but could do nothing; and the Senate then
derisively called upon him to raise the promised army of which he had
boasted, telling him they thought it was high time to stamp with his
feet, as he declared that by so doing he could secure a force large
enough to defeat Cæsar. Cato and many of the prominent men fled from
the city.

Pompey, calling upon all his partisans to follow him, set forth at
night to retreat across the country towards the Adriatic Sea.

Cæsar was rapidly advancing toward Rome. As all supplies of money were
cut off by his crossing the Rubicon, which severed his connection
with the government, his soldiers voted to serve him without pay. His
treatment of Domitius was much applauded by the people. He himself
says, in a letter written to a friend at the time, “I am glad that you
approve of my conduct at Corfinium. I am satisfied that such a course
is the best one for us to pursue, as by so doing we shall gain the
good will of all parties, and thus secure a permanent victory. Most
conquerors have incurred the hatred of mankind by their cruelties, and
have all, in consequence of the enmity they have thus awakened, been
prevented from long enjoying their power. Sylla was an exception, but
his example of successful cruelty I have no disposition to imitate. I
will conquer after a new fashion, and fortify myself in the possession
of the power I acquire by generosity and mercy.”

Cæsar now pursued Pompey to Brundusium, whither Pompey had retreated.
Cæsar laid siege to the city, but Pompey secretly made preparations
for embarking his troops. He caused all the streets to be barricaded,
except two, which led to the landing, and in the darkness of the
night, he began embarking his forces as fast as possible on board of
transports already provided. Cæsar was made aware of this fact, and
his army quickly brought ladders and scaled the walls of the city, but
the barricaded streets so impeded their progress through the darkness
of the night, that Pompey and his troops succeeded in sailing away.
As Cæsar had no ships, he continued his march to Rome, and entering
the city without opposition, re-established the government and took
control. After various subsequent campaigns in Italy, Spain, Sicily,
and Gaul, which resulted in completely subjugating these nations to his
dominion, he commenced the pursuit of Pompey, across the Adriatic Sea.

As Pompey had cleared the seas of every vessel which could aid him in
his flight, Cæsar had great difficulty in procuring even a sufficient
number of galleys to transport a part of his army, and embarking with
these he landed on the opposite shore, and sent back the galleys for
the remainder of his forces, while he pursued Pompey with the troops
already with him. Some of Pompey’s generals intercepted a part of
Cæsar’s galleys, and destroyed them; the sea also, becoming very
boisterous, the troops were afraid to embark, not being stimulated to
courage by the presence and voice of Cæsar. Julius Cæsar still pursued
Pompey, who constantly retreated; and the winter wore away with no
decided battle, and leaving both armies in a suffering condition.
At last, one stormy night, Cæsar determined to embark upon a galley
and return to the Italian side, and bring the remainder of his army
over. Cæsar disguised himself in a long cloak, with his head muffled
in his mantle, and thus got aboard the galley and ordered the men
to row him across. A violent wind arose, and the waves were so high
that at last the rowers declared they could go no further; Cæsar then
came forward, threw off his mantle, and exclaimed: “Friends, you have
nothing to fear; you are carrying Cæsar!” Thus inspired the men put
forth herculean efforts, but all to no purpose, and Cæsar was obliged,
reluctantly, to turn back. His army on the Italian shore, however,
hearing of this brave deed were inspired with new courage, and making
another attempt, they were successful in joining Cæsar, who, thus
strengthened, planned for a vigorous attack in the spring. A parley had
been held several times between the hostile hosts, but to no effect;
and many skirmishes and partial conflicts took place, but no decided
battle. At one time, Pompey’s troops so hemmed in the army of Cæsar
that his forces suffered for want of food, but his soldiers bravely
made use of a sort of root which they dug from the ground, and made
into a kind of bread, telling Cæsar they would live upon the bark of
trees rather than abandon his cause. At length the army of Pompey was
in turn hemmed in by Cæsar’s forces, and becoming very desperate, on
account of the distress occasioned by want of food and water, Pompey
made some successful attacks upon Cæsar’s lines, and broke away from
his enemy’s grasp.

At last, however, they came to open battle on the plain of Pharsalia.
As Pompey’s forces far outnumbered those of Cæsar he felt confident
of victory. “The hour at length arrived; the charge was sounded by
the trumpets, and Cæsar’s troops began to advance with loud shouts
and great impetuosity toward Pompey’s lines. There was a long and
terrible struggle, but the forces of Pompey began finally to give
way. Notwithstanding the precautions which Pompey had taken to guard
and protect the wing of his army which was extended toward the land,
Cæsar succeeded in turning his flank upon that side by driving off
the cavalry, and destroying the archers and slingers; and he was thus
enabled to throw a strong force upon Pompey’s rear. The flight then
soon became general, and a scene of dreadful confusion and slaughter
ensued. The soldiers of Cæsar’s army, maddened with the insane rage
which the progress of a battle never fails to awaken, and now excited
to frenzy by the exultation of success, pressed on after the affrighted
fugitives, who trampled one upon another or fell pierced with the
weapons of their assailants, filling the air with their cries of agony
and their shrieks of terror.”

When Pompey perceived that all was lost he fled from the field, and
having disguised himself as a common soldier, he retreated with a few
attendants until he reached the Vale of Tempe in Thessaly. Here, in
this picturesque spot, noted for its beautiful scenery, the fallen
Pompey took his weary way. Having at length reached the Ægean Sea, he
took refuge in a fisherman’s hut; hearing still of Cæsar’s pursuit he
did not dare to rest, but embarked the next morning in a little vessel,
with three attendants. He was afterwards taken up by the commander of
a merchant ship, and was at length conveyed to the island of Lesbos,
where his wife, Cornelia, was residing; Pompey had married her after
the death of Julia, Cæsar’s daughter. Cornelia now provided a small
fleet, and, determining to accompany her husband, they set sail upon
the Mediterranean Sea. At last Pompey decided to seek refuge in Egypt.
Some years before Pompey had been the means of restoring a king of
Egypt to his throne; this king had since died, but had left his
daughter, the famous Cleopatra, on the throne, to rule, conjointly,
with a younger brother, named Ptolemy. At this time, the Egyptian
ministers, who acted for the young prince, who was not old enough to be
invested with the royal power, had dethroned Cleopatra that they might
thus govern alone.

Cleopatra went into Syria to raise an army to recover her lost throne,
and Ptolemy’s ministers had gone forth to battle with her. It was
then that Pompey arrived in Egypt, and thinking that the young prince
Ptolemy would receive him on account of the services Pompey had
rendered to the Egyptian king, father of Ptolemy, Pompey and Cornelia,
with their little fleet, approached the shore intending to land. A
messenger was sent to the young king to solicit a kind reception.
The Egyptian ministers of Ptolemy persuaded him that it would be
dangerous either to grant or refuse Pompey’s request, and therefore,
counselled that he might be invited to their camp, and then that he
should be killed; this would please Cæsar, who was now so powerful,
and it would put Pompey out of their way. This ungrateful counsel
prevailed, and an Egyptian was appointed to perform the bloody deed. A
courteous invitation was sent to Pompey to land, who, however, parted
with his wife, Cornelia, with many forebodings of evil. As the boat
of the Egyptians reached Pompey’s galley the officers hailed him with
every mark of respect; bidding Cornelia farewell, Pompey, with two
centurions, stepped into the Egyptian boat and was rowed to the shore.
Just as he was about to step from the boat the assassins drew their
swords, and Pompey was slain before the very eyes of his wife, who
beheld the bloody scene from the deck of her galley, and her piercing
shriek was wafted to the ears of her dying husband. The Egyptians then
cut off the head of Pompey, leaving the headless body lying upon the
shore. The two centurions who had accompanied Pompey, afterwards burned
the body, and sent the ashes to the heartbroken Cornelia.

Cæsar, in pursuit of Pompey, soon after reached Alexandria, where
he learned of his death; and the Egyptians, hoping to please him,
presented to him the bloody head of his late enemy. But though Cæsar
was very ambitious, he was not blood-thirsty, nor brutal in his wars.
Instead of being pleased with such a ghastly gift, Cæsar turned from
the shocking spectacle in horror. While Cæsar was in Alexandria many
of Pompey’s officers came and surrendered themselves to him; and
Cæsar, finding himself so powerful, determined to use his authority as
Roman consul, to settle the dispute between Cleopatra and her brother
Ptolemy. It was at this time that Cleopatra, in order to plead her
cause, was brought by her commands to Cæsar’s quarters, rolled up in a
bale of carpeting, and carried upon the shoulders of a slave. As all
the avenues of approach to Cæsar’s apartments were in the possession
of her enemies she feared falling into their hands. Cæsar espoused her
cause, and determined that she and her brother Ptolemy should reign
jointly. Ptolemy was so incensed against his sister, for thus securing
Cæsar’s allegiance, that a violent war was waged between the Egyptians
and Cæsar. This is called in history the Alexandrine War. In the course
of this contest Cæsar took possession of the famous lighthouse of
Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the world. During the progress of
this war a great disaster occurred, which was the burning of the famous
Alexandrian library. The number of volumes, or rolls of parchment
there collected, was said to have been seven hundred thousand. When we
remember that the people in those days possessed no printed books, and
that each one of these rolls had been written by hand, with immense
labor, and at vast expense, the loss to the world of works which could
never be reproduced was irreparable. Cæsar was victorious in this war.
The young king Ptolemy was defeated, and in attempting to retreat
across one of the branches of the Nile he was drowned. Cæsar finally
settled Cleopatra and a younger brother upon the throne of Egypt and
returned to Rome. While Cæsar was in Egypt three great powers had
arisen against him, in Asia Minor, in Africa, and in Spain.

He first went to Asia Minor and so quickly defeated his enemies there,
that it was in reference to this battle that he wrote the famous
inscription for his banner, which appeared in his triumphal procession,
“_Veni, Vidi, Vici_,” I came, I saw, I conquered. Cæsar then proceeded
to Africa, where his old enemy Cato had raised a large force against
him. Cæsar was successful also in this contest, and finally shut up
Cato in the city of Utica. Cato, finding defence hopeless, killed

From Africa, Cæsar returned to Rome for a short time, and then went
to Spain to put down the rebellion there which was led by the sons of
Pompey. Here also he was successful, and the conqueror returned to
Rome the undisputed master of the whole Roman world. Then came his
magnificent triumphs. Cæsar celebrated four triumphs for his four great
campaigns, in Egypt, in Asia Minor, in Africa, and in Spain. These were
celebrated upon separate days. These triumphs were gorgeous in the
extreme. Forty elephants were employed as torch-bearers in one triumph
which took place at night, each elephant holding a great blazing
flambeau in his proboscis and waving it proudly in the air. These
triumphal processions are thus described by one historian. “In these
triumphal processions everything was borne in exhibition which could
serve as a symbol of the conquered country or a trophy of victory.
Flags and banners, taken from the enemy; vessels of gold and silver
and other treasures loaded in vans; wretched captives conveyed in open
carriages, or marching sorrowfully on foot, and destined, some of
them, to public execution when the ceremony of the triumph was ended;
displays of arms and implements and dresses and all else which might
serve to give the Roman crowd an idea of the customs and usages of the
remote and conquered nations; the animals they used caparisoned in the
manner in which they used them; these and a thousand other trophies
and emblems were brought into the line to excite the admiration of
the crowd, and to add to the gorgeousness of the spectacle. In these
triumphs of Cæsar a young sister of Cleopatra, wearing chains of
gold, was in the line of the Egyptian procession. In that devoted to
Asia Minor was a great banner containing the words already referred
to, Veni, Vidi, Vici. There were great paintings, too, borne aloft,
representing battles and other striking scenes. Of course, all Rome was
in the highest state of excitement during the days of the exhibition of
this pageantry.

“The whole surrounding country flocked to the capital to witness it,
and Cæsar’s greatness and glory were signalized in the most conspicuous
manner to all the world. After these triumphs, a series of splendid
public entertainments were given, over twenty thousand tables having
been spread for the populace of the city. Shows of every character
and variety were exhibited. There were dramatic plays and equestrian
performances in the circus, and gladiatorial combats, and battles with
wild beasts, and dances and chariot races and every other amusement
which could be devised to gratify a population highly cultivated in
all the arts of life, but barbarous and cruel in heart and character.
Some of the accounts which have come down to us of the magnificence of
the scale on which these entertainments were conducted are absolutely
incredible. It is said that an immense basin was constructed near the
Tiber, large enough to contain two fleets of galleys, which had on
board two thousand rowers each and one thousand fighting men. These
fleets were then manned with captives,—the one with Asiatics, and the
other with Egyptians,—and when all was ready, they were compelled to
fight a real battle for the amusement of the spectators who thronged
the shores, until vast numbers were killed, and the waters of the lake
were dyed with blood. It is also said that the entire Forum and some of
the great streets in the neighborhood, where the principal gladiatorial
shows were held, were covered with silken awnings to protect the vast
crowds of spectators from the sun, and thousands of tents were erected
to accommodate the people from the surrounding country, whom the
buildings of the city could not contain.”

All open opposition to Cæsar’s power was now put down. The Senate
vied with the people to do him honor. He was first made consul for
ten years, and then perpetual dictator. They conferred upon him the
title of “The Father of his Country.” Cæsar now began to form plans
for immense improvements which should benefit his empire. He completed
the regulation of the calendar. “The system of months in use in his
day corresponded so imperfectly with the annual circuit of the sun,
that the months were moving continually along the year in such a manner
that the winter months came at length in the summer, and the summer
months in the winter. This led to great practical inconveniences.
For whenever, for example, anything was required by law to be done
in certain months, intending to have them done in the summer, and
the specified month came at length to be a winter month, the law
would require the thing to be done in exactly the wrong season. Cæsar
remedied all this by adopting a new system of months which should
give three hundred and sixty-five days to the year for three years,
and three hundred and sixty-six for the fourth; and so exact was the
system which he thus introduced that it went on unchanged for sixteen
centuries. The months were then found to be eleven days out of the
way, and a new correction was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII., and it
will now go on three thousand years before the error will amount to a
single day. Cæsar employed a Greek astronomer to arrange the system he
adopted, and for this improvement one of the months was called July,
after Julius Cæsar. Its former name was Quintilis.”

Cæsar commenced the collection of vast libraries; formed plans for
draining the Pontine Marshes, and for bringing great supplies of water
into the city by an aqueduct; and he intended to cut a new passage
for the Tiber from Rome to the sea. He also planned a road along the
Apennines, and a canal through the Isthmus of Corinth, and intended to
construct other vast works which should make Rome the wonder of the

But in the midst of all these grand projects he was suddenly stricken
down. Although the Romans disliked the thought of being ruled by a
king, they preserved certain statues of their kings in some of the
public buildings, and the ambition of Cæsar led him very foolishly
to place his own statue among them. He also had a seat prepared for
himself in the Senate in the form of a throne. On one occasion, when
the members of the Senate were to come to him in a temple to announce
certain decrees they had passed to his honor, Cæsar received them
sitting upon a magnificent chair, which seemed a throne, so gorgeous
was it; and he did not even rise to welcome them, as was the usual
custom, thus showing that he would receive them as a monarch, who
never rises in the presence of inferiors. This incident, small as it
may seem, aroused much indignation. His statue was also found adorned
with a laurel crown, to which was fastened a white fillet, which was
an emblem of royalty. On another occasion, at a public entertainment,
an officer placed a diadem upon the head of Cæsar, who pretended to
be disinclined to receive it, and taking it off, it was offered twice
again, and refused, when Cæsar sent the diadem to a temple near by as
an offering to Jupiter. Although he thus appeared to reject the honor,
his manner indicated that he only desired to be more warmly pressed to
receive it. There was now formed a strong conspiracy against Cæsar,
headed by Cassius, who had for a long time been Cæsar’s enemy. Cassius
at last succeeded in persuading Marcus Brutus to join him. The plan was
then divulged to such men as the conspirators thought most necessary
to the success of their plot. It was agreed that Cæsar must be slain.
They at length decided that the Roman Senate was the proper place.
As it had been rumored that Cæsar’s friends were about to attempt to
crown him as a king on the Ides of March, that day was chosen by the
conspirators as a fitting one on which Julius Cæsar should meet his
doom. Cæsar received many warnings of his approaching fate, and the
soothsayers reported many strange omens which betokened some portentous
event. One of these soothsayers informed Cæsar that he had been
warned, by certain signs at a public sacrifice, that some terrible
danger threatened his life on the Ides of March; and he besought him
to be cautious until that day should have passed. The Senate were to
meet on the Ides of March in a new and magnificent edifice, which had
been erected by Pompey. In this Senate Chamber was a statue of Pompey.
The day before the Ides of March, some birds of prey from a neighboring
grove came flying into this hall, pursuing a little wren which had a
sprig of laurel in its beak. The birds tore the poor wren to pieces,
and the laurel fell from its bill to the marble pavement below. As
Cæsar had been crowned with laurel after his victories, and always
wore a wreath of laurel on public occasions, this event was thought
to portend some evil to him. The night before the Ides of March, both
Cæsar and his wife Calpurnia awoke from terrible dreams. Cæsar dreamed
that he ascended into the skies and was received by Jupiter, and
Calpurnia, awakening with a wild shriek, declared that she had dreamed
that the roof of the house had fallen in, and that her husband had been
stabbed by an assassin. When morning came, Calpurnia endeavored to
persuade Cæsar not to go to the Senate, and he had consented to comply
with her wish, until one of the conspirators, who had been appointed to
accompany Cæsar to the Senate, came to the house of Julius Cæsar, and
by his declarations that the people were waiting to confer upon their
dictator the title of king throughout all the Roman dominions excepting
Italy alone, he at length persuaded Cæsar to go with him. On the way
to the Senate, a Greek teacher, having learned something of the plot,
wrote a statement of it, and as Cæsar passed him he gave it to him,
saying, “Read this immediately; it concerns yourself, and is of the
utmost importance.” Cæsar made the attempt to do so, but the crowd of
people who pressed towards him and handed him various petitions, as was
the usual custom when a state officer appeared in public, prevented
Cæsar from thus learning of the dreadful fate awaiting him. There was
one warm friend of Cæsar, named Marc Antony, whom the conspirators
feared might interfere with the successful completion of their plot,
and so it was arranged that one of their number should engage the
attention of Antony, while the petitioner chosen should advance and
make his appeal to Cæsar, which should be the signal for the bloody
deed. This conspirator made a pretence of asking Cæsar for the pardon
of his brother, which request, as they had expected, Cæsar declined to
grant. This occasioned an outburst of pretended fury, under cover of
which the conspirators rushed upon Cæsar and stabbed him with their
swords. Cæsar at first attempted to defend himself, but as Brutus, his
former friend, also plunged his dagger into his side, he exclaimed,
“And you, too, Brutus?” and drawing his mantle over his face, he fell
at the feet of Pompey’s statue and expired. Now again the city of Rome
was in wild tumult.

The conspirators marched boldly through the streets with their bloody
swords. They boasted of their shocking deed, and announced that they
had delivered their country from a tyrant. The people, stunned by
the daring of this terrible act, knew not what to think or do. Some
barricaded their houses in fear; others hurried through the streets
with blanched faces; and still others excitedly seized any kind of
weapon near at hand, and joined a mob, which threatened to break out in
awful violence, to avenge the death of Cæsar, their idol.

During all this time the body of Cæsar lay unheeded at the foot of
Pompey’s statue, pierced with twenty-three wounds, made by the hands of
men he thought were his friends. Three slaves were his only guardians;
and at last they lifted the poor bruised, bleeding, and ghastly corpse,
and carried it home to the distracted Calpurnia. The next day, Brutus
and the other conspirators called the people together in the Forum, and
there addressed them, endeavoring to persuade them that the deed had
been committed only in the interests of the people, to rid them of a
tyrant. But the subsequent famous funeral speech of Marc Antony, roused
the people to such a wild frenzy of revenge, that the conspirators were
only saved from death with great difficulty by the intervention of the

The Field of Mars had been chosen as the place for the funeral pile;
but after the speech of Marc Antony in the Forum, where the body of
Cæsar had been placed on a gilded bed covered with scarlet and cloth of
gold, under a gorgeous canopy made in the form of a temple, the people
in their wild outbursts of love for Cæsar, as they had then learned
from his will, which Antony read aloud to them, of his munificent
bequests to the Roman citizens, became ungovernable in their desires
to do him reverence. As a crier, by Antony’s order, read the decrees
of the Senate, in which all honors, human and divine, had been been
ascribed to Cæsar, the gilded bed upon which he lay was lifted and
borne out into the centre of the Forum; and two men, having forced
their way through the crowd, with lighted torches set fire to the bed
on which the body of Cæsar lay, and the multitudes with shouts of
enthusiastic applause, seized everything within reach and placed them
upon the funeral pile. The soldiers then threw on their lances and
spears; musicians cast their instruments into the increasing flames;
women tore off their jewels to add to the gorgeous pile, and all
vied with each other to contribute something to enlarge the blazing
funeral pile. So fierce were the flames that they spread to some of the
neighboring buildings, and a terrible conflagration which would have
given Cæsar the most majestic funeral pile in the annals of the world,
for it would have been the blazing light from the burning city of Rome
itself, was only prevented by the most strenuous efforts.

Some time after, Octavius Cæsar, the successor of Julius Cæsar, and
Marc Antony, waged war with Cassius and Brutus; and at the battle of
Philippi, where Cassius and Brutus were defeated, and while they were
fleeing from the field, hopeless of further defence, they both killed
themselves with their own swords.

Cæsar died at the age of fifty-six. The Roman people erected a column
to his memory, on which they placed the inscription, “To the Father
of His Country.” A figure of a star was placed upon the summit of
this memorial shaft, and some time afterwards, while the people were
celebrating some games in honor of Cæsar’s memory, a great comet blazed
for seven nights in the sky, which they declared to be a sign that the
soul of Cæsar was admitted among the gods.


742-814 A.D.

    “To whom God will, there be the victory.”

THERE was great terror and dismay among the inhabitants of the city of
Paris, called in those early days, Lutetia.

[Illustration: CHARLEMAGNE.

(From Early Engraving.)]

The Gauls, who dwelt in that part of the country, were now menaced by a
foe even more terrible than the Roman soldiers led by the famous Julius
Cæsar, who had invaded their land about 500 years before, and made
their country a Roman province.

But now a fearful war-cry rings through the air; and as the frightened
Gauls hastily arm themselves for resistance, a horde of Teutonic
giants, with light complexions, long yellow hair waving in the wind,
and eyes so bright and cat-like that they fairly shone with a green
glare of animal-like ferocity, which was heightened by their clothing
made of the skins of the bear, the boar, and the wolf, making them
look in the distance like a herd of wild beasts, came rushing like an
avalanche of destruction over the peaceful homes of the Gauls. These
hordes advanced in a mighty wedge-like phalanx, formed of their bravest
warriors, each man carrying in his right hand a long lance, and in the
left a buckler, or skin-covered shield, while his girdle held a sharp
two-edged axe, which became, with dexterous handling, a most dangerous
weapon, and was hurled from a distance with marvellous aim. With
mounted warriors protecting the wings of this invincible phalanx,
on came this fierce, wild tribe, charging to battle with a terrible
war-whoop, which they made more shrill by placing the edge of the
buckler to the mouth.

In vain the Gauls looked to Rome for help. There was too much trouble
in Italy for the Roman government to help any one. So these giant
Franks came rushing unchecked on to Paris, while the frightened Gauls
were powerless to resist them. The leader of this horde was called
Hilperik, the son of Meerwig; and having taken possession of Paris, and
several surrounding provinces, he founded the kingdom afterwards called
France, from this tribe who were called Franks.

The story of kings is too often a story of blood and cruelty, and the
kingdom which the great Charlemagne inherited had been the scene of
fearful and continual conflicts.

The Goths, one of the fierce German nations, had conquered a large part
of Gaul after it had become a Roman province, and in the year 451,
the Huns, a more terrible nation still, whose chief was the famous
Attila, who called himself the “Scourge of God,” invaded Gaul with
his army,—horrible looking men, whose faces had been gashed by their
savage parents in their infancy, that they might look more dreadful.
The poor Gauls thought rightly, that it was more fearful to fall
into their hands than into those of the Franks; but the Huns came no
further than Orleans, where an army, composed of Gauls, Franks, Goths,
Burgundians, all under the Roman general Ætius, attacked the Huns at
Châlons-sur-Marne, beat them, and drove them back. Châlons was the last
victory in Gaul, won under the Roman banners, and now the poor Gauls
were obliged to meet their enemies alone. The chief tribes of those
warlike races, who swarmed over Europe, both north and south, were
the Goths who conquered Rome, and settled in Spain; the Longbeards
or Lombards, who spread over the north of Italy; the Burgundians, or
town-livers, who held all the country around the Alps; the Swabians
and Germans, who stayed in the middle of Europe; the Saxons, who dwelt
south of the Baltic, and finally conquered South Britain; the Northmen,
who found a home in Scandinavia; and the Franks, who had been long
settled on the rivers Sale, Meuse, and Rhine. Their name meant freemen,
and they were noted for using an axe, called after them. Of the Franks
there were two noted tribes,—the Salian, from the river Sale, and the
Ripuarian. They were great horsemen, and the Salians had a family of
kings, who were supposed to have descended from one of their warlike
gods, called Odin. Although the Franks were a ferocious and sometimes
cruel race, they were in some respects superior to the other barbaric
tribes, and were liked better by the Gauls than any other of those
various nations.

[Illustration: THE HUNS AT CHÂLONS.]

After Cæsar’s conquest many of the Romans had remained in Gaul, and had
built and conquered cities, and lived under Roman laws. They taught the
Gauls to speak Latin, and organized many schools and colleges among
them. The Gauls adopted the Roman dress and religion. The religion of
the ancient Gauls had been taught to the people by priests, called
Druids. Druidism was a confusion of mingled ideas of Oriental dreams
and traditions, borrowed from the mythologies of the East and the
North; and although it was degraded by barbaric practices such as human
sacrifices in honor of the gods or of the dead, it possessed one germ
of truth, for the Druids believed in the immortality of the soul. Their
priests were old and wise men, who had studied often for twenty
years before they were considered wise enough to become “Men of the
Oak,” as the chief Druids were called. They made laws for the people
and settled questions of dispute. Once every year the Druids went out
to look for the mistletoe, which they considered a sacred plant. When
a mistletoe was found growing upon an oak, the people came from all
parts of the country and stood around the tree. Then a Druid, clothed
in white, climbed up the oak-tree, and cut off the sacred mistletoe
with a golden sickle, and the much prized plant was caught by the other
Druids below, in a white cloth, and was carried away to be preserved as
a great treasure.

But the Gauls living in those provinces conquered by the Romans, had
given up their old Druidical religion, and adopted that of their
conquerors, which was no improvement, for it was also a paganism, and
was such a mass of superstition and idolatry, derived from Grecian
mythology and old traditions, that it did not even possess the vital
force of the Druidical belief. For the Druids worshipped, as they
thought, living deities, while the Græco-Roman paganism was a dead
religion, with only dead gods, buried beneath their still standing
altars. Such were the superstitions and false religions with which
the Christians of the early centuries had to contend in laboring to
convert the then known world to the worship of the one true and living
God and His Son Jesus Christ, who had already lived his holy life
upon this earth, and given himself a sacrifice for the salvation of
mankind. Already the disciples of Christ had founded Christian churches
in Asia Minor and Palestine, and many of them had died as martyrs for
the faith. St. Paul had preached at Athens and at Rome, and having
finished his glorious work he had received his crown of martyrdom.
And all down these early centuries teachers had been sent out by the
Christian churches, to endeavor to convert the heathen world around
to a belief in the one true and only religion which could secure the
salvation of the immortal soul. The Roman emperors had all persecuted
the Christians and sought to uphold paganism. But when A.D. 312, the
Emperor Constantine declared himself a Christian, “paganism fell, and
Christianity mounted the throne.” Previous to the conquest of Gaul by
the Franks, the Gauls had adopted Christianity, and when Hilperik,
king of the Franks, conquered Paris and the surrounding country, and
at his death left this kingdom to his son, named Hlodwig, or Clovis,
there were many Christians and churches and monasteries in Gaul. Clovis
conquered many of the surrounding provinces, and at last became the
ruler of nearly the whole of Gaul. Clovis had married a Burgundian
maiden, named Clothilda, and as she was a Christian he allowed her
to worship God in the Christian churches. But in the great battle of
Tolbiacum, which Clovis fought with the Germans, when it seemed as
though the Franks would be defeated, Clovis took an oath that if the
God of his wife would give him the victory he would become a Christian.
The Franks were victorious, and Clovis was baptized with all his chief


When Clovis died, he left four sons, among whom he divided his kingdom.
One was the king of Paris; another, king of Orleans; a third, king of
Soissons; and the fourth, who reigned over that part of Gaul nearest
Germany and the Rhine, was called king of Metz. In a battle with the
Burgundians, the king of Orleans, Clodomir, was killed, leaving three
young sons who were placed in the care of their grandmother Clothilda.
At length the kings of Paris and Soissons became jealous of these
children of their elder brother Clodomir, and sent for the children,
under pretence of placing them upon the throne of their father. But
as soon as they had them in their cruel power, they sent a pair of
scissors and a sword to Clothilda, with a message, saying: “We wait
thy wishes as to the three children; shall they be slain or shorn?”
meaning, shall they be killed or shut up in monasteries? Clothilda, in
despair, cried out: “Slain, rather than shorn!” and the messengers,
not waiting to hear her further words, returned to the cruel kings,
and announced that they had secured the consent of Clothilda for the
shocking deed. The wicked kings then hastily entered the room where the
three helpless boys were imprisoned, and having slain the eldest, the
second one clung to the knees of his uncle Childebert, king of Paris,
who was for a moment moved with pity, and asked his brother Clotaire
to spare the boy. But the wicked Clotaire, king of Soissons, exclaimed
in wrath, “Thrust him away or thou diest in his stead!” Whereupon,
Childebert tried no more to save him, and Clotaire seized the poor boy,
who was now shrieking with terror, and plunged a hunting-knife into his
side, as he had his brother’s, and slew him. These murdered children
were only ten and seven years old. The third brother was snatched up by
some brave friends, and hidden away where the cruel uncles could not
find him. He was afterwards placed in a monastery, and became a monk,
and founded a monastery near Paris, called after him, St. Cloud. After
the sons of Clovis there followed a line of kings in France called the
Meerwings, or long-haired kings, known in history as the Merovingians;
and only two of them are important enough to be mentioned, and those
only on account of their crimes. One of the sons of Clovis left four
sons; and two of these, named Hilperik and Siegbert, married the two
daughters of the king of the Goths, in Spain. These sisters were
called Galswinth and Brunehild. Hilperik loved a slave girl he owned,
named Fredegond, and either with or without his consent, his wife
Galswinth was found strangled in her bed, and he afterwards married
the murderess, Fredegond, who, though most atrociously wicked, became
a powerful queen. Brunehild persuaded her husband Siegbert to make
war upon Hilperik, to avenge the death of her sister. Hilperik was
defeated, but the Queen Fredegond contrived to have Siegbert murdered,
and afterwards killed her husband’s other children, thus leaving her
own son heir to the throne. She then ordered her husband also to
be put to death, so that she could reign alone in the name of her
infant son. The four kingdoms left by Clovis had been now merged into
three,—Neustria, which is now the north of France; Austrasia, which is
now the north-east corner of France, and part of Belgium, and part of
the western side of Germany; and the third kingdom was called Burgundy.
The Neustrians and the Austrasians were usually at war with each other,
the Burgundians taking now one side of the quarrel and now the other.
Queen Fredegond’s part of Gaul was Neustria, while Queen Brunehild
governed Austrasia. But Brunehild quarrelled with the chiefs of the
country; and after many years of wars, plots, and murders, she was at
last brutally killed by the son of Fredegond, who became king of all
the Franks; and in Neustria every one obeyed him; but in Austrasia
the great chiefs and bishops were opposed to him. The bishops had by
this time become rich and powerful, for a great amount of land had
been left to the church by the wills of dying Christians, or as gifts
from kings and chiefs. When Clotaire, son of Fredegond, died, he left
two sons; one of them named Dagobert made himself master of Neustria
and Austrasia, and gave his brother land in the south part of the
country, which had not been visited before by a Frankish king. Dagobert
took Paris for his chief town; he made himself a splendid court, took
journeys through his kingdom, doing justice to his subjects, and
encouraged the building of churches, and had copies of the old Frankish
laws written out and sent throughout his kingdom. The people liked him;
but the powerful chiefs and the bishops, who had become so worldly that
they thought a great deal more about piling up riches than in turning
the people to Christianity, were filled with dismay to have so wise and
just a king, who was fast gaining a great power over the people. After
ten years Dagobert died and left two sons; one was king of Austrasia;
and the younger king of Neustria. After these, there followed three
more kings in Neustria, and four in Austrasia, but they had no power,
and were only called kings, while the government was really in the
hands of a new set of men, from which line the illustrious Charlemagne
sprang. The chief man next the king in these countries was called the
Mayor of the Palace. He had the chief command in times of war, and at
last became in truth the sovereign ruler; and they only put up one of
their do-nothing kings as a figure-head. After the death of Dagobert,
there was no other Frankish king of any importance in the line of the
Merovingians. The Fainéants, or do-nothing kings, as they were called,
sat on the throne and pretended to rule, but the mayor of the palace
told them what they must say to the people and what they must do.
This went on for nearly a hundred years. When Dagobert died, the mayor
of the palace was named Pepin, and through several reigns he really
governed both Austrasia and Neustria. He made war against the Germans,
and sometimes when they were very troublesome he went with an army and
subdued them; and at other times he sent monks to try and convert them
to Christianity. When Pepin died, his son Karl became the mayor of the
palace. Now Karl wished to secure money to give to his chiefs, so that
they would fight for him, and so he took away from the bishops the rich
lands which belonged to the church, and gave them to his warriors.
Karl had first to fight the Saxons, whom he defeated, and then there
appeared a new foe. The Arabs lived in Arabia, on the east side of the
Red Sea, in Asia.

They had always been a poor, wandering people. But about one hundred
and fifty years before this time, an Arab had appeared among his
countrymen, claiming to be a mighty prophet, and teaching them a new
religion. It was not the Christian religion; but this man, who was
named Mohammed, claimed that he had been sent by God to teach the
people; and so the religion he proclaimed was called Mohammedanism.
Now the Arabs had never left their own country before, but they
determined to go forth and conquer the world, and make all the nations
Mohammedans. They conquered Persia, Egypt, Spain, and a part of Africa.
When they overcame any nation, if the people would consent to become
Mohammedans, the Arabs treated them with kindness; but if they refused,
they made slaves of them, and sometimes put them to death. Having
conquered Spain, the Arabs wished to become masters of France.

When they had passed the Pyrenees, Karl went forth to meet them. There
was a great battle, known in history as the Battle of Tours, and at
length Karl conquered the Mohammedans, and drove them out of France.
Some accounts state that three hundred thousand Arabs were killed.

This mayor of the palace has been called Karl the Hammer, or in
French, Charles Martel, in memory of the blows he inflicted upon these
Mohammedan enemies. He was afterwards called the Duke of the Franks.

In the time of Charles Martel, several kings became monks. An English
monk named Winfrid had been sent by the Pope and Charles Martel to
preach to the Saxons. After persuading thousands of the people to be
baptized, this monk was made bishop and then archbishop. But he thought
more of converting the heathen than of wearing honors, and leaving his
bishopric to another, he went forth into a wild part of the country
to preach Christianity. When a large number of people had assembled
to be baptized, an armed force of the heathen attacked them, killing
Winfrid and all the Christian people. This good monk is called also St.

After the death of Charles Martel his two sons ruled for six years
together, and then one of them went into a monastery, leaving the
younger, Pepin, who now became the only duke of the Franks.

The people began to think it absurd to have a useless set of lazy,
do-nothing, Merovingian, or long-haired kings, who were only puppets in
the hands of the reigning duke. So Pepin, also called Le Bref, or the
Short, asked the Pope to make him king, instead of the figure-head who
sat upon the throne, who at that time bore the name of Hilperik. The
answer of the Pope was, “He who has the power ought also to have the
name of king.”

[Illustration: CHARLEMAGNE.]

As the Pope had thus consented to the change, all the Franks were
delighted, and they took the useless king from his throne, cut off
his long yellow hair, which was his sign of royalty, and shut him up
in a monastery. He died two years afterwards, and was the last of the
Merovingian kings.

Pepin was now crowned by St. Boniface, as this event preceded the death
of that king, and thus he became the first of the Carlovingian kings,
so called from Carolus, the Latin for Charles, which was the name of
Pepin’s father, and his still greater son.

Pepin now aided the Pope by marching into Italy and fighting the
Lombards; and having conquered them, he took their lands and gave them
to the Pope, which property afterwards descended from one pope to
another, so that the popes at last became masters of quite a kingdom in
Italy. Pepin also besieged a town in Southern Gaul, belonging to the
Arabs, and after seven years captured it, and drove the Arabs over the
Pyrenees, into Spain. He reigned for sixteen years, and dying left his
kingdom to his two sons Karl and Karloman, who divided it between them;
but Karloman lived but three years, when Karl became the king of France.

While his Austrasian subjects, who spoke German, called him Karl, the
Neustrians, whose language was a mingling of the Latin and the German,
which has since become the French language, called him Charles; and
after he became so famous, the Latin word _magnus_, meaning great, was
added, and Charles-Magnus thus became the Charlemagne of history.

Very little can be learned regarding the early life of Charlemagne. One
of the old writers, named Eginhard, who afterwards became the secretary
of Charlemagne, records that neither he himself, nor any one then
living, knew anything about the birth of this prince, nor about his
infancy, nor even youth. His father, King Pepin, had his two sons
associated with himself, when he received the title of king from the
Bishop of Rome; but neither of them received any separate government
during their father’s life. They were taught, with the other young
nobles, by Peter of Pisa, whom Pepin retained at his court for this
purpose. It is supposed that King Pepin took the young princes with
him in his Italian expeditions, and that Charlemagne accompanied his
father in the Aquitanian war. When King Pepin died, his eldest son was
twenty-six years and a half old, while the younger was barely nineteen.
Both were already married to wives of the Frank race. Charles, or
Charlemagne, to Himiltrude, and Carloman to Gerberge.

The first battle in which Charlemagne engaged was soon after his
father’s death, with the Aquitanians, who were the people living in
the south-west part of France. The brother-kings raised troops to
meet them, but Carloman through jealousy withdrew his forces, leaving
Charlemagne to carry on the war alone. He was victorious, and the
Aquitanians submitted. The queen-mother Bertrada now used her influence
to secure a permanent alliance between the Lombards and the Franks, and
persuaded Charlemagne to divorce his wife and marry Desiderata, the
daughter of Didier the Lombard king. This Charlemagne consented to do,
even against the advice of the Pope, and he suffered for his folly,
or wickedness; for so it was, even though his mother did sanction
it, for he was so unhappy with Desiderata, that in about a year he
put her away and married Hildegarde. In those days kings married and
divorced their wives as often as they pleased, and Charlemagne, with
all his greatness and his aid to Christianity, was in this particular
very culpable, and his domestic life was not at all in keeping with
the majesty, and goodness, and uprightness of his public life. After
the death of Hildegarde, he married two other wives. One Fastrada, an
Austrasian, was a very wicked woman, and caused him much trouble. The
last one, whom he loved the most, was named Luitgarda. She was kind and
gentle, and her influence over Charlemagne was very beneficial after
the wicked Fastrada had led him into so much trouble. The French have
an old legend, which relates that the evil influence which Fastrada
exercised over the strong mind of the great king, leading him to acts
of injustice and tyranny, which alienated the affections of his nobles,
was due to the magic spell of a ring which she wore. On her death, the
ring came into possession of a bishop, for whom Charlemagne immediately
showed such admiration, that the bishop found it unpleasant, and cast
the ring into a neighboring lake. Here it also exercised its magic
charm, and the king would sit for hours gazing into the waters of the
lake, as though spell-bound. But this legend cannot disguise the weak
side of Charlemagne’s character, and we can only turn from it and fix
our attention upon his great career.

He was one of the wisest and most powerful of kings. His life was one
of constant war. He fought the Saxons for thirty-three years, but
at last he conquered Witikind, the great Saxon leader, in 785, and
persuaded him to be baptized. Charlemagne made him Duke of Saxony, and
he lived in good faith to the new vows he had taken. Notwithstanding
this victory over the Saxons, Charlemagne foresaw the evils which
should come upon Europe through the formidable Northmen. The monk of
St. Gall relates this incident: “Charlemagne arrived unexpectedly in
a certain town of Narbonnese Gaul. Whilst he was at dinner, and was
as yet unrecognized of any, some corsairs of the Northmen came to ply
their piracies in the very port. When their vessels were descried, they
were supposed to be Jewish traders according to some, African according
to others, and British in the opinion of others; but the gifted monarch
perceiving by the build and lightness of the craft that they bare not
merchandise, but foes, said to his own folk, ‘These vessels be not
laden with merchandise, but manned with cruel foes.’ At these words,
all the Franks, in rivalry one with another, ran to their ships, but
uselessly, for the Northmen, indeed, hearing that yonder was he whom it
was still their wont to call Charles the Hammer, feared lest all their
fleet should be taken or destroyed in the port, and they avoided by a
flight of inconceivable rapidity not only the blows, but even the eyes
of those who were pursuing them.

“Pious Charles, however, a prey to well-grounded fear, rose up from
table, stationed himself at a window looking eastward, and there
remained a long while, and his eyes were filled with tears. As none
durst question him, this warlike prince explained to the grandees who
were about his person the cause of his movement and of his tears. ‘Know
ye, my lieges, wherefore I weep so bitterly? Of a surety I fear not
lest these fellows should succeed in injuring me by their miserable
piracies; but it grieveth me deeply that whilst I live, they should
have been nigh to touching at this shore, and I am a prey to violent
sorrow when I foresee what evils they will heap upon my descendants and
their people.’”

But during all the years of the Saxon wars, Charlemagne had been
carrying on various campaigns elsewhere. The Lombards were again at
war with the Popes, and the king of Lombards, Didier, whose daughter
Charlemagne had married and so soon divorced, had now become his bitter
foe. The new Pope, Adrian I., sought the aid of Charlemagne in this
war with the Lombards, and he prepared for this Italian expedition. He
raised two armies,—one to cross the Valais and descend upon Lombardy
by Mount St. Bernard, and the other, to be led by Charlemagne, was
to go by the way of Mount Cenis. Didier had with him a famous Dane,
named Ogier, who had quarrelled with Charlemagne and taken refuge in
Lombardy. One of the monks of that time thus describes Charlemagne’s
arrival before Pavia, where Didier and the Dane Ogier had shut
themselves up, as it was the strongest place in Lombardy.

“When Didier and Ogger (for so the monk calls him) heard that the dread
monarch was coming, they ascended a tower of vast height, whence they
could watch his arrival from afar off and from every quarter. They
saw, first of all, engines of wars, such as must have been necessary
for the armies of Darius or Julius Cæsar. ‘Is not Charles,’ asked
Didier of Ogger, ‘with this great army?’ But the other answered, ‘No.’
The Lombard, seeing afterwards an immense body of soldiery gathered
from all quarters of the vast empire, said to Ogger, ‘Certes, Charles
advanceth in triumph in the midst of this throng.’ ‘No, not yet; he
will not appear so soon,’ was the answer. ‘What should we do, then,’
rejoined Didier, who began to be perturbed, ‘should he come accompanied
by a larger band of warriors?’ ‘You will see what he is when he comes,’
replied Ogger; ‘but as to what will become of us I know nothing.’ As
they were thus parleying appeared the body of guards that knew no
repose, and at this sight the Lombard, overcome with dread, cried,
‘This time ’tis surely Charles.’ ‘No,’ answered Ogger, ‘not yet.’ In
their wake came the bishops, the abbots, the ordinaries of the chapels
royal, and the counts; and then Didier, no longer able to bear the
light of day or to face death, cried out with groans, ‘Let us descend
and hide ourselves in the bowels of the earth, far from the face and
the fury of so terrible a foe.’ Trembling the while, Ogger, who knew
by experience what were the power and might of Charles, and who had
learned the lesson by long usage in better days, then said, ‘When ye
shall behold the crops shaking for fear in the fields, and the gloomy
Po and the Ticino overflowing the walls of the city with their waves
blackened with steel (iron), then may ye think that Charles is coming.’
He had not ended these words when there began to be seen in the west,
as it were, a black cloud, raised by the north-west wind or by Boreas,
which turned the brightest day into awful shadows. But as the emperor
drew nearer and nearer, the gleam of arms caused to shine on the people
shut up within the city a day more gloomy than any kind of night. And
then appeared Charles himself, that man of steel, with his head encased
in a helmet of steel, his hands garnished with gauntlets of steel,
his heart of steel and his shoulders of marble protected by a cuirass
of steel, and his left hand armed with a lance of steel which he held
aloft in the air, for as to his right hand, he kept that continually on
the hilt of his invincible sword. The outside of his thighs, which the
rest for their greater ease in mounting a horseback were wont to leave
unshackled even by straps, he wore encircled by plates of steel. What
shall I say concerning his boots? All the army were wont to have them
invariably of steel; on his buckler there was nought to be seen but
steel; his horse was of the color and the strength of steel. All those
who went before the monarch, all those who marched at his side, all
those who followed after, even the whole mass of the army, had armor of
the like sort, so far as the means of each permitted. The fields and
the highways were covered with steel; the points of steel reflected
the rays of the sun; and this steel, so hard, was borne by a people
with hearts still harder. The flash of steel spread terror throughout
the streets of the city. ‘What steel! alack, what steel!’ Such were
the bewildered cries the citizens raised. The firmness of manhood and
of youth gave way at sight of the steel, and the steel paralyzed the
wisdom of the gray beards. That which I, poor tale-teller, mumbling
and toothless, have attempted to depict in a long description, Ogger
perceived at one rapid glance, and said to Didier, ‘Here is what ye
have so anxiously sought’; and whilst uttering these words he fell down
almost lifeless.”

But notwithstanding all King Didier’s fear, he and the Lombards evinced
such resistance, that Charlemagne was obliged to settle down before
Pavia in a long siege. His camp without the city became a town, so
that he sent for his wife, Queen Hildegarde, and her court, also his
children and their attendants, and said to the chiefs of his army, “Let
us begin by doing something memorable.” So men were at once set to
work to build a basilica, and within a week it was completed, with its
walls, roofs, and painted ceilings, which would seemingly have required
a year to erect.

In this chapel, Charlemagne, and his family, court, and warriors,
celebrated the festival of Christmas, 773. But just before Easter,
774, Charlemagne determined to leave his lieutenants to continue the
siege, and attended by a numerous and brilliant retinue, he set off for
Rome. On Holy Saturday, when Charlemagne was about three miles from
Rome, the magistrates and citizens and pupils of the schools came forth
to meet him, bearing palm-branches and singing hymns. At the gate of
the city, Charlemagne dismounted before the cross, and entered Rome
on foot, and having ascended the steps of the ancient basilica of St.
Peter, he was received at the top by the Pope himself. Then a chant was
sung by the people all around him: “Blessed be he that cometh in the
name of the Lord.”

According to the custom of pilgrims, Charlemagne visited all the
basilicas in Rome. He confirmed his father’s gift to the former Pope,
and added new gifts of his own. The Pope gave to Charlemagne a book
containing a collection of the canons written by the pontiffs from the
origin of the church. This he dedicated to Charlemagne, and wrote in
it, “Pope Adrian, to his most excellent son Charlemagne, king.”

Charlemagne then returned to his camp before Pavia, and having
captured the city, received the submission of all the Lombards. In 778
Charlemagne had a war with the Arabs in Spain. He crossed the Pyrenees
and went as far as the Ebro, but the Arabs gave him large gifts of gold
and jewels, and persuaded him to spare their fine cities. As he was
returning over the mountains, his army was attacked by a wild people
called the Basques; and several of his bravest leaders were killed,
among them the famous Roland, concerning whom various stories are told,
one being that he blew a blast on his bugle with his last breath, to
warn Charlemagne, who was far in the front, of this unexpected danger.
Another legend makes him to have possessed herculean strength, in
token of which a great cleft is shown in the Pyrenean Hills, said to
have been made by one stroke of his sword, and it bears the name of the
“La Brèche de Roland.” Pfalgraf, or Count of the Palace, was the name
given to some of the bravest Frank lords, and in old romances Roland
and others are called the Paladins.

[Illustration: DEATH OF ROLAND.]

Charlemagne had three sons, Carl, Pepin, and Lodwig, afterwards called
Louis le Débonnaire. In 781 Charlemagne took his two younger sons,
Pepin, aged four, and Louis, only three years of age, to Rome, where
they were anointed by Pope Adrian I.,—Pepin as king of Italy, and Louis
as king of Aquitaine. On returning from Rome, Charlemagne sent the baby
Louis at once to take formal possession of his kingdom. He was carried
to Orleans in a cradle, and then the little prince was clad in a tiny
suit of armor, and attendants held him up on horseback as he entered
his kingdom of Aquitaine. He was accompanied by many officers and men
of state who were to form his council of guardians. Afterwards the poor
baby king was taken back to his father’s palace to be educated.

Charlemagne founded Aix-la-Chapelle and made it his favorite winter
residence. He went out to fight each summer, and came back to his
kingdom in the winter. He was very seldom defeated in war, for he was
wise and energetic, and moved his army about so quickly that he was
a match for much larger forces than his own. He held a council of
war every Easter when all his chiefs assembled, and Charlemagne made
known to them his plans for his coming campaign. He made improvements
in the armor and weapons of his soldiers. Their helmets were provided
with visors which could be brought down to protect their faces in
battle, and their shields were long and large, instead of the small
round skin-covered bucklers of the early Gauls. His soldiers fought
with sharp-pointed, two-handed swords, and they employed also heavy
clubs covered with iron knobs, which were most formidable weapons.
Charlemagne’s forces were mounted on strong fleet horses from the
Rhine, and so great was his knowledge of all the surrounding countries,
that he could despatch an army to any part of his kingdom at short
notice, and with perfect accuracy as to route.

On the 23d of November, 800, Charlemagne arrived at Rome, where he was
met by Pope Leo III., whom he had several times aided in conflicts with
his enemies, at one time receiving Leo into his own palace for a year,
when conspirators at Rome were seeking the Pope’s life. In return for
these favors, and to secure the help of so mighty a warrior, Pope Leo
crowned Charlemagne Emperor of Rome. The ceremony was performed on
Christmas day, 800. Eginhard thus described the scene: “The king came
into the basilica of the blessed St. Peter, apostle, to attend the
celebration of mass. At the moment when in his place before the altar
he was bowing down to pray, Pope Leo placed upon his head a crown,
and all the Roman people shouted, ‘Long life and victory to Charles
Augustus, crowned by God, the great and pacific emperor of the Romans!’
After this proclamation the pontiff prostrated himself before him, and
paid him adoration according to the custom established in the days of
the old emperors; and thenceforward Charles, giving up the title of
patrician, bore that of emperor and Augustus.” Charlemagne had now
become emperor of France, of Germany, and of Italy.

But it is not only as a great warrior that Charlemagne is famous. His
government was a model for those times, and he held his subjects, so
diverse as to nationality and education, under a most wise and powerful
authority; and out of a chaos of different nations—the wild anarchy of
ruined Rome, and the ill-regulated force of barbaric hordes—he founded
a monarchy strong in him alone, and though it fell at his death, each
piece of his great empire possessed enough of the vitalizing force,
which his mind and wisdom had given to it, to enable it to rise an
empire by itself. So, though Charlemagne’s kingdom could not be
preserved by his successors, from that great power rose the separate
empires of France, Germany, and Italy. One of Charlemagne’s humane acts
was his care for the slaves in Gaul. At that time all the chiefs were
warriors, while their lands were tilled by serfs, or slaves, who went
with the land as part of the property, whether bought or captured. He
made laws to protect the slaves as far as possible against unjust and
cruel masters.

Charlemagne was also fond of study. He learned Latin and Greek, and
improved his native German language by inventing German words for the
months and the winds. He paid great attention to astronomy and music,
and in theological studies evinced a strong interest. He caused to be
commenced the first Germanic grammar. But with all his learning there
was one thing he could not accomplish, which was to write a good hand,
though he zealously practiced the art, even putting his little tablets
under his pillow that he might catch at any odd moments day or night
to perfect his imperfect writing. At whatever palace Charlemagne was
residing, he always formed there a school called the School of the
Palace, where many learned men were gathered together, and where
members of the royal family, including Charlemagne himself, and his
children, took lessons in the different sciences, grammar, rhetoric,
and theology. Two names are famous among these wise men, who became
the particular advisers and confidants of Charlemagne, Alcuin and
Eginhard, who afterwards became the biographer of Charlemagne, and the
adviser of his son Louis le Débonnaire. It was the custom for members
of this school to assume other names than their own: thus Charlemagne
was called David; Alcuin, Flaccus; Angilbert, Homer; and Eginhard,
Bezaleel,—that nephew of Moses to whom God had granted the gift of
knowing how to work skilfully in wood and all materials needed for
the ark and tabernacle. All of these scholars afterwards became great
dignitaries in the church. Charlemagne was of a cheerful disposition,
and fond of hunting and other sports. He was especially expert in
swimming. He sometimes played jokes upon his chiefs and nobles, and the
old monks of his time tell several stories regarding his sly humor.
At one time when he thought his courtiers were too much given to fine
clothes, he commanded a party of them when decked out in their finest
trappings, to follow him in the chase through the rain, mud, and
brambles. He was of a tall figure, and though his dress was rich and
gorgeous when the occasion demanded it, he was not fond of finery. His
appearance is thus described by Eginhard:—

“Charlemagne was large and robust in person, his stature was lofty,
though it did not exceed just proportion, for his height was not more
than seven times the length of his foot. The summit of his head was
round, his eyes large and bright, his nose a little long, beautiful
white hair, and a smiling and pleasant expression. There reigned
in his whole person, whether standing or seated, an air of grandeur
and dignity; and though his neck was thick and short, and his body
corpulent, yet he was in other respects so well proportioned that these
defects were not noticed. His walk was firm, and his whole appearance
manly, but his clear voice did not quite harmonize with his appearance.
His health was always good, except during the four years which preceded
his death. He then had frequent attacks of fever, and was lame of one
foot. In this time of suffering he treated himself more accordingly
to his own fancies than by the advice of the physicians, whom he had
come to dislike because they would have had him abstain from the roast
meats he was accustomed to, and would have restricted him to boiled
meats. His dress was that of his nation; that is to say, of the Franks.
He wore a shirt and drawers of linen, over them a tunic bordered with
silken fringe, stockings fastened with narrow bands, and shoes. In
winter, a coat of otter or martin fur covered his shoulders and breast.
Over all he wore a long blue mantle.”

He would not adopt the short mantle worn by the later Franks, but
preferred the long cloak of the ancient Franks, which made him a
distinguished and royal-looking person amidst his short-cloaked
courtiers. He was always girded with his sword, which became so famous
that it received the name of Joyeuse, whose hilt was of gold and
silver, his girdle being also of gold. Upon solemn festive occasions
this sword was replaced by one enriched with precious stones. After
he became Emperor he sometimes wore the long tunic, the chlamys, and
the sandals of the Romans. At great feasts or festivals his dress was
embroidered with gold, and his shoes adorned with precious stones. His
mantle was fastened with a brooch of gold, and he wore upon his head
a glistening diadem of gold and gems; but his usual dress was simple.
He avoided all excesses at the table, particularly that of drinking,
for he abhorred drunkenness. While he was dining he liked to have
histories or poems read to him. He took great pleasure in the works of
St. Augustine. He was endowed with a natural eloquence which rendered
his speech delightful. His chosen name of David was not inappropriate,
for he was a founder and benefactor of the church, and was very
devout in the outward observances of the Christian religion; but his
domestic life was an irretrievable blot upon his character, which no
plea of the laxity of those times can remove. It is true that the same
fault mars the greatness of Alexander, Julius Cæsar, and other famous
rulers; but Alexander and Cæsar were not Christians, while Charlemagne
stands forth as the great champion and upholder of the religion of the
spotless Christ. Charlemagne caused to be erected at Aix-la-Chapelle a
magnificent basilica, or chapel, which he adorned with gold and silver,
and with screens and gates of brass from Rome, and marbles and columns
from Ravenna. He always attended service here night and morning,
and often arose to assist at some especial worship in the night. He
introduced great improvements in the lessons and the psalmody, and
is said to have composed several hymns, among them the “Veni Creator
Spiritus,” that invocation of the Holy Spirit which is sung at
ordinations. Charlemagne was always ready to help poor Christians, not
only in his own kingdom, but in Syria, Egypt, in Africa, at Jerusalem,
Alexandria, Carthage, and elsewhere. Of all the holy places he had
most veneration for the Church of St. Peter at Rome. He sent rich
gifts of gold and silver and precious stones to that cathedral, for
he desired to make it surpass all other churches in its decorations
and riches. But he was only able to go four times during his reign
of forty-seven years, to visit that cherished place. Toward the end
of his vigorous life and magnificent career, the Emperor Charlemagne
met with severe family losses. In less than two years his sister,
daughter, and his sons, the two Pepins, one of whom was a hunchback,
died; and lastly his son Charles, whom he intended should be crowned
emperor, also died, leaving only Louis and several daughters. But
Louis was the worthiest of all the sons of Charlemagne to succeed his
illustrious father. In the year 813 Charlemagne, fearing that his end
was drawing near, assembled all his chief men at Aix-la-Chapelle, and
in a grand ceremonial in the chapel he caused his son to be declared
emperor, bidding him take the diadem himself from the altar, and place
it on his own head, whereupon Charlemagne exclaimed, “Blessed be the
Lord, who hath granted me to see my son sitting on my throne!” But he
did not at that time resign the crown. Louis went back to his kingdom
in Aquitaine; and Charlemagne, in spite of his growing infirmities,
continued through the autumn his usual hunting excursions, returning
to Aix in November. In January Charlemagne was seized with a fever,
but he determined to doctor himself, as was his usual method, which
was to “starve” the fever. But pleurisy set in, and still refusing to
be ministered to by physicians, on the seventh day after he had taken
to his bed, having received communion, he expired about nine o’clock
in the morning on the 28th of January, 814, in the seventy-first year
of his age, and the forty-seventh year of his reign. He was buried
with unusual grandeur. A large and beautifully carved sarcophagus of
classical workmanship, was lying empty in the basilica of Aix. But
they placed Charlemagne in a large marble chair in the crypt beneath
the dome of his great basilica. The chair was ornamented with gold,
and Charlemagne was clad in his royal robes with his sparkling crown
upon his head, and his royal sceptre in his hand, and the good sword
Joyeuse, which had served him in so many famous battles, was girded to
his side, while his pilgrim’s pouch was suspended from his girdle, and
a copy of the Gospels was laid upon his knees. Thus was he seated on
the throne chair, with his feet resting in the carved sarcophagus, as
though the great emperor was not to be shut up in a coffin like common
mortals, but even in death still sat upon his throne in royal state.
Beneath the dome, on the stone which closed the entrance to the tomb,
was carved the following epitaph in Latin:—

“In this tomb reposeth the body of Charles, great and orthodox emperor,
who did gloriously extend the kingdom of the Franks, and did govern it
happily for forty-seven years. He died at the age of seventy years, in
the year of the Lord, 814, in the seventh year of the Indication, on
the fifth of the Kalends of February.”

This crypt was opened two hundred years afterwards by the Emperor Otho
III., when he found the remains of Charlemagne, as described above. A
huge black flagstone now lies under the dome, bearing the inscription,
“Carolo Magno,” and it is supposed to cover the entrance to the tomb of
Charlemagne. Over it hangs a large golden candelabrum which the Emperor
Barbarossa gave to burn above the grave. In the time of Barbarossa, the
church enrolled the name of the great emperor in its Calendar as St.

No sovereign ever rendered greater service to the civilized world
than Charlemagne, by stopping in the north and south the flood of
barbarians and Arabs, Paganism and Islamism. This was his great
success, and although he ultimately failed in founding a permanent
empire which should exist in unity and absolute power after his death,
though at one time he seemed to be Cæsar, Augustus, and Constantine
combined, his death ended his empire; but he had opened the way for
the Christian religion and human liberty to establish other and more
lasting governments. The illustrious French writer, Guizot, thus sums
up the life and achievements of Charlemagne. “Great men are at one and
the same time instruments and free agents in a general design which
is infinitely above their ken, and which, even if a glimpse of it be
caught, remains inscrutable to them,—the design of God towards mankind.
Charlemagne had this singular good fortune, that his misguided attempt
at imperialism perished with him, whilst his salutary achievement, the
territorial security of Christian Europe, has been durable to the great
honor, as well as great profit, of European civilization.”


849-901 A.D.

    “An honest man’s the noblest work of God.”

STORY and song have immortalized the romantic traditions regarding the
early inhabitants of the British realm, and although many of them are
no doubt fabulous tales, the romantic history of Alfred the Great would
be robbed of much of its weird fascination if no mention were made of
these fantastic but charming traditions. King Alfred’s reign was eight
hundred years after the Christian Era. Authentic history takes us back
through those eight hundred years to the time of Julius Cæsar and his
invasion of Great Britain, and traditions carry us still farther back,
for eight hundred years more, to the days of Solomon.

There is a story that at the close of the Trojan war, which we have
described in the life of Agamemnon, Æneas landed in Italy with a
company of Trojans. They settled near the spot upon which Rome was
afterwards built. One day, while Brutus, the great-grandson of Æneas,
was hunting in the forests, he accidentally killed his father with an
arrow. Brutus, fearing evil consequences from this terrible accident,
fled from Italy. Going to Greece, he collected a band of Trojans, and
they made war upon a king named Pandrasus. Brutus conquered this king
but promised to make peace with him if he would agree to provide a
fleet of ships for Brutus, and give him his daughter in marriage. This
Pandrasus did, and Brutus sailed with his bride and fleet, until they
arrived at a deserted island, upon which they found the ruins of a city
and an ancient temple of Diana, where there still remained an image of
the goddess.

[Illustration: ALFRED]

The story goes that Brutus consulted this oracle of Diana, and received
the following answer:—

    “Far to the West, in the ocean wide,
     Beyond the realm of Gaul, a land there lies;
     Sea-girt it lies, where giants dwelt of old.
     Now void, it fits thy people; thither bend
     Thy course; there shalt thou find a lasting home.”

Brutus followed this direction, and proceeded westward through the
Mediterranean Sea. He arrived at the Pillars of Hercules, which was the
name given in those days to the Rock of Gibraltar, and then he turned
northward and coasted along Spain. At length they arrived on the shores
of Britain. They found the island covered with rich verdure, and in the
forests were many wild beasts and the remnants of a race of giants.

Brutus and his forces drove the wild beasts into the mountains of Wales
and Scotland, and killed the giants, and seized upon the island as
their own. Many wild adventures are told of his successors, down to the
time of the invasion of Julius Cæsar. Such is the story in brief of the
early Britons.

After the conquest by Cæsar, the Romans retained possession of the
island for four hundred years. During this time there were many
rebellions in the various provinces, until at last the Britons
submitted to their sway. Now another enemy advanced against this
picturesque island. The Picts and Scots, hordes of lawless barbarians,
who inhabited the mountains of Ireland and Scotland, made continual
expeditions for plunder into the fair land of the Britons. At length
one of the Roman emperors named Severus, visited the island of Britain,
and endeavored to conquer the Picts and Scots. It was at this time
that the famous Wall of Severus was built. The wall extended across
the island, from the mouth of the Tyne on the German Ocean, to the
Solway Frith, nearly seventy miles. This wall was a good defence
against the barbarians, as long as Roman soldiers remained to guard
it. But about two centuries after the time of Severus, the Roman
soldiers were required by their own government at home, and the Britons
were left to fight with the Picts and Scots alone. During this time
another brave and warlike race had arisen. The Anglo-Saxons had now
become powerful sea-rulers on the German Ocean and Baltic Sea. They
delighted in storms and tempests, and cared not whether it was summer
or winter when they sailed the seas, so brave and fearless were they.
They would build small vessels of osiers, covering them with skins,
and in these frail boats they courageously sailed amidst the rough
winds and foaming surges of the German Ocean, in search of conquest
and wild adventure. If they fought they conquered, and if they pursued
their enemies they were sure to overtake them, and if they retreated
they successfully made their escape. Neither winds, waves, nor enemies
could quell this adventurous and brave race, which was fast rising into
power and renown. They were clothed in loose and flowing garments, and
wore their hair long, floating about their shoulders. They had much
skill in fabricating arms of superior workmanship, which gave them a
great advantage over their enemies. The landing of a few boat-loads of
these determined and fearless Anglo-Saxons, on a small island near
the mouth of the Thames, was an event which marks an important epoch
in English history, as it was the real beginning of British greatness
and power. The names of the commanders who headed the expedition of the
Anglo-Saxons which first landed in Britain, were Hengist and Horsa.
They were brothers. The island where they landed was called Thanet.
The name of the king of Britain at this time was Vortigern. When the
Anglo-Saxons arrived, his kingdom was distracted by the constant
incursions of the Picts and Scots. In this danger, Vortigern appealed
to the Anglo-Saxons for help. He offered to give them a large tract
of territory in the part of the island where they had landed, if they
would aid him in his contest with his enemies. Hengist and Horsa
agreed to this proposal, and they thereupon engaged in battle with the
Picts and Scots, and defeated them, and they were driven back to their
mountains in the north. The Anglo-Saxons now established themselves in
the part of the island assigned to them, and it is related that Hengist
gave his daughter Rowena in marriage to King Vortigern, to strengthen
the alliance more closely. At last the Britons became alarmed at the
increasing power of the Anglo-Saxons, and the result was a fierce
contest. It is related that King Vortigern, with three hundred of his
officers, were invited by Hengist to a feast, and a quarrel having
arisen, an affray occurred in which the Britons were all killed, except
Vortigern who was taken prisoner, and was only ransomed by ceding three
whole provinces to his captors.

The famous King Arthur, whose Knights of the Round Table have been so
celebrated in fable and song, was a king of the Britons during these
wars between his people and the Saxons. He is said to have performed
marvellous exploits of strength and valor. He was of prodigious size,
and undaunted courage. He slew giants, killed the most ferocious wild
beasts, gained many splendid victories, and is said to have made long
expeditions into foreign countries, once even going to Jerusalem on
a pilgrimage to obtain the Holy Cross. He was afterwards killed in a
combat with his nephew, who had gained the affections of Arthur’s wife
during his absence. Arthur had been a deadly enemy of the Saxons. He
fought twelve great pitched battles with them, in every one of which
he gained the victory. It is related that he killed with his own hand,
four hundred and seventy men in one of these contests. The landing of
the Saxons, under Hengist and Horsa, is supposed to have been in the
year 449. It was more than two hundred years after this before the
Britons were entirely subdued, and the Saxon power became supreme. In
one or two centuries more the Saxons had, in their turn, to meet an
implacable and powerful enemy. These new invaders were the Danes.

The territory of Britain was divided into seven or eight Saxon
kingdoms, each under a separate king. This power is known in history
as the Saxon Heptarchy. The Danes were not exclusively the natives of
Denmark. They came from all the shores of the Northern and Baltic Seas.
They were a race of bold naval adventurers, as the Saxons themselves
had been two or three centuries before. They were banded together in
large hordes, each ruled by a chieftain, called a sea-king. One of the
most famous of these sea-kings was named Ragnar Lodbrog. His father was
a prince of Norway, and Ragnar had married a Danish princess, and had
acquired a sort of right to a Danish kingdom, which right was disputed
by one Harald. The Franks aided Harald in this contest, and Ragnar was
defeated. But he now brought the other sea-kings under his control,
and raising a large force, he invaded France, and landing at Rouen he
marched to Paris. The king of the Franks finding himself completely in
his power, bought off the sea-kings by paying a large sum of money,
and Ragnar and his hordes returned to the Baltic Sea with riches and
wide renown for their daring adventures. Ragnar afterwards invaded
Spain, and finally grew bold enough to attack the Anglo-Saxons on the
island of Britain. For this contest, Ragnar had prepared two enormous
ships, and, filling them with picked men, he sailed down the coast of
Scotland until he reached Northumbria. Here he encountered a large
force of Saxons under their king Ella. A terrible struggle ensued.
Ragnar was defeated and taken prisoner, and was afterwards put to death
in a barbarous manner by the Saxons. They filled a den with poisonous
snakes, and drove the captive Ragnar amongst these horrid reptiles,
by whose venomous fangs he was killed. In 851 a large horde of Danes
landed on the island of Thanet, and afterwards advanced boldly up the
Thames. They plundered London and Canterbury, and marched thence into
one of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, called Mercia. Although the Danes were
there defeated by a large force of Saxons, new hordes were continually
arriving, and becoming more formidable. At length an immence force
of Danes landed, under the command of Guthrum and Hubba. This horde
was led by eight kings and twenty earls. Hubba was one of Ragnar’s
sons, and many of the horde were his relatives and friends, who swore
vengeance for his cruel death. It was at this time that young Alfred
appears prominently upon the scene of English history.


Alfred was the youngest child of Ethelwolf, king of the West Saxons.
Under Egbert, the father of Ethelwolf, the kingdoms of the West Saxons
had been united; and Egbert is called king of the English, he having
given the name of Anglia to the whole kingdom.

When young Alfred was five years old, his father sent him to Rome to
see the Pope, and to be anointed by him as king of the West Saxons;
as Ethelwolf intended to pass over his elder sons and give his throne
to his favorite son Alfred. This journey was made with great pomp and
splendor; and a large train of nobles and ecclesiastics accompanied
the young prince, who was received with splendid entertainments as he
passed through France. Two years after this journey, Alfred’s father
Ethelwolf determined himself to go to Rome, and his favorite son
accompanied him. Ethelwolf placed his elder sons in command of his
affairs at home, and with a magnificent retinue crossed the channel,
and landed in France on his way to Rome. King Ethelwolf and Prince
Alfred were received with great distinction by King Charles of France,
and after a short stay in the French court they proceeded to Rome. The
king of England carried most costly presents to the Pope. Ethelwolf
had been educated for the monastery, as he was a younger son, but the
death of his father and elder brother placed him on the throne instead
of in an ecclesiastical office. Therefore his religious inclinations
were always very strong, and this pilgrimage to Rome was made as a
religious ceremony as well as for political objects, and his offerings
were very magnificent. One gift was a crown of pure gold, weighing four
pounds. Another was a sword richly mounted in gold. There were also
many vessels of gold and silver, and several robes richly adorned. King
Ethelwolf also distributed money to all the inhabitants of Rome; giving
gold to the nobles and clergy, and silver to the people. So great was
his munificence, and so magnificent was his courtly retinue, that this
visit attracted universal attention, and made the little Alfred, on
whose especial account the journey was performed, an object of great
interest. King Ethelwolf remained a year at Rome, to give young Alfred
the benefit of the advantages of the schools which had been established
there. As they returned home through France, King Ethelwolf was married
to the young daughter of the king of France, Princess Judith, who was
only twelve or fourteen years of age. The mother of Alfred had died
about three years before, and although this marriage occasioned much
trouble in the kingdom of Ethelwolf, the young bride Judith was a kind
and affectionate stepmother to Alfred, who was at this time about eight
years of age. The story is related, that on one occasion Judith was
showing Alfred and his older brothers a manuscript of some Saxon poems.
Although much care had been bestowed upon the education of Alfred, he
could not yet read. Indeed, very few even of the princes or kings in
those days ever learned to read. Reading was considered as a necessary
art, only for those who were to become professional teachers. Alfred
expressed so much delight in this manuscript, which was beautifully
illuminated with hand drawings, that Judith promised the volume to the
one who should first learn to read it. Alfred’s brothers, although much
older, did not aspire to this honor, and Alfred made such diligent
use of his time, that with the help of his teachers he was soon able
to read the poems fluently, and so claimed and received the prize.
About two years after, the father of Alfred died, and Judith became
the wife of Ethelbald, the eldest brother of Alfred, who succeeded
to the throne. He died soon after, however, and Judith returned to
France, where she married a Flemish noble, whom her father afterwards
made Count of Flanders. We cannot stop to trace the life of Judith any
farther, but we must mention that Alfred the Great afterwards gave his
daughter Elfrida in marriage to the second count of Flanders, who was
the eldest son of Judith. Through this marriage the English sovereigns
trace their descent from Alfred the Great.

There is a strange story connected with the youth of Alfred, which is
best given in the quaint language of one of the biographers of this
good and brave king. “As he advanced through the years of infancy and
youth, his form appeared more comely than those of his brothers, and
in look, speech, and manners he was more graceful than they. He was
already the darling of the people, who felt that in wisdom and other
qualities he surpassed all the royal race. Alfred, then, being a youth
of this fair promise, while training himself diligently in all such
learning as he had the means of acquiring, and especially in his own
mother tongue and the poems and songs which formed the chief part of
Anglo-Saxon literature, was not unmindful of the culture of his body,
and was a zealous practiser of hunting in all its branches, and hunted
with great perseverance and success. But before all things he was
wishful to strengthen his mind in the keeping of God’s commandments;
and finding that worldly desires and proud and rebellious thoughts
which the devil, who is ever jealous of the good, is apt to breed in
the minds of the young, were likely to have the mastery of him, he
used often to rise at cock-crow in the early mornings, and repairing
to some church or holy place, there cast himself before God in prayer,
that he might do nothing contrary to His holy will. But finding himself
still hard tempted, he began at such times to pray, as he lay prostrate
before the altar, that God in his great mercy would strengthen his
mind and will by some sickness, such as would be of use to him in
the subduing of his nature, but would not show itself outwardly, or
render him powerless or contemptible in worldly duties, or less able
to benefit his people. For King Alfred from his earliest years held in
great dread leprosy and blindness, and every disease which would make a
man useless or contemptible in the conduct of affairs. And when he had
often, and with much fervor, prayed to this effect, it pleased God to
afflict him with a very painful disease, which lay upon him with little
respite until he was in his twentieth year. At this age he became
betrothed to her who was afterwards his wife, Elswitha, the daughter
of Ethelred, the Earl of the Gaini in Mercia. Alfred, then, at that
time being on a visit to Cornwall for the sake of hunting, turned aside
from his sport, as his custom often was, to pray in a certain chapel
in which was buried the body of St. Guerir. There he entreated God
that he would exchange the sickness with which he had been up to that
time afflicted for some other disease, which should in like manner not
render him useless or contemptible. And so, finishing his prayers, he
got up and rode away, and soon after perceived within himself that he
was made whole of his old sickness. So his marriage was celebrated in
Mercia, to which came great numbers of people, and there was feasting
which lasted through the night as well as by day. In the midst of which
revelry Alfred was attacked by sudden and violent pain, the cause of
which neither they who were then present, nor indeed any physician
in after years, could rightly ascertain. At the time, however, some
believed that it was the malignant enchantment of some person amongst
the guests; others, that it was the special spite of the devil; others
again, that it was the old sickness come back on him, or a strange kind
of fever. In any case, from that day until his forty-fourth year he
was subject to this same sickness, which frequently returned, giving
him the most acute pain, and, as he thought, making him useless for
every duty. But how far the king was from thinking rightly in this
respect, those who read of the burdens that were laid upon him, and
the work which he accomplished, can best judge for themselves.” Such
is this quaint account of Alfred’s religious devotion, and his patient
endurance of suffering.

According to the will of Ethelwolf, the father of Alfred, Ethelbald,
his eldest son, was to retain the throne of Wessex until his death,
when he should be succeeded by his two youngest brothers, Ethelred
and Alfred, in succession; while Ethelbert, the second son, should be
king of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey. His estates and other property were
divided amongst his children. From 858 until 860 Ethelred and Alfred
lived in Kent with their brother Ethelbert. Upon the death of Ethelbald
in 860, Ethelred and Alfred both waived their rights, and allowed
Ethelbert to ascend the throne of Wessex. In 866 Ethelbert also died,
and Ethelred now became the sovereign, and Alfred the crown prince.
Alfred was very fond of study, and also very devout, as the above
description from the old annals shows. During his youth he had gathered
together the Services of the Hours, called _Celebrationes Horarum_,
with many of the Psalms, which he had written in a small handbook that
he always carried with him; and on battle-field, or exiled in the wild
forests, or ruling the nation as a proud king, this little book of
devotion was always within reach, and constantly perused.

Within six weeks after his marriage he was called to arms by the
invasion of the Danes, already mentioned, under Guthrum and Hubba;
and within a few short months his brother Ethelred had been killed in
battle, he himself had become king, and nine pitched battles had been
fought in his own kingdom of Wessex under his leadership.

To understand more clearly the character of the Danes, a slight
description of their weird and fantastic religious ideas is necessary.
Woden was the chief figure in their ancient mythology. He was the
god of battles, “who giveth victory, who re-animates warriors, who
nameth those who are to be slain.” This Woden had been an inspired
teacher as well as a conqueror, and had given to these wild Northmen a
Scandinavian alphabet, and songs of battle. Their traditions related
that Woden had led them from the shores of the Black Sea to the fiords
of Norway, the far shores of Iceland. Having departed from them, he
drew their hearts after him, and lived ever after in Asgard, the garden
of the gods. There in his own great hall, Valhalla, the hall of Odin,
he dwelt. And it was believed that the brave slain in battle should be
permitted to go to Valhalla, and feast there with the mighty Odin.

There were also supposed to be other gods in this hall of Valhalla.
Chief of these was Balder, the sun-god, white, beautiful, benignant;
and Thor, the thunder-god, with terrible smiting hammer and awful
brows, engaged mainly in expeditions into Jotun land, a chaotic world,
the residence of the giants, or devils, known as frost, fire, tempest,
and the like. Thor’s attendant was Thealfi, or manual labor. This
thunder-god was described to be full of unwieldly strength, simplicity,
and rough humor. There was supposed to be a tree of life also in the
unseen world,—Igdrasil, with its roots in Hela, the kingdom of death,
at the foot of which sit the three Nornas, known as the past, present,
and future. They also believed that there would some day be a struggle
of the gods and Jotuns, or dwellers in the chaotic world, and that
at last the gods, Jotuns, and Time himself would all sink down into
darkness, from which in due season there should issue forth a new
heaven and a new earth, in which a higher god and supreme justice shall
at last reign.

So their religion was only a religion of war; and, to be brave in
battle, they thought the most pleasing devotion they could show to
their warlike gods. So this contest between the Danes and Saxons was
not only one for the possession of the fruitful land of England, but
was a contest between Paganism and Christianity. King Alfred was a
devout Christian, and although the Saxons’ ideas of religion were
mixed with much superstition and bigotry, they believed in the true
God, Jehovah, and in salvation through the redemption of Jesus Christ;
although the pure Gospel, as taught by Christ himself when on the earth
more than eight hundred years before this time, had become mixed with
all sorts of legends of saints and marvellous stories fabricated by
the priests, and handed down as traditions among the people, whose
ignorance placed them completely under the sway of the only class of
men who were educated sufficiently to read and write, and by whom all
copies were made of such books as they possessed at that day, which
consisted only of rolls of parchment, penned laboriously by hand in
the various monasteries, scattered throughout the different kingdoms of
the then civilized world. The most famous battle between the Saxons and
the Danes is known as the battle of Ashdown, and is thus described in
the old English annals:—

[Illustration: ALFRED.

_Roy d’Angleterre,_

_Né en 849. Mort le 28.8bre. 899._]

“At early dawn the hosts were on foot. Alfred marched up promptly with
his men to give battle, but King Ethelred stayed long time in his tent
at prayer hearing the mass. Now the Christians had determined that King
Ethelred with his men should fight the two pagan kings, and that Alfred
his brother, with his men, should take the chance of war against the
earls. Things being so arranged, the king remained long time in prayer,
while the pagans pressed on swiftly to the fight. Then Alfred, though
holding the lower command, could no longer support the onslaught of
the enemy without retreating, or charging upon them without waiting
for his brother. A moment of fearful anxiety was this for the young
prince, who thus no doubt mused: ‘Bagsac and the two Sidrocs at the
top of the down with double my numbers, already overlapping my flanks:
Ethelred still at mass—dare I go up at them? In the name of God and St.
Cuthbert, yes!’ and with a strong heart, brave for this great crisis,
Alfred puts himself at the head of his men, and leads them up the slope
against the whole pagan host, ‘With the rush of a wild boar.’ For he
too relied on the help of God. He formed his men in a dense phalanx to
meet the foe, which was never broken in that long fight. Mass being
over, Ethelred comes up to the help of his brother, and the battle
raged along the whole hillside. The pagans occupied the higher ground,
and the Christians came up from below. There was also in that place,
a single stunted thorn-tree. Round this tree the opposing hosts
came together with loud shouts from all sides, the one party to pursue
their wicked course, the other to fight for their lives, their wives
and children, and their country. And, when both sides had fought long
and bravely, at last the pagans, by God’s judgment, gave way, being no
longer able to abide the Christian onslaught; and after losing a great
part of their army, broke in shameful flight. One of their two kings
and five earls were there slain, together with many thousand pagans,
who covered with their bodies the whole plain of Ashdown. And all the
pagan host pursued its flight, not only until night, but through the
next day, even until they reached the stronghold from which they had
come forth. The Christians followed, slaying all they could reach until
dark. Neither before nor since was ever such slaughter known since the
Saxons first gained England by their arms.”

Alfred’s decision and promptness, in that time of emergency, not only
won the day, but hardened his own nerve to flint, and his judgment,
amid the clash of arms, to steel. Through all the weary years of
battle and misfortune that followed, there was no sign of indecision
and faint-heartedness. He had conquered fear and hesitancy there, as
valiantly as he had conquered temptations to evil in his earlier youth.
About two months after the battle of Ashdown, Ethelred and Alfred
fought for the last time together, against their unwearied foes. In
this contest Ethelred was mortally wounded, and died soon after, and
was buried by Alfred with kingly honors in Wimborne Minster.

Alfred, now at the age of twenty-three, ascended the throne of
his fathers, which seemed at that time tottering, and was not an
inheritance to be desired in the year of 871, when Alfred succeeded
his brother. It would not be surprising if for a moment he lost heart
and hope, and allowed himself to doubt whether God would by his hand
deliver his afflicted people from their relentless foes. In the eight
pitched battles which had been fought with the pagan army, the flower
of the youth of the Saxon nation had fallen. Kent, Sussex, and Surrey
were at the mercy of the Danes. London had been pillaged and was in
ruins, and several provinces in his own Wessex had been desolated. The
Danes were even then striking into new districts, and if the rich lands
yet unplundered were to be saved from their voracious grasp, it would
only be by prompt and decisive action.

A month has passed since the death of Alfred’s brother and his
succession to this tottering throne. Alfred, with the greatest
difficulty, collects enough men to take the field openly. The first
great battle that Alfred fought, as king, was at Wilton. At first
Alfred’s troops carried all before them, but the tide turned in favor
of the Danes, and Alfred and the Saxons were driven from the field.
There was immense loss upon both sides, and a treaty was agreed upon
between Alfred and Hubba, the Danish chieftain. By this treaty, the
Danes were to retire from Alfred’s dominions, provided that he would
not interfere with their conquests in other parts of England. Alfred
has been censured for making this treaty; but he was obliged to
choose between protection for his own realm, and perhaps the entire
destruction and overthrow of not only his dominions, but of all
England. He had no power to aid others, and therefore endeavored to
protect, if possible, his own subjects. The Danes then went to Mercia.
The king of Mercia was Buthred, the brother-in-law of Alfred. Buthred
paid the Danes large sums of money to leave his kingdom. The Danes
departed for a while, but treacherously returned, and were again
bought off. Hubba scarcely left the kingdom this time, but spent the
money received, and then went to plundering as before, regardless of
all promises. Buthred, in despair, fled the country and went to Rome,
where he died soon after of grief. The Danes then took possession
of Mercia, and set over the people a king from whom they demanded
an annual tribute. In the meantime, new hordes of Danes arrived in
England; and one place after another was plundered by them, and they
obtained possession of the town of Exancester (now Exeter), which was
a great loss to Alfred. King Alfred then determined to meet the Danes
upon their own element; and he built and equipped a small fleet, and
was successful in his first encounter with his enemies, having defeated
a fleet of Danish ships in the channel, and having captured one of the
largest of their vessels.

But after all, Alfred gained no decisive victory over his foes. He
then tried to bind the Danes by Christian oaths, in making a treaty
with them. The Danes were accustomed to swear by a certain ornament
which they wore, when they wished to impose a very solemn religious
oath; and to swear by this bracelet was to place themselves under the
most solemn obligations they could assume. Alfred, however, was not
satisfied with this pagan ceremony, but obliged them, in one treaty,
to swear by certain Christian relics, which were held in great awe and
sacredness by the Saxons. But the Danes broke their treaties with the
most reckless defiance; and, as years passed, Alfred found his army
broken, his resources exhausted, his towns and castles taken, until
about eight years after his coronation at Winchester, as monarch of
the most powerful of all the Saxon kingdoms, he found himself unable
to resist the further attacks of the Danes, who had come over in fresh
hordes, and captured his kingdom of Wessex; which calamity Alfred was
powerless to prevent.

[Illustration: ALFRED AND THE CAKES.]

The Saxon chieftains and nobles fled in terror, and Alfred himself,
with only one or two trusty friends, retired to the vast forests, which
skirted the remote western frontiers of his once proud realm. It was
during these homeless wanderings that the incident is said to have
occurred, which has ever since been related of this bitter experience
of want and misery in the life of Alfred the Great. The story is, that
Alfred, weary and hungry, sought shelter in the miserable hut of a
cow-herd, who gave him such poor fare as his lowly lot allowed. Alfred,
while remaining with these simple folks, was one day engaged in mending
his arrows, when the cow-herd’s wife, totally unconscious of the rank
and station of her guest, requested him, in no polite terms, to watch
her cakes which were baking in the coals, while she employed herself in
other labors. King Alfred, absorbed in his sorrowful musings, forgot
the injunctions of the ill-natured woman, and so allowed her cakes to
burn; which, when she perceived, she gave him a good scolding; saying,
“You man! you will not turn the bread you see burning, but you will be
very glad to eat it when it is done!” This unlucky woman little thought
she was addressing the great King Alfred.

Alfred, though restless and wretched in his apparently hopeless
seclusion, bore his privations with patience and fortitude, and did
not cease to plan some way by which he might reorganize his forces
and rescue his country from the ruin into which it had fallen. Alfred
now established himself at a place called Ethelney; and, having
gradually collected a few followers, they built a kind of fortress,
where Alfred’s family at length joined him, and to which numbers of
his old troops began to repair. The following incident is recorded in
the old annals concerning this time in King Alfred’s life. It was very
difficult to supply his little garrison with food, and sometimes they
found themselves in sore want. At one time the provisions in the house
were nearly exhausted, and to add to their distress, it was also in
the winter. All of Alfred’s little band having gone away with their
fishing apparatus and bows and arrows in the hope of securing some
food, Alfred was left alone with only one attendant. King Alfred was
sitting reading, when a beggar came to the door and asked for food.
Alfred, looking up from his book, inquired of his attendant what food
there was in the house. It was found that there was only a single loaf
of bread remaining, and a little wine in a pitcher. This would not
be half enough for their own wants, should the hunting party return
unsuccessful. Alfred ordered half of the loaf to be given to the
stranger; but when he had been served he was seen no more, and the loaf
remained whole, as though none had been taken from it, and the pitcher
was now full to the brim. Alfred, meantime, had turned to his reading,
over which he fell asleep, and dreamed that St. Cuthbert stood by him
and told him it was he who had been his guest; and that God had seen
his afflictions and those of his people, which were now about to end,
in token whereof his people would return that day from their expedition
with a great take of fish. And while Alfred yet mused on this strange
dream from which he had awakened, his servants came in, bringing fish
enough to have fed an army. The legend also goes on to say, that on
the next morning King Alfred went forth in the forests and wound his
horn thrice, which drew to him before noon five hundred men. Another
story is told of the manner in which King Alfred discovered the number
and power of his enemies’ forces. It is said that he assumed the garb
of a minstrel, and with one attendant visited the camp of the Dane
Guthrum. Here he stayed, amusing the Danish king and nobles with his
songs and harp, boldly venturing into their very tents, until he had
learned all he desired to know concerning their plans.

Whereupon he returned to Ethelney; and the time having arrived for a
great effort, he sent word to his people to meet him at a place called
Egbert’s Stone. Here, on the 12th of May, 878, King Alfred met his
gathered forces, and losing no time, moved forward toward Guthrum’s
camp. Alfred encamped for the night on an eminence from which he could
watch the movements of his enemies. That night, as he was sleeping in
his tent, he had a remarkable dream. St. Neot appeared to him, and told
him to have no fear of the immense army of pagans whom he was about
to encounter on the morrow, as God had taken him under his special
protection, having accepted his penitence for all his faults; he might
now go forward into the battle without fear, as God was about to give
him the victory over all his enemies.

The king related this dream to his army the next morning, and the
men were inspired with new ardor and enthusiasm as Alfred led them
to the camp where their enemies lay; for it was Alfred’s intention
to surprise the Danes. The Saxons advanced to the attack; and the
Danes, surprised and terror-stricken, soon began to yield. At last
the flight among the pagans became general. They were pursued by
Alfred’s victorious columns. The retreating army was in a short time
reduced to a small force, which, with Guthrum at their head, reached a
castle, where they took refuge. Guthrum, shut up in this castle, was
now besieged by Alfred’s forces; and when many of his men were raving
in the delirium of famine and thirst, or dying in dreadful agony, he
could resist no longer, but surrendered to Alfred. Thus King Alfred was
once more in possession of his kingdom. The treaty which Alfred now
made with the Danes evinces his generous Christian forgiveness; and
perhaps even the pagan Guthrum, in accepting the terms proposed, was
influenced by emotions of gratitude and admiration for the example of
Christian virtue which Alfred exhibited. As the Danes had now become
so intermingled with the Saxons by their long residence in England
and frequent intermarriages, Alfred determined to expel only the
armed forces from his dominions, allowing those peaceably disposed to
remain in quiet possession of such lands in other parts of the island
as they already occupied. Instead, therefore, of treating Guthrum
with harshness and severity as a captive enemy, he told him that he
was willing to give him his liberty, and to regard him, on certain
conditions, as a friend and an ally, and to allow him to reign as king
over that part of England which his countrymen already possessed. The
conditions were that Guthrum was to go away with his forces out of
Alfred’s kingdom under solemn oaths never to return; that he was to
give hostages for the faithful fulfilment of these stipulations; and
that Guthrum should become a convert to Christianity, and publicly
avow his adhesion to the Saxon faith by being baptized in the presence
of the leaders of both armies in the most open and solemn manner.
These conditions were accepted, and some weeks after the surrender,
the baptism was performed in the presence of many chieftains of both
nations. Guthrum’s Christian name which he received at this ceremony
was Ethelstan. King Alfred was his god-father. The various ceremonies
connected with the baptism were protracted through several days,
and were followed by a number of festivities and public rejoicings.
The admission of the pagan chieftain into the Christian church did
not mark, perhaps, any real change in his personal opinions, but it
prepared the way for the reception of the Christian faith by his
followers; and Alfred, in leading Guthrum to the baptismal font, was
achieving, in the estimation of all England, France, and Rome, a far
greater and nobler victory than when he conquered his enemies on the
field of battle. A full and formal treaty of peace was now concluded
between the two sovereigns; for Guthrum received the title of king,
and was to hold a separate kingdom in the dominions assigned to him.
Guthrum endeavored to keep this treaty faithfully, and whenever other
parties of Danes came upon the coast of England, they found no favor or
assistance from him against the Saxons.

The generosity and nobleness of mind displayed in his treatment of
Guthrum made a great impression on the world at that time, and has
never ceased to throw a halo of glory around the memory of this good
and great king. Many stories are told to illustrate the kindness of
Alfred the Great. It is said that once, while hunting in the forest
with a party, he heard the cries of a child, which seemed to come
from the air above their heads. It was found, after much searching,
that the sounds proceeded from an eagle’s nest in the top of a lofty
tree. On climbing to the nest, it was discovered that a child had been
carried by the eagle to its nest, and the infant was screaming with
pain and terror. Alfred ordered the boy to be brought to his castle,
and not being able to find the parents of the child, he adopted him
as his own son, gave him a good education, and provided for him well
when he grew to manhood. King Alfred manifested great interest in the
arts of peace, notwithstanding the warlike influences and habits of his
life. He was the ruler of a race capable of appreciating intelligence,
order, justice, and system; and, foreseeing the future power of this
people, his chief attention during all the years of his reign was
devoted to their advancement in learning, setting them an example in
his own case by pressing forward diligently in his own studies, even
in the midst of his overwhelming cares. It was not possible in those
days to educate the masses, as there were no books; but Alfred made
great efforts to promote the intellectual improvement of his people,
which was all the more remarkable at that time when all other monarchs
were ambitious only of their own power and personal glory. King Alfred
wrote and translated many books, which were copied and, so far as it
was possible, circulated amongst those who could read them. These
writings of King Alfred exerted a wide influence. They remained in
manuscript until the art of printing was invented, when many of them
were printed. Some of the original manuscripts may still be seen in
various English museums. One of the greatest of King Alfred’s measures
was the founding of the great university of Oxford. He also repaired
the castles, which had become dilapidated in the wars. He rebuilt
the ruined cities, organized governments for them, restored the
monasteries, and took pains to put men of learning and piety in charge
of them. He revised the laws of his kingdom. Through all his reign,
his desire was to lay lasting foundations for the permanent prosperity
of his realm. His own life was governed by fixed principles of justice
and of duty; and his calm, patient, unselfish character gave him a wide
influence over his people, and made him a shining example of the truths
he endeavored to impress upon them. King Alfred invented a plan for
marking the different hours of the day by the burning of wax candles,
so exactly made as to size that they would each burn a certain fixed
time. The candles were each a foot long, and would burn four hours.
They were divided into inches by marks upon them, and each inch would
last twenty minutes. A large number of these candles were prepared,
and a person was appointed to keep a succession of them burning in a
chapel, and to ring bells to designate the successive periods of time
denoted by their burning. There was one difficulty, however, which
interfered somewhat with their exactness, which was that the blowing
of any slight breeze or draught would make the burning uncertain. To
obviate this trouble, King Alfred contrived a kind of lantern made of
sheets of horn so thin that they were almost transparent. A plate of
horn was set in each of the four sides of a box, which was fastened
over the candle, thus forming a sort of rude lantern. This was the
first lantern in England, and King Alfred is generally credited with
being their first inventor; but as Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, was
said to have carried a lantern in the old story, the English lantern
of King Alfred may not have been the earliest ever invented. Alfred
the Great was very systematic about the employment of his own time.
He was accustomed to give one-third of the twenty-four hours to sleep
and refreshment, one-third to business, and one-third to religious
duties. Under this last head was probably included study, writing, and
the management of ecclesiastical affairs. At length, however, at the
close of King Alfred’s life, a famous Northman leader, named Hastings,
landed in England, at the head of a large force, so that Alfred’s reign
ended as it had begun,—in desperate and protracted conflicts with
the Danes. Hastings had made one previous invasion into England, but
Guthrum, faithful to his promise to Alfred, repulsed him. But Guthrum
was now dead, and so King Alfred was forced to meet this tireless and
implacable foe again. Year after year passed, during which a succession
of battles were fought between the two nations, now the Danes gaining
an advantage, now the Saxons. Hastings was finally expelled from
England in 897, and once more Alfred’s kingdom was at peace. But King
Alfred’s life was now drawing very near its close. His children had
now grown to manhood, and repaid his love and care by endeavoring to
imitate their illustrious father’s example. His eldest son Edward
was to succeed King Alfred on the English throne. A daughter named
Ethelfleda, who was married to a prince of Mercia, was famed all over
England for the superiority of her mind, her many accomplishments, and
her devoted piety. Alfred the Great was fifty-two years of age when he
died. His body was interred in the great cathedral at Winchester, and
the kingdom passed peacefully to his son. His own dying farewell to his
son Edward is the best memorial encomium which can be passed upon his
life, and he most truly earned the title of Alfred the Great,—great in
wisdom, great in power, and, best of all, great in goodness; and his
purified spirit passed from earth with these truly great words upon his
dying lips:—

“Thou, my dear son, sit thee now beside me, and I will deliver thee
true instructions. I feel that my hour is coming. My strength is
gone; my countenance is wasted and pale; my days are almost ended.
We must now part. I go to another world, and thou art left alone in
the possession of all that I have thus far held. I pray thee, my dear
child, to be a father to thy people. Be the children’s father and the
widow’s friend. Comfort the poor, protect and shelter the weak, and,
with all thy might, right that which is wrong. And, my son, govern
_thyself_ by _law_. Then shall the Lord love thee, and God himself
shall be thy reward. Call thou upon Him to advise thee in all thy need,
and He shall help thee to compass all thy desires.”


A.D. 1157-1199.

    “Yet looks he like a king; behold his eye,
     As bright as is the eagle’s, lightens forth
     Controlling majesty.”—SHAKESPEARE.

THE history of Richard Cœur de Lion is a history of the third crusade,
and the most memorable one of all. Upon the side of the Mussulmans
was Saladin, sultan of Egypt and Syria. Saladin, whose name means
“splendor of religion,” was a noble and generous man, and though a
Mohammedan, he often evinced a far more humane and commendable spirit
than many of his foes, who called themselves Christians. Upon the side
of the Mohammedans, as well as that of the Christians, this conflict
was regarded as a holy war; for the Christians were fighting to obtain
Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulchre, where the body of Jesus Christ was
supposed to have lain, while the Mohammedans were just as zealously
fighting to retain Jerusalem; and Saladin’s answer to the Christians,
when they demanded the surrender of that city was, “Jerusalem never
was yours, and we may not without sin give it up to you; for it is the
place where the mysteries of our religion were accomplished; and the
last one of my soldiers will perish before the Mussulmans renounce
conquests made in the name of Mohammed.”

[Illustration: RICHARD CŒUR DE LION.]

Before the time of Richard the Lion-Hearted, Jerusalem had been
conquered by the Christians, and they had set up in it a king. This
was in 1099, when the crusaders elected Godfrey de Bouillon as king
of Jerusalem. But he reigned but one year and died. In the space of
one hundred and seventy-one years, from the coronation of Godfrey de
Bouillon as king of Jerusalem in 1099, to the last crusade under Louis
IX. of France, in 1270, there were seven crusades which were undertaken
by the kings of France and England, the emperors of Germany, the king
of Denmark, and various princes of Italy. They all failed in the end
of accomplishing the permanent possession of the city of Jerusalem by
the Christians; but these various crusades called forth a number of
devout and self-sacrificing monks and bishops, and gave occasion for
brave and valiant deeds by many knights and kings, and none were so
brave, and none became so famous in the annals of these holy wars as
Richard I., king of England, called by the Christians Cœur de Lion, the
Lion-hearted, on account of his valor, and for the same reason feared
among the Mohammedans, and called by them Malek-Rik; and so great a
terror did this name become, that when St. Louis, more than fifty
years after, led the French to another crusade, they heard the Saracen
mothers scolding their children, and threatening them with punishment
by the dreadful Malek-Rik, who had never been forgotten. The first of
the crusades had been inspired by a zealous monk, called Peter the
Hermit. From the earliest days of Christianity, many pious persons
had made pilgrimages to Palestine, to visit the graves of saints and
other places. After a time, these pilgrimages had been extended to
Jerusalem; and that city at length, having fallen into the hands of the
Turks, the Christian people were treated with cruelty, and many of the
clergy were imprisoned and even killed. Peter the Hermit had been
to Jerusalem, and having himself been an eye-witness of the cruelties
of the Turks towards the Christians, he obtained permission of the
Pope to go to the principal courts in Europe, and exhort all Christian
warriors to take up arms against the infidels in the Holy Land. Peter
the Hermit walked from court to court, barefoot and clothed in rags. He
was listened to as a prophet, and succeeded in inspiring many knights
and crowds of people to enlist in what they considered a sacred cause.
The symbol of this enlistment was a cross of red stuff sewed to the
shoulder of the cloak; hence the name crusade. France was at this time
roused to great excitement. The barons sold and pledged their lands to
obtain the means of joining the expedition. The Pope promised a full
remission of sins to all who assumed the cross; and as the mass of
the people were so ignorant in those days that the word of the Pope
was held to be as sacred as a voice from heaven, and his blessing or
excommunication was regarded by them as powerful enough to raise them
to Paradise, or call down upon them everlasting destruction, thousands
of wicked persons, whose sins were so many that it would have required
years of penance to have gained the much-coveted absolvance from the
Pope, eagerly seized upon this method of winning earthly glory, and,
as they supposed, heavenly honor. It is said that a crowd of more than
a million of persons, including beggars, women and children, soon
pledged themselves to this crusade. Three hundred thousand of such a
motley company started, with Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless
marching at their head. Nearly the entire number fell victims to the
fury of their assailants in the countries through which they passed.
This company of helpless beggars, women and children, were followed
by three hundred thousand fighting men, who had been preparing in the
different kingdoms, mostly in France. Of this large host, only a small
remnant under Godfrey de Bouillon, arrived at Jerusalem, and captured
that city in 1099, and planted the standard of the cross on its walls.

St. Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux, roused the people again for the
second crusade, for it was discovered that the Turks had massacred
the Christians in Palestine, and that Jerusalem was in danger.
King Louis VII. of France, and the emperor Conrad III. of Germany,
espoused the cause. Although Louis and Conrad entered the city of
Jerusalem and determined upon the siege of Damascus, nothing permanent
was accomplished. The siege of Damascus was abandoned, and the
crusade-sovereigns returned to their respective kingdoms.

During the forty years’ interval between the end of the second and
the beginning of the third crusades, the relative positions of the
West and East, Christian Europe and Mussulman Asia, remained much the
same. But in 1187, news again reached Europe of repeated disasters to
the Christians in Asia. Egypt had become the goal of ambition, and
Saladin, the most illustrious as well as the most powerful of Mussulman
sovereigns, being sultan of Egypt and Syria, had fought against a
Christian army near Tiberias. The oriental chronicles thus describe
the conflict: “The Christian army was surrounded by the Saracens, and
also, ere long, by the fire, which Saladin had ordered to be set to
the dry grass which covered the plain. The flames made their way and
spread beneath the feet of men and horses. There the sons of Paradise
and the children of fire settled their terrible quarrel. Arrows hurtled
in the air like a noisy flight of sparrows, and the blood of warriors
dripped upon the ground like rain-water. Hill, plain, and valley
were covered with their dead; their banners were stained with dust
and blood, their heads were laid low, their limbs scattered, their
carcasses piled on a heap like stones.” Four days after the battle of
Tiberias in July, 1187, Saladin took possession of St. Jean d’Acre,
and in the following September, of Ascalon. In the same month he laid
siege to Jerusalem. The Holy City contained at that time, it is said,
nearly one hundred thousand Christians, who had fled for safety from
all parts of Palestine. Saladin’s taking of Jerusalem is thus described
by Guizot. “On approaching its walls, Saladin sent for the principal
inhabitants, and said to them, ‘I know as well as you that Jerusalem
is the house of God, and I will not have it assaulted if I can get it
by peace and love. I will give you thirty thousand byzants of gold if
you promise me Jerusalem, and you shall have liberty to go whither you
will and do your tillage, to a distance of five miles from the city.
And I will have you supplied with such plenty of provisions that in no
place on earth shall they be so cheap. You shall have a truce from now
to Whitsuntide, and when this time comes, if you see that you may have
aid, then hold on. But if not, you shall give up the city, and I will
have you conveyed in safety to Christian territory, yourselves and your
substance.’ ‘We may not yield up to you a city where died our God,’
answered the envoys, ‘and still less may we sell you.’ The siege lasted
fourteen days. After having repulsed several assaults, the inhabitants
saw that effectual resistance was impossible, and the commandant of
the place, a knight, named Balian d’Ibelin, an old warrior who had
been at the battle of Tiberias, returned to Saladin, and asked for
the conditions back again which had been at first rejected. Saladin,
pointing to his own banner already planted upon several parts of the
battlements, answered, ‘It is too late, you surely see that the city
is mine.’ ‘Very well, my lord,’ replied the knight, ‘we will ourselves
destroy our city, and the mosque of Omar, and the stone of Jacob,
and when it is nothing but a heap of ruins, we will sally forth with
sword and fire in hand, and not one of us will go to Paradise without
having sent ten Mussulmans to hell.’ Saladin understood enthusiasm and
respected it, and to have had the destruction of Jerusalem connected
with his name would have caused him deep displeasure. He therefore
consented to the terms of capitulation demanded of him. The fighting
men were permitted to retreat to Tyre or Tripolis, which cities were in
the power of the Christians, and the simple inhabitants of Jerusalem
had their lives preserved, and permission given them to purchase their
freedom on certain conditions; but, as many amongst them could not find
the means, Malek-Adhel, the sultan’s brother, and Saladin himself, paid
the ransom of several thousands of captives. All Christians, however,
with the exception of Greeks and Syrians, had orders to leave Jerusalem
within four days. When the day came, all the gates were closed except
that of David, by which the people were to go forth, and Saladin,
seated upon a throne, saw the Christians defile before him. First came
the patriarch, followed by the clergy carrying the sacred vessels and
the ornaments of the church of the Holy Sepulchre. After him came
Sibylla, queen of Jerusalem, who had remained in the city, whilst her
husband, Guy de Lusignan, had been a prisoner at Nablous since the
battle of Tiberias. Saladin saluted her respectfully, and spoke to her
kindly. He had too great a soul to take pleasure in the humiliation
of greatness.” The capture of Jerusalem again roused Europe to arms,
but the story of this third crusade will be more fully narrated, as
we proceed with the personal history of Richard the Lion-hearted, who
became the chief and most illustrious figure in the annals of this
third holy war.

Eleanor, the mother of Richard Cœur de Lion, had herself participated
in the second crusade. Eleanor’s grandfather was duke of Aquitaine, a
rich kingdom in the south of France. His son, the father of Eleanor,
had been killed in the first crusade, and the duke of Aquitaine
determined to resign his kingdom in favor of his grand-daughter, and
marry her to Prince Louis VII., then heir to the throne of France.
This was accomplished, and King Louis VI. of France, dying soon after
the marriage, Eleanor became queen of France, as well as duchess of
Aquitaine. This princess had been well educated for those times,
and was even celebrated for her learning, as she possessed the rare
accomplishments of being able to read and write, as well as to sing
the songs of the Troubadours, which was the fashionable music of the
courts. King Louis VII., her husband, was a very pious man, much more
fond of devotion than of pleasure, so he determined to go on a crusade,
and Queen Eleanor, from a gay love of adventure, resolved to accompany
him. Eleanor and her court ladies laid aside their feminine attire, and
clothed themselves as Amazons, taking good care, however, to provide a
most cumbersome amount of baggage, containing their usual rich costumes
and delicate luxuries, which proved so great a burden in transportation
that the king remonstrated against such a needless and troublesome
excess of useless finery. But the ladies carried their point, and the
crusading expedition, which should have been composed of an army
of valiant warriors, became an immense train of women and baggage,
requiring the constant care of the princes, barons, and knights, many
of them reluctant participants, who had been shamed by the taunts of
these ladies into joining an expedition which had been organized upon
so wild and heedless a plan as to insure only disaster and failure. But
the gay ladies exclaimed to any man who dared to express any thoughts
of remaining at home, “We will send you our distaffs as presents. We
have no longer any use for them, but as you are intending to stay at
home and make women of yourselves, we will send them to you, so that
you may occupy yourselves with spinning while we are gone.”

Notwithstanding this apparent zeal which Eleanor and her court ladies
displayed, their caprices and freaks continued to harass and interfere
with the expedition, during the entire crusade, and Queen Eleanor so
displeased King Louis by her gay and frivolous conduct, that a long
and serious quarrel arose between them, and he declared that he would
obtain a divorce from her. But his ministers tried to prevent this,
as Eleanor possessed the rich kingdom of Aquitaine in her own right,
which would be lost to Louis by a separation. So they returned from
the Holy Land to Paris, still as king and queen of France. But in
about two years after, Eleanor determined to be divorced from King
Louis of France, so that she might marry Prince Henry Plantagenet,
who afterwards became Henry II., of England. Prince Henry’s father
had received the name Plantagenet from a habit he had of wearing a
spray of broom blossom in his cap. The French name for this plant is
_genet_, and so he was nicknamed Plantagenet, and his son Henry II.
was the first king in that family, also called the House of Anjou.
Although Henry II. was king of England, by his marriage with Eleanor,
which took place only a short time after she obtained a divorce from
King Louis of France, Henry gained the great dukedom of Aquitaine,
and as he already possessed Normandy and Anjou, he really was lord of
nearly half of France. He ruled England well, but he cared more for
power than what was right, and he often indulged in such exhibitions
of fierce rage, that he would roll on the floor and bite the rushes
with which it was strewn. At the time of his marriage with Eleanor,
Henry was duke of Normandy, and was only twenty years of age, while
Eleanor was thirty-two; but she was very much in love with him, and as
she could bring him such a rich kingdom, and furnish him men and money
to help him secure the crown of England, which was at that time held
by King Stephen, whom Henry declared was a usurper, he was willing to
accept Eleanor as his wife, although she was nearly twice his own age,
and was also the divorced wife of King Louis. Some historians place
the blame of the divorce upon Eleanor, some upon Louis; but all unite
in condemning her previous conduct, for she occasioned many scandalous
remarks by her undignified, unwifely, and even culpable actions. After
she became queen of England, however, she changed in this respect, and
her after quarrels with Henry were occasioned by her ambitions and
his conduct regarding a lady called the Fair Rosamond, who afterwards
became a nun in a convent near Oxford. Some historians think that
Henry was in reality married to Rosamond before he was persuaded to
espouse Eleanor, in order to gain her rich possessions. Though Eleanor
had equally wronged her former husband, Louis, she made no excuse for
King Henry’s devotion to Rosamond, and when she discovered Henry’s
affection for her, she ordered that she should be shut up in a convent
out of the way. To this King Henry consented, but the jealousy of the
queen against her rival was never abated, and added great bitterness
to the other causes of discord between herself and King Henry, which
at last broke out in the open rebellion of Queen Eleanor and her sons
against the king, so that Henry would often be obliged to raise armies
to put down the various disturbances caused by first one son, then
another, then all together, encouraged by their mother Eleanor, who
however seemed to have inspired more love and devotion in the hearts
of her sons than their father. Almost all the early years of the life
of Richard were spent in wars which were waged by different members
of his father’s family against each other. These wars originated
in the quarrels between King Henry and his sons, in respect to the
family property. As Henry II. held a great many possessions which he
had inherited through his father, grandfather, and his wife Eleanor,
he was duke of one country, earl of a second, king of a third, and
count of a fourth. Henry had five sons, of whom Richard was the third,
and he was born about three years after Eleanor was crowned queen
of England, when, upon the death of King Stephen, Henry became king
of that country. Henry II. was a generous father, and as his sons
became old enough, he gave them provinces of their own. But they were
not contented with the portions allotted to them, and demanded more.
Sometimes Henry would yield, at other times resist, when the sons would
raise armies and rebel against their father, and then would follow the
shocking spectacle of husband, wife, and sons, all fighting against
each other. These wars continued for many years, the mother usually
taking sides with her sons, until King Henry shut her up in a castle,
in a sort of imprisonment, where he kept her confined for sixteen years.

It was during the reign of Henry II. that the famous archbishop, Thomas
à Becket, was murdered, under the following circumstances: Thomas
à Becket had been one of Henry’s most devoted friends and intimate
counsellors, and Henry had raised him to the office of Chancellor.
Afterwards Henry made Thomas à Becket bishop of Canterbury, but from
that time serious differences arose between them. The king made many
laws, one being, that if a priest or monk was thought to have committed
any crime, he should be tried by civil judges, like other men; whereas
Becket, in the name of the church, maintained that the clergy should
be tried only by the bishops. This quarrel was so serious that Becket
was forced to leave England and take refuge with the king of France.
After six years, a half reconciliation took place, and the archbishop
of Canterbury returned to England. Thomas à Becket soon again incurred
the king’s displeasure, and Henry exclaimed in anger, “Will no one rid
me of this turbulent priest?” Whereupon four of his knights who had
heard this remark, and thought that they would gain power over the king
by carrying out this wish, immediately went to Canterbury, and finding
the archbishop in the cathedral by the altar, they slew him. At first
Henry was secretly glad, but the people and priests considered Thomas
a martyr, and raised such an outcry of indignation, that three years
after, King Henry went to the cathedral of Canterbury, and in order to
show his penitence, he entered barefoot, and kneeling by the tomb of
Thomas à Becket, he commanded every priest to strike him with a knotted
rope upon his bare back. This he endured as an act of penance for
causing the death of the archbishop.

The first important event of Richard’s childhood was his betrothment.
When he was about four years of age he was formally affianced to
Alice, the child of Louis, king of France. Alice was three years of
age. Another of King Louis’ children had been married in the same way
to Richard’s eldest brother Henry, and the English king complained
that the dowry of the young French princess was not sufficient, and
this quarrel was settled by an agreement that King Louis should give
his other daughter Alice to Richard, and with her another province.
These infant marriages, or betrothments, were made by kings in order
to get possession of rich territories, for the father of the husbands
became the guardians of the provinces, and received any sum of money
agreed upon, which they usually appropriated to their own use. This
betrothment of Richard became the cause of future differences between
himself and Philip, the brother of Alice, when Richard had become king
of England, and Philip king of France. At length, in the midst of one
of the frequent wars between the king of England and his sons, his
eldest son Henry was taken very sick, and being at the point of death,
he sent to his father to obtain his forgiveness, and to beg that he
would come to see him. The king, fearing it was only some stratagem to
get him into the power of the rebellious young prince, who had often
broken his word, did not dare to go, but sent an archbishop to Prince
Henry, with a ring as a token of his forgiveness. The poor prince
who was really dying, and very penitent for his unfilial conduct,
pressed the ring to his dying lips with frantic tears of remorse, and
commanded his attendants to lay him upon a bed of ashes, which he had
ordered prepared, that he might die there as a sign of his sincere
repentance. When King Henry heard of the sad death of his eldest son,
he was moved to tears, and releasing his wife Queen Eleanor from her
imprisonment, he became reconciled to her for a time. But soon again
the family dissensions arose. Prince Geoffrey, the second son of King
Henry, was killed in a tournament, and Richard, who had now reached
manhood, demanded that his father should give him the Princess Alice in
marriage, and with her the lands and money intrusted to his care by the
king of France. This King Henry refused to do. Some said, because he
wished to keep the rich lands himself; others said, because he himself
loved the Princess Alice, and that he was determined to seek a divorce
from Queen Eleanor, so that he might marry the young princess. Whatever
was his motive, King Henry refused to have Richard’s marriage with
Alice consummated, and kept the princess shut up in a castle. Whereupon
Richard rebelled against his father, and persuaded his younger brother
John to espouse his cause. Of course Eleanor took sides with her sons,
so she was again shut up in a castle by King Henry, and Richard and
John set off for Paris and gained the support of Philip II., of France,
who was now king, as Louis was dead. King Henry had determined to
divide his kingdom, and as John was his favorite as well as youngest,
he resolved to have him crowned king of England, leaving his French
possessions to Richard. Whereupon Richard carried off his young
brother, and with the help of Philip, raised an army to fight against
his father. In this war King Henry, who was now old and broken-spirited
by his many sorrows, was so far defeated that he was obliged to submit
to negotiations for peace. While the terms were being arranged, King
Henry fell very ill, and when the articles of treaty were brought to
his bedside, he found that the name of his youngest son John, his
darling, who had never rebelled against him before, now headed the
list of the princes, barons, and nobles who had gone over to Richard’s
side. This quite broke his heart, and he exclaimed with tears, “Is it
possible that John, the child of my heart, he whom I have cherished
more than all the rest, and for love of whom I have drawn down on my
own head all these troubles, has verily betrayed me? Then,” said he,
falling back helplessly upon the bed, “let everything go on as it will,
I care no longer for myself, nor for anything else in the world.” The
king grew more and more excited, until at last he died in a raving
delirium, cursing his rebellious children with his last breath. Thus
Richard I. became king of England when he was about thirty-two years of
age. The sad death of his father occasioned some remorse in the heart
of Richard, and he joined in the funeral solemnities. King Henry had
died in Normandy, and was buried in an abbey there.

[Illustration: RICHARD I]

King Richard now sent at once to England, and ordered the release of
his mother Queen Eleanor, and invested her with power to act as regent
there, while he himself remained in Normandy to secure his French
possessions. Queen Eleanor was regent in England for two months, and
employed her power in a very beneficent manner. Her imprisonment and
sorrows had no doubt disposed her to kindness towards others, and
remorse for her past evil deeds prompted her to many acts of mercy.

King Richard now arranged with King Philip of France, to go upon a
crusade. Richard was brave, though he was not a good man. His greatest
delight was in fighting, and as his claims to his own kingdom were now
undisputed, he was eager to enter into a campaign in the Holy Land.
His brother Prince John was very willing that Richard should go, and
made no claims to any of the provinces of his father, for he hoped that
Richard would be killed in the Holy War, and thus the rich kingdoms of
England and Normandy would fall to him. Though Richard was brave, he
was neither wise nor provident in the administration of his government.
His one absorbing idea was how to gain fresh glory as a valiant knight
in the war with the Saracens, and he levied heavy taxes upon all his
dominions to raise the necessary funds required for the equipment of
his army.

These Holy Wars were very costly expeditions. The princes, barons, and
knights required very expensive armor, and rich trappings for their
horses, and ships were to be bought and equipped, arms and ammunition
provided, and large supplies of food purchased. Though the pretense
was religious zeal in going out to fight for the recovery of the Holy
Sepulchre, the real motive which animated most of the participants in
the several crusades, was love of glory and display.

Upon King Richard’s arrival in England, he proceeded at once to
Winchester, where his father had kept his treasures. Richard found here
a large sum of money, rich plate, and precious gems of great value.
These he placed under the care of trusty officers.

The former adherents of Richard, when he was a prince rebelling against
the lawful king his father, now supposed that they would be held
by him in high esteem. But in this they were greatly disappointed.
King Richard was wise enough to know that those who had aided his
rebellions, might likewise aid others against his own supremacy. So he
retained his father’s officers and experienced men of state.

The day upon which the coronation of Richard I. was celebrated by a
very magnificent ceremony in Westminster Abbey, has become historical
not only on that account, but in consequence of a great massacre of
the Jews, which resulted from a riot that broke out in Westminster
and London immediately after the crowning of the king. The Jews had
been persecuted by all the Christian nations of Europe, and the people
imagined that they were serving the cause of religion in oppressing
them, as they were considered little better than infidels and heathen.
As Philip had banished the Jews from France, and confiscated their
property, the Jews in England determined to send a delegation to
conciliate Richard’s favor, and they accordingly came to Westminster
at the time of his coronation, bearing rich presents. As Richard had
commanded that no Jew or woman should be present at this ceremony, when
the Jewish deputation came in and offered their presents amongst the
rest, there was loud murmuring throughout the crowd.

King Richard gladly accepted their rich gifts, but as a Jew was
attempting to enter at the gate, a bystander cried out, “Here comes a
Jew!” and struck him a blow. Others now assailed him, and as he was
escaping, bruised and bleeding, the cry was raised that the Jews were
expelled by the king’s orders, and as a riot was now raised in the
streets, which became a bloody fight between Jews and Christians, the
rumor went forth that the king had ordered all the Jews to be killed.
The mob instantly attempted to carry out this supposed order, and Jews
were murdered everywhere, in the streets, in their homes; and when they
barricaded their dwellings, the mob set fire to them, and men, women,
and children perished in the flames.

The king and his nobles were meanwhile feasting in the great
banqueting-hall at Westminster, and for a time took no notice of the
disturbance. At length officers were sent to suppress the mob, but
it was too late. The enfuriated people paid no attention to the few
soldiers sent to quell them, and only rested from their bloody work,
from sheer exhaustion, about two o’clock the next day.

A few of the men engaged in the riot were afterwards brought to trial
and punished, but King Richard found that so many of his chief men
were implicated, that he let the matter drop, only issuing an edict,
forbidding the Jews to be injured any more.

King Richard now entered upon his preparations for the crusade, with
intense zeal. His great need was money, and he seemed to think that
the sacred cause was an excuse for most unkingly measures. Richard was
endowed with a sort of reckless lion-like courage, which led him to
look upon fighting as a sport, and as he had no one to fight at home,
he espoused eagerly any pretense of a sacred cause which would give him
the pleasure of killing as many men as he pleased, and thereby winning
not disapprobation from the world, but loud plaudits for bravery, and
zealous devotion to a holy enterprise. Strange delusion! That men
should go forth to murder, rob, and devastate the land in the name
of the meek and lowly Christ. Only ignorance and superstition could
allow the human soul to be so infatuated with not only false, but most
atrociously wicked, ideas, which were in entire opposition to the
teachings of the Divine Leader whom they professed to follow.

In securing money for the crusade, King Richard resorted to many very
questionable expedients. He proceeded to sell the royal domains which
he had inherited from his father, and in this manner disposed of
castles, fortresses, and towns to the highest bidder. When remonstrated
with for thus diminishing the crown property, he replied, “I would sell
the city of London itself, if I could find a purchaser rich enough to
buy it.”

Richard also sold high offices and titles of honor; and the historians
state that King Richard’s presence-chamber became a regular place of
trade, where castles, titles, offices, and honors were for sale, to
whomsoever would give the best bargain. But the most disreputable
manner of raising money was by imposing fines as a punishment for
crimes, and then endeavoring to fix crimes upon the wealthy, so that
they would be obliged to pay large sums to free themselves. Lastly,
Richard sold the nominal regency of England to two wealthy courtiers,
one a bishop, the other an earl. Or if he did not sell it to them
outright, he arranged that they were to receive the power, and were to
give him a large sum of money. He, however, stipulated that his brother
John and his mother should have their share of influence in deciding
upon measures concerning the government.

Notwithstanding Richard’s quarrels with his father, regarding his
marriage with the Princess Alice when he became king, Richard seemed
in no hurry to fulfil his engagement, and even determined to set it
aside altogether, for he had met and loved a Spanish princess named
Berengaria. But, lest this should cause a fresh quarrel with Philip,
the brother of Alice, Richard resolved to keep his plans a secret. So
he sent his mother Queen Eleanor to Spain to secure Berengaria for
his wife, and Eleanor having been successful in her mission, the two
ladies, with a train of barons and knights, set out for Italy, where
Richard intended to meet them.

Meanwhile, the two kings, Philip and Richard, had continued their
preparations for the crusade. As Philip had no ships of his own, he
made arrangements with the republic of Genoa to furnish him with ships,
and so he departed for that place. Richard, having a large fleet, which
he had sent round to Marseilles with orders to await him there, marched
his army across France by land. So little reliance did either Philip or
Richard place in each other, that neither of them would have thought it
safe to leave his own dominions unless the other had been going also.
They made a final treaty of alliance before starting, that they would
defend the life and honor of the other upon all occasions; that neither
would desert the other in time of danger; and that they would respect
the dominions of each other.

When King Richard reached Marseilles, he found that his fleet had not
arrived. It had been delayed by a storm. Richard, not waiting for his
fleet, hired ten large vessels and twenty galleys, and embarked with a
portion of his forces, leaving orders for the remainder to follow in
the fleet, and to meet him at Messina, in Sicily.

Joanna, the sister of King Richard, had married the king of Sicily. He
was now dead, and the throne had been seized by one Tancred, and Joanna
had been shut up in a castle. King Richard determined to redress his
sister’s wrongs, and after arriving at Genoa, where he found Philip,
Richard set out on his way to Messina, stopping at Ostia, Naples, and
Salerno, by the way. Having arrived at Messina, where Philip had also
landed, Richard, having met his own fleet on the Italian side of the
strait, entered the harbor with his ships and galleys fully manned and
gayly decorated, while musicians were stationed on the decks, to blow
trumpets and horns as the fleet sailed along the shore. The Sicilians
were quite alarmed to behold such a formidable host of foreign
soldiers, and his allies, the French, did not like this grand display
any better, for Philip had arrived with disabled ships, and immediately
began to be very jealous of the growing fame of King Richard. Philip
determined to leave Messina as speedily as possible, and proceed on his
way towards the Holy Land, but having attempted it, and encountered
a severe storm, he was obliged to turn back again. As winter had now
set in, both kings found that they must remain there until spring.
As soon as Richard landed his troops at Messina, he formed a great
encampment on the seashore near the town, and then sent an embassy to
Tancred, demanding Joanna’s release. Tancred, awed by Richard’s power,
immediately complied with this demand, and Joanna being safely out of
the power of her enemy, Richard forthwith attacked the city of Messina,
and having captured it, Tancred made peace with Richard upon the
following terms:—

Richard had a nephew about two years of age, named Arthur. Tancred
had an infant daughter. So it was agreed that Arthur and this young
daughter of Tancred should be affianced, and that Tancred should pay
to Richard twenty thousand pieces of gold as her dowry. Richard was to
receive this money as guardian of his nephew, and also twenty thousand
pieces of gold besides, in full settlement of all claims of Joanna.

This treaty was drawn up in due form and signed, and sent for safe
keeping to the Pope at Rome, and Richard having received the money,
began immediately to lavish it in costly presents to the barons and
knights in both armies, which gave King Philip cause for suspicions,
as he thought Richard was endeavoring to buy the allegiance of his
troops, and soon an open quarrel occurred between the two sovereigns.
Richard’s use of this trust money demonstrates the small regard he
had for the just rights and claims of others. But the distrust which
existed between Richard and Philip was no longer concealed. Tancred
showed Richard a letter, which was said to have been written by Philip,
in which Richard was bitterly denounced as a treacherous foe. Richard
indignantly showed this letter to Philip, who denied having written it,
and the two kings were soon in a hot dispute. Philip then declared that
Richard was endeavoring to break his engagement with his sister Alice.
Whereupon Richard retorted that he would never marry her.

The matter was finally settled by a compromise. Richard promised to pay
a large sum of money to Philip, who agreed to relinquish all claims
on the part of Alice. So Philip sailed away in March, and Richard
selected from his fleet a few of his most splendid galleys, and with a
chosen company of knights and barons, proceeded to the port in Italy,
where Berengaria was staying, under the care of Joanna, Queen Eleanor
having returned to England; and King Richard conducted the ladies to
Messina. It being the season of Lent, the marriage was still postponed;
and Joanna and Berengaria were provided with a strong and well-manned
ship, and sailed with the expedition; it being the purpose of Richard
to land at some port, after Lent, where the marriage ceremony would
be performed. King Richard’s fleet consisted of nearly two hundred
vessels. There were thirteen great ships, and over fifty galleys,
besides a large number of smaller vessels. Richard sailed at the head
of his fleet, in a splendid galley, called the _Sea-Cutter_. This fine
fleet sailed out of the harbor with flying banners, affording the
Sicilians an imposing spectacle.

But storms overtook this brilliant array of ships, and soon the fleet
was dispersed. Some of the vessels were driven to Rhodes; others
took refuge in Cyprus. Richard’s galley went to Rhodes; but the ship
containing Berengaria and Joanna was swept onward by the gale to the
mouth of the harbor of Limesol, the principal port of Cyprus. The king
of Cyprus, in accordance with the custom of those times, had seized
upon the wrecks of several vessels belonging to Richard’s fleet; and
the commander of the ship in which the princess and queen had sailed,
feared to land, lest some harm should come to the royal ladies.

After the storm, Richard set out with his part of the fleet, to find
the missing vessels; and having arrived before Cyprus, he found the
galley of Berengaria and Joanna safe, but learned that the king of
Cyprus had seized upon several of his wrecked vessels, and claimed
them as his prize. This was a common practice at that time, and the
king of Cyprus had acted in accordance with a customary law, which,
though a violation of the real rights of property, gave a person the
liberty to confiscate wrecked vessels or goods. In later times, this
law was annulled, but the king of Cyprus had the law upon his side;
notwithstanding, Richard immediately prepared for war, for he was
only too glad to find some pretext for attacking and capturing the
fair isle of Cyprus. Richard’s assault upon Limesol was successful;
and King Richard, having signaled the galley of Joanna to advance,
the whole army landed, and the ladies were lodged in one of the most
magnificent of the palaces of the king of Cyprus. The daughter of the
king of Cyprus was very beautiful, and was greatly terrified when she
was brought into the presence of her father’s conqueror. Richard gave
her as an attendant to Berengaria, and sent the defeated king of Cyprus
to Tripoli, in Syria, where he was shut up in a dungeon, and secured
with chains, which, however, in honor of his rank, were made of silver,
overlaid with gold. But what mattered it to the poor imprisoned monarch
that his galling chains were of costly metals, when he was shut up in a
gloomy dungeon, and his daughter a prisoner in the hands of his enemy?

This poor king died in captivity, broken-hearted, four years after.
Now, at last, the marriage of King Richard and Berengaria was
celebrated with royal splendor. After the marriage ceremony, there was
a coronation, when Richard was crowned king of Cyprus, and Berengaria
as queen of both England and Cyprus.

The appearance of King Richard and Berengaria on this occasion was
very striking. King Richard wore a rose-colored satin tunic, which was
fastened by a jeweled belt about his waist. Over this was a mantle of
striped silver tissue, brocaded with silver half-moons. He wore also
a costly sword; the blade was of Damascus steel, the hilt of gold,
and the scabbard was of silver, richly engraved. On his head was a
scarlet bonnet, brocaded in gold, with figures of animals. He carried
in his hand a truncheon, which was a sort of sceptre, very elaborately
adorned. He was tall and well-formed, with yellow curls and a bright
complexion; and when mounted upon his magnificent charger, he appeared
a perfect model of military and manly grace. This horse was named
Faunelle, and became quite a historical character, acquiring great
fame by his strength and courage, and by the marvellous sagacity he
displayed in the various battles in which he was engaged with his
master. His trappings were very rich; the bit, stirrups, and all
the metallic mountings of the saddle and bridle were of gold, and
the crupper was adorned with two golden lions. The costume of Queen
Berengaria was equally magnificent. The veil was fastened to her head
by a royal diadem, resplendent with gold and gems, and was surmounted
by a _fleur de lis_, with so much foliage added to it that it had the
appearance of being a double crown, symbolizing her double queenship,
both of England and Cyprus.

The chief landing-point for expeditions of crusaders to the Holy Land
was Acre, called also St. Jean d’Acre. It received its name from
a military order, known as the Knights of St. John, who founded a
monastery there for the safety and entertainment of pilgrims. This
place was at this time in the hands of the Saracens; and Philip, the
French king, who arrived before Richard, had in vain tried to capture
it. King Richard, having left Cyprus, together with his bride and
sister, proceeded on his way to join Philip at Acre; but he met with
one adventure which is worthy of note. In sailing along, his fleet
fell in with a ship of large size. Richard ordered his galleys to
press on, as the ship seemed to be endeavoring to escape. As they
came nearer, they perceived that the strange ship was filled with
Saracens. King Richard thereupon ordered his men to board the ship and
capture it. The Saracens, feeling that escape was hopeless, scuttled
the ship, determined to sink with her rather than fall into the hands
of the Christians. Then a dreadful combat ensued. Each side fought
with ferocious energy; for although the Saracens expected to die, they
were resolved to first wreak their fury upon their foes. The Saracens
employed Greek fire, which was a celebrated means of warfare in those
days. It was some kind of combustible matter, which was set on fire
and thrown at the enemy. Nothing could extinguish it, and besides the
great heat it produced, it threw forth dense volumes of poisonous and
stifling gases, which soon suffocated those near by. It was thrown
on the ends of darts and arrows, and even water did not extinguish
it; so that the sea all around this Saracen ship was a mass of lurid
flames. Although many of Richard’s men were killed, the Saracen ship
was captured before it had time to sink, and the Christians, rushing
on board, transferred to their own vessels nearly all of its valuable
cargo. But their treatment of their Saracen foes was barbarous in the
extreme. They killed and threw into the sea all but about thirty-five
men out of twelve or fifteen hundred. These were saved, not from
humanity, but in the hope of securing large sums for their ransom. King
Richard afterwards defended this brutal conduct by declaring that they
had found on board the Saracen ship large jars filled with poisonous
snakes, which the infidels were about taking to Acre, to let them loose
near the crusaders’ camp.

When Richard’s fleet arrived at Acre, the crusaders encamped there were
much encouraged; for their situation was getting very critical, and
they had accomplished little or nothing.

The crusaders were not as well disciplined as the Saracen army, which
was united under the command of the valiant and powerful Saladin.
Among the Christians there were constant quarrels, caused by the
petty jealousies and hostilities of the knights and barons. There
was one great wrangling over the title of King of Jerusalem, which,
although it was an empty title (for the city was still in the hands
of the Saracens), there were many claimants for; and each one of them
intrigued incessantly to gain partisans to his side. A short time
after Richard landed with his bride and army at Acre, fresh quarrels
arose between the two kings; and so serious was the difference, that
when Philip planned an assault, Richard would not assist him; and when
Richard, likewise, made an attack, Philip refused to aid. So that
neither assault was successful against their common foe, while large
numbers of their own men were killed.


Although the allies failed to capture Acre by assault, the town was
at length obliged to surrender to the Christians on account of the
famine, which caused such distress that the Saracens entered into
negotiations for surrender, which were as follows: “The city was to
be surrendered to the allied armies, and all the arms, ammunition,
military stores, and property of all kinds which it contained, were to
be forfeited to the conquerors. The troops and the people of the town
were to be allowed to go free on payment of a ransom. The ransom by
which the besieged purchased their lives and liberty was to be made
up as follows: The wood of the cross on which Christ was crucified,
which was alleged to be in Saladin’s possession, was to be restored.
Saladin was to set at liberty the Christian captives which he had
taken in the course of the war from the various armies of crusaders,
and which he now held as prisoners. The number of these prisoners was
about fifteen hundred. Saladin was to pay two hundred thousand pieces
of gold. Richard was to retain a large body of men—it was said that
there were five thousand in all—consisting of soldiers of the garrison,
or inhabitants of the town, as hostages for the fulfilment of these
conditions. These men were to be kept forty days, or, if at the end of
that time Saladin had not fulfilled the conditions of the surrender,
they were all to be put to death.”

Saladin was not within the city, but was encamped with his army upon
the surrounding mountains; and finding that he could not aid the
besieged inhabitants, he agreed to these overbearing terms, which King
Philip had in vain tried to make more honorable. Although the treaty
had been made in the names of both the kings, Richard entered the city
as the conqueror, assigning to Philip a secondary place; and having
taken possession, Richard established himself and Berengaria in the
principal palace, leaving Philip to secure quarters as best he might.
Richard also enraged the archduke of Austria, who was also one of
the crusaders, by pulling down the banner of the duke, which he had
ventured to place on one of the towers.

Now, again, the disputes regarding the title of the King of Jerusalem
were renewed. Two knights, Guy of Lusignan and Conrad of Montferrat,
claimed this title, and Philip and Richard espoused opposite sides,
Philip agreeing to help Conrad’s claims, and Richard taking part
with Guy. This occasioned so much hard feeling that Philip, who had
been sick, announced that he was too ill to remain longer in such an
unhealthy climate; and leaving ten thousand French troops under the
command of the duke of Burgundy, King Philip returned to France.

We now come to the barbarous massacre of the five thousand Saracen
prisoners, by the orders of King Richard, which shocking deed has left
a dark blot upon the fame of Richard, even though he gloried in the
act and considered it a proof of his zeal in the cause of Christ. The
writers of those days praised it, and maintained that, as the Saracens
were the enemies of God, whoever killed them did God service. How they
could be so blinded by ignorance and superstition we cannot understand;
and it appears very amazing that the religion of love which Jesus of
Nazareth preached, by his words and his example, could have been so
misunderstood by the perverted minds of men; that such a diabolical
spirit of ferocious brutality could be esteemed as commendable worship
of Almighty God.

The time which had been agreed upon for Saladin to comply with the
stipulations of the surrender of Acre having expired, Richard ordered
the five thousand prisoners, which he held as hostages, to be brutally
beheaded; and a false rumor having been raised, that Saladin had put
to death his Christian prisoners, the soldiers of Richard were easily
infuriated to be willing to execute this barbarous order. In the
face of Saladin’s humane treatment of the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
when he captured that city, Mussulman though he was, this shocking
barbarity of the crusading army, while calling themselves Christians,
was an atrocious crime, which no plea of supposed zeal or ignorant
superstition can excuse.

Saladin and his army were now retreating towards Jerusalem, which city
was his chief point to defend. Richard, having repaired the walls of
Acre, and placed a garrison to hold it, proceeded with thirty thousand
men in pursuit of the Saracens. The recovery of the Holy Sepulchre was
the great object of the crusaders. All their efforts were considered of
no avail, if they failed to accomplish this important end. Richard’s
army were to follow the sea-shore to Jaffa, which was a port nearly
opposite Jerusalem. This band of crusaders presented a brilliant
appearance. The knights wore costly armor, and were mounted on horses
richly caparisoned. Some of the horses were protected like their
riders, with armor of steel. The columns were preceded by trumpeters
and bearers of flags and banners, with very gorgeous decorations. When
the expedition halted at night, heralds passed through the several
camps, to the sound of trumpets, and at a signal all the soldiers
knelt, and the heralds exclaimed, “God save the Holy Sepulchre!” and
all the soldiers shouted, “Amen.”

Thus the Christian army advanced to Jaffa. The two armies, Christian
and Saracen, then met on a plain near the seashore, called Azotus.
Saladin commenced the attack upon the wing of Richard’s army, composed
of the French troops under the command of the duke of Burgundy. They
resisted and drove the Saracens back. Then Richard gave the signal for
a charge, and rode forward at the head of his troops, mounted on his
famous charger, and flourishing his heavy battle-axe. This axe was a
ponderous weapon. Richard had ordered it made before leaving England,
and it was so immense that few men could lift it. But as Richard Cœur
de Lion was a man of marvellous strength, he wielded this huge weapon
with prodigious force. When it came down upon the head of a steel-clad
knight, on his horse, it often crushed both man and steed to the
ground. The darts and javelins of the Mohammedans glanced off from King
Richard’s steel armor, without inflicting any wound, while Saracen
after Saracen was felled to the earth by the blows from his ponderous

It was not long before Saladin’s army was flying in all directions,
pursued by the crusaders. After this battle Richard established his
army in Jaffa. In the meantime Saladin was collecting forces for a
more vigorous resistance. Historians have condemned this inactivity
of Richard’s army for so many weeks at Jaffa, thus enabling Saladin
to rally his men and become more determined in his defence. During
the time while Richard’s army was resting and feasting at Jaffa,
King Richard and Saladin entered upon several negotiations, which
were carried on through Saphadin, the brother of Saladin, who was
provided with a safe conduct through the enemies’ lines. One of these
propositions was that Richard and Saladin should cease hostilities
and become allies, and that their difficulties should be settled by a
marriage between Joanna, Richard’s sister, the ex-queen of Sicily, and
Saphadin, the brother of Saladin. But this, and all other propositions,
at length came to naught, and in November, Richard advanced with his
army as far as Bethany, with a forlorn hope that they might find
themselves strong enough to attack Jerusalem. But this hope was vain.
Richard’s men were dying from sickness and famine, caused by a large
amount of their provisions being spoiled by the fall rains which had
now set in, and many of the discouraged soldiers deserted. These losses
so thinned King Richard’s ranks, that he was obliged to retreat to
Acre. While they were at Bethany, a band of crusaders had ascended a
mountain overlooking Jerusalem. King Richard was asked to come and see
the holy city in the distance. “No,” said he, covering his face with
his cloak, “those who are not worthy of conquering Jerusalem should not
look upon it.”

While at Acre, Richard learned that Saladin was besieging Jaffa. The
historian Guizot thus describes the rescue of Jaffa from the Saracens:—

“When King Richard arrived at Jaffa, the crescent already shone upon
the walls; but a priest who had cast himself into the water in front
of the royal vessel told Richard that he could yet save the garrison,
although the town was already in the hands of the enemy. The ship had
not yet reached the landing-stage, and already the king was in the
water, which reached to his shoulders, and was uttering the war-cry
‘St. George!’ The infidels, who were then plundering the city, took
fright, and three thousand men fled, pursued by four or five knights of
the cross. The little corps of Christians intrenched themselves behind
planks of wood, and tuns; ten tents held the whole of the army. Day had
scarcely dawned, when a soldier flew to Richard’s bedside. ‘O king, we
are dead men!’ he cried; ‘the enemy is upon us.’ The king sprang up
from his bed, scarcely allowing himself time to buckle on his armor,
and omitting his helmet and shield. ‘Silence!’ he said to the bearer
of the bad news, ‘or I will kill you.’ Seventeen knights had gathered
round Cœur de Lion, kneeling on the ground, and holding their lances;
in their midst were some archers, accompanied by attendants who were
recharging their arquebuses. The king was standing in the midst. The
Saracens endeavored in vain to overawe this heroic little band; not
one of them stirred. At length, under a shower of arrows, the knights
sprang on their horses, and swept the plain before them. They entered
Jaffa towards evening, and drove the Mussulmans from it. From the time
of daybreak Richard had not ceased for a moment to deal out his blows,
and the skin of his hand adhered to the handle of his battle-axe.”

Still more graphically do the old chronicles thus describe this battle:—

“Where the fight was fiercest there rode King Richard, and the Turks
fell beneath his flashing sword. Then the galley-men, fearing for their
lives, left the battle and took refuge in their boats, and the Turks
thought to seize the town while the army was fighting in the field. But
the king, taking with him but two knights and two crossbowmen, entered
the town and dispersed the Turks who had entered, and set sentinels to
guard it, and then, hasting to the galleys, gathered together the men,
and encouraging them with his words, brought them back to the fight.
And as he led them to the field, he fell upon the enemy so fiercely,
that he cut his way all alone into the midst of the ranks, and they
gave way before him. But they closed around him, and he was left alone,
and at that sight our men feared greatly. But alone in the midst of his
enemies he remained unmoved, and all as they approached him were cut
down like corn before the sickle. And there rode against him a great
admiral, distinguished above all the rest by his rich caparisons, and
with bold arrogance assayed to attack him, but the king with one blow
of his sword cut off his head and shoulder and right arm. Then the
Turks fled in terror at the sight, and the king returned to his men,
and lo! the king was stuck all over with javelins, like the spines of a
hedgehog, and the trappings of his horse with arrows. The battle lasted
that day from the rising to the setting sun, but the Turks returned to
Saladin, and he mocked his men, and asked them where was Malek-Rik,
whom they had promised to bring him. But one of them answered, ‘There
is no knight on earth like Malek-Rik; nay, nor ever was from the
beginning of the world.’”

King Richard’s forces were now so weakened, that he found it would
be hopeless to endeavor to take Jerusalem. The Archduke Leopold, of
Austria, had left the army with his men and gone home. This was caused
by a quarrel between himself and King Richard. Saladin having left
Ascalon, Richard hastened to repair its fortifications. In order to
encourage his soldiers, he himself carried stones to the workers,
urging the archduke to do the same. “I am not the son of a mason,”
replied the Austrian, haughtily. Whereupon, Richard, in anger, struck
him a blow in the face, which indignity so enraged the archduke, that
he immediately took his forces and returned to Austria.

Another event occurred at this time, the blame of which some historians
lay upon King Richard. Conrad of Montferrat, one of the claimants to
the title of King of Jerusalem, was murdered by two emissaries, sent
by the “Old Man of the Mountain,” who was a famous chieftain, living
with his band of bold robbers among the mountains. The men under this
chieftain were trained to obey without any dissent the commands given
by their leader. A story was spread abroad that these men were hired by
King Richard to kill Conrad. The friends of Richard declared, however,
that it was caused by a quarrel between Conrad and the Old Man of the

Two incidents are related of Saladin’s generosity towards Richard,
his foe. At one time King Richard was very sick with fever, and
Saladin supplied him with cooling drinks and fresh fruits, thus kindly
ministering to the comfort of his sick enemy. At another time, during
a battle with the Saracens, Saladin beheld King Richard standing on a
little knoll, surrounded by his knights. “Why is he on foot?” asked
Saladin, for Richard’s famous charter had been killed that day in the
battle. “The king of England should not fight on foot, like a common
soldier,” exclaimed Saladin, and forthwith he sent Richard a splendid
horse as a present. When the steed was brought to the king, one of his
knights mounted him to try his speed. Whereupon, the intelligent animal
immediately turned and ran with his rider to the camp of the Saracens.
Saladin was so chagrined at this unlooked-for occurrence, and fearing
lest Richard should imagine his kindly present had only been sent as a
treacherous stratagem, immediately placed the Christian knight upon a
more gentle horse, and sent with him a still handsomer charger, as a
present to the English king, which Richard gladly received.

[Illustration: “MOST HOLY LAND, FAREWELL!”]

Disquieting news now reached King Richard from England. His brother
John, aided by Philip of France, had deposed the chancellor, and
caused himself to be made governor-general of the kingdom. Under these
circumstances, and the hopelessness of capturing Jerusalem, King
Richard concluded a truce with Saladin, giving up Ascalon to him, but
keeping Jaffa, Tyre, and the fortresses along the coast, and promising
to refrain from any hostilities during a period of three years, three
months, three weeks, three days, and three hours. “Then I will come
back,” said Richard, “with double the men that I now possess, and will
reconquer Jerusalem.” Saladin answered: “that if the Holy City was
to fall into the hands of the Christians, no one was more worthy of
conquering it than Malek-Rik.”

On the 9th of October, 1192, Richard Cœur de Lion left Palestine to
return to his own kingdom. The queens embarked first in their vessel,
followed soon after by Richard in his war-ship. As the shore of the
Holy Land was receding from view, Richard gazed upon it from the deck
of his galley; and stretching out his arms towards it, exclaimed,—

“Most holy land, farewell! I commend thee to God’s keeping and care.
May He give me life and health to return and rescue thee from the hands
of the infidels.”

A storm soon arose, and the vessels of King Richard’s fleet were
separated. The queens arrived safely in Sicily, but King Richard was
driven to the Island of Corfu. Here he hired three small vessels to
take him to the head of the Adriatic Sea, and then he endeavored to
cross through Germany by land. He assumed the garb of a merchant, lest
his many enemies should discover him. Thus he travelled through the
mountains of the Tyrol. But having sent a ring with a messenger to the
governor of Goritz, seeking a passport, the governor exclaimed, “This
ring belongs to no merchant, but only to the king of England.”

Thus was King Richard discovered; and he was seized by his old enemy,
Duke Leopold of Austria, and put into prison. Which event, coming
to the knowledge of the emperor of Germany, he himself claimed the
illustrious captive, saying, “A duke cannot possibly keep a king.”

So King Richard was shut up in the castle of Trifels by the emperor,
where he languished for two years. Meanwhile neither his wife nor
mother could obtain any trace of him; and even after his brother
John learned that Richard was imprisoned by the emperor of Germany,
he joined King Philip of France in making propositions to the German
emperor, promising to pay him large sums of money if he would keep the
king of England in prison. The place of King Richard’s imprisonment
was said to have been discovered by a celebrated troubadour named
Blondel, who had known Richard in Palestine, and was now travelling
through Germany. As he went along in front of the castle where Richard
was confined, he was singing one of the troubadour songs. When he had
finished one stanza, King Richard, who knew the song, sang the next
verse through the bars of his prison window. Blondel recognized the
voice, and perceiving that Richard was a prisoner, he made all speed to
go to England and inform King Richard’s friends of his sad situation.
It is said that the first news Berengaria received of Richard’s fate
was by seeing a jewelled belt offered for sale in Rome. This belt
she recognized as one which King Richard wore when he left Acre.
But upon inquiry, she could only learn that Richard was somewhere
in Germany. The news that King Richard Cœur de Lion was a prisoner
in Germany roused great excitement in England and in Rome. The Pope
excommunicated Duke Leopold for having seized Richard, and threatened
to excommunicate the emperor if he did not release him. Finally the
emperor agreed to set the king of England free upon the payment of a
certain sum of money, two-thirds of which were to be received before
the king should be released. At length, in February, 1194, about two
years after Richard was first imprisoned, the first payment was made,
and King Richard Cœur de Lion was allowed to go free; and he arrived in
England in March, when the people gave him a magnificent reception. As
soon as Richard had arranged his affairs, he determined to be crowned
a second time as king of England, lest the two years of his captivity
might have weakened his claims. He was accordingly recrowned with the
greatest pomp and splendor. At the request of his mother he pardoned
his brother John, saying, “I hope that I shall as easily forget the
injuries he has done me as he will forget my forbearance in pardoning
him.” But Richard treated Berengaria with great unkindness and open
neglect, until he was suddenly seized with a severe illness, which so
alarmed him that he called for a great number of monks and priests, and
began to confess his sins, vowing, if God would spare his life, he
would abandon his profligate and wicked habits, and treat his wife with
kindness. He recovered, and he so far kept his vows as to send for his
wife, and become, outwardly at least, reconciled to her. But the fault
was all on his side; for poor Berengaria had given him no cause for his
cruel treatment of her. The reign of Richard Cœur de Lion was soon to
end, however, and the cause was one which shed neither glory nor honor
upon his fame. A rich treasure had been found by one of his vassals,
the viscount of Limoges. Richard at once claimed it, and the viscount
sent him half. But Richard determined to secure the whole of it, and
accordingly went to the castle of Chaluz, where the treasure was, and
laid siege to the place. It was well defended, but provisions becoming
short, the garrison wished to capitulate. “No,” said Richard, “I will
take your place by storm, and cause you all to be hanged on the walls.”

[Illustration: JOHN]

While King Richard was examining the point of attack, a young archer,
named Bertrand de Gourdon, shot an arrow at the king, and wounded him
upon the shoulder. The town was taken and all the garrison were hung.
King Richard’s wound, through the unskilful handling of the surgeons,
proved to be fatal. As he was dying he sent for Gourdon. “Wretch!” said
Richard to the archer, “what had I done to you that you should have
attempted my life?”

“You have put my father and two brothers to death,” said Bertrand, “and
you wanted to hang me.”

The dying king, at last struck with remorse for his many cruel deeds,
said, “I forgive you,” and he ordered the chains of the archer to be
removed, and that he should receive one hundred shillings. This humane
command, however, was not obeyed, and Bertrand was flayed alive.
Richard Cœur de Lion died on the 6th of April, 1199, at the age of
forty-two, and was buried, according to his request, at the foot of
the grave of Henry II., his father, in Fontevraud Abbey. The figures
in stone of the father, mother, and son, who quarrelled so much while
living, all lie now on one monument. Richard Cœur de Lion was well
called the Lion-Hearted. His glory consisted in his reckless and brutal
ferocity. He pretended to be the champion and defender of the cause of
Christ, but he used the sacred name of Christianity only as a means of
gratifying his own wild ambitions and his inhuman thirst for blood.
Though he won the fame of a brave and valorous knight, his savage
barbarity and reckless cruelties tarnished all the brightness of his
glory, and brought disgrace and dishonor upon the sacred cause of true
religion, of which he pretended to be the most zealous upholder.


1274-1329 A.D.

    “Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
     Scots, whom Bruce has aften led,
     Welcome to your gory bed,
        On to victorie!”—BURNS.

“BRUCE to the rescue! Bruce to the rescue!” was the war-cry of the
valiant little band of Scottish chiefs who gathered under the banner of
Robert Bruce, who was the seventh lord of Annandale, and also earl of

The heroic William Wallace had already endeavored to free his country
from the yoke of bondage in which they were held by the English king,
Edward I.

Alexander III., the ninety-fifth king of Scotland, had died in 1286,
leaving his grand-daughter Margaret, the Fair Maid of Norway, heir to
the Scottish throne. This child-princess was betrothed to the son of
the English king; but when quite young, as she sailed from her father’s
castle in Norway to her future home in Scotland, she died on the voyage
thither. Thus the crown of Scotland became the cause of dispute amongst
thirteen noblemen, descendants of members of the royal family, who set
up claims to the vacant throne.

There were but two claimants whose pretensions were based upon
sufficient grounds to insure any prospect of success. These were John
Baliol and Robert Bruce, grandson and son of the two elder daughters
of David, earl of Huntingdon, who was the younger brother of King
William, the Lion, who was the ninety-third king of Scotland. This
Robert Bruce was the grandfather of the hero who is the subject of this


King Edward of England, having been requested by the Scots to act as
arbitrator amongst all these claimants, decided to give the preference
to John Baliol, who was crowned king in November, 1292, having sworn
fealty to Edward, king of England. Thus did the wily English sovereign
place upon the Scottish throne a king weak enough to be used as his
tool. And poor John Baliol soon found, to his sorrow, that he was a
king only in name; but in reality a slave in the hands of his ambitious
and powerful neighbor.

Edward, having placed the feeble Baliol upon the throne of Scotland,
spared him no humiliation. Every time any Scottish petitioner appealed
to Edward, Baliol’s liege lord, regarding any decision of the king of
Scotland which had failed to satisfy his subject, Edward would summon
Baliol to appear at his court, to render an account of his judgment.
This occurred four times the first year of his reign. At length Baliol
refused to comply longer with these demands of Edward, whereupon the
English king advanced with an army against the Scots. After a fearful
massacre at Berwick, and the capture of several castles by the English,
Baliol begged for peace, and was sent to the Tower in honorable
captivity. He subsequently ended his life in his domains in Normandy.
Robert Bruce at once claimed the crown. But Edward exclaimed, angrily,
“Do you think that I have nothing else to do but to conquer kingdoms
for you?”

Scotland was now treated as a conquered country; and Warrene, earl of
Surrey, was appointed governor, Hugh de Cressingham, treasurer, and
William Ormesby, chief justicier.

Robert Bruce the grandfather, and also Robert Bruce the father of
our hero, considered it the better part of discretion to resign all
pretensions to the throne of Scotland. They therefore swore fealty to
King Edward.

Robert de Bruce, the sixth lord of Annandale, had accompanied Edward,
when prince of England, and Louis I. of France, to the Holy Land, where
he acquired great renown. A romantic story is told of his courtship and

One day this knight of the crusades was riding through the domains of
Turnberry. As he was proceeding leisurely along through the majestic
forests, charmed with the beauty of the sylvan scenery, watching the
glinting sunbeams dance athwart the leaves, and play hide-and-seek
with the shadows, in the cosey nooks where moss-banks nestled, he was
startled by the sound of a hunting-horn; and shortly a gay cavalcade of
lords and ladies dashed through the forest on their way to the castle
near by. One of the ladies, Margaret, countess of Garrick, the owner of
this castle, and hostess of this splendid retinue, being captivated by
the lordly bearing of the handsome, unknown knight, with the freedom
and natural courtesy of one who felt her independence upon her own
domain, reined in her high-bred steed, whose wild spirits were curbed
by slightest touch of her fair fingers, and, bowing to the knight
with queenly dignity, she invited him to join her visitors, and share
her hospitality. Robert de Bruce, knowing the high position of this
gracious lady, and fearing to accept too eagerly such an unexpected
honor, courteously declined the kind invitation, which he supposed had
been offered only out of a courtly hospitality, as he had been found a
stranger within her own domains. But the beautiful countess, moved by
some strange attraction, which she did not stop to analyze, gaily laid
hold of the reins of his steed, and laughingly replied:—

“Ah, noble knight! no trespasser on my grounds ever escapes
imprisonment in my castle;” and thereupon she led him away, like a
captive knight, to her castle of Turnberry.

For fifteen days he was the honored guest amidst all the festivities at
the castle, and the first in the chase, by the side of the bewitching
countess; and, having obtained her heart, as well as her hand, they
were married, without the consent of the king, whose ward she was, or
the knowledge of her relatives; in consequence of which the estates and
castle of the young countess were seized by the sovereign, and were
only saved to her by the payment of a large fine to the crown.

The eldest son of this brave knight and beautiful countess, who had
risked so much for love, and whose marriage was as romantic as any
described in Scottish tales of fiction, was Robert the Bruce, our hero,
who was afterwards King Robert I. of Scotland. He was born on the 21st
of March, 1274. He spent his early youth at Carrick, where he was
distinguished for his brave spirit and persevering energy.

The grandfather of Robert the Bruce, Robert, lord of Annandale,
refusing to take the oath of homage to his rival, John Baliol, when
King Edward of England decided in his favor, gave up his Scottish
domains in Annandale to his son, the earl of Carrick, lest he should
hold them as Edward’s minion. This proceeding was also followed by
the earl in 1293, in behalf of his son, Robert the Bruce, who was
then serving the king of England. Notwithstanding the sympathy of
young Bruce with the cause of Scotland, and his resolve to assert his
claims to the Scottish crown, he had, during the greater part of the
reign of his weak rival, adhered to the fortunes of Edward, deeming
it better policy to yield himself to the uncontrollable necessity of
circumstances, rather than risk his cause by undue haste. Sometimes
he appeared to assert his own pretensions to the crown, and the
independence of his country; and then, again, he yielded submission
to the superior power of the English king, whose good-will he wished
to keep until a favorable opportunity should offer itself of openly
asserting his rights. Robert might have obtained the crown if he would
have acknowledged the superior power of England, and submitted himself
as a vassal to the English king, as Baliol had done. But he would not
receive it on any other terms than as a free crown, which had been worn
by his ancestors, and of right belonged to him.

When John Baliol was raised to sovereign power, the family of Bruce,
although looking upon his elevation with envy, deemed it prudent to
conceal their dissatisfaction, and the father of young Robert, who
possessed the earldom of Carrick, in right of the countess his wife,
resigned to his son these possessions, who was admitted to do homage to
Baliol, the Scottish king, and thus became earl of Carrick.

When John Baliol had rebelled against Edward, king of England, young
Bruce deemed it unsafe to rank under the banner of his natural
sovereign, and therefore joined the side of Edward. Whereupon, the
Scottish king, John Baliol, confiscated his estate of Annandale, as
that of a traitor, and gave it to one of his followers, Comyn, earl of
Buchan. Some of the English peers, suspecting the fidelity of young
Bruce, who had now retired to the family estate in England, summoned
him to Carlisle to do homage. He forthwith obeyed, and swore fidelity
to the cause of Edward, and in order to show his loyalty, he assembled
some of his followers, and overran the lands of Sir William Douglas, a
Scottish patriot, and even carried away his wife and children. Stung
with remorse, however, for this treacherous act, which was really
extorted from him, young Bruce then joined the Scottish army, which
Wallace, the brave patriot, together with the bishop of Glasgow, and
steward of Scotland, had raised. The Scottish leaders were too much
at variance amongst themselves to make a resolute stand. The English,
knowing of their dissensions, sent messengers to treat with them.
With the exception of William Wallace, they sued for peace, and threw
down their arms without striking a blow. Bruce deemed it prudent to
submit with his countrymen to the English king, but such had been the
inconstancy of this nobleman, that the English demanded security for
his future fidelity. Whereupon the bishop of Glasgow, the lord steward,
and Alexander de Lindesay, came forward as his securities, until he
should deliver over his daughter Marjory as an hostage for his loyalty.
The conduct of young Bruce seems to us vacillating and unpatriotic,
viewed from the present age; but he must be judged by the spirit of
those troublesome times, and his after heroic deeds in his country’s
behalf must soften a stern judgment regarding his changeable and
uncertain conduct at this time. By the side of the staunch patriotism
of the brave William Wallace, various acts of Robert Bruce, at this
period of his life, are thrown into an unfavorable light, but his
seeming treachery he regarded as actuated by a prudent policy. Whether
he would have gained the deliverance of his country sooner, or suffered
irretrievable defeat, had he earlier and more steadfastly espoused the
patriotic cause, we find ourselves at a loss to determine, after a
careful study of that conflicting epoch.

[Illustration: BRUCE.



The history of Robert Bruce would not be complete without a brief
account of William Wallace, which will help to give a clearer idea of
the affairs of Scotland at that time.

William Wallace was descended from an ancient family in the west of
Scotland. Having been provoked and insulted by an English officer,
Wallace had put him to death, and therefore was obliged to flee for
safety to the forests. Here he collected a large band of bold men. Some
of these were outlawed for crimes; others, on account of bad fortune
or hatred of the English, were willing participants in this daring
scheme. William Wallace possessed gigantic strength of body as well as
heroic courage, and so was admirably suited to become a leader in such
a perilous enterprise.

This little band of Scottish warriors made many successful raids
upon their English foes, until the fame of their exploits became
so wide-spread that the English were filled with terror, and their
enslaved countrymen were inspired with hopes of freedom from the
galling yoke of oppression which fettered their hitherto independent

Wallace now determined to strike a decisive blow against the English
government. Warrene, the governor of Scotland, had retired to England
on account of his health, so that the administration of Scotland was
left in the hands of Ormesby, the justiciary, and Cressingham, who
held the office of treasurer. Wallace formed a plan of attacking
Ormesby, at Scone; but the justiciary being informed of such
intentions, fled in terror to England. All the other English officers
imitated his example. The Scots, encouraged by these events, sprang to

Many of the principal barons, including Sir William Douglas, openly
countenanced the party of Wallace. Meanwhile, Warrene, earl of Surrey,
collected an army of forty thousand men, in the north of England, and
invaded Scotland. He suddenly entered Annandale, and came up with
the enemy at Irvine, before the Scottish forces were prepared for
battle. Many of the Scottish nobles, alarmed at this unforeseen event,
submitted to the English, and renewed their oaths of fealty, and gave
hostages for their fidelity, whereupon they received pardon for their
rebellion. Others, who had not openly declared themselves, thought best
to side with the English, and wait a better opportunity for avowing
themselves as partisans of the Scottish cause. But Wallace persevered
in his bold enterprise, and marched northwards and established his
little army at Cambuskenneth. When Warrene advanced to Stirling, he
found Wallace on the opposite banks of the Forth. Wallace had chosen
a position near a narrow bridge which spanned the Forth, and as the
English, with thoughtless precipitation, commenced to cross, Wallace
attacked them before they were fully formed, and put them to rout,
gaining a complete victory. Among the slain was Cressingham, who
was so hated by the Scots that they flayed his dead body, and made
saddle-girths of his skin. Warrene, finding his remaining forces much
dismayed by this defeat, returned again to England.

Wallace was now made regent, or guardian of the country, by his
enthusiastic followers; and his brave band, not content with their past
exploits, invaded England, and laid waste many counties, returning to
their native land loaded with spoils, and crowned with glory.

But now factions amongst the Scots themselves caused a disaster
which deprived them of all they had gained. The Scottish nobles were
unwilling that Wallace should be placed over them in power; and that
patriot, to avoid jealousies and dissensions, resigned his authority
as regent, retaining only his command over that body of warriors who
refused to follow any other leader than the brave Wallace, under whose
banner they had so often been led to victory.

The Scottish army was now divided into three bands. The chief power
devolved on the steward of Scotland, and Comyn of Badenoch. The third
band was commanded by the valiant Wallace. Edward, having collected
the entire military force of England, Wales, and Ireland, marched into
Scotland with an army of nearly one hundred thousand men.

When the two forces met in battle at Falkirk, the English archers
chased the Scottish bowmen off the field, then shooting their arrows
amongst the pikemen, they were thrown into confusion, and the English
cavalry soon put the Scots to rout, with great slaughter. Some
historians state that the loss of the Scots, upon this occasion, was
fifty or sixty thousand men. In this general rout of the Scottish army,
Wallace’s superior military skill and presence of mind enabled him to
keep his band together, and retiring to the farther bank of a small
river called the Carron, he marched along its banks protected from
the enemy. Bruce, who was serving in the English army, recognized
the valiant Scottish chief, and calling out to him, desired a
conference. This being granted, he endeavored to convince Wallace of
the helplessness of his rash enterprise, and advised him to submit. But
the intrepid Wallace replied, that if he had hitherto acted alone as
the champion of his country, it was because no other would assume the
place. He exhorted Bruce to espouse the cause of his enslaved land,
representing to him the glory of the enterprise, and hope of opposing
successfully the power of the English. With enthusiasm he declared that
he would prefer to give his own life, and the existence of the nation,
when they could only be preserved by receiving the chains of a haughty


Bruce was greatly moved by these sentiments of brave patriotism, and
regretting his engagements to Edward, the enemy of his people, resolved
to embrace the cause of his oppressed country.

We cannot follow the brave and valiant Wallace through his after
career, and will but note his sad and unworthy fate. He was betrayed
into Edward’s hands by Sir John Monteith, who had been his friend.
Edward ordered Wallace to be carried in chains to London, where he
was tried as a rebel or traitor, though he had never sworn fealty to
England; and he was executed on Tower Hill. This barbarous cruelty of
the English king only inflamed the Scots to fresh rebellions; and they
now again sprang to arms, shouting, “Bruce to the rescue!”

Robert Bruce had long resolved to attempt to free his enslaved
country. The death of William Wallace, and the memory of his patriotic
exhortation after the battle of Falkirk, on the banks of the river
Carron, added fresh impetus to this resolve; and his open avowal could
be no longer delayed on account of two incidents which happened about
this time.

Bruce had ventured to disclose this resolve to John Comyn, surnamed the
Red, a powerful nobleman and warm friend. He found Comyn apparently in
full accord with his avowed sentiments. But that nobleman afterwards
treacherously revealed the secret to the English king. Edward did
not immediately seize and imprison Bruce, because he desired also to
ensnare his three brothers, who resided in Scotland. But he placed
spies over Bruce; and a nobleman, Gilbert de Clare, one of the lords in
Edward’s court, but also a friend of Robert Bruce, having learned of
the danger which threatened him, and fearing to risk his own position
by an open warning, sent Bruce a pair of golden spurs and a purse
of gold by his servant, with this message: “My master sent these to
thee, and bid me say, that the receiver would have sagacity enough to
determine quickly to what use they should be put.”

Bruce was not slow in taking the warning. Evidently, some one at court
had betrayed him! Ah, he had it! surely it could be no other than the
Red Comyn!

There is a story told, that three days previous to this event, Robert
Bruce was praying at the altar, in a chapel where afterwards stood St.
Martin’s church. It was midnight, and Bruce was alone. With tearful
eyes he exclaimed,—

“Yes, at the foot of this high altar, I’ll swear forthwith to fling the
yoke from off me, in spite of hostile man and misleading fiend; knowing
that if I put trust in, and pay obedience to, the King of kings, my
triumph shall be sure, my victory complete!”

“Amen to that!” whispered a sweet and plaintive voice in the ear of the
kneeling earl.

Bruce sprang to his feet, exclaiming, “Who art thou?” But he saw
only a muffled figure glide swiftly behind one of the pillars. Bruce
pursued; but the same soft voice replied:—

“I am neither foe to Scotland’s cause, nor shall be to him whose it
is to see her righted, laggard although he be in responding to the
urgent call. Farewell to the valiant Bruce! We may meet again, yet
nevermore in this holy place; for even three days must not elapse and
find him loitering near the stern and subtle Edward, or it will be woe
to Scotland and to Scotland’s mightiest lord! Let the Bruce find his
way to the altar, upon which I place a token for his keeping and his
use—the bugle-horn of the immortal Wallace; with which he summoned to
his standard his faithful countrymen, and led them to victory, till he
was overcome by treachery and death. Take this sacred bugle-horn, and
sound the call for Scotland’s freedom!”

Ere the astonished Bruce could answer, a figure shot past him, and
was lost in the darkness. The earl, groping his way in the dim light
to the altar, found there the precious relic promised; and he went
forth under the starlit midnight sky, vowing to strike a blow for his
enslaved country. Bruce needed no second warning of his danger, but the
very night upon which he received the gilt spurs and purse of gold, he
ordered two of his horses to be shod with reversed shoes, so that their
course might not be traced, as snow had fallen, and the prints of the
horses’ feet would therefore be plainly visible. Then Bruce and one
faithful attendant, named Walter Kennedy, hastily mounted their horses,
and rode out of London under cover of the darkness of the night.

As they left the great city behind them, Walter Kennedy ventured to

“If I may be so bold, good master, where gang we on sic a night? Thou
bidst me tell our talkative host at the inn, that Garrick’s lord had a
love adventure on foot. But me thinkst thou art too true a knight for

“Well said, my faithful Walter!” replied Bruce. “’Tis in truth a love
adventure, but concerns no lady fair, for my good wife is fairer to me
than all other women. But ’tis for love of country we go forth,—to free
our bonny Scotland. Surely that were love adventure worthy of both a
valiant knight and loyal husband. Still it is for sake of lovely woman
also; for my sweet wife and fair daughters are e’en now in Scotland,
and I fear me that their liberty, if not their lives, will soon be in
danger, as I am warned that the wily King Edward is my bitter enemy and
treacherous spy.”

“Ha! ’tis well spoken, good master!” exclaimed Kennedy, with
enthusiasm, and lifting his Scotch bonnet from his head, he cried
aloud, “Bruce to the rescue.”

“Hist, man!” said Bruce, laying his hand upon the bridle-rein of his
faithful and loyal retainer; “knowest thou not that these English
forests secrete hostile ears, to whom thy wild cry wouldst betray us?
Not till I have gathered my forces and blown the bugle-horn of the
valiant Wallace, will it be safe to openly sound that war-cry.”

The snow still fell thickly, and it was difficult to follow the right
route through the blinding storm; but ere long the moon shone out with
brightness, and seemed to smile upon their perilous adventure, and
promise success.

After a few days Bruce arrived at Dumfries, in Annandale, the chief
seat of his family interests. Here he found a great number of the
Scottish noblemen assembled, and among the rest the treacherous John
Comyn. These noblemen were astonished at the appearance of Bruce
amongst them, and still more when he avowed his determination to live
or die with them in the defence of the liberty of Scotland. All the
nobles declared their unanimous resolution to rise to arms in the cause
of their enslaved country. Comyn alone opposed this measure. Bruce,
already sure of his treachery, followed Comyn on the dissolution of the
assembly, and attacked him in the cloisters of the Gray Friars, through
which he passed, and piercing him with his sword, left him bleeding on
the ground. As Bruce rushed into the street, pale and agitated, Sir
Thomas Kirkpatrick, one of his friends, asked him if all was well. “I
fear I have slain Comyn,” replied Bruce, as he hastily mounted his

“Such a matter must not be left to doubt,” exclaimed Kirkpatrick; “I’ll
mak sicker!”—and dashing into the sanctuary, he ran his dagger into the
heart of the dying Comyn.

This deed of Bruce and his friend, which would be justly condemned
in the present age, was at that time regarded as an act of valiant
patriotism and commendable policy. The family of Kirkpatrick were so
proud of the deed that they took for the crest of their arms a hand
with a bloody dagger, and chose for their motto those words, “I’ll mak
sicker!” meaning, “I will make sure of it.”

Bruce now raised the standard of independence. Some priests and lords
gathered round him, and boldly crowned him at Scone. On the day of the
Annunciation, 1306, Scotland received her ninety-seventh king in the
person of the valiant Robert Bruce; and all Scotland rang with the
joyful war-cry, “Bruce to the rescue!”

The undertaking of Bruce was one of a gigantic nature. Yet amidst all
the seemingly insurmountable obstacles which surrounded him from
English foes and Scottish grandees,—who were many of them in league
against him, for the faction of Baliol and the powerful family of
Comyn were his avowed enemies,—and though he was subjected to frequent
perils, dangerous ambuscades and escapes, and many individual conflicts
of daring courage, Robert Bruce persisted firmly in his patriotic
design of restoring his enslaved country to freedom, and giving
protection to the people who had formerly called his ancestor their

Edward I. had now become aged and unwieldly, so that he could not
readily mount on horseback. When he was informed of this daring attempt
of Bruce to wrest from his power a kingdom which had cost him so much
to gain and hold, he despatched a messenger to the Pope, praying him
to issue the thunders of the Vatican against this bold traitor and
murderer of Comyn, and that he would place under interdict all who
should endeavor to aid him or draw a sword in defence of liberty. This
sentence of interdict, which the Pope often issued against sovereigns
for the most trivial offences, involved a nation in the greatest
misery. The people were deprived of all the services of the church; no
sacred rite was performed for them except the baptism of infants, and
the administration of the communion to the dying.

The churches were deserted, and the altars were stripped of all the
sacred ornaments. The dead lay uninterred, for the consecrated ground
was prohibited; and when at last the corpses must be buried, they were
hurriedly piled up in ditches and covered over, without any church
service to soothe the surviving mourners or hallow the last rites to
the dead. The thunders of the Roman pontiff, however, fell powerless
upon Robert the Bruce, for he had previously secured the alliance
of the Scottish clergy; and as they wished to remain independent
of the English bishops, they braved the thunders of the hierarchy,
and persisted in celebrating divine worship, notwithstanding its
prohibition by the head of the church.

In spite of old age and sickness, King Edward began to make extensive
preparations for marching personally against the Scots. Prince Edward,
his son, was twenty-two years of age, and having not yet been knighted,
the king conferred this distinction upon him and bestowed upon him
his spurs. Whereupon the young knight then conferred the same honor
upon two hundred and seventy young lords who were about to become his
comrades in arms. All the company then met at a magnificent banquet.
A golden net was placed upon the table, containing two swans, emblems
of constancy and fidelity. Then the king, placing his hands upon their
heads, swore to avenge the death of Comyn and to punish the rebels of
Scotland, without sleeping for two nights in the same place, and to
start immediately afterwards for Palestine, in order to rescue the Holy
Sepulchre. The young men swore the same oath as the king, and then they
started for the frontiers, the king following more slowly, as he was
too feeble to travel except upon a litter.

The earl of Pembroke had been sent by King Edward, with a small army,
into Scotland while the king was preparing his forces. Pembroke met
the Scots at Methven, where a battle was fought in which the Scots
were defeated, and many of them killed and taken prisoners; these were
afterwards put to death with great cruelty by Edward’s orders. Bruce
retired into the mountains with five hundred men. King Edward had only
been able to proceed as far as Carlisle; but on his dying bed he was
cruelly ordering the Scottish prisoners to be beheaded, and still
directing the operations of his troops. Bruce was living in the forests
with a few faithful companions. His wife, daughter, and sister shared
his adventuresome life.

But as winter approached, the ladies were sent to the castle of
Keldrummie, but they met with a sad fate here. The castle was stormed
and taken by the English; Nigel Bruce, Robert’s younger brother, was
cruelly put to death, and the queen of Scotland and her daughter, and
also the sister of Bruce, were sent to England, where the queen was
imprisoned, and the daughter and sister of King Robert were shut up in
wooden cages at Berwick and Roxburgh, and were exposed to the public

Bruce’s little band were attacked by Lord Lorn, the Red Comyn’s nephew,
and therefore a bitter foe. Finding that his faithful followers were
falling under the battle-axes of their enemies, King Robert sounded
a retreat; and with marvellous bravery Robert Bruce, mounted upon
his war-horse and clad in armor, took his position in the defile and
defended the approach alone. At length three men, famous for their
strength, sprang forward together upon the royal champion, who calmly
held his long sword on guard, and whose bright eyes glittered beneath
his helmet. One seized the bridle of the horse; but Bruce raised his
sword, and the arm of the assailant fell helpless, his hand being
severed. Another fastened himself on the leg of the horseman; but the
fiery war-horse reared, and again the invincible sword split his head
open. The third now clutched the king’s cloak; but again the sword
dealt its fatal blow, and the three assailants soon lay dead, while the
valiant king escaped without a wound. Robert Bruce was now obliged to
flee, and he took refuge in the small island of Rachrin. His retreat
was unknown to his enemies, and a large reward was offered to whoever
would give news of “Robert Bruce, lost, strayed, or stolen.”

During this time the Scottish king met with many adventures. One day,
leaving the island of Rachrin, he sailed with his little band in some
small boats to the isle of Arran. On landing they met a woman, of whom
the king inquired if there had been any military arrivals.

“Surely, sir,” she replied, “I can tell you of some who lately
blockaded the English governor’s castle. They maintain themselves in
the woods near by.”

Robert Bruce, thinking that it was of brave Douglas of whom she spoke,
blew his horn. It was answered by Sir James Douglas, who recognized
the bugle of his sovereign, and when he hastily approached the king,
they kissed for joy at such fortunate meeting. The small bands of King
Robert and Douglas now crossed in boats to the opposite shore, and
concealed themselves in a cavern, called the Cave of Colean. Learning
that a large party of English were settled in the town of Turnberry,
Bruce made a bold attack upon them, with three hundred men, and put
two hundred of the English to the sword. The garrison, in the castle
near by, were afraid to sally forth, as it was a dark night, and Bruce
carried off the spoil, among which were the war-horses and household
plate of the governor. Bruce now retired with his brave band to a green
hill, called afterwards the “Weary Neuk.” Here they rested for three
days, when they returned to the mountains to wait for reinforcements.
It was then that King Robert learned of the sad fate of his wife,
daughter, and sister, and the cruel death of his brother. But he
humanely spared the life of every captive who fell into his hands,
and did not yield to the temptation to revenge himself by their death,
in retaliation for the wrongs he had suffered. In consequence of his
privations and exposures, he was attacked with a severe sickness,
and having found relief from a certain medicinal spring, when he had
afterwards established himself upon his throne, he founded a priory of
Dominican monks there, and ordered houses to be built around the spring
for eight lepers, and a certain sum of money and meal was settled upon
the lands of Fullarton, for their support. In compliment to Sir William
Wallace, the relatives and descendants of that knight were invested
with the right of placing the lepers upon this establishment, known
as the “King’s Ease.” This was secured by charter, and the leper’s
charter-stone, which was a large stone of elliptical shape, has been
handed down to modern times.

King Robert had some very narrow escapes from death. It is reported
that at one time, Sir Ingram Umfraville bribed an inhabitant of
Carrick, with his two sons, to kill Bruce. These peasants, knowing
that the king was accustomed at an early hour every morning to retire
for meditation, accompanied by a single page, who carried his bow
and arrows, determined to select such time for the attack. As the
assailants approached, Bruce suspecting their design, took his bow and
arrows from his attendant, bidding him retire to a place of safety,
saying, “If I vanquish these traitors, you will have a sufficiency of
arms, and if I fall, you can flee for you life.”

As the peasants drew near, the king discharged an arrow, which hit the
father in the eye; upon which, the son, brandishing his battle-axe,
rushed to the combat, but missing his blow, he stumbled and fell, and
Robert severed his head in two at one stroke. The third peasant,
with spear in hand, then rushed upon the king, but Bruce cut off the
steel-head of the spear, and laid him also dead at his feet. When the
page approached, he found the king wiping his good sword, while he
remarked, “These would have been three gallant men had they not fallen
victims to covetousness.”

At another time, King Robert was surprised by a party of two hundred
men with bloodhounds. Bruce was accompanied by only two men. The king
was in a most perilous situation, but he stationed himself in a narrow
gorge and despatched his companions in haste for succor. But before his
band of brave Scots arrived, King Robert had slain with his dreadful
sword, fourteen of his enemies, who were found piled up in the gorge,
men and horses above each other.

A party of English, under the command of John Lorn, now determined to
search for the brave Bruce among the mountains of Carrick, where he
was intrenched; and in order to track the valiant Scottish king, Lorn
carried with him a sagacious bloodhound which belonged to Bruce. This
bloodhound proved of great use to Lorn, for it discovered his master by
its scent, and the English pursued him so closely that Bruce divided
his men in small bands and dispersed them, that they might thus more
easily flee. Still being pressed sorely by the relentless foe, Robert
dismissed all his men, each one to look out for his own safety; and
attended only by his foster-brother, who would not leave him, the
brave Scottish king fled, still pursued by five of Lorn’s men, led on
by the bloodhound who tracked his master with sure scent. Meanwhile
the dog was outrun by the five powerful mountaineers, and the king and
his foster-brother at last stood at bay to receive them. Bruce singled
three of these assailants, leaving his companion to combat with two.
As the first approached, the king cleft him through the skull with
one blow of his weapon, and as the other two fell back for a moment,
stunned by this unexpected disaster, Bruce sprang to the assistance of
his foster-brother, whom he saw was in danger, and severing the head
of one of his assailants from his body, he quickly laid his other two
enemies dead, while the fifth was killed by his companion. When the
king graciously thanked his faithful foster-brother for his aid, “It’s
like you to say so,” he replied, “but you yourself slew four of the

But now the cry of the hound was heard again, for Lorn and his band
were on the trail. The king and his companion hastily entered a small
stream near by, to break the scent of the hound, and as the dog bounded
up and down the banks, having lost all scent of his master, the
foster-brother of King Robert shot him dead with an arrow, from their
retreat in the forest. They then fled in safety from their pursuers,
who gave up the chase. But King Robert had escaped from the bloodhound
only to fall into other dangers. Three freebooters, pretending to be
friends of the Scottish king, joined him and his foster-brother in
their retreat through the forest. Bruce, suspecting these companions,
desired them to walk at some distance before.

“We seek the Scottish king,” said the strangers: “you need not mistrust

“Neither do I,” replied Robert; “but until we are better acquainted,
you must walk thus.”

When they came to a ruinous hut, where they rested for the night, the
king ordered the strangers to remain at the other end of the room. But
the past fatigues overcoming them, at last Bruce and his foster-brother
fell asleep. The king was roused from his slumbers by the approach of
the three villanous freebooters, with arms in their hands, intent on
his assassination. Robert laid hold of his sword, and stepping heavily
over his foster-brother, to awaken him, he rushed upon the assassins.
After a fierce combat, in which his faithful foster-brother was killed,
Bruce succeeded in overcoming these three villains, and left them dead
on the spot.

It was during these wanderings that Bruce was one day resting in a
ruined hut in the forests. He was lying upon a handful of straw,
and considering whether he should continue this strife to maintain
his right to the Scottish throne, or if it were best to abandon an
enterprise attended with such danger, and seeming at times almost
hopeless, and go to the Holy Land and end his days in the wars with
the Saracens. While thus musing, his attention was arrested by the
movements of a spider on the roof of the hut above his head. This
spider was trying to fix its web on the rafters, and was swinging
itself from one eave to another. The king was amused with the patience
and energy displayed by the tiny insect. It had tried six times to
reach one place, and failed. Suddenly the thought struck the Scottish
monarch, “I have fought six times against the enemies of my country.”
He thereupon resolved that he would be guided in his future actions by
the failure or success of this indefatigable little insect. The next
effort of the spider was successful, and King Robert then determined
that he would make the seventh attempt to free his country, feeling
confident that he should yet achieve the liberty of Scotland. It is
hence esteemed unlucky for a Bruce to kill a spider. Meantime Edward,
the brother of Robert Bruce, and Sir James Douglas had made many
successful raids against the English. They now joined their forces
with those of King Robert, and they then overran Kyle, Carrick, and
Cunningham, which places had been in the possession of the English.

In 1307 Pembroke advanced against Bruce with three thousand men. But
though the Scottish king’s band numbered but six hundred men, they
charged so valiantly with their long Scottish spears, that Pembroke’s
forces were completely routed, and he himself was obliged to flee for
safety to the castle of Ayr. King Edward was so enraged by these events
that he determined to march himself against this bold foe. But the
English king had not proceeded three leagues from Carlisle when death
met him. With his dying breath he ordered his remains to be carried
with the army, and not to be interred until the enemy was conquered. He
had previously caused his son to swear in the most solemn manner, that
when he should die, he would boil his body in a caldron and separate
the flesh from the bones, and having buried the former, the bones were
to be carried with the army to inspire his men with hatred against the
Scots, while his heart was to be taken to the Holy Land. But Edward
II., instead of obeying his father’s dying commands, interred his
body in Westminster; and disbanding the army, the troops returned to
England. The death of Edward I. gave new courage to the Scots. By this
inglorious retreat of the English king, he lost all the advantages
which his father had so dearly purchased for him. Edward Bruce, the
brother of Robert, one of the most chivalrous knights, had conquered
the English in Galloway, taking, in one year, thirteen castles.
Meanwhile, Lord Douglas had recovered his ancient estate of Douglas
from the English and made many conquests.

The north and the south being now reduced to obedience, the united
troops of Bruce and Douglas proceeded to the west to subdue the proud
lord of Lorn. By a series of well-contested engagements in which no
ordinary degree of skill as a general was displayed, and the greatest
personal courage, Bruce succeeded in wresting his much-injured
country from the power of the English. Twice had the king of England
attempted an expedition to reconquer Scotland, but he had returned
without result. The authority of Bruce was rapidly being established
throughout his country. The castles of Perth, Dunbar, and Edinburgh
were in his hands. Many stories are told of his heroic bravery in
these contests, but we can only stop to note the taking of Perth.
This was a strongly fortified garrison. The fortress was enclosed by
a lofty wall and towers, surrounded by a deep moat filled with water,
which set at defiance the efforts of the Scots for several weeks. At
last, King Robert made a feint of raising the siege, struck his tents,
and departed to some distance. But one night, when least expected,
he approached unperceived to the foot of the rampart, and walking up
to his throat in the water, he seized a ladder and mounted to the
wall’s parapet, where he found a Scottish maiden whom the English had
imprisoned, and who had escaped to the top of the wall, but could get
no farther, as the frightful moat surrounded her on all sides.

“It is but now to descend by these corded steps,” whispered Bruce to
the captive maiden, “and I’ll ferry you across this muddy water.”
But the maiden was as brave as she was fair, and knowing that any
delay would risk the taking of the fortress by the brave Bruce, she
heroically answered:—

“Please your Grace, no! Allow me the keeping of your dagger till you
return with further scaling-gear and your valiant band. Thus armed,
I’ll know how to defend myself, and I will watch these enemies till you

So King Robert, leaving the brave girl as a sentinel upon the parapet,
quickly waded again through the murky waters of the moat, and having
regained his band, reported his experience. Immediately fifty of his
most daring men, selected for their great height, plunged into the dark
waters of the moat, led by the valiant Bruce.

“Saw ye ever the like of that?” exclaimed a French knight who had
lately joined the Scottish patriots. “What shall we say to our lords,
when so worthy a knight and noble a monarch exposeth himself to such
great peril to win a wretched hamlet?”

With this he gaily threw himself into the water, followed by the rest
of the Scottish army. When Bruce again reached the maiden she said,
“The late revellers are now in their slumbers; the watchword with them
is ‘_The Lost Standard._’” The brave maiden then aided the king to
adjust the rope ladders, by which the Scots scaled the wall, one by
one, until a strong force stood at their side. “‘The Lost Standard’
is the word,” said the king; “and now for the citadel!” It was,
indeed, a _Lost Standard_ to the drowsy guards and sleeping revellers.
The fortress was soon taken, and the captives set free. King Robert
afterwards besieged the fortress of Stirling, when the governor, Sir
Philip Mowbray, contrived to make his appeals for succor reach the
English king. Edward roused himself from his natural indolence, and
raised a large army to march against Scotland. The forces of the
English amounted to nearly one hundred thousand men. This brilliant
army, with banners flying and lances glistening in the sunlight,
presented a grand array. Meanwhile, King Robert was concealed in the
forests with an army of only forty thousand men, nearly all on foot,
awaiting the enemy, and preparing barriers to check the onslaught
of the English. On the morning of the 23d of June, 1313, the two
armies met near Bannockburn. The night had been passed in prayer in
the Scottish camp, and in feasting and drunkenness by the English.
At daybreak the young English king was astonished at the good order
observed in the Scottish ranks.

“Do you think they will fight?” he asked of Sir Ingletram d’Umfreville.
Just then the abbot of Inchaffray appeared before the Scottish troops,
holding a crucifix in his hand; all bent their knees with uncovered

“They are asking for mercy,” cried King Edward.

“Yes, sire,” replied Umfreville, with a bitter smile; “but of God, not
of you, sire. These men will win the battle or die at their posts.”

The sight of the vast English army might well cause the brave hearts
of the small band of Scots to tremble; but with the intrepid Bruce at
their head, they awaited their foes with dauntless courage. So vast
were the English forces, that it is said the country seemed on fire by
the brightness of the shields and burnished helmets gleaming in the
morning light. So vast was the multitude of embroidered banners, of
standards, of pennons, and spears; so apparently endless the crowds of
knights, blazing in their rich-colored and gemmed surcoats; so large
the extent of country occupied by their numerous tents,—that one might
have thought all the warriors of the world were marching against this
handful of valiant Scots. The English had hastened their march and
arrived with some disorder in front of the Scottish army. King Robert
Bruce, with a golden crown on his helmet, was riding slowly before the
line of his troops. As the brave king thus rode along upon his favorite
palfrey, clad in armor and carrying his battle-axe in his hand,
encouraging his men by his calm voice and brave words, the English king
took special note of him, and remarked, “Doubtless yonder solitary
rider is of the foe, although he is almost as nigh to our front as to
that of the rebels. Canst tell, Sir Knight, of what account he is, and
wherefore this manœuvre?”

“My liege,” replied Sir Giles d’Argentine, to whom King Edward had
spoken, “he who yonder marshalleth the Scottish host was once my
frequent associate, and is well known to me, as I clearly descry from
the jewelled diadem which glittereth on his helmet. It is none other
than Bruce himself.”

“If it is the arch-traitor Bruce,” exclaimed Edward, “I marvel that no
knight amongst you all is brave enough to challenge so audacious a foe.”

Whereupon Sir Henry Bohun, mounted on a magnificent war-horse, came
dashing against the Scottish monarch, whose small palfrey seemed an
ill match for so strong and large a steed. “See! the foeman coucheth
his lance and pusheth at full speed against his victim, who recklessly
advanceth, and now doth take his stand motionless as a rock, awaiting
the onset of his enemy. Breathlessly the Scots and English watch the
two combatants. On comes the impetuous Bohun. Surely some half score
more plunges of the superb animal that bears him will unhorse the
hero-king, unless unwonted presence of mind, nimbleness of movement,
and dexterity of arm shall save him from the onrush of the powerful
horse and gleaming spear. But the gallant Bruce has risen in his
stirrups, and as his enemy rushes upon him, the lance is driven aside
by the sweep of his strong arm, and the battle-axe, wielded with rare
dexterity, stops not in its swing of meteor-like speed till down it
falls upon the helmet of his foe with such true aim and mighty force
that the weapon shatters the helmet and fractures the skull of Sir
Henry Bohun, whose fiery steed bears his dead body back to the English
ranks. Bruce returned slowly to his forces, and while some of his
friends surrounded him, reproaching him for so rashly risking his life,
the Scottish hero laughingly answered, while looking sorrowfully at his
notched axe, ‘See! I have spoiled my good battle-axe.’”


The battle was commenced by the English at the order of King Edward.
The shock of the first charge of the English cavalry was terrible;
and as they were received on the spears of the Scottish infantry, the
crash was heard at a great distance, and many English knights were
dashed from their saddles by their furious steeds, which had been
stabbed by the invincible spears of the Scots. The centre division,
under the gallant Randolph, stood in a steady body to receive the
charge of the English. These compact squares of the Scottish army were
well calculated to break the masses which were opposed to them, and
they suffered only from the arrows of the archers. The English cavalry
charged with the greatest impetuosity, and endeavored to pierce through
the phalanx of the Scottish spearmen; but they received them like a
wall of iron, while the English receded from the shock like broken
waves which had spent their fury on the rocks. When both armies joined
battle, the great horses of England rushed upon the Scottish lances as
if upon a thick wood, and one mighty sound arose from the breaking of
the lances, the shock of falling horsemen, and the shrieks of the
dying. The knights sang their war-cries, and rushed on to the charge.
Groom fought like squire, and squire like knight, and yet Scotland’s
lion waved proudly over her bands, while the English banners rose and
fell, and many of them were dyed in blood. At last the English began
to hesitate. “They fly! they fly!” cried the Scots. Just then the camp
followers of the Scottish army, who had been posted on an adjacent
hill, excited by the ardor of the struggle, began to descend in a mass
towards the field of battle. The English imagined themselves about
to be attacked by a fresh army, and began a disorderly retreat. Upon
which Robert Bruce charged valiantly with his reserves, and quickly
decided the fate of the day. The earl of Pembroke seized the bridle of
King Edward’s horse and dragged him away from the battle-field. Sir
Giles d’Argentine accompanied his king out of danger, and then rode
back fearlessly amidst the conflict, exclaiming, “It is not my custom
to fly!” This brave knight was cut down by the Scots. The victory was
complete. The fortress of Stirling surrendered immediately. The earl
of Hereford, who had shut himself up in Bothwell castle, offered to
capitulate, and was exchanged for the wife, daughter, and sister of the
king of Scotland, who had been imprisoned in England for several years.
Thus had the independence and freedom of Scotland been obtained by the
brave Bruce and his dauntless little band of patriot warriors. The
swords of those who fought at Bannockburn were hung up in the halls of
their descendants, and handed down to modern times as trophies of the
liberty and independence which they achieved. The beneficial effects
of this signal victory secured forever the independence of Scotland;
and when the two kingdoms were afterwards united, Scotland received
equal rights with England, and the national church of Scotland, with
her universities and schools, were guaranteed to the people of Scotland
forever. This famous battle taught the Scottish nation a lesson which
it never forgot: that a phalanx of Caledonian spears, wielded by brave
and disciplined men on foot, was superior to all the vaunted chivalry
of the most renowned cavaliers. In 1327 King Edward II. of England
was dethroned, and his young son was crowned in his place. The young
prince was but fifteen years of age. Scotland had been recovering from
her misfortunes under the firm and wise government of Robert Bruce.
The independence of that kingdom had been acknowledged by England. The
crown jewels, which had been formerly seized by Edward I., had been
returned, and the little princess Joan, who was betrothed to David, the
young son of Robert Bruce, had been taken to Berwick, accompanied by
the queen-dowager of England and a splendid retinue of attendants. The
marriage was soon after celebrated with great magnificence. Englishmen
and Scots, who for half a century had met only as foes upon the
field of battle, were now joined in friendly courtesies through this
marriage. King Robert’s wife Elizabeth had died before she saw this
happy termination of the long hostilities.

The Scottish king did not long survive these events. He was seized with
a severe complaint, then supposed to have been leprosy, which at length
proved fatal. When upon his death-bed he called around him his earls
and barons, and commended to their care his young son David; and the
prince was thereupon crowned king of Scotland. Robert Bruce, having
settled the affairs of his kingdom and throne, summoned to his bedside
his brave and faithful friend and gallant knight, Sir James Douglas,
and entreated him to take his heart from his body after death, and
have it embalmed, and carry it to the Holy Land, and leave it there
in the Holy Sepulchre, in obedience to a vow he had made. “When I was
hard beset,” said the dying king, “I vowed to God that if I should
live to see an end of my wars and Scotland free, I would raise the
sacred standard against the enemies of my Lord and Saviour. But as I
cannot myself accomplish this vow, I know no knight more worthy for the
mission of bearing the heart of King Robert of Scotland to the Holy
Land.” To this affecting request Lord Douglas replied, with tears in
his eyes, “Ah, most gentle and noble king! A thousand times I thank
you for the great honor you have done me in making me the bearer of
so great and precious a treasure. Most faithfully and willingly, to
the best of my power, shall I obey your commands.” Then the dying king

“Now praised be God! for I shall die in peace, since I am assured, by
the faith you owe to your God and the order of knighthood, that the
best and most valiant knight of my kingdom has promised to achieve for
me that which I myself could never accomplish.”

Thus died Robert Bruce, king of Scotland, in the fifty-fifth year of
his age and the twenty-fourth of his reign. His remains were deposited
in the church of Dumfermline, where he was enshrined under a rich
marble monument from Paris. The censures of excommunication pronounced
by the Pope having been removed some time before, the religious
services at his burial were performed by many prelates and bishops.

Many years afterwards his tomb was opened, and the lead in which his
body had been wrapped was found twisted into the shape of a rude
crown, covered with a rich cloth of gold, which had been thrown over
it. It was ascertained that the breast-bone had been sawn asunder in
order to fulfil his request of taking out his heart; but that proud
form, before which the king of England had trembled on his throne, had
crumbled into dust. Robert Bruce, king of Scotland, is one of the most
exalted warriors to be found in those early times. The virtues of his
character were formed, and acquired their bright polish, in the school
of adversity. One of the early writers says of him, “If any one should
undertake to describe his individual conflicts and personal success,
those courageous and single-handed combats in which, by the favor of
God and his own great strength and courage, he would often penetrate
into the thickest of the enemy, now becoming the assailant and cutting
down all who opposed him, at another time acting on the defensive,
and escaping from inevitable death,—if any writer shall do this, he
will prove, if I am not mistaken, that he had no equal in his own time
either in knightly prowess or in strength and vigor of body.” The
true greatness of Robert Bruce appeared in his humanity, moderation,
and pity for the sufferings of others, which led him in the hour of
victory to be generous to his prisoners even though he had suffered
such bitter wrongs at the hands of his English foes. His manners were
kingly and engaging, his disposition singularly gentle, courteous,
and without selfishness. Yet he was high-spirited, and full of noble
energy and enthusiasm. In person he was tall and well proportioned,
being five feet ten inches high. His shoulders were broad, his chest
capacious, and his limbs powerful and possessing marvellous strength.
He possessed an open and cheerful countenance, shaded by short curled
hair. His forehead was low, his cheek-bones strong and prominent, with
a wound on his lower jaw. Though the expression of his face was usually
pleasing and kindly, he could assume a look of stern, kingly dignity,
which awed his enemies, and gained him the necessary respect due to his
rank and commanding position as Scotland’s king, and also her bravest
and most valiant knight. He was one of the most successful military
leaders of the age. Well may Scotland boast of her brave Robert Bruce,
the most famous of all her rulers, the deliverer of her enslaved
people, the upholder of her liberty, her hero-king and most chivalrous


1452-1516 A.D.

    “Every monarch is subject to a mightier one.”—SENECA.

FOR many years after the great Saracen invasion in the eighth century,
Spain was divided into various small states. In the fifteenth century
these were so united as to form four,—Castile, Aragon, Navarre, and
the Moorish kingdom of Granada. The province of Granada was all
that remained to the Moslems of their once vast possessions in the
peninsula. On the 10th of March, 1452, in the little town of Sos,
Ferdinand, son of King John of Aragon, was born. The early Spanish
historians note with care the good omens attending this event. The sun,
which had been obscured with clouds during the whole day, suddenly
broke forth with unwonted splendor. A crown was also beheld in the sky,
composed of various brilliant colors, like those of a rainbow. All
which appearances were interpreted by the spectators as an omen that
the child then born would be the most illustrious among men. As this
event was also nearly contemporary with the capture of Constantinople,
it was afterwards regarded by the Catholic Church as a providential
provision in behalf of the religion of which Ferdinand became such a
staunch supporter, as his zealous life might be regarded as an ample
counterbalance to the loss of the capital of Christendom. One year
before this time, in the palace of the king of Castile, on the 22d
of April, 1451, a little princess had been born, and christened
Isabella. This Spanish princess was descended, both on her father’s and
mother’s side, from the famous John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster.

[Illustration: FERDINAND OF ARAGON.]

But around the cradles of these two royal babies many contentions
arose, which we cannot stop to note. When Isabella was four years
of age, her father died, and her half-brother Henry became king of
Castile; and, as she had still another brother, Alfonso, there did not
seem to be much probability that she would succeed to the throne. She
retired with her mother to the small town of Arevalo, where she was
educated with care, and instructed in lessons of practical piety, until
she reached her fourteenth year.

Meanwhile, the little Prince Ferdinand, in Aragon, was surrounded
with constant contentions between his father, king of Aragon, and his
half-brother Carlos. Joan, the mother of Ferdinand, was the second
wife of King John. She was a proud, ambitious woman, much younger than
her husband, and was of the blood royal of Castile, being the daughter
of Don Frederic Henriquez, admiral of that kingdom. She hated her
step-son Carlos, who was heir to the throne, as she regarded him as an
obstacle to the advancement of her own child, Ferdinand. We cannot stop
to note all the family broils occasioned by Joan’s jealousy. Prince
Carlos seems to have been a youth of many attractions of mind and
body, and was the idol of the people. So, when King John, influenced
by his wife Joan, succeeded in having Carlos arrested, and placed in
strict confinement, the entire kingdom was thrown into excitement. The
people sprang to arms, determined to release the prince; and they were
so threatening that King John fled with his wife to Saragossa. The
insurrection now spread throughout Aragon, Valencia, and Navarre, and
even into King John’s possessions in Sardinia and Sicily. At length,
the frightened king saw the necessity of releasing his prisoner. Prince
Carlos was received by the people with wild enthusiasm; and the king
could only make peace with his subjects by a public acknowledgment of
Carlos as his rightful heir and successor. But Carlos did not long
survive this triumph. He fell sick of a fever, and died in 1461. Some
historians hint that the prince was poisoned, to make way for the
youthful Ferdinand, now ten years of age, and who was immediately
declared heir to the throne. The queen-mother then took Ferdinand to
Catalonia, to receive the homage of that province; but the Catalonian
nobles, who were exasperated against the king on account of his
treatment of Carlos, displayed so much hostility that the young prince
and his mother were obliged to take refuge in the fortress of Gerona.
Here they were at last relieved by King John. But the Catalans then
seceded from the authority of the king of Aragon, and they presented
the crown to the duke of Lorraine, who marched with an army of eight
thousand men against the old king of Aragon, whose treasury was empty,
and who had become totally blind. In this emergency, the mother of
Ferdinand, who was a brave woman, placed herself at the head of such
forces as she could collect; and, with her young son Ferdinand riding
by her side, she heroically marched against the enemies of her husband,
and attacked the duke of Lorraine with such impetuosity that she drove
him in confusion from Gerona. In this encounter, young Ferdinand came
near being taken captive.

[Illustration: ISABELLA OF CASTILE.]

Meanwhile, the Princess Isabella was nearly sacrificed to the ambition
of her half-brother, who was king of Castile. The beautiful
princess, who had now been brought from her retirement in Arevalo to
her brother’s court, had many suitors for her hand. Her half-brother,
King Henry, promised his sister in marriage to a rich but wicked old
nobleman; and great preparations were made for the wedding. The anguish
of the poor Princess Isabella was so great that she shut herself up in
her apartment, praying to God, with groans and tears, that He would
deliver her from this impending doom. Still, the wedding preparations
went on. Meanwhile, the wicked old nobleman set out from his palace to
claim his youthful and beautiful bride. But God had heard the prayers
of the afflicted princess; and, as the aged bridegroom reached a small
village, at the end of the first day’s travel, he was suddenly seized
with an attack of quinsy, which terminated his life.

The nobles of Castile now entreated Isabella to allow herself to be
proclaimed Queen of Castile, in opposition to her brother, whom they
all hated. Her other brother, Alfonso, who would have been heir, had
previously died. But Isabella was too noble to seek such revenge upon
her cruel brother; but the nobles forced the king to declare her his
successor to the throne, and to promise that she should not be forced
to marry against her will.

The king of Portugal now desired to secure Isabella for his bride;
and her brother threatened to imprison her unless she would yield. As
overtures had been made by the young and handsome Prince Ferdinand of
Aragon for the hand of the fair Isabella, and as her heart was also
inclined towards this handsome prince, she determined, in spite of
her brother, to accept the proffered hand of Ferdinand. The marriage
articles were signed on the 7th of January, 1469. Isabella was aided
by the archbishop of Toledo, who raised a regiment of dragoons, and
carried her in triumph to Valladolid, where she was greeted by the
people with the wildest enthusiasm. Meanwhile, her brother attempted
to prevent Ferdinand from entering Castile to marry Isabella. As the
father of Ferdinand was so pressed by a war with his nobles, he could
not afford his son an armed escort sufficient to secure his safety. So
Ferdinand resolved to go disguised as a merchant. With half a dozen
companions, Ferdinand started upon this adventuresome expedition to
secure his lovely bride, in spite of hostile foes. Amidst many perils
they pressed on their way. One night, at an inn, they lost their purse,
containing all their money. At length they were met by an escort, sent
by Isabella for their protection. The fair princess, with her little
court, was at Valladolid. Ferdinand, accompanied by four attendants,
rode privately to Valladolid, where he was received by the bishop of
Toledo, and conducted to the presence of Isabella. The young prince
was very handsome, tall and fair, with an intelligent countenance and
intellectual brow. He was eighteen years of age. He was well educated,
and of temperate habits. He was graceful and courtly in manner, and
seemed a fitting mate for the beautiful princess of nineteen, of whom
a contemporary writer says, “She was the handsomest lady whom I ever
beheld, and the most gracious in her manners.”


Isabella was highly educated for those times, and spoke the Castilian
language with grace and purity. After a brief lover’s interview
of two hours, Ferdinand returned to Duenas, where he had left his
companions. Preparations were immediately made for the marriage, which
was solemnized at the palace of one of the nobles in Valladolid,
on the morning of the 19th of October, 1469. Ferdinand, having
lost his slender purse by the way, was without money; and Isabella,
being a fugitive from her brother’s court, was also without means.
But the royal couple readily borrowed the money necessary to defray
the expenses of the wedding. King Henry now determined to cast aside
Isabella, and place upon the throne Joanna, the daughter of his second
wife. This was a blow to Isabella, for now the court of Castile,
aided by the king of France, were combined against her. Ferdinand and
Isabella held their little court at Duenas, in humble style. In 1474,
the brother of Isabella, Henry IV., king of Castile, died, and she was
proclaimed queen. Isabella was at that time in Segovia. Attended by an
imposing retinue, she rode upon a beautiful steed, whose bridle was
held by two high officers of the crown, and she was escorted to her
seat upon the splendid throne, which had been erected in one of the
public squares of the city. As the people gazed with admiration upon
their beautiful queen, a herald cried,—

“Castile, Castile, for the king Don Ferdinand, and his consort Dona
Isabella, queen proprietor of these kingdoms!”

The queen took the oath of office, and then repaired to the cathedral,
to pray at the altar. Ferdinand was at this time in Aragon, and when
he returned he was greatly displeased with the document prepared by
the dignitaries of Castile, in which Isabella alone was declared heir
to the throne of Castile, but Ferdinand was associated with her in the
performance of many acts of royalty. But, persuaded by his wife, he
agreed to submit.

Alfonso V., the king of Portugal, now invaded Castile. Ferdinand and
Isabella raised an army and met the foe at Toro. The powerful bishop
of Toledo, exasperated by the independence of opinion which Ferdinand
and Isabella displayed, whom he had supposed would be pliant tools in
his hands, joined Alfonso against them. The strife was too desperate
to last long. There was a hand-to-hand fight along the entire line.
At length a storm arose. A dark night came down upon the conflicting
hosts. A deluge of rain fell, and the field was flooded with mingled
blood and water. The Portuguese were utterly routed. Ferdinand
displayed great humanity to his prisoners, furnishing them with food,
clothing, and a safe return to their own country.

Isabella was awaiting the issue of the battle at Tordisillas, twenty
miles above on the river. When she received tidings of the victory, she
ordered a procession to the Church of St. Paul, as an expression of
her gratitude to God, and she herself walked barefoot in the garb of a
penitent. In a few months, the entire kingdom of Castile acknowledged
the supremacy of Ferdinand and Isabella.

In 1479, the king of Aragon died, leaving the kingdoms of Aragon and
Navarre to his son Ferdinand. Aragon, Castile, and Navarre, being thus
united under these two illustrious monarchs, the great Spanish monarchy
was thereby founded.

Ferdinand and Isabella now commenced the enterprise of conquering
Granada, thus expelling the Moors from their last foothold in Spain.
Malaga, on the coast of the Mediterranean, was one of the principal
Moorish towns. The Moors were aware of the importance of this
position, and had strongly fortified it. The Moors were as brave as
the Christians, and were led by famous chieftains. In April, 1487,
Ferdinand, at the head of fifty thousand men, arrived before Malaga,
and commenced its siege. There were continual ambuscades, and nightly
sallies. One day, while Ferdinand was dining in his tent, which
commanded a view of the field of conflict, he perceived a party of
Christians, who had been sent to fortify an eminence, retreating in
confusion, pursued by the Moors. King Ferdinand leaped upon his horse,
not delaying for any defensive armor, rallied his men, and charged
against the enemy. Having thrown his lance, he endeavored to draw his
sword from its scabbard. But the sword held fast, the scabbard having
been by some accident, indented. Just then several Moors surrounded
him. The king would have been slain had not two brave cavaliers rushed
to his rescue. The nobles remonstrated with the king for so risking his
life, but Ferdinand unselfishly answered,—

“I cannot stop to calculate chances, when my subjects are perilling
their lives for my sake.”

After a siege of ten days, one of the outposts of Malaga was captured
by the Spaniards, who now pressed triumphantly forward to assault
the city itself. Ferdinand first attempted to induce the Moors to
capitulate, by generous offers, to the commander. But he loyally
replied, “I am stationed here to defend the place to the last
extremity. The Christian king cannot offer a bribe large enough to
induce me to betray my trust.” Ferdinand then encompassed the city by
sea and by land. Queen Isabella joined him, and her presence inspired
the Spaniards with fresh courage. When she arrived with a brilliant
train of ladies and cavaliers, an imposing escort was sent to meet her,
and she was conducted to the encampment with great magnificence of
parade, and many demonstrations of joy.

The assault was now renewed more fiercely than ever. Famine at length
caused great suffering amongst the Moors. They had consumed most of
their ammunition, while the Spanish army was constantly re-enforced by
new volunteers. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella maintained strict
religious discipline in their camp. Neither oaths nor gambling was
allowed, and the rites of the Roman Catholic Church were performed
with imposing ceremony. Gradually the Christians gained ground. They
succeeded in blowing up one of the towers, thereby obtaining entrance
into the city. The citizens of Malaga, suffering from pestilence and
famine, had been reduced to living upon the flesh of horses, dogs, and
cats. Everywhere the most appalling misery was seen. Many were dying
in the streets. In view of their sufferings, Hamet Zeli, the Moorish
commander, gave the citizens permission to make the best terms they
could with their conqueror. Ferdinand would listen to nothing, however,
but unconditional surrender. At length the citizens sent a deputation
to Ferdinand, declaring that they were willing to resign to him the
city, the fortifications, and all the property, if he would spare their
lives, and give them their freedom. “If these terms are refused,” they
added, “we will take the six hundred Christian captives, who are in our
hands, and hang them like dogs on the battlements. We will then enclose
our old men, women, and children in the fortress, set fire to the town,
and sell our lives as dearly as possible, in the attempt to cut our way
through our enemies. Thus if you gain a victory, it shall be such a one
as will make the name of Malaga ring throughout the world, to ages yet


In answer, Ferdinand replied, “If a single hair of a Christian’s head
is harmed, I will put to the sword every man, woman, and child in the

The citizens in hopeless despair, cast themselves upon the mercy of
Ferdinand, unconditionally surrendering the city.

On the 18th day of August, 1487, the Spanish army, headed by Ferdinand
and Isabella, with great military and ecclesiastical pomp, entered
the city, and repaired to the cathedral, where the _Te Deum_ was for
the first time performed within its walls. The Christian captives
were liberated from the Moorish dungeons. They presented a dreadful
spectacle, which drew tears from all eyes. This band of sufferers, many
of whom had languished in dark cells for fifteen years, were brought
forth, haggard, emaciated, and heavily manacled with chains. Being
freed from their fetters, Ferdinand and Isabella addressed to them kind
words of sympathy, and dismissed them with rich gifts.

The heroic Moorish chieftain, who had so gallantly defended the
city, was brought loaded with chains before his conqueror. Upon
being questioned why he had so long persisted, he replied, “I was
commissioned to defend the place to the last extremity. Had I been
properly supported, I would have died sooner than have surrendered.”

Then came the doom of the Moors. The entire population of the city,
amounting to about twenty thousand, were condemned to slavery. Men,
women, and children were alike sentenced by the Christians. One-third
were sent to Africa in exchange for Christians imprisoned there.
Another portion were sold to the highest bidder, to procure money to
defray the expenses of the war. The Pope at Rome received one hundred
Moorish soldiers. The Moorish girls were renowned for their great
beauty; fifty of the most beautiful of these were sent by Isabella as a
gift to the Queen of Naples, and thirty to the Queen of Portugal. All
the property of the victims was seized by the crown. Cruel as this doom
appears to us, it was regarded at that time as mild and humane, though
now one shudders at such unchristian barbarity. But in justice, the
excuse must be made for Ferdinand and Isabella, that they supposed that
thereby the Moslem Moors would be more likely to become converts to the
Christian religion, even in slavery. It is said that Isabella was urged
by the clergy to put all the captured Moors to death, as a warning to
others. The city of Malaga was now re-inhabited by the Spaniards.

In the next year, Ferdinand, with a force of twenty thousand men,
marched against Granada, the capital of the Moorish kingdom. The
Christians were driven back in confusion into their own territory.
The year following, King Ferdinand collected an army of ninety-five
thousand men. The cavalry was composed of the highest nobility of the
realm. The Christians advanced upon Baza. The Moors sallied forth
from the city to meet their foes; a fierce battle lasted for twelve
hours, when the Moors were forced to retreat within the city walls.
The conflict had been so severe, however, that the Spanish generals
counselled an abandonment of the siege. Ferdinand, relying upon the
wisdom and great mental endowments of his wife, sent dispatches to
Jaen, where Isabella then was, asking her advice. Her reply was so
encouraging that the siege was renewed. The summer and winter passed
away; the Christians suffered much during the floods of rain which
inundated their camp. The energetic queen, however, came to their
rescue, and sent six thousand pioneers to repair the roads; and she
even pawned the crown jewels and her own ornaments, to raise money to
furnish her husband’s forces with supplies. The Moorish women within
the city displayed heroism equal to that of the Christian queen. At
length, as the Spanish troops began to despond, Ferdinand sent for
his brave wife to come to the camp, that her presence might inspire
them with fresh courage. An historian thus describes the coming of the

“On the 7th of November, the queen, accompanied by her daughter
Isabella, several ladies of honor, a choir of beautiful maidens, and
a brilliant escort, entered the camp of Ferdinand. The inhabitants of
Baza crowded their walls and towers to gaze upon the glittering pageant
as it wound its way through the defiles of the mountains and emerged
upon the plain, with gold-embroidered banners and strains of martial
music. The Spanish cavaliers sallied forth in a body from their camp
to receive their beloved queen and to greet her with an enthusiastic
reception. The presence of this extraordinary woman, in whose character
there was combined with feminine grace so much of manly self-reliance
and energy, not only reanimated the drooping spirits of the besiegers,
but convinced the besieged that the Spanish army would never withdraw
until the place was surrendered. Though there was no want of food for
the beleagured Moors, their ammunition was nearly expended, and the
garrison was greatly reduced by sickness, wounds, and death.”

Soon after the arrival of Isabella, the Moorish garrison offered to
capitulate. Ferdinand was so anxious to secure the place, that he
agreed to allow the army to march out with the honors of war, and the
citizens to retire with their property at their pleasure. The fall of
Baza secured the surrender of many other important strongholds of the
Moslems. Granada, the capital of the Moorish kingdom, was still in the
possession of the Moors. Ferdinand, in 1491, having raised another
army, encamped within six miles of this city. Abdallah, the king of the
Spanish Moors, was in personal command at Granada. The city possessed a
population of two hundred thousand people.

The situation of Granada was exceedingly picturesque. A wild, rugged
mountain range, whose summits were crowned with snow, protected the
city upon the south. On the north was a beautiful plain, blooming with
flowers, and beyond, groves and vineyards reached for thirty leagues.
But upon this lovely spot occurred scenes of blended heroism and
revolting carnage, which have made the fall of Granada famous for all

Sometimes a company of Moors, clad in armor, and mounted upon their
fiery Arabian chargers, would ride forth from the gates, while
bugle-blasts rang shrill upon the air, and challenge an equal number
of Christian knights to combat. Promptly the defiance was met. All the
citizens of Granada crowded the house-tops, battlements, and towers of
the city, to watch the exciting conflict. Both armies rested upon their
arms, breathlessly awaiting the issue. Again, some brave Christian
knight would ride forth alone and challenge a Moorish cavalier to
combat. The ladies of the two hostile courts cheered their respective
champion with their fair presence and encouraging smiles; and never did
knight or cavalier fight more valiantly to win the prize of victory.
The memory of these brilliant but deadly tourneys still inspires
the songs of the Castilians. Spanish ballads glow with thrilling
descriptions of these knightly tourneys; and the prowess of Moslem, as
well as Christian warriors, sheds undying glory over the conquest of

Queen Isabella took an active part in all the military operations of
the Spanish army. She often appeared upon the field, encased in full
armor, mounted upon a splendid steed; and her presence always inspired
her troops to fresh deeds of valor. Isabella occupied in the camp a
pavilion, richly draped with silken hangings. One night, a gust of
wind blew the fringes of one of the curtains into the flame of a lamp,
and soon the entire pavilion was in a blaze. The conflagration spread
to other tents, and it was only with great difficulty that the entire
camp was preserved from destruction. The queen and her children were
in great danger of being destroyed. In consequence of this accident,
Ferdinand, to prevent a like occurrence, ordered a city of substantial
houses to be built upon the spot occupied by his army. In three
months, a large and stately city arose. The soldiers wished to call it
Isabella, in honor of their idolized queen, but she named it Santa Fé,
in recognition of her faith in Providence. The city still stands.

The Moors were now convinced that their Spanish foes were determined to
remain until the Crescent should give place to the Cross. The citizens
of Granada were suffering from famine. Abdallah, therefore, surrendered
Granada to the Christians on the second day of January, 1492.

This last great act in one of the sublimest of historical dramas—the
invasion of Spain by the Moors—was performed with the most imposing
martial and religious rites. The Alhambra was first taken possession
of by veteran Christian troops, including the body-guard of the king.
Ferdinand, surrounded by a very brilliant _cortège_ glittering in
polished armor, took his station near an Arabian mosque, now called the
hermitage of St. Sebastian. At a short distance in the rear the queen
Isabella took her position, accompanied by a no less splendid retinue,
her high-born warriors proudly displaying the armorial bearings of
their families. The immense column of the Christian army commenced
its march up the Hill of Martyrs into the city. Abdallah, accompanied
by fifty cavaliers, passed them, descending the hill to make the
surrender of himself to Ferdinand. The heart-broken Moor threw himself
from his horse, and would have seized the hand of Ferdinand to kiss it
in token of homage, but the Christian king magnanimously spared him
the humiliation, and threw his arms around the deposed monarch in a
respectful and affectionate embrace. Abdallah then presented the keys
of the Alhambra to the conqueror, saying,—

“They are thine, O king, since Allah so decrees it. Use thy success
with clemency and moderation.”


He then, not waiting for the words of consolation which the king was
about to utter, rode on to offer the same acts of submission and homage
to Queen Isabella. In the mean time the Castilian army, winding slowly
up the hill and around the walls, entered the city by the gate of Los
Molinos. The large silver cross which Ferdinand had ever borne with him
in his crusade against the Moors was now elevated upon the Alhambra,
while the banners of the conqueror were proudly unfurled from its
towers. “It was the signal for the whole army to fall upon its knees
in recognition of that providence which had granted them so great a
victory. The solemn strains of the _Te Deum_, performed by the choir of
the royal chapel, then swelled majestically over the prostrate host.
The Spanish grandees now gathered around Isabella, and kneeling, kissed
her hand, in recognition of her sovereignty as queen of Granada.”

Abdallah, however, did not remain as a sad witness of these scenes.
With a small band he took his way to the mountains. From one of the
rocky eminences he sorrowfully gazed upon the beautiful realms over
which his ancestors had reigned for more than seven hundred years. With
eyes filled with tears he exclaimed, “Alas! when were woes ever equal
to mine!”

Whereupon his mother cruelly replied, “You do well to weep as a woman
for what you could not defend like a man!”

Thus “The Last Sigh of the Moor,” and the cruel yet Spartan-like
heroism of the Moorish queen-mother, have passed into the romantic
annals of history.

While Ferdinand and Isabella were at Santa Fé, Columbus arrived at
their camp. We have not space to give here a history of Christopher
Columbus. We can but note a few important incidents. The Atlantic Ocean
was then unexplored. Columbus, who was employed in the construction
of maps and charts, became convinced that countries existed upon the
other side of the globe. He was laughed at as an enthusiast, and when
he declared that the world was round, one of the sages of the fifteenth
century replied, “Can any one be so foolish as to believe that the
world is round, and that there are people on the side opposite to ours
who walk with their heels upward and their heads hanging down, like
flies clinging to the ceiling? that there is a part of the world where
trees grow with their branches hanging downwards, and where it rains,
hails, and snows upwards?”

The doctrine of Columbus was not only regarded as absurd, but it was
thought to be heretical. Columbus, fully convinced of the truth of his
ideas, appealed first to the king of Portugal for means to fit out a
fleet to start out on a voyage of discovery. Meeting with refusal, he
visited the Spanish court in 1487. At this time Ferdinand and Isabella
were with the army, encamped before Malaga. The war with the Moors
continuing, the Spanish sovereigns declared that they could give the
matter no attention until the conclusion of the war. Disheartened,
Columbus was about to apply to the king of France, when the prior
of the convent of La Rabida, at Palos, who firmly believed in the
scheme of Columbus, and who had formerly been confessor to Isabella,
wrote to the queen, urging that Spain might not lose so great an
opportunity. Isabella was so much impressed by the letter of the worthy
prior that she immediately requested that Columbus should come to
Santa Fé, where she was then residing, as the Spanish army were still
besieging Granada. Columbus arrived there just as the Moorish banner
was torn down, and the flag of Spain was unfurled upon the towers of
the Alhambra. In the midst of these rejoicings Columbus presented
his plans. “I wish,” said he, “for a few ships and a few sailors to
traverse between two and three thousand miles of the ocean, thus to
point out a new and short route to India, and reveal new nations,
majestic in wealth and power. These realms are peopled by immortal
beings, for whom Christ has died. It is my mission to search them out,
and to carry to them the Gospel of salvation. Wealth will also flow in
from this discovery. With this wealth we can raise armies, and rescue
the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem from the hands of the infidels. I
ask only in return that I may be appointed viceroy over the realms I
discover, and that I shall receive one-tenth of the profits which may

[Illustration: COLUMBUS.]

The Spanish courtiers were astonished at what they deemed audacious
demands, and persuaded the queen to refuse. Whereupon, Columbus sadly
saddled his mule to retrace his steps, and to offer his services to the
king of France. Isabella was troubled, as she thought over these
offers and requests of Columbus, and she expressed to Ferdinand her
perplexities. He replied, “The royal finances are exhausted by the war.
We have no money in the treasury for such an enterprise.” The queen
then enthusiastically exclaimed,—

“I will undertake the enterprise for my own crown of Castile; and I
will pledge my private jewels to raise the necessary funds.”

Thus the discovery of a continent hung upon the vanity, or heroism,
of a woman! But the character of Isabella was equal to the emergency.
The matter was quickly settled. A courier was sent to overtake the
disappointed Columbus, who was pursuing his weary way through the
sand, overwhelmed with gloom. For eighteen years he had been in vain
endeavoring to carry out his cherished plans. Joyfully he returned
to Santa Fé, where the queen received him with great kindness, and
assented to his demands. Columbus succeeded in obtaining three small
vessels,—two furnished by the Spanish government, and one by Martin
Alonzo Pinzon, a wealthy Spaniard. The total number who joined the
expedition was one hundred and fifty.

The enterprise was deemed so hazardous that it was with great
difficulty that a crew could be obtained. This was in the fifteenth
century. In view of the marvellous progress in knowledge, discovery,
invention, and an enlightened Christianity, in the past four hundred
years, in comparison with the ignorance and superstitions of preceding
epochs, any student of history will be led most emphatically to
exclaim, Surely the world was never so advanced in knowledge, true
civilization, and pure religion as to-day! With all the wickedness at
the present time, the study of history reveals the fact, that the
world was never so good, pure, and Christian as now.

On the 3d of August, 1492, the small squadron unfurled its sails for
the momentous voyage. At the close of a week they arrived at the Canary
Islands, which were on the frontiers of the known world. On the 6th of
September, they again set sail.

Day after day passed; but no land came in sight. Sixty-seven days had
now passed since the Highlands of Spain had disappeared from their
view. They had met with indications which made them hope that land
was near. A branch of a shrub, with leaves and berries upon it, had
been picked up; and a small piece of wood, curiously carved, had been
found drifting upon the water. It was the 11th of October. As the sun
went down, and the stars appeared, Columbus took his stand upon the
poop of his vessel. About ten o’clock, he was startled by the gleam
of what seemed to be a torch far in the distance. For a moment it
blazed, then disappeared. Was it a meteor, or a light from the land?
Not an eye was closed on the ships that night. At two o’clock in the
morning, a sailor at the mast-head shouted, “Land, land, land!” The day
dawned; and a glimpse of paradise seemed to have been unveiled before
their enraptured gaze. A beautiful island was spread out, luxuriously
green, and adorned with every variety of tropical vegetation. The
boats were lowered, and manned. The banner of Spain, emblazoned with
the cross, floated from every prow. Columbus, richly attired in a
scarlet dress, entered his boat, and was rowed towards the shore,
where multitudes of the natives stood, gazing, spell-bound, upon the
strange sight. Columbus leaped upon the shore, and, falling upon his
knees, gave thanks to God. With imposing ceremony, the banner of Spain
was planted upon the soil; and the island was called San Salvador, in
recognition of the protecting care of Providence. We have not space to
note the other discoveries of Columbus upon this voyage. Continuing his
explorations in that part of the country, he discovered the islands
of Exuma, Yuma, and Cuba. Of Cuba, Columbus wrote, “It is the most
beautiful island that eyes ever beheld.” During a short tour up one
of the picturesque streams of Cuba, Columbus met with a bulbous root,
about as large as an apple, which the natives used as food, roasting
it in the ashes. They called it _batatas_. Columbus and his men were
hunting for gold; but this discovery of the indispensable potato has
proved a much richer prize to mankind. Here, also, he saw the natives
rolling up in their hands dried leaves of a certain plant, which they
lighted and smoked. These leaves they called tobacco. This discovery
has proved a curse, rather than a blessing, to the world.

After discovering the islands of the Nativity and Hayti, or Saint
Domingo, Columbus determined to return to Spain, to secure a more
efficient fleet. The return voyage was extremely tempestuous. During
the gloomy hours of storm and danger, fearing that they should
never see land again, Columbus wrote an account of his discoveries
upon parchment, wrapped it in waxed cloth, and, enclosing it in a
water-tight cask, set it adrift. A copy, similarly prepared, was kept
upon the ship. On the 15th of March, not quite seven months and a half
from the time of his departure, Columbus, with his little crew, entered
the harbor of Palos. Ferdinand and Isabella were at Barcelona. They
immediately wrote to Columbus, requesting him to repair to their court.
His journey thither was a triumphal march. Ferdinand and Isabella
were seated beneath a silken canopy, to receive him with the most
imposing ceremonies of state. As a remarkable act of condescension,
both Ferdinand and Isabella rose, upon the approach of Columbus, and
offered him their hands to kiss. The Indians and other trophies from
the New World which he had brought back with him, occasioned the
greatest surprise. Then Columbus narrated to the Spanish sovereigns
the story of his voyage. But we are obliged to give an account of
the shame, as well as glory, of the Spanish court. Ferdinand and
Isabella were rigid Catholics; so much so, that Ferdinand is called
in history “Ferdinand the Catholic,” and Isabella received also the
same title. The Inquisition, which had existed somewhat mildly before,
was re-established by them. We cannot give the details of those
persecutions here, which we narrate more fully when the Inquisition
appears with greater cruelty and ferocity in the life of Philip II.
During the reign of Ferdinand, the persecution fell mostly upon
the Jews. Just as the Spanish sovereigns were about entering into
engagements with Columbus to send him in search of a new world, that
Christianity might be carried to the heathens there, the unchristian
and cruel edict was issued for the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
We have not space to describe the heart-rending sufferings of this
persecuted people.


While at Barcelona, in 1492, Ferdinand narrowly escaped being killed
by an assassin. King Ferdinand had not much intellectual culture; and
Isabella was far superior to her husband in literary attainments. But
Ferdinand was a capable man in the military and practical affairs of
his kingdom. The children of Ferdinand and Isabella received unusual
education for those times, and acquired rare attainments. Prince
John, heir to their throne, was reared with the greatest care. But
just after the marriage of the young prince to Princess Margaret,
daughter of the Emperor Maximilian of Austria, which was celebrated
with great magnificence, Prince John was stricken with a fever, and
died. Thus perished their only son. Their eldest daughter, Isabella,
who had married the king of Portugal, died soon after the death of
her brother, Prince John. This daughter left a babe, who thus became
heir to Portugal, Aragon, and Castile; but ere a year had passed the
infant also sank into the grave. Their daughter Joanna was married to
the archduke Philip, son and heir of Maximilian. This unhappy princess
was the mother of Charles V. of Spain. But her life was clouded with
gloom, occasioned by her husband’s neglect, which at last caused her
insanity. The youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, Catharine
of Aragon, afterwards had the misfortune to marry the infamous Henry
VIII. of England. Thus, the last days of these illustrious sovereigns
were overshadowed with heart-rending sorrows. We can barely note the
subsequent discoveries of Columbus. Before his second voyage, while at
Barcelona, he was invited by the grand cardinal of Spain to dine with
him. An envious guest inquired of Columbus if he thought that there was
no man in Spain capable of discovering the Indies, if he had not made
the discovery. Columbus, without replying to the question, took an egg
from the table, and asked if there was any one who could make it stand
on one end. They all tried, but failed. Whereupon Columbus, by a slight
blow, crushed the end of the egg, and left it standing before them,
saying, “You see how easy it is to do a thing after some one has shown
you how.”

In his second voyage he discovered the island of Jamaica and several
other islands. Ferdinand and Isabella received him with kindness
upon his return; but two years passed before he could obtain another
squadron. It was during this third voyage that complaints reached
Isabella that Columbus was enslaving the inhabitants of Hayti. An
officer named Bobadilla was sent to Hayti to investigate the matter.
He was unscrupulous and envious; and, falsely using his official
authority, he ordered Columbus to be sent back to Spain in chains.
These outrages, inflicted upon a man so illustrious, roused indignation
throughout the world. Ferdinand and Isabella were shocked and alarmed
upon hearing of this outrageous treatment, and sent in the greatest
haste to release him from his fetters, and to express their sympathy
and regret for the indignities he had suffered. Some months after,
Columbus started upon his fourth and last voyage. After encountering
storms and perils, Columbus reached the continent at what is now called
Central America, near Yucatan. Notwithstanding the importance of having
at last touched the American continent, this voyage was a series of
disappointments and disasters. He was detained for a year on the island
of Jamaica, on account of the loss of his ships, which were wrecked in
the storms. At length, two vessels arrived at the island, and Columbus
embarked for his return to Spain. When he at last reached that country,
he was broken down by old age, sickness, and mental suffering. Poverty
stared him in the face. Isabella was upon her death-bed; and Ferdinand
was heartless, and would not offer him any relief. After all his
achievements in behalf of mankind, Columbus thus sadly writes to his
son: “I live by borrowing. Little have I profited by twenty years of
service, with such toils and perils, since at present I do not own a
roof in Spain. If I desire to eat or sleep, I have no resort but
an inn, and for the most times have not wherewithal to pay my bill.”
In the midst of such sorrow and poverty, the heroic Columbus passed
his last days on earth. He was buried in the Convent of St. Francisco,
at Seville. Thirty years afterwards, his remains were removed to St.
Domingo, on the island of Hayti. Upon the cession of the island to the
French, in 1795, they were transferred by the Spanish authorities to
the Cathedral of Havana, in Cuba.


Queen Isabella was now broken in health, from her many domestic
sorrows. She died in November, 1504. The last years of Ferdinand afford
a sad contrast to his early life and brilliant manhood. As the death of
Queen Isabella took from Ferdinand the crown of Castile, Philip, the
husband of the poor crazy Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella,
seized upon the throne of Castile. A bitter family quarrel ensued.
In order to secure the help of France, Ferdinand, though it was only
eleven months after the death of his deeply loved wife, was married to
the princess Germaine, a gay and frivolous girl of eighteen, daughter
of one of the sisters of Louis XII.

“It seemed hard,” says one writer, “that these nuptials should take
place so soon, and that, too, in Isabella’s own kingdom of Castile,
where she had lived without peer, and where her ashes are still held in
as much veneration as she enjoyed while living.” The marriage ceremony
took place at Duenas, where, thirty-six years before, he had pledged
his faith to Isabella. In 1513 the health of Ferdinand began to fail.
Dropsy and partial paralysis made his life a torment. Hoping to gain
relief, he travelled southward; but, having reached the small village
of Madrigalejo, he was unable to proceed farther. On the 22d of
January, 1516, in the sixty-fourth year of his age, Ferdinand breathed
his last. He died in a small room in an obscure village. “In so
wretched a tenement did the lord of so many lands close his eyes upon
the world.” Thus ended the lives of Ferdinand and Isabella, shrouded
with gloom and disappointment.

                “A crown! What is it?
    It is to bear the miseries of a people,
    To hear their murmurs, feel their discontents,
    And sink beneath a load of splendid care.”

[Illustration: PHILIP. II.

_King of_



1527-1598 A.D.

    “Princes who would their people should do well,
     Must at themselves begin, as at the head;
     For men, by their example, pattern out
     Their imitations and regard of laws:
     A virtuous court a world to virtue draws.”—BEN JONSON.

CHARLES V. of Spain, the father of Philip II., was the grandson of
Ferdinand and Isabella. Through his father he inherited the Netherlands
and part of Burgundy, and at the age of nineteen became emperor of
Germany. He had received the throne of Spain when sixteen years of age.
When his son Philip had attained sufficient age to assume the throne,
Charles V. abdicated in his favor, and retired to a convent, where he
died in 1558 in the fifty-ninth year of his age. Philip II., his son,
was born at Valladolid in 1527. His mother, Isabella, was the daughter
of Emanuel, king of Portugal. Philip was but twelve years old at the
time of his mother’s death. In 1543 Philip married Mary, daughter of
the king of Portugal. Both bride and bridegroom were eighteen years of
age. Mary died in a short time, leaving an infant son named Don Carlos.
Catharine of Aragon, the youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella,
married King Henry VIII. of England. Their daughter Mary became the
second wife of King Philip II. of Spain. She was eleven years older
than Philip, and was unattractive in person and a bigot in religion.
Her cruelty in persecuting those whom she regarded as heretics has
given her in history the name of “Bloody Mary.”


The marriage contract was signed before either of them had seen each
other. As the son of an emperor, Philip set out in royal state to
obtain his bride. The marriage ceremony was performed in the cathedral
at Winchester. Philip was dressed in a suit of white satin, the gift
of Mary. It was richly decorated with golden embroidery, and encrusted
with precious stones. Mary’s wedding dress was also white satin
embroidered with gold. It was thickly studded and fringed with costly

As Mary was at this time queen of England, her marriage was celebrated
with the greatest magnificence. The pompous rites of the wedding
ceremony occupied four hours, during which time Philip and Mary were
seated upon a throne draped with a royal canopy. The vast edifice was
thronged with the nobility of England, Flanders, and Spain. After a
few days, devoted to public festivities in Winchester, Philip and
Mary went to London, and were received by the people and court with
great demonstrations of rejoicing. Her father, King Henry VIII., had
quarrelled with the Pope at Rome, but Mary and Philip were zealous
Catholics, and desired to re-establish the relations of the English
Church with Rome. Parliament met at Whitehall. Mary, the queen of
England, sat with Philip under a canopy. By her side sat the Pope’s
legate. A petition was presented by the chancellor of the realm,
praying for reconciliation with the Papal See. The whole assembly knelt
before the Pope’s legate, who pronounced upon them absolution and a
benediction. Then began the fires of persecution. Many who would not
consent to become Catholics were burned at the stake.

Philip, who had now wearied of his elderly and unattractive wife, and
also of being regarded as only the husband of the queen, was rejoiced
at the summons of his father, Charles V., who desired him to return to
Spain to receive the kingdom, that Charles might retire into convent
life. By the abdication of Charles V., Philip II. became one of the
most powerful monarchs in the world. He was king of united Spain; he
was also king of Naples and Sicily, and duke of Milan; he was sovereign
of the Low Countries; and as husband of the queen of England, who was
devotedly attached to him, he had great influence in the affairs of
that nation. The Cape Verde Islands and the Canaries were under his
sway. A large portion of the Mediterranean coast in Africa was under
his dominion; also the Philippine and Spice Islands, in Asia. He
inherited those islands which Columbus had conferred upon Spain in the
West Indies, and also the vast realms of Mexico and Peru.

Such was the immense power now placed in the hands of this young prince
not yet thirty years of age. Philip II. established his court at
Madrid, and from his palace there sent forth his edicts over his wide
domains. In 1558 Queen Mary of England died, being succeeded by her
half-sister Elizabeth.

Philip’s only regret for his wife was, no doubt, the loss of his hold
upon the English crown. Before a year had elapsed he was married to the
daughter of the king of France. This young princess, Elizabeth,—called
in Spain, Isabella,—was only fourteen years of age, and had been
previously betrothed to the son of Philip, Don Carlos, who was of the
same age.

The death of this young prince a few years afterwards, under very
suspicious circumstances, caused many to think that he had been
poisoned by the command of his father, who had imprisoned the prince at
the time. Don Carlos and his father had frequent quarrels, and at last
Carlos was said to have confessed to a priest that he desired to kill
his father, and he asked absolution, which the priest refused to grant.
The king was informed of all this. The young prince was thereupon
imprisoned, with a strong guard to watch him, and he was reported to be
mad. In the course of a few months Don Carlos died.

Two stories regarding that event were told. Some historians consider
Philip innocent of any attempt upon the life of his son, but others
state that the physician of the prince was informed that it was very
desirable that the death of Carlos should appear to result from natural
causes; and that medicine was administered to the unsuspecting patient
in such doses as slowly to accomplish the desired end. Philip II. was
a fanatic in religion, and the terrible persecution of the Protestants
during his reign has filled the world with horror, as the shocking
stories have been told.

Philip had not forgotten his father’s command to punish heretics
with the utmost rigor. The Reformation had been silently and rapidly
advancing in Spain. Now the terrible persecutions of the Inquisition
were turned against this heroic little band of fearless Christians by
those professing to worship the same merciful God, and to be followers
of the same loving and sinless Christ. How such awful crimes could
have been perpetrated in the sacred name of religion seems at the
present day incomprehensible, and we shudder at the recital of such
savage barbarity, more especially when committed by the enlightened and
civilized nations of the world less than four centuries ago.

The bigoted Philip issued an edict “that all who bought, sold, or read
prohibited works were to be burned alive.” Every person suspected of
heresy was arrested and thrown into prison. In Seville alone, eight
hundred were arrested in one day. The accused were then dragged from
their dungeons and subjected to the horrors of the most merciless
tortures to induce them to give up their Protestant faith; and these
shocking deeds were performed in the name of religion. The awful
details of those barbarous crimes are too horrible to relate. What must
the reality have been to the poor victims of this inhuman persecution!

The first act of burning, under the decrees of the Pope, Philip II.,
and the Spanish inquisitor-general, Valdés, took place in May, 1559, at
Valladolid. This terrible ceremony was called _auto de fé_, or act of
faith; and so common did they at length become, that Catholics would
engage to meet each other at the _“auto de fé,”_ as in modern times
appointments are made to meet at the theatre, opera, or other place of
public gathering. One of the historians thus describes the second _auto
de fé_ in Valladolid, in October, 1559: “The Pope wished to invest the
scene with all the terrors of the Day of Judgment. That he might draw
an immense crowd, an indulgence of forty days was granted to all who
should be present at the spectacle.

“The tragedy was enacted in the great square of the city. At one end of
the square a large platform was erected, richly carpeted and decorated,
where seats were arranged for the inquisitors. A royal gallery was
constructed for the king and his court. Two hundred thousand spectators
surrounded the arena. At six o’clock in the morning all the bells
of the city began to toll the funeral knell. A solemn procession
emerged from the dismal fortress of the Inquisition. A body of troops
led the van. Then came the condemned. There were two classes: the
first consisting of those who were to be punished with confiscation
and imprisonment; and the second, of those who were to suffer death.
The latter were covered with a loose gown of yellow cloth, and wore
upon the head a paper cap of conical form. Both the gown and cap
were covered with pictures of flames fanned and fed by demons. Two
priests were by the side of each one of the victims, urging him to
abjure his errors. Those who were merely to endure loss of property
and to be thrown into the dungeons of the Inquisition were clothed
in garments of black. A vast concourse of dignitaries of state, and
of the common people, closed the procession. The fanaticism of the
times was such, that probably but few of the people had any sympathy
with the sufferers. The ceremonies were opened with a sermon by the
bishop of Zamora. Then the whole assembled multitude took an oath, upon
their knees, to defend the Inquisition and the purity of the Catholic
faith, and to inform against any one who should swerve from the faith.
Then those who, to escape the flames, had expressed penitence for
their errors, after a very solemn recantation, were absolved from
death. But heresy was too serious a crime to be _forgiven_, even upon
penitence. All were doomed to the confiscation of property, and to
imprisonment—some for life—in the dungeons of the Inquisition. Their
names were branded with infamy, and in many cases their immediate
descendants were rendered ineligible to any public office. These first
received their doom, and under a strong guard were conveyed back to

“And now all eyes were turned to the little band of thirty, who, in
the garb of ignominy, and with ropes around their necks, were waiting
their sentence. Many of these were men illustrious for rank, and still
more renowned for talents and virtues. Their countenances were wan
and wasted, their frames emaciated, and many of them were distorted
by the cruel ministry of the rack. Those who were willing to make
confession were allowed the privilege of being strangled before their
bodies were exposed to the torture of the fire. After being strangled
by the _garrote_, their bodies were thrown into the flames. Enfeebled
by suffering, all but two of them thus purchased exemption from being
burned alive.

“One of these, Don Carlos de Seso, was a Florentine noble. He had
married a Spanish lady of high rank, and had taken up his residence
in Spain, where he had adopted the principles of the Reformation.
For fifteen months, with unshaken constancy, he had suffered in the
dungeons of the Inquisition. When sentence of death at the stake was
pronounced upon him, he called for pen and paper in his cell. His
judges supposed that he intended to make confession. Instead of that he
wrote a very eloquent document, avowing his unshaken trust in the great
truths of the Reformation. De Seso had stood very high in the regards
of Philip’s father, Charles V. As he was passing before the royal
gallery to be chained to the stake, he looked up to Philip, and said,
‘Is it thus that you allow your innocent subjects to be persecuted?’
The king replied, ‘If it were my own son, I would fetch the wood to
burn him, were he such a wretch as thou art.’

“He was chained to the stake. As the flames slowly enveloped him in
their fiery wreaths, he called upon the soldiers to heap up the fagots,
that his agonies might sooner terminate. Soon life was extinct, and
the soul of the noble martyr was borne on angel wings to heaven. The
fellow-sufferer of De Seso was Domingo de Rexas, son of the marquis of
Posa. Five of this noble family, including the eldest son, had been
victims of the Inquisition. De Rexas had been a Dominican monk. In
accordance with usage, he retained his sacerdotal habit until he stood
before the stake. Then in the midst of the jeers of the populace his
garments were one by one removed, and the vestments of the condemned,
with their hideous picturings, were placed upon him. He attempted to
address the spectators. Philip angrily ordered him to be gagged. A
piece of cleft wood was thrust into his mouth, causing great pain.
He was thus led to the stake and burned alive. The cruel exhibition
occupied from six o’clock in the morning until two o’clock in the

Such were some of the shocking and barbarous scenes connected with the
notorious Spanish Inquisition. This persecution raged year after year.
So fiercely did these fires of persecution burn throughout all Spain,
that nearly all traces of the Protestant religion were eradicated from
the kingdom. The Spaniards degenerated into semi-barbarism. Education
was discouraged, all human rights were trampled upon, and Spain became
one of the most debased, impoverished, and miserable nations in Europe.
Thus had religious fanaticism turned this fair province of Philip’s
into a desert. In regard to the blame which rests upon Philip II., for
this deplorable state of things, his own words will answer. He wrote to
his sister, whom he had appointed his regent in the Netherlands, thus:—

“I have never had any object in view than the good of my subjects! In
all that I have done I have trod in the footsteps of my father, under
whom the people of the Netherlands must admit that they lived contented
and happy. As to the Inquisition, whatever people may say of it, I
have never attempted anything new. With regard to the edicts, I have
been always resolved to live and die in the Catholic faith. I could not
be content to have my subjects do otherwise. Yet I see not how this
can be compassed without punishing the transgressors. God knows how
willingly I would avoid shedding a drop of Christian blood; but I would
rather lose a hundred thousand lives, if I had so many, than allow a
single change in matters of religion.”

In the Netherlands persecutions and rebellions caused constant strife.
Scarcely forty years had elapsed since Luther had publicly burned
the papal bull at Wittenburg. Since that time his doctrines had been
received in Denmark and Sweden. In England, under Queen Elizabeth,
Protestantism had become the established religion of the state. The
Reformation had reached the hills and valleys of Scotland, and tens
of thousands had gathered to hear the preaching of Knox. The Low
Countries, or Netherlands, which now constitute Holland and Belgium,
were the “debatable land,” on which the various sects of reformers,
the Lutherans, the Calvinists, and the English Protestants, contended
for mastery over the Roman Catholic Church. Calvinism was embraced by
some of the cantons of Switzerland, and had also spread widely through
France, where the adherents to the Protestant faith were known as the
Huguenots. The cry of the Reformation had passed the Alps, and was
heard even under the walls of the Vatican, and had crossed the Pyrenees.

The king of Navarre declared himself a Protestant, and the spirit of
the Reformation, as we have related, had also secretly spread into
Spain. But there already the terrible Inquisition, with Philip II.
at its head, had crushed out Protestantism from Spain. It was not to
be expected that Philip, having exterminated heresy in one part of
his dominions, would tolerate its existence in any other, least of
all in so important a country as the Netherlands. So the persecutions
commenced there. During the latter part of the fifteenth century, and
the beginning of the sixteenth, the pontifical throne had been filled
by a succession of popes, notorious for their religious indifference,
and the carelessness and profligacy of their lives. This was one of
the prominent causes of the Reformation. But before the close of the
sixteenth century, a line of popes had arisen, of stern and austere
natures, without a touch of sympathy for the joys and sorrows of
mankind, and entirely devoted to the work of regaining the lost powers
of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Pius the Fifth was such a pontiff.
He wrote to Philip, urging him not to falter in the good cause, and
to allow no harm to the Catholic faith, but to march against his
rebellious vassals at the head of his army, and wash out the stain of
heresy in the blood of the heretic. To him Philip replied: that the
Pope might rest assured that the king would consent to nothing that
could prejudice the service of God, or the interests of religion. He
deprecated force, as that would involve the ruin of the country. Still
he would march in person, without regard to his own peril, and employ
force, though it should cost the ruin of the provinces; but he would
bring his vassals to submission. “For he would sooner lose a hundred
lives, and every rood of empire, than reign a lord over heretics.”

With such a pope, and such a king, no wonder that the Inquisition

The situation of the Netherlands was such that the various opinions
of the surrounding nations were easily transferred to their shores.
On the south were the Lutherans of Germany; on the west, the French
Huguenots; while by the ocean, they held communication with England and
the nations of the Baltic. The soldier quartered on their territory,
the seaman who visited their shores, the trader who trafficked in their
towns, brought with them different forms of the “_New Religion_.” As
most of the people were able to read, books from France and Germany
were circulated amongst them. Philip II. understood the importance of
his position. His whole life proves that he felt it to be his especial
mission to restore the tottering fortunes of Catholicism, and stay the
torrent which was sweeping away the Roman Catholic faith. Philip had
made his half-sister, Margaret, regent in the Netherlands.

In order to a clearer understanding of the revolt in the Netherlands,
a brief sketch of William, prince of Orange, will be necessary. He
was descended from ancestors who had given an emperor to Germany;
William’s parents were both Lutherans, and he was educated in that
faith. But Charles V. obtained the consent of his parents to remove him
to Brussels, when in his twelfth year, and he was brought up in the
family of the Emperor’s sister. In this household, the young prince was
instructed in the Catholic faith. When fifteen years of age, William
became the page of Charles V. On the abdication of that monarch, he
commended William to Philip II., who at first received the prince of
Orange with much favor. William married for his second wife, Anne, the
daughter of Maurice, the great Lutheran champion; and though he did
not openly espouse the cause, but continued in the service of Philip,
a writer of the times says of him: “The prince of Orange passed for
a Catholic among Catholics, and a Lutheran among Lutherans.” But this
portrait of him was by an unfriendly hand, and a truer declaration is
that of Prescott, “that he possessed a spirit of toleration, the more
honorable that in that day it was so rare. He condemned the Calvinists
as restless and seditious, and the Catholics for their bigoted
attachment to a dogma. Persecution, in matters of faith, he totally
condemned, for freedom of judgment in such matters he regarded as the
inalienable right of man. These conclusions, at which the world, after
an incalculable amount of human suffering, has been three centuries in
arriving, must be allowed to reflect great credit on the character of
William, prince of Orange.”

There was now formed in the Netherlands a league called “The Gueux.”
Some of this party of confederates demanded entire liberty of
conscience; others would not have stopped short of a revolution, that
would enable the country to shake off the Spanish yoke. Though this
party was a political rather than a religious organization, they joined
hands with the Lutherans and Calvinists, and became, for a time, a
great aid to the Reformation. The origin of their name, which became
the fanatical war-cry of the insurgents, happened thus: Two or three
hundred of these confederates went to Brussels, to petition Margaret,
the regent, to mediate with Philip in their behalf, that they should
have more political liberty, and be freed from the edicts and the
Inquisition. During the week spent by the league in Brussels, a banquet
was given, where three hundred of the confederates were present. During
the repast, Brederode, one of their number, described the manner in
which their petition had been received by the regent. “She seemed at
first disconcerted,” he said, “by the number of the confederates, but
was reassured by Barlaimont, who told her that ‘they were nothing but a
crowd of beggars.’”

Some of the company were much incensed at this treatment, but
Brederode, taking it good-humoredly, said, “that he and his friends
had no objection to the name, since they were ready at any time to
become beggars for the service of their king and country.” This witty
sally was received by the company with great applause, who shouted,
“_Vivent les Gueux!_”—“long live the beggars!” Brederode, finding the
jest took so well, left the room, and soon returned with a beggar’s
wallet and a wooden bowl, such as were used by the mendicant fraternity
in the Netherlands. Then pledging the company in a bumper, he swore
to devote his life and fortune to the cause. The wallet and the bowl
went round the table, and as each of the merry guests drank, the shout
arose, “_Vivent les Gueux!_” In every language in which the history of
these acts has been recorded, the French term, Gueux, is employed to
designate this party of malcontents in the Netherlands.

The league now adopted the dress and symbols of mendicants. They
affected their garments as a substitute for their family liveries,
dressing their retainers in the ash-gray habiliments of the begging
friars. Wooden bowls, spoons, and knives became in great request,
though they were richly inlaid with silver, according to the wealth
of the possessor. Pilgrims’ staffs were carried, elaborately carved.
Medals resembling those stuck by the beggars in their bonnets were
worn as a badge. The “Gueux penny,” as it was called, a gold or silver
coin, was hung from the neck, bearing on one side the effigy of Philip,
with the inscription, “_Fideles au roi_,” and on the other, two
hands grasping a beggar’s wallet, and the words, “_jusques a porter
la besace_,”—“Faithful to the king, even to carrying the wallet.” The
war-cry of “_Vivent les Gueux_” soon resounded through the Netherlands.


Philip paid little or no attention to the frequent appeals of Margaret,
his regent, that he should come to some concessions which should
satisfy the people and bring the rebellion to an end. But while Philip
was procrastinating, the Iconoclasts rose in fury, and inspired by a
false zeal, committed many terrible, sacrilegious outrages, which cast
dishonor upon the upholders of the Reformation. These Iconoclasts,
or image-breakers, were simply armed mobs of ignorant people, who
imagined they were doing a service to God by breaking into the Catholic
churches, and ruthlessly destroying everything they could lay their
hands on. Prescott thus describes the destruction caused by this band
of rioters in Antwerp:—

“When the rest of the congregation had withdrawn, after vespers, the
mob rushed forward, as by a common impulse, broke open the doors of the
chapel, and dragged forth the image of the Virgin. Some called on her
to cry, ‘_Vivent les Gueux!_’ while others tore off her embroidered
robes and rolled the dumb idol in the dust, amidst the shouts of the

“This was the signal for havoc. The rioters dispersed in all directions
on the work of destruction. High above the great altar was an image of
the Saviour, curiously carved in wood, and placed between the effigies
of the two thieves crucified with him. The mob contrived to get a rope
round the neck of the statue of Christ, and dragged it to the ground.
They then fell upon it with hatchets and hammers, and it was soon
broken into a hundred fragments. The two thieves, it was remarked, were
spared, as if to preside over the work of rapine below.

“Their fury now turned against the other statues, which were quickly
overthrown from their pedestals. The paintings that lined the walls of
the cathedral were cut into shreds. Many of these were the choicest
specimens of Flemish art, even then, in its dawn, giving promise of
the glorious day which was to shed a lustre over the land. But the
pride of the cathedral and of Antwerp was the great organ, renowned
throughout the Netherlands, not more for its dimensions than its
perfect workmanship. With their ladders the rioters scaled the lofty
fabric, and with their implements soon converted it, like all else they
laid their hands on, into a heap of rubbish.

“The ruin was now universal. Nothing beautiful, nothing holy, was
spared. The altars—and there were no less than seventy in the vast
edifice—were overthrown one after another, their richly embroidered
coverings rudely rent away, their gold and silver vessels appropriated
by the plunderers. The sacramental bread was trodden under foot, the
wine was quaffed by the miscreants, in golden chalices, to the health
of one another, or of the Gueux, and the holy oil was profanely used to
anoint their shoes and sandals. The sculptured tracery on the walls,
the costly offerings that enriched the shrines, the screens of gilded
bronze, the delicately carved woodwork of the pulpit, the marble and
alabaster ornaments, all went down under the fierce blows of the
Iconoclasts. The pavement was strewed with the ruined splendors of a
church, which in size and magnificence was perhaps second only to St.
Peter’s among the churches of Christendom.

“As the light of day faded, the assailants supplied its place with
such light as they could obtain from the candles which they snatched
from the altars. It was midnight before the work of destruction was
completed. The whole number engaged in this work is said not to have
exceeded a hundred, men, women, and boys.

“When their task was completed, they sallied forth in a body from the
doors of the cathedral, roaring out the fanatical war-cry of “_Vivent
les Gueux!_” Flushed with success, and joined on the way by stragglers
like themselves, they burst open the doors of one church after another,
and by the time morning broke, the principal temples in the city had
been dealt with in the same ruthless manner as the cathedral.

“No attempt, all this time, was made to stop these proceedings, on
the part of the magistrates or citizens. As they beheld from their
windows the bodies of armed men hurrying to and fro, by the gleam of
their torches, and listened to the sound of violence in the distance,
they seem to have been struck with a panic. The Catholics remained
within doors, fearing a general uprising of the Protestants. The
Protestants feared to move abroad, lest they should be confounded
with the rioters. For three days these dismal scenes continued....
The fate of Antwerp had its effect on the country. The flames of
fanaticism, burning fiercer than ever, quickly spread over the northern
as they had done over the western provinces.... In Holland, Utrecht,
Friesland,—everywhere in short, with a few exceptions on the southern
borders,—mobs rose against the churches.”

Cathedrals, chapels, monasteries, and nunneries, and even hospitals,
were destroyed by these ignorant fanatics. The great library of
Vicogne, one of the noblest collections in the Netherlands, perished
in the flames kindled by the mob. Four hundred churches were sacked
by the insurgents in Flanders alone. The damage to the cathedral at
Antwerp was said to amount to four hundred thousand ducats. The whole
work of this terrible devastation, occupied less than a fortnight.
This wholesale destruction, perpetrated by the Iconoclasts, cannot be
estimated. It is a melancholy fact that they pretended to be actuated
by a zeal for the Reformation, thus dishonoring the great and glorious
cause, by their ignorant fanaticism. An irreparable loss was occasioned
by the destruction of manuscripts, statuary, and paintings. But the
misguided Iconoclasts, ruthless as was their terrible destruction of
magnificent cathedrals and priceless gems of art, must in justice have
this excuse offered in their behalf, that they had been enfuriated by
the infamous Inquisition which had turned Spain into one great _auto
de fé_ of burning martyrs, and which threatened, through the bigotry
of Philip II., to invade their own land with its fiendish cruelties.
Compared with the Inquisition, with its scarlet hands reeking with the
life-blood of its tortured victims, the retaliation of the Iconoclasts
is scarcely to be wondered at.

The tidings of the tumult in the Netherlands was received by Philip
with the greatest indignation, and he exclaimed: “It shall cost them
dear; by the soul of my father, I swear it, it shall cost them dear!”

These troubles in the Netherlands caused a change in the mind of
William, prince of Orange. He saw the workings of Catholicism under a
fearful aspect. He beheld his countrymen dragged from their firesides,
driven into exile, thrown into dungeons, burned at the stake; and all
this for no other cause than because they dared to dissent from the
dogmas of the Romish Church. His parents had been Lutherans, his wife
also was a Protestant, and William of Orange embraced the doctrines of
the Reformation. We cannot follow his career. After quelling a mob at
Antwerp, which threatened to destroy the city, realizing that he could
place no reliance upon Philip, or Margaret his regent, and as they now
looked upon him with suspicion, William of Orange determined to retire
to his estates in Germany. He there occupied himself with studying the
Lutheran doctrine, and making himself acquainted with the principles
of the glorious Reformation of which he was one day to become the
champion. The regency of Margaret continued in the Netherlands from
1559 to 1567; and in the last years she succeeded in putting down
the revolt. Philip, through his regent, and the aid of the Pope, had
now, by several successful contests in the Netherlands, quelled the
rebellion, and the party of reform had disappeared, and its worship
was everywhere proscribed. On its ruins the Catholic party had risen
in greater splendor than ever. Margaret now resigned the regency, and
the duke of Alva was appointed in her place. He created a new tribunal,
which is known in history by the terrible name it received from the
people, as the “Council of Blood.”

[Illustration: PHILIP II., KING OF SPAIN.]

In order to justify his cruel proceedings against the Netherlands,
Philip now submitted the case to the Inquisition at Madrid, and that
ghostly tribunal came to the following decision: “All who had been
guilty of heresy, apostasy, or sedition, and all, moreover, who, though
professing themselves good Catholics, had offered no resistance to
these, were, with the exception of a few specified individuals, thereby
convicted of treason in the highest degree.” This sweeping judgment
was followed by a royal edict, dated on the same day, in which, after
reciting the language of the Inquisition, the whole nation, with
the exception above stated, was sentenced, without distinction of
sex or age, to the penalties of treason,—death and confiscation of
property; and this, the decree went on to say, “without any hope of
grace whatever, that it might serve for an example and a warning to all
future time!”

Then followed the awful work of the “Council of Blood.” Men, women, and
children were dragged to the gallows. Blood ran through the streets
of the cities like a red river. The poor martyrs were tortured with
horrible contrivances even at the scaffold, that their dying cries
might cause merriment for their fiendish foes.

And thus Philip II. vindicates his conduct during this reign of terror:
“What I have done has been for the repose of the provinces, and for
the defence of the Catholic faith. If I had respected justice less,
I should have despatched the whole business in a single day. No one
acquainted with the state of affairs, will find reason to censure my
severity. Nor would I do otherwise than I have done, though I should
risk the sovereignty of the Netherlands,—no, though the world should
fall in ruins around me!”

The young Queen Isabella having died, Philip II. married for his fourth
wife, Anne of Austria, who had also been affianced to his son Carlos.
Then came the rebellions of the Moriscoes, who were the descendants of
the Moors in southern Spain. In 1569, the Moriscoes rose in a general
insurrection against the Christians. Many a Moor had perished in the
flames of the Inquisition, and they now retaliated with bloodthirsty
ferocity. The horrors which ensued cannot be described. Before these
Moors had been goaded by the cruel edicts of Philip, they had been kind
neighbors. The cruelties committed by the Spanish troops sent against
the Moors, were as shocking as the deeds of the barbarians. The Spanish
army, before entering into a battle, knelt in prayer, invoking God’s
blessing; and after a victory, reeking with the blood of their victims,
they marched, under the banner of the cross, to the cathedrals, and
chanted the _Te Deum_. Thus was religion turned into a mockery of a
merciful God, and a cloak for the vilest of crimes.

Philip brought his fourth bride, Anne of Austria, to the magnificent
palace or monastery of the Escurial. She lived ten years. Her children
all died in infancy, except one son, who lived to succeed his father on
the throne as Philip III. Spain was now rapidly on the decline. Civil
war, persecution, banishment and emigration, were fast depopulating the
country. The population diminished from ten to six millions.

As Queen Elizabeth of England had warmly espoused the Protestant cause,
there was enmity between that nation and Spain. In 1558, Philip II.,
of Spain, who had been for three years preparing the famous Spanish
Armada, ordered the fleet to sail against England. This splendid armada
set sail from Lisbon with high hopes. But next day they met with a
violent storm, which scattered some of the ships, and sunk others, and
forced the rest to take shelter in the Groine. After the damages had
been repaired, the armada again set forth. The fleet consisted of one
hundred and thirty vessels, and many of them were of greater size than
had ever before been employed in Europe. The plan of the king of Spain
was, that the fleet should sail to the coast opposite to Dunkirk and
Newport, and having joined the fleet of the duke of Parma, should make
sail to the Thames, and having landed the whole Spanish army, complete
at one blow the conquest of England. The armada reached Calais. Here
the English admiral practised a stratagem upon the Spaniards. He took
eight of his smaller vessels and filled them with combustibles, and
setting them on fire, sent them amongst the Spanish fleet. In the
confusion caused by this incident, the English fell upon the Spanish,
and captured or destroyed twelve of their ships. The Spanish admiral
thereupon started to return home. A violent tempest overtook the armada
after it passed the Orkneys. The ships were driven upon the western
isles of Scotland, and coast of Ireland, and were miserably wrecked.
Thus was the famous Spanish armada destroyed. It was almost a death
blow to the Spanish monarchy. At length Philip II., with a bankrupt
treasury, while his mind was filled with gloom and his body tortured
with a loathsome and terrible disease, died on the 13th of September,
1598. In view of his great opportunities, vast power, and the hopeful
promise of his early career, and the miserable ending of his wrecked
life, brought upon himself by his barbarous cruelties and religious
bigotry and superstitions, we are reminded of the saying quoted at the
commencement of the sketch, and are more fully convinced that no people
can be prosperous unless their rulers are humane and virtuous. In the
light of such shocking events as we have just been describing, and of
such barbarous deeds performed in the name of religion, it seems to be
an indisputable fact that the world has surely made vast progress in an
enlightened civilization and in true Christianity.


1594-1632 A.D.

    “Ay, every inch a king!”—SHAKESPEARE.

THE oldest account of the nations of Europe in the far north is that
given by Pytheas, who lived three hundred and fifty years before
the Christian Era. His voyages carried him to the shores of Britain
and Scandinavia. The Goths were the most ancient inhabitants of
Scandinavia, occupying the south, and were earlier in Sweden than the
Sueones. These two tribes were at war for many years, but finally
united and formed the Swedish nation. During twelve centuries after
the visit of Pytheas to northern countries, nothing was known of the
Scandinavian people in their own homes, although wild tribes from
the north overran southern Europe, and were known as the Cimbri,
Teutons, Germans, and Goths. But in the time of Alfred the Great, two
travellers from Scandinavia visited the court of the English king.
From the account they gave of their travels, King Alfred wrote a brief
history and made a chart of modern Europe. In this book Scandinavia was

[Illustration: GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS.]

Of the three Scandinavian countries, Sweden did not become known to
the nations of southern Europe as soon as Denmark and Norway. Like the
Danes, the Swedes traced the descent of their early kings back to Odin.
Olaf was the first Christian king of Sweden, and received Christian
baptism about the year 1000 A.D.

The son and successor of Charlemagne, Louis le Débonnaire, took an
ardent interest in sending Christian missionaries to the pagans of the
north. The union of the kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway was
consummated in 1387. In 1523 the union with Denmark was dissolved, and
Gustavus Vasa was proclaimed king of Sweden. This king was one of the
ablest of the monarchs of the sixteenth century. He was the grandfather
of Gustavus Adolphus. Charles IX., the father of Adolphus, came to the
throne of Sweden in 1604. During the reigns of the elder brothers of
Charles, there had been constant conflicts with Denmark. Charles IX.
died in 1611, leaving an unfinished war with Denmark to be completed by
his illustrious son, Gustavus Adolphus, then seventeen years of age.
His father, Charles, had entered into friendly alliances with all the
principal Protestant powers, and for the first time Sweden had been
brought into important political relations with the more influential
European nations. Gustavus Adolphus was born at the royal palace in
Stockholm, Dec. 9, 1594. His mother, Christine, was the daughter of
Adolphus, duke of Schleswig-Holstein, and grand-daughter of Frederic
I., king of Denmark.

Tycho Brahe, the famous astronomer, had announced, when a comet
appeared in 1572, that there would spring up in Finland a prince
destined to accomplish great changes in Germany, and deliver the
Protestant people from the oppression of the popes. His countrymen
applied to Gustavus this prediction of the Danish astronomer. Gustavus
possessed a vigorous constitution, which was rendered robust by his
childish experiences and manner of life. His early years were passed in
the midst of constant wars between Sweden and Denmark. This account is
given of the education and boyhood of Gustavus Adolphus:—

“To be the tutor of the prince was appointed Master John Skytte, and
Otto von Mörner his chamberlain. The last named was marshall of the
court of Charles IX., and born of noble parents in Brandenburg. He had
acquired extensive learning and distinguished manners in the numerous
countries in which he had travelled. John Skytte, after having employed
nine years in visiting foreign lands, had become one of the secretaries
of the king’s government. Gustavus received all the instructions
necessary to a prince destined to reign. Skytte directed him in the
study of Latin, of history, and of the laws of his country.

“As Charles was a strict ruler and martial prince, and as Christine
had, besides her beauty, the soul proud and courageous, the education
of the prince was free from softness. He was habituated to labor. At
times in his early youth, particularly after he had arrived at his
tenth year, he was more and more allowed by his father to attend the
deliberations of the Council. He was habituated also to be present at
the audiences of the foreign embassies, and was finally directed by
his royal father to answer these foreign dignitaries in order thus to
accustom him to weighty affairs and their treatment.

“As it was a period of warlike turmoils, there was much resort to
the king’s court, especially by officers,—not only Swedes, but also
Germans, French, English, Scots, Netherlanders, and some Italians and
Spaniards,—who, after the twelve years’ truce then just concluded
between Spain and Holland, sought their fortune in Sweden. These
often waited upon the young prince by the will and order of the king.
Their conversation relating to the wars waged by other nations,
battles, sieges, and discipline, both by sea and land as well as
ships and navigation, did so arouse and stimulate the mind of the
young prince, by nature already thus inclined, that he spent almost
every day in putting questions concerning what had happened at one
place and another in the wars. Besides, he acquired in his youthful
years no little insight into the science of war, especially into the
mode and means,—how a regular war, well directed and suited to the
circumstances of Sweden, should be carried on, having the character and
rules of Maurice, prince of Orange, as a pattern before his eyes. By
the intercourse and converse of these officers, in which each told the
most glorious acts of his own nation, the young prince was enkindled to
act like others, and if possible, to excel them. In his early years he
gained also a complete and ready knowledge of many foreign languages;
so that he spoke Latin, German, Dutch, French, and Italian as purely
as a native, and besides had some knowledge of the Russian and Polish
tongues. When he was of the age of sixteen years, his father made
him grand duke of Finland, and duke of Esthonia and Westmanland, and
presently bestowed upon him the town of Vesteras, with the principal
portion of Westmanland, over which was placed John Skytte to be

It is also stated that Gustavus knew Greek, and read Xenophon in that
tongue, of whom he said “that he knew of no writer better than he for a
true military historian.”

For some years after Gustavus ascended the throne, he is said to have
devoted an hour each day to reading, preferring to all others the works
of Grotius, especially his treatise on “War and Peace.”

Young Gustavus possessed great courage, to which was joined striking
benignity of character which he did not inherit from his parents.
King Charles was stern and somewhat heartless, and he was persuaded
by his wife, the mother of Adolphus, to great acts of cruelty towards
the victims of his civil wars, which obscured his nobler qualities.
The mother of Gustavus, though possessed of a strong and positive
character, was too tyrannical to be attractive, and too unrelenting
to exert a loving influence in her household, and the severity of
both husband and wife came often in collision. Adolphus was the only
member of the royal family who dared attempt to pacify his father when
he was angry. Though Gustavus inherited the strong characteristics of
his parents, and possessed his father’s failing of a quick temper,
his nature was so sympathetic and unselfish that his winning manners
attracted the hearts of all as much as the unrelenting sternness of his
parents repelled. Their sternness became in the household only exacting
selfishness; whereas all the severity of his character manifested
itself only in unflinching allegiance to the right and true, and the
steadfast upholding of high and noble principles of state or religion.
Gustavus was scarcely fifteen years of age when he requested to be
placed in command of troops in the war against Russia. But his father,
deeming him too young, refused. When he was seventeen years of age, war
having been declared with Denmark, young Gustavus was pronounced in
the Diet—as the assembly of the Swedish nobles was called—fit to bear
the sword, and he was, according to ancient custom, invested with this
dignity with most splendid ceremony.

In this expedition young Gustavus endured his first trial of warfare,
being present at all the remarkable encounters, holding chief command
in most of them. For during this war King Charles died, and the
command was left to Gustavus, then seventeen years of age. In the first
month of his eighteenth year, he received the crown in the presence
of all the representatives of the estates of Sweden, at the Diet of
Nyköping. He took the title of his father,—king-elect and hereditary
prince of Sweden, of the Goths, and of the Wends. Since the death of
Gustavus Vasa, his grandfather, a period of more than fifty years,
Sweden had not enjoyed a single year of peace.

When Gustavus Adolphus ascended the Swedish throne, in 1611, being then
in his eighteenth year, he found an exhausted treasury, an alienated
nobility, and not undisputed succession, and, with all this, no less
than three wars upon his hands,—one with Denmark then raging,—also
the seeds of two other wars, with Russia and with Poland, which soon
after burst forth. The first fifteen years of his reign were occupied
in bringing these wars to a conclusion; and in these struggles he
won an experience which afterwards proved of great service in making
him illustrious upon a more conspicuous battle-field. We have not
space to describe at length the wars between Sweden and Denmark, nor
her conflicts with Russia and Poland, but must pass on to the more
important period of the history of Gustavus Adolphus, which gives him
a place in the foremost ranks of leadership, and places his name with
Napoleon I., Alexander the Great, Julius Cæsar, and Charlemagne. It was
not so much what he himself personally accomplished,—though that was
much, for death met him long before the glorious end was reached,—but
it was on account of the vast and momentous train of circumstances he
set in motion, because he stood forth, the only man capable of taking
the helm of the great ship of the Reformation, which, but for him,
aided by the almighty ruling of an Omniscient Providence, seemed to
the finite vision of mankind doomed to destruction. It was not as a
conqueror of vast empires, like Alexander, Julius Cæsar, and Napoleon,
that Gustavus Adolphus is illustrious; but it is because, through the
providence of God, he was made the instrument in helping to achieve
the more important conquest of gaining spiritual liberty of soul
from the bondage of bigotry and superstition. As the champion of the
Reformation, the name of Gustavus Adolphus must be placed amongst the
foremost of the famous rulers of the world.


Gustavus was now thirty-four years of age. He had prosecuted wars with
Denmark, Russia, and Poland, and secured advantageous terms of peace
with these nations. Before he had reached his twentieth year, he had
driven back the invaders of his country, and gained independence for
Sweden. In four years more, his victories over his eastern enemies
enabled him to declare, “Russia cannot now, without our consent, launch
a single boat on the Baltic.”

For twelve years Gustavus had watched the bloody strife between
the defenders of the Reformed Faith in Germany and the powers of
the Catholic league of the Empire and of Spain. What Philip II. of
Spain was to the Catholics as a leader and upholder of the infamous
Inquisition, such a power did Gustavus Adolphus become, in behalf of
the Protestants, as a leader and defender of the Reformation. Holland,
England, and France had earnestly pressed him to conclude the Polish
wars; for the eyes of the suffering adherents of the Reformed Faith in
Germany were turned in hope toward the youthful king of Sweden as their
deliverer. In setting out upon this distant enterprise, Gustavus
Adolphus encountered the gravest obstacles, which he himself did not
fail to realize; for when his resolution was fully formed, and the
consent of his Estates obtained, he exclaimed, “For me there remains
henceforth no more rest but the eternal.”

Though he left Sweden full of hope and courage, it was with the sure
presentiment that he would never return. Gustavus had married Marie
Eleonore, daughter of the elector of Brandenburg; and at the time
of his German expedition left a little daughter behind him, only
four years of age, who was sole heir to the Swedish throne. Gustavus
Adolphus was one of the most skilful commanders of his age. Napoleon I.
was wont to set him among the eight greatest generals whom the world
has ever seen, placing him in the same rank with Alexander the Great,
Hannibal, Julius Cæsar, in the ancient world, with Turenne, Prince
Eugene, Frederic the Great, and himself, in the modern.

Before his time, the only artillery brought into the open field
consisted of huge, heavy guns, slowly dragged along by twelve, sixteen,
or twenty horses or oxen, which, once placed, could only remain in one
position, even though the entire battle had shifted elsewhere. Gustavus
was the first who introduced flying artillery, capable of being rapidly
transferred from one part of the field to another. At a siege, this
valiant Swedish king would in the same day “be at once generalissimo,
chief engineer to lay out the lines, pioneer, spade in hand and in
his shirt digging in the trenches, and leader of a storming party to
dislodge the foe from some annoying outwork. If a party of the enemy’s
cavalry were to be surprised in a night attack, he would himself
undertake the surprise. He, indeed, carried this quite too far, obeying
overmuch the instinct and impulses of his own courageous heart. And
yet there was also a true humility in it all,—a feeling that no man
ought to look at himself as indispensable. ‘God is immortal,’ he was
wont to reply, when remonstrated with on this matter, and reminded of
the fearful chasm, not to be filled by any other, which his death would
assuredly leave.” Richelieu said of him, “The king of Sweden is a new
sun which has just risen, young, but of vast renown. The ill-treated or
banished princes of Germany in their misfortunes have turned their eyes
towards him as the mariner does to the polar star.”

Gustavus was admitted by the ablest statesmen of Europe to be the
ablest general of his time. He was familiar with the military tactics
of ancient and modern times, and he devised a more effective system of
warfare than his predecessors had known. In answer to the question, Why
did Gustavus Adolphus enter into the religious contests of Germany,
and assume the commanding place he filled in that terrible struggle
known as the “Thirty Years’ War”? an able writer gives thus briefly the

“First, a deep and genuine sympathy with his co-religionists in
Germany, and with their sufferings, joined to a conviction that he was
called of God to assist them in this hour of their utmost need.

“Secondly, a sense of the most real danger which threatened his own
kingdom, if the entire liberties, political and religious, of northern
Germany were trodden out, and the free cities of the German Ocean,
Stralsund and the rest, falling into the hands of the emperor, became
hostile outposts from which to assail him. He felt that he was only
going to meet a war which, if he tarried at home, would sooner or later
inevitably come to seek him there.

“And, lastly, there was working in his mind, no doubt, a desire to
give to Sweden a more forward place in the world, with a consciousness
of mighty powers in himself, which craved a wider sphere for their

In answer to John Skytte, who remarked that war put his monarchy at
stake, he responded: “All monarchies have passed from one family to
another. That which constitutes a monarchy is not men, it is the law.”

At length, in 1630, Gustavus landed on the island of Usedom, at the
mouth of the Oder.

“So we have got another kingling on our hands,” the emperor exclaimed
in scorn, when the news reached Vienna. Little did the enemies of the
Reformation then imagine what a terrible and irresistible foe this
despised “kingling” would prove to be. The army of Gustavus consisted
of only fifteen thousand men; but, if his army was small, the material
was indeed valuable. Gustavus said of his staff of officers, “All these
are captains, and fit to command armies.” And when his early death left
them without a leader, these same officers led the Swedish armies so
successfully that, even after France had become her ally, Sweden was
not obscured, but still held a prominent place in the mighty contest.
Gustavus had determined not to hazard a battle until he was joined
by German allies. As soon as they landed on the island of Usedom,
Gustavus, having leaped first upon the shore, at once fell upon his
knees, and sought the aid and blessing of God; and then the working and
the praying went hand in hand. He was the first to seize a spade; and,
as the troops landed, one half were employed in raising intrenchments,
while the other half stood in battle array, to repel any attacks of
the enemy. It was a long time before any German ally appeared; for,
though gallant little Hesse Cassel boldly announced its allegiance,
it was a power too small and too distant to count for much. The two
most powerful of the German Protestant princes were his brother-in-law,
the elector of Brandenburg, and the elector of Saxony. John George of
Saxony was a great hunter, having killed with his own hand or seen
killed 113,629 wild animals. He was, however, such a great drunkard
that he was called the Beer King. But this bold Nimrod, who could fight
wild animals so courageously, was too cowardly to come forward against
the enemies of his country, and only joined Gustavus when the terrors
of the Catholic league forced him to seek safety in such an alliance.

As to the brother-in-law of Gustavus, little was to be obtained from
him. He was so vacillating in character and in politics that Carlyle
says of him, “Poor man, it was his fate to stand in the range of these
huge collisions, when the Titans were hurling rocks at one another, and
he hoped by dexterous skipping to escape share of the game.”

The arrival of Gustavus Adolphus in Germany was at first looked upon
with indifference by the imperial court. The emperor Ferdinand said
carelessly, “We have another little enemy before us.” At Vienna they
made sport of Gustavus and of his pretensions to require himself
to be called “Your majesty,” like the other kings of Europe. “The
snow-king will melt as he approaches the southern sun,” they exclaimed
derisively. But the valiant Swedes worked on at their fortifications
at Pomerania, indifferent to the sneers of their foes, inspired by the
example of their loved leader, whose watchword was, “to pray often to
God with all your heart is almost to conquer.” In a short time, the
army was enclosed in an intrenched camp, defended by cannon. The king
of Sweden then addressed these stirring words to his soldiers:—

“It is as much on your account as for your religious brethren in
Germany that I have undertaken this war. You will there gather
imperishable glory. You have nothing to fear from the enemy; they are
the same whom you have already conquered in Prussia. Your bravery has
imposed on Poland an armistice of six years; if you continue to fight
as valiantly, I hope to obtain an honorable peace for your country and
guaranties of security for the German Protestants. Old soldiers, it is
not of yesterday you have known war; for you have shared with me all
the chances of fortune. You must not lose courage if you experience
some wants. I will conduct you to an enemy who has enriched himself at
the expense of that unhappy country. It is only with the enemy you can
find money, abundance, and all which you desire.”

Thus did Gustavus appeal to their courage, their patriotism, their
religious enthusiasm, and their personal necessities, and inspire his
soldiers with irresistible valor.

The severe discipline of the Swedish troops excited not less admiration
than the personal virtue of their king. Richelieu, in his memoirs,
says, “As to the king of Sweden personally, there was seen in his
actions but an inexorable severity towards the least excess of his
soldiers, an extraordinary mildness towards the people, and an exact
justice on all occasions.”

It was at the time of the landing of the Swedes that the noted general
Wallenstein had fallen into disgrace with the German emperor, and had
been discharged from the imperial service. His place was filled by
Tilly, a military chieftain of high renown. Tilly had made himself
the terror of the Protestants by his bigoted zeal for the Catholic
religion and his fierce spirit of persecution towards the Reformed
Faith; but his military insight made him just enough to thus generously
describe his famous antagonist:—

“The king of Sweden is an enemy both prudent and brave, inured to war,
and in the flower of his age. His plans are excellent, his resources
considerable, his subjects enthusiastically attached to him. His
army,—composed of Swedes, Germans, Livonians, Finlanders, Scots, and
English,—by its devoted obedience to their leader, is blended into one
nation. He is a gamester, in playing with whom not to have lost is to
have won a great deal.”

Gustavus was beginning to make a strong position in northern Germany,
when he received an envoy from the elector of Brandenburg, urging him
to consent to an armistice, the elector offering himself as a mediator
between the Swedish king and the Catholic league. Gustavus thus
answered this weak and cowardly advice of the elector:—

“I have listened to the arguments by which my lord and brother-in-law
would seek to dissuade me from the war, but could well have expected
another communication from him; namely, that God having helped me thus
far, and come, as I am, into this land for no other end than to deliver
its poor and oppressed estates and people from the horrible tyranny of
the thieves and robbers who have plagued it so long, above all, to free
his highness from like tribulation, he would rather have joined himself
with me, and thus not failed to seize the opportunity which God has
wonderfully vouchsafed him. Or does not his highness yet know that the
intention of the emperor and of the league is this,—not to cease till
the evangelical religion is quite rooted out of the empire, and that
he himself has nothing else to look forward to than to be compelled
either to deny his faith or to forsake his land? For God’s sake, let
him bethink himself a little, and for once grasp manly counsels. For
myself, I cannot go back.... I seek in this work not mine own things,
no profit at all except the safety of my kingdom; else have I nothing
from it but expense, weariness, toil, and danger of life and limb....
For this, I say plainly beforehand, I will hear and know nothing of
neutrality; his highness must be friend or foe. When I come to his
borders, he must declare himself hot or cold. The battle is one between
God and the devil. Will his highness hold with God, let him stand on my
side; if he prefer to hold with the devil, then he must fight with me.”

The elector of Brandenburg still vacillating, the king of Sweden was
as good as his word, and advanced with his army, with loaded cannon
and matches burning, to the gates of Berlin. Whereupon, the treaty of
alliance was quickly signed by the elector of Brandenburg; and not long
after, the outrages of the imperial commander obliged the elector of
Saxony also to join the Swedish king. During the first year in Germany,
the Swedes had captured Greiffenhagen and Gartz; and soon after New
Brandenburg, Loitz, Malchin, and Demmin were in their power. We have no
space to note the particulars regarding these important conquests, and
can only mention the taking of Demmin. The Imperialists had placed the
garrison here under the command of Duke Savelli, who had been ordered
to defend the place three weeks, when Tilly had promised to come to his
aid. Among the Imperialists was Del Ponte, a man who had been deep in a
conspiracy to assassinate the king of Sweden, which had come near being
successful. As Del Ponte feared the vengeance of the king whose life
he had thus sought, he left the fortress secretly, leaving his baggage
and wealth behind him. Savelli offered to capitulate, on condition that
he might pass out with arms and baggage. As Gustavus was now on the eve
of meeting Tilly, he did not think best to prolong the siege, and so
agreed to the proposal of Savelli. The entire garrison passed out with
ensigns flying, followed by the baggage train. As Savelli, brilliantly
and carefully dressed, passed the Swedish king, Gustavus addressed
him: “Tell the emperor I make war for civil and religious liberty. As
to you, duke, I thank you for having taken the trouble to quit the
splendid feasts of Rome to combat against me, for your person seems to
me more in its place at courts than in the camps.” After the Italian
general passed, Gustavus remarked to his officers, “That man reckons
much on the good nature of the emperor; if he was in my service, he
would lose his head for his cowardice.”

As the baggage of the treacherous Del Ponte was noticed in the train,
some of the Swedish officers suggested that it would be well to retain
what belonged to that traitor, to which Gustavus responded, “I have
given my word, and no one shall have the right to reproach me for
having broken it.” As to the energy and bravery of Gustavus, one of
his Scotch officers thus testifies: “I serve with great pleasure such
a general, and I could find with difficulty a similar man who was
accustomed to be the first and the last where there is danger; who
gained the love of his officers by the part he took in their troubles
and fatigues; who knew so well how to trace the rules of conduct for
his warriors according to times and circumstances; who cared for their
health, their honor; who was always ready to aid them; who divined
the projects and knew the resources of his enemies, their plans,
their forces, their discipline, likewise the nature and position of
the places they occupied. He never hesitated to execute what he had
ordered. He arrested an officer who, while the fortifications of Settin
were being repaired, stated that the earth was frozen. In affairs which
had relation to the needs of the war, he did not admit of excuses. The
lack of good charts and the great importance he attached to knowledge
of the ground, caused him to go _en reconnaissance_ in person, and
expose himself very near to danger, for he was short-sighted.”

At the siege of Demmin he had gone to reconnoitre, and held a spy-glass
in hand, when he plunged half-leg deep in the marsh, in consequence
of the breaking of the ice. The officer nearest to him prepared to
come to his aid. Gustavus made a sign to him to remain tranquil, so
as not to draw the attention of the enemy who, not less, directed his
fire upon him. The king raised himself up in the midst of a shower
of projectiles, and went to dry himself at the bivouac fire of the
officer, who reproached him for having thus exposed his precious life.
The king listened to the officer with kindness and acknowledged his
imprudence, but added, “It is my nature not to believe well done except
what I do myself; it is also necessary that I see everything by my own
eyes.” Gustavus now advanced boldly into the heart of Germany, and met
the forces of the Catholic League on the plains of Leipsic. As the
Swedes drew up in line of battle, Gustavus rode from point to point,
encouraging his soldiers, telling them “not to fire until they saw the
white of the enemies’ eyes.”

Then the Swedish king rode to the centre of his line, halted, removed
his cap with one hand and lowered his sword with the other. His
example was followed by all near him. Gustavus then offered this brief
prayer in a powerful voice, which enabled him to be heard by a large
number of his army:—

“Good God, thou who holdest in thy hand victory and defeat, turn thy
merciful face to us thy servants. We have come far, we have left our
peaceful homes to combat in this country for liberty, for the truth,
and for thy gospel. Glorify thy holy name in granting us victory.”

Then the Swedish king sent a trumpeter to challenge Tilly and his army.
The battle ensued, in which Gustavus defeated Tilly, the victor on
more than twenty battle-fields. The king of Sweden so shattered and
scattered the Catholic army in this conflict, that for a while all
Germany was open to him. Gustavus was now everywhere hailed by the
down-trodden Protestants of Germany, whose worship he re-established,
and whose churches he restored to them, as their saviour and deliverer.
The very excess of their gratitude would sometimes make him afraid.
Only three days before his death he said to his chaplain, “They make a
god of me; God will punish me for this.”

The appearance of Gustavus at this time is thus described: “He was one
‘framed in the prodigality of nature.’ His look proclaimed the hero,
and at the same time, the genuine child of the North. A head taller
than men of the ordinary stature, yet all his limbs were perfectly
proportioned.” Majesty and courage shone out from his clear gray eyes;
while, at the same time, an air of mildness and _bonhommie_ tempered
the earnestness of his glance. He had the curved eagle nose of Cæsar,
of Napoleon, of Wellington, of Napier,—the conqueror’s nose as we may
call it. His skin was fair, his hair blonde, almost gold-colored, so
that the Italians were wont to call him, _Re d’oro_ or the Gold-king.
In latter years he was somewhat inclined to corpulence, though not so
much as to detract from the majesty of his appearance. This made it,
however, not easy to find a horse which was equal to his weight.

Gustavus now carried his victorious arms to the banks of the Rhine,
where there still stands, not far from Mayence, what is known as the
Swedish column. On the banks of the Lech he again met Tilly, who
would have barred the way. Some of the officers in the Swedish army
counselled that the king should not meet Tilly, but should march to

The Lech was deep and rapid, and to cross it in the face of an enemy
was very hazardous. In case of failure the entire Swedish army would
be lost. But Gustavus exclaimed, “What! have we crossed the Baltic,
the Oder, the Elbe, and the Rhine, to stop stupefied before this mere
stream, the Lech? Remember that the undertakings the most difficult are
often those which succeed best, because the adverse party regard them
as impossible.”

Gustavus threw over the Lech a bridge under the crossfire of
seventy-two pieces of cannon. The king stimulated his troops by his own
example, making with his own hand more than sixty cannon discharges.
The enemy did their utmost to destroy the works, and Tilly was
undaunted in his exertions to encourage his men, until he was mortally
wounded by a cannon-ball, and victory soon was on the side of the
heroic Swedes.

This crossing of the Lech in the face of an enemy is esteemed the most
signal military exploit of Gustavus. The emperor was now forced to
recall Wallenstein to lead the hard-pressed Imperialists against this
invincible Swedish king.

But with the battle of Lützen, where the Swedes encountered the
Imperialists under Wallenstein, we come also to the lamentable but
heroic death of Gustavus Adolphus. We cannot recount the further
conflicts of the Thirty Years’ War.

The work of Gustavus Adolphus in Germany was continued by his able
generals and allies, until at length the treaty, concluded at
Westphalia in 1648, gave security and permanence to the work which the
king of Sweden and his brave soldiers had in a large degree achieved
before his death. A wound which Gustavus had received in his Polish
wars, made the wearing of armor very painful to him, and upon the
morning of the day upon which the battle of Lützen was fought, when his
armor was brought to him, he declined to put it on, saying, “God is my

His death is thus described. Learning that the centre of the Swedish
lines were wavering, Gustavus hastened thither. “Arriving at the
wavering centre, he cried to his troops, ‘Follow me, my brave boys!’
and his horse at a bound bore him across the ditch. Only a few of his
cavaliers followed him, their steeds not being equal to his. Owing to
his impetuosity, perhaps also to his nearsightedness and the increasing
fog, he did not perceive to what extent he was in advance, and became
separated from the troops he was so bravely leading. An imperial
corporal, noticing that the Swedes made way for an advancing cavalier,
pointed him out to a musketeer, saying, he must be a personage of high
rank, and urged him to fire on him. The musketeer took aim, his ball
broke the left arm of the king, causing the bone to protrude, and the
blood to run freely. ‘The king bleeds!’ cried the Swedes near him. ‘It
is nothing; march forward my boys!’ responded the wounded hero, seeking
to calm their disquietude by assuming a smiling countenance. But soon
overcome by pain and loss of blood, he requested Duke Lauenburg, in
French, to lead him out of the tumult without being observed, which was
sought to be done by making a _détour_, so as to conceal the king’s
withdrawal from his brave Smolanders he was leading to the charge.
Scarcely had they made a few steps, when one of the imperial regiment
of cuirassiers encountered them, preceded by Lieut.-Col. Falkenberg,
who, recognizing the king, fired a pistol shot, hitting him in the
back. ‘Brother,’ said he to Lauenburg, with a dying voice; ‘I have
enough. Look to your own life.’ Falkenberg was immediately slain by
the equerry of the duke of Lauenburg. At the same moment the king fell
from his horse, struck by several more balls, and was dragged some
distance by the stirrups. The duke of Lauenburg fled. Of the king’s
two orderlies, one lay dead and the other wounded. Of his attendants,
only a German page, named Leubelfing, remained by him. The king having
fallen from his horse, the page jumped from his own, and offered it to
the dying hero. The king stretched out his hands, but the young man
had not strength sufficient to lift him from the ground. Meanwhile
the imperial cuirassiers hastened forward, and demanded the name of
the wounded officer. The loyal page would not reveal it, and received
wounds from which he died soon after. But the dying Gustavus bravely
answered, ‘I am the king of Sweden.’ Whereupon his cruel enemies shot
a ball through his head, and thrust their swords through his bleeding
body. His hat, blackened with the powder and pierced with the ball,
is still to be seen in the arsenal at Vienna; his bloody buff coat as
well. More is not known of the final agony, except that, when the tide
of battle had a little ebbed, the body of the hero-king was found with
the face to the ground, despoiled and stripped to the shirt, trodden
under the hoofs of horses, trampled in the mire, and disfigured with
all these wounds.”


Such was the end of the imposing and kingly bodily presence; but this
was not the end of the accomplishment of that heroic soul. When the
horse of the fallen Gustavus, with its empty saddle covered with blood,
came running amongst the Swedish troops, they knew what had happened
to their king. Duke Bernhard, riding through the ranks, exclaimed,
“Swedes, Finlanders, and Germans! your defender, the defender of
our liberty, is dead. Life is nothing to me if I do not draw bloody
vengeance from this misfortune. Whoever wishes to prove he loved the
king, has only to follow me to avenge his death.” The whole Swedish
army, fired by a common enthusiasm nerved by desperation, advanced
to the attack, and so valiantly did they fight, that their gallant
charge completed the victory of Lützen. Thus died the “Gold-king of
the North”; but his dying hours were gilded by the sunset glories of
immortal fame, and the “Snow-king,” of Sweden, leaves a name as pure
and glistening as the starry snow-flakes.

“Great men, far more than any Alps or coliseums, are the true
world-wonders, which it concerns us to behold clearly, and imprint
forever on our remembrance. Great men are the fire-pillars in this
dark pilgrimage of mankind; they stand as heavenly signs, ever-living
witnesses of what has been,—prophetic witnesses of what may still
be; the revealed embodied possibilities of human nature, which
greatness he who has never with his whole heart passionately loved and
reverenced, is himself forever doomed to be little.”


1638-1715 A.D.

    “To do what one pleases with impunity,
     That is to be King.”—SALLUST.

THE reign of Louis XIV., whether regarded politically, socially, or
morally, was undoubtedly the most striking which France has ever
known. The splendor of his court, the successes of his armies, and the
illustrious names that embellished the century over which he ruled,
drew the attention of all Europe to the person of the monarch who,
every inch a king, assumed the authority and power of regality as well
as its mere visible attributes. All Europe looked to France, all France
to Paris, all Paris to Versailles, all Versailles to Louis XIV.

[Illustration: LOUIS XIV.]

The centre of all attraction, he, like the eagle, embraced the whole
glory of the orb upon which he gazed; and seated firmly upon the throne
of France, ruling by the “right divine,” he ushered in the golden age
of literature, himself the theme and gaze and wonder of a dazzled world.

The morning of the 5th of September, 1638, dawned bright and clear. In
the forest of St. Germain, the birds sang merrily in the trees, and the
timid deer sought shelter in the deepest shade, all unconscious that
ere the setting of the sun a royal prince would look upon it for the
first time.

The park and palace were filled with an eager and excited throng;
earls, princes, dukes, and bishops anxiously awaited the announcement
that an heir was born to the crown of France. In the grand salon
of Henry IV., King Louis XIII., the Duke d’Orleans, the bishops of
Lisieux, Meaux, and Beauvais, impatiently awaited the long-expected
tidings. And now the folding-doors are thrown back, and the king is
greeted with the welcome intelligence that he is the father of a
_dauphin_. Tenderly he takes the child, and stepping upon the balcony,
exhibits him to the crowd, exclaiming joyfully, “A son, gentlemen! a
son!” and park and palace re-echo with the shouts of “_Vive le Roi!_”
“_Vive le Dauphin!_”

Thus this baby prince, when first he saw the light, was greeted by
the homage of a court—an homage which, during a life of seventy-seven
years, he ever exacted and received, until as Louis XIV., the _Grand
Monarque_, in obedience to Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords,
he laid aside his sceptre and his crown, and slept with his fathers
in the royal vaults of St. Denis. The birth of the dauphin afforded
Louis XIII. such delight that for a time he threw aside his melancholy
manner; but his health, never robust, failed rapidly, and on the 20th
of April, 1643, feeling that his end could not be far distant, he
declared the regency of the queen, and desired the christening of the
dauphin. It accordingly took place on the following day with much pomp
in the chapel at St. Germain. The king desired he should be called
Louis, and after the ceremony, when the little prince was carried to
his bedside in order to ascertain if his wishes had been fulfilled, he
demanded, “What is your name, my child?” And the little dauphin replied
promptly, “I am Louis XIV.”

“Not yet, my son, not yet!” said the dying king; “but I pray to God
that it may soon be so.”

From this time his health failed rapidly, and on the 14th of May, 1643,
he expired, having reigned thirty-three years.

The little dauphin early displayed that haughtiness and self-will which
were to be the ruling principles of his life. His education had been
grossly neglected, and through this came many of his after faults; and
though he excelled in every punctilio of court etiquette, and was the
very essence of politeness, yet in other things he was far behind the
other youths of his age. This was exactly as Cardinal Mazarin intended
that it should be, that by thus dwarfing the intellect of the king, he
might the longer grasp the reins of government. The wily cardinal fully
understood the character of the young prince with whom he had to deal,
and upon one occasion, when some one remonstrated with him concerning
the course he had adopted toward the king, he replied, “Ah, you do not
know His Majesty! he has the stuff in him to make four kings and an
honest man.”

The hatred and dislike of Louis for the cardinal increased day by
day. The state affected by him jarred upon his natural haughtiness,
and, boy as he was, it was impossible that he could contrast the
extreme magnificence of his mother’s minister with his own neglected
condition without feeling how insultingly the cardinal had profited by
his weakness and want of power. On one occasion at Compiègne, as the
cardinal was passing with a numerous suite along the terrace, the king
turned away, saying contemptuously, without any attempt to lower his
voice, “There is the Grand Turk going by.”

A few days afterwards, as he was traversing a passage in which he
perceived one of the cardinal’s household named Bois Fermé, he turned
to M. de Nyert, who was following him, and observed, “So the cardinal
is with mamma again, for I see Bois Fermé in the passage. Does he
always wait there?”

“Yes, sire,” replied Nyert; “but in addition to Bois Fermé there is
another gentleman upon the stairs and two in the corridor.”

“There is one at every stride, then,” said the young; king dryly.

But the boy-king was not the only one who found the arrogance of the
haughty cardinal unbearable. There had gradually sprung up a deadly
feud between the court and Mazarin on one side, and the Parliament on
the other.

The people of Paris were in sympathy with the Parliament; and nobles,
even of royal blood, out of enmity to Mazarin, joined the popular cause.

Thus commenced the famous civil war of the Fronde; for as the cardinal
contemptuously remarked, “The Parliament are like school-boys _fronding
in the Paris ditches_,” and the Parliament of Paris accepted the title,
and adopted the _Fronde_, or sling, as the emblem of their party. There
were riots in Paris, and affairs grew threatening. Mazarin and the
court party were alarmed and fled to St. Germain.

Thus there were two rival courts in France,—the one at St. Germain,
where all was want and destitution; the other at the Hotel de Ville in
Paris, where all was splendor, abundance, and festive enjoyment. The
court and Mazarin soon tired of the life at St. Germain, and the king;
sent a herald to the Parliament. The Parliament refused to receive
the herald, but sent a deputation to the king, and at last, after a
lengthy conference, a not very satisfactory compromise was agreed upon,
and on the 5th of April, 1650, the royal fugitives returned to Paris.

“Thus ended the first act of the most singular, bootless, and we are
almost tempted to add, burlesque war, which in all probability, Europe
ever witnessed. Through its whole duration society appeared to have
been smitten with some moral hallucination. Kings and cardinals slept
on mattresses; princesses and duchesses on straw; market-women embraced
princes; prelates governed armies; court-ladies led the mob, and the
mob in its turn ruled the city.”

On the 5th of September, 1651, the minority of the dauphin ceased, he
had now entered upon his fourteenth year, and, immature boy as he was,
he was declared to be the absolute monarch of France. On the seventh of
the month, the king held his bed of justice. The ceremony was attended
with all the pomp the wealth of the empire could furnish. The young
king left the Palais Royal attended by a numerous and splendid retinue.
Observed of all observers, “handsome as Adonis, august in majesty, the
pride and joy of humanity,” he sat his splendid steed; and when the
horse, frightened by the long and enthusiastically prolonged cries of,
“_Vive le Roi!_” reared and plunged with terror, Louis managed him with
a skill and address which called forth the admiration of all beholders.
After attending mass, the young king took his seat in the Parliament.
Here the boy of thirteen, covering his head while all the notabilities
of France stood before him with heads uncovered, repeated the following

“Gentlemen, I have attended my Parliament in order to inform you
that, according to the law of my kingdom, I shall myself assume its
government. I trust that by the goodness of God it will be with piety
and justice.”

The chancellor then made a long address, after which the oath of
allegiance was taken by all the civil and ecclesiastical notabilities.
The royal procession then returned to the gates of the Palais Royal.
Thus, a stripling, who had just completed his thirteenth year, was
accepted by the nobles and by the populace as the absolute and
untrammelled sovereign of France. “He held in his hands, virtually,
unrestrained by constitution or court, their liberties, their fortunes,
and their lives.” Two years later, in 1653, the coronation of the king
took place at Rheims. France at this time was at war with Spain, and,
immediately after the coronation, the king, then sixteen years of
age, set out from Rheims to place himself at the head of the army. He
went to Stenay, on the northeastern frontier of France. This ancient
city, protected by strong fortifications, was held by the Prince de
Condé. The royal troops were besieging it. There were marches and
counter-marches, battles and skirmishes. The young king displayed
intrepidity which secured for him the admiration of the soldiers.
Turenne and Fabert fought the battles and gained the victories. Stenay
was soon taken, and the army of the Prince de Condé driven from all
its positions. “There is nothing so successful as success;” and the
young king, a hero and a conqueror, returned to Paris to enjoy the
congratulation of the populace, and to offer public thanksgiving in the
cathedral of Nôtre Dame. Though the king was nominally the absolute
ruler of France, still there was the influence of his mother, Anne of
Austria, which up to this time had exerted over him a great control;
but this was soon to end.

Henrietta Maria, the widowed queen of the unfortunate Charles I.,
was then residing at the French court. Her daughter Henrietta, as
grand-daughter of Henry IV. and daughter of Charles I., was entitled,
through the purity of her royal blood, to the highest consideration at
the court. When, then, at a ball given for these unfortunate guests,
the music summoned the dancers upon the floor, and the king, in total
disregard of his young and royal cousin, advanced, according to his
custom, to lead out the Duchesse de Mercœur, the queen was shocked at
so gross a breach of etiquette, and, rising hastily, she withdrew his
hand from that of the duchess, and said in a low voice, “You should
dance first, my son, with the princess of England.”

Louis replied sullenly, “I am not fond of little girls.”


Both Henrietta and her daughter overheard this discourteous remark.
The English queen hastened to Anne of Austria, and entreated her not
to attempt to constrain the wishes of his majesty. The position was
exceedingly awkward for all parties; but the proud spirit of Anne of
Austria was aroused. Resuming her maternal authority, she declared
that if her niece, the princess of England, remained a spectator at
the ball, her son should do the same. Thus constrained, the king very
ungraciously led out the English princess upon the floor. After the
departure of the guests, the mother and son had their first serious
quarrel. Severely Anne of Austria rebuked the king for his shameful
and uncourteous conduct. Louis faced his mother haughtily. “Madam, who
is lord of France, Louis the king or Anne of Austria? Too long,” he
said, “I have been guided by your leading strings. Henceforth, I will
be my own master; and do not you, madam, trouble yourself to criticise
or correct me. I am the king.” And this was no idle boast; for from
that tearful evening of the queen’s ball to the day of his death,
sixty-one years after, Louis of Bourbon, called The Great, ruled as
absolute lord over his kingdom of France; and the boy who could say so
defiantly, “Henceforth, I will be my own master,” was fully equal to
that other famous declaration of arrogant authority, made years after
in the full tide of his power, “_I am the state!_”

But Anne of Austria was not the only one destined to feel the imperious
will of the young sovereign. The Parliament of Paris refused to
register certain decrees of the king. Louis heard of it while preparing
to hunt in the woods of Vincennes. He leaped upon his horse, and
galloped to Paris. At half-past nine o’clock in the morning, the king
entered the Chamber of Deputies, in full hunting dress. He heard mass,
and, whip in hand, addressed the body: “Gentlemen of the Parliament, it
is my will that in future my edicts be _registered_, and not discussed.
Should the contrary occur, I shall return, and enforce obedience.”

The trumpet sounded, and the king and his courtiers galloped back to
the forest of Vincennes. The decrees were registered. Parliament had
ventured to try its strength against Cardinal Mazarin, but did not dare
to disobey its king.

The marriage of the king was a matter of much importance, and was much
talked of. The aspirants for his hand and the throne of France were
numberless. Maria Theresa, the daughter of the king of Spain, was very
beautiful. Spain and France were then engaged in petty and vexatious
hostilities, and a matrimonial alliance would secure friendship.

So negotiations were begun; and on the 10th of June, 1660, Louis,
then in the twenty-second year of his age, was joined in marriage,
at the Isle of Pheasants, to Maria Theresa, infanta of Spain. On the
26th of August, the king and his young bride made their public entry
into Paris. Triumphal arches spanned the thoroughfares, garlands of
flowers and hangings of tapestry covered the fronts of the houses,
and sweet-scented herbs strewed the pavements, upon which passed an
apparently interminable procession of carriages, horsemen, and footmen;
and in the midst of the clangor of trumpets, the boom of cannon, and
the shouts and acclamations of the multitude, came the chariot of the
young queen, who, radiant and sparkling with brilliant gems, beheld
from her lofty height all Paris striving to do her honor. By her side
rode the king. His garments, of velvet richly embroidered with gold,
and covered with jewels, had been prepared at an expense of over a
million of dollars. The gorgeousness of this gala day lived long in
the minds of the splendor-loving Parisians. For succeeding weeks and
months, the court luxuriated in one continued round of gayety. “There
was a sound of revelry by night” in the _salons_ of the Louvre and
the Tuileries, while lords and ladies trod the floors in the mazy
evolutions of the dance. And yet, to maintain all this state, all this
splendor, all this reckless extravagance, thousands of the peasantry
of France were compelled to live in mud hovels, to wear the coarsest
garb, to eat the plainest food, while their wives and daughters toiled
barefoot in the fields.

The Cardinal Mazarin was old and dying. For eighteen years he had
been virtually monarch of France. Avaricious and penurious to the
last degree, he had amassed enormous wealth. Cursed by the peasantry
whom he had ground to the earth, hated by the king whom he had tried
to rule, despised by the court which he had attempted to humble, on
the 9th of March, 1661, at his Chateau Mazarin, the cardinal breathed
his last. From that moment until the day of his death, Louis XIV.
sat all-powerful upon his throne. And when the president of the
Ecclesiastical Assembly inquired of the king to whom he must hereafter
address himself on questions of public business, the emphatic and
laconic response was, “_To myself_.”

M. Fouquet, the Minister of the Treasury, was rolling in ill-gotten
wealth. His palace of Vaux le Vicomte, upon which he had expended
fifteen millions of francs, eclipsed in splendor the royal palaces of
the Tuileries and Fontainebleau. The king disliked him. He knew he was
robbing the treasury, and it was more than his self-love could endure,
that a subject should live in state surpassing that of his sovereign.
Fouquet most imprudently invited the king and all the court to a fête
at the chateau. No step could have been more ill-advised; for the
king was little likely to forget, as he looked upon the splendors of
Vaux le Vicomte, by which St. Germain and Fontainebleau were utterly
eclipsed, that its owner had derived all his wealth from the public
coffers; and at a time, too, when he was himself in need of the funds
here lavished with such reckless profusion. Every one in France, who
bore a distinguished name, was bidden to the princely festival, which
was destined to be commemorated by La Fontaine and by Benserade, by
Pelisson and by Molière. Fouquet met the king at the gates of the
chateau, and conducted him to the park. Here, notwithstanding all he
had heard of the splendors of Vaux le Vicomte, the king was unprepared
for the scene of magnificence which burst upon his view. The play
of the fountains, the beauty of the park, and the splendor of the
chateau were long remembered by the guests at this princely festival.
But to Louis XIV. it was gall and wormwood; and when he took leave
of his obsequious host, he remarked bitterly: “I shall never again,
sir, venture to invite you to visit me. You would find yourself


Fouquet felt the keen rebuke, and turned pale. The king and his
courtiers returned to Paris, but in the mind of Louis XIV. there loomed
up distant visions of the palaces of Versailles and the great hydraulic
machine at Marly. On the 8th of January, 1666, Anne of Austria died.
It was a gloomy winter’s night when the remains of her who had been
both queen and regent of France were borne to their last resting-place
in the vaults of St. Denis. In his previous campaigns, Louis had taken
Flanders in three months, and Franche-Comté in three weeks. Alarmed
by these rapid conquests, Holland, Switzerland, and England entered
into an alliance to resist further encroachments, should they be
attempted. That such a feeble state as Holland should think of limiting
his conquests, aroused the anger of the _Grand Monarque_. Armies were
mustered, munitions of war got together, and ships prepared; and on the
12th of June, 1672, at the head of an army of one hundred and thirty
thousand men, Louis crossed the Rhine, and made his triumphal entry
into the city of Utrecht. Then, indeed, Holland trembled; Amsterdam
trembled; Louis was at the gates. But, rising in the frenzy of despair,
they pierced the dikes, which alone protected the country from the
sea. In rushed the flood, and Amsterdam rose like a mighty fortress in
the midst of the waves, surrounded by ships of war, which found depth
to float where ships never floated before. Thus suddenly Louis XIV.
found himself checked in his proud career. Chagrined at seeing his
conquest at an end, he left his army under the command of Turenne, and
returned to his palaces in France.

Louis XIV. had never recovered from the mortification he had
experienced at the fête at Vaux. He resolved to rear a palace so
magnificent that no subject, whatever might be his resources, could
approach it; so magnificent that, like the pyramids of Egypt, it should
be a lasting monument of the splendor of his reign. In 1664, Louis
selected Versailles as the site for this stupendous pile of marble,
which, reared at a cost of thousands of lives, and two hundred millions
of money, decorated by the genius of Le Notre, of Mansard, and Le Brun,
twenty-five years after its commencement, was ready to receive its
royal occupants; and, resting proudly upon its foundations, presented
to admiring Europe the noblest monument of the reign of Louis XIV. The
splendors of the fêtes which attended the completion of this palace
transformed it into a scene of enchantment, and filled all Europe with

The most magnificent room in the palace, the Gallerie des Glaces,
called the Grand Gallery of Louis XIV., is two hundred and forty-two
feet long, thirty-five feet broad, and forty-three feet high. Germany,
Holland, Spain, Rome even, bend the knee in the twenty-seven paintings
which ornament this grand gallery. But to whom do they bow? Is it to
France? No; it is to Louis XIV.

“Louis XIV. and his palace not only afforded conversation for Europe,
but their fame penetrated the remote corners of Asia. The emperor
of Siam sent him an embassy. Three o’pras, high dignitaries of the
empire, eight mandarins, and a crowd of servitors landed at Brest,
charged with magnificent presents and a letter from the emperor.
Arrived at Versailles, they were fêted with unheard-of splendor. The
day of their public audience, the fountains played in the gardens;
flowers were strewn in the paths; the sumptuous Gobelin carpets were
paraded, as well as the richest works of the goldsmith. The _cortège_
of ambassadors was received with the most refined forms of etiquette,
and led through apartments filled with the court, glittering in
diamonds and embroidery, and at length reached the end of the grand
gallery, where Louis XIV., clad in a costume that cost twelve millions,
stood on a throne of silver placed on an estrade elevated nine steps
above the floor, and covered with Gobelin carpets and costly vases.
There the Siamese prostrated themselves three times, with hands
clasped, before the Majesty of the West, and then lifted their eyes to

Louis spent millions on Versailles, millions on his pleasures, millions
on his pomps, millions in his wars; he lavished gold on his favorites,
his generals, and his lackeys. And all ended in national bankruptcy.

Let us, then, in imagination look upon the grand _gallerie_ of Louis
XIV. during one of those gorgeous fêtes which attracted the attention
of all Europe. Before us is the grand _salon_, with its glittering
candelabra and thousand brilliant lights, reflected in prismatic rays
from the costly mirrors which line the walls. Under foot, a pavement
of variegated marble, shining and polished as a floor of glass; and
overhead the gorgeous frescoes of Le Brun, setting forth in glowing
colors the great achievements of the _Grand Monarque_. The highest
nobility of the realm, the _grande noblesse_ of France, throng this
splendid gallery.

The costly costumes of the cavaliers and the gorgeous robes of the
_Grande Dames_, the waving plumes and flashing jewels, all conspire
to render the scene of marvellous magnificence. And now, as the
impatient throng turn their gaze in the direction of the Salon of
War, in expectation of the approach of royalty, the folding-doors are
thrown back, and the stentorian voice of the usher resounds throughout
the gallery: “His Majesty the King!” and upon the threshold, in a
costume resplendent with sparkling gems, stands Louis XIV., the _Grand
Monarque_. As a _parterre_ of blooming flowers bends low before a
rushing gust of wind, so bow these titled lords and ladies before his
piercing glance; while Louis, full conscious of his kingly majesty,
walks slowly, and with measured step, all down the long and glittering
lines, pausing ever and anon to address those whose rank entitles them
to this inestimable boon.

“It was not only on festive occasions that Versailles wore an air of
grand gala. It was its habitual aspect. At Vaux, nature had contributed
quite as much as art, to the marvellous beauty of the scene. At
Versailles, she had done nothing, and Louis’ pleasure was the greater,
in that he considered it the unrivalled creation of his own genius.
Versailles, with its palace, its gardens, its fountains, its statues,
and water-works, Trianon, and appendages, was a work of art to gaze
upon with wonder. Let us ascend; for, in whatever place you may be,
it is necessary to mount, to reach this palace; at whatever point you
may stand to look at it, you see its roofs, apparently touching the
clouds. It crowns the hill like a diadem. If you come from Paris, it
rises above the town, which lies prostrate at the feet of its majesty;
if you approach from the park, it lifts itself above the gigantic
trees, above the terraces which pile themselves up towards it, above
the jets of water which surround it; the groves seem to support it upon
their tall heads, and the whole forest serves as its footstool. Let
us ascend, for the doors are open; people are going and coming. The
ladies smile, the mirrors reflect them, the chandeliers light them, the
ceilings throw their golden coloring upon them. The courtiers stare in
the midst of the riches of this magnificent dwelling; but, amid all
this stir, all these surprises, all these wonders, only one man is
calm,—this man Louis XIV.

“He feels as much at ease in this palace as in a vestment made for him;
and, contemplating the work to which his pride gave birth, he exclaims,
in the fulness of his satisfaction, ‘Versailles is myself!’

“Yet, upon a bright spring day, or soft summer evening, when Louis,
disposed for one of those long promenades he was accustomed to take
sometimes twice a day, descended to the gardens from the grand terrace
of the palace, followed by his numerous court, the _coup d’œil_ from
a distance must have been charmingly effective. And, when enlivened
by sauntering, chatting, flirting, laughing groups of picturesquely
dressed ladies and gentlemen of the court,—a numerous retinue of
lackeys following, no less resplendent in dress than their masters,—the
admirable fitness of the gardens and grounds of Versailles for the
purpose which Louis, no doubt, had in his mind when the designs were
approved, must have been very striking. In the centre of this throng
of feathers and swords, satins and laces, flashing jewels, fans and
masks, solemnly paced the magnificent Louis, with the air of lord of
the universe, monarch of all he surveyed, and of all who surveyed him;
for his courtiers lived only in the light of his countenance. Yet the
countenance of this god was grandly cold, serene, and unchangeable, as
that of any of the marble deities that presided over his fountains.
It was no mean advantage to him that nature had kindly exalted him,
at least, three inches above almost every other man of his court. The
French were not generally a fine race of men; but the dress of the
period—the high heels, the wig, the lofty plume, and the looped-up,
broad-brimmed hat—gave to the _grandees_ an appearance of height,
which, as a rule, they had not. And above them all towered their king,
like Jupiter, in Olympus, in the midst of the inferior gods, or as the
sun, with lesser lights revolving around him, and shining only in the
refulgence of his rays.

“Red-heeled boots, slashed doublets, and flowing wigs, cordeliers
of pearls, Moorish fans, masques, patches and paint, monumental
head-dresses, and the thousand other items indispensable to the toilets
of the lords and ladies of the Louis XIV. period, have a charmingly
picturesque effect, seen through the long vista of two centuries,
and heightened by the glamour of _la grande politesse, et la grande
galanterie_ of the _Grand Monarque_ and his court. Life seems to have
been with them, one long fancy-dress ball, a never-ending carnival, a
perpetual whirl, an endless succession of fêtes and carousals.”

Louis XIV. now found nearly all Europe in arms against him. He sent
twenty thousand men, under Marshal Turenne, to encounter the forces of
the emperor of Germany; and forty thousand, under the Prince de Condé,
to assail William, prince of Orange. In his defence of the frontiers
of the Rhine, Turenne acquired a reputation which has made his name
famous in military annals. With twenty thousand men, he defeated and
dispersed the Imperial army of seventy thousand; and it adds not a
little to his celebrity, that, following his own judgment, he achieved
the victory in direct opposition to the orders from the minister of
war. A merciless warrior, he allowed no consideration of humanity to
interfere with his military operations. He laid in ashes the beautiful
country of the Palatinate, embracing, on both sides of the Rhine,
about sixteen hundred square miles, and having a population of over
three hundred thousand souls, in order that the armies of his enemies
might be deprived of sustenance; while the wail of widows and orphans
rose over the smouldering ruins of their dwellings, over the bleak and
barren fields.

[Illustration: DEATH OF TURENNE.]

On the 27th of June, 1675, a cannon ball struck Turenne, and closed,
in an instant, his earthly career. Few men have ever lived who have
caused such wide-spread misery. For two years the war continued, with
sometimes varying success, but with unvarying blood and misery. At
last, on the 14th of August, 1678, peace, the peace of Nimegeun, was
made. Louis XIV. dictated the terms.

Now, at the height of his grandeur, having enlarged his dominions
by the addition of Franche-Comté, Dunkirk, and half of Flanders,
worshipped by his courtiers as a demi-god, the court of France
conferred upon him, with imposing solemnities, the title of _Louis le
Grand_. In 1685, the Queen, Maria Theresa, breathed her last. Amiable,
unselfish, warm-hearted, from the time of her marriage she devoted
herself to the promotion of her husband’s happiness. His neglect caused
her to shed many tears. The king could not be insensible to her many
virtues, and perhaps remorse, mingled with the emotions which compelled
him to weep bitterly over her death, caused him to exclaim, as he
gazed upon the lifeless remains, “Kind and forbearing friend, this is
the first sorrow you have caused me throughout twenty years.” For ten
days the royal corpse lay in state at Versailles, and perpetual masses
were performed for the soul of the departed. On the day of the funeral,
the king, in the insane endeavor to obliterate from his mind all
thoughts of death and burial, ordered out the hounds, and plunged into
the excitement of the chase. His horse pitched the monarch over his
head into a ditch of stagnant water, dislocating one of his shoulders.

In 1685, also died Jean Baptiste Colbert, the king’s minister of
finance. As superintendent of buildings, arts, and manufactures, he had
enlarged the Tuileries and the Louvre, completed gorgeous Versailles,
reared the magnificent edifice of the Invalides, and founded the
Gobelins. As minister of finance, he had furnished the king with the
money he needed for his expensive wars and luxurious indulgence. Now
old, forgotten, exhausted by incessant labor, he was on his dying bed.
The heavy taxes he had imposed upon the people rendered him unpopular.
The curses and imprecations of a starving peasantry rose around his
dying couch. The king condescended in courtesy to send a messenger
inquiring after the condition of his minister, but the dying sufferer
turned away his face, saying, “I will not hear that man spoken of
again. If for God I had done what I have for him, I should have been
saved ten times over. What my fate now may be, I know not.”

And so worn out by toil, anxiety, and grief, he died. On the following
day, without any marks of honor, his remains were conveyed to the
church of St. Eustache.

Genoa had offended the king by giving assistance to the Algerines.
He seized, by a _lettre de cachet_, the Genoese ambassador, and
plunging him into one of the dungeons of the Bastile, sent a fleet of
fifty vessels to chastise those who had offended him, with terrible
severity. On the 19th of May, 1684, the ships entered the harbor of
Genoa, and immediately opened upon the city a terrific fire, so that
in a few hours, a large portion of those marble edifices, which had
given to the city the name of “Genoa the Superb,” were crumbled into
powder. The city was threatened with total destruction, and in terror
the authorities implored the clemency of the conqueror. Haughtily the
_Grand Monarque_ demanded that the doge of Genoa, and four of his
principal ministers, should repair to the palace of Versailles, and
humbly implore his pardon. Utterly powerless, the doge was compelled to
submit to these humiliating terms.


On the 15th of May, 1685, Louis ordered his throne to be placed at the
end of the grand gallery, by the side of the “Salon of Peace.” The doge
entered with four senators Genoa had sent to accompany him. He was
dressed in red velvet, with a cap of the same. In order to preserve
all the dignity his misfortune allowed him, the doge remained covered
until he entered the presence of the king. The king allowed the princes
to remain covered during the audience. The doge discharged his sad
mission with a firmness that created astonishment. His bearing was more
impressive than his discourse. A few days after he attended the levee,
dined with the king, was shown the park and all the fountains, and
was present at a ball given in the grand apartment. Afterwards he had
his audience of leave-taking, and when one of the senators asked him
what surprised him most at Versailles, he replied with an air of more
chagrin than usual, “At seeing myself there.” The doge and senators
did not stay long in France. They saw in haste the wonders shown them,
and then returned to Genoa. Arrived at home, they talked over the
things they had seen. One senator spoke of the dazzling spectacles,
the vast apartments, the sumptuous ornaments; and said no mind was
powerful enough to carry away the remembrance of all the riches of
the palace, its paintings, its statues, its tapestry, its ceilings,
its gold, and its marble. The doge replied, there was more than its
exterior magnificence, and luxury of its interior; that the palace was
the whole French monarchy. You read the origin of the monarchy in the
chateau built by Louis XIII. The architects wished to pull it down; the
king replied, that, if it would not last, they must take it down, but
reconstruct it on its first plan. He wished the work of his father to
remain, to contrast with the edifice he was going to erect. One part
of the building only projects immensely in the long outline, that is
where the master dwells. The king walks alone in the first rank, the
courtiers follow, and support the train of the royal mantle. If you
mount by the grand staircase, you find a suite of immense _salons_,
covered with beautiful paintings. The Salon of Plenty, then Venus, then
Diana, then Mars, then Mercury, and then Apollo. Of what use are they?
The master does not inhabit them. But go on farther, pass through empty
galleries, you will at length find his apartments. All this suite of
magnificent _salons_, all these galleries, serve as an ante-chamber
only to the place in which he dwells. Mars and Apollo, gods formerly,
are nothing now but lackeys to the king of France.

In the year 1598, King Henry IV., feeling the need of the support of
the Protestants to protect his kingdom from the perils by which it was
surrounded, and having himself been educated a Protestant, had granted
to the Protestants the world-renowned edict of Nantes. By this edict,
Protestants were allowed liberty of conscience; were permitted, in
certain designated places, to hold public worship; were declared to be
eligible to offices of state, and in certain places, were allowed to
publish books. Louis XIV. was a Catholic, a bigoted Catholic; hoping
in some measure to atone for his sins, by his supreme devotion to the
interests of the church, and while assuring the Protestant powers
of Europe that he would continue to respect the edict of Nantes, he
commenced issuing a series of ordinances in direct opposition to that
contract. In 1680 he excluded Protestants from all public offices,
whatsoever. A Protestant could not be employed as a physician, lawyer,
apothecary, bookseller, printer, or even as a nurse.


In some parts of the kingdom, the Protestants composed nearly the
entire population. Here it was impossible to enforce the atrocious
decree. Riots and bloodshed followed. Affairs went from bad to worse,
and on the 18th of October, 1685, the king, yielding to the wishes
of his confessor and other high dignitaries of the Church, signed
the _Revocation of the Edict of Nantes_. In this act of revocation,
it was declared that, “the exercise of the Protestant worship should
nowhere be tolerated in the realm of France. All Protestant pastors
were ordered to leave the kingdom within fifteen days, under pain of
being sent to the galleys. Parents were forbidden to instruct their
children in the Protestant religion. Every child in the kingdom was
to be baptized and educated by a Catholic priest. All Protestants who
had left France, were ordered to return within four months, under
penalty of confiscation of their possessions. Any Protestant man
or woman who should attempt to emigrate, incurred the penalty of
imprisonment for life.”

This infamous ordinance caused an amount of misery which can never be
gauged, and inflicted upon the prosperity of France the most terrible
blow it had ever received. Only one year after the revocation, Marshal
Vauban wrote, “France has lost one hundred thousand inhabitants, sixty
millions of coined money, nine thousand sailors, twelve thousand
disciplined soldiers, six hundred officers, and her most flourishing

The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes was the great blot upon the reign
of Louis XIV. From that hour the fortunes of the _Grand Monarque_ began
manifestly to decline.

Louvois, minister of war, had for a long time been all-powerful at
court. Through his influence, the king had been induced to revoke the
Edict of Nantes, and to order the utter devastation of the Palatinate.
But that influence was upon the wane. The king had become weary of his
haughty assumptions, and the conflagration of the Palatinate had raised
a cry of indignation that even he could not fail to hear. Treves had
escaped the flames. Louvois solicited an order to burn it. The king
refused. Louvois insolently gave the order himself, and entering the
royal presence, exclaimed calmly, “Sire, I have commanded the burning
of Treves, in order that I might spare your Majesty the pain of issuing
such an edict.”

Louis was furious; and springing up, with flashing eyes, forgetful
of all the restraints of etiquette, he seized the tongs from the
fireplace, and would have broken the head of his minister, had not
Madame de Maintenon rushed between them. The king despatched a
messenger to countermand the order, and declared that if but a single
house were burned, the head of the minister should be the forfeit.
Treves was saved.

On one occasion, when Louis XIV. went to examine the progress of the
building of the Trianon, accompanied by Louvois, he remarked that a
particular window was out of proportion, and did not harmonize with the
rest; but the minister, jealous of his dignity as controller of the
royal works, would not admit the objection, but maintained that it was
similar to the others.

The king desired Le Notre to declare his opinion as to the size of the
disputed window. Le Notre, fearful of offending either the monarch or
his minister, endeavored to give an evasive answer. Upon which, Louis
commanded him to measure it carefully, and he was reluctantly compelled
to obey. The result of the trial proved that the king was right, the
window was too small; and the monarch had no sooner ascertained the
fact, than he turned angrily to his minister, exclaiming, “M. Louvois,
I am weary of your obstinacy. It is fortunate that I myself have
superintended the work of building, or the façade would have been

As this scene had taken place not only in the presence of the workmen,
but of all the courtiers who followed the king upon his promenade,
Louvois was stung to the quick; and on entering his own house, he
exclaimed furiously, “I am lost if I do not find some occupation for a
man who can interest himself in such trifles. There is nothing but a
war which can divert him from his building, and war he shall have. I
will soon make him abandon his trowel.”

He kept his word: and Europe was once more plunged into a general war,
because a window had been made a few inches too narrow, and a king had
convicted a minister of error.

In 1691, the French were besieging Mons. The haughty minister,
unintimidated even by the menace of the tongs, ventured to countermand
an order which the king had issued. The lowering brow of the monarch
convinced him that his ministerial reign was soon to close. The health
of the minister began rapidly to fail. A few subsequent interviews
with the king satisfied him that his disgrace and ruin were decided
upon; and about the middle of June, meeting the monarch in his
council-chamber, although he was unusually complaisant, Louvois so
thoroughly understood him, that he retired to his residence in utter
despair. He ordered that his son, the Marquis de Barbesieux, might be
requested to follow him to his chamber. In five minutes the summons was
obeyed, but it was too late; for when the marquis entered the room, his
father had already expired. Louvois had judged rightly, for the king
had already drawn up the _lettre de cachet_ which was to consign him to
the _oubliettes_ of the Bastile.

“Civil war was now also desolating unhappy France. The Protestants,
bereft of their children, robbed of their property, driven from their
homes, dragged to the gallows, plunged into dungeons, broken upon the
wheel, hanged upon scaffolds, rose in several places in insurrectionary
bands; and the man who was thus crushing beneath the iron heel of his
armies the quivering hearts of the Palatinate, and who was drenching
his own realms with tears and blood, was clothed in purple, and
faring sumptuously, and reclining upon the silken sofas of Marly and

On the 1st of November, 1700, Charles II. of Spain died, having no
heirs. Urged by the Pope, he left the throne to the children of the
dauphin of France. As the duke de Bourgoyne was direct heir to the
throne of France, the dauphin’s second son, the duke d’Anjou, was
proclaimed king of Spain, under the title of Philip V. On the 14th of
the month, Louis XIV. summoned the Spanish ambassador to an audience at
Versailles. The king presented his grandson to the minister, saying,
“This, sir, is the duke d’Anjou, whom you may salute as your king.”
Then, contrary to his custom, he ordered the folding doors of his
cabinet to be thrown back, and the crowd of courtiers assembled in the
grand gallery poured into the apartment.

The Spanish ambassador dropped upon his knee before the young prince
with expressions of profound homage; while the king, embracing the neck
of his grandson with his left arm, and pointing to him with his right
hand, presented him to the assembled court, exclaiming, “Gentlemen,
this is the king of Spain. His birth calls him to the crown. The late
king has recognized his right by his will. All the nation desires his
succession, and has entreated it at my hands. It is the will of heaven,
to which I conform with satisfaction.”

To his grandson he added, “Be a good Spaniard, but never forget that
you were born a Frenchman. Carefully maintain the union of the two
nations. Thus only can you render them both happy.”

Preparations were immediately made for the departure of the boy-king to
take possession of the Spanish throne. The _Grand Monarque_ regarded
it as a signal stroke of policy, and a great victory on his part, that
notwithstanding the remonstrances of other nations, he had placed a
French Bourbon prince upon the throne of Spain. He saw the domain of
France extending far southward to the Straits of Gibraltar.

“Henceforth,” exclaimed Louis XIV., exultingly, “there are no more

Louis XIV. reigned everywhere,—over his people, over his age, often
over Europe,—but nowhere did he reign so completely as over his
court. Never were the wishes, the defects, and the vices of a man so
completely a law to other men, as at the court of Louis XIV. during
the whole period of his long life. When near to him in the palace at
Versailles, men lived, hoped, trembled, everywhere else in France, even
at Paris, men vegetated. The existence of the nobles was concentrated
in the court about the person of the king; and so abject was their
submission, that Louis XIV. looked on all sides for a great lord, and
found about him only courtiers.

When the king learned that certain of the nobility affected to despise
the plebian genius of the great dramatist, Molière, he invited the
comedian to his table; and when at the _grande entrée_ the nobles
thronged the apartment, he turned to them haughtily, exclaiming,
“Gentlemen of the court, you see me breakfasting with Molière, whom my
nobles do not consider worthy of their notice.” It was enough. From
that moment the great dramatist found all the nobility of France at his

Never did man give with better grace than Louis XIV., or augment so
much in this way the price of his benefits. Never did man sell to
better profit his words, even his smiles,—nay, his looks.

Never did disobliging words escape him; and if he had to blame, to
reprimand, or correct, which was very rare, it was nearly always with
goodness, never with anger or severity. Never was man so naturally
polite, or of a politeness so measured, so graduated, so adapted,
to person, time, and place. Towards women his politeness was without
parallel. Never did he pass the humblest petticoat without raising
his hat. For ladies he took his hat off completely, but to a greater
or less extent; for titled people half off, holding it in his hand,
or against his ear, some instants. He took it off for the princes of
the blood as for the ladies. If he accosted ladies, he did not cover
himself until he had quitted them. His reverences, more or less marked,
but always light, were incomparable for their grace and manner. As,
after the battle of Seneff, fought Aug. 11, 1674, against William of
Orange, Monsieur le Prince, le Grand Condé, was walking slowly, from
the effects of gout, up the grand staircase at Versailles, he exclaimed
to the king, who awaited him upon the landing above, “Sire, I crave
your majesty’s pardon, if I keep you waiting;” to which Louis replied,
“Do not hurry, my cousin; no one could move more quickly who was so
loaded with laurels as you are.” It was the language of the court;
and again, when in May, 1706, Marshal Villeroi returned worsted at
the battle of Ramillies, in his encounter with Marlborough and Prince
Eugene, the _Grand Monarque_ gave utterance to one of those delicate
remarks he knew so well how to make, and which sounded almost like
a compliment: “Ah, Monsieur le Marshal,” exclaimed the king, when
he presented himself at Versailles, “at our age one is no longer

“The king loved air and exercise very much, as long as he could make
use of them. He had excelled at dancing, at tennis, and at mall.
On horseback he was admirable, even at a late age. He liked to see
everything done with grace and address. To acquit yourself well or ill
before him was a merit or a fault. He was very fond of shooting, and
there was not a better or more graceful shot than he. He was very fond,
also, of stag-hunting, but in a _caléche_, since he broke his arm while
hunting at Fontainebleau, immediately after the death of the Queen.
He rode alone in a species of “box,” drawn by four little horses,
and drove himself with an accuracy and address unknown to the best
coachmen. He liked splendor, magnificence, and profusion in everything;
you pleased him if you shone through the brilliancy of your houses,
your clothes, your table, and your equipages. As for the king himself,
nobody ever approached his magnificence.”

Old age had crept fast upon Louis XIV. For seventy-two years he had
proudly sat upon the throne of his ancestors; but the time was near
at hand when he must lay aside his sceptre and his crown. Still the
more deeply he became conscious of his physical weakness, the more
determined and extraordinary were his efforts to preserve intact the
interests of the state.

Richard, in his war-tent on the bloody field of Bosworth, never
contemplated a train of more appalling shadows than those evoked by the
memory of Louis XIV., as he sat, supported by cushions and pillowed
upon velvet, in his sumptuous apartment. Maria Theresa, the Queen;
the grand-dauphin; his son, the duke de Bourgoyne; and last of all,
the duke de Berri, the sole prop to that throne which must soon be
empty, dead, all dead, save a frail infant,—such were the thoughts that
crowded upon his last reveries; and well might the poor old man in his
solitary moments bend down that proud head which had no longer strength
to bear a crown, and laying aside the arrogance of those years in which
he had assumed the bearing of a demi-god, confess to his own heart that
he was but human.

On the third of May, 1715, the king rose at an early hour, to witness
an eclipse of the sun. Strange coincidence that he, who had taken for
his emblem a rising sun, should witness the eclipse of that brilliant
orb, while he himself was sinking toward the grave. In the evening he
retired early, complaining of extreme fatigue. The advanced age of the
king and his many infirmities rendered even a slight indisposition
alarming. The report spread rapidly that the king was dangerously
sick. The foreign ambassadors promptly despatched the news to their
respective courts,—a circumstance which soon reached the ears of the
monarch, who, indignant at such indecent precipitancy, and to prove,
not only to the court, but to all Europe, that he was still every inch
a king, commanded that preparations should forthwith be commenced for
a grand review of the household troops at Marly. On the twentieth of
June this magnificent exhibition took place, when for the last time
the troops of gendarmes and light-horse, in their splendid uniforms,
defiled before the terrace of Marly; which they had no sooner done,
than the monarch appeared at the principal entrance of the palace,
habited in the costume of his earlier years; and, descending the marble
steps, mounted his horse, and for four long hours sat proudly in his
saddle, under the eyes of those foreign envoys who had announced his
approaching death to their sovereigns. It was the expiring effort of
his pride. During the whole of the last year of his life, it had been
the study of Louis XIV. to deceive himself, and, above all, to deceive
others, as to the extent of the physical debility induced by his great
age. He rose at a late hour, in order to curtail the fatigues of the
day; received his ministers, and even dined, in his bed; and once,
having prevailed upon himself to leave it, passed several hours in
succession in his cushioned chair. In vain his physician urged upon
him the necessity of exercise, in order to counteract his tendency
to revery and somnolency; the swollen state of his feet and ankles
rendered it impossible for him to rise from his chair without severe
pain, and he never attempted to do so until all his attendants had
left the room, lest they should perceive the state of weakness to
which he was reduced. Great, therefore, had been the effort we have
described, when the monarch had for a time conquered the man, and where
pride had supplied the place of strength. The only exercise which
he ultimately consented to take was in the magnificent gardens of
Versailles, where he was wheeled through the stately avenues, which he
had himself planted, in a bath-chair; a prey to pain, which was visibly
depicted upon his countenance, but which he supported with cold and
silent dignity, too haughty to complain. The king grew daily worse.
The disease was mortal, and he felt he was beyond the power of human
aid. Bitterly Louis XIV. upon his death-bed expiated the faults and
excesses of his past life. He wept over the profligacy of his youth,
deplored the madness of his ambition, by which he had brought mourning
into every corner of his kingdom. On the twenty-sixth of August, the
king commanded all the great dignitaries and officers of the household
to meet in his apartment, and addressed them in a firm voice, saying,
“Gentlemen, I die in the faith and obedience of the Church. I desire
your pardon for the bad example which I have set you. I have greatly to
thank you for the manner in which you have served me, and request from
you the same zeal and the same fidelity toward the dauphin. Farewell,
gentlemen; I feel that this parting has affected not only myself, but
you also. Forgive me. I trust that you will sometimes think of me when
I am gone.”

How sad the scene! “The gray-haired king, half-sitting, half-lying,
in his gorgeous bed, whose velvet hangings, looped back with their
heavy ropes and tassels of gold, were the laborious offering of the
pupils of St. Cyr; the groups of princes in their gorgeous costumes,
dispersed over the vast apartment; the gilded cornices, the priceless,
the tapestried hangings, the richly-carpeted floor, the waste of luxury
on every side, the pride of man’s intellect and of man’s strength; and
in the midst, decay and death, a palsied hand and a dimmed eye.” For
a few moments there was unbroken silence. The king then requested his
great-grandchild, who was to be his successor, to be brought to him.
A cushion was placed at the bedside, and the little prince, clinging
to the hand of his governess, knelt upon it. Louis XIV. gazed for a
moment upon him with mingled anxiety and tenderness, and then said
impressively, “My child, you are about to become a great king; do
not imitate me, either in my taste for building, or in my love of
war. Endeavor, on the contrary, to live in peace with the neighboring
nations; render to God all that you owe him, and cause his name to be
honored by your subjects. Strive to relieve the burdens of your people,
in which I have been unfortunate enough to fail; and never forget the
gratitude that you owe to Madame de Ventadour.”

Louis XV. caused these last words, addressed to him by his grandfather,
to be inscribed on vellum, and attached to the head-cloth of his bed.
Words to which his life for fifty years was but a hollow mockery. The
following days were ones of agony to the expiring king. His intervals
of consciousness were rare and brief. Mortification extended rapidly,
and toward midday, on the 31st of August, his condition became so
much exasperated that it was found necessary to perform the service
for the dying without further delay. The mournful ceremony aroused
him from his lethargy, and his voice was heard, audibly and clearly,
mingled with those of the priests. At the termination of the prayers,
he recognized the Cardinal de Rohan, and said calmly, “These are the
last favors of the Church.” He then repeated several times, “_Nunc et
in hora mortis_”; and finally he exclaimed, with earnest fervor, “O,
my God, come to my aid, and hasten to help me!” He never spoke again;
his head fell back upon the pillow, one long-drawn sigh, and all was
over. The spirit of Louis XIV. had passed the earthly veil, and entered
the vast unknown. An immense concourse had assembled in the marble
court at Versailles, anticipating the announcement of his death. The
moment he breathed his last, the captain of the body-guard approached
the great balcony, threw open the massive windows, and, looking down
upon the multitude below, raised his truncheon above his head, broke it
in the centre, and, throwing the fragments down into the court-yard,
he cried sadly, “The king is dead!” Then, instantly seizing another
staff from the hands of an attendant, he waved it joyfully above his
head, and shouted triumphantly, “Long live the king, Louis XV.!” And
a multitudinous echo from the depths of the lately-deserted apartment
answered as buoyantly, “Long live the king!”

Thus, on the 1st of September, 1715, in his palace, at Versailles, died
“one of the world’s most powerful monarchs, Louis of Bourbon, Louis
the Great, Louis the God-given, Louis the _Grand Monarque_, Louis the
worn-out, unloving, and unloved old man, of magnificent Versailles.”
And when Massillon, called to preach the funeral sermon of Louis XIV.,
as he looked upon the magnificent draperies and insignia of royalty
around him, and thought of the title the deceased king had borne during
his life, he began his discourse, with the simple and striking words,
which amazed the pleasure-loving courtiers of Versailles, “God alone is
great, my brothers.” And now, after two hundred years have rolled away,
at this present time, in this nineteenth century, after the scaffold of
Louis XVI., after the downfall of Napoleon, after the exile of Charles
X., after the flight of Louis Philippe, after the French Revolution,—in
a word, that is to say, after this renewal, complete, absolute,
prodigious, of principles, opinions, situations, influences, and facts;
standing upon the terrace of magnificent Versailles, and looking upon
those scenes, where, for so many years, he was the central light and
figure,—we bid a last adieu to Louis XIV., the _Grand Monarque_,
greatest of all the Bourbons.


A.D. 1672-1725.

    “No true and permanent fame can be founded, except in labors
             which promote the happiness of mankind.”
                                         CHARLES SUMNER.

ONE thousand years ago, Russia was inhabited by disunited, Slavonic
tribes, who were frequently at war with each other. Then Scandinavian
tribes were called in, and the Russian nation grew from the two centres
of Novgorod and Kíef. Christianity was introduced from Constantinople.
Trade had been commenced with the west of Europe, when the whole
country was over-run by the Mongols and Tartars, and the people were
obliged to submit to their yoke. The country had been divided into
various Russian states, which were not ruled directly by the Mongols,
but became vassals. These states were each governed by its own prince,
who were all subject to Tartary. One state after another was at length
swallowed up by the Grand Duchy of Moscow, and the autocracy was
established; which, after freeing Russia from the Mongol yoke, reached
its highest development, under Iván the Terrible, in 1533. The death of
Iván gave a blow to autocracy, and brought the nobility into power. In
1598, nearly the whole of the Russian people were reduced to serfdom,
which was an institution then first legally established. Then came a
period, called the Troublous Time, when pretender vied with pretender,
and the son of the king of Poland was crowned Czar of Moscow. Finally,
the Poles were turned out, and young Michael Románof was elected Czar.
Then followed continual wars with Poland and Sweden. In the reign of
Alexis, in 1645-76, an arbitrary government was formed. Henceforth,
the Czar managed all matters, both great and small, according to his
own will and pleasure. The Czar Alexis was of a gentle and amiable
nature, and was called by his subjects, “The most Debonnair.” But his
good qualities, in the end, rendered him one of the worst sovereigns
of Russia; for he was entirely in the hands of wicked men, who, as
his favorites, exercised all the power, and, in reality, governed the

[Illustration: PIERRE I.]

Then arose the dissent in the Russian Church. The Patriarch, Nikon,
undertook the correction of all the printed and manuscript copies
of the liturgy; and by a decree of an Ecclesiastical Council, the
corrected books were ordered to be the only ones used, and the command
was given that all others should be destroyed. This measure excited
the greatest hostility. It seems strange that passions should be
roused, and people be found willing to suffer martyrdom, for such
seemingly unimportant questions,—as to whether the name of Jesus should
be pronounced, “Isus,” or “Yisus”; whether, in a certain portion of
the morning service, the word “Hallelujah” should be repeated twice
or thrice; and whether the sign of the cross should be made with the
two fore-fingers extended, or with the fore-fingers and the thumb,
as denoting the Trinity. But such was the case; and so great was the
commotion, that arms were resorted to by the Court, at Moscow, to
enforce these innovations; and some of the most obstinate opposers
were even executed. In the east of Russia, the inhabitants of whole
villages shut themselves up in their houses, and setting fire to them,
perished in the flames, rather than accept a new, and what they called
a diabolical, religion. The government was at length successful,
however, and revised service-books were introduced into the churches.

At the present day, nearly one-half of the Russians belong in spirit,
if not openly, to the Dissenters; and the reconciliation between
them and the official church has only been accomplished by relaxing
the rigor of the laws of persecution. During the reign of Alexis,
the father of Peter the Great, much importance was attached to the
length and fulness of the Czar’s title. An accidental omission of a
single word or letter from this long and cumbrous official title was
considered an act of personal disrespect to the prince, almost equal
to high treason, and was punished far more severely than many terrible
crimes. The shortest title of the Czar that could possibly be used,
and which it was necessary to repeat every time that the Czar’s name
was mentioned in document, petition, or discourse, was “The Great Lord
Czar and Grand Duke Alexis Micháilovitch, of all Great and Little and
White Russia Autocrat.” The complete title contained one hundred and
twenty-three words, which we have not space to give. Alexis, having
lost his first wife, in 1669, married for his second wife Natalia
Narýshkin, who was a ward of Matvéief, the chief minister of the Czar.
Their meeting was in this manner: One evening, when the Czar was at
Matvéief’s house, the wife and pretty ward of the prime minister came
into the room, bringing the usual refreshments of cups of _vodka_,
the caviare, and smoked fish, which are eaten by the Russians before
dinner or supper. The widowed Czar was struck by the pretty face of
the tall, shapely, black-eyed girl, and, on going away, said to
Matvéief that he would find a bridegroom for his pretty ward. It was
the custom, when the Czar was in want of a bride, for all the Russian
maidens, of suitable position and beauty, to assemble at the palace
on a certain day, that a bride might be chosen from their number for
the prince. Word was now sent to Natalia Narýshkin to appear with the
other maidens, and it was soon reported that she was the chosen bride.
The daughters of the Czar objected to so young a step-mother; but, in
spite of opposition, both political and from his family, Alexis was
married to Natalia, on the 1st of February, 1671. The Czar had several
daughters of his first wife still living, and two sons, Theodore,
who was very infirm and sickly, and John, or Iván, who was almost
blind, and had a defect of speech, and was nearly an idiot. But his
favorite child was Peter, the son of his second wife, Natalia, who
was born June 9, 1672. The birth of Peter was hailed with great joy,
and Alexis ordered a most splendid ceremonial in honor of the event.
Then came the christening. The ceremony was performed at the Cathedral
of the Annunciation; and the infant Peter was borne to the church in
a cradle placed on wheels, while the priest most venerated for his
sanctity sprinkled the path with holy water. The next day after the
christening the feast occurred. The expense and account books, which
have been preserved, show that on this occasion the tables were loaded
with large pieces of sugar-work, representing eagles, swans, and other
birds, larger than life; also representations of the Muscovite arms
and a model of the Krémlin, the palace of the Czar, and also a large
fortress with cannon. One of the first ceremonies after the birth of a
Russian prince was what was called “taking his measure.” The measure
of Peter was taken on the third day after his birth, and was performed
in this manner: a board of either cypress or linden-wood was cut the
exact length and breadth of the child, which in his case was nineteen
and a quarter inches long and five and a quarter inches broad. Upon
this board a picture, representing the Holy Trinity, together with
the Apostle Peter, was painted by a famous artist. This birth-measure
of Peter was carefully preserved, and now hangs over his tomb in the
Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, in the fortress at St. Petersburg.
A nurse and governess were then selected for the infant Peter; and
he had a special staff of dwarfs who should be his companions and
servants. The infant prince had his own apartments, some of which were
hung with leather, stamped with silver, and others with fine red cloth;
while the furniture was covered with crimson, embroidered with blue and
yellow, and the walls and ceilings were decorated with paintings.

The curious books of accounts enumerate some of the articles ordered
for him in the first years of his childhood. Among them were “cradles
covered with gold-embroidered Turkish velvet; sheets and pillows
of white silk; coverlets of gold and silver stuffs; coats, caps,
stockings, and shoes of velvet, silk, and satin, embroidered with
gold and pearls; buttons and tassels of pearls and emeralds; a chest
for his clothes, covered with dark blue velvet, ornamented with
mother-of-pearl; and a miniature carriage, drawn by ponies, in which
he was taken out to drive. Among his toys were musical instruments
of various kinds, and all sorts of military equipments.” Peter grew
rapidly. He was able to walk when six months old. Being the pet of his
parents, he accompanied them in all their excursions and visits. When
he was three years of age, he was presented with a small carriage
drawn by four ponies, in which he was driven by the court dwarfs, and
he began to take part in the public processions of the court. One scene
is thus described: “Immediately after the carriage of the Czar, there
appeared from another gate of the palace the carriage of the Czarina.
In front went the chamberlains with two hundred runners, after which
twelve large snow-white horses, covered with silk housings, drew the
Czarina. Then followed the small carriage of the youngest prince, all
glittering with gold, drawn by four dwarf ponies. At the side of it
rode four dwarfs on ponies, and another one behind.” The presentation
of Peter at court is thus described:—

“The door on one side suddenly opened, and Peter, three years old, a
curly-headed boy, was seen for a moment, holding his mother’s hand, and
looking at the reception.”

[Illustration: THE KRÉMLIN OF MOSCOW.]

At this time, there were a dozen princesses living at the palace,—the
sisters and the aunts and the six daughters of the Czar Alexis. All
were unmarried. They were forbidden to marry any below their own rank;
and since the Tartar invasion, only two attempts had been made to
marry a Russian princess to a foreigner. None of these princesses,
except Sophia, who had shared the lessons of her brother Theodore, had
more than the rudiments of an education. Most of the princesses were
disposed of by placing them in convents. Natalia, the mother of Peter,
having been brought up by a Scotchwoman, had seen more of society than
the other royal ladies; and she was allowed a greater degree of freedom
than had been vouchsafed to her predecessors, who had been rigidly
secluded within their own apartments.

In 1676, the Czar Alexis died, and the throne descended to his
eldest son, Theodore. It was the custom in Russia for the relations of
the Czar’s wife to have great power at court; and when Theodore came to
the throne, the Miloslávsky family, who were his mother’s relations,
assumed great power, while the family of Peter’s mother, the Czarina
Natalia, lost their influence for the time.

Both Theodore and Iván were feeble and sickly children, while Peter was
strong and robust. But the law of descent was inexorable, and on the
death of Alexis, Theodore became Czar. As he was only fourteen years
of age, the administration of the government was left to the ministers
of state. Now his sister, the Princess Sophia, who was very ambitious,
formed schemes for getting the power into her own hands. She therefore
so devoted herself to the care of Theodore, who was sick most of the
time, that she gained complete ascendency over him; and she met all the
courtiers, who came to visit the sick Czar, with such affable manners,
and showed such intelligence, that she won a strong party of the
nobles over to her support. There was in Russia, at this time, a very
powerful body of troops, which had been organized by the emperors as
an imperial guard. These troops were called the Streltsi. The Princess
Sophia paid great attention to the officers of these guards, and thus
gained their good-will. Theodore soon after died, and named Peter as
his successor, passing over his brother Iván, as his many infirmities
rendered it impossible for him to reign. It is probable that it was
through the influence of some of the nobles who were opposed to Sophia,
that Theodore was induced to name Peter as his successor. Peter,
although but ten years of age, was proclaimed emperor by the nobles,
immediately after Theodore’s death. Sophia now determined to resist
the transfer of the supreme power to Peter. She secretly engaged the
Streltsi, or guards, on her side. She caused a report to be spread,
that the late emperor had been poisoned, and that the Narýshkins had
murdered the Czarewitz Iván, and that the Narýshkins wished to kill all
the royal family. Thus were the relations of the Czarina Natalia, the
mother of Peter, accused of desiring the death of all the children of
the first wife of Alexis, that Peter might gain the throne. Such was
the falsehood that the Princess Sophia is said to have originated in
order to secure the power. The cry then arose, “To arms! Punish the
traitors! To the Krémlin! Save the Czar!” A general alarm was sounded.
The Streltsi, fully armed, advanced from all sides towards the Krémlin,
and surrounded the palace, demanding the Czarewitz Iván. The Czarina
Natalia was advised to go out on the red staircase with the Czar Peter
and the Czarewitz Iván, that the Streltsi might be convinced of the
falsity of the rumor. Trembling with terror, Natalia took by the hand
her son and stepson, and accompanied by the nobles, went out upon the
red staircase. “Here is the Czar Peter and the Czarewitz Iván!” cried
the nobles, to the mob below. “There are no traitors in the royal
family!” The Streltsi placed ladders against the rails, and some of
them climbed up to the platform where the little Czar stood. Peter
looked at them without blanching, or showing any signs of fear. But
even this did not quiet the disturbance, and the Streltsi burst into
the palace. Natalia took Peter and fled for safety to the monastery of
the Trinity. The soldiers pursued her even into the sanctuary, and to
the foot of the altar; but there the sacredness of the spot arrested
their vengeance, and they left their victims with sullen oaths. In
the meantime, the commotion in the city continued for several days,
and the brother of the Empress Natalia, and others of her friends,
were slain. At last a compromise was effected, and it was agreed that
Iván should be proclaimed Czar in conjunction with his brother Peter,
and that the Princess Sophia should be regent. Sophia, knowing that
Iván, the poor idiot, would be but a tool in her hands, endeavored in
every way possible to prevent her half-brother Peter from becoming so
intelligent and energetic that he would take the power away from her.
She therefore caused his teacher to be dismissed, and commenced to
carry out her plan to ruin the bright and talented boy, by taking away
from him all restraint, and indulging him in every pleasure and whim.
Peter was now established in a household of his own, at a palace in
a small village some distance from Moscow, and Sophia selected fifty
boys to live with him as playmates. These boys were provided with every
possible means of indulgence, subject to little restraint. It was the
intention of Sophia that they should do just as they chose, so that
they would all grow up idle, vicious, and good-for-nothing; and she had
also the hope that Peter might so impair his health as to bring him to
an early grave.


But Peter had already been too well instructed, or possessed too much
native good sense, to fall into this snare, and instead of giving up
his studies, he even contrived to turn his companions into scholars
also. He organized a kind of military school, where they practised the
evolutions and discipline necessary in a camp. He caused himself to be
taught to drum, so that he could execute all the signals used in camp
and on the battle-field. He studied fortification, and set the boys
to work with him to construct a battery in a regular and scientific
manner. He learned the use of tools, and the wheelbarrow he used in
making the fortification was one he made himself.

As he grew older, he continued to introduce higher branches of military
art into the school, and he adopted the uniforms and equipments for
the pupils, such as were used in the military schools of other nations
of Europe. The result was, that when he was eighteen years of age, and
the time came for him to leave the place, the institution had become
a well-organized and well-appointed military school, and it continued
in successful operation for a long time afterwards. So this wicked
plan of the ambitious Sophia had completely failed. The energy and
talent that Peter had displayed caused many of the leading nobles to
attach themselves to his cause, by which means he was finally enabled
to depose Sophia from her regency, and to take the power into his own
hands. But before this took place, we must note a still more wicked and
evil design of the ambitious princess.

The party of nobles who now espoused Peter’s cause thought it
expedient that he should marry, and the councillors accordingly chose
for his wife, Eudoxia Lopúkhin, a young lady of noble birth. The
Princess Sophia did all in her power to prevent this match, but she
was unsuccessful, and the marriage took place in February, 1689. It
was thought that a good stay-at-home wife would be likely to keep
him from taking his long excursions for military manœuvres, and for
ship-building, of which he was so fond. But he had scarcely been
married two months before he started off again for his boat-building on
Lake Plestchéief. Here he immediately set to work with his carpenters
to complete the boats, and he wrote to his mother as follows:—

“To my most beloved and, while bodily life endures, my dearest little
mother, Lady Tsaritsa and Grand Duchess Natalia Kirílovna. Thy little
son, now here at work. Petrúshka, I ask thy blessing, and desire to
hear about thy health; and we, through thy prayers, are all well, and
the lake is all got clear from the ice to-day, and all the boats,
except the big ship, are finished, only we are waiting for ropes; and
therefore I beg your kindness that these ropes, seven hundred fathoms
long, be sent from the artillery department without delaying, for the
work is waiting for them, and our sojourn here is being prolonged.”

And again he writes:—

“Hey! I wish to hear about thy health, and beg thy blessing. We are all
well, and about the boats, I say again that they are mighty good, and
Tíkhon Nikítitch will tell you about all this himself. Thy unworthy

Peter with his young wife resided in a country palace a few miles
from Moscow. This place was called Obrogensko. Meanwhile, the Russian
government had been engaged in the Crimean War.

The Poles, having become involved in a war with the Turks, proposed
to the Russians, or Muscovites as they were often called, that they
should aid them in an attempt to conquer the Crimea. In this war
occurred the incident relating to the famous Mazeppa, whose frightful
ride through the tangled thickets of a wild country, bound naked to an
untamed horse, was so graphically described by the poet Byron. Mazeppa
was a Polish gentleman, and having offended a Polish nobleman, he was
thus cruelly punished by his enemy. Some Cossack peasants rescued the
poor Mazeppa from his terrible position, and he afterwards became a
chieftain amongst them. He distinguished himself in these campaigns
in the Crimean war, fought by the Muscovites against the Turks and
Tartars during the regency of the Princess Sophia. This war was not
successful, and Prince Golítsyn, who led the Russian forces, was
obliged to retreat; but fearing to have the state of the case known,
he sent word to Moscow that he had been successful, and was received
by Sophia upon his return with great honors. But the young Peter, who
had been studying military tactics, was so displeased and disgusted
with the military operations of Golítsyn that, when that general was
received by Sophia at Moscow with great state, the rewards could not
then be read, as Peter had refused to sign them. He, however, was
afterwards persuaded to grant them. But this unfortunate campaign
of Golítsyn’s was the turning point in the struggle between the
aristocratic party which espoused the side of Peter, and the government
of Sophia. Now there was formed a dark and wicked plot, and some
historians accuse Sophia of being a party to it, if she did not even
propose it. This was the assassination of the young Czar Peter.

The commander of the Streltsi selected a band of six hundred of the
imperial guards to go with him to Obrogensko. Their plan was to seize
Peter at night while in his bed. This plot was, however, frustrated
by two of the soldiers who revealed it to Peter. He could not at
first believe that Sophia would resort to such a terrible crime, and
messengers were sent to the city to learn the truth of the matter.
These messengers met the imperial guards when they had gone half-way to
Moscow; and, concealing themselves by the wayside until the troops had
passed, they hastened back by a shorter route to inform Peter of his
impending danger. Peter had just time to flee with his wife and mother
to the monastery of the Trinity, when the Streltsi reached his palace,
and sought him in vain. They returned, discomfited and alarmed, to
the Princess Sophia, and reported that Peter had escaped. From his
retreat in the monastery, Peter sent a message to Sophia, charging her
with having sent the imperial guards to take his life. The princess,
greatly alarmed, denied her guilt. The excitement increased. The
leading nobles flocked to the monastery to declare their adherence to
Peter. Sophia endeavored to keep the Streltsi upon her side, but they
at last went over to Peter, and he demanded that the leader of the band
who attempted his assassination should be delivered into his hands.
This Sophia was obliged to do; and the man was put to the torture,
and revealed the plot. He said that the design had been to kill Peter
himself, his mother, and several other near relations. The Princess
Sophia was accused of being the originator of the plot, and many other
persons were also implicated, including Prince Golítsyn, the commander
of the Russian forces in the Crimean War. The leader of the band of
guards who thus attempted the life of Peter was beheaded, Prince
Golítsyn and his family were banished to Siberia, and many others
implicated were put to death, imprisoned for life, or banished. Thus
ended this conspiracy against the young Czar Peter. The Princess Sophia
was shut up in a convent, where she was imprisoned for fifteen years,
when she died. Iván, the brother-Czar with Peter, was too feeble and
inefficient to take any part in the government, and he died about seven
years after this time. The aristocratic party now filled the offices of
state, and administered the government.

As Peter was yet so young, he left everything in the hands of his
counsellors, and for several years took merely a formal part in
the administration. He employed himself in military exercises and
boat-building, and in the indulgence of his mechanical tastes. As
Peter grew older, and took more direction of the affairs of the
government, he made choice of two very able men, whom he afterwards
raised to positions of great honor. The name of one of these statesmen
was Le Fort, and the other was Menshikóf. Le Fort was the son of a
merchant of Geneva. He had from childhood evinced a strong desire
to be a soldier; but his father preferred that he should become a
merchant, and he was taken into the counting-house of one of the great
merchants of Amsterdam. This merchant was constantly sending vessels
to different parts of the world, and Le Fort was sent in charge of
the cargo of one vessel to Copenhagen. At this time, an ambassador
was to be sent from Denmark to Russia; and, as Le Fort knew something
of the Russian language, he secured the place of interpreter in the
suite of the ambassador, and went with him to Moscow. On one occasion,
when the Czar Peter was dining at the house of the ambassador, he
noticed Le Fort, and observed that he spoke the Russian language
remarkably for a foreigner. He was at once interested in him, and
soon secured Le Fort as his own interpreter, as he found that he
also spoke other languages. Le Fort became a great favorite of the
emperor’s, and continued in his service until his death. The first
improvement which Le Fort introduced into Russia related to the dress
and equipment of the troops. The imperial guards had been accustomed
to wear an old-fashioned Russian uniform, consisting of a long outer
coat or gown, which much impeded their movements. In conversing with
the Czar, Le Fort suggested that the dress of the soldiers of the
western nations was more convenient for military use. Peter at once
desired to see it; and Le Fort immediately repaired to the tailor of
the Danish ambassador, and ordered him to make two military suits in
the style worn by the royal guards at Copenhagen, one for an officer
and the other for a soldier in the ranks. Peter was so pleased with
these suits, when they were shown to him, that he said he should like
to have a company of guards dressed and equipped in that manner, and
drilled according to the western style. Le Fort undertook the task of
organizing and equipping such a band. When this company was completed,
and clothed in the new uniform, and had been properly drilled, Le Fort
placed himself at their head, and marched them, with drums beating and
colors flying, before the palace gates. The Czar came to the window
to see them pass, and was so pleased that he said he would join the
company himself. He accordingly ordered a dress to be made for his
own use, and he took his place in the ranks, and drilled as a common
soldier. From this beginning, the entire imperial army was reformed.
The Czar now proposed to Le Fort to make arrangements for bringing into
the country a great number of mechanics and artisans from Denmark,
Germany, France, and other European countries, in order that their
improved methods might be introduced into Russia. To accomplish this
end, the tariff of duties on the products and manufactures of foreign
countries was greatly reduced. This increased the importation of goods
from foreign countries, and promoted the intercourse of the Russians
with foreign merchants, manufacturers, and artisans, and accustomed the
people to a better style of living by improving their dress, furniture,
and equipages. Also, the new system greatly increased the revenues of
the empire. Among other reforms instituted by Peter, was that of the
dress of his people. The Russians had been accustomed to wear long
gowns, similar to those worn now in Oriental countries. As this costume
was inconvenient for soldiers, workmen, and artisans, Peter required it
to be changed. This description is given of one strange style of dress
among the ancient Russian ladies:—

“They wore a sort of dress, of which the sleeves were ten or twelve
yards long. These sleeves were made very full, and were drawn up upon
the arm, in a sort of puff; it being the fashion to have as great a
length of sleeve as could possibly be crowded on, between the shoulder
and the wrist. The customary salutation between ladies and gentlemen
in society, when this dress was in fashion, was performed through the
intervention of the sleeves. On the approach of the gentleman, the
lady, by a sudden and dexterous motion of her arm, would throw off the
end of her sleeve to him. The sleeve, being so very long, could be
thrown in this way half across the room. The gentleman would take the
end of the sleeve which represented, we are to suppose, the hand of the
lady, and, after kissing and saluting it in a most respectful manner,
he would resign it, and the lady would draw it back again upon her arm.”

Peter required the people to change this dress, and he sent patterns
of the coats worn in Western Europe, to all parts of the country. He,
however, met with a good deal of difficulty in inducing the people
to follow these new fashions, especially regarding the shaving of
their mustaches and beards. He thereupon assessed a tax upon beards,
requiring every gentleman who wore one to pay a hundred rubles a year;
and if any peasant entered the city wearing a beard, he was stopped at
the gates, and rerequired to pay a fine of a penny. The officers of the
customs, who were stationed at the gates of the towns, were ordered to
stop every man who wore a long dress, and compel him to pay a fine
of fifty cents, or else kneel down, and have all the part of his coat
which lay upon the ground cut off with a pair of big shears. The Czar
first set an example also, of rapid motion through the streets. It had
been the custom for all the nobles to move about attended by a vast
retinue; and as it was considered more stately to move slowly, and
as all those lower in rank must stand, with uncovered heads, in the
presence of their masters, the streets were often blocked in the snow
and rain by these vast cavalcades of royalty; and crowds were obliged
to stand in the cold and wet, with bare heads exposed to the inclemency
of the weather. Peter the Great was attended, therefore, only by a
few persons, when going out in carriage or sleigh, and his coachman
was ordered to drive at a quick pace; and he limited the attendants
of his nobles to a certain number. This story is told of the manner
in which the Czar’s attention was attracted to young Menshikóf, who
became one of his chief officers. Alexander Menshikóf was the son of a
laboring man, in the service of a monastery, on the banks of the Volga.
Young Menshikóf afterwards went to Moscow, and was there employed in
a pastry-cook’s shop. It was his part of the work to go out in the
streets and sell pies and cakes. In order to attract customers, he
often sang songs. At one time Peter was passing, and stopped to listen
to the songs of the young pastry-boy. Finally, the Czar asked him what
he would take for his whole stock of cakes and pies, basket and all.
The boy promptly stated the sum he would take for his wares, but as
for the basket, as it belonged to his master, he could not sell it;
but he dryly added: “Still, everything belongs to Your Majesty, and
Your Majesty has, therefore, only to give me the command, and I shall
deliver it up to you.”


This reply so pleased the Czar, that he took the boy into his service.
When Peter the Great first became the sole ruler of Russia, after the
downfall of Sophia, he was about twenty years of age. His word was
law. Life and death hung upon his will. His dominions extended so far,
that, when he wished to send an ambassador to one of his neighbors—the
emperor of China—it took the messenger more than eighteen months of
constant travelling to go from the capital to the frontier. As to
Peter’s character, he was talented, ambitious, energetic, and resolute;
but he was also quick-tempered, imperious, merciless, towards his
enemies, and possessed an indomitable will. Peter thus describes his
first trial of the open sea:—

“For some years I had the fill of my desires on Lake Pereyaslávl, but
finally it grew too narrow for me. I then went to the Kúbensky Lake,
but that was too shallow. I then decided to see the open sea, and
began often to beg the permission of my mother to go to Archangel. She
forbade me such a dangerous journey, but, seeing my great desire, and
my unchangeable longing, allowed it, in spite of herself.”

So, in 1693, Peter set out from Moscow, with a suite of a hundred
persons, to go to Archangel. Having arrived there, the smell of the
salt water was too inviting to be resisted; and Peter put out to sea
on a little yacht, called St. Peter, which had been built for him. His
mother, who had exacted a promise that he would not go to sea, hearing
that he had gone on a sea journey, was much alarmed, and wrote to him,
urging his return. She even had a letter written to him, in the name of
his little son, Alexis, then three years old, begging him to come back.
To this he replied:—

“By thy letter I see, oh! oh! that thou hast been mightily grieved, and
why? Why dost thou trouble thyself about me? Thou hast deigned to write
that thou hast given me into the care of the Virgin. When thou hast
such a guardian for me, why dost thou grieve?”

While at Archangel, besides the time which Peter gave to the study of
commerce and ship-building, he found leisure for inspecting various
industries and for practising both at the forge and at the lathe. A
chandelier made of walrus teeth, turned by him, hangs now over his
tomb in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, at St. Petersburg;
and carved work in bone and wood, and iron bars forged by him at this
time, are still preserved. Besides the balls and dinners which he
attended at Archangel, to which he had also been much given at Moscow,
he frequently attended a neighboring church, where he himself read
the Epistle, sang with the choir, and made great friends with the
archbishop. In 1694 his mother Natalia died, and soon he repudiated his
wife Eudoxia and shut her up in a convent, where he kept her confined
all the rest of her life. Peter had only married this wife to please
his mother and his nobles, and having never loved her, soon tired of
her. She had been brought up in the old-fashioned Russian way, and was
very ignorant; but as she appeared to love him devotedly, his treatment
of her was wicked and cruel, and in his after domestic life there is
much to condemn. Although he did much for the advancement of Russia,
and his public enterprise and achievements are greatly to be admired,
in character he was brutal and selfish, and his tastes were low and
vicious. He was fond of drunken carousals, and sank the dignity of his
rank in his associations with inferior and profligate companions. As a
man, there is little to admire in him, but as a public benefactor of
his country, he is greatly to be commended. As an artisan, statesman,
and general, he introduced wise and good reforms into his realms, and
raised his people from semi-barbarism to rank with the other civilized
nations of Europe.

Though he was not a scholar, he encouraged learning. There was, about
this time, a second attempt made to assassinate the Czar. As Peter was
often accustomed to attend conflagrations in Moscow, these conspirators
formed the plan of setting fire to some building near the royal
palace, and when the emperor, as was his wont, should come out to help
extinguish the flames, he was to be assassinated. They then determined
to go to the convent where Sophia was confined, release her, and
proclaim her empress. This plot was, however, revealed to the Czar, and
he thereupon ordered a small body of men to attend him, and he went at
once to the houses of the various conspirators and arrested them. They
were afterwards executed in a most barbarous manner. The criminals were
brought out one by one. First their arms were cut off, then their legs,
and finally their heads. The amputated limbs and heads were then hung
upon a column in the market-place in Moscow, where they were left as a
bloody warning to others, as long as the weather remained cold enough
to keep them frozen. Thus ended the second conspiracy against the
life of Peter the Great. In 1695 the Czar, in conjunction with other
European powers, declared war again against the Turks and Tartars.
Peter acquired great renown throughout Europe for his successful siege
against Azof, to obtain which was one of the chief objects of the
campaign. This success also increased Peter’s interest in the building
of ships. He determined to establish a large fleet on the Black Sea,
and in order to ascertain the best modes of ship-building, Peter
resolved to make a journey to Western Europe.

That he might not be burdened by fêtes and ceremonies, he adopted
a disguise. Macaulay said of this journey, “It is an epoch in the
history, not only of his own country, but of ours and of the world.”

Various reasons have been given by different writers for this step
of the Czar. Pleyer, the secret Austrian agent, wrote to the Emperor
Leopold that the whole embassy was “merely a cloak for the freedom
sought by the Czar, to get out of his own country and divert himself a
little.” A document in the archives at Vienna states that the “cause of
the journey was a vow made by Peter, when in danger on the White Sea,
to make a pilgrimage to the tombs of the apostles St. Peter and St.
Paul at Rome.” Voltaire said, “He resolved to absent himself for some
years from his dominions, in order to learn how better to govern them.”
Napoleon said, “He left his country to deliver himself for a while from
the crown, so as to learn ordinary life, and remount by degrees to
greatness.” But later writers say, “Peter went abroad, not to fulfil a
vow, not to amuse himself, not to become more civilized, not to learn
the art of government, but simply to become a good shipwright.”

His mind was filled with the idea of creating a navy on the Black Sea,
and his tastes had always been mechanical. In order to give the Czar
greater freedom of action, the purpose of his journey was concealed
by means of a great embassy, which should visit the chief countries
of western Europe. In the suite of the ambassadors were twenty nobles
and thirty-five called volunteers, who were going for the study of
ship-building. Among these was the Czar himself. These volunteers were
chiefly young men who had been comrades of Peter in his play-regiments
and boat-building. During the absence of the Czar the government was
intrusted to a regency of three persons, the uncle of the Czar and
two princes. We have not space to describe this journey in full, and
can only mention certain incidents. The Czar is thus described by the
electress of Hannover and her daughter, whom Peter met at Koppenbrügge:—

“My mother and I began to pay him our compliments, but he made Mr.
Le Fort reply for him, for he seemed shy, hid his face in his hands,
and said, ‘_Ich kann nicht sprechen_.’ But we tamed him a little, and
then he sat down at the table between my mother and myself, and each
of us talked to him in turn. Sometimes he replied with promptitude, at
others, he made two interpreters talk, and assuredly he said nothing
that was not to the point on all subjects that were suggested. As to
his grimaces, I imagined them worse than I found them, and some are not
in his power to correct. One can see also that he has had no one to
teach him how to eat properly, but he has a natural unconstrained air
which pleases me.”


Her mother also wrote: “The Czar is very tall, his features are fine,
and his figure very noble. He has great vivacity of mind, and a ready
and just repartee. But, with all the advantages with which nature has
endowed him, it could be wished that his manners were a little less
rustic. I asked him if he liked hunting. He replied that his father had
been very fond of it, but that he himself, from his earliest youth, had
had a real passion for navigation and for fireworks. He told us that
he worked himself in building ships, showed us his hands, and made us
touch the callous places that had been made by work. He has quite the
manners of his country. If he had received a better education, he
would be an accomplished man, for he has many good qualities, and an
infinite amount of native wit.”

The Czar proceeded to Holland, and in the little town of Saardam, not
far from Amsterdam, may still be seen the shop which Peter occupied
while there. The historians say, he entered himself as a common
ship-carpenter, at Amsterdam, and worked for several months among
the other workmen, wearing the same dress they wore. In moments of
rest, the Czar, sitting down on a log, with his hatchet between his
knees, was willing to talk to any one who addressed him simply as
carpenter Peter, but turned away without answering if called Sire or
Your Majesty. Peter’s curiosity was insatiable. He visited workshops,
factories, cabinets of coins, anatomical museums, botanical gardens,
hospitals, theatres, and numerous other places; and inquired about
everything he saw, until he was recognized by his usual questions,
“What is that for? How does that work? That will I see.” He made
himself acquainted with Dutch home and family life. Every market day
he went to the Botermarkt, mingled with the people, and studied their

He took lessons from a travelling dentist, and experimented on his
servants. He mended his own clothes, and learned enough of cobbling to
make himself a pair of slippers. He visited Protestant churches, and
did not forget the beer-houses. The frigate upon which Peter worked so
long, was at last launched, and proved a good ship. He had seen some
English ships which pleased him so much, that he determined to set out
for England, which he did in 1698, leaving his embassy in Holland.

King William of England made Peter a present of an English yacht,
with which he was much delighted. Peter spent much of his time in
England, looking for suitable persons to employ in arts and mechanics
in Russia. He avoided all court pomp and etiquette during this
journey, and travelled incognito, as much as possible. He visited also
the mint in England, for he was pleased with the excellence of the
English coinage, and he designed recoining the Russian money, which
he afterwards accomplished, coining copper, silver, and gold to the
extent of $18,000,000 in the space of three years, to replace the bits
of stamped leather formerly used. At length he returned to Amsterdam,
where his embassy awaited him. When Peter the Great was excited by
anger or emotion, the ugly aspect of his countenance and demeanor was
greatly aggravated by a nervous affection of the head and face, which
attacked him, particularly when he was in a passion, and which produced
convulsive twitches of the muscles, that drew his head by jerks to one
side, and distorted his face in a manner dreadful to behold. It was
said that this disorder was first induced in his childhood, by some
one of the terrible frights through which he passed. This distortion,
together with the coarse and savage language he employed when in a
passion, made him appear at times more like some ugly monster of
fiction than like a man. He disliked court etiquette, and avoided
pompous ceremonies. Of course there was much curiosity to see him in
the various cities he visited, but he generally avoided the crowds;
and when his splendid embassy entered a city in royal state, and the
people collected in vast numbers to behold the famous Czar, while they
were straining their eyes, and peering into every carriage of the royal
procession in hopes of seeing him, Peter himself would slip into the
city by some quiet street, in disguise, and meeting the merchants, with
whom he delighted to associate, he would go to some inn and indulge in
his pipe and beer, leaving his embassy to represent royalty. At last
his disguise was discovered, and then the news was circulated that
the Czar could be easily recognized by his great height,—nearly seven
feet,—by the twitching of his face, by his gesturing with his right
hand, and by a small mole on the right cheek. His appearance is thus
described by one who saw him at this time:—

“He is a prince of very great stature, but there is one circumstance
which is unpleasant. He has convulsions, sometimes in his eyes,
sometimes in his arms, and sometimes in his whole body. He at times
turns his eyes so that one can see nothing but the whites. I do not
know whence it arises, but we must believe that it is a lack of good
breeding. Then he has also movements in the legs, so that he can
scarcely keep in one place. He is very well made, and goes about
dressed as a sailor, in the highest degree simple, and wishing nothing
else than to be on the water.”

But the Cardinal Kollonitz, primate of Hungary, gives a more flattering
picture of Peter the Great:—

“The Czar is a youth of from twenty-eight to thirty years of age,
is tall, of an olive complexion, rather stout than thin, in aspect
between proud and grave, and with a lively countenance. His left eye,
as well as his left arm and leg, were injured by the poison given him
during the life of his brother; but there remain now only a fixed and
fascinated look in his eye, and a constant movement of his arm and
leg, to hide which, he accompanies this forced motion with continual
movements of his entire body, which, by many people in the countries
which he has visited, has been attributed to natural causes, but really
it is artificial. His wit is lively and ready; his manners rather
civil than barbarous, the journey he has made having improved him,
and the difference from the beginning of his travels and the present
time being visible, although his native roughness may still be seen in
him; but it is chiefly noticeable in his followers, whom he holds in
check with great severity. He has a knowledge of geography and history,
and, what is most to be noticed, he desires to know these subjects
better; but his strongest inclination is for maritime affairs, at which
he himself works mechanically, as he did in Holland; and this work,
according to many people who have to do with him, is indispensable to
divert the effects of the poison, which still very much troubles him.
In person and in aspect, as well as in his manners, there is nothing
which would distinguish him or declare him to be a prince.”

[Illustration: PETER I., CZAR OF RUSSIA.

(From Original Copperplate Engraving.)]

During his visit to Paris, the Czar often astonished the polite
Parisians. “On one occasion he went with the duke of Orleans to the
opera, where he sat on the front bench of the large box. During the
performance the Czar asked if he could not have some beer. A large
goblet on a saucer was immediately brought. The regent rose, took it,
and presented it to the Czar, who, with a smile and bow of politeness,
took the goblet without any ceremony, drank, and put it back on the
saucer, which the regent kept holding. The duke then took a plate with
a napkin, which he presented to the Czar, who, without rising, made use
of it, at which scene the audience seemed astonished.”

Notwithstanding his rough manners, the history, character, and
achievements of the Czar, together with his exact knowledge in so many
directions, and his interest in everything that was scientific and
technical, made a deep impression upon those who met him. St. Simon
thus describes him: “He was a very tall man, well made, not too stout,
with a roundish face, a high forehead, and fine eyebrows, a short
nose—but not too short—large at the end; his lips were rather thick,
his complexion a ruddy brown; fine black eyes, large, lively, piercing,
and well apart; a majestic and gracious look when he wished, otherwise
severe and stern, with a twitching which did not often return, but
which disturbed his look and his whole expression, and inspired fear.
That lasted but a moment, accompanied by a wild and terrible look,
and passed away as quickly. His whole air showed his intellect, his
reflection, and his greatness, and did not lack a certain grace. He
wore only a linen collar, a round brown peruke without powder, which
did not touch his shoulders; a brown, tight-fitting coat, plain, with
gold buttons; a waistcoat, breeches, stockings, no gloves nor cuffs;
the star of his order on his coat, and the ribbon underneath, his coat
often quite unbuttoned; his hat on a table, and never on his head even
out of doors. With all this simplicity, and whatever bad carriage
or company he might be, one could not fail to perceive the air of
greatness that was natural to him.”

While at Vienna, Peter learned of another revolt of the Streltsi, and
thereupon hastened back to Moscow to put down the insurrection. The
rebellion was soon quelled; but the tortures and executions which
followed were barbarous. Some were beheaded; some were broken on the
wheel, and then left to die in horrible agonies; many were buried
alive, their heads only being left above the ground. It is said
that Peter took such a savage delight in these punishments that he
executed many of the victims with his own hand. At one time, when half
intoxicated, at a banquet, he ordered twenty prisoners to be brought
in, and between his drinks of brandy cut off their heads himself, being
an hour in cutting off the twenty heads.

As Peter thought Sophia was implicated in this revolt, he ordered the
arm of the ringleader of the plot to be cut off, and an address which
he found, written to Sophia, to be placed in the stiffened hand, and
by his order this ghastly relic was fastened to the wall in Sophia’s
apartment. When the trials were over, a decree was issued, abolishing
the Streltsi; and they were all sent into exile. Peter was now involved
in a war with Sweden for the possession of the eastern shore of the
Baltic Sea. At first, the Swedes were victorious; but in about a year
the Czar gained possession of a considerable portion of the Baltic
shore, and he thereupon determined to build a new city there, with the
view of making it the naval and commercial capital of his kingdom. This
plan was successfully carried out, and the building of the great city
of St. Petersburg was one of the most important events in the reign of
Peter the Great.

At length, Charles XII., king of Sweden, began to be alarmed at the
increasing power of the Czar in that part of the country, and he
invaded Russia with an army. The famous battle of Pultowa, by which the
invasion of the Swedes was repelled, was fought in 1709; and this was
almost the only serious danger from any foreign source which threatened
the dominions of Peter the Great during his reign.

Peter, having been previously privately married to Catherine,
determined, in 1712, to have a public ceremony. Peter’s first wife had
one son, Alexis, who occasioned his father the most serious trouble.
Alexis was indolent and most vicious in his habits of life; and so
outrageous was his conduct that at last his father caused him to be
imprisoned. It was then discovered that Alexis had been planning
a revolt, and Peter referred his case to a grand council of civil
authorities, and also a convocation of the clergy to determine upon
the sentence to be pronounced upon this rebellious son. The council
declared that he was worthy of death, and the Czar confirmed the
judgment of the council, and a day was appointed on which Alexis was
to be arraigned in order that sentence of death might be solemnly
pronounced upon him. But before the appointed day arrived, Alexis was
attacked with convulsions, caused by his terror; and the Czar visited
him in the fortress where he was dying.

The dying prince besought forgiveness of his father with such prayers
and tears that Peter and his ministers were overcome with emotion. The
Czar gave Alexis his forgiveness and his blessing, and took his leave
with tears and lamentations. Soon after, Alexis expired. The funeral
rites were performed by the Czar and his family with much solemnity. At
the service in the church a funeral sermon was pronounced by the priest
from the appropriate text, “O Absalom! my son! my son Absalom!” Thus
ended this dreadful tragedy.

The heir to the throne was now the little son of Catherine, Peter
Petrowitz. The birth of this son, which occurred about three years
before the death of Alexis, was such a delight to Peter the Great that
he celebrated the event with public rejoicings. At the baptism of the
babe, two kings—those of Denmark and of Prussia—acted as godfathers.
The christening was attended with most gorgeous banquets. Among other
curious contrivances were two enormous pies,—one served in the room of
the gentlemen and the other in that of the ladies. From the ladies’
pie, there stepped out, when it was opened, a young dwarf, very small,
and clothed in a fantastic manner. The dwarf brought out with him from
the pie some glasses and a bottle of wine, and he walked around the
table, drinking to the health of the ladies, who were intensely amused
by his droll manners. In the gentlemen’s room the pie was similar, from
which a female dwarf stepped forth and performed the same ceremony.
Peter the Great was much attached to his wife Catherine, whose romantic
life we have not space to describe. Her influence over the Czar was
most beneficial.

About a year after the death of Alexis, the little Peter Petrowitz, the
idolized son of the Czar, also died. Peter the Great was completely
overwhelmed with grief at this new calamity. Even Catherine, who
usually had power to soothe his fits of frenzy, anger, or grief, and
whose touch would often stop the contortions of his face, could not
comfort him now; for the sight of her only reminded him more keenly of
his loss. It was feared at this time that grief would kill the Czar;
for he shut himself up alone, and would not allow any one to come
near him for three days and nights. Peter the Great, however, lived
sixteen years after this event. During these last years he continued
the reforms in his empire and increased the power and influence of his
government among surrounding nations. As both of his sons were dead,
he determined to leave the government in the hands of Catherine, and
she was crowned empress with most imposing ceremonies. In less than
a year after this event, the Czar was attacked with a sudden illness
during the ceremonies of rejoicings connected with the betrothal of
one of his daughters to a foreign duke. His death took place on the
28th of January, 1725. Another of his daughters having died a short
time after her father, their bodies were interred together. The funeral
obsequies were so protracted, and were conducted with so much pomp and
ceremony, that six weeks elapsed before the remains of Peter the Great
were finally committed to the tomb. The fame of Peter the Great differs
from that attained by other famous rulers of the world; for it was not
consequent upon renowned foreign conquests, but the triumph which Peter
achieved was the commencement of a work of internal improvement and
reform which now, after a century and a half has passed, is still going


A.D. 1712-1786.

    “Kings are like stars,—they rise and set, they have
     The worship of the world, but no repose.”—SHELLEY.

                      “A man’s a man;
    But when you see a king, you see the work
    Of many thousand men.”—GEORGE ELIOT.

CARLYLE accused Schiller of “oversetting fact, disregarding reality,
and tumbling time and space topsy-turvy.” That there is great danger
of doing the latter, in condensing such a life as that of Frederick
the Great into the small space allotted to these sketches, cannot be
denied; but fiction itself could scarcely overstate the facts connected
with this weird but most fascinating glimpse of historical events.
Carlyle says: “With such wagon-loads of books and printed records as
exist on the subject of Frederick, it has always seemed possible, even
for a stranger, to acquire some real understanding of him; though
practically, here and now, I have to own it proves difficult beyond
conception. Alas! the books are not cosmic; they are chaotic.”

[Illustration: FREDERICK II., KING OF PRUSSIA, ÆT. 58.]

True it is, it is not want of material, but the overwhelming
multiplicity of documents, which renders it difficult to trace out a
clear-cut sketch of Frederick the Great; and that we may do it more
concisely, and yet entertainingly, a series of panoramic pictures will
perhaps be the best method of achieving the desired end.

“About one hundred years ago there used to be seen sauntering on the
terraces of Sans Souci for a short time in the afternoon—or you might
have met him elsewhere at an earlier hour, riding or driving in a
rapid business manner on the open roads, or through the scraggy woods
and avenues of that intricate, amphibious Potsdam region—a highly
interesting, lean little old man, of alert though slightly stooping
figure, whose name among strangers was _King Friedrich the Second_, or
Frederick the Great of Prussia, and at home among the common people,
who much loved and esteemed him, was _Vater Fritz_, Father Fred.

“He is a king, every inch of him, though without the trappings of a
king. He presents himself in a Spartan simplicity of vesture: no crown
but an old military cocked hat, generally old, or trampled and kneaded
into absolute softness if new; no sceptre but one like Agamemnon’s—a
walking-stick cut from the woods, which serves also as a riding-stick;
and for royal robes a mere soldier’s blue coat with red facings, coat
likely to be old, and sure to have a good deal of Spanish snuff on the
breast of it; rest of the apparel dim, unobtrusive in color or cut,
ending in high over-knee military boots, which may be brushed, but are
not permitted to be blackened or varnished.

“The man is not of god-like physiognomy, any more than of imposing
stature or costume: close-shut mouth with thin lips, prominent jaws and
nose, receding brow, by no means of Olympian height; head, however, is
of long form, and has superlative gray eyes in it; not what is called a
beautiful man, nor yet, by all appearance, what is called a happy. The
face bears evidence of many sorrows, of much hard labor done in this
world. Quiet stoicism, great unconscious, and some conscious, pride,
well tempered with a cheery mockery of humor, are written on that
old face, which carries its chin well forward in spite of the slight
stoop about the neck; snuffy nose rather flung into the air, under its
old cocked hat, like an old snuffy lion on the watch, and such a pair
of eyes as no man, or lion, or lynx, of that century bore elsewhere.
Those eyes, which, at the bidding of his great soul, fascinated you
with seduction or with terror; most excellent, potent, brilliant eyes,
swift-darting as the stars, steadfast as the sun; gray, we said, of
the azure-gray color; large enough, not of glaring size; the habitual
expression of them vigilance and penetrating sense, and gives us the
notion of a lambent outer radiance springing from some great inner
sea of light and fire in the man. The voice, if he speak to you, is
clear, melodious, and sonorous; all tones are in it: ingenuous inquiry,
graceful sociality, light-flowing banter up to definite word of
command, up to desolating word of rebuke and reprobation.”

Such is the picture of Frederick the Great in his later days; but
now we will turn back our panoramic views, and behold the setting of
his early years: and, to a clearer understanding of those events,
an aid may be found in glancing at his native country, Prussia. For
many centuries the country on the southern coasts of the Baltic Sea
was inhabited by wild tribes of barbarians, almost as savage as the
beasts which roamed in their forests. After a time the tribes, tamed
and partly civilized, produced a race of tall and manly proportions,
fair in complexion, with flaxen hair, stern aspect, great physical
strength, and most formidable foes in battle. Centuries passed,
of which history notes only wars and woes, when from this chaotic
barbarism order emerged. Small states were organized, and a political
life began. In 1700 one of the petty provinces was called the
Marquisate of Brandenburg, whose marquis was Frederick, of the family
of Hohenzollern. To the east of this province was a duchy, called
Prussia, which was at length added to the domains of Frederick, the
marquis of Brandenburg, and he obtained from the emperor of Germany the
recognition of his dominions as a kingdom, and assumed the title of
Frederick I. of Prussia. On the 16th of November, 1700, his ambassador
returned triumphantly from Vienna. “The Kaiser has consented; we are
to wear a royal crown on the top of our periwig.” Thus Prussia became
a kingdom. When Frederick was crowned king of Prussia, most gorgeous
was the pomp, most royal was the grandeur, of the imposing ceremonies.
Carlyle says:—

“The magnificence of Frederick’s processionings into Konigsburg, and
of his coronation ceremonials there, what pen can describe it! what
pen need! Folio volumes with copper-plates have been written on it,
and are not yet all pasted in band-boxes or slit into spills. ‘The
diamond buttons of his majesty’s coat’ (snuff-colored or purple, I
cannot recollect) cost £1,500 apiece. By this one feature judge what
an expensive Herr. Streets were hung with cloth, carpeted with cloth,
no end of draperies and cloth; your oppressed imagination feels as if
there was cloth enough of scarlet and other bright colors to thatch
the Arctic Zone; with illuminations, cannon-salvos, fountains running
wine. Frederick himself put the crown on his head, ‘King here in my own
right, after all,’ and looked his royalest, we may fancy,—the kind eyes
of him, almost fierce for moments, and the ‘cheerfulness of pride’ well
blending with something of awful.”

And now we must hang up the picture of Frederick the grandfather, for
there has another Frederick come to claim our attention. “Courage,
poor old grandfather! Poor old man! he got his own back half broken by
a careless nurse letting him fall, and has slightly stooped ever since,
much against his will, for he would fain have been beautiful. But here
is a new edition of a Frederick, the first having gone off with so
little effect. This one’s back is still unbroken. Who knows but Heaven
may be kinder to this one? Heaven was much kinder to this one. Him
Heaven had kneaded of a more potent stuff; a mighty fellow, this one,
and a strange; of a swift, far-darting nature this one, like an Apollo
clad in sunbeams and in lightnings, and with a back which all the world
could not succeed in breaking.”

Between the old grandfather and this famous Frederick there
hangs the picture of still another Frederick, only a little less
famous,—Frederick Wilhelm, crown prince of Prussia when his famous
son was born, afterwards second king of Prussia, and withal most
ferocious in his nature, part bear and part maniac; his picture is thus
graphically sketched.

“The new monarch, who assumed the crown with the title of Frederick
William, not with that of Frederick II., to the utter consternation
of the court dismissed nearly every honorary official of the palace,
from the highest dignitary to the humblest page. His flashing eye
and determined manner were so appalling that no one ventured to
remonstrate. A clean sweep was made, so that the household was
reduced to the lowest footing of economy consistent with the supply
of indispensable wants. Eight servants were retained at six shillings
a week. His father had thirty pages; all were dismissed but three.
There were one thousand saddle-horses in the royal stables; Frederick
William kept thirty. Three-fourths of the names were struck from the
pension list. For twenty-seven years this strange man reigned. He
was like no other monarch. Great wisdom and shrewdness were blended
with unutterable folly and almost maniacal madness. Though a man of
strong powers of mind, he was very illiterate. ‘For spelling, grammar,
penmanship, and composition, his semi-articulate papers resemble
nothing else extant,—are as if done by the paw of a bear; indeed,
the utterance generally sounds more like the growling of a bear than
anything that could be handily spelled or parsed. But there is a
decisive human sense in the heart of it, and such a dire hatred of
empty bladders, unrealities, and hypocritical forms and pretenses,
which he calls wind and humbug, as is very strange indeed.’

“His energy inspired the whole kingdom, and paved the way for the
achievements of his son. The father created the machine with which the
son attained such wonderful results. He commuted the old feudal service
into a fixed money payment. He goaded the whole realm into industry,
compelling even the apple-women to knit at the stalls.

“The crown lands were farmed out. He drained bogs, planted colonies,
established manufactures, and in every way encouraged the use of
Prussian products. He carried with him invariably a stout rattan cane.
Upon the slightest provocation, like a madman, he would thrash those
who displeased him. He was an arbitrary king, ruling at his sovereign
will, and disposing of the liberty, the property, and the lives of
his subjects at his pleasure. Every year he accumulated large masses
of coin, which he deposited in barrels in the cellar of his palace.
He had no powers of graceful speech, but spent his energetic, joyless
life in grumbling and growling. He would allow no drapery, no stuffed
furniture, no carpets in his apartments. He sat upon a plain wooden
chair. He ate roughly of roast beef, despising all delicacies. His
dress was a close military blue coat, with red cuffs and collar, buff
waistcoat and breeches, and white linen gaiters to the knee. His
sword was belted around his waist. A well-worn, battered triangular
hat covered his head. He walked rapidly through the streets which
surrounded his palaces at Potsdam and Berlin. If he met any one, he
would abruptly inquire, ‘Who are you?’ When his majesty took a walk,
every human being fled before him, as if a tiger had broken loose
from a menagerie. If he met a lady in the street, he gave her a kick,
and told her to go home and mind her children. If he saw a clergyman
staring at the soldiers, he admonished the reverend gentleman to betake
himself to study and prayer, and enforced his pious advice by a sound
caning administered on the spot. But it was in his own house that he
was most unreasonable and ferocious. His palace was hell, and he the
most execrable of fiends.”

And now we will turn this unlovely picture of the bearish Frederick
William to the wall, while we examine a portrait of the young Fritz,
afterwards Frederick the Great.

In the palace of Berlin, on the 24th of January, 1712, a small infant
opened its eyes upon this world. Though small, he was of great promise
and possibility, “and thrice and four times welcome to all sovereign
and other persons in the Prussian court and Prussian realms in those
cold winter days. His father, they say, was like to have stifled him
with his caresses, so overjoyed was the man, or at least to have
scorched him in the blaze of the fire, when happily some much suitabler
female nurse snatched this little creature from the rough paternal
paws, and saved it for the benefit of Prussia and mankind.”

Then they christened this wee fellow, aged one week, with immense
magnificence and pomp of ceremony, Karl Frederick; but the Karl dropped
altogether out of practice, and Frederick (_Rich in Peace_) became
his only title; until his father became king of Prussia, and Fritz
stepped into the rank of crown prince, and subsequently became the most
renowned sovereign of his nation, and took his place in the foremost
rank of the famous rulers of the world.

Frederick William had married, when eighteen years of age, his pretty
cousin, Sophie Dorothee, daughter of George I. of England. Little Fritz
had an elder sister, named Wilhelmina. There were several younger
children afterwards, but our story mostly concerns Fritz and his sister
Wilhelmina, for whom he showed greater affection than for any other

Frederick William was very desirous that Fritz should be a soldier, but
the beautiful laughing Fritz, with his long golden curls and sensitive
nature, was fonder of books and music than of war and soldiering,
which much offended his stern father; and so great was his abhorrence
of such a feminine employment as he esteemed music, that little Fritz
and Wilhelmina must needs practice in secret; and had it not been for
the aid of their mother, the Queen Sophie Dorothee, they would have
been denied this great pleasure. But the music-masters were sent to
the forests or caves by the queen, and there the prince Fritz and
Wilhelmina took their much-prized music-lessons. But one day the
stern king found Fritz and Wilhelmina marching around together, while
the laughing prince was proudly beating a drum, much to his own and
sister’s delight. The king was so overjoyed at this manifestation
of supposed military taste in his son, that he immediately called
the queen to witness the performance, and then employed an artist to
transfer the scene to canvas. This picture still hangs upon the walls
of the Charlottenburg Palace.

When Fritz was but six years old, a military company was organized for
him, consisting of about three hundred lads. This band was called “The
Crown Prince Cadets.” Fritz was very thoroughly drilled in his military
duties, and a uniform was provided for him. An arsenal was built on the
palace grounds at Potsdam, where he mounted batteries and practised
gunnery with small brass ordnance. Until Fritz was seven years of age,
his education had been under the care of a French governess; but at
that age he was taken from his lady teachers and placed under tutors.
These tutors were military officers of great renown.

The following directions were drawn up by Frederick William, regarding
his son’s education:—

“My son must be impressed with love and fear of God, as the foundation
of our temporal and eternal welfare. No false religions or sects of
Atheist, Arian, Socinian, or whatever name the poisonous things have,
which can easily corrupt a young mind, are to be even named in his
hearing. He is to be taught a proper abhorrence of Papistry, and to
be shown its baselessness and nonsensicality. Impress on him the true
religion, which consists essentially in this: that Christ died for
all men. He is to learn no Latin, but French and German, so as to
speak and write with brevity and propriety. Let him learn arithmetic,
mathematics, artillery, economy, to the very bottom; history in
particular; ancient history only slightly, but the history of the
last one hundred and fifty years to the exactest pitch. He must be
completely master of geography, as also of whatever is remarkable in
each country. With increasing years you will more and more, to an
especial degree, go upon fortification, the formation of a camp, and
other war sciences, that the prince may from youth upward be trained to
act as officer and general, and to seek all his glory in the soldier

Frederick William took little Fritz with him from early childhood on
all his military reviews, and in going from garrison to garrison the
king employed a common vehicle called a sausage-car. This consisted of
a mere stuffed pole, some ten or twelve feet long, upon which they sat
astride. It rested upon wheels, and the riders, ten or a dozen, were
rattled along over the rough roads through dust and rain, in winter’s
cold and summer’s heat. This iron king robbed his child even of sleep,
saying, “Too much sleep stupefies a fellow.” Sitting astride of this
log carriage, the tender and delicate Fritz, whose love was for music,
poetry, and books, was forced to endure all kinds of hardship and
fatigue. When Fritz was ten years of age, his exacting father made out
a set of rules which covered all the hours of this poor boy’s life. Not
even Saturday or Sunday was left untrammelled by his stern requirements.

Fritz was a remarkably handsome boy, with a fine figure, small and
delicate hands and feet, and flowing blonde hair. His father, despising
all the etiquette and social manners of life and dress, ordered his
beautiful hair to be cut off, and denied him every luxury of the toilet
and adornment. Frederick William early displayed an aversion for his
handsome son, which soon amounted to actual hatred. As Wilhelmina and
the mother of Fritz both took his part against the angry and brutal
king, the wrath of that almost inhuman monster was also meted out to

When Fritz was fourteen years of age, he was appointed by his father as
captain of the Potsdam Grenadier Guards. This regiment was the glory
of the king, and was composed entirely of giants. The shortest of the
men were nearly seven feet high, and the tallest nearly nine feet in
height. Frederick William did not scruple to take any means of securing
these coveted giants, and his recruiting officers were stationed in
many places for the purpose of seizing any large men, no matter what
their nationality or position. When the rulers of neighboring realms
complained at this unlawful seizure of their subjects, the Prussian
king pretended that it was done without his knowledge. If any young
woman was found in his kingdom of remarkable stature, she was compelled
to marry one of the king’s giants. This guard consisted of 2,400 men.

The queen-mother, Sophie Dorothee, had set her mind upon bringing
about a double marriage, between Wilhelmina and her cousin Fred, son
of the king of England, and Fritz and his cousin, the princess Amelia,
the sister of Fred. But though all her schemes came to naught, they
occasioned much trouble in her family, and brought down upon the heads
of poor Wilhelmina and Fritz much brutal persecution from their inhuman

Frederick William took his son Fritz to visit Augustus, king of Poland.
This king was an exceedingly profligate man, and the young Fritz
learned vicious habits at this court, which lured him into evil ways
which ever after left their blot upon his character and morals. This
fatal visit to Dresden occurred when Fritz was sixteen years of age,
and the dissipation of those four weeks introduced the crown prince
to habits which have left an indelible stain upon his reputation, and
which poisoned his life. The king’s previous dislike to his son was
now converted into contempt and hatred, as he became aware of his
vicious habits; for though the iron king was a maniac in temper, and
cruel as a savage, he had no weakness towards an immoral life. King
Frederick William was now confined to his chair with gout, and poor
Wilhelmina and Fritz were the victims upon whom his severest tyrannies
fell. The princess Wilhelmina was very beautiful, and had it not
been for his love for this sister, upon whom the whole weight of his
father’s resentment would then fall, Fritz would have escaped from his
home and the terrible ill-treatment he there received.

We have not space to give the pictures of the family broils in this
unhappy household. Now the crabbed old man would snatch the plates
from the table at dinner and fling them at the heads of his children,
usually at hapless Wilhelmina or Fritz; then, angered at Wilhelmina
because she refused to take whatever husband her cruel father might
select, irrespective of her inclination or wishes, he shut the poor
princess up in her apartment, and tried to starve her into submission;
for, as she writes, “I was really dying of hunger, having nothing to
eat but soup made with salt and water and a ragout of old bones, full
of hairs and other dirt.” At last she yielded to her father’s demands;
but then she incurred the anger of her mother, who had set her heart
upon the match with the prince of Wales.

So the poor princess’ days were full of bitterness. But, fortunately,
the prince of Baireuth, whom she married, turned out to be a kind
husband; but as he was absent most of the time on regimental duty,
and had but his small salary, and the old marquis of Baireuth, her
husband’s father, was penurious, irascible, and an inebriate,
she often suffered for the necessaries of life. The home of her
step-parents was unendurable, and the home of her childhood was still
more so. Unhappy princess! and yet, in the midst of all this misery,
her bright and graphic letters form one of the greatest delights to
students of history, and give true pictures of the home of Frederick
the Great, which can be found nowhere else.

Fritz had now so seriously offended his father, that the king openly
exposed him to contempt. He even flogged the prince with his rattan in
the presence of others; and the young heir-apparent to the throne of
Prussia, beautiful in person, high-spirited, and of superior genius,
was treated by his father with studied insult, even in the presence of
monarchs, of lords and ladies, of the highest dignitaries of Europe;
and after raining blows upon his head, he exclaimed in diabolical
wrath, as if desirous of goading his son to suicide: “Had I been so
treated by my father, I would have blown my brains out. But this fellow
has no honor. He takes all that comes.”

But at last Fritz decided not to take longer all that came, and so he
prepared for flight. On the 15th of July, 1730, the king of Prussia
set out with a small train, accompanied by Fritz, to take a journey to
the Rhine. When near Augsburg, Fritz wrote to Lieutenant Katte, one
of his profligate friends, stating that he should embrace the first
opportunity to escape to the Hague; that there he should assume the
name of the Count of Alberville. He wished Katte to join him there,
and to bring with him the overcoat and the one thousand ducats which
he had left in his hands. Just after midnight the prince stole out to
meet his valet, who had been commanded to bring some horses to the
village green. But as Keith, the valet, appeared with the horses, he
was accosted by one of the king’s guard; and the prince, although
disguised with a red overcoat, was recognized and forced to withdraw to
his own quarters and give up the attempt for that time. The king was
informed of these things, and now the poor prince was put in the care
of three of the guard, and they were informed if the prince was allowed
to escape, death would be their doom. Upon the king’s arrival at Wesel,
he ordered his culprit son to be brought before him. A terrible scene
ensued. As the king would give no assurance that his friends who had
aided him should be pardoned, the crown prince evaded all attempts to
extort from him confessions which would implicate them. “Why,” asked
the king, furiously, “did you attempt to desert?”

“I wished to escape,” the prince boldly replied, “because you did not
treat me like a son, but like an abject slave.”

“You are a cowardly deserter,” the father exclaimed, “devoid of all
feelings of honor.”

“I have as much honor as you have,” the son replied; “and I have only
done that which I have heard you say a hundred times you would have
done yourself, had you been treated as I have been.”

The infuriated king was now beside himself with rage. He drew his sword
and seemed upon the point of thrusting it through the heart of his son,
when General Mosel threw himself before the king, exclaiming, “Sire,
you may kill me, but spare your son.” The prince was then placed in a
room where two sentries watched over him with fixed bayonets. As the
prince had held the rank of colonel in the army, his unjust father
declared he was a deserter, and merited death. Frederick William, whose
brutal cruelty exceeds our powers of belief, then sent a courier with
the following despatch to his wife:—

“I have arrested the rascal Fritz. I shall treat him as his crime and
his cowardice merit. He has dishonored me and all my family. So great a
wretch is no longer worthy to live.”

His Majesty is in a flaming rage. He arrests, punishes, and banishes
where there is trace of co-operation with deserter Fritz and his
schemes. It is dangerous to have spoken kindly to the crown prince,
or even to have been spoken to by him. Doris Ritter, a young girl who
was a good musician, and whom the unfortunate Fritz had presented
with music and sometimes joined in her singing in the presence of the
girl’s mother, is condemned to be publicly whipped through the streets
by the beadle, and to be imprisoned for three years, forced to the
hard labor of beating hemp. The excellent tutor of the crown prince
is banished, the accusation against him being that he had introduced
French literature to the prince, which had caused him to imbibe infidel
notions. The wicked old king never seemed to think that his own brutal
conduct might have influenced the prince to be indifferent to the
religion which he hypocritically professed to believe, but so poorly

Meanwhile the crown prince was conveyed from Wesel to the castle of
Mittenwalde, where he was imprisoned in a room without furniture or
bed. Here Grumkow, one of the king’s ministers, was sent to interrogate
him. Though the cruel old minister threatened the rack of torture to
force him to confess, Fritz had the nerve to reply:—

“A hangman, such as you, naturally takes pleasure in talking of his
tools and of his trade, but on me they will produce no effect. I have
owned everything, and almost regret to have done so. I ought not to
degrade myself by answering the questions of a scoundrel such as you

The next day the crown prince was sent to the fortress of Cüstrin,
about seventy miles from Berlin.

“The strong, dungeon-like room in which he was incarcerated consisted
of bare walls, without any furniture, the light being admitted by a
single aperture so high that the prince could not look out of it. He
was divested of his uniform, of his sword, of every mark of dignity.
Coarse brown clothes of plainest cut were furnished him. His flute
was taken from him, and he was deprived of all books but the Bible
and a few devotional treatises. He was allowed a daily sum amounting
to twelve cents for his food,—eight cents for his dinner and four for
his supper. His food was purchased at a cook-shop near by and cut for
him. He was not permitted the use of a knife. The door was opened three
times a day for ventilation,—morning, noon, and night,—but not for more
than four minutes each time. A single tallow candle was allowed him;
but that was to be extinguished at seven o’clock in the evening.”

For long months this prince of nineteen was imprisoned in absolute
solitude, awaiting the doom of his merciless father. But the savage
king had reserved still greater torture for the unfortunate Fritz. By
the order of the king, Fritz, who also had been condemned to die, was
brought down into a lower room of the fortress, and there compelled
to witness the execution of Lieutenant Katte, his friend, whom the
king had condemned as guilty of high treason. As Fritz was led into
the lower apartment of the fortress, the curtains which concealed the
window were drawn back, and Fritz, to his horror, beheld the scaffold
draped in black placed directly before the window. The frantic young
prince was in an agony of despair, and exclaimed, with eyes full of
tears, “In the name of God, I beg you to stop the execution till I
write to the king! I am ready to renounce all my rights to the crown
if he will pardon Katte.” But the attendants knew the iron will of
the merciless monarch, and his cries and tears were unheeded. As the
condemned was led by the window to ascend the scaffold, Fritz cried out
to him, in tones of deepest anguish, “Pardon me, my dear Katte, pardon
me! Oh, that this should be what I have done for you!”

“Death is sweet for a prince I love so well,” replied the heroic Katte
with calm fortitude, and ascending the scaffold, the bloody execution
was performed, while four grenadiers held Fritz with his face to the
window so that he must perforce look upon the ghastly scene. But as
Katte’s gory head rolled upon the scaffold, the prince fainted.

When the poor tortured prince regained his consciousness, his misery
plunged him into a fever, and in his wild delirium he sought to take
his life. When the fever abated, he sank into hopeless despair, looking
forward to nothing but a like horrible death.

With strange inconsistency, the ferocious king, who could thus torture
the body and mind of the prince, expressed the greatest anxiety for
the salvation of his soul. It is not strange that the example of such
a father staggered the faith of his son, and failing to see that the
religion professed by his father was bigoted fanaticism instead of the
religion of the pure and saving truths inculcated by a sinless Christ,
the crown prince became in after-life an infidel.

In accordance with a promise made by the king that his life should be
spared if he would acknowledge his guilt, which word was brought to
the lonely captive by Chaplain Müller, the crown prince took an oath of
submission to the king, and soon after wrote this letter to his father:—

“All-serenest and All-graciousest Father,—To your royal majesty, my
all-graciousest father, I have, by my disobedience as their subject and
soldier, not less than by my undutifulness as their son, given occasion
to a just wrath and aversion against me. With the all-obedientest
respect I submit myself wholly to the grace of my most all-gracious
father, and beg him most all-graciously to pardon me, as it is not so
much the withdrawal of my liberty in a sad arrest as my own thoughts
of the fault I have committed that have brought me to reason, who,
with all-obedientest respect and submission, continue till my end my
all-graciousest king’s and father’s faithfully-obedient servant and
son, Frederick.”

Though the prince had been brought by his terrors and sorrows to make
such an humble appeal, his father’s anger was not entirely removed. The
prince was still forced to dwell in the town of Cüstrin, in a house
poorly furnished; and though allowed to wear his sword, his uniform was
forbidden him. He was debarred all amusements, and was forbidden to
read, write, or speak French, and was denied his flute, of which he was
exceedingly fond. Three persons were appointed constantly to watch him.
His only recreation was the order to attend the sittings of the Chamber
of Counsellors in that district. At last, through the intercession of
his sister Wilhelmina, the king consented to allow Fritz to come home.

In March, 1732, the crown prince was betrothed to Princess Elizabeth,
the daughter of the duke of Bevern. The sufferings of this unhappy
princess cannot now be related. The queen of Prussia received her
with bitter hatred because this match would crush her cherished plans
of marrying her son to Princess Amelia of England; and Fritz himself,
forced to be betrothed against his will, treated her with utter neglect.

In June, 1733, the crown prince was married to Elizabeth, she being
eighteen, and he twenty-one years of age.

Frederick I. of Prussia had reared a very magnificent palace in Berlin;
and in spite of all his stinginess in his household, Frederick William
added masses of silver to the ornamentation of this palace, for he
prided himself on his army and his money, as giving him power and
influence in Europe. He had stored away many barrels of money in the
vaults of his palace, and as there do not seem to have been banking
institutions in his realms in those days, he ordered vast quantities of
silver to be wrought into chandeliers, mirror-frames, and balconies,
which gave him a great reputation for wealth, and could at any time be
converted into money. This hoarded wealth saved his son from ruin, when
involved in after wars which exhausted his treasury.

The crown prince having married a niece of the emperor of Germany,
and being also of age, his father lost much of his control over him.
Frederick was now the rising sun, and his father the setting luminary.
All the courts of Europe were anxious to gain the favor of the coming
king of Prussia. The king allowed his son a petty income, but the crown
prince borrowed large sums of money from the empress of Germany, from
Russia, and from England, who were quite ready to supply his wants,
being assured of payment when he should receive the throne. Fritz did
not forget his sister Wilhelmina, but gave her money to relieve her
wants. War now broke out between France and Germany, and Frederick
William became an ally of the emperor.

The crown prince accompanied the king of Prussia to the siege of
Philipsburg. The campaign continued for some time, but the prince saw
little of active service. The king of Prussia being broken down in
health by gout and intemperance, now became very ill, and was obliged
to return home.

Though Frederick returned from this campaign neither socially nor
morally improved, he had become very ambitious of high intellectual
culture and of literary renown. He was now living at the village of
Reinsburg, in a castle which the king had purchased and assigned to
his son. He here gathered around him a number of scholarly men, and
commenced and persevered in a severe course of study, devoting his
mornings to his books, and the remainder of the day to recreation and
music. The old king grumbled at his son’s studies and his recreations,
but Frederick was now a full-grown man, whose heirship to the crown
made him a power in Europe; and the snarling old king was confined
to his room with dropsy and gout, growling away his last hours. The
companions of Frederick’s hours of recreation were gay and profligate
young men, who scoffed at religion and every virtue. No wonder that
with such godless companions, and with such an inconsistent and
irreligious example in his father, even while professing the most
fanatical devotion to the church and religion, the mind of the talented
young prince should have been turned into the wandering wilds of
unbelief. Voltaire was at this time about forty years of age. His
renown as a man of genius already filled Europe. Frederick became an
ardent admirer of Voltaire, and a correspondence was commenced between

[Illustration: FREDERICK THE GREAT.]

But now the grim old king of Prussia is forced to meet a still grimmer
antagonist, who will not take “no” for an answer. He has fought the
world, fought all human affections, fought all feelings of humanity,
fought every good spirit within his heart except a brutal fanaticism,
which he ignorantly and superstitiously called religion; fought
gout, dropsy, and manifold complaints of the flesh; fought his wife,
fought his children, tried to fight the devil, but ended in being his
slave; but he cannot fight grim Death, which now clutches him in his
ghastly grasp. But not to be outdone, even by _this enemy_, while the
death-gurgle was even rattling in his throat, he solemnly _abdicated_
in favor of his son Frederick, and with his fingers trembling with the
chill of the grave, he signed the deed, and falling back, expired. So
the obstinate old king was determined that _his will_, not _death_,
should hand over the crown of Prussia, which he could no longer clutch
with his own cruel hands.

Voltaire said of his reign, “It must be owned Turkey is a republic in
comparison to the despotism exercised by Frederick William.”

Frederick the Great was twenty-eight years of age when he became king
of Prussia. He was very handsome and of graceful presence. In rapid
succession the young king announced certain sentiments which were so
amazing in the eyes of the rulers of that age as to be considered
phenomena. The day after his accession to the throne he summoned
his ministers and declared, “Our grand care will be to further the
country’s well-being, and to make every one of our subjects contented
and happy.”

Strange ideas! when all sovereigns had hitherto thought only of their
own contentment. Next, he abolished the use of _torture_ in criminal
trials. More wonderful still, the world said. Soon he issued this
marvellous edict, which struck consternation in the midst of the
upholders of bigotry and fanatical superstition:—

“All religions must be tolerated, and the king’s solicitor must have an
eye that none of them make unjust encroachments on the other; for in
this country every man must get to heaven his own way.”

Europe was electrified, priests trembled, bigotry and religious
persecution hung their heads and slunk away. But more surprises!
“The press is free!” thundered forth this powerful young Frederick
the Great; and all these phenomena accomplished in the first year of
his reign. No wonder Europe turned their eyes to the rising monarch.
Sad pity that he did not continue in this line of action, bringing
blessings instead of woes upon mankind. But the angel of wise reform
was soon driven from his heart and mind by the subtle and poisonous
demon of selfish ambition.

The young king soon abolished the Giant Guards. He no longer coveted
fine clothes, no longer indulged in the luxury of slippers and French
dressing-gown, which had raised the ire of his ease-hating father.
His hours were rigidly counted, and various duties assigned them, in
regular routine.

Though he treated his nominal wife, Queen Elizabeth, politely in
company, he utterly neglected her in his domestic life, and in later
years rarely ever addressed a word to her.

On the south-west frontier of Prussia was an Austrian realm, Silesia.
For more than a century it had been a portion of the Austrian kingdom.
Maria Theresa had inherited the crown of Austria. Frederick, wishing
to enlarge his own domains, determined to invade Silesia. History has
severely condemned this unprovoked invasion. In January, 1741, the
Prussian army were encamped before Neisse. On Sunday morning, Jan. 15,
the deadly fire of shot and shell was opened upon the crowded city,
where women and children, wounded and bleeding, ran to and fro, frantic
with terror. For five days the deadly missiles rained down upon the
city almost without intermission.

Not wishing entirely to destroy the city, Frederick then converted
the siege into a blockade, and leaving his troops before the place,
returned to Berlin. Frederick, in this six weeks’ campaign, had let
loose the dogs of war, and he must now meet the consequences. The
chivalry of Europe were in sympathy with the young and beautiful
Austrian queen. Every court in Europe was aware of the fact that it was
owing to the intervention of the father of Maria Theresa that the life
of Frederick was spared, and that he was rescued from the scaffold,
when the exasperated and ferocious Frederick William had condemned his
own son to death. France had no fear of Prussia, but France did fear
the supremacy of Austria over Europe; therefore, France was leaning
towards the side of Frederick. England was the foe of France, therefore
England sympathized with Austria. The puerile king of England, George
II., hated his nephew, Frederick of Prussia, which hatred Frederick
vigorously returned. Spain was at war with England and ready for
alliance with her foes. The father of the infant czar of Russia was
the brother of Frederick’s neglected wife Elizabeth. Russia had not
yet displayed her partisanship to either side. Minor powers might be
constrained by terror or led by bribes.

Meanwhile the heroic Maria Theresa was resolved not to part with one
inch of her territory, and the patriotism of the Austrian court,
inspired by her, determined them to seek to drive the Prussians
out of Silesia. A rumor comes that England, Poland, and Russia are
contemplating invasion of the Prussian realms. Frederick immediately
despatched a force to Hanover to seize upon that continental possession
of the king of England upon the slightest indication of hostility.
This menace alarmed George II. Young Prince Leopold had assaulted
and captured Glogau from the Austrians, which Frederick considered
an important achievement, and sent Prince Leopold a present of ten
thousand dollars.

Frederick next proceeded to push the siege of Neisse, but upon nearing
that place, he found that General Neipperg, with a large force of
Austrians, were coming against him. The siege of Neisse was abandoned,
and the entire Prussian army gathered around the king. The night before
the contemplated battle, Frederick wrote to his brother, Augustus
William,—who, as Frederick had no children, was heir to the throne and
crown prince of Prussia,—informing him of his danger, of the coming
battle, and bidding farewell to himself and his mother in case of his
death. No word of affectionate remembrance was sent to his neglected

On the morrow, which was Sunday, a snow-storm raged so furiously that
neither army could move. On Monday the battle began. The Prussians
advanced boldly with waving banners and martial music, and valiantly
charged the enemy. But the Austrians returned the charge with such
fury that the Prussian right wing, where Frederick himself commanded,
was routed and put to flight. Frederick, struck with terror, lost
his presence of mind, and ingloriously fled with the rest. As with
his little band of fugitives he rushed into the gloom of night, he
exclaimed in despair, “O my God, my God, this is too much!”

But as the crestfallen king waits under the shelter of a mill, a
courier rides up and cries, _“The Prussian army has gained the
victory!”_ Thus the Prussian king had been galloping from the
battle-field in fear and terror, while his valiant troops were
achieving the victory. This incident caused unlimited merriment amongst
the sarcastic foes of Frederick, and he himself was never known to
allude to this humiliating adventure. The picture of the heroic and
intrepid Maria Theresa encouraging her troops to patriotism and
valor in the very face of her foes, and that of the terror-stricken
Frederick rushing from the field of battle, do not form a comparison
very flattering to the bravery of the young Prussian king. But as
some actors on the stage who have had the worst stage-frights have
afterwards made the most brilliant stars, so the ignominious flight of
the king did not prevent him from becoming one of the greatest generals
of the world. Gradually the secret alliance of France, Bavaria, and
Prussia was made known. Under the threatening danger which menaced
ruin, Maria Theresa, urged by her council and by the English court,
consented to propose terms of compromise to Frederick. To the English
ministers, sent from Vienna to offer a million dollars to the Prussian
king if he would consent to relinquish this enterprise and retire from
Silesia, Frederick answered: “Retire from Silesia, and for money? Do
you take me for a beggar? Retire from Silesia in the conquest of which
I have expended so much blood and treasure! No, sir, no! I am at the
head of an army which has already vanquished the enemy, and which is
ready to meet the enemy again. The country which alone I desire is
already conquered and securely held. If the queen do not now grant me
all I require, I shall in four weeks demand four principalities more.
I now demand the whole of Lower Silesia, Breslau included. With that
answer you can return to Vienna.”

These tidings caused consternation in the Austrian council. Again the
high-spirited queen was forced by her circumstances and influenced by
her council and England to accede to the compromise, and she agreed to
surrender the whole of Lower Silesia to Frederick. But when such word
was brought to the Prussian camp, the king replied, “I will not see the
minister; the time has past. I will not now listen to a compromise.”
Now followed a dark and deceitful manœuvre on the part of Frederick,
which even the stratagems of war cannot warrant. He entered into
secret negotiations with Austria that if Silesia was delivered to him,
he would form an alliance with them against the French, whose armies
were already joined with his own; at the same time apparently keeping
faith with the French, but promising to betray them to the Austrians,
meanwhile stating that he must keep up sham attacks to deceive the

Frederick now invested Neisse, and pretending a sham attack, he really
so vigorously assaulted it that it surrendered, and having thus
obtained the last fortress in Silesia, he caused himself to be crowned
sovereign duke of Lower Silesia, and returned to Berlin in triumph.

Having by this stratagem obtained Silesia, he assured the French of
his unchanging fidelity, and denied that he had ever entered into
any arrangements with Austria. In commencing this war he had said,
“Ambition, interest, and the desire to make the world speak of me
vanquished all, and war was determined on.” He had indeed made the
world speak of him. All Europe spoke of him. Some extolled him, others
denounced his amazing perfidy. Admiration for his sagacity and fear of
his power made many courts of Europe seek his alliance. Carlyle thus
comments on these events:—

“Of the political morality of this game of fast-and-loose, what have
we to say, except that the dice on both sides seem to be loaded; that
logic might be chopped upon it forever; that a candid mind will settle
what degree of wisdom (which is always essential veracity) and what of
folly (which is always falsity) there was in Frederick and the others;
and, in fine, it will have to be granted that you cannot work in pitch
and keep hands evidently clean. Frederick has got into the enchanted
wilderness populous with devils and their work. Alas! it will be long
before he get out of it again; his life waning toward night before he
get victoriously out.”

This selfish rapacity of the Prussian king set the example to others.
The whole world sprang to arms. Macaulay says: “On the head of
Frederick is all the blood which was shed in a war which raged during
many years, and in every quarter of the globe,—the blood of the column
of Fontenoy, the blood of the brave mountaineers who were slaughtered
at Culloden. The evils produced by this wickedness were felt in lands
where the name of Prussia was unknown. In order that he might rob a
neighbor whom he had promised to defend, black men fought on the coast
of Coromandel, and red men scalped each other by the great lakes of
North America.”

In the winter of 1742 Frederick was engaged in a campaign to deliver
Moravia, which was overrun by the Austrians. But in this he was not
successful. On the morning of the 17th of May, 1742, Frederick again
faced the Austrians at the battle of Chotusitz. In this famous battle
Frederick was victorious, and the Austrians, under Prince Charles, were
obliged to retreat. It required nine acres of ground to bury the dead
after this bloody conflict.

Frederick did not pursue the Austrians after this victory, and on the
11th of June the treaty of Breslau was signed. By this treaty Silesia
was ceded to Frederick, and he agreed to withdraw from the French
alliance and enter into friendly relations with Maria Theresa. In
1744, however, Maria Theresa, having been joined by England, had been
achieving so many victories on the field, that Frederick, deciding
that she was gathering her forces to reconquer Silesia, again entered
into an alliance with France and took the field against the Austrians.
But in this campaign Frederick himself narrowly escaped being taken
prisoner, and returned a defeated monarch, leaving a shattered army
behind him. He had already exhausted nearly all the resources which his
father had accumulated. Already the sumptuous chandeliers and silver
balconies had been melted up. His disastrous Bohemian campaign had
cost him three hundred and fifty thousand dollars a month. The least
sum with which he could commence a new campaign for the protection of
Silesia was four million five hundred thousand dollars. In spite of
these apparently insurmountable difficulties, the administrative genius
of Frederick made a way by which he succeeded in raising another army.
On the 4th of June, 1745, the battle of Hohenfriedberg was fought, by
which victory Frederick escaped utter destruction, and the Austrians
were forced sullenly to retire. All Europe was now in war, caused by
the personal ambition of one man, who did not pretend that it involved
any question of human rights. Frederick had openly avowed that he
drew his sword and led his hundred thousand soldiers to death and
destruction that he might enlarge his territories and achieve renown.
All the nations of Europe wished to borrow. None but England had money
to lend, and England was fighting Frederick, and supplying his foes
with aid and money. Frederick realized that Maria Theresa, whom he had
despised as a woman, was fully his equal in ability to raise and direct
armies and in diplomatic intrigue. Berlin was almost defenceless. All
Saxony was rising behind Frederick. In this hour of peril, with an army
of twenty-six thousand men, Frederick was obliged to meet his foes at
Sohr. Defeat to Frederick would have been utter ruin; but the brave
determination of the Prussian king animated his troops with desperate
valor to conquer or die. And conquer they did, and the victory of
Frederick was complete.


On the 25th of December, 1745, the peace of Dresden was signed. The
demands of Frederick were acceded to. Augustus III. of Saxony, Maria
Theresa of Austria, and George II. of England became parties to the
treaty. Frederick now entered upon a period of ten years of peace.
The Prussian king now constructed for himself a beautiful villa, on
a pleasant hilltop near Potsdam, which he called _Sans Souci_, which
Carlyle quaintly translates “No Bother.” He had three other palaces,
far surpassing Sans Souci in magnificence,—Charlottenburg, at Berlin,
the new palace at Potsdam, and his palace at Reinsberg.

Voltaire made a long visit to the Prussian king. Frederick had been for
many years greatly fascinated with that talented writer, but gradually
Voltaire lost favor with the king. Frederick prided himself upon
his literary abilities, and at first Voltaire flattered him; but on
one occasion, when the king had sent him a manuscript to revise, he
sarcastically exclaimed to the royal messenger, “When will his Majesty
be done with sending me his dirty linen to wash?”

This speech was repeated to the king. Frederick did not lose his
revenge. Voltaire had been made chamberlain. His duties were to give an
hour a day to the Prussian king, and, as Voltaire said, “to touch up a
bit his works in prose and verse.”

But Voltaire used his sarcastic pen against the king, and especially
against the president of the academy founded by the king at Berlin. A
bitter pamphlet, entitled _La Diatribe du Docteur Akakia_, appeared,
and the satire was so scathing that the Prussian king ordered all
copies to be burned. Voltaire, though allowing the whole edition to
be destroyed before his eyes, managed to send a copy to some safe
place, where it was again published, and arrived at Berlin by post
from Dresden. People fought for the pamphlet. Everybody laughed; the
satire was spread over all Europe. Frederick was enraged, and Voltaire
thought it safe to leave Prussia. The king had previously presented
him with a copy of his own poems, and fearing that Voltaire had
him now in his power—as this volume contained some very wicked and
licentious burlesques, in which Frederick had scoffed at everything
and everybody—he ordered Voltaire to be arrested at Frankfort, and the
book of poems recovered. Either by Frederick’s malice or the stupidity
of his agent, Freytag, Voltaire and his friends were subjected to an
imprisonment for twelve days in a miserable hostelry. The intimacy
between Frederick and Voltaire was thus destroyed, and a lasting
friendship made impossible.

In 1756 Frederick invaded Saxony. Thus was commenced the Seven Years’
War, which proved to be one of the most bloody and cruel strifes ever
waged. It gave Frederick the renown of being one of the ablest generals
of the world. In 1757 France, Russia, Austria, Poland, and Sweden
were combined against Frederick. The entire force of the Prussian
king did not exceed eighty thousand men. There were marching against
him combined armies amounting to four hundred thousand men. On the
battle-field of Leuthen Frederick met and conquered his foes.

But still, peace was out of the question without further fighting.
England, at last alarmed at the growing power of France, came to the
aid of Frederick. But France, Austria, Sweden, and Russia prepared for
a campaign against him.

On Aug. 25, 1758, occurred the bloody battle of Zorndorf, between
the Russians and the Prussians. It was an awful massacre. The stolid
Russians refused to fly. The Prussians sabred them and trampled them
beneath their horses’ feet. It is considered the most bloody battle
of the Seven Years’ War, and some claim it was the most furious ever
fought. Frederick was again victorious. But in October, 1758, on the
field of Hochkirch, Frederick was defeated by the Austrians. Just
after the dreadful defeat came the tidings of the death of his sister
Wilhelmina. Thus ended the third campaign in clouds and darkness for
the Prussian king.

The destinies of Europe were now held in the hands of three women:
Maria Theresa, who by common consent had good cause for war, and was
fighting in self-defence; Madame de Pompadour, who, virtually sovereign
of France, by reason of her supreme control of the infamous Louis XV.,
as Frederick had stung her by some insult, did not hesitate to deluge
Europe in blood; and Catherine II., empress of Russia, who was also
Frederick’s foe on account of personal pique.

Frederick himself was undeniably an unscrupulous aggressor, and some
call him “a highway robber.”

The cause of Maria Theresa alone could have been called honorable.
In the fourth campaign of 1759 the terrible battle of Kunersdorf was
fought in August. At first the Prussians were victorious, but the
Russians at length routed them with fearful loss. So great was the
despair of Frederick that it is said he contemplated suicide.

For a year the struggle continued. The Prussian army left in Silesia
was utterly destroyed by the Austrians. But at length the tide turned,
and Frederick routed the Austrians at the battle of Liegnitz. But the
position of Frederick was still most hazardous. He was in the heart of
Silesia, surrounded by hostile armies, three times larger than his own.
Weary weeks of marching, fighting, blood, and woe, passed on. Sieges,
skirmishes, battles innumerable, ensued.

At length the allies captured Berlin; whereupon Frederick marched
quickly to the rescue of his capital. At his dread approach the allies
fled. Frederick followed the Austrians.

We have no space to give details of the end of the bloody war.
Frederick attacked the Austrians, under Marshal Daun, at Torgan, saying
to his soldiers:—

“This war has become tedious. If I beat him, all his army must be taken
prisoners or drowned in the Elbe. If we are beaten we must all perish.”

After a day of hard fighting the Prussians held the field. Frederick,
who was a very profane man, replied to a soldier, who inquired if they
should go into winter quarters, “By all the devils I shall not till we
have taken Dresden.” But Dresden he did not take at that time, and went
into winter quarters at Leipsic. The fifth campaign of the Seven Years’
War closed with the winter of 1760.


The Russians and Austrians had concentrated in Bohemia. The summer and
autumn wore away with little accomplished; the allies feared to attack
Frederick, and the Russians retreated for winter quarters. But the
Austrians captured Schweidnitz and so could winter in Silesia. This
was a terrible blow to Frederick, but no word betrayed the anguish of
the hard-pressed Prussian king. Taking his weary, suffering troops to
Breslau, Frederick sought shelter for the winter of 1761-62. At this
dark time he wrote:—

“The school of patience I am at is hard, long-continued, cruel; nay,
barbarous. I have not been able to escape my lot. All that human
foresight could suggest has been employed, and nothing has succeeded.
If Fortune continues to pursue me, doubtless I shall sink. It is only
she that can extricate me from the situation I am in. I escape out of
it by looking at the universe on the great scale like an observer from
some distant planet. All then seems to me so infinitely small, and I
could almost pity my enemies for giving themselves such trouble about
so very little.”

Poor blinded Frederick! He could not even see that his own selfish
ambition had tempted him to commence an unjust war, and thus to bring
upon his own head all these sorrows.

On the 24th of November, 1762, the belligerents entered into an
armistice until the 1st of March. All were exhausted. On the 15th of
February, 1763, peace was concluded. The bloody Seven Years’ War was
over, and its immense result was, _Frederick the Great had captured
and retained Silesia_.

The expense of the war had been eight hundred and fifty-three thousand
lives, which had perished on the battle-field. Of the hundreds of
thousands of men, women, and children who had died from exposure,
famine, and pestilence, no note is taken. The population of Prussia had
diminished five hundred thousand. The world had run red with blood.
The air had resounded with wails and cries and groans. Prussia was
laid waste by the ravages of the war; and what had been accomplished?
Frederick had achieved his renown; he had made himself _talked of_.
Silesia had been captured, and Frederick the Great had been placed in
the foremost ranks of the world’s generals.

Compared with the achievements of Gustavus Adolphus, whose victories
had laid the foundation for the success of the Reformation, how petty
had been the prize! One, a Christian king, upholding liberty of
conscience and religious freedom; the other, an infidel king fighting
in an unjust war for his own glory and aggrandizement. But the world
applauded. Berlin blazed with illuminations and rang with the shouts
of rejoicing. For twenty-three years Frederick the Great still lived
to bear his honors. He must have the credit of endeavoring, during the
remainder of his life, to repair the terrible desolation and ruin which
his wars had brought upon Prussia.

We have but space to glance at his last hours. Dark was the gloom
which shrouded his closing days. His worst enemies were the scoffing
devils of unbelief he had let loose within his own soul. No Christian
hopes illuminated the vast unknown into which he must so soon pass.
To him the grave was but the awful portal to the direful abyss of

To his patient, cruelly neglected wife, he penned these last cold
words: “Madam, I am much obliged by the wishes you deign to form, but a
heavy fever I have taken hinders me from answering you.”

With no companions near him but his servants and his dogs, he
awaited the coming of his last despairing end. And thus this lonely,
hopeless old man fought his last battle of life; and on the 17th of
August, 1786, the fight was ended, the battle lost, and Frederick
the Second—Frederick the Great—was carried to the tomb, and laid by
the side of his father. What a warning to the world! What a warning
to parents! The inconsistent, brutal life of his father made him an

His own selfish ambition made him more of a curse than a blessing to
mankind. In the eyes of the Great and Just Judge of the world, both
lives were _terrible failures_.

History has decreed that Frederick the Great gained a foremost place
amongst the famous rulers of the world, and that his name stands in the
first rank of the world’s conquerors.

But history has also written over his career the verdict,—He was an
ambitious aggressor in an unjust war, which plunged all Europe into
the horrors of famine, pestilence, bloody conflicts, and desolated
battle-fields piled up with heaps of ghastly corpses, above which rose
the direful wails of anguished hearts and the relentless flames of
ruined homes.


1769-1821 A.D.

    “He doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus.”

    “Fame comes only when deserved, and then is as
    inevitable as destiny; for it is destiny.”—LONGFELLOW.

IT was not physical force, it was the magnetic majesty of mind, which
looked forth from those awe-inspiring eyes, and gave him Jovesque
grandeur and dignity and sovereign pre-eminence among mankind. No
merely mortal man stands beside him upon the same level on the heights
of fame. Upon the highest mountain peak of human achievement and
earthly greatness he stands alone, looking with calm, deep eyes and
eagle glance upon the rolling centuries which preceded his marvellous

In spite of all the contradictory views which have been presented of
Napoleon; in spite of hostile historians who have stigmatized him
as a usurper; in spite of foes who have denounced him as a tyrant,
inexorable as Nero; in spite of calumny which has proclaimed him a
blood-thirsty monster; in spite of English literature and English
criticism, which have denounced him as a scourge of the race, as a
“_cook_ roasting whole continents and populations in the flames of
war”; in spite of many a Judas, such as Bourrienne, Augereau, Marmont,
Berthier, Bernadotte, Moreau, and others among those whom his own
genius had lifted into prominence and power; in spite of obstacles,
such as no other mortal man ever conquered, Napoleon the Great stands
forth the most amazing phenomenon of human achievement, personal
magnetism, and mortal greatness.

[Illustration: NAPOLEON.]

“A man who raised himself from obscurity to a throne; who changed the
face of the world; who made himself felt through powerful and civilized
nations; who sent the terror of his name across seas and oceans; whose
will was pronounced and feared as destiny; whose donatives were crowns;
whose ante-chamber was thronged by submissive princes; who broke down
the awful barrier of the Alps, and made them a highway; and whose fame
was spread beyond the boundaries of civilization to the steppes of the
Cossack and the deserts of the Arab,—a man who has left this record
of himself in history has taken out of our hands the question whether
he shall be called great. All must concede to him a sublime power of
action, an energy equal to great effects.”

“Whether we think of his amazing genius, his unparalleled power of
embracing vast combinations, while he lost sight of none of the details
necessary to insure success, his rapidity of thought and equally sudden
execution, his tireless energy, his ceaseless activity, his ability
to direct the movements of half a million of soldiers in different
parts of the world, and at the same time reform the laws, restore the
finances, and administer the government of his country, or whether we
trace his dazzling career from the time he was a poor, proud charity
boy at the military school of Brienne to the hour when he sat down on
the most brilliant throne of Europe, he is the same wonderful man,—the
same grand theme for human contemplation.”

In this short sketch we have no space for arguments; nor does Napoleon
need arguments to substantiate his claims to greatness. Facts
only can prove the supremacy of his fame, and _facts_ proclaim him
unparalleled in history. _Lies_ only defame him and make him out a
tyrant. That he was without fault or blemish we would not maintain;
that sad mistakes brought upon him evil consequences which he himself
was the first to trace to their source, we do not deny. But that
amongst all these famous rulers of the world, his is the greatest name,
unprejudiced history has decreed.

Of all these mighty conquerors of the world, Napoleon stands second to

“When the sword of Alexander overthrew the Persian throne and
subjugated the East as far as the Indus, he did but extend the
civilization of Athens. The refinement of the age of Pericles, the
acquirements of Attica, the philosophy of the academy and the lyceum,
followed in the train of his victories.

“When Cæsar subjugated Parthia and Germany, and carried the Roman
eagles from the summit of Caucasus to the hills of Caledonia; when he
passed from Gaul to Italy, from Rome to Greece, from the plains of
Pharsalia to the shores of Africa, from the ruins of Carthage to the
banks of the Nile and the Euxine; when he traversed the Bosphorus and
the Rhine, the Taurus and the Alps, the Atlas and the Pyrenees,—in
all these triumphal courses lie propagated under the protection of
his personal glory, the name, the language, and manners of civilized
Rome. If Alexander carried with him the Age of Pericles, and Cæsar
that of Augustus, if they were accompanied in their triumphs by the
genius of Homer and of Sophocles, of Plato and Aristotle, of Virgil and
Horace, Napoleon carried with him an age that the arts, sciences, and
philosophy have rendered equally illustrious, and his enterprise is no
less than that of his predecessors.”

Though the aristocracy of Europe denounced him as an odious despot
and an insatiable conqueror, in the hearts of his people—the artisan,
the laborer, and the soldier—he is still cherished as the “Man of
the people, as the personification of that spirit of equality which
pervaded both his administration and the camp.” His name is still
religiously respected by the peasant in his cottage. His tomb is still
cherished as the most sacred spot on earth by the French people.
Never did mortal man inspire such love and adoration in the hearts
of his soldiers. This unprecedented idolatry of a nation is the best
refutation of the malign accusations of his enemies, “that Napoleon
_usurped_ the sovereignty of France; that having attained the supreme
power, he was a tyrant, devoting that power to the promotion of his
own selfish aggrandizement; that the wars in which he was incessantly
engaged were provoked by his arrogance.”

Should the testimony of disappointed sycophants, whose pens are dipped
in the venom of thwarted ambition and vanity, or the accusations of
bitter foes, whose opinions are biassed by political intrigues, be
believed against the character of Napoleon, rather than his own noble
utterances, and the testimony of his incorruptible friends?

That his invasion of Egypt was aggressive and unjust, we will admit;
but should England be the one to make the loudest outcry against
this expedition, when it was only following her own policy when she
increased her possessions by her conquests in India? And even the
superiority of English literature and English writers should not make
us blind to the unjust prejudices of English critics. Had Napoleon
not quelled the insurrection, and given the final death-blow to the
Revolution, how can any monarchy in Europe be certain that all thrones
in Europe might not have tottered and fallen; that all European
kingdoms might not have had to face a revolution? Had Napoleon died
upon the throne of France, even his English foes, who feared the lonely
exile, whom their duplicity and treachery had banished to the dreary
rock of St. Helena, more than they feared any European monarch, would
doubtless have joined the plaudits of the world in honor of the _Hero
of Success_, irrespective of methods or motives. It is only because
Napoleon outlived his marvellous and almost miraculous success that
the world condemns, and his enemies malign him. Had our own Washington
been unsuccessful, then would he have been hung as a rebel, and our own
glorious Revolution would have been called a rebellion, and none would
have been so loud in the outcry against us as England.

But our success has compelled her recognition, and our marvellous
growth in strength, power, and resources has gained her reluctant
admiration. It is hardly to be expected that England should ever forget
how Napoleon made her tremble, and how near she came to being the
conquered rather than the conqueror.

From an earthly point of view, his was the greatest life of mortal man;
but from a heavenly standpoint, even his greatness crumbles into dust,
and his own higher nature was true enough to realize and acknowledge
the instability of earthly renown, and the failure of even such
phenomenal greatness as his own, to satisfy the higher cravings of the
immortal soul.

To properly estimate the genius of Napoleon, and his achievements in
behalf of France, a glance must be given to the bloody background of
the Revolution, which rises up with all its ghastliness and horrors.
The rights and liberties of the French people had been trampled under
foot by despotic and profligate kings and nobles; and then brute force
arose against oppression; and brute force for a time conquered.

Mobs surge like a mighty ocean through the streets of Paris. Men,
women, and children are turned into wild beasts of fury, thirsting only
for blood. And blood they get—till Paris runs red like a river, and all
the demons of hades seem to have been let loose upon the world. Such
was the hydra-headed monster of bloody, lawless license and ignorant
defiance which confronted the dawning manhood of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Such was the ferocious fury which the genius of this small, slender,
pale-faced, smooth-cheeked youth of twenty-five encountered with
such dauntless courage and quelled by his irresistible foresight and

The monarchy of France had been dethroned. Louis XVI. and Marie
Antoinette had paid with their lives the forfeit of oppression which
was not all their own. The Royalists and the Jacobins had joined the
howling mob of insurgents, and all together were rushing onward to
attack the Convention, which was the only representative of government
then in France. The troops of the Convention had been sent to meet the
mob, but retired in fear and panic. The mob advanced with demoniacal
shouts of menace. The Convention trembled. In the midst of the terror
and confusion one member exclaims,—

“I know the man who can defend us if any can. It is a young Corsican
officer, Napoleon Bonaparte.” The Convention immediately sent for
him. All expected to see a stalwart soldier, of gigantic frame and
imperious bearing. Their surprise was unbounded, when a young slender
man of boyish presence appeared before them. The astonished president
incredulously inquired,—

“Are you willing to undertake the defence of the Convention?”

“Yes,” was the laconic and calm reply. With half-disdainful contempt
the president continued,—

“Are you aware of the magnitude of the undertaking?”

Sweeping the assembly with his magnetic glance, and fixing his eagle
eye upon the president, Napoleon replied, “Perfectly; and I am in the
habit of accomplishing what I undertake.”

And accomplish he did. But how? By the same measures he had declared
should have been taken when, a short time before, he had watched the
furious mob rush unrestrained through the palace of the imprisoned
monarch. Then he had exclaimed, “They should have swept down the first
five hundred with grapeshot, and the rest would have soon taken to
flight.” And his own successful quelling of the insurgents proved the
correctness of his plans and the marvellous executive force of his
genius. So Napoleon established the new government of France called
the Directory. We have space only for a glance at his boyhood. He was
born upon the island of Corsica, on the 15th of August, 1769. His
father died while Napoleon was quite young, and his mother, Madame
Letitia Bonaparte, was left with small means to provide for eight
children,—Joseph, Napoleon, Lucien, Louis, Jerome, Eliza, Pauline, and

When Napoleon was about ten years of age, Count Marbœuf obtained his
admission to the military school at Brienne, near Paris. Regarded as a
charity student by his companions, he was here subjected to neglects
and taunts which stung his sensitive nature to the quick. When Napoleon
was fifteen, he was promoted to the military school at Paris. On one
occasion a mathematical problem of great difficulty was given to his
class. Napoleon secluded himself in his room for seventy-two hours
and solved the problem. Napoleon did not blunder into greatness. His
achievements were not accidents. That he possessed native genius cannot
be denied; but he also possessed that perseverance and application
which alone can win the success which genius aspires to, but which only
energy and perseverance can make possible. When Napoleon was sixteen
years of age, he was examined for an appointment in the army. At the
close of this examination, one of the professors wrote opposite the
signature of Napoleon, “This young man will distinguish himself in the
world, if favored by fortune.”

Napoleon secured the position of second lieutenant in a regiment of
artillery. He was ordered to Lyons with his regiment. While there,
the Academy at Lyons offered a prize for the best dissertation upon
the question, “What are the institutions most likely to contribute to
human happiness?” Napoleon won the prize. The English, uniting with the
Royalists of France, had seized Toulon, a naval depot and arsenal of
France. The Convention, the revolutionary government, promoted Napoleon
to the rank of brigadier-general, and gave him the command of the
artillery train at Toulon. It was here that his military abilities were
noticed by the member of the Convention who afterwards proposed him as
being the only man who could defend them against the mob, as we have
already narrated. After quelling this formidable insurrection, Napoleon
was enthusiastically received by the Convention. Five Directors were
now chosen by the Convention, who should constitute the new Directory,
and the Convention dissolved itself, surrendering the government
into the hands of the Directory. Napoleon was appointed by them
commander-in-chief of the Army of the Interior, and intrusted with the
military defence and government of the metropolis. Having attained this
high dignity, Napoleon placed his mother and the rest of his family in

Famine was great in Paris. The Revolution had left all industries
paralyzed. The poor were perishing.

Napoleon immediately organized the National Guards, established order,
and distributed wood and bread to the perishing citizens. It was at
this time that he met his future wife, Josephine. She was a widow with
two children. Her husband, the Viscount Beauharnais, had perished on
the scaffold during the Revolution. On the 6th of March, 1796, Napoleon
and Josephine were married. Napoleon was twenty-six years of age,
Josephine being two years older. This marriage was one of ideal love.
When Napoleon was crowned Emperor, he was privately married again by
Cardinal Fesch, in accordance with the forms of the Church, which the
Emperor had re-established.

Napoleon turned with disgust from the profligacy and dissipation
which ever disgrace an army. To the defamations of his enemies who
endeavored to malign his character, by accusing him of immorality, let
his own words answer: “When I took command of the army of Italy, my
extreme youth rendered it necessary that I should evince great reserve
of manners and the utmost severity of morals. My supremacy could be
retained only by proving myself a better man than any other man in the
army. Had I yielded to human weaknesses, I should have lost my power.”

Napoleon was temperate in the extreme, and manifested the strongest
disapproval for gaming. Napoleon’s first campaign in Italy was one of
self-defence on the part of the French. France had renounced a monarchy
and established a republic. The kings of Europe trembled. England was
hovering around the coasts of France assailing every available point.
Austria had marched an army of nearly two hundred thousand men to
the banks of the Rhine. She had called into requisition her Italian
possessions, and in alliance with the British navy the armies of the
king of Sardinia together with the legions of Naples and Sicily,
prepared to attack the French Republic.

[Illustration: NAPOLEON IN THE PRISON OF NICE, 1794.]

The Directory said to the young commander-in-chief: “We can furnish you
only men. The troops are destitute of everything, but we have no money
to provide supplies.”

“Give me only men enough,” replied the undaunted Napoleon; “I will be
answerable for the result.”

Leaving his bride in Paris, Napoleon hastened to Nice, the headquarters
of the army of Italy.

Now the first of those wonderful proclamations rings out in the ears
of the astonished troops. “Soldiers, you are hungry and naked; the
government owes you much, and can pay you nothing. I come to lead you
into the most fertile plains the sun beholds. There you will find
abundant harvests, honor, and glory. Soldiers of Italy, will you fail
in courage?”

This apparent stripling then assembles his generals, all war-worn
chiefs. Amazed and speechless, they listen to his plans.

“The time has passed in which enemies are mutually to appoint the place
of combat, advance, hat in hand, and say, ‘_Gentlemen, will you have
the goodness to fire?_’ The art of war is in its infancy. Experienced
generals conduct the troops opposed to us. So much the better, so
much the better. It is not their experience which will avail against
me. Mark my words: they will soon burn their books on tactics and
know not what to do. Yes, gentlemen, the first onset of the Italian
army will give birth to a new epoch in military affairs. As for us,
we must hurl ourselves on the foe like a thunderbolt, and smite it.
Disconcerted by our tactics, and not daring to put them into execution,
they will fly before us as the shades of night before the uprising sun.”

And fly before him they did at the battle of Montenotte, regarding
which Napoleon afterwards proudly said, “My title of nobility dates
from the battle of Montenotte.”

The Austrians fled in one direction, the Sardinians in another, before
this invincible conqueror, and Europe, amazed, inquired, Who is this
young general who has blazed forth in such sudden and appalling

Meanwhile Napoleon issues this stirring proclamation:—

“Soldiers, you have gained in fifteen days six victories, taken
one-and-twenty standards, fifty-five pieces of cannon, many strong
places, and have conquered the richest part of Piedmont. You have
gained battles without cannon; passed rivers without bridges; made
forced marches without shoes; bivouacked without bread. The phalanxes
of the republic, the soldiers of liberty, were alone capable of such

The humiliated king of Sardinia sued for peace. It was the evening of
the 10th of May, 1796. The Austrians had intrenched themselves on the
banks of the River Po. As the French were making the terrible passage
of the bridge of Lodi, in the face of the enemies’ fire, Napoleon
seized a standard, shouting to his men, “Follow your general!” and
plunging through the blinding smoke, he led his bleeding column
forward, and the bridge was carried.

“This beardless youth,” said an Austrian general, indignantly, “ought
to have been beaten over and over again; for whoever saw such tactics!
The blockhead knows nothing of the rules of war. To-day he is in our
rear, to-morrow on our flank, and the next day again in our front. Such
gross violations of the principles of war are insufferable.”

And more insufferable still would his enemies find the tactics of
the invincible Napoleon. Some of the veterans of the army jocosely
promoted Napoleon to the rank of corporal, in honor of his bravery at
the bridge of Lodi. When their general next appeared before his army,
he was greeted with the shouts, “_Long live our little corporal!_” and
even in the dignity of consul and emperor, Napoleon never lost this
affectionate nickname amongst his troops, of whom he was the idol.

We have no space for details; the battles of Castiglione, Arcola,
and the bloody conflict of Rivoli had been fought. The imperial
court had sent out five armies against the French Republicans, and
had encountered defeat and destruction at the hands of the beardless
general, who they had disdainfully declared knew nothing about war
tactics. Mantua had fallen, and the Austrians were driven from Italy.
The Pope implored the clemency of the conqueror. But the Italian people
everywhere hailed him as their deliverer. Still Austria refused to make
peace with republican France, and the march to Vienna was commenced.
Again one of those soul-stirring, inspiring proclamations was issued to
his troops.

“Soldiers, the campaign just ended has given you imperishable renown.
You have been victorious in fourteen pitched battles and seventy
actions. You have taken more than a hundred thousand prisoners, five
hundred field-pieces, two thousand heavy guns, and four pontoon trains.
You have maintained the army during the whole campaign. In addition to
this, you have sent six millions of dollars to the public treasury,
and have enriched the National Museum with three hundred masterpieces
of the art of ancient and modern Italy, which it has required thirty
centuries to produce. You have conquered the finest countries of
Europe. The French flag waves for the first time upon the Adriatic,
opposite to Macedon, the native country of Alexander. Still higher
destinies await you. I know that you will not prove unworthy of them.
Of all the foes that conspired to stifle the Republic in its birth, the
Austrian emperor alone remains before you. To obtain peace we must seek
it in the heart of his hereditary state. You will there find a brave
people, whose religion and customs you will respect, and whose property
you will hold sacred. Remember that it is liberty you carry to the
brave Hungarian nation.”

As he had to the Italian people, so also to the Austrian people
Napoleon issued one of his glowing proclamations, assuring them that
he was fighting not for conquest but for peace; that the _people_ of
Austria would find in him a protector, who would respect their religion
and defend all their rights.

All was consternation in Vienna. The people clamored for peace, and the
Austrian emperor sent ambassadors to Napoleon. A treaty was signed, and
Austria was conquered. Not a year had elapsed since this nameless young
man of twenty-six, with thirty thousand ragged, starving troops, had
dauntlessly undertaken this seemingly impossible enterprise. Now Italy
was at his feet. Austria was forced to come to terms. All his foes were
stunned into terror-stricken inaction.

Before the treaty of Campo Formio was signed, every possible endeavor
was made to bribe Napoleon to make terms which should conduce to the
advantage of his foes. The wealth of Europe was laid at his feet.
Millions upon millions of gold were offered to him, but his noble
spirit could not thus be tarnished.

Napoleon arrived in Paris on the 7th of December, 1797, having been
absent about eighteen months. The Directory, jealous of Napoleon’s
power and popularity, were forced by the enthusiasm of the people to
prepare a triumphal festival for the delivery of the treaty of Campo

The magnificent palace of the Luxembourg was adorned for this
gorgeous show. The walls were hung with glittering trophies; the vast
galleries were crowded with those illustrious in rank; martial music
rang out upon the air, and the thunders of the cannon mingled with
the enthusiastic shouts of the rejoicing multitudes. Napoleon was
introduced by Talleyrand in an eloquent speech. Calmly the great hero
stood before the assembled multitude. His imposing presence required
not the trappings of the bedecked and bejewelled grandees of the court.
Majestic was his calm dignity as he addressed the people:—

“Citizens! the French people in order to be free had kings to combat.
To obtain a constitution founded on reason, it had the prejudices of
eighteen centuries to overcome. Priestcraft, feudalism, despotism, have
successively, for two thousand years, governed Europe. From the peace
you have just concluded dates the era of representative governments.
You have succeeded in organizing a great nation, whose vast territory
is circumscribed only because Nature herself has fixed its limits. You
have done more. The two finest countries in Europe—formerly so renowned
for the arts, the sciences, and the illustrious men whose cradle they
were—see with the greatest hopes genius and freedom issuing from the
tomb of their ancestors. I have the honor to deliver to you the treaty
signed at Campo Formio, and ratified by the emperor. Peace secures the
liberty, the prosperity, and the glory of the Republic. As soon as the
happiness of France is secured by the best organic laws, the whole of
Europe will be free.”

A wild burst of enthusiasm filled the air as Napoleon ceased speaking.
The people shouted, “Live Napoleon, the conqueror of Italy, the
pacificator of Europe, the saviour of France!”

Napoleon now laid aside the dress of a soldier. He attended constantly
the meetings of the Institute, and immediately assumed a pre-eminence
amongst those distinguished scholars as marked as he had already
attained as a general.

Republican France was now at peace with all the world, England alone
excepted. The Directory raised an army for the invasion of England,
and gave Napoleon the command. Republicans all over Europe, England
included, adored Napoleon as the great champion of popular rights.
England trembled. It was necessary that the people should be taught to
hate this man whom they now worshipped. The English press came to the
rescue of the English government. The most malign and atrocious lies
were published regarding Napoleon. He was represented as a demon in
human form; a monster of profligacy and tyrannical ambition; a robber,
plundering the nations for his own selfish aggrandizement. Regarding
these bitter and false libels Napoleon said: “There is not one which
will reach posterity. When I have been asked to cause answers to be
written to them, I have uniformly replied, ‘My victories and my works
of public improvement are the only response which it becomes me to
make.’ When there shall not be a trace of these libels to be found,
the great monuments of utility which I have reared, and the code of
laws that I have formed, will descend to the most remote ages, and
future historians will avenge the wrongs done me by my contemporaries.”
Napoleon deeming an attack upon England too hazardous, the project was

Then followed Napoleon’s expedition into Egypt. Volumes could be
written upon each one of Napoleon’s marvellous campaigns, but we can
merely give a slight outline. The famous battle of the Pyramids made
Napoleon the undisputed conqueror of Egypt. “Soldiers!” he exclaimed,
as he rode along the ranks, “from those summits forty centuries
contemplate your actions.”

The name of Napoleon became suddenly as renowned in Asia and Africa as
it had previously become in Europe. But twenty-one days had elapsed
since he landed at Alexandria, and now he was sovereign of Egypt. The
Egyptians welcomed him as a friend and liberator. He disclaimed all
sovereignty over Egypt, and organized a government to be administered
by the people themselves. In the mean time Lord Nelson learned that
the French had landed in Egypt. He immediately proceeded thither.
The famous battle of the Nile followed, in which the English were
victorious. The French fleet had been destroyed, and Napoleon was cut
off from Europe. All monarchical Europe rejoiced; all republican
Europe mourned. Napoleon now undertook the Syrian expedition. With ten
thousand men he commenced his march over the desert. We cannot describe
their weary march through the burning sands, their sufferings from
want, and the dreadful plague which soon broke out in the army. We can
only note the siege of Acre. The subjugation of this fortress would
have made Napoleon master of Syria. Sir Sidney Smith conducted the
defence with the combined English and Turkish troops. It was here that
the marvellous affection of Napoleon’s soldiers for their general was
tested. Sir Sidney Smith circulated a proclamation, offering to convey
every French soldier safely to France who would desert Napoleon. It is
not known that a single man was false to Napoleon, whom all adored as a
being seemingly more than mortal.

The siege had continued for sixty days. Napoleon had lost three
thousand men by the sword and the plague. At this time fresh Turkish
troops arrived to join his enemies; and deeming the enterprise
hopeless, Napoleon abandoned the siege. Napoleon was as great in defeat
as in success. Speaking of his power to endure trials, he said: “Nature
seems to have calculated that I should endure great reverses. She has
given me a mind of marble. Thunder cannot ruffle it. The shaft merely
glides along.”

At midnight, on the 25th of July, 1799, Napoleon, with six thousand
men, arrived within sight of the camp of the Turks, upon the shores
of the Bay of Aboukir. Napoleon knew that the Turks were awaiting the
arrival of the Mameluke cavalry from Egypt and of re-enforcements from
Acre and other parts of Syria. Defeat to Napoleon now would have been
utter ruin. But the terrific conflict which followed was not a defeat,
but a victory so complete that the whole Turkish army was destroyed.
Sir Sidney Smith fled in terror to his ships. Not a foe remained. In
the enthusiasm of the moment, Kleber, who had just arrived with a
division of two thousand men, for whom Napoleon had not waited, threw
his arms around the neck of his adored chieftain, exclaiming, “Let me
embrace you, my general; you are great as the universe!”

Napoleon now learned that France was in a terrible state of confusion.
The imbecile government was despised. Plots, conspiracies, and
assassinations filled the land. Napoleon determined to return to
France. As he had no fleet, he could not take his army. The matter was
therefore concealed from them. With a small retinue, Napoleon embarked,
and sailed to France. Then followed the overthrow of the Directory.
France had tried republicanism, and the experiment had failed. The
people were too ignorant to govern themselves. The next morning after
the overthrow of the Directory, the three consuls, Napoleon, Sièyes,
and Ducos, met in the palace of the Luxembourg.

There was but one arm-chair in the room. Napoleon had seated himself in
it. Sièyes exclaimed, “Gentlemen, who shall take the chair?”

“Bonaparte, surely,” said Ducos; “he already has it. He is the only man
who can save us.”

“Very well, gentlemen,” said Napoleon, promptly; “let us proceed to

And important business he soon despatched. The revolutionary tribunals
had closed the churches and prohibited the observance of the Sabbath.
Napoleon recalled the banished priests, opened the churches, and
restored religious worship. The treasury was bankrupt. Napoleon
replenished it. The army was starving and ragged. Napoleon addressed
them with his thrilling words of sympathy, and clothed and fed them.
The navy was dilapidated. In every port in France, at the magic word
of this magnetic man, the sound of the ship-hammer was heard, and a
fleet was prepared to send to Egypt to convey to France his soldiers
left there. The Constitution was framed and adopted, and Napoleon was
elected First Consul of France. Civil war was now at an end. Napoleon
wrote two letters, one to the king of England, and the other to the
emperor of Germany, endeavoring to arrange a general peace. Austria was
inclined to listen to this appeal, but England demanded war. She would
have no peace while France continued a republic. So Napoleon was forced
to prepare for war.

“Moreau was sent with a magnificent army into Swabia, to drive back the
Austrians towards their capital; Massena was appointed over the army
of Italy, while Napoleon himself swept down from the heights of San
Bernard, upon the plains of Lombardy.

“At the fierce-fought battle of Marengo he reconquered Italy, while
Moreau chased the vanquished Austrians over the Danube. Victory
everywhere perched on the French standards, and Austria was ready to
agree to an armistice, in order to recover from the disasters she had
suffered. The slain at Montibello, around Genoa, on the plains of
Marengo, in the Black Forest, and along the Danube are to be charged
over to the British government, which refused peace in order to fight
for the philanthropic purpose of giving security to governments.

“Austria, though crippled, let the armistice wear away, refusing to
make a treaty because she was bound for seven months longer to England.
Bonaparte, in the mean time, was preparing to recommence hostilities.
Finding himself unable to conclude a peace, he opened the campaign of
Hohenlinden, and sent Macdonald across the Splugen. Moreau’s victorious
march through Austria, and the success of the operations in Italy, soon
brought Austria to terms, and the celebrated peace of Luneville, of
1801, was signed. The energy and ability, and above all, the success of
the First Consul had now forced the continental powers to regard him
with respect, and in some cases with sympathy, while England, by her
imperious demands, had embroiled herself with all the northern powers
of Europe.”

At length a general peace was concluded at Amiens, and the world was
at rest. Napoleon was now the idol of France. Although his title was
only that of First Consul, and France was nominally a republic, yet he
was in reality the most powerful monarch in Europe. He ruled in the
_hearts_ of forty millions of people. In 1803 the peace of Amiens was
broken, and all impartial historians admit, and even English writers
cannot deny the responsibility of this rupture rests with England. In
that treaty it was expressly stipulated that England should evacuate
Egypt and Malta, while France was to evacuate Naples, Tarento, and the
Roman States. Napoleon had fulfilled his part of the agreement within
two months after the peace. But the English were still in Alexandria
and Malta. Napoleon was right, and England was entirely wrong. If a
violation of a solemn treaty is a just cause for war, Napoleon was
free from blame. England now drew Russia into this new alliance, then
Austria and Sweden. Prussia refused to join the alliance, and sided
with France. The bloody conflict began. For the slain left on the
plains of Italy, for the tens of thousands strewn on the battle-field
of Austerlitz, who is chargeable? Neither Napoleon nor France. Napier,
in his “Peninsular War,” says:

“Up to the peace of Tilsit, the wars of France were _essentially
defensive_; for the bloody contest that wasted the continent for so
many years was not a struggle for pre-eminence between ambitious
powers, nor for the political ascendency of one or other nation, _but
a deadly conflict to determine whether aristocracy or democracy should
predominate,—whether equality or privilege should henceforth be the
principle of European governments_.”

“But how much does this ‘up to the peace of Tilsit’ embrace? First,
all the first wars of the French Republic,—the campaigns of 1792, ’93,
’94, ’95, and the carnage and woe that made up their history; second,
eleven out of the eighteen years of Bonaparte’s career,—the campaigns
of 1796, in Italy and Germany, the battles of Montenotte, Millesimo,
Dego, Lodi, Arcola, Castiglione, and Rivoli, the campaigns of 1797,
and the bloody battle-fields that marked their progress. It embraces
the wars in Italy and Switzerland while Bonaparte was in Egypt; the
campaign of Marengo, and its carnage; the havoc around and in Genoa;
the slain thousands that strewed the Black Forest and the banks of
the Danube, where Moreau struggled so heroically; the campaign of
Hohenlinden, and its losses. And yet this is but a fraction to what
remains. This period takes in also the campaign of Austerlitz and its
bloody battle, and the havoc the hand of war was making in Italy; the
campaign of Jena, and the fierce conflicts that accompanied it; the
campaign of Eylau and the battles of Pultusk, Golymin, Heilsberg,
crowned by the dreadful slaughter of Eylau; the campaigns of Friedland
and Tilsit, and the multitudes they left on the plains of Europe. All
these terrible campaigns, with their immense slaughter, does an English
historian declare to be the result of a defensive war on the part of
France, not merely a defence of territory, _but of human rights against
tyranny_. Let republicans ponder this before they adopt the sentiments
of prejudiced historians, and condemn as a monster the man who was
toiling over battle-fields to save his country from banded oppressors.”

The 2d of December, 1804, dawned clear and cold. It was Sunday, and
upon this day Napoleon was to be crowned emperor at the church of Nôtre
Dame. All Paris assembled to witness this imposing ceremony. The church
was draped in costly velvet of richest hues. At one end a gorgeous
throne was erected. The Emperor left the Tuileries in a splendid
carriage, whose sides were of glass, thus allowing his magnificent
robes to be seen. He wore a golden laurel wreath upon his head.

The acclamations of the immense crowds thronging the streets filled the
air. As Napoleon entered the church, five hundred musicians intoned a
solemn chant. The Pope anointed the Emperor and blessed the sword and
the sceptre. Then Napoleon lifted the crown and placed it upon his own
head. Napoleon then took up the crown intended for the Empress, and
approaching Josephine as she knelt before him, he placed it tenderly
upon her brow. Their eyes met for one moment in a long and loving
gaze of mutual affection, and tears filled the eyes of the beautiful
Josephine as she glanced with undisguised adoration upon the husband
she so reverenced and worshipped. And the lofty arches of Nôtre Dame
resounded with shouts of “_Vive l’Empereur!_”

The Cisalpine Republic had witnessed the change of France from a
republic to an empire with great satisfaction. A deputation from
Italy was now sent to Napoleon, begging him to assume the crown of
Charlemagne. On the 20th of May, the coronation took place in the
Cathedral of Milan. The ceremony was conducted with a magnificence not
exceeded at Nôtre Dame. The iron crown of Charlemagne had reposed for
a thousand years in the church of Monza. The Empress first appeared
gorgeously dressed and glittering with jewels. Then Napoleon entered,
arrayed in imperial robes, with the diadem upon his brow and the
sceptre and crown of Charlemagne in his hands. He placed the crown upon
his own head, saying, solemnly, “God has given it to me; woe to him who
touches it!”

Meanwhile, hostilities had commenced in the midst of Germany. Austria
and Russia had united with England. The Austrians had passed the Inn;
Munich was invaded; war was inevitable.

Then followed the campaign of Ulm. Napoleon writes to Josephine, Dec.
5, 1805:—

“I have concluded a truce. The Russians have implored it. The victory
of Austerlitz is the most illustrious of all which I have gained. We
have taken forty-five flags, 150 pieces of cannon, and twenty generals.
More than 20,000 are slain. It is an awful spectacle. I have beaten the
Russian and Austrian armies commanded by the two emperors.”

In 1806 England, Russia, and Prussia formed a new alliance against the
French. Then followed the bloody battles of Jena and Auerstadt. On
the 28th of October Napoleon made a triumphal entry into Berlin, and
established himself in the king’s palace. While there he visited the
tomb of Frederick the Great, at Potsdam. The sword of the Prussian was
suspended over his grave. Napoleon took it down, saying, “I will send
it to the governor of the Invalides.” General Rapp ventured to reply,
“Were I in your place, I should not be willing to part with this sword.
I should keep it for myself.”

Napoleon jestingly answered, “_Have I not then a sword of my own,
Mr. Giver of Advice?_” The Prussian monarchy was destroyed upon the
fields of Jena and of Auerstadt. But England and Russia were yet
clamorous for war. Again Napoleon tried to make overture for peace,
again he was repulsed. Then followed the terrible battle-field of
Eylau. Amid winter’s snow and ice and storms this famous battle was
won. As Napoleon passed over the gory field after the awful carnage,
he exclaimed with deep emotion, “To a father who loses his children
victory has no charms.”

A dragoon, dreadfully shattered and bleeding from the effects of a
cannon ball, raised his head from the bloody snow, and faintly said,
“Turn your eyes this way, please your Majesty. I believe that I have
got my death wound. I shall soon be in the other world. But no matter
for that; _vive l’Empereur!_”

Napoleon immediately dismounted from his horse and took the hand of
the wounded man, telling his aids to carry him to the ambulance. Large
tears rolled down the cheeks of the dying dragoon, as he fixed his
eyes upon that loved face, fervently exclaiming, “I only wish I had a
thousand lives to lay down for your majesty.” Amidst a heap of dead,
a feeble voice was heard crying, “_Vive l’Empereur!_” Half-concealed
beneath a tattered flag lay a young officer. As Napoleon approached, he
raised himself upon his elbow, though pierced with numerous wounds,
and faintly cried: “God bless your majesty! farewell, farewell! Oh, my
poor mother! To dear France my last sigh!” and falling back, was dead.
Upon this dreadful battle-field, though it was after midnight, he wrote
this fond note to Josephine:—

    MY LOVE,—There was a great battle yesterday. Victory
    remains with me, but I have lost many men. The loss of
    the enemy, still more considerable, does not console
    me. I write these two lines myself, though greatly
    fatigued, to tell you that I am well, and that I love
    you. Wholly thine,


The peace of Tilsit was finally concluded, and Napoleon returned to

The French government at this time was composed of three houses,—the
Senate, the Tribunate, and the Legislature. Napoleon blended the
Tribunate and the Legislature in one. He formed the Council of State,
or Cabinet, with the greatest care, choosing the most able men in every
department. The meetings of the Council were held in the palace of
the Tuileries or at St. Cloud. The most perfect freedom of discussion
prevailed in the Council.

In September, 1808, occurred the memorable meeting of the emperors at
Erfurth. Kings, princes, and courtiers came from all parts of Europe to
witness the extraordinary spectacle. Napoleon was the gracious host who
received them as his guests. No more gorgeous retinue had ever followed
a monarch of the blood royal than surrounded the Emperor Napoleon as
he left Paris for the appointed place of meeting. Amid all the royal
magnificence which attended these imperial sovereigns, none appeared
so majestic, so supremely commanding in their personal presence as
Napoleon the Plebeian Monarch, who had raised himself by his own
surprising and irresistible genius to the proudest place amidst the
courts of Europe.

All the other sovereigns trembled before his amazing power; the
imperialism of mind and genius compelled the homage of royal titles and
royal blood.

We do not uphold that Napoleon’s career was free from error, and no
greater blot tarnishes the brightness of his fame than his divorce of
Josephine. From that moment Napoleon fell. From that moment Josephine
mounted an eminence of self-sacrificing, unselfish devotion, of
heart-martyrdom, never reached by woman before. Women have died for
their husbands; but this was worse than death. Women have slaved
and toiled, and been down-trodden by brutal husbands; but this was
worse than that. Never before had woman stepped from so high an
eminence of bliss into so deep an abyss of heart-desolating woe,
and with self-renouncing, almost inconceivable, womanly devotion,
allowed her royal place as wife to be taken by another, that thus a
supposed political power might be gained by the idolized object of her
affection; who, even though his cruel demand thus shattered her hopes,
her heart, and her life, she was still unselfish enough to glory in
her self-renunciatory sacrifice, for the still adored object of her
love. No political excuse can cover this crime committed by Napoleon
at the instigation of Fouché and other ambitious adherents, and worst
of all, at the instigation of his own relations, whom historians
acknowledge were the bitter enemies of his wife. No laxity of the
times, in the sacred laws of marriage, which are the most solemn vows
that human beings can take upon themselves, next to their vows to God,
can excuse this blot upon Napoleon’s fame. By the very eminence of
his genius above all other men, by the very exaltation of his lofty
position, should he have made himself the model as an _upholder_, not a
_desecrator_, of the most sacred human relation ever ordained by God.

“What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder!” was a
weightier obligation than any supposed political advantage, more
binding than any patriotism, more encumbent upon him than any duty of
state or country. No political reasons can palliate in the least degree
this crime; they only weakly _explain_, but do not in any manner excuse
it. That Napoleon, with his marvellous self-sufficiency of will, and
genius, and wise forethought, and keen-eyed intuition, could have been
led into such a deplorable act, is past all comprehension. That it was
the cruel and bitter mistake of his life, he himself has acknowledged.
Napoleon said afterwards, “In separating myself from Josephine, and in
marrying Maria Louisa, I placed my foot upon an abyss which was covered
with flowers.”

It was an abyss deep and awful; and from this dark and direful abyss
issued forth the horrible reptiles of disappointment, sorrow, and
remorse, which thrust their cruel fangs into the quivering heart of
the lonely exile at St. Helena. Perchance, in the silent anguish of
his agonized but heroic soul, a dumb wail broke forth, “Ah, Josephine!
my only love! bright star of my destiny! when I no longer gazed upward
to thy heavenly light, but tempted by the demons of false counsel,
followed an _ignis fatuus_ o’er the treacherous quicksands of political
ambition, then did I find myself ingulfed in sorrows, and my heart was
shrouded in the black darkness of a rayless night of hopeless despair.
Had I been true to thee, perchance a just and righteous Providence
might have been more merciful to me. Thou wert my star of hope and
love! Thou wert ordained by heaven, my star of destiny! Bitterly do I
remember thy prophetic words upon that memorable night, when the tie
which bound us together was shattered by my blind ambition, ‘Bonaparte,
behold that bright star; it is mine! and remember, to mine, not to
thine, has sovereignty been promised. Separate, then, our fates, and
your star fades!’

“Ah, Josephine, you were right! It is to you alone that I owe the only
few moments of happiness I have known in the world!”

Yes, Josephine was right; that hour marked the commencement of the
downfall of Napoleon. His star, which once blazed forth in matchless
splendor in the heavens, was soon to sink forever. The two greatest
errors of Napoleon were the conquest of Spain and the invasion of
Russia. The first was unjust, the second was unfortunate. We can but
give one picture of the Russian campaign. Napoleon and his army had
marched in triumph more than two thousand miles from his capital.
Victory had accompanied him. He had taken the metropolis of the most
powerful nation on the continent, though that nation had been aided by
England, Spain, Portugal, and Sweden. Moscow was in the possession of
the French. Napoleon was established in the Krémlin.

It was the 16th of September, 1812. At midnight the cry of “Fire!”
resounded through the streets. Moscow was in flames! Mines were sprung,
shells burst, cannons were discharged, wagons of powder exploded;
earthquake succeeded earthquake; volcano followed volcano of flame and
smoke and burning projectiles, until the whole vast city was wrapped
in one wild ocean of flame. Napoleon said of this awful sight: “It
was a spectacle of a sea and billows of fire, a sky and clouds of
flame; mountains of red rolling flames, like immense waves of the sea,
alternately bursting forth and elevating themselves to skies of fire,
and then sinking into the ocean of flame below. Oh! it was the most
grand, the most sublime, the most terrific sight the world ever beheld.”

Nothing was left of Moscow save the remembrance of its former grandeur.
Then followed the terrible retreat of the French army, through the
cold and snow and winter storms. During this unfortunate expedition
the entire army of Napoleon had been destroyed. “During the Russian
campaign France is believed to have lost about three hundred and fifty
thousand soldiers: a hundred thousand were killed in the advance and
retreat, a hundred and fifty thousand died from hunger, fatigue, and
the severity of the climate, and about a hundred thousand remained
prisoners in the hands of the Russians, not more than half of whom ever
returned to France.”

Still, notwithstanding the enormous wars in which Napoleon had been
engaged, he had expended in works of public improvement, for the
embellishment of France, in the course of nine years, more than two
hundred millions of dollars. “These miracles,” says a French writer,
“were all effected by steadiness of purpose, talent armed with power,
and finances wisely and economically applied. If a man of the age of
the Medici, or of Louis XIV., were to revisit the earth, and at the
sight of so many marvels, ask how many ages of peace and glorious
reigns had been required to produce them, he would be answered,
‘_Twelve years of war, and a single man!_’”

But the war was not over. With an army formed of fresh recruits,
again Napoleon was forced to meet his foes. Then followed the battle
of Lützen, which is regarded as one of the most brilliant proofs of
Napoleon’s genius. But now many a Judas appeared in the midst of his
supposed friends. General Jomini deserted the staff of Marshal Ney, and
went over to the Emperor Alexander. Bernadotte, of Sweden, took up arms
against the French; and General Moreau went over to the camp of the


After the disaster of Leipsic, and the losses sustained by different
divisions of the army in that campaign, and the mortality which thinned
so dreadfully the French armies on the Rhine, France felt herself
exhausted and weak.

In this depressed state, the civilized world was preparing its last
united onset upon her. From the Baltic to the Bosphorus, from the
Archangel to the Mediterranean, Europe had banded itself against
Napoleon. Denmark and Sweden had struck hands with Austria and Russia
and Prussia and England; while, to crown all, the princes of the
Confederation of the Rhine put their signatures to the league, and _one
million and twenty-eight thousand men_ stood up in battle array on
the plains of Europe to overthrow this mighty spirit that had shaken
so terribly their thrones. And all this resistless host were pointing
their bayonets towards Paris. What man or nation could meet such an
overwhelming foe? Never did Napoleon’s genius shine forth with greater
splendor than in the almost super-human exertions he put forth in this
last great struggle for his empire. The Allies entered the capital,
and Napoleon was compelled to abdicate, preferring exile, rather
than involve France in more terrible bloodshed. He then penned this
memorable abdication:—

“The allied sovereigns having declared that the Emperor Napoleon is the
sole obstacle to the re-establishment of a general peace in Europe,
the Emperor Napoleon, faithful to his oath, declares that he renounces,
for himself and his heirs, the throne of France and Italy; and that
there is no personal sacrifice, not even that of life itself, which he
is not willing to make for the interests of France.”

Then followed his mournful farewell to his soldiers.

“As Napoleon arrived at the landing of the grand staircase, he stood
for a moment and looked around upon the Guard drawn up in the court,
and upon the innumerable multitude which thronged its surroundings.
Every eye was fixed on him. It was a funereal scene, over which
was suspended the solemnity of religious awe. Acclamations in that
hour would have been a mockery. The silence of the grave reigned
undisturbed. Tears rolled down the furrowed cheeks of the warriors, and
their heads were bowed in overwhelming grief. Napoleon cast a tender
and a grateful look over the battalions and the squadrons who had ever
proved so faithful to himself and to his cause. Before descending to
the courtyard, he hesitated for a moment, as if his fortitude were
forsaking him. But immediately rallying his strength, he approached
the soldiers. The drums commenced beating the accustomed salute. With
a gesture Napoleon arrested the martial tones.” A breathless stillness
prevailed. With a voice clear and firm,—every articulation of which was
heard in the remotest ranks,—he said:—

“Generals, officers, and soldiers of my Old Guard, I bid you farewell.
For five and twenty years I have ever found you in the path of honor
and of glory. In these last days, as in the days of our prosperity, you
have never ceased to be models of fidelity and of courage. Europe has
armed against us. Still, with men such as you, our cause never could
have been lost. We could have maintained a civil war for years. But it
would have rendered our country unhappy. I have therefore sacrificed
our interests to those of France. I leave you; but, my friends, _be
faithful to the new sovereign whom France has accepted_. The happiness
of France was my only thought; it shall ever be the object of my most
fervent prayers. Grieve not for my lot; I shall be happy so long as I
know that you are so. If I have consented to outlive myself, it is with
the hope of still promoting your glory. I trust to write the deeds we
have achieved together. Adieu, my children! I would that I could press
you all to my heart. Let me at least embrace your general and your

“Every eye was now bathed in tears. At a signal from Napoleon, General
Petit, who then commanded the Old Guard, advanced and stood between
the ranks of the soldiers and their emperor. Napoleon, with tears
dimming his eyes, encircled the general in his arms, while the veteran
commander, entirely unmanned, sobbed aloud. All hearts were melted, and
a stilled moan was heard through all the ranks.

“Again the Emperor recovered himself, and said, ‘Bring me the eagle.’ A
grenadier advanced, bearing one of the eagles of the regiment. Napoleon
imprinted a kiss upon its silver beak, then pressed the eagle to his
heart, and said, in tremulous accents, ‘Dear eagle, may this last
embrace vibrate forever in the hearts of all my faithful soldiers!
Farewell, again, my old companions, farewell!’”

But Elba could not long hold that daring, restless spirit. The next
year he again unrolled his standard in the capital of France, and the
army opened its arms to receive him. He at length staked all on the
field of Waterloo. There the star of his destiny again rose over the
horizon, and struggled with its ancient strength to mount the heavens
of fame. The battle-cloud rolled over it, and when it again was swept
away, that star had gone down, sunk in blood and carnage, to rise no
more forever.

“Volumes have been written on this campaign and last battle; but every
impartial mind must come to the same conclusion,—that Napoleon’s
plans never promised more complete success than at this last effort.
Wellington was entrapped, and with the same co-operation on both sides,
he was lost beyond redemption. Had Blücher stayed away as Grouchy did,
or had Grouchy come up as did Blücher, victory would once more have
soared with the French eagles. It is in vain to talk of Grouchy’s
having obeyed orders. It was plainly his duty, and his only duty, to
detain Blücher or to follow him.”

Even yet Napoleon could have placed himself at the head of fifty
thousand men in a few hours. He was entreated by his friends to grasp
these powerful resources and again attack the foe. But treachery had
already invaded the Chamber of Deputies. The wily Fouché—the same
who had largely instigated the divorce of Josephine—had obtained the
control, and joining with the Bourbons, persuaded the Chamber to demand
the second abdication of the Emperor.

“Two regiments of volunteers from the Faubourg St. Antoine, accompanied
by a countless multitude, marched to the gates of the Elysée. A
deputation waited upon the Emperor, stating that the traitorous
Chamber of Deputies was about to sell France again to the Bourbons,
and entreating him to take the reins of government into his own hands,
as on the 18th Brumaire.” The Emperor replied, “You recall to my
remembrance the 18th Brumaire, but you forget that the circumstances
are not the same. On the 18th Brumaire the nation was unanimous in
desiring a change. A feeble effort only was necessary to effect what
they so much desired. Now it would require floods of French blood, and
never shall a single drop be shed by me in defence of a cause purely
personal. Putting the brute force of the mass of the people into action
would doubtless save Paris and insure me the crown without incurring
the horrors of civil war, but it would likewise be risking thousands of
French lives. _No! I like the regrets of France better than her crown._”


And so Napoleon, sacrificing himself to save the lives of the French
people, dictated his second act of abdication, and resigned himself
with amazing calmness to this overwhelming disaster. But when he threw
himself upon the generosity of England, she treacherously entrapped him
on the _Bellerophon_, and afterwards conveyed him as a captive to the
desolate island of St. Helena, where she set spies over him to torture
and insult him, and gloated with demoniacal cruelty over the reports
they gave of his sufferings.

But England, with all her cunning and her base treachery, could not
imprison the matchless mind and soul of the great Napoleon. Though his
body was chained to a dreary rock-prison, his genius was still the
royal emperor of the world. His wondrous sayings at St. Helena have
become the text-books for the students of all climes.

An English writer, who holds the position of a professor in the
University at Cambridge, in a work lately published, thus gives to
Napoleon his place in history: “There are times—and these are the most
usual—when the most wonderful abilities would not have availed to raise
any man from such a station as that in which Napoleon was born to the
head of affairs. But the last years of the eighteenth century formed
an exceptional period, in which such an ascent was not only possible in
France, but was quite possible without very extraordinary abilities.
That particular part of Napoleon’s career to which the Alexanders and
Hannibals can show nothing parallel, is, in fact, just the part which,
in that exceptional time, was within the reach of an ordinary man.
Thus the miracle of Bonaparte’s rise to power lies not so much in his
personality as in the time.”

What a pity that this _English professor_ could not have happened to
have lived when _ordinary_ men might have become so great!

One great secret of Napoleon’s success was the union of two striking
qualities which are not often found together. His imagination was as
ardent, and his mind as impetuous, as the most rash warrior; at the
same time his judgment was as cool and correct as the ablest tactician.
“His mind moved with the rapidity of lightning, and yet with the
precision and steadiness of naked reason.” This power of thinking
quick and thinking right is one of the rarest and yet most important
qualities to insure success. As a military leader he has no superior in
ancient or modern times. Instead of following what was then considered
the scientific mode of warfare, he fell back upon his own genius, and
originated tactics which filled his foes with horrified surprise. His
power of combination was unequalled; his mind seemed vast enough for
the management of the globe. And yet so perfect was the system and
arrangement of his plans and thoughts that the slightest detail was
never overlooked. His bravery amounted to rashness where his own life
was concerned. He feared neither shot nor shell, and carelessly exposed
himself whenever he thought his presence was needed, replying to his
soldiers, who often besought him not to risk his life so recklessly,
“Courage! the bullet that is to kill me is not yet cast.”

As a thinker and statesman, Napoleon was as remarkable as he was as a
politician and general. His genius was universal. Had he not been a
Napoleon, he might have been a Shakespeare or a Bacon. He condensed
a volume into a sentence; his words were as keen as the blade of a
Damascus sword, and as freighted with ominous meaning as the tides of
the ocean. He knew men; he knew books; he knew nature. In twenty-five
lessons Napoleon became so familiar with the English language that he
could read any English book without difficulty.

Another remarkable trait in Napoleon was his self-sufficiency. That
self-confidence, which in smaller men would have been mad folly, was
in him the most far-seeing wisdom. He needed no opinions of other men
to govern his actions. He was sufficient unto himself. He took counsel
only of his own genius and reason and marvellous intuitions.

His self-reliance was his power in the midst of danger and
difficulties. He believed God had given him a great part to play in the
world’s drama, and he meant to play it well. His plans were almost the
inspirations of prophetic foreknowledge.

Napoleon was also the greatest of statesmen. His conversations at St.
Helena display his wonderful knowledge of men and governments and
laws and administrative legislation. Nowhere else can be found such
profound thoughts upon politics, war, sciences, arts, or religion.
He has been accused of infidelity. But few declarations of the
Divinity of Christ, ever uttered by mortal lips, have equalled in
far-reaching apprehension, and also acknowledgment of the divine
incomprehensibility of the mystery of the Godhead, as the sayings of
Napoleon. Conversing with General Bertrand at St. Helena, Napoleon

“I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial
minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and
the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is
between Christianity and all other religions whatsoever the distance
of infinity. Paganism was never accepted as truth by the wise men
of Greece, neither by Socrates, Pythagoras, Plato, Anaxagoras, nor
Pericles. But on the other side, the loftiest intellects since the
advent of Christianity have had faith, a living faith, a practical
faith, in the mysteries and doctrines of the Gospel. Paganism is the
work of man. What do these gods so boastful know more than other
mortals? these legislators, Greek or Roman? this Numa? this Lycurgus?
these priests of India or of Memphis? this Confucius? this Mohammed?
Absolutely nothing. They have made a perfect chaos of morals. There is
not one among them all who has said anything new in reference to our
future destiny, to the soul, to the essence of God, to the creation. As
for me, I recognize the gods and these great men as beings like myself.
They have performed a lofty part in their times, as I have done.
Nothing announces them divine. On the contrary, there are numerous
resemblances between them and myself,—foibles and errors which ally
them to me and to humanity.

“It is not so with Christ. Everything in him astonishes me. His spirit
overawes me, and his will confounds me. Between him and whoever else in
the world there is no possible term of comparison; his birth, and the
history of his life; the profundity of his doctrine, which grapples
the mightiest difficulties, and which is of those difficulties the
most admirable solution; his Gospel, his apparition, his empire, his
march across the ages and the realms,—everything is to me a prodigy, an
insoluble mystery, which plunges me into a reverie from which I cannot
escape, a mystery which is there before my eyes, a mystery which I can
neither deny nor explain. Here I see nothing human.

“Jesus borrowed nothing from our sciences. His religion is a revelation
from an intelligence which certainly is not that of man. One can
absolutely find nowhere, but in him alone, the imitation or the example
of his life. He is not a philosopher, since he advances by miracles,
and from the first his disciples worshipped him. He persuades them
far more by an appeal to the heart, than by any display of method and
of logic. Neither did he impose upon them any preliminary studies or
any knowledge of letters. All his religion consists in _believing_.
In fact, the sciences and philosophy avail nothing for salvation. He
has nothing to do but with the soul, and to that alone he brings his
Gospel. The soul is sufficient for him, as he is sufficient for the
soul. I search in vain in history to find a parallel to Jesus Christ,
or anything which can approach the Gospel. Neither history, nor
humanity, nor the ages, nor nature, can offer me anything with which I
am able to compare it or explain it. The more I consider the Gospel,
the more I am assured that there is nothing there which is not beyond
the march of events, and above the human mind.

“You speak of Cæsar, of Alexander, of their conquests, and of the
enthusiasm they enkindled in the hearts of their soldiers; but can
you conceive of a dead man making conquests with an army faithful and
entirely devoted to his memory? My armies have forgotten me, even
while living, as the Carthaginian army forgot Hannibal. Such is our
power! A single battle lost crushes us, and adversity scatters our

“Can you conceive of Cæsar, the eternal emperor of the Roman Senate,
from the depths of his mausoleum governing the empire, watching over
the destinies of Rome? Such is the history of the invasion and conquest
of the world by Christianity. Such is the power of the God of the
Christians, and such is the perpetual miracle of the progress of the
faith and of the government of his Church. Nations pass away, thrones
crumble, but the Church remains. In every other existence but that of
Christ, how many imperfections! From the first day to the last he is
the same, always the same, majestic and simple, infinitely firm and
infinitely gentle. Christ proved that he was the Son of the Eternal
by his disregard of time. All his doctrines signify one and the same

“The Gospel is not a book; it is a living being, with an action, a
power which invades everything that opposes its extension. Behold it
upon this table, this Book surpassing all others” (here he solemnly
placed his hand upon it); “I never omit to read it, and every day with
the same pleasure. Nowhere is to be found such a series of beautiful
ideas, admirable moral maxims, which defile like the battalions of a
celestial army, and which produce in our soul the same emotion which
one experiences in contemplating the infinite expanse of the skies,
resplendent in a summer’s night with all the brilliance of the stars.
Not only is our mind absorbed; it is controlled, and the soul can never
go astray with this Book for its guide. Once master of our spirit, the
faithful Gospel loves us. God even is our Friend, our Father, and
truly our God.

“What a proof of the divinity of Christ! With an empire so absolute, he
has but one single end,—the spiritual amelioration of individuals, the
purity of conscience, the union to that which is true, the holiness of
the soul. So that Christ’s greatest miracle undoubtedly is the reign of

“Behold the destiny near at hand of him who has been called the great
Napoleon! What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal reign of
Christ, which is proclaimed, loved, adored, and which is extending over
all the earth. Is this to die? Is it not rather to live? The death of
Christ! It is the death of God.” Turning to General Bertrand, “If you
do not perceive that Jesus Christ is God, very well; then I did wrong
to make you a general.” At length came the last, though to Napoleon
most welcome, summons. A few days before his death, he awoke one
morning, saying, “I have just seen my good Josephine, but she would not
embrace me. She disappeared at the moment when I was about to take her
in my arms. She was seated there. It seemed to me that I had seen her
yesterday evening. She is not changed. She is still the same, full of
devotion to me. She told me that we were about to see each other again,
never more to part.”

The disease progressed rapidly, and the dying hour drew near. It was
the month of May, 1821. A violent storm raged with wild fury on that
rocky prison-isle, as the spirit of the great Napoleon was freeing
itself from its earthly fetters. His few faithful friends who shared
his exile, stood weeping around his couch. In the solemn silence
of that sacred hour his loved voice was once more faintly heard:
“_France! Army! Head of the Army! Josephine!_” and the heart of
Napoleon I. ceased to beat. “_Isle of Elba! Napoleon!_” had been the
last words of the loving and forgiving Josephine. “France! the Army!
Josephine!” were the last images which lingered in the heart, and the
last words which trembled on the lips of the dying emperor.

“When the prejudice, and falsehood, and hatred of his enemies shall
disappear, and the world can gaze impartially on this plebeian soldier,
rising to the throne of an empire, measuring his single intellect
with the proudest kings of Europe, and coming off victorious from the
encounter, rising above the prejudices and follies of his age, ‘making
kings of plebeians, and plebeians of kings,’ grasping, as by intuition,
all military and political science, expending with equal facility his
vast energies on war or peace, turning with the same profound thought
from fierce battles to commerce, and trade, and finances; when the
world can calmly thus contemplate him, his amazing genius will receive
that homage which envy and ignorance and hatred now withhold.

“And when the intelligent philanthropist shall understand the political
and civil history of Europe, and see how Napoleon broke up its systems
of oppression and feudalism, proclaiming human rights in the ears
of the world, till the continent shook with the rising murmurs of
oppressed man; study well the changes he introduced, without which
human progress must have ceased; see the great public works he
established, the institutions he founded, the laws he proclaimed, and
the civil liberty he restored; and then, remembering that the bloody
wars that offset all these were waged by him in self-defence, and were
equal rights struggling against exclusive despotism, he will regret
that he has adopted the slanders of his foemen and the falsehoods of

[Illustration: THE ROCK AT ST. HELENA.]

Alexander’s conquests were only for selfish glory; he cared not for his
people, and little for his soldiers. Cæsar’s triumphs were for his own
personal honor and power. The wars of Frederick the Great were nearly
all unjust and aggressive, and he openly asserted his selfish ambition.
But Napoleon, equalling them all in the brilliancy of his conquests,
stands so far above them, as the idol of his people and his soldiers,
as a man of incorruptible character, in the midst of temptations as
great as any which have beset mortal men, as an intellectual genius,
with a mind so phenomenal as to make him almost a miracle in far-seeing
intuitions and marvellous accomplishment,—that he must be acknowledged,
not only as the most famous of all the rulers of the world, but as
the greatest uninspired man that ever lived. The history of most men
terminates with the grave. But Napoleon’s story ended not with his
lonely death upon the dreary Isle of St. Helena. Each year his memory
was growing brighter. Each year the French people realized more and
more the irreparable loss they had sustained. The heart-melting story
of his hardships at St. Helena was told over and over again in his
beloved France, till at last the nation rose as one man to do his
memory honor. Just twenty-five years from the time when Napoleon was
landed a captive upon the Island of St. Helena, his sacred remains
were brought from their humble resting-place upon that rocky isle, and
placed in the magnificent mausoleum prepared for them in the Church of
the Invalides. On the anniversary of the great victory of Austerlitz,
the two funeral frigates entered the harbor of Cherbourg. Three ships
of war, the _Austerlitz_, the _Friedland_, and the _Tilsit_,
immediately encircled the ship which bore the sacred remains. All the
forts, batteries, and warships fired a salute. All France flocked to
the cities and villages through which the funeral cortège was to pass.

At four o’clock, on the afternoon of the 14th of December, 1840,
the flotilla arrived at Courbevoie, a small village four miles from
Paris. Here the remains were to be transferred from the steamer to the
shore. As the funeral barge sailed up the Seine, a colossal statue of
Josephine, which had been erected on the shore, offered an appropriate
and fitting welcome. Her fair form and face seemed to greet the return
of her idolized husband. Maria Louisa, the daughter of the Cæsars,
was then living ingloriously at Parma. No one thought of her. But at
last Josephine and Napoleon were united together in sacred memories on
earth, as their spirits had already been reunited in heaven.

“A Grecian temple one hundred feet high was constructed at the
termination of the wharf, under which the body was to lie in state
until transferred to the funeral car. Here Sergeant Hubert, who for
nineteen years had kept watch at the solitary grave of Napoleon at
St. Helena, landed. All the generals gathered around him, and he was
welcomed by the people with deep emotion. The imperial funeral car
was composed of five distinct parts, the basement, the pedestal, the
Caryatides, the shield, and the cenotaph. The basement rested on four
massive gilt wheels. It was profusely adorned with rich ornaments which
were covered with frosted gold. Upon this basement stood groups of
cherubs, seven feet high, supporting a pedestal eighteen feet long,
covered with burnished gold. This pedestal was hung with purple velvet
embroidered with gold. Upon it stood fourteen Caryatides, antique
figures larger than life, and entirely covered with gold, supporting
with their heads and hands an immense shield of solid gold. This
shield was of oval form, and eighteen feet in length, and was richly
decorated. Upon the top of this shield, nearly fifty feet from the
ground, was placed the cenotaph, an exact copy of Napoleon’s coffin. It
was slightly veiled with purple crape embroidered with golden bees. On
the cenotaph, upon a velvet cushion, were placed the sceptre, the sword
of justice, the imperial crown, in gold and embellished with precious

“The Church of the Invalides had been magnificently adorned for the
solemn ceremony. Thirty-six thousand spectators were seated upon
immense platforms on the esplanade of the Invalides. Six thousand
spectators thronged the seats of the spacious portico. In the interior
of the church were assembled the clergy, the members of the Chambers
of Deputies and of Peers, and all the members of the royal family and
other distinguished personages from France and Europe.

“As the coffin, preceded by the Prince de Joinville, was borne along
the nave upon the shoulders of thirty-two of Napoleon’s Old Guard,
all rose and bowed in homage to the mighty dead.” Louis Philippe,
surrounded by the great officers of state, then stepped forward to
receive the remains.

“Sire,” said the prince, “I present to you the body of the Emperor

“I receive it,” replied the king, “in the name of France.” Then taking
from the hand of Marshal Soult the sword of Napoleon, and presenting
it to General Bertrand, he said, “General, I charge you to place this
glorious sword of the Emperor upon his coffin.”

Beneath the lofty dome of the church, where the massive tomb of
Napoleon has since been erected, a magnificent cenotaph in the form of
a temple had been reared. Within this richly decorated catafalque the
coffin of Napoleon was reverently and solemnly placed, thus fulfilling
the last wish of the Emperor, expressed in these memorable words, “It
is my wish that my ashes may repose on the banks of the Seine, in the
midst of the French people whom I have loved so well.”

“He who united in himself alone the glory of Alexander, of Cæsar, of
Charlemagne, and of Louis XIV., took his place in the Invalides, which,
during his life, he had marked as the place of heroes.” His devoted
Generals Bertrand and Duroc now lie beside him. A few aged veterans
of the Old Guard still watch over him. The sunlight, softened by the
rich tints of the costly windows, falls lovingly upon his tomb, and his
cherished memory lives in the hearts of his beloved people, growing
more beautiful, more triumphantly venerated, and sacredly respected
with each passing year. As his faithful veterans cast their crowns of
flowers at the foot of his coffin, with trembling voices they lovingly
though mournfully cried, “_Vive l’Empereur!_” and this loved Emperor
still lives in the hearts of his people, royally enshrined in a
nation’s undying love.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired. Warenne, Earl of Surrey, was
spelled both as Warren and Warrene throughout the text. This was
retained. Varied hyphenation retained as printed.

Page xi, “Kremlin” changed to “Krémlin” (The Krémlin of Moscow)

Page 15, “Aphrodite” changed to “Aphrodité” (mother, Aphrodité, caught

Page 80, “enthusiam” changed to “enthusiasm” (enthusiasm of Alexander’s)

Page 157, “guantlets” changed to “gauntlets” (garnished with gauntlets)

Page 160, “Debonnaire” changed to “Débonnaire” (called Louis le

Page 163, “Debonnaire” changed to “Débonnaire” (his son Louis le

Page 272, “seige” changed to “siege” (and commenced its siege)

Page 279, “cortége” changed to “cortège” (brilliant _cortège_

Page 372, illustration caption, “KREMLIN” changed to “KRÉMLIN” (THE

Page 441, “endeavord” changed to “endeavored” (enemies who endeavored)

Page 442, “Sardina” changed to “Sardinia” (king of Sardinia together)

Page 445, “pontroon” changed to “pontoon” (and four pontoon trains)

Page 446, “striction” changed to “stricken” (terror-stricken inaction)

Page 454, “Friendland” changed to “Friedland” (of Friedland and Tilsit)

Page 454 “Tuilieries” changed to “Tuileries” (Tuileries in a splendid)

Page 460, “Kremlin” changed to “Krémlin” (established in the Krémlin)

Page 461, “Lutzen” changed to “Lützen” (of Lützen, which is)

Page 473, “falshood” changed to “falsehood” (prejudice, and falsehood)

Page 475, “cortege” changed to “cortège” (funeral cortège was to pass)

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