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•archate was exposed to the attacks of the Lombards and some Slavonian tribes: the latter conquered Istria, where they still continue to dwell. In Spain and on the opposite coast of Africa, part of the Greek dominions was conquered by the West-Gothic king, Sisibut, in 616, and the remaining part by king Suinthila, in 624* These calamities, however, were trifling in comparison with those inflicted upon the empire by the inroads and conquests of the Persians. The war which broke out in a. d. 603 between the emperor Phocas and the Persian king Chosroes or Khosrew II., was still raging, and to the conquest of Mesopotamia and parts of Arminia, the king added, in the beginning of the reign of Heraclius, all Syria and Palaestine. Sarbar, the Persian general, conquered and pillaged Jerusalem in A. d. 615, and sent the holy lance, as his noblest trophy, to his master at Ctesiphon. In A. d. 616, Sarbar took and plundered Alexandria, conquered Egypt, and penetrated as far as Abyssinia ; the export of corn from Egypt to Constantinople was interrupted, and famine soon began to increase the sufferings of the capital. Having been urged by a Greek officer to abandon Egypt as a country of which the Persians could only keep transient possession, the proud victor pointed out a lofty column in Alexandria, and said, " I shall leave Egypt after you have swallowed that column ! " During this year, another Persian army overran Asia Minor, laid siege to Chalcedon, opposite Constantinople, and took it, in a. d. 616. The Greeks, however, reconquered it a few years afterwards. Heraclius made an attempt to enter into negotiations with Chosroes, but his ambassadors were thrown into prison, where they were afterwards put to death. It seerns that Heraclius remained unshaken in the midst of all these tempests : he kept his eye upon Persia ; he organised and increased his means, and when at last the time was come when he thought himself able to keep the field, he took the command of his troops in person, against the persuasion of his courtiers, and astonished the world by a series of campaigns worthy of comparison with those of the most consummate generals of all times. u Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal," says Gibbon, "no bolder enterprise has been attempted than that which Heraclius achieved for the deliverance of the empire."
Heraclius spent a whole year in disciplining a host of Greeks and barbarians into a compact army. In 622 he embarked them on vessels lying in the Bosporus, and made sail for Cilicia. He pitched his camp in the plain of Issus, and occupied the Pylae Ciliciae and the other passes of the Taurus and Anti-Taurus that lead into the plain round the corner of the gulf of Iskenderun, between Mount Taurus and Mount Amanus. He was soon surrounded by a Persian army, but defeated it in a decisive battle, and, in spite of repeated attacks, fought his way across the Taurus and Anti-Taurus into the province of Pontus. There his army took up its winter-quarters. He himself returned to Constantinople, and in the spring of 623 sailed with another army, small but select, to Trebizond. This campaign and those of the following years led to great results: the campaign of 624, however, is full of obscurities. Heraclius crossed Armenia, and soon was in sight of Gandzaca, now Tauris, which yielded to him after a short siege, Chosroes being unable or unwilling to defend it, although he
was in the neighbourhood with 40,000 veteran soldiers. Thence the emperor marched into the Caucasian countries, destroying some of the most famous temples of the Magi, on his way through Albania (Daghestan), along the Caspian Sea. His motive in approaching the Caucasus was probably to put himself into communication with Ziebel, the khan of the Khazars, with whom 'he afterwards concluded a very advantageous alliance. The Khazars were masters of the steppes north of the Caucasus as far as the Don and the Ural. Joined by the Colchians and other Caucasian nations, he directed his attacks against the northern part of Media, and he penetrated probably as far, and perhaps beyond, the present Persian capital, Ispahan. He then returned to the Caucasus, but before taking up his winter-quarters, he was attacked by the main army of the Persians commanded by Chosroes in person, who, however, suffered a total defeat. Having been informed that Chosroes meditated another expedition against Constantinople, which would be commanded by Sarbar, Heraelius descended, in 625, into Mesopotamia, and from thence went into Cilicia in order to fall upon the rear of the Persians, if Sarbar should venture to penetrate into Asia Minor with a Greek army at his back. In order to drive the emperor before him, Sarbar attacked him on the river Sarus, now Sihun. A terrible conflict took place ; the Persians were routed with great slaughter, and Heraclius gained the entire devotion of his soldiers, not only for having led them to a decisive victory, but also for the most splendid proofs of personal courage: on the bridge of the Sarus he slew a giant-like Persian, whom nobody dared to meet in single combat. Sarbar hurried into Persia, and Heraclius once more marched into Pontus. During this year Chosroes concluded an alliance with the Avars: they had been on friendly terms with the emperor since the year 620, but they now listened to the proposals of the Persian, and in 626 they descended into Thrace, laying siege to Constantinople, while Sarbar with a powerful army advanced from Persia, and took up his former quarters on the Asiatic shore of the Bosporus. Heraclius was then encamped on the lower Halys. Every body expected he would fly to the relief of his capital ; but he did just the contrary. Pie despatched his son Theodore with an army against Sais, the lieutenant of Chosroes, who invaded Mesopotamia, and he himself, with the main body, took up a position in the Caucasus, taking no notice of Sarbar and the Avars. His plan was admirable, and crowned with complete success. In the Caucasus he was joined by the khan Ziebel, with whom he had just concluded an offensive and defensive alliance, and who now hastened to his assistance with a powerful army of Khazars. The khan with his main army invaded Media; Heraclius, with his Greeks and 50,000 Khazarian auxiliaries, attacked Assyria ; and Constantinople stood firmly against its assailants. As neither of the besiegers had ships, they could not effect a junction, and thus the Avars withdrew, after having sustained several severe defeats, and Sarbar amused himself with besieging Chalcedon, thus running the risk of being cut off from Persia: for in the following year, 627, Heraclius made an irresistible attack against the very heart of the Persian empire. He crossed the Great Zab, and encamped on the ruins of Nineveh. Rha-zates, the Persian general, took up a fortified position