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Having defeated the Alemanni on the upper Danube, Theodosius was next sent into Africa to quell a revolt of the Moors and provincials, provoked by the extortions of Count Roma'nus. Firmus, the chief of the Moors, was as wily as Jugurtha, but Theodosius showed all the skill of Metellus or of Scipio. He imprisoned Romanus and restored order to the province; but he was rewarded only by unjust suspicions and a military execution, A. D. 376. Valentinian was already dead (Nov., A. D. 375), and the ministers who surrounded his son disguised the truth to suit their own purposes.
239. Valens, meanwhile reigning in the East, was far inferior to his brother in firmness and beneficence of character. At the beginning of his reign, Procopius, a kinsman of Julian, gained possession of Constantinople, and kept it several months as nominal emperor. He was captured at last, and suffered a cruel death in the camp of Valens. The great event of this period was the irruption of a new and terrible race of savages from northern Asia. The Huns were more hideous, cruel, and implacable than even the fiercest of the barbarians hitherto known to the Romans. The Great Wall, which still divides China from Mongolia, had been erected as a barrier against their inroads; but their attention was now turned to the westward, where the Goths, north of the Black Sea, were the first to feel
The great Gothic kingdom of Her'manric extended from the Danube and Euxine to the Baltic, and embraced many kindred tribes, of which the eastern or Ostro-Goths, and the western or Visi-Goths were most important. The former were conquered by the Huns; the latter besought permission from Valens to settle on the waste lands south of the Danube, and become subjects of the empire. Their request was granted, and a million of men, women, and children crossed the river. But the Roman commissioners who were charged with receiving and feeding this starving multitude, seized the opportunity to make their own fortunes, at the expense of their honor and of the safety of the empire.
The Goths had been required to give up their arms, but they purchased of these officers permission to retain them. The food which was served to them was of the vilest quality and most extravagant price. Discontent broke out among the turbulent and armed host. The Gothic warriors marched upon Marcianop'olis, defeated the army which was sent to defend it, and laid waste all Thrace with fire and sword. Instead of pacifying the Geths by a just punishment of the offenders, and by pledges of justice for the future, Valens sent for aid to his nephew Gratian, and advanced with his army to fight with the barbarians. In a battle near Hadrianople he was slain, and two-thirds of his army perished, A. D. 378.
240. Gratian, the son of Valentinian, had been three years emperor of the West, and now became sole sovereign of the dominions of Augustus.
He chose, however, for a colleague, the general Theodosius, to whom he committed the empire of Valens, with the addition of the province of Illyricum. The youth of Gratian was adorned by a fair promise of all the virtues; but as soon as his excellent instructors left him, he proved himself weak and wholly unfit for command. Bad men gained and abused his confidence.
Maximus, in Britain, revolted, and passed over into Gaul with an army. Instead of fighting, Gratian fled from Paris; his armies deserted to the enemy, and the fugitive emperor was overtaken and slain at Lyons, A. D. 383. He had already, on his accession, shared the imperial dignity with his brother, Valentinian II., then only five years of age. Maximus, being in actual possession of the countries west of the Alps, was acknowledged by Theodosius, on condition of the young Valentinian being left in secure possession of Italy and Africa. The sovereign of Gaul, Spain, and Britain soon became strong enough to break his word. He invaded Italy, and the young emperor, with Justi'na his mother, fled to the court of Theodosius for protection. The emperor of the East marched to attack Maximus, whom he defeated and caused to be executed as a traitor, and established Valentinian II. in the sovereignty of the whole Western empire.
241. The young sovereign of the West proved as weak as his brother. He fell under the control of an officer of his own, a Frank named Arbogas'tes; and when he attempted to shake off the yoke, the too powerful servant murdered his master and set up an emperor of his own choosing. Euge’nius reigned two years (A. D. 392–394), as the tool of Arbogastes; but Theodosius at length defeated his army near Aquileia, and put him to death.
For four months the Roman world was united, for the last time, under one sovereign. Theodosius the Great well deserved the title by which he is known in history. His vigorous and prudent management changed the Goths from dangerous enemies into powerful friends. Great colonies of Visi-Goths were formed in Thrace, and of Ostro-Goths in Asia Minor; and 40,000 of their warriors were employed in the armies of the emperor. If later monarchs had acted with the wisdom and firmness of Theodosius, these recruits might have added great strength to the then declining empire. They were, in fact, a chief occasion of its fall.
212. This reign is marked by the extinction of the old pagan worship. The temples were destroyed, and all sacrifices or divinations forbidden. The Egyptians believed that Serapis would avenge any profanation of his temple at Alexandria; but when a soldier, climbing to the head of the colossal idol, smote its cheek with his battle-ax, the popular faith was shaken, and it was admitted that a god who could not defend himself was no longer to be worshiped. Arians and other Christian heretics were persecuted with scarcely less rigor than the pagans; for they were forbidden to preach, ordain ministers, or hold meetings for public worship. The penalties inflicted by Theodosius were nothing more than fines and civil disabilities; but his contemporary, Maximus, is said to have been the “first Christian prince who shed the blood of his Christian subjects for their religious opinions."
The power and dignity of the Church at this time is shown by the conduct of Ambro'sius, Archbishop of Milan. Theodosius had ordered a general massacre of the people of Thessalonica, as a punishment for a wanton tumult which had arisen in their circus, during which a Gothic general and several of his officers had been killed. Several thousands of persons, the innocent with the guilty, were slaughtered by barbarian troops sent thither for the purpose. When the emperor, who was then at Milan, went as usual to church, Ambrosius met him at the door, and refused to admit him to any of the offices of religion until he should publicly confess his guilt. The interdict continued eight months; but, at length, the master of the civilized world, in the garb of the humblest suppliant, implored pardon in the presence of all the congregation, and was restored, at Christmas, A. D. 390, to the communion of the Church.
Before his death, Theodosius divided his great dominions between his two sons, giving the East to Arcadius, and the West to Hono'rius. The latter, who was only eleven years of age, was placed under the guardianship of the Vandal general Stil'icho, who had married a niece of the great emperor. Theodosius died at Milan, Jan. 17, A. D. 395.
Julian administers Ganl and invades Germany with great energy and success. He incurs the jealousy of his cousin, and is declared emperor by his troops. Constantius dies, and Julian (A. D. 361-363), now universally acknowledged, restores paganism. He is killed in an Eastern campaign, and is succeeded by Jovian, who withdraws west of the Tigris. On the death of Jovian, A. 1, 364, Valentinian (A. D. 361-375) is chosen by the court and army, and assigns the Eastern empire to his brother Valens. The general Theodosius gains important victories over Saxons, Picts, Scots, and Moors. Procopius usurps for a time the Eastern capital, and the empire is threatened by both Huns and Goths. In war with the latter, Valens is slain. Gratian (A. D. 375–383), son of Valentinian, confers the Eastern empire upon the younger Theodosius (A. D. 371–395). He is himself dethroned by Maximus, who becomes sovereign of Gaul, Spain, and Britain, and even expels the brother of Gratian (A. D. 387) from Italy. Theodosius destroys Maximus, and restores Valentinian II. as emperor of the West; but this young monarch is soon murdered by Arbogastes. Eugenius reigns two years, A. 1). 392–394. Theodosius defeats him, and rules the united empire four months. He conciliates the Goths; abolishes pagan rites; persecutes heretics; does penance at Milan; divides the empire between Arcadius and Honorius.
FOURTH PERIOD, A. D. 395–476.
243. The empire east of the Adriatic continued more than a thousand years from the accession of Arcadius, and its records belong to Mediæral History. From the death of the great Theodosius, the division of the two empires was complete. Rufi'nus, the minister of Arcadius, bore a mortal enmity to Stilicho, the guardian of Honorius; and for the sake of revenge, he let loose the Goths upon the Western empire. Alaric, the Visi-Goth, was made master-general of the Eastern armies in Illyricum. At the same time, he was elected to be king of his own country. men, and it is uncertain in which character he invaded Italy, A. D. 400-403. Honorius was driven from Milan, but Stilicho defeated the invader at Pollen'tia, and afterward at Verona, and persuaded him, by promises of lands for his followers, to withdraw from Italy.
During the rejoicings at Rome on account of his retreat, an incident occurred which marks the progress of Christianity in the declining empire. Telem'achus, a monk, entered the arena of the Coliseum and attempted to separate the gladiators, protesting, in the name of Christ, against their inhuman combat. He was stoned to death by the crowd; but their remorse bestowed upon him the honors of a martyr; and the emperor, who was present, made a law abolishing forever the shedding of human blood for public sport.
244. Honorius transferred his capital from Milan to the impregnable fortress among the marshes of Ravenna, which continued three centuries to be the seat of government for Italy. A fresh invasion from Germany, led by the pagan Radagai'sus, devastated western Italy. Gaul was, at the same time, overrun by a mingled horde of Vandals, Suevi, Alani, and Burgundians; and from that moment the Roman Empire may be said to have fallen in the countries beyond the Alps. The army in Britain revolted; and after electing and murdering two emperors, set up Constantine, who led them into Gaul, defeated the German invaders, passed into Spain, and established a kind of sovereignty over the three western countries of Europe.
Meanwhile, Stilicho was disgraced and slain, through the intrigues of his enemy, Olympius. While the barbarian auxiliaries in his army were lamenting his death, they were enraged by a massacre of their wives and children, who had been kept as hostages in the various cities of Italy. This insane act of cruelty sealed the fate of Rome. The barbarians, freed from either the duty or necessity of obeying Honorius, flocked to the camp of Alaric, in Illyricum, and urged him to invade Italy. The Visi-Goth bad injuries of his own to avenge. He passed the Alps and the Po, and, after a rapid march, pitched his camp upon the Tiber. Rome was reduced to starvation. Thousands died of famine, and thousands more from the pestilence which it occasioned. At length, Alaric accepted the terms offered by the Senate, and retired, upon the payment of an enormous ransom, A. D. 408.
245. His brother-in-law, Adolphus, now joined him with a troop of Huns and Goths. Alaric offered peace to the court of Ravenna, on condition of receiving lands for his followers, between the Danube and ihe Adriatic. His demands being refused, he again marched upon Rome, and set up an emperor of his own choosing, in Attalus, præfect of the city. , Ravenna was only saved from his attack by a reinforcement from Theodosius II., now emperor of the East Africa was likewise delivered by the vigilance of Count Heracʻlian. But Alaric was soon tired of his puppet-king. He deposed him, and again sought peace with Honorius. The treaty failed through the ill-will of Sarus, a Goth in the imperial service, who was a bitter enemy and rival of Alaric.
The king of the Visi-Goths now turned a third time, and with relentless rage, upon Rome. The Eternal City was taken, Aug. 10, A. D. 410, and for six days was given up to the horrible scenes of murder and pillage. Though greatly reduced in power, Rome had never lost her dignity, or the wealth of her old patrician houses. These were now ransacked; gold, jewels, and silken garments, Grecian sculptures and paintings, and the choicest spoils of conquered countries, brought home in triumph by ancestors of the present families, went to enrich the Gothic and Scythic hordes, who were so ignorant of the value of their plunder, that exquisite vases were often divided by a stroke of a battleax, and their fragments distributed among the common soldiers. Only the churches and their property were respected, for Alaric declared that he waged war with the Romans, and not with the apostles.
246. At length the king of the Goths withdrew, laden with spoils, along the Appian Way, meditating the conquest of Sicily and Africa. Storms, however, destroyed his hastily constructed fleet, and a sudden death terminated his career of conquest. He was buried in the channel of the little river Busenti'nus, and his sepulcher was adorned by his followers with the treasures of Rome. Adolphus, his successor, made peace with Honorius, and received the hand of the imperial princess Placid'ia, who had been taken prisoner during the siege. Her bridal gifts consisted of the spoils of her country. Adolphus retired into Gaul, and then into Spain, where he founded the kingdom of the Visi-Goths, as a dependency upon the Western empire.
Constantine was driven out of Spain, and captured at Arles, by Constantius, who was rewarded for his distinguished services by a marriage with Placidia, after the death of her Gothic husband, and by the imperial titles which he bore as the colleague of her brother. He reigned but seven months, and after his death Placidia quarreled with Honorius,