[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

[image ALT: link to previous section]
Ch. 7
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of the Later Roman Empire

by J. B. Bury

published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd.,
1923

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Ch. 9

p240 CHAPTER VIII

THE DISMEMBERMENT OF THE EMPIRE IN THE WEST

§ 1. Regency of the Empress Placidia. The Defence of Gaul (A.D. 425‑430)

During the first twelve years of the reign of Valentinian, the Empress Placidia ruled the West, and her authority was not threatened or contested. Unbroken concord with her nephew Theodosius, who considered himself responsible for the throne of his young relative, was a decisive fact in the political situation and undoubtedly contributed to her security. The internal difficulties of her administration were caused by the rivalries of candidates not for the purple but for the Mastership of Both Services, the post which gave its holder, if he knew how to take advantage of it, the real political power.

The man whom Placidia chose to fill the supreme military command was Felix, of whose character and capacities we know nothing. He remained in power for about four years (A.D. 425‑429),1 and, so far as we know, did not leave Italy. He did not attempt to play the active and prominent part which had been played by Constantius and by Stilicho. The Germans, who had penetrated into the Empire, were the great pressing problem, and in the dealings with them during these four years it is not the name of Felix that history records, but those of the two p241 subordinate officers whom we have seen taking opposite sides in the struggle for the throne of Honorius — Boniface and Aetius.

Flavius Aetius was the son of Gaudentius, a native of Lower Moesia,2 and an Italian mother. The career of his father, who fought with Theodosius the Great against the tyrant Eugenius, had been in the west, and Aetius had been given, in his childhood, as a hostage to Alaric,3 and some years later had been sent, again as a hostage, to the Huns, among whom he seems to have remained for a considerable time, and formed abiding bonds of friendship with King Rugila. This episode in his life had a considerable effect upon his career.

A panegyrical description of this soldier and statesman, on whom the fortunes of the Empire were to lean for a quarter of a century, has come to us from the pen of a contemporary.4 He was "of middle height, of manly condition, well shaped so that his body was neither too weak nor too weighty, active in mind, vigorous in limb, a most dexterous horseman, skilled in shooting the arrow, and strong in using the spear. He was an excellent warrior and famous in the arts of peace; free from avarice and greed, endowed with mental virtues, one who never deviated at the instance of evil instigation from his own purpose, most patient of wrongs, a lover of work, dauntless in perils, able to endure the hardships of hunger, thirst, and sleeplessness."

That Aetius should take a German to wife was characteristic of the age in which an Imperial princess wedded a Goth and an Emperor was on the throne who had Frank blood in his veins. The lady was of royal Gothic family, "a descendant of heroes,"5 and they had a son, Carpilio, who was old enough in A.D. 425 to be delivered as a hostage to the Huns.6

It was to Aetius that the defence of Gaul was now entrusted; he commanded the field army and soon received the title of p242 Magister Equitum.7 He had to defend the southern provinces against the covetous desires of the Goths, and the north-eastern against the aggressions of the Franks. King Theoderic was bent upon winning the Mediterranean coast adjacent to his dominion, and Aetius established his military reputation by the relief of Arles, to which the Goths had laid siege in A.D. 427.8 Hostilities continued, but a peace was made in A.D. 430 confining the Goths to the territories which had been granted to Wallia. On this occasion the Roman government gave hostages to Theoderic, and it has been suggested that at the same time the Goths were recognised as an independent power, the Roman governors were withdrawn from Aquitania Secunda and Novempopulana, and the Gallo-Roman inhabitants of those provinces passed under the direct rule of Theoderic.9 It may be doubted whether this change came about so early, but in any case the attitude of the Visigoths towards the Imperial government for the ensuing twenty years was that of an independent and hostile nation.

The Salian Franks had been living for nearly seventy years in the north-eastern corner of Lower Belgica, in the district known as Thoringia, where they had been settled as Federates by the Emperor Constantius II and Julian. In these lands of the Meuse and Scheldt they seem to have lived peacefully enough within the borders assigned to them by Rome. They were ruled by more than one king, but the principal royal family, which was ultimately to extinguish all the others, was the Merovingian. They seemed to be the least formidable of all the German peoples settled within the Empire, though they were destined to become the lords of all Gaul. The first step on the path of expansion seems to have been taken by Chlodio, the first of the long-haired Merovingian kings whose name is p243 recorded. Taking advantage of the weakening of the Roman power, which was manifest to all, he invaded Artois. Aetius led an army against him and defeated him at Vicus Helenae, about A.D. 428.10 But before his death Chlodio seems to have succeeded in extending his power as far as the Somme, crossing the Carbonarian Forest (the Ardennes) and capturing Cambrai.11 This annexation was probably recognised by the Imperial government; for the Salians remained federates of the Empire and were to fight repeatedly in the cause of Rome.

If the units of the field army with which Aetius conducted the defence of Gaul were up to their nominal strength, he had somewhat less than 45,000 men under his command. We do not know whether he had the help of the federate Burgundians in his operations against Visigoths and Franks. But it is certain that the most useful and effective troops, on whom he relied throughout his whole career in withstanding German encroachments in Gaul, were the Huns, and without them he would hardly have been able to achieve his moderate successes. Here his knowledge of the Huns, his friendship with the ruling family, and the trust they placed in him stood the Empire in good stead.

The prestige which Aetius gained in Gaul was far from welcome to the Empress Placidia, who never forgave him for his espousal of the cause of John. But now he was able to impose his own terms, and extort from her the deposition of Felix and his own elevation to the post which Felix had occupied. He was appointed Master of Both Services in A.D. 429, and it is said that he then caused Felix to be killed on suspicion of treachery.12 p244 It was, no doubt, the power of the Hunnic forces, which he could summon at his will, that enabled him to force the hand of the Empress. The one man whom she would have liked to oppose to him was Boniface, formerly her loyal supporter. Boniface had been for some time enacting the part of an enemy of the "Republic." We must now go back to follow the fatal course of events in Africa.13

§ 2. Invasion of Africa by the Vandals (A.D. 429‑435)

Africa, far from the Rhine and Danube, across which the great East-German nations had been pouring into the Roman Empire, had not yet been violated by the feet of Teutonic foes. But the frustrated plans of Alaric and Wallia were intimations that the day might be at hand when this province too would have to meet the crisis of a German invasion. The third attempt was not to fail, but the granaries of Africa were not to fall to the Goths. The Vandal people, perhaps the first of the East-German peoples to cross the Baltic, was destined to find its last home and its grave in this land so distant from its cradle.14

We saw how the Vandals settled in Baetica, and how King Gunderic assumed the title of "King of the Vandals and the Alans."15 He conquered New Carthage and Hispalis (Seville), and made raids on the Balearic Islands and possibly on Mauretania Tingitana.16 He died in A.D. 428 and was succeeded by his brother Gaiseric, who had perhaps already shared the kingship with him.17 About the same time events in Africa opened a new and attractive prospect to the Vandals.

After the restoration of the legitimate dynasty and the coronation of Valentinian,18 the conduct of Count Boniface laid him open to the suspicion that he was aiming at a tyranny himself. p245 It had been a notable part of his policy, since he assumed the military command in Africa, to exhibit deep devotion to the Church and co-operate cordially with the bishops. He ingratiated himself with Augustine, the bishop of Hippo, and a letter of Augustine casts some welcome though dim light on the highly ambiguous behaviour of the count in these fateful years. Notwithstanding his professions of orthodox zeal, and hypocritical pretences that he longed to retire into monastic life, Boniface took as his second wife19 an Arian lady, and allowed his daughter to be baptized into the Arian communion. This degeneracy shocked and grieved Augustine, but it was a more serious matter that instead of devoting all his energies to repelling the incursions of the Moors, he was working to make his own authority absolute in Africa.20 So at least it seemed to the court of Ravenna, and Placidia — doubtless by the advice of Felix21 — recalled him to account for his conduct. Boniface refused to come and placed himself in the position of an "enemy of the Republic." An army was immediately sent against him under three commanders, all of whom were slain (A.D. 427). Then at the beginning of A.D. 428 another army was sent under the command of Sigisvult the Goth, who seems to have been named Count of Africa, to replace the rebel.22 Sigisvult appears to have succeeded in seizing Hippo and Carthage,23 and Boniface, despairing of overcoming him by his own forces, resorted to the plan of inviting the Vandals to come to his aid.24

p246 The proposal of Boniface was to divide Africa between himself and the Vandals, for whom he doubtless destined the three Mauretanian provinces, and he undertook to furnish the means of transport.25 Gaiseric accepted the invitation. He fully realised the value of the possession of Africa, which had attracted the ambition of two Gothic kings. The whole nation of the Vandals and Alans embarked in May A.D. 429 and crossed over to Africa.26 If the population numbered, as is said, 80,000, the fighting force might have been about 15,000.27

Their king Gaiseric stands out among the German leaders of his time as unquestionably the ablest. He had not only the military qualities which most of them possessed, but he was also master of a political craft which was rare among the German leaders of the migrations. His ability was so exceptional that his irregular birth — his mother was a slave28 — did not diminish his influence and prestige. We have a description of him, which seems to come from a good source. "Of medium height, lame from a fall ofº his horse, he had a deep mind and was sparing of speech. Luxury he despised, but his anger was uncontrollable and he was covetous. He was far-sighted in inducing foreign peoples to act in his interests, and resourceful in sowing seeds of discord and p247 stirring up hatred."29 All that we know of his long career bears out this suggestion of astute and perfidious diplomacy.

The unhappy population of the Mauretanian regions were left unprotected to the mercies of the invaders, and if we can trust the accounts which have come down to us,30 they seem to have endured horrors such as the German conquerors of this age seldom inflicted upon defenceless provinces. The Visigoths were lambs compared with the Vandal wolves. Neither age nor sex was spared and cruel tortures were applied to force the victims to reveal suspected treasures. The bishops and clergy, the churches and sacred vessels were not spared. We get a glimpse of the situation in the correspondence of St. Augustine. Bishops write to him to ask whether it is right to allow their flocks to flee from the approaching danger and for themselves to abandon their sees.31 The invasion was a signal to other enemies whether of Rome or of the Roman government to join in the fray. The Moors were encouraged in their depredations, and religious heretics and sectaries, especially the Donatists, seized the opportunity to wreak vengeance on the society which oppressed them.32

If Africa was to be saved, it was necessary that the Roman armies should be united, and Placidia immediately took steps to regain the allegiance of Boniface. A reconciliation was effected by the good offices of a certain Darius, of illustrious rank, whom she sent to Africa,33 and he seems also to have concluded a truce with Gaiseric,34 which was, however, of but brief duration, for Boniface's proposals were not accepted. Gaiseric was determined to pillage, if could not conquer, the rich eastern provinces of Africa. He entered Numidia, defeated Boniface, and besieged him in Hippo (May-June A.D. 430). The city held out for more than a year.35 Then Gaiseric raised the siege (July A.D. 431). New p248 forces were sent from Italy and Constantinople under the command of Aspar, the general of Theodosius; a battle was fought, and Aspar and Boniface were so utterly defeated that they could make no further effort to resist the invader. Hippo was taken soon afterwards,36 and the only important towns which held out were Carthage and Cirta.

Boniface returned to Italy, where Placidia received him with favour, and soon afterwards she deposed Aetius, who was consul of the year (A.D. 432), and gave his military command to the repentant rebel, on whom at the same time she conferred the dignity of Patrician.37 Aetius refused to submit. There was civil war in Italy. The rivals fought a battle near Ariminum, in which Boniface was victorious, but he died shortly afterwards from a malady, perhaps caused by a wound.38 His son-in‑law Sebastian was appointed to the vacant post of Master of Both Services,39 but did not hold it long. Aetius escaped to Dalmatia and journeyed to the court of his friend Rugila the king of the Huns. By his help, we know not how, he was able to reappear in Italy, to dictate terms to the court of Ravenna, to secure the banishment of Sebastian, and to obtain for himself reinstatement in his old office and the rank of Patrician (A.D. 434).40

In the meantime, during this obscure struggle for power, the Vandals were extending their conquests in Numidia. In spite of his wonderfully rapid career of success Gaiseric was ready to come to terms with the Empire. Aetius, who was fully occupied in Gaul, where the Visigoths and Burgundians were actively aggressive, saw that the forces at his disposal were unequal to p249 the expulsion of the Vandals, and it was better to share Africa with the intruders than to lose it entirely. Gaiseric probably wished to consolidate his power in the provinces which he had occupied, and knew that any compact he made would not be an obstacle to further conquests. Hippo, from which the inhabitants had fled, seems to have been reoccupied by the Romans,41 and here (February 11, A.D. 435) Trygetius, the ambassador of Valentinian, concluded a treaty with Gaiseric, on the basis of the status quo. The Vandals were to retain the provinces which they had occupied, the Mauretanias and a part of Numidia, but were to pay an annual tribute, thus acknowledging the overlordship of Rome.42

§ 3. End of the Regency and the Ascendancy of Aetius

Aetius had now firmly established his power and Placidia had to resign herself to his guidance. Valentinian was fifteen years of age, and the regency could not last much longer. The presence of the Master of Soldiers was soon demanded in Gaul, where the Visigoths were again bent on new conquests and the Burgundians invaded the province of Upper Belgica (A.D. 435). Against the Burgundians he does not appear to have sent a Roman army; he asked his friends the Huns to chastise them. The Huns knew how to strike. It is said that 20,000 Burgundians were slain, and King Gundahar was one of those who fell (A.D. 436). Thus came to an end the first Burgundian kingdom in Gaul, with its royal residence at Worms. It was the background of the heroic legends which passed into the German epic — the Nibelungenlied. The Burgundians were not exterminated, and a few years later the Roman government assigned territory to the remnant of the nation in Sapaudia (Savoy), south of Lake Geneva (A.D. 443).43

Narbonne was besieged by Theoderic in A.D. 436, but was relieved by Litorius,44 who was probably the Master of Soldiers in Gaul. Three years later the same commander drove the p250 Goths back to the walls of their capital Toulouse, and it is interesting to find him gratifying his Hun soldiers by the performance of pagan rites and the consultation of auspices. These ceremonies did not help him. He was defeated and taken prisoner in a battle outside the city.45 Avitus, the Praetorian Prefect of Gaul, who had great influence with Theoderic, then brought about the conclusion of peace. In these years there were also troubles in the provinces north of the Loire,46 where the Armoricans rebelled, and Aetius or his lieutenant Litorius was compelled to reimpose upon them the "liberty" of Imperial rule.

In A.D. 437 Aetius was consul for the second time, and in that year Valentinian went to Constantinople to wed his affianced bride, Licinia Eudoxia. Now assuredly, if not before, the regency was at an end, and henceforward Aetius had to do in all high affairs not with the Empress who distrusted and disliked him but with an inexperienced youth. Valentinian was weak and worthless. He had been spoiled by his mother, and grown up to be a man of pleasure who took no serious interest in his Imperial duties. He associated, we are told, with astrologers and sorcerers, and was constantly engaged in amours with other men's wives, though his own wife was exceptionally beautiful.47 He had some skill in riding and in archery and was a good runner, if we may believe Flavius Vegetius Renatus, who dedicated to him a treatise on the art of war.48 From the end of the regency p251 to his own death, Aetius was master of the Empire in the west, and it must be imputed to his policy and arms that Imperial rule did not break down in all the provinces by the middle of the fifth century.

Of his work during these critical years we have no history. We know little more than what we can infer from some bald notices in chronicles written by men who selected their facts without much discrimination. If we possessed the works of the court poet of the time we might know more, for even from the few fragments which have survived we learn facts unrecorded elsewhere. The Spaniard, Flavius Merobaudes, did for Valentinian and Aetius what Claudian had done for Honorius and Stilicho, though with vastly inferior talent. Like Claudian, he enjoyed the honour having a bronze statue erected to him at Rome, in the Forum of Trajan.49 His name was known and appreciated at the court of Constantinople, for Theodosius conferred upon him the rank of patrician.50

He celebrated the three consulships of Aetius,51 and we have part of a poem which he wrote for the second birthday of the general's younger son Gaudentius.52 We may be as certain as of anything that has not been explicitly recorded, that he wrote an ode for the nuptials of Valentinian and Eudoxia, and it is little less probable that he celebrated the birth of their elder child Eudocia, who was born in A.D. 438. But of all the poems he composed for the court only two have partly been preserved, both composed soon after the birth of the Emperor's younger daughter Placidia.53 One of these is a description of mosaic pictures in a room in the Palace of Ravenna, representing scenes from the Emperor's life. He and Eudoxia shone in the centre of the ceiling like bright stars, and all around were scenes in p252 which he appeared with his mother, his sister, his children, and his cousin Theodosius.54

Like another more famous man of letters, his younger contemporary Sidonius, Merobaudes was called upon to fill a high office and to assist Aetius in the work of maintaining order in the provinces. We are told that he was appointed Master of Both Services and went to his native province of Baetica to suppress a rebellion of turbulent peasants (bacaudae), that he successfully accomplished this task but was recalled to Rome through the machination of his enemies (A.D. 443). His immediate predecessor in the command had been his father-in‑law, Asturius.55

It must not be thought that Asturius and Merobaudes, in bearing the title "Master of Both Services," had succeeded to the post of Aetius and were supreme commanders of the army. Aetius had not resigned the supreme command; he was still Master of Both Services. The command which Asturius and Merobaudes held, and which Sigisvult had held two years before,56 was simply that of the magister equitum praesentalis under a new name. Under Stilicho, Constantius, and Felix the magister equitum had been subordinate to the magister utriusque militiae, and this arrangement undoubtedly continued still, but some time before A.D. 440 he received the same title as his superior, doubtless because it was found convenient to place legions as well as cavalry under his command. The superior Master of Both Services, the Emperor's principal statesman and director of affairs, is from this time forward generally designated as "the Patrician" — the Emperor's Patrician, the Patrician in a superlative sense.57

p253 The position of Aetius in these years as the supreme minister was confirmed by the betrothal of his son to the Emperor's daughter Placidia,58 an arrangement which can hardly have been welcome to Galla Placidia, the Augusta. With Valentinian himself he can hardly have been on intimate terms. The fact that he had supported the tyrant John was probably never forgiven. And it cannot have been agreeable to the young Emperor that it was found necessary to curtail his income and rob his privy purse in order to help the State in its financial straits.59 Little revenue could come from Africa, suffering from the ravages of the Vandals, and in A.D. 439, as we shall see, the richest provinces of that country passed into the hands of the barbarians.

The income derived from Gaul must have been very considerably reduced, and we are not surprised to find the government openly acknowledging in A.D. 444 that "the strength of our treasury is unable to meet the necessary expenses." In that year two new taxes were imposed, one on the senatorial class, and one on sales, expressly for the purpose of maintaining the army. New recruits were urgently wanted, and there was not enough money in the treasury to feed and clothe the existing regiments. Senators of illustrious rank were required to furnish the money for maintaining three soldiers, senators of the second class one, senators of the third one-third; that meant 90, 30, and 10 solidi respectively, as the annual cost of a soldier was estimated at 30.60 A duty of 1/24th was imposed on sales — a siliqua in a solidus — of which the seller and the buyer each paid half.61 The government would have done better if it had forced the rich senators of Italy to contribute substantial sums, as they could well have afforded to do, to the needs of the State.62

p254 § 4. Settlement of the Vandals in Africa (A.D. 435‑442)

The treaty of A.D. 435 was soon violated by Gaiseric. He did not intend to stop short of the complete conquest of Roman Africa. In less than five years Carthage was taken (October 19, A.D. 439).63 If there was any news that could shock or terrify men who remembered that twenty years before Rome herself had been in the hands of the Goths, it was the news that an enemy was in possession of the city which in long past ages had been her most formidable rival. Italy trembled, for with a foe master of Carthage she felt that her own shores and cities were not safe. And, in fact, not many months passed before it was known that Gaiseric had a large fleet prepared to sail, but its destination was unknown.64 Rome and Naples were put into a state of defence;65 Sigisvult, Master of Soldiers, took steps to guard the coasts; Aetius and his army were summoned from Gaul; and the Emperor Theodosius prepared to send help.66 There was indeed some reason for alarm at Constantinople. The Vandal pirates could afflict the eastern as well as the western coasts of the Mediterranean; the security of commerce was threatened. It was even thought advisable to fortify the shore and harbours of Constantinople.

Gaiseric, aware that Italy was prepared, directed his attack upon Sicily, where he laid siege to Panormus.67 This city defied p255 him, but it is possible, though not certain, that he occupied Lilybaeum.68 His fleet, however, returned to Africa, perhaps on account of the considerable preparations which were on foot at Constantinople.69 The government of Theodosius had made ready a large naval squadron which sailed in the following year (A.D. 441), with the purpose of delivering Carthage from the Vandals.70 The expedition arrived in Sicily, and Gaiseric was alarmed. He opened negotiations, pending which the Imperial fleet remained in Sicilian waters. These diplomatic conversations were protracted by the craft of Gaiseric, and in the meantime an invasion of the Huns compelled Theodosius to recall his forces. The Emperors were thus constrained to make a disadvantageous peace.

By the treaty of A.D. 442 Africa was divided anew between the two powers. This division nearly reversed that of A.D. 435, and was far more advantageous to the Vandals. The Empire retained the provinces of Tripolitania, Mauretania Sitifensis, Mauretania Caesariensis, and part of Numidia; while the Vandals were acknowledged masters of the rest of that province, of Byzacena, and of the Proconsular province or Zeugitana.71 Mauretania Tingitana was probably not mentioned in the treaty.72 It was part of the diocese of Spain, not of the diocese of Africa, and it is probable that the Vandals never occupied it effectively. In any case it now belonged to the Empire, which, since the departure of the Vandals, had been in possession of all Spain, except the Suevian kingdom in the north-western corner.

This settlement was an even greater blow to the Empire p256 than that which necessity had imposed upon Constantius of settling the Visigoths in Aquitaine. The fairest provinces of Africa were resigned to barbarians who had an even worse reputation than the Goths. But it was worth while to attempt to secure that the settlement, such as it was, should be permanent. Aetius saw that the best policy was to cultivate good relations with Gaiseric and to give that ambitious and unscrupulous monarch no pretext for attacking Sicily, or Sardinia, or Italy itself. And so he prevailed upon Valentinian to consent to a betrothal between his elder daughter, Eudocia, and Gaiseric's son, Huneric. It is probable that this arrangement was considered at the time of the treaty, though it may not have been definitely decided.73 But Huneric was already married. The Visigothic king Theoderic had bestowed upon him his daughter's hand. Such an alliance between Vandals and Goths could not have been welcome to Aetius; it was far more in the interest of his policy to keep alive the hostility between these two peoples which seems to have dated from the campaigns of Wallia in Spain. The existence of the Gothic wife was no hindrance to Gaiseric, and a pretext for repudiating her was easily found. She was accused of having plotted to poison him.74 She was punished by the mutilation of her ears and nose, and in this plight she was sent back to her father. The incident meant undying enmity between Visigoth and Vandal. Theoderic soon sought a new ally by marrying another daughter to Rechiar, king of the Suevians (A.D. 449).75 Huneric was free to contract a more dazzling matrimonial alliance with an Imperial princess.

We are not informed whether in the treaty of A.D. 442 any provision was made for supplying Italy with the cornº of Africa on which the Romans had subsisted for centuries. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we may safely assume that, throughout the duration of the Vandal kingdom, the surplus of the corn production of Africa was consumed as of old in p257 Italy (except, perhaps, in the few years in which there were open hostilities); only now instead of being a tribute it was an export.76 It was obviously to the interest of the Vandal proprietors to send the grain they did not want to Italian markets.

The Vandals themselves settled in Zeugitana, and made Carthage their capital. They appropriated the lands of the proprietors in this province, who, unless they migrated elsewhere, were probably degraded to the position of serfs. The Vandals, as Arians, had from the very beginning assumed a definitely hostile attitude to the Catholic creed. When Carthage was taken the Catholic clergy were banished, and all the churches of the city were given up to Arian worship. The independent attitude of the Vandals towards the Empire is reflected in their adopting a chronological era of their own, beginning on October 19, A.D. 439, the date of the capture of Carthage.

It is to be observed that the Vandals now held a position of vantage in regard to the Empire that none of the other Teutonic nations ever occupied. In relation to the foreign peoples of northern Europe, the front of the Roman Empire was the Rhine and the Danube. And so we may say that the Vandals had come round to the back of the Empire and were able to attack it from behind. Another exceptional feature in their position was that, in the language of a chronicler, the sea was made pervious to them: they created a fleet of small light cruisers and attacked the Empire by sea, as no other Teutonic people had done or was to do in the Mediterranean, though the Saxons and other men of the north used ships to harry it in the northern and western oceans. Thus they were able to follow in the track of the Carthaginians of old, and extend their dominion over the western islands.

Till after the death of Valentinian (A.D. 455) the naval expeditions of the Vandals seem to have been simply piratical,77 p258 though Gaiseric may have definitely formed the design of conquering Sicily. But soon after that year he seems to have occupied without resistance the two Mauretanian provinces which the Empire had retained under the treaty of A.D. 442, and to have annexed Sardinia, Corsica, and the Balearic Islands.78 Sicily itself was to pass somewhat later under his dominion.

The military and diplomatic successes of Gaiseric encouraged and enabled him to encroach on the liberties of his people. Among all the ancient Germanic peoples, the sovran power resided in the assembly of the folk, and in the case of those which formed permanent states on Imperial soil, like the Franks and the Visigoths, it was only by degrees that the kings acquired great but not absolute power. In the Vandal state alone the free constitution was succeeded by an autocracy, without any intermediate stages. The usurpation by the king of unconstitutional powers occasioned a conspiracy of the nobles, and it was bloodily suppressed.79 The old aristocracy seems to have been superseded by a new nobility who owed their position, not to birth, but to appointments in the royal service. It is probable that the assembly of the folk ceased to meet. Before his death Gaiseric issued a law regulating the succession to the throne,80 thus depriving the people of the right of election, and the royal authority was so firmly established that his will was apparently accepted without demur. By this law the kingship was treated as a personal inheritance and was confined to Gaiseric's male descendants, of whom the eldest was always to succeed.

p259 The policy of Gaiseric differed entirely from that of the Goths in Gaul. He aimed at establishing a kingdom which should be free, so far as possible, from Roman influence, and he saw that, for this purpose, it was necessary above all to guard jealously the Arian faith of his people, and not expose them to the danger of being led away by the propaganda of the Catholics. He was therefore aggressively Arian, and persecuted the Catholic clergy.81 He imposed the Arian creed on all persons who were in his own immediate environment. After the capture of Carthage he seized the Donatist bishop Quodvultdeus and other clergy, set them on board old and untrustworthy ships, and committed them to the mercy of the sea. They reached Italy safely. Throughout the proconsular province the bishops were expelled from their sees and stripped of their property. It was not till A.D. 454 that a new bishop was allowed to be ordained at Carthage, and some churches were reopened for Catholic worship. But after the death of Deogratias, at the end of three years, the old rigorous suppression was renewed; the sees were left vacant throughout the province, and the priests were forced to surrender their books and sacred vessels. The monasteries, however, were not suppressed. And the persecution was not general or ubiquitous. Particular persons were singled out and dealt with by the express order of the king. He did not give a free hand to his officers, and there were probably few cases of death or personal violence.

It was no less important for the ends of Gaiseric's policy to eliminate the power of the senatorial aristocracy. He did this by such drastic measures that a contemporary chronicler observed, "It is impossible to say whether his hostility to men or to God was the more bitter." He deprived of their domains the nobles of the proconsular province, and told them to betake themselves elsewhere. They were not to be suffered to remain lords of the soil to organise an opposition to the king, and gradually to recover political influence under his successors. If they remained in the land they were threatened with perpetual slavery. After the capture of Carthage most of the senators had been compelled to leave the shores of Africa, some sailing to Italy, p260 others to the East.82 In the other parts of his realm Gaiseric does not appear to have adopted such extreme measures. He deemed it sufficient to make the royal capital and the central province safe.

§ 5. Ravenna

The Empress Galla Placidia, who had been supreme ruler in the west for about ten years, and for fifteen more had probably exercised some influence on the direction of affairs, died at Rome in A.D. 450.83 But her memory will always be associated with Ravenna, where the Imperial court generally resided84 and where she was buried in the mausoleum which she had built to receive her ashes.

Honorius had done one memorable thing which altered the course of history. He made the fortune of Ravenna. To escape the dangers of the German invasions he had moved his government and court from Milan to the retired city of the marshes, which amid its lagoons and islands could defy an enemy more confidently than any other city in the peninsula, and, as events proved, could hardly be captured except by a maritime blockade. Before Augustus it had been an obscure provincial town, noted chiefly for its want of fresh water, but had served as a useful refuge to Caesar before he crossed the Rubicon. Augustus had chosen it to be a naval station, and had supplied it with a good harbour, Classis, three miles from the town, with which he connected it by a solid causeway across the lagoons. But nothing seemed more unlikely than that it should overshadow Milan and vie with Rome as the leading city of Italy. Through the act of Honorius, which though conceived in fear turned out to be an act of good policy, Ravenna became the home of emperors, kings, and viceroys, and throughout the vicissitudes of four centuries of crowded history was a name almost as familiar as Rome itself in the European world.

Ravenna has no natural amenities. Here are the impressions the place produced on a visitor from Gaul not many years after p261 Placidia's death.85 "The Po divides the city, part flowing through, part round the place. It is diverted from its main bed by the State dykes, and is thence led in diminished volume through derivative channels, the two halves so disposed that one encompasses and moats the walls, the other penetrates and brings them trade — an admirable arrangement for commerce in general, and that of provisions in particular. But the drawback is that, with water all about us, we could not quench our thirst; there was neither pure-flowing aqueduct, nor filterable cistern, nor trickling source, nor unclouded well. On the one side the salt tides assail the gates; on the other, the movement of vessels stirs the filthy sediment in the canals, or the sluggish flow is fouled by the bargemen's poles, piercing the bottom slime." "In that marsh the laws of everything are always the wrong way about; the waters stand and the walls fall, the towers float and the ships stick fast, the sick man walks and the doctor lies abed, the baths are chill and the houses blaze, the dead swim and the quick are dry, the powers are asleep and the thieves wide awake, the clergy live by usury and the Syrian chants the psalms, business-men turn soldiers and soldiers business-men, old fellows play ball and young fellows hazard, eunuchs take to arms and rough allies to letters."

In this description the writer remarks the presence of the Syrian, a familiar figure to him in the cities of southern Gaul. But it was not only oriental traders whom the new Imperial residence attracted. It is probable that artistic craftsmen from Syria and Anatolia came to embellish the city of Honorius and Placidia, and to teach their craft to native artists. For it is difficult otherwise to explain the oriental inspiration which so conspicuously distinguishes the Ravennate school of art that it has been described as "half-Syrian."86

It was indeed in the artistic works with which its successive rulers enriched it that the great attraction of Ravenna lay and still lies. Many of these monuments have perished, but many have been preserved, and they show vividly the development of Christian art in Italy in the fifth and sixth centuries, under the auspices of Placidia, Theoderic, and Justinian, under the influence of the East. Brick was generally the material of p262 these buildings, but their unimpressive exterior appearance was compensated by the rich decoration inside and the brilliant mosaics which shone on the walls. Ravenna is the city of mosaics. At Rome we have from the fourth and early fifth centuries fine examples of this form of pictorial art in the churches of S. Costanza and S. Pudenziana and S. Maria Maggiore,87 but at Ravenna, in the days of Placidia, the art of painting with coloured cubes seems to enter upon a new phase and achieve more brilliant effects.88

No trace remains of the Imperial palace of the Laurelwood, but the churches of St. John the Evangelist and St. Agatha, the Oratory of St. Peter Chrysologus,89 the Baptistery, and the little chapel dedicated to SS. Nazarius and Celsus which was built to receive the sarcophagi of the Imperial family, are all monuments of the epoch of Placidia.90 The basilica of St. John was the accomplishment of a vow which the Empress had made to the saint when she and her two children were in peril of shipwreck on the Hadriatic.91 The story of their experiences was p263 depicted on the pavement and the walls, but all the original decorations of the church have perished.92 The Baptistery may have been begun in the lifetime of Placidia, but appears not to have been completed till after her death by the archbishop Neon. It is an octagonal building, with two tiers of round arches springing from columns, inside, crowned by a hemispherical dome, of which it has been observed that "the ancient world affords no instance of so wide a vault constructed of tapering tubes."93 The mosaics of the Baptistery and of Placidia's mausoleum have been wonderfully well preserved. The mausoleum, constructed about A.D. 440, is in the form of a small Latin cross, of which the centre is surmounted by a square tower closed by a conical dome.94 Here the artist in mosaics has achieved a signal triumph in the harmonious effects of his colours. The cupola is a heaven of exquisite blue, dotted with golden stars and arabesques, and in the midst a great cross of gold. Above the door and facing it are two pictures, one perhaps of St. Laurence, the other of the Good Shepherd, but not the simple Shepherd of the Catacombs, bearing a sheep on his shoulder.95 Here he is seated on a rock in a meadow where six sheep are feeding, his tunic is golden, his cloak purple, his head, which suggests that of a Greek god, is surrounded by a golden halo.

Into this charming chapel Placidia removed the remains of her brother Honorius and her husband Constantius, and it was her own resting-place. The marble sarcophagus of Honorius is on the right, that of Constantius, in which the body of Valentinian III was afterwards laid, on the left. Her own sarcophagus of alabaster stands behind the altar, and her embalmed body in Imperial robes seated on a chair of cypress wood could be seen through a hole in the back till A.D. 1577, when all the contents p264 of the tomb were accidentally burned through the carelessness of children.96

The coins of the Empress show a conventional face, like those of her daughter and of the other Imperial ladies of the age. They do not portray her actual features, nor can we form any very distinct impression of her appearance from a gold medallion of which two specimens are preserved.97


The Author's Notes:

1 Flavius Constantius Felix was consul in 428, and we have portraits of him on the two leaves of his consular diptych. See Gori, Thes. I p129. For a dedicatory inscription, in fulfilment of a vow, by him and his wife Padusia, see de Rossi, II.1, p149: Dessau, 1293. To Felix we must attribute the reorganisation of the defences of the Danubian provinces in A.D. 427‑428 (for which we find evidence in the Not. dig.; see Seeck, Hermes, XI.75 sqq.), after the Huns restored Valeria, see below, Chap. IX § 2 ad init.

2 Aetius was born at Durostorum (Silistria).

3 This fact is known from Merobaudes, Carm. IV.46 sqq.:

uix puberibus pater sub annis

obiectus Geticis puer cateruis,

bellorum mora, foederis sequester,

intentas Latio faces remouit

ac mundi pretium fuit pauentis;

and Pan. II.129. The occasion may have been in 405‑406, or perhaps after the first siege of Rome in 408. Cp. above, p180, n3.

4 Renatus Profuturus Frigeridus, in Gregory of Tours, H. Fr. II.9. Mommsen, in his brief sketch of the career of Aetius, regards him as overrated (Hist. Schr. I.531 sqq.).

5 Heroum suboles, Merobaudes, op. cit.; Sidonius Apoll. Paneg. in Maior. 126 sq. Her father's name was Carpilio.

6 Priscus, fr. 3 (De leg. Rom. p128); Cassiodorus, Var. I.4.11.

7 We are only told that Placidia conferred on him the title of count (Philostorgius, XII.14). For the new post of mag. eq. per Gallias see Bury, The Not. dig. (J. R. S. X).

8 Prosper, sub 425; Chron. Gall. p658. A success won in 430 over Gothic forces near Arles, mentioned by Hydatius, 92, may be the battle of Mons Colubrarius recorded by Merobaudes, Pan. 1.10 (Vollmer, ad loc.).

9 Schmidt (op. cit. I.235) has adduced arguments for this view — among others the fact that Theoderic made laws affecting relations between Goths and provincials (referred to in Euric's Code: Leg. Vis. ant. 277, cp. Sidonius Apoll. Epp. II.1). He holds that in 453, after the accession of Theoderic II, the Goths again became foederati of the Empire (ib. 252). But what exactly happened, how the legal position was changed he leaves very vague — inevitably, as there is no clear evidence.

10 Hélesmes (Nord).º The source is Sidonius Apoll. Carm. V.212 sqq. Cp. Prosper, sub a. It is hardly to this campaign of Aetius that Merobaudes refers when he says (Pan. II.6 sq.) that the Rhine —

Hesperiis flecti contentus habenis

gaudet ab alterna Thybrim sibi crescere ripa,

words which point to some pacification of the Middle Rhine, apparently an arrangement with the Ripuarian Franks between Cologne and Mayence, the two rivers alluded to being the Moselle and the Main, and probably made at a later date.

11 See Greg. Tur. H. Fr. II.9. His source was no doubt a Frank legend, and its historical value might be doubted, were it not borne out, so far as Chlodio's aggressive policy is concerned, by the incident related by Sidonius (last note).

12 The brief notices we have of these events only excite our curiosity. Prosper says that Felix was created a Patrician and succeeded by Aetius in 429, and was slain by Aetius on suspicion of treachery in 430 along with his wife Padusia. John Ant. (fr. 85, De ins. p126) says that Felix was suborned by Placidia to kill Aetius. Hydatius (94) says that Felix was killed in a military riot.

13 In 430 and 431 Aetius was occupied in pacifying the Danubian provinces, Vindelicia (Sidon. Apoll. Carm. VII.234), Raetia (ib. 233, Hydatius 93, Chron. Gall. p658), Noricum (Hydatius 93, 95, Sidon. ib.).

14 For the difficult questions connected with the Vandal invasion of Africa and the part played by Boniface the most important modern discussions are those of Freeman, op. cit.; Schmidt, in Geschichte der Wandalen; Martroye, in Genséric.

15 This remained the official style of all the Vandal kings in Africa.

16 Hydatius, 86, 89.

17 Cp. Martroye, Genséric, p103.

18 For his adhesion to Placidia see above, p223. He seems to have gone to Ravenna immediately after the restoration and to have received the additional dignity of comes domesticorum. Cp. Augustine, Ep. 220 § 4 nauigasti. See Seeck, Bonifacius, in P.‑W.

19 Ib. Her name was Pelagia, Marcellinus, Chron., sub 432. There is no positive evidence for the opinion of Baronius that she was a relative of the Vandal king (Ann. ecc., sub 427).

20 Augustine, ib. § 7. Prosper, sub 427. Bonifatio cuius intra Africam potentia gloriaque augebatur. He seems to have enjoyed a high military reputation (Olympiodorus, fr. 42), but the only exploit recorded, before his campaigns in Africa against the Moors (of which we know no details), is his defence of Marseilles against Visigoths in A.D. 413.

21 Prosper, loc. cit. Procopius (B.V. I.3) makes Aetius act the perfidious part of instigating the Empress against Boniface, and at the same time secretly advising Boniface to defy her. But Aetius was at this time almost certainly in Gaul. Cp. Freeman, op. cit. p337.

22 Prosper, loc. cit.

23 Cp. Augustine, Collatio cum Maximino, P. L. 42.709; Possidius, Vit. Aug. c17. Maximin was an Arian bishop who had come with Sigisvult.

24 Prosper, loc. cit., places the calling of the Vandals in 427 before the arrival of Sigisvult: exinde gentibus quae uti navibus nesciebant, dum a concertantibus in auxilium vocantur, mare pervium factum est, bellique contra Bonifatium coepti in Segisvultum comitem cura translata est. The story in Procopius, B. V. I.3 enables us to interpret the vague plural a concertantibus as referring to Boniface. I follow Martroye (op. cit. p87) in supposing that Boniface turned to the Vandals after the coming of Sigisvult. But it is of course possible that he took this step when the news (p246) reached him that the expedition was being prepared. The invitation of Boniface is also recorded by Jordanes, Get. 167, 169 (following Cassiodorus).

25 Procopius, loc. cit., where it is said that a tripartite division was contemplated between Boniface, Gunderic, and Gaiseric. This would imply that Gunderic died after Boniface's negotiations began.

26 Hydatius, 90. It is stated here that before he crossed to Africa, Gaiseric led an expedition against the Suevians who were plundering in Baetica or neighbouring regions. Martroye (p106) argues from this that Gaiseric intended to leave the non-combatant population in their Spanish home until his success in Africa was assured; that he was ready to start in 428, and that the Suevian invasion forced him to postpone his departure till 429; and that as a matter of fact the mass of the Vandals remained in Spain till after the capture of Carthage, when the Visigoths conquered the country (Cassiodorus, Chron., sub 427, a Gothis exclusa de Hispaniis). This hypothesis runs counter to the evidence. Hydatius, ib., says that the Vandals embarked "with their families," and so Victor Vitensis, Hist. Vand. I.1. The notice in Cassiodorus might have some importance if it were under a later year. As we know nothing of the circumstances, we have no means of conjecturing why Gaiseric found it imperative to attack the Suevians at this juncture. And in any case the natural inference from the notice of Hydatius is that the defeat of the Suevians belongs to 429.

27 Victor Vit. op. cit. I.2. This is to be preferred to the statement of Procopius, B. V. I.5. See Schmidt, Gesch. der Wandalen, p37, and B.Z. XV.620‑621. Cp. also Martroye, op. cit. p104. The reason for numbering the people before the migration from Spain to Africa was obviously to find out how many vessels would be needed, and non-combatants as well as combatants had to be transported.

28 Sidonius Apoll. Carm. 57 famula satus. Cp. Procopius, B. V. I.3.

29 Jordanes, Get. 168 (after Cassiodorus).

30 Possidius, Vit. August. 28, Victor Vit. op. cit. I.1‑3.

31 Augustine, Ep. 228. Augustine said that the bishop should let the people flee, but not abandon his post, so long as his presence was needed.

32 See Martroye, op. cit. 113. The devastation is described in general terms in a letter addressed by the bishop of Carthage to the Council of Ephesus in summer of 431 (Mansi, IV.1207).

33 See Augustine's letter to Darius, congratulating him on his success, Ep. 229; the reply of Darius, Ep. 230; and Augustine's answer, Ep. 231. Boniface seems to have given Darius a hostage, pignus pacis, Ep. 229.1 and 231.7, who was probably the Verimodus of 230.6.

34 Ep. 229.2 ipsa bella verbo occidere, to which Darius replies (230.3) si non extinximus bella, certe distulimus.

35 For the siege see Possidius, Vit. August. Augustine died at the beginning of the siege (August 28, A.D. 430).

36 Possidius, c28. Aspar seems to have remained in Africa for some time. He was the western consul in 434 and was at that time in Carthage (Lib. de permissionibus, P. L. 51, 841). See above, p225.

37 See Consularia Italica, p301.

38 Cp. Hyd. 99 with Prosper, sub 432. If John Ant., ib., says that Boniface was out-generalled by Aetius, this may be taken to mean that Aetius succeeded in the end. The common source of John Ant. and Procopius may have been Priscus.

39 Hyd. ib.

40 See Prosper, ib., Chron. Gall., sub 433, from which source we learn that "Goths were summoned by the Romans to bring aid" against the Huns. Hydatius, 103. Sebastian found a refuge at Constantinople, where he remained for ten years (Hyd. 104, 129), and he is said to have been the commander of a pirate squadron which served Theodosius II (see Suidas, sub Θεοδόσιος, a fragment ascribed by Niebuhr to Priscus, by Müller to John Ant., F.H.G. IV. fr. 194). Falling out of favour in A.D. 444 he went to the court of Theoderic the Visigoth, who would not receive him. Then he managed to seize Barcelona. Driven from there he went to the Vandals, and was put to death by Gaiseric (A.D. 450, Hyd. 144), and has come down to fame as a Catholic martyr.

41 Cp. Martroye, p128.

42 Prosper, sub a. 435. Cp. Isidore, Hist. Vandalorum, in Chron min. II. p297. Procopius, B. V. I.4. The king's son Huneric was sent as a hostage to Rome, but was soon released (apparently before 439).

43 Chron. Gall. p660; Prosper, sub 435; Sidonius Apoll. Carm. VII.234. The number of 20,000 is of course an exaggeration.

44 Sidonius, ib. 244 sqq. Cp. Merobaudes, Pan. I.9, l. 23; Pan. II., l. 16.

45 Merobaudes, Pan. II.153 sqq.; Hydatius, 116, 117; Sidonius, ib. 299 sqq.

46 John Ant. fr. 201.2 (source probably Priscus); Merobaudes, Pan. II.8:

lustrat Aremoricos iam mitior incola saltus;

Sidonius, Carm. V.210, mentions the defence of alarmed Tours, and VII.246 relates that Litorius having subdued the Armoricans hurried his troops against the Goths. This suggests 438‑439 as the date. There was another Armorican rebellion in 442; Aetius sent Goar, the veteran chief of the Alans now settled near Orleans, to punish the rebels, and Germanus bishop of Auxerre went to Ravenna to plead the Armorican cause. See Constantius, Vita Germani, II. c8, and Chron. Gall., ib.

47 Procopius, B. V. I.3.10. Perhaps the source was Priscus.

48 Epitome rei militaris, III.26. This treatise throws little light on the warfare of the writer's own time. It is mainly antiquarian, and there are few references to contemporary conditions. The fleet of lusoriae guarding the Danube is mentioned (IV.46). The disuse of coats of mail and helmets is noted, and frequent defeats of Imperial forces by Gothic archers are attributed to this (I.20). Vegetius also says that the art of naval warfare is now less important than formerly quia iamdudum pacato mari cum barbaris nationibus agitur terrestre certamen, a remark which points to the conclusion that the book was composed before 440 when the Vandal navy began to show what it could do. That the Emperor to whom the book is dedicated was Valentinian was conjectured by Gibbon and virtually proved by Seeck (in Hermes, XI.61 sqq.).

49 CIL VI.1724, Sidonius Carm. IX.296. It was set up in A.D. 435, and he refers to it in his prose work on the second consulship of Aetius, written in 437. Pan. I.8. From this inscription we learn that he had seen some service as a soldier: inter arma litteris militabat et in Alpibus acuebat eloquium. In another, but fragmentary, inscription (CIL VI.31983), his name appears as Flavius Merobaudes orator.

50 Ib. p9 pro his denique nuper ad honorem maximi nomen ille nascenti soli proximus imperator euexit (rightly explained by Vollmer).

51 That he celebrated the first is a probable inference, see Vollmer, p20. We have parts of his oration on the second, and his poem on the third (Pan. II).

52 Carm. IV. Gaudentius was probably born about 440.

53 Carm. I. II. As Placidia was already married to Olybrius when she was taken to Carthage in 455 (see below, p325) she can hardly have been born later than in 440.

54 See Bury, Justa Grata Honoria (see Bibl.).º

55 Our informant is the contemporary Spanish writer Hydatius (128), and his statement as to the office held by Asturius is confirmed by the consular diptych of that personage (A.D. 440), on which he is described as ex mag. utriusq. mil. See Meyer, Zwei ant. Elfenb. p56.

56 Valentinian III, Nov. 6.1 and Nov. 9 (March and June A.D. 440).

57 Id. Nov. 9, patricium nostrum Aetium. Cp. John Ant. fr. 84 (De ins. p126) τῆς πατρικιότητος. So in Cons. Ital. p305 Messianus, patricius Aviti. That Aetius continued to hold the Mastership is shown by Val. III Nov. 17 (A.D. 445). In A.D. 446 the subordinate master was Vitus, who was sent to Spain against the Suevians who were ravaging the southern and eastern provinces.— A different view is taken by Sundwall (in Weströmische Studien), who thinks that Asturius, Merobaudes, and Vitus were Masters of Soldiers in Gaul. They did not operate in Gaul but in Spain, and were surely sent direct from Italy with Italian troops, so that it seems perverse not to regard them as the successors (p253) of Sigisvult. The magistri equitum in Gaul had indeed a mixed command, but the first of them who certainly bore the title mag. ped. et equit. or mag. utr. mil. was Avitus in 455 (Sidonius, Carm. VII.377). Cassius is described as mag. militum Galliarum in Vita Hilarii, 6, 9, P. L. 50, but this may mean no more than mag. equit.— At a later date, we find beside Ricimer a second mag. utr. mil. in Italy, namely Flavius Theodobius Valila, in A.D. 471 (see CIL VI.32169, 32221).

58 Prosper, sub 454. The son of Aetius was doubtless Gaudentius, and the princess must have been Placidia, as Eudoxia was betrothed to Huneric (see below, p256).

59 C. Th. XI.1.36, A.D. 431. In later years the necessity was more imperative. For the condition of Africa see Nov. Valent. XII, XIII, and I.1.

60 Nov. Valent. VI.3.

61 Nov. Valent. XV.

62 Sundwall, Weström. Studien, 158. He calculates that the state revenue from the land tax c. A.D. 450 was at most £4,800,000, as compared with 13 millions fifty years before. Whatever (p254) may be thought about his figures, the proportion of the decline is hardly overstated. In this work Sundwall also illustrates the growing distinction between the highest senatorial class (illustres), and the two lower classes, and argues that while the members of the Roman senate in 400 were about 3000, in 450 they were about 2000. He pertinently points out that out of the not very large amounts which the senators paid in taxes, many of them got much back in the salaries of the high posts (Prefectures, etc.) to which they were appointed.

63 Prosper, sub a.

64 Satis incertum est ad quam oram terrae possint naves hostium pervenire. Valentinian, Nov. 9 (June 24, A.D. 440).

65 Naples: for I think that we should refer to this year the following inscription found there (CIL X.1485): d.n. Placidus Valentinianus providentissimus omnium retro principum, salvo adque concordi d.n. Fl. Theodosio invictissimo Aug. ad decus nominis sui Neapolitanam civitatem, ad omnes terra marique incursus expositam et nulla securitate gaudentem, ingenti labore adque sumptu muris turribusq. munivit.

66 Ib. All these preparations are announced in this constitution, addressed to the Roman people, and intended to calm their fears. The Emperor had come to Rome before March 3, where steps were being taken to repair the walls (Nov. 3).

67 He is said to have been invited by Maximin, bishop of the Arian communities in Sicily (Cassiodorus, Chron., sub 440), and he persecuted the Catholics while he was in the island (Hydatius, 120).

68 Cp. Pope Leo I, Ep. 3 (P. L. 54.606); Martroye, p132.

69 Prosper, sub 440, ascribes his return to danger from the threat of an attack on Carthage by Sebastian (the son-in‑law of Boniface), invading Africa ab Hispania. Sebastian seems to have been in the service of Theodosius. Cp. above, p248.

70 The Imperial fleet was under three generals, Areobindus, Ansila, and Germanus (Prosper, sub 441). Theophanes is evidently referring to the same expedition sub A.M. 5942 = A.D. 448‑449. He says that the fleet of transports numbered 1100 (which has a suspicious resemblance to the number of Leo's armada in A.D. 468), and adds the names of two other generals.

71 The sources for this division are Valentinian III, Nov. 33 and Nov. 18; Victor Vit. I.4.

72 The words of Victor, Byzacenam Abaritanam atque Getuliam, are obscure. Getulia seems to be the southern districts of Byzacena. The exact meaning of Abaritana (cp. Plin. N. H. XVI.36, 172) is unknown. It seems to be a district of the Proconsular province, as we find among bishops of that province in the reign of Huneric Felix abaritanus (Notitia prov. et civ. Afr. p63). Schmidt (Gesch. der W. 72) thinks Tingitana is meant, but this has not the least plausibility. Cp. Martroye, 135‑136.

73 It was prior to 446, the year of the third consulship of Aetius, for Merobaudes refers to it in his poem on that occasion, Pan. II.27 sqq.:

nunc hostem exutus pactis proprioribus

Romanam uincire fidem Latiosque parentes

adnumerare sibi sociamque intexere prolem.

In an earlier poem of Merobaudes (Carm. I.17) the future marriage of the child princess is touched on.

74 Jordanes, Get. 184.

75 Hydatius, who mentions that in the same year he helped his son-in‑law to capture Ilerda (140, 142).

76 A certain amount could be requisitioned in the old way from the Mauretanias so long as they remained in Roman hands. We may wonder how the African shipping corporations, whose offices are to be seen in the great square north of the theatre at Ostia (cp. Ashby, "Recent Excavations at Ostia," J. R. S. II. (1912) 180), were affected by the changed circumstances.

77 These depredations, which extended to the Aegean, are mentioned, A.D. 457, by Nestorius, Book of Heraclides, p331: "Sicily, Rhodes, and many other great islands with Rome itself." Rome, however, was (p258) not attacked till 455. Other sources mention raids in Greece and southern Italy after 457 (Procopius, B. V. I.5; Victory Vit. Hist. pers. I.51).— There is no definite record that he troubled Sicily between 442 and 455. Pace (I Barb. e Biz. p12) thinks he did, and that the services which Cassiodorus performed in defending the coasts of Bruttii and Sicily (Cassiod. Var. 1.4) are to be referred to that period. But they may be connected with the events of 440.

78 Victor Vit. op. cit. I.13.

79 Prosper, sub 442. Cp. Schmidt, op. cit. 161.

80 Procopius, B. V. I.7.29. Here it is not called a testament, but a law, ib. 9.12 (constitutio, Victor Vit. op. cit. II.13). On this act cp. Schmidt, ib. 165. Gaiseric had already done away with the sons and wife of his brother Gunderic (Victor, ib. 14). Neither Gaiseric nor his successor Huneric struck coins with their own names or busts (it is just possible that Huneric issued a bronze coin with his bust, but the attribution is uncertain). Gunthamund (484‑496) struck silver, and all his successors silver and bronze, with names and busts. The Vandals seem to have made little use of a gold currency, and their gold coins are all of Imperial type. The large bronze coins, probably attributed to Gaiseric (issued perhaps, as Wroth suggests, about 435 when he captured Carthage), marked with XLII and XXI Nummi, are remarkable as an anticipation of the folles of Anastasius (see below p446).º See Wroth, Coins of the Vandals, etc. xvi sqq.

81 The chief sources are Victor Vit. Hist. pers. bk. I; Prosper, sub 437, 439; Theodoret, Epp. 52, 53 (P.G. 83). The details are recounted in Martroye, Genséric, 328 sqq.

82 See Vita Fulgentii, c1; Theodoret, Epp. 29‑36; Prosper, sub 539.

83 Nov. 27, Prosper, sub a.

84 All the laws during her regency — they are not numerous — were issued from Ravenna. Valentinian lived both at Rome and at Ravenna; during the last years of his reign, after his mother's death, almost entirely at Rome.

85 Sidonius Apollinaris, Epp. I.5 (A.D. 467) and 8 (A.D. 468), Dalton's translation.

86 Dalton, Byz. Art, p8.

87 The Basilica Liberiana, built by Pope Liberius on the Esquiline in the fourth century, was dedicated by Pope Sixtus III to St. Mary c. A.D. 432 and perhaps partly rebuilt. The dating of the mosaics has been much debated. Richter and Taylor contend that the mosaics of the nave are pre-Constantinian, in their Golden Age of Classic Christian Art. All previous studies of the Church have been superseded by Wilpert's magnificent work Die röm. Mosaiken . . . vom IV. bis XIII. Jahrhundert (see Bibliography), where the pictures can be studied in coloured reproductions. His conclusion is (vol. I.412 sqq.) that the mosaics of the nave belong to the time of Liberius, those of the triumphal arch to that of Sixtus.

88 The blue and gold backgrounds strongly contrast with the pale effects at Rome.

89 He became archbishop of Ravenna in 433 and was succeeded by Neon either in 449 or 458. His monogram in mosaic survives in one of the arches in his chapel. The source for the early ecclesiastical history of Ravenna is Agnellus, Lib. Pont. (ninth century).

90 For the architecture of the churches of this period Rivoira (Lombardic Arch. I.21‑39) supersedes previous studies. Structurally the Ravennate architects represent the Roman traditions. It is in the decoration that the oriental influence reveals itself. For the mosaics and sculptures see Diehl, Ravenne; Dalton, op. cit.

91 The dedicatory inscription is preserved (Galla Placidia cum filio suo Placido Valentiniano Augusto et filia sua Iusta Grata Honoria liberationis periculum maris votum solverunt; Agnellus, ib. p68. CIL XI.276). The incident may have occurred on the voyage from Italy to an Illyrian port in 423. But I conjecture that the same storm which dispersed the ships of Ardaburius, drove the Empress and her children back to the Dalmatian coast, and they then proceeded by land to Aquileia (see above, p223). As it is not likely that Placidia delayed the fulfilment of her vow, we may place the building and inscription in 426‑427. Another inscription is recorded (De Rossi, II.1.435), in which Honoria is associated with her mother and brother (and which must therefore be prior to 437) dedicating the church of Santa Crux in Hierusalem at Rome, and probably in fulfilment of the same vow (Sanctae ecclesiae Hierusalem (p263) Valentinianus Placidia et Honoria Augusti votum solverunt).

92 The Ravennate school of builders were fond of the motive of arcading. The walls of both St. John and St. Agatha are externally decorated with blank arcades resting on a plinth (Rivoira, ib. 21‑22). Again we find small arcades, springing from corbels between pilasters, on the Baptistery, the chapel of Chrysologus, and the church of St. Francesco (begun in A.D. 450), used to form a sort of fringe below the cornice (ib. 36‑37).

93 Ib. 39.

94 Rivoira writes (ib. 28): "So far as I am aware there is no record of churches or tombs older than this mausoleum having the form of a Latin cross, with rectangular extended arms and not mere apses opposite to one another, and starting directly from the central space." The portico in front of the mausoleum connected it with the basilica of the Holy Cross, which was built about 449.

95 Cp. Diehl, op. cit. p50.

96 See Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, I.888.— The surviving mosaics of the Placidian period, in the tomb and the baptistery, are only a small portion of the artistic work which then adorned the churches of Ravenna. Besides the mosaics of St. John, those of the cathedral (built in the early years of Honorius, before 410), St. Agatha, St. Laurence, the Holy Cross have disappeared. Cp. the list in Dalton, op. cit. 365. The mosaics of the palace may have been carried off to Aachen to adorn the palace of Charles the Great.

97 Cp. Delbrück, Porträts byz. Kais. 375. The legend salus reipublicae suggests a date in the last years of Honorius.— On a stamped silver ingot, found north of Minden and now in the Hanover Museum, there is an impression of three Imperial heads, which have been supposed to be Valentinian III, Theodosius II, and Placidia. Babelon, Traité des monnaies gr. et rom. I. p887.

Page updated: 17 Nov 12