The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


weight of an enormous bag of gold : in a few hours the whole, of Justinian's debts was discharged. The people found no limits to their praise and delight, and their admiration of their new master was at its height, when Sophia, imitating the noble example set by her lord, opened her treasury and paid the debts of a host of poor people. At the same time the orthodox Justin issued an edict of universal toleration ; all persons exiled for their religion, except Eutychius, were recalled and re­stored to their families or friends ; and the church enjoyed a state of peace for fifty years, unprece­dented in the annals of the ecclesiastical history of the East. The golden age seemed to have arrived hi Constantinople and the provinces.

Too soon, however, did the real character of Justin show itself, and sadly disappointed the san­guine hopes of the Greeks. An embassy of the khan of the Avars having solicited an audience, Justin dismissed them haughtily and provoked the resentment of their chief; and he exhibited an equally overbearing conduct in his negotiations with the Persians, whence an early rapture might easily be prognosticated. In 566 the indignation of the Greeks was provoked by the murder of Justin the younger, the emperor's cousin. This distinguished prince excited the jealousy of both Justin and Sophia, and, from the Danube, where he com­manded against the Avars, he was suddenly sent as governor to Egypt, but had scarcely put his foot on the shore of Alexandria, when he fell under the dagger of a hired assassin. His numerous friends were exasperated ; it was said that they had conspired against the emperor, and the alleged conspiracy was stifled in blood. The treasures Justin had spent in satisfying the creditors of Justinian, he recovered by a system of oppression and rapacity which surpassed even that of his predecessor, and the places under government were sold without shame or disguise. Italy, exhausted and ravaged by the Gothic war and its consequences famine and disease, was in a deplorable state. Alboin, king of the Longobards, coveted that fair conquest of Justinian, but his hopes were checked through fear of Narses, who still held the com­mand at Ravenna. Yet Narses was approaching the extreme limits of human life, and Alboin re­solved to wait, and to increase his power by breaking that of his troublesome neighbours the Gepidae, who reigned in Hungary. He entered into an alliance with the Avars, and in 566 the Gepidae disappeared from among the independent barbarians in Europe. Every one could now fore­see an invasion of Italy, and Justin ought conse­quently to have concentrated his power in the plains of the Po, and put both his treasures and soldiers at the free disposition of Narses. Narses, however, was hated by Sophia, and he had given just causes of complaint to the Italians, by his arbitrary govern­ment and his extreme rapacity. Justin, listening to the foolish advice of his wife, sent him an order to return to Constantinople, and bring with him his own riches and those of the public treasury; and Narses, having remonstrated, pointing out the imminent danger from the Longobards, Sophia sent him a most insulting letter, which so roused the fury of the old general that he invited Alboin to turn his arms against Italy, promising that he would not take the command of the Romans. Soon after­wards, however, he deeply regretted his faithless-ness'? and tried to dissuade Alboin from the under-



taking. But it was too late, the Longobards descended into Italy, and Narses died of grief. [narses.]

In 568 Alboin descended the Julian Alps, with his stern Longobards and numerous contingents of Bavarians, Suevians, and other Germans : 20,000 Saxons, the kinsmen and old confederates of the Longobards, joined the expedition with their wives and children. Longinus, the successor of Narses, was an incompetent general, who had neglected to fortify the passes through the Alps, and thus the barbarians rushed down into Italy like an Alpine torrent. Forum Julii, built by Caesar, was the first town they conquered, and, having been made by Alboin the seat of a feudal duchy, which ex­tended over the adjacent districts, was the cause of that province being now called Friuli, or in German Friaul, which is a corruption of Forum Julii: Grasulf was its first duke. Aquileia soon followed the fate of Forum Julii, and its fugi­tive inhabitants took refuge on the Venetian islands. In 569 Alboin took Mantua, conquered Liguria as far as the Cottian Alps, and on the 5th of September of the same year, victoriously entered Milan (Mediolanum), where he was crowned king of Italy. Henceforth the country surrounding Milan was called Longobardia, or Lombardy, the name which it still bears. In the following year Alboin made himself master of a large portion of Central Italy, and founded a second feudal duchy at Spoleto, where Faroald reigned under his su­premacy. The establishment of a third duchy at Benevento was the fruit of the campaign of 570 : Alboin found a strong colony of Longobards in that place, who had settled there nineteen years pre­viously, having received the town with its territory from Narses, in reward for their services in the Greek armies ; their chief, Zotto, was made duke. In 571 Calabria fell into the hands of the Longo­bards, and now the name of Calabria was given by the Greek government to the narrow peninsula of Bruttium and part of Lucania, countries which are still called Calabria. Rome and Ravenna, however, as well as different other portions of Italy in the north and in the south, withstood the con­queror, and remained under the sway of the em­peror.

While the most splendid conquest of Justinian was thus wrested from the Greeks, Justin found consolation in pleasures and luxury, leaving the government in the hands of his wife, his ministers, and his eunuchs. At the ver}r time that Italy was taken from him, he was involved in a dangerous war with the Persians, which broke out under the following circumstances. The Turks having by this time made great conquests in the countries to the north of Persia, gave umbrage to the Persian king Chosroes, especially since they concluded an alliance with Justin, and Chosroes began hostilities by invading and subjugating the kingdom of the Homeritae, in Southern Arabia. Encouraged by the approach and success of the Turks, the Iberians and Persarmenians threw off the Persian yoke, and submitted to Justin, on condition of his de­fending them against Chosroes. The emperor pro­mised to do so, and at the same time refused to pay the annual tribute of 30,000 pieces of gold, which had been fixed by former treaties. Thus war broke out in 572. Justin sent Marcian against the Persians, an able general, who found no army on his arrival at the frontiers, fyut created one in a

x x 4

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of