Billeder på siden

Great, however, conquered it, and added it to his own dominion. Clovis died, A.D. 511.

A series of weak and wicked princes succeeded, and Gaul, for some ages, was characterized under its Frank sovereigns by more than ancient barbar

ism. On the death of Dagobert II., A.D. 715, who · left two infant sons, the government, during their

minority, fell into the hands of their chief officers, termed Mayors of the Palace; and these ambitious men founded a new power, which for some generations held the Frank sovereigns in absolute subjection. Austrasia and Neustria, the two great divisions of the Frank monarchy, the former including the territories bordering on the Rhine, the latter the more central parts of modern France, were nominally governed by Thierry, but in reality by Pepin Heristal, mayor of the palace, who, restricting his sovereign to a small domain, ruled France for thirty years with great wisdom and good policy. His son, Clrarles Martel, “The Hammer," succeeded to his power, and under a similar title governed for twenty-six years, with equal ability and success.

When the Saracens, after completing the conquest of Spain, crossed the Pyrenees, threatening not only the subjugation of France but of all Europe, gave battle to Martel near Tours, he entirely defeated them, thereby, in all likelihood, securing Lombardy, Italy, and eventually, perhaps, the Eastern empire, from the preponderance of the Moslems; such a line of conquest having been contemplated by the Arabian commander.

6324651. The Mahometan Arabs invade and conquer Persia,

632—709. They attack the Roman Empire of the East. They conquer Syria, Egypt, and Africa.

709–713. They cross the straits of Gibraltar, and invade and conquer Spain.

“At the death of Mohammed, in 632, his temporal and religious sovereignty embraced and was limited by the Arabian peninsula. The Roman and Persian empires, engaged in tedious and indecisive hostility upon the rivers of Mesopotamia and the Armenian mountains, were viewed by the ambitious fanatics of his creed as their quarry. In the very first year of Mohammed's immediate successor, Abubeker, each of these mighty empires was invaded. The crumbling fabric of Eastern despotism is never secured against rapid and total subversion; a few victories, a few sieges, carried the Arabian arms from the Tigris to the Oxus, and overthrew, with the Sassanian dynasty, the ancient and famous religion they had professed. Seven years of active and unceasing warfare sufficed to subjugate the rich province of Syria, though defended by numerous armies and fortified cities; and the Khalif Omar bad scarcely returned thanks for the accomplishment of this conquest, when Amrou, his lieutenant, announced to him the entire reduction of Egypt. After some interval, the Saracens won their way along the coast of Africa, as far as the Pillars of Hercules, and a third province was irretrievably torn from the Greek empire. These western conquests introduced them to fresh enemies, and ushered in more splendid successes. Encouraged by the disunion of the Visigoths, and invited by treachery, Musa, the general of a master who sat beyond the opposite extremity of the Mediterranean Sea, passed over into Spain, and within about two years the name of Mohammed was invoked under the Pyrenees.”—HALLAM.



TOURS, 732. A.D. 476. The Roman empire of the West extinguished by Odoacer.

481. Establishment of the French monarchy in Gaul by Clovis.

455-582. The Saxons, Angles, and Frisians conquer Britain, except the northern parts, and the districts along the west coast. The German conquerors found eight independent kingdoms.

533-4568. The generals of Justinian, the emperor of Constantinople, conquer Italy and North Africa; and these countries are for a short time annexed to the Roman Empire of the East.

5684570. The Lombards conquer great part of Italy.

570—627. The wars between the emperors of Constantinople and the kings of Persia are actively continued. 622. The Mahometan era of the Hegira.

Mahomet is driven from Mecca, and is received as prince of Medina.

629 – 6:32. Mahomet conquers Arabia.

The Battle of Tours, A.D. 732. The broad tract of champaign country which intervenes between the cities of Poictiers and Tours is principally composed of a succession of rich pasture lands, which are traversed and fertilized by the Cher, the Creuse, the Vienne, the Claine, the Indre, and other tributaries of the river'Loire. Here and there, the ground swells into picturesque eminences; and occasionally a belt of forest land, a brown heath, or a clustering series of vineyards, breaks the monotony of the wide-spread meadows; but the general character of the land is that of a grassy plain, and it seems naturally adapted for the evolutions of numerous armies, especially of those vast bodies of cavalry which principally decided the fate of nations during the centuries that followed the downfall of Rome, and preceded the consolidation of the modern European powers.

On the north the German, on the south the Arab, was rend ing away the provinces of the decaying Roman empire. At last the spoilers encountered one another, each striving for the full mastery of the prey. Their conflict brought back upon the memory of Gibbon the old Homeric simile, where the strife of Hector and Patroclus over the dead body of Cebriones is compared to the combat of two lions, that in their hate and hunger fight together on the mountain-tops over the carcase of a slaughtered stag: and the reluctant yielding of the Saracen power to the superior might of the Northern warriors, might not inaptly recall those other lines of the same book of the Iliad, where the downfall of Patroclus beneath Hector is likened to the forced yielding of the panting and exhausted wild boar, that had long and furiously fought with a superior beast of prey for the. possession of the fountain among the rocks, at which each burned to drink,

Although three centuries had passed away since the Germanic conquerors of Rome had crossed the Rhine, never to repass that frontier stream, no settled system of institutions or government, no amalgamation of the various races into one people, no uniformity of language or habits, had been established in the country, at the time when Charles Martel was called on to repel the menacing tide of Saracenic invasion from the south. Gaul was not yet France. In that, as in other provinces of the Roman empire of the West, the dominion of the Cæsars had been shattered as early as the fifth century, and barbaric kingdoms and principalities had promptly arisen on the ruins of the Roman power. But few of these had any permanency; and none of them consolidated the rest, or any considerable number of the rest, into one coherent and organized civil and political society. The great bulk of the population still consisted of the conquered provincials, that is to say, of Romanized Celts, of a Gallic race which had long been under the dominion of the Cæsars, and had acquired, together with no slight infusion of Roman blood, the language, the literature, the laws, and the civilization of Latium. Among these, and dominant over them, roved or dwelt the German victors: some retaining nearly all the rude independence of their primitive national character; others, softened and disciplined by the aspect and contact of the manners and institutions of civilized life. For it is to be borne in mind, that the Roman empire in the West was not crushed by any sudden avalanche of barbaric invasion. The German conquerors came across the Rhine, not in enormous hosts, but in bands of a few thousand warriors at a time. The conquest of a province was the result of an infinite series of partial local invasions, carried on by little armies of this description. The victorious warriors either retired with their booty, or fixed themselves in the invaded district, taking care to keep sufficiently concentrated for military purposes, and ever ready for some fresh foray, either against a rival Teutonic band, or some hitherto unassailed city of the provincials. Gradually, however, the conquerors acquired a desire for permanent landed possessions. They lost somewhat of the restless thirst for novelty and adventure which had first made them throng beneath the banner of the boldest captains of their tribe, and leave their native forests for a roving military life on the left bank of the Rhine. They were converted to the Christian faith; and gave up with their old creed much of the coarse ferocity, which must have been fostered in the spirits of the ancient warriors of the North by a mythology which promised, as the reward of the brave on earth, an eternal cycle of fighting and drunkenness in heaven.

But, although their conversion and other civilizing influences operated powerfully upon the Germans in Gaul; and although the Franks (who were originally a confederation of the Teutonic tribes that dwelt between the Rhine, the Maine, and the Weser) established a decided superiority over the other conquerors of the province, as well as over the conquered provincials, the country long remained a chaos of uncombined and shifting elements. The early princes of the Merovingian dynasty were generally occupied in wars against other princes of their house, occasioned by the frequent sub divisions of the Frank monarchy: and the ablest and best of them had found all their energies tasked to the utmost to

defend the barrier of the Rhine against the Pagan Germans, who strove to pass that river and gather their share of the spoils of the empire.

The conquests which the Saracens effected over the southern and eastern provinces of Rome were far more rapid than those achieved by the Germans in the north; and the new organizations of society which the Moslems introduced were summarily and uniformly enforced. Exactly a century passed between the death of Mohammed and the date of the battle of Tours. During that century the followers of the Prophet had torn away half the Roman empire; and, besides their conquests over Persia, the Saracens had overrun Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain, in an unchequered and apparently irresistible career of victory. Nor, at the commencement of the eighth century of our era, was the Mohammedan world divided against itself, as it subsequently became. All these vast regions obeyed the Caliph; throughout them all, from the Pyrenees to the Oxus, the name of Mohammed was invoked in prayer, and the Koran revered as the book of the law.

It was under one of their ablest and most renowned commanders, with a veteran army, and with every apparent advantage of time, place, and circumstance, that the Arabs made their great effort at the conquest of Europe north of the Pyrenees. The victorious Moslem soldiery in Spain were eager for the plunder of more Christian cities and shrines, and full of fanatic confidence in the invincibility of their arms.

“ Nor were the chiefs
Of victory less assured, by long success
Elate, and proud of that o'erwhelming strength
Which surely, they believed, as it had rolled
Thus far uncheck'd, would roll victorious on,
Till, like the Orient, the subjected West
Should bow in reverence at Mahommed's name;
And pilgrims from remotest Arctic shores
Tread with religious feet the burning sands
Of Araby and Mecca's stony soil."

SOUTHEY's Roderick.

It is not only by the modern Christian poet, but by the old Arabian chroniclers also, that these feelings of ambition and arrogance are attributed to the Moslems, who had overthrown the Visigoth power in Spain. And their eager expectations of new wars were excited to the utmost on the re-appointment by the Caliph of Abderrahman Ibn Abdillah Alghafeki to the government of that country, A.D. 729, which restored them a general who had signalized his skill and prowess during the conquests of Africa and Spain, whose ready valor and generosity had made him the idol of the troops, who had already been engaged in several expeditions into Gaul, so as to be well acquainted with the national character and tactics of the Franks; and who was known to thirst, like a good Moslem, for revenge for the slaughter of some detachments of the true believers, which had been cut off on the north of the Pyrenees.

In addition to his cardinal military virtues, Abderrahman is described by the Arab writers as a model of integrity and justice. The first two years of his second administration in Spain were occupied in severe reforms of the abuses which under his predecessors had crept into the system of government, and in extensive preparations for his intended conquest of Gaul. Besides the troops which he collected from his province, he obtained from Africa a large body of chosen Berber cavalry, officered by Arabs of proved skill and valor: and in the summer of 732 he crossed the Pyrenees at the head

of an army which some Arab writers rate at eighty thousand strong, while some of the Christian chroniclers swell its numbers to many hundreds of thousands more. Probably the Arab account diminishes, but of the two keeps nearer to the truth. It was from this formidable host, after Eudes, the Count of Acquitaine, had vainly striven to check it, after many strong cities had fallen before it, and half the land been overrun, that Gaul and Christendom were at last rescued by the strong arm of Prince Charles, who acquired his surname, like that of the war-god of his forefathers' creed, from the might with which he broke and shattered his enemies in the battle.

The Merovingian kings had sunk into absolute insignificance, and had become mere puppets of royalty before the eighth century. Charles Martel, like his father, Pepin Heristal, was Duke of the Austrasian Franks, the bravest and most thoroughly Germanic part of the nation: and exercised, in the name of the titular king, what little paramount authority the turbulent minor rulers of districts and towns could be persuaded or compelled to acknowledge. · Engaged with his national competitors in perpetual conflicts for power, engaged also in more serious struggles for safety against the fierce tribes of the unconverted Frisians, Bavarians, Saxons, and Thuringians, who at that epoch assailed with peculiar ferocity the christianized Germans on the left bank of the Rhine, Charles Martel added experienced skill to his natural courage, and he had also formed a militia of veterans among the Franks. Hallam has thrown out a doubt whether, in our admiration of his victory at Tours, we do not judge a little too much by the event, and whether there was not rashness in his risking the fate of France on the result of a general battle with the invaders. But, when we remember that Charles had no standing army, and the independent spirit of the Frank warriors who followed his standard, it seems most probable that it was not in his power to adopt the cautious policy of watching the invaders, and wearing out their strength by delay. So dreadful and so wide-spread were the ravages of the Saracenic light cavalry throughout Gaul, that it must have been impossible to restrain for any length of time the indignant ardor of the Franks. And, even if Charles could have persuaded his men to look tamely on while the Arabs stormed more towns and desolated more districts, he could not have kept an army together when the usual period of a military expedition had expired. If, indeed, the Arab account of the disorganization of the Moslem forces be correct, the battle was as well-timed on the part of Charles as it was, beyond all question, well-fought.

The monkish chroniclers, from whom we are obliged to glean a narrative of this memorable campaign, bear full evidence to the terror which the Saracen invasion inspired, and to the agony of that great struggle. The Saracens, say they, and their king, who was called Abdirames, came out of Spain, with all their wives, and their children, and their substance, in such great multitudes that no man could reckon or estimate them. They brought with them all their armor, and whatever they had, as if they were thenceforth always to dwell in France.

" Then Abderrahman, seeing the land filled with the multitude of his army, pierces through the mountains, tramples over rough and level ground, plunders far into the country of the Franks, and smites all with the sword, insomuch that when Eudo came to battle with him at the river Garonne, and fled before him, God alone knows the number of the slain. Then

Abderrahman pursued after Count Eudo, and while he strives to spoil and burn the holy shrine at Tours, he encounters the chief of the Austrasian Franks, Charles, a man of war from his youth up, to whom Eudo had sent warning. There for nearly seven days they strive intensely, and at last they set themselves in battle array; and the nations of the north standing firm as a wall, and impenetrable as a zone of ice, utterly slay the Arabs with the edge of the sword.”

The European writers all concur in speaking of the fall of Abderrahman as one of the principal causes of the defeat of the Arabs; who, according to one writer, after finding that their leader was slain, dispersed in the night, to the agreeable surprise of the Christians, who expected the next morning to see them issue from their tents, and renew the combat. One monkish chronicler puts the loss of the Arabs at 375,000 men, while he says that only 1,007 Christians fell--a disparity of loss which he feels bound to account for by a special interposition of Providence. I have translated above some of the most spirited passages of these writers; but it is impossible to collect from them anything like a full or authentic description of the great battle itself, or of the operations which preceded or followed it.

Though, however, we may have cause to regret the meagreness and doubtful character of these narratives, we have the great advantage of being able to compare the accounts given of Abderrahman's expedition by the national writers of each side. This is a benefit which the inquirer into antiquity so seldom can obtain, that the fact of possessing it, in the instance of the battle of Tours, makes us think the historical testimony respecting that great event more certain and satisfactory than is the case in many other instances, where we possess abundant details respecting military exploits, but where those details come to us from the annalist of one nation only; and where we have, consequently, no safeguard against the exaggerations, the distortions, and the fictions which national vanity has so often put forth in the garb and under the title of history. The Arabian writers who recorded the conquests and wars of their countrymen in Spain, bave narrated also the expedition into Gaul of their great Emir, and his defeat and death near Tours in battle with the host of the Franks under King Caldus, the name into which they metamorphose Charles.

The chroniclers tell us how there was war between the count of the Frankish frontier and the Moslems, and how the count gathered together all his people, and fought for a time with doubtful success. " But," say the Arabian chroniclers, “Abderrahman drove them back; and the men of Abderrahman were puffed up in spirit by their repeated successes, and they were full of trust in the valor and the practice in war of their Emir. So the Moslems smote their enemies, and passed the river Garonne, and laid waste the country, and took captives without number. And that army went through all places like a desolating storm. Prosperity made those warriors insatiable. At the passage of the river, Abderrahman overthrew the count, and the count retired into his strongheld, but the Moslems fought against it, and entered it by force, and slew the count; for everything gave way to their scimetars, which were the robbers of lives. All the nations of the Franks trembled at that terrible army, and they betook them to their king Caldus, and told him of the hovoc made by the Moslem horsemen, and how they rode at their will through all the land of Narbonne, Toulouse, and Bordeaux, and they indeed retain its integrity after its great ruler's death. Fresh troubles came over Europe; but Christendom, though disunited, was safe. The progress of civilization, and the development of the nationalities and governments of modern Europe, from that time forth, went forward in not uninterrupted, but, ultimately, certain career.

told the king of the death of their count. Then the king bade them be of good cheer, and offered to aid them. And in the 114th year he mounted his horse, and he took with him a host that could not be numbered, and went against the Moslems. And he came upon them at the great city of Tours. And Abderrahman and other prudent cavaliers saw the disorder of the Moslem troops, who were loaded with spoils; but they did not venture to displease the soldiers by ordering them to abandon everything except their arms and war-horses. And Abderrahman trusted in the valor of his soldiers, and in the good fortune which had ever attended him. But (the Arab writer remarks) such defect of discipline always is fatal to armies. So Abderrahman and his host attacked Tours to gain still more spoil, and they fought against it so fiercely that they stormed the city almost before the eyes of the army that came to save it; and the fury and the cruelty of the Moslems towards the inhabitants of the city were like the fury and cruelty of raging tigers. It was manifest," adds the Arab, " that God's chastisement was sure to follow such excesses; and fortune thereupon turned her back upon the Moslems.

“Near the river Owar, the two great hosts of the two languages and the two creeds were set in array against each other. The hearts of Abderrahman, his captains, and his men were filled with wrath and pride, and they were the first to begin the fight. The Moslem horsemen dashed fierce and frequent forward against the battalions of the Franks, who resisted manfully, and many fell dead on either side, until the going down of the sun. Night parted the two armies: but in the gray of the morning the Moslems returned to the battle. Their cavaliers had soon hewn their way into the centre of the Christian host. But many of the Moslems were fearful for the safety of the spoil which they had stored in their tents, and a false cry arose in their ranks that some of the enemy were plundering the camp; whereupon several squadrons of the Moslem horsemen rode off to protect their tents. But it seemed as if they fied; and all the host was troubled. And while Abderrahman strove to check their tumult, and to lead them back to battle, the warriors of the Franks came around him, and he was pierced through with many spears, so that he died. Then all the host filed before the enemy, and many died in the flight. This deadly defeat of the Moslems, and the loss of the great leader and good cavalier Abderrahman, took place in the bundred and fifteenth year."

It would be difficult to expect from an adversary a more explicit confession of having been thoroughly vanquished, than the Arabs here accord to the Europeans. The points on which their narrative differs from those of the Christians,

-as to how piany days the conflict lasted, whether the assailed city was actually rescued or not, and the like,- ,-are of little moment compared with the admitted great fact that there was a decisive trial of strength between Frank and Saracen, in which the former conquered. The enduring importance of the battle of Tours in the eyes of the Moslems, is attested not only by the expressions of “the deadly battle," and "the disgraceful overthrow," which their writers constantly employ when referring to it, but also by the fact that no further serious attempts at conquest beyond the Pyrenees were made by the Saracens. Charles Martel, and his son and grandson, were left at leisure to consolidate and extend their power. The new Christian Roman Empire of the West, which the genius of Charlemagne founded, and throughout which his iron will imposed peace on the old anarchy of creeds and races, did not

Charles Martel bequeathed the government of France, as an undisputed inheritance, to his two sons, Pepin le Bref, and Carloman. Pepin, haying rendered important aid in repelling the Lombards from Rome, was, by the authority of Pope Zachary, placed upon the throne of the Franks, and the weak Childeric, the last of the Merovingians, was formally deposed. Thus commenced the Carlovingian dynasty. This period is also noted for the termination of the rule of the emperors in Italy, and the commencement of the temporal dominion of the Roman Pontiff, whose government of the territories previously included within the Exarchate of Ravenna, was acknowledged and sustained by Pepin.

At the death of Pepin, A.D. 768, his two sons, Carloman and Charles, succeeded; but the former dying, Charles, afterwards known as Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, became the sole monarch of the Franks, and the ruler over not only France, but a large part of Germany. In the course of a reign of forty-five years, Charlemagne extended the limits of his empire beyond the Danube; subdued Dacia, Dalmatia, and Istria; conquered and subjected all the barbarous tribes on the banks of the Vistula; made himself master of a great portion of Italy; and successfully encountered the arms of the Saracens, the Huns, the Bulgarians, and the Saxons. On his return through the Pyrenees, the rear-guard of his army was surprised at Roncesvalles, and defeated, its brave commander, Roland, the favorite nephew of Charlemagne, being slain. This battle gave rise to many romantic stories, and formed the subject of the most popular epic poem of the middle ages, the famous “Song of Roland.” His war with the Saxons was of thirty years' duration, and their final conquest was not achieved without an inhuman waste of blood. Charlemagne put a final period to the Lombard dominion in Italy, A.D. 774. He entered Rome at the festival of Easter, and was there crowned king of France and of the Lombards. His authority in Rome was very considerable; all public affairs were conducted by his orders; the money

bore his impression; the public acts, the date of the levies in stated numbers from each district. the year of his reign (“Imperante Domino nostro Cavalry was not numerous in the imperial armies, Carolo"); and appeals lay from the sentences of the twelve farms being taxed to furnish only one horsepope to the king's officers. It was at this time man with his armor and accoutrements. Those that the long-existing variance between the Western soldiers who made use of arrows were obliged to (Roman Catholic) and the Eastern (Greek Catho- have twelve in their quivers. The province suplic) churches terminated in a complete separation. plied six months' provisions to its complement of In the last visit of Charlemagne to Italy, he was, on men, and the king maintained them during the the festival of the Nativity, consecrated Emperor rest of the campaign. of the West by the hands of Pope Leo III.

He The engines for the attack and defence of towns named as the capital of the Empire of the West, were, as in former times, the ram, the balista, catanow revived, Aix-la-Chapelle. He divided, even in pulta, testudo, etc. Charlemagne had his ships of his life-time, his dominions among his children, war stationed in the mouths of all the large rivers. A. D. 806. Charlemagne improved the government Before his time they were unknown amongst the and the administration of justice by abolishing the barbarians, and after him they were a long time office of duke, dividing the whole kingdom into without them, from which the kingdom suffered provinces, and appointing counts and deputies for materially. He bestowed great attention on comthe administration of justice, and clerks of the merce. The merchants of Italy and the south of treasury for the management of crown lands and France, in consequence of the friendship and treathe collection of imposts.

ties subsisting between Charlemagne and the caliph He divided the empire into provinces, and these Haroun Alraschid, traded to the Levant, and exinto districts, each comprehending a certain num- changed the commodities of Europe and Asia. ber of counties. The laws were confirmed by popu- Venice and Genoa were rising into commercial opular assemblies, in which every freeman had a share. lence; and the manufactures of wool, of glass, and He promoted the cultivation of land, and the edu- iron, were successfully cultivated in many of the cation of the people. He founded conventual principal towns in the south of Europe, particularly schools and cathedrals, had the writings of the an- Lyons, Arles, Tours, Ravenna, and Rome.

Linen cient Roman writers transcribed, and formed a col- was very uncommon; the want of which may problection of old German heroic ballads. The private ably have been the occasion, in a great degree, of character of Charlemagne was most amiable and the cutaneous disorders with which the people apworthy. His secretary and historian, Eginhart, has pear to have been inflicted, particularly the leprosy, painted his domestic life in beautiful and simple for which there were many lazarettos or hospitals coloring. The economy of his family, where the established. daughters of the emperor were assiduously em- The value of money was nearly the same as in ployed in spinning and housewifery, and the sons the Roman empire in the age of Constantine the trained by their father in the practice of all manly Great. The numerary livre, in the age of Charleexercise, is characteristic of an age of great sim- magne, was supposed to be a pound of silver, in plicity. The learned British monk, Alcuin, was value about 31. sterling of English money. At Charlemagne's intimate companion.

present the livre is worth 101d. English. Hence The year 814 saw Charlemagne's death, at the we ought to be cautious in forming our estimate of age of seventy-two. He lies buried at Aix.

ancient money from its name; and from the want

of this caution have arisen the most erroneous ideas MANNERS, GOVERNMENT, AND CUSTOMS OF THE

of the commerce, riches, and strength of the anAGE OF CHARLEMAGNE.

cient kingdoms. In establishing the provincial conventions under The Capitularia of Charlemagne, compiled into the royal envoys, Charlemagne did not entirely a body A. D. 827, were recovered from oblivion in abolish the authority of the ancient chief magis- 1531 and 1545. They present many circumstances trates, the dukes and counts. They continued to illustrative of the manners of the times. Unless in command the troops of the province, and to make great cities, there were no inns: the laws obliged

« ForrigeFortsæt »