of in that and the following ages; the universities of Paris, Tours, Fulden, Soissons, and many others, owe to him their origin and increase; those of which he was not the superior and founder, being at least enlightened by his doctrine and example, and enriched by the benefits he procured them from Charlemagne.

The kingdom of Mercia had nearly obtained the sovereignty of the heptarchy when Egbert ascended the throne of Wessex (A. D. 799), as the kingdom of the West Saxons was called. He broke down the Mercian power, aided not a little by the hatred with which the tyrannical conduct of the Mercians had inspired the subject nations. His policy was as conspicuous as his valor, and both enabled him to unite the realm of England into an orderly monarchy, possessing tranquillity within itself, and secure from foreign invasion. This great event occurred (A. D. 827) nearly four hundred years after the first arrival of he Anglo-Saxons in Britain.




Section I.-Political and Social Condition of the East at the coming of



The reign of Justin II., the nephew and successor of Justinian, at Constantinople, was remarkable only for disgrace abroad and misery at home. At his death (A. D. 578), he bequeathed the empire to Tiberius, whose virtues amply justified his choice; but the reign of Tiberius lasted only four years; he was succeeded by Maurice, who inherited many of his predecessor's virtues as well as his crown. Soon after his accession, the attention of the emperor was directed to the unsettled state of Persia, which had been distracted by sanguinary civil wars since the death of the great Nushirván. Hormúz, the son and successor of that monarch, was deposed and slain ; Bahram, a brave general but a feeble statesman, usurped the throne, and Khosrú or Chosroes, the legitimate heir, sought shelter in the Byzantine empipe. Maurice levied a powerful army to restore the royal exile, and intrusted its command to Narses, a valiant general, who was himself of Persian de

The expedition was crowned with success; Bahram, driven beyond the Oxus, died by poison, and Khosrú, grateful for his recovered throne, entered into close alliance with the emperor.

Freed from all danger on the side of Persia, Maurice resolved to turn his arms against the Avars; but the incapacity of his generals, and his own avarice, provoked the resentment of the soldiers; they mutinied, and marched to Constantinople under the command of one of their centurions, named Phocas. Had the metropolis continued faithful, this sedition might have been easily quelled; but the licentious populace, disgusted by the parsimony of their sovereign, assaulted him as he walked in a religious procession, and compelled him to seek safety in his palace. The unfortunate emperor was compelled to abdicate ; Phocas was tumultuously invested with the purple, and welcomed into Constantinople by the acclamations of a thoughtless people. The tyrant commenced his reign by dragging Maurice from the sanctuary where he had sought refuge, murdering his five sons successively before his eyes, and then putting the deposed monarch to death by torture (A. D. 602). One of the royal nurses attempted to save the prince intrusted to her charge, by presenting her own child to the executioners in his stead; but Maurice refused to sanction the deceit, and as each blow of the axe fell on the necks of his children, he exclaimed, with pious resignation," Righteous art thou, O Lord, and just are thy judgments !"

The usurpation of Phocas was basely sanctioned by Pope Gregory who received in return for his adulation the title of Universal Bishop. But the pontiff's flatteries could not save the tyrant from the resentment of his subjects, who soon discovered their error in preferring such a miscreant to the virtuous Maurice. Heraclius, exarch of Africa, invited by the unanimous voice of the empire, sailed to Constantinople : scarcely had his fleet appeared in the Hellespont, when the citizens and imperiai guards entered the palace, bound Phocas in chains, and sent him a helpless captive to his rival (A. D. 610). Heraclius reproached him with his manifold vices, to which the deposed tyrant simply replied, “ Wilt thou govern better ?" These were the last words of Phocas : after suffering much variety of insult and torture, he was beheaded, and his mangled body thrown into the sea.

But the death of Phocas did not deliver the empire from the calamities his crimes had produced ; Khosrú Parvíz had no sooner learned the sad fate of his benefactor Maurice, than he assembled the entire strength of Persia to avenge his murder. The unwise system of persecution which had been gradually established both by the Byzantine prelates and emperors, supplied the invader with allies in every province: the Jews, the Nestorians, and the Jacobites, believed, with reason, that they would find the worshippers of fire more tolerant than the orthodox Christians; and scarcely had the Persians crossed the Euphrates, when insurrections were raised in their favor throughout Syria. Khosrú, victorious in two decisive battles, was encouraged to undertake the hereditary enterprise of the Sassanid dynasty-the restoration of the Persian empire, as it existed in the age of Cyrus the Great. Heraclius had scarcely ascended the throne, when he received intelligence of the fall of Antioch; and this was soon followed by the account of the storming of Jerusalem, where the Jews, encouraged by the Persians, wreaked dreadful vengeance on the heads of their Christian persecutors (A. D. 614). The fugitives from Palestine sought refuge in Egypt, where they were hospitably entertained by the archbishop of Alexandria. But Egypt itself, where the din of arms had not been heard since the reign of Dioclesian, was invaded, conquered, and for a time anrexed to the Persian empire (A. D. 616). Asia Minor was subdued with equal facility ; in a single campaign, the armies of the Persians advanced from the banks of the Euphrates to the shores of the Thracian Bosphorus, and during ten years their hostile camp was in sight of the towers of Constantinople.

While Khosrú was indulging in the pride that such brilliant conquests inspired, and dazzling his subjects by the display of his magnificent plunder, he received an epistle from the almost unknown city of Mecca, written by an obscure individual, who yet claimed the king's obedience, and demanded to be recognised as the prophet of God. The grandson of Nushirvan was indignant at such a claim; he tore the letter to pieces, and flung the fragments to the winds. When this was reported to the writer, Mohammed, then beginning for the first time to taste the sweets of gratified ambition, and to find his prospects enlarging as he ascended the height of power, he exclaimed, “ It is thus that God will rend the kingdom of Khosrú !” a prophecy which, like many others, not a little accelerated its own accomplishment.

While the Asiatic provinces were thus a prey to the Persians, Constantinople itself was so hardly pressed by the Avars, that Heraclius was on the point of abandoning the capital, and seeking refuge with his treasures in Carthage. He was with difficulty dissuaded from this dishonorable measure by the entreaties of the patriarch; but his prospects appeared to become darker every hour; the Avars, by a treacherous attack, had nearly seized the capital, and the ambassadors sent to supplicate pardon and peace from Khosrú, were dismissed with contumely and scorn; the Persian despot declaring that he would not grant peace until either Heraclius was brought bound in chains to his footstool, or had abjured Christianity and embraced the Magian religion.

For about twelve years Heraclius had patiently witnessed the calainities of the empire without making any effort to protect his subjects ; but this last insult roused his slumbering energies, and he entered on a career as glorious as his former inactivity had been disgraceful. He did not venture with his raw levies to attack the Persian camp at Chalcedon; but he passed over to the coast of Cilicia, and fortified himself on the ground where Alexander had fought the battle of Issus, not far from the modern town of Scanderoon, whose excellent harbor offered a good station for the imperial fleet. A splendid victory over the Persian cavalry enabled him to establish his winter-quarters in Cappadocia, on he banks of the Halys (Kizil Irmak), and to mature his plans for one of the boldest enterprises recorded in history—the invasion of Persia through its northern provinces (A.D. 623). Early in the ensuing spring, Heraclius, with a chosen band of five thousand men, sailed from Constantinople to Trebizond, assembled his forces from the southern regions, and, joined by the Christians of Armenia, entered the province of Atropatene (Azerbiján). Tauris (Tabriz), the ancient and modern capital of the country, was taken by storm, almost in sight of Khosrú's army, while the Persian monarch had neither the courage to hazard a battle, nor the justice to conclude an equitable peace. Several equally glorious campaigns followed ; the greater part of Persia was overrun by the victorious Byzantines; they defeated the Asiatics wherever they en«countered them, and marched in one direction as far as the Caspian, ir the other to Ispahan, destroying in their progress all Khosrú's splendid palaces, plundering his hoarded treasures, and dispersing in every direction the countless slaves of his pleasure. Khosrú made no effort to stop the mighty work of ruin, and yet he rejected the terms of peace offered him by the humanity of the conqueror. His subjects soon lost all regard for a monarch whom they deemed the sole cause of the desolation of his country: a conspiracy was formed against him; he was deposed by his eldest son Shiroueh, cast into a dungeon, and put to death by an unnatural prince, who pretended that he was compelled to the parricide by the clamors and importunities of the people and nobles of the empire.

After six glorious campaigns, Heraclius returned to Constantinople, bringing with him the wood of the “ True Cross," which Khosrú had taken at Jerusalem-a precious relic, which was deemed a more splendid trophy of his victories than all his spoils and conquests. The

kingdom of Persia, exhausted by the late sanguinary contest, was left to perish under the accumulated'evils of a dreadful famine, the disputes of proud and luxurious nobles, a succession of weak sovereigns, or rather pageants of power, and the attack of a new and terrible enemy. The flame which Mohammed had kindled in Arabia already began to spread, and to threaten an equal fate to the degraded and decaying monarchies of Byzantium and Persia.

Victory itself was fatal to Heraclius; the best and bravest of his soldiers had perished in the sanguinary war, his treasury was empty, taxes were levied with difficulty in the desolated provinces, and the emperor himself, as if exhausted by his great efforts, sunk into hopeless lethargy. While Heraclius was enjoying the empty honors of a triumph, the Saracens appeared on the confines of Syria : thenceforth the empire sunk rapidly before their fanatic valor; and in the last eight years of his reign, the emperor lost to them all that he had rescued from the the Persians.

SECTION II.-State of Arabia at the coming of Mohammed. The peninsula of Arabia is in shape a large and irregular triangle, between Persia, Syria, Egypt, and Ethiopia; its extreme length is about fifteen hundred miles, and its mean breadth about seven hundred. Though it contains several lofty ranges of mountains, the greater part of the country consists of level, sandy, and arid plains, which can support but few inhabitants. Water is difficult to be obtained ; there is scarcely any wood to shelter from the direct and intense rays of a tropical sun; the winds, instead of being refreshing breezes, frequently come loaded with pestilential vapors, or raise eddying billows of sand that have overwhelmed, not only caravans, but entire armies. The high lands that border on the Indian ocean are distinguished by a superior abundance of wood and water, and hence this part of the peninsula has been called Happy Arabia : but the groves, even of this favored district, are thinly scattered; the streams, though pure, are small, and the country could only be deemed delightful by persons whose eyes were unaccustomed to vegetation, and who had often felt the want of a cooling shade or a refreshing drink. The northern part of Arabia is occupied by ranges of naked, rocky mountains, from which it received the name of Arabia Petræa, or the Stony; but notwithstanding its rugged and desert aspect, it was in ancient times the centre of a flourishing trade, being the great high road of trade between Egypt and southeastern Asia.

The Arabs are an original and unmixed race; they boast that their country has never been subdued, but the greater part of it has little that could tempt the cupidity of a conqueror. In the reign of Trajan, the Romans made Arabia Petræa a province ; Yemen, or Arabia Felix, has been frequently subject to Persia, and about the time of Mohammed's appearance, the southern part of the peninsula was ruled by the Najáshi of Ethiopia. The Arab is not very robust, but he is active and well made, able to endure great fatigue, and, both from habit and education, reckless of danger. In his mental constitution, he displays quickness rather than intelligence his imagination is warm, but his judgment is

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