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From The Mediaeval Mind, A History of the Development of Thought and Emotion in the Middle Ages, by Henry Osborn Taylor in Two Volumes, Volume I., MacMillan Co., New York, 1911; pp. 110-123.





THE Latinizing of northern Italy, Spain, and Gaul was part of the expansion of Roman dominion. Throughout these lands, alien peoples submitted to the Roman order and acquired new traits from the training of its discipline. Voluntarily or under compulsion they exchanged their institutions and customs for those of Roman Italy, and their native tongues for Latin. The education and culture of the upper classes became identical with that gained in the schools about the Forum, and Roman literature was the literature which they studied and produced. In a greater or less degree their characters were Latinized, while their traditions were abandoned for those of Rome. Yet, although Romanized and Latinized, these peoples were not Roman. Their culture was acquired, their characters were changed, yet with old traits surviving. In character and faculties, as in geographical position, they were intermediate, and in rôle they were mediatorial. Much of what they had received, and what they had themselves become, they perforce transmitted to the ruder humanity which, as the Empire weakened, pressed in, serving, plundering, murdering, and finally amalgamating with these provincials. The surviving Latin culture passed to the mingled populations which were turning to inchoate Romance nations in Italy, Spain, and Gaul. Likewise Christianity, Romanized, paganized, barbarized, had been accepted through these countries. And now these mingled peoples, these inchoate Romance nations, were to accomplish a broader mediation in extending 111 the rudiments of Latin culture, along with the great new Religion, to the barbarous peoples beyond the Romance pale.

The mediating rôles of the Roman provincials began with their first subjection to Roman order. For barbarians were continually brought into the provinces as slaves or prisoners of war. Next, they entered to serve as auxiliary troops, coming especially from the wavering Teutonic outskirts of the Empire. And during that time of misrule and military anarchy which came between the death of Commodus (A.D. 192) and the accession of Diocletian (A.D. 284), Teutonic inroads threatened the imperial fabric. But, apart from palpable invasions, there was a constant increase in the Teutonic inflow from the close of the second century. More and more the Teutons tilled the fields; more and more they filled the armies. They became officers of the army and officials of the Government. So long as the vigour of life and growth continued in the Latinized population of the Empire, and so long as the Roman law and order held, the assimilative power of Latin culture and Roman institutions was enormous; the barbarians became Romanized. But when self-conserving strength and coercive energy waned with Romans and provincials, when the law’s protection was no longer sure, and a dry rot infected civic institutions, then Roman civilization lost some of its transforming virtue. The barbarism of the Teutonic influx became more obstinate as the transmuting forces of civilization weakened. Evidently the decadent civilization of the Empire could no longer raise these barbarians to the level of its greater periods; it could at most impress them with such culture and such order as it still possessed. Moreover, reacting upon these disturbed and infirm conditions, barbarism put forth a positive transforming energy, tending to barbarize the Empire, its government, its army, its inhabitants. The decay of Roman institutions and the grafting of Teutonic institutions upon Roman survivals were as universal as the mingling of races, tempers, and traditions. The course of events may briefly be reviewed.

In the third century the Goths began, by land and sea, to raid the eastern provinces of the undivided Roman 112 Empire; down the Danube they sailed, and out upon the Euxine; then their plundering fleets spread through the eastern Mediterranean. They were attacked, repulsed, overthrown, and slaughtered in hordes in the year 270. Some of the survivors remained in bondage, some retired north beyond the Danube. Aurelian gave up to them the province of Dacia: the latest conquest of the Empire, the first to be abandoned. These Dacian settlers thenceforth appear as Visigoths. For a century the Empire had no great trouble from them. Dacia was the scene of the career of Ulfilas (b. 311, d. 380), the Arian apostle of the Goths. They became Christian in part, and in part remained fiercely heathen. About 372, harassed by the Huns, they pressed south to escape over the Danube. Valens permitted them to cross; then Roman treachery followed, answered by desperate Gothic raids in Thrace, till at last Valens was defeated and slain at Hadrianople in 378.

It was sixteen years after this that Theodosius the Great marched from the East to Italy to suppress Arbogast, the overweening Frank, who had cast out his weak master Valentinian. The leader of the Visigothic auxiliaries was Alaric. When the great emperor died, Alaric was proclaimed King of the Visigoths, and soon proceeded to ravage and conquer Greece. Stilicho, son of a Vandal chief — one sees how all the high officers are Teutons — was the uncertain stay of Theodosius’s weakling sons, Honorius and Arcadius. In 400 Alaric attempted to invade Italy, but was foiled by Stilicho, who five years later circumvented and destroyed another horde of Goths, both men and women, who had penetrated Italy to the Apennines. In 408 Alaric made a second attempt to enter, and this time was successful, for Stilicho was dead. Thrice he besieged Rome, capturing it in 410. Then he died, his quick death to be a warning to Attila. The new Gothic king, Ataulf, conceived the plan of uniting Romans and Goths in a renewed and strengthened kingdom. But this task was not for him, and in two years he left Italy with his Visigoths to establish a kingdom in the south of Gaul.

Attila comes next upon the scene. The eastern Empire had endured the oppression of this terrible Turanian, and 113 had paid him tribute for some years, before he decided to march westward by a route north of the Alps, and attack Gaul. He penetrated to Orleans, which he besieged in vain. Many nations were in the two armies that were now to meet in battle on the “Catalaunian Plains.” On Attila’s side, besides his Huns, were subject Franks, Bructeri, Thuringians, Burgundians, and the hosts of Gepidae and Ostrogoths. Opposed were the Roman forces, Bretons, Burgundians, Alans, Saxons, Salian Franks, and the army of the Visigoths. Defeated, but not overthrown, the lion Hun withdrew across the Rhine; but the next spring, in 452, he descended from the eastern Alps upon Aquileia and destroyed it, and next sacked the cities of Venetia and the Po Valley as far as Milan. Then he passed eastward to the river Mincio, where he was met by a Roman embassy, in which Pope Leo was the most imposing figure. Before this embassy the Scourge of God withdrew, awed or persuaded, or in superstitious fear. The following year, upon Attila’s death, his realm broke up; Gepidae and Goths beat the Huns in battle, and again Teutons held sway in Central Europe.

The fear of the Hun had hardly ceased when the Vandals came from Africa, and leisurely plundered Rome. They were Teutons, perhaps kin to the Goths. But theirs had been a far migration. At the opening of the fifth century they had entered Gaul and fought the Franks, then passed on to Spain, where they were broken by the Visigoths. So they crossed to Africa and founded a kingdom there, whence they invaded Italy. By this time, the middle of the fifth century, the fighting and ruling energy in the western Empire was barbarian. The stocks had become mixed through intermarriage and the confusion of wars and frequent change of sides. An illustrative figure is Count Ricimer, whose father was a noble Suevian, while his mother was a Visigothic princess. He directed the Roman State from 456 to 472, placing one after another of his Roman puppets on the imperial throne.

In the famous year 476 the Roman army was made up of barbarians, mainly drawn from lands now included in Bohemia, Austria, and Hungary. There were large contingents 114 of Rugii and Heruli, who had flocked in bands to Italy as adventurers. Such troops had the status of foederati, that is, barbarian auxiliaries or allies. Suddenly they demanded one-third of the lands of Italy.2 Upon refusal of their demand, they made a king from among themselves, the Herulian Odoacer, and Romulus Augustulus flitted from the shadowy imperial throne. By reason of his dramatic name, rather than by any marked circumstance of his deposition, he has come to typify with historians the close of the line of western emperors.

The Herulian soldier-king or “Patrician,” Odoacer, a nondescript transition personage, ruled twelve years. Then the nation of the Ostrogoths, which had learned much from the vicissitudes of fortune in the East, obtained the eastern emperor’s sanction, and made its perilous way to the gates of Italy under the king, Theodoric. This invading people numbered perhaps two hundred thousand souls; their fighting men were forty thousand. Odoacer was beaten on the river Isonzo; he retreated to the line of the Adige, and was again defeated at Verona. After standing a long siege in Ravenna, he made terms with Theodoric, and was murdered by him.

The Goths were among the best of the barbarians, and Theodoric was the greatest of the Goths. The eastern emperors probably regarded him as their representative in Italy; and he coined money only with the Emperor’s image. But in fact he was a sovereign; and, through his sovereignty over both Goths and Romans, from a Teutonic king he became an absolute monarch, even as his contemporary Clovis became, under analogous circumstances. He was a just despot, with his subjects’ welfare at heart. The Goths received one-third of the Italian lands, in return for which their duty was to defend the whole. The third may have been that previously possessed by Odoacer’s troops. Under Theodoric the relations between Goths and “Romans” were friendly. It was from the code of Theodosius and other Roman sources that he drew the substance of his legislation, 115 the Edictum which about the year 510 he promulgated for both Goths and Romans (barbari Romanique).3 His aim — and here the influence of his minister Cassiodorus appears — was to harmonize the relations of the two peoples and assimilate the ways of the Goths to those of their more civilized neighbours. But if his rule brought prosperity to Italy, after his death came desolating wars between the Goths under their noble kings, and Justinian’s great generals, Belisarius and Narses. These wars ruined the Ostrogothic nation. Only some remnants were left to reascend the Alps in 553. Behind them Italy was a waste.

An imperial eastern Roman restoration followed. It was not to endure. For already the able and savage Lombard Alboin was making ready to lead down his army of Lombards, Saxons, Gepidae and unassorted Teutons, and perhaps Slavs. No strength was left to oppose him in plague-stricken Italy. So the Lombard conquered easily, and set up a kingdom which, united or divided under kings and dukes, endured for two hundred years. Then Charlemagne — his father Pippin had been before him — at the entreaty of the Pope, invaded Italy with a host of mingled Teuton tribes, and put an end to the Lombard kingdom, but not to Lombard blood and Lombard traits.

The result of all these invasions was a progressive barbarization of Italy, which was not altogether unfortunate, because fraught with some renewal of strength. The Teutons brought their customs; and at least one Teuton people, the Lombards, maintained them masterfully. The Ostrogoth, Theodoric, had preserved the Italian municipal organization, and had drawn his code for all from Roman sources. But the first Lombard Code, that of King Rothari, promulgated about 643, ignored Roman law, and apparently the very existence of Romans. Though written in barbarous Latin, it is Lombard through and through. So, to a scarcely less degree, is the code of King Liutprand, promulgated about 725.4 Even then the Lombards looked upon themselves as distinct from the “Romans.” Their laws were still those of the Lombards, yet of Lombards settling down to urban life. 116 Within Lombard territories the “Romans” were subjects. In Liutprand’s Code they seem to be referred to under the name of aldii and aldiae, male and female persons, who were not slaves and yet not free. Instead of surrendering one-third of the land, the Romans were obliged to furnish one-third of its produce. Hence their Lombard masters were interested in keeping them fixed to the soil, perhaps in a state of serfdom. Little is known as to the intermarriage of the stocks, or when the Lombards adopted a Latin speech.5

It is difficult, either in Italy or elsewhere to follow the changes and reciprocal working of Roman and Teutonic institutions through these obscure centuries. They wrought upon each other universally, and became what neither had been before. The Roman state was there no longer; where the names of its officials survived they stood for altered functions. The Roman law prevailed within the dominions of the eastern Empire and the popes. Everywhere the crass barbarian law and the pure Roman institution was passing away, or changing into something new. In Italy another pregnant change was taking place, the passing of the functions of government to the bishops of Rome. Its stages are marked by the names of great men upon whose shoulders fell the authority no longer held by a remote ruler. Leo the Great heads the embassy which turns back the Hun; a century and a half afterwards Gregory the Great leads the opposition to the Lombards, still somewhat unkempt savages. Thereafter each succeeding pope, in fact the papacy by necessity of its position and its aspirations, opposes the Lombards when they have ceased to be either savage or Arian. It is an absent supporter that the papacy desires, and not a rival close at hand: Charlemagne, not Desiderius.

When the Visigoths under Ataulf left Italy they passed into southern Gaul, and there established themselves with Toulouse as the centre of the Visigothic kingdom. They soon extended their rule to Spain, with the connivance of sundry Roman rulers. Some time before them Vandals, Suevi and Alans, having crossed the Rhine into Gaul, had been drawn across the Pyrenees by half-traitorous invitations 117 of rival Roman governors. The Visigoths now attacked these peoples, with the result that the Suevi retreated to the north-west of the peninsula, and at length the restless Vandals accepted the invitation of the traitor Count Boniface, and crossed to Africa. Visigothic fortunes varied under an irregular succession of non-hereditary and occasionally murdered kings. Their kingdom reached its farthest limit in the reign of Euric (466-486), who extended its boundaries northward to the Loire and southward over nearly all of Spain.6

Under the Visigoths the lot of the Latinized provincials, who with their ancestors had long been Roman citizens, was not a hard one. The Roman system of quartering soldiers upon provincials, with a right to one-third of the house, afforded precedent for the manner of settlement of the Visigoths and other Teuton invaders after them. The Visigoths received two-thirds not only of the houses but also of the lands, which indeed were bare of cultivators. The municipal organization of the towns was left intact, and in general the nomenclature and structure of Roman officialdom were preserved. As the Romans were the more numerous and the cleverer, they regained their wealth and social consideration. In 506, Alaric II. promulgated his famous code, the Lex Romana Visigothorum, usually called the “Breviarium,” for his Roman subjects. Although the next year Clovis broke down the Visigothic kingdom in Gaul, and confined it to narrow limits around Narbonne, this code remained in force, a lasting source of Roman law for the inhabitants of the south and west of Gaul.7


Throughout Visigothic Spain there existed, in conflict if not in force, a complex mass of diverse laws and customs, written and unwritten, Roman, Gothic, ecclesiastical. Soon after the middle of the seventh century a general code was compiled for both Goths and Roman provincials, between whom marriages were formally sanctioned. This codification was the legal expression of a national unity, which however had no great political vigour. For what with its inheritance of intolerable taxation, of dwindling agriculture, of enfeebled institutions and social degeneracy, the Visigothic state fell an easy victim before the Arabs in 711. It had been subject to all manner of administrative abuse. In name the government was secular. But in fact the bishops of the great sees were all-powerful to clog, if not to administer, justice and the affairs of State within their domains; the nobles abetted them in their misgovernment. So it came that instead of a united Government supported by a strong military power, there was divided misrule, and an army without discipline or valour. This misrule was also cruelly intolerant. The bitter persecution of the Jews, and the law that none but a Catholic should live in Spain, if not causes, were at least symptoms, of a fatal impotence, and prophetic of like measures taken by later rulers in that chosen land of religious persecution.8


In Gaul, contact between Latinized provincials and Teutonic invaders produced interesting results. Mingled peoples came into being, whose polity and institutions were neither Roman nor Teutonic, and whose literature and intellectual achievement were to unite the racial qualities of both. The hybrid political and social phenomena of the Frankish period were engendered by a series of events which may be outlined as follows. The Franks, Salic and Ripuarian, were clustered in the region of the lower and middle Rhine. Like other Teutonic groups dwelling near the boundaries of the weakening Empire, they were alternately plunderers of Roman territory and auxiliaries in the imperial army, or its independent allies against Huns or Saxons or Alans. One Childeric, whose career opens in saga and ends in history, was king or hereditary leader of a part of the Salian Franks. This active man appears in frequent relations with Aegidius, the half-independent Roman ruler of that north-western portion of Gaul which was not held by Visigoths or Burgundians. If Childeric’s forefathers had oftener been enemies than allies of the Empire, he was its ally, and perhaps commander of the forces which helped to preserve this outlying portion of its territory.

Aegdius died in 463, and the territories ruled by him passed to his son Syagrius practically as an independent kingdom. Childeric in the next eighteen years increased his power among the Salian Franks, and extended his territories through victories over other Teutonic groups. Upon his death in 481 his kingdom passed to his son Chlodoweg, or, as it is easier to call him, Clovis, then in his sixteenth year. The next five years were employed by this precocious genius of barbarian craft in strengthening his kingship among the Salians. At the age of twenty he attacked Syagrius, and overthrew his power at Soissons. The last Roman ruler of a part of Gaul fled to the Visigoths for refuge: their king delivered him to Clovis, who had him killed. So Clovis’s realm was extended first to the Seine and then to the Loire. The Gallo-Romans were not driven out or dispossessed, but received a new master, who on his part treated them forebearingly and accepted them as subjects. 120 The royal domains of Syagrius perhaps were large enough to satisfy the cupidity of the victors.

Clovis was now king of Gallo-Romans as well as Salian Franks. Thus strengthened he could fight other Franks with success, and carry on a great war against the Alemanni to the south-east. At the “battle of Tolbiac,” in which he finally overthrew these people, the heathen Frank invoked the Christian God (so tells Gregory of Tours), and vowed to accept the Faith if Christ gave him the victory. This is like the legend of Constantine at the battle of the Malvern Bridge, nor is the probability of its essential truth lessened because of this resemblance. Both Roman emperor and Frankish king turned from heathenism to Christianity as to the stronger supernatural support. And if ever man received tenfold reward from his faith it was this treacherous and bloody Frank.

Hitherto the Teuton tribes, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Burgundians who had accepted Christianity, were Arians by reason of the circumstances of their “conversion.” On the other hand, the Romanized inhabitants of Italy, Spain, and Gaul were Catholics, and the influence of their Arian-hating clergy was enormous. Evidently when Clovis, under the influence of Catholic bishops and a Catholic wife, became a Catholic, the power of the Church and the sympathy of the laity would make his power irresistible. For the Catholic population was greatly in the majority, even in the countries held by Burgundian or Visigothic kings. The Burgundian rulers had half turned to Catholicism, and the Visigothic monarchy treated it with respect. Yet the Burgundian kings did not win the Church’s confidence, nor did the Visigoths disarm its active hostility. With such ability as Clovis and his sons possessed, their conversion to Catholicism ensured victory over their rivals, and made a bond of friendship between them and their Gallo-Roman subjects.9

The extension of Clovis’s kingdom, his overthrow of the Visigothic power, his partial conquest of the Burgundians, would have been even more rapid and decisive but for the opposing diplomacy of the great Arian ruler, Theodoric the 121 Ostrogoth, whose prestige and power even the bold Frank dared not defy. Moreover, the Burgundians stood well with their Roman subjects, whom they treated generously, and permitted to live under a code of Roman law. When it came to war between them and Clovis, the advantage rested with the latter; but possibly the fear of Theodoric, or the pressure of war with the Alemanni, deferred the final conquest of the Burgundian kingdom for another generation.

In 507 Clovis attacked the Visigothic kingdom, and incorporated it with his dominions in the course of the next year. Whether or not he had cried out, in the words of Gregory of Tours, “it is a shame that these Arians should hold a part of Gaul; let us attack them with God’s help and take their land,” at all events the war had a religious sanction, and its successful issue was facilitated by the Catholic clergy within the Visigothic territory. Clovis’s career was now nearing its end. In his last years, by treachery, murder, and open war when needed, he made himself king of all the Franks, Ripuarian and Salian. The intense partisan sympathy of the Church for this its eldest royal Teuton son speaks in the words of Gregory of Tours, concluding his recital of these deeds of incomparable villainy: “Thus day by day God cast down his (Clovis’s) enemies before him, because he did what was right in His eyes”!

The unresting sons and grandsons of Clovis not only conquered Burgundy, but extended their rule far to the east, into the heart of Germany, and Merovingians became masters of Thuringia and Bavaria. That such a realm should hold together was impossible. From Clovis to Charlemagne it was the regular practice to divide the realm at death among the ruler’s sons, and for the ablest among them to pursue and slay the others, and so unite the realm again. Besides this principle of internecine conflict, differences of race and language and degrees of Latinization ensured eventual disruption.

Nothing passes away, and very little quite begins, but all things change; and so the verity of social and political phenomena lies in the becoming, rather than in any temporary phase — as one may perceive in the Merovingian, later Carolingian, regnum Francorum. Therein Roman institutions 122 survived either as decayed actualities or as names or effigies; therein were conditions and even institutions which arose and were developed through the decay of previous institutions, through the weakening of the imperial peace and justice, the growth of abuses, and the need of the weak to put themselves under the protection of the nearest strong. This huge conglomerate of a government also held sturdy Teuton elements. There was the kingship and the strong body of personal followers, the latter an outgrowth of the comitatus, or rather of the needs of any barbaric chieftaincy. There was wergeld, not so much exclusively a Teutonic institution, as belonging to a rough society which sees the need of checking feuds, and finds the means in a system of compensation to the injured person or his kin, who would otherwise make reprisals; there was also Sippe, the rights and duties of kin among themselves, and of the kinship as a corporate unit toward the world without; and therein, in general, was continuance of the warrior spirit of the Franks and other Teutons, of their social ways and mode of dress, of their methods of warfare and their thoughts of barbaric hardihood.

These elements, and much more besides, were in process of mutual interplay and amalgamation. Childeric had been king of some of the Franks, and had allied himself with the last fragment of the Roman Empire in Gaul. Clovis, his son, is greater: he makes himself king of more Franks, and becomes the head of the Roman-Frankish combination by overthrowing Syagrius and taking his place as lord of the Gallo-Romans. As towards them he becomes even as Syagrius and the emperors before him, absolute ruler, princeps. This authority enhanced the dignity of Clovis’s kingship over his own Franks and the Alemanni, and his personal power increased with each new conquest. He became a novel sort of monarch, combining heterogeneous prerogatives. Hence his sovereignty and that of his successors was not a simple development of Teutonic kingship, nor was it a continuation of Roman imperial or proconsular rule, but rather a new composite evolution. Some of its contradictions and anomalies were symbolized by Clovis’s acceptance of the title of Consul and stamping 123 the effigies of the eastern emperors upon his coins — as if they held any power in the regnum Francorum! As between Gallo-Romans and Franks, the headship had gone over to the latter; yet there was neither hatred on the one side nor oppression from the other. A common catholicism and many similarities of condition promoted mutual sympathy and union. For example, through the decay of the imperial power, oppression had increased, and the common Gallo-Roman people were compelled to place themselves under the patronage of powerful personages who could give them the protection which they could no longer look for from the Government. So relationships of personal dependence developed, not essentially dissimilar from those subsisting between the Franks and their kings, when the kings were mere leaders of small tribes or war bands. But the vastness of the Salian realm impaired the personal relationship between king and subjects, and again the latter, Frankish or Gallo-Roman, needed nearer protectors, and found them in neighbouring great proprietors and functionaries, Frankish or Gallo-Roman as the case might be.10

Through all the turmoil of the Merovingian period, there was doubtless individual injustice and hardship everywhere, but no racial tyranny. The Gallo-Roman kept his language and property, and continued to live under the Roman law. He was not inferior to the Frank, except that the latter was entitled to a higher wergeld for personal injury, which, however, soon was equalized. The Frank also lived under his own law, Salic or Ripuarian. But the general mingling of peoples in the end made it impossible to distinguish the law personally applicable; and thereupon, both as to Franks and Gallo-Romans, the territorial law superseded the law of race.11 And when, after two centuries, the Merovingian kingdom, through change of dynasty, became the Carolingian, political discrepancies between Frank and Gallo-Roman had passed away. Yet this huge colossus of a realm with its shoulders of iron and its feet of clay, still included enough disparities of race and land, language and institution, to ensure its dissolution.



1  Cf. Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, 8vols.; Villari, The Barbarian Invasions of Italy, 2 vols.

2  This demand was not so extraordinary in view of the common Roman custom in the provinces of billeting soldiers upon the inhabitants, with the right to one-third of the house and appurtenances.

3  Cf. post, Chapter XXXIII., II.

4  On the Codes see Hodgkin, o.c. vol. vi.

5  The Lombard language was still spoken in the time of Paulus Diaconus (eighth century).

6  Apollinaris Sidonius, Ep. i. 2 (trans. By Hodgkin, o.c. vol. ii. 352-358), gives a sketch of a Visigothic king, Theodoric II., son of him who fell in the battle against the Huns. He ascended the throne in 453, having accomplished the murder of his brother Thorismund. In 466, he was himself slain by his brother Euric. In the meanwhile he appears to have been a good half-barbaric, half-civilized king.

7  See post, Chapter XXXIII., II. For the Visigothic kingdom of Spain the great reigns were those of Leowigild (588-586) and his son Reccared (586-601). In Justinian’s time the ‘Roman Empire” had again made good its rule over the south of Spain. Leowigild pushed the Empire back to a narrow strip of southern coast, where there were still important cities. Save for this, he conquered all Spain, finally mastering the Suevi in the north-west. His capital was Toledo. Great as was his power, it hardly sufficed to hold in check the overweening nobles and landowners. Under the declining Empire there had sprung up a system of clientage and protection, in which the Teutons found an obstacle to the establishment of monarchies. In Spain this system hastened the downfall of the Visigothic kingdom. Another source of trouble for Leowigild, who was still an Arian, was the opposition of the powerful Catholic clergy. Reccared, his son, changed to the Catholic or “Roman” creed, and ended the schism between the throne and the bishops.

8  The Spanish Roman Church, which controlled or thwarted the destinies of the doomed Visigothic kingdom, was foremost among the western churches in ability and learning. It had had its martyrs in the times of pagan persecution; it had its universally venerated Hosius, Bishop of Cordova, and prominent at the Council of Nicaea; it had its fiercely quelled heresies and schisms; and it had an astounding number of councils, usually held at Toledo. Its bishops were princes, Leander, Bishop of Seville, had been a tribulation to the powerful, still Arian, King Leowigild, who was compelled to banish him. That king’s son, Reccared, recalled him from banishment, to preside at the Council of Toledo in 589, when the Visigothic monarchy turned to Roman Catholicism. Leander was succeeded in his more than episcopal see by his younger brother Isidore (Bishop of Seville from 600 to 636). A princely prelate, Isidore was to have still wider and more lasting fame for sanctity and learning. The last encyclopaedic scholar belonging to the antique Christian world, he became one of the great masters of the Middle Ages (see ante, Chapter V.). The forger and compiler of the False Decretals in selecting the name of Isidore rather than another to clothe that collection with authority, acted under the universal veneration felt for this great Spanish Churchman.

9  Marriages between Romans and Franks were legalized as early as 497

10  See Flach, Les Origines de l’ancienne France, vol. i. chap. i. sqq. (Paris, 1886).

41  See post, Chapter XXXIII., II.


For a nearly contemporary historical Anglo-Saxon poem listing many of these chieftains, princes and kings, see that old ‘Far-Traveler’: “Widsith,” translated by Henry Morley, from Translations From Old English Poetry, edited with Prefatory Notes and Indexes by Albert S. Cook and Chauncey B. Tinker; Boston: Ginn and Company, 1902, pp. 3-8 Notes.

     For far more notes, historical and otherwise, and another translation see: “Widsith,” translated by Gummere, in The Oldest English Epic: Beowulf, Finnsburg, Waldere, Deor, Widsith, and the German Hildebrand, Translated in the Original Metres with Introduction and Notes by Francis B. Gummere, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1923; pp. 188-200.

     Both are on this site and the links will open in a new browser window. — Elf.Ed.


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