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Book VI
Note F

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!


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Book VI
Chapter 9

Book VI (continued)

Vol. V
Chapter VIII

Gregory and the Lombards, 590‑595


Sources: —

Paulus Diaconus, Hist. Lang. Book IV, and Gregorii Epistolae. Life of Gregory, by Paulus Diaconus. Continuation of Prosper (Codex Havniensis).

Guides: —

Weise (Italien und die Langobarden­herrscher, Sect. VI‑VII) disentangles the difficult chronology of this period with considerable success.

Crivellucci's papers (Chiesa e Impero nella Politica verso i Longobardi) in Studii Storici, 1892, are also very helpful.

From the deeds of the great founder of the mediaeval Papacy we must turn to follow for a little while the far humbler fortunes of the Lombard king.

Agilulf's negotiations for peace with the Franks. Immediately on his elevation to the throne, Agilulf turned his attention to that which was the most pressing necessity of the Lombard state, the conclusion of peace with the Franks. Mission of Bishop Agnellus. Two missions1 were despatched with this object to the Austrasian court, both going from the Duchy of Trient, and both doubtless proceeding by the pass of the Brenner, through what had once been the Roman provinces of Rhaetia and  p345 Vindelicia. Agnellus, bishop of Trient, went to negotiate for the return of the prisoners whom the Franks had carried off from his diocese in the cruel raid of the previous year. It seems doubtful whether complete success crowned his efforts, but he had at least the joy of bringing back to their homes many captives whom the Austrasian queen-mother had herself redeemed from bondage. In the difficult task of assaying the strangely compounded character of Brunichildis, let at least this good deed be remembered to her credit.

Mission of Duke Euin. The other, a more directly political mission, was entrusted to Euin, duke of Trient, and brother-in‑law of Queen Theudelinda. We have no details as to his journey; we are only told2 that 'he went to Gaul to obtain peace, and having obtained it, returned home.' The Austrasian king had perhaps perceived by this time that he could not conquer, could only ravage, Italy, and that, in unduly weakening the Lombards, he was but playing the game of the Emperor. The hostility of Neustria was becoming more dangerous, as the son of Fredegundis was growing out of infancy into boyhood.3 The old actors, too, were soon to pass away from the scene. Frankish affairs.
Death of Guntram and Childebert.
The easy-tempered Guntram of Burgundy died early in 593. Childebert, who united that kingdom to his paternal inheritance of Austrasia, enjoyed his wide-reaching sway but for three years, and died in 596, having only attained his twenty-sixth year. His sons, children of nine and ten years old, succeeded him, Theodoric in Burgundy,  p346 and Theudebert in Austrasia. There were thus, now, minors on all the three Frankish thrones. Brunichildis hoped to govern two kingdoms as regent in her grandsons' names, but her hope was disappointed. Expelled from Austrasia, she took refuge in Burgundy, and sought to avenge herself by Burgundian arms on the Austrasian rebels. Civil war and domestic confusion became the normal condition of Gaul, and for the twenty-five years during which Agilulf was consolidating the Lombard throne, the Frankish monarchy was in a state of partial eclipse. These were, perhaps, some of the causes of the change which now came over the relations of the two people. The change itself is undoubted; with the accession of Agilulf the hostilities between Frank and Lombard — so irritating to the student by their want of plan, and so lamentable for the sufferers by their purposeless barbarity — cease, and for many generations Italy is left to work out her own destinies, undisturbed by any interference on the side of Gaul.

Rebellious Dukes. The next duty of Agilulf was to assert his royal authority against the subject dukes, who could look back to a still recent time when they had no king over them, and some of whom had seen with anger the elevation of a Thuringian stranger over their heads by a woman's favour.

Mimulf, duke of St. Julian's island. One of these was Mimulf, who in the recent campaign had traitorously surrendered himself to the Frankish dukes. His stronghold was the island of St. Julian in the Lake of Orta.4 Notwithstanding  p347 his watery defence he was captured and slain. Ulfari, duke of Treviso. Ulfari, duke of Treviso, who had also rebelled (perhaps had gone over to his Imperial neighbours), was besieged and taken prisoner.

Gaidulf, duke of Bergamo. The most powerful and the most obstinate of all the rebel nobles was Gaidulf,5 duke of Bergamo. By right of his important duchy, possibly also by right of some relationship with Authari of Bergamo, Gaidulf had probably himself aspired to the kingdom.6 Agilulf, however, marched against him, received his submission, and forced him to give hostages for his future fidelity. How long he remained loyal we know not; but next time that he broke out into rebellion we find him not behind the walls of Bergamo, but in that cave of Adullam, the island in the Lake of Como. This island, after the defeat of the Byzantine general Francio,7 had apparently been annexed to the territory of Bergamo, and the rich treasure found there had been entrusted to Gaidulf's keeping.8 The island was now successfully attacked, Gaidulf's soldiers expelled, and the treasure carried off to safer keeping at Pavia. Gaidulf fled to Bergamo, was there taken prisoner by Agilulf, a second time pardoned and a second time listened to when he repeated his promises of loyalty. We shall see at a future time how these promises were kept.

Geographical conditions of the struggle with the Empire. These domestic disturbances being quelled, Agilulf,  p348 doubtless at the earliest moment of leisure, turned his thoughts towards the long struggle with the Empire; a struggle which was now passing into a chronic stage and involving a second generation of combatants. Rome, Ravenna, Naples, Genoa; these four cities were still in the Empire's grasp, and so long as these cities and the territories round them were in hostile hands, could any king of the Lombards feel that his possession of the remaining three-fourths of Italy was secure? Rome and Ravenna especially, the old and the new capitals of Emperors, were always alluring and always defying the Lombard attack. The Pope at Rome, the Exarch at Ravenna, held perilous communication with one another by the long nerve-filament of the Flaminian Way. Might it not be possible for the Lombard marauders to destroy that communication, to isolate the two capitals from one another and then to conquer them in detail? It seemed doubtless feasible enough to a Lombard duke; but it was never wholly done, and even its partial accomplishment was only attained towards the very end of the Lombard domination. Instead of the Lombard king being able to separate Rome from Ravenna, the Via Flaminia practically separated him from his fellow-countrymen in the South. The duchies of Spoleto and Benevento (whose histories will be hereafter described more in detail) became more and more detached from the great body of the monarchy, whose heart was in Pavia; and the Empire, though powerless to expel the Lombards from Italy, was powerful to divide and to scatter them.

The impression made by the events which we are now considering, on the political condition of Italy was deep and long-enduring. In our own day a new  p349 generation is arising which is accustomed to the appearance of United Italy on the map: but all men of middle age remember how the maps of their boyhood showed a great irregularly-shaped region called 'The States of the Church,' reaching across the waist of Italy, from the north-east to the south-west: almost within sight of Venice, where it touched the Adriatic, almost within sight of Naples, where it touched the open Mediterranean. That strange rhomboidal figure, which once seemed to present so hopeless a barrier to the unity of Italy, was a direct survival from the age when Rome and Ravenna were the two great strongholds of the Empire in the Italian peninsula, and when the Flaminian Way was the all‑important line of communication between the city of the Pope and the city of the Exarch.

[image ALT: zzz. It is a map of Italy in 1859.]

A map is worth a thousand words: the States of the Church are shown in purple.

Stanford's map of Italy in 1859, in the public domain.

Rome menaced by the Duke of Spoleto. There was, however, one station on the Flaminian Way which had been occupied by the invaders, and which a Lombard duke had made the seat of his power. This was Spoletium, now Spoleto, almost exactly half‑way between the Tyrrhene Sea and the Adriatic.9 Here Farwald had reigned, and here in 591 Ariulf was reigning, drawing ever nearer and nearer to Rome, so that it seemed, in those early days of Gregory's pontificate, as if the great prize of the World-City's capture might after all fall into the hands, not even of a king, but of a mere duke of the Lombards. To Gregory himself, and all true Roman hearts within the City, the outlook must have seemed indeed a dreary one. As far as they were  p350 concerned, Roman territory, once deemed world-wide,10 had shrunk into limits little wider than those of the early days of the Republic. Latium with a corner of Etruria and a few square miles of Sabine territory — this was the Ducatus Romae: this was all the territory in which the citizens could move about, and even then only with a precarious and menaced freedom. As they looked forth from the wall of their City, they knew that the Ducatus Romae was almost bounded by the visible horizon. North-westward the Cassian Road led up to the dark brow of the Ciminian Mount. Just over the shoulder of that forest-crowned hill was Viterbium, and in Viterbium reigned a Lombard duke.a On the northern horizon were the Sabine hills at whose foot lay Interamna11 with its waterfalls, and Interamna was an outpost of Lombard Spoletium. Far nearer and even within sight of Rome were the towers of Tibur and Praeneste,12 high up on their hills against the sunrise; and though these towns were still Roman, they were now frontier towns, looking forth on Lombard territory. It was only towards the south-east, where stretched the old Volscian land, and towards the west, where rolled the friendly sea, that the Roman could gaze without feeling that he was gazing towards the near dominions of a foe.

Anxious letters. The letters of Gregory, in the early years of his pontificate, give us a vivid picture of his anxieties and distresses, hemmed in as he was within such narrow  p351 bounds, daily hearing of, and all but seeing, the desolation wrought by the invaders. Writing to one of his old friends at Constantinople, the Patrician and Quaestor John, in the beginning of 591,13 he says,

'You have intended to do me a kindness [in assisting my elevation to the papacy], and may God repay you for your good mind towards me, but you have brought me, the lover of quietness, into a state of continual disquiet. For my sins I find myself bishop, not of the Romans but of the Lombards; men whose promises stab like swords, and whose kindness is bitter punishment. Hither has your patronage led me. But do you, who still have the power, fly from the business of this world because, as far as I see, the more progress a man makes in this the more he falls off from the love of God. Moreover, I send you a most sacred key, from the body of the blessed Apostle Peter, Prince of the Apostles, made illustrious by the many miracles performed by its means on the bodies of many sick persons, and enclosing some filings from his chains. Let those chains therefore, which once clasped that holy neck, now be hung round your neck and sanctify it.'

In another letter14 to the Judicial Assessor15 Paulus, Gregory begs his correspondent to come and assist in the extreme need of the Roman City, 'because outside the walls we are incessantly molested by the swords of the enemy, and within we are threatened by the yet graver peril of a mutiny of the soldiers.'

Latium ravaged. The effect of all the ravages, not only of the Lombards during the recent years, but of their predecessors during the two previous centuries, was already seen  p352 in reducing the fertile regions of the Campagna to a desert. The two towns of Minturnae and Formiae (both in our own day represented only by ruins) were to be joined under one bishop (the bishop of Formiae), 'because we have learned,' says the Pope, 'that the Church of Minturnae is, owing to the desolate condition of the country, utterly stripped both of clergy and of people.'16

The ecclesiastical administrator of Campania (Anthemius the subdeacon) was enjoined to prevent the dwellers on the Papal patrimonies, who with their wives were fleeing from barbarian savagery,17 from taking refuge on the Insula Eumorphiana,18 on which was erected an oratory to St. Peter. 'There are other places of refuge in the neighbourhood, and I think it highly inopportune that women should be dwelling on the same island with monks.'

Narni threatened (?). So far, however, up to the end of the first year of Gregory's papacy, the tide of battle had not rolled close up to the walls of Rome. But with September, 591, when his second year of office began, hostilities became more active. The terrible pestilence, from which Pope Pelagius had died,19 was still raging in Italy, and Gregory, writing to the bishop of Narni,  p353 exhorts him20 to turn the panic caused by its ravages in that city to good account spiritually, by labouring among the Lombards as well as Romans within its walls, and persuading the heathens and the heretics to turn to the true Catholic faith. Narni was emphatically a frontier city, but there is perhaps room for a doubt whether the Lombards here referred to were conquerors who had carried the city by a surprise, or the remnant of some of the Lombard armies, who, under various generals, had deserted to the Empire in recent years.21

The next letter, however22 (written on the twenty-seventh of September, 591), gives no uncertain sound of war. It is addressed to Velox, Master of the Soldiery, stationed probably at Perugia, certainly somewhere on the road between Ravenna and Rome.

Letters to Velox, Magister Militum. 'I told your Glory some time ago that I had soldiers ready to come to you at your present quarters: but as your letter informed me that the enemy were assembled and were making inroads in this direction, I decided to keep them back. Now, however, it seems expedient to send some of them to you, praying your Glory to give them suitable exhortations, that they may be ready to undertake the labour which falls upon them. . . . And do you, finding a convenient opportunity, have a conference with your glorious sons, Maurice and Vitalian: and whatever, by God's help, you shall jointly decide on for the benefit of the  p354 Republic, that do. . . . And if you shall discover that the unutterable Ariulf23 is breaking forth either towards Ravenna or in our direction, do you fall upon his rear and exercise yourselves as becomes brave men, that so, by God's help, the high opinion which the Republic already holds of you may be raised yet higher by your glorious labours.'

Danger from Etruria. The autumn and the winter of 591 passed away, apparently, without bringing the dreaded invasion. But the Pontiff was looking anxiously towards his northern frontier, desiring to strengthen himself against attack from the side of Tuscany. Here, about thirty miles from Rome, south of the Ciminian mountain, stood the two little towns of Sutrium and Nepe. These towns, which, in the infancy of the Republic, had been won for her by the valour of Camillus, were now part of her northern barrier against invasion. Sutrium and Nepe under Maurice were thus what the Firths of Forth and Clyde had been under Antoninus. The Pope, who as one grasping the helm of the State at a moment of extreme peril spoke with all the authority of a king, addressed a short letter 'to the clergy, council, and commonalty dwelling at Nepe.'24

'To the clarissimus Leontius, bearer of these presents, we have entrusted the care and responsibility for your city, that by his vigilance in all things he may make such arrangements as shall be for your advantage and that of the Republic. We therefore admonish you by these presents to render to him in  p355 all things due obedience, that none may dare to despise him, when he is toiling for your benefit. Whosoever shall resist his lawful commands will be deemed to rebel against us; and whosoever listens to him listens to us. If any should venture — which we do not expect — after this admonition to think that he may treat Leontius with contempt, let him clearly understand that he does so at his peril.'

Increased temporal power of the Pope. It is easy to see from one short letter like this how the distance from the seat of Empire, the interruption of communication with Ravenna, the lordship of the vast Patrimony of St. Peter, were all tending to turn the Pope, with his will or against his will, into a temporal sovereign. Not only would Pope Symmachus not have so written under the strong rule of Theodoric, but under the weakest of the phantom emperors who flitted across the stage in the middle of the fifth century, it is inconceivable that such a letter could have been addressed even by the mighty Pope Leo to the inhabitants of the most insignificant village in the Campagna.

Gregory's letter to Maurice and Vitalian, 592. As the spring drew on, Ariulf again showed unwelcome signs of life. In April, Gregory, writing to the bishop of Ravenna, asked him to examine into the case of certain bishops in the obedience of the Roman see, 'who cannot come hither by reason of the interposition of the enemy.' Then, in June,25 we find Gregory writing as follows to the Masters of the Soldiery, Maurice and Vitalian, who, notwithstanding their high official titles, seem to have been really  p356 his generals, responsible to him and not to the Exarch.26

'The magnificent Aldio, after the arrival of your messengers, wrote to us that Ariulf was now very near, and we feared lest the soldiers who are being despatched by you should fall into his hands. But, by God's help, our son, the glorious Master of the Soldiery,27 has made his preparations to meet him. And let your Glories also, if the enemy should march hither, fall upon his rear and, with God's help, do what you can according to your wonted valour. For we trust in the power of Almighty God and of the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, on whose natal day they hope to shed our blood, that they will find him too strong for them, and that immediately.'28

Letter of Ariulf as to the surrender of Suana. Soon after the despatch of this letter Vitalian came to Rome, had a personal interview with the Pope, and carried back his commands, both oral and written,  p357 to his comrades. Then another person appeared upon the scene — a messenger from the Lombard host, bearing a letter written by Ariulf himself,29 and dated the 11th of June.30 In this letter he mentioned, probably by way of boast, and in order to show how closely he was drawing his net round the City of Rome, that the inhabitants of Suana had promised to surrender to him. Suana, now the miserable little village of Sovanab in the Etruscan Maremma, was a strongly fortified town as late as the thirteenth century, though its chief celebrity was derived from the fact that there was born the only other Pope31 who could for a moment contest with the first of the name the title of Gregory the Great. In the year 592 it can only have been an outlying fortress of the Empire, being fully forty miles beyond the frontier of the Ducatus Romae, and the marvel is that it should have resisted the Lombard attack so long.

With the despatch32 which the Pope now sent to the two generals, Maurice and Vitalian, he enclosed the letter of Ariulf, and continued, 'Do you therefore carefully read this letter, and see if the citizens of Suana have persevered in the faith which they promised to the Republic. Take from them important hostages, the possession of whom may give you confidence  p358 in the fulfilment of their promises; and bind them moreover with fresh oaths, returning to them that which you have already taken by way of pledge,33 and healing their spirits by your speeches.'

So far had spoken the monarch and the statesman, but then came in the churchman's fear of doing anything that might put the souls of his flock in jeopardy. If the Suanese had sworn, even to the hurt of the State, they must not be encouraged to break their oaths.

'But if you shall clearly ascertain that they have treated with Ariulf for their city, or even have given him hostages with that intent — a point as to which his enclosed letter leaves us in doubt — then give the whole matter your most careful consideration, that neither your souls nor ours may come under any burden by reason of [violated] oaths. Accomplish then whatsoever you may deem advantageous to the Republic. Let your Glories so act that on the one hand we give no occasion for blame to our adversaries [at the Imperial Court], nor on the other hand neglect God while looking to the welfare of the State. Be careful, my glorious sons, because as far as I can ascertain, Ariulf has collected his hostile forces, and he is said to be now quartered at Nardiae,34 and if, through God's anger against him,  p359 he should choose to direct his course hither, do you, by the Lord's help, lay waste his own territory,35 or at least let those whom you send carefully post their sentinels36 lest some serious mishap should befall you.'

How the affair of Suana ended we are not informed, but the most probable conjecture is that Ariulf's was no vain boast, and that the Etrurian outpost did at this time fall into the hands of the Lombards.

Gregory provides for the defence of Naples. All round the horizon the sky seemed darkening. Arichis, duke of Beneventum, was co‑operating with his countryman Ariulf and pressing hard on Naples.37 As the Pope could not stir up the Exarch to provide for the defence of that important city by sending an Imperial duke with sufficient reinforcements, he took upon himself to send the 'magnificent' tribune, Constantius, to bear military rule in the city, and wrote a letter38 ordering all the soldiers quartered there to render him due obedience. What troubled him most was the apparent indifference of the Exarch, Romanus, who seemed heedless to all the misery which the fury of Ariulf and his Lombards was bringing on the peasants of Campania. On behalf of Romanus it may be urged that the one all‑important matter was to keep the communications open between Rome and Ravenna, and that every soldier who could  p360 be spared was needed for the defence of Perugia, which had become the vital point in these communications. Estrangement between the Pope and the Exarch. But, whether justly or unjustly, Gregory was now thoroughly out of temper with Romanus, and the project, the momentous project, of forming a separate peace with Ariulf and cultivating the friendship of Spoleto, since Ravenna was so callous and unjust, was already taking shape in the Pope's mind. It was with such thoughts stirring in his soul that he wrote to John, bishop of Ravenna, probably in the month of July, 592.39

Letter to the bishop of Ravenna. 'Set it not down to indolence but to ill‑health that I have made such scant reply to the numerous letters of your Blessedness. For my sins, when Ariulf came [close up] to the City of Rome, slaying some of our people and mutilating others, I was smitten with such sadness that I suffered from an attack of colic. Much did I marvel what could be the reason why the well-known solicitude of your Holiness on our behalf did not profit this City nor relieve my necessities. But when I got your letters which went astray,40 I recognised that you do indeed act zealously for me, but that you have to deal with a man with whom such zeal is of no avail. It must be, therefore, to punish me for my sins that he who is now concerned41 only pretends to fight against our enemies, and at the same time forbids us to make peace, although now we should be quite unable to do so even if we wished it, because Ariulf, having with him the army of Auctarit and Nordulf,42 claims that gratuities for them shall be  p361 handed over to him43 before he will condescend to say anything about peace.'

Gregory then goes on to speak about the schismatical bishops of Istria and the Three Chapters Controversy, and continues,

'Be assured that I shall not cease to write to our most serene lords [the Emperor and his son] on that matter with perfect freedom and earnestness. But you need not be distressed by the animosity of the aforesaid most excellent Patrician Romanus [against me], because as far as I am superior to him in place and dignity, with so much the more patience and gravity I ought to bear his impertinence.44

'If, however, there is any chance of getting a hearing, let your Brotherhood deal with him, so that we may make peace with Ariulf, should there be any hope, however faint, of accomplishing that result. The regular soldiery, as he himself knows, have been removed from Rome. Only the Theodosians remain, and as they have not received their donative, they will scarce consent to do sentry duty on the walls.45  p362 Since the City is thus bereft of all its defenders if it have not peace, how shall it continue to exist?

'As to the city of Naples, you must press the most excellent Exarch hard. For Arichis,46 as we have heard, has joined himself to Ariulf, and in violation of his promise has gone against the Republic. He is plotting deeply against that city, and if a duke be not speedily sent to its relief, it may be absolutely given up for lost.

'As for your suggestion about sending alms to the burnt city of Severus the schismatic,47 your Brotherhood would not have made it if you had known what bribes he has been sending to the palace to inflame persons against us. And even had he not been thus active, we must remember that our pity is primarily due to the faithful, and only in the second place to the enemies of the Church. All the more so as hard by is the city of Fanum,48 many of whose inhabitants have been carried captive, and to which in the past year I wished to send remittances, but could not on account of the interposition of the enemy. It seems to me, therefore, that you ought to send the abbot Claudius thither with a pretty large sum of money, to redeem all such free persons as he may find to be there held in bondage for their ransoms, or to  p363 be still in captivity.49 Make your mind easy about the sum of money to be transmitted to you [for this purpose], because whatever you decide upon I shall be glad to pay. But if you can convince the most excellent Patrician Romanus that we ought to make peace with Ariulf, I am ready to send you another person with whom these matters of ransom can be better arranged.'50

Separate peace apparently concluded between the Pope and Ariulf, July, 592. After this letter, the name of Ariulf fades for a time out of Gregory's correspondence. Evidently the stress of war and the fear of the capture of the City were soon lightened, and we may assert with little fear of contradiction that the cause of this change was a separate peace concluded between Rome and Spoleto about the end of July 592. In negotiating this peace, the Papal coffers were probably put under contribution, in order to satisfy the demands of Ariulf, since Gregory himself, in alluding to the transaction three years later, says that the peace was made 'without any cost to the Republic.'51

Another account of Ariulf's reconciliation. Having thus carefully traced the course of events  p364 as revealed to us by the Papal letters we may now listen to a story told by Paulus Diaconus in his life of Gregory,52 in which, though Ariulf's name is not mentioned, the similarity of events is so great that we can hardly doubt that Ariulf is the person alluded to.53

'There was a certain tyrant who greatly oppressed the Roman Church, troubling its repose by his unbearable importunity, laying waste its possessions, and treating the serfs belonging thereto with the utmost cruelty. For which wrongs the blessed Pope admonished him by means of messengers, but he was made all the more furious by this reproof, and came mad with rage, to depopulate the City itself. But on his arrival, he was met in conference by the blessed Gregory. His heart was touched by Divine grace, and he perceived that there was so much force in the Pontiff's words that with most humble courtesy he made satisfaction to the pious successor of the Apostles,54 and promised that he would ever after be the subject and devoted servant of the Roman Church. Finally, he being afterwards sick [apparently] unto death, besought the prayers of the venerable Pope, and received for answer that God would grant unto him further space for repentance.'

It seems clear that, as here described, the raging enemy of the Church was converted by this interview, if not into a subject ally, at least into a respectful and courteous antagonist. The moral miracle of Leo I's  p365 subjugation of Attila was thus repeated after the lapse of a century and a half, by the greatest of his successors. That Ariulf, rough warrior as he might be, was not insensible to influences which may be called religious or superstitious according to the narrator's point of view, is shown by a story told of him by Paulus in the Lombard history.55 Ariulf at Camerinum. When warring against the Romans at Camerinum (possibly in that very expedition which caused the captivity of the citizens of Fanum),56 he enquired of his men, after they had gotten the victory, who was that warrior whom he had seen fighting so valiantly. 'There was no braver warrior than yourself,' said his soldiers. 'No, assuredly, there was one better than I, who, whenever one of the opposite party wished to strike me, guarded me with his shield.' Soon after they came near to the basilica57 in which rests the venerable body of the blessed martyr St. Sabinus; and Ariulf asked, 'Whose is that ample house?' Some Catholics in his suite answered, 'There rests the martyr Sabinus, whose help Christians are wont to invoke when they go forth to war.' Ariulf, who was still a heathen, reasoned, 'How can a dead man give help to the living?' Having so said, he leaped from his horse and went in to view the basilica; and while the others were praying, he strolled round the church admiring the pictures58 on the walls. As soon as he saw the blessed martyr's portrait, he exclaimed, with an oath, 'That is the face and that is the figure of  p366 the man who guarded me in the fight.' Then all understood that Sabinus himself had been Ariulf's defender.

So runs the story in the pages of Ariulf's countryman Paulus. What the Emperor or the Exarch said of such a miraculous interference on behalf of an enemy of the Roman Republic no Byzantine chronicler informs us.

Anger of the Emperor at the tidings of the peace. The separate peace thus concluded by Gregory with Ariulf aroused great indignation, when the tidings of it reached Ravenna and Constantinople. Though probably a wise and statesmanlike measure, there can be no doubt that — to use a legal phrase — it was quite ultra vires, being entirely beyond any legal competency yet possessed by the bishop of Rome in 'the Roman Republic.' An archbishop of Canterbury negotiating for himself a separate peace with Napoleon I, at the time of his meditated Boulogne invasion, or, to take a less improbable contingency — a bishop of Durham making private terms for himself and the territories of St. Cuthbert with the king of Scots, on the eve of the battle of Flodden; these hypothetical cases offer fair analogies to the conduct of Gregory on this occasion, on which he did indeed make a memorable stride towards complete independence. It appears to have been at this time, and was possibly in order to undo Gregory's work, that March of Romanus to Rome. Romanus at last marched with an army from Ravenna to Rome. It would seem as if the independent action of the Pope accomplished that which his piteous entreaties had failed to effect in stirring up the Exarch to action. His campaign was evidently a victorious one. The towns of Sutrium, Polimartium, Horta, Tuder, Ameria, Luceoli,  p367 and Perusia,59 were all recovered from the Lombards,60 and the Exarch returned in triumph to Ravenna.61

This expedition of Romanus is usually represented as a mere outbreak of temper on his part, a petulant explosion of wrath on the part of a man 'who could make neither war nor peace,' and whom by this ill‑timed display of energy, sacrificed all the fruits of Gregory's diplomacy. It is not clear, however, that we are right in so regarding it. If we look at the map, we shall see that the loss of these places (which had probably all fallen during Ariulf's campaign of 592) fatally jeopardised the line of communication between Rome and Ravenna. Luceoli, Tuder, Ameria, were all important stages on the Via Flaminia,c while Sutrium, Polimartium and Horta were towns within the border of the Ducatus Romae, as it remained for the next century. Gregory's desire for peace, and his pity for the sufferings of the war‑worried coloni, were praiseworthy and Christian, but Romanus was justified in thinking that a peace concluded on the basis of the status quo in July 592, would leave the Imperial possession in Italy at the mercy of the barbarians.

Fortunes of Perugia. The case of Perugia was peculiar. That interesting old Etruscan city, on her high Umbrian hill, held,  p368 probably, the true key of the position; but we are, unfortunately, not able fully to follow her varying fortunes. It is now pretty generally agreed that up to the year 592 the city had remained in the uninterrupted possession of the Empire. In that year it was taken, perhaps by Ariulf, perhaps by a Lombard duke named Maurisio, who was entrusted with the government of the city.62 This man, however, surrendered his post to Romanus, deserted his countrymen, entered the service of the Empire, and, in that capacity, held Perugia for the Exarch in 593. As we shall see, it was almost immediately won back by the Lombards, but it was probably restored to the Empire at the general peace in 599,63 for it was certainly Imperial in 735, and probably during the whole course of the preceding century.

Agilulf's campaign, 593 (?). This successful campaign of Romanus brought king Agilulf into the field. The rebellion of the dukes had probably kept him fully employed in 592 while Ariulf and Arichis were carrying on the war in the centre and south of Italy, but now, apparently in the spring of 593, he took the field, crossed the river Po, and marched with a powerful army to Perugia.64  p369 After a siege of some days, the city surrendered, and Duke Maurisio, for his treason to the cause of the Lombards, was at once put to death.

Rome threatened. Agilulf then marched on Rome, where Gregory was at that time engaged in giving daily homilies on the book of Ezekiel. There was something in the mysterious visions of the captive prophet by the river Chebar, something in his stern denunciations of coming  p370 woe, which exactly harmonised with the mood of mind of the melancholy Pope, who sincerely believed — and it is the key to much of his conduct — that the end of the world was visibly approaching.65 He had already, in his sixth homily, bewailed the overthrown cities, the desolated country, the departed glory of the senate and people, the stately buildings of Rome herself daily toppling in decay. 'After the men have failed, even the walls fall. Where are they who aforetime rejoiced in her magnificence? Where is all their pomp, their pride, their frequent disordered revelry? Lo, she sitteth desolate, she is trodden down, she is filled with groaning. Now, no one hastens to her that he may get forward in the world: not one of her mighty and violent men remaineth to oppress the poor and to divide the spoil.'

So was Gregory daily haranguing from the pulpit when the news came that Agilulf had crossed the Po. Then, after a few days, came the manifest and miserable signs of war. Some citizens crept back to Rome, their hands having been chopped off by the savage foe; others were reported to be taken prisoners; others slain.66 Gregory himself, from the battlements of the threatened City, saw the captive Romans driven over the Campagna, with halters round their necks roped together like dogs, on their way to slavery in the land of the Franks.67 He closed the great uncial manuscript of Ezekiel with a sigh, descended from the pulpit, and preached no more homilies on the prophet.  p371 Perhaps he called to mind that even so had St. Jerome been labouring to expound the mysteries of Ezekiel when he received the news of the capture of the City by Alaric; an event, the horrors of which, after nearly two centuries, seemed likely to be repeated by the more barbarous Agilulf. However this may be, the Pope turned from his spiritual labours as expositor of the Bible, and, aided by his namesake Gregory, the Prefect of the City, and by Castus, the Master of the Soldiery, set himself vigorously to work to provide for the defence of Rome.

The siege of Rome averted, After all, the City was not stormed, was perhaps not even subjected to a long blockade, though there are indications of something like a famine having prevailed within its walls. How was it that Agilulf did not write his name in the list of Rome-capturers, where Alaric, Gaiseric and Totila had written theirs? It is a curious illustration of the sparsely-scattered lights by which the history of this period has to be written, that the answer to this important question comes to us from far Copenhagen. In the continuation of Prosper's Chronicle, which has been frequently referred to in these pages, and which is known as Codex Havniensis,68 we find it recorded that probably by Gregory's intercession. 'Agilulf at last, with the whole force of his army, set forth for the siege of the City of Rome; but on his arrival he found the Blessed Gregory, who was then gloriously ruling the Church, ready to meet him at the steps of the basilica of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. Being melted by Gregory's prayers, and greatly moved by the wisdom and the religious gravity of so great  p372 a man, he relinquished the siege of the City. He kept, however, the spoil which he had already taken, and, returning, betook himself to Milan.'

Other causes may have concurred to produce this result; the fear of fever, the remembrance of the long and disastrous Gothic siege, disaffection, or even rebellion, on the part of some of the Lombard dukes.69 But as in the case of Attila, so here the venerable personality of the recognised head of Christendom seems to have been the main instrument in procuring peace.

The Pope's efforts as a peace-maker between the Empire and the Lombards. But the reconciliation between Pope and King, if  p373 it was to lead to a durable peace for Italy, must necessarily be followed by a reconciliation between King and Emperor. For this the Pope seems at once to have begun working, since we find him, in a letter written in September, 593, urging the bishop of Milan to use his good offices to reconcile Agilulf and Romanus, and even empowering him to offer something like a Papal guarantee for the Lombard's good behaviour.70 Moreover, it was just about this time (October, 593) that Gregory gave orders71 for a diligent search to be made for the vessels of Church plate, that had been carried into Sicily by bishops fleeing from their sees in Italy, which were menaced by the Lombard ravagers. These vessels were to be all collected into one place and carefully labelled, in order that when peace was re‑established — a contingency which the Pope then regarded as probable — they might be restored to the Churches which were their rightful owners.

Maurice's edict prohibiting the Civil and Military servants of the State to embrace the monastic life. But peace between two such essentially antagonistic powers as the Lombard and the Greek was not easily to be obtained, nor was the Pope in these years in such favour at Constantinople as to be an acceptable mediator. The Emperor had issued an edict, which seemed to be rendered necessary by the increasing tendency of the servants of the State to evade their patriotic obligations by hiding themselves in a monastery, or assuming the office of the priesthood. The terms of this now lost edict appear to have been, 'That no one who is engaged in the administration of public business shall undertake ecclesiastical duty:  p374 nor shall it be lawful for him to change his condition72 and enter a monastery. The same prohibition applies to all officers and to every private soldier who has once been marked on the hand as belonging to the army, until his term of service is expired.'73

Gregory's outspoken remonstrance. Against this edict Gregory remonstrated in a letter74 which is perhaps the most famous of all his Epistles, full as it is of holy indignation and couched in terms of bold rebuke, such as the Emperors never heard from the pliant Patriarchs of Constantinople. To the first part of the law, forbidding civil servants to accept office in the Church, the Pope made no objection. The result of his own sorrowful observation was that 'Whosoever shall doff the secular habit from a desire to scramble into ecclesiastical office, wants to change his world, not to leave it.' But the prohibition to enter a monastery was a widely different matter. It could not be justified by any supposed loss to the State, for any claims which it might have on the estate of a civil servant would be defrayed out of the property of the monastery. And as for the soldiers, why was the way of salvation to be closed up to them by Imperial decree? There were many who could not possibly lead a religious life while still clothed with the secular habit. Was the Emperor's soldier to be forbidden to become a soldier of Christ?

Then, like another Bossuet or Bourdaloue, confronting  p375 Louis XIV in the plenitude of his power, Gregory turns and addresses these daring words to 'the Master of all things': —

'Lo! thus to thee, through me the lowest of his and thy servants, Christ makes answer, saying, "From a notary I made thee Captain of the Guard,75 from Captain of the Guard Caesar, from Caesar Emperor, and not only that, but father of Emperors yet to be. I have committed my priests to thy keeping, and wouldest thou withdraw thy soldiers from My service?" Most pious lord! I pray thee answer thy servant what reply wilt thou make to thy Lord, when He comes and says these things to thee at the Judgment?

'But perhaps you think that there is no such thing as the honest conversion of a soldier to the monastic life. I, your unworthy servant, know how many converted soldiers in my days have wrought miracles in the monasteries which they have entered. But by this law, not even one such soldier is to be allowed the privilege of conversion.

'I beg my lord to enquire, what previous Emperor gave forth such a law, and then let him carefully consider if that Emperor [Julian] set an example which he ought to follow. Let him consider this also, that he is hereby forbidding men to renounce the world at the very time when the world's own end is drawing near. For lo! there will be no delay: the time is at hand when, while the sky is burning, burning too the earth and the elements flashing fire, with angels and archangels, with thrones and dominations, with principalities and powers, the terrible Judge shall  p376 come. If He shall have forgiven all thy other sins, and shall allege against thee but this one law which thou hast promulgated, what, I pray, will be thy excuse? Wherefore, by the same terrible Judge I adjure thee not to allow all thy tears, thy prayers, thy fastings, and thine alms, for the sake of some supposed advantage, to be clouded over before the eyes of Almighty God: but either by some fresh interpretation or by some open change to turn aside the rigour of that law. For then does my lord's army prevail most against his enemies when God's army grows strongest in prayer.

'I verily, as becomes one subject to your orders, have caused that law to be transmitted to various parts of your dominions: but I hereby announce to my Most Serene Lords by the pages of this memorandum,76 that the law itself is utterly repugnant to Almighty God. Thus have I paid the debt which I owe to each, to the Emperor obedience, to God the assertion of His rights.'77

 p377  What was the result of these energetic remonstrances by the Pope we are not distinctly informed, but it is probable that the obnoxious edict, if not formally rescinded, was allowed to slumber unenforced in the Statute-book, and silently passed into oblivion.

Unfriendly influence of John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople. If some soreness was left in the Emperor's mind by Gregory's vigorous protest, this was not likely to be allayed by his chief ecclesiastical adviser. John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople, was one of the few eminent ecclesiastics who might conceivably claim to rival Gregory in the severity of his asceticism; and it is evident that the relations were never cordial between these two holy men, both so celebrated for the rigorous treatment of their bodies, and both really contending for the first place in the Christian hierarchy. The Empress Constantina petitions for the head of St. Paul. It seems probable, though the fact is not expressly stated, that a certain letter addressed by the Empress Constantina to the Pope in the spring of 594, was secretly prompted by John of Constantinople. This letter contained the really astounding request that the head of St. Paul might be severed from his body, which was believed to repose in his stately basilica by the Ostian road, and might be sent to Constantinople to enrich a chapel which Constantina was building in the Imperial palace in honour of the Apostle. If John the Faster was consulted about this letter he must have taken known that it was quite impossible that the Empress's petition should be granted, and he may have calculated that the inevitable  p378 refusal would place his rival at some disadvantage in the competition for Imperial favour. Gregory's reply. Gregory replied to the Empress that her request was one which he could not and dared not comply with.78 'For the bodies of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, reposing in their churches, gleam with such miracles and such terrors79 that we cannot approach them, even for prayer, without great fear. When my predecessor [Pelagius II], of blessed memory, wished to change the silver [canopy] which was over the most holy body of St. Peter, though it was at a distance of fifteen feet from the corpse, a sign of no small terror appeared unto him. I, too, wished to make a similar improvement in connection with the most holy body of St. Paul, and found it necessary to dig somewhat deeply near the sepulchre. But the superintendent of the place having found certain bones not in immediate contact with the tomb, and having dared to lift them and remove them to another place, beheld certain sad signs and died by a sudden death.' The Pope then proceeds to relate a number of similar occurrences which showed the anger of the saints against those who ventured to disturb their bones. Some of his stories admit of an obvious physical explanation, but not all. The whole letter is an extraordinary one, proceeding as it does from the pen of one who had been a great Roman magistrate, accustomed to the careful weighing of evidence: and we rise from its perusal as from our study of the same author's life of St. Benedict, with the painful question in our minds, 'Is it possible that this man  p379 of clear and shrewd intellect really believed all that he has here recorded?'

Affair of Maximus, bishop of Salona. Another root of bitterness between the Pope and the Emperor was the election of a certain Maximus as bishop of Salona, that Dalmatian city which a century and a half before this time saw a fallen Emperor80 officiating in its cathedral. Honoratus the archdeacon was the candidate for this see favoured by Gregory, who disliked the character of Maximus, and suspected him of winning the votes of his most influential supporters by simony. The contest was a long one (593‑599), and ended after six years in something that resembled a Papal surrender; Gregory accused of the murder of Malchus. and meanwhile Maximus, secure in the favour of the Imperial court, ventured on acts of the most outrageous defiance to the see of Rome, and even dared to accuse the saintly Gregory of murder, because a Dalmatian bishop named Malchus, who had been summoned to Italy to account for his mal­administration of the Papal Patrimony, had died suddenly in exile.

'It has come to my ears,' said the Pope, 'that Maximus has sent a certain cleric [to the Emperor] to tell him that the bishop Malchus was killed while in custody on a charge of embezzlement.81 On this matter I have only one brief suggestion to make to my Most Serene Lords, that if I, their humble servant, had chosen to mix myself up with the murder even of a Lombard, at this day the Lombard nation would have neither king, duke, nor count but would be all  p380 split up in hopeless confusion. But because I fear God I shrink from imbruing my hands in the blood of any man.

'As for Malchus he was neither in custody nor under any kind of duresse; but on the day on which he pleaded his cause and lost it, he was without my knowledge taken home by Boniface the notary, who invited him to dinner. He was treated at the banquet as an honoured guest, but died suddenly in the night, as I think that you, dear friend,82 have already heard.'

Remittances from Constantinople to Rome, 593. At the beginning of 595 the relations seem to have become some more friendly. On the 12th of March in that year we find the Pope writing to the Emperor,83 thanking him for a remittance of 30 lbs. of gold [£1200] 'brought by my fellow-servant the Treasury-clerk,84 Busa,' for distribution among the priests, the poor, and especially the nuns who had flocked to Rome from the various parts of Italy that were invaded by the Lombards, and were now eking out a bare subsistence in the convents and other places wherein they were quartered. He also reports that Castus, the Master of the Soldiery, has distributed the donative85 to the soldiers out of the funds brought by the same messenger: that this gift has been gratefully received by the soldiers and has put an end to the murmurs and indiscipline which were before prevalent in the ranks.

Two months later (May, 595) Gregory wrote86 to  p381 Severus, the Assessor87 of Exarch Romanus, entreating him to use his influence with his chief in favour of peace. He says that those who sit by the side of rulers and who love them with pure affection, ought to make them such suggestions as, without detracting from their own reputation for wisdom, may tend to the salvation of the ruler's soul.

'Therefore, as I know what faithful love you bear to the Most Excellent Exarch, I desire to inform your Greatness of the course of affairs, that you, being in possession of this knowledge, may use your influence with him on behalf of reasonable proposals.

Letter to the Exarch's Assessor in behalf of peace. 'Know, then, that Agilulf, king of the Lombards, is not unwilling to make a general peace, if my Lord the Patrician is of the same mind. He complains that many things have been done in his district contrary to the terms of the truce.88 He claims that compensation shall be made to him for these wrongs, if they are proved to the satisfaction of the judges, and on the other hand he is willing to make the fullest reparation if any breach of the peace can be proved against his side. As this request is reasonable, judges should be appointed to take cognizance of acts of violence committed by either party; and let us hope that thus, by God's favour, a general peace may be firmly made. How necessary such a peace is to all of us you well know. Act, therefore,  p382 with your usual wisdom, that the Most Excellent Exarch may be induced to come in to this proposal without delay, and may not prove himself to be the one obstacle to a peace which is so expedient for the State. If he will not consent, Agilulf again promises to make a separate peace with us; but we know that in that case several islands and other places will necessarily be lost. Let the Exarch then consider these points and hasten to make peace, that we may at least have a little interval in which we may enjoy a moderate amount of rest, and, by the Lord's help, may recruit the strength of the Republic for future resistance.'

Sharp rebuke from Maurice to Gregory. But the Pope's noble persistence in the cause of peace was not yet to be crowned with success. Hardly had this epistle been despatched when he received a letter from the Emperor, the sharpest and the harshest to bear of all that had reached him from that quarter. The contents of that letter, itself lost, may easily be conjectured from the reply. All the transactions with the Lombards for the five preceding years were passed in review, and Gregory found himself accused of disloyalty, of presumption, of prodigality and — hardest stroke of all — of stupidity, all in one breath. The letter of reply is so important that it is necessary to quote it almost entire.89

The Pope's answer, June 5, 595. 'Gregory to Maurice, Augustus.

'In their most serene commands the Piety of my Lords,90 whilst rebuking me for certain faults, has with an appearance of sparing, not spared me of  p383 all. For in your letter, though you politely use the word "simplehearted," you do in fact call me "a fool."91 Now, in the Scriptures we are always exhorted to let our simplicity be mingled with prudence, as it is said of Job, "He was a man simple and righteous": as the Apostle Paul says, "I would have you wise unto that which is good and simple concerning evil," and as the Truth Himself says in the gospel, "Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves." It follows, therefore, that when I, in my Lords' most serene letters, am said to have been deceived by the wiles of Ariulf, and am called "simple," without the addition of "prudent," your meaning, without doubt, must be that I am a fool. And I myself must confess that you are right. Even if your Piety did not use the word, my very circumstances cry aloud "He is a fool." If I were not, I should never have consented to suffer those things which I have suffered here from the swords of the Lombards. As for my report concerning Ariulf, that he was ready with his whole heart to come over to the Republic, you do not believe me. That means that I am accused of telling lies. But even if I am not worthy to be considered a priest,92 I know this much about the priest's office, that he is bound to render service to the truth, and that it is a deadly insult to call him a liar. I have long perceived, however, that more confidence is reposed in Norduulf or in Leo than in me,93 and now those who come between us receive more credence than is given to my assertions.

 p384  'And in truth if the captivity of our land were not daily and hourly increasing, I would gladly hold my peace as to the contempt and derision that are poured upon me. But this sorely afflicts me, that the same temper which accuses me of falsehood permits Italy to be daily led captive under the Lombard yoke, and that while no confidence is reposed in my assertions the forces of the enemy are enormously increasing. I would suggest, however, to my Most Pious Lord, that he may think of me all the evil that he pleases: but for the good of the Republic and for the cause of the liberation of Italy, let him not easily lend his pious ears to the first comer, but let him trust facts rather than words.

'Do not let my Lord, in the consciousness of his earthly power, be quick to take offence with bishops,94 but let him remember Whose servants they are, that he may show them fitting reverence. God Himself, speaking through the mouth of Moses, calls priests "gods,"95 and the prophet Malachi says,96 "The priest's lips should keep knowledge and they should seek the law at his mouth, for he is the angel [messenger] of the Lord of Hosts." The history of the Church bears witness that when the bishops were  p385 assembled in council [at Nicaea] Constantine burned the indictments preferred against some of them, before their faces, saying, "Ye are gods, appointed by the true God.97 Go and judge your own causes yourselves, for it is not fitting that we should be the judges of gods." In which sentence, pious Lord! he gained more honour for himself by his humility than he conferred on the bishops by his reverence. Even the pagan Emperors of old, who worshipped gods of wood and stone, gave highest honour to their priests, and surely a Christian Emperor should not do less to his bishops.

'These suggestions I make to my pious Lords, not for mine own sake, but for the sake of other bishops. For I am but a sinful man, and as I am incessantly failing in my duty towards Almighty God, so I trust that the strokes which I am now daily and hourly receiving may somewhat lighten my sentence at His awful Judgment‑day: and I think that you may even please the Almighty the better, the more harshly you deal with His unworthy servant. For I have already received many strokes and when my Lords' orders came, I found some consolations that I did not hope for. If possible, I will briefly enumerate these strokes to which I refer.

Review of events of the past three years. 'The first was that the peace which, without any cost to the Republic, I had concluded with the Lombards encamped in Tuscia, was wrested from me.

'Then, when peace had been broken, the soldiers were removed from Rome. Some were slain by the enemy, others quartered at Narni and Perugia, and  p386 that Perugia might be held, Rome was left unguarded.

'A heavier stroke after this was the arrival of Agilulf, when, with my own eyes, I saw Romans coupled together like dogs, with ropes round their necks, being led away to be sold in France.98

'Then, as we who were within the City by God's protection escaped his hands, an attempt was made to show that we were responsible for the failure of the cornº-supplies, which cannot possibly be stored in any great quantity or for a long time in this City, as I have shown more fully in another memorandum.99

'For myself, I am not harassed by any of these things, because my conscience bears me witness that I am ready to suffer any adversity, if only I may escape all these evils without peril to my soul. But for the Glorious persons, Gregory the Prefect [of the City], and Castus, Master of the Soldiery, I am distressed, greatly distressed, since they neglected no possible precaution, but endured the toils of police-duty and sentry-duty100 during the aforesaid siege with the greatest alacrity, and then, after all, are struck by the severe indignation of My Lords. All which plainly shows that it is not their own conduct, but their connection with me, that brings them into trouble, and that as they laboured together with me in our  p387 tribulations, so they are to be tribulated together with me after our labours are ended.

'As for my pious Lords reminding me of the awful and terrible judgment of Almighty God, I pray them in the same Almighty Name not to do that again. We do not yet know how each man will appear on that day. As the illustrious preacher Paul says, "Judge nothing before the time, till the Lord cometh who shall illuminate the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the secrets of all hearts." I will say this, however, briefly, that as an unworthy sinner I have more hope from the mercy of Jesus when He comes, than I have from the justice of your Piety. Men know little about His judgment, and perchance the things which you praise He will blame, and those which you blame He will praise. Therefore, amid all this uncertainty, I can but have recourse to tears, and pray that the same Almighty God may guide our most pious lord by His own hand, and that in that dread day He may find me free from fault, having enabled me so to please men (if that be necessary) as not to forfeit His everlasting favour.'

Strained relations between Emperor and Pope. This letter of Gregory, bold almost to insolence, marks the 'dead point' of his strivings after peace with the Lombards. He had now occupied the chair of St. Peter, and Agilulf the throne of Pavia, for nearly five years. Peace was their common interest, but the relation in which Gregory stood to Constantinople made that peace as yet unattainable. The Emperor, though powerless to win back Italy, and not too sure of being able to defend even the fragments of it which were left to him, would not recognise, and thereby seem to legalise, the past conquests of the Lombards.  p388 For his attempt to persuade him to adopt that course the Pope had now received a sharp reprimand, which, had Maurice been Justinian and Gregory Vigilius, would probably have been followed by deportation to an island in the Propontis, and a formal charge of laesa majestas.

The Author's Notes:

1 Paulus, III.35 and IV.1. Weise (p149) thinks the two missions were virtually one, but I doubt this.

2 By Paulus, H. L. IV.1.

3 In the year 591, according to Paulus, there was a battle between Childebert and Chlotochar, in which 30,000 men were slain.

4 Westward of Lago Maggiore. The island is now called S. Giulio (not Giuliano). These Lake-citadels remind us of the prehistoric lake-dwellers of Switzerland and Denmark.

5 The form Gandulf seems to have no MS. authority.

6 This is the conjecture of Lupi (I.178 and 192), and in spite of the depreciatory remarks of Pabst (p427 n. 3), it seems a probable one.

7 See p246.

8 This deposit confirms Lupi's view of a close connection between Gaidulf and Authari.

9 To avoid repetition I may refer to chapters X and XXIV of the fifth book of this history for a description of the stages along the Via Flaminia.


'Quicunque mundo terminus obstitit,

Hunc tangat armis, visere gestiens

Qua parte debacchentur ignes,

Qua nebulae pluviique rores.'

Horace, Ode III.3.53‑56.

11 Terni.

12 Tivoli and Palestrina.

13 Ep. I.31 (30).

14 Ep. I.3 (3).

15 Scholasticus.

16 Ep. I.8 (8).

17 'Multos virorum cum mulieribus suis diversorum patrimoniorum illuc, pro necessitate feritatis barbaricae refugisse' (Ep. I.50 (48)).

18 This is placed by the commentators, but with some hesitation, at or near the island of Ponza, off the coast of Gaeta. I observe near it on the map some minute islands called 'le Formiche' (the ants), which perhaps preserve a remembrance of the name 'Eumorphiana.'

19 'Lues inguinaria.'

20 II.2 (4).

21 This last is Troya's theory (IV.1.248), and I confess that the peaceful phrase employed by Gregory, 'Langobardorum sive Romanorum qui in eodem loco degunt,' seems to me rather to favour it.

22 II.3 (7).

23 'Et si huc vel ad Ravennates partes nec dicendum Ariulphum cognoveritis excurrere.'

24 'Clero ordini et plebi consistenti Nepe,' II.11 (14).

25 Ewald apparently assigns this letter to July, but his note shows that he with Weise (p161, n. 105) considers June the more probable date.

26 Ep. II.29 (32).

27 This is thought to be Castus, successor of Velox, who held the office of Magister Militum under the Exarch in 591.

28 'Speramus enim in omnipotentis Dei virtutem et in ipsius beati Petri Principis Apostolorum in cujus natale sanguina (sic) effundi desiderant quia ipsi sibi contrarium sine mora invenient.' There has been much discussion as to the meaning of this dies natalis of Peter; Troya arguing for the natalis Cathedrae S. Petri, which was celebrated in January; but the prevailing opinion is that Gregory means the day of the martyrdom of St. Peter (and St. Paul), which was celebrated on the 29th of June. Taken by itself the letter looks like the counterpart of that addressed to Velox in September, 591 (see p353), and I still think that the evidence adduced by Ewald (Neues Archiv, III.585) is more in favour of that date than any other; but it is difficult to make it fit with even the January date of the dies natalis Petri. As this is one of what Ewald calls the P letters, and undated, it is more difficult to assign its date accurately than it would be if it belonged to R.

29 Apparently, then, Ariulf was able to write. The letter is not preserved.

30 The Benedictine edition reads 'Januarii' for 'Junii,' but the long controversy raised by this date (for which see Weise, pp157‑161) is settled by Ewald's emphatic statement, 'Januarii sine causâ scripserunt editores.' It is noteworthy that the Pope says, 'Undecimo die mensis Junii,' abandoning here the classical notation by Kalends, Nones, and Ides.

31 Gregory VII.

32 Ep. II.30 (33).

33 'Reddentes eis quod loco pignoris sustulistis.' It is difficult to understand why the generals should be taking fresh hostages with one hand, and restoring pledges with the other; but that seems the necessary rendering of the text.

34 'Et in Nardias dicitur resideri.' Ewald thinks this word Nardiae may mean some plain by the river Nar, but he is not wholly averse to changing Nardias into Narnias, and understanding it of the frontier city Narni. To me all the evidence, even as quoted by Ewald, seems contrary to the theory that Narni at this time passed even temporarily into the hands of the Lombards.

35 'Loca ipsius, quantum vos Dominus adjuvaverit depraedate.'

36 'Sculcas.' Ewald quotes Theophylact VI.9 (describing a campaign against the Gepidae), Οἱ Ῥωμαῖοι . . . τῆς διαφρουρᾶς κατημέλησαν ἣν σκούλκαν σύνηθες τῇ πατρίῳ φωνῇ Ῥωμαίοις ἀποκαλεῖν.

37 Ep. II.46 (45).

38 Ep. II.31 (34).

39 Ep. II.46 (45).

40 'Scriptis vestris discurrentibus' (?).

41 The Exarch.

42 Evidently two Lombard generals, of whom we know nothing else. Auctarit's name is curiously like that of the deceased Lombard king. Nordulf must not be confounded with the Imperial general, Nordulf the Patrician. See Troya, IV.1.132.

43 'Eorum sibi dari precaria desiderat.'

44 'Movere autem vos non debet praefati excellent­issimi viri romani Patricii animositas, quia nos quantum cum loco et ordine praeimus, tantum, si qua sunt ejus levia tolerare mature et graviter debemus.'

45 'Miles de Romana urbe tultus est, sicut ipse novit. Theodosiaci vero, qui hic remanserunt, rogam nono accipientes vix ad murorum quidem custodiam se accommodant.' The Theodosiaci, named probably after the emperor's son Theodosius, must be a corps of irregular troops, as they are contrasted with miles. A note on the margin of one of the MSS. says, 'roga erat quae militibus super stipendia dari nolebat.'

46 Duke of Benevento. Aregis in the MSS.

47 The leader of the Istrian schism on the question of the Three Chapters was Severus, bishop of Aquileia; but as it appears from the next sentence that Fanum was 'juxta' the city which has been burnt, it appears to me that we must accept Muratori's view that Severus, bishop of Ancona (see Ep. IX.16 and 89), is the bishop here alluded to, though we have apparently no other indication of his ever being in schism.

48 Fanum Fortunae, now Fano on the Adriatic coast.

49 'Ut Iberos quos illic pro pretio in servitio teneri invenerit, vel si qui adhuc sunt captivi, redimat.' As Fanum was apparently still an Imperial city, the meaning of this passage appears to be that some of the citizens, who had been carried captive by the Lombards, had been obliged to borrow money to pay their ransoms, and were now, on account of this loan, in bondage to other Romans, not to the Lombards. But there were also some still in the Lombard camp who had not been able to arrange for the payment of their ransoms. Abbot Claudius was to redeem both classes of men.

50 'Cum quo mercedis causae melius fiant.' That is, I think, the ransom of the citizens of Fano. But see Troya, IV.1.271, for another view of the words.

51 'Sine ullo Reipublicae dispendio' (Ep. V.40).

52 Cap. xxvi.

53 Few of the writers on this subject direct sufficient attention to this strange (and to me inexplicable) omission of Ariulf's name in the narrative of Paulus.

54 'Ut cum humillimâ indulgentiâ religioso Apostolico satisfaceret.'

55 IV.16.

56 See p362.

57 'Prope Spoletium' says Paulus. Is not this a mistake? St. Sabinus was the patron saint of Camerinum.

Thayer's Note: St. Sabinus, a bishop of Spoleto in the third or fourth century, was buried about 3 km due north of his cathedral, on a long stretch of perfectly rectilinear road dotted with Roman stone, thus very likely belonging to the ancient Via Flaminia, which can be traced fifteen kilometers to Pietrarossa near Trevi, a site with substantial Roman remains. A church dedicated to Sabinus had already been built at the site of his tomb by the sixth century, in a large area where many 4c and 5c sarcophagi have been found — suggesting that many people of that time chose to be buried in a cemetery clustering around his tomb. The church still exists, and its immediate neighbourhood, taking San Sabino as its name, is a subdivision of the township of Spoleto.

58 Probably mosaics.

59 Modern names: Sutri, Bomarzo, Orte, Todi, Amelia, Cantiano, Perugia.

60 Paulus, H. L. IV.8, following the Liber Pontificalis.

61 Weise (p173) says that Romanus spent the winter of 592 in Rome, where he lived quietly, not exchange any games to the people. Weise generally follows the authorities so closely that I am disposed to think he must have some foundation in them for this statement; but I have not been able to find any other than Rubeus' History of Ravenna, IV.187, as quoted and expanded by Gregorovius, II.41, all of which of course is valueless as evidence unless vouched for in some other way.

62 Maurisio's connexion with Perugia previously to 593 seems to me probable rather than proved.

63 See Diehl, 'Études sur l'administration Byzantine,' p69, n. 4. His arguments for the restitution in 599 are, I think, convincing, especially his reference to Greg. Ep. X.6, in which the Pope asks for an escort for the wife of the praetorian prefect 'ad Perusinam civitatem.'

64 Paulus, H. L. IV.8: 'Quod factum [the expedition of Romanus], cum regi Agilulfo nuntiatum esset, statim Ticino egressus, cum valido exercitu civitatem Perusiam petiit: ibique per dies aliquod [sic] Maurisionem ducem Langobardorum, qui se Romanorum partibus tradiderat, obsedit, et sine morâ captum vitâ privavit.' I agree with Muratori (Annali, III p544) and Weise (pp178‑180) in thinking 593 the most likely year for Agilulf's siege of Rome. It is true that there is nothing in Gregory's correspondence for that year which clearly points to this conclusion, but at least it contains nothing contrary to it; nor is there any other year the letters of which fit better with the invasion than 593. If we accept Hartmann's theory (in his comment on Greg. Ep. V.26 in M. G. H. p319), that the siege of Rome took place between December 593 and March 594 — an interval for which we have no letters in the collection — both that gap and the fact of Gregory's silence as to the siege are explained. But this theory involves the great difficulty of supposing a winter campaign undertaken by King Agilulf. On the whole I incline, though with considerable hesitation, to accept Weise's date of June 593 (or thereabouts) for the siege of Rome. It seems to be confirmed by the close of Gregory's letter (IV.2) to Constantius, bishop of Milan, which is referred to September 593, and which says, 'You have accurately and briefly indicated to me the things which have occurred, whether in connexion with king Ago [= Agilulf] or the kings of the Franks. I pray that your Brotherhood will by all means make me acquainted with all that has hitherto come to your knowledge. But if you see that Ago effects nothing with the Patrician [Romanus], assure him, on my behalf, that I am ready to spend myself in his cause, if he too is willing to come to any beneficial arrangement with the Republic.' ('Si autem videritis, quia cum Patricio nihil facit Ago, Langobardorum rex, de nobis ei promittite, quia paratus sum in causâ ejus impendere, si ipse utiliter aliquid cum Republicâ voluerit ordinare.) This certainly looks like the sequel of an interview in which Gregory and Agilulf have decided that as far as they personally are concerned there is nothing to hinder them from being friends.

65 He says, in the third book of the Dialogues, c. 38, 'Quid in aliis mundi partibus agatur, ignoro. Nam in hac terrâ in quâ nos vivimus, finem suam mundus jam non nuntiat sed ostendit.'

66 Gregory's tenth Homily of the second book on Ezekiel.

67 Ep. V.40.

68 The only extant copy of it being in the Royal Library at Copenhagen.

69 Some of these causes are suggested by Weise who argues strongly that the Continuer of Prosper is mistaken, and has muddled up the two sieges by Ariulf and Agilulf (pp164‑165 and 181‑183). A similar view is taken by Hartmann in his note on Greg. Ep. V.40 (36), where he says that he believes this story to have been fabricated on the pattern of that of Leo and Attila. If it had really taken place, he says, the Pope would certainly have alluded to it in the above letter. It is, doubtless, most strange that neither in Gregory's letters nor in the history of Paulus is any allusion made to two such striking events as the disarmament of Ariulf and Agilulf by the spiritual weapons of the Pope, but it is admitted by Weise that one such event at any rate occurred, and the reasons, whatever they were, which prevented Gregory from boasting of his victory over Ariulf, may have equally applied to the case of Agilulf. Of all arguments in history, that drawn e silentio is one of the most dangerous. It would be found impossible to say on what principle we allude to certain events and omit all mention of others far more important, in our familiar letters to our friends. While recognising the force of much of Weise's reasoning, and admitting the possibility of a confusion in the Continuer's mind between Ariulf and Agilulf, I deem it to be on the whole the best course to take his statement as I find it, seeing that it is the utterance of a contemporary author (the Chronicle ends ten years after the death of Agilulf), and that it furnishes us with what we greatly need, a sufficient cause for the sudden raising of the siege of Rome.

70 See this letter quoted above (note on p368).º

71 Ep. IV.16 (15).

72 'Converti,' the technical word for becoming a monk.

73 'Praecepit enim, ut nullus qui actionem publicam egoist, nullus qui optio vel manu signatus vel inter milites fuit habitus, ei in monasterio converti liceat nisi forte si militia ejus fuerit expleta' (Ep. III.66 (64)).

74 Ep. III.65 (61).

75 Comes excubitorum.

76 'Per suggestionis meae paginam.'

77 In one of the letters to his friends at the Imperial court, which, according to his usual custom, accompanied this letter to the Emperor (Ep. III.67 (62)), Gregory quotes two proverbs which were no doubt current among the Roman populace. 'The Ethiopian comes out the bath as black as he went in: nevertheless the bath‑man receives his coppers.' This is applied to the case of Domitian, Metropolitan of Armenia, who had preached Christianity to the 'Emperor' of the Persians without converting him. 'We must measure the statue by its shadow, that is, we must judge great things by little ones' ('id est, in minimis majora perpendam'). The application of this proverb to the Emperor, about whom Domitian has quoted it ('De Mauricio autem bene dicitis') is not very obvious; but it seems to convey the same idea as our proverb, 'Straws show which way the stream is flowing.' 'However,' Gregory concludes, 'I have this reason for trusting him, that his soul is bound to ours by sacraments and hostages.' 'Sacraments' no doubt alludes to Gregory's sponsorship for the young Theodosius; 'hostages' probably to his influence over the Empress and other members of Maurice's family.

78 Ep. IV.30 (dated by Ewald 'June 594').

79 'Tantis in ecclesiis suis coruscant miraculis atque terroribus.'

80 Glycerius. See vol. II p495 (483 second edition).

81 'Quia Malchus episcopus in custodia pro solidis occisus sit' (Ep. IV.47 (V.6)). This letter is dated in M. G. H. Sept.‑Oct. 594.

82 The letter is addressed to Sabinianus, Papal apocrisiarius at Constantinople.

83 Ep. V.30.

84 Scribo.

85 Rogae.

86 Ep. V.36 (34).

87 Scolasticus (see Diehl, p153).

88 Or more literally, 'that many things have been done against him in his district within the limit' (quaere 'of space or of time'?) 'to which the peace applied.' 'Nam multa sibi in locis suis intra pacis terminum queritur esse commissa.' The reference evidently is to some truce or partial peace the terms of which, according to Agilulf's complaint, had not been observed by the Imperialists.

89 Ep. V.40 (36).

90 The plural number is used because of the association of Theodosius (now ten years old) with his father.

91 'Nam in eis urbano simplicitatis vocabulo me fatuum appellas.'

92 'Sed etsi sacerdos non sum' (?).

93 Norduulf is probably the Nordoulfus Patricius mentioned in the letter of Romanus to Childebert (Troya, IV.1.132) as sent by the Emperor into Italy, and recovering several towns from the Lombards. Leo is probably the Ex‑consul in Sicily mentioned in Greg. Ep. I.3 and 72 (70).

94 Sacerdotibus.

95 Gregory is referring to Exodus xxii.8, where it is said of a defaulting bailee, 'Applica illum ad deos,' which Gregory interprets 'videlicet ad sacerdotes.' In our version the passage is rendered 'He shall be brought unto the judges.' He also refers to Exodus xxii.28: 'Diis non detrahes' ('scilicet sacerdotibus'), 'Thou shalt not revile the gods' [mar. 'judges'], 'nor curse the ruler of thy people.'

96 ii.7.

97 These words, 'Vos dii estis a vero Deo constituti,' are not to be found in any of the Church historians.

Thayer's Note: The tag appears to be based on Ps. 81 (82):6.

98 'Ita ut oculis meis cernerem Romanos more canum in collis funibus ligatos, qui ad Franciam ducebantur venales.' If this be not the first it must, at any rate, be a very early instance of the use of 'Francia' instead of 'Gallia.'

99 Not preserved.

100 'Vigiliarum et custodiae civitatis.' The former alludes to the internal guardianship of the City against malefactors; the latter to defence against the enemies outside.

Thayer's Notes:

a Here Hodgkin appears rather firmly to be guilty of a slight anachronism as to the name of the city; one would also like to see his source for the statement that the place was under Lombard control in the late sixth century. The place where the city of Viterbo now stands was over that hill alright, but the name Viterbium is first recorded in a written document only in 773, when the place is mentioned as in the process of being fortified — admittedly by a Lombard duke, but nearly two centuries after the events recounted in this chapter.

b Whether Sovana was a dump in the late nineteenth century I could not say, but though very small, it's a rather nice place today, where I ate well. The village lives off its ancient monuments, of which there is no shortage: a thorough visit would require two full days. My only visit to date, in 2000, was regrettably shorter, but the reader will still form a good idea of the place from my diary account (two pages, with two photos). A solid treatment of Sovana's Etruscan history and remains will be found in George Dennis's chapter (The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, pp480‑500).

c Luceoli (today's Cantiano) is indeed on the Via Flaminia, at a straight-line distance of about 175 km NNE of Rome; and more to the point, maybe, about 20 km from the key position of Petra Pertusa (Furlo). Amelia and Todi, however, are much closer to Rome in a somewhat different direction, and not on the Flaminia — although not very far from that road — but on the Via Amerina which splits off from the Via Cassia and eventually takes the traveler to Perugia.

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