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Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

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Georges Cuvier

6. The waning of the Empire / Le déclin de l’Empire

19. The Fall of Rome

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SACK OF ROME BY THE VISIGOTHS. Oil on canvas (1890) by the French academic painter Joseph- Noël Sylvestre (1847-1926).

SACK OF ROME BY THE VISIGOTHS. Oil on canvas (1890) by the French academic painter Joseph- Noël Sylvestre (1847-1926).
  • 1 [Goths, member of a Germanic people whose two branches, the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths, for cent (...)

1A now famous event had brought about the first incursions of the Germanic peoples into the Roman Empire. About A.D. 375, a people from the easternmost part of Asia attacked the Goths1 of southern Russia, destroyed them, and took over their territory. It was not known then where these new barbarians had come from, designated by the name of Huns, and who later devastated all the regions of Europe. The terror they spread and their fearful aspect lent credence to the story that they were the issue of the congress of demons with women of certain regions in northern Asia. But the history of China has enlightened us about the origin of these people. It informs us that they were Tartars, with whom the Chinese had been in communication since 200 B. C., and who, after being conquered by the Chinese or by the Moguls around A.D. 93, had wandered from land to land for almost three centuries. After this time, they found themselves at the Volga and chased the Goths out of the country that now is southern Russia.

  • 2 [Valens (born c. 328, died 9 August 378), Eastern Roman emperor from 364 to 378. He was the younge (...)
  • 3 [Valens, in his war on the Visigoths (see note 11, below), who were threatening to invade Thrace, (...)
  • 4 [Battle of Adrianople (9 August A.D. 378), fought at present Edirne, in European Turkey, resulting (...)

2The Goths who escaped the Tartar arms petitioned the emperor Valens,2 who reigned in the East, and received his permission to pass the Rhine3 and to settle in territories of the Empire. They were allowed into Moesia, today called Bulgaria; but they soon revolted against their new master and advanced to Adrianople,4 where Valens, in fighting them, was defeated and killed: the Goths burned him and the town to which he had retreated.

  • 5 [Valentinian I, Latin in full Flavius Valentinianus (born 321; died 17 November 375, Brigetio, Pan (...)

3Gratian, the son of Valentinian,5 tried to subdue these barbarians but could not do so. Theodosius, being more masterful, checked them but allowed them to remain in Moesia as before their revolt. They remained there in peace throughout the reign of this prince.

  • 6 [Honorius, in full Flavius Honorius (born 9 September 384, died 15 August 423), Roman emperor in t (...)
  • 7 [Flavius Stilicho, master of soldiers who exercised power during the first half of Honorius’s reig (...)
  • 8 [Arcadius (born 377, died c. 408), Eastern Roman emperor conjointly with his father, Theodosius I, (...)
  • 9 [Rufinus, in full Flavius Rufinus (died 27 November 395, Constantinople), minister of the Eastern (...)

4At his death, the empire would ultimately become the portion of his two sons who were still infants. Honorius,6 named emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was entrusted to the care of Stilicho;7 Arcadius,8 emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, had Rufinus9 for tutor and master.

5Rufinus made use of criminal intrigues to place himself at the head of the two parts of the empire; but Stilicho resisted him like a man of genius and honor.

  • 10 [Alaric (born c. 370, Peuce Island, now in Romania; died 410, Cosentia, Bruttium, now Cosenza, Ita (...)
  • 11 [Visigoths, member of a division of the Goths (see note 1, above). One of the most important of th (...)
  • 12 [Arcadia, mountainous region of the central Peloponnesus of ancient Greece. The pastoral character (...)
  • 13 [Illyria, northwestern part of the Balkan Peninsula, inhabited from about the tenth century B. C. (...)

6Alaric,10 king of the Visigoths,11 entered Greece at the urging of Rufinus and ravaged that noble country. He met Stilicho in battle there, who defeated him and chased him into Arcadia12 where he let him go and even conferred on him the governing of Illyria.13 This act of Stilicho’s was thought to be treasonous.

7In 406, when Alaric recommenced hostilities and attacked Rome, Stilicho repulsed him again. But, despite this good service, Honorius, before whom Stilicho had been calumniated, had him put to death in 408. Honorius could not replace such an able minister; Stilicho was the only man who could have saved the Empire.

  • 14 [Ataulphus (died 415, Barcelona), chieftain of the Visigoths from 410 to 415 and the successor of (...)
  • 15 [Aelia Galla Placidia (born c. 390, died 27 November 450), Roman empress, the daughter of the empe (...)
  • 16 [Getae, an ancient people of Thracian origin, inhabiting the banks of the lower Danube region and (...)

8The year after his death, Alaric and the Visigoths captured Rome and sacked it. Ataulphus,14 fiercer than Alaric, pillaged Rome again, destroyed its monuments and was planning to abolish the Roman name, when he captured Placidia,15 the emperor’s sister. This captive princess, whom he married, succeeded in pacifying him, and the Goths, formerly known as the Getae,16 treated with the Romans.

  • 17 [Suevi, also spelled Suebi, a group of Germanic peoples, including the Marcomanni and Quadi, Hermu (...)

9Spain was then in the possession of the Visigoths and Suevi,17 who dominated it until 712, when it fell to the Saracens.

10About 420, the Burgundians, a Germanic people, occupied the vicinity of the Rhine, where gradually they took over the country that today bears their name.

11The Franks, intent upon opening up Gaul for themselves, passed the Rhine in 418 and settled in Belgium.

12The Lombards took over the north of Italy.

13The Angles or English and the Saxons occupied Great Britain, gave it their name, and established several kingdoms there.

  • 18 [Clovis I (born c. 466; died 27 November 511, Paris), Merovingian founder of the Frankish kingdom (...)
  • 19 [The Battle of Tolbiac or Tulpiacum was fought between the Franks under Clovis I and the Alamanni, (...)
  • 20 [Alamanni, also spelled Alemanni, a Germanic people first mentioned in connection with the Roman a (...)

14Thus, in the fifth century, all the Germanic peoples had left their original abode. In 495, the Romans ended up losing Gaul to the victories of Clovis.18 The latter also won the battle of Tolbiac19 against the Alamanni.20 After a victorious battle in which he killed Alaric the king of the Visigoths by his own hand, Clovis added Toulouse and Aquitaine to his kingdom.

  • 21 [Belisarius (born c. 505, Germania, Illyria? died March 565), Byzantine general, the leading milit (...)
  • 22 [General Narses (born c. 478, Armenia; died 573, probably Rome or Constantinople), Byzantine gener (...)

15In 527, Belisarius21 and Narses22 quelled the Persians, discomfited the Ostrogoths and Vandals, and returned Africa, Italy, and Rome to their master; however, the emperor, jealous of their glory but wishing no part in their labors, kept impeding them more than he assisted them.

  • 23 [Childebert I (born c. 498; died 23 December 558, Paris), Merovingian king of Paris from 511, who (...)
  • 24 [Chlotar I (born c. 500; died late 561, Compiègne, France), Merovingian king of Soissons from 511 (...)

16After a long war, Childebert23 and Chlotar,24 sons of Clovis, conquered the kingdom of Burgundy. Some time afterwards, while Belisarius was vigorously attacking the Ostrogoths, their possessions in Gaul were abandoned to the French. France was extended then far beyond the Rhine. Its principal parts were Neustria, or western France, and Austrasia, or eastern France; but the princes’ portions, which composed a kingdom for each, kept France from being united under one rule.

  • 25 [Bucelin and his brother Leutharis, Alamanni generals in the court of Theudibald, king of the Fran (...)
  • 26 [Justin II (died 4 October 578), Byzantine emperor (from 565) whose attempts to maintain the integ (...)
  • 27 [Alboin (died 28 June 572, Verona, Lombardy), king of the Germanic Lombards whose exceptional mili (...)

17In 555, Narses, who had wrested Italy from the Goths, defended it against the French, and won a complete victory over Bucelin,25 the general of the Austrasian troops. In spite of all these successes, Italy remained not long in the hands of the emperor. Under Justin the Younger,26 nephew of Justinian, and after the death of Narses, the kingdom of Lombardy was founded by Alboin.27 He took Milan and Pavia; Rome and Ravenna barely escaped his hand; and the Lombards caused the Romans to suffer extreme ills. There was little succor for Rome from its emperors, whom the Avars (a Scythian nation), the Saracens (Arabian tribes), and the Persians, more than anyone else, tormented from every side in the East.

18Such, then, is a succinct account of the warlike movements made by the enemies of the Roman Empire in the provinces up to the end of the sixth century.

19The relations that existed at the time of the barbarian invasions between the conquering people and the conquered, immediately after the conquest, are remarkable in several regards.

20No tribe aspired to absolute power (as had happened elsewhere), not even in the country it invaded: it usually was content to become incorporated into the might of the Roman Empire. Thus, the chiefs of the various Germanic peoples long recognized the emperor as their sovereign, and we still possess decrees by the Roman emperors delegating authority to the first Frankish kings over Gaul.

21To be sure, the barbarians as subjects were extremely intractable, always ready to rise up against their master, who despised and oppressed his conquered subjects. And yet, no doubt the remains of veneration that they still had for the Empire, however dismembered they had made it, contributed within certain limits to keeping them from destroying that which still survived of ancient civilization. Moreover, for a fairly long time before the conquest, the Franks, and several Germanic nations as well, had been in direct contact with the Romans, who called them to their aid. From the fourth century, the Frankish leaders played an important role in the army and at the court of the emperors of the Western Empire, as did the Goths at the court in Constantinople.

22Fortunately, the peoples invading the Roman Empire were not animated by any religious fanaticism; they professed no cult to which they wished to subject the conquered, or even to which they themselves were attached. As a consequence, they accepted without difficulty the Christian religion, which was at that time acknowledged throughout the Empire. This disposition to adopt a new cult was favorable to the preservation of the books that were the storehouse of accumulated knowledge; for the clergy had placed the libraries in the churches, and the barbarians respected these precious depots.

23The early effects of the invasion were therefore less disastrous to the sciences than was the prolonged rule by barbarian princes, who accorded them no protection, and under whose sway no one devoted to letters or the sciences could hope for favor.

24The retaining of Latin as the common language of educated persons in the various provinces of the Western Empire was another fact of great use to the sciences; one might say it protected them from total extinction. It may be considered as resulting from the authority exerted over Europe by the bishops of Rome, the recognized leaders of the Christian Church. These bishops, who later were called popes, used Latin in the liturgy and it thus became the language of all ecclesiastics –that is to say, all men who then possessed any literary or scientific knowledge. Without this means of communication between educated men, no doubt the development of civilized knowledge would have been interrupted much more quickly and completely; for the languages of the various peoples speaking Latin at the end of Roman rule, soon after the barbarian invasions, were changed everywhere and became transformed into different idioms having but faint resemblances among them.

  • 28 [Armorica, also spelled Aremorica, Latin name for the northwestern extremity of Gaul, now Brittany (...)

25Only one people had retained its original language under Roman domination and would not allow any alteration to penetrate its language after the barbarian invasions; this was the nation of Armoricans,28 a remnant of which inhabits our ancient province of Brittany and still speaks a Celtic language.

26In the era we are speaking of occurred the establishment of monasteries.

  • 29 [Essene, member of a religious sect or brotherhood that flourished in Palestine from about the sec (...)

27India had always had places destined to receive men who wished to separate themselves from the world and devote themselves to the practice of a contemplative life, as often happens in warm climates. Palestine, too, from early times had religious solitaries belonging to the Essene sect.29 The first Christian recluses, imitators of the Essenes, appeared in Egypt in the fourth century and rather quickly gave rise to communities that troubled the Alexandrian church.

  • 30 [Saint Benedict of Nursia (born c. 480, Nursia, Kingdom of the Lombards; died c. 547; feast day 11 (...)

28It was not until the sixth century that the practice of the solitary life was introduced into the West. Saint Benedict30 founded the first monastery in our land on Monte Cassino in 543; it is from this religious establishment that the Benedictine order arose.

29After that, religious communities multiplied with a rapid advance that is not surprising if it is remembered that these establishments were the only places where one could hope to find any repose in the midst of the turbulence of the time. Religious ideas were not the only motivation for living in these asylums. In particular, men who had a taste for studies gathered there, and books were preserved there in the early times with more security than in the churches. But it would be wrong to believe that they were preserved there until the Renaissance. After a few centuries, the monks had become rich, and with other desires having replaced the desire for studies, they so neglected the conservation of the various manuscripts in their care that by the end of the Middle Ages, scarcely any were left in existence. If the discovery of printing had been delayed by another hundred years, probably almost all ancient works would have been lost.

  • 31 [Charlemagne, see Lesson 21, note 36.]

30In some countries, particular circumstances delayed by several centuries the destruction of the sciences. Ireland’s isolated situation, for example, preserved it from barbarian invasions better than many other lands in Europe were able to protect themselves, and this island persevered in the cultivation of letters several centuries after the other countries had ceased to do so. Also, when Charlemagne31 tried in the ninth century to rekindle the light of science in the West, it was from Ireland that he brought clerics to teach in the schools of his empire. Unfortunately, the great man’s efforts did not produce the result he hoped for; letters degenerated again under his unworthy successors. During the tenth and eleventh centuries, ignorance became so wide and deep that there was not in the entire West a single monk capable of writing in an acceptable manner the story of an event.

31We shall see later how the sciences came back to life for a while in the thirteenth century, an epoch remarkable for a great intellectual movement, and how this movement, interrupted in the fourteenth century by political disturbances that shook all of Europe, was resumed in the fifteenth century, under the influence of more favorable conditions, and has experienced no further interruption.

32In the Eastern Empire, the decay of the sciences was neither so rapid nor so complete as in the West. The reason for this is that the former empire suffered much less than the latter from invasion by the Germanic peoples. On the other hand, it suffered in the seventh century a violent attack that robbed it of some of its provinces; but Constantinople, although besieged, was not harmed by this conquest.

33Constantinople did not suffer fearful ravages until the thirteenth century, when it was seized by the Crusaders. These fanatics destroyed many libraries there. But books were brought back and when the Turks finally captured this capital, it still possessed many books, which were carried off by the Greeks to the people of the West just in time (the fifteenth century) for the books to contribute to the Renaissance of letters and sciences that was being unfolded by many other conditions as well. Therefore, it was at Constantinople that both the Roman Empire and the remains of ancient civilization were preserved. As in the West, the sciences and letters here were not destroyed; they continued to survive, although languishing and waning since the early centuries of the Christian era.

34This Empire of the East, as we have said, had early been attacked by Slavs, Arabians, and people of Chinese and Turkish origins, who, century after century, were dismembering it. But such peoples had to continue a struggle of a thousand years before they succeeded in destroying it completely. The Slavs, who descended on the East like the Germanic nations in the West, captured several provinces and settled in them; they founded in eastern Europe establishments that we shall not consider for the moment, because these people made no contribution to progress in science until much later. However, we shall need to speak of the empire founded by the Saracens. These people cultivated the sciences and letters, and brought progress to them that merits our attention.

35Consequently, we shall pursue the development of the sciences during the Middle Ages (1) in the empire of Byzantium or Constantinople, where the Greek language was used and where the sciences although neglected did not experience sudden and total interruption as they did in the West; (2) in the empire of the Arabians, or Saracens, where the Arabic language was used; and (3) in the nations arising from the dismemberment of the Western Roman Empire, and which had Latin for a scientific language.

Notes

1 [Goths, member of a Germanic people whose two branches, the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths, for centuries harassed the Roman Empire. According to their own legend, reported by the mid-sixth-century Gothic historian Jordanes, the Goths originated in southern Scandinavia and crossed in three ships under their king Berig to the southern shore of the Baltic Sea, where they settled after defeating the Vandals and other Germanic peoples in that area. Tacitus states that the Goths at this time were distinguished by their round shields, their short swords, and their obedience toward their kings. Jordanes goes on to report that they migrated southward from the Vistula region under Filimer, the fifth king after Berig and, after various adventures, arrived at the Black Sea.]

2 [Valens (born c. 328, died 9 August 378), Eastern Roman emperor from 364 to 378. He was the younger brother of Valentinian I, who assumed the throne upon the death of the emperor Jovian (17 February 364). On 28 March 364, Valentinian appointed Valens to be co-emperor. Valens was assigned to rule the Eastern part of the empire, while Valentinian took the throne in the West. Soon Valens was challenged by the pagan Procopius, who had himself proclaimed emperor in Constantinople (September 365). When Valens marched from Antioch to confront the usurper, Procopius was deserted by many of his troops; on 27 May 366, he was betrayed and put to death.]

3 [Valens, in his war on the Visigoths (see note 11, below), who were threatening to invade Thrace, crossed the Danube (not the Rhine) in May 367, devastating the Visigothic territories (in modern Romania).]

4 [Battle of Adrianople (9 August A.D. 378), fought at present Edirne, in European Turkey, resulting in the defeat of a Roman army commanded by the emperor Valens at the hands of the Germanic Visigoths led by Fritigern and augmented by Ostrogothic and other reinforcements. It was a major victory of barbarian horsemen over Roman infantry and marked the beginning of serious Germanic inroads into Roman territory.]

5 [Valentinian I, Latin in full Flavius Valentinianus (born 321; died 17 November 375, Brigetio, Pannonia Inferior), Roman emperor from 364 to 375 who skillfully and successfully defended the frontiers of the Western Empire against Germanic invasions.]

6 [Honorius, in full Flavius Honorius (born 9 September 384, died 15 August 423), Roman emperor in the West from 393 to 423, a period when much of the Western Empire was overrun by invading tribes and Rome was captured and plundered by the Visigoths. The younger son of Theodosius I (emperor 379-395) and Aelia Flacilla, Honorius was elevated to the rank of augustus by Theodosius on 23 January 393, and became sole ruler of the West at age 10, upon his father’s death (17 January 395). His brother Arcadius (see note 8, below) was the Eastern emperor.]

7 [Flavius Stilicho, master of soldiers who exercised power during the first half of Honorius’s reign. In 398, the emperor married Stilicho’s daughter Maria. When Maria died he married her younger sister, Thermantia, but terminated the union after Stilicho was executed on suspicion of treason in August 408.]

8 [Arcadius (born 377, died c. 408), Eastern Roman emperor conjointly with his father, Theodosius I, from 383 to 395, then solely till 402, when he associated his son Theodosius II with his own rule. Frail and ineffectual, he was dominated by his ministers, Rufinus, Eutropius, and Anthemius. His empire was a prey to the Goths, and his consort Eudoxia abetted the persecution of the patriarch St. John Chrysostom.]

9 [Rufinus, in full Flavius Rufinus (died 27 November 395, Constantinople), minister of the Eastern Roman emperor Arcadius (ruled 383-408) and rival of Stilicho, the general who was the effective ruler of the Western Empire. The conflict between Rufinus and Stilicho was one of the factors leading to the official partition of the empire into Eastern and Western halves.]

10 [Alaric (born c. 370, Peuce Island, now in Romania; died 410, Cosentia, Bruttium, now Cosenza, Italy), chief of the Visigoths from 395 and leader of the army that sacked Rome in August 410, an event that symbolized the fall of the Western Roman Empire.]

11 [Visigoths, member of a division of the Goths (see note 1, above). One of the most important of the Germanic peoples, the Visigoths separated from the Ostrogoths in the fourth century A.D., raided Roman territories repeatedly, and established great kingdoms in Gaul and Spain.]

12 [Arcadia, mountainous region of the central Peloponnesus of ancient Greece. The pastoral character of Arcadian life together with its isolation partially explains why it was represented as a paradise in Greek and Roman bucolic poetry and in the literature of the Renaissance.]

13 [Illyria, northwestern part of the Balkan Peninsula, inhabited from about the tenth century B. C. onward by the Illyrians, an Indo-European people. At the height of their power the Illyrian frontiers extended from the Danube River southward to the Adriatic Sea and from there eastward to the Sar Mountains.]

14 [Ataulphus (died 415, Barcelona), chieftain of the Visigoths from 410 to 415 and the successor of his brother-in-law Alaric. In 412 Ataulphus led the Visigoths, who had recently sacked Rome (410), from Italy to settle in southern Gaul. Two years later he married the Roman princess Galla Placidia (sister of the emperor Honorius), who had been seized at Rome. Driven from Gaul, he retreated into Spain early in 415 and was in that year assassinated at Barcelona. The fifth-century historian Paulus Orosius records Ataulphus’s statement that his original aim had been to overthrow the Roman Empire, but that later, recognizing the inability of his people to govern an empire, he desired to bolster Roman power by means of Gothic arms. His vision of an empire revitalized through a barbarian alliance was not realized.]

15 [Aelia Galla Placidia (born c. 390, died 27 November 450), Roman empress, the daughter of the emperor Theodosius I (ruled 379-395), sister of the Western emperor Flavius Honorius (ruled 393-423), wife of the Western emperor Constantius III (ruled 421), and mother of the Western emperor Valentinian III (ruled 425-455). Captured in Rome when the city fell to the Goths in 410, she was carried off to Gaul and married (414) to the Visigothic chieftain Ataulphus, who was assassinated in 415. In 416 Galla Placidia was restored to the Romans, and the following year she was married to Constantius. She adorned Ravenna with a number of churches; the small chapel usually –though wrongly– known as the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia contains some of the finest examples of early Byzantine mosaics.]

16 [Getae, an ancient people of Thracian origin, inhabiting the banks of the lower Danube region and nearby plains. First appearing in the sixth century B. C., the Getae were subjected to Scythian influence and were known as expert mounted archers and devotees of the deity Zalmoxis. Although the daughter of their king became the wife of Philip II of Macedon in 342 B. C., the Macedonians under Philip II’s son Alexander crossed the Danube and burned the Getic capital seven years later. Getic technology was influenced by that of the invading Celts in the fourth and third centuries B. C. Under Burebistas (fl. first century B. C.), the Getae and nearby Dacians formed a powerful but short-lived state. By the middle of the following century, when the Romans had gained control over the lower Danube region, thousands of Getae were displaced, and, not long thereafter, references to the Getae disappeared from history. Later writers wrongly gave the name Getae to the Goths.]

17 [Suevi, also spelled Suebi, a group of Germanic peoples, including the Marcomanni and Quadi, Hermunduri, Semnones, and Langobardi (Lombards). The Alemanni were also part of the Suevi tribal group, which gave its name to the German principality of Swabia. In the late first century A.D. most of the Suevi lived around the Elbe River. Dislodged by the Huns, some Suevi crossed the Rhine River and in 409 entered Spain, settling mainly in the northwest (Gallaecia). By 447, under their king Rechila, the Suevi had spread over the Roman provinces of Lusitania and Baetica. Although the Suevi entered Spain as pagans, their king Rechiar came to the throne as a Christian in 448. He was later defeated by the Visigoths under Theodoric II in 456. Remnants of the Suevi survived under Maldras (reigned 456-460) and rival kings until about 585, when the kingdom was annexed to the Visigothic state.]

18 [Clovis I (born c. 466; died 27 November 511, Paris), Merovingian founder of the Frankish kingdom that dominated much of Western Europe in the early Middle Ages.]

19 [The Battle of Tolbiac or Tulpiacum was fought between the Franks under Clovis I and the Alamanni, traditionally set in A.D. 496. The site of battle is usually given as Zülpich, North Rhine-Westphalia, about 60 km east of the present German-Belgian frontier, which is not implausible. The Franks were successful at Tolbiac and established their hegemony over the Alamanni (see note 20, below).]

20 [Alamanni, also spelled Alemanni, a Germanic people first mentioned in connection with the Roman attack on them in A.D. 213. In the following decades, their pressure on the Roman provinces became severe; they occupied the Agri Decumates c. 260, and late in the fifth century they expanded into Alsace and northern Switzerland, establishing the German language in those regions. In 496 they were conquered by Clovis and incorporated into his Frankish dominions.]

21 [Belisarius (born c. 505, Germania, Illyria? died March 565), Byzantine general, the leading military figure in the age of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (527-565). As one of the last important figures in the Roman military tradition, he led imperial armies against the Sasanian empire (Persia), the Vandal kingdom of North Africa, the Ostrogothic regime of Italy, and the barbarian tribes encroaching upon Constantinople.]

22 [General Narses (born c. 478, Armenia; died 573, probably Rome or Constantinople), Byzantine general under Emperor Justinian I; his greatest achievement was the conquest of the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy for Byzantium in 553 A.D.]

23 [Childebert I (born c. 498; died 23 December 558, Paris), Merovingian king of Paris from 511, who helped to incorporate Burgundy into the Frankish realm. Childebert was a son of Clovis I and Clotilda. He received lands in northwestern France, stretching from the Somme down to Brittany, in the partition of his father’s kingdom in 511; to these he added part of the kingdom of Orléans in the 520s (by the murder of his brother Chlodomer’s young heirs), part of the kingdom of Burgundy in 534 (by conquest, with his brother Chlotar I), and Provence in 537 (by treaty). After a campaign in 531 against the Visigoths, who still held the coastal strip between the Rhône and the Pyrenees, he invaded Spain itself in 542 in alliance with Chlotar; although the expedition had no great success, he did bring back with him the tunic of the martyred St. Vincent, housing this in a new foundation at Paris that came to be called Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Childebert left no sons, and his lands were taken over by Chlotar on his death.]

24 [Chlotar I (born c. 500; died late 561, Compiègne, France), Merovingian king of Soissons from 511 and of the whole Frankish kingdom from 558, who played an important part in the extension of Frankish hegemony. The youngest of Clovis I’s sons, Chlotar shared in the partition of his father’s kingdom in 511, receiving the old heartlands of the Salian Franks in modern northern France and Belgium. After the death of his brother, Clodomir, in 524, he murdered his nephews and shared the kingdom of Orléans with his two remaining brothers, Childebert I and Theodoric I. The deaths without heirs of the latter’s grandson, Theodebald, in 555 and of Childebert in 558 brought all the Frankish lands finally under Chlotar’s sway.]

25 [Bucelin and his brother Leutharis, Alamanni generals in the court of Theudibald, king of the Franks, entered Italy with 75,000 men to oppose the army of Narses. Many Goths throughout Italy regarded them as delivers, but others deemed the Romans preferable, as masters, to the Franks, and among those who held this view was Aligern, commander of the still uncaptured fortress of Cumae, who presented the keys of that town to Narses. Leutharis and his army were destroyed by a disease exacerbated by the bad climate, and Bucelin was completely defeated by Narses near Capua.]

26 [Justin II (died 4 October 578), Byzantine emperor (from 565) whose attempts to maintain the integrity of the Byzantine Empire against the encroachments of the Avars, Persians, and Lombards were frustrated by disastrous military reverses. A nephew and close adviser of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, Justin II became emperor in November 565 following his uncle’s death.]

27 [Alboin (died 28 June 572, Verona, Lombardy), king of the Germanic Lombards whose exceptional military and political skills enabled him to conquer northern Italy. Having swept through Venice, Milan, Tuscany, and Benevento, Alboin established Pavia, on the Ticino River, as the capital of the newly created Lombard kingdom in 572. According to tradition, Alboin was assassinated by order of his wife Rosamund after he had forced her to follow the Lombard custom of drinking from the skull of her slain father.]

28 [Armorica, also spelled Aremorica, Latin name for the northwestern extremity of Gaul, now Brittany. In Celtic, Roman, and Frankish times Armorica also included the western part of what later became Normandy. In Julius Caesar’s time it was the home of five principal tribes, the most important being the Veneti. Under the Roman Empire it formed part of the province of Gallia Lugdunensis, but it was never thoroughly Romanized. It received many Celtic immigrants from the British Isles in the fifth century, during the time of the Saxon invasion.]

29 [Essene, member of a religious sect or brotherhood that flourished in Palestine from about the second century B. C. to the end of the first century A.D. The New Testament does not mention them and accounts given by Josephus, Philo of Alexandria, and Pliny the Elder sometimes differ in significant details, perhaps indicating a diversity that existed among the Essenes themselves.]

30 [Saint Benedict of Nursia (born c. 480, Nursia, Kingdom of the Lombards; died c. 547; feast day 11 July, formerly 21 March), founder of the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino and father of Western monasticism; the rule that he established became the norm for monastic living throughout Europe. In 1964, in view of the work of monks following the Benedictine Rule in the evangelization and civilization of so many European countries in the Middle Ages, Pope Paul VI proclaimed him the patron saint of all Europe.]

31 [Charlemagne, see Lesson 21, note 36.]

Table des illustrations

Titre SACK OF ROME BY THE VISIGOTHS. Oil on canvas (1890) by the French academic painter Joseph- Noël Sylvestre (1847-1926).
URL http://books.openedition.org/mnhn/docannexe/image/3829/img-1.jpg
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© Publications scientifiques du Muséum, 2012

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