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CENT. V. dreadful manner. These calamities, which fell upon the western part of the empire from the gothic depredations, were followed by others still more dreadful under the succeeding emperors. A fierce and warlike people, issuing out of Germany, overspread Italy, Gaul, and Spain, the noblest of all the European provinces, and erected new kingdoms in these fertile countries; and Odoacer at last, at the head of the Heruli, having conquered Augustulus, in the year 476, gave the mortal blow to the western empire, and reduced all Italy under his dominion. About sixteen years after this, Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, made war upon these barbarian invaders, at the request of Zeno, emperor of the east, conquered Odoacer in several battles, and obtained, as the fruits of his victories, a kingdom for the Ostrogoths in Italy, which subsisted under various turns of fortune from the year 493 to 552.a
The farther decline of idolatry.
These new monarchs of the west pretended to acknowledge the supremacy of the emperors who resided at Constantinople, and gave some faint external marks of a disposition to reign in subordi nation to them; but in reality, they ruled with an absolute independence, in their respective governments, and as appears particularly by the domin. ion exercised by Theodoric in Italy, left nothing remaining to the eastern emperors but a mere shadow of power and authority."
II. These constant wars, and the inexpressible calamities with which they were attended, were
a See, for a fuller illustration of this branch of history, the learned work of De Bos, entitled, Histoire Critique de la Monarchie Francoise, tom. i. p. 258; as also Mascow's History of the Germans.
b Car. du Fresne, Dissert. xxiii. ad Histor. Ludovici S. p. 280. Muratorii Antiq. Ital. tom. ii. p. 578, 832. Giannone, Histoire de Naples, tom. i. p. 207. Jo. Cochlaei Vita Theodorici Ostrogothorum regis, printed in 4to. in the year 1699, with the observations and remarks of Pe-. ringskiold.
undoubtedly detrimental to the cause and progress CENT. V. of Christianity. It must however be acknowledged, that the christian emperors, especially those who ruled in the east, were active and assiduous in extirpating the remains of the ancient superstitions. Theodosius the younger distinguished himself in this pious and noble work, and many remarkable monuments of his zeal in this matter are still preserved ;* such as the laws which enjoined either the destruction of the heathen temples, or the dedication of them to Christ and his saints; the edicts by which he abrogated the sacrilegious rites and ceremonies of paganism, and removed
om all offices and employments in the state such as persevered in their attachment to the absurdities of polytheism.
This spirit of reformation appeared with less vigour in the western empire. There the feasts of Saturn and Pan, the combats of the gladiators, and other rites that were instituted in honour of the pagan deities, were celebrated with the utmost freedom and impunity; and persons of the highest rank and authority professed publicly the religion of their idolatrous ancestors. This liberty was however, from time to time, reduced within narrower limits; and all those public sports and festivals, that were more peculiarly incompatible with the genius and sanctity of the christian religion, were every where abolished."
• See the Theodosian Code, tom. vi. p. 327.
See the Saturnalia of Macrobius, lib. i. p. 100, edit. Gronov. Scipio Maffei delli Anfiteatri, lib. i. p. 56, 57. Pierre le Brun, Hist. Critique des pratiques superstitieuses, tom. i. p. 237. And above all Montfaueon, Diss. de moribus tempore Theodosii M. et Arcadii, which is to be found in Latin, in the eleventh volume of the works of St. Chrysostom, and in French, in the twentieth volume of the Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptiones et des Belles Lettres, p. 197.
• Anastasius prohibited, toward the conclusion of this century, the combats with the wild beasts and other shows. Asseman. Biblioth. Orient. Fatic. tom. i. p. 246.
III. The limits of the church continued to extend themselves, and gained ground daily upon the Nations idolatrous nations both in the eastern and western christianity. empires. In the east, the inhabitants of mount Libanus and Antilibanus being dreadfully infested with wild beasts, implored the assistance and counsels of the famous Simeon the stylite, of whom we shall have occasion to speak hereafter. Simeon gave them for answer that the only effectual method of removing this calamity was to abandon the superstitious worship of their ancestors, and substitute the christian religion in its place. The docility of this people, joined to the extremities to which they were reduced, engaged them to follow the counsels of this holy man. They embraced Christianity, and in consequence of their conversion, they had the pleasure of seeing their savage enemies abandon their habitations; if we may believe the writers who affirm the truth of this prodigy. The same Simeon, by his influence and authority, introduced the christian worship into a certain district of the Arabians; some allege that this also was effected by a miracle, which to me appears somewhat more than doubtful. To these instances of the progress of the gospel, we may add the conversion of a considerable number of Jews in the isle of Crete, who, finding themselves grossly deluded by the impious pretensions of an impostor, called Moses Cretensis," who gave himself
f Assemanni Bibl. Orient. Vat. tom. i. p. 246.
We shall give the relation of Socrates concerning this impostor, in the words of the learned and estimable author of the Remarks on Ecclesiastical History. "In the time of Theodosius the younger an impostor arose, called Moses Cretensis. He pretended to be a second Moses, sent to deliver the Jews who dwelt in Crete, and promised to divide the sea, and give them a safe passage through it. They assembled. together, with their wives and children, and followed him to a promontory. He there commanded them to cast themselves into the sea. Many of them obeyed and perished in the waters, and many were taken up and saved by fishermen. Upon this, the deluded Jews would have
out for the Messiah, opened their eyes upon the CENT. V. truth, and embraced the christian religion of their own accord.
sion of the
tions to Chris
IV. The German nations, who rent in pieces the The conver Roman empire in the west, were not all converted to Christianity at the same time. Some of them had embraced the truth before the time of their incursion; and such, among others, was the case of the Goths. Others, after having erected their little kingdoms in the empire, embraced the gospel, that they might thus live with more security amidst a people, who in general, professed the christian religion. It is however uncertain, and likely to continue so, at what time, and by whose ministry, the Vandals, Sueves, and Alans were converted to Christianity. With respect to the Burgundians, who inhabited the banks of the Rhine, and who passed from thence into Gaul, we are informed by Socrates, that they embraced the gospel of their own accord, from a notion that Christ, or the God of the Romans, who had been represented to them as a most powerful being, would defend them against the rapines and incursions of the Huns. They afterward sided with the arian party, to which also the Vandals, Sueves, and Goths were zeal. ously attached. All these fierce and warlike nations judged a religion excellent, in proportion to the success which crowned the arms of those that professed it, and esteemed, consequently, that doctrine the best, whose professors had gained the greatest number of victories. When therefore they saw the Romans possessed of an empire much more extensive than that of any other people, they concluded that Christ, their God, was of all others the most worthy of religious homage.
torn the impostor to pieces; but he escaped them, and was seen no more." See Jortin's Remarks, &c. first edit. vol. iii. p. 331.
Socrates, Hist. Eccles. lib. vii. cap. xxxviii. p. 383.
v. It was the same principle and the same views that engaged Clovis, king of the Salii, a nation of Of the Franks, the Franks, to embrace Christianity. This prince, whose signal valour was accompanied with barbarity, arrogance, and injustice, founded the kingdom of the Franks in Gaul, after having made him. self master of a great part of that country, and meditated with a singular eagerness and avidity the conquest of the whole. His conversion to the christian religion, is dated from the battle he fought with the Alemans in the year 496, at a village called Tolbiacum; in which, when the Franks began to give ground, and their affairs seemed desperate, he implored the assistance of Christ, whom his queen Clothildis, daughter of the king of the Burgundi. ans, had often represented to him in vain, as the Son of the true God, and solemnly engaged himself by a vow, to worship him as his God, if he rendcred him victorious over his enemies. Victory decided in favour of the Franks; and Clovis, faithful to his engagement, received baptism at Rheims," toward the conclusion of that same year, after having been instructed by Remigius, bishop of that city, in the doctrines of the gospel." The example of the king had such a powerful effect upon the minds of his subjects, that three thousand of them immediately followed it, and were baptized with him.
Beside the name of Clovis, this prince was also called Clodovæus,
Tolbiacum is thought to be the present Zulpick, which is about
See Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum, lib. ii. cap. xxx. xxxi. Henry count Bunau's Historia ́Imperii Romano Germanici, tom. i. p. 588. De Bos's Histoire Critique de la Monarchie Francoise, tom. ii. p. 340.
The epitomizer of the history of the Franks tells us, that Remigius having preached to Clovis, and those who had been baptized with him, a sermon on the passion of our Saviour; the king, in hearing him, could not forbear crying out, "if I had been there with my Franks, that should not have happened."