Short URL for this page:

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

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

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

[image ALT: link to previous chapter]
Book VI
Note D

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Italy and Her Invaders

Thomas Hodgkin

2nd edition
Oxford University Press

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are 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 chapter]
Book VI
Chapter 6

Book VI (continued)

Vol. V

p179 Chapter V

The Interregnum


Sources: —

Menander the Protector (Life-guardsman) gives us some important contemporary information as to the embassies which passed between the citizens of Rome and the Emperors at Constantinople. Menander was trained for the bar, but gave little heed to study and wasted his paternal inheritance on dancers and chariot-races. He then took to literary pursuits, in which he obtained the patronage of the Emperor Maurice. His chief work was a 'Continuation of the History of Agathias' (Τὰ μετὰ Ἀγαθίαν), which embraced the period from 558 to 582. Unfortunately, of this work we have only the scanty fragment preserved in the 'Extracts concerning Embassies' compiled by order of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. Notwithstanding his stormy youth, he seems to have been a painstaking and accurate historian. In his style he is considered to be too obviously an imitator of Agathias, not the best of models.

For Frankish affairs Gregory of Tours is of course our one great standard authority. In previous volumes of this book Gregory has been often quoted, but in those only as a compiler, gathering up the information furnished by earlier writers. Now he speaks to us as a contemporary and a leading figure on the political stage, from the fulness of his own personal knowledge. The chief dates of his life are as follows. He was born at Clermont Ferrand about the year 538,1 was ordained deacon in 563, and bishop (of Tours) in 573. He died on the 17th of November 594 or 595.2

 p180  Sprung from one of the noblest provincial families of Gaul, a family in which senatorships and bishoprics were almost hereditary, Georgius Florentius, who took the ecclesiastical name of Gregory, possessed in virtue of his social position, splendid opportunities for becoming acquainted with the political history of Merovingian Gaul. These opportunities were greatly increased when he became bishop of Tours, a city in the centre of the land, near the confines of the three chief Frankish kingdoms, and often the prize of victory in the contests of two of them, Neustria and Austrasia. Tours was also on the high road of pilgrims from Rome, and of ambassadors journeying to or returning from Spain: and its basilica, containing the tomb of the great St. Martin, was a favourite place of refuge for princes and counts who might in those stormy times have incurred the easily kindled wrath of the Merovingian kings.

Thus for all Frankish affairs, from 561 to 591, when his history ends, Gregory is an authority of the very highest rank: and notwithstanding his almost fanatical championship of the rights of the Church, and his constant desire to discover evidences of miraculous interposition on behalf of her ministers, he gives his reader the impression that he was, upon the whole, a fair-minded man, and did not wilfully distort the character even of an opponent. His grammar is deplorable: he confesses that he never felt certain about his genders, and could not remember whether a preposition ought to govern the accusative or the ablative case. But his style is short, quick, and animated, and with all its 'rusticity,' of which he is fully aware, it is infinitely preferable to the vapid and long-winged obscurity of a Sidonius or an Ennodius.

I have said that on all points relating to Frankish history, Gregory is not only a truthful but a well-informed witness. Unfortunately for us, his knowledge of affairs external to his  p181 nation is not even proportionally as good. As to Spain, indeed, his conversations with the Visigothic ambassadors on their journeys through Tours gave him much valuable information. But as to the events in Italy and the East, he was evidently in great ignorance. His sketches of the Lombard campaigns in the south of Gaul are meagre and unsatisfactory. He gives incorrectly (or at least differently from all our other sources) the name of the fourth king of the Lombards, the successor of Authari, and he misstates the number of years of the reigns of Alboin and of the Emperor Justin II. It is the more to be regretted that Gregory's history should have been so deficient in these respects, because it is evident that this part of the work of Paulus is chiefly derived from his pages.

Guides: —

In the above-quoted 'Études Critiques sur les Sources de l'Histoire Mérovingienne' of M. Gabriel Monod (aided by his pupils at the École Pratique des Hautes Études) there are many valuable suggestions as to the life and times of Gregory of Tours.

Dahn's 'Urgeschichte der Germanischen und Romanischen Völker,' vol. III, is a helpful commentary on the 'Historia Francorum,' though one could wish that the author had made it something more than this, and had fused — as he could so well have done — the fragmentary and discontinuous anecdotes told by Gregory into one harmonious whole, which might have in the process been greatly reduced in bulk.

Thierry's 'Récit des Temps Mérovingiens' will probably always keep its place as an agreeable popularization of Gregory's great work; but the student who knows this author's manner of writing will always look carefully to the authorities to see whether the details of the story are vouched for by them, or are due to the lively imagination of the reciter.

Alboin's successor Cleph, 572‑574. The death of Alboin occurred, as has been already said, in the spring of the year,3 and that year was  p182 probably 572. The Lombard warriors, assembled, after some interval, at Pavia, which was perhaps, now for the first time, recognised as the capital of the new kingdom, chose Cleph, 'of the race of Beleo,'4 one of the most nobly born among them, to be their king.

Of Cleph we really know hardly anything beyond his own name and that of his wife Masane. It is probable, though not distinctly stated, that, previous to his elevation to the throne, he was Duke of Bergamo.5 His rule bore hardly on the old Roman aristocracy, many of whom he slew with the sword, while he banished others from their native land.6

Assassination of Cleph. At the end of eighteen months, that is, probably about the middle of 574, king Cleph was slain with the sword by a slave in his own household,7 whom he had probably exasperated by his overbearing temper.

No king elected. Again the leaders of the Lombard nation were assembled at Pavia, but this time their meeting did not result in the choice of a king. King Cleph had left one son, Authari, who was apparently of tender years. The usual expedient of a maternal regency was probably not acceptable to a barbarous and warlike people. The chief nobles seem to have been all of nearly equal rank and power, so that it was difficult to single out one for supreme dominion. The debate (possibly a long and angry one) ended in a decision to elect no king, but to divide the royal power between  p183 the thirty‑six chief nobles, who are known in history as 'the Lombard Dukes.'

Titles of Duke and Count. It was remarked, in an earlier chapter of this history,8 that the titles of Duke and Count came into the political vocabulary of Mediaeval Europe out of the Roman Imperial system, but were transposed on the way; 'Duke' being in the Middle Ages, as in modern times, always a title of higher honour than Count (or Earl), whereas in the Notitia Utriusque Imperii Comes is a higher title than Dux. Under the Empire both offices had to do with military administration, but the Comes had generally a larger or more important sphere of duties than the Dux, and in some cases the Comes of a diocese had directly under him the Duces of the various subordinate provinces.9

It was probably through the German invaders of the Empire that the change in the relative value of the two titles was introduced, and, as far as we can trace it, the process of thought which led to that change seems to have been something like this. The word Dux, as implying him who led forth a tribe or a nation to battle, was chosen as the equivalent of Heretoga, or whatever might be the precise form then in use of the modern German Herzog. On the other hand, Comes (which, after all, meant only companion, and so might be applied to any member of a king's comitatus or band of henchmen) was chosen as the equivalent of  p184 the German Graf. This was an officer who probably did not exist when the Teutonic tribes were still in their native forests, but whom we meet with in the early Frankish State as the king's representative (exercising judicial as well as military functions) in the larger cities of Gaul.

The etymology of the two words seems to point to the conclusion indicated above. Heretoga is without doubt the leader of the host.10 The derivation of Graf is more doubtful, but one of our best German authorities thinks that it can be traced to a root denoting 'a companion.'11 However this may be, the meaning of these titles among the Teutonic invaders of the Empire is clear. Duke (Dux, Herzog or Heretoga)12 is a man who is looked upon as the natural leader in war of a nation or a large tribe. He is sometimes perhaps the descendant of earlier kings, and has only stooped to the condition of a Duke when his tribe lost its independence and became merged in some larger national unity. In other cases he has been chosen by some process of popular election or even by lot.13 At any rate he is no mere delegate of the king; but from old memories, as well as by right of his present power, he has a strong tendency to make the dukeship hereditary in his family, and even to break the bond of subordination which attaches him to royalty. Thus  p185 we get the Dukes of the Bavarians, the Saxons and the Swabians, who are already, in Merovingian times, not far short of sovereign princes. How unlike these great nobles are to the modest Duces of the 'Notitia' it is needless here to indicate.

On the other hand, the Count (Garafio, Graf or Comes) is at this period always essentially the king's representative. He governs a city, such as Tours, or Bourges, or Poictiers, acting as judge as well as administrator therein, and when summoned to do so, bringing the city's contingent of soldiers to swell the royal army. He often governs his city very badly — the counts who confront us in the pages of Gregory of Tours are for the most part grasping and unscrupulous barbarians — but, whether well or ill, he always governs it as the king's representative. He has generally a life-tenure of the office (differing herein from the easily displaced Roman comes), but he does not apparently, as yet, cherish any hope of making it hereditary. He shines by the reflected light of the king's dignity, having no inherent lustre of his own, whether derived from old traditions of kingship or from recent popular election.

After this little digression, it will be easier for us to understand the position of the Dukes at this period of Lombard history — a position to which, I think, we may safely assert there was nothing analogous in the Visigothic kingdom of Spain, or in the Frankish kingdom of Neustria.

The Thirty‑six Lombard Dukes. Among the thirty‑six Lombard dukes who were now about to share between them the sovereignty of Italy, six appear to have held somewhat higher rank than the others. These were Zaban, or Zafan, at Pavia,  p186 a second Alboin, or Alboni, at Milan,14 Wallari at Bergamo, Alichis at Brescia, Euin at Trient, and Gisulf at Friuli. Among these six, Zaban, as duke of Pavia, now the recognised Lombard capital, held the highest place,15 and was, to borrow a term from much more modern politics, President of the Lombard Confederation.

The Dukes as City-lords. The form which this Teutonic aristocracy assumed deserves special attention, for it is, in a certain sense, typical of the whole mediaeval history of Italy. These Lombard leaders, fresh from the forests of Pannonia or the wide pastures of the Feld, were doubtless, essentially men of the country; men who, like the old Scottish chief, 'would rather hear the lark sing than the mouse chirp.' Thus did Tacitus write of their ancestors, five centuries before the time with which we are now dealing: 'It is well known that none of  p187 the German tribes live in cities, nor can they even bear houses in a row. They dwell scattered and solitary, as a spring, a meadow or a grove may have taken the fancy of each.'16 Yet these rustic warriors, having come into the land of stately cities, at once succumbed to their fascinations, and became dwellers in cities themselves. Of course, military considerations, as well as sensual delights, determined such a change. The cities of Italy were there, erected at every point of vantage, covering the passage of rivers and the entrance into valleys; and, if they were not to be all levelled with the ground, it was needful that they should be held by Lombard garrisons. Still, whatever the cause, the result is clear and important. We see that the civic character of Italian life has conquered even its rough Pannonian conquerors. Lordship now, and for many long centuries in Italy, will be essentially lordship of a city. The Lombard dukes are turning the page on which great feudal nobles like the Estes, and clever and successful 'tyrants' like the Medici, will write their names in the centuries to come.

Historians have not informed us what were the thirty cities from which the lesser dukes took their titles. Probably a pretty correct idea concerning them may be derived from a study of the list of the Episcopal sees of Northern and Central Italy.17 We may also safely assume that the duke of a city governed, not only the city itself, but a certain extent, sometimes a pretty large extent, of surrounding country. Here also we have  p188 an anticipation of mediaeval geography, of the time when 'the Milanese,' 'the Trevisan,' 'the Bolognese,' were well-known descriptions of territory.

Character of the rule of Lombard Dukes. The rule of these mailed aristocrats was, as might have been expected, hard and grasping, animated by the narrowest ideas of Lombard patriotism. Many of the Roman (that is, native Italian) nobility were slain by the sword, simply that their possessions might go to enrich some hungry Lombard warrior. The rest were reduced into a condition of semi-serfdom, still holding their lands, but only on condition of paying over one third of their produce to that one of the unwelcome 'guests' to whom they had been  p189 assigned.18 Harsh as this measure of spoliation was, the impoverished 'host' might console himself with the reflection that it might have been worse. Following the precedent set by Odovacar and Theodoric, the Lombards contented themselves (as has been said) with one third of the produce of the soil, while the Visigoths had taken two thirds, and the Burgundians a proportion varying between that fraction and a half.

Discontent of the Saxons with the Lombard yoke. Not only, however, did the refined Roman landowner feel the weight of Lombard oppression in these years 'when there was no king' in Italy.19 Among the barbarous tribes who had flocked to Alboin's standard, to share in the plunder of Italy, was a band of some 20,000 or 30,00020 Saxons, who had brought with them their wives and children, intending to settle in the conquered land. To their great disgust, however, they found that their confederates would only suffer this on condition of their abandoning the laws and customs of their fathers and becoming altogether subject to Lombard rule.21

 p190  Attempted migration of the Saxons. The decision of the Saxons was soon and firmly taken: that they would abandon their new settlements and march back, with their families, to the home of their forefathers, rather than abandon their Saxon nationality. The story of their return, though it does not strictly belong to the history of Italy, is worth studying for the light which it throws on the manners of the times, and the thoughts of the wild barbarians who had streamed into Italy.

The land to which the Saxons wished to return was, apparently, the country afterwards known as Swabia, and formed part of the dominions of Sigibert, the Frankish king of Austrasia. The Saxons adopted a peculiar method of recommending themselves to the favour of their new sovereign. Crossing the Cottian Alps by the Col de Genèvre,22 they poured down into the plains of Dauphiné,23 and pitched their camp there. The rich villas were sacked; the inhabitants were carried captive; everywhere they spread desolation and ruin. The brave Romano-Gallic general, Mummolus, to whom Guntram, the Frankish king of Burgundy, had entrusted the defence of the region, came upon  p191 them suddenly, found them unprepared, and slaughtered them till nightfall. When morning dawned, it seemed as if the battle would be renewed, Their repulse by Mummolus. but messengers arrived in the camp of Mummolus, bearing rich presents, and offering, on the part of the Saxons, to surrender all their booty if only they might be allowed to repass the Alps into Italy. The offer was accepted, and the Saxon warriors, as they marched away, declared that they meant to return, not as the foes, but as the loyal subjects of the Frankish kings.

Renewed attempt at migration. Next year (apparently) the Saxons, finding their Lombard hosts inflexible, collected their wives and children and again marched into Gaul. They had divided themselves into two 'wedges,' one of which marched along the Riviera to Nice and the other by the old road into Dauphiné. It was the time of the ingathering of fruits, and everywhere around them they saw the golden sheaves standing in the fields and all the fatness of the fruitful land. The simple barbarians, like felons let loose in London, could not keep their hands from plunder. They gorged themselves and then their horses with the crops of the peasants of Dauphiné, and they even set fire to some of the villages. But when they reached the banks of the Rhone,24 they found the terrible Mummolus ready to execute judgment upon them. 'You shall not pass this stream,' he said, 'till you have made satisfaction to my lord. See how you have laid waste his kingdom, have gathered the crops, trampled down the oliveyards and vineyards, slain the flocks, cast  p192 fire into the houses. You shall not pass till you have made atonement to those whom you have reduced to poverty. Otherwise I will put your wives and little ones to the sword, and will avenge the injury done to Guntram my king.' The brutal Saxons quaked with terror, paid down many thousand golden solidi for their redemption, and were suffered to march on into the kingdom of Sigibert25 on the east of the Rhine.

The Saxons defeated by the Swabians, who had occupied their old home. When they reached their old homes they found them filled up with Swabians, whom Sigibert26 had planted there when they themselves had started for Italy. The angry Saxons at once declared that they would sweep the intruders from the face of the earth. 'Take a third of our lands,' humbly pleaded the Swabians; but the offer was indignantly refused. 'Half?' 'Two thirds?' 'We will add all our cattle if only we may have peace.' Every proposition that could be made was contemptuously spurned by the Saxons, who, confident of victory, were already dividing among themselves by anticipation the wives and property of the hated Swabians. 'But the mercy of a just God,' says Gregory, 'turned their thoughts  p193 into another direction. Of 26,000 Saxons who joined battle on that day, 20,000 were slain; of 6,000 Swabians only 480, and victory remained with their comrades. The survivors of the Saxons swore a great oath that they would cut neither hair nor beard till they had avenged them of their foes. But when they again rushed to battle they only incurred deadlier slaughter: and so at length there was rest from war.'27

In the great work which lay before the Lombard nation, the conquest of the Italian peninsula and the expulsion of the officials who represented the majesty of the Eastern Augustus, but little progress was made by the confederated dukes. It is true that they were able grievously to harass the clergy and citizens of Rome. Blockade of Rome by the Lombards. Already in 574 (perhaps before Cleph's assassination) such swarms of Lombards surrounded the Eternal City that communication with Constantinople was cut off, and after the death of Pope John III (13 July) more than ten months elapsed before his successor, Benedict I, could be chosen.28 Famine  p194 followed in the steps of the marauding invaders. Hearing of the sufferings of the Roman citizens from hunger, the Emperor Justin ordered a fleet of cornshipsº to sail from Egypt to the mouth of the Tiber. By this time the severity of the Lombard blockade must have been relaxed, for the mariners were able to ascend the Tiber and bring the longed‑for relief to the hungering citizens.

Baduarius, son-in‑law of the Emperor Justin II, sent to Italy. In the year 575 a great Byzantine official appeared at the head of an army in Italy. This was Baduarius,29 the son-in‑law30 of the Emperor and Count of the Imperial Stables. He had shortly before been strangely insulted by Justin, whose long latent insanity was then beginning to show itself openly. The Emperor ordered his chamberlains to assault and buffet his son-in‑law and then to drag him into the wondering Consistory, while still bearing the marks of their blows. Sophia, having heard of this outburst of frenzy, was much distressed thereat and administered conjugal reproof to her husband. He too, now that the paroxysm was over, repented of his violence and sought Baduarius in the stables to make his apologies. When the Count of the Stables saw the Emperor approaching he feared that he was about to repeat his outrages and leaped from manger to manger in order to escape. But the Emperor adjured him in God's name to abide where he was, went up to him, caught him by the arm and covered him with kisses. 'I have sinned against thee,' said he, 'but it was at the Devil's prompting. Now I pray thee receive me  p195 again as thy father and thy Emperor.' Then Baduarius fell at the Emperor's feet, which he watered with his tears, and said, 'My lord! in thy hands is the supreme power over all of us: but as thou didst once treat thy servant contemptuously in the presence of thy counsellors, so now let these dumb creatures' (pointing to the horses) 'be witnesses of thy confession.' Whereupon the Emperor invited him to a banquet, and so he and his son-in‑law were reconciled.31 This was the man who was now sent to try conclusions with the Lombards. We hear, however, very little of the course of the campaign, except that Baduarius was overcome by them in battle and shortly after ended his life.32

Another Papal vacancy. Again in 579 a vacancy in the Popedom is the cause of our being informed of that which was probably at this time the characteristic condition of the regions round Rome, Lombard ravage and blockade.33 Benedict I buried, July 31, 579. Pelagius II Pope, Nov. 26, 579 to Feb. 7, 590. After a little more than four years' occupancy of the Papal throne Benedict I died and was succeeded by the Roman Pelagius34 (second of that name), who 'was ordained without the command of the Emperor, because the Lombards were besieging the City of Rome, and much devastation was being wrought by them in Italy. At the same time so great rains fell that all men said that the waters of the deluge were returning upon  p196 the earth, and so great was the loss of human life that the oldest inhabitant remembered nothing like it aforetime.35

The Romans cry to the Emperor for help. In their distress the citizens called upon the Emperor, their natural protector, for help. Two embassies, apparently in the years 577 and 579, bore to the New Rome the lamentable cry of the Old. The first was headed by the Patrician Pamphronius and carried a tribute of 3,000 pounds weight of gold (about £120,000 sterling); the second consisted of senators and ecclesiastics, one of the latter class being probably the man who was to be afterwards the world-famous Gregory the Great.

Neither embassy obtained the military help which was so urgently required. The Persian war pressed heavily on the resources of the state, and a somewhat feeble, though well-intentioned, ruler was at the helm. For in the year after his strange encounter with Baduarius the madness of Justin II assumed so outrageous a form that it was deemed necessary to confine him to his palace and to associate with him a colleague who bore the humbler title of Caesar, but who was in reality supreme governor of the Empire. Tiberius II, Caesar, Dec. 574; Augustus, Oct. 578, died Aug. 14, 582. The new Caesar bore the ill‑omened name of Tiberius, but was in character as unlike as possible to the suspicious and secluded tyrant of Capreae. Open-handed and generous to a fault, he shocked his Imperial patroness Sophia by the profusion which he lavished his treasure on the poor; but he was rewarded for his munificence, as was told in a previous chapter, by the opportune discovery of the buried hoards of the eunuch Narses. This good-tempered  p197 but not strenuous monarch, before the second embassy reached Constantinople, had become in name as well as in fact supreme Augustus, Death of Justin II, October 5, 578. by the death of his brain-sick colleague Justin II. In neither capacity, however, could he be persuaded to send any adequate supply of soldiers for the deliverance of Italy, but, true to his character as a giver, he sent money — in the first case returning the tribute brought by Pamphronius — which money was to be employed in buying off individual Lombard dukes, or, if that resource should fail, in hiring Frankish generals to lend their arms for the liberation of Italy.36

Rome relieved. The policy thus pursued was not altogether ineffectual. Both on this and some later occasions Byzantine gold was found efficacious in detaching some members from the loosely-knit Lombard confederacy.37 Farwald, duke of Spoleto, who had probably hitherto taken the lead in the ravages of Roman territory, seems to have, in some measure, withdrawn his forces from her immediate neighbourhood. But it was only the recoil before a deadlier spring. Classis taken by the Duke of Spoleto. It was probably in the year 57938 that Farwald with his Lombards appeared before the town of Classis, the sea‑port of Ravenna. We are not told how long a resistance it offered, but it was eventually taken and despoiled of all the treasures which had been accumulated within  p198 its wall during six centuries of security.39 After the sack the Lombards seem still to have held on to the city, hard as it was to do so in the face of the superior naval forces of the Empire.

Lombard invasions of Gaul. The chief events of the Lombard interregnum that remain to be noticed relate to the Lombard invasions of Gaul. Some of these invasions were made in the lifetime of Alboin and therefore should strictly have been described in the preceding chapter, but in order to give a continuous narrative I have purposely reserved them for this portion of the history.

Their impolicy. It has been well pointed out by a German historian40 that these attacks on their Frankish neighbours were utterly senseless and impolitic, mere robber-raids caused by nothing else than the freebooter's thirst for plunder. The one object which a Lombard statesman, whether he were called duke or king, should have set before himself was to consolidate the Lombard rule in Italy, to drive out the last representatives of the Empire, if possible to become master of the sea. Instead of firmly pursuing this aim, scarcely had the Lombards entered Italy when they began to swarm over the difficult passes of the Alps, to rob and ravage in Dauphiné and Provence. Thus did they make the old feud between themselves and the Franks, which a few generations of peaceful neighbourhood would perhaps have obliterated, an indelible national instinct,  p199 and, in fact, they thus prepared the levers which at length, after the lapse of two centuries, brought about the ruin of the Lombard monarchy at the hands of Frankish Charles.

Summary of Frankish history. When we were last concerned with Frankish history we reached the point where the divided monarchy was reunited by Chlotochar I.41 We must now glance at the well-known events which intervened between that reunion and the commencement of the Lombard interregnum.

Division of the kingdom between the sons of Chlotochar I. For three years Chlotochar, the last surviving son of Clovis, reigned over the whole of the vast territory which had been won by the Frankish battle‑axe. In 561 he died, and his kingdom was divided between his four sons. But the fourfold partition now, as in the previous generation, soon became threefold. Charibert, the king of Paris died in 567,42 and thus the well-known sentence of Caesar, 'Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres,' was again true of Gaul and remained true for the rest of the century. It is true that, whatever might be the ostensible partition of the Gaulish territory, it was more and more tending to group itself into four — not three — great divisions, namely, Neustria, Austria, Burgundy and Aquitaine. But the last of these, the territory between the Loire and the Pyrenees, the territory which had been won from  p200 Alaric the Visigoth, and which was one day to give the Plantagenet princes their great vantage-ground for the conquest of France, was during the latter part of the sixth century so split up and so squabbled over by the lords of the other portions, that, for the sake of clearness, it will be well to leave it out of sight altogether. Let us briefly consider the three other divisions and their rulers.

Guntram, king of Burgundy. I. The region which still bore the name of Burgundy was substantially that which had obeyed the shifty Gundobad and his unwise son, Sigismund.43 It embraced the later provinces of Burgundy, Franche Compté,º Dauphiné, the greater part of Switzerland, Lyonnois, Nivernois and a considerable part of Languedoc. It was, in fact, 'the kingdom of the Rhone,' including almost the whole territory watered by that noble river and its tributaries except — a notable exception — that thin strip of fruitful territory at the mouth of the Rhone which still bore the name of Provincia, and still keenly remembered that it had been the first and the last of the Roman provinces in Gaul. Though the nucleus of the new kingdom was the old Burgundian domain it included some lands in the centre of Gaul, south and west of the Loire, which had never belonged to the Burgundians, and the king's capital was Orleans, a city which had never owned the sway of Gundobad. The king of this territory from 561 to 593, bore the uncouth name of Guntchramn, a name for which I will venture to substitute, as many have done before me, the easier form, Guntram. A good-tempered, easy-going man, who was not cruel, except when his interests seemed to call for cruelty, a man who took  p201 and put away wives and concubines with great facility, but was almost a moral man by comparison with the unbridled licentiousness of most of the Merovingian kings, Guntram has, by reason of his generosity to the Church and the comparative respectability of his character, obtained the honours of canonisation, though it is not often that we meet with an historian sufficiently attentive to the rules of ecclesiastical etiquette to call him Saint Guntram.

Our Lombard historian, Paulus, describes Guntram as 'a peaceful king and one conspicuous by all goodness.' He then proceeds to tell concerning him a story which he had probably heard at Chalon-sur‑Saone44 in the course of his travels through France, and which, as he states with a thrill of self-satisfaction, not even Gregory of Tours had related in his voluminous history of the Franks: —

'The good king Guntram went one day into the forest to hunt, and as his companions were scattered in various directions, he was left alone with one faithful henchman, on whose knees he, being weary, reclined his head and so fell fast asleep. From his mouth issued a little reptile, which ran along till it reached a tiny stream, and there it paused, as if pondering how to cross it. Then the henchman drew his sword out of its scabbard and laid it over the streamlet, and upon it the little creature crossed over to the other side. It entered into a certain cave of a mountain not far from thence, and returning after an interval again crossed the streamlet by the sword and re‑entered the mouth of the sleeper. After these things Guntram,  p202 awaking from slumber, said that he had seen a marvellous vision. He dreamed that he crossed a river by an iron bridge, and entered a mountain in which he saw a vast weight of gold. Then he in whose lap his head had lain told him in their order the things which he had seen. Thereupon the king commanded an excavation to be made in that place, and treasures of inestimable value, which had been stowed away there in ancient days, were found therein. From this gold the king afterwards made a solid canopy45 of great size and weight, which he adorned with the most precious stones, intending to send it to the sepulchre of the Lord at Jerusalem. But as he could not do this, he ordered it to be placed over the shrine of the blessed martyr Marcellus, at Cavallonum (Chalon-sur‑Saone) and there it is to this day, a work incomparable in its kind.'

As I have said, it was probably from the priests in the chapel of the martyr that Paulus, in his travels, heard the marvellous tale.

Treasures buried in long departed days by kings of old, mysterious caves, reptile guides or reptile guardians — are we not transported by this strange legend into the very atmosphere of the Nibelungen Lied? And if the good king Guntram passed for the fortunate finder of the Dragon-hoard, his brothers and their queens, by their wars, their reconciliations and their terrible avengings, must surely have suggested the main argument of that most tragical epic, the very name of one of whose heroines, Brunichildis, is identical with the name of the queen of Austrasia.

II. This kingdom of Austrasia, the eastern land,  p203 the name of which first meets us about this time,46 is the same region with which we have already made acquaintance under the government of the Frankish Theodoric and his descendants; a region extending, it may be roughly said, from Rheims to the Rhine, but spreading across the Rhine an unknown distance into Germany, claiming the allegiance of Thuringians, Alamanni, and Bavarians, fitfully controlling the restless Saxons, touching with warlike weapons and sometimes vainly striving with the terrible Avars.

Sigibert, king of Austrasia. The capital of this kingdom was Metz — it is noteworthy how these royal partners always strove to fix their seats as near as possible to the centre of Gaul, as if to keep close watch on one another's designs — and the son of Chlotochar who reigned there as king was Sigibert.

Sigibert was the youngest, but the most capable and least vicious, of the royal brotherhood. Disgusted at the profligacy of all his brothers, who disgraced themselves by adulterous unions with the handmaids of their lawful wives, he determined to wed a princess of his own rank, His marriage with Brunichildis. and accordingly he wooed and won Brunichildis, daughter of Athanagild, the Visigothic king of Spain. A brave and high-spirited woman, Brunichildis, in the course of her long and strong career, became hard and unpitying as the rocks upon which she was dashed by the waves of her destiny; but the ten years of her union with Sigibert were the brightest portion of her life. The young Austrasian king and queen seem to have loved one another with  p204 true and pure affection, and their story is an oasis in the desert of Frankish profligacy and shame.

Chilperic, king of Neustria. III. The kingdom of Chilperic (who was half-brother to his three royal colleagues) is generally spoken of as the realm of Neustria. This name strictly belongs to a somewhat later period than that which we have yet reached,47 but as 'the western kingdom,' in antithesis to Austrasia, it conveniently expresses the territory ruled over by Chilperic, which was in fact the old kingdom of the Salian Franks, and comprised the Netherlands, Picardy, Normandy, and Maine, with perhaps some ill‑defined sovereignty over the virtually independent Celts of Brittany. The capital of this kingdom was the ancestral seat of dominion, Soissons.

Chilperic's character is one of the strangest products of the strange anarchic period in which he lived. Cruel, lustful, avaricious — a man whom the kindly Gregory calls 'the Nero and Herod of our time'48 — he nevertheless was, after the fashion of his age, a religious man — wrote sacred histories in verse, after the manner of Sedulius (it is true that his hexameters limped fearfully) — composed masses and hymns, and wrote a treatise on the Trinity, which he hoped to impose, Justinian-like, on his bishops and clergy, but the theology of which was so grossly heretical, that the prelates to whom he showed it could hardly be restrained from tearing it in pieces before his face.

Chilperic had already taken to himself many mistresses,  p205 whom he dignified with the name of wives; but when he heard of the rich and lovely princess whom his younger brother had won for his bride, he was seized with jealousy, and vowed that he too would have a princess for his wife. An embassy to Athanagild, bearing the promise of a rich dower for the future queen in case she survived her husband, and an assurance that the palace should be purged of the concubines who then polluted it, was successful in obtaining the hand of a sister of Brunichildis, named Galswintha. The princess, who might almost seem to have had some forebodings of the dark fate reserved for her, clung to her home and her parents, and begged for delay; but the ambassadors insisted on her immediate return with them. State reasons prevailed, and the weeping Galswintha set forth upon her long journey, accompanied by her fond mother as far as the Pyrenees. There the mother and daughter parted; and the latter journeyed in a kind of triumphal procession throughout Gothic Gaul, and then through the territory of her future husband, till she reached the city of Rouen.49 She was received with all honour by Chilperic, by whom she was loved with great affection, 'for' (says Gregory) 'she had brought with her great treasures.' His marriage with Galswintha, 567. On the day after the marriage, according to old Teutonic custom, he gave her as 'morning-gift' (Morgane-gyba) Bordeaux and four other cities in the south-west of Gaul. These were to form her dower in case she survived her husband.

 p206  For a short time all went well. Then one of Chilperic's concubines, Fredegundis, succeeded in recovering her lost footing in the palace; the king's old passion for her was rekindled, and the poor young Spanish bride was made to suffer daily insults and mortifications such as, eleven centuries later, her countrywoman, the queen of Louis XIV, had to endure when she saw Montespan or La Vallière preferred before her. With pitiful pleading, Galswintha besought that she might leave her treasures behind her and return across the Pyrenees. Murder of Galswintha, and marriage with Fredegundis. Chilperic soothed her with kind words, but not many days after she was found dead in her bed, strangled by a slave, in obedience to her husband's orders. The royal hymn-writer professed to mourn for her for a few days, and then married Fredegundis.

The wedding, the murder, the second marriage, all happened in the year 567. Long struggle between Brunichildis and Fredegundis. And now began that long duel between two beautiful and angry queens which for thirty years50 kept the Frankish kingdoms in turmoil. Of Brunichildis I have already spoken. She was not by nature cruel, and might, perhaps, have passed through life with fair reputation, had not the longing for vengeance, first for a murdered sister, and then for a murdered husband, transformed her nature and turned her into a Fury. Fredegundis, evil from the first, utterly remorseless and cruel, had yet a magnetic power of attracting to herself those whom she would make the ministers of her wicked will. She ruled her husband with absolute sway, though strongly suspected of unfaithfulness to her own marriage vows. And whenever there was a rival to be disposed of,  p207 a brother-in‑law, a step‑son, a dangerous confidant to be murdered, there was always to be found some young enthusiast, willing, nay eager, to do the deed, going to certain death for the sake of winning a smile from Fredegundis. In her marvellous power of fascination over men, she resembled a woman whom, in all other respects, it would be a calumny to couple her name, Mary, Queen of Scots. With all her wickedness, Fredegundis must have been a brilliant and seductive Frenchwoman; and there is something about her strange demoniac power which reminds us of the evil heroines of the Renaissance.

The murder of Galswintha, followed by the marriage with her low‑born rival, aroused the anger of the Franks, and Chilperic's brothers endeavoured to eject so atrocious an offender from their royal partnership.51 In this, however, they do not seem to have been successful. If war was actually waged by Sigibert against the murderer (which is not clearly stated),52 it was terminated by a more peaceful civil process, in which Guntram acted as arbiter between his brethren. Guntram's judgment in the case of Sigibert v. Chilperic. The result of this process was as follows: but both its terms and the principles on which it was based would have been utterly unintelligible to any of the Roman jurisconsults who, two centuries before, abounded in the great cities of Gaul. 'The Morgane-gyba of Galswintha was to form the weregild of Brunichildis.' In other words, the five cities of Aquitaine, which Chilperic had assigned to the murdered queen as her  p208 dower, were to be handed over to her sister and next of kin in atonement for the crime.53 It would seem as if the decision had scarcely been given when the faithless Chilperic sought to overturn it; at any rate, it is in Bordeaux (one of the cities of the 'morning-gift') and its neighbourhood that we find him constantly attacking his brother of Austrasia, in the obscure wars which fill up the interval between 567 and 575. At length the dispute came to a crisis. Sigibert invades Neustria, 575. The fierce Austrasian warriors, Sigibert's subjects, were only too ready to pour themselves westwards into Neustria, and enjoy the plunder of its cities. Sigibert was a warrior and Chilperic apparently was not, though he shrank from no deed of cowardly violence. And Guntram, though the most uncertain and untrustworthy of allies, was at this time ranged, with some appearance of earnestness, on the side of Sigibert. The campaign went entirely in favour of the Austrasian army. It pressed on to Paris, to Rouen: Chilperic, beaten and cowed, was shut up in Tournay (his capital now, instead of Soissons): a large part of the Neustrian Franks consented to acclaim Sigibert as their sovereign instead of the unwarlike and tyrannical Chilperic. The ceremony took place at Vitry, near Arras, not far from the border of the two realms. Murder of Sigibert. Sigibert was raised on the shield and hailed as king by the whole army of the Franks; but almost  p209 in the moment of his triumph, two serving‑men rushed upon him and dealt him a mortal wound on either side with their strong knives, which went by the name of scaramaxes. The weapons, it was said, had been steeped in poison by the hands of Fredegundis; the servants had been 'bewitched' by the terrible queen. There can be little doubt that for this murder, at least, she was justly held answerable by her contemporaries.

So fell, in the prime of his life and vigour, the gallant Sigibert —

'Titus, the youngest Tarquin: too good for such a brood.'

Had he lived and attained, as he well might have, to the sole dominion of the Franks, the course of European history might have been changed. He would hardly, one thinks, have propagated so feeble a race as the fainéant kings who issued from the loins of the kings of Neustria; he would almost certainly have checked the growing audacity, and resisted the overweening pretensions, of the nobles of Austrasia.

Fortunes of Brunichildis. Brunichildis, with her children, was at Paris (the capital of the late king Charibert) when the terrible news reached her of the murder of Sigibert — a crime which utterly reversed the position of affairs, and made her a helpless outcast in the land of her deadly foe. Her little son Childebert, a child of five years old, was carried off by one of Sigibert's generals, who succeeded in conveying him safely to Metz, where he was accepted by the Austrasian warriors as his father's successor. Accession of Childebert, 575‑596. Thus began a reign which lasted for twenty‑one years — one which was upon the whole prosperous, and which had many points of contact  p210 with the history of the Lombard neighbours of Austrasia. As Childebert, however, was only twenty‑six when he died, it is evident that during the greater part of his nominal reign, the actual might of royalty must have been in other hands than his. In fact it seems to have been during his long minority that the power of the great Austrasian nobles (who must have formed a sort of self-constituted Council of Regency) began distinctly to overshadow the power of the crown. Our justification for lingering over these events, which apparently belong to purely Frankish history, is that we are here watching the beginnings of that singular dynasty of officials, the Mayors of the Palace, whose descendant was one day to overthrow the Lombard monarchy.

As for Brunichildis, like the Kriemhild of the great German poem after the death of her glorious young hero Siegfried, lived but to avenge his death; and, like Kriemhild, she sought to compass her revenge by a second marriage, the natural resource of a young and beautiful woman in a lawless generation, which was ready to trample under foot the rights of the widow and the fatherless. It was, perhaps, for this reason that she did not attempt to return to Austrasia. Taken prisoner by Chilperic, she was despoiled of all her treasures and sent to live in banishment at Rouen. Thither, before long, came Merovech, the son of Chilperic by one of the many wives whom he had married before Galswintha. He saw the beautiful widow and loved her, and, though she as his uncle's wife was within the forbidden degrees of relationship,54 Marriage of Brunichildis and Merovech.
Anger of Chilperic.
he was  p211 married to her within a few months of her first husband's death, by Praetextatus, bishop of Rouen. Great was the wrath of Chilperic, greater still probably the rage of Fredegundis, when they heard that the hated Gothic princess had thus made good her footing in their own family, and was the wife of the young warrior to whom all Franks looked forward as chief of the descendants of Clovis in the next generation. Chilperic marched to Rouen, intending to arrest the newly-wedded pair, but they fled to the church of St. Martin at Tours, whose inviolable sanctity Chilperic was forced to respect. On receiving his promise that he would not separate them 'if such were the will of God,' Merovech and his wife came forth. The kiss of peace was exchanged, and the king, his son and his new daughter-in‑law banqueted together. Notwithstanding his oath, however, Chilperic insisted on his son's accompanying him to Soissons, while Brunichildis appears to have returned to Austrasia. Merovech fell under suspicion, perhaps just suspicion, of complicity with some rebels who attacked the city of Soissons, where Fredegundis was then dwelling. He was again arrested, shorn of the long hair which was the glory of a Merovingian prince, and forcibly turned into an ecclesiastic. Another escape, a long sojourn in the sanctuary at Tours, a visit to Austrasia (where he was coldly received by the nobles, who desired the presence of no full-grown scion of the royal house among them), and then an ill‑judged expedition into his father's  p212 kingdom followed. He was again taken prisoner and lodged in an inn, while his captors sent messengers to his father to ask what should be done with him. But meanwhile he had said to his henchman Gailen, 'Thou and I have hitherto had but one mind and one purpose. I pray thee let me not fall into the hands of mine enemies, but take this sword and rush with it upon me.' Death of Merovech, 577. This Gailen did; and when Chilperic arrived he found his son dead. But some said that Merovech never spake those words to his henchman, but that the fatal blow was struck by order of Fredegundis.

The romance of Brunichildis' second marriage — at any rate in the fragmentary shape in which it exists in the pages of Gregory — is a disappointing one. Even Brunichildis seems to falter and hesitate in her great purpose of revenge for the death of Sigebert, and Merovech seems to spend most of his time cowering as a suppliant by the tomb of St. Martin. And the least romantic part of the story is the calmness with which the newly-wedded couple bear their separation from one another; a separation which it was apparently in their power at any time to have ended.

Family afflictions of Chilperic. The remainder of the reign of Chilperic was chiefly memorable for the afflictions which befell him in his family. One after another of the sons of his earlier marriage, young men just entering upon manhood, fell victims to the jealous hatred of their step-mother; and as if to punish her for her cruelty, one after another of her own sons died in infancy. The sons of Guntram also perished in their prime; it seemed as if the whole lineage of Clovis might soon fail from off the earth. Wars, purposeless but desolating, were waged between the three Frankish kingdoms, and in some of these wars,  p213 strange to say, Childebert — that is to say the counsellors of Childebert — were found siding with Chilperic, his father's murderer, against the easy-tempered Guntram. This, however, was only a passing phase; as a rule Austrasia and Burgundy stood together against Neustria. The chief characteristic of the rule of Chilperic was the increasing stringency of his financial exactions, not merely from his Roman, but from his Frankish subjects, and the jealousy, a well-grounded jealousy, with which he regarded the growing power and possessions of the Church. 'He would often say, "Behold! our treasury remains poor; behold! our riches are transferred to the churches; none reign at all save the bishops; our honour perishes and is all carried over to the bishops of the cities." With this thought in his mind, he continually quashed the wills which were drawn up in favour of the churches, and thus he trampled under foot his own father's commands, thinking that there was now none left to guard their observance.'55 No wonder that such a prince — whom even secular historians must hold to have been a profoundly wicked man — figures in an ecclesiastic's pages as 'the Nero and Herod of our time.'

Murder of Chilperic, 584.

At length, in the fifty-second year of his age, Chilperic met that violent death, which in the sixth century was — almost as much as the long hair that floated around their shoulders — the note of a Merovingian prince. He went to his country-house at Chelles,56 about twelve miles from Paris, and there amused himself with hunting. Coming back one evening in the twilight from the chase, he was about to dismount from his horse, and had already put one hand on the shoulder of his  p214 groom, when some one rushed out of the darkness and stabbed him with a knife, striking one blow under the armpit, and one in his belly. 'The blood gushed out from his mouth and from the two wounds, and so his wicked spirit fled.'57

The author and the motive of the assassination of Chilperic remained a mystery. We do not even hear the usual details as to the death by torture of the murderer, and it seems possible that in the obscurity of the night and the loneliness of the forest he may have succeeded in escaping. Fredegundis was accused of this, as of so many other murders. It was said that Chilperic had discovered her infidelity to her marriage vows, and that she forestalled his inevitable revenge by the hand of a hired assassin. This explanation, however, seems in the highest degree improbable. No one lost so much by the death of Chilperic as his widow; hurled, like her rival Brunichildis, in one hour from the height of power to helplessness and exile, and obliged to seek temporary shelter at the court of the hospitable Guntram.

After all its vicissitudes, the family of Chilperic at his death consisted only of one babe of three years old, named, after its grandfather, Chlotochar. Chlotochar, king of Neustria, 584‑628. This child, who was destined one day to reunite all the Frankish dominions under his single sceptre, was at once proclaimed king, the reins of government being assumed, not by Fredegundis, but by some of the more powerful nobles, and thus Neustria had to pass through even a longer minority than that from which Austrasia was slowly emerging. There can be little doubt that these long periods of obscuration of the royal power, however welcome to the great nobles who exercised  p215 or controlled the authority of the regent, were deplored by the poorer Franks and by the Gallo-Roman population, to whom even the worst king afforded some protection from the lawless violence of the aristocracy.

But our rapid review of Frankish history, which began with the eleventh year of the government of Narses, has taken us on to the end of the Lombard Interregnum. It is time now to turn back and fit the Lombard invasions of Gaul into the framework of Frankish history.

First Lombard invasion of Gaul, 568. The year of the Lombard irruption into Italy was, it will be remembered, 568. This was one year after the murder of Galswintha, and at a time therefore when the relations between Sigebert and Chilperic were probably strained to the utmost;58a and yet, strange to say, it was rather against Burgundy than against Neustria that the arms of Austrasia were at this time directed. Sigebert wrested Arles from his brother Guntram; then he lost Avignon: but these struggles, purposeless and resultless as they were, perhaps distracted the attention of the Burgundian generals and made a Lombard invasion possible. We are vaguely told58b that 'in this year the Lombards dared to enter the neighbouring regions of Gaul, where a multitude of captives of that nation [i.e. the Lombards] were sold into slavery.' Evidently the invasion, whithersoever directed, was a failure. Probably it was made only by isolated bands of marauders without concert or leadership.59

 p216  Second Lombard invasion of Gaul, 570. The next invasion which was made, probably in the year 570,60 was more successful. The Lombards made their way probably by one of the passes of the Maritime Alps into Provence. Amatus (whose name makes it probable that he was a man of Gallo-Roman extraction) held that region for king Guntram, wearing the Roman title of Patrician.61 He delivered battle to the Lombards, was defeated and fled. A countless number of Burgundians lay dead upon the field, and the Lombards, enriched with booty, the value of which their barbarous arithmetic could not calculate, returned to Italy.62

Character of Mummolus the new general of the Franks. In the room of the defeated, perhaps slain, Amatus, king Guntram conferred the dignity of Patrician on Eunius, surnamed Mummolus, and with his appointment an immediate change came over the scene. Though a grasping and selfish man, Mummolus was a brave soldier, and if, as seems probable, he too, like Amatus, was a Gallo-Roman by birth, his career was a proof that there was still some martial spirit left in the descendants of the old provincials of Gaul. His father, Peonius, had been count of Auxerre, and entrusted to Mummolus the usual gifts by which — perhaps on the accession of Guntram — he hoped to obtain the renewal of his office.63 The faithless son,  p217 however, obtained the dignity, not for his father, but for himself, and having thus placed his foot on the official ladder, continued to mount step by step till he reached, as we have seen, the dignity of the Patriciate, which was probably still considered the highest that could be bestowed on a subject.

Third Lombard invasion of Gaul, 571. In the following year (apparently) the Lombards again invaded Gaul, not now by the Maritime Alps, but by the Col de Genèvre. They reached a point near to Embrun64 in the valley of the Durance; but here they were met by Mummolus, who drew his army all round them, blocked up with abattis65 the main roads by which they might have escaped, and then falling upon them by devious forest paths took them at such disadvantage as to accomplish their entire defeat. A great number of the Lombards were slain; some were taken captive and sent to king Guntram, probably to be sold as slaves: only a few escaped to their own land to tell the story of this, the first of many Lombard defeats which were to attest the military skill of Mummolus. Ecclesiastics heard with horror that in this battle two brothers and brother-prelates, Salonius and Sagittarius — the former bishop of Embrun and the latter of Gap — had borne an active  p218 part, 'armed, not with the heavenly cross, but with helmet and coat of mail,' and, which was worse, had slain many with their own hands.66 But this was only one, and in fact the least censurable, of many irregularities and crimes committed by this lawless pair, who had already a few years before (in 566) been deprived of their sees by the Council of Lyons, but had been replaced therein by the Pope. Again, at a later period, deposed and confined in separate monasteries, they were once more let out by the good-natured Guntram and again condemned by a council. The end of Salonius is unknown. Sagittarius, as we shall shortly see, came to a violent end in consequence of joining a conspiracy against king Guntram. Such were some of the bishops of Gaul in the sixth century, though it must be admitted that few were as wildly brutal and licentious as Salonius and Sagittarius.

In the years immediately following the invasion, Mummolus distinguished himself by that successful campaign against the Saxon immigrants of which mention was made in the earlier part of this chapter. Fourth Lombard invasion of Gaul, 574. Then somewhat later still, in the year which witnessed the assassination of Cleph the Lombard king, a large army67 of Lombards under the command of duke Zaban again entered the dominions of king Guntram. This time, however, it was not against Dauphiné but against Switzerland that their ravages were directed. They went, doubtless, northward by the Great St. Bernard Pass from Aosta to Martigny, and descended into that long Alp‑bounded parallelogram through which the young Rhone flows, and which then as now bore pre‑eminently  p219 the name of 'the Valley.'68 They reached the great monastery of Agaunum (now St. Maurice), scene of the devotions and the vain penitence of Burgundian Sigismund,69 and there they tarried many days, perhaps engaged in pillaging the convent, though this is not expressly stated by the monkish chronicler70 from whom we derive our information. At length, at the town of Bex, a little way down the valley from St. Maurice, they suffered so crushing a defeat at the hands of the Frankish generals, that but a few fugitives, duke Zaban among the number, succeeded in recrossing the mountains and reaching Italian soil.

Fifth invasion, under three dukes, Zaban, Amo, and Rodan, 575. Undaunted by this terrible reverse, in the next year71 the Lombards resumed their irritating inroads into Gaul. This time Zaban was accompanied by two other dukes, Amo and Rodan, the names of whose cities have not been recorded. The three armies all went by the same road till they had crossed the Alps. This was that to which allusion has already been made, and, and which is still the well-known pass of the Mont Genèvre. Though one of the lowest in the great chain of the Alps and frequently traversed by Roman generals,  p220 it is, at the summit, nearly 6,500 feet high.72 Leaving the city of Turin in the great plain of Piedmont, the road ascends the beautiful valley of the Dora Susa till it reaches the little town of Susa, where a triumphal arch still preserves the memory of Augustus, the founder of the Colony of Segusio. A steep climb of several hours leads to the summit of the pass and the watershed between the two streams, the Dora Riparia which flows eventually into the Po, and the Clairet which flows into the Durance. The Roman road from this point turned sharply to the south and followed the course of the Durance till it reached the neighbourhood of Arles.a In doing so it passed the little cities of Ebrodunum (Embrun) and Vapincum (Gap),the seats of the two bellicose bishops, Salonius and Sagittarius. In all the story of these campaigns Embrun in the valley of the Durance plays an important part. It was apparently a sort of mustering place for the invaders both after crossing and before recrossing the Cottian Alps.

From this starting-point the three dukes diverged in order to make three separate raids into south-eastern Gaul.

March of Amo. (1) Amo, keeping to the great Roman road, descended into 'the province of Arles,' which he ravaged and  p221 perhaps hoped to subdue. He paid a hostile visit to a villa73 in the neighbourhood of Avignon which Mummolus had received as a present from his grateful king. He threatened Aquae Sextiae (Aix) with a siege, but on receiving 22 lbs. of silver,74 he marched away from the place. He did not penetrate as far as Marseilles itself, but only to the 'Stony Plain,' which adjoined that ancient seaport, and he carried off large herds of cattle as well as many captives from the Massilian territory.

March of Zaban. (2) Duke Zaban took the road which branched off from Gap and led north-westward through Dea (Die) to Valentia (Valence) at the confluence of the Isère and the Rhone, and there he pitched his camp.

March of Rodan. (3) Higher up on the course of the Isère, in a splendid amphitheatre of hills, lies the stately city of Grenoble, recalling by its Roman name Gratianopolis the memory of the brilliant young Emperor Gratian. To this city duke Rodan laid regular siege. Mummolus, hearing these tidings, moved southwards with a strong army and first attacked the besiegers of Grenoble. 'While his army was laboriously crossing the turbid Isère, an animal, by the command of God, entered the river and showed them a ford, and thus the whole army got easily through to the opposite shore.'75 The Lombards flocked to meet them with drawn swords, but were defeated, and duke Rodan, wounded by a lance, fled to the tops of the mountains. With 500 faithful followers he made his way to Valence through the trackless Dauphiné  p222 forests — the high road by the Isère being of course blocked by Mummolus. He told his brother-duke Zaban all that had occurred, and they jointly decided on retreat. Burning and plundering they had made their way into the valleys of the Rhone and the Isère: burning and plundering they returned to Embrun.

Retreat of Zaban and Rodan. At Embrun Zaban and Rodan were met by Mummolus at the head of a 'countless' army. Battle was joined; the 'phalanxes' of the Lombards were absolutely cut to pieces, and with a few of their officers, but far fewer, relatively, of the rank and file, the two dukes made their way back over the mountains into Italy. When they reached Susa they were coldly and ungraciously received by the inhabitants. The reason for this coldness, which does not seem to have passed into actual hostility, was that Sisinnius, Master of the Soldiery, was then in the city as the representative of the Emperor.76 There was no bloodshed, but a little southern astuteness freed the good town of Susa from its unwelcome visitors. While Zaban was conferring with Sisinnius (perhaps arranging as to the billeting of the remnant of the Lombard army), a man entered who feigned himself to be the slave of Mummolus. He greeted Sisinnius in his master's name, handed him letters, and said, 'These are for thee from Mummolus. He is even now at hand.' At these  p223 words (though in truth Mummolus was nowhere in the neighbourhood) Zaban and Rodan left there with all speed and retreated panic-stricken to their homes.

Retreat of Amo. When tidings of all these disasters were brought to Amo in the province of Arles, he collected his plunder, and sought to return across the mountains. The snow, however, had now begun to fall on the Mont Genèvre, and so blocked his passage that he had to leave all his booty and many of his soldiers behind. With much difficulty and accompanied by only a few of his followers, Amo succeeded in returning to his own land. So disastrously ended the expedition of the three dukes. 'For,' as the Frankish historian truly says, 'they were all terrified by the valour of Mummolus.'77

Territorial changes caused by these expeditions. After the failure of this expedition we hear of no further invasion of Gaul by the Lombard dukes. The only result of these invasions (except memories which must long have made the name of Lombard hateful to the inhabitants of Dauphiné and Provence) was an extension of territory over the crest of the Alps in favour of the Franks of Burgundy, and at the expense of the Lombards. Ecclesiastical charters78 prove that about the year 588, the upper valley of the Dora Baltea, with its chief city Aosta, and that of the Dora Susa, with its chief city Susa, were treated as undoubted portions of the dominions of king Guntram, and were spoken of as having been formerly in Italy, but annexed by him.79 These two cities and the  p224 regions surrounding them occupied the Italian side of the two great practicable passes of that time — the Great St. Bernard and the Mont Genèvre. There can be little doubt that their occupation by Frankish generals was at once the result of the campaigns which have been just described, and the cause that the Lombard invasions of Gaul were not renewed.80

After-history of Mummolus. The after-career of Mummolus, the brave champion of Burgundy against the invading Lombards, forms one of the most striking pages in Gregory's history of the Franks, but is too remote from our subject to be related here in any detail. In an evil hour for himself he deserted the master whom he had hitherto served so faithfully, and took up with a pretender, probably base-born and certainly mean-spirited, who was named Gundovald and called himself son of Chlotochar. The soldiers of the pretender, led by Mummolus, obtained some temporary successes, but in 585 Guntram sent a powerful army against him, and, at  p225 the mere rumour of its approach, Gundovald's party began to crumble, and he and Mummolus were forced to take refuge in Convenae (now Comminges), a little city perched on one of the outlying buttresses of the Pyrenees.b Gundovald made a plaintive appeal to the Burgundian general, Leudegisclus, that he might be allowed to return to Constantinople, where he had left his wife and children. The general only scoffed at the meek petition of 'the painting man, who used in the time of king Chlotochar to daub his pictures on the walls of oratories and bed‑chambers.' After the siege of Convenae had lasted fifteen days, secret communications passed between Leudegisclus and Mummolus, the result of which was that the latter persuaded or forced Gundovald to go forth and trust himself to the faintly hoped for mercies of the foe. Vain was the hope: no sooner was he outside the city than one of Guntram's generals gave him a push, which sent him headlong down the steep hill on which Convenae was built. The fall did not kill him, but a stone from the hand of one of his former adherents broke the pretender's skull and ended his sorrows. Vengeance was not long in overtaking his betrayers; one of whom was that same turbulent Bishop Sagittarius, whom we have already seen fighting with carnal weapons against the Lombard invaders. Leudegisclus sent a secret message to his king, asking how he was to dispose of them. 'Slay them all' was the answer of 'good king Guntram.' Mummolus, having received some hint of his danger, went forth, armed, to the hut where Leudegisclus had his head-quarters. 'Why dost thou come thus like a fugitive?' said the Burgundian general. 'As far as I can see,' he answered, 'none of the  p226 promises made to us are being kept, for I perceive myself to be in imminent danger of death.' Leudegisclus said, 'I will go forth and put all right.' And going forth, he ordered his soldiers to surround the house and slay Mummolus. The veteran long kept his assailants at bay, but at length, coming to the door, he was pierced in the right and left sides by two lances, and fell to the earth dead. When Bishop Sagittarius, who had apparently accompanied Mummolus to the hut, saw this, he covered his head with his hood, and sought to flee to a neighbouring forest; but one of the soldiers followed him, drew his sword, and cut off the hooded head. Such was the ignoble end of Mummolus, who at one time bade fair to be the hero of Merovingian Gaul. The story81 is a miserable record of brutality and bad faith. Not one of the actors keeps a solemnly plighted promise or shows a trace of compassion to a fallen foe. These Frankish and Gallo-Roman savages, with a thin varnish of ecclesiastical Christianity over their natural ferocity, have not only no conception of what their descendants will one day reverence as knightly honour, but do not even rise to the usual level of truthfulness attained by their heathen forefathers in the days of Tacitus.82

The treasures of Mummolus came into the hands of king Guntram, who out of them caused fifteen massive silver dishes to be wrought, all of which, save two, he presented to various churches. And the residue of the  p227 confiscated property he 'bestowed upon the necessities of the churches and the poor.'83

It is now time to return to the affairs of the Lombards, round whom the clouds were gathering in menacing fashion a year before the death of Mummolus. Death of Tiberius II, Aug. 13, 582. In the year 582, the Emperor Tiberius II, the generous and easy-tempered, had died and had been succeeded by his son-in‑law Maurice, who as a general had won notable victories over the Persians, though he was eventually unsuccessful as a ruler, owing to his riding with a sharper curb than the demoralised army and nobles of Constantinople could tolerate.

The eternal quarrel with Persia wore during these years a favourable aspect for the Empire, whose standards were generally victorious on the Tigris and in the mountains of Media, and the wild Avars on the Danubian frontier were for the moment at peace with their southern neighbours. Thus freed from his most pressing cares, Maurice began to scheme for the attainment of that object which could never be long absent from a Roman Emperor's thought — the recovery of Italy.

Austrasian army attacks the Lombards in the duchy of Trient. Already, before the death of Tiberius,84 an Austrasian army under duke Chramnichis had, from the Bavarian side, attacked the Lombards in the valley of the Adige; but after winning a signal victory it had at last been defeated and expelled from the country by Euin, duke  p228 of Trient. The court of Constantinople had doubtless heard of this invasion, and knew that it would find in the nobles, who governed Austrasia during Childebert's minority, willing helpers against the hated Lombards. Troops indeed could not yet be spared from the Persian war, but money, as in the days of the lavish Tiberius, could still be sent. The Emperor subsidizes Childebert. The ambassadors of Neustrian Chilperic had received from Tiberius certain wonderful gold medals, each a pound in weight, bearing on the obverse side the Emperor's effigy, with the inscription Tiberii Constantini Perpetui Augusti and on the reverse, a chariot and its driver, with the motto Gloria Romanorum.85 A more useful, if less showy gift, now (in the year 584) reached the court of the Austrasian king. The ambassadors of Maurice brought him a subsidy of 50,000 solidi (£30,000) and a request 'that he would rush with his army upon the Lombards and utterly exterminate them out of Italy.' Childebert invades Italy, 584. The young Childebert, now about fourteen years of age, was permitted by his counsellors to lead his army across the Alps. The force which poured in from Austrasia (probably by the Brenner or some other of the eastern passes of the Alps) was too overwhelming for the Lombards to cope with it. They shut themselves up in their cities (whose fortifications, wiser than the Vandals, they had not destroyed) and saw the hostile multitudes sweep over the desolated plains. But though unable to meet the Franks in arms, they had other weapons which, as they probably knew, would be more efficacious with the  p229 greedy nobles of the Austrasian Court. The Lombards bribe him to retire. They sent ambassadors who offered costly gifts, and, tempted by these, Childebert and his army retired. As a pecuniary speculation the invasion had been a complete success for the Franks. The 50,000 solidi were still almost untouched in the treasury of Metz, and though the Emperor Maurice loudly demanded the return of the money, he demanded in vain. To the same treasury were now carried the gifts of the Lombard dukes, gifts which doubtless consisted chiefly of their own plunder from the palaces of the Roman nobles, the work of generations of cunning craftsmen, while the Lombards were still wandering through Pannonian wildernesses. These gifts could, of course, be easily represented as tribute, and the returning Austrasians might boast that the Lombards had professed themselves servants of king Childebert. There was none to say them nay; and such is the colour put upon the treaty of peace by Frankish Gregory, but which disappears from the pages of his Lombard copyist.86

The Author's Notes:

1 In 542 according to the biography, which however dates only from the early part of the tenth century. Monod (Études Critiques sur les Sources de l'Histoire Mérovingienne, p28) argues strongly for the earlier date, given above.

2 The former date is given by Monod (p38) and seems to be generally accepted: the latter, adopted by Clinton (Fasti Romani, I.834), seems to me the more probable. M. Monod does not appear to have grappled with Clinton's argument, that Gregory, in the 'Miracula S. Martini,' apparently describes a miracle, the healing of a blind man at the tomb of St. Martin, which took place November 14, 594. If so it is improbable that his own death occurred only three days later.

3 The 'Excerptum San Gallense' gives us VIII Kal. Jun. = May 25, Agnellus, 'Liber Pontificalis Eccl. Rav.,' IV Kal. Julias = June 28, for this event.

4 So say the Origo and Chronicon Gothanum.

5 This point is zealously contended for by Canon Lupi I.143 and 173‑178.

6 'Hic multos Romanorum viros potentes alios gladiis extinxit, alios ab Italia exturbavit' (H. L. II.31).

7 'A puero de suo obsequio gladio jugulatus est' (Paulus, H. L. II.31).

8 Vol. I p231 (first edition): p624 (second edition). The following paragraphs are to some extent an answer to the question there raised.

9 Thus, in the 'Notitia Orientis' (capp. xxii and xxxii‑xxxvii) the Comes of the Diocese, Oriens, has (apparently) under him the six Duces of 'Foenice, Euphratensis et Syria, Palaestina Osrhoena, Mesopotamia and Arabia.'

10 Here = army: teon = to lead.

11 Waitz (Verfassungs-geschichte, I.265) appears to adopt this view of the derivation of the word in its earliest form, Ga‑rafio.

12 In Anglo-Saxon, Ealdorman.

13 Tacitus' words 'Reges ex nobilitate, duces ex virtute sumunt' (Germ. vii) seem to point to popular election of the Heretoga; Beda (Hist. Eccl. V.10) says that the old Saxons chose what he calls their Satraps by lot.

14 The name of Alboin, duke of Milan, is not found in most of the MSS. of Paulus, and in the very ancient and valuable MS. in which it does occur (Codex Sangallensis 635), it is, the editor says, a correction by a later hand. In these circumstances we are bound to regard it with much suspicion, and it may very well be, as Weise holds (p37), the fanciful interpolation of some transcriber who thought Milan must appear in the list. On the other hand, there was nothing in the history of the great Alboin to induce a transcriber to connect his name specially with Milan: that name does not occupy the place of honour: and it would be most extraordinary that the duke of the great city of Mediolanum, so long the residence of emperors, should not hold very high rank among the Lombard nobles. It is a mere question of one guess against another, but it seems to me quite as probable that the name — if it really did happen to be Alboin — may have dropped out of the text owing to the apparent contradiction to the previous narrative, as that it was inserted for the reason suggested by Weise.

15 So says 'Continuatio Prosperi Havniensis,' 'Quo [Clepphone] mortuo per XII ann. absque rege fuere Langobardi: tantummodo duces praeerant, inter quos primus Zafan Ticinensium dux.'

16 Germania, xvi.

17 This is the method adopted by Pabst (pp437‑439), and he gives the names as follows, and makes up the number to thirty‑one, including the six mentioned by Paulus. There would thus be five cities still to seek: but undoubtedly Benevento and Spoleto, perhaps other cities in Southern Italy, should be added to the list.

Alba Pompeia

For all, except the last ten, in this list Pabst considers that he can quote the authority of Paulus as proving them to have been Lombard dukedoms. Weise however (p37, n. 30) considers that Pabst has included in his list some cities (he does not say how many) which in 575 were not yet occupied by the Lombards.

Thayer's Note: The reference is to Hermann Pabst's Geschichte des langobardischen Herzogthums, which Hodgkin has not mentioned elsewhere; it was published in Forschungen zur Deutschen Geschichte, II.405‑518, online at Archive.Org. The work is a significant expansion of the young scholar's doctoral dissertation, Geschichte des langobardischen Herzogthums Spoleto von 570‑774, also online at Archive.Org in an 1890 reprint.

Hodgkin gives the list of dukedoms in two columns, fairly standard for printed works. I've printed it in a single column to remove all ambiguity as to "the last ten" (after checking with Pabst's text of course).

18 'His diebus multi mobilium Romanorum ob cupiditatem interfecti sunt. Reliqui vero per hospites divisi, ut terciam partem suarum frugum Langobardis persolverent, tributarii efficiuntur' (Paulus, H. L. II.32). These 'tributarii' are identified with the aldii, of whom frequent mention is made in the laws of Rothari (643). It is rather singular that the word aldius is never used by Paulus.

19 The indications of time in Gregory (Historia Francorum, IV.42 an V.15), our chief authority as to the Saxon migration which is about to be described, are rather vague. It is possible that it occurred in the years 572‑573, before the commencement of the Interregnum.

20 Paulus (H. L. II.6) makes them 'plus quam viginti millia.' According to Gregory they were still 26,000 in number after long journeys and frequent skirmishes.

21 'Certum est autem, hos Saxones ideo ad Italiam cum uxoribus et parvulis advenisse, ut in ea habitare deberent, sed quantum datur intelligi, noluerunt Langobardorum imperiis subjacere. Sed neque eis a Langobardis permissum est in proprio jure subsistere, ideoque aestimantur ad suam patriam repedasse' (Paulus, H. L. III.6). In short, the Saxons were to be 'Lombardised,' just as the Fins and the Germans of the Baltic provinces are now to be Russianised.

22 We should have expected that they would take a pass further to the south, from the fact that they appear at Riez: but Gregory says expressly of their next invasion that one 'cuneus' went by Embrun (in the upper valley of the Durance), 'illam re vera tenentes viam quam anno superiore tenuerant.'

23 In the neighbourhood of Riez ('infra territurium Regensim, id est apud Stablonem villam,' Greg. H. F. IV.42).

24 Probably between Lyons and Geneva. They would not need to cross it where it flows north and south.

25 And here comes a strange story of Gregory's: 'The Saxons came to Clermont. It was then the time of spring. They offered there many brass medals in exchange for gold: but the brass was so cleverly coloured that any one examining them would think that they were genuine gold. Seduced by this wile, many persons became poor, giving gold in exchange for brass.' It is extremely difficult to see what the Saxons journeying to Austrasia could be doing at Clermont: and the words of Gregory, 'Erat tunc vernum tempus,' coming immediately after his talk of harvest and the vintage, do not lessen the difficulty.

26 'Et Clotharius,' says Gregory. But Chlotochar died seven years before Alboin's entrance into Italy.

27 This story of the Saxons, which is found both in Paulus and in Gregory, is a very good example of the way in which Paulus uses his materials. The language of Gregory is much improved by his copyist, though of course not yet brought up to a classical standard. The two narratives which Gregory most inartistically severs from one another (IV.42 and V.15) — probably because the first relates to the affairs of Burgundy, the second to those of Austrasia — are brought into one coherent whole. The strange and difficult story about the spurious money paid away at Clermont is wisely omitted. And above all we have from Paulus' own pen the invaluable passage (quoted above, p190) which explains the reason why the Saxons decided to quit Italy, namely, in order to preserve their national character. Gregory gives us no hint of this.

28 'Et cessavit Episcopatus menses X dies III' (Liber Pontificalis in Vita Johannis III).

29 Called Bandarius by Joannes Biclarensis but Baduarius, which we find in Theophanes, is probably the more correct form.

30 Theophanes incorrectly calls him the brother of Justin.

31 This odd story, which I quote as illustrating the servility of Byzantine courtiers of that day, is given us by Theophanes, s. a. 573.

32 Joannes Biclarensis, s. a. 575.

33 The capture of Petra Pertusa (see IV.295)º by the Lombards and its destruction by fire possibly took place in this year.

34 The father of Pelagius was Vinigild. This looks like an Ostrogothic name.

35 Liber Pontificalis: Vita Pelagii II.

36 Our information as to these embassies from Rome to Constantinople is furnished by Menander (Fragments 25 and 29 of De Legg. Barbarorum ad Romanos, in Bonn edition).

37 Menander says, 'And now very many (πλεῖστοι) of the Lombard chiefs (τῶν δυνατῶν) went over to the Romans, accepting the Emperor's largess.' But this is perhaps too strongly stated.

38 Weise's date, p47; Rubeus and others make the siege begin in 576.

39 'Hac etiam tempestate Faroald, primus Spolitanorum dux, cum Langobardorum exercitu Classem invadens, opulentam urbem spoliatam cunctis divitiis nudam reliquit' (Paulus, H. L. III.13). This 'reliquit' makes it difficult to accept the view given above, but the account of its reconquest by Dovetulf (H. L. III.19) proves it.

40 Dahn, Urgeschichte, III.146.

41 In 558 Childebert's death left Chlotochar sole ruler of the Franks. His succession to his great-nephew Theudebald in 555 was mentioned above, p46.

42 The only mark which this dissolute and rather weak king has left in history is connected with our own island. His daughter Bertha was that Frankish princess whose marriage to Ethelbert, king of Kent, so powerfully helped the mission of St. Augustine.

43 See vol. III pp357‑8, and map of Gaul in that volume.

44 This is suggested by Jacobi, p95.

45 Ciborium; the Italian baldacchino.

46 'Merovechus . . . ad Brunichildam reginam pervenit, sed ab Austrasiis non est collectus' (Greg. Tur. H. F. V.14).

47 The name Neustria does not occur in the works of Gregory of Tours. It is, I believe, first met with (under the form Neuster) in the history of 'Fredegarius' (circa 642).

48 Hist. Franc. VI.46.

49 All this story of Galswintha's departure from her home and journey through Gaul is told, doubtless with some poetical amplification, by Venantius Fortunatus. (See Augustin Thierry's Récits des Temps Mérovingiens, pp32‑36.)

50 Fredegundis died in 597.

51 Gregory even goes so far as to say, 'fratres . . . eum a regno dejiciunt.' But this seems to be too strong a statement.

52 For some reason or other Gregory, who is usually so painfully minute, slurs over this part of the history.

53 We only hear of this singular decision by a clause in the treaty of Andelot, concluded twenty years later (587). 'De civitatibus vero, hoc est Burdegala, Lemovecas, Cadurcus, Benarno et Begorra, quae Gailesuinda, germana domnae Brunichilde, tam in dote, quam in morganegiba, hoc est matutinale donum, in Francia veniens certum est adquisisse,' &c. (Gregor. Hist. Franc. IX.20).

54 It is sometimes said that Brunichildis must have been older than her second husband. I do not think that this can be proved. Chilperic was twelve years older than Sigibert, and the latter was thirty‑one when he married a wife of perhaps twenty‑one. It is quite possible that both Merovech and Brunichildis were born about 545.

55 Gregory, Hist. Franc. V.46.

56 Villam Calensem.

57 Gregory, Hist. Franc. VI.46.

58a 58b By Marius Aventicensis, s. a. 569 (= 568).

59 Weise (p16, n. 58) puts this invasion in 569, because he thinks the usual error of one year in the calculations of Marius does not apply here. But the fact that it is the same year as that of Alboin's invasion of Italy seems to compel us to assign it to 568.

60 Exact chronology is here impossible; but the fact that Celsus, the predecessor of Amatus in the Patriciate, died in 570, proves that this invasion was at any rate not earlier than 570.

61 Notice that Paulus called him Patricius Provinciae.

62 Paulus, H. L. III.3, copied from Gregory, H. F. IV.42.

63 'Cumque ad renovandam actionem munera regi per filium transmisisset, ille, datis rebus paternis, comitatum patris ambivit, subplantavitque genitorem quem sublevare debuerat' (Greg. H. F. IV.42).

64 'Usque Mustias Calmes accedentibus, qui locus Ebredunensi adjacet civitati' (Greg. et Paul. u. s.). The note in M. H. G. is 'Fortasse Chamousse, Ebreduni ad septentrionem'; but no one seems to be very positive as to the locality of Chamousse. I should have thought one of the two or the three places called Monestier in the valley of the Ebron would have been worth considering. The name of the Ebron itself seems to suggest a possible connexion with 'Ebredunensis civitas.' It is worthy of note that one of the MSS. of Paulus for 'Mustias calmes' reads 'Brientum', evidently thinking of Briançon.

65 'Factis concidibus.'

66 Mentioned by Gregory, not by Paulus.

67 'Maximum robur,' Contin. Prosperi Havniensis.

68 Canton Valais: 'in Vallem ingressi sunt.'

69 See vol. III p410.

70 Marius Aventicensis, s. a. 574: 'Eo anno iterum Langobardi in Valle[m] ingressi sunt, et clusas obtinuerunt et in monasterio Sanctorum Acaunensium' (are these St. Maurice and St. Sigismund?) 'diebus multis habitaverunt et postae in Baecis pugnam contra exercitum Francorum commiserunt ubi pene ad integrum interfecti sunt, pauci fuga liberati.' I think 'clusas' means 'the passes,' and is not a proper name. The Continuatio Prosperi Havniensis adds a few particulars, and mentions the name of Zaban (or, as he calls him, Zafan) as the leader.

71 Probably, but all these dates are more or less conjectural. Neither Gregory nor Paulus gives us accurate notes of time here.

72 Some of the stages in the road 'A Mediolano per Alpes Cottias ad Viennam' are thus enumerated in the Antonine Itinerary: —

Taurinis (Turin)
Ad Fines Millia Passuum xvi
Segusione (Susa) xxiv
Ad Martis xvi
Brigantione (Briançon) xix
Ramae xviii
Eburoduno (Embrun) xvii
Caturrigas (Chorgas) xvi
Vapinco (Gap) xii

73 Machoa-villam.

74 Only £66 sterling; a most moderate ransom.

75 This is told us by Gregory. Paulus, though here following Gregory very closely, omits this incident. Probably he could not bring himself to admit that Heaven fought against the Lombards.

76 'Cumque usque Sigusium urbem perlati fuissent [Zaban et Rodanus] et eos incolae loci dure susciperent, praesertim cum Sisinnius magister militum a parte imperatoris in hac urbe resideret, simolatus Mummoli puer in conspectu Zabanis Sisinnio litteras protulit salutemque ex nomine Mummoli dedit, dicens "En ipsum in proximo!" Quod audiens Zaban, cursu veloci ab urbe ipsa digressus praeteriit.' Gregorius Turon. IV.44 (followed pretty closely by Paulus, III.8).

77 This sentence is omitted by Paulus.

78 Published by Troya (Codice Diplomatice Langobardo, Nos. 19, 20, and 21).

79 'Seusiam quae est in Italia Mauriennensis ecclesie subditam fecit rex' (Troya, u. s., No. 20). 'Ad quam ecclesiam Mauriennensem . . . Seusiam civitatem jamdudum ab Italis acceptam cum omnibus pagensis ipsius loci subjectum fecit [rex Gontrannus]' (ibid., No. 21). This last document is a recital of the original charter (perhaps dating from the eighth century). Hence the words 'jamdudum ab Italis acceptam.'

80 The so‑called Fredegarius also mentions these conquests (Lib. IV cap. 45), and connects them with the invasions during the interregnum: 'Quo ordine duas civitates Agusta et Siusio cum territuriis ad partem Francorum cassaverant, non abscondam. Defuncto Clep eorum principe, duodecim duces Langobardorum 12 annis sine regibus transegereunt. Ipsoque tempore per loca in regno (sic) Francorum proruperunt; ea praesumptione in compositione Agusta et Siusio civitates cum integro illorum territurio et populo partibus Gunthramni tradiderunt.' He also mentions the cession of 'vallem cognomento Ametegis' to Guntram. This is considered to be that in which Aosta is situated. See Weise, p55, n. 117.

81 Told by Greg. H. F. VII.34‑39.

82 It must be admitted, however, that heathen or Christian, the Franks had always a bad name for violation of their plighted faith (see Salvian, VII.15; IV.14).

83 Greg. H. F. VIII.3.

84 Weise assigns definitely the year 581 to this invasion. I do not see how we can fix on the precise year. The vague indications of Paulus (III.9) would suit any time between 577 and 584; nay, the 'Hoc tempore Sigisbertus occisus est' of III.10 would even throw it back as early as 575. But it is clear that we must not look for precise chronological accuracy in this part of Paulus' history.

85 The description of these marvellous medals, which Gregory had himself seen in the hands of the returning ambassadors at Nogent-sur‑Marne, is given by him with childlike minuteness in the History of the Franks (IV.2) and copied by Paulus (III.13).

Thayer's Note: See The Art Bulletin, 41:45 n.

86 Gregory says (H. F. VI.42), 'Childebertus vero rex in Italiam abiit. Quod cum audissent Langobardi, timentes ne ab ejus exercitu caederentur subdederunt se ditioni ejus, multa ei dantes munera ac promittentes se parte (sic) ejus esse fideles atque subjectos.' Paulus (III.17) simply says, 'Langobardi vero in civitatibus se communientes, intercurrentibus legatis oblatisque muneribus, pacem cum Childeperto fecerunt.'

Thayer's Notes:

a The trace of the road is not known exactly, but see the map in Hall, The Romans on the Riviera, where it is marked in green.

b Properly Lugdunum Convenarum ("the fortified town of the Convenae"), later Civitas Convenarum and now St‑Bertrand-de‑Comminges; and Comminges is not the town, but the ill-defined pays or region around it. The Convenae were a local tribe; the statement occasionally seen that just plain Convenae was the name of the town is due to a misunderstanding of a passage of Saint Jerome, Contra Vigilantium (Migne, PL XXIII.356C f.):

Nimirum respondet generi suo, ut qui de latronum et Convenarum natus est semine (quos [Consul. Strab. lib. IV] Cn. Pompeius edomita Hispania, et ad triumphum redire festinans, de Pyrenaei iugis deposuit, et in unum oppidum congregavit: unde et Convenarum urbs nomen accepit)

[Speaking of Vigilantius, the target of his entire pamphlet:] He obviously matches the kind of people he belongs to, being born of robbers and convenae that [see Strabo Bk. 4] Gnaeus Pompey, having conquered Spain and rushing to get back to [Rome for] his triumph, removed from the heights of the Pyrénées and gathered into a single fortified town: whence the town took the name "of the Convenae".

(my translation)

(This passage is also the sole source of the statement very frequently seen that the Convenae were people "gathered together" by the Romans, which is very probably on Jerome's part something between a folk etymology and a pun on the actual indigenous name of these folk; see my note to Strabo.)

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 20 Jul 20