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Italy; the Papacy; the (Greek) Byzantine Empire; Spain; Frank Kingdoms; Feudalism; Britain and England. page 2

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Justinian ranks high as a conquering sovereign, and under him the East and West were for a time again united. Warfare with Persia from 527 to 532 was indecisive, but a victory won by the young Thracian general Belisarius showed the military value of the courtier who was married to Antonina, the favourite lady of Theodora. He was soon provided with fresh work in Africa. The Vandal kingdom there had sunk into weakness through the physical and moral degeneration of the race. Belisarius landed at Tripoli, with an army of horse and foot, in 533, and two victories, with the capture of Carthage and the surrender of other fortresses, made an end of the Vandal power. Sicily was the next conquest. The warfare of Belisarius in Italy has been seen, with the overthrow of the Ostrogothic kingdom by Narses. These successes were followed by the conquest of most of the coast of southern Spain. The financial administration of Justinian was very oppressive, owing to the vast expenditure on warfare often useless, and an evil result was the lasting exhaustion of the provinces.

The middle years of his reign were clouded by costly warfare with Persia, in which Antioch, the rich capital of the East, was taken by the enemy and sacked, and by a dreadful outbreak of plague whose ravages weakened the empire for the rest of the century. The architectural works of Justinian were remarkable. It was he who so largely developed the Byzantine style of architecture, erecting churches, colonnades, courts of justice, monasteries, and other buildings in every part of the empire. To him is due the famous Church (now Mosque) of St. Sophia at Constantinople, a glorious building in the form of a Greek cross with a huge dome. The gilding and mosaics have been covered with whitewash by the Turks, in order to hide the representations of human forms.

The great and durable renown of this emperor belongs to him as a legislator, as the man who caused the codification of the laws of Rome, and gave to the world the system of jurisprudence known as the Civil Law, which has been incorporated so largely in the law of modern European states. The legal system of Rome, in its ideal of humanity and justice, in its susceptibility of improvement, its pursuit of noble ends, is one of the chief glories of that ancient and world-wide dominion. When the Vandals were masters of Africa, and the Goths had conquered Gaul and Spain, these and later barbarian occupiers and conquerors of the Western Empire were already provided with a system of laws in the Theodosian Code or Digest. The Eastern emperor who aimed at bringing a great mass of precedents and decisions into the harmony of a code, and making the law in full accord with the spirit of the times, embodying the new Christian ideas, had a most able instrument ready to his hand in Tribonian. This great jurist, who held the posts of quaestor, consul, and master of the imperial household, headed a commission of lawyers who, in 528-9, finished the collection of imperial "constitutions" or statutes into the Codex Justinianus (Justinian's Code). This, however, contained but a small part of the body of the law. The "common law" was stowed away in the hundreds of volumes of text and commentary written by the jurists of previous ages - Paulus and Gaius, Ulpian and others. Discrepancy of opinions made the law uncertain, just as bulk of books made it hard to discover. A single harmonising treatise was needed, and this invaluable work was completed, by Tribonian and his coadjutors, in the space of four years, and published in 50 books, on the last day of a.d. 534, with the title of Digesta ("arranged matter") or Pandectae ("all-embracing work") - the famous Digest or Pandects known to legal students at the Universities. The emperor had been meanwhile planning an elementary treatise as a textbook for students and as an introduction to the large work, and this was published on the same day with the name of Institutiones - i.e. Institutes, meaning "precepts" or "principles," based upon the Institutes of Gaius, who flourished under Antoninus Pius and Aurelius. In the same year a new, revised, and enlarged edition of the Code was issued, in the form which still exists. All previous law-books and decisions were then set aside, and the Code, Pandects or Digest, Institutes, and supplementary laws called the Novellae (Novels or New Works) together form the Corpus Juris Civilis ("Body of Civil Law") as works which became, six centuries later, the basis of all legal study in Europe, and have caused the imperial projector to be regarded as the greatest of legislators, the "father of law" to the legists of the later mediaeval days. This eminent man was also the author of important reforms in the law itself. Slaves were protected against their masters, who had previously the power of life and death over them, and the law of intestacy was greatly changed by making the relatives on the mother's side share equally with those on the father's side.

The three successors of Justinian, until the end of the 6th century, were worthy men of no great mark, chosen to rule as being experienced officials of mature age. The chief troubles of the time were due to invasions of foreign foes. We have already seen the Lombard conquest of most of Italy, and the rise of Papal power. In the East there was exhausting warfare with Persia, attended by no great territorial changes. On the north the empire was troubled by the Avars, a race of wild horsemen from Asia, much resembling the Huns. Appearing, and then retiring on receipt of money paid for peace, they ever returned to make fresh exactions south of the Danube. Far more formidable were the Slavs, the branch of the Aryans who followed the Teutons in the westward migration from Asia. They included tribes known as Croats, Servians, and many others, and when the way was cleared for them by the southward movements of Goths and Lombards into Italy and Spain, they moved downwards in their turn from the region beyond the Vistula, where they had dwelt among the nomadic Sarmatians, of different race and language from themselves. Far less cultured than the Teutons, they were chiefly pastoral in life, dwelling in villages under patriarchal rule, growing no corn except millet, and warring in rude masses of archers and spearmen. They now invaded the territory lying north of the Balkans, and before a.d. 600 most of the Thracian and Illyrian provincials, the chief Latin-speaking body in the Eastern Empire, had perished. The open country was wasted, and the new enemy came even across the Danube, and made progress westwards to Bohemia and the Tyrol. An evil time of revolution and tyranny, of Persian invasion to the heart of Asia Minor, was ended some years after the accession of Heraclius (610-641). All the provinces were overrun by Persians, or Slavs, or Avars. The treasury was empty, and the army had been almost annihilated by defeats. In 614 the Persians stormed Jerusalem and slew many thousands of Christians, carrying off the much-revered relic regarded as the wood of the "true cross," A great feeling was aroused, and, after some years of trouble with the Avars to the north-west, Heraclius took the field in 622 against the Persians. Six campaigns recovered all their conquests, drove a great host of Avars and Slavs from the walls of Constantinople, forced the restoration of the "true cross," and enabled Heraclius to celebrate a true old Roman triumph in his capital. We leave him there in peace for the time, and note that by the 7th century the Latin language in the Eastern Empire had been almost superseded by the Greek, and that Christianity was effecting moral changes in the extinction of infanticide and a great modification of the evils of slavery. There was a vast amount of indifference to religion among the cultured classes, but there is no doubt that society in the Byzantine Empire has been much too sweepingly condemned for cowardice and corruption by those writers who have accepted all the statements of Gibbon. The contest with the Saracens, soon to be noticed, refutes the accusation of cowardice, and the charges of immorality levelled against the Byzantine people are deserved in no greater measure than they would be in any modern society.

The Spain conquered by the Romans, peopled by Celts, Iberians, and the mixed race called Celtiberians, and by descendants of Carthaginian and Greek colonists, was a country whose inhabitants were, in the main, hardy, temperate, brave, and warlike Their sturdy resistance to the Roman arms, which taxed the ability and energy of the best generals to overcome, proves their strong attachment to national or tribal independence. When the work of conquest was completed, in the days of Augustus, Spam became Romanised than any other country in language and manners. In spite of the introduction, at a later period, of a considerable Arabic element into the tongue, the modern Spanish can be to a large degree understood, without any special study by a classical scholar. Latin was the language of the educated classes and he tongue and literature of Greece and Rome were taught m the schools. Under the Empire some of the chief Latin authors were natives of Spain, as the two Senecas; the poets Lucan, Martial, and Silius Italicus; and the great rhetorician Qumtilian. Christianity rapidly spread through the country. A bishop of Cordova was a leading prelate at the Council of Nicsea m a.d. 325, and Prudentius, somewhat later, almost the first Latin Christian poet, was a native of northern Spain. Two centuries after his period, Isidore, bishop of Seville, a man of admirable character, was the most learned writer of the West. With the decline of the Western Empire, Spain also sank in moral character and military power. The best soldiers had all been withdrawn to serve in legions quartered in different parts of the vast dominions of Rome, and luxury and sensuality had sapped the energies of the higher classes. The mass of the people were either slaves or serfs bound to the soil, and the middle or burgher class were full of discontent under a heavy burden of taxation. No means of effective resistance to resolute invaders could be found, and hence the Suevi and the Visigoths had an easy prey. For over 200 years the Goths were in possession of the country, and they, becoming quite as immoral and corrupt as the Roman nobles who had preceded them, did little to improve the condition of their subjects. The middle and lower classes were in the same state as in the last days of the Empire, and all was ready for the new conquest soon to be related.

The Frank monarchy was by far the greatest which arose on the ruins of the Roman Empire. Towards the end of the 5th century the Salic or Salian Franks, one branch of this large-limbed, long-haired, blue-eyed athletic race of warriors, were settled in the country now called Belgium, as a democratic nation of men who, in the intervals of peace, lived by hunting, fishing, the rearing of cattle, and the tilling of gardens, fields, and vineyards. The only social ranks, below the hereditary monarch of powers limited by the tribal assembly, were the chiefs or counts, the free Franks or body of the nation, and the slaves taken in war. In 481, the new king was Chlodovech or Chlodwig (in modern German, "Ludwig"), a name which is, in French, corrupted into "Clovis" and the more modern "Louis." This lad of 15 was an ambitious, crafty, arrogant ruler, who began a course of conquest by attacking and defeating in 486 Syagrius, the governor of north-eastern Gaul, and annexing the country as far as the Seine. The Burgundian kingdom in the valley of the Rhone was then made tributary, and the land between the Seine and the Loire was overcome. In 496 the Alemanni, or Germans of the Black Forest, Switzerland, and the Vosges, invaded the Frankish territory, and were utterly defeated and brought to submission in a battle near Cologne. Chlodwig and his people then adopted the Christian faith of his wife Clothild (Clotilda), a Burgundian princess, and on Christmas-day of the same year (496) the monarch and 3,000 of his warriors, with the women and children, were baptised at Rheims by good old Bishop Remigius. The conversion of the king was followed by cruel and treacherous acts which brought the realm of the Ripuarian Franks, on the middle Rhine and the Moselle, into the possession of Clovis. His course of conquest was greatly aided by his having become.an orthodox Catholic, which gained for him the strong 'sympathy of the Catholic clergy among the Arian Goths of Gaul. The Visigoths were defeated in a battle near Poitiers, and the western territory was subdued as far south as the Garonne. The Eastern emperor Anastasius, after the victory over the West Goths, conferred on Chlodwig the titles of "Patrician" and "Consul," and the favour of the Bishops of Rome or Popes was conciliated for the Frankish conquerors.

On the death of Chlodwig, at Paris, in 511, the great kingdom, divided among his four sons, retained a certain unity in the fact that all the subjects considered themselves members of one state. Further territory was conquered east of the Rhine (Thuringia and Franconia), and in 536 Provence was acquired. In the subsequent history various divisions and reunions of territory occurred, with family feuds and wars of a horrible character. In the way of government, Dukes and Counts arose as rulers of larger and smaller districts, and these Merowingian kings of the Franks, as they are called from an early semi-mythical king Merowig, founded feudalism in adopting the Roman custom of granting lands (benefices or fiefs) to the Dukes and Counts, and to staff-officers, on condition of military service to the sovereign as "lord" of a "vassal" or "man." The system of feudal-tenures thus had its origin in a combination of Roman and Teutonic ideas, the holder of lands in the Roman Empire being bound to serve the state, in the German system to serve a person. A new aristocracy arose when the landholders gained hereditary right over their fiefs, and then they made grants of lands to others on the same terms of tenure as their own towards the king. Smaller landowners often surrendered their territory in dangerous times to a powerful lord, and received it back as a fief, thereby securing his protection and being liable to serve him in war. The kings, in their state of wealth and power gained by conquest, formed great households of officials, including a chancellor or judicial adviser and keeper of the royal seal, a seneschal or steward, and a marshal or master of the horse. We have in these the origin of the royal council and of ministers of state in later days. In this early period, the officers of the court were controlled by the Major-Domus or "Mayor of the Palace," at first a superintendent of the royal household, and then leader of the feudal retainers. This personage became, in the Prankish kingdom, one of great importance, as the new feudal nobility grew in power. The monarchical authority was lessened, and the later Merowingian kings after Chlodwig were men of weak character. By the middle of the 7th century, the ruling power had come almost wholly into the hands of the Mayor of the Palace, and the office became hereditary in the family of the Pepins or Pipins. One of these, Pipin of Heristal, became virtual king, in 687, of the whole Prankish realm, which had been divided into Austrasia, in the east, beyond the Scheldt, and Neustria, or northern France to the Loire. He had the title of Duke of the Franks, as regarded Austrasia, and forced submission from many of both the German Dukes and the Dukes and Counts in Gaul, thus doing much towards restoring greatness and unity to the kingdom before his death in 714. His son Charles Martel (714-741) confirmed and extended his father's power. He was a great warrior, whose chief exploit will be seen under Saracenic history. One of his sons, Pipin the Small (or Short), who ruled from 741 to 768, deposed the last king of the feeble Merowingian line in 753, and was anointed " King of the Franks " in the following year by Pope Stephen III., who had come to seek help against the Lombards. The Carolingian or Carlovingian line of Prankish kings was thus founded. The work of this king Pipin in Italy has been given in the history of the Papacy.

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