Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Augustus,

...

14 A.D. to 37 38

41

54 68 70 79 81 96 98

to the preliminary pressure of Roman institutions, I characters of the successive emperors. Some of these modifying, and in some cases changing, their native seem to have been specimens of the utmost depravity characters. The eastern half of the Empire, however, to which human nature could attain; others were men had been too thoroughly impregnated with the Greek of great mind, and worthy of their station. At first, element to yield easily to the new pressure; and ac- the Empire was inherited as a birthright by those who cordingly while the Latin language spread among the could claim descent from Augustus; but in the end, barbarians of the west, Greek still continued to be the the real patrons of the sovereign dignity were the language of the East. This demarcation between the armies, and especially the prætorian cohorts. To raise western or Latin-speaking and the eastern or Greek- favourite generals to the purple, and afterwards to speaking portions of the Empire became exceedingly murder them for the sake of the donations which it important afterwards.

was customary to receive in the case of a new accesOf this vast empire Rome was the metropolis, now a sion, became the pastime the various armies; and city of innumerable streets and buildings, and contain- sometimes it happened that there were several eming, it is calculated, a population of about two millions perors at the same time, different armies throughout and a-half. From Rome roads branched out in all the Empire having each appointed one. The effect of directions leading to the other towns of Italy, and these military appointments was to raise to the highest passing through the villa-studded estates of the rich dignity of the state men born at a distance from Rome, Roman citizens. From the coasts of Italy, the Medi- and who, spending their lives in the camp, entertained terranean afforded an easy access to the various pro- no affection for the city of the Cæsars. Meanwhile, vinces, by whose industry the metropolis and Italy it- under all the emperors alike, the great family of naself were in a great measure supported. The provincestions incorporated under the Roman rule were daily themselves were traversed by roads connecting town advancing towards that condition out of which modern with town, and laying all parts of the Empire open to society was to arise. The reader, however, must imathe civil and military functionaries of government. gine for himself the toil and bustle of the successive Usually residing at Rome, the will of the emperor generations of Celts, Spaniards, Greeks, Africans, and vibrated through a hierarchy of intermediate func- Asiatics, who were born and buried during these three tionaries, so as to be felt throughout the whole of his important centuries in which modern civilisation was vast dominions. In effect, this will was absolute. In cradled; all that we can give here is a chronological Augustus, as in Julius Cæsar, all the great offices of list of the emperors during that period :state, which had so long subsisted as mutual checks

from 30 B. c. to 14 A. D. upon each other, were united, so as to confer on him

Tiberius, power of the most unlimited description. The senate

Caligula, still met, but only as a judicial body in cases of trea- Claudius, son, or legislatively to pass the decrees which Augustus Nero,

Galba, Otho, Vitellius, had previously matured with a few private counsellors;

Vespasian, and the comitia were still held, but only to elect can

Titus, didates already nominated by the einperor. In this Domitian, system of absolute dominion in the hands of a single Nerva, individual, the Romans cheerfully acquiesced, partly

Trajan,

117 lladrian,

117 from experience of the superior nature of the govern- Antoninus Pius, ment thus exercised to the wretched anarchy from which they had escaped, and partly in consequence of the Commodus, hopelessness of revolt against a man who had the entire Pertinax,

Septimius Severus, military force of the Empire at his disposal. In Rome and Italy, the public peace was preserved by the preto- Heliogabalus, Tian cohorts-bodies of soldiers of tried valour, to whom Alexander Severus, Augustus gave double pay. Throughout the provinces,

Julius Maximinus,

Gordian, the people were kept in check by the regular troops,

Philip, who were accumulated, however, principally in the

Decius, frontier provinces of the Empire, where they might both Gallus, maintain tranquillity among the recently-conquered Valerian and Gallienus, populations, and resist the attacks of the barbarian Gallienus,

Aurelius,

270 races beyond. The provinces where military force was

Aurelianus, required, Augustus retained in his own hands, admi.

Tacitus,

276 nistering them through legates appointed by himself, Florian, usually for several years; the others he intrusted to Probus, the senate, who named governors for a single year.

Diocletian and Maximian, The cities of the Empire were the centres of Roman influence. It was in them that the Roman citizens The only facts connected with the reigns of these were congregated, that schools were established, and emperors which need be noticed here are, that in the that the various agencies of civilisation operated most reign of Claudius, Britain was added to the Roman uniformnly. In the rustic populations of the provinces, dominion; that under the great Trajan, the Empire was the national individuality was preserved with the na- still farther extended; and that under Caracalla, the tional language. It was part of the policy of Augustus Roman franchise was extended to all the free inhabito found cities in the choicest situations in the provinces; tants of the Empire. The vices of such emperors as and so rapid was the spread of the Roman civilisation Caligula, Nero, Commodus, Caracalla, and Heliogabalus, during his reign, that Roman writers and orators of may pass unnoticed, as may also the military achievenote began to be produced even in remote parts of the ments of some of the later emperors. The reign of Empire. The Greek language and literature began Diocletian, however (A. D. 284-305), constitutes an also to penetrate the provinces of the West, and to tind epoch in the history of the Empire. Finding the unstudents among the Celts and Spaniards.

wieldy mass too great for the administration of a single

individual, he divided it between hiinself and his col. THE SUCCESSORS OF AUGUSTUS-DISSEMINATION OF CHRIS- league Maximian, assigning to Maximian the western

or Latin-speaking nations, and retaining the East in During a period of nearly three centuries after the his own hands. Under each emperor there was to be a death of Augustus, the Empire remained, so far as po- royal personage called Cæsar, who was to govern part litical arrangements were concerned, pretty nearly as of that emperor's section of the Empire, and afterwards he had left it; and the history of Rome during these succeed him in the chief dignity. This arrangement centuries is little more than an account of the personal | did not last long; and after various subdivisions of the

68 70 79 81 96 98

[ocr errors]

138 161 180 192

Marcus Antoninus,

Caracalla,

138 161 180 193 193 211 218 222 235 238 243 249 251 253 261 268 270 275 276 276 282 284

211 217 222 235 238 243 249 251 233 260 268

275

Carus,

282 284 305

TIANITY-DIVISION OF THE EMPIRE.

ROMAN LITERATURE.

Empire, and struggles between emperors and Cæsars, I
the whole was reunited under Constantine the Great
(A.D. 306-337). Under this remarkable man Chris- It has already been mentioned, that for the first five
tianity was established as the religion of the Empire. centuries of their existence as a people, the Romans

During the three centuries which had elapsed be possessed no literature. A great and conquering nation,
tween the crucifixion of Christ—which took place in the and inheriting from their Etruscan progenitors a large
nineteenth year of the reign of Tiberius-and the ac- share of the practical knowledge possessed by that
cession of Constantine to the supreme government of singular people, it was not till they came in contact
the whole Empire, the new religion had been silently with the Greeks that the Romans began to develop
but surely spreading itself; first among the Jews, then their faculties in literary compositions; and then, as
among the Greeks or eastern, and lastly among the was natural, their first productions were translations
Latin or western Gentiles. It had been subjected to from, or imitations of, Greek writers. Livius Andro-
numerous persecutions, some local, and others general, nicus and Cneius Nævius (B.C. 240), the earliest Roman
over the whole Empire; but had, nevertheless, made poets, seem to have been copyists of the Greek; as
such progress, that it is calculated that in Constan- were also Fabius Pictor and Cincius Alimentus, the
tine's reign about a twentieth part of the whole popu- first Roman annalists, and who lived during the Second
lation of the Empire were professed Christians, while Punic War. Between the Second Punic War, however
even over the nineteen-twentieths who continued in (B.C. 202), and the dictatorship of Sulla (B.C. 81),
polytheism, the indirect influence of Christianity had there arose a number of writers of no ordinary power,
been immense. Led to embrace Christianity himself, in whose hands the Latin language acquired force and
although with a considerable tincture of polytheistic flexibility, and whose works illustrate the native charac.
superstition, Constantine gave his imperial recognition ter of the Romans. Among these should be mentioned
to the already fully-organised ecclesiastical system of Ennius, the father of Roman poetry; Plautus, his con-
the Christians, with its churches, presbyters, bishops, temporary, a man of rich comic genius; the elder Cato,
and metropolitans. The civil ban having thus been the first prose writer of note; and Terentius or Terence, a
removed from the profession of Christianity, it began comic poet of a less rude style than Plautus, and whose
to prevail in form, as it already did in fact, over the first play was acted in the year B.c. 165.
heterogeneous polytheism of the E:npire.

The period from the dictatorship of Sulla (B.C. 81) Another important act of Constantine's reign, be to the death of Augustus (A. D. 14) is the golden age of sides his proclamation of toleration for Christianity Roman literature. Then flourished Cicero, undoubtedly (A.D. 321), was his removal of the seat of empire from the greatest as well as the most voluminous of Roman Rome to Constantinople. Not long after this was prose authors, whose orations and philosophical diseffected, Constantine died at the age of sixty, leaving quisitions are still read with pleasure ; Cæsar, whose the Empire divided anong his three sons. One of brief • Commentaries' on his own campaigns are among them, Constantius, ultimately acquired the whole, and the simplest and most compact of historical writings; transmitted it to his successors; but in the year 393, his friend Sallustius or Sallust (born B.C. 68), who has Theodosius, one of these successors, effected a per- left us spirited, if not unprejudiced, accounts of the manent separation between the East and the West. Jugurthine War and the conspiracy of Catiline; the From that date, the history of Rome divides itself into didactic poet Lucretius; his contemporary, Catullus, two distinct histories--that of the Western or Latin, whose lyrical effusions are among the sweetest and most and that of the Eastern or Greek empire. The latter truly poetic things in the Latin language; and, not protracted its existence till A.D. 1453, when Constan- to mention a host of others, Virgil and Horace, the two tinople was taken by the Turks: the former crumbled chief classic poets of the Augustan age-the former the to pieces niuch earlier, before the attacks of the northern author of the celebrated epic poem the · Æneid,' and if barbarians, who finally destroyed it in 476.

not an original, at least a graceful and pathetic writer;

and the latter a sagacious and good-humoured observer DOWNFALL OF THE WESTERN EMPIRE.

of mankind, and the author of many odes, satires, and From an early period, the Empire had been assailed epistles. Somewhat later were Livy, the great historian on its northern frontier by the German and Sclavonian of Rome, in 142 books, only thirty-five of which, howraces living east of the Rhine and north of the Danube. ever, have reached us; and Orid, who ranks second to Partly by force, and partly by negotiation, the autho- none of the Roman poets for ease and elegance. rities of the Empire had been able to keep these barba- Under the emperors, the Latin authors became more rian populations in check; but towards the end of the and more numerous, springing up in all parts of the fourth century, the growing decrepitude of the Empire Empire, and cultivating all departments. Out of the tempted invasion, and hordes of barbarians from Scan- long list of authors intervening between the reign of dinavia, Russia, and Tartary, rolled themselves towards Tiberius and that of Commodus, we may mention the the Danube. At first, it seemed as if the eastern empire poets Italius, Lucan, and Silius Italicus; Martial, the would be the first to fall before them; but the tide of writer of epigrains; Seneca, the Stoic philosopher, put invasion was at length decisively diverted towards the to death by Nero ; Quinctilian the rhetorician; Pliny, west. Province after province was torn away by Goths, the celebrated natural historian, who was killed A.D. Alans, Huns, Vandals, and others: Italy itself was ra- | 79 by the great eruption from Vesuvius which destroyed vaged several times; and at length, A. D. 476, Romulus the city of Herculaneum ; Tacitus, the historian of the Augustulus, the last sovereign, was dethroned, and Italy declining age of Rome; and Juvenal, whose satires rebecame a prey to the Germans. The various steps in this veal too horribly the immorality of the society in the gradual disintegration of the Empire, the heroic deeds midst of which he lived. of the two chief agents in the dismemberment-Alaric, The host of petty rhetoricians, poets, &c. both Greek king of the Goths, and Attila, king of the Huns-and and Roman, who lived in the various cities of the Emthe gradual formation of Romano-Germanic kingdoms pire in the second, third, and fourth centuries, may be out of fragınents of the shattered Roman society, cannot passed over. During these centuries Christianity was here be detailed.

overspreading the Empire, and drinking up all the inIn the chaos into which the Western Empire was tellect and enthusiasm of the various nations; and nothrown by the Germanic invasions, three distinct ele- thing more strikingly marks the decrepitude of poly. ments were discernible-the old Roman or Roinanised theism at that time, as compared with the freshness of population; the Christian church ; and the freshly- the new religion, than the contrast between the miserinfused German vitality. By the interaction of these able verse-making, which seemed to be the only literary three elements, modern European society has been occupation practised in polytheistic circles, and the evolved; and to trace this evolution in France, Eng. earnest and powerful writings of the Christian fathers land, Spain, Italy, &c. is the object of the succeeding on those great theological topics which concerned the number-THE HISTORY OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

Divine nature and the everlasting destinies of man.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

HISTORY OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

[ocr errors]

called Constantinople. In his endeavours to make this city the seat of government, Constantine only partially succeeded; for it generally happened after his day that there was one emperor in the East and another in the West, and not unfrequently two or three different individuals in the provinces, at the head of considerable military forces, claiming partial and even universal empire. Rome itself, and the countries of western Europe, were soon taken possession of by barbarous intruders, and lost all the characteristics and individuality of empire ; but Constantinople continued for a thousand years the abode of men who had still the name of emperors, and reckoned themselves the descendants of the Cæsars, although they had long ceased to wield anything but the shadow of power. Constantine was himself instrumental in dismembering his empire, having before his death divided it among no fewer than five individuals—namely, his three sons, Constantine, Constans, and Constantius, and his two nephews, Dalmatius and Annibalianus, both of whom

bore in addition the surname of Cæsar-a name still UNDER the title of the Middle Ages is comprehended popular among a people who wished themselves to be that period of history which succeeded the destruction considered Roman. of the Roman western empire (see preceding sheet),

Constantine II, soon fell a sacrifice to the cruelty and extended to the end of the fifteenth or beginning and ambition of his brother Constans, who in his turn of the sixteenth century, when learning was revived in lost his life in attempting to quell a revolt among his Europe. This period of about eight hundred years may subjects; and Constantius, the youngest of the sons, be said to divide ancient from modern times. The having found means to destroy the two Cæsars, and five early portion of the middle ages is sometimes styled other cousins, and two uncles, found himself at an the Dark Ages; for during this time the ancient civi- early period of life the undisputed master of the emlisation of Rome, a bequest from Egypt and Greece, pire. He reigned twenty-four years, but left no monudisappeared, and ancient institutions perished, without ments of goodness or of greatness, having wasted his anything better being substituted. The middle ages time in the practice of vice, or in the equally unprofitaltogether differ from any other period in history. They able, if more innocent, employment of disputing with may be generally described as an era of universal dis-bishops on the abstrusest points of doctrinal theology; order, in which was maintained a struggle between while a host of enemies, apparently from every side of force and reason. Old governments were broken up, his dominions, were engaged in undermining and layand new ones took their place, only to be dismembered ing waste the eropire. It was in the West that these in turn. Literature sunk into obscurity, and was con- attacks were first made, though perhaps it was in the fined to the cells of monks. Slavery was universal, and East that they were fiercest. Numberless and powerful was modified alone by the benign influence of Chris- barbarians now began to pour unceasingly upon Gaul, tianity. Gradually, as it will be seen, nations assumed Spain, and latterly upon Italy itself, from the forests a settled character, arts were discovered, and for mili- of the north, and in particular from those of Germany tary turbulence were substituted peaceful institutions. --a country whose inhabitants have been remarkable Much, therefore, as there is to deplore in the history of in the history of the world, both as having originated the middle ages, there is not a little to commend and many of the greatest movements in society, and as be grateful for. We must view these ages as being the having laid open more of the sources of human thought cradle of modern civilisation, the era whence sprung than any other people that could be named. The much that we venerate in our institutions, much that Franks, Saxons, Goths, and Alemanni, devastated the distinguishes modern from ancient manners.

fine countries watered by the Rhine, and so effectually

severed them from the Empire, that from this period THE EASTERN EMPIRE TO THE TWELFTH CENTURY. their history becomes wholly separate. At the same It is necessary to begin a history of the middle ages time the Sarmatians, Persians, Scythians, and others, with a reference to the decline of the Roman Empire. made dreadful incursions in the East. All that ConThis decline was caused by various circumstances, but stantius could do to stem this powerful tide was to chiefly by the weakened condition of society. Instead raise his kinsman Julian, whom he surnamed Cæsar, to of rearing a respectable lower and middle class, the command in the army. Roman aristocracy kept the mass of the people in Julian had been early instructed in the Christian slavery, so that at length society consisted of but a religion, but he is not known to have ever given it any comparatively small number of privileged persons, credit, although he has been often called apostate. He including the military, and vast numbers of serfs or had imbibed the philosophy of Plato in the schools of slaves—the hangers-on of great men—and in effect Athens; and with this learning, with the elements of a paupers. “The freedom of the ancient world expired great character in his mind, and with the models of in the course of ages,' says Alison, from the small Cæsar, of Trajan, and of Marcus Antoninus in his eye, nuinber of those who enjoyed its benefits. The ruling he formed the design, and seemed to have the ability, citizens became corrupted from the influence of pros- to raise up and consolidate the glories of the falling perity, or by the seductions of wealth; and no infusion Empire. His victories over the Alemanni in Gaul, of energy took place from the lower ranks to renovate although they preserved the Empire, excited only the their strength or supply their place.' Besides this envy of the emperor, and Constantius was about to degeneral, there was a special cause. In 321, Constantine pose him from his command, when his own death saved transferred the imperial abode from Rome to Byzan- him from the ignominy to which the soldiery would tium, a city situated on the Bosphorus, and afterwards certainly have subjected him for any attempt to deNo. 58.

113

[graphic]

grade their favourite commander. Julian was himself | sarius regained to the Empire Africa and great part of declared emperor by the army, and the people had lost Italy, from the Vandals and Ostrogoths; this conquest, both the power and the will to resist. Unfortunately however, only prevented the latter region from being for his fame, Julian perished in battle with the Per- united under one government, and has been the cause sians only three years after his accession. In that of its remaining a feeble and divided country ever since. short period he had reformed many abuses in the state; In the reign of Tiberius shortly after (580), the people and though personally hostile to the Christian religion, of Rome, though they intreated with great earnestness and though he used both arguments and ridicule against the aid and pity of the emperor, who now claimed to it, he not only advocated, but practised universal tole- rule over them, were unable to obtain any relief, and ration. It is creditable also to Julian, that in estab- remained distracted between their attachment to the lishing the ancient orders of Roman priesthood, he ancient head of the Empire, and the claims of his was at pains to enforce a strict morality in all the re- enemies who occupied the rest of Italy. lations of life. He was succeeded, after the fall of The next emperor who merits attention is Heraclius several candidates, by Valentinian, whose father had (610), a native of Africa. The Eastern Empire had till been a soldier from the Danube. This emperor took now preserved its ancient boundaries in their full ex. for colleague his brother Valens, to whom he assigned tent, and was mistress of Carthage, Egypt, Syria, and Constantinople and the government of the East. The Asia Minor, besides Greece, and the countries on the reign of Valens was signalised by the irruption into Danube. The Roman armies on the eastern frontier Europe of an enemy till then unknown to the Romans; had, however, been lately driven in by Chosroes, king these were the Huns, a confederation of Tartar tribes, of Persia, who now occupied all the north of Africa some of whom had obtained the ascendancy and control and Syria. This was the first great violation of their over the rest, and led them on to invade the nations of territory sustained by the emperors of Constantinople; Europe. Their numbers and ferocity led the ancient and Heraclius avenged it with a celerity and effect writers to describe them in terms of consternation, which made the Persians tremble. His triumph, bow. which to moderns, who are no strangers to Calmucs, ever, was short, for the latter part of his reign was disCossacks, Tartars, and other tribes of similar origin, turbed by the rise and victories of Mohammed. The suc. appear sufficiently ludicrous. They never lived in cessors of this signal impostor, after breaking the power houses, slept under trees, ate raw flesh, and were alto. of Persia (already weakened by the victories of Heragether superior in war even to the Goths, who were clius), immediately attacked the Roman Empire; then now in alliance with the Romans, and had begun to defeated its armies in two battles, occupied all Syria, relish the comforts of a settled life. They were, there and obliged the emperor (now an old man) to retire to fore, driven away before the Huns, and were forced, Constantinople. He died in 641. in search of a home, to invade the Roman territory. The continued victories of the followers of Mohammed Here they were opposed by the Emperor Valens; but (called Arabs or Saracens) soon deprived the Empire of they defeated his army, and made his own life a sacri. Egypt, Africa, and Syria; and in 668 they followed up fice. He was succeeded by his nephew Gratian, who their success by attacking Constantinople itself. The chose for his colleague Theodosius, a general of talents city sustained two sieges, in the first of which the Sara. and celebrity. This emperor restored the confidence cens were encamped in its neighbourhood, and carried of his own army, and broke the power of the Goths, by on the operations of a siege at intervals, for seven years; his skill and caution; and was the first of the emperors and in the second, for nearly two. In both the Sarawho practised the mode of dividing the barbarians cens wasted immense resources ineffectually. against one another, by giving money to such of their The Empire had now lost all its provinces eastward tribes as he imagined would make useful auxiliaries. of Mount Taurus, and the cities of Alexandria, Jeru. This system, which the wealth of the emperors (from salem, and Antioch, were in the hands of the Mohamtheir possession of all the maritime and trading cities) medans. There was little further change in its condienabled them long to use against their poorer enemies, tion till the year 867, under the Emperor Basil, who often saved the Empire at the expense of its dignity; gave new vigour both to the internal administration for though the money was given at first as a gratuity, and to the military resources of the government. This it was sometimes demanded in times of weakness as a prince, and his immediate predecessor Zimisces, made tribute. This Theodosius (commonly called the Great) the Roman arms--for they still wished to be called was the first who made Christianity the established Romans--respected on the Euphrates and Tigris, and religion of the Empire (390). He procured a senatorial asserted the ancient warlike reputation and boundaries edict in favour of the Christians and their religion, of the Empire. They were now, however, deprived of sanctioned the destruction of the heathen temples, and the resources they had enjoyed in the secure possession forbade the performance of sacrifices, either in public of the great commercial cities of the Mediterraneanor private. The Empire under this prince still pre- Alexandria, Carthage, Cæsarea, &c.; and the trade and served its original extent; but he divided it between revenues of those which remained were crippled and his two sons, Arcadius and Honorius (394), and its dininished, from the want of that free general interparts were never afterwards reunited.

course which had existed when they were all under one From the death of Theodosius II. (449) to the reign government. Hence the armies were maintained with of Justinian (527), the Eastern Empire continued with greater difficulty, and any victories that were gained out any considerable alteration, though there were could not be followed up with effect. The early enemies many changes and intrigues in the court and army. of the Empire-the Goths, Vandals, and Huns—had The reign of the latter prince is memorable on several now settled into civilised communities, and were no accounts: it was under his auspices that a knowledge longer formidable. The foes with whom it contended of the silk manufacture was first brought to Europe, latterly were the Bulgarians and Seljukian Turks; the where it gave employment to much ingenious industry former of whom were rather troublesome than danger. (900). Justinian also caused certain eminent lawyers ous, but the latter, who had succeeded the Saracens in to prepare a code of laws, and an abridgment of law the dominion of Asia, aimed at nothing short of the decisions, &c. called the Pandects, which were used by destruction of the Roman name. They succeeded at all his successors, and have been adopted as the basis last by defeating and taking prisoner the Emperor of their laws by several countries of Europe. With the Romanus Diogenes, in tearing away almost the whole single exception of the Code de Napoleon, these form province of Asia Minor (1099); so that the emperors the only complete and perfect abstract of national law were now confined to their dominions in Europe, which any government has given to its people (see No. which, however, still formed a monarchy not much 54). Whatever may have been Justinian's errors, his smaller than France or Spain. having projected this work, and procured so many able The manners of the court of Constantinople during ministers to execute it, must redound for ever to his much of this period were dissolute and corrupt. We honour. The talents and virtues of his general Beli-) are told of one emperor who ordered a plate of human noses to be brought to his table; another was accus- | all the business of life, that Mohammed seems to have tomed to seize the deputies of cities whose tribute was owed his extraordinary success. Others, indeed, have in arrear, and suspend them with their heads down attributed this to certain indulgences allowed in the wards over a slow tire; a third got up farces in mockery Koran; but in reality these indulgences existed before, of the ceremonies of religion; and, in general, the ap- and the book breathes upon the whole an austere spirit. pointment of officers, and even the succession to the This extraordinary work inculcated elevated notions Empire (where it was not seized by some successful of the Divine nature and of moral duties : it taught general), was in the hands of the women and eunuchs that God's will and power were constantly exerted toof the palace. The cities and provinces generally ac- wards the happiness of His creatures, and that the duty quiesced as to the choice of an emperor in the decision of man was to love his neighbours, assist the poor, proof the capital or army; this circumstance shows that tect the injured, to be humane to inferior animals, and the laws were attended to, and that there was a regular to pray seven times a day. It taught that, to revive system of government, which was not much disturbed | the impression of those laws which God had engraven by the personal character of the reigning prince. The originally in the hearts of men, He had sent his procountries of Greece, however, which had formerly been phets upon earth--Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, and the seat of knowledge and the arts, were now sunk in Mohammed—the last, the greatest, to whoin all the ignorance; and the little learning that was cultivated world should owe its conversion to the true religion. By in Athens was only scholastic divinity, or the pedantry producing the Koran in detached parcels, Mohammed of law and grammar. There is no scholar, or philoso- had it in his power to solve all objections by new revelapher, or poet of the empire of Constantinople who is tions. It was only after he was well advanced in years generally known to posterity.

that his doctrines began to be received. At first, indeed, A great change took place in the relations of the they were so violently opposed by his fellow-citizens of Empire after the eleventh century. It was still pressed Mecca, that the prophet was obliged to flee from the city by the Turks on the East, who now occupied Asia Minor, to save his life. This event is called by his followers and were only separated from Constantinople by the Hegyra, or the Flight: it occurred in the 622d year of Hellespont; while in Europe its territories were dis- the Christian era; and they reckon dates from it as we turbed by the incursions of certain Norman adventurers do from the birth of Christ (see CHRONOLOGY, Vol. I.). who had settled in Sicily. Against these enemies the Mohammed took refuge in the city of Medina, and by Emperor Claudius Comnenus, an active prince, and the aid of his disciples there, he was soon able to return full of resources, made all the resistance which his di- to Mecca at the head of an armed force. This enabled minished revenues allowed. He applied to the Chris- him to subdue those who would not be convinced; and tian sovereigns of Europe to aid him in expelling the henceforward he proceeded to make proselytes and subMohammedans from the territories of the Empire, butjects together, till at length, being master of all Arabia above all, to drive out the Turks from the land of Judea, and of Syria, his numerous followers saluted him king which they occupied and profaned, and where they (627). This extraordinary man died suddenly, and in barassed the Christian pilgrims who desired to visit the the midst of successes, at the age of sixty-one (632). scenes of Scripture history. His appeal was received Abubeker, his father-in-law and successor, united and in Europe at a time when many concurring causes had published the books of the Koran, and continued and brought the mass of the people to a state of uneasiness extended the empire which Mohammed had left him which at once foreboded and rendered necessary some (see MOHAMMEDANISM, No. 76). extensive change in their condition. Countrymen of A more powerful caliph (such was the title given to their own, pilgrims from the shrine of the tomb of this series of monarchs) was Omar, the successor of Christ, had returned and filled them with horror by a Abubeker (635). Barbarity, ferocity, and superstition recital of indignities which Turkish infidels were cast- seem to have been mingled and to have reached their ing on those scenes and subjects with which their own height in the person of Omar. It was by his order that most sacred feelings were associated; and the result the most magnificent library of antiquity, that of Alexwas that extraordinary outpouring of the inhabitants andria, consisting of 700,000 volumes, was burned to of Europe upon Asia, which has been termed the Cru- ashes. The reason which he gave for this act is worth sades, and to which we shall afterwards advert. preserving : If these writings,' he said, agree with

the Koran, they are useless, and need not be preserved; ARABIA-MOHAMMED-EMPIRE OF THE SARACENS. if they disagree, they are pernicious, and ought to be

It was not before the sixth century that Arabia be destroyed.' By himself and his generals this ferocious came peculiarly remarkable in the history of the world. conqueror added Syria, Phænicia, Mesopotamia, ChalThe wild Arabs, as they have been generally called, dea, Egypt, Lybia, and Numidia, to his empire. Next had already signalised themselves by incursions on the came Otinan, and then Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed Empire of the East, when Mohammed was born, in the himself. The name of Ali is still revered by Mussulyear 569 (some say, 571) of the Christian era at Mecca, mans. His reign was short, but glorious. “After some the principal city of their country. He is said to have internal troubles,' says Hallam, the Saracens won been descended from some great families; but it is cer- their way along the coast of Africa, as far as the pillars tain that his immediate progenitors were poor, and he of Hercules, and a third province was irretrievably torn had little education but what his own means and his from the Greek empire. These Western conquests inown mind could give him. Yet this man became the troduced them to fresh enemies, and ushered in more founder of a great empire, and the fabricator of a reli- splendid successes. Encouraged by the disunion of the gion which has continued to our own day to affect Visigoths (in Spain), and invited by treachery, Muza, greater numbers of mankind than Christianity itself. the general of a master who sat beyond the opposite At an early period of life, we are told, he retired to extremity of the Mediterranean Sea, passed over into the desert, and pretended to hold conférences with the Spain, and within about two years the name of MohamAngel Gabriel, who delivered to him, from time to med was invoked under the Pyreneans.' time, portions of a sacred book or Koran, containing Nineteen caliphs of the race of Omar succeeded Ali, revelations of the will of the Supreme Being, and of the and after these came the dynasty of the Abassydæ, dedoctrines which he required his prophet (that is, Moham- scended by the male line from Mohammed. The second med himself) to communicate to the world. The Mo- caliph of this race, named Almanzor, removed the seat hammedan religion, as the so-called revelations of this of empire to Bagdad (762), and introduced learning great impostor have since been designated, was a strange and the culture of the sciences, which his successors mixture of the superstitions of Arabia, the morality of continued to promote with zeal and liberality. This Christ, and the rites of Judaism. It was to this happy was some recompense for those indignities which had mixture of tenets, usages, and traditions already exist been cast upon literature by the brutal Omar. Perhaps ing among his countrymen, and to the applicability of the obligations of modern Europe to Arabia at this time the precepts of the Koran to all legal transactions and have been overstated; but it is not to be denied that

« ElőzőTovább »