This text was typed up from a Universal Classics Library edition,
published in 1901 by W. Walter Dunne, New York and London. The
translator was not named. The book contains a “photogravure” of
Niccolo Machiavelli from an engraving.
Niccolo Machiavelli, the first great Italian historian, and one of the most eminent political writers of any age or country, was born at Florence, May 3, 1469. He was of an old though not wealthy Tuscan family, his father, who was a jurist, dying when Niccolo was sixteen years old. We know nothing of Machiavelli’s youth and little about his studies. He does not seem to have received the usual humanistic education of his time, as he knew no Greek. The first notice of Machiavelli is in 1498 when we find him holding the office of Secretary in the second Chancery of the Signoria, which office he retained till the downfall of the Florentine Republic in 1512. His unusual ability was soon recognized, and in 1500 he was sent on a mission to Louis XII. of France, and afterward on an embassy to Cæsar Borgia, the lord of Romagna, at Urbino. Machiavelli’s report and description of this and subsequent embassies to this prince, shows his undisguised admiration for the courage and cunning of Cæsar, who was a master in the application of the principles afterwards exposed in such a skillful and uncompromising manner by Machiavelli in his Prince.
The limits of this introduction will not permit us to follow with any detail the many important duties with which he was charged by his native state, all of which he fulfilled with the utmost fidelity and with consummate skill. When, after the battle of Ravenna in 1512 the holy league determined upon the downfall of Pier Soderini, Gonfaloniere of the Florentine Republic, and the restoration of the Medici, the efforts of Machiavelli, who was an ardent republican, were in vain; the troops he had helped to organize fled before the Spaniards and the Medici were returned to power. Machiavelli attempted to conciliate his new masters, but he was deprived of his office, and being accused in the following year of participation in the conspiracy of Boccoli and Capponi, he was imprisoned and tortured, though afterward set at liberty by Pope Leo X. He now retired to a small estate near San Casciano, seven miles from Florence. Here he devoted himself to political and historical studies, and though apparently retired from public life, his letters show the deep and passionate interest he took in the political vicissitudes through which Italy was then passing, and in all of which the singleness of purpose with which he continued to advance his native Florence, is clearly manifested. It was during his retirement upon his little estate at San Casciano that Machiavelli wrote The Prince, the most famous of all his writings, and here also he had begun a much more extensive work, his Discourses on the Decades of Livy, which continued to occupy him for several years. These Discourses, which do not form a continuous commentary on Livy, give Machiavelli an opportunity to express his own views on the government of the state, a task for which his long and varied political experience, and an assiduous study of the ancients rendered him eminently qualified. The Discourses and The Prince, written at the same time, supplement each other and are really one work. Indeed, the treatise, The Art of War, though not written till 1520 should be mentioned here because of its intimate connection with these two treatises, it being, in fact, a further development of some of the thoughts expressed in the Discorsi. The Prince, a short work, divided into twenty-six books, is the best known of all Machiavelli’s writings. Herein he expresses in his own masterly way his views on the founding of a new state, taking for his type and model Cæsar Borgia, although the latter had failed in his schemes for the consolidation of his power in the Romagna. The principles here laid down were the natural outgrowth of the confused political conditions of his time. And as in the Principe, as its name indicates, Machiavelli is concerned chiefly with the government of a Prince, so the Discorsi treat principally of the Republic, and here Machiavelli’s model republic was the Roman commonwealth, the most successful and most enduring example of popular government. Free Rome is the embodiment of his political idea of the state. Much that Machiavelli says in this treatise is as true to-day and holds as good as the day it was written. And to us there is much that is of especial importance. To select a chapter almost at random, let us take Book I., Chap. XV.: “Public affairs are easily managed in a city where the body of the people is not corrupt; and where equality exists, there no principality can be established; nor can a republic be established where there is no equality.”
No man has been more harshly judged than Machiavelli, especially in the two centuries following his death. But he has since found many able champions and the tide has turned. The Prince has been termed a manual for tyrants, the effect of which has been most pernicious. But were Machiavelli’s doctrines really new? Did he discover them? He merely had the candor and courage to write down what everybody was thinking and what everybody knew. He merely gives us the impressions he had received from a long and intimate intercourse with princes and the affairs of state. It was Lord Bacon, I believe, who said that Machiavelli tells us what princes do, not what they ought to do. When Machiavelli takes Cæsar Borgia as a model, he in nowise extols him as a hero, but merely as a prince who was capable of attaining the end in view. The life of the State was the primary object. It must be maintained. And Machiavelli has laid down the principles, based upon his study and wide experience, by which this may be accomplished. He wrote from the view-point of the politician, — not of the moralist. What is good politics may be bad morals, and in fact, by a strange fatality, where morals and politics clash, the latter generally gets the upper hand. And will anyone contend that the principles set forth by Machiavelli in his Prince or his Discourses have entirely perished from the earth? Has diplomacy been entirely stripped of fraud and duplicity? Let anyone read the famous eighteenth chapter of The Prince: “In what Manner Princes should keep their Faith,” and he will be convinced that what was true nearly four hundred years ago, is quite as true to-day.
Of the remaining works of Machiavelli the most important is the History of Florence written between 1521 and 1525, and dedicated to Clement VII. The first book is merely a rapid review of the Middle Ages, the history of Florence beginning with Book II. Machiavelli’s method has been censured for adhering at times too closely to the chroniclers like Villani, Cambi, and Giovanni Cavalcanti, and at others rejecting their testimony without apparent reason, while in its details the authority of his History is often questionable. It is the straightforward, logical narrative, which always holds the interest of the reader that is the greatest charm of the History. Of the other works of Machiavelli we may mention here his comedies the Mandragola and Clizia, and his novel Belfagor.
After the downfall of the Republic and Machiavelli’s release from prison in 1513, fortune seems never again to have favoured him. It is true that in 1520 Giuliano de’ Medici commissioned him to write his History of Florence, and he afterwards held a number of offices, yet these latter were entirely beneath his merits. He had been married in 1502 to Marietta Corsini, who bore him four sons and a daughter. He died on June 22, 1527, leaving his family in the greatest poverty, a sterling tribute to his honesty, when one considers the many opportunities he doubtless had to enrich himself. Machiavelli’s life was not without blemish — few lives are. We must bear in mind the atmosphere of craft, hypocrisy, and poison in which he lived, — his was the age of Cæsar Borgia and of Popes like the monster Alexander VI. and Julius II. Whatever his faults may have been, Machiavelli was always an ardent patriot and an earnest supporter of popular government. It is true that he was willing to accept a prince, if one could be found courageous enough and prudent enough to unite dismembered Italy, for in the unity of his native land he saw the only hope of its salvation.
Machiavelli is buried in the church of Santa Croce at Florence, beside the tomb of Michael Angelo. His monument bears this inscription:
“Tanto nomini nullum par eulogium.”
And though this praise is doubtless exaggerated, he is a son of whom his country may be justly proud.
Hugo Albert Rennert.
Irruption of Northern people upon the Roman territories — Visigoths — Barbarians called in by Stilicho — Vandals in Africa — Franks and Burgundians give their names to France and Burgundy — The Huns — Angles give the name to England — Attila, king of the Huns, in Italy — Genseric takes Rome — The Lombards.
The people who inhabit the northern parts beyond the Rhine and the Danube, living in a healthy and prolific region, frequently increase to such vast multitudes that part of them are compelled to abandon their native soil, and seek a habitation in other countries. The method adopted, when one of these provinces had to be relieved of its superabundant population, was to divide into three parts, each containing an equal number of nobles and of people, of rich and of poor. The third upon whom the lot fell, then went in search of new abodes, leaving the remaining two-thirds in possession of their native country.
These migrating masses destroyed the Roman empire by the facilities for settlement which the country offered when the emperors abandoned Rome, the ancient seat of their dominion, and fixed their residence at Constantinople; for by this step they exposed the western empire to the rapine of both their ministers and their enemies, the remoteness of their position preventing them either from seeing or providing for its necessities. To suffer the overthrow of such an extensive empire, established by the blood of so many brave and virtuous men, showed no less folly in the princes themselves than infidelity in their ministers; for not one irruption alone, but many, contributed to its ruin; and these barbarians exhibited much ability and perseverance in accomplishing their object.
The first of these northern nations that invaded the empire after the Cimbrians, who were conquered by Caius Marius, was the Visigoths — which name in our language signifies “Western Goths.” These, after some battles fought along its confines, long held their seat of dominion upon the Danube, with consent of the emperors; and although, moved by various causes, they often attacked the Roman provinces, were always kept in subjection by the imperial forces. The emperor Theodosius conquered them with great glory; and, being wholly reduced to his power, they no longer selected a sovereign of their own, but, satisfied with the terms which he granted them, lived and fought under his ensigns, and authority. On the death of Theodosius, his sons Arcadius and Honorius, succeeded to the empire, but not to the talents and fortune of their father; and the times became changed with the princes. Theodosius had appointed a governor to each of the three divisions of the empire, Ruffinus to the eastern, to the western Stilicho, and Gildo to the African. Each of these, after the death of Theodosius, determined not to be governors merely, but to assume sovereign dominion over their respective provinces. Gildo and Ruffinus were suppressed at their outset; but Stilicho, concealing his design, ingratiated himself with the new emperors, and at the same time so disturbed their government, as to facilitate his occupation of it afterward. To make the Visigoths their enemies, he advised that the accustomed stipend allowed to this people should be withheld; and as he thought these enemies would not be sufficient alone to disturb the empire, he contrived that the Burgundians, Franks, Vandals, and Alans (a northern people in search of new habitations), should assail the Roman provinces.
That they might be better able to avenge themselves for the injury they had sustained, the Visigoths, on being deprived of their subsidy, created Alaric their king; and having assailed the empire, succeeded, after many reverses, in overrunning Italy, and finally in pillaging Rome.
After this victory, Alaric died, and his successor, Astolphus, having married Placidia, sister of the emperors, agreed with them to go to the relief of Gaul and Spain, which provinces had been assailed by the Vandals, Burgundians, Alans, and Franks, from the causes before mentioned. Hence it followed, that the Vandals, who had occupied that part of Spain called Betica (now Andalusia), being pressed by the Visigoths, and unable to resist them, were invited by Boniface, who governed Africa for the empire, to occupy that province; for, being in rebellion, he was afraid his error would become known to the emperor. For these reasons the Vandals gladly undertook the enterprise, and under Genseric, their king, became lords of Africa.
At this time Theodosius, son of Arcadius, succeeded to the empire; and, bestowing little attention on the affairs of the west, caused those who had taken possession to think of securing their acquisitions. Thus the Vandals ruled Africa; the Alans and Visigoths, Spain; while the Franks and Burgundians not only took Gaul, but each gave their name to the part they occupied; hence one is called France, the other Burgundy. The good fortune of these brought fresh people to the destruction of the empire, one of which, the Huns, occupied the province of Pannonia, situated upon the nearer shore of the Danube, and which, from their name, is still called Hungary. To these disorders it must be added, that the emperor, seeing himself attacked on so many sides, to lessen the number of his enemies, began to treat first with the Vandals, then with the Franks; a course which diminished his own power, and increased that of the barbarians. Nor was the island of Britain, which is now called England, secure from them; for the Britons, being apprehensive of those who had occupied Gaul, called the Angli, a people of Germany, to their aid; and these under Vortigern their king, first defended, and then drove them from the island, of which they took possession, and after themselves named the country England. But the inhabitants, being robbed of their home, became desperate by necessity and resolved to take possession of some other country, although they had been unable to defend their own. They therefore crossed the sea with their families, and settled in the country nearest to the beach, which from themselves is called Brittany. The Huns, who were said above to have occupied Pannonia, joining with other nations, as the Zepidi, Eurili, Turingi, and Ostro, or eastern Goths, moved in search of new countries, and not being able to enter France, which was defended by the forces of the barbarians, came into Italy under Attila their king. He, a short time previously, in order to possess the entire monarchy, had murdered his brother Bleda; and having thus become very powerful, Andaric, king of the Zepidi, and Velamir, king of the Ostrogoths, became subject to him. Attila, having entered Italy, laid siege to Aquileia, where he remained without any obstacle for two years, wasting the country round, and dispersing the inhabitants. This, as will be related in its place, caused the origin of Venice. After the taking and ruin of Aquileia, he directed his course towards Rome, from the destruction of which he abstained at the entreaty of the pontiff, his respect for whom was so great that he left Italy and retired into Austria, where he died. After the death of Attila, Velamir, king of the Ostrogoths, and the heads of the other nations, took arms against his sons Henry and Uric, slew the one and compelled the other, with his Huns, to repass the Danube and return to their country; while the Ostrogoths and the Zepidi established themselves in Pannonia, and the Eruli and the Turingi upon the farther bank of the Danube.
Attila having left Italy, Valentinian, emperor of the west, thought of restoring the country; and, that he might be more ready to defend it against the barbarians, abandoned Rome, and removed the seat of government to Ravenna. The misfortunes which befell the western empire caused the emperor, who resided at Constantinople, on many occasions to give up the possession of it to others, as a charge full of danger and expense; and sometimes, without his permission, the Romans, seeing themselves so abandoned, created an emperor for their defense, or suffered some one to usurp the dominion. This occurred at the period of which we now speak, when Maximus, a Roman, after the death of Valentinian, seized the government, and compelled Eudocia, widow of the late emperor, to take him for her husband; but she, being of imperial blood, scorned the connection of a private citizen; and being anxious to avenge herself for the insult, secretly persuaded Genseric, king of the Vandals and master of Africa to come to Italy, representing to him the advantage he would derive from the undertaking, and the facility with which it might be accomplished. Tempted by the hope of booty, he came immediately, and finding Rome abandoned, plundered the city during fourteen days. He also ravaged many other places in Italy, and then, loaded with wealth, withdrew to Africa. The Romans, having returned to their city, and Maximus being dead, elected Avitus, a Roman, as his successor. After this, several important events occurred both in Italy and in the countries beyond; and after the deaths of many emperors the empire of Constantinople devolved upon Zeno, and that of Rome upon Orestes and Augustulus his son, who obtained the sovereignty by fraud. While they were designing to hold by force what they had obtained by treachery, the Eruli and the Turingi, who, after the death of Attila, as before remarked, had established themselves upon the farther bank of the Danube, united in a league and invaded Italy under Odoacer their general. Into the districts which they left unoccupied, the Longobardi or Lombards, also a northern people, entered, led by Godogo their king. Odoacer conquered and slew Orestes near Pavia, but Augustulus escaped. After this victory, that Rome might, with her change of power, also change her title, Odoacer, instead of using the imperial name, caused himself to be declared king of Rome. He was the first of those leaders who at this period overran the world and thought of settling in Italy; for the others, either from fear that they should not be able to hold the country, knowing that it might easily be relieved by the eastern emperors, or from some unknown cause, after plundering her, sought other countries wherein to establish themselves.
State of the Roman empire under Zeno — Theodoric king of the Ostrogoths — Character of Theodoric — Changes in the Roman empire — New languages — New names — Theodoric dies — Belisarius in Italy — Totila takes Rome — Narses destroys the Goths — New form of Government in Italy — Narses invites the Lombards into Italy — The Lombards change the form of government.
At this time the ancient Roman empire was governed by the following princes: Zeno, reigning in Constantinople, commanded the whole of the eastern empire; the Ostrogoths ruled Mesia and Pannonia; the Visigoths, Suavi, and Alans, held Gascony and Spain; the Vandals, Africa; the Franks and Burgundians, France; and the Eruli and Turingi, Italy. The kingdom of the Ostrogoths had descended to Theodoric, nephew of Velamir, who, being on terms of friendship with Zeno the eastern emperor, wrote to him that his Ostrogoths thought it an injustice that they, being superior in valor to the people thereabout, should be inferior to them in dominion, and that it was impossible for him to restrain them within the limits of Pannonia. So, seeing himself under the necessity of allowing them to take arms and go in search of new abodes, he wished first to acquaint Zeno with it, in order that he might provide for them, by granting some country in which they might establish themselves, by his good favor with greater propriety and convenience. Zeno, partly from fear and partly from a desire to drive Odoacer out of Italy, gave Theodoric permission to lead his people against him, and take possession of the country. Leaving his friends the Zepidi in Pannonia, Theodoric marched into Italy, slew Odoacer and his son, and, moved by the same reasons which had induced Valentinian to do so, established his court at Ravenna, and like Odoacer took the title of king of Italy.
Theodoric possessed great talents both for war and peace; in the former he was always conqueror, and in the latter he conferred very great benefits upon the cities and people under him. He distributed the Ostrogoths over the country, each district under its leader, that he might more conveniently command them in war, and govern them in peace. He enlarged Ravenna, restored Rome, and, with the exception of military discipline, conferred upon the Romans every honor. He kept within their proper bounds, wholly by the influence of his character, all the barbarian kings who occupied the empire; he built towns and fortresses between the point of the Adriatic and the Alps, in order, with the greater facility, to impede the passage of any new hordes of barbarians who might design to assail Italy; and if, toward the latter end of his life, so many virtues had not been sullied by acts of cruelty, caused by various jealousies of his people, such as the death of Symmachus and Boethius, men of great holiness, every point of his character would have deserved the highest praise. By his virtue and goodness, not only Rome and Italy, but every part of the western empire, freed from the continual troubles which they had suffered from the frequent influx of barbarians, acquired new vigor, and began to live in an orderly and civilized manner. For surely if any times were truly miserable for Italy and the provinces overrun by the barbarians, they were those which occurred from Arcadius and Honorius to Theodoric. If we only consider the evils which arise to a republic or a kingdom by a change of prince or of government; not by foreign interference, but by civil discord (in which we may see how even slight variations suffice to ruin the most powerful kingdoms or states), we may then easily imagine how much Italy and the other Roman provinces suffered, when they not only changed their forms of government and their princes, but also their laws, customs, modes of living, religion, language, and name. Any one of such changes, by itself, without being united with others, might, with thinking of it, to say nothing of the seeing and suffering, infuse terror into the strongest minds.
From these causes proceeded the ruin as well as the origin and extension of many cities. Among those which were ruined were Aquileia, Luni, Chiusi, Popolonia, Fiesole, and many others. The new cities were Venice, Sienna, Ferrara, Aquila, with many towns and castles which for brevity we omit. Those which became extended were Florence, Genoa, Pisa, Milan, Naples, and Bologna; to all of which may be added, the ruin and restoration of Rome, and of many other cities not previously mentioned.
From this devastation and new population arose new languages, as we see in the different dialects of France, Spain and Italy; which, partaking of the native idiom of the new people and of the old Roman, formed a new manner of discourse. Besides, not only were the names of provinces changed, but also of lakes, rivers, seas, and men; for France, Spain, and Italy are full of fresh names, wholly different from the ancient; as, omitting many others, we see that the Po, the Garda, the Archipelago, are names quite different from those which the ancients used; while instead of Cæsar and Pompey we have Peter, Matthew, John, etc.
Among so many variations, that of religion was not of little importance; for, while combating the customs of the ancient faith with the miracles of the new, very serious troubles and discords were created among men. And if the Christians had been united in one faith, fewer disorders would have followed; but the contentions among themselves, of the churches of Rome, Greece, and Ravenna, joined to those of the heretic sects with the Catholics, served in many ways to render the world miserable. Africa is a proof of this; having suffered more horrors from the Arian sect, whose doctrines were believed by the Vandals, than from any avarice or natural cruelty of the people themselves. Living amid so many persecutions, the countenances of men bore witness of the terrible impressions upon their minds; for besides the evils they suffered from the disordered state of the world, they scarcely could have recourse to the help of God, in whom the unhappy hope for relief; for the greater part of them, being uncertain what divinity they ought to address, died miserably, without help and without hope.
Having been the first who put a stop to so many evils, Theodoric deserves the highest praise: for during the thirty-eight years he reigned in Italy, he brought the country to such a state of greatness that her previous sufferings were no longer recognizable. But at his death, the kingdom descending to Atalaric, son of Amalasontha, his daughter, and the malice of fortune not being yet exhausted, the old evils soon returned; for Atalaric died soon after his grandfather, and the kingdom coming into the possession of his mother, she was betrayed by Theodatus, whom she had called to assist her in the government. He put her to death and made himself king; and having thus become odious to the Ostrogoths, the emperor Justinian entertained the hope of driving him out of Italy. Justinian appointed Belisarius to the command of this expedition, as he had already conquered Africa, expelled the Vandals, and reduced the country to the imperial rule.
Belisarius took possession of Sicily, and from thence passing into Italy, occupied Naples and Rome. The Goths, seeing this, slew Theodatus their king, whom they considered the cause of their misfortune, and elected Vitiges in his stead, who, after some skirmishes, was besieged and taken by Belisarius at Ravenna; but before he had time to secure the advantages of his victory, Belisarius was recalled by Justinian, and Joannes and Vitalis were appointed in his place. Their principles and practices were so different from those of Belisarius, that the Goths took courage and created Ildovadus, governor of Verona, their king. After Ildovadus, who was slain, came Totila, who routed the imperial forces, took Tuscany and Naples, and recovered nearly the whole of what Belisarius had taken from them. On this account Justinian determined to send him into Italy again; but, coming with only a small force, he lost the reputation which his former victories had won for him, in less time than he had taken to acquire it. Totila being at Ostia with his forces, took Rome before his eyes; but being unable to hold or to leave the city, he destroyed the greater part of it, drove out the citizens, and took the senators away from him. Thinking little of Belisarius, he led his people into Calabria, to attack the forces which had been sent from Greece.
Belisarius, seeing the city abandoned, turned his mind to the performance of an honourable work. Viewing the ruins of Rome, he determined to rebuild her walls and recall her inhabitants with as little delay as possible. But fortune was opposed to this laudable enterprise; for Justinian, being at this time assailed by the Parthians, recalled him; and his duty to his sovereign compelled him to abandon Italy to Totila, who again took Rome, but did not treat her with such severity as upon the former occasion; for at the entreaty of St. Benedict, who in those days had great reputation for sanctity, he endeavored to restore her. In the meantime, Justinian having arranged matters with the Parthians, again thought of sending a force to the relief of Italy; but the Sclavi, another northern people, having crossed the Danube and attacked Illyria and Thrace, prevented him, so that Totila held almost the whole country. Having conquered the Slavonians, Justinian sent Narses, a eunuch, a man of great military talent, who, having arrived in Italy, routed and slew Totila. The Goths who escaped sought refuge in Pavia, where they created Teias their king. On the other hand, Narses after the victory took Rome, and coming to an engagement with Teias near Nocera, slew him and routed his army. By this victory, the power of the Goths in Italy was quite annihilated, after having existed for seventy years, from the coming of Theodoric to the death of Teias.
No sooner was Italy delivered from the Goths than Justinian died, and was succeeded by Justin, his son, who, at the instigation of Sophia, his wife, recalled Narses, and sent Longinus in his stead. Like those who preceded him, he made his abode at Ravenna, and besides this, gave a new form to the government of Italy; for he did not appoint governors of provinces, as the Goths had done, but in every city and town of importance placed a ruler whom he called a duke. Neither in this arrangement did he respect Rome more than the other cities; for having set aside the consuls and senate, names which up to this time had been preserved, he placed her under a duke, who was sent every year from Ravenna, and called her the duchy of Rome; while to him who remained in Ravenna, and governed the whole of Italy for the emperor, was given the name of Exarch. This division of the country greatly facilitated the ruin of Italy, and gave the Lombards an early occasion of occupying it. Narses was greatly enraged with the emperor, for having recalled him from the government of the province, which he had won with his own valor and blood; while Sophia, not content with the injury done by withdrawing him, treated him in the most offensive manner, saying she wished him to come back that he might spin with the other eunuchs. Full of indignation, Narses persuaded Alboin, king of the Lombards, who then reigned in Pannonia, to invade and take possession of Italy.
The Lombards, as was said before, occupied those places upon the Danube which had been vacated by the Eruli and Turingi, when Odoacer their king led them into Italy; where, having been established for some time, their dominions were held by Alboin, a man ferocious and bold, under whom they crossed the Danube, and coming to an engagement with Cunimund, king of the Zepidi, who held Pannonia, conquered and slew him. Alboin finding Rosamond, daughter of Cunimund, among the captives, took her to wife, and made himself sovereign of Pannonia; and, moved by his savage nature, caused the skull of Cunimund to be formed into a cup, from which, in memory of the victory, he drank. Being invited into Italy by Narses, with whom he had been in friendship during the war with the Goths, he left Pannonia to the Huns, who after the death of Attila had returned to their country. Finding, on his arrival, the province divided into so many parts, he presently occupied Pavia, Milan, Verona, Vicenza, the whole of Tuscany, and the greater part of Flamminia, which is now called Romagna. These great and rapid acquisitions made him think the conquest of Italy already secured; he therefore gave a great feast at Verona, and having become elevated with wine, ordered the skull of Cunimund to be filled, and caused it to be presented to the queen Rosamond, who sat opposite, saying loud enough for her to hear, that upon occasion of such great joy she should drink with her father. These words were like a dagger to the lady’s bosom and she resolved to have revenge. Knowing that Helmichis, a noble Lombard, was in love with one of her maids, she arranged with the young woman, that Helmichis, without being acquainted with the fact, should sleep with her instead of his mistress. Having effected her design, Rosamond discovered herself to Helmichis, and gave him the choice either of killing Alboin, and taking herself and the kingdom as his reward, or of being put to death as the ravisher of the queen. Helmichis consented to destroy Alboin; but after the murder, finding they could not occupy the kingdom, and fearful that the Lombards would put them to death for the love they bore to Alboin, they seized the royal treasure, and fled with it to Longinus, at Ravenna, who received them favorably.
During these troubles the emperor Justinus died, and was succeeded by Tiberius, who, occupied in the wars with the Parthians, could not attend to the affairs of Italy; and this seeming to Longinus to present an opportunity, by means of Rosamond and her wealth, of becoming king of the Lombards and of the whole of Italy, he communicated his design to her, persuaded her to destroy Helmichis, and so take him for her husband. To this end, having prepared poisoned wine, she with her own hand presented it to Helmichis, who complained of thirst as he came from the bath. Having drunk half of it, he suspected the truth, from the unusual sensation it occasioned and compelled her to drink the remainder; so that in a few hours both came to their end, and Longinus was deprived of the hope of becoming king.
In the meantime the Lombards, having drawn themselves together in Pavia, which was become the principal seat of their empire, made Clefis their king. He rebuilt Imola, destroyed by Narses, and occupied Remini and almost every place up to Rome; but he died in the course of his victories. Clefis was cruel to such a degree, not only toward strangers, but to his own Lombards, that these people, sickened of royal power, did not create another king, but appointed among themselves thirty dukes to govern the rest. This prevented the Lombards from occupying the whole of Italy, or of extending their dominion further than Benevento; for, of the cities of Rome, Ravenna, Cremona, Mantua, Padua, Monselice, Parma, Bologna, Faenza, Forli, and Cesena, some defended themselves for a time, and others never fell under their dominion; since, not having a king, they became less prompt for war, and when they afterward appointed one, they were, by living in freedom, become less obedient, and more apt to quarrel among themselves; which from the first prevented a fortunate issue of their military expeditions, and was the ultimate cause of their being driven out of Italy. The affairs of the Lombards being in the state just described, the Romans and Longinus came to an agreement with them, that each should lay down their arms and enjoy what they already possessed.
Beginning of the greatness of the pontiffs in Italy — Abuse of censures and indulgences — The pope applies to Pepin, king of France, for assistance — Donation of Pepin to the pontiff — Charlemagne — End of the kingdom of the Lombards — The title of cardinal begins to be used — The empire passes to the Germans — Berengarius, duke of Fruili, created king of Italy — Pisa becomes great — Order and division of the states of Italy — Electors of the emperor created.
In these times the popes began to acquire greater temporal authority than they had previously possessed; although the immediate successors of St. Peter were more reverenced for the holiness of their lives, and the miracles which they performed; and their example so greatly extended the Christian religion, that princes of other states embraced it, in order to obviate the confusion which prevailed at that period. The emperor having become a Christian and returned to Constantinople, it followed, as was remarked at the commencement of the book, that the Roman empire was the more easily ruined, and the church more rapidly increased her authority. Nevertheless, the whole of Italy, being subject either to the emperors or the kings till the coming of the Lombards, the popes never acquired any greater authority than what reverence for their habits and doctrine gave them. In other respects they obeyed the emperors or kings; officiated for them in their affairs, as ministers or agents, and were even sometimes put to death by them. He who caused them to become of more importance in the affairs of Italy, was Theodoric, king of the Goths, when he established the seat of his empire at Ravenna; for, Rome being without a prince, the Romans found it necessary, for their safety, to yield obedience to the pope; his authority, however, was not greatly increased thereby, the only advantage being, that the church of Rome was allowed to take precedence of that of Ravenna. But the Lombards having taken possession, and Italy being divided into many parts, the pope had an opportunity of greater exertion. Being as it were the head of Rome, both the emperor of Constantinople and the Lombards respected him; so that the Romans, by his means, entered into league with the Lombards, and with Longinus, not as subjects, but as equals. Thus the popes, at one time friends of the Greeks, and at another of the Lombards, increased their own power; but upon the ruin of the eastern empire, which occurred during the time of Heraclius, their influence was reduced; for the Sclavi, of whom we spoke before, again assailed Illyria, and having occupied the country, named it Sclavonia, after themselves; and the other parts were attacked by the Persians, then by the Saracens under Mohammed, and lastly by the Turks, who took Syria, Africa, and Egypt. These causes induced the reigning pope, in his distress, to seek new friends, and he applied to the king of France. Nearly all the wars which the northern barbarians carried on in Italy, it may be here remarked, were occasioned by the pontiffs; and the hordes, with which the country was inundated, were generally called in by them. The same mode of proceeding still continued, and kept Italy weak and unsettled. And, therefore, in relating the events which have taken place from those times to the present, the ruin of the empire will be no longer illustrated, but only the increase of the pontificate and of the other principalities which ruled Italy till the coming of Charles VIII. It will be seen how the popes, first with censures, and afterward with these and arms, mingled with indulgences, became both terrible and venerable; and how, from having abused both, they ceased to possess any influence, and were wholly dependent on the will of others for assistance in their wars.
But to return to the order of our narration. Gregory III. occupied the papacy, and the kingdom of the Lombards was held by Astolphus, who, contrary to agreement, seized Ravenna, and made war upon the pope. On this account, Gregory no longer relying upon the emperor of Constantinople, since he, for the reasons above given, was unable to assist him, and unwilling to trust the Lombards, for they had frequently broken their faith, had recourse to Pepin II., who, from being lord of Austria and Brabant, had become king of France; not so much by his own valor as by that of Charles Martel, his father, and Pepin his grandfather; for Charles Martel, being governor of the kingdom, effected the memorable defeat of the Saracens near Tours, upon the Loire, in which two hundred thousand of them are said to have been left dead upon the field of battle. Hence, Pepin, by his father’s reputation and his own abilities, became afterward king of France. To him Pope Gregory, as we have said, applied for assistance against the Lombards, which Pepin promised to grant, but desired first to see him and be honored with his presence. Gregory accordingly went to France, passing uninjured through the country of his enemies, so great was the respect they had for religion, and was treated honorably by Pepin, who sent an army into Italy, and besieged the Lombards in Pavia. King Astolphus, compelled by necessity, made proposals of peace to the French, who agreed to them at the entreaty of the pope — for he did not desire the death of his enemy, but that he should be converted and live. In this treaty, Astolphus promised to give to the church all the places he had taken from her; but the king’s forces having returned to France, he did not fulfill the agreement, and the pope again had recourse to Pepin, who sent another army, conquered the Lombards, took Ravenna, and, contrary to the wishes of the Greek emperor, gave it to the pope, with all the places that belonged to the exarchate, and added to them Urbino and the Marca. But Astolphus, while fulfilling the terms of his agreement, died, and Desiderius, a Lombard, who was duke of Tuscany, took up arms to occupy the kingdom, and demanded assistance of the pope, promising him his friendship. The pope acceding to his request, the other princes assented. Desiderius kept faith at first, and proceeded to resign the districts to the pope, according to the agreement made with Pepin, so that an exarch was no longer sent from Constantinople to Ravenna, but it was governed according to the will of the pope. Pepin soon after died, and was succeeded by his son Charles, the same who, on account of the magnitude and success of his enterprises, was called Charlemagne, or Charles the Great. Theodore I. now succeeded to the papacy, and discord arising between him and Desiderius, the latter besieged him in Rome. The pope requested assistance of Charles, who, having crossed the Alps, besieged Desiderius in Pavai, where he took both him and his children, and sent them prisoners to France. He then went to visit the pontiff at Rome, where he declared, THAT THE POPE, BEING VICAR OF GOD, COULD NOT BE JUDGED BY MEN. The pope and the people of Rome made him emperor; and thus Rome began to have an emperor of the west. And whereas the popes used to be established by the emperors, the latter now began to have need of the popes at their elections; the empire continued to lose its powers, while the church acquired them; and, by these means, she constantly extended her authority over temporal princes.
The Lombards, having now been two hundred and thirty-two years in the country, were strangers only in name, and Charles, wishing to reorganize the states of Italy, consented that they should occupy the places in which they had been brought up, and call the province after their own name, Lombardy. That they might be led to respect the Roman name, he ordered all that part of Italy adjoining to them, which had been under the exarchate of Ravenna, to be called Romagna. Besides this, he created his son Pepin, king of Italy, whose dominion extended to Benevento; all the rest being possessed by the Greek emperor, with whom Charles was in league. About this time Pascal I. occupied the pontificate, and the priests of the churches of Rome, from being near to the pope, and attending the elections of the pontiff, began to dignify their own power with a title, by calling themselves cardinals, and arrogated so great authority, that having excluded the people of Rome from the election of pontiff, the appointment of a new pope was scarcely ever made except from one of their own number: thus on the death of Pascal, the cardinal of St. Sabina was created pope by the title of Eugenius II. Italy having come into the hands of the French, a change of form and order took place, the popes acquiring greater temporal power, and the new authorities adopting the titles of count and marquis, as that of duke had been introduced by Longinus, exarch of Ravenna. After the deaths of some pontiffs, Osporco, a Roman, succeeded to the papacy; but on account of his unseemly appellation, he took the name of Sergius, and this was the origin of that change of names which the popes adopt upon their election to the pontificate.
In the meantime, the Emperor Charles died and was succeeded by Lewis (the Pious), after whose death so many disputes arose among his sons, that at the time of his grandchildren, the house of France lost the empire, which then came to the Germans; the first German emperor being called Arnolfus. Nor did the Carlovingian family lose the empire only; their discords also occasioned them the loss of Italy; for the Lombards, gathering strength, offended the pope and the Romans, and Arnolfo, not knowing where to seek relief, was compelled to create Berengarius, duke of Fruili, king of Italy. These events induced the Huns, who occupied Pannonia, to assail Italy; but, in an engagement with Berengarius, they were compelled to return to Pannonia, which had from them been named Hungary.
Romano was at this time emperor of Greece, having, while prefect of the army, dethroned Constantine; and as Puglia and Calabria, which, as before observed, were parts of the Greek empire, had revolted, he gave permission to the Saracans to occupy them; and they having taken possession of these provinces, besieged Rome. The Romans, Berengarius being then engaged in defending himself against the Huns, appointed Alberic, duke of Tuscany, their leader. By his valor Rome was saved from the Saracens, who, withdrawing from the siege, erected a fortress upon Mount Gargano, by means of which they governed Puglia and Calabria, and harassed the whole country. Thus Italy was in those times very grievously afflicted, being in constant warfare with the Huns in the direction of the Alps, and, on the Neapolitan side, suffering from the inroads of the Saracens. This state of things continued many years, occupying the reigns of three Berengarii, who succeeded each other; and during this time the pope and the church were greatly disturbed; the impotence of the eastern, and the disunion which prevailed among the western princes, leaving them without defense. The city of Genoa, with all her territory upon the rivers, having been overrun by the Saracens, an impulse was thus given to the rising greatness of Pisa, in which city multitudes took refuge who had been driven out of their own country. These events occurred in the year 931, when Otho, duke of Saxony, the son of Henry and Matilda, a man of great prudence and reputation, being made emperor, the pope Agapito, begged that he would come into Italy and relieve him from the tyranny of the Berengarii.
The States of Italy were governed in this manner: Lombardy was under Berengarius III. and Alfred his son; Tuscany and Romagna were governed by a deputy of the western emperor; Puglia and Calabria were partly under the Greek emperor, and partly under the Saracens; in Rome two consuls were annually chosen from the nobility, who governed her according to ancient custom; to these was added a prefect, who dispensed justice among the people; and there was a council of twelve, who each year appointed rectors for the places subject to them. The popes had more or less authority in Rome and the rest of Italy, in proportion as they were favorites of the emperor or of the most powerful states. The Emperor Otho came into Italy, took the kingdom from the Berengarii, in which they had reigned fifty-five years, and reinstated the pontiff in his dignity. He had a son and a nephew, each named Otho, who, one after the other, succeeded to the empire. In the reign of Otho III., Pope Gregory V. was expelled by the Romans; whereupon the emperor came into Italy and replaced him; and the pope, to revenge himself on the Romans, took from them the right to create an emperor, and gave it to three princes and three bishops of Germany; the princes of Brandenburg, Palatine, and Saxony, and the bishops of Magonza, Treveri, and Colonia. This occurred in the year 1002. After the death of Otho III. the electors created Henry, duke of Bavaria, emperor, who at the end of twelve years was crowned by Pope Stephen VIII. Henry and his wife Simeonda were persons of very holy life, as is seen by the many temples built and endowed by them, of which the church of St. Miniato, near Florence, is one. Henry died in 1024, and was succeeded by Conrad of Suabia; and the latter by Henry II., who came to Rome; and as there was a schism in the church of three popes, he set them all aside, and caused the election of Clement II., by whom he was crowned emperor.
Nicholas II. commits the election of the pope to the cardinals — First example of a prince deprived of his dominions by the pope — Guelphs and Ghibellines — Establishment of the kingdom of Naples — Pope Urban II. goes to France — The first crusade — New orders of knighthood — Saladin takes from the Christians their possessions in the east — Death of the Countess Matilda — Character of Frederick Barbarossa — Schism — Frederick creates an anti-pope — Building of Alexandria in Puglia — Disgraceful conditions imposed by the pope upon Henry, king of England — Reconciliation of Frederick with the pope — The kingdom of Naples passes to the Germans — Orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis.
Italy was at this time governed partly by the people, some districts by their own princes, and others by the deputies of the emperor. The highest in authority, and to whom the others referred, was called the chancellor. Of the princes, the most powerful were Godfred and the Countess Matilda his wife, who was daughter of Beatrice, the sister of Henry II. She and her husband possessed Lucca, Parma, Reggio, Mantua, and the whole of what is now called THE PATRIMONY OF THE CHURCH. The ambition of the Roman people caused many wars between them and the pontiffs, whose authority had previously been used to free them from the emperors; but when they had taken the government of the city to themselves, and regulated it according to their own pleasure, they at once became at enmity with the popes, who received far more injuries from them than from any Christian potentate. And while the popes caused all the west to tremble with their censures, the people of Rome were in open rebellion against them; nor had they or the popes any other purpose, but to deprive each other of reputation and authority.
Nicholas II. now attained the papacy; and as Gregory V. had taken from the Romans the right to create an emperor, he in the same manner determined to deprive them of their share in the election of the pope; and confined the creation to the cardinals alone. Nor did this satisfy him; for, having agreed with the princes who governed Calabria and Puglia, with methods which we shall presently relate, he compelled the officers whom the Romans appointed to their different jurisdictions, to render obedience to him; and some of them he even deprived of their offices. After the death of Nicholas, there was a schism in the church; the clergy of Lombardy refused obedience to Alexander II., created at Rome, and elected Cadolo of Parma anti-pope; and Henry, who hated the power of the pontiffs, gave Alexander to understand that he must renounce the pontificate, and ordered the cardinals to go into Germany to appoint a new pope. He was the first who felt the importance of spiritual weapons; for the pope called a council at Rome, and deprived Henry of both the empire and the kingdom. Some of the people of Italy took the part of the pope, others of Henry; and hence arose the factions of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines; that Italy, relieved from the inundations of barbarians, might be distracted with intestine strife. Henry, being excommunicated, was compelled by his people to come into Italy, and fall barefooted upon his knees before the pope, and ask his pardon. This occurred in the year 1082. Nevertheless, there shortly afterward arose new discords between the pope and Henry; upon which the pope again excommunicated him, and the emperor sent his son, also named Henry, with an army to Rome, and he, with the assistance of the Romans, who hated the pope, besieged him in the fortress. Robert Guiscard them came from Puglia to his relief, but Henry had left before his arrival, and returned to Germany. The Romans stood out alone, and the city was sacked by Robert, and reduced to ruins. As from this Robert sprung the establishment of the kingdom of Naples, it seems not superfluous to relate particularly his actions and origin.
Disunion having arisen among the descendants of Charlemagne, occasion was given to another northern people, called Normans, to assail France and occupy that portion of the country which is now named Normandy. A part of these people came into Italy at the time when the province was infested with the Berengarii, the Saracans, and the Huns, and occupied some places in Romagna, where, during the wars of that period, they conducted themselves valiantly. Tancred, one of these Norman princes, had many children; among the rest were William, surnamed Ferabac, and Robert, called Guiscard. When the principality was governed by William, the troubles of Italy were in some measure abated; but the Saracens still held Sicily, and plundered the coasts of Italy daily. On this account William arranged with the princes of Capua and Salerno, and with Melorco, a Greek, who governed Puglia and Calabria for the Greek emperor, to attack Sicily; and it was agreed that, if they were victorious, each should have a fourth part of the booty and the territory. They were fortunate in their enterprise, expelled the Saracens, and took possession of the island; but, after the victory, Melorco secretly caused forces to be brought from Greece, seized Sicily in the name of the emperor, and appropriated the booty to himself and his followers. William was much dissatisfied with this, but reserved the exhibition of his displeasure for a suitable opportunity, and left Sicily with the princes of Salerno and Capua. But when they had parted from him to return to their homes, instead of proceeding to Romagna he led his people towards Puglia, and took Melfi; and from thence, in a short time, recovered from the Greek emperor almost the whole of Puglia and Calabria, over which provinces, in the time of pope Nicholas II. his brother Robert Guiscard was sovereign. Robert having had many disputes with his nephews for the inheritance of these states, requested the influence of the pope to settle them; which his holiness was very willing to afford, being anxious to make a friend of Robert, to defend himself against the emperor of Germany and the insolence of the Roman people, which indeed shortly followed, when, at the instance of Gregory, he drove Henry from Rome, and subdued the people. Robert was succeeded by his sons Roger and William, to whose dominion not only was Naples added, but all the places interjacent as far as Rome, and afterward Sicily, of which Roger became sovereign; but, upon William going to Constantinople, to marry the daughter of the emperor, his dominions were wrested from him by his brother Roger. Inflated with so great an acquisition, Roger first took the title of king of Italy, but afterward contented himself with that of king of Puglia and Sicily. He was the first who established and gave that name to this kingdom, which still retains its ancient boundaries, although its sovereigns have been of many families and countries. Upon the failure of the Normans, it came to the Germans, after these to the French, then to the Aragonese, and it is now held by the Flemish.
About this time Urban II. became pope and excited the hatred of the Romans. As he did not think himself safe even in Italy, on account of the disunion which prevailed, he directed his thoughts to a generous enterprise. With his whole clergy he went into France, and at Anvers, having drawn together a vast multitude of people, delivered an oration against the infidels, which so excited the minds of his audience, that they determined to undertake the conquest of Asia from the Saracens; which enterprise, with all those of a similar nature, were afterward called crusades, because the people who joined in them bore upon their armor and apparel the figure of a cross. The leaders were Godfrey, Eustace, and Baldwin of Bouillon, counts of Boulogne, and Peter, a hermit celebrated for his prudence and sagacity. Many kings and people joined them, and contributed money; and many private persons fought under them at their own expense; so great was the influence of religion in those days upon the minds of men, excited by the example of those who were its principal ministers. The proudest successes attended the beginning of this enterprise; for the whole of Asia Minor, Syria, and part of Egypt, fell under the power of the Christians. To commemorate these events the order of the Knights of Jerusalem was created, which still continues, and holds the island of Rhodes — the only obstacle to the power of the Mohammedans. The same events gave rise to the order of the Knights Templars, which, after a short time, on account of their shameless practices, was dissolved. Various fortunes attended the crusaders in the course of their enterprises, and many nations and individuals became celebrated accordingly. The kings of France and England joined them, and, with the Venetians, Pisans, and Genoese, acquired great reputation, till the time of Saladin, when, by whose talents, and the disagreement of the Christians among themselves, the crusaders were robbed of all that glory which they had at first acquired; and, after ninety years, were driven from those places which they had so honorably and happily recovered.
After the death of Urban, Pascal II. became pope, and the empire was under the dominion of Henry IV. who came to Rome pretending friendship for the pontiff but afterward put his holiness and all his clergy in prison; nor did he release them till it was conceded that he should dispose of the churches of Germany according to his own pleasure. About this time, the Countess Matilda died, and made the church heir to all her territories. After the deaths of Pascal and Henry IV. many popes and emperors followed, till the papacy was occupied by Alexander III. and the empire by Frederick, surnamed Barbarossa. The popes during this period had met with many difficulties from the people of Rome and the emperors; and in the time of Barbarossa they were much increased. Frederick possessed military talent, but was so full of pride that he would not submit to the pontiff. However, at his election to the empire he came to Rome to be crowned, and returned peaceably to Germany, where he did not long remain in the same mind, but came again into Italy to subdue certain places in Lombardy, which did not obey him. It happened at this time that the cardinal St. Clement, of a Roman family, separated from Alexander, and was made pope by some of the cardinals. The Emperor Frederick, being encamped at Cerma, Alexander complained to him of the anti-pope, and received for answer, that they were both to go to him, and, having heard each side, he would determine which was the true pope. This reply displeased Alexander; and, as he saw the emperor was inclined to favor the anti-pope, he excommunicated him, and then fled to Philip, king of France. Frederick, in the meantime, carrying on the war in Lombardy, destroyed Milan; which caused the union of Verona, Padua, and Vicenza against him for their common defense. About the same period the anti-pope died, and Frederick set up Guido of Cremona, in his stead.