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'>'.:. v 


Marvin Andrews; a II & 


Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



(Hermann Summons His Countrymen to Arms) 
After the fainting by E. Herger, a contemporary German artist 

ROME conquered the civilized world. But she never suc- 
ceeded in wholly subduing the wild Teutonic tribes of 
Germany. Roman legions did indeed invade the Ger- 
man forests, and made themselves masters in a general way 
of most of the regions along the Rhine; but their further prog- 
ress was checked, and German freedom was preserved by the 
valor and skill of a single man, the first national hero of Ger- 
many, Hermann, or Arminius. 

We know of Hermann only from his enemies, the Romans. 
But even in their antagonistic narratives, he stands out as a 
splendid and heroic figure. The Germans of the time were still 
barbarians, but the young chieftain Hermann, like many others 
of his countrymen, took service in the Roman legions, and thus 
learned much of civilization. His people were divided into 
many little tribes, and were therefore incapable of resisting 
Rome. Realizing the fate which Rome was preparing for his 
countrymen, this earliest of Germany's heroes deserted the 
imperial service and, going forth into the German forests, sum- 
moned the wild free warriors around him and explained to 
them their danger. In place after place he did this until at 
last he was able to unite practically all his people in a war for 
freedom. When the Roman legions attempted to penetrate 
farther into the land, they were twice completely defeated by 
Hermann. German, liberty was thus made secure. 

Uflhtme ®l?fri 

The Story of the Greatest Nations 



The World's Famous Events 



Edward S. Ellis, A.M. 


Charles F. Horne, Ph.D 



New York 

Copyright, 1913, 1914 






Chaptzr XXXVI. — C/esar's Rule and Death, 385 

Chapter XXXVII. — Antony and Octavius— Rome Becomes an Empire, . 394 
Chapter XXXVIII. — "The Grandeur that was Rome," .... 407 
Chapter XXXIX. — The Emperors' Period of Power, . .-'"'-■• . 418 

Chapter XL.— The Growth of Christianity, „ 429 

Chapter XLI. — The Barbarians Destroy the Empire, . 442 

Chapter XLII. — Rome under the Popes, 450 

Chapter XLIII. — The City Republics of Medleval Italy, . . . 459 
Chapter XLIV. — The Italian Renaissance, . . . . . . 468 

Chapter XLV. — Modern Italy, 478 

Chronology of Rome, 488 

Rulers of Rome, 494 

Pronouncing Vocabulary for Rome, 496 



Chapter XLVI. — The Ancient Germans and their Gods, 
Chapter XLVII. — Hermann and the Romans, , 



Contents — Volume III, 


Chapter XLVIII. — Theodoric and the Legends, . . . , e 516 

Chapter XLIX. — Clovis and the Frankish Kingdom, . . ..'•'. 523 

Chapter L. — Saint Boniface and the Mayors of the Palace, . . 530 

Chapter LI. — Charlemagne and the Roman Empire, .... 538 

Chapter LII. — The German Kingdom and Henry the City-Builder, ." 545 

Chapter LIII.— Otto the Great and the Saxon Emperors, . . . 553 

Chapter LIV. — The Frankish Emperors and the Struggle with the 

Popes, 560 

Chapter LV. — The Swabian Emperors and Frederick Barbarossa, . . 570 





Germany, .......... Frontispiece 

The Gateway of History, . . . . . . . . Title-page 

The Oration Over Caesar's Body, . . . . . . . . . 386 

The Vengeance of Fulvia, .......... 388 

Antony Meets His Conqueror, .......... 390 

The Battle of Actium, ........... 392 

Cleopatra's Last Feast, ........... 394 

The Temple of the Caesars, .......... 396 

An Age of Peace, . .-'.-. . . . . . . . . 398 

The Overthrow of Varus, . . . . . . . . . 400 

The Retreat of Germanicus, ........... 402 

The Pleasures of Tiberius, . . . . . . . . . . 404 

Caligula Worshipped as a God, ......... . 406 

The Early Emperors, . . . . . . ... . . . 408 

"Thumbs Down,"' ............ 410 

Nero Greets His Mother's Body, . .412 

Nero Sings While Rome Burns, . . . . . . . . 414 

The First Christian Persecution, . . . . . . . .416 

Nero's Death, ............. 418 

Vitellius Torn by the Mob, . . . . . . . . . . 420 

Vespasian Plans the Colosseum, . . . ...... 422 

The Eruption of Vesuvius, . . . . . . . . . . 424 

Domitian and the Following Emperors, ........ 426 

The Games of Trajan, . . . . . . . . . . 428 

The Death of Commodus, .......... 430 

Rome Holds a Queenly Prisoner, ......... 432 

The Splendor of Diocletian, . , 434 


Vi List of Illustrations — Volume III. 


Constantine's Vision, . . . . ...... 436 

Julian Proclaimed Emperor, .......... 438 

The Church Rebukes the State, . . . . . . . . . 440 

Alaric's Burial, ............ 442 

The Coming of the Huns, ........... 444 

The Final Downfall of Civilization, ......... 446 

The Goths Leave Italy, . . . . . . . . . . 448 

The Lombards Master Italy, . . . . . . . . . . 450 

A New Power in the World, . . . ... . . . . 452 

A New Empire is Begun, . . . . . . . . . 454 

'The Turning Point of the Middle Ages," . . . . . . .456 

The Power of the Emperor, .......... 458 

Founding of the Franciscan Brotherhood, ........ 460 

The Venetians in the East, . . . . . . . . . . 462 

Marco Polo at Curzola, . . . . . . . .... . 464 

Dante Mourns the Death of His Love, . . . ■-. .- . . 466 

The Scourge of Italy, . . . . . - r . . . 468 

The Venetian "Three," . . . . . . . . . . 470' 

The Day of Vanities, ........... 472 

Borgia's Downfall, ............ 474 

The Revival of Ancient Art, .......... 476 

Pope and Artist, . . . . . . ... . . . 478 

The Fortress of Pope Clement, . . . . . . . . . 480 

The Founding of Modern Italy, . . . . . . . . . 482 

Italy Honors Garibaldi, ........... 484 

The Disaster in Abyssinia, .......... 486 

King Humbert's Assassination, ......... .488 

Inauguration of Victor Emmanuel III., . . . . . . . . 490 

Coronation of Pope Pius X., ......... . 492 

Black Monday in Tripoli, . . . . . . . . . . 494 

The Flying Machine in War, . . . ....... 496 

The German Empire, ........... 498 

Woden,' . 500 

The Punishment of Evil, ........... 502 

The Summons to Valhalla, .......... 504 

The Teutones Enter History, .......... 506 

Hermann's Triumphal March, .......... 508 

Hermann's Unhappy Romance, . . . . . . . . . • 5 10 

The Franks Invade Gaul, 512 

List of Illustrations — Volume III. vii 


Europe Saved from the Huns, . . . . . . . . . .514 

The Founding of a Nation, . . .516 

Clovis Punishes an Offender, . . . . . . . . . .518 

How Christianity Came to France, ......... 520 

Clovis Defeats the Goths, ........... 522 

Queen Fredegund's Revenge, .......... 524 

Brunhild's Punishment, . . . . . . . . . . 526 

The Search for Adventure, 528 

The Nibelungenlied, . . . . . 530 

Siegfried's Death, ............ 532 

Boniface, the Benefactor, . . . . . . . . . . 534 

The Highest Wave of Mohametan Invasion, ....... 536 

The Last of the Merovingians, .......... 538 

Charlemagne's Palace School, .......... 540 

The Baptism of Wittekind, .......... 542 

The Scourge of Germany, . . . . . . , . . 544 

A Freely Chosen King, ........... 546 

Henry the Fowler, ............. 548 

The Christianizing of the Wends, ......... 550 

A King and his Brother, ........... 552 

A Christmas Reconciliation, . . . , . . . . . . 554 

Otto, the "Wonder-Child," 556 

The Trial by Ordeal, . 558 

The Religious Revival, . . . . . . ..... 560 

Germany's Robin Hood, ........... 562 

The Two Henrys, . . . . . . . . . . . 564 

The Beginning of the Papal Struggle, ... . . . . . 566 

Henry IV. Uplifts the Cities, . . . . . . . . .568 

Barbarossa Takes up the Papal Quarrel, ........ 570 

Barbarossa Kneels to his Chief Vassal, ........ 572 

Barbarossa Triumphs Over his Chief Vassal, ....... 574 


Caesar Rejecting the Warnings of his Death . . . ... . . 385 

Antique Bas-relief of Roman Victory in Gaul, . ... . . . . 393 

Recent Excavations Showing the Forum Romanum, ...... 394 

Coins Struck by Antony and Cleopatra, ........ 406 


List of Illustrations — Volume TIL 

the Crown, 

Romans Burning a German Village, . 

Ancient Cameo Representing the Apotheosis of Augustus, 

Spoils of Jerusalem — From the Column of Trajan, 

Jupiter Bringing Rain to the Roman Army, 

Victory of Constantine over Maxentius, 

Romans Fighting the Goths, . 

The Last Roman Emperor Surrendering 

Tail-piece, ..... 

Landing of the Normans in Sicily, . 

Frederick Barbarossa Entering Milan, 

The Crusaders Attacking Constantinople; 

Death of Savonarola, . 

Pope Leo X., . 

Battle of Solferino, 

Christianity amid the Ruins of Rome, 

King Humbert, .... 

Roman Theatre Masks, . 

Triumphal Procession of Theodosius, 

Roman Vases, .... 

Ancient German Fortress, 

The German Fates, ... 

Hermann Eloping with Thusnelda, 

Ulfilas Writing the Gothic Gospel, . 

The Nibelung Song, 

Hagen at Siegfried's Bier, 

The Burgundians Taking Possession of the Rhone Valley 

Tail-piece, . . . . . 

Saint Boniface Felling the Oak of Thor, 

Boniface Declaring Pepin King, 

Charlemagne and his Paladins, 

Crown and Insignia of the Holy Roman 

Lewis the Pious Dethroned by his Son, 

Signature of Charlemagne, 

Nobles Attacking Merchants in "Private 

Henry III. Settling the Papal Dispute, 

Portrait and Signature of Conrad II., 

Papal Insignia, .... 

The Tournament of Barbarossa at Mainz, 

Frederick Barbarossa, .... 



Oesar Rejecting the Warnings op His Death 




Chapter XXXVI 


CESAR'S series of triumphant victories had made him 
as a god in the eyes of Rome. There was no honor too 
exalted for him. A Supplication, or thanksgiving of 
forty days, had been ordered when he stepped foot once 
more in Italy, at the close of July, b.c. 46. His statue 
was erected in the Capitol, and another bore the ful- 
some inscription, "Caesar the demigod." His image 
was to be carried in the procession of the gods, and a golden chair 
was provided for him in the Senate house. The month Quintilis 
had its name changed to Julius, which we still retain as July. 
While he was not king in name he was in substance, for no mon- 
arch could have been more absolute. He was made Dictator for 
ten years, which was soon changed to perpetual Dictator, and he 
was hailed as Imperator for life. This title was one that was given 
under the Republic to a victorious general (for the word means Com- 
mander), but it was always laid aside at the close of the military command. 
By clipping the word Imperator, it will be seen that it readily becomes Emperor. 

386 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Moreover, he was invested for three years without a colleague with the 
functions of the censorship, the title being the Guardianship of Manners, carry- 
ing with it the authority to revise, as he saw fit, the lists of the knights and 
senators. To him the people surrendered their right of election, and the Sen- 
ate that of administration. In the latter body, he was to seat himself between 
the consuls and first give his opinion, after which, as may be supposed, that of 
the consuls was of no weight at all, since they dared not oppose him and their 
support was unnecessary. He had not forgotten the vanities of youth when he 
used to spend hours before the mirror in curling his locks, for now that he had 
grown bald about the temples, he wreathed them with the laurel, which not 
only hid the lack of hair, but was a badge of martial greatness. He wore no 
beard, and, despite his foppish weaknesses, he welcomed the title of " Father of 
his Country," fit only to come from the hearts of a free people. 

Caesar celebrated four triumphs — that over the Gauls, over Ptolemaeus, over 
Pharnaces, and over Juba, who had brought the reinforcements of elephants and 
light cavalry to Scipio at Thapsis, but he declined a triumph for Pharsalia it- 
self. He gave a banquet at which were seated fully 60,000 people, who were 
afterward entertained with shows, the circus and the theatre. The combats of 
wild beasts and gladiators surpassed anything of the kind ever seen before. 

When at last the magnificent ceremonies were over, Caesar once more left 
Rome to suppress in Spain the last resistance of the republicans. There 
Cnaeus, the eldest son of Pompey, had rallied a motley force, and baffled the 
generals sent against him, until Caesar lost patience and went thither to 
conduct the campaign for himself. It lasted for several months, and his situa- 
tion at one time looked hopeless, but, with his matchless ability, he finally 
gained the crowning victory at Munda on March 17, B.C. 45. On that day of 
desolation, 30,000 of the vanquished perished. Cnaeus extricated himself from 
the whirlpool of death, gained the coast, and put to sea, but was identified when 
he made a landing, and killed. 

Caesar remained for some time in Spain, arranging affairs, and returned to 
Rome in September, when the fresh triumph over the Iberians was celebrated, 
followed by the usual games and festivals which delighted the people. At the 
theatres, plays were presented in different languages, for the entertainment of 
the numerous nationalities in the city, which included ambassadors from the 
Moors, the Numidians, the Gauls, the Iberians, the Britons, the Armenians, the 
Germans, and the Scythians. And, perhaps greatest of all, came Cleopatra, 
queen of Egypt, crown in hand, to lay her treasures at the feet of her royal 
lover and preserver. Amid these bewildering flatteries and honors, which 
would have turned the head of any man, it is to the credit of Caesar that no 
person was made to feel the weight of his resentment. Others with less power 



(Mark Antony sways the Roman Mob to Avenge Cseear) 

From the painting by P. Piatti, a contemporary Italian artist 

THE assassination of Julius Caesar marked the last ex- 
piring effort of republican Rome. His followers seized 
prompt control of the city and of the world. Chief of 
the men who thus completed Caesar's work of making Rome an 
empire was Mark Antony, the ablest of the great general's 
friends. The conspirators who slew Caesar realized Antony's 
ability, and talked of killing him also; but Brutus, a sincere 
patriot and averse to adding further slaughter to the one 
death he had believed necessary for saving the republic, in- 
sisted on sparing Antony. The latter worked so craftily that 
he even won permission to make a funeral oration over Caesar's 
body. In this speech he stirred the populace to a state of 
frenzy by reminding them of all Caesar's services to the pub- 
lic; then as a climax he suddenly stripped the pall from 
Caesar's body and let them gaze on all the gaping wounds. 
The mob in wild fury made an honorary funeral pyre for 
Caesar by tearing down all the woodwork of the forum; and 
having thus burned his body they rushed forth to slay his 

Our artist represents Caesar's wife, Calphurnia, as being 
present at the funeral services and fainting over Antony's 
impassioned eloquence. Brutus and the other conspirators 
flee in terror from the excited mob. The conspirators escaped 
from Rome into Greece, and there gathered armies against 


Rome — Caesar's Reforms 387 

had waded in massacre, but his clemency amazed his friends as much as his 
enemies. His worshippers had removed the statues of Sulla and Pompey, but 
he caused them to be restored to their places among those of the grandest 
champions of the Republic. " I will not," he declared in one of his speeches, 
" renew the massacres of Sulla and Marius, the very remembrance of which is 
shocking to me. Now that my enemies are subdued, I will lay aside the 
sword, and endeavor solely by my good offices to gain over those who continue 
to hate me." 

Now Julius Caesar was one of the clearest-sighted men that ever grasped 
the reins of power. Nothing was plainer to him than that the old political 
system of Rome was hopelessly shattered. It was equally clear that security 
and prosperity could be obtained only through the firm and just rule of a single 
man. Such a man must be a genius of statesmanship, as well as invincible in 
war, and to whom could such transcendant ability be ascribed with more pro- 
priety than to Julius Caesar? 

He had obtained power by overriding the laws, but such is the necessity of 
all revolutions, and having secured that power, he was determined to use it for 
the good of the people. He laid the foundations broad and strong. He pro- 
moted distinguished and trustworthy foreigners to places of dignity in the city; 
Gauls and others were introduced into the Senate ; whole classes of useful sub- 
jects, such as those of the medical profession, were admitted to the franchise, 
and colonies were planted at Carthage and Corinth. An elaborate geographical 
survey was made of the immense regions in his dominion, and a most important 
project undertaken was the condensation and arrangement into a compact code 
of the thousands of fragments of the old Roman laws. This work had been 
dreamed of by Cicero and others, who were forced to believe it an impossible 
task, but Caesar set about it with such practical sense and system that it assur- 
edly would have been completed, had his life been spared to the usual limit. 
As it was, six centuries had to elapse before the glory of the work was earned 
by Justinian the imperial legislator. 

One notable achievement was the reform of the calendar. The Roman 
year had been calculated on the basis of 354 days, with the intercalation or 
insertion every second year of a month of twenty-two and twenty-three days 
respectively; but another day had been added to the 354, so as to secure an odd 
or fortunate number, to meet which an intricate process, which only the scholars 
understood, was brought into use. The jumble became intolerable. Caesar 
was a good astronomer, and with the aid of Sosigenes, the most eminent in the 
science, the Julian calendar was devised. This is still known by that name, and 
makes each year to consist of 365 days, with an additional day added to every 
fourth or -leap year. Even this is not mathematically exact ; and the slight 

388 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

error, in the course of centuries, grew into an importance which required the 
correction made by Pope Gregory XIII. , and put into effect in Rome, October 
5-15, 1582. By this Gregorian calendar leap year is omitted at the close of 
each century whose figures are not divisible by 400. Thus it will be remem- 
bered that the year 1900 was not a leap year. 

Spain, Portugal, and a part of Italy adopted the Gregorian calendar with 
Rome; France, in December, 1582, and the Catholic states of Germany in 
1583. In Scotland it was adopted on January 1, 1600; and in the Prot- 
estant states of Germany in 1700. England and Ireland and the English colo- 
nies, however, kept the Julian calendar until 1752, when the change was made. 
Russia alone has retained the Julian system, its dates being now thirteen days 
behind ours. 

Julius Caesar was undoubtedly one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived. 
No general ever surpassed him in ability; he was a statesman, an orator, a 
mathematician, a historian, an architect, a jurist, and was pre-eminent in each 
capacity. His personality was impressive. Tall and dignified of presence, 
with a fair complexion and keen, expressive black eyes, he never wore a beard, 
and, as he grew bald, he showed that care for his looks which was almost a 
passion with him from youth. He wore, as we have stated, a laurel chaplet, 
which hid his baldness and was at the same time a badge of his military great- 
ness. He was well worthy of the line applied to him by Shakespeare,— 

* 4 The foremost man of all the world." 

Many of the designs of this remarkable genius were never carried to com- 
pletion, for the reason that his life was cut off in its prime and before he had 
time to do more than form the far-reaching plans. His scheme of extending 
the pomcerium of the city was completed by his successor. Other plans of his 
were even further delayed. Many years passed before the Pomptine marshes 
were drained. His scheme of changing the course of the Tiber, so as to en- 
large the Campus Martius, was never followed out, nor did he cut through the 
Isthmus of Corinth. 

He shone as a leader among the intellectual men of his time. While he 
was modest and affable in his intercourse, none talked or wrote better than he. 
His " Commentaries," despite the great length of some of the sentences, remains 
as a monument of his extraordinary skill as a historian and writer. He was 
abstemious among the free livers, and Cato has said of him that, of all the revo- 
lutionists of his day, he alone took up his task with perfect soberness at all 
times. In this respect he was a marked contrast to Alexander. 

Moreover, it is impossible to study the character of the man without giving 
him credit for nobility of purpose. He judged rightly, when he felt that the 


(Cicero's head presented to Fulvia the wife of Antony) 

From the 'painting by Paul Swedornski, a contemporary Russian artist 

THE power which Antony gained by his influence over 
the Roman mob was used so arbitrarily, that the cele- 
brated orator Cicero came forth once more from pri- 
vate life and led the senate in opposition to Antony. He de- 
livered fourteen celebrated orations against the new dictator, 
all of them speeches of most savage invective. Octavius, the 
young nephew and adopted son of Caesar, also opposed An- 
tony, who was driven from Rome. He promptly gathered his 
army and again there was civil war, Antony against Octavius, 
and both of them against Brutus. But Antony was shrewd as 
well as daring, he made a treaty with Octavius by which they 
agreed to share the power; and before marching against 
Brutus they arranged a general proscription or legalized 
slarghter of all their enemies in Rome. 

Foremost on the list of the proscribed was Cicero, whom 
Antony had come, not unnaturally, to hate most savagely. 
Cicero fled, was pursued by Antony's soldiers and slain. His 
head and hands were cut off and sent to Rome, where An- 
tony's wife, Fulvia, received them with fierce joy and thrust 
her bodkin through the tongue which had so bitterly scourged 
her pride, as well as that of her husband. The head and hands 
of Cicero were nailed up in the Forum upon the orator's 
platform, whence he had so often swayed his Roman audience. 


Rome — Caesar Refuses the Crown 389 

only safety of Rome lay in its government by a wise, firm, and discreet ruler, 
and certainly there was none in that age who so fully met the requirements of 
the position as himself. The blot upon the character of Caesar is that he ac- 
cepted the blind, sacrilegious idolatry of his people without protest, and that 
his private life was scandalous. He openly declared his unbelief in immortal- 
ity, and lived defiantly with Cleopatra as his wife, though he never made her 

But worldly ambition is never satisfied, and grows by what it feeds on. He 
became restless. The stirring excitements of military life and the incentive to 
put forth his best exertions were lacking, and the fact oppressed him. He 
became haughty and capricious, and, like Napoleon at St. Helena, dreamed of 
the glories of his past campaigns and longed to engage in more. Brooding 
over all this, he formed the plan of crushing the Parthians, conquering the 
barbarians of the North, and then attacking the Germans in the rear. In the 
closing months of the year B.C. 45, he ordered his legions to cross the Adriatic 
and meet at Illyricum, where he would speedily join them. He expected to be 
absent for a long time from Rome, and arranged for the succession of chief 
magistrates for the following two years. He entered on his fifth consulship 
on the 1st of January, B.C. 44, M. Anton ius being his colleague. 

At that time, Caius Octavius, the eighteen-year son of Caesar's sister, was 
in camp at Apollonia, receiving instructions in war from the ablest teachers. 
He showed great ability, but was of delicate health. Caesar let it be known 
that he intended to make Octavius his son by adoption, and to bequeath to him 
all those dignities which the Senate had declared hereditary in his family. 

It was about this time that the title of king became associated with the 
name of Caesar. His flatterers suggested it, and his enemies urged it upon 
him, thereby hoping to make him unpopular. One morning, it was found that 
some person, either a friend or enemy, had attached a laurel and a kingly dia- 
dem to the statue of Caesar before the rostra. As soon as the tribunes saw it, 
they tore it down, the populace applauding. Caesar joined in the applause, 
though one cannot help suspecting the genuineness of his feelings. Some 
time later, when returning from a festival, a number of men had been hired to 
hail him as king. There could be no mistaking the angry disapproval, and the 
listening imperator exclaimed indignantly, "I am no king, but Caesar." On 
the 15th of February, while he was seated in his gilded chair before the rostra 
to preside over a festival, his faithful ally Antonius, now consul, approached 
and offered him a diadem, saying it was the gift of the Roman people. Faint 
applause followed, but when Caesar thrust the diadem from him, the acclama- 
tions were enthusiastic. Then Antonius, fresh from a religious ceremony and 
thus expressing sacred authority, presented it a second time. The clear-headed 

390 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

ruler had been quick to read the signs, and with considerable heat he replied, 
"I am not king; the only king of the Romans is Jupiter," whereupon he 
ordered the diadem to be removed and suspended in the temple in the Capitol. 

Human nature has been the same in all ages, and no man can rise to 
exalted position without incurring the deadly envy of those who have failed to 
keep pace with him. There were many such in Rome. They met in secret, 
whispered and plotted, and finally formed a conspiracy for taking the life of 
the imperator. The persons concerned in this hideous crime were sixty or 
eighty in number, and among them were many who had received marked favors 
at the hands of Caesar and professed the warmest devotion to him. The leader 
was Caius Longinus Cassius, who had lately been appointed praetor. At the 
breaking out of the civil war, he had sided with Pompey, but was pardoned by 
Caesar, and besides being made praetor was promised the governorship of Syria 
in the following year. The more favors he received, the more malignant he 
seemed to become in his hatred of the benefactor. Associated with him were 
Decimus Brutus, Trebonius, Casca, Cimber and more, all of whom were under 
deep obligations to Caesar for numerous favors. 

These men knew they were taking frightful risks, for the crime they con- 
templated would shake Rome to its centre and resound through the coming 
ages. They needed a strong name to help them through, and fixed upon Marcus 
Junius Brutus, who had also been a partisan of Pompey, but made his submis- 
sion to Caesar after the battle of Pharsalia, and in the following year was ap- 
pointed governor of Cisalpine Gaul. Brutus was a nephew of Cato, and claimed 
to trace his descent from a son of the famous Brutus who had founded the Re- 
public, and whose other sons had perished by the axe of the executioner. His 
descendant was now made vain by the many favors shown him by Caesar, who 
one day remarked that, of all Romans, Brutus was the most worthy to succeed 
him. Brutus accepted this as earnest, and it was easy for the conspirators by 
appealing to this, to procure his consent to become their leader in the dark 
counsels they often held together. 

Caesar received hints of what was going on. He had dismissed the guard 
appointed for him, and was, therefore, continually exposed to treacherous at- 
tack. When his friends remonstrated because of the fearless way in which he 
walked through the streets, he replied that it was better to die and have done 
with it, than to live in continual fear of dying. He scorned to take the least 
precautions, and since he had almost completed his preparations for leaving 
on his campaigns, his enemies determined to wait no longer. The Senate was 
convened for the Ides of March, the 15th day of the month, and it was agreed 
that on that day he should be struck down as he entered the Curia. 

Caesar is said to have shown some hesitation, due to the many warnings he 




(Cleopatra comes at Antony's command and he sees the famous Queen for the 

first time) 

From a painting by Sir Laurence Alma-Tadema, the Dutch-English 


AFTER the death of Cicero, Antony and Octavius ruled 
Italy securely; but they had yet to meet the forces 
which Brutus and Cassius had been gathering in the 
East. The opposing armies met at Philippi in Greece, and 
Brutus and Cassius were both slain. Antony and Octavius 
now divided the world between them. Antony taking the 
East as his share journeyed through Asia, setting up or tear- 
ing down kings and governors at his will. 

He was at Tarsus in Asia Minor when he summoned Cleo- 
patra to come from Egypt to appear before him on the charge 
of having offended against Rome. She came ; but if fear was 
in her heart, she masked it well. She sailed up the river to 
Tarsus in a wonderful barge. Its oars were silver; its sails 
and hangings of royal purple. Cleopatra was clothed as 
Venus and all her attendants were garbed as Cupids and as 
Graces. The people of Tarsus left the Tribunal of Antony 
and rushed forth to gaze on the splendid sight. Antony him- 
self, overcome with admiration, was rowed out to meet the 
barge. Cleopatra welcomed him, not as her judge but as her 
comrade ; and he became, as the great Caesar had been before, 
her lover and her servitor. 


Rome — Murder of Caesar 391 

had received, but he naturally shrank from appearing timid. He determined 
to go. On the way along the Forum to the theatre of Pompey, in the Cam- 
pus, several persons pressed near to warn him of his peril. One man hastily 
shoved a paper into his hand and begged him to read it without an instant's 
delay. He paid no heed, but held the roll, when he reached the Senate House 
remarking with a smile to the augur Spurinna, " The Ides of March have come. " 
"Yes," replied the other, "but they are not yet passed." 

As he entered the hall, his enemies kept near him so as to hold his friends 
at a distance. Caesar advanced to his seat, when Cimber immediately ap- 
proached with a petition for the pardon of his brother. The others, as agreed 
upon, joined in the prayer with much importunity, seizing his hands and even 
attempting to embrace him. Caesar gently repelled their attentions, but they 
persisted, and Cimber caught hold of his toga with both hands and snatched 
it over his arms. Then Casca, who was behind him, drew a dagger from under 
his cloak and reaching forward struck at Caesar, but in the flurry merely grazed 
his shoulder. Caesar saw the blow, and tried to seize the hilt of the dagger 
with one hand. Then Casca uttered the signal that had been agreed upon. 
This was the cry " Help ! " Immediately the others swarmed forward, pushing 
and striving to get closer to their victim, and all striking vicious blows, even 
though a number were not within reach of him. Caesar defended himself as 
best he could, and wounded one of his assailants with his stylus ; but when he 
recognized the gleaming face of Brutus among the panting countenances and 
saw the upraised steel in his hand, as he fought to get near enough to strike, 
he exclaimed, " What ! thou too, Brutus ! " (" Et tu y Brute ! "), and, drawing his 
robe over his face, made no further resistance. The assassins plunged their 
weapons into his body again and again, until at last, bleeding from twenty- 
three wounds, he sank down and breathed out his life at the feet of the statue 
of Pompey. 

The awful crime was completed, and the assassins, flinging their gowns over 
their left arms, as shields, and brandishing aloft their dripping daggers in their 
right hands, marched out of the Curia to the Forum, calling aloud that they 
had killed a tyrant, and displaying a liberty cap on the head of a spear. The 
multitude were dazed and stupefied for the moment, but the signs were so 
ominous that the conspirators hunted out a place of refuge in the temple of 
Jupiter, on the Capitol. 

In this place they were joined by others, and among them Cicero, who, 
though he had nothing to do with the conspiracy, did not condemn it, and ad- 
vised that the Senate should be called together at once. Brutus was distrust- 
ful and determined to make another appeal to the populace. He entered the 
Forum the next day, and his speech was listened to coldly, even if with respect. 

392 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

When, however, others followed in the same strain, the hearers broke out with 
such violence that the republicans were driven back to their quarters. 

Meanwhile the consul Antonius had been active. He communicated 
secretly with Calpurnia, the widow of Caesar, who seems to have been a woman 
of little force of character, and secured possession of her husband's immense 
treasures and also his will. Assisted by his two brothers — one of whom was a 
tribune and the other a praetor — Antonius opened, as consul, the nationalcoffers 
in the temple of Ops, and drawing a large sum, secured the promise of support 
from Lepidus, who had been leader of the army during Caesar's absence in 
Spain, and was his colleague in the consulate B.C. 46. Lepidus was weak of 
character, lacking both military ability and statesmanship. 

Antonius, as the minister and favorite of Caesar, was looked upon by many 
as his natural successor. Cicero alone opposed the conspirators' negotiations 
with him, for, though a brave man, Antonius was dissipated to the last degree. 
He was agreed upon as the proper man to act, and it was arranged that he 
should convene the Senate on March 17th. He selected as a place for the 
meeting the temple of Tellus, near the Forum, and filled it with armed sol- 
diers. Since the assassins were afraid to leave the Capitol, the discussion took 
place in their absence. The majority favored declaring Caesar a tyrant, but 
Antonius pointed out that this would invalidate all his acts and appointments. 
While the discussion was going on, Antonius went out and entered the Forum. 
He was received with acclamations, and Cicero showed that the only dignified 
course that could relieve them from their embarrassment was an amnesty which 
should confirm every acquired right and leave the deed of the conspirators to 
the judgment of posterity. 

Cicero carried his point, and by his eloquence the next day he calmed the 
populace, who invited the conspirators to descend from the Capitol, Lepidus 
and Antonius sending their children as hostages, and one entertained Brutus 
and the other Cassius at supper. The following morning all parties met in the 
Curia, and Caesar's assignment of provinces was confirmed. To* Trebonius 
went Asia, to Cimber Bithynia, and to Decimus the Cisalpine, while Mace- 
donia was to go to Brutus, and Syria to Cassius, when their terms of office at 
home expired. 

Caesar was dead but not buried. Inasmuch as his acts were valid, his will 
had to be accepted and his remains honored with a public funeral. Antony 
read to the people the last testament of their idol, by which it appeared that 
the youthful Octavius had been adopted as his son ; that the Roman people had 
been endowed with his gardens on the bank of the Tiber, and he had bequeathed 
some twelve dollars to every citizen. 

This liberality roused all to fury, which was kindled to the ungovernable 


(The Ships of Cleopatra desert Antony) 

From an anonymous English print 

FOR Cleopatra, Antony abandoned the sovereignty of the 
world. He neglected affairs at Rome to dwell with her 
in Egypt. Once or twice he ronsed himself to effort, 
and proved that he could still cope with Octavius or any other 
foe. But chiefly he left the field of politics to Octavius, who 
gradually acquired complete control in Rome. Octavius won 
both the affection and the faith of the citizens by constantly 
promising to restore the forms of republican government as 
soon as Antony had completed the pacification of the world 
by reestablishing Roman supremacy in Asia. 

As the years passed it became evident that Antony never 
would conquer Asia, that he took no further interest in assert- 
ing Rome 's supremacy. It was even rumored that he planned 
to set Cleopatra by his side upon a Roman throne. So at last 
he was declared an enemy of Rome, and a fleet and army was 
sent out under Octavius to conquer him. The fleets met in 
battle off Actium, and Antony seemed likely to win, when 
suddenly Cleopatra, who had been supporting him with her 
Egyptian ships, fled from the battle. Antony took a swift 
galley and sped after her. His own ships, left bewildered and 
without a leader, surrendered to Octavius. Thus the rulership 
of all the world was tossed aside by a woman's fears and a 
man's devotion to her. 


Rome — Rebellion at Caesar's Funeral 


point by the funeral oration of Mark Antony. The body was laid out on a 
couch of gold and ivory, on a shrine gleaming with gold and erected before the 
rostra. At the head was hung the toga in which Caesar had been slain, show- 
ing the rents made by the daggers of the assassins. The mangled remains 
were concealed, but in their place was displayed a waxen figure, which faith- 
fully showed every one of the three-and-twenty wounds. 

When the people were swept by grief and indignation, Mark Antony 
stepped forward, as the chief magistrate of the Republic. He did this with 
marvellous dramatic power. Then pointing to the bleeding corpse, and striding 
toward the Capitol, he proclaimed in a thrilling voice : " I at least am prepared 
to keep my vow to avenge the victim I could not save ! " 

The people were now beyond restraint, as the orator intended they should 
be. They would not allow the body to be carried outside of the city, but in- 
sisted that it should be burned within the walls. Benches, tables, and chairs 
were torn up and heaped before the pontiff's dwelling in the Forum, and the 
body placed upon it. The torch was applied by two youths, girt with swords 
and javelin in hand, while the people flung on more fuel, wherever it could be 
gathered, the veterans adding their arms, the matrons their ornaments, and the 
children their trinkets. It was a touching fact that among the most grief- 
stricken of the mourners were Gauls, Iberians, Africans, and Orientals, all of 
whom had loved Caesar with no less fervency than did his own countrymen. 

Caesar had been the friend and champion of the common people. Attack- 
ing him unawares, his enemies had struck the fragile, human life from his 
body. Yet so great had been the spirit of the man, so enormous his influence, 
that even that dead body was sufficient to defeat the conspirators. The sud- 
den, unquenchable rebellion that sprang up round his corpse, was Caesar's last 
and greatest triumph. 

antique Bas-relief of Roman Victory in Gaul 

Recent Excavations Showing the Forum Romanum 

Chapter XXXVII 

O orator had ever attained more perfect success than did 
Mark Antony in that celebrated speech over Caesar's 
body. The frenzied people rushed like madmen 
through the streets, with blazing brands, determined 
to set fire to the houses of the conspirators and slay 
the inmates. The blind attacks were repulsed for the 
time, but Brutus and Cassius and their associates made 
haste to get out of the city. Had the incensed populace been 
able to lay hands upon them, they would have been torn limb 
from limb. 
Ah, but Mark Antony was sly ! He interfered and stopped the disorder 
and then set himself to win the good will of the Senate, which was needed to 
carry out his plans. He secured the passage of a resolution abolishing the office 
of Dictator, and it was never revived ; and then, with a stern hand, he put down 
the rioting which broke out in many quarters. He even visited Brutus and 
Cassius in their hiding, and offered to guarantee their safety, but they wisely 
declined to enter the city. Their praetorial office required them to reside in 
Rome, but he obtained for the two a charge for supplying provisions which 
would justify their absence. In return Antony asked one small favor: since 
he, too, was in danger, he asked the Senate to grant him an armed body-guard. 
The Senate promptly did so, and he as promptly raised it to six thousand men 
and thus made himself safe. 

Antony was for the moment as much Dictator as Caesar had ever been. 
He secured the sanction of the Senate, not only for all the imperator had done, 
but io r all that he might have planned to do. Having won over the secretary 


(A Revel in the Shadow of approaching Death) 

From a painting by Henri Pierre Picon, a recent French artist of Nantes 

THE tale of Antony and Cleopatra is one of the great 
love tragedies of history. The fascinated Antony pur- 
sued Cleopatra back to Egypt. But now she was afraid 
of him and avoided him. Gloomy and despairing he shut Vm- 
self up in a strong tower near Alexandra prepared to defy all 
comers. The victorious Octavius did not follow them imme- 
diately. With characteristic caution, he spent a year in win- 
ning over the forces which Antony had abandoned. Then, 
when all Asia was assuredly his, he advanced against Egypt. 
Cleopatra tried to make friends with the new conqueror. 
Doubtless she hoped to rule him as she had ruled Caesar and 
Antony. But Octavius was made of other clay. He refused 
to see the enchantress, and now, convinced there was no other 
escape from being sent captive to Rome, she prepared for 
death. She sought Antony's comradeship once more. In one 
last day of revelry she sailed down the Nile in her barge of 
state, as she and Antony had so often done together. Then 
she shut herself in a tomb she had prepared, a sort of tower 
without a way of entrance. The rumor spread that she had 
committed suicide, and Antony stabbed himself for sorrow. 
Then, as we have already told in Egypt's story, she also wel- 
comed death, poisoning herself. Thus Octavius was left mas- 
ter of the world, but his rivals had escaped beyond reach of 
his vengeance. 


Rome — Antony in Power 395 

of the deceased, and secured all his papers, Antony carried out what schemes 
he liked, and when he lacked authority for them, he, with the help of the 
secretary, forged Caesar's authority. It is unnecessary to say that with such 
boundless facilities at command, he did not neglect to "feather his own nest," 
and to secure enough funds to bribe senators, officers, and tributary provinces. 
He did not hesitate to break .the engagements he had made with the conspir- 
ators, by taking from Brutus and Cassius the governments that had been 
promised them, and seizing Macedonia with the legions Caesar had ordered to 
assemble at Apollonia. Beholding all this, Cicero sadly murmured : " The 
tyrant is dead, but the tyranny still lives. " 

Now, you will remember that Octavius, the young nephew of Caesar, was at 
Apollonia preparing himself for the campaign in which he had expected to take 
part. When he learned the particulars of his uncle's assassination, and the 
letters from his mother made known that he was the heir to all that had been 
left, he was thrilled by the ambition that sprang to life within him, and deter- 
mined to return to Rome in the face of every danger. His friends tried to dis- 
suade him, but he had the fervent devotion of the soldiers, who burned to avenge 
the murder of their idolized chief. Nothing could restrain the young man's 
resolution, and, when he landed on the coast of Apulia, copies of the will and 
the decrees of the Senate were shown to him. He immediately assumed the 
title of Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus, and offered himself before the troops 
at Brundisium as the adopted son of the great imperator. He was received 
with the wildest demonstrations, and the veterans who crowded around drew 
their swords and clamored to be led against all who dared to oppose the will of 
him who, being dead, yet spoke in the same trumpet tones as of yore. 

Octavius, in spite of his years, was prudent, even while impetuous. In- 
stead of appealing to force he addressed the Senate in temperate language, 
claiming that, as a private citizen, he had the right to the inheritance left him 
by Caesar. On his way to Rome, he visited the despondent Cicero, who was 
staying near Cumae, and succeeded in convincing the orator of his loyal and 
wise views. 

Octavius entered Rome in April, and, despite the remonstrance of his 
mother and stepfather, went before the praetor and declared himself the son 
and heir of the Dictator. Mounting the tribune, he addressed the people, 
pledging to pay the sums bequeathed to them by his illustrious parent. He 
made many friends and won over a large number of enemies. Antony had no 
fear at first of this stripling, but the news that reached him led him to return to 
Rome about the middle of May. When he and Octavius met, the latter pro- 
fessed friendship for him, but at the same time upbraided the consul for his 
failure to punish the assassins. Then the daring youth demanded the treasures 

396 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

of his father; Antony replied that they had all been spent; that it was public 
money, and that the will under which Octavius claimed the funds would have 
been set aside by the Senate, but for the interference of Antony. 

Octavius now sold the remnant of Caesar's effects, all of his own, and bor- 
rowed from friends sufficient with which to pay every obligation of his father. 
Naturally the people were grateful, and the popularity of the young man rapidly 
increased. Antony saw that the most foolish thing he could do was to despise 
this competitor, who had won the affection of his countrymen. 

At the same time, the conduct of the conspirators was timid. Cicero at- 
tended their conferences and strove to animate them with his hopefulness. 
Brutus resolved to quit Italy and like Cassius summon the patriots to arms in 
Greece and Macedonia. Cicero entered Rome and was delighted with the 
warmth of his reception. The day after his arrival, Antony convened the 
Senate. Cicero was afraid to appear, and Antony made a bitter attack on him. 
Stung by the insult, he came before the Senate and made a terrific assault upon 
the tyrant's policy. The several speeches which Cicero uttered against the 
consul in the course of the following month are known by the name of Philip- 
pics, in allusion to the harangues of Demosthenes against the tyrant of Mace- 
don. Octavius let the two wrangle, while he carefully undermined the strength 
of Antony. The latter fled from Rome and raised the standard of civil war. 
There was promise of the most sanguinary struggles between the leaders and 
their partisans, when Octavius awoke to the fact that his own safety depended 
upon his coming to an understanding with Antony. Word was sent to Antony 
by the young man that he had no wish to injure him, and Octavius refrained from 
preventing the junction of the consul's forces with Lepidus in the Transalpine. 
This gave to Antony a force of more than twenty legions, while Octavius, with 
less than half as many, and in the face of the prohibition of the Senate, 
marched his troops to the gates of Rome. Then the people elected him to 
the consulship. He cited the murderers of Caesar to appear before the tri- 
bunals, and in their absence judgment was passed upon them. 

Octavius was now in a position to treat with Mark Antony on equal terms. 
As an entering wedge, he caused the Senate to repeal the decrees against him 
and Lepidus. This was in the latter part of September, and, about a month 
later, Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus held their memorable meeting on a small 
island in the Rhenus, and not far from Benonia. They parleyed during three 
days, when an agreement was reached by which Octavius was to resign the 
consulship in favor of Ventidius, an officer of Antony's army, and the three 
chiefs should associate themselves together under a second Triumvirate, for 
the establishment of the commonwealth. They were to rule the city, the con- 
suls, and the laws, claiming the consular power in common, with the right of 




(Dedication of the Pantheon, Plan*ied by Octavius as a Family Shrine) 

A restoration designed by the German archaeologist, J. Bergmann 

OF all the equally matched and conflicting parties which 
had been let loose by the assassination of the mighty 
CaBsar, and which had warred so bitterly against one 
another, only a single power now survived, that of Octavius, 
the nephew and adopted son of Csesar. Not by brilliancy but 
by patient endurance and persistence, he had outlasted all his 
rivals and was now undisputed master of the world. The 
time had thus come for him to redeem his promise of restoring 
the old republican government; but Octavius can never seri- 
ously have intended to lay aside the power for which he had 
struggled so long. He did, indeed, restore the empty forms of 
the republic and these were continued by his successors for 
centuries, but he retained all real authority by holding all the 
important offices himself. The submissive senate which he 
had created, made him high priest for life, and also "Im- 
perator" or permanent general of the army, a title which we 
have corrupted into "Emperor." 

Octavius devoted himself to rebuilding Rome. He boasted 
that he had found it brick and left it marble. Among other 
structures he probably started but did not finish the great 
"Pantheon," as a temple in honor of Julius Caesar. It be- 
came the shrine of the family and was finished by the son- 
in-law of Octavius. It held a shrine to Jupiter and to other 
gods and was by far the most elaborate piece of architecture 
the Romans had yet attempted. 



Rome — The Second Triumvirate 397 

appointing all the magistrates. Whatever they decreed should be binding 
without first obtaining the consent of the Senate or the people. This Second 
Triumvirate, formed in B.C. 43, also divided among its members the provinces 
around Italy. Antony was to have the two Gauls ; Lepidus the Spains, with 
the Narbonensis, while Octavius secured Africa and the islands. Italy, the 
heart of empire, they were to retain in common, while the division of the 
eastern provinces was postponed until after Brutus and Cassius should be driven 
out of them. Octavius and Antony, with twenty legions each, were to take 
charge of the conduct of the war, while Lepidus remained to protect their in- 
terests in Rome. 

Having formed their far-reaching scheme, the three agreed that the first 
necessary precaution was to leave no enemies in their rear. All from whom 
danger threatened must be crushed beyond the possibility of doing harm. Oc- 
tavius, Antony, and Lepidus entered the city on three successive days, each at 
the head of a single legion. The troops occupied the temples and towers and 
their banners waved from the Forum. The farce of a plebiscitum was gone 
through, and on November 28th the Triumvirate was proclaimed. Instead of 
a massacre like Sulla's, they decreed a formal proscription. Each man had 
his list of chief citizens before him, and, sitting down, picked out the names 
of those whose deaths would give him special happiness. 

Now, since every one was certain to want the sacrifice of the relatives of 
the others, they made a ghastly agreement among themselves to the effect that 
each, by giving up a relative, would be entitled to proscribe a kinsman of his 
colleagues. As a result, among the first names on the fatal list were a brother 
of Lepidus, an uncle of Antony, and a cousin of Octavius. The scenes that 
followed were too dreadful for description. It is recorded that three hundred 
senators, two thousand knights, and many thousands of citizens were put to 
death. Many escaped by fleeing to Macedonia and others to Africa, while 
more found refuge on the vessels of Sextus Pompeius that were cruising off 
Africa. Some bought their lives with bribes. 

Antony demanded the death of Cicero, whose blistering philippics still 
rankled in his memory, and Octavius, to his eternal shame, consented. Cicero 
was staying at the time with his brother at his Tusculan villa. As soon as 
they heard of the proscription, they fled to Astura, another villa, on a small isl- 
and off the coast of Antium, whither they intended to embark for Macedonia. 
In the pursuit the brother was overtaken and killed, but Cicero gained the 
sea, set sail, and landed several times, distressed in body and mind and 
caring little what became of him. The last time he went ashore near 
Formise, he was warned of the danger of delay. " Let me die here, in my 
fatherland," he said mournfully, but his slaves placed the man, who was suffer- 

398 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

ing great bodily pain, upon a litter, and moved as rapidly as they could toward 
the sea-coast. 

Hardly had they left the house, when an officer, whose life Cicero had once 
saved, appeared and pounded on the door. A man pointed out the course taken 
by the fugitives, and he and his small force ran after them. Cicero saw them 
coming up and noted that they were in less number than his own party, who 
prepared to defend him. 

But he would not permit it. He ordered the slaves to set down the litter, 
and, fixing his eyes calmly on his enemies, he bared his throat to their swords. 
Many of the spectators covered their faces with their hands, and the leader 
hesitated and bungled, until at last he pulled himself together and then all 
was quickly over. The head of the orator was sent as a gracious present to 
Antony, whose wife Fulvia, remembering how nearly she and her husband had 
been overthrown by that bitter tongue, thrust long pins through it, taunting the 
dead man and crying that she had given the final answer to his orations. 

The Second Triumvirate had crushed its enemies at home; it had still to 
destroy the republican forces. Brutus and Cassius, knowing they could not 
sustain themselves in Italy, had retired to the East. When Brutus appeared 
before Athens, the citizens erected his statue by the side of those of Harmo- 
dius and Aristogiton, and many of the younger men enlisted in his ranks. 
Horace, the future poet, was made a tribune, and numerous veterans also joined 
the patriot forces. The kings and rulers of Macedonia were quick to declare 
themselves on the same side, one of the adherents being a brother of Antony. 

Cassius had gone to his promised government of Syria, where he was held 
in high esteem, because of the courage he had displayed in the conquest of the 
Parthians, after the fall of Crassus. He devastated the country and then pre- 
pared to pass over into Macedonia. The legend is that Brutus, watching in his 
tent at night, saw a fearful apparition, which being addressed replied : "lam 
thy evil spirit; thou shalt see me again at Philippi." When he and Cassius 
encamped on an eminence, twelve miles east of Philippi, their forces numbered 
probably 100,000 men. Those which Octavius and Antony brought against 
them were fewer, but in a better state of discipline. In the battle Brutus op- 
posed Octavius ; Cassius, Antony. Octavius was ill, and at the first shock his 
division yielded, but Antony was successful. Cassius fell back, and was left 
almost alone and unaware of the success of his colleague. Observing a body 
of horsemen approaching, he was panic-stricken, and, believing them the enemy, 
threw himself on the sword of a freedman and died. The messenger sent by 
Brutus with news of his triumph, arrived just a moment too late. It was a 
drawn battle, and each side withdrew, glad of a respite. 

Brutus found it difficult to hold 'his legions in hand, and, yielding to his 


(The "Augustan Age " the Most Celebrated in Roman Literature) 

From the fainting by George Hiltensperger, a recent German artist 

IT was during the reign of Octavius that Jesas was born 
upon earth. This was an age of peace, the first the world 

had known since the beginning of recorded history. On 
the Capitoline hill stood the temple of the god Janus which 
was always open in time of war. Its gates had not been closed 
since the days of Romulus. Now Octavius, in the ceremony 
depicted in our picture, closed the gates. 

The Senate, among other honors, voted to Octavius the 
title of Augustus, a name which had before been applied only 
to the gods. Octavius preferred this name to his own, so it is 
as Augustus Caesar, the godlike Caesar, that he is known to 
history. His reign is called the "Augustan Age." It was 
the chief literary period of Rome; for literature flourishes 
only in peace, and Augustus gathered round him a sort of 
court of artistic and learned men. Most celebrated among 
these were Rome's chief epic poet Virgil, and her chief lyric 
poet Horace. Livy, the first great Roman historian, was also 
the friend of Augustus, as was Ovid, the famous poet of love. 
All of these are seen in converse in our illustration. 


Rome — Antony and Cleopatra 399 

impatience, he renewed the battle twenty days later on the same field. The fight 
was well contested, but the Caesarians under Octavius broke the ranks of their 
enemies, and attacked them in their camp. Brutus held an anxious position 
throughout the night on a neighboring hill. When daylight came, his remain- 
ing men refused to renew the fight, and in despair he ended his life with his 
own sword. The remnant of the shattered republican armies was carried off 
by the fleet which had attended their movements. 

The decisive victory having been gained, the victors made a new partition 
of the spoils. Octavius took Spain and Numidia ; Antony, Gaul beyond the 
Alps ; and Lepidus the province of Africa. But the division was hardly made 
when the possessors began to quarrel over it. Lepidus was feeble, and of such 
insignificance that his share was soon taken from him, after which nothing was 
more certain than that Octavius and Antony would soon come to strife over 
their portions, and each would intrigue against the other. Octavius was still 
suffering in health, and chose to seek repose by returning to the balmy climate 
of Italy^ and undertaking the task of placing the veterans on the estates of the 
natives. The gross Antony stayed in the East, indulging in the lowest dissi- 

He ordered Cleopatra to meet him at Cilicia, on a charge of intrigue with 
his enemy Cassius. It is said that the wit and piquancy of this remarkable 
woman were more effective than her dazzling beauty, and none knew better how 
to use her gifts than she. Sailing for Tarsus, she glided up the Cydnus in a 
gilded vessel, with purple sails and silver oars, to the sound of flutes and pipes. 
Under an awning, spangled with gold, she reclined in the garb of Venus, sur- 
rounded by Cupids, Graces, and Nereids, while Antony appeared in the charac- 
ter of Bacchus. Impressed by her splendid equipage, he invited her to land 
and sit at his banquet, but with the air of a queen she summoned him to at- 
tend upon her. 

That meeting sealed his fate. He was utterly enthralled. Under the spell 
of the arch temptress, he forgot wife, Rome, and every duty, and only asked the 
bliss of becoming her slave and adorer; and, inasmuch as that was the object 
for which she played from the beginning, she made sure of retaining her sway 
over him. 

In the middle of the summer B.C. 36, Antony had gathered 100,000 men on 
.the Euphrates with the intention of completing the conquest of the Parthians. 
His alliance with Cleopatra had delayed him so long, that he advanced too 
rapidly, and, on reaching Praaspa, three hundred miles beyond the Tigris, he 
found himself without any artillery with which to conduct a siege. He, there- 
fore, settled to an attempt at the reduction of the city by blockade, but 
the Parthian horsemen cut off his supplies and a number of his Armenian 

400 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

allies deserted. This compelled him to retreat, and for twenty-seven days his 
men were subjected to incredible sufferings. Not until they had crossed the 
Araxes did the Parthians cease their attacks. Antony still hurried his wearied 
soldiers, intent only on rejoining Cleopatra at the earliest moment. She had 
come to Syria to meet him, and, caring nothing for honor or duty, he returned 
with her to the dissipations of the Egyptian capital, not hesitating in his 
shamelessness to announce his recent campaign as a victory. It suited Octa- 
vius to maintain the appearance at least of friendship, and he did not dispute 
the claim. 

Antony's second wife, the faithful Octavia, hoping to save her husband 
from the thraldom of Cleopatra, obtained the consent of her brother Octavius 
to rejoin Antony. He had returned to Syria, and was preparing for a new ex- 
pedition, when he learned that his wife had arrived in Athens. He sent her 
orders to come no further. She could not mistake the meaning of the mes- 
sage, but asked leave to send forward the presents she brought with her, which 
consisted of clothing for the soldiers, money, and equipments, including 2,000 
picked men as a body-guard for the imperator. Then the " Serpent of the 
Nile " exerted all her devilish arts, and the fool Antony fled with her to Alex- 
andria. Octavia, with the serene dignity of wounded womanhood, resigned her 
unworthy husband to the fate which he richly deserved. 

Some modern courts have illustrated the depths of debauchery of which 
men and women are capable, but none have surpassed the court of Cleopatra, 
whose dominion over Mark Antony was so complete that he seemed unable to 
live except in her presence. It was as if nature had displayed the utmost 
achievements of which she is capable in the creation "of this woman. While 
her portraits do not show a superlative degree of beauty, yet she must have pos- 
sessed it to a remarkable extent, and her magnetism of manner was resistless. 
She was a fascinating singer and musician, spoke several languages, and was 
past-mistress in all the arts and artifices of her sex. None knew better how to 
capture and to retain her dominion over such a coarse wretch as Antony. 
What strange stories have come down to us of that extraordinary couple! 
When he dropped a line into the water, trained divers by her orders slipped 
unperceived underneath and fastened live fish to the hook; she dissolved a 
pearl of princely value in a cup of vinegar, and drank it to his health. 

The rumors of these orgies caused resentment in Rome, where the tact and 
wisdom of Octavius steadily added to his popularity. One of the chief sup- 
porters of Antony became so nauseated that he appeared in the Senate and 
openly declared his abhorrence of his late master. Then he went to Octavius 
and revealed the testament of Antony, which reeked with treason. It declared 
the child of Cleopatra and Caesar the heir of the Dictator, and ratified Antony's 


(By Repeated Attacks the Germans Utterly Destroy the Roman Army of 


After an old German painting 

DURING the reign of Augustus, the height of Roman 
glory, there came the first faint foreshadowing of what 
Rome's ending was to be. The Germans, who were to 
conquer Rome, defeated a Roman army. This was in the 
year A.D. 9, that is, nine years after the birth of Jesus. Twice 
before, the Romans had encountered the Germans. Marius 
had annihilated the first vast horde of them who sought to 
invade Italy. Julius Caesar had defeated a second horde and 
driven them out of Gaul. Now the legions of Augustus at- 
tempted to invade and conquer Germany. 

Some of the wild tribes were easily reduced to subjection 
at first; but Varus, the general who was given rule over them, 
treated them so harshly that they planned a secret revolt under 
their chieftain Hermann. The plot was betrayed to Varus, 
and in contempt of these barbarians, he marched three Roman 
legions, nearly thirty thousand men, through the wilderness 
of the German forests to chastise the rebels. His army was 
entrapped, surrounded and completely destroyed. Seldom 
indeed had Rome met so terrible a defeat. The Emperor 
Augustus grieved bitterly when the news reached him. For 
months he let his hair and beard grow long, and repeatedly 
cried out in sorrow, "Varus, Varus, give me back my 

in o 

Rome — Battle of Actium 401 

drunken gifts of provinces to tavorites, finally directing that his body should be 
entombed with Cleopatra's in the mausoleum of the Ptolemies. All this hid- 
eous wickedness being known, every one was ready to believe the story that 
Antony when drunk had given his pledge to Cleopatra to sacrifice the West to 
her ambition and to remove to Alexandria the government of the world. 

Octavius, while refraining from declaring Antony a public enemy, pro- 
claimed war against Egypt, and did not renew the terms of the Triumvirate 
which had expired, but directed the Senate to annul the appointment of Antony 
as consul, assuming it himself at the opening of B.C. 31. 

Antony still had friends, and they now begged him to wrench himself free 
from Cleopatra. He replied by divorcing his legitimate wife, thus breaking 
the last legal tie that bound him to his country. He could not wholly close 
his eyes to his peril, however, and showed some of his old-time vigor in prepar- 
ing to resist Octavius, who was equally energetic in preparations against him. 

The forces of Antony are given at 100,000 infantry and 12,000 horse, while 
his fleet numbered 500 large war- galleys. Octavius had 20,000 less, and only 
1 $0 smaller vessels, which on that account were more manageable. The deser- 
tion of many of his troops awakened distrust in the mind of Antony, who be- 
came suspicious of Cleopatra herself and compelled her to taste all viands be- 
fore he partook of them. At last the two great armies' gathered in front of 
each other on the shores of the gulf of Ambracia, the narrow channel between 
being occupied by the fleet of Antony. 

This field of war was ill-chosen, for it was confined and unhealthful, and 
Antony wished to remove his forces to the plains of Thessaly ; but Cleopatra, 
fearing for her own way of retreat, dissuaded him. Distrusting the issue of 
the battle, he secretly prepared to lead his fleet into the open waters of the 
Leucadian bay, so as to break through the enemy's line, and escape to Egypt, 
I leaving the army to do the best it could to retreat into Asia. 

The wind was so high for several days that the rough waters would not per- 
mit the ships of either side to move; but it fell, and, on September 2d, b.c 31, 
at noon, while the galleys of Antony lay becalmed at the entrance to the 
strait, a gentle breeze sprang up, so that the immense armament moved out 
to sea. 

It immediately became apparent that the ships were greatly handicapped by 
their bulkiness, which held them from moving with the nimbleness of their op- 
ponents. They hurled huge stones from their wooden towers and reached out 
enormous iron claws to grapple their assailants, which dodged and eluded them 
like a party of hounds in front of a wounded bear. How curiously the account 
[of this naval battle reads when compared with one of our modern contests on 
the water ! The Cesarean rowers shot forward and backed with great agility, 

4-02 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

or swept away the banks of the enemy's oars, under cover of showers of arrows, 
circling about the awkward masses and helping one another against boarding or 
grappling. It was a school of whales fighting sharks, but the result was inde- 
cisive, for although the whales were wounded, the sharks did not disable them. 

Then suddenly took place a shameful thing. Cleopatra's galley, anchored 
in the rear, hoisted its sails and sped away, followed by the Egyptian squadron 
of sixty barks. Antony caught sight of the signal, and, leaping into a boat, 
was rowed rapidly in their wake. Many of the crews, enraged at the desertion, 
tore down their turrets, flung them into the sea to lighten their craft, and has- 
tened after him, but enough remained to put up a brave fight. Then the 
Cesareans, unable otherwise to destroy them, hurled blazing torches among the 
ships, which, catching fire, burned to the water's edge, and sank one after the 
other. Thus ended the great sea-fight of Actium. Three hundred galleys fell 
into the victor's hands, but the army on shore was still unharmed. It was 
not until its commander abandoned it and sought the camp of Octavius, that 
the legions surrendered. 

Antony and Cleopatra had fled in the same vessel. Proceeding direct to 
Alexandria, she sailed into the harbor, her galley decked with laurels through 
fear of a revolt of the people. Antony had remained at Parsetonium to demand 
the surrender of the 'small Roman garrison stationed there, but was repulsed, 
and learned of the fate of his army at Actium. In his despair, he was ready to 
kill himself, but his attendants prevented and took him to Alexandria, where he 
found Cleopatra preparing for defence. Defections broke out on every hand, 
and she proposed to fly into far-away Arabia. She commenced the transport 
of her galleys from the Nile to the Red Sea, but some were destroyed by the 
barbarians on the coast, and she abandoned the project. Then the distracted 
woman thought she could seek a refuge in Spain and raise a revolt against Oc- 
tavius. This wild scheme was also given up, and Antony shut himself up in a 
tower on the sea-coast ; but Cleopatra was not ready to yield, and showed her 
boy dressed as a man to the people that they might feel they were governed by 
him and not by a woman. 

Still hopelessly captivated, Antony sneaked back to his royal mistress, and 
the two plunged into reckless orgies till the moment should come for both to 
die together. It is said that at this time the woman made many careful ex- 
periments of the different kinds of poison on slaves and criminals, and was 
finally convinced that the bite of an asp afforded the xnost painless method of 
taking one's departure from life. 

Meanwhile, she and Antony applied to Octavius fot- clemency. He dis- 
dained to make any answer to Antony, but told Cleopatra that if she would kill 
or drive away her paramour, he would grant her reasonable terms. Octavius 


(The Roman Troops Fight Desperately to Retain their Banners) 

From the painting by Ferdinand Leeke, a contemporary German artist 

GREAT was the consternation of all Rome at the defeat 
of Varus. There was danger that the exulting Ger- 
mans would march at once on Rome; but the general 
now in command against them was the able Tiberius, whom 
Augustus had adopted as his son and successor. The well- 
chosen measures of Tiberius kept the Germans from crossing' 
the Rhine and invading the Roman province of Gaul; and 
when, on the death of Augustus, Tiberius succeeded him, the 
new emperor sent his own adopted son, Germanicus, to guard 
the frontier against the Germans. 

The warfare between Germanicus and Hermann was long 
and equally sustained. Three times Germanicus led his troops 
across the Rhine into the German forests; but each time he 
was so assailed amid the wilds that he withdrew and left Ger- 
many unconquered. The Rhine was accepted as the perma- 
nent Roman frontier. 

Our picture shows the most noted of the retreats of Ger- 
manicus. In one expedition he penetrated to the field of 
Varus' defeat and buried the bones of the Romans who had 
fallen there. As he marched homeward again, he was sur- 
rounded by the infuriated Germans and assailed so persist- 
ently and with such frenzy that his retreat was one long bat- 
tle. Many Roman standards were torn from the bearers to 
whom they were entrusted, and only a mere remnant of the 
Roman soldiers won their way back to the safety of the Rhine. 


Rome — Death of Antony and Cleopatra 403 

was playing with his victims like a cat with mice. He meant to have her 
kingdom, but was determined to carry the detested woman herself to Rome and 
exhibit her in his triumph. Cunning agents of his suggested to her that Oc- 
tavius was still a young man, and she no doubt could exert the same power over 
him that had taken Antony captive. It was not strange that she should believe 
this, for her past experience warranted such belief. She encouraged Antony 
to prepare for the last struggle, and all the time was secretly contriving to dis- 
arm and betray him. The forces of Octavius drew nearer. Pelusium was cap- 
tured, but Antony gained the advantage in a skirmish before the walls of Alex- 
andria, and was on the point of seizing the moment for a flight to sea, when he 
saw his own vessels, won away by Cleopatra, pass over to the enemy. Almost 
at the same moment, his cohorts, seduced by the same treachery, deserted him. 

Cleopatra had shut herself up in a tower, built for her mausoleum, but fear- 
ing that the man whom she had ruined would do her violence, had word sent to 
him that she had committed suicide. This was the final blow to Antony, who 
with the aid of his freedman Eros inflicted a mortal wound upon himself. Im- 
mediately after, he learned that he had been tricked, and that the queen was 
unharmed. He caused himself to be carried to the foot of the tower, where, 
with the assistance of two women, her only attendants, he was drawn up, and 
breathed his last in her arms. 

By this time, Octavius had entered Alexandria and sent an officer to bring 
Cleopatra to him. She refused to admit the messenger, but he scaled the tower 
undiscovered and entered. She snatched up a poniard to strike herself, but 
the man caught her arm and assured her that his master would treat her kindly. 
She listened for some minutes, and then allowed herself to be led to the palace, 
where she resumed her state, and was recognized as a sovereign by her victor. 

Then Octavius called upon her. Never in all her wonderful experience did 
she so exert herself to capture one of the sterner sex ; but Octavius had nerved 
himself for the meeting, and for the first time the charmer found she had no 
power to charm. He talked with coolness and self-possession, demanded that 
she should give him a list of. her treasures, and then, bidding her to be of good 
heart, left her. 

Cleopatra was chagrined at her failure, but she did not despair, till she 
learned that Octavius was determined to take her as a captive to Rome. She 
rthen retired to the mausoleum where the body of Antony still lay, crowned the 
tomb with flowers, and was found the next morning dead on her couch, her two 
women attendants expiring at her side. Although the common account makes 
Cleopatra die of the bite of an asp, brought to her in a basket of figs, the truth 
concerning her end will never be known with certainty. As we have learned 
in Egypt's story, there were no wounds discovered on her body, and it may be 

404 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

that she perished from some self-administered subtle poison. At the triumph 
of Octavius, her image was carried on a bier, the arms encircled by two ser- 
pents, and this aided the popular rumor as to the means of her death. The 
child which she had borne to Julius Caesar was put to death by Octavius, who 
could brook the existence of no such dangerous rival, but the children of An- 
tony were spared, though deprived of the royal succession. The dynasty of the 
Ptolemies ended, and Egypt became a Roman province (b.c. 30). 

The death of Antony closes the dreadful period of civil strife. The com- 
monwealth was exhausted and Octavius was supreme. With masterly ability, 
he regulated his new province, and then made his tour through the Eastern 
dominions, dispossessing his enemies and rewarding his allies and friends. 
When everything was settled, he went to Samos, where he spent- the winter in 
pleasant retirement. He reached Rome in the middle of the summer of b.c. 
29, and was received with acclamations of joy. With a wisdom worthy of his 
adopted father, he recognized the authority of the Senate and claimed to have 
wielded delegated powers only. He had laid aside the functions of the Trium- 
virate, and it was as a simple consul, commissioned by the state, that he had 
conquered at Actium and won the province of Egypt, while his achievements 
in Greece and Asia still awaited confirmation by the Senate. So modest and 
loyal did his conduct appear, that his popularity was like that of the great im- 
perator whose name he inherited. 

To him was awarded the glory of a triple triumph, at the conclusion of 
which, according to the laws of the free state, he as imperator must disband his 
army, but he overcame the necessity by allowing the subservient Senate to 
give him the permanent title of Imperator, as it had been conferred upon Julius 
Caesar, and to prefix it to his name. He was thus made lifelong commander of 
the national forces. This accomplished the all-important result of securing to 
him the support of the army, which was the real strength of the country. He 
acknowledged the Senate as the representative of the public will, but caused 
himself to be vested with the powers of the censorship, which, you will remem- 
ber, gave him authority to revise the list of senators. This right he exercised 
with discretion and wisdom. It will be recalled that Julius Caesar degraded the 
body by adding to it many men of low degree, including obnoxious foreigners. 
Octavius restored the old number of six hundred, and kept strictly to the re- 
quirement of property qualification. He placed himself at the head as Prin- 
ceps, which, while it implied no substantial power, was looked upon as the 
highest honorary office. This civic dignity was always held for life. 

While he was thus gathering these powers to himself, he prudently waived 
all formal recognition of his sovereign status. He refrained from reviving the 
dictatorship, and permitted no one to hail him with the title of " King." Still 










V $1 










Basass^ ^y^vig 


(The Emperor Tiberius Ceases to Govern the World and Seeks Evil Pleasures 

in Capri) 

From a well-known engraving by L. H. Fischer 

TIBERIUS, who succeeded the celebrated Augustus as 
the ruler of Rome, was presented by the obsequious 
Senate with all the titles and offices which Augustus 
had borne so well. Tiberius was a harsh, stern man, who slew 
every Roman whom he feared might overthrow his power. He 
was even suspected of conniving at the death of his adopted 
son Germanicus, because the latter was adored by the soldiery. 
As a result of the unbridled power of Tiberius, his dark sus- 
picions and his murderous savagery, the truly noble men of 
the old Roman race were almost exterminated. Only subser- 
vient flatterers remained. Henceforward the city of Rome was 
plunged into nameless treachery and shameless debauchery. 

As Tiberius grew old, he grew ever more murderous, more 
suspicious and more licentious. He withdrew entirely from 
Rome, where an assassin might reach him, and dwelt on the 
island of Capri. Here he is said to have given himself up to 
mad frolics, surrounded by a crowd of abandoned wretches 
as evil as himself. They ate, drank and were merry in the 
face of death ; for any one of them who offended Tiberius was 
immediately slain, being hurled from the terrible cliff almost 
a thousand feet in height, which is still pointed out to-day as 
"the rock of Tberius." 


Rome — Octavius Establishes the Empire 405 

he craved a title, and consulted with his trusted friends. Some suggested the 
name of Quirinus or Romulus, but the one was a god and the other had perhaps 
been slain as a tyrant. Finally the name " Augustus " was proposed, and it 
seemed to " fit " the requirements exactly. It had not been borne by a pre- 
vious ruler, but as an adjective it possessed a noble meaning. The rites of the 
temples and their gods were "august," and the word itself came from "augu- 
ries " by which the divine will was revealed. And so the name of Octavius was 
dropped, and the lord of Rome stood forth as Augustus Caesar. 

This man was thirty-six years old when he became master of the Roman 
world, though there was no open establishment of a monarchical government. 
He aimed to maintain, so far as possible, the old law, to defend his country 
from foreign aggressions, and to make it as truly great as was within the com- 
pass of human endeavor. The example of Julius Caesar was ever before him, 
and, since the first Caesar had been assassinated for grasping at the name of 
king, the second avoided his error. Remembering, too, that the great impe- 
rator lightly regarded religion, Augustus strove to revive the faith of Rome. 
The decaying temples were repaired, the priesthoods renewed, and the earlier 
usages of the Republic restored. Augustus did not allow his impulses to lead 
him astray. He saw with vivid clearness, and the grandest political work ever 
accomplished by a single man was his, in the establishment of the Roman 

In reflecting upon the ease with which the Romans "passed under the 
yoke," as may be said, it must be remembered that they had been carried close 
to the verge of exhaustion by the century of civil strife. Many of the nobler 
families of Rome had been nearly or quite wiped out, and the survivors were 
weary of the seemingly endless warring of factions. So many mongrels had 
mixed their blood with that of the Romans that the pure strain was vitiated. 
In short, the people were in just the mood, and just the condition, just the 
epoch had arrived when they needed a single, stern ruler. And since that 
must be, it was surely fortunate that their sovereign should be Augustus. 

He is described as a model in his personal traits and habits. He avoided 
the personal familiarity with which Julius Caesar was accustomed to address his 
legionaries. The elder loved to speak of his soldiers as "comrades," the 
younger referred to them as his " soldiers " only. While he encouraged the 
magnificence of his nobles, his own life was of striking simplicity. His home 
on the Palatine Hill was modest in size and in ornament. While his dress was 
that of a plain senator, he took no little pride in calling attention to the fact 
that it was woven by his wife and the maidens in her apartment. When he 
walked the streets, it was as a private citizen, with only the ordinary retinue of 
attendants. Tf he met an acquaintance, he saluted him courteously, taking him 


The Story of the Greatest Nations 

by the hand or leaning on his shoulder, in a way that was pleasing to every one 
to whom he showed the delicate attention. 

He willingly responded to the summons to attend as a witness the suits 
in which any of his friends engaged, and on occasions of domestic interest he 
appeared at their houses. He was abstemious in eating and drinking, and was 
said to have been the last to arrive at the table and the first to leave. He had 
few guests, and they were generally selected for their social qualities. The 
discreditable stories sometimes told of him referred to his earlier years, when 
his habits were open to criticism. 

One striking fact regarding the reign of Augustus was the friendship which 
he secured from the poets. It was Horace who taught others to accept the 
new order of things with contentment, while Virgil wreathed the empire of the 
Caesars in the halo of a legendary but glorious antiquity. The JEneid proved 
that Octavius was a direct descendant of the goddess Venus and a worthy rival 
of Hercules. Thus spake the giants among the poets, but there were minor 
singers as well, who called upon their countrymen to remember in their prayers 
him who had restored order and brought universal felicity. The citizens were 
urged in the temples and in their own homes to thank the gods for all their 
prosperity, and to join with the gods themselves the hallowed name of ^Eneas,- 
the patron of the Julian race. Then, too, when they rose from their evening 
meal, the last duty of the day was to call with a libation for a blessing on 
themselves and on Augustus, whom they called "the father of his country." 

No prouder title than this could be conferred upon any Roman. It had 
been associated in private with their hero, and finally the Senate, echoing the 
voice of tne nation, conferred it on him publicly and with all solemnity. That 
he was deeply touched was shown in his tremulous response : 

" Conscript fathers, my wishes are now fulfilled, my vows are accomplished. 
I have nothing more to ask of the Immortals, but that I may retain to my dying 
day the unanimous approval you now bestow upon me. " 

Coins Struck by Antony and Cleopatra 




(Caligula has Himself Declared a God and Borne in Sacred Procession 
through the Forum) 

From a painting by the recent German artist, G. Bauernfield 

AT the death of Tiberius, the rule over Rome passed to a 
young relative, Caligula, son of that Germanicus who 
had fought so resolutely against the Germans. Caligula 
started his reign in wise and kindly fashion, but within a few 
months changed so completely that he is generally supposed to 
have become insane. He committed the craziest freaks, 
plunged into the grossest dissipation, and delighted in the most 
hideous cruelties. He led an army against England ; but, stop- 
ping at the shores of France, he set his soldiers to collecting 
sea shells. Then he marched back to Rome and exhibited these 
as the "spoils of his conquest of the ocean." It was Caligula 
who wished that all Romans had but a single neck so he might 
behead them all at once. 

He compelled the obsequious Senate to declare him a god- 
in fact several gods, for at one time he decided to be Hercules, 
at another Venus, then Bacchus. Finally he settled on being 
Jupiter, and had the heads removed from Jupiter's statues 
and his own likeness substituted. He had himself carried in 
religious procession through the Forum from his own palace 
on one Roman hill to the temple of Jupiter on another, and he 
built a bridge joining the two hills, so that he and the other 
gods might visit each other freely without being disturbed by 
mere mortals. 



Romans Burning a German Village 



TALY, the centre of the Roman Empire, comprising the 
whole peninsula from the Alps to the Messina Strait, 
was divided into eleven regions, governed directly by 
the praetor of the city. The rest of the empire was 
apportioned between the emperor and the Senate. The 
extent of the great territory may be given as follows : 
The boundary on the north was the British Channel, 
the North Sea, the Rhine, the Danube, and the Black Sea ; on the 
east, the Euphrates and the Desert of Syria ; on the south the 
Great Sahara of Africa; and on the west the Atlantic Ocean. 
From east to west the extent of this domain was about 2,700 
miles, with an average breadth of 1,000 miles. It embraced the 
modern countries of France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Western 
Holland, Rhenish Prussia, portions of Baden, Wurtemberg and 
Bavaria, all of Switzerland, Italy, the Tyrol, Austria proper, 
Western Hungary, Croatia, Slavonia, Servia, Turkey in Europe, 
Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Idumaea, Egypt, the Cyre- 
laica, Tripoli, Tunis, Algeria, and most of Morocco. 

Outside of Italy, the empire was divided into twenty- seven provinces, of 
vhich the Western numbered fourteen ; the Eastern, eight ; and the Southern, 
ive. Within this area were three distinct civilizations : tne Latin, which em- 
>raced the countries from the Atlantic to the Adriatic ; the Greek, from the 
Adriatic to Mount Taurus ; and the Oriental, around Egypt and the Euphrates. 
The empire was admirably policed. Peace was so dearly to the interest of 
he people of the inland shores that the Mediterranean provinces held scarcely 

4.08 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

the shadow of a garrison. Each state and town could be trusted to govern it- 
self. There were hardly even defenders of Italy and Rome. Augustus' per- 
sonal safety was confided to a few body-guards, though during the reign of his 
successor the battalions were gathered in camp at the gates of the city. The 
legions forming the standing army of the empire were placed on the frontiers 
or among the restless provinces. There were three legions in the Spanish 
peninsula, eight on the banks of the Rhine, two in Africa, two in Egypt, four 
on the line of the Euphrates, four on the Danube, while two were held in re- 
serve in Dalmatia, where in a contingency they could be readily summoned to 
Rome. Each of these twenty-five legions contained 6,100 foot and 720 horse, 
with little variation in their strength for the following three hundred years. 
The entire military force of the empire, including the cohorts in the capital, 
was about 350,000 men. 

Within this mighty area there were, during the age of Augustus, probably 
one hundred millions of human beings, of whom one-half were in a condition 
of slavery. Of the remainder, only a small proportion were Roman citizens, 
living in Italy, enjoying political independence and having a share in the gov- 
ernment. The different lands and their inhabitants were governed by Roman- 
legates, half of whom were appointed by Augustus and the other half by the 
Senate, and they held supreme military command. Following the wise cus- 
tom which prevailed from the first, the provinces were allowed to have their 
own municipal constitutions and officers. 

Throughout the district of Latin civilization, embracing the peninsula of 
Italy and all Western Europe, as well as the North African provinces, the 
Latin language took firm root, and the whole civilization became Roman. 

Greek civilization included Greece and all those regions of Europe and 
Asia which had been Hellenized by Grecian colonists or by the Macedonian 
conquerors. Politically their condition was changed, but they remained Greek 
in language, manners, and customs. 

Oriental civilization prevailed in all the Eastern provinces, particularly 
Egypt and Syria. The people there retained their own languages and religious 
ideas, and never became Latinized. 

Augustus was the first ruler to appoint a regular and permanent naval force. 
Three powerful armaments were maintained, and, although we have no account 
of their taking part in regular warfare, they policed the seas, drove away pirates, 
secured the free carriage of grain from the provinces to Rome, and convoyed 
che vessels that brought tribute from the East or the West. 

Rome was the metropolis of the Roman Empire, and at the height of its 
orosperity probably contained a population of more than two millions. The 
circumference of that portion inclosed by walls was about twenty miles, but 


tie to the End of the "Twelve Caesars," W 
by Suetonius) 

A series of 'portrait busts drawn specially for this work 

(The Rulers of Rome to the End of the "Twelve Caesars," Who Were Satirized 

by Suetonius) 

CALIGULA was murdered by the officers of his palace 
after a reign of only four years ; and the conspirators 
promptly raised in his place his feeble and timid uncle, 
Claudius, the brother of Germanicus. The first twelve Caesars 
are usually classed together because the great Roman satirist 
Suetonius, has preserved for us an account of their private 
lives. As we read in his pages of the excesses of these early 
Roman emperors, we hesitate which to pause upon; for each 
one, after the great Julius and Augustus, seems as worthless 
as the next. Tiberius had been a cruel and suspicious volup- 
tuary ; Caligula a murderous madman. Claudius was a mere 
figurehead, ruled by his palace favorites or his unworthy 
wives. He had four of these and after he had divorced or 
executed the first three, the last one poisoned him by means 
of a dish of mushrooms. 

This fourth wife of Claudius was known as "the wicked 
Agrippina." She really ruled the world in his stead during 
most of his reign ; and when she poisoned him it was to make 
room for her young son, Nero, so that she might rule in her 
son's name. Nero started as Caligula had done, with the 
promise of being a good ruler. He had been educated by the 
great philosopher and moralist Seneca, and was an apt scholar. 
But Agrippina encouraged her son in every form of foul dis- 
sipation so that he should leave the empire in her hands. She 
thus well earned her rank in notoriety among these wicked 

1 11-13 



Rome — Splendor of the City 409 

there were numerous populous suburbs. The walls were pierced for thirty 
gates. Under Augustus Rome grew into a magnificent city, and he was abte 
to boast* that he found it brick and left it marble. 

Among the most notable buildings was the Colosseum, as the ruins of the 
Flavian Amphitheatre are called. It could seat 100,000 spectators, while the 
Circus Maximus, which was reserved for races, shows, and public games, ac- 
commodated 200,000 persons. The Emperor erected theaters and public 
oaths, as did his successors, as if to lead the people to forget in their enjoy- 
ments the loss of their liberty. 

We have learned of the Forum, which stood in the valley between th£ Pala 
tine and Capitoline hills. It was the great market and place for public assem- 
bly, and was early decorated with statues of illustrious citizens, which were 
probably of wood rather than stone. The Comitium was an open platform 
raised a few steps above the Forum, and, being a meeting-place of the patri- 
cians, was furnished with a hall or curia. Opposite to this upon a platform 
was the rostrum or pulpit from which the orators addressed the patricians. The 
Forum was surrounded with temples, public offices, and halls for the adminis- 
tration of justice. There too was the famous Temple of Janus, built of bronze 
by the earliest kings, when the custom was established of closing its gates dur- 
ing peace, but so continuous were the wars of the Romans that during a period 
of eight centuries the gates were shut only three times. 

The Campus Martius was the favorite exercise-ground of the young nobles ; 
on it the elections of magistrates, reviews of troops, and the registration of citi- 
zens were held. It was surrounded by a number of fine residences, with orna- 
mental trees and shrubs planted in different parts, and provided with porticoes 
so that the exercises could be continued in bad weather. 

The Pantheon is the only ancient edifice in Rome that has been perfectly 
preserved, being now known as the Church of Santa Maria Rotonda. It was 
erected by Agrippa, the son-in-law of Augustus. It is lighted through one 
aperture, in the centre of the magnificent dome, and was dedicated to all the 

The aqueducts of Rome were among its most remarkable structures. Pure 
water was brought from great distances through these channels, that were sup- 
ported by massive arches, some of them more than a hundred feet high. Under 
the different emperors, twenty of these prodigious structures were raised, and 
they brought to the city an abundance ot the purest water for all purposes. 
Innumerable fountains were thus supplied, many being of great architectural 

The imperial city became in many respects the grandest exhibition the 
world has ever known of the genius and enterprise of man. Nowhere else 

4 1 o The Story of the Greatest Nations 

were constructed such immense circuses. These were seven in number, and in 
addition there were two amphitheatres, rive regular theatres, and four hundred 
and twenty temples. The public baths numbered sixteen, were built of .marble, 
and were the perfection of convenience and luxury, while to these were to be 
added the triumphal arches, obelisks, public halls, columns, porticoes, and 
palaces without number. 

Speaking now for the whole period of the Empire, let us give some attention 
to the Roman manners and customs, the account of which we gather from Col- 
lier's "Domestic Life in Imperial Rome." 

The best -known garment of the Romans was the toga, made of pure white 
wool, and in its shape resembling the segment of a circle. Narrow at first, it 
was folded so that one arm rested in it as in a sling, but afterward it was draped 
in broad, flowing folds round the breast and left arm, leaving the right nearly 
bare. In later times it was not worn on the street, its place being taken by a 
mantle of warm colored cloth, called the pallium or lacerna, but it continued to 
be the Roman full dress, and when the emperor visited the theatre, all present 
were expected to wear it. 

No Roman covered his head, except when on a journey, or when he wished 
to escape notice, at which times he wore a dark-colored hood, that was fastened 
to the lacerna. When in the house, solece were strapped to the bare feet, but 
outside, the calceus, closely resembling our shoe, was worn. Every Roman of 
rank wore on the fourth finger of the left hand a massive signet-ring, while the 
fops loaded every finger with jewels. 

The dress of the Roman women consisted of three parts, — an inner tunic, 
the stola, and the palla. The stola was the distinctive dress of Roman matrons, 
and was a tunic with short sleeves, girt round the waist, and ending in a deep 
flounce which swept the instep. The palla was a gay-colored mantle that was 
worn out-of-doors. It was often bright-blue, sprinkled with golden stars. The 
most brilliant colors were chosen, so that it will be seen that an assembly of 
Roman belles in full dress, gleaming with scarlet and yellow, purple and pale 
green, made a picture whose beauty is not surpassed in our own times. The 
hair was encircled with a garland of roses, fastened with a gold pin, and pearls 
and gold adorned the neck and arms. 

The chief food of the early Romans was bread and pot herbs; but as pros- 
perity increased, they lost their abstemious habits, and every species of luxury 
was introduced. When the days of the decline came, the ambition and enjoy- 
ment of the rulers, nobles, and wealthy citizens was to gormandize on the rich- 
est of viands and the choicest of wines, and there is no surer sign of the decay 
of a nation or people than when they yield to such gross indulgences. 

As with us, the Roman meals were three daily. The jentaculum was taken 


(The Emperor Nero Leads the Roman People in Giving the Sign of Death foi 
a Defeated Gladiator) 

From a painting by Wilhelm Peters, a contemporary Norwegian artist 

THE good resolutions of Nero's early reign were soon 
forgotten. The young men who at this period succeeded 
one after another to the Roman throne were all poisoned 
in spirit by the almost superhuman power of their position. 
Life and death over all mankind were in their hands, and they 
soon forgot the meaning of life and death. They slew heed- 
lessly, thoughtlessly, whoever annoyed them. And the syco- 
phants who crowded round them cringed in fear and applauded 
each new atrocity. 

Nero became the most terrible tyrant the civilized world 
has ever known. His one care was to keep the Roman populace 
content, lest they rise in sudden fury and destroy him. So he 
gave them food and amusements: "Bread and Circuses" was 
the well-known Roman cry. All the rest of the world was 
taxed that this one city might revel in idleness. Gorgeous 
gladiatorial shows were given almost constantly; and these 
still further coarsened and brutalized the Roman mind. When 
two gladiators fought in the circus and one was overcome, the 
victor looked to the audience to decide if he should slay his foe 
or spare him. Their sign was the turning of their thumbs, 
and once in a great while if the defeated man had fought well 
they raised their thumbs upward and so saved him. But 
usually the signal given was "thumbs down," which meant 
death. Nero was an eager spectator at these contests and by 
nim usually sat his favorite wife Poppsea, as evil as he. 


Rome — Customs of the People 411 

soon after rising, and consisted of bread, dried grapes or olives, cheese, and per- 
haps milk and eggs. The prandium was the midday meal, when the Roman 
partook of fish, eggs, and dishes cold, or warmed up from the supper of the 
night before. Wine was generally drunk, though sparingly. The cozna was 
the principal meal of the day, and corresponded to our modern dinner. Instead 
of opening with soup as is our custom, eggs, fish, and light vegetables, such as 
lettuces and radishes, served with palatable sauces, were first eaten and were 
intended to whet the appetite for what followed. This consisted of the be- 
wildering courses, known i&fercula, which, among other delicacies, included 
fish, turbot, sturgeon and red mullet, peacock, pheasant, woodcock, thrush, and 
the fig-pecker. Venison was popular, and young pork a favorite. When the 
feaster was through with these, he tackled the dessert of pastry and fruit. 

At the table, the Romans did not seat themselves as we do, but low couches 
were arranged in the form triclinium, which made three sides of a square, the 
open space being left for the convenience of the slaves in removing the dishes. 
The middle bench was the place of honor. Afterward, round tables came into 
fashion and the semicircular couches were used. Table-cloths were not era- 
ployed, but each guest brought a linen bib or napkin, called mappa, which he 
wore over the breast. Knives and forks were unknown, their place being taken 
by two kinds of spoon, — one, cochlear, small and pointed at the end of the 
handle; the other, lingula, larger and of no clearly defined shape. Modern 
usage has greatly improved on the oil lamps that were used at the late meals. 
Like the table utensils, they were of fine material and beautiful pattern, but the 
thick smoke blackened the wall and ceiling, and the pungent oil soaked the table, 

During the feast short dresses of bright material were worn instead of the 
toga. Chaplets were handed round before the drinking began, and were made 
of roses, myrtle, violets, ivy, and sometimes parsley. The hair of the guests 
was anointed with fragrant unguents by the slaves, before these chaplets were 
put on. The drink was mainly wine. Previous to being brought on the table, 
this was strained through a metal sieve or linen bag filled with snow, and was 
known as black or white, according to its color. The Falernian, of which we 
often read, and which was celebrated by Horace, was of a bright amber tint. 
The diners also drank mulsum, a mixture of new wine with honey, and calda, 
made of warm water, wine, and spice. 

The Romans were fond of their baths. In the rugged days, nothing suited 
them better than a cold plunge in the Tiber, which tingled the blood and 
braced the iron muscles, but this gave place under the Empire to the luxurious 
system of warm and vapor bathing, sometimes repeated six or eight times a 
day, with greatly enervating results. The bathers spent hours lolling in the 
baths and gossiping to their hearts' content. 

412 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

The Romans found their amusements in the theatre, with its comedies and 
tragedies, the circus, and the amphitheatre. At the circus, which was really a 
race-course, they made bets on their favorite horses or charioteers, while in tke 
amphitheatre they revelled in the bloody combats of the gladiators, of which we 
shall learn more hereafter. 

The Roman books were rolls of papyrus, or parchment, written upon with 
a reed pen, dipped in sepia or lamp-black. The edges were rubbed smooth 
and blackened ; the back of the sheet was often stained yellow, while the 
ends of the stick on which it was rolled were adorned with knobs of ivory or 
gilt wood. From the form of the book we have the word volume, meaning 
"a roll." Letters were etched with a sharp-pointed iron, called a stylus, on 
thin wooden tablets coated with wax, and from the instrument employed, we 
have our word style. The letters were then tied up with a linen thread, the 
knot being sealed with wax and stamped with a ring. 

There were three forms of marriage, of which the highest was called confar- 
reatio-. The bride attired in a white robe with purple fringe, and covered with 
a brilliant yellow veil, was escorted by torchlight to her future home. A cake 
was carried in front of her, and she bore a distaff and a spindle with wool. 
When she reached the flower-wreathed portal, she was lifted over the threshold 
that she might not risk a stumble, which was an omen of evil. Next, her hus- 
band brought fire and water, which she touched, and then, seated on a sheep- 
skin, she received the keys of the house, the ceremony closing with a marriage 

The household work was done by slaves. They were few at first, but, as 
time passed, it was thought a disgrace for a citizen not to have a slave for every 
separate kind of work. Thus one managed the purse, another the cellar, an- 
other the bedrooms, another the kitchen, while there were slaves to attend their 
masters when they walked abroad. The wealthiest Romans had their readers, 
secretaries, and physicians, and for amusement there were musicians, dancers, 
buffoons, and idiots. In the slave-market the unfortunate were bought and sold 
like cattle, but the beautiful females were disposed of privately and brought 
prices which often reached several thousand dollars. 

The principal apartments of a first-class Roman house were on the ground- 
floor. Passing through the unroofed vestibule, generally between rows of 
pleasing statues, one entered the dwelling through a doorway ornamented with 
ivory, tortoise-shell, and gold, looking down on the word Salve (welcome) 
worked in mosaic marble. He then passed into the atrium, or large central 
reception-room, which was separated from its wings by lines of pillars. Here 
were placed the ancestral images and the family fireplace, dedicated to the 
Lares or tutelar deities of the house. Beyond lay a -large saloon called the 


(Having Ordered his Mother's Murder, He Glories in the Deed) 

From a painting by Frederick Klein-Chevalier of Rome 

IT was not possible that two such evil and grasping persons 
as Nero and his mother Agrippina should long live in 

harmony. They were soon threatening each other, and 
weaving plots. The young emperor saw that he would never 
really be master of the world while she lived; besides he 
wanted to marry Poppsea and Agrippina intrigued against it. 
So Nero determined on his mother's death. He had a ship 
buil? in such a fashion that it would suddenly fall ail to 
pieces, and he then placed his mother in it for a pleasure trip. 
She escaped death by swimming ; and Nero, knowing well that 
his life or hers must now pay forfeit, sent soldiers to slay her. 

Seldom has so revolting a performance disgraced the 
world. To be sure of his mother's death, Nero had her hacked 
and disfigured body brought before him. He pretended sor- 
row for her death ; yet called on the crowd of flatterers around 
him to rejoice with him at the danger he had escaped. He then 
sent a memorial to the Senate justifying his mother's death 
by accusing her of every form of crime, all that she had com- 
mitted and many she had not. Every evil of his reign and of 
that of her husband Claudius was charged against her. The 
fawning Senate voted approval of Nero's crime; and the 
hardened mob of Rome cheered him with furious enthusiasm. 


ir~~ '■ 

'M~i. fe& 

T IT-15 

Rome — Early Writers 4 1 3 

petrisyle, whose floor was usually a mosaic of colored marble, tiles, or glass, 
with the walls covered or painted, with gilt and colored stucco-work on the 
ceilings and with the window-frames filled with talc or glass. There were 
bright gardens on the roof, and within the house would be found ivory bed- 
steads, with quilts of purple and gold; tables of rare and precious wood; side- 
boards of gold and silver, bearing plate, amber vases, beakers of Corinthian 
bronze, and exquisitely beautiful glass vessels from Alexandria. 

You will bear in mind that these descriptions apply only to the homes of 
the wealthy, who, with all their extravagance and luxury, lacked many of the 
comforts found to-day in the humblest modern homes. It followed that the 
poorer Romans had even less in the way of convenience, and were obliged to 
get on as best they could. 

It was not until the time of Augustus that the literature of Rome became 
really noteworthy. He gave the Empire the peace and settled condition which 
enable literature to flourish. A brilliant galaxy of writers consequently gath- 
ered round him, and his reign constitutes the world-famous " Augustan age " of 

Ennius, called the father of Roman poetry, had lived over a century and a 
half before, and marks the beginning of Latin literature. He was a native of 
Calabria, enjoyed the esteem of the most eminent men, among them Scipio 
Africanus, and attained the honor of Roman citizenship. His poems were 
highly regarded by Cicero, Horace, and Virgil, and his memory was lovingly 
cherished by his countrymen. 

Plautus was a contemporary of Ennius, and a great comic poet,, He pro- 
duced numerous plays, a few of which have descended to us. His work was 
immensely popular, for he displayed liveliness, humor, rapid action, and great 
skill in the construction of his plots. His plays have served as models in 
Borne respects for Shakespeare, Moliere, Dryden, Addison, and others. 

Terentius, the most famous of the comic poets, was a native of Carthage, 
but was purchased by a Roman senator, who manumitted him because of his 
handsome person, winning ways, and remarkable talents. His first play was 
immediately successful, and the author became a favorite among the leading 
citizens of Rome, and an intimate of the younger Scipio. Six of his comedies 
have come down to us, and they possess great educational value, for they share 
with the works of Cicero and Caesar the honor of being written in the purest 

Cato the elder, or Cato the Censor, as he is called to distinguish him from 
Cato of Utica, was elected consul, and displayed such remarkable genius in 
quelling an insurrection in Spain (b.c. 206) that he was honored with a tri- 
umph. In b.c. 1 84, he was elected censor, and was so rigid in the discharge of 

414 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

his duties that the epithet Censorius was applied to him as his surname. He 
was fanatical in his views, but displayed the highest moral heroism in combat- 
ing the evils around him. You will remember that it was he who ended every 
address in the Senate with the exclamation that Carthage must be destroyed. 
His implacable enmity was caused by what he conceived to be an insult put 
upon him in the year B.C. 175, when he was sent to Carthage to negotiate con- 
cerning the differences between the Carthaginians and the Numidian king, Ma- 
sinissa. In his eightieth year his second wife bore him a son, who became the 
grandfather of Cato of Utica. The elder was the author of a number of liter- 
ary works, but unfortunately his greatest historical production, the " Origines," 
has been lost, though there have been preserved many fragments of his orations. 

These writers with Cicero constitute the entire list of illustrious literary 
Romans previous to the " Augustan age. " Returning to that brilliant period 
we encounter Virgil, Horace, Sallust, Catullus, and a score of others. 

Virgil ranks second only to Homer as an epic poet. He was born on Octo- 
ber 15th, B.C. 70, at Andes, a village not far from Mantua. The last and great- 
est of his works is the " ^Eneid," which occupied the latter years of his life. 
Meeting Augustus at Athens on his triumphal return from the East, the poet 
was persuaded to go back to Rome with him, but he was seized with illness on 
the road and died in his fifty-second year. 

Horace was born in a part of the modern kingdom of Naples, on the 8th of 
December, B.C. 65. We have learned that when Brutus went to Greece he 
made Horace a tribune, and he served with the republicans until the " end of 
all things " came at Philippi, when he made his submission and returned to 
Rome. Highly accomplished in Greek and Roman literature, he set his genius 
to the mastering of two great tasks, — the naturalization in Latin of the Greek 
lyric spirit and the perfect development of the old Roman satire. He attained 
an artistic success in both objects, and became one of the most influential writ- 
ers of the world, who will be recognized as such throughout all coming gener- 
ations. He became the friend of Virgil, and, while still a young man, was 
introduced to the great Etruscan noble Maecenas, the intimate friend of Au- 
gustus, who endowed him with an estate and honored and encouraged him in 
every possible way. Horace showed a manly gratitude, and complimented the 
Emperor on those features of his reign which were worthy. Horace was the 
author of numerous odes, satires, poems, and epistles, and was witty, good- 
natured, and one of the most vivacious of song-writers. 

Sallust was born B.C. 86 in the Sabine country, and, though a plebeian, rose 
to distincton, first as a quaestor and afterward as a tribune of the people. His 
private life was immoral. He was a devoted friend of Caesar, who in B.C. 47 
made him a praetor-elect and thus restored him to the rank of which he had 


(The Cold-hearted Emperor Seeks to Display His Poetic Ability amid the 


From the great diorama at Leipzig, painted by Edmund Beminger 

DURING Nero's reign occurred the great fire which 
burned Rome to the ground. Nero was suspected of 
kindling the fire himself, so that he might watch it. 
The Emperor had indeed often expressed a wish to see and 
gather poetic inspiration from some vast conflagration ; for he 
greatly admired himself as a poet and musician. It is said 
that while the city burned he stood with his lyre upon the 
portico of his palace on the Palatine hill and chanted a fren- 
zied song about the similar destruction of ancient Troy. 

After the fire Nero felt, or at least pretended, great pity 
for its desolated victims and went among them with words of 
condolence and liberal gifts of money. He, however, took 
advantage of the destruction of the ancient buildings to grasp 
a vast amount of land for himself, and erected on it in the 
midst of Rome his wonderful "Golden House. " This is said 
to have been three miles long, and to have contained within it 
a farm, a lake, vistas of distant woods, and a forest through 
which roamed enormous numbers of wild animals. 

The remainder of Rome benefited in one way by the fire, 
for it was rebuilt with much broader streets and finer build- 
ings. Indeed, all through Roman history repeated fires swept 
the city, and new structures were always rising upon the ruins 
of the old. 


Rome — The Augustan Age 415 

been deprived. The following year he was made governor of Numidia, where 
he ruled badly and greatly oppressed the people. The immense fortune which 
he dishonestly acquired enabled him to retire from political life, and devote his 
whole time to literary work. His reputation rests upon his historical produc- 
tions, the principal of which were his history of the conspiracy of Catiline and 
the Jugurthine War. His writings are powerful and animated, and the speeches 
which he puts into the mouths of his chief characters are strong and effective* 
He was the first Roman to write what is now accepted as history. 

Lucretius was born in the opening years of the first century before Christ, 
but comparatively nothing is known of his personal history, one account 
making him die of poison swallowed because of his infatuation with a woman. 
The great work on which his fame rests is the " De Rerum Natural a philo- 
sophical didactic poem in six books. His great aim was to free his countrymen 
from the trammels of superstition. " Regarded merely as a literary compo- 
sition, the work named stands unrivalled among didactic poems. The clearness 
and fulness with which the most minute facts of physical science, and the most 
subtle philosophical speculations, are unfolded and explained ; the life and in- 
terest which are thrown into discussions in themselves repulsive to the bulk of 
mankind ; the beauty, richness, and variety of the episodes which are interwoven 
with the subject-matter of the poem, combined with the majestic verse in which 
the whole is clothed, render the * De Rerum Natura? as a work of art, one of 
the most perfect which antiquity has bequeathed to us. " 

Catullus was born at Verona, B.C. 87. His father was an intimate friend 
of Julius Caesar, but the son wrote savage attacks upon the great politician. 
His poems are one hundred and sixteen in riftfcber, chiefly consisting of lyrics 
and epigrams, and have been justly admired for their exquisite grace and beauty 
of style, though many are tainted with gross indecency. He was equally suc- 
cessful in the higher style of writing, especially in his odes, of which only four 
have been preserved. He resided in his country villa, surrounded by aristo- 
cratic friends, and was one of the staunchest supporters of the senatorial party. 

Of the life of Livy, the renowned historian, we know little except that he 
was born early in the latter half of the century before Christ. He lived to his 
eightieth year, and, having been born under the Republic, died under the Em- 
peror Tiberius. The great history by which he is remembered was probably 
written shortly before the birth of the Saviour. His fame was such that a 
Spaniard travelled from Gades to Rome to see him. His work ranks as one of 
the masterpieces of human composition. Originally, his Roman history was 
comprised in one hundred and forty-two books, divided into decades, but only 
thirty books and a part of five more exist. 

" In classing Livy in his proper place among the greatest historians of the 

41 6 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

ancient and modern world, we must not think of him as a critical or antiquarian 
writer — a writer of scrupulously calm judgment and diligent research. He is 
pre-eminently a man of beautiful genius, with an unrivalled talent for narration, 
who takes up the history of his country in the spirit of an artist, and makes a 
free use of the materials lying handiest, for the creation of a work full of grace, 
color, harmony, and a dignified ease. Professor Ramsay has remarked, that he 
treats the old tribunes just as if they were on a level with the demagogues of 
the worst period ; and Niebuhr censures the errors of the same kind into which 
his Pompeian and aristocratic prepossessions betray him. But this tendency, 
if it was ever harmful, is harmless now, and was closely connected with that 
love of ancient Roman institutions and ancient Roman times which at once 
inspired his genius, and was a part of it. And the value of his history is incal- 
culable, even in the mutilated state in which we have it, as a picture of what 
the great Roman traditions were to the Romans in their most -cultivated period. " 
Ovid was born B.C. 43, at Sulmo, in the country of the Peligni. Although 
he was educated for the law, his poetical genius drew him aside. Acquiring 
considerable property through the death of his father, he went to Athens and 
mastered the Greek language. He was gay, indolent, and licentious, and, prob- 
ably because of his disgraceful intrigues, he was ordered by the emperor to 
leave Rome in the year a.d. 9, for Tomi, near the delta of the Danube and on 
the limit of the Empire. Augustus refused to shorten his term of exile, and 
Ovid died in the lonely place in his sixtieth year. It was there that he com- 
posed most of his poems to while away the dismal hours. He possessed a 
masterly style of composition, a^ vigorous fancy, a fine eye for color, a very 
musical versification, and, despi^t dh occasional slovenliness of style, he has 
been a favorite of the poets from the time of Milton to the present. A large 
number of his works have come down to us, but more have been lost, the one 
best known to antiquity being his tragedy "Medea." 

Other famous writers follow, after the Augustan age. Pliny the Elder was 
born in the north of Italy in a.d. 23. He went to Rome when quite young, 
and his high birth and ample means secured him every advantage in education 
and advancement. He served in Germany as the commander of a troop of cav- 
alry, but spent the greater part of the reign of Nero in authorship, producing a 
number of miscellaneous works. In the year 79, he was stationed off Misenum, 
in command of the Roman fleet, when the great eruption of Vesuvius occurred 
which buried Herculaneum and Pompeii. Eager to examine the phenomenon 
more closely, he landed at Stabiae, and was suffocated by the noxious fumes. 
His nephew, Pliny the Younger, attributed this misfortune to his corpulent 
and asthmatic habit, since none of his companions perished. Of Pliny's 
numerous works, only his " Historia Naturalis " has come down to us. It has 


(Nero Burns the Christians as Torches in His " Golden House ") 

From the 'painting by Henry de Siemieradzki, the noted Polish artist 


DESPITE Nero's pose of sympathy with the sufferers 
from the great fire, the suspicion that he had caused or 
at least approved of it grew so general, that he de- 
termined on an awful means of diverting suspicion from him- 
self. He accused the Christians of having started the blaze. 
The Christians had by this time, some thirty-five years 
after the martyrdom of Christ, become a widespread religious 
sect. The faith had appealed very little to the proud and li- 
centious Romans, but had deeply moved the downtrodden 
masses of the enslaved nations. Thus it was a "slaves' faith," 
and the slaves were suspected by their Roman masters of in- 
cluding under the cloak of their new religion all sorts of plans 
for freedom and of plots against Rome's supremacy. Hence 
the mob of Rome accepted readily enough Nero's outcry that 
the Christians had burned the city; and there started against 
the members of the sect the first of those terrible persecutions 
by which the early ages tried their faith. Thousands of them 
were slain by torture. The Emperor delighted in watching 
the agonies which the Christians so bravely endured; he had 
them wrapped in inflammable tar and set up as torches 
throughout the gardens of his * ' Golden House. ' ' He thought 
to crush the new faith by his cruelty ■ but the heroic endurance 
of the martyrs Christianized the whole world of Europe. 


Rome — Later Writers 


many faults, lacking scientific merit and philosophical arrangement, but it is a 
monument of industry and research, and supplies us with details on a variety of 
subjects which could be obtained in no other way. 

Juvenal, the satirist, was a native of Aquinum, a Volscian town. The date 
of his birth is unknown, but he wrote during the time of Domitian (81-96 a.ek) 
and lived many years later. The sixteen of his satires which still survive hold 
the first rank in satirical literature, and are invaluable as pictures of the Roman 
life of the Empire. 

Tacitus is remembered as receiving marks of favor from the emperors Ves- 
pasian, Titus, and Domitian, but there is no record of the date and place of his 
birth, nor of the time of his death, which was in the early part of the second 
century. He was one of the greatest of historians. In love of truth and in- 
tegrity of purpose none surpassed him, and he possessed a remarkable concise- 
ness of phrase and the power of saying much and implying more in one or two 
strokes of expression. 

Ancient cameo Representing the Apotheosis of Augustus 

Spoils of Jerusalem— from the Column of Trajan 

Chapter XXXIX 

Y far the most impressive event of the reign of Augustus 
was the birth of the Saviour at the little village of Beth- 
lehem, in Judea, — an event that marked the most mcs 
mentous crisis in the spiritual history of the world. 
Although early tradition assigned this to the year 753 
of Rome, it really occurred four years earlier, as has 
been explained in the Introduction. This human appear- 
ance of Christ took place at the time when there was 
general peace throughout the earth, and was, therefore, 
in accordance with Scripture prophecy. The government of Au- 
gustus was tranquil, and there were no civil wars, though there may 
have been some unrest on the frontiers. 

There was, indeed, only one serious war during the forty years 
of Augustus* supreme power. This was with the Germans, the 
wild tribes which Caesar had defeated. They had never been fully 
subdued, and in the year B.C. 9 they rose in sudden rebellion under 
their chief Hermann, or, as the Romans called him, Arminius. The 
three Roman legions along the Rhine were commanded by Varus, 
who proved both reckless and incompetent. He marched his entire 
force into the wild German forests where they were surrounded by the rebels, 
and, after three days of savage fighting, exterminated. Great was the conster- 
nation at Rome. Augustus beat his head against the wall, crying, " Varus, 
Varus, give me back my legions. " The people feared the Germans would 
imitate the ancient Gauls and make a terrible raid upon Rome. But the Ger 


(The Soldiers Sent to Arrest the Monster Find Him Dying) 

From the 'painting by E. Kaempfer of Germany 

EVEN the submissive Roman world felt itself so outraged 
that it turned at last against this monster of an em- 
peror. Three generals, commanding the legions in three 
different parts of the world, rebelled against him. At that, 
his own "praetorian" guard took courage to reject him. The 
Senate, seizing eagerly on the opportunity, declared Nero de- 
posed and sentenced him to death by torture. 

In his last hours Nero proved himself as timid and abject 
as he had been brutal and merciless. He fled from Rome and 
hid in a cellar, but he could not believe that death could really 
be intended for him, the sumptuous master of all life. He 
was only thirty-two; and he believed himself an artistic 
genius. When he learned that he was actually to be scourged 
to death, he wept and raged in cowardly terror. He started 
to commit suicide, but had not the courage. Finally, just as 
the soldiers discovered his hiding place and broke in upon 
him, he got a servant to slay him. His last words were spent 
in protest that the world could not afford to lose so splendid 
an artist as himself. Thus it was on his music and poetry that 
he chiefly prided himself in his last moments. 

Nero was the last emperor who belonged in any relation to 
the family of the great Caesar. The following emperors 
merely adopted the name as a sort of general title, and from 
it come our modern titles of Kaiser and Czar. 


Rome — Reign of Tiberius 419 

mans were busy quarrelling among themselves ; freshiegions were hastily raised, 
and the danger passed away. 

Augustus died in a.d. 14, and was succeeded by his step-son, Tiberius 
Claudius Nero, known as Tiberius, who was born b. c. 42. Jesus Christ was 
crucified in the nineteenth year of this reign. It was at Antioch, in Syria, 
where Saul and Barnabas taught the faith, that the believers first received the 
name of " Christians." Then began those wonderful missionary journeys of 
the Apostles, which carried the gospel through Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy, 
and Rome became the capital of Christendom. Silently but irresistibly the 
true faith spread, first among the Jews, then among the Greeks, or eastern, and 
the Latin, or western, Gentiles, until it became the one true and accepted re- 
ligion throughout the civilized world. 

When Tiberius ascended the throne, his manliness and moderation gave 
promise of a prosperous reign, but he was jealous from the first of his popular 
nephew Germanicus, who was intrusted with important commands in Dalmatia 
and Pannonia, and raised to the consulate before he was thirty years of age. 
Two years later he repressed a terrible revolt of the Germanic legions, who 
wished to salute him as emperor. In a campaign against the Germans, he 
ousted Hermann their chief, a.d. 16, recaptured the eagles lost by Varus, and 
earned for himself the surname of Germanicus. Tiberius summoned him 
home, and he returned as a victorious general. The Senate awarded him a 
magnificent triumph, in which Thusnelda, wife of Arminius, preceded his car 
with her children. Germanicus died in a.d. 19, from poison, as he declared, 
and then Tiberius revealed himself as moody and irresolute, with scarcely a 
trace of affection or sympatthy. 

He became a tyrant. The number and amount of taxes were increased, 
all power was taken from the people and Senate. Prosecutions for high treason 
were based on mere words or even looks that gave displeasure to the Emperor, 
who found thus a convenient method of ridding himself of those who displeased 
him. As years advanced, he abandoned the real government of the empire to 
iElius Sejanus, commander of the Praetorian Guards, and wallowed in licentious 
excesses at his villa in Capri, until, worn out by debauchery, he ended his 
infamous life in the year 37, his death being hastened either by poison or 

There were many Roman emperors whose history is not worth the telling. 
Some held the throne but a short time, and others played an insignificant part 
in the annals of the Empire. We add the list, with the dates of their reigns, 
and in the following pages will recall the most important events connected with 
their rule. 

Caius Caesar, or Caligula, as he is more generally known, was in his twenty- 

4^0 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

fifth year when he became emperor. He was suspected of helping the death 
of Tiberius, who had appointed him his heir. He was another of the diabolical 
miscreants produced by licentiousness and debauchery. It took him just one 
year to expend the three million dollars left by Tiberius, and he confiscated 
and murdered and banished until it is only charitable to believe he was 
afflicted with insanity. He enlivened his feasts by having those whom he 
disliked tortured in his presence, and once expressed the wish that all the 
Roman people had but one neck that he might decapitate Rome at a single 
blow. He stabled his favorite horse in the palace, fed him at a marble manger 
with gilded oats (how disgusted the animal must have been !), and afterward 
raised him to the consulship. As a climax to his foolery, he declared himself 
a god and had temples erected and sacrifices offered to his family. The people 
stood all this and much more with incredible patience, but finally formed a con- 
spiracy and removed him by assassination from the earth which he had cumbered 
too long. 

Claudius I., fortunately for himself, was suspected of imbecility, else Ca- 
ligula would have " removed " him. As it was, he might have done well had he 
not in a.d. 42, when terrified by hearing of a conspiracy against his life, aban- 
doned himself wholly to the will of his ferocious wife Messalina, who robbed 
and slew with a mercilessness worthy of the former emperor. Abroad, however,' 
the Roman armies were victorious. Mauritania became a Roman province, 
progress was made in Germany, and the conquest of Britain was begun. The 
experience of Claudius in the matrimonial line was discouraging. Messalina 
was executed for her crimes, after which he married Agrippina, who poisoned 
him in 54, so as to make sure of the succession of her son Nero. After the 
death of Claudius, he was deified, though the sacrilege surely could not have 
benefited him much. 

And now comes another of those infamous wretches, with which an all-wise 
Ruler finds it expedient to chastise mankind at certain intervals. This was 
Nero, whose full name was Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus. He be- 
gan his reign well, and but for the baleful influence of his mother, Agrippina, 
might have continued in the good way, under the tutelage of Seneca the phi- 
losopher. He soon yielded, however, to temptation or to his natural in- 
clinations, and plunged headlong into tyranny, extravagance, and every species 
of debauchery that human ingenuity could devise. Falling out with his mother, 
he caused her to be assassinated to please one of his mistresses, the wife of 
Otho, afterward emperor. To marry this woman Nero had put to death his 
own wife; now his mother followed, and the servile Senate actually issued an 
address congratulating the matricide on her death. 

The rebellion which broke out in Britain under Queen Boadicea was sup- 


(An Emperor Seized and Slain in the Streets of Rome) 

From a 'painting by George Rochegrosse, the modern French master 

THE deposition of Nero left the Roman world headless, 
but not for long. The armies which in Gaul, in Spain 
and in the East had declared him deposed, now each 
proclaimed its own general as emperor. The legions of Galba, 
the commander in Spain marched upon Rome, and the effemi- 
nate Romans hastened to declare Galba emperor. So here 
was the Roman world become, a purely military autocracy, 
in which the ancient city of Rome could do nothing but accept 
the voice of the army. The rough soldiers were many of them 
not even Italians, but Spaniards or Gauls, or even Germans. 
Having tasted their power in making Galba emperor, they 
presently deposed and slew him, and elevated another ruler, 
Otho. Then came other legions from Germany, and destroyed 
Otho, and made an emperor of their own general, Vitellius. 
Galbo had reigned but seven months, and Otho three ■ Vitellius 
lasted for eight months. 

The legions of the East had declared for their general 
Vespasian as emperor; but they could not reach Rome so 
quickly as the others. Had Vitellius been a Roman of the 
ancient stamp, he would have organized his forces and pre- 
pared for civil war against Vespasian ■ but he was in truth a 
mere man of straw, tossed by chance to the top of the world. 
Vitellius spent his brief months of power in carousing, and 
when the legions of the East at last reached Rome for battle, 
he fled in secret from his palace. He was found sneaking 
through the streets; and the Roman mob, in their frenzy at 
their danger and his desertion, literally tore him to pieces. 



Ron*e— Atrocities of Nero 421 

ressed in 61, but the war against the Parthians the next year was unsuccess- 
il. In July, 64, occurred the great conflagration in Rome, by which two- 
lirds of the city was reduced to ashes. It is recorded that while the 
Dnflagration was raging, Nero watched it from a turret in his palace, singing 
erses to the music of his lyre, and it is the general belief that it was his hand 
lat kindled the flames. Sated with every known indulgence, he had set out 
> discover some new kind of enjoyment. 

Could his guilt have been established, the populace would have wreaked 
uick vengeance upon him. The cowardly miscreant was scared, and strove 
) turn aside the suspicion whose whispers had reached his ears. He traversed 
le stricken streets with hypocritical expressions of sympathy, and gave away 
11 the money he could steal to help the sufferers ; but seeing the necessity of 
irecting distrust toward some one, he cunningly chose the new sect known as 
hristians, who had become numerous and active in Rome. Scores were ar- 
jsted, and he condemned them to be burned. Many were wrapped in pitched 
loth and set up in his own gardens, which were illuminated by the awful hu- 
tan " torches. " It was not the Emperor's pity, but that of the refuse of the 
ty, which finally brought the horrible spectacles to an end. Among the vie- 
ms of these tortures were probably St. Paul, St. Peter, and Seneca. 

Nero was guilty of atrocities that cannot even be hinted at. Suspecting 
enecaand the poet Lucian of conspiring against him, he took the lives of both, 
ne day, because he felt out of sorts, he kicked his wife to death. Being re- 
used by another lady, he had her slain by way of teaching her a lesson, and 
ten secured another wife by killing an obstinate husband. 

The blow which brought Nero low, came from an unexpected quarter. In 
e year 68, the Gallic and Spanish legions revolted, and the Praetorian Guards 
i flowed, all animated by the purpose of making Galba, one of their command- 
's, Emperor. Their approach to the city heartened the Senate and terrified 
;ero, whose frame shivered and whose teeth rattled with terror. He fled at 
;ght to the villa of one of his freedmen, learning which the Senate proclaimed 
m a public enemy. Being warned that his death by torture had been ordered, 
J id hearing the sound of the approaching hoof -beats of the guard, he at last 
mstered enough courage to place a sword to his breast and order his slave to 
uve it home. 

Galba entered Rome on January 1st, 69, and was accepted as Emperor with 
te right to assume the title of Caesar. He was a simple soldier and nothing 
Dre. Among those who accompanied him was Otho, whom Nero had robbed 
( his wife. He found the troops discontented with Galba's parsimony and 
^ ict discipline, and succeeded in working them up to the point of revolt, when 
<ilba was slain and Otho succeeded him. 

422 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

His reign, however, was to be brief, for Vitellius had been proclaimed Em- 
peror by his troops almost on the same day that Galba reached Rome. This 
was in Gaul, and came about because, through his liberality, he had made him- 
self extremely popular with the soldiers. He was drunk all the way to Rome, 
whither most of his military supporters had preceded him. Arrived there, hav- 
ing routed the forces of Otho on the road, his first act was to deify Nero. After 
that sacrilege, there was nothing too base for him, and he became such a vile 
debauchee that he was unable even to act the tyrant. The administration was 
mostly in the hands of the freedman Asiaticus, though P. Sabinus, brother of 
Vespasian, was high in authority. Their government was marked by moder- 
ation. The legions of Pannonia and Illyricum proclaimed Vespasian Emperor, 
and advanced into Italy under Antonius Primus. Several battles were fought, 
and Rome was desolated by violence and bloodshed, till the troops of Primus 
entered the city. Vitellius was found wandering about his palace in a state of 
drunken terror, and when he appeared on the streets was pounded to death by 
the angry mob. His head was carried about Rome, and his body thrown into 
the Tiber. 

Vespasian had left his son Titus to prosecute the siege of Jerusalem, and 
was joyfully received in Rome, where he set vigorously to work in restoring 
Drder. He was a fine soldier, held the troops under firm discipline, improved 
the finances, co-operated with the Senate, and, best of all, set a good example 
by his own conduct to his subjects. He was simple in his habits, indifferent 
to flattery, good-humored and easy of access. Although parsimonious in his 
private life, he was lavish in embellishing the city with public works, and was 
a liberal patron of the arts and sciences. He reigned ten years, and died in 
the sixty-ninth year of his age. 

Titus was the eldest son of Vespasian, and through his careful training had 
become an accomplished scholar and an adept in manly exercises. He was an 
admirable soldier, and the task which his father left him, of prosecuting the 
siege of Jerusalem, had been carried through with success. His victory caused 
the utmost joy in Rome, when the news reached the city. He laid the trophie 
of victory at his father's feet, and the two were given the honor (a.d. 71) of s: 
joint triumph. Becoming the colleague of his parent in the Empire, Titus 
made an unfavorable impression by his immoral and cruel conduct. He causec 
persons whom he suspected of enmity to be put to death, and his liaison with 
Berenice, daughter of Herod Agrippa, gave great offence to the Romans. 

When, however, Titus became emperor, he agreeably disappointed ever)' 
one. He immediately stopped all persecutions for treasonable words and looks; 
repaired the ancient and venerated structures of Rome ; built new ones, amon^ 
them the Colosseum and the baths which bear his name, and delighted thfj 



(The Emperor in Discussion with his Architect) 

From a painting by Paul Siberg at Rome 

VESPASIAN succeeded in doing what the three transi- 
tory emperors, Galba, Otho and Vitellius, had failed in ; 
he established himself firmly as the military ruler of a 
military empire. At the time of the uprising against Nero, 
he had been the tyrant's general in Judea engaged in a ter- 
rible war against the Jews. He left to his son Titus the task 
of conquering Jerusalem, while he himself marched to the 
overthrow of Vitellius and took possession of Rome. 

Vespasian proved a truly noble man and emperor, and also 
one of rare' ability. His reign lasted only eleven years, for he 
was nearly sixty when he reached the throne. But those 
eleven years sufficed to enable him to place the Roman world 
on a new and more enduring basis. He suppressed the tu- 
multuous and licentious soldiery, who under his feeble and 
3vil predecessors had been ravaging all the world. He re- 
stored law and order everywhere. Then instead of squander- 
ing the vast revenues of the government in debauchery, he 
devoted them to the rebuilding of devastated Rome. He be- 
came a mighty builder, his masterpiece in this line being the 
celebrated Colosseum, the construction of which he is seen 
planning in our picture. The Colosseum was begun by Ves- 
pasian and finished by his son and successor Titus. 



Rome — Herculaneum and Pompeii 423 

populace by games which lasted one hundred days. The splendid beneficence 
of his reign was sorely needed, for in 79 occurred the appalling eruption of 
Vesuvius which destroyed Herculaneum and Pompeii and many other towns 
and villages. Herculaneum stood in the Campagna, close to the Bay of Naples. 
It is not known when it was founded, but its inhabitants took an active part in 
the social and civil wars of Rome. It was completely buried under a shower 
of ashes, over which a stream of lava flowed and afterward hardened. The con- 
figuration of the coast was so changed that the city was entirely lost for sixteen 
centuries, when an accident led to the discovery of its ruins in 171 3. Twenty- 
five years later a systematic course of excavation was begun. The interesting 
relics of antiquity, so far as they were capable of removal, were taken to Na- 
ples, and are now deposited, along with other relics from Pompeii, in a large 
museum attached to the royal palace. They include not only frescoes, statues, 
and works of art, but articles of household furniture, such as tripods, lamps, 
chandeliers, basins, mirrors, musical or surgical instruments, and even cooking 
utensils. Excavations have been resumed of late years with the most interesting 

Pompeii was about twelve miles southeast from Naples, in the plain at the 
foot of Mount Vesuvius, and was one of the fashionable provincial cities of the 
Roman Empire. Though most of the citizens escaped during the incessant 
bombardment of lava stones, a large number must have perished, as is proved 
by the finding of the skeletons of soldiers on guard, and citizens apparently 
overtaken by death in the midst of their usual employments. As in the case 
of Herculaneum, the discovery of Pompeii in 1750 was accidental, but the ex- 
cavations have brought to light a living picture of a Roman city more than 
eighteen hundred years ago, with all its departments of domestic and public 
life, the worship of the gods, the shows of the arena, architecture, painting, 
and sculpture, and in short all the appliances of comfort and luxury as they 
existed in a wealthy community of those remote days. 

The year following the destruction of these cities, a three-days' fire in 
Rome reduced to ashes the Capitol, Augustus' library, Pompey's theatre, and 
numerous houses, while on the heels of the conflagration came a dreadful pesti- 
lence. Titus did everything in his power for the homeless sufferers, even to 
the despoiling of his palaces of their ornaments to obtain money, and he 
schemed and planned to find occupation for them. He became the idol of his 
subjects, the " love and delight of the human race," but at the beginning of the 
third year of his reign he suddenly fell ill and died, September 13th, 81, his 
younger brother Domitian being suspected by some of having poisoned him. 

Be that as it may, Domitian came to the throne in 81, and ruled till 96. 
A.t first, he passed many good laws, governed the provinces carefully, and ad- 

424 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

ministered justice, but the failure of his campaigns against the Dacians and 
the Marcomanni (87) soured his whole nature. He became ferocious in his 
suspicions, jealousy, and hatred; and through murder and banishment, it is said, 
deprived Rome of nearly all of the citizens conspicuous for their learning, 
talent, or wealth. He held the army to him by greatly increasing its pay, and 
won the favor of the people by extravagant gifts and gladiatorial games and 
shows, in some of which he took part. His cruelties finally became so intoler- 
able that his wife Domitia joined in a conspiracy against him, and he perished 
from the dagger on the 18th of September, 96. 

The Senate immediately elected M. Nerva as his successor, though he was 
past three-score years of age. He had twice held the honor of the consulship 
before his election, and displayed great wisdom and moderation. The taxes 
were lessened, and the administration of justice improved, but his advanced 
age rendered him unable to repress the insolence of the Praetorian Guards, 
and he adopted M. Ulpius Trajanus, known as Trajan, who succeeded him on 
his death, January 27th, 98. 

Trajan began his administration by the usual largess to the soldiers, extend- 
ing the same to the s Roman citizens and their families, and he made large pro- 
vision out of the imperial treasury for the upbringing of the children of poor 
freemen in Rome and other Italian towns. It was in the year 101 that Rome 
beheld, for the first time, its Emperor leading forth its legions in person upon 
their career of conquest. Trajan then set out on his first campaign against the 
Dacians, who had compelled Rome since the time of Domitian to pay them 
tribute. The struggle was long and severe, but was completely successful 
(104-105), and Dacia became a royal province. This was the first conquest 
since the death of Augustus, and was celebrated on Trajan's return to Rome 
by a triumph and splendid games which lasted for four months. 

Trajan's appetite for foreign conquest was whetted by his success, and in 
106 he again set out for the East. Landing in Syria, he moved northward, 
receiving the submission of numerous prirces on the way, and occupying Ar- 
menia, which he made a province of the Empire. Though he was busy for the 
succeeding seven years, we have no clear record of what he did. Once more 
he went to Syria in 115, his objective point being the Parthian empire. 
Its capital hardly offered the semblance of resistance, and he descended the 
Tigris subduing the tribes on both banks, and being the first and only Roman 
general to navigate the Persian Gulf. When he returned, he found it necessary 
to re-conquer Mesopotamia, North Syria, and Arabia, and he did it more thor- 
oughly than before. By this time he was in a sad bodily condition from dropsy 
and paralysis-, and, while on the return to Italy, died at Selinus, in Cilicia, ki 
August, 117. 


(The Day Turned into a Night of Horror) 

From the painting by Hector Le Roux, the noted French historical 


UNDER the reign of Vespasian 's son Titus, occurred that 
awful catastrophe, the destruction of Pompeii, Hercu- 
laneum and other cities by the great eruption of Vesu- 
vius. This happened in the year 79 after Christ, the very 
year of Trajan's accession. The disaster was widely accepted 
as an omen; for Trajan was not beloved and trusted as his 
father had been, and men feared that his coming into power 
would mean a return to the evil days of the earlier emperors. 
But when the Vesuvian destruction came, Titus proved his 
nobility by his absolute devotion to the sufferers and the gen- 
erosity with which he expended the revenues of the empire 
for their relief. The city of Rome is two hundred miles from 
Vesuvius, but so stupendous was the volcanic convulsion, so 
widespread the darkness it caused, that even in Rome people 
fled to ships to escape what seemed the destruction of the 

Titus welcomed all the homeless and penniless fugitives- to 
the capital; but there a pestilence broke out so terrible that 
for weeks ten thousand people died every day. Then there 
came another great fire upon Rome. Through all these ap- 
palling disasters Titus was the mainstay of his people. They 
came to love him even more than they had his father. But he 
died, worn out with his efforts, after a reign of only two 


Rome — Hadrian Limits the Empire 425 

Although so much of Trajan's reign was taken up with his military cam- 
paigns, his administration of civil affairs was admirable. Equal justice was 
secured to all ; the imperial finances were greatly improved, and peculation on 
the part of public officers was severely punished. One of the fads of the Ro- 
man emperors was the improvement and beautifying of Rome, and none did 
more thorough work in that respect than Trajan. - The Empire was traversed 
m all directions by military routes ; canals and bridges were built, new towns 
arose, the Via Appia was restored, the Pontine Marshes partially drained, the 
" Forum Trajani " erected, and the harbor of Civita Vecchia constructed. A 
striking proof of the sincerity of this Emperor's labors to improve the condition 
of his subjects was shown in the wish, which it became the fashion formally to 
utter, on the accession of each of his successors : " May he be happier than 
Augustus, better than Trajan." 

Trajan died childless, and his successor was P. ^Elius Hadrianus, or Ha- 
drian, the son of Trajan's cousin. He had not only displayed great ability in 
the various high offices he filled, but he was a favorite of the empress. Trajan 
had the right to name his heir, and when the empress announced that it was 
Hadrian, the citizens and Senate accepted him without Tnurmur. 

The Empire at this time was in a critical condition. There were insurrec- 
tions in Egypt, Palestine, and Syria ; the barbarian hordes were swarming into 
Mcesia in the east and Muritania in the west, and the turbulent Parthians had 
once more asserted their independence and administered several defeats to the 
imperial forces. 

Looking calmly at the situation which confronted him, Hadrian was con- 
vinced that a peaceful policy was the true one. He decided to limit the 
Roman boundaries in the East, and concluded a peace with the Parthians by 
which he surrendered all the country beyond the Euphrates to them. Return- 
ing to Rome in 1 1 8, he treated the people liberally, but suppressed with re- 
lentless severity a patrician conspiracy against his life. He then, by means of 
large gifts, induced the Roxolani, who are the modern Russians, to retire from 
Mcesia which they had invaded. 

The year 119 saw the beginning of Hadrian's remarkable journey, most 
3f which he is said to have performed on foot. He visited Gaul, Germany, 
Britain, Spain, Mauritania, Egypt, Greece, and Asia Minor. In Britain, he 
built the wall which extends from the Solway to the Tyne, and did not return 
iO Rome until after seven years, when he received the title of Pater Patrice. 
He was so fond of the city of Athens that he spent the years 132 and 133 
there. Making another visit to Syria, he came back to Italy, and passed the 
-emainder of his life around Rome, dying July 10th, 138, at Baiae. 

The vigor and thoroughness with which Hadrian reorganized and disciplined 

426 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

the army remove all thought that his peaceful policy was attributable to fear 
or weakness. He did more than any emperor to consolidate the monarchical 
system of Rome. He divided Italy into four parts, each under a consul, to 
whom was entrusted the administration of justice. Among the numerous 
splendid edifices he erected was the mausoleum called the Moles Hadriank 
the ^Elian bridge leading to it, and the splendid villa at Tibur. He also laid 
the foundation of several cities, the most important of which was Adrianopolis. 
He placed a high value on Greek literature, and was a lover and patron of the 
fine arts. 

Hadrian adopted as his heir T. Aurelius Antoninus, of excellent abilities 
and in middle life. Him Hadrian required to select two heirs, M. Annius, 
his own sister's son, and Lucius Verus, the child of his late comrade. Anto- 
ninus Pius (the Senate having added the latter name) had served Hadrian as j 
proconsul in Asia, where the gentle wisdom of his rule gave him a higher 
reputation than any of his predecessors. He inherited great wealth and made 
one of the best emperors who ever ruled imperial Rome. He was simple, tem- 
perate, and kind, his highest object being that of benefiting his people, who 
looked up to him as in the truest sense the father of his country. His mild 
hand partly stayed the persecution of the Christians which was continued dur- 
ing his reign. Fond of peace, the only important war jn which he engaged 
was against Britain, where the Roman power was extended. He also built a 
wall between the Forth and the Clyde, as a check against the predatory tribes 
of the north. He was so widely known for his integrity and justice that he 
was often employed to arbitrate in the affairs of foreign states. To his wis- 
dom, kindness, and unvarying courtesy was due the freedom of his vast empire 
from insurrections, violence, conspiracies, and bloodshed. It may be said in 
brief that he furnished a model for those who came after him, though, sad to 
say, few were able to measure up to his splendid standard. He died in 161, 
and was succeeded by Marcus Annius, called Aurelius, who, as we have 
learned, had been selected as his heir at the command of Hadrian. 

Aurelius had been made consul in 140, and, up to his accession to the 
throne, he discharged the duties with faithfulness and ability. He and the i 
Emperor had been the closest of friends. Aurelius, on becoming Emperor, 
showed his chivalry of character by voluntarily sharing the government with 
young Lucius Verus, who from that time bore the title of Lucius Aurelius ! 
Verus. Such a ruler as Aurelius was sure to win the respect and love of his ; 
subjects, but Lucius, when sent to take part in the Parthian War, remained in 
Antioch, sunk in debasing pleasures, leaving his officers to prosecute the strng- 
gle, and at the close he returned home and enjoyed the triumph to which he 
had no claim. The troops brought a pestilence, which, together with appalling 


(The Portrait Busts of the Later Emperors) 

From the Roman statues, drawn specially for the present work 

OF all the Roman emperors of this period we have ex- 
cellent portrait busts and statues, so that we can even 
to-day see the men as they really lived, and judge their 
characters by their physiognomy. Titus was succeeded by 
his brother Domitian, who proved as wicked as his father and 
brother had been noble. He was called "the second Nero," 
but rather resembled Tiberius in being secret and dark and 
seeking solitude, than Nero who desired admiration and com- 
pany. Rome endured Domitian for fourteen years, partly 
through love of his two predecessors but more through fear 
of his savagery. Then there was a conspiracy in his palace, 
and he was slain. The Roman Senate publicly praised his 
slayers, and had his name erased from all public monuments, 
whereon he had, like Caligula, inscribed himself as a god. 
He claimed to be the son of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. 
People now so dreaded the tyranny of an evil emperor 
that the election of Domitian 's successor was left entirely to 
the Senate. Its members after careful deliberation selected 
Nerva, an aged Roman of dignity and high repute, who died 
shortly and was followed by Trajan, Hadrian and the Anto- 
nine emperors. All these were chosen or approved by the 
Senate, and their reigns constitute what was known as the 
' l golden age ' ' of the Roman Empire. Warned by the horrors 
of the earlier days, the "good emperors" ruled moderately 
a ad wisely. 


8K- < if 

Canton !NU5^ 


Rome — Government of Marcus Aurelius 427 

inundations and earthquakes, laid much of the city in ruins, and destroyed the 
granaries where the supplies of corn were kept. A formidable insurrection 
had long been fomenting in the German provinces; the Britons were on the 
point of revolt, and the Catti (the Suevi of Julius Caesar, who lived in the coun- 
try nearly corresponding to the present Hesse) were ready to devastate the 
Rhenish provinces. 

The manifold calamities that had fallen and still threatened to fall so terri- 
fied the Romans that, to allay them, Marcus determined to go forth to war him- 
self. For a time Marcus and Lucius were completely successful. The Mar- 
comanni and the other rebellious ti ibes, living between Illyria and the sources 
of the Danube, were compelled to sue for peace in 168, the year preceding the 
death of Lucius. The contest was renewed in 170, and, with little intermis- 
sion, lasted throughout the life of the Emperor. Marcus carried on the cam- 
paign with amazing vigor and skill, and nearly annihilated the Marcomanni and 
the Jazyges. 

Connected with this war was a victory so unprecedented that some histo- 
rians accept it as a miracle. According to Dion Cassius, the Romans were 
perishing of thirst and heat, on a summer day in 174, when, without warning, 
the flaming sky was darkened by a black cloud from which the cooling rain 
descended in torrents. The feverish soldiers abandoned themselves to the life- 
giving draughts, when the barbarians assailed them with furious energy, and 
assuredly would have annihilated them, had not a storm of hail and fire de- 
scended upon the assailants alone, and scattered them in headlong terror. So 
profound indeed was the dread inspired that the Germanic tribes hastened from 
all directions to make their submission and to beg for mercy. 

This astounding occurrence could hardly be believed were it not established 
by every soldier of a large army, and by Aurelius himself, who was incapable 
of falsehood. It certainly was one of the strangest incidents in history. 

At this juncture, a new outbreak occurred in the East, brought about by the 
shocking treachery of the Emperor's own wife. This wicked woman urged to 
rebellion the governor, Avidius Cassius, a descendant of the Cassius who had 
slain Caesar. The Emperor, though in poor health, was obliged to leave Pan- 
nonia with the least possible delay. Cassius seized the whole of Asia Minor, 
but was slain by his own soldiers. Marcus Aurelius expressed his sorrow that 
the fates had thus deprived him of the happiness of pardoning the man who 
bad conspired against his happiness. He exhibited the same magnanimity on 
his arrival in the East, where he refused to read the papers of Cassius, and or- 
dered them to be burned, so that he might not be led to suspect any one of 
Deing a traitor. He treated the provinces with such gentleness that he won 
:heir love and disarmed them of all enmity. While he was thus engaged, 


The Story of the Greatest Nations 

his disloyal wife died in an obscure village, and the husband paid her every 

On his way back to Rome, he visited Lower Egypt and Greece, and by his 
noble efforts in behalf of his subjects won their profound gratitude. In 
Athens he founded chairs of philosophy for each of the four chief sects — Pla- 
tonic, Stoic, Peripatetic, and Epicurean. Reaching Italy, he celebrated his 
bloodless triumph on the 23d of December, 176. Fresh disturbances having 
broken out in Germany, he went thither in the following autumn and was again 
successful. But his weak constitution by this time was shattered by the hard- 
ships, sufferings, and anxiety he had borne so long. He died either at Vienna 
or at Sirmium, on March 17th, 180. 

Jupiter Bringing Rain to the Roman Army 


(The Chariot Races which He Substituted for Butcheries in Celebrating 
His Great Victories) 

From a contemporary English sketch of the Circus Maximus 

TO Trajan, who, as we have said, was elected emperor 
after the brief reign of Nerva, belongs the honor of 
having brought about this "golden age" of Rome. He 
was of Spanish birth, being the first emperor who was not 
born in Italy. To the commander of his praetorian guards, 
Trajan, on his accession, gave a sword with the famous quo- 
tation. ' ' Take this and use it, for me while I do right, against 
me if I do evil." He reestablished the military glory of 
Rome, extending her power and empire on every frontier un- 
til, standing at the farthest edge of conquered Persia, he said 
"If I were a younger man I would go on like Alexander to 
the conquest of India." 

The victories of Trajan naturally brought great spoils to 
Rome, as in the days of the first Caesar. The games with 
which Trajan celebrated his victories were the most splendid 
Rome had yet seen. They lasted for four months continually 
and had at least to modern eyes this great merit, that they 
were devoted chiefly to contests of skill, chariot races and so 
on, rather than to the spectacles of mere brutal murder and 
savage torture by which Nero and Domitian had bestialized 
the Roman public. 

"When Trajan died after a reign of twenty years, the 
Senate conferred on him the title of "the best" of all the 


1 A \W 



'- v? <■■■,.'■■■ 


Victory of Constantine over Maxentius 

Chapter XL 


ITH all that has been said of that extraordinary man and 
emperor, Marcus Aurelius, justice requires mention of 
a feature of his character which the reader probably 
has not suspected,— that is, his hostility to Christianity. 
He was a persecutor of the new religion, and must 
have known of the cruelties perpetrated upon the be- 
lievers. There have been many explanations of his 
course, the generally accepted one being that he was 
led astray by evil counsellors, but the more probable cause is that he 
was actuated by his earnestness in the heathen faith of his ancestors, 
and the belief that the new doctrine threatened to undermine the 
Empire itself. He did not comprehend the religion of gentleness 
and love, and thought it his duty to extirpate the dangerous sect. 
The words of John Stuart Mill on this point are worthy of quota- 

" If ever any one possessed of power had grounds for thinking him- 
If the best and most enlightened among his contemporaries, it was the Emperor 
arcus Aurelius. Absolutely monarch of the whole civilized world, he preserved 
rough life not only the most unblemished justice, but, what was less to be ex- 
acted from his stoical breeding, the tenderest heart. The few failings which are 
be attributed to him were all on the side of indulgence ; while his writings, the 
.ghest ethical product of the ancient mind, differ scarcely perceptibly, if they 
• ffer at all, from the most characteristic teachings of Christ. This man, a 
tfter Christian, in all but the dogmatic sense of the word, than almost any of 

43° The Story of the Greatest Nations 

the ostensibly Christian sovereigns who have since reigned, persecuted Chris- 
tianity. Placed at the summit of all the previous attainments of humanity, 
with an open, unfettered intellect, and a character which led him, of himself, 
to embody in his moral writings the Christian ideal, he yet failed to see Chris- 
tianity was to be a good and not an evil in. the world, with his duties to which 
he was so deeply penetrated. Existing society he knew to be in a deplorable 
state. But such as it was, he saw, or thought he saw, that it was held to- 
gether, and prevented from being worse, by belief and reverence of the received 
divinities. As a ruler of mankind, he deemed it his duty not to suffer society 
to fall in pieces, and saw not how, if its existing ties were removed, any others 
could be formed which would again knit it together. The new religion aimed 
openly at dissolving these ties; unless, therefore, it was his duty to adopt that 
religion, it seemed to be his duty to put it down. Inasmuch, then, as the the- 
ology of Christianity did not appear to him true, or of divine origin ; inasmuch 
as this strange history of a crucified God was not credible to him, and a sys- 
tem which purported to rest entirely upon a foundation to him so wholly unbe- 
lievable, could not be foreseen by him to be that renovating agency which, after 
all abatements, it has in fact proved to be ; the gentlest and most amiable of 
philosophers and rulers, under a solemn sense of duty, authorized the persecu- 
tion of Christianity. To my mind, this is one of the most tragical facts in all 
history. It is a bitter thought, how different a thing the Christianity of the; 
world might have been if the Christian faith had been adopted as the religion 
of the Empire, under the auspices of Marcus Aurelius, instead of those of Con-; 
stantine. But it would be equally unjust to him, and false to truth, to deny, 
that no one plea which can be urged for punishing anti -christian teaching was, 
wanting to Marcus Aurelius for punishing, as he did, the propagation of Chris- 
tianity. No Christian more firmly believes that atheism is false, and tends to 
the dissolution of society, than Marcus Aurelius believed the same things of 
Christianity; he who, of all men then living, might have been thought th 
most capable of appreciating it. Unless any one who approves of punishmen 
for the promulgation of opinions, flatters himself that he is a wiser and better! 
man than Marcus Aurelius — more deeply versed in the wisdom of his time- 
more elevated in his intellect above it — more earnest in his search for truth- 
let him abstain from that assumption of the joint infallibility of himself and 
the multitude, which the great Aurelius made with so unfortunate a result." 

The foregoing extract may introduce one of the most important facts con-i 
nected with the history of the Roman Empire : that is, the spread of Chris- 1 
tianity within its confines. The variety of peoples had a variety of religions, 
but all, with the exception of the Jews, were pagans and polytheists, or believers 1 
in many gods. Such was the spiritual state of the myriads of human beings,, 1 




(The Empress Causes Him to be Slain in His Bath) 

Fi*om a painting by the contemporary Italian artist, F. Pelez 


r APPY is the nation which has no history." Under 
Trajan and his successors the Roman world pro- 
gressed fortunately for nearly a century. No evil 
ruler rose to disturb things, until in the year 180 the youth 
Commodus succeeded to the throne as the son and heir of the 
good emperor Marcus Aurelius. It was commonly said that 
this bequeathing of the empire to his wicked son was the one 
bad deed of Aurelius, which outweighed all his good deeds. 
Commodus had a most evil mother, Faustina, and had in- 
herited all her vices. He delegated all his power to one 
vicious favorite after another, under whom the world groaned, 
while he abandoned himself to pleasure. His favorite sport 
was to appear in the arena as Hercules, and there slay gladi- 
ators, who were armed with only imitation weapons against 
his deadly ones. Or he would fight wild beasts, which were 
prevented with equal care and watchfulness, from hurting 

At length his wife discovered her own name on a list of 
those the emperor had carelessly jotted down to be slain, so 
she promptly poisoned him to save herself. Lest the drug 
should prove too feeble, she also introduced a wrestler into 
the emperor's bathroom, who avenged all the victims of Com- 
modus in the arena by strangling the poisoned emperor while 
he lay too ill to move. 


Rome — Persecution of Christianity 431 

when Christ was born in an obscure corner of the dominion of Augustus, and 
when the seed was sown whose harvest no man could foresee or dream of in 
his wildest imaginings. 

The propagation of the new faith was marked by ferocious persecutions. 
We have learned of the first one, which was that by the fiendish Nero, who 
aimed to turn suspicion against the Christians as the incendiaries of Rome, in 
order to hide his own guilt. Tacitus, the great Roman historian, who was 
born under Nero, says of this diabolical infamy : " Some were nailed on crosses, 
others sewn up in the skins of wild beasts and exposed to the fury of dogs; 
others again smeared over with combustible materials were used as torches to 
illuminate the darkness of the night. The gardens of Nero were destined for 
the melancholy spectacle, which was accompanied with a horse-race, and 
honored with the presence of the Emperor, who mingled with the populace in 
the dress and attitude of a charioteer." 

Now it may be asked why the Romans, who permitted innumerable religions 
to flourish within their Empire, concentrated their furious persecutions upon the 
Christians. The main cause was the proselyting ardor of the Christians them- 
selves. The believer in that faith was taught as one of its basic duties that he 
nust not selfishly absorb it unto himself, but do all he could to persuade his 
brethren to share it with him. Its very nature, therefore, made it aggressive, 
While the numerous pagan faiths were passive. Christianity did what no other 
j r aith did. It boldly taught that all the gods of the Romans were false, and 
hat it was a sin to bow down to them. Not only that, but it did its utmost to 
lead all others to think the same. The early Christians held their meetings 
;ecretly and at night, and this was looked upon with disfavor by the authorities, 
|vho saw the germs of danger in the practice. But, as has been said, the blood 
)f the martyrs was the seed of the church, and as we progress in the history of 
|he Roman Empire, this truth will manifest itself again and again. 

The reader has gone sufficiently far through these pages to note another 
act : the real power of the Empire lay in the soldiery who stood behind the 
hrone. We have learned of the insolence of the Praetorian Guards, who dared 
insult an emperor to his face, and who did not hesitate to make and unmake 
overeigns at will, with the Senate always ready to record and accept the decree 
f the soldiers. Inasmuch as each new ruler signalized his accession to the 
hrone by distributing largesses, it followed that the more emperors there were, 
he greater would be the gifts distributed. So the troops became addicted to 
eposing emperors and selecting new ones. The man fixed upon for the purple 
/as usually a favorite general, and as there were plenty of them, it followed 
hat Rome sometimes had several emperors at the same time. No man dared 
spire to the crown without the backing of the soldiers. 

43 2 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

The only accession of territory by Rome during the first century of the 
Christian era was Britain. In the words of Gibbon: "After a war of about 
forty years, undertaken by the most stupid (Claudius), maintained by the most 
dissolute (Nero), and terminated by the most timid (Domitian) of all the em- 
perors, the greater part of the island of Britain - submitted to the Roman yoke." 
We remember the addition of the province of Dacia by Trajan in the early part 
of the second century. 

One cruel amusement of the Romans was their gladiatorial fights, which 
date from their earliest history. The popularity of these increased, till the 
time came when magistrates, public officers, and candidates for the popular 
suffrage gave shows to the people, which consisted mainly of the bloody and 
generally fatal encounters ; but no earlier leaders equalled the emperors in pro- 
viding the people with the fearful exhibitions. In one given by Julius Caesar, 
three hundred and twenty couples engaged in combat. In the terrific display 
offered by Trajan, lasting one hundred and twenty- three days, ten thousand 
gladiators were exhibited at once, and two thousand fought with and killed one 
another, or contended with wild beasts for the amusement of the seventy thou- 
sand spectators in the Colosseum, who included every grade of society from the 
highest to the lowest. 

Sinewy, athletic slaves were brought from all parts of the dominions and 
trained for the combats, as horses have been trained in later times for races. 
There were so many gladiators during the conspiracy of Catiline that they were 
deemed dangerous to the public safety, and che proposal was made to distribute 
them among the different garrisons. The exhibitions became so numerous that 
efforts were made to limit the number of gladiators. Cicero advocated a la\ 
forbidding any one giving a show for one or two years before becoming a can- 
didate for public office, and Augustus prohibited more than two shows a year, 
or the giving of one by a person worth less than twenty thousand dollars ; but! 
the passion was so strong that it was impossible to keep the terrible exhibitions 
within moderate limits. 

A gladiatorial show was announced by pictures and show-bills, after the 
fashion of modern theatrical plays. All the trained contestants were sworn to 
fight to the death, and the display of cowardice was followed by fatal tortures. 
The fighting at first was with wooden swords, which soon gave place to steel 
weapons. When one of the combatants had disarmed his opponent, he placed; 
his foot on his body, and looked at the Emperor, if present, or to the people,; 
for the signal of life or death. If they raised their thumbs, he was spared; ifj 
they turned them down, he was slain. The gladiator who conquered was re-; 
warded with a palm and in some cases with his freedom. At first the glad] 
iators were slaves, but afterward freemen and even knights entered the arena.. 


(Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, Forced to March in the Triumph of Aurelian) 

From a 'painting by Maynard Brown, a contemporary English artist 

EMPERORS good and bad followed Commodus. On the 
whole the power of the empire declined; for the wild 
tribes of central and eastern Europe became ever more 
numerous and dangerous upon her frontier. Most successful 
of the emperors during the next century was Aurelian, who 
drove back the German tribes and then conquered the new 
power of Palmyra which had arisen in the East. 

Palmyra was the capital of an empire suddenly founded 
by the Arab tribes under Odenatus. When he died, his able, 
energetic and beautiful wife Zenobia led his Arab followers to 
the conquest of Egypt and most of the East. Aurelian 
marched against her and, after two great battles, broke her 
power and besieged her in her desert capital. She defended 
it long and desperately, only taking to flight when all hope 
was gone. She was pursued and taken captive, and the 
Roman soldiers whom she had so long defied and so often 
defeated, clamored for her death. Aurelian protected her and 
brought her as a prisoner to Rome, where she was compelled 
to march, loaded down beneath the amazing weight of all her 
jewelry, in the triumph with which Aurelian celebrated the 
reconquest of the East. After that, Zenobia was generously 
treated, and continued to live in regal splendor in Rome, 
where her two sons married into distinguished Roman 



Rome — Decline of the Empire 433 

In the time of Nero senators and knights fought, and under Domitian women 
appeared as combatants. The gladiatorial contests were prohibited by Con- 
tantine in 325, but it was not till nearly two centuries later, under Theodoric 
that they were finally abolished. 

The decline of the mighty Empire was thus begun through the sapping of 
Roman manliness; the process continued to the final crash. Commodus (180- 
192) was the legitimate son and heir of Marcus Aurelius, and under him the 
worst days of Caligula and Nero were revived. He brought the Macedonian 
war, inherited from his father, to an end by a dishonorable peace, and aban- 
doned himself to the most degrading debauchery. Seven hundred and fifty 
times he posed as a gladiator in the arena. He had arranged to enter a spe- 
cially splendid festival as a gladiator on the 1st of January, 193, but was mur- 
dered the night preceding, and the Senate by resolution declared his memory 
dishonored. The honorable and vigorous Senator P. Helvidius Pertinax spent 
three months in bringing order out of chaos. His ability made him feared by 
the Praetorians, and they murdered him. They then openly offered the empire 
to the highest bidder, and set a pretender on the throne. At the same time 
three other claimants were advanced by three other bodies of troops. 

L. Septimius Severus (193-21 1), commander on the Danube, was the first 
to enter Rome, where by his energy and address he won over the Senate. It 
required four years of vigorous fighting to dispose of his competitors, and he 
then became supreme. The Parthians having supported one of his opponents, 
he waged successful war against them and succeeded even in gaining a new 
province in Mesopotamia. He was finally compelled to take the $eld against 
the turbulent tribes of Britain, and died at the present city of York in Febru- 
ary, 211. 

M. Aurelius Antoninus Caracalla (211-217), son of Severus, was another 

miscreant, who, impatient to obtain the throne, made an attempt on his father's 

life. He lost no time in killing his brother and fellow-emperor Geta, with all 

who supported him, twenty thousand in number. He found means for his 

extravagance and excesses, in robbing his subjects. A monument of his lav- 

ishness as a builder is Hie immense ruins of the famous "Baths of Caracalla," 

in Rome. An important political act of his reign was the bestowment of 

Roman citizenship on all municipalities of the Empire, — a step necessary in 

order to obtain new taxes for filling his treasury. He showed feebleness in his 

wars on the frontiers of the Rhine and the Danube, and against the Parthians. 

He showed his savage cruelty at Alexandria in Egypt. He had entered that 

city in triumphal procession ; but in the midst of all the pomp the " Emperor 

of the World " fell back in his chariot and slumbered in drunken stupor. The 

young men of the city laughed and made a jest of this, whereon Caracalla 
2 1 

434 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

sent his troops out through the streets for six successive days on a general 

While engaged in a last campaign against Parthia, he was murdered by 
order of Macrinus, his prefect of the guard, who wore the purple for a brief 
while, until the Syrian troops raised to the throne Elagabulus, who was a dis- 
tant relative of the house of Severus, and only fourteen years old. The soldiers 
endured this degenerate youth for nearly four years, and then murdered him 
and his mother. 

Alexander Severus (222-235), a cousin of the wretch who had been mur- 
dered, was too young to carry on the government alone, and it remained for the 
time in the hands of his grandmother, Msesa. The young Emperor meant well, 
but was too weak by nature to impress himself upon those troublous times. 
His wars brought no credit to the Roman Empire, and he vainly combated the 
assaults on the Roman possessions in Asia made by the new Persian Empire. 
Equally fruitless were his campaigns against the Germans, which he next un- 
dertook. His attempts at discipline angered the legions, and when Maxi- 
minus, a popular general, presented himself as a rival emperor, the soldiers 
slew Alexander and went over to Maximinus in a body. 

Thus passed away the last of the descendants of Severus, and the decline 
of the Empire grew more rapid. Rome became the scene of anarchy, violence, 
and bloodshed, for the struggle was fierce and continuous among those bitten 
with the madness of ruthless ambition. Our list contains the names of all these 
imperators, some of whom held their power for only a few weeks or months. 
Gordinnus (238-244) prosecuted a successful campaign against the Persians, 
and compelled them to give back Mesopotamia, but he was slain before the 
close of the war by his prefect of the guards, Philippus (244-249), who fell in 
battle with a rival, Decius. 

Valerian (253-260) braced all his energies against the tide that was sweep- 
ing everything to destruction, but was unable to stay it, and was carried with 
the resistless current. The territory between the Limes and Rhine was lost; 
the Saxons plundered the coasts; the Goths were edging into Greece; the 
Franks and Alemanni tramped through Gaul, and Valerian himself was taken 
prisoner by the Persians and died in captivity. Claudius II. (268-270) started 
well, but had only fairly done so when he died. 

Aurelian (270-275), a famous general, roused the hope of his countrymen 
by his skill and patriotism. He repelled the Alemanni and Goths, and restored 
for a brief while the unity of the Empire. He conquered a Gallic usurper and | 
destroyed Zenobia's kingdom of Palmyra. Zenobia was a beautiful Arab 
queen. Her husband founded an empire in the Asian deserts, and defeated 
both the Persians and the Romans. After his death Zenobia maintained and 




(The Emperor Discards the Pretense of Roman Equality and Adopts 
Oriental Pomp) 

After a fainting by Alexander Wagner, a recent German artist 

DIOCLETIAN was the celebrated emperor who seized the 
old Eoman machine just as it seemed going completely 
to ruin, and reorganized it so that it lasted for yet an- 
other two hundred years. He was a common soldier who by 
energy and valor fought his way to command. Barbarians 
were threatening the empire from every side; and Diocletian, 
after seizing the throne, met the danger by dividing his power. 
He appointed three colleagues each to rule and dwell in a 
quarter of the empire. 

Diocletian ruled his own region and dominated the otjiers 
with great skill. He, however, overthrew the last semblance 
of the old Roman republicanism. Earlier emperors had posed 
as equals of their Roman friends, Diocletian introduced the 
pomp of Asiatic sovereigns, had himself served on bended 
knee, and sat at the public games upon a throne beneath a 
gorgeous canopy. He thus became frankly a despot, though 
a wise, well-meaning one. Under him Rome itself was no 
longer the mistress of the w T orld, it was merely the city resi- 
dence of Diocletian, the master of the world. All power cen- 
tered in him and his colleagues. 

Diocletian also instituted another, the last, terrible perse- 
cution of the Christians. Thousands upon thousands of them 
were slain throughout the world, until at length the emperor 
erected a boastful pillar declaring he had exterminated the 
Christian faith. 


Rome — Diocletian Divides the Empire 435 

even increased the power of her empire. Great men rallied round her, and for 
a moment it seemed that Rome had found a rival. Aurelian, however, besieged 
and mastered her capital after a struggle heroic on both sides; and the proud 
and beautiful queen was led as his captive in a Roman triumph. Aurelian's 
home government was firm and wise, and the circumvallation of Rome, still 
largely preserved, is a monument of his public spirit and enterprise. While 
fighting against the Persians, he was murdered near Byzantium in 275. 

Probus (276-282) was, like Aurelian, of Illyrian descent, and was com- 
mander of the. Syrian troops. He displayed brilliant ability in driving back the 
Germans, and restored the old frontier of the Limes. He was wise in inducing 
thousands of Germans to settle on Roman soil, where they were encouraged 
in vine-growing and the tillage of the land. He also took many of them into 
the army, and treated the Senate with consideration, but he was doomed to 
share the fate of so many of his predecessors, for the soldiers, angered by his 
goodness and strictness, put him to death. From the swirl of strife and blood- 
shed finally emerged Diocletian (284-305), who introduces a new era in the 
history of the monarchy. 

The first years of his administration were so disturbed by the aggressions of 
the barbarians that he took a colleague, Maximian, who, under the title of 
Augustus, became joint emperor in 286. Diocletian retained for himself the 
government of the eastern empire and gave the western to Maximian, but the 
I attacks became more threatening and Diocletian divided the kingdom again. 
In 292, Constantius Chlorus and Galerius were proclaimed as Caesars, and the 
1 fourfold partition was appropriated as follows : Diocletian the East, with Nico- 
media as his seat of government ; Maximian, Italy and Africa, with Milan as 
I his residence; Constantius, Britain, Gaul, and Spain, with Treves as his capi- 
" tal; Galerius, Illyricum and the valley of the Danube, with Sirmium as his 
! headquarters. Diocletian seldom took the field, so that most of the fighting fell 
to his colleagues. Among the reconquests was that of Britain, which in 296 
was restored to the Empire. In addition, the Persians were defeated and com- 
pelled to submit in 298, and the northern barbarians were driven beyond the 
frontiers. Diocletian's tempestuous rule lasted for twenty-one years, when he 
abdicated his throne, forcing his colleague Maximian, much against his will, to 
do the same at Milan. Two years before his abdication, he was instigated by 
his colleague Galerius, his son-in-law, to that bloody persecution of the Chris- 
tians which has made his rule memorable in history. 

The Emperor issued an edict commanding all Christian churches to be de- 
molished, all copies of the sacred Scriptures to be burned, and every Christian 
to be degraded from honor and rank. Hardly had this proclamation been 
posted up, when a Christian noble stepped forward and tore it down. He made 

43 6 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

no attempt to conceal his act, and being arrested was roasted to death. A fire 
broke out in the palace, but, since it was quickly extinguished, there is cause 
for belief that it was kindled to furnish a pretext for persecuting the Chris- 
tians. They suffered every conceivable torture, and the flames of persecution 
raged everywhere in the Empire except in Gaul, Britain, and Spain, where Con- 
stantius ruled. Diocletian and Maximian abdicating as we have shown, Ga- 
lerius gave unrestrained indulgence to his infernal hatred of the Christians. 
" With little rest, for eight years," says a writer, " the whip and the rack, the 
tigers, the hooks of steel, and the red-hot beds continued to do their deadly 
work. And then in 311, when life was fading from his dying eye, Galerius 
published an edict permitting Christians to worship God in their own way." 

Christianity from its divine nature is deathless, and no persecution or 
human enmity can stay its advances. Galerius, its fiendish foe, was dead, and 
now came the wonderful occurrence of a Roman Emperor professing Christian- 
ity. While Constantine Chlorus was fighting in Britain, he died, and the sol- 
diers proclaimed his son Constantine Emperor. This was easy enough, and in 
accordance with the usual fashion, but the first step the new Emperor had to 
take by way of self-preservation was to overcome five rivals. 

In the prosecution of this stupendous task, he was on his way in 312 to at- 
tack his rival Maxentius near Rome, when, so he declared, he saw with his own 
eyes the form of a flaming cross in the heavens, standing out above the sun 
and inscribed with the words : In hoc vince — By this conquer. In the battle 
which shortly followed, Maxentius was overthrown, and like Saul of Tarsus, 
who saw the great light on the way to Damascus, Constantine resolved to ac- 
cept the new faith and become a Christian. 

It is said by the early church historians that on the night following this 
vision, the Saviour appeared to Constantine in a dream, and commanded him to 
frame a similar standard, and to march under it with the assurance of victory. 
Thus originated the famous Labarum, or standard of the cross, displayed by the 
Christian emperors in their campaigns. The X in the top of the Labarum 
represents the cross, and is the initial of the Greek word for Christ. 

While the personal conduct of Constantine in many instances was shock- 
ingly contrary to the spirit of Christianity, for he was cruel and licentious, it 
cannot be denied that he dealt prodigious blows in favor of the new faith. His 
first act was the issuance of the Edict of Milan, which brought peace to the 
sorely harried Christian church. In 324, he defeated the last of his rivals, and 
made Christianity the religion of the state. He sent out circular letters to his 
subjects, whom he exhorted to embrace the divine truth of Christianity. His 
example could not fail to have tremendous influence, and thousands did as he 
asked them. It is estimated that during his reign a twentieth part of the 


(Constantine Makes the Empire Christian after Seeing a Vision) 

From the series fainted by the great master Raphael (1483-1580) in 
the Vatican at Rome 

THE triumph of Christianity throughout the Roman em- 
pire was to the superficial eye marvellously sudden and 
unexpected. In truth, however, the new faith had 
slowly been drawing to itself all that was strongest and noblest 
in the heathen world. Even while Diocletian was boasting 
that Christianity was destroyed, his colleague Constantius, 
whom he had appointed as ruler of Gaul and Britain, was 
permitting Christians to enlist in his armies. After Diocle- 
tian died, six different generals claimed the succession; and 
one of these, Constantine, the son of Constantius, ultimately 
overthrew all the rest. 

When Constantine first set out from England to fight his 
rivals he saw, or said he saw, a vision in the sky. A cross 
the symbol of Christianity appeared to him in glory with the 
words In hoc signo vinces, "Thou shalt conquer in this sign." 
He set the cross upon his banners. Possibly this was only a 
matter of policy with Constantine ; more probably it was the 
outcome of earnest conviction ; for the new faith had gathered 
to itself all the best of truth and loyalty and virtue in the 
world. Many of Constantine 's soldiers, the most trusty of 
them, were already Christians ; many others became so. When 
he had overthrown his rivals, he proclaimed Christianity the 
official religion of the empire. 


Rome— Constantine Establishes Christianity 437 

population were professing Christians. Instead of persecuting paganism in its 
turn, Constantine assailed it with ridicule and neglect. With the public money 
he repaired the old churches and built new ones, so that it came about that in 
all the leading cities the strange sight was presented of the pagan temples 
being surpassed in splendor by the new places of worship. The Christian 
clergy were no longer required to pay taxes, and Sunday was proclaimed a day 
of rest. Finally, Constantine removed the seat of government to Byzantium, 
which henceforth became known as Constantinople, in his honor, and was es- 
sentially a Christian city. 

A notable result of the crushing of political aspiration had been the turning 
of the thoughts of the ablest intellects to the grand problems of the Christian 
faith. The theological writers, both in Latin and Greek, are known as the 
" Christian Fathers," the principal of whom were as follows : 

Tertullian, the son of a proconsular centurion, was born in Carthage in 160. 
He was brought up a heathen, but was converted by a Christian wife He 
possessed a fine education, and was well versed in Roman law, in ancient phi- 
losophy, history, and poetry ; but he was bigoted and uncharitable, with a strong 
inclination to asceticism. His writings were numerous. Neander says of his 
theology : " In Tertullian we find the first germ of that spirit which afterward 
appeared with more refinement and purity in Augustine, as from Augustine 
the scholastic theology proceeded and in him also the Reformation found its 
point of connection." His chief work was his " Apologeticus," written in 198, 
and urging the right of the Christians to freedom of worship. 

Origen was born at Alexandria in 185, and has been termed the "father of 
Biblical criticism and exegesis in Christendom." When seventeen years old 
he saw his father die the death of a martyr, and would have willingly shared 
his parent's fate, had not his mother, who had six younger children dependent 
upon her, prevented. He was the most rigid of asceticists. He was liberal 
in his views, and accepted the Christian faith in its fulness only after careful 
study of all the different religions of which he could gain knowledge. His 
denial of belief in eternal punishment caused his excommunication, through the 
efforts of the Bishop of Alexandria; but the churches of the East remained 
faithful to him, and he kept up constant communication with Palestine, Arabia, 
Phoenicia, and Achaia. He was obliged to flee several times, and died in 254 
at Tyre, from the tortures he had suffered during the Christian persecutions. 
His tomb remained for centuries near the high altar of the cathedral, until it 
was destroyed during the Crusades. 

Origen wrote in Greek, and his essays and sermons numbered thousands, 
the great bulk of which are lost. The most important that .have survived are 
his two editions of the Old Testament, called respectively "Tetrapla" (four 

438 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

fold), and "Hexapla" (sixfold). Only a few fragments remain, which have 
been collected and edited by Montfaucon. Among his other partly extant and 
partly lost works are "On the Resurrection," "On Martyrdom," "Eight Books 
Against Celsus," "On Prayer," besides Epistles, etc. 

Cyprian was born in Carthage about the beginning of the third century. 
He belonged to a distinguished family and taught rhetoric before his conver- 
sion to Christianity. He was greatly liked because of his benevolence, and his 
piety was so venerated that he was soon made bishop of his native city. To 
escape the persecutions of Decius, he fled into the desert in 250, and remained 
for a year, during which he carried on an extensive correspondence with his 
clergy. In the persecution under Valerian, he was banished in 257 to Curubis, 
but having returned to Carthage the following year was beheaded. He was 
learned, eloquent, but modest and dignified. His writings contain besides 
eighty-one Epistolce, or official letters, a number of treatises, the most impor- 
tant of which is the "Unity of the Church." 

Ambrose was born about 340 at Treves, where his father, the Prefect of 
Gaul, was accustomed to reside. It is said that when an infant lying in his 
cradle, his nurse was astonished to see a swarm of bees cluster about him and 
gather over his mouth, without stinging him. This was regarded as a most 
fortunate omen, and the father anticipated a high destiny for his son. He was 
excellently educated, and went to Milan to pursue the study of the legal profes- 
sion. He so distinguished himself that the Emperor Valentinian appointed 
him prefect of Upper Italy and Milan. His wisdom and kindness attached all 
to him, so that by both Arians and Catholics he was unanimously called to be 
Bishop of Milan in 374. He shrank from the dignity and even left the city; 
but before long he returned, and was baptized and consecrated eight days after- 
ward. The anniversary of this event is still celebrated as a fete by the Catho- 
lic Church. He won the love and admiration of all by his mildness and gen- 
tleness, as well as by his unyielding severity toward wickedness in every form. 
His Christian bravery was shown by his driving the Emperor Theodosius from 
the door of the church, because of his cruel massacre of the Thessalonians. 
He excommunicated the Emperor and compelled him to do severe penance for 
eight months before restoring him to the church. Ambrose died in 397. The 
"Te Deum Laudamus" and several other works have been attributed to him. 
He is the patron saint of Milan, and the Ambrosian Library received its name 
in his honor. 

Athanasius was born in Alexandria about the year 296. Although only a 
deacon and but a mere youth when appointed to the first general council of the 
church at Nice, he. attracted great attention by his learning and eloquence. He 
was still young when elected Patriarch of Alexandria. He was persecuted by 


(Young Julian Refuses to be Made Emperor by His Soldiers) 

After a French fainting of the early nineteenth century 

UNDER Constantine's reign the majority of the peoples 
of the empire became Christians. While some adopted 
the faith earnestly, others only did so superficially; 
and the new religion had still one further trial before it. 
After Constantine 's death, his sons fought among themselves ; 
and then the soldiers in Gaul upraised a new claimant to the 
throne, their favorite general Julian. Julian, a nephew of 
the reigning emperor, was little more than a lad when his 
soldiers saluted him as emperor, and he hastened to assure his 
uncle he had no part in the revolt; but just at that juncture 
the emperor died and so Julian came undisputed to the throne. 
He had only accepted Christianity under compulsion. Now he 
returned to the old Roman gods and became the determined 
foe of the new faith. All over the empire Christians and 
pagans met in one kind of struggle or another. Old forms of 
persecution were reopened ; only those who were firm of faith 
clung to Christianity. 

Julian was an able man. He wrote clever books defending 
his attitude, and he conducted successful military campaigns 
against the Germans and the Persians. He died from a wound 
made by a Persian spear ; and legend represents his last words 
as being "The Galilean conquers." He was right; as soon 
as Julian 's opposition was removed Christianity again became, 
and always afterward remained, the state religion of the 


Rome — Early Christian Writers 439 

the Arians and driven out of Alexandria, then restored only to be driven out 
again. Once he had to remain hidden for four months in the tomb of his father, 
but was finally restored to his bishopric, which he held until his death in 373. 
He was a leading ecclesiastic of the church, able, judicious, wise, perfectly 
fearless, and though twenty years of his life were spent in exile, his exertions 
were crowned with complete success. His writings are clear and powerful, and 
he was the great champion of Trinitarianism, his polemical works relating 
chiefly to the incarnation of the Saviour and the divinity of the Holy Spirit. 

Gregory Nazianzen (called also the Theologian, because of his erudition in 
sacred literature) was born about 329 in Cappadocia, not far from Csesarea. 
His father, also of the same name, became a Christian, through the instrumen- 
tality of his wife, and was raised to the dignity of Bishop of Nazianzus. Thus 
the son grew up in a religious atmosphere. It is a curious coincidence that 
while studying at Athens he came in intimate contact with Julian, afterward 
Emperor and known as the Apostate, and from their numerous discussions 
Gregory predicted no good to him because of his "unsettled and arrogant 
mind." Gregory became brilliant in eloquence, philosophy, and sacred liter- 
ature, and, receiving baptism at the hands of his father, consecrated to God 
"all his goods, his glory, his health, his tongue, his talents." In order to be 
able to devote his years to austere devotion, he retired to a solitary life and 
took up his abode with Basil in the desert near the river Iris, in Pontus. He 
was recalled by his father and made priest, but fled, was recalled again, and 
became assistant to his parent in the ministry and preached to the people. He 
shrank from a public life, but after the death of his father came back to Con- 
stantinople, where in a short time his eloquence and erudition led to his ap- 
pointment as archbishop, which so exasperated the Arians that for a time his 
life was in danger. Although upheld by the Pope and the Emperor Theodo- 
sius, Gregory perferred to resign his bishopric voluntarily. He returned to 
Nazianzus, where after some years of ascetic devotion he died in 389. His 
ashes were removed to Constantinople, and thence during the Crusades to 
Rome. He was one of the finest orators and most thoughtful writers of his 
times. His surviving writings include fifty-three orations, two hundred and 
forty-two letters, and one hundred and seventy-six" poems. 

John Chrysostom (Golden-mouth), so called for his eloquence, was born 
at Antioch in 340, and had the guidance of a noble, pious mother. At an early 
age he surpassed his teachers in eloquence. He was ordained deacon in 381, 
and presbyter five years later, soon becoming known as the chief orator of the 
Eastern Church. He bestowed so large a portion of his revenues at Constan- 
tinople on hospitals and other charities that he was called "John the Almoner." 
One of the purest of men himself, he strove to reform the lives of the clergy 

44° The Story of the Greatest Nations 

and sent missionaries into Persia, Palestine, Scythia, and other lands. His un- 
ceasing war against vice led to his exile, but he never abated his zeal, no mat- 
ter where his lot was cast. The Emperor, incensed by the love and sympathy 
shown for him, ordered his further banishment to a remote tract on the Euxine, 
whither the old man plodded all alone with his bare head exposed to the burn- 
ing sun. This cruelty caused his death, and he passed away at Comanum, in 
Pontus, September 14th, 407, murmuring his gratitude to God with his dying 
lips. Who would not prefer a thousandfold such a death to that of the proud- 
est emperor or potentate that ever lived ? Thomas Aquinas said he would not 
give Chrysostom's Homily on St. Matthew for the whole city of Paris. The 
name Chrysostom was not applied to him until after his death. His works are 
numerous, are in Greek, and consist of Homilies, Commentaries, Epistles, 
Treatises, and Liturgies. His Homilies are held to be superior to anything of 
the kind in ancient Christian literature. 

Jerome was born in 340 in Dalmatia, of parents who were Christians. He 
was highly educated and exceedingly devout. Retiring to the desert of Chalcis 
in 374, he spent four years in study and penitential exercises. In 379 he was 
ordained priest at Antioch, after which he passed three years in close intimacy 
at Constantinople with Gregory of Nazianzus. Visiting Rome on a mission, 
in 382, he resided there till 385, as secretary of the Pope. He became very 
popular because of his eloquence, learning, and sanctity. He fixed his abode 
in Bethlehem in 396, where he died, September 30, 420. His great work 
was the translation of the Bible into Latin. He was the author of other 
religious works, letters, treatises, and commentaries, and was the founder of 

Augustine was born at Numidia, in Africa, and ranks as the greatest of the 
LatUi fathers. His pious mother carefully instructed him, but he fell a victim 
to the temptations of Carthage, as he freely confessed, and thereby was caused 
sorrow all through his life. He went to Rome, followed by the prayers of his 
devoted mother, and then to Milan, where he fell under the influence of the 
saintly Ambrose, who was Bishop of Milan. It was the most fortunate thing 
that could have happened to Augustine, for after much study and meditation 
he felt the necessity of a living, personal God and Saviour to rescue him from 
the condemnation of his own conscience. He was baptized by Ambrose on 
the 25th of April, 387. Soon after, he set out on his return home. His 
mother, who was his companion, died happy and grateful because of the salva- 
tion of her son. Before leaving Italy for Africa he wrote several of his most 
noted treatises. His inflexible character as a Christian had become fixed, and 
he devoted his majestic intellect to the propagation of the truths of Christian- 
ity. He divided his goods among the poor, retired to private life, and com- 


\&r^Zr\MJs jfrt"V' llrA vis. // 1 




Ambrose as Bishop of Milan Refuses to Admit the Emperor Theodosius to 

the Church) 

From a painting by Gebhard Fug el, a contemporary German artist 

THE native population of Rome had long since been ex- 
hausted; the armies of the empire were made up of 
barbarians, some of whom rose to be generals and even 
emperors. The huge world-kingdom remained Roman only 
in name. Moreover, the wild tribes of central Europe, though 
repeatedly repulsed, threatened more and more to overwhelm 
the ancient world of civilization. The most powerful of these 
tribes were the Goths, who about 390 A.D. seemed on the 
point of conquering the world, but were defeated by Theo- 
dosius the Great, the last able emperor of Rome. For a few 
years he restored order from amid universal anarchy. 

Theodosius was a deeply religious man and a devoted 
Christian. Indeed the influence to which the Christian 
Church had now risen in the world is well illustrated by the 
story of Theodosius and Saint Ambrose, who was the foremost 
churchman of the day. The emperor, angered by a senseless 
and murderous outbreak in Thessalonica, had made an ex- 
ample of the rebels by having several thousand slain. When 
after this savage deed he attempted to enter a church in 
Milan, Ambrose, who was Bishop of Milan, stopped him and 
forbade him entrance. Theodosius accepted the rebuke, and 
underwent several months of penance and expiation before 
Ambrose removed from him the powerful ban of the Church. 



Rome — Death of Constantine 

44 1 

posed other treatises, which added to his already high reputation. In 391 he 
was ordained priest, and although busily occupied for the next few years in 
preaching, he wrote three more works, and in 395 was made colleague with 
Valerius, Bishop of Hippo. In 397 appeared his " Confessions," in thirteen 
books. It is an earnest autobiography of one of the greatest minds the world 
has ever known. Some of its passages are paralleled nowhere outside the 
Psalms of David. In 426 he finished his greatest work, " De Civitate Dei," 
which, despite some faults of premises and reasoning, has been accepted as one 
of the most profound and lasting monuments of human genius. He died on 
August 28, 430, in answer to his own prayer, during the siege of Hippo by the 
Vandals. No man ever exerted a greater influence over the church than he. 

Now, while Constantine professed Christianity, it is impossible to believe 
that his heart was touched by its gentle teachings, for his private conduct was 
in ferocious contrast to the blessed example of the Fathers, of whom we have 
been learning. He must have been controlled largely by political and selfish 
motives. He and Licinius, through the famous edicts of Milan and Nicomedia, 
simply declared the equality of Christianity with the old state religion. The 
path of Constantine was crimsoned with blood, for he shrank from no crime 
against even his nearest relatives, in order that he might accomplish his aims. 
His father-in-law Maximinus, his brother-in-law Licinius, and the latter's son, 
fell before him in the struggle for the monarchy, and finally his own son by his 
first marriage, the worthy Caesar Crispus, because of his popularity, aroused 
the fatal jealousy of Constantine. This Emperor died, May 22, 337, while 
making his preparations for a Persian war in Nicomedia. 

Romans fighting the Goths 

The Last Roman Emperor Surrendering T3B Crown 

Chapter XLI 


,E approach the breakdown of Roman power. Constantine 
had shifted his capital to Constantinople. In the vigor 
of his career, he had appointed his three sons by his 
second marriage to be Caesars, and at his death the 
Empire was apportioned among them. Constantine II. 
received the West, Constantius, Asia with Egypt, and 
Constans, Italy and Africa. Almost from the first a 
furious quarrelling raged among them. Constantine 
was defeated by Constans and killed at Aquileia in 340. This gave 
the latter dominance in the Empire, and he gained some creditable 
successes over the Germans, but he made himself so odious by his 
arbitrary conduct that his troops slew him and proclaimed as em- 
peror one of his generals, Magnentius, a Frank by birth (350). 
Magnentius suffered defeat at the hands of Constantius, and in de- 
spair slew himself. Thus Constantius became sole monarch in 353, 
and reigned until 360. Before leaving the East, he had appointed 
his cousin Gallus as Caesar, but, suspecting his fidelity, caused him to be mur- 
dered in 354. There was urgent need of the presence of the Emperor in the 
East, and the inroads of the Germans into Gaul demanded a strong commander 
in the West. Constantius, therefore, sent his cousin Julianus, brother of the 
murdered Gallus, into Gaul as Caesar. 

This was the man of whom we have already learned something, and who 
figures in history as Julian the Apostate. He was successful against the 
Alemanni and Franks, and checked the tide of German invasion for several 


' Alaric the Gothic Conqueror of Rome, Buried in Secret by His Followers) 

From the 'painting by the recent Butch artist, A. Being 

AFTER the death of Theodosius there was no one left who 
was capable of holding back the hordes of the Goths. 
The doom of Rome had sounded. Alaric, the most cele- 
brated of all the Gothic chieftains, led his people into Italy 
and captured the "imperial city" (410 A.D.). 

Alaric had been himself employed as a general of Rome, 
leading his Gothic followers to battle in many parts of the em- 
pire. He had also led them in ravaging raids against the 
Romans, and with them had plundered many of the empire's 
fairest provinces. Finally he had been elected king of the 
entire Gothic nation, and twice he led his people into Italy. 
The first time they were repelled with great slaughter; but 
on the second attempt they completely overthrew the Roman 
army, ravaged Italy from end to end, and captured and plun- 
dered Rome. 

Alaric next planned to lead his Goths to the conquest of 
Africa ; but he died and was buried in a secret spot amid the 
wild lamentations of his people. Legend says that they turned 
aside a river from its course and prepared their hero's grave 
beneath its bed. They mounted his body upon his favorite 
horse and led it down at night into the tomb, surrounding it 
with vast stores of Alaric 's plundered wealth. Then the river 
was turned back into its course, and the hero's body thus lies 
secreted with his treasure forever. 

1 1 1-30 

Rome — Julian the Apostate 443 

years. Constantius did not do so well in the territory of the Danube, and, be- 
coming jealous of Julian, ordered him to send him a part of his troops to help 
in an impending Persian war. These soldiers refused to leave Julian, and pro- 
claimed him Emperor in Paris. Before Constantius could march to the attack, 
he died at Cilicia, and Julian became sole Emperor (361-363). 

He gained the name of the Apostate through his efforts to supplant Chris- 
tianity with paganism. He had been brought up in the former belief, but he 
abandoned it; and it is not unlikely that the bloody quarrels of Constantine and 
other professing Christian leaders had much to do with his contempt for the 
faith they claimed to follow. How far Julian would have succeeded in his 
purpose it is impossible to say, had his life been spared, but all his plans came 
to naught through his death in June, 363. 

Jovian was the nominee of the army, and, having made a disgraceful peace 
with the Germans, he retreated and then died in February, 364, whereupon 
Valentinian I. was elected Emperor, and, at the request of the army, took his 
brother Flavius Valens to share the throne with him. Valentinian had charge 
of the West, and reigned from 364 to 375, while Valens, beginning in the same 
year, held power till 378. 

Valentinian fought with success against the Alemanni and Sarmatians, and 
his distinguished general Theodosius, father of the later emperor of that name, 
held Britain and Africa. Valentinian, dying in the year named, was followed 
by his two sons Gratian and Valentinian II., the latter still a minor. The 
former was persuaded by Ambrose, the famous Bishop of Milan, to deprive the 
pagan worship of the support hitherto received from the state. 

You have not failed to note the great change through which the Roman 
Empire had been passing for a long time. The "pangs of transformation" 
were protracted through centuries, but they were complete. The Empire con- 
sisted of Italy and the provinces, and for a time their respective governments 
were on a different footing. The inhabitants of Italy were Roman citizens, 
with the provincials under the rule of Roman officials. But there began the 
formation of a nation of Romans in the provinces through the expedient of in- 
troducing colonies and of admitting the most deserving of the provincials to 
the freedom of Rome. Under Caracalla (211-217), the distinction between 
Romans and provincials was wiped out, and Roman citizenship was given to all 
the free inhabitants of the Empire. By this time, the inhabitants of Gaul. 
Spain, Northern Africa, and Illyria had become thorough Romans, a proof of 
which is that several of the later emperors were provincials, as they would have 
been called at an earlier date. 

It inevitably followed that when all distinction ceased between Italy and the 
rest of the Roman Empire, Rome lost its importance as the centre of imperial 

444 ^ e Story of the Greatest Nations 

dominion. You recall the division of the Empire under Diocletian, and the 
removal of the capital to Byzantium or Constantinople, by Constantine. The 
pulsations of the great heart at Rome had sent all the blood through the arter- 
ies into the provinces, where it remained. 

Theodosius I. (392-395) was the last Emperor who ruled over the whole 
Roman Empire. He was a great man and a zealous friend of the Christian 
religion. You have been told of the meekness with which he submitted to the 
repulse by Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, because of the massacre in Thessalonica. 
His reign, however, was very brief, for he died in January, 395, at Milan. He 
left the Empire to his two sons, Honorius ruling in the West, which was the 
Latin Empire, while Arcadius held sway over the East, which was the Greek 
or Byzantine Empire. This division was in reality only the continuance or 
rather completion of what had been done by preceding emperors. 

There could be no mistaking the signs which foretold the fall of Rome. It 
has been shown that the Romans had ceased to be a nation, because the nation 
was absorbed by the Empire. There had been a steady mixture of foreign 
bloods, until only a mongrel race remained in the ancient city. The sturdy 
ancient Roman— the perfection of manly vigor and strength — was gone, and in 
his place remained a debauched, effeminate, luxury-loving people, wholly aban- 
doned to self-indulgence. If a few exceptions rose here and there, like tower- 
ing oaks in a decaying forest, the majority were rotten to the core. The em- 
perors and wealthy classes lived for animal pleasure alone. They were a 
flabby, sodden race, oozing with rheum, diseased, debased, and in many in- 
stances with no more sensibility than the swine wallowing in the gutter. They 
were not worth saving, and their downfall drew near with the surety of the 
tread of doom. 

The death-blow was to be dealt by the northern barbarians — those magnifi- 
cent specimens of manhood. They were like great bulls, charging with lowered 
horns, ramming the walls until they trembled ; and their savage bellowings made 
the so-called Romans shake with dread as they braced their decrepit bodies 
against the tottering gates and vainly tried to hold them shut. 

The lusty Teutonic or German tribes had lived for centuries among the 
forests of the North, and gave more than one Roman emperor all he could do 
to shove them back over the boundaries which they persisted in crossing. In 
time the question arose whether it was not a wise step to permit these barbar- 
ians to come into the country and mix with the Romans, who could not fail to 
be improved by the infusion of so superb a strain. Moreover, these massive 
neighbors had heard of the new faith — Christianity — and in a crude way ac- 
cepted its truths. Finally, in the latter half of the fourth century, under the 
Roman emperor Valens, a large body of Teutons were permitted to make their 












(The Helpless Christians of the Ancient World Hide from the Ravaging Huns) 

From a painting by the recent Dutch artist, A. Delug 

ALARIC had broken down the resistance with which for 
over five hundred years, ever since the days of Marius, 
the Romans had held back the barbaric tribes of cen- 
tral Europe. After Alaric these tribes flowed in almost un- 
resisted flood over the world's ancient civilization. There was 
no power remaining which could hold them back. 

More terrible even than the European tribes, there now 
burst upon the world a huge ravaging horde of Asiatic sav- 
ages. These were the Huns, who were led by their hideous 
chieftain Attila. He called himself the "Scourge of God." 
He boasted that where his men passed they left no living thing 
behind, neither man nor beast, nor even the grass of the fields. 
The Christians were the worst sufferers from this ravaging 
monster; for under Rome they had lived in peace, devoting 
their lives to kindness and leaving warfare to the thousands of 
barbarians who had eagerly entered the Roman armies. Now 
Christianity was helpless.. At length a vast army was gath- 
ered from fragments of the Roman legions, from bands of 
Goths, and other savage tribes. All Europeans forgot their 
own warfare and made common cause against the Huns. 
Attila was defeated in the great battle of Chalons (451 A.D.), 
and driven out of Europe. 



Rome — The Goths Seize Rome 445 

homes within the limits of the Empire. Their dwelling-place north of the 
Danube is now called Moldavia and Wallachia, and had been the province of 
Dacia in the time of Trajan, but it was abandoned by the Romans under Aure- 
lian. These Goths accepted Christianity in the Arian form (Arius held Christ 
to be inferior to God the Father in dignity and nature), from Bishop Ulfilas, 
whose translation of the Scriptures into the Gothic tongue is the oldest Teu- 
tonic writing of which we have knowledge. 

In the latter part of the fourth century, the Goths became restless under 
the pressure of the shaggy Huns — Tartars or Kalmucks — who, yielding to that 
strange impulse known as the "wanderings of nations," were come out of East- 
ern Asia, and were pushing their way into Europe, Helpless to hold their 
3wn against them, the Goths appealed to the Emperor Galens, then ruling over 
the East, to allow them to cross to the south side of the Danube, and thus 
olace that river as a barrier between them and their ferocious enemies. The 
Emperor was suspicious of the fealty of the Goths, and consented only on con- 
dition that they should surrender their children and weapons. This hard pro- 
posal was accepted, and the Romans furnished the boats which for days and 
lights were rowed back and forth, carrying their loads of innocent ones. Then 
laving given them up, the Goths bribed the Roman officers to allow them to 
;eep their arms. Thus, in 376, a million men, women, and slaves crossed one 
>f the natural frontiers of the Empire and settled within its borders. 

But the Romans counted unwisely upon the forbearance of the Goths, when 
hey treated them with great brutality and left them with no means against 
tarvation. In their desperation, the Goths marshalled their fierce warriors 
nd marched against Constantinople. The angered Roman army met them 
tear Adrianople, and were disastrously defeated, the Emperor losing his life in 
he battle, which was fought in 378. Then the horde overran the fertile region 
westward to the borders of Italy and the Adriatic Sea. 

Theodosius, who well deserved the name of the Great, compelled the Goths 

) submit and settle down quietly, many of them taking service in the Roman 

rmies. But this did not last long. The sons of Theodosius were weaklings, 

nd, when they divided the Roman Empire between them, the Visigoths or 

Vestern Goths rebelled, and elevated their chief Alaric upon their shields, 

hich was their national mode of electing a king. Alaric spread desolation 

irough Greece, conquered the Roman armies there, and sacked their cities. 

hen he and his Goths hurled themselves upon Italy. They captured and 

icked Rome in 410. It was what Pyrrhus and Hannibal, the Greek and the 

arthaginian, had failed to do. Until Alaric entered, Rome had not seen a for- 

gn master within her gates since the time of Brennus, 800 years before. 

After six days of pillage Alaric withdrew from Rome and ravaged Southern 

446 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Italy. His adoring followers looked on him almost as a god. When he died 
they turned aside the waters of the river Busentinus and buried him on horse- 
back within its depths. Then the waters were allowed to flow back over the 
grave, and all the slaves who knew where it lay were slain, so that he might 
rest forever undisturbed. 

The Western Empire was fast crumbling to pieces. Britain was abandoned 
by the Romans and was soon inundated by the German tribes known as Angles 
and Saxons. The different Teutonic clans invaded Gaul and from Gaul passed 
into Spain, which was conquered by Vandals, Sueves, and other German races; 
while Gaul was overrun by Franks, Burgundians, and Goths, all members of 
the Teutonic family. Then a host of Vandals under Geiseric crossed from 
Spain into Africa. Carthage was captured in 439. Thus the most vigorous! 
limbs were lopped off from the decaying trunk. 

Meanwhile, a hideous creature, squat of form, with huge head, broad shoul-i 
ders, gleaming deep-set eyes, emerged from his log hut on the plains of Hun-: 
gary, and set out on his career of conquest and desolation. He was Attila, the 
Hun, who had murdered his brother rather than permit him to share in his sov- 
ereignty over the prodigious hordes of savages scattered through the north of 
Asia and Europe. Christendom called him the "Scourge of God," and his super-l 
stitious followers believed he carried a supernatural sword. Under his bloody, 
banner fought the Vandals, Ostrogoths, Gepidse, and many of the Franks. In 
a short time, he forced his dominion over the people of Germany and Scythia. 1 
He ruled from the frontiers of Gaul to those of China. His campaign in 447 in 
Persia and Armenia was unsuccessful, but he afterward swept through Illyria 
and desolated the countries between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. At 
his approach cities were left desolate ; the unhappy people fled to crouch in cav-; 
erns among the woods and cliffs. Starvation was less cruel than the Hun. He 
gave to all only the choice of annihilation or of following in his train. Theo- 
dosius fought three terrific battles with him and was beaten in all. Constants 
nople escaped because the shaggy demons did not know how to besiege the 
strong fortifications ; but Attila wrought his ferocious will in Thrace, Macedon,! 
and Greece, where seventy cities were desolated. Theodosius, after treacher- 
ously trying to murder his conqueror, was compelled to cede to him a portion; 
of his territory south of the Danube and to pay him an immense tribute. 

In 451, the Scourge wheeled his horse westward to invade Gaul, but was; 
confronted by Aetius, leader of the Romans, and Theodoric, king of the Visi- 
goths. There Tartar despotism and Aryan civilization met in the life-and-j 
death struggle, and the latter triumphed. The Huns were routed on every! 
side, Attila himself narrowly escaping capture or death. If we can trust the) 
older historians, this was the bloodiest battle ever fought in Europe. It took; 


(Rome is Sacked by the Vandals) 

From a fainting by Adolf Hirschl, a recent German artist 

THE overthrow of Attila saved Europe from annihila- 
tion, but it scarcely checked at all the downfall of the 
ancient civilization. One wild European tribe after 
another continued the work of destruction which Alaric and 
his Goths had begun. Of all these plundering tribes the one 
which has left behind it the name of being the most ruthless 
and barbaric is that of the Vandals. They conquered Africa 
and there established themselves as a nation amid the ruin 
they had wrought. 

From Africa they, on a sudden whim, turned back to Rome. 
They thought the ancient capital might still hold plunder 
which Alaric, its former captor, had overlooked. They were 
right ; for Alaric had been a Christian, though of wild heathen 
sort, and had spared the churches of Rome. Now the Vandals 
stormed the city and for two weeks raged through its streets 
with fire and sword. They plundered everything; they 
searched the houses for hidden wealth • they slew all whom 
they suspected of hiding it. The poor remnant of people who 
were left in Rome after that awful ravage were utterly pov- 
erty-stricken and helpless. The ancient civilization expired in 
a whirlwind of slaughter. Western Europe became a mere 
chaos of wild and ignorant tribes building up their homes 
upon the ruins of the past. 


Rome — Invasion of the Huns 447 

place near the site of the present city of Chalons-sur-Marne, and it is said that 
the dead left on the field numbered from 250,000 to 300,000. 

Attila was in despair, and, having retired to his camp, collected all the 
wooden shields, saddles, and other baggage into an immense funeral pile, de- 
termined to die in the flames rather than surrender ; but through the advice of 
Aetius, the Roman commander, the Huns were allowed to retreat in safety, 
lest they should gain from despair the strength to conquer. 

The Scourge recovered his strength in the following year, and again in- 
vaded Italy, devastating Aquileia, Milan, Padua, and other cities, and driving 
the panic-stricken people into the Alps, the Apennines, and the lagoons of the 
Adriatic, where they founded the city of Venice. Rome was utterly helpless, 
but was saved through Pope Leo I., who boldly visited the terrible barbarian 
arid by his majestic mien and apostolic majesty terrified him into sparing the 
city. Attila returned to Hungary, but two years later regained his ruthless 
courage, and was making preparations for another invasion of Italy, when he 
burst a blood-vessel and died. What a grim comment on the folly of puny man 
arraying himself against the cause of truth and justice ! Attila boasted that 
the grass never grew on the spot trodden by the hoof of his horse, but the prick 
of a pin or the most trifling occurrence has been sufficient many a time to bring 
the proudest wretch to the dust. The immense empire of the "Scourge of 
iGod" immediately crumbled to fragments. 

Attila had hardly shrunk away from Rome before the imprecations of the 
jPope, when Geiseric, the Vandal chief of Africa, sailed with his fleet^ from 
Carthage and anchored at the mouth of the Tiber. This time Leo could not 
i'urn aside the fury of the barbarians. Rome was captured (455), and for two 
weeks the Vandals and Moors plundered and pillaged and looted, without a 
*leam of mercy. Scores of ships were laden with captives and treasures, and 
sailed across the sea to Carthage. 

The emperors of the West still came and went like a procession of phan- 
oms. Scan the list and you will find their names, but they were no more than 
!io many figments of sleep, so far as their power went to stay the rush of the 
empire to destruction. Finally, the Roman Senate declared that one emperor 
fvas enough, and that he should be the Eastern Emperor Zeno, but the govern- 
ment of Italy was to be trusted to Odoacer, who took the title of Patrician of 
Italy. This Odoacer had been a bandit among the Noric Alps, and, entering 
he Roman service, rapidly rose to eminence. He aided Orestes, in 475, in 
.riving the Emperor Julius Nepos from the throne, and conferred on his son 
iomulus the title of Augustus, which the people in ridicule changed to Augus- 
tus. This feeble youth, who, by a strange sarcasm of destiny, bore the names 
f the founder of Rome and of the Empire, was pensioned off, and, when 

448 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Odoacer became king, the Senate sent back to Constantinople the tiara and 
purple, for the Western Empire had passed away forever. 

The western or Latin provinces of the Roman Empire having dissolved be- 
fore the onrush of the barbarians, let us now glance at the history of the East- 
ern Empire, which survived the general wreck for a thousand years, though 
steadily decaying and going to ruin. The Greek or Byzantine Empire reached 
its zenith in the sixth century, under Justinian, who reigned from 527 to 565. 
Although of little military capacity, he had the wisdom to select the ablest 
generals of the last days of Roman ascendancy, and under their direction, espe- 
cially that of the distinguished Narses and Belisarius, the Empire was restored, 
at least so far as outward appearance went, to its ancient limits, and the East 
and West were reunited under a single rule. His first war, that with Persia, 
had scarcely been brought to a half- successful conclusion when a revolt took 
place against him. A rival emperor was elected, and Justinian was so fright- 
ened that he would have fled but for the vigor and resolution of his wife, Theo- 
dora. Narses repressed the rising with merciless severity, and it is said that 
30,000 of the insurgents were slain in one day. 

Belisarius by the force of arms re- annexed the Vandal kingdom of Africa! 
to the Empire; and he and Narses restored the imperial authority in,! 
in Northern Italy, and in a large portion of Spain. One of the remarkable 
works of Justinian was the renewing and strengthening of the immense line; 
of fortifications along the eastern and southeastern frontier of the Empire. 
These works of defence and many public buildings in Rome and other cities 
involved enormous expenditures, but they were ably and honestly carried out. 
The most famous of his buildings is the great church of St. Sophia in Con- 

But the chief renown of Justinian rests upon his work as a legislator. Di- 
rectly on his accession, he set to work to collect the vast mass of previous leg- 
islative enactments which were still in force ; and, to make this thorough, hei 
first compiled a code comprising all the constitutions of his predecessors (527- 
529). Next the authoritative commentaries of the jurists were harmonized and 
published under the title of Digesta Pandecta (529-533). The code was re- 
published in 534, with the addition of Julian's own laws. His third important: 
legal undertaking was the composition of a systematic treatise on the law for; 
the guidance of students and lawyers, which was published shortly before the 
Digest, under the title of Institutiones (Institutes). All these great work* 
were completed under the guidance and superintendence of the learned jurist; 
Tribonian. They were originally written in Latin, while the later treatises; 
which Justinian caused to be prepared were in Greek, and bore the name No\ 
vellce or " New Works." This complete system, known as the Civil Law, formed 


(The Ostrogoths Depart with the Body of their King, Teias) 

From a painting in 1896 by the German artist, A. Zick 

WHILE western Europe was thus submerged by the bar- 
barians there remained an enfeebled • ' Roman Empire 
of the East," which had its capital at Constantinople, 
and continued to hold some sort of sway over the surrounding 
regions of Asia, Greece and the Balkan States. These "Em- 
perors of the East" even made some effort to reestablish their 
authority over Italy. There the Goths had fought one another 
until the eastern or Ostrogoths were conquerors and set up an 
empire of their own under their most celebrated leader, Theo- 
doric the Great. Thus for a time the Goths were lords of 
western Europe as the Romans had been. 

After the death of Theodoric two able generals represent- 
ing the "Emperors of the East" fought the Ostrogoths and 
at last defeated them in a great battle and slew their king, 
Teias. The humbled Goths offered to leave Italy forever if 
they were allowed to leave in peace. So a treaty was made, 
and bearing the body of Teias and chanting songs of sorrow, 
the Goths marched out of Italy. That was in 553. From the 
time of the first invasion by Alaric there had been Goths in 
Italy for over a century and a half ; the Ostrogoths had dwelt 
there as rulers for over sixty years. Whither they went on 
their departure or what became of them we do not know. 


Rome — End of the Western Empire 449 

the groundwork of the law of nearly all of the nations of Europe, England being 
the most notable exception. 

After the fall of Rome and the collapse of the Western Empire, Odoacer, the 
Visigothic chief, continued governing, claiming to do so by authority of the Em- 
peror of the East, but he paid little attention to the Byzantine court at Constan- 
tinople. Meanwhile, the Ostrogoths, or Eastern Goths, had established a kingdom 
)etween the Black Sea and the Adriatic, under the rule of their own hero, Theo- 
loric. The Emperor Zeno commissioned Theodoric to invade Italy and bring 
hat country back into the Empire. With Theodoric went all his people, including 
vomen and children and aged men, so that it was another migration of a nation. 
The campaign against Odoacer lasted for three years, but in 493 he was compelled 
come to terms, and soon after was assassinated by his rival. Theodoric distrib- 
uted one-third of the conquered territory among his soldiers in military tenures, 
md ordered his men to be kind to the people and to obey the laws. The wise 
jule of Theodoric brought peace and prosperity to Italy, which continued till his 
leath in 526. 

Then came turmoil, confusion, bloodshed, and lasting anarchy. It was at 
his time that Justinian, Emperor of the East, interfered, and the imperial forces 
nder Belisarius captured Rome. Narses, his successor, overthrew the Ostro- 
othic power in Italy in 553, in a great battle on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, 
'he last king of the Goths, Teias, was slain; and his warriors asked permission 
f the Romans to depart in peace, bearing with them the body of their leader. 
Jarses gladly consented, and the whole nation of Goths marched in a body out 
if Italy forever. It became a Byzantine province, governed by rulers appointed 
•om Constantinople, with the title of Exarchs of Ravenna. 

Justinian had been dead only three years, when Italy, still governed by an 
xarch living at R.avenna, was overrun by the third and last of the Teutonic in- 
jasians. The Lombards or Longobardi, thus named perhaps from their long 
eards, came from Central Europe, swarmed through the Alps, and, sweeping 
iito the valley of the Po, occupied the extensive district still known as Lombardy, 
ith Pavia as its capital. They were cruel in their treatment of the Italians, and 
|)mmitted so many atrocities that a large number of Roman families removed 
I the islands and lagoons at the head of the Adriatic, where, as we have learned 
ie foundations of Venice had been laid not long before. 


Landing of the Normans in Sicily 

Chapter XLII 

UT of all the hideous turmoil of blood and flame, one 
power rose indestructible and triumphant. This was 
Christianity, the single influence that had remained 
pure and sweet and strong, amid the corruption and 
decay of the Empire. 

Awe of this new, strange power of holiness checked 

even the wildest marauders. Goths and Vandals stayed 

their swords before the doors of churches. The hand 

of God became, as it were, visible to save what was left of the 

world from utter destruction. When Alboin, the first Lombard 

king, conquered Pavia, he had sworn to slay every person in the 

city. His horse reared in the gateway of the town, and refused 

to advance. "It is because of your unchristian oath," cried his 

followers; and, awed by the seeming interposition of heaven, 

Alboin retracted his evil vow. Even the unspeakable horrors 

that accompanied the sack of cities were lessened by Christianity, 

since each church became an asylum in which the cerrified inhabitants might 

crouch in safety. 

All earthly rulers and protectors seemed to have abandoned Rome. Even 
her nominal Emperor in Constantinople thought of the city only to rob her of ! 
what statues and works of art she still retained. It was then that her bishops! 
stood forth as her defenders. We have seen how Leo checked the ravages ofi 
the Huns by the might of his dignity, purity, and' mysterious strength, and! 
how he won concessions and partial mercy even from the savage Vandals. 


(Alboin, the Lombard King, Feels the First Impulse Toward Civilization) 

From a fainting by the Italian artist, L. Piogliaghi 

THE Lombards were the real founders of modern Italy. 
They were another barbarian tribe, who descended into 
Italy almost immediately after the Goths were driven 
out. The "Emperors of the East" were too exhausted to face 
these new invaders ; and the Lombards almost without opposi- 
tion took possession of all northern Italy, where their de- 
scendants are still dwelling to-day. The Lombards were Ger- 
mans, a far wilder people than the Ostrogoths had been, so 
again the plundering and ravaging began, each city shutting 
its gates and defending itself against the invaders as best it 

There is a pretty story that Alboin, the leader of the Lom- 
bard invaders, caught the first impulse toward civilization 
when he was besieging the city of Pavia. So obstinately had 
the city resisted him that he had sworn to slay every person 
within it; but as he entered the city gate in fury, his horse 
reared and plunged so that he could not advance. His fol- 
lowers cried out that this was a miracle, that the king was 
held back by his unchristian vow of murder. Alboin himself 
believed this, withdrew his vow, pardoned the Pavians, and 
made their city his capital. The building up of the modern 
Italian civilization was thus begun. 



Rome — Pope Gregory the Great 451 

Other bishops of Rome strove as earnestly as he. The name "papa," or, as we 
call it in English, pope, which means father and had once been given freely to 
all heads of the church, now began to be applied specially to these heroic 

The position of Pope of Rome was not one likely to be sought by ordinary 
men in those days. It brought with it neither wealth nor ease, but only sor- 
row and danger. When Gregory I., greatest of all the early popes, was offered 
the high place, he shrank from it ; he begged the people to choose another than 
he; legend says that he even fled from the city. But the citizens knew their 
only hope lay in having over them one who was their best and bravest and 
strongest, so at last Gregory yielded to their prayers. 

At this time (590-604 a.d.) the Pope had no official position in the govern- 
ment of the city. The old republican forms were still maintained, as indeed 
they had been during all the Empire. The city was still nominally governed 
'by the Senate, and two yearly consuls elected by the people. But these men 
had long sunk to mere figureheads, representing the contemptuous authority of 
some barbarian chief, or some shadowy Eastern emperor. In time of peril such 
magistrates were the first to flee, and it was the Christian bishop who came 
forward to guide and shelter his defenceless flock. 

Gregory was himself the son of a Roman senator. He inherited great 
wealth and high rank, all of which he sacrificed in the cause of the poor. It 
was in the midst of a deadly plague that the people forced him to become 
bishop, and of course they were thinking of him only as their "pope," their 
father, whose protection they so sorely needed. In this noble work of charity, 
Gregory's patience and generosity and wisdom proved through all his life un- 
failing and unbounded. Never did erring and mortal man better deserve the 
saintship with which he has been crowned. But the papacy brought with it 
i another and wider field of duties, and it was in this that Gregory displayed the 
wonderful energy, aptness, and success which have won him the unquestioned 
title of "The Great." 

Gregory believed it his duty to watch over Christianity throughout all the 
I earth. He cared nothing for empty titles. Other bishops urged him to assume 
the name of Universal Bishop, and he refused. But the unending labor, the 
awful responsibility of the position, he did not refuse. He had accepted them 
solemnly as his own, when he yielded to his people's cry. 

In speaking of the supremacy which the bishops of Rome came to hold over 
other bishops, we approach a question which has been much debated, and which 
of course it would be impossible to discuss fully in such little space as we have 
at command. Suffice it to say that, while Rome ruled the world, its bishop 
had naturally vast influence among his brethren. St. Peter, the leader among 

452 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

the apostles, had been the city's first bishop, and his successors claimed to 
continue his authority. Several of them had vigorously asserted this claim 
before Gregory's popehood. Bishops of other great cities had at times allowed, 
at times opposed it. So far as all Western Europe was concerned, Gregory's 
leadership was taken as a matter of course. In the East the Bishop of Con- 
stantinople assumed, by authority of the Emperor, the title of Universal Bishop 
that Gregory had refused. 

This rivalry led to nothing more vehement than words. John of Constan- 
tinople was a student and a man of quiet. Gregory had his hands more than 
full with his work of supervision in the West. It was under him that Britain 
was Christianized. Spain was converted from heresy to the orthodox church. 
His missionaries, fired with his own zeal, penetrated the wilds of Germany 
and the North. A new and vast impulse was thus given to the spread of Chris- 
tianity, an impulse which virtually settled the question of headship of the 
church ; for all these newly converted nations looked naturally to Gregory and 
to Rome. 

The Lombards at this time were the special fear of Rome. They did not 
belong to the orthodox faith, and again and again it seemed certain that they 
would swarm over Rome, as they had over most of the rest of Italy. But each 
time Gregory held them back, threatening, praying, and commanding, as occa- 
sion served. Many of the Lombards were converted. Nevertheless another 
of their inroads threatened even as Gregory died, exhausted at. last, his frail 
body worn to a shadow with the work and worry of his life. His successors 
kept up the struggle by the methods he had taught them. The Lombards never 
did seize Rome ; and, after two centuries of effort, it was the popes who brought 
about the downfall of the Lombard kings. 

The one strength of the popes in this, as in other contests, was their spiri- 
tual supremacy and influence, a weapon which time taught them to use in many 
ways. They employed it here to command the help of Pepin of France. 

Pepin was a great Frankish noble who ruled his country in the name of a 
weak and foolish king whom he held a prisoner. Whether through shame or 
fear, he hesitated to put aside his puppet master. Professing to be troubled 
in conscience as to his proper course, he appealed to the Pope for advice. The 
Pope declared that one who ruled in fact should rule in name as well ; and 
Pepin, promptly accepting the verdict, declared himself king. So when another 
Lombard attack threatened Rome, it was to Pepin that the Pope appealed for 
help, and the Frankish king led an army into Italy. He easily defeated the 
Lombards ; and he presented to the church the broad territories surrounding 
Rome, from which he had driven her enemies. 

These events form an important era in the history of the Roman church. 


(Pope Gregory Checks the Burial of a Covetous Monk) 

From the fainting by the noted Russian master, Vassili Verestchagin 

OUR modern civilization rose slowly on the ruins of the 
old. The advance of the Lombards into southern Italy 
was checked by a new and strangely constituted power, 
that of the Popes in Rome. These Popes or bishops of Rome 
had become the rulers of the ancient city, the only men indeed 
who amid the general turmoil retained any power or influence 
whatever. The Popes became the acknowledged heads of the 
Christian church in western Europe, and, as most of the in- 
vaders of Italy were at least nominally Christian, the Popes 
managed again and again to prevent them from attacking 

Most celebrated of the early Popes, the one generally re- 
garded as starting the kingship or earthly dominion of the 
papacy was Gregory the Great. He was a remarkable re- 
ligious writer and organizer, the Abbot of a monastery he 
himself had founded in Rome. He was very tender toward the 
poor, but very firm as a leader, and stern to his brother monks. 
Once, as our picture shows, when a monk who died was found 
to have secreted a little money, the Abbot forbade him Chris- 
tian burial. Gregory tried to avoid being made Pope; but 
in a time of plague the people of Rome were in such misery 
that they insisted on this, their strongest man, taking control 
of the city. As Pope, he sent out missionaries to many western 
nations, and all of these began to look toward Rome as the 
religious center of the world. 


Rome — Rise of the Papal Power 453 

The Pope began to exercise a voice in the government of foreign kingdoms. 
He had made, or helped to make, a king of France. Perhaps more important 
still, he had become a sovereign in his own right. The lands that Pepin so 
liberally tossed him formed the nucleus of the " States of the Church," which 
remained a more or less independent power in Central Italy until our own times 
witnessed their extinction, in 1870. 

The friendship between the Franks and the church continued, though Pepin 
had died. His son and successor, Charlemagne, also marched an army into Italy 
at the call of the Pope. With stronger hand than his father, he utterly extin- 
guished the troublesome Lombard monarchy, and set its ancient iron crown 
upon his own head. 

All Northern Italy became part of the vast empire Charlemagne was build- 
ing; and wherever he conquered a nation, he compelled it to accept Christian- 
ity. A new Italy, a new Europe, resulted from his labors. Calm succeeded to 
tempest, order to anarchy. Those wild hordes that had wandered at will over 
the dead Roman Empire had finally developed into settled nations. Charle- 
magne brought the confused period of destruction to an end, and set on foot the 
growth from which our modern Europe was to rise. On Christmas day of the 
year 800, while Charlemagne was devoutly kneeling at divine service in the 
church of the Vatican in Rome, the Pope, Leo III., stepping up to him, placed 
a golden crown upon his head and saluted him as Emperor. All the people 
around shouted their approval, as had been the custom in the old days when an 
emperor was chosen ; and Charlemagne, accepting the honor, declared himself 
lord of the "Holy Roman Empire." It was a fitting culmination, a fitting 
testimony to the labors of the great king. 

Note, however, that this was not the old, but distinctly a new empire that 
was thus brought into existence. Its territory embraced much of Germany 
which had never been Roman, while Rome itself, instead of being the centre 
of the new empire, lay at its extreme southern border. The name, too, had 
been changed by adding to it the word " Holy," thus stamping its religious and 
Christian character with the approval of the pope. It was he who, as head of 
the church, had assumed to re-create a government and an authority that had 
been extinct for over three centuries. 

Gradually the pope had thus come to possess a far higher position abroad 
than in his own city. To the Romans he was merely their own bishop, chosen 
as they pleased from among themselves, to be liked or disliked, praised or dis- 
praised, and having no legal authority whatever to govern them. To Franks 
and Germans the pope was, on the contrary, the source of their religious in- 
struction, the leader of their faith on earth. When Pope Leo III., fleeing from 
an insurrection at home, visited Charlemagne, the whole court and army were 

454 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

drawn up to receive him. As he approached, every troop fell prostrate to 
implore his benediction; Charlemagne, advancing with humble salutation, 
embraced and kissed him. 

These contradictory facts will, perhaps, explain the decline which appears 
in the character of the popes. The papacy was no longer the poor and unat- 
tractive office from whose duties and sufferings Gregory I. had shrunk. It now 
carried with it the opportunity of wealth for the covetous, of power for the 
ambitious, of ease for the luxurious. The Roman gentry began to plan and 
intrigue for the place among themselves. Soon they did not hesitate to fight 
for it. What could be expected from prelates chosen by such means ? Some 
of them were good and noble men ; but others plunged from evil into evil. 
The future of the church began to look dark indeed. 

It was in 1045 that this unhappy condition of affairs in Rome came to an 
end. The lordship of the shadowy " Holy Roman Empire " had passed from 
Frankish into German hands, and was held for the moment by Henry III., one 
of the greatest of German monarchs. He found three, perhaps four, priests in 
Rome, each claiming to be pope, each supported by his little band of adherents. 
Henry called a council of the church, deposed all of the papal claimants, and, 
marching to Rome, set a bishop of his own, a German, on the papal throne. 
He wisely carried his pope back to Germany with him, since he could not spare 
an army to remain on guard in turbulent Rome. On the death of his prottgi, 
Henry named a second pope who never left Germany, and then a third, who is 
known to history as Leo IX. 

Leo was a good and noble man who was determined to be a good and noble 
pope. He took for adviser an even greater man than he, a young monk named 
Hildebrand. By Hildebrand's counsel, Leo refused to consider himself pope 
unless he was chosen by the people of Rome themselves in the old way ; and 
he travelled as a pilgrim to Rome to ask for the election. The people gave it 
readily enough; doubtless they had no desire for another encounter with 
Henry's iron hand. So Leo IX. had the advantage of starting with his papacy 
recognized by all parties and in all lands. 

The principal evil he set himself to fight was what is called simony, the 
selling of places in the church. This had become common everywhere, a natu- 
ral consequence perhaps of the character of some of the late popes, and of the 
resultant assumption of power by various kings, who had begun to appoint their 
own bishops as they pleased. A man who bought an abbacy or a bishopric was 
not necessarily a bad man ; but certainly he was likely to think far more of the 
wealth and power of his place than of its religious duties. 

Leo called council after council to drive offenders of this sort from the 
church. The Emperor helped him, and between them they restored the church 


(The Coronation of Charlemagne by the Pope) 

From the historical series by Adolf Closs, of Stuttgart 

ON Christmas clay of the year 800 occurred an event 
which marks the beginning of a new order of things, 
the attempt to organize another world-machine which 
should regulate the affairs of all nations and keep ^all in har- 
mony, as the Roman organization had kept the ancient world. 
Two powers joined in this celebrated effort at constructive 
government, the Pope of Rome and the great king of the Ger- 
mans, Charlemagne. 

Charlemagne had built up a kingdom which covered most 
of modern France and Germany. He then defeated the Lom- 
bards, who had been threatening to conquer Rome and drive 
out the Pope. Thus Charlemagne saved the papacy from de- 
struction ; and the Pope, Leo III, in return assumed the re- 
sponsibility of crowning Charlemagne as Emperor of western 
Europe. This meant that Charlemagne undertook the duty 
of keeping the whole world in order, as the Roman rulers had 
done. Indeed, he called his realm the ' ' Holy Roman Empire, ' ' 
and thought of himself as carrying on the ancient empire with 
the added authority of religious sanction. The ceremony took 
place during the Christmas festivities at Rome. Leo III sud- 
denly advanced to Charlemagne who knelt before him in re- 
ligious reverence, whereupon the Pope placed a crown upon 
the king's brow, and King Charles arose as the Emperor 


Rome — Reforms of Hildebrand 455 

to much of its former dignity and influence — and, let us hope, also to its former 

It was in Leo's time that the Normans conquered all Southern Italy and the 
island of Sicily. Their leader was called Robert Guiscard, which means 
Robert the crafty, or the wizard. The pope led an army against them, but the 
fierce Normans easily defeated and took him prisoner. The shrewd Robert, 
however, had no wish to fight the whole German Empire, so he received his 
distinguished visitor with great reverence, protested his regret at being forced 
to withstand the holy father in battle, and sent him back to Rome with a train 
of honorary attendants. In return the cunning Robert persuaded the Pope 
to confer upon him the right to rule the lands which he had already con- 
quered with his sword. This spiritually legalizing process the Pope went 
through readily enough, and the Norman adventurer became Robert, King of 

Leo returned to Rome broken in health, and soon died. The monk Hilde- 
brand had been the guiding influence of his papacy, and it was Hildebrand who 
really secured the appointment of the next four short-Mved popes. He became 
known in Rome as the "pope- maker." The first of the four was appointed by 
King Henry, but Henry died, leaving his empire to an infant son, Henry IV. 
irhe Pope passed away too, and Hildebrand and his Romans immediately re- 
asserted their old right to elect their own popes. The guardians of young 
Henry had all they could do to uphold his feeble throne even in Germany. 
Rome was left to itself. 

So under one of the new popes, Hildebrand called a council of the church 
:o decide finally just how their head was to be chosen. The original method 
pf selecting all Christian bishops was apparently by the free vote of their peo- 
3le. Of course the clergy had much influence in this choice. Sometimes the 
inatter was left almost entirely in their hands. Hildebrand and his council 
lecided that it should be so in Rome. They had seen, through two hundred 
/ears of crime, the evils of trusting to the people. Hence they fixed their 
nethod substantially as it stands to-day. The higher orders of the clergy 
sleeted a pope, while the lower orders had a sort of secondary vote. Then the 
people were allowed to express their approval and so also was the Emperor. 

One pope was elected by this means, and then Hildebrand himself was 
:hosen in 1073. It had long been the custom for the elected pope to abandon 
lis own name, and rule under a new or papal one. So Hildebrand becomes 
isnown to history as Gregory VII. , the greatest of the pontiffs. Next to Charle- 
nagne he is the foremost man of the Middle Ages. 

His life, his ideas have impressed themselves for centuries, perhaps for all 
:ime on the world. As Hildebrand he had practically ruled the religious world 

456 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

for a generation. He had found the church feeble, failing, and sinful ; he had 
made it powerful and respected. 

As Gregory VII. he was about to claim for it a higher and yet more danger- 
ous eminence. Henry IV. had proven a weak and vicious prince. Among 
other things he revived the selling of church positions. For this crime of 
simony the Pope boldly summoned him to appear before the papal court. The 
issue between Pope and Emperor was thus brought plainly before all men. 
We can imagine the amazement of the rough Germans when the full meaning 
of Pope Gregory's bold summons dawned on them. They had seen Henry III. 
make and unmake popes at will. Had the pendulum swung so far that a pope 
could command an emperor ? 

Never has the simple power of righteousness been more impressively shown. 
Such a summons from a bad pope to a good emperor would have meant nothing. 
But it came from one of the best of popes, to one of the worst of emperors; 
and the world, already groaning under Henry's tyranny, watched almost breath 
lessly for the result. Which was the stronger, religion or physical force ? 

At first Henry ignored the summons. Gregory excommunicated him. 
This was the most terrible weapon of the church. Theoretically it debarred 
its victim from all services of the church on earth, and from salvation in 
heaven. Of course there were plenty of Henry's German bishops ready to 
serve him on earth, and to guarantee his hereafter. Indeed, he summoned a 
religious council of his own, which declared the Pope himself deposed and 
excommunicated in his turn. This sentence Henry swore he would execute 
as his father had done, by marching an army into Rome and dragging the 
Pope from his throne. 

The boast proved beyond his power to fulfil. Many of his greatest lords 
abandoned him, moved partly by religion, partly, no doubt, by motives of per- 
sonal ambition or dislike. The rebellion spread, and Henry seemed likely to 
prove a king without subjects. The very men who had formed his religious 
council, seeing whither events were tending, began, one after another, to make 
the toilsome journey over the Alps to submit themselves to the Pope in Italy, 
and to obtain his pardon and forgiveness. 

At last came the oft-narrated climax. Henry himself crossed the moun 
tains as a penitent, almost alone, and stood barefooted in the snow, seeking 
admission to the Pope's presence in the castle of Canossa. Three times the 
king toiled up the rugged path to the castle gates and waited upon Gregory's 
will ; until at last the Pope admitted him, and removed the excommunication, 
though declaring that Henry must still stand trial for his crimes. 

What a triumph for the monk Hildebrand, if he were indeed what some 
men have supposed him, a mere politician struggling for renown ! What an 



[HUT 3HT' 


(The German Emperor Henry IV Sues the Pope for Pardon.) 

From an Italian fainting of the eighteenth century 

THE striking event here depicted has been called "the 
turning point of the Middle Ages, ' ' meaning that from 
this time onward the intellect, the force of the spirit, 
was to rule men rather than the force of the body. The Pope, 
the chief spiritual guide of men, stood for one moment at least, 
dominant over the Emperor, who was the representative of 
physical power, of force of arms. 

This happened more than two centuries after Charle- 
magne's day. The German Emperor of the moment was 
Henry IV, who, having quarrelled with the Pope, had vowed 
to drag him from his throne. But the Pope happened to be a 
wise and strong man, known as Gregory VII, and such was his 
influence upon all Henry's subjects that they threatened to 
abandon the Emperor altogether if he did not submit to the 
religious commands of the Pope. Henry raved and stormed; 
brt he had to submit at last, and journeyed in the midst of 
winter across the passes of the Alps to the Italian castle of 
Gregory at Canossa. Here Henry stood as a penitent barefoot 
in the winter snow while his envoy entreated Gregory to admit 
the Emperor to his presence and pardon his sins. The Pope 
kept the earthly head of the world waiting three days in Jiis 
courtyard before granting him forgiveness. 

You will find the phrase still used to-day, when the power 
of a church forces some political authority to submit to its 
will, we say "he must go to Canossa." 



Rome — Triumph of the Papacy 457 

ineffable sorrow, if his was a true heart seeking to regenerate religion on earth ! 
For never was mockery more hollow. The Pope sat in the strong fortress of 
Canossa because he dared not trust his own Italians in the plain below. Henry 
expressed remorse only to save his kingdom, and went away with black hate 
gnawing in his heart. To one who objected that the Emperor's path to salva- 
tion had been made too easy, Gregory answered with bitter irony, " Never fear ! 
He has gone away worse than he came." 

It was true. In later years, he managed so far to regain his supremacy in 
Germany that he marched an army against Rome. He captured the city, and 
besieged Gregory in one of its strong towers, the still standing castle of St. 
Angelo. Henry, however, was obliged to retreat before the Normans of Robert 
Guiscard, who marched to the relief of the Pope. True to his old craftiness, 
Guiscard managed to find his profit in the expedition by sacking Rome while 
he was there. Henry still hovered in the neighborhood, and the Pope was 
compelled to retire with the Norman troops into Southern Italy, where he died 
in less than a year (1085). His last words were, "I have loved justice, and 
hated iniquity; and for that I die in exile." 

Yet his cause triumphed. The pretensions of the popes remained on the 
high plane where he had placed them. Future emperors acknowledged his 
claims, at least in part, and for over two centuries thereafter the popes stand 
out in tremendous political prominence, until their power waned again through 
new causes of which Gregory and his time knew nothing. 

Scarce ten years after Gregory's death the church began preaching the cru- 
sades. These prodigious outbursts of religious enthusiasm carried army after 
army of Europeans into Asia to wrest Jerusalem, the city of Christ, from its 
Mahometan conquerors. These armed hosts embraced many races. They were 
not national but religious ; and the popes were recognized as the source and 
centre of the stupendous movement. Their power vastly increased. A strong 
pope was indeed the leading man in Europe, and kings and emperors bowed to 
his commands. 

The pope generally regarded as representing the height of papal power is 
Innocent III., who ruled from 1198 to 1216. He interfered in the affairs of 
Germany and made an emperor. The king of France divorced his wife, and 
Innocent compelled him to take her back. To do this, he first excommunicated 
the king, and that failing, he laid an interdict on the whole of France. The 
interdict forbade all religious services in the land. No one could be baptized, 
no one could receive holy communion, no one could be buried with the rites of 
the church. The French people were overwhelmed with terror, and a general 
outburst of rebellion compelled the king to yield obedience to the Pope. 

Innocent clashed also with King John of England. John refused to accept 

^58 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

an archbishop whom the Pope sent him. So Innocent excommunicated the 
king, declared him deposed, and urged the French to invade and capture his 
kingdom. They were on the point of doing this, when John submitted. In 
his craven terror, he even went further than was demanded. He resigned his 
crown absolutely to the church, that he and all his successors might receive it 
thereafter from the Pope as a free gift. He acknowledged the pontiff as his 
over-lord, and promised that one- tenth of all the taxes of England should be 
sent annually to its Roman master. 

In the midst of all this power and triumph Innocent sowed some seeds 
which had no small part in their destruction. The church had grown through 
persecutions and martyrdoms ; now most unhappily it became persecutor in its 
turn. We have seen how Innocent turned the crusades from their original 
purpose by preaching a holy war, or crusade as he called it, against John of 
England. That crusade had passed off in clouds and vaporings, but another 
which he started burst into blood and flame. This was directed against the 
Albigenses of Southern France, a people who differed from the church in cer- 
tain matters of faith, and were therefore known as heretics. A so-called "holy 
army " assailed the Albigenses, laid waste their lands, stormed their cities, and 
slew over a million of the wretched people. 

Innocent also founded the Inquisition, that frightful engine whose cruelty 
did so much to turn the people of Europe against the Catholic church. In his 
time originated two great religious orders, or brotherhoods of monks. One of 
these, the Franciscans, was founded by St. Francis of Assisi, on the basis of 
universal love, and tenderness toward all living things. Its labors have proved 
a help and hope and beauty to all the world. The other order, the Dominican, 
was a sterner body. Into its hands was entrusted the power of compelling 
people to believe as the church commanded. The Dominicans questioned all 
suspected persons as to their faith, and, if not satisfied, tortured them in many 
horrible ways. If the victim persisted in his heretic ideas, he was burned to 
death. This was the terrible " questioning " or Inquisition. 

The plea urged by the church was that men's bodies were valueless as com- 
pared to their souls, hence any amount of bodily torture was really a kindness, 
if by it the victim was brought into the true faith. The world had not yet 
reached that degree of civilization where it realized that men's consciences can- 
not be forced or controlled, that faith must come from within, not from with- 
out. The Inquisition added nothing to the power of the church. It won over 
only the weak and the hypocrites. Strong men learned to hate and defy the 
torturers. Oppression opened the path to rebellion. 


(Emperor Barbarosssa Expels the Citizens of Milan.) 

From a painting by Karl Swoboda, a recent Polish artist 

THE strife between Pope and Emperor continued in one 
form or another for several centuries. The cities of 
Italy grew into strong independent communities, each 
guarded by its walls and successfully protecting itself against 
all comers. Usually these cities upheld the cause of the Pope, 
and thus often found themselves in antagonism to the Em- 
perors. Most powerful of the rulers of the twelfth century 
was the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Most power- 
ful of the Italian cities was Milan. Once Frederick besieged 
it and was repulsed from before its walls. But he came again 
with another army and after a three years' siege compelled the 
Milanese to surrender. This marked the highest point of the 
power of the emperors in Italy. Frederick resolved to de- 
stroy Milan completely. The celebrated flagstaff of the city 
was broken down ; the citizens were compelled to pass in sub- 
missive procession before the Emperor's throne and were then 
driven into banishment. The entire city was torn down and 
levelled with the dust. 

The Milanese exiles, however, roused all Italy to- resist the 
emperor. They were intensely proud of their city, and they 
carried their pride and bitterness with them into exile. A 
few years later they and their allies completely defeated 
Frederick in a great battle at Lignano, and his power over 
Italy was broken. 


Frederick Barbarossa Entering Milan 

Chapter XLIII 


,0 understand clearly the story of Italy during the Middle 

Ages, you must think of the country as divided into 

three parts. In the south lay the kingdom which 

Robert Guiscard had formed. This sometimes included 

the great island of Sicily, sometimes not. It passed 

through many hands, and was known at different times 

as the Kingdom of Sicily, that of the Two Sicilies, 

and that of Naples. In Central Italy lay the " States of the 

Church " ; while the north of the peninsula and the great plain 

lying between the seas and the Alps was split up into a number 

of small city states, not unlike those of ancient Greece. 

The growth and splendor of these cities is one of the most 
striking features of the Middle Ages. While all the rest of 
Europe was still sunk in poverty, ignorance, and barbarism, 
they had grown rich, cultured, and independent. They united 
in confederacies more powerful than those under Sparta ; they ruled empires 
wider than that of Athens. 

Most of them had been cities in the old Roman days, and had passed 
through the same fearful period of tire and desolation. Only their devastation 
had been even more terrible than that of the capital. The ruins of ancient 
Rome still tower stupendous among its modern buildings. Few of the north- 
ern cities retain more than the merest fragments of that mighty architecture. 

In the days of the first German emperors the population of these cities 
must have contained a mingling of almost every blood on earth. Lombard and 

460 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

old Roman- Italian were the dominant strains; but the slave system of Rome 
had brought into Italy the unfortunate of almost every race, who, in the cen- 
turies of disaster, were blended indiscriminately with their masters. Necessity 
taught hard lessons to this motley horde. There were no longer vast nations 
of Goths and Vandals to sweep resistlessly over them ; but every petty lord 
and robber chief continued to prey upon them, until they had learned the lesson 
of resistance. When they gathered again into cities and surrounded these with 
walls, they found themselves easily able to beat off the lesser marauders. So 
the cities grew bigger, the walls stronger, and the people more and more inde- 
pendent and self-reliant. 

Four of these towns stood out more prominently than the rest. They 
were Milan, which was the chief city of Lombardy, the central plain in the 
north; Venice in the northeast, at the head of the Adriatic;- Genoa, occupying 
a similar position in the northwest on the Mediterranean coast ; and Florence, 
farther south than these, in the peninsula itself, chief city of Tuscany, the 
ancient land of Etruria. 

Milan was the first to become famous. Nominally the cities wer,e all sub- 
ject to the German emperors; practically they governed themselves. Once 
every twenty years or so a German army climbed laboriously over the Alps, 
and escorted a new emperor to be crowned at Rome. Then the cities bowed 
down to him. He helped himself to as much as he could in the way of tribute, 
kept his rough soldiers as well as he could from doing the same, and marched 
back again. Many of the cities began to feel that it was time to resist this 
last and largest of the robber chiefs. In the quarrel between popes and em- 
perors most of the Italian cities supported the pope. His partisans were 
known as Guelphs ; those of the emperors as Ghibellines. One of the most 
powerful of the emperors, Frederick Barbarossa, resolved to punish the rebel- 
lious Guelph cities, and in the year 1 154 marched a formidable army into Italy. 
Some of the smaller Guelph towns submitted to him and begged for mercy; 
one resisted and was captured; but Milan, the strongest of them all, closed her 
gates and defied him. His army was wearied with long absence from home, 
wasted with sickness ; and he found himself too weak even to besiege the city. 
Other cities promptly refused him entrance as Milan had done. Bands of the 
enemy hovered near, treachery surrounded him, and his retreat into Germany 
became almost a flight. 

Great was the triumph of the Guelph towns ; bitter the humiliation of the 
few Ghibellines who had remained faithful to the emperor. Frederick, how- 
ever, was not a man to be defeated so easily. Four years later he came again 
with another army, expressly to punish the Milanese. For three years they 
withstood his attacks with the utmost heroism. City after city submitted, but 


(St. Ff mcis Teaches Charity to the World.) 

After the bas-relief by Augustin Querol, the contemporary French 



URING these centuries of antagonism between war and 
religion, the most far-reaching of all the influences by 
which the might of the Church was extended, was the 
formation of the "brotherhoods" of monks. The most cele- 
brated and most widely-spread of these brotherhoods was the 
order of Franciscans, founded early in the thirteenth century 
by St. Francis of Assisi. This noble saint and remarkable 
man was the best embodiment we know of Christian love and 
charity. In the midst of an age of ignorance and barbaric 
cruelty he not only devoted his own life to helping the afflicted 
but also roused vast numbers of other people to the duty of 
humanity. In the great charitable order which he founded 
there were members of three degrees, those of the first degree 
being bound like himself to live as monks and devote their 
whole existence to the care of the afflicted, while the third or 
lowest rank of vows only pledged the member to a mild form 
of service which did not withdraw him from ordinary life 
and business. Millions of people all over Europe entered this 
"third order" of Franciscans so that its influence on both 
religious and political life became stupendous. 

St. Francis himself is said to have been the most inspiring 
of preachers, his influence being equally effective in soothing 
the pangs of the dying or in rousing the enthusiastic devotion 
of the heedless crowd. 


Rome — Victory of Milan 461 

Milan held out. Frederick's German army faded away as the first had done; 
but he continued with immovable persistence in Italy, prosecuting the siege 
with the Ghibelline troops he had gathered there. At length a third German 
army reached him, and Milan surrendered. 

After taking possession of the city, Frederick waited a month in solemn 
deliberation before announcing its fate. Then he commanded the trembling 
inhabitants to evacuate it and disperse. When the long sad train had passed 
out, he set his Italian soldiers to destroy the city. The walls were torn down, 
the houses, palaces, even the churches were demolished, and the entire place 
levelled with the ground (1162). 

Frederick must have intended this as a terrible warning to all other rebel- 
lious cities. But how often force defeats its own object! The scattered 
Milanese became in every town the centres of pity and admiration, the parti- 
sans and preachers of revolt. Scarce was Frederick's army out of Italy before 
town after town rose again in rebellion against him. The tyrannical agents he 
had left in charge were everywhere driven out. A league was formed among 
the Lombard cities, and the very soldiers who had helped him destroy Milan 
now agreed among themselves to rebuild it. Their militias gathered on an 
appointed day at the desolate site, the Milanese themselves returned, and all 
hands set to work with such a will, that in six weeks a new and equally power- 
ful Milan had risen on the ruins of the old (1 167). 

The resolute emperor, being alone in Italy, called a council of his subjects 
there to support him ; but so few of the cities sent delegates that he found 
himself able to do no more than denounce the rebellious places in a fiery 
speech, after which he fled back across the Alps for the second time. Another 
Germany army and then another was raised by him with great exertion. The 
last one, the sixth which he had led into Italy, met the Milanese in decisive 
battle on the field of Lignano (1 176). At first the Germans were successful; 
their charging cavalry had almost reached the carroccio, or sacred car, which 
bore the standard of Milan. The citizens wavered ; but a band of nine hundred 
young men, who had formed themselves into the " Company of Death," knelt 
on the field, prayed God's help, and then threw themselves with reckless des- 
peration upon the enemy. The Germans gave way before them, and the Italian 
army renewed its attack. The victory was complete. Frederick himself fled 
in disguise, and for a time was mourned by his court as dead. 

The battle of Lignano broke the power of Frederick and established the lib- 
erty of the Italian towns. A treaty of peace followed, the first that Europe had 
seen between a sovereign and his subjects. The towns pledged themselves to pay 
a small yearly tribute, but beyond that they were free. They governed them- 
selves, they upheld the pope, and they could make war or peace as pleased them. 

4.62 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

The Hohenstaufen emperors, as Frederick and his descendants were named, 
were among Germany's most powerful sovereigns, yet the conquest of Italy 
proved beyond them. Their struggle against the popes and the Guelphic cities 
destroyed only themselves. Frederick's grandson, Frederick II., brought him- 
self to ruin by such a war lasting from 1229 to 1250. Frederick II. was born 
in Italy and educated there under the great Pope Innocent III. His youth was 
brilliant and promising. He seems to have had a real regard and even affec- 
tion for the Italians, and his war with them must be ascribed rather to their 
arrogance than to his. 

From about the year 900, the power and wealth of the Italian cities had 
been for over three centuries steadily growing. The energy and intellect of 
their inhabitants made them the centres of manufacture and commerce for most 
of Europe. With their wealth and their military success increased also their 
self-confidence and their pride. 

Frederick was fairly successful in battle against them ; but the Pope excom- 
municated him, friends fell away from him, treachery surrounded him ; and at 
last, worn out in health and spirit, he begged the mercy of the church upon 
any terms. He offered to lead a crusade to the Holy Land, with the promise 
that he himself would never return. Before even this submission was accepted 
by the exacting Pope, Frederick died, a despairing and heartbroken man. 

The long war brought its punishment upon all alike. It had much to do, 
though indirectly, with the decay of the papacy ; and it precipitated the down 
fall of the Italian cities. War, civil war, had become their accustomed state. 
There were Guelphs and Ghibellines in every city, and although the latter had 
originally been the supporters of the Emperor, they proved quite capable of 
maintaining themselves after his shadowy support had disappeared. Generally 
speaking, the Ghibellines were the aristocrats, the great lords who sought to 
rule the country, they cared little whether in the Emperor's name or their own. 
The Guelphs were the commoners and the lesser nobles, who, too weak to hope 
to rule themselves, were the more unwilling to be ruled by others. The names, 
however, had become mere rallying-cries of faction. Men called themselves 
Guelph or Ghibelline merely because their fathers had done so. There was a 
Guelph emperor and a Ghibelline pope. On each side were murders, massa- 
cres, reprisals. The fiery Italians were forever plunging into reckless, head- 
long contests. Chains and barricades stretched across the streets of every 
city ; and at the war-cry men rushed from their houses to fight, they knew not 
whom or why. All they cared for was that their factional cry had been raised, 
their party was in the strife. ' 

The long contests had led also to a great change in the methods of war. 
There were sieges, countermarches, elaborately planned campaigns. War had 


( The Doge Dandolo Leads the Crusaders Against Constantinople.) 

By the noted French artist, Gustave Bore {1832-1883) 

AMONG all the independent little city-states which thus 
grew up in Italy during these centuries of strife, the one 
which developed earliest and lasted longest was Venice. 
She had also the most widespread dominion. Her strength 
and security were largely due to her peculiar situation. Built 
upon islands in the midst of the sea, she could not easily be 
reached by any of the various armies which ravaged Italy. 
She became a naval power, the ' ' Queen of the Adriatic. ' ' Her 
fleets dominated the Mediterranean; her merchants were, as 
once the Carthaginians had been, the chief traders of the 

The Crusades contributed largely to Venetian power. Her 
fleets carried the Crusaders to the Holy Land, and she charged 
heavy prices for her services. On one occasion the Venetian 
duke or "Doge" Dandolo demanded that the Crusaders should 
aid him in a war against the old "Roman Empire of the East, " 
which still existed in feeble fashion, with its capital at Con- 
stantinople. The eastern Emperor in the celebrated interview 
here illustrated defied and ridiculed the aged Dandolo. But 
Dandolo and the Crusaders conquered Constantinople, and 
thus brought Venice to the height of her great power. 



Rome — Devastation of Italy 463 

become an art, and skilled generals were required to conduct it. These ap- 
peared among the nobility in every city. Once given the command, it was easy 
for them to clinch their power. They became masters where they had been 
received as servants. This happened in city after city, the peopLe in many 
cases yielding their liberty indifferently, even gladly, where it saved them from 
the ceaseless turmoil of the days of faction. 

These unhappy wars had yet another woful issue. Citizens could no longer 
sally forth to battle, and return to their work within the week or the month. 
Campaigns were perpetual, and skill with weapons was indispensable. A man 
must give his whole life to war, or hire some one to fight for him. This led 
to the employment of foreign soldiers, who, flocking from the rougher lands in 
the north, eagerly sold their swords to wealthy bidders. Formidable bands of 
these mercenaries were formed. They soon learned their power and made war 
on their own account, ravaging the lands they had come to protect. The 
smaller cities were in constant danger from them. One band even attacked 
Milan, and was driven off only after a pitched battle. The " Great Company," 
as one horde called itself, traversed Italy from end to end, pillaging and tortur- 
ing everywhere. Its leader, a German duke, known as Werner, bore on his 
breast the motto, " Enemy of God, of pity, and of mercy." The old awful days 
of despair and ruin seemed to have come again to scourge the land. 

Even the pope was not safe from the ferocious marauders. A company of 
them under the English captain, Sir John Hawkwood, held a pope in ransom 
for ten thousand crowns. The story is that the prelate sent them word that 
they should have the ten thousand with his curse or two thousand with his 
blessing ; and they accepted the blessing, though with some grumbling that it 
came high at the price. 

Small wonder the popes fled from such a distracted Italy. In 1 309 they 
retired to France to live in quiet at the little city of Avignon. It is impossible 
for us to judge now of the necessity which may have compelled so radical a 
change in the papal policy. Of its results, however, we can speak positively. 
It lost to the popes that high supremacy in European politics which they had 
held for over two centuries. During the seventy years (1 309-1 378) that they 
remained at Avignon, they were more or less dependent on the French mon- 
archs. Most of the popes elected during this period were French by birth. 
They were swayed by French ideas. Other nations began to look on them as 
mere vassals of France, and to resent their interference in other governments. 
In matters of religion the papal authority remained as yet unquestioned ; but 
in questions of worldly government it was gone forever. 

Rome, left to its own devices in the pope's absence, became a mere battle- 
ground between its most prominent families of nobles, the Colonna and the 

464 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Orsini. They made fortresses of the old ruins. The Colosseum was the 
stronghold of the Colonna, the Castle of St. Angelo of the Orsini, and from 
these the opponents sallied out to fight like ravening wolves in the streets of the 
unhappy city. 

One strange, brilliant, fantastic spectacle flashes for a moment amid the 
gloom. Bulwer has immortalized it in a novel. Cola (Nicholas) di Rienzi was 
a poor Roman, a notary and a student, who, having long dreamed of the an- 
cient glory of Rome, resolved to restore it. He explained to his friends the 
story of the ruins and inscriptions that surrounded them. He had allegorical 
pictures painted on the public walls, and with fierce and vehement oratory he 
interpreted their meaning. The nobles laughed at him. But suddenly he 
leaped from words to action, and, summoning the excited populace around him, 
drove the nobles from the city. Rome seemed all in an instant to become 
again a great and glorious republic. Rienzi was its tribune. He defeated the 
nobles in battle ; he invited the other Italian cities to send delegates, and draw 
up a new scheme for the reunion of Italy under Rome. Many of these dele- 
gates actually arrived. The fame of the new republic spread far through 
Europe. In distant Asia Mahometan caliphs offered up prayers against this 
new danger which seemed to threaten them. 

But it was all a dream. Rienzi was a mere visionary, utterly incapable of 
filling the high, strange station to which poetic inspiration had raised him. 
He went on amusing himself with empty pageants. Men fell away from him; 
he became hard, suspicious, cruel. He drank deeply, became mad perhaps, had 
himself crowned emperor, and committed a hundred other extravagances. In 
the end the Colonnas drove him from his palaces, and he was slain with every 
indignity by the very populace that had upraised him (1354). 

The republics of Italy were almost at their last gasp. Genoa and Venice 
survived the rest. This was largely because they were maritime states whose 
interests abroad had kept them more or less estranged from the Italian civil 

Genoa became prominent as a naval power as early as the tenth century. 
So also did its near neighbor and rival, Pisa. The Mahometans had established 
themselves in the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, from which they ravaged the 
Italian coasts. This interfered with the commerce of Genoa and Pisa. So the 
two cities united their navies, and drove the Mahometans from the islands 
(102 1). Corsica became a Genoese province, and Sardinia passed to Pisa. 
Thus began their maritime empires. But the allies quarrelled; naval battles 
between them became frequent. At last, in 1284, a newly constructed Pisan 
fleet paraded before the harbor of the Genoese, and challenged them to come 
out and fight. The Genoese, being unprepared, offered to accept the challenge 




bflJS ;: 



■sisvft edi 8'eSI a] 

siii j 

. hi 
• i 



(The Explorer Leads His Venstian Countrymen in Battle.) 

Copied from an ancient Italian print 

ATYPICAL Venetian of the Middle Ages, and of all 
Venetians the best known to our own day, was Marco 
Polo. He stands as earth's most celebrated traveler. 
A merchant like all Venetians, he made his way by sea and 
land to China, traded there for years and finally reached 
home again after exploring wider regions than any earlier man 
had trodden. So exaggerated did Marco Polo's stories of 
China seem to his countrymen that they jestingly called him 
Marco "Millions." Yet almost everything he told has since 
been verified. 

His stories might never have been preserved for us had 
he not been captured in battle by the Genoese. Genoa was the 
rival of Venice, the other great maritime republic of Italy 
in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In 1298 the fleets 
of Venice and Genoa met in a tremendous battle off Curzola. 
Marco Polo, in command of one of his country's galleys, armed 
with a huge sling for hurling rocks from the bo*w, led the way. 
The Venetians were defeated, and their fleets for a century 
were expelled from the western Mediterranean. Marco "Mil- 
lions" was taken captive, and in his Genoese prison met a 
writer who eagerly copied down the full narrative of the trav- 
eler's adventures. After being ransomed, Marco spent his 
declining years in high honor among the Venetians. 



Rome — Wars of Genoa and Venice 465 

as soon as their ships were ready; but the Pisans sailed scornfully away. The 
ships of Genoa followed in hot haste, and overtook their rivals at Meloria. A 
great battle followed. The Pisan fleet was destroyed and the flower of its sea- 
men, eleven thousand in number, were carried prisoners to Genoa, where they 
were kept as common laborers. The strength of Pisa was broken. All her 
possessions passed to her rival, whence arose the Italian saying, " If you want 
to see Pisa, you must go to Genoa. " 

The century that followed marked the height of Genoese power. The bulk 
of trade in the western Mediterranean was hers, most of the islands were her 
provinces, her colonies dotted the seashore as widely as had those of Carthage. 
The plains around the distant Black Sea, which had supplied the granaries of 
Athens, now supplied those of Genoa, and from Genoa, Europe. Her ships 
bore the crusaders to the Holy Land, and thus earned even there commercial 
advantages, colonies, and power. She grew to contest with Venice the trade 
of India and the East. 

In this second struggle with a great commercial rival, Genoa seemed for a 
time likely to be again successful. Her fleet won a great naval battle at Cur- 
zola in 1298. Seven thousand seamen of Venice were brought captive to 
Genoa. Among them was that most famous of Venetians, Marco Polo. He had 
led the van of his country's fleet, and fought desperately. It was in the idle- 
ness of his Genoese prison that he wrote the fascinating books of travel which 
have familiarized all the world with his wanderings in China and the Far East. 

The naval war between the two cities continued at intervals for a century. 
At last in 1379, the Genoese admiral Pietro Doria defeated the Venetian fleet, 
and reduced the enemy to such straits that the Venetians sent him a blank 
sheet of paper and begged him to write on it his own terms. "No," was the 
haughty answer, "not till we have bridled those horses of yours on St. Mark's." 
The admiral referred to some famous bronze horses on the great Venetian 
cathedral, and the ambassadors saw that he meant to enter and seize upon the 
city itself. So the Venetians determined to resist to the last. Their case 
seemed hopeless, but by resolute skill and courage they trapped the entire 
Genoese fleet in the harbor of Chioggia, whence it could not escape, and was 
starved into surrender. This broke Genoa's power in the East (1379). 

Genoa's fortunes in the West were unwittingly destroyed by the most 
famous of all her citizens, Christopher Columbus. By discovering a new 
world, he disjointed or disturbed all the old lines of traffic. New and more 
powerful competitors clashed with the Genoese sailors. The ships of Spain and 
Portugal, England and Holland, brought goods to Europe from the wider re- 
gions of the great ocean ; and the wealth which had centred itself in Genoa, 
spread now over these broader lands. 

466 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Venice had never seemed really a part of Italy. Her career and her for- 
tunes from the first stood apart from those of the other cities. Her long and 
brilliant history has, therefore, little place in the story of Italy. It deserves 
rather to be recounted by itself. Let it suffice here to summarize it very 


Even in her foundation, she differed from the other cities, dating, not from 
the Roman days, but from the centuries of destruction, during which fugitives 
began to gather on the islands off the coast at the head of the Adriatic. By 
degrees a city was formed among the islands ; and whatever its founders may 
have known in their former homes, in Venice they had never once to yield 
themselves to the horrors of sack and conquest. Already in Pepin's time it 
had become a place powerful enough to defy him. He sent a fleet to attack 
the city, but the falling tide left his ships stranded and helpless in the mud off 
the great lagoon, where they were destroyed by the lighter boats of the Vene- 
tians. The first doge, or duke, of Venice was chosen by the people in 697, and 
confirmed in his appointment by the Emperor of the East at Constantinople. 
The relations between Venice and the Eastern Empire continued cordial until 
the new power had outdistanced the old, and the overgrown doges laughed at 
the feeble efforts of the emperors to control them. 

Venice became the great naval and commercial power of the East. She 
had commercial stations everywhere. She fought with the important Asiatic 
city of Tyre, overthrew it and secured its trade, the trade from Persia and 
India. She turned aside a crusading army from Jerusalem, its destination, 
and with its help attacked Constantinople. The doge, Dandolo, who led the 
expedition, was over ninety years old, and the fiery young Emperor of the East, 
riding down to the shore in martial attire, ridiculed his aged and feeble enemy. 
But Constantinople was stormed, and much of the Eastern Empire fell into 
Venetian hands. 

The doges claimed the Adriatic as a sea belonging solely to their city, and 
excluded other ships from it. This claim was confirmed by both the popes and 
the emperors. The city was called the "Queen of the Adriatic," the "Bride 
of the Sea " ; and every year the doge performed the strange ceremony of sail- 
ing forth in a splendid ship, dropping a ring into the water, and going through 
a marriage service to unite the city and sea. 

Venice was the bulwark of Europe against the Mahometans. Her fleets 
contested with them the dominion of the Mediterranean. She won great vic- 
tories from them, and sustained severe defeats. Yet almost single-handed she 
maintained her position, and prevented their fanatic hordes from penetrating 
farther west by sea. The fight which finally broke the naval power of the 
Mahometans is counted one of the decisive events in the world's history. It 



(The Maids of Florence Pity the Sorrow of the Poet.) 

From the 'painting by Marcel Bieder, a contemporary Alsatian artist 

A WONDERFUL intellectual revival known as the 
Renaissance swept over Italy toward the end of the 
thirteenth century, and extended from Italy to the rest 
of Europe. The principal center of this great movement was 
the Italian city of Florence, which became as celebrated for 
its art and literature as Milan had been for its military 
strength, or Venice and Genoa for their jnastery of the seas. 
The chief glory of the Florence of those days, and the chief 
figure of all Italian literature, is the poet Dante. His life was 
a melancholy one. In his book the "New Life," he himself 
describes for us something of his early love affair, how he felt 
inspired at sight of the young maiden, Beatrice, how her peo- 
ple wedded her to a man of higher rank and fortune than 
he, and how he learned of her death and mourned for her. 
He never seems to have known Beatrice at all well, but his 
poetic devotion to her saddened his whole life. Other causes 
added to his gloom; he was exiled from his native Florence 
and driven as a wanderer from city to city. In this exile he 
wrote his wonderful "Divine Comedy," the epic of life here 
and hereafter. Its picture of the sufferings of the souls of the 
condemned was so vivid that thereafter Dante was known to 
his contemporaries as "the man who had been in hell." The 
tragic face of the man which has been preserved in his por- 
trait bust shows that he must indeed have faced bitter pangs 
of agony. 


Rome — The Last of the Republics 


is called the battle of Lepanto (1571), and was won mainly by the Venetian 
ships, though under a Spanish admiral. Twelve thousand Christian slaves were 
liberated from the captured galleys. 

The inner state of Venice corresponded but ill with her triumph and mag- 
nificence abroad. Her republican government became gradually an oligarchy 
in the hands of a few aristocratic families. While still calling herself a repub- 
lic, Venice sank under the narrowest and most merciless "ring " of tyranny that 
ever existed. The doges grew to be mere figureheads, and all real power was 
lodged in a council consisting at first of ten nobles, and afterward of three. 
The terrible "Three" held absolute power in their hands. Criminals were not 
openly tried. They were seized secretly and mysteriously, and brought before 
the Three, who condemned them, sometimes without a hearing. The noblest 
and richest Venetians were tortured to force confessions from them. A man 
might stand one day happy and prosperous among his friends, the next he had 
disappeared, and no one dared ask whither. Perhaps he never reappeared, 
perhaps he was seen again on the public scaffold, broken and worn to a skeleton 
by unnamable tortures. Men were even brought forth gagged to execution, 
lest they should scream out the horrors which they had endured. 

Venice was the last existent of the Italian republics — if indeed she can be 
called a republic. No single tyrant ever rose in the city to overthrow the oli- 
garchy. Her power and wealth faded, however, when the trade of the world 
expanded into wider channels, and the broad Atlantic superseded the narrow 
Mediterranean as the high-road of the world's commerce. She was a mere 
shadow of herself when the conquering Napoleon entered the city in 1797, and 
put an end to the " last of the Italian republics." 

The Crusaders Attacking Constantinople 

Death of Savonarola 

Chapter XLIV 

TALY has been the seat of five of the greatest movements 
in the world's story. Four of these we have shown you* 
passing like panoramas across the stage. We have traced 
the rise and fall of the Roman Republic, with its stern 
heroism ; of the Empire, with its stupendous power and 
wealth; of the mystic, religious mastery of the popes; 
and of the opulent city republics ofcommerce. We have 
yet to tell you of the fifth movement, the one whose influence 
has perhaps been greatest of all. This is the Renaissance, the 
re-birth or re-awakening of life, of literature, and of art. Start- 
ing in Italy, this movement spread through all Europe. It roused 
men to think and to invent. It launched science on its splendid 
career. It transformed mediaeval into modern life. 

The date generally set for this remarkable outburst is about 
1450. Within the next seventy years, the time allotted to one 
man's life, there occurred the Protestant Reformation, the dis- 
covery of America, the invention of printing, the beginning of 
modern astronomy. There is something impressive in the power of such an 
age, in its very prodigality of success. Note that not one of these great events 
was really a new thing— only its success was new. There had been reformers 
before Luther, but men's sluggish minds had rejected them, and they had 
failed. America had been discovered, we are told, again and again, by the 
Norsemen, by Madoc, by St. Brandon ; but these wanderers failed to grasp 
the value of what they had done, and allowed life to creep on, unchanged. 
The printing-press had been known to the Chinese for ages, but they thought 


(Marauders of the "Great Company" Plundering a Monastery.) 
From a painting by the contemporary German artist, Gustav Gaupp 

THE glorious sun of freedom and progress which shone 
over all Italy in the days of Dante, was darkened by 
a growing evil which ultimately plunged the whole land 
into the darkness of servile subjugation and decay. This 
downfall of mediaeval Italy was due to the incessant wars 
waged by the little city-states against one another. For these 
wars the wealthy merchant cities hired soldiers, until all the 
wild and lawless fighters of northern Europe, Germans, 
French and English, nocked to Italy. Here they formed 
themselves into ' ' companies ' ' selling their services to one state 
or another, and in the interval when they were not hired, 
fighting and plundering on their own account. Had the Ital- 
ian cities united, they could easily have exterminated these 
marauders; but in the absence of any such concerted effort, 
the "companies" ruined Italy. 

The first of these bands to rise to importance was the 
"Great Company," which about 1350 is said to have num- 
bered over twenty thousand men. These lived upon the coun- 
try which they desolated. They plundered the monasteries, 
as our picture shows them. They stormed and sacked the 
smaller cities. This "Great Company" finally exhausted it- 
self, but others followed it. Never elsewhere has a nation's 
own folly created such a scourge for its destruction. 


Rome — Growth of Florence 469 

of it as a toy, not as an engine to move the world. The Arabs had bungled 
with the telescope for centuries. Men with seeing eyes were needed to read 
through the glasses the construction of the universe. That is the real mean- 
ing of the Renaissance ; it is the birth of the seeing eye, of the inquiring, 
understanding mind. 

Of course it is not possible to set an exact date as the beginning of such 
a movement, or to trace with certainty its cause. Perhaps it was the slow 
natural growth of the human mind; perhaps it was, as some historians have 
explained it, the chance result of this or that accidental occurrence — perhaps it 
was the direct gift of God. 

In describing the Italian part of its growth and glory, we must turn our 
attention more especially to the cities of Rome and Florence. Historians, 
seeking for comparisons, have called Venice the Sparta of mediaeval Italy, be- 
cause of its ever- narrowing oligarchy, which, while it gave vigorous and con- 
centrated power to the government abroad, crushed individual impulse and aspi- 
ration at home. Even more aptly is Florence compared to Athens. The 
government of Florence was extremely democratic ; every citizen took part in 
it, the love of liberty was intense in every breast. Faction and dispute at 
home paralyzed the energies of the nation abroad ; but individual aspiration, 
individual effort, was encouraged and stimulated to the highest point. Never 
j has any city, except perhaps Athens itself, produced so many truly great men 
i in such rapid succession. 

Florence, like Athens, was particularly liable to fall under the rule of dema- 
gogues. One man's power again and again rose above the rest, only to be as 
often overthrown, until at last the great house of Medici established a more 
lasting tyranny, and their chief became Duke of Florence and then. Grand 
Duke of Tuscany. 

The first Florentine citizen to gain world-wide fame was the poet Dante, 
who is ranked with Homer and Shakespeare among the earth's immortals. It 
is also in Dante that we can trace the first seeds of the Renaissance. He lived 
from 1265 to 1 32 1, in the years when the Guelphic party, having destroyed the 
Hohenstaufen emperors, was everywhere triumphant. As a lad he was shy 
|and intense, sure to burn out his intensity on whatever life brought him. Thus 
in Florence he became naturally an ardent patriot. He held offices and strug- 
gled for reforms. Then, during his absence from the city, there came one of 
ithe sudden, common enough, Florentine revolutions. His party, the " White 
juelphs," were driven out by the "Black Guelphs " (1301), and Dante spent 
j'.he rest of his life wandering through Italy, an exile from his beloved city, 
tfe had always been a poet, now he became a prophet as well. His great poem, 
he " Divine Comedy," not only sums up all the past and shows Italy as he knew 

470 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

it, its religion, its factions, its beauty, and its crime : the poet's vision looks 
into the future as well, and foreshadows the growth and change that were about 
to come. Beatrice, the ideal woman whom Dante loved, is the heroine of his 
poem. In its three books he tells how he descended into hell (the Inferno), 
passed through the middle stage of the hereafter (the Purgatorio), and finally 
is shown by Beatrice heaven itself (the Paradisio). Through these wanderings 
the writer takes for his guide the great Latin poet Virgil. Something of the" 
spirit of the old Romans flashes through the poem. It was the study of the 
classic authors, Latin and more especially Greek, that prepared men's minds 
for the Renaissance. It started with the revival of classic learning. 

Petrarch (i 304-1 374), Italy's second great poet, shows this even more 
plainly. He was an enthusiastic collector of old manuscripts. He wrote in 
Latin more than in Italian, and expected to be remembered for his Latin works. 
Trifles which he thought of lesser importance he tossed off in Italian. Yet it 
is by these trifles, his exquisite little love-sonnets to his lady, Laura, that he 
is remembered to-day. 

The father of Petrarch was expelled from Florence at the same time with 
Dante, and Petrarch was born during the exile. His life covers the time of the 
popes' residence at Avignon, and it was at their court that he was brought up. 
He was in Rome as the guest of the Colonnas during Rienzi's time, and was 
one of the visionary's most delighted supporters. He won enthusiastic praise 
for his poetry and learning, and was welcomed everywhere. " Princes have 
lived with me," he said, "not I with princes." The proudest moment of his 
life was probably in Rome in 1341. He was crowned with solemn ceremonies 
specially devised to do him honor, and was declared the " poet laureate," or 
laurel-crowned poet, of all Italy. 

The enthusiasm of such a man for ancient literature naturally directed 
other men's attention to it. The collection of. old manuscripts became a fad. 
Much that had been lost was found. Much that had been forgotten was re- 
understood. Men began to realize that life was a pleasant and good and beau- 
tiful thing in itself. The old nations had found it so. The tendency of one 
extreme of Christianity had been to represent this life as of no importance; it 
was a mere passage to the next, and nothing in it was worth a moment's ! 
thought. The actual physical joy which the old Greeks had found in mere liv- ! 
ing and inhaling the sunshine came like a revolt against all this icy asceti- 1 
cism. In his old age Petrarch set himself to studying Greek, that he might 
read of these things for himself. 

The third writer of Italy's great trio, Boccaccio (1313-1375), expresses 
most fully this detail of the Renaissance, its eager comprehension of the deli- j 
ciousness and worth of life itself, Boccaccio was also a Florentine, and though 


(The Terrible Secret Council Approving a Judicial Murder.) 

By the noted Austrian artist, Carl von Piloty {1826-1886) 

VENICE in its island seclusion escaped the assaults of the 
"companies" of marauders who ravaged Italy, and as 
a result it outlasted all the other -city republics. But 
Venice succumbed to another evil, a too tyrannical government 
at home. Gradually all power in Venice centered in the no- 
bility; then these delegated their control to a "council of 
ten"; and these in turn established in 1454 a secret "council 
of three." 

The mysterious "Three," whose identity was unknown to 
any except the council of ten, ruled Venice with a rod of iron. 
Their power was absolute. They had spies everywhere. In 
the ducal palace in Venice may still be seen the "lion's 
mouth, ' ' the hole into which any man might drop a paper ac- 
cusing his neighbor to the Three. Indeed he who heard of 
anything treasonable was required by law thus to give secret 
notice of it, and if he failed his own life was forfeited. Thus 
no man dared trust another; conspiring became impossible. 
One of the rules of the Three was to get rid of their enemies 
as quietly as possible by poison or by secret arrest. They tor- 
tured their victims into confessions, and brought them out to 
execution bound and gagged, so as to terrify others. They 
hired secret assassins who were required to bring before the 
Three the gory evidence of a severed head or hand to prove 
they had accomplished the murder assigned to them. So all 
freedom and with it all real patriotism died in Venice. 


Rome — The Rebuilding of Rome 471 

he wrote both prose and poetry, he is certain to be best remembered by his 
collection of prose stories, the "Decameron." In this he catches up all the 
little popular tales of his time, and narrates them in a style so exquisite that 
his countrymen have always held him as a model of prose. Boccaccio 
introduced the regular study of Greek into the Florentine university, and he 
himself translated for his countrymen the great poems of Homer. 

Meanwhile art was also blossoming into splendor. The architects of Flor- 
ence were erecting stately palaces and solemn cathedrals. Her artists with the 
painter Giotto at their head were decorating the interiors of the great buildings 
with paintings, and the exteriors with statues. The soaring ambition of the 
proud city may be read in one of its decrees : " The Republic of Florence, 
mounting ever above the expectation of the ablest judges, desires that an edifice 
shall be constructed, so magnificent in its height and beauty as to surpass 
[everything of the kind produced in the time of their greatest power by the 
Greeks and Romans." 

Cosimo di Medici (1 389-1464) was the great patron of this growing move- 
ment. The Florentines had long been the bankers and money-lenders for all 
i Europe; and the Medici were the chief bankers of Florence, merchant princes 
indeed, whose wealth and sumptuous life have never been surpassed. Cosimo 
was the first of the Medici to hold supreme power in Florence. Though the 
forms of the Republic were preserved, he was practically its dictator. Yet so 
loved was he by the people, so generous in the help he gave to all the awak- 
ened intellectual life of the time, that the Florentines inscribed on his tomb 
the honored record, " Father of his Country." 

One of the many poor scholars who had found a home and an education 
iwith Cosimo became pope at Rome under the name of Nicholas V., and reigned 
there from 1447 to 1455. Under him the wealth of the church also was de- 
moted to art and literature. He conceived the idea of making Rome the most 
beautiful city in the world. His purpose was to impress deeply the pilgrims 
Who flocked to it from all lands, to lead them through its architectural into a 
comprehension of its spiritual grandeur. To do this he set to work to rebuild 
dmost the entire city. For over a century Rome had been in a state of sad 
lecay. The long absence of the popes at Avignon had left it uncared for and 
crumbling. Then there had come an unfortunate quarrel in the church, and 
Again, as in the old evil days, there had been two and even three rivals claiming 
be pope at the same time. The city left to- itself had become a mere nest 
If thieves and ruins. Nicholas V. gave it once more a splendid start on the 
ipward career which was to make it the beautiful city of to-day. 

* n 1453, the Eastern Empire in Greece was overthrown by the Turks, 
"he result was that Greek scholars with ancient manuscripts flocked into Italy. 

Aj2 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

A tremendous impetus was given to the artistic and literary spirit already 
existing. The Renaissance rose to its fullest power, and its impulse spread 
overall Europe. It escaped in other countries, however, the somewhat irre- 
ligious tone it had begun to take in Italy. Indeed, it seemed to deepen and 
strengthen the religious fervor among the peoples of the North. 

In Italy its divorce from religion and all true nobility became marked. 
Lorenzo the Magnificent (1 448-1 492) had become the head of the Medicis at 
Florence, and under him the city acquired splendor indeed. He was the most 
liberal and generous among the patrons of art. He founded a school for 
artists, many of whom lived in his palace. He collected a museum of manu- 
scripts, paintings, and statues. He wrote poetry which his courtiers assured 
him was superior to that of Dante. But through it all he was reckless, treach- 
erous, and licentious. Under him Florence forgot her liberty, in the pursuit 
of pleasure, and grew, like ancient Babylon, into a city of sin. 

Only one man dared stand face to face with Lorenzo, and tell him the crime 
he was committing against himself and his city. This was Savonarola, a monk 
who had come to Florence as a stranger from a little neighboring village. By 
his piety, his energy, and his eloquence he rose to be head of the monastery of 
San Marco, and he warned the Florentines in trumpet tones of their fall and 
degradation. He fancied he saw visions of the woe to fall on Italy. The im- 
pressionable people gathered in crowds to listen to him ; they reverenced him j 
as a saint, and honored him as a hero. They did everything except follow his 
advice and reform. 

Lorenzo himself was impressed by the terrible earnestness and passion of 
the man. Instead of crushing him as he might easily have done, he sought to 
make a friend of him. The fierce reformer evaded the luxurious tyrant, and 
preached more and more bitterly against him. These two were typical of 
Renaissance and Church, each at its best. Courtiers hinted to the monk that 
he might be banished. " Tell Lorenzo, " he answered, " that he shall go, but 
I shall stay." 

It was like a lightning-flash of that spirit of prophecy which seemed at 
times to inspire the visionary monk. Lorenzo did go; he died. As he lay in 
his sudden illness, he would receive the last sacrament and blessing from none 
of the obsequious priests who surrounded him, but sent for Savonarola. He 
felt that it was only through such a good man as this, that he could really make 
his peace with God. "Go back," said the unrelenting priest, "it is not such 
as me he wants. " But Lorenzo's messengers came again and again, promising 
in his name to do whatever Savonarola bade. So the stern monk stood by the 
dying bed of the " Magnificent." He demanded that Lorenzo do three things, j 
if he wished the Church's pardon. First he must throw himself wholly on j 



' -:■-'- ' 



(Savonarola's Preaching Persuades the Florentines to Discard Their 
Worldly Treasures.) 

From the painting by the recent German artist, Ludwig von Langen- 


IN the year 1490 Florence became the scene of a remarkable 
religious revival. By this time, the love of life itself, of its 

merely human joys and pleasures had been so fostered 
by the Renaissance, that in most Italian cities this joy of liv- 
ing had quite crowded out the religious thoughts of a life be- 
yond this. Especially was Florence devoted to the pleasures 
of the present world. Then there arose the monk Savonarola, 
who preached to the Florentines with such intensity and con- 
viction that they became horrified at their own deadness of 
soul. With loud lamentations they crowded around Savona- 
rola, and at his command appointed a "day of vanities" 
v/hereon every one brought forth his favorite worldly treasures 
and with solemn ceremonies threw them into a bonfire to be 
destroyed. Marvelous indeed were the "vanities" thus dis- 
carded. The wealthy ladies sacrificed their laces and their 
robes, the men their velvets and their jewels. Pictures, statues, 
beautifully decorated books, art objects which can never be 
recreated, were here destroyed in this sudden rage for virtue. 

The fickle crowd soon wearied of this religious mortifica- 
tion, and within a few years Savonarola was strangled and 
burned by his own Florentines on a charge of heresy. 


Rome — Death of Savonarola 473 

God's mercy, and hope for nothing from his own merits, his fame, and his gen 
erosity. The shrewd prince saw readily the right of that, and promised. Next 
he was to restore all his wealth, so far as possible, to those from whom it had 
been taken, leaving his descendants only enough to live as ordinary citizens. 
This, too, he promised, though after long hesitation. Lastly Savonarola de 
manded that the prince should set Florence free again, as once she had been. 
Lorenzo gave no answer, but, turning his back upon the priest, lay silent and 
still with his face to the wall, until he died— unshriven (1492). 

The power which had so twined itself about Lorenzo's heartstrings was lost 
to his family in spite of him. Florence, stirred to its depths by Savonarola, 
declared itself a religious republic with God as its head. The Medici were 
driven out. A day was appointed on which all the people came and laid their 
"vanities," their rich apparel, ornaments, and treasures at Savonarola's feet. 
The world beyond the city gates looked on in wonder. Savonarola began to 
preach against the sins of other cities, and of the Roman church. Fear took 
the place of wonder among the evil who were set in high places. 

But all this self-renunciation was only a passing craze with the frivolous 
Florentines. They soon tired of these solemn, monkish ways, and sighed for 
their " vanities " back again. There were tumults ; a rebellion was encouraged 
by a wicked pope, and Savonarola was overthrown. He was tortured and, by 
public approval, was strangled, and his body burned in the great square of the 
very city which had hailed him as its prophet. His public career covered, as 
tin the beginning he had foretold it would, just eight years (1490- 1498). 

The wickedness of Italy was growing blacker and more appalling. It had 
invaded even the papacy. The crime of simony, which Hildebrand had driven 
from the church, came back in worse forms than ever. Alexander VI., a Span- 
iard of the family of the Borgias, was perhaps the most wicked of all the popes 
(1492-1503). His son was the terrible Caesar Borgia, whose name, with that 
of his sister Lucrece, has become a horror to all succeeding ages. Caesar, with 
his father's help, set to work to make for himself a kingdom in Italy, deliber- 
ately murdering all who stood in his way. This was done usually by slow and 
mysterious poisons. Lucrece was married to three princes in succession, one 
of whom at least was murdered by her brother to give Lucrece opportunity for 
a more brilliant match. 

All Europe trembled before these secret assassins. Caesar Borgia became 
lord of much territory around Rome. The plans of the wicked father and son 
seemed approaching assured success, when suddenly the two were stricken down 
together. Some writers say it was a fever seized them ; but the popular legend 
represents them as caught in their own snare. They had prepared poison for 
3ne of their cardinals, and gave it to him at a banquet in his own house. By 

a j a The Story of the Greatest Nations 

some accident, or by the suspicion of their victim, the cups were changed, and 
the Borgias drank the draught they had themselves mixed. Alexander died a 
horrible death. Caesar wavered long upon life's edge. Unable to assert him- 
self, he saw a stranger succeed to his father's place ; and he was hurried with 
all his treasures, like some unclean thing, from the papal palace of the Vatican. 
When he finally recovered, his power had passed away like a shadow. 

Alexander was soon followed on the papal throne by Julius II. (1503-15 13), 
who again worked, as Pope Nicholas had done, for the material splendor and 
adornment of Rome. He had excavations made among the old ruins, and 
brought to light many of the exquisite statues which had adorned the ancient 
city. The famous " Apollo Belvedere " was unearthed, and acted like a revela- 
tion on men's minds. Indeed, it was during the reign of Pope Julius that the 
artistic side of the Renaissance reached its highest expression. 

Donatello and Michael-Angelo are the two great names in modern sculp- 
ture. Both were Florentines. Donatello was the artist who first broke fully 
from the old, hampering traditions, and started modern sculpture in its great 

Michael-Angelo Buonarotti (1475-1 564) ranks as the greatest of modern 
sculptors. Even among the ancient Greeks the master Phidias is the only 
one usually classed above him. But Michael-Angelo was far more than a 
sculptor. He had the varied, all-pervading power which is one of the most 
impressive features of the period. Indeed, bis extraordinary career is worth 
dwelHng upon, for in his many-sided genius he may be considered the typical 
figure of the Renaissance. 

In his youth his talent was discouraged by his father, a poor but proud citi- 
zen of Florence, who opposed his son's following a profession then considered 
inferior. But the lad's persistence attracted the attention of the magnificent 
Lorenzo, who placed him in his school and made him his friend. 

At Lorenzo's command he made beautiful statues. But Lorenzo died, and 
the critics of art would enthuse only over ancient work. Michael-Angelo 
made a beautiful Cupid, buried it, and then sent it all dirty to Rome. Every 
one was delighted with the supposed antique ; and when the artifice was dis- 
covered, they admitted that a great scuiptor had risen in their own day. 

He worked at Rome, and then again at Florence. Two great pictures were I 
wanted for the walls of the grand Florentine Council Hall: Angelo now stood 
forth as a painter, and was commissioned to paint one wall, while Leonardo da 
Vinci, the leading artist of the time, painted the other. A fierce rivalry arose, 
and Angelo 's picture was adjudged the better of the two. 

Pope Julius called him again to Rome, to beautify that city as architect and 
sculptor. Then, on a sudden whim, the Pope bade him paint instead of build. 


(Caesar Borgia, the Poisoner, Expelled from the Vatican.) 

From a 'painting by the contemporary Italian artist, O. L. Gatteri 

WHILE Florence was thus ecstatically devoting herself 
to religion, Rome was plunged into an extravagance 
of evil still more startling. The wicked Spanish family 
of the Borgias gained control of Rome, because one of their 
number had been made Pope as Alexander VI. The Borgias 
are commonly held up to execration as the acme of mediaeval 
horror. They were poisoners, who did openly what we have 
just seen that the Venetian Three did secretly, disposed by 
murder of all who interfered with their plans. Most notorious 
of the Borgias are Caesar and his sister Lucrece. Lucrece is 
said to have poisoned three husbands. Caesar joined with his 
father, the Pope Alexander, in a series of poisonings and other 
crimes by which he gradually made himself master of a large 
principality, and became the most powerful prince of Italy. 
The Borgian downfall came by a weird stroke of retribu- 
tive justice. Caesar and Alexander both drank by accident 
of a poison they had prepared for another. Alexander died. 
Caesar sank into a long illness, during which his enemies were 
able to grasp all his estates and break his power. Then he was 
turned out of his quarters in the great papal palace of the 
Vatican, which he had shared with his uncle. Our picture 
shows his enemies watching with ill-concealed triumph the de- 
parture of the sick man carried helpless in a litter. 


Rome — Michael-Angelo and Raphael 475 

Angelo pleaded that he was a sculptor, not a painter, and urged his young rival 
Raphael for the work. But the Pope was obdurate, and Angelo executed the 
paintings of the wonderful Sistine Chapel. 

The next Pope set him at sculpture again in Florence, but insisted on his 
using a certain marble which had to be hauled far, over bad roads. So the 
gjreat artist turned road-maker, and for eight years that seems to have been his 
main employment. Then, he became a military engineer, fortified Florence 
igainst a terrible siege, and was foremost in his city's defence. On its capture 
[tie was forced to flee and hide ; but a pardon being assured him, he returned 
:o painting and sculpture. The old cathedral of St. Peter, which had stood for 
:enturies at Rome, was being replaced by the massive structure which towers 
;here to-day. Michael-Angelo was made its architect, and gave himself to the 
work with religious devotion. It occupied the last twenty years of his long 
tnd strenuous life. During this time he turned to poetry as well, and crowned 
:he diversity of his career by writing a series of sonnets which hold no mean 
)lace in Italian literature. 

The three great painters of the age have been mentioned. In the order of 
heir appearance they were Leonardo da Vinci, Michael-Angelo, and Raphael ; 
md they are generally regarded as improving each upon his predecessor. Leon- 
irdo was, like Michael-Angelo, a man of varied genius : architect, sculptor, 
)ainter, and military engineer. His greatest painting is the famous " Last 
Supper" in Milan. The patronage of dukes and kings led him out of Italy; 
md he became as much a Frenchman as an Italian. He died at the court of a 
:ing of France, legend says, in the monarch's arms. 

Raphael Santi (1483-1520), considered by many the greatest of all painters, 
lived through a short and calm existence in keeping with the serene tone of 
lis art, and forming a singular contrast to the long and stormy career of his 
lival, Angelo. Raphael's genius was early recognized ; he was called to Rome 
nd became the personal favorite of the two artistic popes, Julius II. and his 
uccessor Leo X. He painted for them one splendid picture after another, until 
is death from fever, at the age of thirty-seven. All Home mourned him, and 
[is funeral was one of the spectacles of the age. 

Raphael's second Pope, Leo X., was a Medici. That family had regained 
heir power in Florence, and they seem now to have formed a scheme for wider 
ominion. They purposed to use the papacy as a means of establishing their 
ower over all Italy. Leo X. was distinguished by all the artistic zeal and 
mch of the irreligion of his family. 

He was soon succeeded by Clement VII., another Medici, under whom an 
wful retribution came upon Rom'e for the wickedness which had been contin- 
ally growing more horrible within her walls. A German army was formed 


4.76 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

with the avowed purpose of pillaging the city. It traversed Italy, duke after 
duke letting it pass by him, or secretly aiding it on its way (1527). 

Rome offered little resistance. It was stormed and given over to a sacking 
more dreadful and more complete than it had suffered in the wildest days of 
the Huns and Vandals. Clement, securely shut up in his fortress of St. Angelo, 
went from window to window looking out and wringing his hands. " Oh, my 
poor people ! " he cried, " my poor people ! " For seven months the army of 
brigands camped in the streets, working their hideous will, until even their 
brutal lust and senseless cruelty and savage avarice were sated. Torture and 
violation could wring no more money from the broken Romans. 

Then the Emperor, in whose name this sickening thing had been done, 
somewhat tardily bestirred himself to repudiate it. He sought peace with the 
Pope, and Clement, forgetful apparently of the " poor people " in other cities, 
forgave him on condition that what remained of the army of invasion should be 
turned against Florence, and used to re-establish there permanently the domin 
ion of the Medici. 

So Florence, which had been in one of its chronic enthusiasms for liberty 
and no Medici, had in its turn to withstand a siege (1529). It was then that 
Michael-Angelo exerted himself to fortify and entrench his beloved city. There j 
is a high and hopeless heroism about this last Florentine rebellion. The 
days of Savonarola were recalled, and God was once more declared King of 
Florence, the question being put to a regular vote in the assembly of citi- 
zens and carried, some eleven hundred voting for Him, and only eighteen 
against. The siege was long, but it was pushed with grim resolution, and 
could have only one termination. Famine and treachery drove the citizens 
to surrender. The famous Florentine Republic came to an end. The city 
had retained at least the form and officers of a republic, even when the Medici 
held all real power. Now the old machinery was swept away, the city with its 
dependent territories was made a duchy, and its tyrant Medici became Dukes 
of Florence. 

The fall of these two principal cities is generally accepted as ending the 
Renaissance in Italy. Its period of greatest splendor and of greatest evil had 
thus extended from 1453 to 1527. Clement, on his return to power, started 
what has been called the "counter-reformation" in the Roman church. The 
church itself struggled to crush the internal evils which were destroying it. 
By degrees the respect of men returned to better popes, and with it returned 
something of the church's power. The Northern nations had broken away 
from it forever; but the Southern ones still clung to the old religious idea for 
which Rome stood. Within the past century the lasting vitality of this idea 
has again been strikingly demonstrated. In our world to-day the Roman Cath- 



(Pope Julius II. and His Court Admire the Newly Discovered Statue of Apollo) 

By Carl Becker, the noted German artist, painted in 1887 

AFTER the overthrow of the Borgias the noted Pope, 
Julius II, succeeded to the papal authority in Rome. 
It was in the days of Julius that Luther visited Rome, 
and was so shocked by the splendor and irreligious display 
there that he originated the "Protestant Reformation." This 
resulted in divorcing a large portion of Europe from the 
Roman Catholic Church, and this curtailed the papal power. 
Julius was not what one would call an evil man, but he was 
certainly a most ineffective leader for the Roman Church in 
that hour of its danger. He devoted himself very largely to 
art, and was one of the chief patrons of the wonderful artists 
whose work was at this time attracting all Italy. The predeces- 
sor of Julius had begun rebuilding Rome, and he continued 
the work. In its course the ruins of ancient Rome were un- 
earthed and many remarkable statues were discovered. These 
served as copies for the Italian artists and developed a high 
standard of artistic taste. 

Most noted of all the Greek and Roman sculptures thus 
regained was the "Apollo Belvidere," the statue of the ancient 
god of manly beauty. Our illustration shows this statue as 
it was brought before Julius, while around him are grouped 
the celebrities of his court and the great artists of the day 
who were inspired by the Apollo. The youthful Raphael 
stands near the Pope ; the mighty master of the time, Michael- 
Angelo, is at the extreme left of the picture with Vittoria 
Colonna, the lady of his love. 


Rome — Misery of Italy 


die Church is still a vast influence, and many thinkers believe that influence 

be upon the increase. 

From 1527, however, Italy lay helpless beneath the feet of domestic tyrants 
nd foreign kings. Dominion over her varied states shifted with every change 

1 policy in the greater kingdoms to the north. These fought out their bloody 
euds upon Italian soil. She became, as she has been called, " the battle- 
ground of the nations." Her common people sank into a misery as abject as it 
eemed hopeless. 

Pope Leo X. 

Battle of Solferino 

Chapter XLV 

( HE dream of Italian unity, which had inspired Dante, 
and has swayed every noble Italian since his day, was 
left for the nineteenth century to realize. In the latter 
end of the eighteenth century, Italy was divided into 
about a dozen little states, of which only five had any 
size or importance. The " Kingdom of Naples " in- 
cluded Sicily and the south of the peninsula. It was 
under the rule of ah absolute monarch, King Ferdinand, who 
robbed, tortured, and murdered his subjects with a ferocious 
cruelty and in a wholesale manner worthy of Nero or Calig- 
ula. He was assisted by his queen, an Austrian princess, 
even more bloodthirsty and treacherous than he. The " States 
of the Church" in Central Italy belonged to the pope, but en- 
joyed a certain amount of liberty and peace under his govern- 

Most of the north of Italy was subject to Austria, which was by far the 
greatest power in the land. Austrian dukes or generals ruled in Florence over 
Tuscany, in Milan over Lombardy, and in other smaller states. In the north- 
east Venice still retained its freedom as a republic, and governed the surround- 
ing district of Venetia. In the northwest lay Piedmont, a power the most in* 
teresting of all, since its rulers were to become the kings of the Italy of to-day. 
The lords of Piedmont had a threefold dominion. They held Savoy, the 
French province to the north and west of the Alps. This was their original 
home, and gave them their earliest title. Through all the Middle Ages they 



(Pope Leo X- Mourning the Death of Raphael.) 

From a painting by the contemporary Italian artist, Pietro Michis 

MORE celebrated even than Michael- Angelo as the last 
and highest expression of the artistic impulse of the 
Italian Renaissance is the painter Raphael. Raphael's 
brief life was one rapid succession of triumphs. Earlier ar- 
tists had been compelled to struggle toward success through 
many obstacles; but young Raphael came forward just when 
all Italy was so intoxicated with enthusiasm for art, when 
criticism had reached such a point of skill, that his genius was 
instantly recognized and every hand was reached out to help 
him. Raphael worked first in Florence, but was summoned 
to Rome in 1508 by the Pope Julius II, and from then until 
his death was engaged principally on the paintings with which 
he beautified the papal palace, the Vatican. The next Pope, 
Leo X, another devotee of art, made Raphael his personal 
friend and favorite. 

Our illustration shows Leo mourning for Raphael 's death, 
which occurred from a fever in 1520, when he was only thirty- 
six years old. Behind Raphael's bier stand some of the chief 
works with which he had enriched the Vatican, as also his 
last painting, the celebrated "Transfiguration of Christ," 
which the artist left not quite finished. Raphael's death 
marks the beginning of the decline of the great art period of 


Rome — Kings of Sardinia 475 

had been known as Dukes of Savoy. Piedmont was added to their domain by 
slow degrees, some bits by marriage, others by conquest, but most by their 
own free consent. Many little cities, and even the large one of Nice, had vol- 
untarily placed themselves under the protection of these strong, just, and 
humane Dukes of Savoy. Thus all the country of the lower Alps, both in 
France and Italy, was under their control. The mountain passes were easily 
defensible by the sturdy natives, so that no army could cross the Alps without 
Savoy's consent. Its dukes were known to European politics as the door- 
i keepers, the "Janitors of the Alps." In 1720 the island of Sardinia passed to 
them by treaty, and it was from this that they took their best-known title, 
" King of Sardinia. " 

Piedmont, however, was their main strength. In it lay their capital, Turin. 
The people respected and trusted them; and these people were a far different 
race from those of lower Italy. Mountains breed men of courage, loyalty, and 
strength. Napoleon wrote home to France that one regiment of the Pied- 
montese was worth all the troops that could be gathered from the remainder of 
Northern Italy, 

When Napoleon invaded Italy in 1 796 he overthrew all the little govern- 
1 ments we have described, and substituted four republics. Later, as his 
imperial ambition grew, he changed these republics into kingdoms for the 
I members of his family. On his downfall, in 18 14, the Powers, endeavoring to 
rearrange Europe, placed Italy so far as possible under its old sovereigns. Only 
I the republics were destroyed; Venice was given to Austria, and the shadowy 
remnant of Genoa passed to Piedmont. 

But this restoration was only superficial. The absolute power of the kings 
could not thus be handed back to them. The people had tasted freedom, and 
I there were constant plots and uprisings, which no severity could repress. 
Austria, entrenched in the very heart of the land, stood firmly for absolute 
monarchy, and lent her troops to the little kings around her.. Italy was kept 
in subjugation by Austrian bayonets, and by those alone. 

Piedmont's king had been already recognized as representing the cause of 
Italian freedom. Yet even his subjects in 1821 demanded from him a consti- 
tution. He tried to temporize with them. As a matter of fact, when the 
Powers restored his kingdom to him, they suspected his liberal tendencies, and 
required from him a pledge that he would never grant his people the very thing 
they were now asking. So what could he do ? The revolutionists were sin- 
cere when they sent him the message: " Our hearts are faithful to our king, 
bu" we must save him from perfidious counsels." His generals assured him 
that their soldiers would be loyal to him personally, but could be guaranteed 
no further. He refused to test them by giving the order to fire on the rebels. 

480 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

It would have been easy to summon Austria to his help, but sooner than do so 
the kindly old king resigned his office. His brother, the next heir, was at a 
distance. So a young cousin, Charles Albert, was appointed regent till his 
arrival. Charles immediately granted the constitution. But the new king 
dashed in breathing fire and fury. He summoned the Austrians to his help, 
the constitution was promptly revoked, and the people were forced back into 

Young Charles Albert was ordered off to do penance, by fighting in the 
Austrian army. Its officers greeted him with a shout of ridicule : " Behold 
the King of Italy ! " Yet the taunt came near to being prophecy. Charles 
lived to have that very title offered him ; and it was his son, following out his 
plans, who actually won the rank. 

In 1 83 1, in default of nearer heirs, Charles Albert was allowed to become 
King of Sardinia and Piedmont, though he, too, was first compelled by Austria 
to pledge himself against a constitution. Of course the Piedmontese knew 
nothing of this, and they welcomed his coronation with delight. Secret societies 
of patriots had spread through all Italy ; and at the head of the best known of 
them was Mazzini, a young Piedmontese. He promptly summoned " Young 
Italy " to rise against Austria, counting on the help of the new king. But 
Charles was too shrewd to thrust his head into the jaws of the Austrian lion. 
He put down the uprising with an iron hand. There were executions and 
imprisonments, and Mazzini had to flee from Italy. 

For eighteen years there was no further step to mark outwardly the advance 
of Italian unity and freedom. Yet it was during those years that its main 
strength was built up. Charles Albert was educating his people and creating 
an army. All Europe was advancing along the path of constitutional govern- 
ment. With the growth of men's minds and hearts, freedom was becoming 
more and more inevitable, despotism more and more impossible. 

At last, in 1848, rebellion flamed up all over Europe. In France alone was 
it completely successful. There a republic was again established. But the 
Austrian despots had their hands full at home, they had no time to spare for 
Italy. Charles Albert seized the opportunity to grant his people the long- 
deferred constitution, and no protest was uttered. The down- trodden states of 
Central Italy rose one after another against Austria ; and Charles, also declaring 
war upon the common enemy, placed himself at their head. Piedmont, chang- 
ing her ancient colors, adopted the Italian tri-color, red, white, and green. All 
Italy seemed burning to march under the flag; and troops came from Rome 
and even from distant Naples. It was then that the enthusiastic soldiers of- 
fered Charles the crown of Northern Italy. He refused it till it should be 


(The Stronghold from Which Clement Watched the Slaughter of His People) 

From the fainting by the contemporary German artist, C. Wuttke 

THIS most splendid period of Italian life, the Renais- 
sance, with its brilliant literature, its glorious art, its 
heroic city republics, the tremendous power of its 
papacy, all this spectacular and remarkable social organiza- 
tion, came to an abrupt ending in the sixteenth century. The 
evils which long had been threatening Italy, now engulfed it. 
The Protestants deserted the Roman church. The German 
Emperor Charles V quarreled with the unhappy Pope Clem- 
ent VII and let loose against Rome an army of mercenary 
soldiers, the scum of earth, one of those "companies" of 
plunderers who had so often desolated Italy. 

This army captured and sacked Rome in 1527. The wild 
Goths and Vandals of a thousand years before had been no 
more savagely destructive. Clement himself was safe. The 
Popes had long before made a fortress of the so-called Castle 
of St. Angelo, a stupendous old Roman structure, originally 
the tomb of the Emperor Hadrian. From within the unas- 
sailable walls of St. Angelo, Clement watched in agony the 
slaughter of his people. Yet he afterward made friends with 
the Emperor ; and the very army which had ruined Rome was 
next employed by the Pope and Emperor together in the con- 
quest of the other Italian cities. Italy's liberties were utterly 
crushed; and with the liberty there perished also the intel- 
lectual brilliancy of the age. 


Rome- — Rebellions of 1848 481 

But, alas ! Charles was not a military genius. The Austrian general, Radet- 
sky, old and skilful, gathered such troops as he could find in Italy. He out- 
manoeuvred and outfought Charles. There was a savage battle at Custozza, 
which gave Milan and Lombardy to the Austrians. The Milanese cried trea- 
son; though indeed here, as always, the Piedmontese showed themselves the 
best of the Italian soldiers. Shots were fired at King Charles in Milan; and 
it was only by the heroism of some of his officers, and the cool valor of his 
troops, that he was saved from the mob's fury. Still he did not give up hope. 
"The independence of Italy," he said, "was the first dream of my youth. It 
is my dream still; it will be till I die." The next year another fiercely con- 
tested battle was fought at Novara on Piedmont's own soil. Charles, hopelessly 
defeated, sought death upon the field. Not finding it, he abdicated, that his 
son might sue for the peace he would not ask. 

As Charles left his native land forever, he declared that wherever any gov 
ernment raised the flag of war against Austria, he would be found fighting her 
as a simple soldier. But he did not live to make good the despairing vaunt; 
he died within four months, broken-hearted. 

His power, however, had been left in strong hands. As his eldest son, Vic- 
tor Emmanuel II., stood in this suddenly acquired responsibility of his new king- 
ship looking across the bloody field of Novara, amid all the defeat and destruc- 
tion of his father's plans, he murmured, " Yet Italy shall be. " He marched 
the shattered army back to Turin. He accepted the hard terms of peace Aus- 
tria proposed. He accepted the suspicion of his people, their taunts, their bit- 
terness. Like his father he knew how to bide his time. 

With Piedmont and the neighboring cities trampled down, rebellion still 
burned in only two spots in Italy. These were Venice and Rome. Venice 
made heroic resistance under a splendid leader, Daniel Manin. From August, 
1848, to August, 1849, sne withstood the determined siege of the Austrians. 
Manin was made Dictator, and every foot of ground was stubbornly contested. 
It was only when the Venetians stood alone of all Italy, and with starvation 
actually among them, that they consented to an honorable capitulation. 

The resistance in Rome, though briefer, was still more heroic. Mazzini, 
the leader of the secret societies, had returned to Italy, and with him came an 
exile even more famous than he. This was Garibaldi, the hero of modern 
Italy. During his banishment from his native Piedmont, Garibaldi had led a 
wandering, adventurous life in South America. He had proved himself, by his 
enthusiasm and high daring, a superb leader of men. After the defeat of Pied- 
mont, he and Mazzini, holding together a handful of followers, retreated to 

Rome had declared itself a republic. Its Pope, Pius IX., had fled. Maz- 

482 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

zini was appointed one of a triumvirate to protect the city. They appealed foi 
help to republican France, and a French army was sent to Rome. It was 
received at first with welcome, then with suspicion. The French general de- 
clared that he was sent to make peace between the Pope and the triumvirate. 
But where both parties insisted on their right to rule, no compromise was pos* 
sible. Then the French troops assaulted Rome. They were repulsed with 
desperate valor by Garibaldi and his men. 

The Austrians advanced upon Rome. Spain landed troops at Naples to 
repress the rebellious spirit of Southern Italy, and the forces of the King of 
Naples also marched toward Rome. Thus three of the great Powers were 
uniting against the one unfortunate city. Unluckily for him, the King of 
Naples came first within striking distance. His army numbered ten thousand 
men. Garibaldi slipped out of Rome with four thousand, and completely de- 
feated him. The king retreated, but there seemed to be some doubt in his 
mind as to his defeat. He ordered hymns of victory sung in his churches. So 
Garibaldi slipped out of Rome again, and this time the King of Naples was 
fully convinced that he was beaten in the battle of Velletri. He celebrated- 
only the splendid rapidity of his retreat. 

Unfortunately, France was not so easily disposed of. Her troops drew in 
close siege around Rome. Mazzini opened negotiations, and a peaceful agree- 
ment seemed secure ; but the French general, smarting under his first defeat, 
was determined to capture the city. It was bombarded and stormed. For a 
whole week there was fighting every day. Numbers told ; and after a heroic 
and bloody defence, the republic surrendered. Mazzini had again to leave 
Italy. Garibaldi, summoning such as cared to follow him, marched out of 
Rome. He hoped to find somewhere in Italy the flag of freedom still waving, 
but it had gone down everywhere except in Venice, where they needed not men 
but food. So he dismissed his despairing band, and himself became a hunted 
fugitive. After dreadful suffering, he escaped to America, where he lived for 
some time in the city of New York. 

The warfare of 1 848-1 849 was not useless, for it impressed on all the 
world, and even, it may be, upon Austria, Italy's heroic determination to be free. 
The Italians themselves learned to moderate their ambitions, to see that a 
republican Italy was hopeless, and that their one chance of freedom from foreign 
tyranny lay in the King of Piedmont. He alone had armies which could make 
a hopeful stand against those of the great Powers ; and he alone of all the petty 
kings and dukes was really Italian. The house of Savoy can trace its Italian 
ancestry backward for eight centuries, or, according to some authorities, for an 
even longer time, through the Lombard and Roman periods. 

Piedmont's new King, Victor Emmanuel, found a most able minister in 


(Garibaldi Presents a Kingdom to His Sovereign) 

From a painting by the recent Italian artist, C. Ademollo 

THE modern kingdom of Italy has only existed since 
abont the middle of the nineteenth century. For three 
centuries one foreign power or another had held all the 
little Italian "duchies" under its control. The nominal rulers 
of these had little power, and the people none at all ; the real 
authority lay with France or Germany or Spain. All north- 
ern Italy gradually passed into the iron grasp of Austria. 
Then came rebellions, until finally under the lead of the 
"King of Piedmont," Victor Emmanuel II, the northern Ital- 
ians expelled their oppressors. 

The chief hero of this remarkable war was the celebrated 
Italian patriot, General Garibaldi. When northern Italy was 
free, he led a band of volunteers to fight for the freedom of 
southern Italy and Sicily. After a most amazing series of 
victories, his little army advanced northward, while that of 
Victor Emmanuel came south until the two leaders met about 
midway of the great liberated peninsula. The triumphant 
king and triumphant general greeted each other in the cele- 
brated interview here pictured, and Garibaldi laid his con- 
quests at his sovereign's feet in a single phrase, merely salut- 
ing him as they clasped hands in solemn joy, as "King of 
Italy." All Italy except Venice and the papal city of Rome 
was thus united into a single kingdom in 1860. 


Rome — -The War of 1859 483 

Count Cavour, and together, by splendid statesmanship, they built up the power 
and glory of their little kingdom. It became the recognized champion of all 
Italians who fled from Austrian tyranny. At last in 1859, Austria, irritated 
and overbearing, declared war again. This time she found she had more than 
Piedmont to meet. Cavour had secured the new French Emperor, Napoleon III., 
as an ally, and French troops fought side by side with the Piedmontese. Volun- 
teers flocked from all Italy to join them. Garibaldi came back from his exile, 
and, as general of the volunteer force, swept the Austrians out of the Lombard 
hills. Victor Emmanuel proved himself, before all men's eyes, a hero in battle. 
The French Emperor reproved him for his rashness; the French zouaves, 
wildest and most daring of fighters, elected him a corporal in their ranks. 

The allies won an important and fiercely contested battle at Magenta. 
Through that little town the fight raged backward and forward all day long, 
and by evening ten thousand dead lay in its streets and fields. The battle freed 
Lombardy, and it was added to Piedmont, the people of Milan celebrating the 
union with extravagant enthusiasm. 

One little Italian state after another burst its bonds, and each immediately 
begged Victor Emmanuel for admission into his kingdom. A second and even 
more bloody battle was fought at Solferino, in which the Austrians were again 
compelled to fall back, though fighting stubbornly. Italy was half crazy with 
delight. She thought her freedom accomplished, the terrible Austrians crushed. 
But the French Emperor, looking out over the ghastly plain of Solferino, with 
its twenty-five thousand dead, declared for peace. 

His announcement came, it would seem, suddenly and unexpectedly to all 
parties. The Austrians were only too glad to agree. The Italians, with Vic- 
tor Emmanuel and Cavour at their head, protested excitedly, madly, but in 
vain. They had to accept the situation. The French Emperor arranged that 
everything should stand as it was. Lombardy should belong to Piedmont ; but 
Venetia, as yet unconquered, was to remain Austrian, and the states of Central 
Italy were to go back under their former lords. And in return for the help he 
had given Italy, and the lands he had turned over to Piedmont, the Emperor 
demanded for himself the city of Nice and the duchy of Savoy. 

Victor Emmanuel must have faced the most terrible moment of his life. 
All his high ambitions were suddenly checked, and Savoy, his own home, the 
birthplace of his race, was demanded from him. Even the diplomatic Cavour 
lost his self-control, wanted to defy France as well as Austria, and threw up 
his office as minister. Garibaldi had learned to admire and love his king, but 
when he learned that Nice, his birthplace, was to be given up, he cast duty to 
the winds, and threatened every one indiscriminately. The king alone stood 
firm, and insisted on agreeing to what he could not help. 

484 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

His two great assistants soon rallied again to his side. Together the three 
plucked success from the ashes of defeat. The treaty of peace had said that 
the little states of middle Italy were to take back their old rulers. But who 
was to compel them to obey ? They refused positively, and Victor Emmanuel 
declared as positively that neither France nor Austria should use force upon 
them. They had appealed to him for protection, and he had promised it. So, 
after much diplomatic bickering, they were allowed to do as they wished. An 
election was held, and every little state voted to join itself with Piedmont and 
Lombardy to form the " Kingdom of Northern Italy." 

All Southern Italy was still subject to the King of Naples. It was to be 
Garibaldi's contribution to the cause of " United Italy." In two old vessels 
with something less than a thousand men, he sailed secretly for Sicily. With 
this famous force, known to history as " the Thousand," he conquered both 
Sicily and the mainland. The first battle was the hardest. The Thousand 
attacked the Neapolitan troops at Calatafimi, stormed the entrenchments, fought 
their way up a mountain against overwhelming numbers, and swept the foe from 
the field. Of all Garibaldi's battles, this was his greatest personal triumph.. 
Nothing but his almost superhuman will, energy, and magnetism carried his 
exhausted little army through the tremendous task imposed on them. 

The rest was easy. The Sicilian peasants joined him. The Neapolitan 
troops were rapidly driven from the island. Garibaldi was made dictator; but 
he had no intention of stopping here. Gathering what volunteers he could, he 
crossed to the mainland, and marched against Naples. The Neapolitan army 
contained, on paper at least, eighty thousand men ; Garibaldi had less than five 
thousand. Every one thought that, despite his heroism, he must fail now, as 
he had failed twelve years before at Rome. But the Neapolitan troops had 
little heart in their work, and their fear of Garibaldi and his wild, guerilla fight- 
ers was almost ludicrous. An army of seven thousand surrendered on being 
summoned to do so by a single unsupported officer. Garibaldi entered Naples 
without a battle, and here, too, he was declared dictator. 

Victor Emmanuel and his great minister were prompt to see that the mo- 
ment was favorable. To attack Rome itself would have meant war with 
France, and perhaps Austria as well. But they attacked what was left of the 
" States of the Church " outside of Rome, defeated the papal army, annexed 
the territory to their own, and established communication with Garibaldi in the 

Garibaldi soundly defeated the Neapolitan army, which had at last rallied 
against him ; then he rode north to meet Victor Emmanuel who, almost alone, 
was riding south to meet him. They found each other on the road, Italy's two 
heroes, the outlaw and the King. Sitting upon their horses, the two clasped 




(The Unveiling of His Great Statue in Rome) 
From a sketch made on the spot by the Italian artist, Gino de Bird 

GARIBALDI had still other great services to perform for 
his country. Italy fought the Austrians again in 1866, 
so as to free Venice from them, and Garibaldi was a 
leader in the strife. After the addition of Venice to the Ital- 
ian kingdom, all Italy was united except for the city of Rome, 
where the Pope was upheld in power by France and Spain. 
Garibaldi twice led bands of volunteers against the papal city 
without success ; but King Victor Emmanuel seized it in 1870, 
and it became the triumphant capital of "United Italy." 

Garibaldi died in 1881 and at once his compatriots united 
in the erection of a mighty monument to their great hero. It 
stands on Mount Janiculum, a hill within the walls of Rome. 
Way back in 1848, Garibaldi and his comrades had begun the 
strife for Italy's freedom by declaring Rome a republic. In- 
trenched on Mount Janiculum they had heroically withstood 
the assaults of Spanish, French and Papal troops, and had 
only succumbed at last to overwhelming numbers. Thrice 
afterward had Garibaldi attacked Rome from outside the 
walls. Now his statue stands in glory on the spot where he 
first fought for united Italy, overlooking the capital of the 
country he created. 


Rome — The Capital of United Italy 485 

hands like brothers. Garibaldi saluted his sovereign simply as "King of Italy," 
in those words resigning his dictatorship, and proclaiming their united triumph. 
Victor Emmanuel was no longer King of Piedmont, or of Northern Italy, but 
of Italy. 

Venetia and Rome were still outside the pale. So Italy fought Austria 
again in 1866, when the latter was engaged in her great war with Prussia. 
The Italians were defeated in the field, but as Austria was crushed by Prussia, 
the Italian kingdom profited. In the peace arrangements, Austria was com- 
pelled to free Venetia, which immediately united itself with the rest of Italy. 
Of this new kingdom of Italy, sprung up so suddenly and grown so strong, 
Florence was made the capital — but only temporarily. The eyes of every 
patriotic Italian were fixed eagerly on Rome as the land's natural capital, 
Rome which was still held as a little separate principality by the Popes. Twice 
Garibaldi gathered a few enthusiasts like himself and made sudden, character- 
istic dashes at the coveted goal, but without success. His government had 
finally to arrest him, lest he plunge the country into war with France, which, 
as a Catholic state, was resolute in support of the Pope. French troops pro- 
tected Rome until 1870, when the disastrous Franco-Prussian war summoned 
them home to save the wreck of their own country. Then, for the second 
time, Italy profited by the success of Prussia. Victor Emmanuel with his 
troops marched in triumph into Rome, which has since been the capital of 
"United Italy." The resolute king had accomplished his life's work. 

The Pope, Pius IX., ordered his soldiers to resist the attack on Rome until 
a breach was actually made in the walls, when he bade them surrender. Know- 
ing resistance to be useless, he sought thus to save bloodshed ; but he wished 
ill the world to see that he had yielded only to force. The Italian Government 
offered him a large income, and guaranteed his spiritual control, as also his 
personal security, that of his palaces, and of the Church. But Pius IX. 
>teadily refused to submit to the loss of his temporal power as an Italian 
)rince. He declined all compromise, shut himself up in his splendid palace, 
he Vatican, and declared himself a prisoner there. He forbade all good 
"atholics to take part in, or even vote at, the elections of the Italian Govern- 
ment. This attitude toward voting has recently been relaxed by the Church, 
>ut the Pope still remains in his seclusion, is still called "The Prisoner of the 

One by one the men who had taken part in the splendid drama of Italian 
nity died and gave place to a younger generation. Cavour sank under his 
ibors before the goal was reached. Victor Emmanuel died in 1878, mourned 
v all Italy. The Church continued in opposition to him, until he lay dying, 
hen Pius IX, sent him his blessing, forgiving and loving the man, though 

^86 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

still defying the king. The inevitable summons came to the Pope in the same 
year, and Cardinal Pecci was elected to succeed him as Leo XIII. Garibaldi, 
the most picturesque figure of the nineteenth century, died in 1881. A national 
statue was erected to him in 1895, on Mount Janiculum, a hill just outside 
of Rome, where his defence during the siege of 1848 had been bravest and 
most successful. 

King Humbert, Victor Emmanuel's eldest son, succeeded his father on 
the throne and reigned for twenty-two years. He was a brave and generous 
though not a particularly brilliant king. The task of Italy during his reign 
was not an easy one. The country had been impoverished by long wars; her 
people were ignorant, and brutalized by centuries of oppression. They had 
been taught to hate all law as the seal of tyranny ; their heroes were the free 
brigands of the mountains. The government could only maintain itself by 
securing the support of the wealthier classes. Quarrels between labor and capi- 
tal sprang up everywhere, and always the government supported the capitalists. 
The poor groaned under an oppression scarcely less heavy than it had been 

The government was also put to tremendous expense through its effort's 
to conquer, or, in diplomatic language, "establish a military protectorate over" 
Abyssinia, an African negro kingdom. At last an entire Italian army of 
fourteen thousand men was defeated in a desperate battle at Adowa, in 1896. 
Six thousand Italians were slain, and twenty-five hundred compelled to sur- 
render to the Abyssinian king, or negus, Menelik. The Italian Government 
wisely submitted to the rebuff, and for the time at least abandoned its aggres- 
sive colonial policy. 

On July 29th of the year 1900, King Humbert was assassinated by an 
anarchist at Monza. He was succeeded by his son, the present king, Victor 
Emmanuel III. Under this new monarch, twentieth-century Italy has pro- 
gressed remarkably. Pope Leo XIII. died in 1903, and the Bishop of Venice, 
Giuseppe Sarto, was chosen to succeed him as Pius X. He has done much 
to soften the breach between church and state. Italy's labor troubles have 
also been moderated by the more liberal attitude which the government has 
assumed. The truly able prime minister, Sefior Giolitti, refused military aid 
against strikers except to suppress actual rioting. As a result there were some 
temporary disorders. In 1904 for four days a mob of socialists held complete 
possession of Milan, Italy's chief manufacturing city. But gradually an 
adjustment has been reached under which the laborers have become much more 
prosperous and contented. In 19 12 a vast extension of the electoral fran- 
chise was quietly carried through. Before that time there had been many 
restrictions limiting the vote to the educated and the property owners. Now 


(The Abyssinian King is Persuaded to Surrender His Italian Prisoners) 

Drawn by F. Ximenes from a sketch by a member of the expedition 

AS far back as 1882 the Italian government joined in the 
great European rush to grasp sovereignty over portions 
of Africa. Italy, with the support of England, selected 
Abyssinia as the region she would conquer, but found herself 
confronted by unexpected difficulties from the Abyssinians 
themselves. Abyssinia has been an independent nation ever 
since the days of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, 
from both of whom her kings claim to be descended. The na- 
tives are a race of very tall and powerful negroes, who have 
proved themselves tremendous fighters. Twice they com- 
pletely annihilated small armies of the Italians, and at length 
in a pitched battle at Adowa they surrounded an army of 
fourteen thousand Italians and either captured or killed the 
greater part of them. This disaster completely crushed the 
power of Italy in Africa. 

A treaty of peace between Italy and Abyssinia was con- 
cluded in 1897. The Abyssinian monarch, or "Negus" Mene- 
lik, was visited by an Italian commissioner, Major Nerazzini, 
who at great personal risk penetrated the domains of the 
Negus and confronted him in his royal tent surrounded by his 
wild warriors. By this treaty the thousands of captured Ital- 
ian soldiers who had been held in miserable bondage were set 
free; and Italy on her part abandoned all claims against 
Menelik and withdrew from Africa. The disaster at Adowa 
suppressed Italian military enthusiasm for a dozen years. 


The War with Tripoli 487 

male suffrage has been made almost universal. The government also by the 
great camorrist trial of 1911-12 has gone far toward breaking up the ancient 
power of brigandage, organized criminal force, in southern Italy. 

The most appalling earthquake in human annals desolated the southern 
part of Italy between five and six o'clock on the morning of December 28, 
1908. "Six months' cannonade," to quote a correspondent, "by all the artillery 
in the world would not produce the results of ten seconds of Nature's wrath." 
The deaths reached the awful total of 200,000. In Sicily the great city of 
Messina, dating from the eighth century B. C, was blotted out, to the accom- 
paniment of shrieks of agony. The straits of Messina were clogged with the 
bodies of men and animals. Soldiers, toiling among the ruins to help the 
survivors, had to fight off starving dogs which fed upon the bodies. The 
King and Queen of Italy hastened to aid their desolated people. The whole 
world throbbed with sympathy, and all civilized nations strained every energy 
to reach the place of destruction promptly and give the utmost help in their 
power. Many advocated the abandonment of the site of Messina; but with 
that dauntless courage which is one of the strongest accompaniments of such 
calamities, the work of rebuilding the destroyed city was at once begun. 

The year 191 1 witnessed a reassertion of Italy's desire, for colonial ex- 
pansion, previously so disastrously checked in Abyssinia. Italy now abruptly 
declared war upon Turkey because of the ill treatment of Italians in Turkey's 
African dependency of Tripoli. The purpose of the war was obviously the 
seizure of Tripoli, and as Turkey had no navy she could not prevent an Italian 
fleet and army from grasping the coveted spoils. The Arabs of Tripoli were 
loyal to Turkey and fought fiercely but hopelessly against the trained Italian 
army. But though Italy thus acquired actual possession of the land within a 
few months, Turkey refused to make any formal renunciation of her title. So 
in 1912 an Italian fleet began taking possession of one Turkish island after 
another in the iEgean Sea, gradually threatening to bombard the seaports of 
Turkey itself. Even under this pressure the fatalistic Turks might not have 
yielded had not the Balkan States seized the opportunity to declare war on 
Turkey. Facing these new foes the Turks yielded, and by a formal treaty of 
peace on October 15, 19 12, Italy was placed in possession of the African land 
of Tripoli. Her troops had several severe encounters with the native Arabs in 
1913, but these seem now to have accepted their "kismet," and Italy has found 
a field for expansion. 

Christianity amid the Ruins of Rome 


»HE early history of Rome is legendary and the dates con- 

B. C. 753 — Foundation of the city laid by Romulus. 
750 — Romans seized the Sabine women and detained 
them as wives. 747 — War with the Sabines, who were 
incorporated with the Romans as one nation. 710 — 
Numa Pompilius instituted the priesthood, the augurs, 
and the vestals, 667 — The three Horatii, Roman warriors, 
overcame the three Curiatii, Albans, and united Alba to Rome. 
627 — Ostia, at the mouth of the Tiber, built. 615 — The 
Capitol founded. 550 — Liberal laws of Servius Tullius. 509 
— Tarquinius II. and his family expelled, and royalty abol- 
ished; the Patricians established an aristocratical common- 
wealth ; Junius Brutus and Tarquinius Collatinus first praetors 
or consuls. 507 — War with the Etrurians under Lars Porsena. 
The Capitol dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus. 501 — First dictator Spurius 
Lartius. 498 — Latins conquered at Lake R.egillus. 494 — Secession of the 
Plebeians to the Sacred Mount ; establishment of tribunes of the Plebeians. 
491— - Wars with the ^Equians and Volscians ; exploits and exile of Corio- 
lanus, who besieged Rome, but retired at the intercession of his mother and 
wife. 486-5 — First agrarian law passed by Spurius Cassius, who was put 
to death by the Patricians. 458— Victory of Cincinnatus over the ^Equians 
and liberation of the Roman army. 451-448 — Appointment and fall of 
the decemvirs, death of Virginia. 444— Military tribunes first created. 443; 
—Office of censor instituted. 396— Veii taken by Camillus after ten years' j 
siege. 390— Great victory of the Gauls, who sacked Rome, but were repulsed 
in a^ attack on the Capitol; they accepted a heavy ransom and retired 


(The Murderer Assailed by the Infuriated Crowd) 

After a sketch made at the time by Achille Beltrame, of Milan 

VICTOR EMMANUEL II, the king who had established 
the Italian kingdom, died in 1878 and was succeeded 
by his eldest son as King Humbert, Humbert was a 
bluff soldier-king. He had fought bravely for Italy by his 
father's side, and his people loved him devotedly throughout 
the twenty-two years of his reign. In 1900 he was assassi- 
nated by an anarchist named Bresci. 

The assassin was an Italian who had emigrated to America 
and learned his anarchy here. He then returned to Italy with 
the deliberate purpose of killing the King. Humbert, secure 
in the proven affection of his people, strong with the heredi- 
tary courage of his heroic royal family, went about Italy un- 
protected by guards. He had ridden into the city of Monza, 
which is near Milan, driving gaily in to distribute the prizes 
at an athletic meeting. As amid cheering crowds he reseated 
himself in his carriage to return home, Bresci shot him. "It is 
nothing," said the King reassuringly, and sank back uncon- 
scious, dying. The perverted mind of the anarchist seems to 
have led him to expect praise from the crowd around for his 
cold-blooded murder ; but in their rage and frantic sorrow for 
their king they almost tore the unhappy criminal to pieces. 
Later he committed suicide in prison. 




|j|i ' till 

If ;i * " ! 


Rome — Chronology 489 

389 — Rome gradually rebuilt amid great distress and wars with neighboring 
states. 367 — Passage of the Licinian laws. 360 — The Gauls defeated in 
Italy. 365-342 — War with the Etruscans, ended by a truce; war with the 
Latins; league renewed. 343-340 — First Samnite war, indecisive. 341 — 
Mutiny in the army in Campania and rise of the commons in Rome; 
peace restored by concessions and the general abolition of debts caused by 
the Gaulish invasion. 339 — The Publilian law passed, equalizing Plebeians 
with the Patricians in political rights. 326 et seq. — The second Samnite 
war. 311 — War with Etruria. 309 — Victories of Q. Fabius Maximus; the 
Etrurians and Umbrians submitted. 312-308 — Appius Claudius Calcus, cen- 
sor, favored the lower classes ; with the public money made a road from Rome 
to Capua, termed the "Appian Way," and erected the first aqueduct. 304- 
302 — Conquest of the ^Equians, Marsians, etc. 300 — Third Samnite war. 
294-290 — The Samnites subdued after desperate struggles. 281 — The Taren- 
tines formed a coalition against Rome and invited Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, to 
join them. 280 — Pyrrhus defeated the Romans at , Pandosia. 275 — Romans 
defeated Pyrrhus at Beneventum. 272-265 — Subjugation of Tarentum, Sam- 
nium, Bruttium, and their allies. Rome supreme in Italy (265). 264-241 — ■ 
First Punic war. 260 — First Roman fleet built. Sea fight at Mylae. 255 — 
Regulus put to death at Carthage. 238 et seq. — Corsica and Sardinia an- 
nexed. 225 — Invasion and defeat of the Gauls. 220 — Building of the Fla^ 
minian Way. 218-201 — Second Punic war. 216 — Battle of Cannae. Rome 
saved by the adhesion of eighteen colonies, by the free-will offerings of gold, 
silver, and money from the Senate and the people, and by the defeat of Has- 
drubal at the Metaurus (207). 212 — Syracuse taken by Marcellus. 202 — 
Hannibal defeated by Scipio at Zama. 213-200 — The Macedonian wars with 
Philip begun. 197 — His defeat at Cynocephalae. 171 — Third Macedonian 
war begun. 168 — Perseus beaten at Pydna ; Macedon annexed. 149 — Third 
Punic war begun. 146 — Carthage and Corinth destroyed by the Romans. 
l 53~ I 33 — Celtiberian and Numantine wars in Spain. 133 — Civil strife begun ; 
Tiberius Gracchus slain, 121 — Further agrarian disturbances ; Caius Gracchus 
Iriven to suicide. 111-106 — The Jugurthine war. 108-63— The Mithridatic 
var. 102 — Marius defeats the Teutones at Aquae Sextiae. 101— Marius an- 
lihilates the Cimbri at Vercellae. 100 — Julius Caesar born. 90-88 — The 
Social war. 87 — Marius driven from Rome by Sulla, returns in triumph and 
nstitutes a savage massacre. 82— Sulla defeated Marius ; sanguinary proscrip- 
ions; declared dictator. 79— Sulla abdicated. 73-71— Revolt of Spartacus 
nd the slaves. 66 — Pompey wipes out the Mediterranean pirates. 65-63 — 
>yria conquered by Pompey. 62 — The Catiline conspiracy defeated. 60 — 
rhe First Triumvirate— Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus. 58— Caesar's campaigns 

4.GO The Story of the Greatest Nations 

in Gaul. 55 Csesar in Britain. 53 — Crassus killed by the Parthians. 51—. 

Gaul conquered and made a Roman province. 50 — War between Caesar and 
Pompey. 48 — Pompey defeated at Pharsalia. 47 — Caesar defeated Pharnaces 
and wrote home, " Veni, vidi, vici." 46 — Cato killed himself at Utica; end of 
the Republic. Caesar made dictator. 44 — Caesar killed in the Senate house 
(March 1 5). 43 — Second Triumvirate — Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus ; Cicero 
killed. 42 — Battle of Philippi ; Brutus and Cassius defeated, and killed them- 
selves. 36 — Lepidus ejected from the Triumvirate. 32— War between Octa- 
vius and Antony. 31 — Antony overthrown at Actium. 30 — Egypt became a 
Roman province. 27 — Octavius made Emperor, as Augustus Caesar. 5 — The 
Empire at peace with all the world ; the temple of Janus closed. 4 — Jesus 
Christ born. (There is an error of over three years in the date commonly 

A. D. 9 — The Germans annihilated the army of Varus ; Dalmatia subdued 
by Tiberius. 14 — Augustus succeeded by Tiberius. 17 — Cappadocia became 
a Roman province. 27 — Thrace became a Roman province. 42 — Mauretania 
conquered and divided into two provinces. 48 — Lycia made a Roman province. 
54 — Nero becomes Emperor. 64 — Destruction of Rome by fire, said to have 
been the work of Nero. 65-67 — Persecution of Christians; St. Paul, St. 
Peter, Seneca, and others, put to death by Nero. 68 — Nero stabbed himself. 
69 — Vitellius became ruler, and was mobbed to death. 70 — Titus destroyed 
Jerusalem because of a rebellion. 75 — Vespasian founded the Colosseum. 79 
• — Destruction of Herculaneum and Pompeii by an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. 
105 — Dacia was made a Roman province, and Arabia Petraea conquered. 115 
—Armenia became a province, and the Roman Empire under Trajan reached 
its widest extent. 131-135 — Last rebellion of the Jews, the survivors driven 
from their country as wanderers over the earth. 161-180 — Happy reign of 
Marcus Aurelius; persecution of the Christians. 215 — Caracalla offered the 
privileges of Roman citizenship to all who would pay for them. 250 — Inva- 
sion of the Goths. 273 — Aurelian conquered Zenobia and destroyed Palmyra. 
284 — Diocletian and Maximian divided the Empire between them. 286— Last 
and cruelest persecution of the Christians begun under Diocletian. 292— A 
fourfold division of the Empire was made. 312 — The Emperor Constantine 
was converted to Christianity and did all he could to make it the religion of 
the Empire. 330 — Constantine dedicated Byzantium (Constantinople) as the 
capital of his Empire, and Rome lost much of its importance. 361-363— Brief 
reign of Julian the Apostate. 376— The Goths swarmed into the Empire. 
379-395— Theodosius I. last Emperor to rule over the whole Roman Empire. 
404 — Stilicho defeats the Goths under Alaric and celebrates the three hun- 
dredth and last Roman triumph. 410 — Rome sacked by Alaric. 412 — Dealt 



(The Young King Takes the Oath of Office) 

From a painting by the contemporary Italian artist, P. Porolli 

WHEN King Humbert was thus suddenly slain, Italy 
was left for two days without a king. Humbert's 
only son, another Victor Emmanuel, named after his 
celebrated grandfather, was at the moment cruising in his 
yacht on the high seas, no one knew precisely where. But 
there was no disorder ; the new king was found, and hurrying 
to Rome he promptly took the oath of office as king (August 
11, 1900) swearing to uphold the laws and constitution as 
established under his grandfather. 

At the time of this unexpected inauguration, the new king, 
Victor Emmanuel III, was a } r oung man scarcely thirty. Un- 
like most of his race he is physically weak, but mentally he 
has proven himself a man of ability. His wife, the Princess 
Helene of Montenegro, has ably assisted him in winning the 
confidence and devotion of his people. 

At the time of his inauguration the prime minister of Italy 
was the conservative Serior Saracco, President of the Senate, 
who in our illustration receives the young king's oath. To 
the left stand the members of the parliament, including the 
liberal leaders Zanardelli and Giolitti, who received the new 
monarch's confidence and have been the chief prime ministers 
of his reign. He has given steady support to a wise liberalism 
and progressive policy in Italy. 


Rome — Chronology 49 1 

of Alaric. 439 — Carthage captured by the Vandals. 451 — Invasion of the 
Huns under Attila, defeated at Chalons. 452 — Venice founded by fugitives 
from Attila. 455 — Rome captured and sacked by the Vandals. 476 — Romu- 
lus Augustulus laid the insignia of the Roman Empire at the feet of Odoacer, 
who assumed the title of King of Italy; end of the Empire. 536 — Belisarius 
captured Rome for Justinian. 553 — Narses again captured Rome and annexed 
it to the Eastern Empire. 568-596 — Invasion of the Lombards under Alboin ; 
they conquered Italy. 590-604 — Popehood of Gregory I. the Great. 728— 
Rome became an independent republic under the temporal sovereignty of the 
Pope. 754 — Pepin gave the Pope the Lombard territories around Rome. 774 
— Desiderius, the last Lombard king, dethroned by Charlemagne. 800 — Charle- 
magne crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III. 896 
— Rome captured by the Germans. 962 — Otho I. crowned at Rome, each 
German emperor henceforth receiving a triple coronation as King of Germany, 
as King of Italy, and as Emperor of Rome. 997 — Venice established her 
independence from the Eastern Empire and began her career of foreign con- 
quest. 1016 — Normans invaded Sicily and began its conquest. 1021— The 
republics of Genoa and Pisa won the islands of Sardinia and Corsica from the 
Mahometans. 1045 — Papal scandals ended by the Emperor Henry III., who 
appoints a German Pope. 1049 — Pope Leo IX. reforms the church. 1051 — 
The Normans seize Naples. They capture Pope Leo and make friends with 
him. 1059 — Formal adoption of the method of selecting the popes by vote of 
cardinals. 1073 — Hildebrand made Pope as Gregory VII. ; he asserts the 
spiritual supremacy of the Pope over the Emperor. 1077 — The Emperor, 
Henry IV, comes as a penitent to Gregory at Canossa. 1084 — Henry avenges 
himself by seizing Rome ; Gregory rescued by the Normans. 1085 — Death of 
Gregory. 1094— Pope Urban II. authorizes the first crusade; the crusades 
vastly increase the power of the popes. 1 115 — Matilda of Tuscany leaves most 
of her kingdom to the popes. 11 24 — Venice captures Tyre and secures the 
trade of the East. 1154 — Guelph and Ghibelline wars begin. 1162 — Milan 
captured and destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa. 1167 — The cities form the 
Lombard League and rebuild Milan. 1176 — The Milanese defeat Frederick 
at Lignano. 1183 — By the Peace of Constance Frederick frees the Italian 
cities. 1198-1216 — Height of the papal power under Pope Innocent III. ; he 
founds the Franciscans and Dominicans. 1204 — Venice conquers Constan- 
tinople. 1229-1250 — Wars of Frederick II. with the Italian cities, their tri- 
umph, and his death. 1268 — Defeat and execution of Conradin, the last of the 
Hohenstaufen emperors. 1277 — The Visconti become tyrants of Milan ; the 
Italian cities begin sacrificing their liberty for peace ; the " free companies " 
ransack Italy. 1282 — The " Sicilian Vespers," a massacre of all the French 

4 <j 2 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

conquerors in Sicily. 1284— The naval power of Pisa destroyed by her rival, 
Genoa, at Maloria. 1298 — The Venetians humbled by Genoa in a naval battle 
at Curzola. 1301 — Dante exiled from Florence; the first signs of the Renais- 
sance. 1309 — The court of the popes removed to Avignon by Pope Clement 
V. 1341 — Petrarch crowned as poet- laureate at Rome. 1347 — Cola di Rienzi 
holds Rome as a republic during seven months. 1354 — Rienzi seizes power a 
second time and is slain by the people. 1360 — Interest in Greek thought shown 
by the establishment of a Greek professorship in Florence. 1377-78 — The 
popes return to Rome. 1379 — Naval power of Genoa crushed by the Vene- 
tians at Chioggia. 1420-64 — Cosimo di Medici rules Florence and makes it 
the centre of the Renaissance. 1447-55 — Pope Nicholas V. rules Rome and 
starts its complete reconstruction in architecture and art. 1453 — The capture 
of Constantinople by the Turks sends a flood of Greek learning over Italy. 
1461-77 — Venice wars with the Turks, loses much of her power, but checks 
their advance into Europe. 1469 — Lorenzo di Medici becomes President of 
Florence and increases her artistic ascendancy. 1490— Savonarola preaches 
in Florence. 1492 — Death of Lorenzo ; Florence becomes a religious republic 
under Savonarola; Alexander VI., the wicked Borgia, becomes Pope. 1496 — 
Michael Angelo begins work at Rome. 1498 — Overthrow and death of Savon- 
arola. 1503 — Power of the Borgias overthrown by their own poisons ; Julius 
II. becomes Pope. 1508-12 — Michael- Angelo paints the Sistine Chapel. 
1508-20 — Raphael paints in Rome. 1525 — Battle of Pavia, Germany defeats 
France for supremacy in Italy. 1527 — Rome sacked by a German army. 1529 
— The Florentine republic crushed, the Medici become Dukes of Florence. 
1530 — Clement VII. starts the papal reformation. 1540 — The Jesuit Society 
founded. 1571 — The Turks crushed by Venetian and other ships in the great 
naval battle of Lepanto. 1626 — The Cathedral of St. Peter dedicated. 1683- 
99 — The Venetians once more win victories over the Turks in Greece. 1720 
—The Duke of Savoy made King of Sardinia. 1796 — Napoleon invades Italy. 
1797 — He overthrows the various kingdoms and forms republics. 1805 — He 
changes the republics to kingdoms of his own. 1815 — The old rulers restored, 
Austria given the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom. 182 1 — The Piedmontese 
demand a constitution ; it is granted by the regent, Charles Albert, but revoked. 
1831 — Charles Albert becomes King of Sardinia and Piedmont. 1831-33— 
Insurrections of " Young Italy " and other secret societies headed by Mazzini, 
1846— Pius IX. is made Pope and displays liberal tendencies. 1848 — Italians 
everywhere revolt against Austrian dominion. Piedmont changes her flag to 
the Italian tricolor, and heads the insurrection ; defeated at Custozza. 1849— 
Piedmontese defeated at Novara; Victor Emmanuel made king; Austria every- 
where triumphant ; Rome declares itself a republic under Mazzini and Gari- 

'? : V^ S J| ! 5 









^^^tt^Xt^S *^T 












(The New Pope Receives the Papal Hat or Tiara in St. Peter's Cathedral) 

From a sketch made upon the spot 

THE venerated Pope Leo XIII, ninety-three years old, 
died in 1903 ; and the selection of his successor became 
at once an event fraught with importance to all Italy. 
The Catholic cardinals met in Rome, as they have done for 
centuries, to decide in solemn conclave on the new head of 
their Church. The most popular candidate was Cardinal 
Rampolli, who had been the secretary and chief adviser of 
Leo XIII; but the Austrian Emperor, the nominal guardian 
and defender of the Church, announced his opposition to 
Rampolli. After long discussion the cardinals finally settled 
upon the Bishop of Venice, Joseph Sarto, who assumed the 
papal name of Pius X. So little had Sarto expected election 
that tradition says he had purchased an excursion ticket for 
his return to Venice. As his election grew probable he en- 
treated the other cardinals not to consider him, assuring them 
he was unfitted for the tremendously exacting office. He fi- 
nally accepted it in the words of Jesus, "Let this cup pass 
from me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as Thou wilt. ' ' 

Immediately upon his election the new Pope was invested 
with his tiara and robes of office by the Secretary of the Col- 
lege of Cardinals, Mgr. Merry del Val, and the two Pontifical 
Masters of Ceremonies. 

Pius X has done much to soften the antagonism between 
Church and State in Italv. 



Rome — Chronology 493 

baldi; is stormed by the French; Venice surrenders to Austria after a year's 
siege. 1859 — French and Italians war against Austria, and win victories at 
Magenta and Solferino ; Victor Emmanuel is given Lombardy, but loses Savoy. 
i860 — The states of Central Italy unite themselves by vote with Piedmont; 
Garibaldi heads a successful insurrection in Sicily and Naples; the papal 
states revolt and Victor Emmanuel interferes; he defeats the papal troops; 
Garibaldi turns over Sicily and Naples to the King. 1861 — First general Ital- 
ian parliament meets; it votes Victor Emmanuel "King of Italy" (February 
26th) ; the statesman Cavour died. 1862 — Garibaldi with volunteers makes 
an unsuccessful expedition against Rome; is defeated and made prisoner by 
Italian troops. 1866 — Disastrous war with Austria; Austria overwhelmed by 
Prussia; Venice, left free, joins the Italian kingdom. 1867 — Garibaldi again 
assaults Rome; defeated by Roman and French troops. 1870 — Italian troops 
seize Rome (September 20th) ; Rome declared the capital of Italy (December 
5th). 1 87 1 — Rome formally inaugurated as the capital (July 3d). 1878 — 
Victor Emmanuel died (January 9th) ; Pius IX. died (February 7th) ; Leo 
XIII. elected (February 20th). 1881 — Garibaldi died. 1896 — Terrible defeat 
of Italians at Adowa in Abyssinia. 1897 — Peace with Abyssinia. 1900 — 
King Humbert assassinated (July 29th), succeeded by his son Victor Emmanuel 
III. 1903 — Pius X. elected Pope (August 4th). 1904 — Socialist uprising 
in Milan. 1908 — Terrible earthquake at Messina. 1909 — Messina rebuilt. 
1911-12 — Camorrist trial at Viterbo breaks the power of the criminal so- 
cieties. 191 1 — War with Turkey begun (Sept. 29) for the possession of 
Tripoli. Annexation of Tripoli announced (Nov. 5). 1912 — The King un- 
successfully attacked by an anarchist. The suffrage extended to almost all 
classes. The Turkish island of Rhodes seized (May 4) ; peace treaty with 
Turkey cedes Tripoli to Italy (Oct. 15). 1913 — Repeated outbreaks of the 
native Arabs in Tripoli. 

Roman Theatre Masks 


Early Kings. 



Pertinax, . 


• 193 

Romulus, . 

• 753 



• 193 

Numa Pompilius, 

. 715 

Septimius Severus, 


. 193 

Tullius Hostilius, 

. 673 

( Caracal la, 

Ancus Martius, . 

♦ 640 

( Geta (slain 212), 

. 211 

Lucius Tarquinius, 

. 616 

Macrinus, . 


. 217 

Servius Tullius, 

. 578 



. 218 

Tarquinius Superbus, 

• 534 

Alexander Severus, 


. 222 



C Gordianus I., 
t Gordianus IL 


• 235 

Lasting from J>op to 

27 B.C 


- 23; 


( Pupienus, 
( Balbinus, 


. 238 

Augustus, . 

. 27 

Gordianus III., . 


. 238 


Philippus, . 


. 244 

Tiberius, . 

. 14 



. 249 

Caligula, . # 

. 37 



. 251 

Claudius, . 

. 41 



• 253 


• 54 

C Valerian (slain 260), 

Galba, , . 

. 68 

( Gallienus, 


. 253 


. . 69 

Claudius II., 

. 268 

Vitellius, . 

• 69 

Aurelian, . 


. 270 


. 69 



. 275 


. 79 

Florianus, . 

* 1 

. 276 

Domitian, . 

. 81 


• t 

. 276 


. 96 


• 1 

, 282 


■• , 98 

( Carinus, 
( Numerianus, 

Hadrian, . 

, 117 


. 283 

Antoninus Pius, 

. . 138 

" Diocletian, 

• 1 

. 284 

C M. Aurelius, 

( L. Verus (died 16 


• « 

. 286 

9)> ; 161 



• 1 

. 305 


. 180 | 

. Galerius, 

• c 





(The Flight and Slaughter Caused by the Sudden Arab Uprising) 

From a painting by the contemporary English artist, R. Caton 


COLONIAL expansion has become almost a necessity for 
European countries, because of their ever-increasing 
population. Italy has felt this pressure severely; so 
despite her first disastrous Abyssinian attempt at acquiring 
African territory, she has of recent years sent many of her 
subjects to Tripoli, the African coast immediately southeast 
of Italy. In 1911 Italy quarreled with Turkey, the nominal 
suzerain of Tripoli, on the ground that the Italian colonists 
there were ill-treated. An Italian fleet, led by Admiral Fara- 
belli, bombarded Tripoli, and then the army under General 
Casanova took possession of the city and began an advance 
on the surrounding country. 

The Arabs of Tripoli had been roused to frenzy by warn- 
ings that the Italians would compel them to abandon their 
Mahometan religion. So three weeks after the seizure of the 
city the Arabs broke out suddenly on what has since been 
called "Black Monday," and began massacring the Italians. 
The Italian fleet responded by firing upon the mobs of Arabs, 
and there was a general stampede in the city, people fleeing 
hither and thither they knew not where. Finally the Italian 
soldiers quelled the Arabs; but the whole occurrence was most 
tragic, many unarmed people, especially among the Arabs, be- 
ing slain. 


Rome — Emperors and Kings 




/ Galerius (died 311), 

• 305 



. 534 

< Constantine I., the Great, . 306 


. • 536 

( Licinius (slain 324), 

• 307 


• ♦ 

. 540 

/ Constantine II. (slain 


Tortila, or Baduila, 

- 54i 

•j Constantius, 


, , 

. 552 

( Constans (slain 350), 

. 337 


. 361 

Italy subject to the Eastern Empire 


• 363 

till the time of the Lombard King, 

The successor of Jovian 

, Valentinian, 


. • 

. 568 

divided his dominion and 

made his 


• • 

• 573 

brother, Valens, Emperor of the East. 

Autharis, , 

• * 

• 575 

Henceforth the two empires are sepa- 


• • 

. 591 

rate, though Theodosius united them for 

Adaloald, , 

• 1 

. 615 

about a year in 394. 


• • « 

. 625 

Emperors of the 


Rotharis, . 

• * < 

. 636 

Rodoald, . 

• • 1 

. 652 

Valentinian I., . 

. 364 

Aribert I., 

• « i 

• 653 


• 367 

Bertharit and Godebert, 

. 661 

Valentinian II., . 

• 375 

Grimoald, . 

• • a 

. 662 

Eugenius, . 

• 392 

Bertharit (re-e 

stablished), . 

. 671 

Theodosius, the Great 

• 394 

Cunibert, . 

• • . 

. 686 

Honorius, . 

• 395 


• • a 

. 700 


• 423 

Aribert II., 

• • • 

. 700 

Valentinian III., 

. 425 

Ausprand, . 

• « • 

. 712 

Maximus, . 

. 455 


• • • 

. 712 


. 455 


• • • 

. 744 


. 457 


• • • 

• 744 


. 461 

Astolph, . 

• • • 

■ 749 


. 465 


• • . 

. 756 

Anthemius, . < 

. 467 

Olybrius, . 

. 472 

Charlemagne deposed De* 

uderius in 

Glycerius, . 

. 473 

y/4, and Italy 

became nomim 

zlly subject 

Julius Nepos, 

. 474 

to the lands of 

the North. 

Romulus Augustulus, 

• 475 


Kings of It 


Kings of Italy, 

Victor Emmanuel II. (of 


Odoacer, . 


. 476 


. • • 

. 1861 

Theodoric, the Great, 


. 493 



. 1878 

Athalaric, . * • 



. 526 

Victor Emn 


uel III., 

. 1900 

Triumphal Procession of Theodosius 


Achillas (a-kil'las) 
Adige (ad'ije) 
Adowa (ah'dd-wa) 
^Egades (e'ga-dez) 
iEneas (e-ne'as) 
Afranius (a-fra'm-us) 
Agrippina (a-grlp-pI'nS) 
Alboin (aTboin) 
Amulius (a-mu'lT-us) 
Angelo (an'ja-lo) 
Antiochus (an-ti'o-kus) 
Antoninus (an-to-ni'nus) 
Apulia ((a-pu'li-a) 
Araxes (a-rax'ez) 
Archimedes (ar-ki-me'dez) 
Ariminum (a-rim'i-num) 
Arminius (ar-mm'i-us) 
Athanasius (ath-a-na'shi-us) 
Attila (at/il-a) 
Auletes (6-le'tez) 
Aurelius (6-re'li-us) 
Auximum (ox'i-mum) 
Avignon (ah-ven-yon') 
Balearic (bal'e-ar'ik) 
Belisarius (bel-i-sa'rius) 
Boccaccio (bok-kat'cho) 

Borgia (bor'jah) 
Brundisium (brun-di'zhT-um) 
Buonarotti (b5-na-rot/te) 
Byrsa (ber'sa) 
Byzantium (bi-zan'shi-um) 
Caesar (se'zar) 
Calabria (ka-la'bri-a) 
Calatafimi (ka-lah'ta-fe'mg) 
Caligula (ka-lig'u-la). 
Camerinum (kam'e-rl'num) 
Camillus (ka-mil'us) 
Canossa (ka-nos'sa) 
Caracalla (kar'a-kal'lS) 
Catana (kat'a-na) 
Catiline (kat'i-lin) 
Cavour (ka-voor') 
Charlemagne (shar'le-man) 
Chioggia (ke-od'ja) 
Cicero (sis'e-ro) 
Cincinnatus (sm-sin-na/tus) 
Claudius (klaw'di-us) 
Clodius (klo'di-us) 
Cneus (ne'us) 
Colonna (ko-lon'na) 
Colosseum (kol'o-se'um) 
Collatinus (kol'la-tl'nus) 


? / 






^tfrj y= 


(The Italians Employ Aeroplanes Against the Tripolitan Arabs) 

By R. Caton Woodville, the noted English newspaper artist 

THE subjugation of the city of Tripoli did not bring with 
it the surrender of the wild Arab tribes of the desert 
and oases beyond Tripoli. For over a year the Italian 
forces were engaged in struggling against these tribes, which 
met them several times in pitched battles. 

The Italian regiments brought with them to Tripoli sev- 
eral flying machines for scouting purposes, and this was the 
first occasion on which these latest products of man's genius 
were employed in actual warfare. The Arabs are deeply 
superstitious, and while at first they attacked the Italians 
with fanatic fury, they were much awed by the strange ma- 
chines with which the invaders hovered above their heads. 
When the Italians realized the impression made by the air 
chariots, they had the aeronauts carry bombs, and these were 
hurled earthward at the Arabs with little actual destruction, 
but with tremendous moral effect. 

During this strife the Turkish Government encouraged the 
Arabs to resist but was not able, to send them any material 
assistance. Finally, to compel the Turks to abandon Tripoli 
utterly, the Italians began attacking other portions of the 
Turkish domains. This maneuver w T as successful, and Turkey 
signed a peace treaty surrendering all claim to Tripoli. Even 
yet, however, the Arabs are not wholly reconciled to Italian 
authority, and military aeroplanes still keep watch over the 
desert to guard against any secret gathering of the tribes. 



Rome— -Pronouncing Vocabulary 


Constantinus (kon'stan-tl'nus) 
Corcyra (kor-si'ra) 
Cosimo (kos'i-mo or kos'mo) 
Crassus (kras'us) 
Curzola (koord-zo'la) 
Cyrenaica (slr'e-na'i-ca) 
Dandolo (dan'do-lo) 
Dante (dan'te) 
Decimus (des'i-mus) 
Decius (de'shi-us) 
Dentatus (den-ta'tus) 
Divitiacus (dw'i-ti'a-kus) 
Domitian (do-mish'i-an) 
Domitius (do-mish'i-us) 
Donatello (do-na-tel'lo) 
Doria (do're-a) 
Garibaldi (gar-i-bal'di) 
Genoa (jen'o-a) 
Ghibelline (gib'el-len) 
Gracchus (grak'us) 
Gregory (greg'o-n) 
Guelph (gwelf') 
Guiscard (ges-kar') 
Hamilcar (ha-mil'kar) 
Hannibal (han'm-bal) 
Hasdrubal (has'dru-bal) 
Hiempsal (hi-emp'sal) 
Hiero (hi'S-ro) 
Hildebrand (hil'de-brand) 
Hohenstaufen (h5 f en-stow'fSn) 
Horace (hor'es) 
Iapygians (i'a-pig'1-ans) 
Icilius (I-cil'i-us) 
Iguvium (I-gu'vi-um) 
Ilerda (Mer'da) 
Illyria (iMM-a) 
Jugurtha (ju-giir'tha) 
Justinian (jus-tin'I-an) 
Juvenal (ju'ven-al) 
Latium (la'shl-um) 

Leo (le'o) 

Lepanto (le-pan'to) 

Lepidus (lepl-dus) 

Libyan (lib'e-an) 

Lignano (len-yah'no) 

Lilybaeum (lll'i-be'um) 

Licinus (lic'i-nus) 

Li pari (lip 'a- re) 

Liris (ll'ris) 

Lombard (lorr/bard) 

Lorenzo (lo-ren'zo) 

Lucceous (luc-se'ytis) 

Lucrece (lu'kres) 

Maecenas (me-se'nas) 

Magenta (ma-jen'ta) 

Marco Polo (mar'ko p6 ; lo) 

Marius (ma'ri-us) 

Masinissa (mas'i-nis'sa) 

Mazzini (mat-se'ne) 

Maximianus (max'im-I-a'nus) 

Medici (med'e-che) 

Meloria (ma-lo'ri-a) 

Messana (mes-sa'na) 

Michael- Angelo (mi'kel-an'j5-lo) 

Micipsa (mi-sip'sa) 

Mithridates (mith'n-da'tez) 

Murviedro (moor-ve-a'dro) 

Narses (nar'sez) 

Nero (ne'ro) 

Nice (nes) 

Numa Pompilius (nu'ma' p5m-p!tt- us' 

Numitor (nu'ml-tor) 

Octavius (oc-ta'vi-us) 

Odoacer (o-do-a'ser) 

Origen (or'I-jen) 

Orodes (o-ro'dez) 

Orsini (5r-sS'ne) 

Ovid (5v1d) 

Pantheon (pan-thg'on or pXn'the-on) 

Papirius (pa-ptrl-us) 

49 S 

The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Pelusium (pe-lu'sl-um) 
Pepin (pep'In) 
Petrarch (pe'trark) 
Pharnaces (far'na-sez) 
Pharsalia (far-sa'li-a) 
Picenum (pi-se'num) 
Piedmont (ped'mSnt) 
Pisa (pe'za) 
Polybius (po-Wi-us) 
Pompey (pom'pe) 
Porsena (p5r'se-na) 
Pothinus (po-thl'nus) 
Prusias (pru'si-as) 
Ptolemaeus (tol'e-me'us) 
Pyrrhus (pir'us) 
Quirites (kwl-rl'tez) 
Raphael (rafa-el) 
Regillus (re-jil'lus) 
Regulus (reg'u-ltis) 
Rienzi (re-en'ze) 
Romulus (rom'u-lus) 
Sabine (sa'bln) 
Savonarola (sah-v5-nah-r6'la) 
Savoy (ca-voi') 
Scipio (slp'i-o) 
Sejanus (se-ja'nus) 
Solferino (sol'fer-e'n5) 

Sophonisba (sof-6-nfe'bil) 
Sosigenes (so-sig'e-nez) 
Sulla (sul'la) 
Syphax (si'fax) 
Syrtis (sir'tfs) 
Tacitus (tas'T-tus) 
Tarentum (ta-ren'tum) 
Tarpeia (tar-pe'ya) 
Tarquinius (tar-kwln'i-us) 
Teias (te'yas) 
Tertullian (ter-tul'i-an) 
Theodotus (the-o-do'tus) 
Tiberius (tl-be'rT-us) 
Tigranes (ti-gra/nez) 
Titian (tish'yan) 
Trasimenus (tras'i-me'nus) 
Tuscany (tus'ka-ni) 
Varus (va'rus) 
Veii (ve'yi) 

Vercingetorix (ver'sin-geVo-riks) 
Vespasian (ves-pa'zhl-an) 
Vinci (vin'che) 
Virgil (ver'jil) 
Viriathus (vir'i-a'thus) 
Vitellius (vi-tel'i-us) 
Zanardelli (zan-ar-del'lS) 
Zela (ze'la) 

id HI -i Mit 





(A Map Showing Central Europe the Land of the Germans) 

Composed specially for this publication by Austin Smith 

THE story of modern Europe begins with the Germans; 
because it was they who overthrew the ancient civiliza- 
tion, and upon its ruins established the foundations of 
our world of to-day. The barbaric tribes of ancient France, 
the Gauls, fought the Komans for centuries, but were finally 
conquered by them. Then the wild tribes of central Europe, 
the Germans, took up the struggle; and after five hundred 
years of fighting Rome succumbed to Germany. 

A glance at the map will show how these Germans 
swarmed into Italy by climbing the Alps, how they invaded 
France by crossing the Rhine, how they swept down into 
Greece by following the Danube. Yet great as were the num- 
bers who took part in these conquering migrations, the main 
body of the Germans remained in their old home in central 
Europe, where the main strength of the race lies to-day. This 
was originally a land of deep forests and broad sluggish 
rivers, shut in by natural boundaries, the cold seas to the 
north and the snow-capped Alps to the south. Westward the 
tribes were held in check by the Roman armies, who made the 
Rhine the boundary of Roman civilization. East of the Ger- 
mans lay the vast bare plains of Russia, where they could 
gather no sustenance. Thus they were confined within the 
region which is now Germany and Austria; and when their 
increasing numbers made their land too crowded, they were 
driven by necessity to enter the Roman world. 


Ancient German Fortress 


Chapter XLVI 

[Authorities: Baring-Gould, "Germany Past and Present"; Bigelow, "The German Emperor 
and His Eastern Neighbors" ; Bryce, " Holy Roman Empire" ; Carlyle, "Frederick the Great"; 
Dawson, "Germany and the Germans"; Fay, "Three Germanys " ; Fisher, "The Mediaeval 
Empire"; Hallam, "Middle Ages"; Knouse, "Growth of German Unity"; Lewis, "History of 
Germany"; Mombert, " Charles the Great " ; Menzel, "History of Germany"; Muller, "History 
of the German People"; Ranke, "History of the Reformation," "History of the Popes," etc.; 
Rydberg, "Teutonic Mythology"; Sime, "History of Germany"; Smith, "William I and the 
Germaji Empire"; Taylor, "History of Germany"; Turner, "Sketch of the Germanic Constitu- 
tion" ; Grim, "Teutonic Mythology."] 

ODERN history begins with the Germans. They over- 
threw the empire of Rome, and became for more 
than a thousand years the leading people of Europe. 
This supremacy slipped from them in the sixteenth 
century, because of their own bloody civil wars, 
which left Germany almost a desert. It is only 
within the present generation that the larger part 
of the race have at last united, in what seems 
a permanent and powerful union. 

Where these Germans originally came from is not positively 
known, They are an Aryan race, and we believe Persia to have 
been the early home of all the Aryans. The Germans seem to 
have wandered westward till they reached their present home 
somewhere about 700 b.c. The Romans knew vaguely that 
certain wild races existed there, in the forests to the north of 

poo The Story of the Greatest Nations 

the Alps; and that is all that was known of them, until two German tribes, 
the Cimbri and Teutones, suddenly invaded Italy, making the strangest and 
most dramatic of all entrances into history. 

They did not march into the new land, as other invaders have done, with 
bands playing and flags flying; they slid into its fair plains with much boister- 
ous merriment, on the queerest of sleds. 

It certainly was the most famous sleighing party in the world ; and if the 
old Roman writers are to be taken literally, it was such sleighing as few of us 
would care to attempt. The peasantry of Northern Italy had always looked up 
to the towering summits of the snowy Alps as an impassable barrier of de- 
fence, where crouched no enemy except the swirling hurricane and the awful 
avalanche. But, one morning in the year 113 B.C., they saw those tempestuous 
heights suddenly darkened with myriads of moving figures. They must have 
been the most astonished peasantry in the world, and then the most scared, as, 
with a whiz and a whir, one fierce-looking warrior after another shot suddenly 
among them. It was a human avalanche that had come plunging down to 
destroy them. The daring Germans had taken their shields as sleds, and were 
coasting down the tremendous slopes with dizzying swiftness into the fertile, 
and defenceless plains. 

Great sturdy fellows these invaders were, such as you may still see among 
their descendants to-day, fair-haired, blue-eyed, rollicking giants, who enjoyed 
their coasting like so many schoolboys. We can fancy them shouting with 
glee, as they plunged downward, striking an occasional snag and rolling heels 
over head in the snow, turned serious for an instant by some accident, or again 
battling royally with snowballs as they sped along. 

But it was in no such sportive mood that the Romans learned to look upon 
their strange coming. There seemed no end to the hordes of invaders, nor to 
the trains of ox-carts that followed with their wives and children. Over two 
million people, we are told, entered Italy in this great migration, driven from 
their former homes by overcrowding, if not by actual starvation. So for them 
there could be no turning back. They must have food, and they were prepared 
to fight for it. They came like a swarm of locusts, or perhaps more like some 
terrible, deadly plague. Where they passed the land was left like a desert be- 
hind them, stripped bare, blackened often with fire, the trees hung with the dead 
and mutilated bodies of men and horses, offered as a sacrifice to their savage gods. 

So the Romans thought of them only as fierce and dreadful robbers, and tell 
us of their grim faces, their blazing eyes, their helmets made of the furry heads 
and fangs of wolf and bear. Some of them wore the horned heads of oxen, be- 
neath which they must have looked scarce human, but more like that old Mino- 
taur, who, you remember, was slain by the Greek hero, Theseus. The Ger- 


(The Chief God of the Ancient Germans) 

From the bronze statue in Dresden, by Rudolf Maison 

THE Germans seem to have been a deeply religious race. 
Far back in the days of their beginnings they had 
created for themselves, as all earnest races of men have 
created, a whole family of gods. In these gods they had 
grown to believe implicitly, and in the long winter evenings, 
gathered close around their hearth-fires against the cold, they 
told one another endless stories of the doings of the gods. 

Chief of the heavenly family was Woden or Oclin, a far 
sterner, stronger, more impressive figure than the Roman 
Jupiter or the Greek Zeus. Woden had been a valiant fighter 
who overthrew all the enemies of the gods. He has also been 
an eager seeker after knowledge ; and the long efforts by which 
he has risen to supreme power and wisdom have left him worn 
and weary and blind in one eye. Now, old and battle-scarred, 
he sits, as our picture shows him, gloomily silent upon his 
throne, watching and governing the world. At either shoul- 
der of the god are poised his two ravens, Thought and Mem- 
ory, which fly every day across the world and bring word to 
their master of everything that passes. Beneath his feet is 
carved the tree of life, the emblem of the universe, with the 
three Norns or Fates crouching at its feet, and around it the 
twining form of the world-serpent which holds the world to- 
gether with its encircling fold. 



Germany — The Cimbri and Teutones 501 

mans fought with long spears. They charged in a solid, wedge-shaped body 
with some giant chieftain to the fore. When they started forward, they ham- 
mered their weapons on their shields and joined in a single ferocious shout, 
before which Roman courage oozed away like water. 

Army after army marched against the invaders, only to be defeated; and if 
we do not hear of any great loss of life in these battles, this only shows more 
plainly the fright of the generally unconquerable Romans. They seem to have 
regarded their legs as the ony safe defence against these huge, wild giants of 
the North. 

You have already learned, in the Roman story, of the terror caused by this 
inroad, and of how the barbarians wandered at will for years through Northern 
Italy and Gaul. Why did they not attack Rome itself? Some unaccountable 
whim turned them aside along the sea-coast, into Gaul. Or rather let us say they 
were held back by that Divine Destiny, which has ever guided the course of 
the world with deepest insight, toward whatsoever is highest and best. The 
Roman civilization had not yet accomplished its mission of bringing together 
the scattered races of men. It was not ready to be destroyed. So the invaders 
wandered aimlessly until the great general Marius had trained his soldiers to 
meet them. Marius finally annihilated them, as you have been told, in two 
terrific battles. For this he was ranked with Romulus and Camillus as the 
third founder of Rome. 

The Cimbri and Teutones were thus destroyed. But they were only the 
vanguard, outlying tribes of the great German race, hidden in the gloom of the 
Northern forests. For fifty years those tribes remained fairly quiet. Then, as 
their numbers increased, they renewed their invasion of the Roman world. 
1 his time they met a general even greater than Marius. 

We know the name of the German who led this second invasion. The Ro- 
mans called him Ariovistus, which may have been their form of the name 
"Ehrfurst," meaning "prince of honor." He was chief of a tribe called the 
Suevi. Being invited into Gaul by two warring districts, he conquered both, 
and proceeded to extend his sway over the other Gaulish tribes. These ap- 
pealed for help to Julius Caesar, then the Roman governor in Gaul. Caesar 
sent a warning to Ariovistus, who returned the haughty answer, "If Caesar 
wants me, let him come to me. What right have the Romans in my Gaul !" 

The soldiers of Caesar were as reluctant as those of Marius to face the sav- 
age Germans ; but at last Csesar attacked Ariovistus by surprise, and after a 
desperate battle the German chieftain fled almost alone from Gaul. The Ro- 
man dominion was extended to the Rhine, and Caesar even made two brief ex- 
peditions across it, into the heart of Germany. 

The two races thus began to know each other. Caesar formed a high esti- 

e 02 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

mate of German bravery, and induced many of the fair-haired warriors to entef 
his legions. These men, following him to other lands, learned the splendor and 
might of Rome. Noble German youths were sent sometimes to the great city 
for education and military training. The process of civilization had begun 
among the wild tribes. 

The Roman historians of the period speak much of these splendid savages; 
and it is from such writings, more especially those of Tacitus, that we gather 
most of what we know of the early Germans. The race seems to have been 
divided into many small tribes, having little or no national feeling to unite 
them. They were a simple, hospitable, truthful people, but given to drunken- 
ness, and when roused they could be fierce and cruel. One notable trait of 
the race was the respect and courtesy with which they treated their women. 
As a natural consequence, the women were as brave, as loyal, and almost as 
powerful as the mem An old proverb says an enemy's praise is the truest 
praise, and the Romans, speaking with an ever-increasing amazement of these 
sturdy Germans, rise to real enthusiasm in lauding the women, their beauty, 
strength, and virtue. You may remember how the wives of the Teutones died 
fighting, and how those of the Cimbri slew themselves and their children sooner 
than become slaves. 

The Germans had no accurate ideas of their own previous history, but per- 
haps some traces of it are preserved in their myths, the stories they told of 
their gods. These tales echo the lives of the people. Their subject is the 
eternal warfare of the gods against the giants of cold and darkness. The stories 
ring with the clash of battle, they sigh with suffering heroically borne, they 
droop with the darkness of the long northern night. There is no more strik- 
ing contrast than that between the light, almost frivolous love tales with 
which the Greeks enveloped their gods and the sombre earnestness of these 
German tragedies. It is southern warmth and sunshine against northern cold 
and night. 

Originally, say the legends, nothing existed but ice and mist. From these 
were born the giants and especially the enormous frost giant Ymir. Thep 
came the gods, who slew Ymir and formed from his body the habitable earth. 
His bones are the rocks, his flesh the ground, his blood the rivers. From 
Ymir's breast sprang the great ash tree Yggdrasil, the tree of life. It is up- 
held by three deep-set roots. One of these lies in the abode of the gods and 
brings strength .and nourishment to the tree. One rests in the home of the 
giants, who possess all the ancient wisdom of the earth, and hence comes that 
vague shadowy remembrance of the past, that sad foreboding of the future, which/ 
pervade all life. The third root reaches the old, formless land of darkness,' 
where an adder gnaws ceaselessly at it, so that some day the tree must fall. 

4ffer. % 


(The Wicked Loki Protected by His Wife) 

By the Munich artist, Karl Gebhardt, born 1860 

BACK in the twilight of the old, old days, the German 
tribes believed that gods walked the earth as men. These 
gods had even to struggle for existence as men do, fight- 
ing against the wild forces of Nature, which were typified as 
giants. Finally the gods overcame all these giants of Nature, 
except one, Loki, the craftiest of all the ancient race of enemies 
of gods and men. Loki, who represents all malice and false- 
hood, pretended to seek the friendship of the gods. So they 
spared him and made a friend of him, until at length he man- 
aged to slay the sun-god and so drive all the sunshine from 
the bleak northern land where they lived. 

Then in punishment the gods bound Loki, as our picture 
shows him, to a cliff where lay a serpent poisonous as himself, 
which let its burning venom fall drop by drop upon Loki's face. 
The legend says that, in this terrible situation he must remain 
until the final destruction of earth; but still the poison of his 
mind spreads through the world. In his misery he is befriended 
by the one person who loves and pities him, his wife Sigyn. 
She crouches always close beside him with a cup in which she 
catches the serpent's venom. When the cup is full she removes 
it for an instant to cast the venom in the sea, and then the 
poison falls on Loki, who writhes and twists and shakes the 
world with earthquakes. 



Germany — The Ancient Gods 503 

This tone of despair, of final destruction to come, runs through all the story. 
The gods themselves are to die at last. There will come a mysterious time 
called "the twilight of the gods," when all the giants, all the strange monsters 
of the deep, the demons of the land of darkness and of the land of fire, shall 
all unite in battle against the gods. On that direful day death alone shall 
survive ; life and all the earth shall be destroyed in flame. 

The chief of the gods was named Woden or Odin. He is still honored in 
all Germanic languages, which preserve his name in Wednesday, Woden's day. 
With grim bitterness his worshippers represented him, and indeed many of their 
gods, as physically incomplete. Gods though they may be, they lack somewhat 
of being even perfect men. Woden has but one eye, or rather the other is 
partly blind. He gave its sight to the giants for one draught from the well of 
universal wisdom. The sun and the moon are his eyes. With the good one he 
searches everything by day, then with the other he stares half -blindly around 
at night, and thus sees all that passes, but sometimes faintly and imperfectly. 
On his shoulder perch two ravens, Thought and Memory, which daily fly abroad 
and report to him everything that happens in the world. At his feet lie the 
fierce wolves who follow him when he goes forth to war. 

Woden knows full well the great battle he must one day fight, and he seeks 
help for it always. He has a band of maidens, the Valkyries, who hover over 
battlefields and pick out the bravest warriors that fall. These they bear away 
to Odin, who sits in his great hall, Valhalla, and eagerly welcomes the heroes, 
fit helpers for his approaching hour of trial. The Germans looked eagerly for- 
ward to winning admittance to this grim paradise, where every day the happy 
heroes fought one another till they were hacked to pieces. Then, with night 
they became whole again, and drank and caroused and sang till morning. How 
oddly that one note of tenderness obtrudes itself among their wild pleasures ! 
They sang. It is to the modern German race that we owe one of our richest 
treasures, Music. Even among their ancestors, these ignorant barbarians, that 
one soft touch becomes strangely visible. On earth or in Valhalla, the one 
thing alone that had power to check their drunken uproar was the melody of 

Most terrible of the monsters with whom the gods and heroes are to fight, 
are the Earth- Serpent and the wolf -monster Fenris. Woden cast the serpent 
into the vast ocean by which the earth is surrounded ; but there the monster 
has grown and grown until, holding its tail in its mouth, it circles the entire 
world and holds the universe together. The gods tried to bind Fenris, but no 
chain was strong enough, until at last the mountain spirits wove a magic cord. 
It looked like a frail ribbon; but Fenris feared it and refused to be bound by 
it, unless some god would place his hand in the monster's mouth as a pledge 

(jQ4 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

that the cord would be removed. The god Tyr or Tiu (from whom we have 
Tuesday) made himself the sacrifice. He held his hand firmly between the 
wolf's great jaws ; the bonds held, and Fenris in his rage bit deep. So Tyr is 
one-handed; and Fenris chafes ever in his chain, which one day he will break 
with his growing strength. In the last contest his jaws will gape from heaven 
to earth, and Woden himself will be swallowed up in them. 

Next to Woden, Donar or Thor was the -leading god ; and from him we 
have Thursday. He was the god of strength, the Thunderer. He had a magic 
hammer which, when hurled against his foes, returned to his hand ; and the 
sign of this hammer, somewhat resembling the Christian cross, was made over 
new-born babes, when they were first washed. So they had Thor's protection 
against the frost giants, the enemies of man. 

Thor was the hero of most of the northern wonder tales. One of the most 
famous stories about him reveals many characteristics of the race. He went 
with his servant, Thialfi, and with Loki, the god of mischief, to the land of the 
giants. Night overtook them in a vast forest, and they came to what they took 
for a large building, wholly open on one side. They slept within it, but were 
awakened again aad again by earthquakes. Finally they found a smaller cham- 
ber, off the main one, and while his companions rested in this, Thor stood guard 
at the entrance. In the morning they discovered a giant lying near, of such 
prodigious size that his breathing had caused their earthquakes. Their sleep- 
ing-place proved to be his mitten, the smaller chamber being the thumb. He 
readily offered to guide them to the giants' home, and kept them all day at such 
a pace as they could hardly endure, though Thor and Loki were gods and Thialfi 
was the swiftest of men. 

At night the giant gave them his wallet of provisions and fell asleep. But 
they could by no effort untie the strings of the wallet, and Thor in a rage 
seized his hammer, and with all his strength smote the giant on the forehead. 
"Was that a feaf?" asked the monster, waking. "Something fell on my 
brow." At midnight, Thor rose again and hurled his hammer with such force 
against the giant's skull, that a deep rent appeared. " Ho ! " cried the sleeper, 
starting up, "there must be birds in this tree! Or was it a bit of moss 
dropped on me." Just before morning Thor tried again, and sank his hammer 
this time to the very hilt in the giant's brow. " Really," said the monster, 
rousing at last, " it is time to move on It must be the acorns from this tree 
that keep constantly bothering me." 

Thor was wofully perplexed. What chance had he, or any of the gods, 
against such a being? Really, however, it was by wise enchantments that the 
giants were baffling him. They had learned of his coming to Jotunheim (the 
giants' home) and were prepared for him. It was the greatest of them all, 




"«W tta 

p ART of r ^-sr^isisss 

his reign of law. and justice. Lota will lead the evi ^ 

the strife will rend the 1™^^* ^oden can not 
to be the ending oi Una , world "gn*^ ^ ages 
see to judge its outcome. But P a ^ n "f s ; t warrior 

he is preparing for the contest ^ truly ^ 

who falls in battle is earned a* onee Jo W 
of Valhalla. Here he lives a spirU Me, leasU g 
and building up his strength to aid the goes 

COn ¥he messengers of Woden who ^ carry up the^hercnc 

dead from the battlefield to W^^gj^ ^o may 
or shield-maidens; stem warrior figures then** ^ ^ 

sometimes be S ^ȣS! me /were fore- 
storm clouds. 1 he irermaub . ^ were warn ed 

ance, a stern struggle against iron fate. 


Germany — Thor in Jotunheim 505 

their king, Utgard-Loki, who had met the wanderers in the forest. When 
Thor smote at him, Utgard-Loki placed a mountain between them. In this the 
god ; s hammer had sunk and cut three valleys, so deep that the last had almost 
cloven the mountain asunder and reached to where the king lay beyond. So 
the giants were already sorely frightened. 

When Thor entered their city, they challenged him and his followers to vari- 
ous contests, in which again enchantment was used. Thor's comrade Loki 
offered to eat more than any one. Men prided themselves, you see, in those 
days on the amount they could eat ; and indeed, it seems that " beefsteak con- 
tests " have not yet gone wholly out of fashion. A rival was chosen for Loki, 
and a great platter of meat set between the two. They ate until they met 
fairly in the middle; but while Loki had swallowed only the meat, the other 
had devoured meat, bones, and platter as well. So Loki was defeated. Loki 
was hunger itself; but his opponent was really Flame, which devours what 
hunger spares. 

Then Thialfi, swiftest of men, challenged the giants to a race. But the 
rival set against him was, in truth, Thought, which flashed round the course 
and back, before Thialfi was fairly started. 

It was now Thor's turn, and he dared the giants to what, next to fighting, 
was the Germans' greatest pride, a drinking contest. They brought him a horn 
of liquor, and bade him empty it at one draught. It did not look over-large, 
but really, at its other end, lay all the oceans of the world. Thor essayed three 
times to drain the cup. At each draught the waters of the ocean sank until the 
monsters of the deep shrieked in fear. Yet the liquor in the cup seemed not 
much diminished ; and Thor was ashamed, and laid it by. 

Utgard-Loki laughed at him. "Come," he said, "here is a child's game 
for you. You shall lift my cat." Thor set his arms under the mewing, gray 
! pussy, and lifted with all his strength. The cat arched her back and stood still. 
For a moment she trembled, and one leg came slowly from the ground. Then 
Thor gave over the attempt; and the giant king laughed at him again. But 
there was terror in the laugh; for the cat was really tne Earth- Serpent, which, 
as you have learned, held the world together within its circle. Thor had 
stretched the monster, until almost he had separated mouth from tail, and dis- 
solved the universe. 

Wild with rage at. his repeated shame, Thor dared any one in the land to 
wrestle with him. "Nay," said Utgard-Loki, "you are a child. You shall 
wrestle with my old nurse." Then a withered and toothless hag tottered into 
the hall and seized upon Thor. Strive as the god of strength might, he found 
himself slowly bowing and bending under her grip. At last he sank upon one 
biee, and the king called on them to give over. 

£o6 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Crushed by this third defeat, Thor went despairing home, not knowing that 
he had wrestled with Old Age, before whom gods as well as men must bow at 
last. When the god and his companions were safely outside of Jotunheim, the 
king confessed to them his enchantments, but when Thor turned to strike him 
in anger the king had disappeared, nor will he ever admit Thor again within 
his domain. 

The god Loki, who was with Thor, is the spirit of mischief and of all evil. 
He is really not one of the gods' kin at all. He comes of the giants, but has 
allied himself with the superior race. He was Woden's foster brother, and so 
Woden has loved him and sheltered him through many evil deeds. Still the 
gods should never have had aught to do with the giant race, and their alliance 
with Loki has ever brought them disaster. 

The wolf Fenris and the Earth-Serpent are Loki's children. He has a 
third child, the giantess Hela, who rules the realms of darkness. Thither go 
all the dead who have not won the warrior's reward, Valhalla. The dismal 
land is called Hel, from which, of course, comes our word hell. 

It is Loki who will lead the forces of evil in that final battle. Meanwhile 
he pretends friendship to the gods, while seeking by all underhand means to dp 
them harm. He is handsome and shrewd and wonderfully subtle of speech, 
but underneath his words lurks always some poisoned malice. The greatest of 
his crimes as yet has been the death of Baldur, for which he now suffers the 
wrath of gods and men. 

Baldur was the god of springtime, of the sunshine, and of all that is fair and 
noble ; though there was also a goddess of spring, Freya, from whose name we 
get Friday. A rumor spread through the world that Baldur must die. Per- 
haps this means no more than that spring must pass and winter come. At any 
rate, the gods sent far over the wide earth and entreated all things not to harm 
Baldur. And all things loved him and promised. So the gods had a glad 
feast- time to celebrate the saving of Baldur. At the feast Loki suggested that 
they attack Baldur with many things and see how each would keep its promise 
and avoid injuring him. The game was entered into with much merriment, 
and strange consequences followed, for all deadly weapons, however well-aimed, 
turning backward of themselves, from Baldur's breast. Even Trior's hammer 
returned to his hand, refusing for once to strike its mark. Now, the treacher- 
ous Loki had learned that when Baldur's mother prayed mercy of the oak, she 
had neglected to ask the mistletoe, which twined round it. So he slipped a 
bunch of mistletoe leaves into the hand of the blind god Hoder, who is winter, 
and bade him strike Baldur with them. All laughed at the harmless missile. 
But lo ! when it struck Baldur, he fell dead. 

All light and sunshine and happiness vanished at once from the world, and 

ri 1 




(Their Horde Reaches the Sea but Turns by Chance Away from Rome) 

By the contemporary German artist, O. von Urlaub 

THE first knowledge we get of the Germans in history is 
when that particular horde of them known as the 
Teutones burst upon the Roman civilization about a 
century before Christ, in the days when Rome was still a re- 
public. You will remember how Marius met and conquered 
these Teutones, and also how difficult the conquest was to 
achieve. The wild Germans were physically much larger and 
stronger than the Romans, and so terrible was the aspect of 
the huge, shaggy invaders, so fierce the shout with which they 
charged the Roman legions, that the latter scarce made any 
stand against them in their first encounters. 

Three times a Roman army broke, fled and was destroyed 
by the German charge. Rome seemed helpless before the an- 
vancing horde; but her good fortune saved her. Chance 
turned the Teutones aside. When, in their southward march 
from the Alps, they reached the Mediterranean near Genoa 
and saw the long Roman road running east and west along 
the coast, they took the western way that led them into France 
rather than the eastern which led to Italy. They had built 
themselves rude ships, but these were no match at all for the 
huge Roman "triremes." So the invaders preferred the fair 
and sheltered inland plains of France, and spent several years 
exploring and plundering there before they realized the im- 
portance of attacking Rome itself. By that time the Roman 
army of Marius had been drilled to meet them, and their en- 
tire nation was exterminated in the battle. 



Germany— Baldur and Loki 


in deepest woe the gods sent to Hela's abode to beg Baldur' s return. She 
tended to doubt whether there was really so much need of him on earth 
gods claimed, and offered to give him up if every earth-creature would unite in 
weeping for him. Once more the gods sped through the world spreading 
message; and all things eagerly gave their tears, except one shrivellei 
crone, into whose body Loki slipped his own evil mind. " Is Baldur d 
she asked. "I do not miss his sunshine here in my cave, so what is that to 
me? Neither he nor you shall have tears of mine. Let Baldur stay with 
Hela. " 

Woden's terrible wrath was roused at last against his foster brother. Far 
in the frozen north, he bound Loki to a cliff overlooking the sea. A serpent is 
coiled above him, from whose fangs a deadly venom drops upon his face. I lis 
wife Sigyn still loves him, and she crouches by him with a cup to catch the 
poison. When her cup is full, she takes it away to empty into the ocean. 
During that single moment, twist as he may, Loki is exposed to the terrible 
poison, and his frantic writhings are what cause the earthquakes. 

These stories have been preserved for us mainly by the more northerly Ger- 
man tribes, who lived in Norway; but the religion and its tales were common 
to all the race. Their customs were also similar, as we have shown thern ; and 
their language was the same. 

These things did not, however, bind together the various tribes or even the 
families. They seem to have had no national feeling, and did not even speak 
of themselves as a single nation. They fought as savagely among themselves 
as against alien races. The Romans recognized this, and were quick to take 
advantage of it. Tacitus wrote : " Since the Germans cannot learn to love 
Rome, may they always preserve their hatred of one another. So shall we find 
safety in their discord." 

The German Fates 

« ^^v * il ^\ x ^\ A^\4^s 4^^ J 4/^4<^4j!^4dAi 1 |'.j^4,!^4<^^'^j^!^ !il ^4<^' 

T ^ T WT ^xr T "w 

Hermann Eloping with Thusnelda 

Chapter XLVII 


iHAT same fatal spirit of discord, which Tacitus noted 
among the Germans, has remained their weakness ever 
since. They have too much self-confidence ; each man 
is too sure of himself to feel the necessity for union. 
Bismarck, the greatest of modern Germans and the fore- 
most of statesmen, has not hesitated to repeat against 
his people the charge of Tacitus. "Germans," said he 
in one of his later speeches before the Prussian parliament, 
"live by quarrelling with their countrymen." 

The crafty Romans used this disunion to attempt the con- 
quest of Germany. Julius Caesar left the scene of his early 
victories to contend for the rule of the empire; but his suc- 
cessor, Augustus, when once firmly fixed upon his seat, renewed 
the attack, upon the Germans. He sent his stepsons, Drusus 
and Tiberius, with orders to subjugate the land. First came 
Drusus in the year 12 B.C. He crossed the Rhine, won several bloody battles, 
and penetrated deep into the heart of the gloomy forests. Legend says that 
a weird prophetess appeared suddenly before him on the banks of the Elbe 
River, and cried out in scorn that he should be so greedy a robber of wide 
land, when soon he would need only enough of earth for a grave. He turned 
back from his conquests in fear and died on the homeward road. 

Tiberius succeeded to his brother's authority and brought a considerable- 
part of central Germany under his control. This required several years, and 
then Tiberius was called away by a rebellion elsewhere, leaving the Roman 
general Varus to command the only half -submissive tribes. Tiberius had won 





(The Germans Celebrate Their Victory Over Varus) 

By Prof. Paul Thumann, a noted German artist bom in Lusatia in 1834 

YOU will recall how, more than a century after the ex- 
termination of the Teutones, the Roman Empire under 
Augustus attempted the conquest of the German forests. 
The tribes they met there were no longer so ignorantly bar- 
barian as the Teutones had been. Communication with the 
world of civilization had taught the Germans much. Many 
of their warriors had entered the Roman armies and received 
a military training there. Especially was this true of the 
young prince Hermann, of the Cherusci tribe. The Romans 
sought to make a friend of him and even appointed him com- 
mander of a legion. But Hermann chose the course of a pa- 
triot rather than that of a self-seeker. He saw that the Ger- 
mans must fight or become slaves. So he organized a secret 
uprising against the Romans, and when the legions of Varus, 
the Roman general, marched to suppress what they supposed 
was a trifling outbreak they were beset in the woods by many 
thousands of Germans. Hermann led the assailants in re- 
peated furious charges, and the entire Roman army was an- 

Our illustration shows the triumphal procession with 
which the Germans celebrated the restoration of their im- 
perilled freedom. Hermann, with his Roman prisoners, rides 
past an altar grimly decorated as the German custom was, 
with the skulls of horses. It is to be feared* that human vic- 
tims were also sacrificed to the German gods, and that many 
of the Roman prisoners suffered such a fate. 


Germany — Hermann Defeats Varus 500 

their respect, and even their reluctant admiration, but Varus, by his cruelty and 
injustice, roused their fiercest hatred. 

Trodden upon and bitterly humiliated, they needed only the guidance of a 
leader, who would show them how to make their vengeance felt. Such a ! 
appeared in Hermann, the Arminius of the Roman writers. He was a ( hief of 
the Cherusci tribe, but had been trained in warfare under the Romans. He 
had visited many parts of the empire and risen to be commander of a legion in 
the service. Returning to his German home, already a man of note, th< 
only twenty-five years old, he made a romantic match with Thusnelda, daughter 
of another Cheruscan chief. There seems to have been some enmity between 
the two families, for Hermann had to steal the maid from her home, and her 
father, Segestes, became his bitter and lifelong foe. 

How it was Hermann first conceived the idea of heading his countrymen in 
their threatened revolt, we do not know; but he formed a secret conspiracy 
among them, and soon a large number stood ready to spring to arms at his call. 
He was still an officer in the Roman service, and his position under Varus be- 
came hourly more dangerous. Many of the Germans, even members of his 
own family, had refused to join in his revolt. He might be betrayed at any 
moment. His father-in-law, Segestes, did reveal all he knew, but luckily that 
all was very little, and Varus only laughed at the warning. 

Hermann held his post in the Roman camp with splendid coolness, till his 
plans were completed. Then a message was brought to Varus of a pretended 
uprising, and the general hurried with all his available troops to crush it. The 
guides led the forty thousand doomed Romans through the wild Teutoberger 
forest on the borders of Westphalia, just where the mountains of central Ger- 
many sink to the level of the broad Rhine plain. 

Within this forest Hermann had prepared an ambush. With a force of 
savage Germans, probably fully equal in number to the Roman troops, he burst 
suddenly upon them. There was no room for regular formations or tactics, and 
j the struggle must have resembled in some respects the Braddock massacre of 
1755. The Germans rushed from the woods, furiously attacked and then 
dashed back into cover. The Romans marched on with steady precision, 
though growing more and more panic-stricken as one charge followed swiftly 
upon another. For three days the battle raged. The Romans forced their way 
to the very edge of the forest, and saw the fair plain and safety below. But 
without rest, without food, they were utterly exhausted, and the vengeful Ger- 
mans closed round their doomed victims for the final rush. The despairing 
Varus threw himself upon his sword. Scarce a handful of Romans escaped the 
carnage and fled across the Rhine to carry the tidings of the great disaster. 

This happened in the year a.d. 9; and you will remember the despair with 


pio The Story of the Greatest Nations 

which the Emperor Augustus heard the news. He let his hair and beard grow 
for months, and beating his head against the wall frequently cried out in his 
anguish, " Varus, Varus, give me back my legions ! " 

Once more the united Germans might have overwhelmed Rome. But even 
Hermann could hold his people together no longer. Under the stress of a great 
wrong, they had united for one instant, and in that effort had freed themselves 
forever from Roman dominion. The next year Tiberius, leading a fresh army 
against them, could find no one to fight. They were already quarrelling among 
themselves, and the little broken bands, hidden in the forests, easily eluded his 
cautious advance. He boasted that he had tamed the Germans again ; but he 
made no serious effort to establish his power, and was shortly summoned back 
to Rome to be emperor, leaving the barbarians to themselves. 

Hermann had celebrated his victory with a triumphal procession, had pre- 
sented the spoils to the savage German priests or druids, and had even slain the 
Roman prisoners, especially a few lawyers found among them, as sacrifices to 
his people's gods. He was seeking to use the glamour of his success to draw all 
the Germans together in a firm union. His plans seem to have been broai 
and wise, but not such as could succeed with that wild and factious people, 
He found himself unable even to retain the leadership of his own tribe, the 
Cherusci. The lower classes supported him, but a faction of the nobles, 
headed by Segestes, opposed his every move. He was entrapped by his foes 
and held in prison with his loyal, brave-hearted wife. 

Meanwhile Tiberius' nephew, afterward known as Germanicus, succeeded to 
the command of the Roman forces for a campaign against Germany. He led 
an expedition of revenge across the Rhine, deep into the forests. Several small 
tribes were defeated by him, then the Germans rallied once more. Hermann 
made a daring escape from his prison, and was raised to be again their leader. 
Germanicus, hard pressed and fearful of the fate of Varus, retreated in haste 
across the Rhine. 

It seemed Hermann's unhappy doom to sacrifice every human affection, 
every tie of family, in the service of his ungrateful country. Most of his kins- 
men opposed his schemes from the start. Now his beloved wife was in the; 
hands of his enemy. He led his troops against Segestes to secure her release, 
The allies of the cruel father deserted him, but sooner than admit defeat Se. 
gestes summoned the Romans to his help, and delivered his unfortunate daugh- 
ter' to them as their prisoner. The husband and wife never met again. 

Hermann, in hot rage at his loss, sped like a flame among all the tribes and; 
roused them to war. His burning words, and the fame of his former victory,! 
brought round him the largest army he had yet commanded. Meanwhile, Ger-! 
manicus had marched to the scene of Varus' defeat and interred with pathetic 



(The Wife of Hermann Betrayed to the Romans by Her Own Father) 

By the contemporary German artist, Henry Koenig 

HERMANN'S personal life was darkened by a tragic ro- 
mance. There was a feud between his family and that 
of Segestes, another German chieftain; but Hermann 
met and loved Thusnelda, the daughter of Segestes. She fled 
from home at his wooing and they were married; but their 
union only widened the breach with Segestes. He joined the 
Romans in antagonism to Hermann; and when, after the de- 
feat of Varus, young Germanicus led the Romans into Ger- 
many, Segestes became their chief ally. He entrapped Her- 
mann and Thusnelda and threw them into prison. Hermann 
made a daring escape and rallied his followers against Se- 
gestes and the Romans. Then, as our illustration shows, 
Segestes handed his own daughter as a prisoner to the Roman 
general. Germanicus wanted the glory of a triumph at the 
capital and, since he could win no victory over Hermann him- 
self, the wily Roman made Thusnelda the central figure of 
his triumphal procession, and paraded her in Rome as the 
captured queen of the Germans. 

Hermann sought by every means to win back his wife and 
his little son, born in captivity ; but Rome was as inaccessible 
to him as he made the German forests to Germanicus. Se- 
gestes fled from his infuriated countrymen and ended his life 
as an obscure pensioner of the Roman Government. Hermann 
was slain in. one of the endless internal wars which were al- 
ways breaking out among the wild Germans. 


Germany — Campaigns of Germanicus 5 1 1 

ceremonies the whitening bones that still lay thick upon the ground. The 
armies met not far from the former battlefield, each side fighting for revei 

The Romans say this was a drawn battle, but Germanicus immediately 
barked all the troops his ships could carry and fled with them down the V. 
River to the sea. A tempest shattered many of his vessels, and it was a b 
battered remnant that crept back to Gaul. The legions he had left behind 
suffered even more severely. They endeavored, as had those of Varus, to re- 
treat through the forests to the Rhine. Hermann with his men assailed them 
constantly. " It shall be another day of Varus ! " was his war-cry. 

Fortunately for the Romans, they were nearer than formerly to their refuge. 
Moreover, they had just looked upon their comrades' bleaching skeletons, and 
knew the fate that awaited all who surrendered. Thus, though sore pre 
they managed to hold firm in their ranks as they struggled onward. Those who 
fell were left behind ; but the survivors reached the Rhine with their standards 
still held aloft, and their military formation unbroken. 

Germanicus was a man not easily turned from his purpose. Twice again he 
led large armies into the German forests, and each time Hermann met him with 
bloody battle. Once Hermann was wounded and wellnigh made prisoner. An- 
other time Germanicus was in similar plight. The Romans claim to have 
gained victories, but this probably means no more than that they succeeded in 
standing off the wild German rushes. Hermann still presented to them a men- 
acing and unbroken front, and the shrewd Emperor Tiberius summoned Ger- 
manicus home. "It is easier," he said, "to leave the Germans to slay one 
another, rather than have them unite for the slaughter of the bravest legions of 
Rome." So ended the last effort of the "mistress of the world " to extend 
her power beyond the Rhine. 

When Germanicus returned home he was given a magnificent triumphal 
procession in honor of his victories, though you know how little he had actually 
accomplished. The central figure in the triumph was poor Thusnelda, whom 
he had not really captured at all, but received from Segestes. She was com- 
pelled to walk in the procession with her little son, born since her captivity. 
After that, history is silent concerning her. Her father fled from Germany to 
escape Hermann's wrath, and died in some obscure spot in Gaul. 

Tiberius had reckoned only too surely when he decided to leave the Ger- 
mans to themselves. A chieftain named Maroboduus had arisen in southern 
Germany among the Marcomanni. He also planned to bring all the Germans 
under one head ; but that head was to be himself, their king. Those tribes that 
refused to submit to his rule he overcame by force. His dominion spread 
rapidly northward until the weaker tribes, threatened by his armies, appealed 
to Hermann for protection. A huge civil war followed, the south of Germany 

r 1 2 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

against the north. No details of the strife have come down to us, but we know 
that it was long and bloody ; that Maroboduus received the help of the Romans 
against their old enemy; and that in the end the Marcomanni were completely 
defeated. Maroboduus fled, and lived out his life on Roman territory as a pen* 
sioner of the Empire. 

If Hermann, after his early Roman training and experience, still believed 
in Valhalla, he had certainly earned a place there by his long and heroic war- 
fare. He was no theoretical general to plan battles, and then bid his men go 
on and win them. He was a great warrior, leading his fellows, charging at the 
head of the terrible German wedge, wild with Bersekir rage, his blue eyes 
flaming, and his great two-handed sword swinging in deadly action. Only such 
a man could have retained his place. His countrymen might admire his wis- 
dom, or be roused to sudden fury by his eloquence, but they loved and clung to 
him for his mad valor in the battle. How he so long escaped death is a mar- 
vel, except it were indeed that he also had his work appointed, and earth could 
not spare him till that work was done. 

But now the Valkyrie were soon to come for him. You have read how his 
family had opposed him from the first. Indeed, there is a story that on the eve- 
of one of his battles with Germanicus, his brother Flavius, who had remained 
faithful to the Romans, rode out from their ranks and endeavored to win Her- 
mann back from rebellion. The parley ended unfortunately; Hermann taunted 
Flavius for his servile submission, and the brother, equally swift to anger, re- 
sponded with gibes against Hermann's folly and savagery. Only that a river 
flowed between, the brothers would have joined in mortal combat. After the 
war with the Marcomanni, Hermann, his last external enemy overcome, met 
further trouble with his kinsmen. The circumstances are unknown, but there 
was a conspiracy of his relatives against him and he was attacked and slain. 
He was thirty- seven years old when he fell, his stormy career among his people 
having lasted twelve years. 

There is no question that Hermann must be regarded, not only as a magnifi- 
cent heroic figure, but also as the liberator of Germany. His own countrymen 
hailed him as such ; and the Romans have been equally ready to admit both the 
nobility of his character and the importance of his work. Tacitus says : " Her- 
mann was beyond doubt Germany's liberator. He dared to attack the Roman 
power, not in its infancy, as did others, but in the full growth of its strength. 
In single battles he was not always victorious, but in a war he was never de- 
feated." We can scarcely regret his death, for his work was done, his love was 
lost; and further life among his people, with his aims, could have meant for him 
nothing but defeat and disappointment. Not the least factor, perhaps, in raising 
his fame to its lofty height is that he died before age or evil fate could tarnish it. 




(The Beginning of the Great Migration Which Overflowed Roman Gaul) 

By the contemporary French artist, Evariste V. Luminals, of Nantes 

FOR more than three centuries after the death of Her- 
mann, the Rhine River remained the boundary between 
the Germans and the Romans. Then came the downfall 
of the Romans under the assaults of another similar Teutonic 
race, the Goths, who came from eastern Europe and entered 
the Empire by crossing the Danube. The struggle against the 
Goths withdrew the Roman legions from the Rhine, and once 
more the Germans there began to invade the ancient world 
of civilization. 

During those three or four centuries changes, which we 
can but dimly trace, had taken place in Germany. The 
names of tribes which we met in Hermann's story have disap- 
peared. The northern Germans along the Rhine all call 
themselves Franks, which means "freemen." These, finding 
the Rhine frontier undefended, and knowing well what 
riches lay beyond it, began crossing the river, at first secretly 
by night, in small parties on long rafts built at the moment. 
Afterward they came in ever-increasing numbers, not as con- 
querors, but as plunderers. The inhabitants of Gaul, who 
had dwelt in peace for many generations under Roman pro- 
tection, knew not how to defend themselves. The land was 
filled with flame and ravage and massacre. Gradually, with- 
out any single decisive battle, most of the territory passed into 
the hands of the Franks. Only a few strong cities held out 
against them. 


Germany — The Germanic Nations 5 1 3 

The location of his first and most memorable victory over the Romans 
always been preserved by tradition, and in recent times the Germans have 
erected there a monument to his glory. It is a colossal bronze statue of the 
chieftain, ninety feet high, and visible for fifty miles across the fair Rhine 
plain, over which a shattered Roman army twice fled before him. 

For three centuries and a half after Hermann's death, our knowledge of 
Germany is slight and vague. There was a prophetess, Vellada, who, about the 
year 69 a.d., urged the Germans to attack the Roman power in Gaul. Many 
Gaulish tribes united in league with the assailants; and for a moment Gaul was 
free. But again the allies fell to disputing among themselves, and the Ger- 
mans were driven back to their forests. In the second century the Marco- 
manni and several kindred races attempted an invasion of Roman territory, by 
crossing the Danube river where Austria now lies. It took forty years of hard 
fighting to hold them back ; but who their leaders were, or what their purpose, 
the Romans themselves do not seem to have known. 

During these misty centuries important changes were slowly developing 
the German race. In the first place they became far more civilized, for they 
learned from Rome herself, many of the arts of peace as well as war. In the 
second^ place they became partly Christianized through the efforts of the cele- 
brated Ulfilas and other apostles. This conversion, rough and imperfect as it 
must have been, softened their savage brutality. Thirdly, the many little tribes 
disappear; their very names are forgotten, and we find the people uniting in 
some half-dozen larger, and hence infinitely more powerful, confederations. 
1 These begin to assume the permanence and individual importance of separate 

As you will hear constantly of these various Germanic nations, and as some 
of them exist even to-day, it is as well to try to fix the principal ones in your 
imind at once so as to recognize them. They were : 

(1) The GOTHS. These were the most numerous, the most cultured, and 
for a time the most important of the Germans. They settled along the lower 
Danube and the Black Sea, where Hungary, Roumania, and Southern Russia 
are to-day. Their home was originally in Sweden, where some of the race still 
live in Gothland, but from which increasing population had compelled the ma- 
jority to migrate. Through their vast numbers they became divided into the 
eastern or Ostro-Goths, and the western or Visi-Goths. They were to play the 
chief part in the destruction of the Roman Empire. 

(2) The FRANKS. After the fall of the Goths, the Franks became the 
most powerful Germanic tribe. Perhaps they were the descendants of Hermann's 
warriors. They lived where he had lived, along the lower Rhine, whence in 
the fourth century they spread over Gaul, fighting the Romans, and even setting 

r^ The Story of the Greatest Nations 

up Frankish generals to dispute for possession of the Roman empire. They 
were temporarily defeated by Theodosius the Great, but later renewed their 
aggressions and became the founders of modern Germany and France. Please 
do not, however, make the common mistake of confounding Franks and French- 
men. It is true that the modern French are descendants of one branch of 
these Franks. But by far the larger part of the Franks remained in Germany, 
and built up the German empire. So when we speak of Franks, remember 
that we are talking of a German race, only a small number of whom conquered 
Gaul, and so gave it its modern name of France. 

(3) The SAXONS. Their home was Central Germany, where the kingdom 
of Saxony, though much reduced in size, still exists in the hands of their de- 
scendants. Wandering bands of them seized on England and made that too a 
Germanic kingdom. The Saxons, so called from their sahs or short swords, were 
the wildest and least civilized of all the tribes. They clung to their old cus- 
toms, their woodland life, and their pagan gods, for centuries after the other 
tribes had become conquerors and city builders. 

(4) The BURGUNDIANS. Their early home was along the Baltic, but 
they joined the general southward movement of the tribes, and established them- 
selves along the upper Rhine. Modern Burgundy retains their name and marks 
a portion of the district where they settled. Their capital was the still stand- 
ing city of Worms. It is the Burgundians who have preserved for us most of 
the old German legends. 

(5) The ALEMANNI. These seem to have been the descendants of the 
Marcomanni and other southern German tribes. They remained in their ancient 
homes, and their descendants occupy the south of Germany to-day, in modern 
Wiirtemberg and the surrounding regions. 

(6) The VANDALS. These were a tribe closely allied to the Goths ; but 
they need special mention because they established their rule over a vast 
Vandal kingdom, covering all Northern Africa. 

Of the way in which the German tribes overran the Roman Empire in the 
fourth and fifth centuries, you have already learned in the story of Rome. 
Their general southward movement was started by the Huns, a strange Asiatic 
people, who pressed upon them from the East. The Huns were, as a race, 
much smaller than the Germans ; but they were splendid horsemen and very 
fierce, and they shot arrows with deadly precision from a distance much 
farther than a German spear could be thrown. Besides, they moved in a com- 
pact body, and thus easily brushed aside their more scattered opponents. The | 
latter, as they crowded southward, became themselves more unified and power-: 
ful. Alaric and his Goths captured Rome; Geiseric and his Vandals sacked it 
in their turn. 



bius Ms 

*♦* *K •$* 


(Thorismund Turns the Tide of Battle at Chalons) 

From a painting made in 1890 by Alexander Zick, of Germany 

FEW and faint are the records that have come down to us, 
to show the state of central Europe during the fourth 
and fifth centuries. It must have been a wild welter in- 
deed of former Roman subjects, whether Italians, Gauls or 
Thracians, and of intermixed Germanic tribes, Goths, Pranks 
and a dozen others. Yet we must not think of all these peo- 
ples as being at constant war. They must have arranged some 
system of living together in peace. Once at least we find them 
all uniting under the pressure of a common danger so terrible 
that it remains as the one clearly preserved, intelligible event 
of this bewildering age. 

The whirlwind of the Huns of Attila, "the Scourge of 
God," burst from Asia upon Europe. Its effect upon Italy' 
we have already seen ; its effect on central Europe was no 
less profound. On the banks of the Rhine, Attila 's myriads 
met a Germanic tribe, the Burgundians, some ten thousand 
warriors strong. These ten thousand were almost extermi- 
nated—though we shall hear of them again in legend— and 
the Huns swept on into France. They were met in a great 
battle at Chalons by a combined army of Pranks, Goths, Ital- 
ians and Gauls under a Roman general, Aetius, and were ut- 
terly defeated. The most noted hero of this tremendous fight 
which saved Europe from the Huns, was young Thorismund, 
a Gothic chieftain. His father was slain upon the field, and 
the Goths wavered; but Thorismund seized his father's place 
and led his people on to vengeance. Then, in the triumph of 
the bloody strife, they raised him upon their shields as king. 


Germany — The Decay of Rome 

5 1 

Even the show of resistance which the ancient Empire made against the in- 
vaders, was not really her own. You must bear in mind that from the tin 
Caesar, German soldiers had been entering the Roman army in ever increasing 
numbers, until they formed the heart and sinew of all the legions. This should 
be clearly understood; for in the battles waged in defence of dying Rome, it 
was often Germans who fought Germans. There were generals and even em- 
perors of their race. So, whichever side won, Germans reaped the spoil.-,, and 
the unhappy degenerates of decaying Rome paid and suffered for all. 

UijFiLAS Writing the Gothic Gospel 

The nibelttng Song 

Chapter XLVIII 

*T is only as the Germans thus rush out upon the Roman 
world that they show themselves clearly to our view. 
They have kept no record or remembrance of their 
earlier history, and what you have just learned of it is 
gathered from the chance notices of Roman writers. 
Even Hermann himself seems to have faded from the 
minds of his countrymen. Their very earliest legends 
refer only to the period at which we have now arrived. 

These legends are very famous. Their chief hero, Siegfried, 

cannot be positively identified, and may be wholly fabulous ; but 

most of the other personages had a real existence. They have 

thus been preserved for us in two oddly contrasting lights. The 

writers of antique Latin chronicles describe and label them as 

cold facts; while they flash as heroes of romance through the 

songs of long generations of northern minstrels. Sometimes the 

two figures are quite similar, sometimes they are so distorted on 

one side or the other that it is doubtful whether they can be 

indeed the same. It is not merely that surrounding circumstances are shifted ; 

the very spirit and soul of the man become dualized, as interpreted now by 

critic, now by poet minds. 

You will find worth pondering, the comparison which can here be made be- 
tween history and legend, because of its illustration of their resemblance and 
relative value. Thus with other legends you may learn to figure roughly the 
unknown history that may lie behind them. It is not always the legend that 
exaggerates Sometimes it has forgotten history's most thrilling portions. 


(Clovis, the Babe of Prophecy, Presented to His Father) 

After the painting by F. Leeke, noted for his pictures of ancient 
German life 

THE man who gathered the wild Franks and built them 
into a nation, who consolidated their scattered con- 
quests into a kingdom which covered much of modern 
Germany and France, was Clovis, the babe shown in this 

The father of Clovis was the chieftain of a small Frankish 
tribe near the mouth of the Rhine. His wife had a dream or 
vision in which she saw a son of theirs as a mighty lion lead- 
ing a troop of lions to victory. Shortly afterward her babe 
was born ; and she presented him to his father, as was the 
old German custom, lying in the father's shield. Then she 
told the story of the babe 's promised greatness. 

Clovis, trained to war by both his eager parents, became 
his father's successor when only fifteen. By rich promises of 
pay and spoils he drew many Franks to follow him, and when 
scarcely twenty led an army into Gaul. This happened some 
thirty years after the battle of Chalons, and unhappy Gaul 
was still in tumult. Thorismund and his Goths held the south 
of it; Roman cities maintained themselves in isolated inde- 
pendence in the north. The city folk gathered under a Roman 
general named Syagrius, but Clovis completely overthrew 
them in a battle at Soissons. This victory made him master 
of all Gaul except the Gothic south. 

Ill 0^ 

Germany — Battle of Chalons 5 1 j 

Let us first take the historical side. The two most prominent men of the 
fifth century a.d. were Attila the Hun and Theodoric the Goth. A 1< 
personage to the world, but one who naturally filled a large space in the eye 
Burgundians, was their own king, Gunther. You have learned something ah 
of the first two. The terrible Huns had rested for a moment in their care 
destruction, and had settled in what is still called Hungary. Many of the I 
man tribes had become their subjects or allies. Hence when Attila, n 
and as he called himself " The Scourge of God," hurled the Huns om 
against the western races, many of the less civilized Germans, and espe< 
the Ostrogoths, marched under his banners. King Gunther marshalled his 
Burgundians on the banks of the Rhine and endeavored to defend his king 
against this vast horde. He had only ten thousand men, while Attila's force 
was over half a million strong; and the attempt, therefore, was as hopeless as 
it was heroic. Gunther was killed and his men were annihilated. 

Attila swept into Gaul to meet a sturdier foe. Theodoric, the young king 
of the Visigoths, at that time held all southern Gaul. He united with Aetius, 
a Goth in command of the Roman armies, and the two met Attila at that as- 
tounding battle of Chalons. Chalons should never be spoken of as a Roman 
battle. Vastly more was at stake there than a few added years of miserable 
existence for worthless, tottering Rome. Probably the combatants themselves 
did not recognize the most important issue, for the Ostrogoths fought upon 
Attila's side. But it was really the battle of civilization that was waged. 
Should Asia conquer Europe ? Should the world be Hun or German ? Tar- 
tar or Aryan ? With two thousand years of time, and all northern Asia to 
work in, the Tartar has shown himself incapable of solving the problem of civil- 
ization. The Aryan races of Europe, and they alone, have proved able to do 
God's work, in carrying forward the world to where it now stands upon the 
upward path. 

So once again it was Destiny that struck with the swords of Theodoric and 
Aetius at Chalons. Theodoric was the hero of the day. Again and again he 
charged with his men against the enemies' centre, where Attila commanded in 
person. The Huns at last broke and fled, but Theodoric had fallen in the 
sault. His people immediately raised his son, Thorismund, upon their shields 
asking, and under him continued the battle, inspired now by irrestrainable re- 
venge. Two hundred and fifty thousand men perished upon the field. Legend 
describes the contest as so awful that the spirits of the slaughtered men, leaping 
from their bodies, continued the appalling contest in the air. The Huns were 
utterly defeated and Attila led his shattered forces back into Hungary. The 
Tartar sun went down forever ; Europe was to be Aryan. 

Theodoric the Visigoth, with his one day of heroism, was not, however, the 

5 1 8 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Theodoric who is called "the Great." The title is used to distinguish The- 
odoric, king of the Ostrogoths, born just about the time of the battle of Chalons. 
When the German chief Odoacer finally put an end to the Western Roman 
Empire in 473, this Theodoric the Ostrogoth was commissioned by the Em- 
perors of the East to win Italy back for them — if he could. He led his entire 
people thither, overthrew Odoacer in 493, slew him rather treacherously, and 
established himself as Emperor of the West. 

This position he held for over thirty years, the leading German of his day. 
Something like the old power of the Empire came back for the moment under 
his wise rule. The other German tribes looked up to him ; messengers from 
the various chieftains came constantly to his court in Verona or Ravenna, to 
seek his advice and aid. Even Clovis, the newly risen Frankish conqueror of 
whom you shall hear later, dared not meet Theodoric in battle. Clovis had de- 
feated and slain the king of the Visigoths in southern Gaul, who was related to 
Theodoric by marriage. Clovis claimed the conquered land, but when The- 
odoric marched against him, he retreated and allowed the emperor to establish 
his little grandson upon the vacant throne. After that, Theodoric's influence 
was supreme in Western Europe, and he exerted this influence for peace. So 
a brief quarter-century of quiet, golden indeed by comparison with the troublous 
times before and after, spread like a balm over Europe, and earned for the Em- 
peror the grateful recognition of his world of subjects and friends as "The- 
odoric the Great." 

Now for the legendary stories of these same men and times. Siegfried is 
the chief hero of the legends. His later life resembles considerably that of 
Siegoert, a king of the Franks in the sixth century ; but portions of the tale 
are far older than this, and in these Siegfried is a demigod, the daylight per- 
haps or the splendor of the sun. There are many different songs about him, 
some of them coming even from Norway and far-off Iceland, and of course they 
do not all tell the story in precisely the same way. They all agree, however, 
on the main points. 

The hero was a prince of the lower Rhineland, that is to say, of the Franks, 
with his capital at Xanthen. He slew the dragon that guarded an immense 
treasure, so vast that 

Were all the world brought from it, and all the price outpaid, 

Not one the less would the jewels seem, nor the gold heap lower laid." 

This was the Nibelungs' hoard. The Nibelungs were a vague and mysteri- 
ous people, who dwelt in the land of darkness, Norway perhaps, or possibly the 
earth itself underground, where there were the gnomes and dwarfs, the human j 
dead, and all the phantasms of gloom and night. The treasure, according to the! 
poetic form of the story preserved in the North, was brought to earth by the 



(The Founder of the Frankish Empire Establishes His Authority) 

By the noted French illustrator, A. de Neuville 

CLOVIS was no mere marauder. His Frankish followers 
may have thought only of plunder. He looked clearly 
to permanent dominion, to a vast and peaceful king- 
dom with himself as king. He was a man as shrewd as he 
was strong, as patient as he was persistent. These qualities 
are all well illustrated in the story of the vase of Soissons. 
Among the Frankish spoils after the battle of Soissons was a 
rich vase as costly as it was fragile. Clovis desired this, to 
present it to a friend; but one warrior, jealous perhaps of 
Clovis' leadership, refused to let the vase be withdrawn from 
the heap of plunder. When Clovis insisted the man cried out 
that they were all equals there, all Franks ; and he deliberately 
smashed the vase with his battle-axe. Clovis submitted at the 
time, for he knew the cry of equality would appeal to all the 
Franks. A year later, while inspecting his soldiers, Clovis 
berated this man for carelessness about his weapons and, on 
this excuse of military disobedience, suddenly smote the of- 
fender dead with a battle-axe. But Clovis cried out as he 
struck, " 'Twas thus you smashed my vase at Soissons." 

With such a leader, the fiction of his equality with his 
followers soon ceased. He became their king, and they his 
obedient and devoted subjects. Gradually, by force or treach- 
ery, he extended his rule over all the Franks, both those who 
had entered Gaul and those who still dwelt in Germany. 
Clovis brought order out of chaos, and bound the loosely scat- 
tered tribes of Franks into a single firmly established Frank- 
ish empire. 



Germany — The Nibelungen Legends 519 

gods themselves. Once Woden, having taken human form, was snared 
magician and threatened with death. He secured a respite by pron 
captor endless wealth, and Loki, who was with him, was sent to seize the I 
ure which the earth dwarfs had been gathering since the beginning of time. 
The crafty Alberich, their king, attempted to evade Loki by assuming a thou- 
sand different forms of beast and fish ; but Loki, more subtle even thai 
followed him through all and seized him at last. Alberich gave up the whole 
Nibelung hoard, and then Loki insisted that he give also his ring, which 
ried with it the sovereignty of the Nibelungs. Whoever owned it became thus 
himself a Nibelung, their king. 

Alberich had to surrender it, but in his rage he put a curse upon the ring, 
upon the treasure, and upon all who should ever possess them. Loki, god of 
mischief, thanked him for the curse even more than for the treasure ; and, 
ing both to the magician, set Woden free. At once the curse began to work. 
The magician's two sons slew him for the treasure. Then the elder brother, 
Faf nir, drove the younger away, and not daring to leave the treasure, lay 1 
beside it to watch. He tried even to coil himself around it ; and gradually this 
became easy to him. His heart grew stony, his blood cold, his life sluggish 
and dull. He had turned into a great snake or dragon, and as such lay guard- 
ing his treasure through the passing centuries. 

Meanwhile, the younger brother, Regin or Mimer, wandered through the 
world, kept alive by his hate, growing older and older, wiser and wiser, until no 
man was ever like him for weird age and crafty knowledge. It was he who 
sent Siegfried against the dragon, as he had sent many another, hoping against 
hope that Fafnir might be slain. After a tremendous fight the fair-haired hero 
slew the dark Nibelung dragon and possessed the hoard. Thus he became him- 
self a Nibelung, with the shadowy, mysterious wisdom of the darkness. There- 
fore he slew his aged counsellor, seeing clearly that Regin would now seek to 
rob and murder him. He also bathed himself in the dragon's blood, thus mak- 
ing his skin like the dragon's, unpiercable by sword or spear. But the Nibelung 
curse was already upon him, and a leaf clung to his back, so that one place was 
not touched by the blood. It was this one unprotected spot that brought him 
to his death at last. 

The young Nibelung king had many other wonderful adventures, air. 
them being the waking of Brunhild. Brunhild was originally a Valkyrie, who 
disobeyed Woden and was therefore doomed to a human existence of sorrow. 
She was set asleep in a castle, surrounded by a wall of flames. Siegfried rode 
through the wall, waked her with a kiss, and loved her. But the Nibelung 
curse followed him. He was made by magic to forget her, and was sent once 
more wandering through the world. 

520 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Now we take up the tale of his life from the " Nibelungen Lied," or tale of 
the Nibelungs, the finest of old German songs, which enthusiastic Teutons rank 
but a little below the works of Homer. Siegfried travelled to the court of the 
Burgundians at Worms. He was royally welcomed by their king, Gunther, 
whom you have already met from his historic side. Gunther had a beautiful 
sister, Kriemhild, who had been wooed by Dietrich of Berne or Verona (The- 
odoric the Great), and other heroes. Siegfried sought to see the famous beauty, 
but she was kept hidden from him. Then the Saxons and Danes declared war 
against the Burgundians, and Siegfried offered to go with his twelve attendant 
knights and conquer these nations. Here we have something that is clearly 
historic. The Franks, as allies of the Burgundians, attack the Saxons and 

Of course Siegfried is victorious. He defeats one king, and the other sur- 
renders. The hero returns to Worms ; and now he is allowed to see Kriem- 
hild, and falls deeply in love with her. Meanwhile, King Gunther has heard 
of Brunhild, who holds her court in Iceland, and, r still retaining her Valkyrie 
spirit and strength, vows she will wed no man who cannot outdo her in feats of 
arms. Gunther seeks to win her, and Siegfried, wholly forgetful of his former 
love for her, offers to assist the king in return for Kriemhild's hand. The two 
heroes sail for Iceland, and there is a splendid contest of strength, in which 
Siegfried, made invisible by a magic cloak of darkness, helps Gunther, who, 
stalwart as he is, would else have been utterly defeated. 

Brunhild, unsuspicious of the trickery, returns with them to Worms and 
weds Gunther, while Kriemhild and Siegfried are united. Once more, how- 
ever, Siegfried has to go to the king's help, for Brunhild, secretly loving the 
great hero, rather than her husband, will have naught to do with Gunther. 
Siegfried in his cloak of darkness again vanquishes her, and she surrenders to 
what" she supposes is her husband's strength. 

Siegfried returns to his own kingdom, where for a time he lives happily with 
Kriemhild. Then the tragedy opens. He and his bride return to Worms on 
a visit. The two wives quarrel. Siegfried has been misrepresented from the 
first to Brunhild as a vassal of Gunther. Hence she claims homage from 
Kriemhild, and this is angrily refused. The ladies meet before the great 
cathedral at Worms, and each insists on entering first. Kriemhild, who has 
learned from her husband the facts of Gunther's wedding, proclaims them in 
her anger with brutal plainness. Brunhild is stricken to the heart, silent with 
despair and murderous rage. 

King Gunther is equally furious that Siogfried should have betrayed their 
secret even to his wife ; but he cannot take vengeance on the man who has 
done so much for him. His uncle, the gloomy and terrible Hagen, is less 





J H^^tomSS 




(Clovis' Chief Counsellor Wooes for Him a Christian Bride) 

From the historical series made in 1890 by Alexander Zick 

WHEN Clovis had established his rule firmly over all the 
Franks, he began to extend it over other nations. In 
pursuit of this ambition he courted a Christian bride, 
the Princess Clotilde, of that Burgundian nation which had 
fought against Attila. Clotilde 's father had been slain and 
his throne seized by a relative, so that by wedding her Clovis 
would have some claim to the Burgundian crown. Moreover, 
she was reported to be very beautiful. So Clovis sent his most 
trusted councillor, the Roman, Aurelian, to see Clotilde in 
secret and judge of both her charms and her desire for re- 
venge on her father's destroyer. 

The Burgundians were Christians, so Aurelian came to 
Clotilde as a Christian pilgrim seeking shelter. She bathed 
his weary feet, and as she did so he made himself known by 
dropping into the basin the royal ring of Clovis. Clotilde 
wrung from her relatives a hesitating consent that she should 
wed the Frankish king; then she fairly fled from Burgundy 
to him, burning the villages behind her as she passed, as a 
savage way of letting the Burgundians know her mind toward 
them. Clovis fought Burgundy as her champion, and made it 
a province of his growing empire. 

On that wild ride through the flames, Clotilde had among 
her train, her Christian priests. Thus it was through her and 
them, amid fire and fury, that Christianity was brought to the 


Germany — The Legendary Attila 521 

scrupulous. He plots with Brunhild, and they draw from the too talkative 
Kriemhild the secret of the one vulnerable spot in Siegfried's skin. She is 
even persuaded to mark its exact location with an embroidered red cross on her 
husband's mantle, that Hagen may guard him from all danger. There is a 
hunting party ; the wine is purposely left behind, and Siegfried kneels to drink 
from a spring. Hagen promises to protect him while he stoops, then guided 
by the fateful red cross, drives a deadly spear deep into the hero's bacK. 

Great is the lamentation when Siegfried's body is brought home. Brunhild > 
having accomplished her sad destiny and sad revenge, stabs herself upon the 
body. Kriemhild accuses everybody of the murder in hysterical despair. 
Gunther and all his knights in turn lay hands upon the body and swear to their 
innocence. When it comes Hagen's turn, the wound bleeds afresh under his 
touch, and he defiantly boasts of his deed and its cause. " Siegfried was too 
mighty to live among other men." 

Hagen then wrests from Kriemhild the Nibelung hoard, lest she purchase 
revenge with it. He and King Gunther hide it by sinking it in the Rhine ; 
and thus the Nibelung power, the name, and the doom pass to the Burgundians. 

Now comes the second part of the story, "The Nibelungs' Need." Kriem- 
hild, become silent, secretive, and murderous, is wooed by the mighty conqueror 
Etzel (Attila), king of the Huns. Hagen, with the dark Nibelung wisdom, sees 
the danger, and warns King Gunther of Kriemhild's deadly purpose. But Gun- 
ther is only too anxious to do anything that will atone to his wronged sister. 
With a numerous train she goes to the land of the Huns, and becoming their 
queen, urges her brother to visit her. Still warned by Hagen, and still obsti- 
1 nate, Gunther sets out with ten thousand Burgundian warriors. They are made 
welcome by Etzel, who unlike his historic double seems a kindly and rather 
J feeble man, and they are glad to find their old friend Dietrich of Berne (The- 
odoric) a visitor at Etzel' s court. Kriemhild, however, has lured them there to 
die. She stirs up a sudden wrangle in the great banquet hall; each side flies 
to arms ; Dietrich, reminding the Burgundians of their ancient friendship, takes 
Etzel and Kriemhild under his protection and leads them unharmed from the 
hall; but all the remaining Hunnish chiefs are slain. 

Kriemhild urges others on, to avenge the slaughter of their friends. The 
Hunnish hordes rush again and again upon the hall where the Burgundians, 
grim and terrible, slay all who come ; but their own number steadily grows less. 
At last only Hagen and Gunther are left, wounded and outworn. Even Die- 
trich's followers have been drawn into the assault against them and been 
destroyed. When Dietrich himself hears this he comes in sorrowful wrath, 
binds the two exhausted champions and delivers them to Queen Kriemhild. 

She is eager to learn the hiding place of the Nibelung hoard, and has Gun- 


The Story of the Greatest Nations 

ther thrown Into a den of serpents. He refuses to tell the secret, and instead 
chants a splendid swan song, glorying in his great deeds, and so dies unafraid, 
singing amid the poison bites. Kriemhild then tries to bribe Hagen into re- 
vealing the hidden wealth. The iron warrior declares that first he must be 
assured of Gunther's death ; but when his king's severed head is shown him, he 
laughs, saying that the hoard is now safe indeed. Kriemhild slays him in her 
rage, and thus he passes into the true Nibelung world of darkness, defiant and 
unyielding. An aged chief who stands near stabs Kriemhild because of all 
the slaughter she has caused. So ends the poem, with the Nibelung curse ac- 
complished upon all the Burgundians, and the treasure lost forever, in the 

There are other tales of Dietrich, also representing him as the friend of 
Attila, sometimes as a wandering fugitive at Attila's court. This is, perhaps, 
a confusion of Theodoric the Great with his uncles, Ostrogoth chiefs of the 
previous generation, who really were among the Ostrogoth allies of Attila. 
Dietrich's friendship for the Burgundians may be confounded with the other 
Theodoric, the Visigoth king, who fell as did Gunther's ten thousand Burgun- 
dians, fighting Attila. 

Hagen at Siegfried's Bier 


(The Franks Guided by a Deer Find an Unguarded Ford Over the Vienne River 

From the historical series by Alexander Zick 

SOME years after his marriage with Clotilde, Clovis 
adopted her Christian faith, and caused most of his 
Franks to do the same. This formal acceptance of Chris- 
tianity by the Franks has been clothed about with many leg- 
ends. One of these tells of the death of each of the children 
of Clovis whom he had refused to have baptised, until there 
came a little sickly babe which in very scorn he let Clotilde 
baptise, whereon that child grew strong and well. Another 
tale is of his calling for help in a desperate battle and being 
aided by angels from heaven. 

His formal acceptance of Christianity in no wise tamed 
his eagerness for war. This was on the contrary intensified. 
The Goths who held southern France had accepted a different 
form of Christianity, so Clovis declared they were Another 
and set out to conquer them. They protected against him all 
the fords of the Vienne River; but another legend, the one de- 
picted in our illustration, tells of a supernatural doe which 
by crossing the river revealed an unknown, unguarded ford. 
The Franks crossed by this and defeated the "' ' heretics. ' ' 
Thus, step by step, did Clovis extend his empire. He was 
only forty-five when he died, but he had laid the foundations 
upon which modern Europe has grown. 


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Chapter XLIX 


ITH Clovis we tread once more on assured historic ground. 
The kingdom which he established covered a consider- 
able part of both Germany and France, as we know 
them to-day. Hence French and German historians 
claim him equally as the founder of their modern king- 
doms. Clovis is the old French form of the name Louis, 
and it is as Clovis that the king is generally known, 
though the Germans regard their harsher form, Chlod- 
wig, as more correct. 

After the battle of Chalons we find the Franks ruling in the 
north of Gaul, and the Visigoths in the south, the central portion 
remaining an independent Roman kingdom. The Franks were not 
as yet one compact nation ; they were scattered in little bands, most 
of them, indeed, still remaining in their old homes along the 
Rhine. Those Franks who had moved to the low plains by the sea, 
about where Belgium lies to-day, were called the Salic Franks ; and 
the father of Clovis was a king or rather chieftain, ruling one section among 
them. This chief was deposed and banished by his people for his depravity, 
but was afterward restored "on trial" as it were. We are told that his wife 
was a sorceress, who showed him in a vision the future of his race. First there 
came a mighty lion, surrounded by other magnificent beasts. These passed, 
and were followed by a troop of ravening wolves and bears, who fought among 
themselves. Then came little, yelping, frisking dogs, and against these ad- 
vanced tiny beasts of an unknown kind, which grew ever larger until at last 
they swallowed up the helpless puppies. 

524 The Story of the Greatest Nations 


Clovis, the son of this worthy couple, was clearly the lion of the vision. He 
was only fifteen when, in the year 481, he came to his father's throne; but he 
set to work at once to increase his power and draw warriors to his standard, — the 
splendid beasts of the prophecy. Thus, before he was of age he was able to 
lead a formidable force into the heart of Gaul. Following the fashion of the 
Germans, he challenged the Roman ruler of Gaul, Syagrius, to meet him in 
battle. Syagrius seems to have agreed eagerly. . The armies met at Soissons, 
in 486, and the Romans were utterly defeated. Clovis found himself master 
of all central Gaul. 

This was a tremendous advance for the petty king of a small band 0: 
Franks, and Clovis seems to have spent some ten years organizing, and estab 
lishing himself in his new domain. To this period of his life belongs the well- 
known story of the Soissons vase. This vase belonged to the Christian cathe- 
dral at Rheims, and was part of the spoil won by the Franks at Soissons. It | 
seemed of small use to the wild warriors, and the Bishop of Rheims begged 
Clovis to return it. The Prankish race was still heathen ; but Clovis seems to 
have felt even then a kindliness for Christianity and he requested his men to 
give up the vase. All were willing except one man, who seemed to have a 
special liking for it ; perhaps it had been assigned to him as his share of the 
booty; at any rate, he refused. "We are all equal here," he cried. "It is 
only in battle you have the right to command us." And to prove his equality 
he smashed the vase with his battle-axe. 

Clovis said nothing ; though we can fancy how his young face must have 
flushed. He knew his followers, and knew that they would support their com 
rade in this assertion of their rights, however rudely proclaimed. The secre 
of Clovis' success was, that he ruled always with a craft equal to his strength. 

Mere than a year passed and still Clovis bided his time. Perhaps his op- 
ponent had forgotten ; at any rate when the man appeared one day at a great 
parade of the army, his weapons were not in perfect order. Some such slight 
excuse, some such public occasion, were what the king had waited for. With 
words of savage reproval for the weapons' condition, Clovis threw them on the 
ground ; then as the man stooped to pick them up, the king whirled his battle- 
axe aloft, and crashed it through his enemy's skull. No protest was heard : this 
time it was the king who was within his right. But as Clovis struck, he cried 
aloud for all men to hear, " 'Twas thus you broke my vase at Soissons." 

To this period belongs also the tale of Clovis' marriage. You remember 
the Burgundians, who opposed Attila's hordes at the Rhine ? The survivors of 
that terrible devastation had established a Burgundian kingdom farther south, 
around the sources of the Rhine and all down the beautiful Rhone valley 
almost to the Mediterranean. Two brothers became king together, and one 




(The Divorced Queen Watches Her Husband's Remarriage) 
From a painting by the Dutch-English artist, Laurence Alma-Tadema 

THE Frankish empire which Clovis had established was 
very little like a modern kingdom. It was an associa- 
tion of wild and ignorant men, bound together only by 
the power of the strongest. Among its fiercest convulsions 
was the long warfare started by the rival queens, Fredegund 
and Brunhild. Clovis divided his kingdom among his four 
sons, as a man would a private estate, and this continued for 
a time to be the Frankish custom. In the year 561 the terri- 
tory was divided among four brothers, of whom the strongest, 
Siegbert, held the main or German land, and Chilperic bore 
rule at Paris. Siegbert married a celebrated princess, Brun- 
hild, of the great Visigothic race. Whereon Chilperic, ever 
jealous of his brother's broader power, sought to prove his 
equality by wedding a sister of Brunhild. In this, however, 
Chilperic reckoned without considering one of his several 
previous wives, Fredegund. 

This remarkable woman was an adventuress, a palace ser- 
vant who had fascinated the king and led him to slay her 
mistress, his former wife. Knowing well the limits of her 
power, Fredegund made no effort to interfere with Chilperic 's 
vanity when he sought the mighty Visigoth princess. The 
adventuress permitted herself to be divorced; she even 
watched quietly during Chilperic 's marriage with the. Visi- 
gothic princess, which was celebrated with much splendor. 
Shortly afterward, however, Fredegund won the king back 
to her, and he and she together murdered the mighty princess 
who had come between them. 

■ 5 ' " ' 7 ~ - ^ " ' ' ' 



Germany — Christianity among the Franks 525 

slew the other. The murdered man's beautiful daughter, Clotilde, was per- 
mitted to survive, but was kept under the close watch of the murderer. Clovis, 
whose power was beginning to be recognized by surrounding kings, and who 
may have already formed ambitious plans for the conquest of Burgundy, 
thought to wed Clotilde. But first he wished to be assured that she was indeed 
as beautiful as rumor said; and perhaps he wished also to be certain she would 
help his plans against her usurping uncle. So he sent his friend Aurelian to 
her in secret. 

Now Clotilde was a Christian, and Aurelian came to her in the dress of a 
beggar. So she took him into her house, in accordance with the kindly Chris- 
tian custom, and she herself brought water and knelt to wash his weary feet, 
j Aurelian, satisfied of both her beauty and goodness, dropped his master's royal 
I ring into the water, and whispered that he bore a message for her from the 
Frankish king. In a secret interview he also became satisfied that, Christian 
las she was, she would seek vengeance for her murdered father, so he gave her 
jthe king's pledge and accepted hers. 

Then there came a royal embassy from Clovis to the Burgundian king, re- 
questing Clotilde's hand as a seal of peace between the two nations. The king 
i hesitated, but when Clotilde showed her ring, declaring that she and Clovis 
(were already pledged, her uncle allowed her to go. As she was driven toward 
[the Burgundian frontier with her stately escort of Franks, she kept urging them 
'to move faster, faster, for she knew well her uncle's uncertain mind. He did, 
[in fact, yield to the warning of his friends. They showed him that he was 
giving the ambitious Clovis a claim against his throne ; was in truth sending 
[him, not peace, but war. So a troop of soldiers galloped after Clotilde to bring 
ler back, but they found only her empty carriage — or rather wagon — where she 
;iad abandoned it on the road. Changing to horseback, she had spurred with 
:he swiftest of her escort across the frontier, setting fire to all the villages be- 
hind her as she passed, that her uncle might know with what hate and bitter- 
less she left him. 

In such sad and threatening guise did Christianity enter the Frankish land. 
?or you must understand that when these German tribes declared themselves 
Christian, no great and sudden change took place in their savage natures. The 
rue softening and purifying influence of the faith acted more slowly upon them, 
t was centuries before most of them fully recognized the beauty of their new 
eligion. Such Christianity, however, as Clotilde had she did bring among 
he Franks. She was always urging her husband to embrace her faith. She 
>rought priests and bishops around her court. Moreover, the bulk of Clovis' 
ubjects, the Roman population over which he and his Franks ruled, were Chris- 
ian; and the king could not fail to see how vastly his influence over them 

526 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

would be increased if he were of their faith and supported by their clergy, 
But what would his own Franks say if he abandoned his and their fiercer gods! 

Clovis must have pondered these problems deeply. They were in his mind 
when he made war upon the Alemanni in southern Germany. He appears to 
have claimed some sort of lordship over these tribes, which they refused to 
acknowledge. They gathered in a great battle against him at Zulpich in Ger- 
many, in 496. The day seemed going against the Franks, when Clovis called 
on the God of Clotilde for help, vowing to serve only him if the Franks won 
the victory. Then the king flung himself furiously into the battle, the Ale- 
manni fled, and the Frankish power was established throughout southern Ger- 

Clovis immediately carried out his vow, and called on his men to join with 
him in worshipping this new God of Victory. He was baptized soon after at 
Rheims, by Saint Remigius, the same bishop for whom he had sought to secure 
the Soissons vase. Three thousand of the Frankish warriors became Christians 
on the same day. The scene was solemn and impressive. Legend declares 
that a sacred vial of oil was brought down from heaven by a dove, for the 
anointment of Clovis in the ceremony. As the king knelt, the bishop poured 
the oil upon his head, saying: " Bow thy head, Sicambrian. Worship what thou 
hast hitherto destroyed, and destroy what thou hast hitherto worshipped." 

By this formula you will see that the bishop, saint though he was, had 
called the king not to a life of peace, but to one of war. He was only to cease 
attacking Christians, and to attack the heathen instead. Any more pacific ad- 
vice would certainly have been thrown away on the warlike king. The Sicam- 
bri, by whose name the king was addressed, were the particular tribe of Franks 
of whom he had been originally king. 

Even yet Clovis was not king of all the Franks, but only of such as had 
voluntarily joined him, attracted by his fame and the hope of plunder. In his 
war against the Alemanni, however, he had practically commanded the whole 
Frankish nation, for the Franks in their old German home on the Rhine, and 
many of the little tribes from his own Belgium birthplace, had rallied under 
their chiefs and helped him. Being thus satisfied of the personal convenience 
of having all the nation united under one head, Clovis, throughout the rest of 
his life, pursued steadily the aim of becoming that head. By force, fraud, or 
deliberate murder he overthrew the little kings around him, many of whom 
were his relatives. 

Most powerful of these other Frankish kings was Siegbert, who ruled the 
tribes along the Rhine. He had been Clovis' most valued ally against the 
Alemanni, and was wounded and permanently disabled at the battle of Zulpich. 
Clovis sent word to the son of Siegbert : " Your father is lame and grows old. 



(The Aged Queen Dragged to Death by a Wild Horse) 

From a painting by Albert Closs, of Stuttgart 

WHEN the great Visigoth princess Brunhild learned that 
her sister had been murdered by Queen Fredegund, 
she devoted herself to vengeance ; and the warfare be- 
tween the two savagely scheming women dragged on through 
four generations. Brunhild's German husband Siegbert 
easily defeated the debased Frankish king whom Fredegund 
had married. But just as Siegbert was being hoisted on the 
shields of. his warriors as king, now the sole king of the 
Franks, he was stabbed in the back. His defeated rival re- 
gained his dominions, and even succeeded in seizing Queen 
Brunhild as a prisoner. 

From this time onward Brunhild showed herself as cruel 
and as subtle as her enemies. She escaped from captivity by 
wooing and wedding her captor 's son. Fleeing to her own 
Rhine lands she ruled them in the name of her son. Seeing 
how easily this was done, Fredegund killed her own wicked 
husband and ruled also in her son's name. Brunhild, when 
her son died, set two baby grandsons on the throne, and after- 
ward raised a great-grandson to the dangerous honor. Al- 
ways the two women kept fighting each other bitterly, but 
neither could destroy the other. Fredegund died at last, 
and Brunhild, eighty years old, was warring with her ancient 
rival's son, when her whole out-worn nation suddenly aban- 
doned her and surrendered her as a prisoner to her foe. He 
had her dragged to death at the heels of a wild horse. These 
were typical scenes of the savagery of those dark ages. 



Germany — Clovis, King of the East-Franks 527 

Vhen he is dead you will be king, and I your friend. " The young prince took 
he hint and soon after slew his father. He then showed all Siegbert's treas- 
res to an envoy from Clovis, saying, "Take what you will for the great king 
/ho is my friend." But the envoy had other instructions, and he stabbed the 
dnce, who was bending over an open chest, so that his blood poured out amid 
he jewels. " Thus," said the envoy, " the great king punishes the death of his 
Id friend Siegbert." 

After that Clovis called a meeting of the Rhine nobles, and persuaded them 
hat he had rightly avenged their king. They, having already served under his 
anner and proved his prowess, gladly elected him to the vacant throne. By 
lis and similar deeds he gradually attained undisputed sway over all the 
Yanks. The warrior race learned to fear as well as to admire him. The old 
quality of chief and followers disappeared, and there was no danger, during 
is latter years, that he would be disturbed by any such rude challenge as had 
enied him the Soissons vase. 

In the midst of these continued usurpations Clovis, urged by Clotilde to 
3new his plans against her uncle, made war upon Burgundy about the year 
00. The country proved too strong and united to be overcome ; but its king 
?as compelled to do homage to the Frankish conqueror and acknowledge him 
s his overlord. It was after this that Clovis defied Theodoric the Great by 
ttacking the Emperor's friends, the Visigoths. " Come," he said to his fol- 
)wers, " it annoys me that these heretics should possess the fairest part of 
raul! Let us, with God's help, march forth and destroy them." 

The Roman Christians, both of his own domain and in the Visigothic lands, 
nited their force to his, and he won a decisive victory at Poictiers in 507, be- 
jig much helped by his successful passage of the Vienne River, where, legend 
iys, a white doe fleeing from the Franks showed them an unknown and un- 
juarded ford. The Visigoth king was slain, much of the land was added to 
!lovis' kingdom, and the remnant was only saved to the Visigoths by the direct 
iterposition of the Emperor Theodoric. He, as you have already heard, 
larched an army into the land and established his little grandson on the throne. 

Clovis was still a comparatively young man when he died in 511. He had 
stablished a great kingdom, the earliest permanent one of the German tribes. 
t included all northern France, most of Belgium and Holland, and much of the 
)uth and west of modern Germany. It was bounded on the south by the fad- 
ig Gothic kingdoms, and by Burgundy, which was already tributary to Clovis, 
I ad was soon after entirely merged in the Frankish land. To the east of 
'lovis' domains lay the Saxons, another German tribe, who remained for cen- 
iries independent and worthy enemies of the mighty Franks. 

It was Clovis who first called his kingdom France, that is to say, the land of 

528 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

the Franks; and he made Paris his capital. But the confusion of modern 
names must not lead us to regard his reign as a French conquest of Germany. 
Clovis was a German conqueror, speaking a German tongue and leading a Ger- 
man tribe to the mastery of the Roman land of Gaul. Those of his people who 
followed him blended with the conquered Romans to form the French race. 
Those who remained in Germany, also elected him as their king ; but they re- 
mained thoroughly German, and their descendants continue to this day dwell- 
ing in the same district. They have even preserved the name of their ances- 
tors and call their home Franconia. 

Clovis left his kingdom to his four sons, apparently expecting them to rule 
together in harmony. But you will remember that when Clovis' father was 
shown the vision of the future, he saw coming after the lion, not lambs, but 
the crudest of wolves and bears, fighting among themselves. Such, for a 
hundred years, were the sons and grandsons of Clovis. No crime was too hid- 
eous for them to commit against one another. Sons betrayed fathers to death; 
fathers, sons; and brothers, brothers. The most frightful passions sprang to 
life and seemed to rage unrestrained in this degenerate family. The whole 
line are called the Merovingian kings, taking the name of Merovseus, grand- 
father of Clovis. Legend declared Merovseus to have been only half a man, 
web-footed and web-handed, the son of a terrible river monster that rose out of 
the Rhine. The old chronicles insist on this strange origin of the race, and 
trace from it their cold-blooded treachery, their craft and fierceness, their lack 
of human tenderness and feeling. 

We would gladly pass by the whole confused period of blood and crime. 
Most of it we may safely omit, but one of the tales is too well known to be 
slighted. This is the rivalry of the queens Brunhild and Fredegund, in which 
some students trace the origin of the story of the rivalry between the legendary 
Brunhild and Kriemhild in the Nibelungen Lied. 

These Franks were, as you must have realized, not unlike the more modern 
pirates. They sallied out into the world, among more peaceful or timid people, 
seizing whatever they could lay hands on. Thus the kings had accumulated an 
enormous treasure at Paris ; and the struggles and crimes of the various Mero- 
vingians for possession of this wealth may have suggested the idea of the 
precious Nibelung hoard, with its curse upon all who owned it. Siegbert, a 
grandson of Clovis, succeeded to the part of the kingdom lying along the Rhine, 
in 561. His three brothers ruled over the fragments of Gaul. Siegbert pos- 
sessed the most extensive domain and was apparently the most manly of the four. 
He added considerably to his kingdom by conquest over other German tribes, and 
altogether seems to have been the flower of the Merovingian line. He wedded 
Brunhild, one of the two daughters of the powerful Visigothic king of Spain. 


(Siegfried, the Hero of German Legend, Sets Sail for Brunhild's Court) 

By the contemporary German artist, B. J. F. Deygas 

WHAT little we know of the Franks of the sixth and 
seventh centuries comes to us through Latin chroni- 
cles kept by the churchmen of Gaul under Frankish 
rule. In Germany, the ruder and more ancient part of their 
domain, there were no records preserved. Yet the terrible 
tragedies caused by the rivalry of Brunhild and Fredegund 
were handed down even in Germany by tradition; and later 
ages founded upon this basis the celebrated German epic, the 
Nibelungenlied, which stands as the beginning of German 

In a strange confusion of history and fancy this remark- 
able epic tells of the love of Siegfried for Brunhild, and of 
all the disasters that followed. Siegfried, hardly recognizable 
as his historic prototype, King Siegbert, became to the Ger- 
mans the symbol of perfect strength and glory and wild ad- 
venture. Apparently it was at this time that the northern 
tribes first began to search the world in ships; that wander- 
lust arose whieh led to their exploring and ravaging all the 
coasts of Europe. Hence among the earliest adventures of 
Siegfried, their typical hero, was placed the one here de- 
picted. He sets forth across the unknown ocean to the fabled 
realm of Is-land or Iceland and there finds Brunhild ruling 
as a mighty warrior queen, whose love he wins. 


Germany— Wars of Brunhild 529 

Brunhild was a stately, majestic woman, and the importance, beauty, and 
wealth of the bride Siegbert had won, still further roused the jealousy of his 
brothers. One of them, Chilperic, sued at once for tne hand of Brunhild's sis- 
ter. He had already three or four wives of his own, the worst of them being 
Fredegund, a woman of low birth, but great beauty and wit, whose fascinations 
had bewitched the king. Chilperic promised to divorce all these wives, and he 
did so. The Visigothic queen came in great state to his capital of Soissons. 
But soon after her wedding she was murdered at the command of Fredegund, 
who quickly regained all her former influence over the weak king. 

Brunhild vowed vengeance against the murderess of her sister. Chilperic, 
anticipating this, did not wait for Brunhild or her husband to act, but promptly 
invaded their territory. In the war which followed, Siegbert with his more 
German Franks was completely successful. Chilperic fled; and the conqueror 
was raised on the shields of his followers in his brother's capital as king of all 
the Franks. 

Some say it was at the very moment of his elevation that Siegbert was 
stabbed in the back. At any rate he was assassinated (576), and Chilperic re- 
gained much of his former power. Brunhild continued the war, as guardian of 
her young son. Chilperic was assassinated in his turn, probably by the direc- 
tion of Fredegund, who feared the loss of her influence over him. The war 
was then continued by the two queens, each acting in her son's name. 

The hatred of the two women hung like a poisonous plague over all the 
land. In the long struggle Brunhild seems to have grown as wicked and aban- 
doned as her rival, and they tortured and slew all who opposed them. They 
grew old ; Fredegund died, and Brunhild, her vengeance yet unaccomplished, 
continued the warfare against her enemy's son, Clotar II. Brunhild's own son 
wearied of the eternal strife and sought peace. . He died, perhaps poisoned by 
his relentless mother, who now urged her grandsons to continue the contest. 
At last they also wavered. She had both slain and placed her infant great- 
grandsons on the throne. 

She was defeated in the end. Her punishment, it is often called ; but do 
you not think her whole long, hard, and loveless life must have been its own 
bitterest punishment? Her own subjects abandoned her and delivered her to 
Clotar. She was tortured for three days and then bound to the tail of a wild 
horse and dragged to death (613). 


St. Boniface Felling the Oak of Thor 

Chapter L 

HE generation of Merovingian kings who followed Clotai 
were the poor puppies of the fabled vision. They lost 
what little power the long civil wars of their fathers had 
left them. The nobility had learned to keep out of the 
contests of their rulers, and to use every evil turn in a 
king's fortune for establishing more firmly their own 
positions. This, under the feeble monarchs that fol- 
lowed, brought about a strange state of affairs. The whole 
power and government of the country became centred in a few 
nobles, chief of whom was the one called the " Mayor of the 

The kings became mere figure-heads, wearing their long 
golden hair down their backs in sign of royalty, and wasting 
their lives in luxurious idleness in the recesses of their pal- 
aces. They appeared before the people only on state occa- 
sions, to nod their heads in approval of whatever the mayor of the palace might 

These mayors seem to have been originally stewards or superintendents of 
the public lands, which belonged to all the Franks in common. Then they 
became stewards of the king's lands as well. Thus the office was a mere busi 
ness one, but carrying with it from the start, vast power. As land is the great 
original source of all wealth, the ownership of large tracts of it has ever been 
looked upon as a position of high dignity. Followers of the king had now to 
seek all such dignity, all such reward, from the mayors of the palace. Hence 







(The Quarrel of the Queens as to Which Ranks Highest) 

From a painting by the recent German artist, Frank Kirchbach 

IN the legendary story of Siegfried and Brunhild— which 
may be quite as near the truth as the confused and dis- 
torted annals of Siegbert and Brunhild handed down to 
us through the Frankish monks— the mighty German hero 
forgets his love for the queen, and weds instead a princess of 
Burgundy, Kriemhild. Brunhild weds the Burgundian king. 
Then the two queens quarrel. 

This famous quarrel scene is made the central fact of the 
Nibelungenlied and of the wonderful music dramas which the 
more recent German genius, Wagner, has built on these old 
Legends. Kriemhild and Brunhild meet by chance at the 
doorway of the cathedral in the Burgundian capital of 
Worms. Each queen regards her own husband as being the 
mightier king, so each claims the honor of being first to enter 
the cathedral. Even thus, you will remember, had the real 
King Siegbert and King Chilperic been jealous of each other's 
celebrity in that affair of wedding the great Visigothic prin- 
cesses. In the Nibelungen dispute between the queens, Kriem- 
hild heaps angry scorn on Brunhild as having been loved and 
forgotten by Siegfried ; and as proof of this she flashes before 
her rival's eye, a jeweled girdle which Siegfried had received 
from Brunhild. 

Brunhild crushed and shamed gives way before^ Kriem- 
hild, but determines on revenge. 


Germany — Pepin of Herestal 531 

came their rapidly increasing power. The office became hereditary, that is, 
the king could no longer appoint as steward whomever he would, but each father 
passed the title as an inheritance to his son. 

A series of really remarkable men, strong, able, and determined, held the 
position. They became the leaders of the Franks in war, going forth to battle 
while the "sluggard kings," as they are called, dozed at home. All power 
naturally became centred in the hands of these mayors. They created and de- 
posed their monarchs at will, and became more powerful than any king since 
Clovis' time. The first of the mayors to gain a world-wide name was Charles 

The Frankish kingdom, as in the case of Siegbert and his brothers, had 
been broken and reunited many times among the Merovingians. Gradually 
people recognized that it consisted of two or perhaps three clearly marked di- 
visions. The inhabitants of the western part, ancient Gaul, or Neustria as it 
was now called, were more Roman than German, and began to regard them- 
selves as a different race from the other Franks. The land along the Rhine 
and extending far into central Germany was called Austrasia, which means the 
East-land. Its people were wilder and fiercer, slower of intellect perhaps, but 
weightier and surer than their Romanized brethren. Farther south and partly 
between the two lay Burgundy, whose inhabitants partook somewhat of the 
character of each. 

Pepin or Pippin of Herestal, the father of Charles Martel, was mayor of the 
palace in the East-land. He quarrelled with the mayor of Neustria, the West- 
land, led an army against him, and completely defeated him at Testri, in 687. 
Pepin is said to have gained the victory by a clever stratagem. He set fire to 
his own camp. His foes thinking he was retreating, rushed eagerly to plun- 
der it, each scurrying to be first; and in their confusion they were easily 

This battle of Testri, or St. Quentin, was important because it established 
a supremacy of East-Franks over West- Franks. Pepin became mayor of both 
districts and distributed many of the higher offices of Neustria among his own 
East Franks. He was the mightiest ruler of his time, embassies came to him 
from many lands; but he wisely remained in name the mere steward that his 
ancestors had been. 

Why did he not follow the vision of Clovis, and swallow the puppet kings ? 
An earlier mayor had already made the attempt, and been surprised to find how 
strong a feeling of loyalty still remained among the Franks for their ancient 
leaders. Even more dangerous to this ambitious steward had proved the jeal- 
ousy of the other nobles. As mayor of the palace they had looked upon him 
as one of themselves, their leader and champion. As king he was posing as 


532 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

their superior, their enemy and oppressor. They promptly turned against him, 
and the ambitious steward was slain. 

Pepin, therefore, true to the established policy of his family, made search 
for a new king to crown, his own Austrasian one having been slain. It was 
not an easy matter, for Merovingians were getting scarce ; so he finally took the 
very one his adversaries had been upholding, and placed him on the throne. 
Naturally Pepin did not allow the new king even the shadowy pretense oi 
power former ones had retained. Because of this, the date of the victory at 
Testri is often given as the real ending of the Merovingian line. 

When Pepin died in 714 his oldest son was already dead. The mayor- 
ship passed therefore to a child grandson under the guardianship of Pepin's wife. 
The famous Charles Martel was only Pepin's younger son, perhaps an illegiti- 
mate one. His step-mother put him in prison to prevent his making trouble 
for his little nephew. 

It was soon proved impossible, however, for a woman and a child to perform 
the difficult duties, or hold the high leadership of the palace mayors. The 
land was thrown into anarchy. Claimants for the place sprang up all over the 
kingdom. The Saxons and other heathen tribes took advantage of the discord 
among their ancient foes to invade the country. Charles was released from 
prison, or perhaps escaped from it, and the Austrasians rallied round him. 
After many battles and more than one defeat which would have destroyed a 
lesser man, he finally overcame the last of his opponents, drove out all invaders, 
and succeeded undisputed to the rank and power of his father. 

Charles now determined to carry Christianity among the Saxons, hoping 
thus to make them friends instead of foes. For many years and through many 
campaigns he labored faithfully at this purpose with his sword, but the Sax- 
ons, retreating into their forests, remained unconvinced and defiant. Softer 
methods were also tried. Missionaries from England and Ireland, many of 
whom were themselves Saxon, had been for a century past journeying through 
the district, facing and often meeting martyrdom in their devotion to . the 
new faith. 

Most famous of these brave and devoted men was the English priest Win- 
fred, better known as St. Boniface (doer of good deeds), who is often called the 
Apostle of the Germans. He went among them from his English home about 
the year 700, and remained for over half a century their chief preacher and 
spiritual leader. In the land of Hesse, near the Saxon border, stood an ancient 
oak, consecrated to Thor, the god of thunder. The heathens and their priests, 
the druids, held this oak very sacred, while even the converted Christians con- 
tinued to look upon it with secret awe, and tell of the strange whisperings and 
cries that issued from its branches. One day, when a great heathen ceremony 


(Darkness Shuts Out the Sunshine of Life) 

By the contemporary German artist, Hermann Hendrick 

IN the Nibelungenlied the quarrel of the queens leads on to 
the central tragedy. Brunhild demands that her hus- 
band, the Burgundian king Gunther, shall kill Siegfried 
to avenge her for all the injury that has come upon her 
through him. Gunther refuses, for Siegfried is his brother- 
in-law and mighty ally. But Brunhild finds a more ready 
champion in Gunther 's dark and grim old uncle Hagen. A 
hunt is arranged, and as the unsuspecting Siegfried stoops to 
drink at a forest spring he is stabbed in the back by Hagen. 
Some of our scholars read into this old tale a nature myth, 
saying that Hagen is the darkness of night which destroys 
the daylight, the splendid sunshine which Siegfried repre- 
sents. It is in this manner that our picture conceives the in- 
cident. The sun in the background is eclipsed and black night 

After telling of Siegfried's death, the Nibelungenlied re- 
counts Kriemhild's revenge, interweaving these events with 
the Huns' invasion of Europe, and their battle with the 
Burgundians over a century before. Kriemhild weds the 
Hunnish king and directs his armies against the Burgun- 
dians, who are all slain, dying the death of heroes with Gun- 
ther and Hagen leading them and fighting to the last. 

Whether reviewed in poetry or in history those were sav- 
age ages of barbaric passions. 



Germany — Martyrdom of Boniface 533 

was being held around it, Winfred appeared on the scene with an axe and 
boldly began chopping at the sacred tree. He seems to have been unprotected, 
but even the druid priests did not attack him. All parties held back in si- 
lence, watching for Thor to defend his own, and strike down with his light- 
nings this daring intermeddler. Winfred chopped on ; and a sturdy woodsman 
he must have been, for at last the great oak crashed to the earth beneath his 
blows. The power of the old gods fell with their tree. Their worshippers, 
convinced that they were either dead or shorn of their strength, deserted them 
and joined the church of Winfred in great numbers. 

It was after this that Winfred was made a bishop by the Pope, under the 
name of Boniface (723). He always worked in close sympathy with and in 
support of the popes and the Frankish rulers. In the establishment of the faith 
he built schools and monasteries, and founded bishoprics through all southern 
and western Germany, where many even of the Franks themselves had hitherto 
clung to the pagan faith. Boniface himself became Archbishop of Mainz or 
Mayence, chief among the German religious centres. He must be regarded, 
not only as the Christianizer, but as the civilizer, the city-builder of 

It was on an expedition among the Frisians, in 755, that Boniface met the 
martyrdom he had prayed for all his life. Of the German tribes at this time 
only the Saxons, and the Frisians along the Holland coast, still clung to their 
ancient faith. The Frisians regarded Christianity as a sort of badge of sub- 
mission to the Franks and were, therefore, specially incensed against it. While 
Boniface was preaching among them, a band of the fiercer ones rushed upon 
him from the forest. At first Boniface thought they had been suddenly con- 
verted. Then, recognizing their savage intent, he forbade his attendants to 
protect him, and calmly advanced toward his assailants, still exhorting, and 
holding aloft the Book of God. But they were fully wrought up to tiieir pur- 
pose, and the white-haired, reverend old man perished, beaten down by their 
battle-axes. " No man before Charlemagne," says one authority, " had a greater 
influence upon the destinies of Germany than Boniface. " 

But we are passing beyond the time of Charles Martel. A foe confronted 
him even more dangerous than the Saxons. The Arab prophet, Mahomet, 
preached his religion early in the seventh century; and his believers rushed 
forth from Arabia on their amazing career. They were determined to spread 
their religion by the sword, and to make all the world accept Mahometanism, 
or perish. They conquered Persia and Syria, Egypt and all northern Africa. 
They swept like an irresistible flame over immense regions, carried forward by 
a fanatical assurance that death, fighting for their faith, meant instant paradise. 
At the beginning of the eighth century they threatened Europe, attacking 

534 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Constantinople in the East, and swarming across the Strait of Gibraltar to the 
conquest of Spain, in the West. The struggle between Europe and Mahom- 
etanism lasted in the East for ten centuries, the followers of the Arab prophet 
penetrating at one time as far as Vienna. In the West, they were checked 
and hurled back forever by Charles Martel and his Franks at the great battle 
of Tours. 

This was the most important contest since the overthrow of the Huns at 
Chalons three centuries before, and it ranks with that event as one of the tre- 
mendous battles which have been decisive in the history of mankind. The 
Mahometans, or Moslems, as they were called, had conquered what was left of 
the Vandals in Africa ; they had destroyed the Visigoths' kingdom in Spain; 
and now their hordes poured over the Pyrenees into France, confident of extir- 
pating this last remnant of the Germans. They meant thus to complete the 
circle, and sweeping back through Germany, join their brethren in the final 
conquest of Constantinople and the world. Christianity, not yet fully estab- 
lished over the expiring paganism of Europe, was called on to meet a rival, 
newer, more powerful, and far more dangerous than the old. 

The dukes and lesser chiefs of southern France fell or fled before the Mos- 
lem host. For a moment Christianity seemed doomed. Then came Charles 
Martel to the rescue. Recognizing the power of his foe and the importance, 
of the struggle, he gathered all the strength of his kingdom. He even sent to 
seek help from the free German tribes, and from the Lombards of Italy, the 
latter of whom, and possibly the former as well, rallied to his aid. 

The Arab host under their great leader, Abd-er-rahman, had reached Poic- 
tiers and were besieging the town. Learning of the approach of Charles, they 
advanced toward Tours to meet him. The two forces encountered on the open 
plain between the cities. It is impossible to arrive at any accurate estimate of 
their numbers. These were somewhere in the hundred thousands, and prob- 
ably the two armies were nearly equal. For six days they confronted each 
other, light skirmishing going on between their lines. Then the Arabs began 
the real battle by a general charge of their fierce and famous cavalry. The 
Franks stood up against them like a stone wall, their mighty leader in the van, 
dealing against the foe those tremendous blows which won for him his surname 
of Martel, which means "the hammer." Hammer of the Mahometans he was 
indeed ! They fled before his blows at last, helped perhaps by a rumor that the 
Franks had surrounded them and were plundering their camp. But their at- 
tack had been savage; it had lasted till nightfall, and the Christian host had 
suffered severely. The Franks who pursued drew back, fearing an Arab trick. 
They waited in their ranks till morning, grim and resolute, expecting a renewal 
of the assault. None came, and there was no sign of life from the Moslem 



(Saint Boniface Brings the Light of Christianity Into Central Germany) 

From the historical series of paintings by Alexander Zick 

WHEN we look at Germany as it appeared at the begin- 
ning of the eighth century, two men stand out strongly 
before us as the country's leaders and benefactors. 
One of these is Charles Martel : the other is the English monk 
"Winfred usually known as Boniface, which means the bene- 
factor, a title given him by the Pope. Boniface converted 
the Germans to Christianity. 

The Franks, the chief tribe of the Germans had, as we 
have seen, adopted Christianity under Clovis, and had by 
their mingling with the Gauls become quite civilized. But 
the wilder German tribes of central Germany still clung to 
the worship of Woden and their other ancient gods. Winfred 
went among these tribes in fierce martyr fashion. They must 
hear him or slay him. With scornful words he defied the old 
heathen gods ; with his own vigorous hands he destroyed their 
shrines. The Germans scarcely interfered, they looked to see 
the profane intruder struck down by lightning. When they 
found their gods fall helpless before Winfred 's assaults, they 
came to believe he must be right, their former deities must in- 
deed be dead or powerless. Then the missionary showed them 
the softer side of the new faith ; through long winter evenings 
he talked to their chieftains, as we see him here. Winfred 
was indeed martyred at last, slain by a wild tribe whose idols 
he had scorned; but he did not die until he had converted a 
nation and erected the first Christian church in the heart of 
Germany, at the foot of the Thuringian mountains where a 
monument to this vehement Saint Boniface now stands. 


Germany — Charles Martel at Tours 533 

camp. Hardly believing their senses, a few warriors ventured upon a cautious 
reconnoisance and found the camp indeed empty. The Mahometan chieftain 
had fallen on the previous day, and his followers, broken and disspirited, had 
fled secretly in the night, leaving their dead and most of their plunder to the 
victorious Franks. 

One chronicler sets the number of the Mahometan slain at over three hun 
dred thousand; but as an Arab writer rates his countrymen's whole force at 
only eighty thousand, we are clearly not dealing with exact mathematics. 
Would you like to hear the Arab's own quaint account of the great fight and 
defeat, whose seriousness they sorrowfully admit ? Here is Professor Creasy's 
translation from one of their ancient chronicles : 

The Arab writer describes how his people conquered southern France, 
" laid waste the country and took captives without number. And that army 
went through all places like a desolating storm. ... So Abd-er-rahman and 
his host attacked Tours to gain still more spoil, and they fought against it so 
fiercely that they stormed the city almost before the eyes of the army that 
came to save it ; and the fury and cruelty of the Moslems toward the inhabitants 
of the city was like the fury and cruelty of raging tigers. It was manifest that 
God's chastisement was sure to follow such excesses ; and Fortune thereupon 
turned her back upon the Moslems. 

" Near the river Loire the two great hosts of the two languages and the two 
creeds were set in array against each other. The hearts of Abd-er-rahman, his 
captains, and his men, were filled with wrath and pride, and they were the first 
to begin the fight. The Moslem horsemen dashed fierce and frequent forward 
against the battalions of the Franks, who resisted manfully, and many fell dead 
on either side until the going down of the sun. Night parted the two armies ; 
but in the gray of the morning the Moslems returned to battle. Their cav- 
aliers had soon hewn their way into the centre of the Christian host. But 
many of the Moslems were fearful for the safety of the spoil which they had 
stored in their tents, and a false cry arose in their ranks that some of the enemy 
were plundering the camp; whereupon several squadrons of the Moslem horse- 
men rode off to protect their tents. But it seemed as if they fled ; and all the 
host was troubled. And while Abd-er-rahman strove to check their tumult, 
and to lead them back to battle, the warriors of the Franks came around him, 
and he was pierced through with many spears, so that he died. Then all the 
host fled before the enemy, and many died in the flight. This deadly defeat of 
the Moslems, and the loss of the great leader and good cavalier, Abd-er-rah- 
man, took place in the hundred and fifteenth year." 

You will note that the two narratives disagree in some details, as was, of 
course, to be expected. The victor and the vanquished never remember their 

536 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

struggle in just the same way. Frequently both claim to have had the best of it 
Here the one central fact is fully admitted. This was a great Mahometan 
defeat. Their writers refer to it constantly as " the deadly battle," " the dis- 
graceful overthrow." Whether Tours and Poictiers were actually captured, or 
rescued as the Christian historians assert, are questions of minor importance. 
That the Franks lost heavily in the fight is proven by the fact that they did 
not follow up their victory. 

The Arabs were left -in peace and allowed so to recruit their strength that 
they ventured another, though lesser, invasion a few years later, while Charles 
was away fighting once more against the Saxons. He returned and settled the 
Arab question forever by a second great victory at Narbonne. The power of 
the Franks was thus extended over the kingdom the Visigoths had formerly 
held in southern France. The boundary of the Frankish land became as we 
know it to-day, the Pyrenees. 

Charles Martel was everywhere acknowledged as the hero and savior of 
Europe. His puppet Merovingian king died, and Charles delayed for four 
years the coronation of his successor. Scarce a murmur was heard from the 
people. Evidenly the time was approaching when the ancient kings could be 
entirely supplanted. But whatever plans Charles may have had were ended 
by his death in 741. He left his power to his two sons, Carloman and Pepin, 
— or rather to Pepin, for Carloman the elder soon resigned his rank and retired 
to a monastery, leaving the entire kingdom to his brother. Carloman's action 
is said to have been caused by remorse, he himself having put to death a huge 
number of rebellious Alemanni. Such sudden revulsions of feeling were not 
uncommon in those days. Pepin himself is said to have been haunted for 
years with remorse at having secured the murder of an enemy, the rebellious 
Duke Waifre of Aquitaine. 

It was this Pepin who finally swallowed up the frisking puppy kings. You 
have heard already in Rome's story of his famous appeal to the Pope, " Which 
should be king, he who has the name or he who has the power? " It was St. 
Boniface who counselled Pepin to seek the Pope's help, and doubtless Boniface 
also influenced the Pope's reply. The change, being thus authorized by the 
church, was accomplished without a single protesting voice, unless it may have 
been that of the poor dethroned Merovingian himself, Childeric III. His long 
golden hair, the sign of royalty, was shorn off, and he was forced, helpless, into 
the monastery of St. Omer. 

Then there was a great ceremonial held at Soissons in 751; Pepin was 
raised on the shields of his followers amid the acclamation of all beholders. 
Bishop Boniface blessed him, and pronounced the curse of the Church upon 
any man who should ever attempt to take away the kingship thus con 


(The Franks at Tours Discover that the Mahometan Host Has Fled) 

By the noted French illustrator, A. de Neuville (1836-1885) 

LINKED with the days and the fame of Saint Boniface 
stands also the name of the truly great statesman and 
military leader, Charles Martel, which means Charles 
of the Hammer. By this time the repeated partition of the 
empire of the Franks among the descendants of Clovis had 
brought about a clearly marked division of the realm and of 
the conquering race. The more civilized Franks who dwelt 
among the Gauls in the western half of the empire were called 
the "West-men" or "Neustrians," and the wilder Franks 
of what we to-day know as Germany were called "East-men" 
or "Austrians." Charles Martel was a mighty fighter, who 
reunited Austrians and Neustrians in a single realm, though 
never snatching at the title of king. He ruled the land well ; 
he upheld and encouraged Saint Boniface in his preachings; 
and finally, the deed for which he is most famous, Charles, 
in the great battle of Tours hurled back the tide of Mahometan 
conquest which threatened to engulf Europe as it had already 
engulfed Africa and western Asia. 

A vast army of over three hundred thousand Mahometans, 
having conquered Spain, invaded France. Charles and his 
Franks held them back for a whole week, fighting them day 
after day. On the eighth day the Mahometans failed to at- 
tack, and when the Franks slowly and cautiously penetrated 
the silent camp of their enemies they found it deserted. The 
invaders had given up the assault as hopeless, and had fled 
in a sudden panic of despair. 



Germany — Crowning of Pepin 


pepTn "S 2::z:\ the r f Charies Martei - Thc ^ *« «— 

»?2 • , S, and poured upon his head oil from the 

•acred vialof Clovis. The Merovingian line of kings passed away and the 
Carloviyian, so eaJJed fro. Charlemagne, greatest ^of 'the „£%£& 

Bonifack Declaring Pepin King 

3k* ^'^'^'^^;^^;^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^ ^^; ^^&4 m^'* 

Charlemagne and His Paladins 

Chapter LI 

EPIN LE BREF, which means Pepin the Short, 
reigned as king for seventeen years. You will recall 
how he repaid the service of the Pope by defeating 
the Lombards in Italy, relieving Rome from their at- 
tack and making them tributaries of the Franks. 

Pepin was by no means the least noteworthy man 
of his remarkable race. He ruled over his turbulent 
people strongly and well. The nickname of "the 
short," at first perhaps given him in derision, became one of re- 
spect and admiration among his followers; for though not tall, 
he seems to have been remarkably sturdy and heavily built. It 
is told of him that one day, when a lion and a bull were being 
exhibited in combat, he dared any of his nobles to leap between 
and separate the enraged beasts. They unhesitatingly declined: 
whereupon Pepin himself performed the daring feat, and armed 
only with a short sword, slew both the monsters. " You call me 
short, behind my back," he said, "but which of your tallest can 
do as much as I? " 

At Pepin's death he followed the unfortunate policy which was hereditary 
among the Franks, and divided his kingdom between his two sons. One of 
these died shortly, and Charles, the other, ignoring the claims of his brother's 
children, seized with strong hand upon the whole kingdom. This resolute new 
king was Charlemagne, which means Charles the Great He is one of the 
grandest figures in the whole range of history. 


"'- -;• 


(Chilperic HI is Shorn of His Kingship and His Hair) 

By the French artist, Evariste V. Luminals, of Nantes 

THE royal house descended from Clovis were called the 
Merovingians. They had ruled for nearly three hun- 
dred years and loyalty to them had become one of the 
most firmly established traditions of the Frankish race. The 
Merovingians had, however, degenerated into a race of feeble 
"drone-kings" as they were called. Powerful military lead- 
ers, like Charles Martel, fought their way to the front and 
really ruled the country, assuming the title of the chief offi- 
cer or "Mayor of the Palace." Yet each of these leaders, to 
hold the loyalty of the Franks, ruled in the name of some 
Merovingian king, a mere puppet, held a prisoner within the 
palace. It was "Pepin the Short," a son of Charles Martel, 
who ended this anomalous state of affairs. He resolved to 
rule in his own name, and having secured the sanction of the 
Pope whom he protected in Italy, Pepin in the year 751 
declared the last Merovingian king deposed. His father's 
friend, Saint Boniface, crowned him King of the Franks. 

The quaint symbol of kingship among the Merovingians 
had been the wearing of long hair. When, therefore, this 
last puppet king, Chilperic III, was deposed by Pepin, his 
long hair was cut close, thus rendering him incompetent to 
be king, and he was placed in a monastery as a monk. Never 
perhaps was an honored religious position more unwillingly 


Germany — Conquest of the Lombards 539 

Writers of his own day tell us that Charles was seven feet tall ; that his 
arm was as irresistible as his genius; that no man could match him with weap- 
ons or, oddly intermingling with his other accomplishments, in swimming. 
His bearing was majestic, his beard light brown and curling, his eyes blue and 
so keen that no man was ever found who could face his look. Even if we sub- 
tract a few inches from this description, we have still remaining a tall and 
imposing figure. Like his father and grandfather, Charles was a man of iron, 
the chief of his nation, not simply in rank, but also in intellectual ability and 
bodily strength. 

We are told that when Charles took up the Pope's quarrel and attacked 
the Lombards, their king, Desiderius, watched from his city walls the coming 
of the Frankish host. When Charles himself appeared, the splendor of his 
bearing, the awful aspect of his menacing figure in full armor upon a superb 
steed, so overwhelmed the poor Lombard that he cried, " Let us leave the wall 
and hide ourselves even beneath the earth to escape the angry eye of this 
mighty enemy." 

Such speeches, when they occur in the old chronicles, are not to be taken 
literally, but rather as expressing the enthusiasm of the writer. Yet it is cer- 
tain that, through all his reign, wherever Charlemagne fought in person, he 
was victorious. Wherever he withdrew and left the command to his lieuten- 
ants, they failed before the desperate and dangerous enemies who circled the 
Franks upon all sides. 

This Lombard campaign was Charles' first great military exploit. The 
unfortunate Desiderius made but a feeble showing against him, was deposed 
and put in a monastery. Charles placed upon his own head the crown of the 
Lombards, which they regarded with peculiar veneration. It was called the 
iron crown, as containing one of the iron nails from the cross of Christ. The 
Lombards seem to have accepted willingly the rule of Charles, who thereafter 
called himself " King of the Franks and Lombards. " 

The marvel of Charlemagne's life has always been how, in the midst of his 
constant military operations, he found time to be so great as a statesman, a 
lawgiver, an educator, and a civilizer. All of these proud titles he fully mer- 
its, yet he personally led thirty-seven different campaigns against the foes of 
his kingdom. Most famous of these, in modern French eyes, were his wars 
against the Mohammedans in Spain. He extended the frontier of his dominions 
far beyond the Pyrenees, forming a Frankish province in northern Spain. 
French romance is full of the mighty achievements of his twelve knights or 
" paladins," the greatest of whom, Roland, fell in these Moslem wars. 

From a German standpoint, however, Charlemagne's most important work 
was in the east of his kingdom, where after thirty years of warfare he finally 

54© The Story of the Greatest Nations 

crushed the resistance of the Saxons, and made the survivors one nation with 
his German Franks. It must be understood that up to this date, it had some- 
times seemed doubtful which of the two tribes was the stronger, and which 
would conquer in the end. If so far, we have said little about the Saxons and 
much about the Franks, it is partly because the wilder race have left no records 
behind them, and what we know of them is only what their foes choose to tell. 

The Saxon campaigns of Charlemagne may be divided into two periods : 
the first, a war of conquest, the second, one of extermination. The hero of the 
first is Wittekind, a Saxon noble. It was in 772 that Charles first marched 
into Saxony with the avowed purpose of punishing certain inroads into France. 
The Saxons, after being twice defeated, promised to behave themselves. But 
now came Wittekind, calling upon them to defy the haughty Franks and stand 
by their ancient gods. There was a foray, some Frankish towns were burned, 
a noted church narrowly escaped, and Charles swore an oath to continue war- 
ring against the Saxons until they were " either subdued and converted to the 
Christian religion or all destroyed." 

Almost every year thereafter, until 785, he marched with an army through 
the Saxon land. At first the enemy fought against him ; then, despairing of 
success, they surrendered, promised amendment, and accepted baptism with 
sullen resignation. Secret societies spread through the land, and every man 
who voluntarily accepted the Christian faith was marked as a foe. Each time 
that Charles departed, the people rose suddenly against his lieutenants, defeated 
them, slew many of their Christian brethren, and returned to the worship of 
their former gods. Wittekind was the heart and soul of every revolt. As each 
effort failed he fled into the wilderness, only to return and rouse his country- 
men again. 

At last, in 782, there was an uprising more than usually successful, and a 
whole Frankish army was annihilated. Charles' patience was exhausted. The 
feigned submission and promises of conversion with which the Saxons met him, 
no longer appeased him. He demanded to know the leaders of the insurrec- 
tion. All threw the blame on Wittekind; but as Wittekind, scorning submis- 
sion, had fled again, Charles seized forty-five hundred of the leading Saxons on 
the charge of being involved in the treachery, and had them beheaded in one 
day at Verden. The number of the victims makes absurd the old legend that 
he slew them with his own hand, but the gruesome fact remains that they were 

Not content with this appalling vengeance, the king swept through the land 
ravaging it everywhere with fire and sword, until winter sent him back to his 
capital and to repose. The Saxons were not cowed; rather they were roused 
to furious revenge for their dead relatives, their blackened and desolate homes 



(The Great Emperor Establishes Education as a Civilizing Force) 

From, the noted historical series by A. de Neuville 

PEPIN the Short had risen to be King of the Franks, 
substituting for the Merovingians or first royal line a 
second house called the Carlovingians. The most cele- 
brated sovereign of this line was Charlemagne, a name which 
means Charles the Great. In the story of Italy we have al- 
ready seen how Charlemagne took yet a step beyond Pepin, 
and in the year 800 added to his title of King of the Franks 
that of "Emperor" of all western Europe. 

The reign of Charlemagne is regarded as separating those 
w T ild "dark ages" of savagery and fighting from the "middle 
ages" in which civilization began again to rear its head. Of 
course there were still wild and terrible times to come; but 
never again was the world to sink back to quite the hideous- 
ness of brutality which had stamped the days of Fredegund 
and Brunhild. 

Charlemagne was a mighty civilizing influence. He ele- 
vated learning to a place of honor in his domain. He in- 
sisted that his fierce Frankish nobles should profit by the 
intellectual and spiritual uplifting of books. He formed a 
"palace school," which was the apple of his eye. Any young 
noble who desired place or power under Charles must attend 
this school. Often the emperor visited it himself and ques- 
tioned the students as to their progress. Woe to the youth 
who was found idle or ignorant by that master. Charles knew 
well the necessity of severity with these wild young men, and 
the punishments he inflicted were heavy and lasting. 

Pif$?^>*^ xiLi %$^$M 



Germany — Conquest of the Saxons 541 

Rebellion sprang up full-armed behind the retiring army, and the following 
spring Charlemagne found all his work of years undone, to be begun once more. 
If the king was heroic in his unbending resolution, the Saxons were not less so 
in their defiant resistance. By this time they must have recognized the hope- 
lessness of their cause, yet they fought for freedom to the bitter end. 

There was a desperate battle at Detmold, Wittekind against Charles ; and 
the best result the great conqueror could secure seems to have been a drawn 
contest. He found it advisable to retreat and wait for reinforcements. The 
Saxons had no longer reinforcements to count upon. They were defeated 
utterly in a second battle. Then for three years their land was systematically 
laid waste from end to end. Whole districts of fertile farm land were reduced 
to uninhabited deserts. The people fled into the remoter parts of the country, 
as yet beyond the conqueror's grasp. 

Wittekind saw that the end had come, and that the Franks were victorious. 
He voluntarily sought Charlemagne, promised loyalty to him and accepted bap- 
tism. When their great champion thus yielded, the Saxons knew that their 
cause was indeed hopeless, and the mass of them reluctantly followed his ex- 
ample. Great was the triumph of the Frankish court. There had been false 
; appearances of success before, but here at last was success itself. Wittekind' s 
baptism was made a great event. Charlemagne acted as his godfather and as- 
sisted him through the ceremony. He was made Duke of Saxony and sent 
' back to govern his people. The first period of the war was over (785). 

Here Wittekind passes from history. We only know that his word once 
given remained unbroken, that he was faithful to Charlemagne and labored for 
his people. He has been adopted by the Germans as one of their great heroes, 
a worthy successor to Hermann as the champion of liberty. Many German 
families, even royal ones, still claim him as an ancestor. 

Paganism had met its downfall. With returning peace, prosperity began to 
spread among the Saxons. Their forced conversions became, in many cases, 
genuine. The civilization of the race began. Something of their former wild 
state may be judged from the laws Charlemagne established among them, one 
of which forbade further eating of human flesh. 

Still the wild, free race must have found the Frankish yoke galling, and the 
jaore northern ones, further removed from Frankish influence, broke again into 
rebellion in 792. The war against these became a war of extermination. 
Charlemagne, withdrawn by their revolt from greater conquests which he had 
in hand, was bitterly determined that they should not interfere with his plans 
again. Campaign followed campaign. Tens of thousands of the unhappy peo- 
ple were marched as prisoners from their homes and settled in other parts of 
the Frankish kingdom. How many thousands were slain we have no way »i 


542 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

knowing, but the land, after the final rounding up and transplanting of a 
wretched remnant in 804, seems to have been left deserted. Farmhands were 
sent from other parts of the kingdom to cultivate it. 

The conquest from which this last Saxon revolt had turned Charles aside 
was that of the people of Hungary, a wild heathen race called the Avari, though 
this name is perhaps a confusion with the word Bavarians, a German tribe 
with whom the Hungarians often allied themselves. It is quite possible that 
these Avari were descendants of Attila's Huns. At any rate they were a sim- 
ilar race, fierce, ugly, and warlike. For two hundred years they had been 
making inroads among the German people, and gathering enormous masses of 
treasure in their immense ring-forts. These forts were walls built of huge 
trees and logs interwoven and grown together. The largest of the fortresses 
consisted of seven such impenetrable ramparts, one within the other, in huge 
circles, the outermost covering many miles of territory. 

Charlemagne broke the power of these people by repeated invasions. A 
force under his son, Pepin, stormed the great ring-fort, clambering over wall 
after wall, sword in hand, and capturing all the accumulated treasures at the 
centre. Most of the Avari perished. The survivors were kept in subjection 
by colonies of Germans planted along their frontier. The land thus settled 
was called the East-realm, or Aust-reich, and was the origin of the Austria of 

In similar ways the great monarch established a sort of supremacy over all 
the tribes to the east of Germany. These were a scarcely known, barbaric 
people of different race from the Germans. They had occupied the land once 
German, but left vacant by the general southward movement of that race 
against Rome. These eastern people were called Sclavs. Russia is the great 
Sclavic kingdom of the present time. 

Charlemagne built a palace at Paderborn in the heart of Saxony, and here 
he held, in 799, a splendid assembly, to which there came ambassadors of all 
nations, to do him honor. Even the Mahometan caliph, Haroun-al-Raschid 
of "Arabian Nights" fame, sought the friendship of the European conqueror, 
and sent him presents, including an elephant which caused much marvelling 
among the Franks. 

The next year Charlemagne went to Rome to protect the Pope from enemies 
who had attempted to dethrone him ; and there occurred that famous coronation 
of which you have read in Rome's story. The old days when one man ruled 
the world seemed to have come again, and so on Christmas day of the year 800 
Charlemagne was crowned Emperor, amid the universal acclamation of his sub- 
jects. Thus began the German or, as Charlemagne himself named it, the Holy 
Roman Empire, which was to last through many vicissitudes for a thousand 


(The Saxons Accept the Faith and Empire of Charlemagne) 

Painted in 1884 by Prof. Paul Thumann, the noted German artist 

BEFORE the days of Charlemagne the conversion of the 
Germans to Christianity had been a religious matter left 
to the priests, like Saint Boniface. Under Charlemagne 
it became a political movement ; the acceptance of Christianity 
was the outward pledge of obedience to the Frankish Em- 
peror. Now while the Franks were, as we have seen, the most 
powerful and most civilized of the German tribes, the Saxons 
were almost equally strong. They dwelt in the wild north- 
German forests, and were the fiercest and most savage mem- 
bers of the Germanic race. 

The chief military labor of Charlemagne's life was the 
subjugation of these Saxons, by conquering whom he became 
the first man to rule all the Germans. The struggle was long 
and obstinate. More than one Frankish army was completely 
destroyed, as the Roman troops of Varus had been, in the 
forests of north Germany. Four separate times the Saxons 
admitted themselves conquered, and as a token of submission 
accepted wholesale baptism at the hands of Charlemagne's 
priests. But the Saxons had a great leader, Duke Wittekind, 
who would not submit. At each defeat he fled into the wilder- 
ness, and then came back and roused his people to another 
rebellion. At length Wittekind is said to have stolen into the 
camp of Charlemagne in disguise, and to have been so im- 
pressed by the wisdom and nobility of the great Emperor that 
he voluntarily offered to obey him. The baptism of Wittekind 
united the Saxons permanently to the Frankish faith and 



Germany — The Holy Roman Empire 543 

years. It did not expire until Napoleon's time, when the defeated Emperor of 
Austria, who had inherited the outworn title, resigned it in 1806. 

As Emperor, Charlemagne required a. new and higher oath of allegiance 
from his subjects. Hitherto his Franks had only been pledged to follow their 
king in war and submit to certain general laws. Now a solemn ceremony was 
everywhere enacted by which they vowed to obey their emperor in all things. 
His power became, as that of the Roman emperors had been, absolute and un- 
questioned. His plans soared even higher, he hoped once more to unite East 
and West. The Empire of the East was at the moment in the hands of a 
woman, the Empress Irene. She was a horrible tyrant, stained with blood and 
every atrocity. Nevertheless, being possessed with quite other thoughts than 
those of love, Charles sent an embassy seeking her hand in marriage. The 
offer never reached her; while it was on the way, her own outraged people re- 
belled and slew her. The Eastern Empire was to continue its feeble, separate 
existence for yet another six hundred and fifty years. 

The last days of Charles were days of peace, though darkened by much 
domestic misfortune. His gigantic frame seems to have been incapable of 
growing old. He was seventy-two when he died in 814, yet he continued hunt- 
ing in the woods and exercising on horseback to within a week of his death. 
A fever seized him. He is said to have used the starvation treatment in all 
his illnesses, but this time it failed him. He abstained from food for seven 
days, but the fever became more violent, and he saw that his end had come. 
I His last words were a Christian prayer, " Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend 
my spirit." 

The greatness of Charlemagne lies not so much in that he built up an em- 
pire, for that was disrupted after his death. It lies rather in that he laid the 
! foundations of our modern world. He gave to his people peace and order. He 
I built up an elaborate system of laws, which served to guide them in their con- 
| duct toward each other, and which gradually took the place of — 

" The good old rule, the simple plan, 
That they shall take who have the power, 
And they shall keep who can. " 

He founded a literature, and was himself a poet and a musician. Above 
i all, he began the education of his people. He established schools which were 
his special pride, and which he visited constantly. All the boys of the higher 
ranks were compelled to attend. Hands which in former ages would have 
known only the sword, were now taught to grasp the pen. We can almost see 
' 'to-day the mighty monarch, with deep-seeing, flashing, blue eyes, as once, find- 
ing the common lads doing better work than the young nobles, he thundered 
forth : " Look here, ye scions of our best nobility, ye pampered ones who, trust- 

544 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

ing to your birth or fortune, have disobeyed me, and instead of studying, as ye 
were bound, and I expected ye to do, have wasted your time in idleness, on 
play, luxury, or unprofitable occupation ! By the King of heaven, let others 
admire ye as much as they please ; as for me, I set little store by your birth or 
beauty, understand ye and remember it well, that unless ye give heed speedily 
to amend your past negligence by diligent study, ye will never obtain anything 
from Charles." 

The main strength of Charlemagne's empire lay among his East-Franks, 
and among them he planted his capital at Aachen, the modern Aix-la-Chapelle. 
The city had been founded by his father Pepin, but it was much beautified and 
enlarged by Charlemagne. He built here a palace, and also a cathedral. In 
the latter he was buried, amid the lamentation of a people who loved as much 
as they honored him. A rather untrustworthy old chronicle says that his dead 
body was dressed in his imperial robes and crown, and seated upon a golden 
throne within the sepulchre, girt with a golden sword and with the dead hands 
resting on a golden Book of the Gospels. To this day the stone covering his 
grave still remains in the centre of the great Aix cathedral with only the two 
simple words upon it " Carolo Magno." 

With Charles the age of destruction ends. The Middle Ages, as they are 
called, begin. The old period had been one of partial paganism, of wandering 
tribes warring against all they met, a confusion of savage, almost purposeless 
inroads, burnings, and general desolation. The new period was still one of 
cruel and sometimes senseless warfare ; but there were settled nations, a gradu- 
ally advancing civilization, and above all there was Christianity, bringing with 
it a slow recognition of the wickedness of war, and the greater power, wisdonv 
and worthiness of Christ's peace. 

Crown and Insignia op the holy Roman Emp'bs 


(The Ravaging Huns Flee from Ludwig the Child) 

From a painting by the contemporary German artist, E. Klein 

THE empire of Charlemagne was divided among his de- 
scendants, who f ought among themselves jnst as the 
descendants of Clovis had fought. By these divisions 
the empire gradually became clearly separated into its three 
modern parts of Germany, France and Italy, so that hence- 
forward in the present story we need follow the fortunes of 
only that eastern portion which is Germany to-day. 

So enfeebled did the Frankish race become by all these 
civil wars that they could no longer hold their own against 
outside invaders. Under Charles Martel they had broken the 
whole stupendous force of the fanatical Mahometans ; but now 
those who dwelt in Germany, the East-Franks, could not 
match a far feebler foe. A race of Asiatic invaders took pos- 
session of the land of Hungary, which they still possess. They 
were probably Finns, but the Germans associated them with 
the earlier migration of Attila's Huns and called these in- 
vaders Huns also. They attacked Germany and ravaged and 
plundered almost at will, defeating one army after another. 
"Ludwig the child," the last of all the Carlovingian line to 
rule in Germany, came to the throne in the year 895, and re- 
pelled the Huns for a moment. But though they fled back 
to Hungary, it was only to return in renewed force upon an- 
other raid. Ludwig was completely defeated and paid tribute 
to them. To this had the Empire of Charlemagne sunk, it was 
a tributary state, submissively bowing to the fierce whims of 
a barbarian Hunnish chieftain. 


Lewis the Pious Dethroned by His Son 

Chapter LII 

have traced the German race through the period of its 
expansion, as it spread over all the Roman world. YVe 
turn now to watch the disruption of its empire into 
modern France and Germany, and the concentration of 
the surviving Germanic elements within their ancient 

We have seen what is perhaps the one instance in 

the world where greatness has descended from father 

through four generations. Pepin of Herestal, Charles Martel, 

the Short, and Charlemagne were all men of remarkable 

It was hardly to be expected that genius should extend 

through a fifth generation. Charlemagne had three sons : Charles, 

Pepin, and Lewis. Charles may have inherited his father's genius, 

but he died young. Pepin, who, we are told, was a hunchback, 

rebelled against his father, was imprisoned and also died. Lewis, the 

son of Charlemagne's old age, therefore inherited the entire empire. 

Lewis the Pious, he was called, though we would scarce consider him a 

lint in these days. Well-meaning he undoubtedly was, but a man required 

omething more than merely good intentions wherewith to grasp and keep in 

rder that whole tempestuous world. He needed to be an able general, a man 

:rong of will and keen of intellect. These things Lewis was not. They say 

e was as tall of stature as his father, — he certainly was like him in little else. 

lis own sons rebelled against him and put him in prison. The land was deso- 


54& The Story of the Greatest Nations 

iated with civil war. Lewis was liberated, and there was more war. After 
his death his three surviving sons fought among themselves. 

Finally, in 843, the brothers came to an agreement, and by the treaty 
of Verdun divided the empire among them, mainly retaining what they had 
already seized. Lothair, the eldest, secured the title of emperor, with a long, 
queer, narrow kingdom stretching between the other two. It included Italy, 
Burgundy, and a thin strip along the west bank of the Rhine reaching to Hol- 
land and the North Sea. Thus he retained both the empire's capitals, Rome 
and Aachen, but none of its real strength. This lay with the East-Franks and 
the West-Franks. The West-Franks, with most of the land of modern France, 
went to Charles, the youngest son. The other son Lewis, called the "German," 
retained all the territory east of the Rhine, the ancient land of Germany. 

With this date, 843, and this treaty of Verdun, begins the separate exist- 
ence of France and Germany. The two branches of the East and West Franks 
were already sharply divided. They even spoke different languages. The 
East-Franks still used their ancient German tongue; but the German speech 
that the West-Franks brought with them into Gaul, they gradually lost among 
thei*- far more numerous Roman subjects. The languages, like the races, had 
blended, until the West- Franks spoke what was really a much corrupted Latin, 
which we call French. Take, for example, that most common name of the 
Frankish kings, Lewis. Its changes give an idea of how the commonest words 
were altering in sound and spelling. In old German this name was Chlodwig, 
in old French it became Clovis ; in modern German it is Ludwig, in modern 
French, Louis. 

We will leave the future of the West-Franks for another story, and follow 
here the fortunes of the East-Franks. This harsher, harder, sturdier, rougher 
half of the race had now begun a kingdom of their own, along with Saxons, 
Bavarians, Alemanni, and other tribes, all Germanic. Over this kingdom ruled 
the best of the grandsons of Charlemagne, Lewis — or shall we now adopt tht 
German form and say Ludwig? — " the German." 

Ludwig kept the kingdom in tolerable order while he lived. He was suc- 
ceeded by his son, Charles the Fat (876-887), who, by outliving all the other 
Carlovingians, became for a brief while Emperor of the whole domain. But 
Charles was weak and foolish. The Norsemen, those terrible sea-robbers, who 
were spreading over all Europe, and of whom you will hear much more in 
France's story, besieged Paris. Charles, instead of fighting, bought them off 
by paying a huge tribute, and his subjects were furious at the national dis- 
honor. There was a rebellion, Charles was deposed, and France broke away 
from the empire again. 

Arnulf, an illegitimate descendant of Charlemagne, was made king in Ger 

ohm nm 






(The Germans Elect Conrad of Franconia to be Their King) 

After an ancient German sketch 

WITH the death of Ludwig the Child we get the first 
evidence that there had arisen in Germany a sense of 
real national unity, a recognition among all men of 
the value and even the necessity of their uniting for mutual 
safety and all obeying the rule of a single leader. The Popes 
had proclaimed a solemn curse upon any man who should 
swear allegiance to a king not of Charlemagne's race, and as 
that race had now died out in Germany it seemed as though 
the people must reunite under the French king, who was 
descended from Charlemagne. But the German nobles defied 
the Pope and also the king, both of whom they regarded as 
foreigners. Calling a general meeting at Forchheim in the 
year 911, the nobles agreed to select one of their own number 
as king. Their first choice would have fallen upon the power- 
ful Duke of the Saxons ; but he declared himself too old, and 
voluntarily recommended in his stead Conrad, the Duke of the 
Franks, or Franconians as the German Franks were now 

So Conrad became King of Germany by the choice of the 
Germans themselves. He did not find them very loyal or sub- 
missive subjects. His own dukes were constantly warring 
against him, and encouraging the Hunnish raids. These wild 
invaders penetrated even to the banks of the Rhine; and 
Conrad, dying of a wound received in battling against them, 
left his desolated country at almost the lowest ebb of disrup- 
tion and disaster. 


Germany — Last of the Carlovingians $47 

many (887-899). He was a resolute man, and for a moment it seemed as if 
he might stem the torrent of desolation and civil war which was sweeping away 
the empire. The greatest service he did his country was the defeat which he 
inflicted on a large army of the Norse robbers, a defeat so bloody and convinc- 
ing that thereafter they kept almost altogether out of Germany, preferring to 
plunder where they could find easier victims. 

Arnulf even went to Rome, which closed its gates and refused to acknowl- 
edge his sovereignty. After a vain siege he was turning away, when the 
taunts hurled at his soldiers by the defenders on the walls so enraged the Ger- 
mans that they swarmed up the ramparts to be avenged, and had captured the 

I city before either they or Arnulf realized it. Arnulf was then crowned Em- 
peror, and for a moment reunited all Charlemagne's realm except France. 

i Unfortunately he died, probably poisoned by the vengeful Italians, who after- 
ward went on gratifying their own vanity by appointing so-called emperors 

!from among themselves, and fighting for the empty title. 

In Germany, Arnulf's sceptre fell into the hands of his infant son, Ludwig 
the Child, the last of the Carlovingians. He ruled only in name. What could 

la child do in those wild days! Each great noble was lord of his own domain 
in practical independence. The Norsemen had left Germany, but fiercer foes 
had come to ravage it. These were the people of Hungary, the Magyars, still 

! called Huns by the Germans, though really a Finnish race. Something of 
the old Hun blood of Attila's time may have run riot in them, for they were as 
ferocious as his hordes had been, and like them, small and hideous but strong 

! of frame and perfect masters of their swift horses and far-reaching arrows. 
There was no one to lead a united army against them. Ludwig tried, but was 

! ignominiously defeated. The priests preached openly from the pulpits, " Woe 
to thee, O land, when thy king is a child." Poor lad, he was doing his best. 

I Fate had placed him in a position too heavy for his youth and weakness. It 
was a relief to his distracted country, it must almost have been a relief to him- 
self, when he died in 911. He was only eighteen. 

We now come to an important point in the story of Germany. Its people 

1 had hitherto consisted of several separate and often antagonistic tribes or na- 
tions under the dominion of the Franks. They were ruled by Frankish em- 
perors, who had originally won their power by conquest, and who held the 
subject races together by the sword. These different races were governed by 
dukes, at first mere servants of the emperor; but as the authority of the sov- 

| ereigns weakened, that of the dukes increased. The rank became hereditary; 

: and the people learned to esteem their dukes far more than the unknown, dis- 
tant, and often incompetent emperor. Reverence for the memory of Charle- 
ftia^r/?, the magnificence and splendor of his empire, had perhaps done more 

^S The Story of the Greatest Nations 

than anything else to hold the different nations together. Now, with the death 
of Ludwig the Child, last of the Carlovingians, even this bond was lost. Each 
of the great dukes stood alone, and it seemed that Germany would break into 
as many separate kingdoms as there were dukedoms. 

Probably this would have taken place but for the continued and disastrous 
invasions of the Magyars from Hungary. Bitter experience taught the dukes 
that no one of them could separately withstand these dangerous foes. Two 
dukes perished in the attempt. The rest saw they must unite or die. So of 
their own free will they met at Forchheim in Bavaria, in this year, 911, and 
chose one of their number to be king over them all. 

This, you will see, formed a German kingdom very different from the 
Carlovingian empire. Let us pause, therefore, to see just what the districts 
or duchies were which thus voluntarily united. Saxony lay to the north, not 
where you see the little kingdom of Saxony to-day, but where much of Prussia 
now lies, covering both banks of the Elbe River, bordering on the sea and 
stretching almost to the lower Rhine. Thuringia, the central German land of 
forests, was at this time part of Saxony, though sometimes separated from it. 
Franconia, the land of the East-Franks, lay along the eastern bank of the 
Rhine through its middle course. Bordering the upper Rhine was Swabia, 
the land of the Alemanni, and farther east was Bavaria, partly where Bavaria 
and Austria lie to-day. 

The country on the west bank of the Rhine, which you will remember had 
made part of the narrow central empire of Charlemagne's oldest grandson, 
Lothair, was called from him LotJiaringia or Lorraine. It had been first 
united to Germany and then to France, and was already what it has continued 
to be trough all the centuries, a bone of bitter contention between the two, 
seized now by one, now by the other. To a lesser degree Burgundy, the second 
portion of Lotbair's temporary empire, suffered the same uncertain fate. Bur- 
gundy finally became French, while Lotharingia has been most frequently 
German, and its people have always spoken the German tongue. 

Lotharingia was not represented, however, at the famous assembly which 
met at Forchheim to choose a successor to Ludwig the Child. Something of 
the old Frankish preeminence seemed still to be acknowledged, for the lords 
selected Conrad, the Duke of Franconia, to be their king. He was not really 
the most powerful among them. That distinction belonged to Otto, Duke of 
Saxony; but Otto, a wary, watchful old fighter, declined the doubtful and dan- 
gerous honor of the kingship. The real power of Franconia lay in the hands 
of its bishop, Hatto, Bishop of Mainz, a strong, but stern and selfish man, 
-who, according to legend, was devoured for his crimes by an army of rats. 
Conrad was one of Hatto's followers, and had only recently been created Duke 



1 A ~*' 


jy* ^rir^iftY 



(The Embassy Conning to Crown Henry I. Finds Him Trapping Finches) 

From a 'painting by the contemporary German artist, H. Vogel 

THE ever-increasing ravages of the Huns seemed to 
threaten Germany with conquest; perhaps civilization 
was again to be overwhelmed by barbarism. The man 
who saved Europe from this fate, who not only broke the 
power of the Huns but also checked the endless wars among 
the Germans themselves, was that great king, Henry I, whom 
his people call by the rather idle nickname of Henry the 
Fowler. The name arose from an incident at the time of his 
election as king. He was the son of that Duke of the Saxons 
who had made Conrad of Franconia king ; and when Conrad 
lay dying he declared that this new duke Henry of Saxony 
was the only man strong enough to save Germany from its 
miseries. So Conrad's chief nobles, including many of his 
own Franconian followers, went to Henry's home to present 
him the regal insignia and entreat him to become their king. 
Henry was out hunting in the woods, snaring finches; and 
there the embassy found him, so that he was at once called 
"the Fowler." 

He did a remarkably brave and shrewd thing; he made 
a treaty of peace with the Huns and paid them a heavy an- 
nual tribute. The Germans protested furiously; but Henry 
held them firmly in check for nine years. Then, having gath- 
ered all the strength of the land, having trained his men for 
battle and having built up cities of refuge along all the fron- 
tier, Henry threw off the galling bond, deliberately insulted 
the Huns and defied them to battle. They came on in fury, 
but were utterly defeated and their power was broken. 


Germany — Rise of the Saxons 549 

of Franconia by his influential patron. So both Hatto and Otto thought to 
use the feeble king as they liked, and agreed in placing him on the throne. 

Conrad (911-918) made the best of his difficult position. He asserted 
himself far more than his patrons expected, gradually increased his power, and 
fought long and well against the Hungarians. Events went smoothly, until 
Otto of Saxony died and was succeeded by his fiery young son, Henry. Con- 
rad hoped to weaken the new duke's strength by separating Saxony and Thurin 
gia. Accordingly, he decreed that Henry should rule only in Saxony. Henry 
promptly rebelled. The ancient antagonism of Saxon and Frank flared up. 
The whole Saxon race rallied round Henry; there was a great battle at Merse- 
burg (915), and the Franks were so terribly defeated that a fierce old Saxon 
song of triumph cries, "Where shall the under-world find room for all the 
slaughtered Franks ? " 

The leadership of the kingdom had clearly passed from Frank to Saxon. 
Conrad, dying soon after, recognized this fact and rose above personal enmity 
to true greatness. To his brother, Eberhard, and the other nobles who stood 
by his death-bed, he said : " Take my crown and bear it to young Henry of 
Saxony. There is no other has the strength to wear it." The Frankish nobles 
obeyed, and seeking out the surprised Henry, offered him the crown. They 
J are said to have found him away among the mountains, with a hawk upon his 
wrist, bird hunting, or " fowling," because of which he became known as Henry 
the Fowler. 

Henry I., "the Fowler" (918-936), was a descendant of Charlemagne's per- 
sistent Saxon opponent, Wittekind. We can imagine then with what gratifica- 
tion the Saxons beheld him raised to Charlemagne's throne. They saw in it the 
final triumph of their race over the conquering Frank, and they supported their 
! young chief with loyal zeal. Henry seems to have recognized from the first 
the high duties and perils of his office. A fickle world has forgotten to bestow 
upon him the too common title of " Great " ; but great he unquestionably was, 
both in character and in the work he did for his country. Modern students 
i regard him as the greatest of the Saxon rulers of Germany. He found the 
land tottering on the brink of ruin, reeling from the attacks of the Magyars 
without, shattered by disunion within, each duke thinking selfishly of his own 
power, only one heart big enough to feel at once for all Germany and its 
people, and that one heart his own. The dying Conrad had read the future 
I well. The task which had proven too heavy for him, able though he 
was, he had passed to the one man who could, and who did, accomplish it 

Henry's first need, as he instantly saw, was to have his title recognized 
everywhere in the land. He understood clearly the nature of his claim to the The Story of the Greatest Nations 

throne. When a bishop would have poured the sacred oil upon his head at the 
coronation, he forbade it, declaring that he was not worthy to be the church's 
king; he was content to be merely his people's king, since it was they who had 
chosen him. The two southern dukes of Bavaria and Swabia refused to ac- 
knowledge him as their superior. The Bavarian even raised an army in opposi- 
tion. Henry marched against this with a powerful force of Saxons and Franks; 
but instead of annihilating the offending noble, he arranged a personal meeting, 
and urged the case so frankly, yet so ably, that the rebel submitted without a 
blow and joined his army to Henry's. 

Thus strengthened, instead of weakened by battle, Henry turned with the 
same display of combined strength and moderation against the King of France. 
This monarch had now held Lotharingia for some years in defiance of all that 
Germany could do. Henry marched against him, but again arranged a personal 
interview. The two kings met midway between their armies; and Henry's 
frank, shrewd, persuasive words once more achieved a victory where arms might 
have failed. The foes parted as friends, and the French monarch voluntarily 
yielded the disputed province. 

Henry next matched his clever wit against the savage Hungarians. They 
were again ravaging Germany in such force as the disheartened populace could 
no longer resist. Henry captured a Hungarian leader; but instead of execut- 
ing him as the nobles insisted, the king offered not only to free the prisoner, 
but also to pay a large yearly tribute to the Huns if they would agree to a truce 
for nine years. The barbaric tribes were as pleased over the submission, as the 
Germans were humiliated by the disgrace. The king's course seemed to his 
own people nothing but cowardice, and instead of being grateful for the peace, 
they sneered and taunted him. But Henry saw further than they, he had 
marked out his course, and, secure of himself, pursued it with the inflexible 
resolution of true greatness. 

The nine-year respite which he had obtained, was spent in careful and thor- 
ough preparation. The fiery spirits who chafed in peace, were sent on an expe- 
dition against the Wends, a Sclavic race who were threatening Germany from 
the northeast. These Wends were heathens and had joined the Hungarians in 
previous raids. Unsupported, they proved no match for the Germans and were 
completely crushed. One by one their leaders were captured and given the 
choice of Christianity or death. The race was ground to dust. The Saxons 
gradually moved east and occupied their lands. The surviving Wends became 
little better than slaves to the conquerors. Indeed, it was here that our mod- 
ern word slave originated ; it is only another form of Sclav. 

Meanwhile, all along the Hungarian frontier Henry was building strong- 
walled cities, so many of them that his people began to drop that misleading 




(A German Commander Forces Christianity Upon the Unwilling Sclavic Chiefs 

By the recent German artist, A. von II ay den 

HENRY THE FOWLER, it must be remembered, was a 
Saxon. Thus the Saxon tribe of Germans which 
Charlemagne had subjugated and forced to accept 
Christianity, was now become the chief tribe of the German 
kingdom, stronger even than the Franks. These Saxons in 
their turn took up the vigorous work of spreading Christian- 
ity by force. While King Henry held his people back from 
attacking the Huns, he kept them practiced in arms by di- 
recting them against the Sclavic races which we now hear of 
for the first time as beginning to press upon the Germans 
from the eastward. The first of these Sclavs to encounter the 
heavy handed conversion of the Saxons were a people called 
the Wends, dwelling in what is now eastern Prussia. 

The Saxons marched against the Wends in several expedi- 
tions, the most noted being led by a fierce old chieftain called 
Hermann Billung. Hermann gave each captured Wend the 
choice of Christianity or death, and having no strong devotion 
to their own gods, they accepted a nominal Christianity. So 
completely was the power of the Wends broken that they 
continued to exist only as slaves of the Saxons. Indeed it 
was here that the word "sclav" began naturally to be used 
in its German and English sense as indicating a slave. 


Germany — Henry the City-Builder 551 

title, " the Fowler," and call him by what seems to us a far more appropriate 
and honorable name. He became known as " Henry the City-Builder.'' 

He trained his people, too, in martial exercises. He instituted the " tour- 
naments " which afterward became so popular, and of which we read so much 
to-day. They were friendly combats with sword or lance. The play was dan- 
gerous, and sometimes a man was slain ; but the combatants grew thoroughly 
familiar with their weapons, accustomed to blows, and ready to meet unflinch- 
ingly the fiercest foe. Nor were these exercises confined to the nobility. A 
regular militia was formed from the common people. Every ninth man through- 
out the land was clothed and fed by his fellows, and compelled to give his 
whole time to the practise of arms. A very different set of soldiers, and even 
a very different Germany, slowly emerged from under Henry's skilful hand. 

The nine years of the truce slipped by. Each year a Hungarian embassy 
came in haughty fashion and demanded the tribute money Each year it was 
paid them, though the German nobles grew every time more furious, and were 
only held in check by the strong hand of their resolute king. The ninth year 
came, and with it the ambassadors, haughtier than ever. Henry's nobles 
watched sullenly to see what he would do. According to legend a great bag 
was brought in as usual, but before giving it to the Hungarians, Henry said 
with ominous sternness : " Tell your masters I am ready for them now. So 
you may take them back this, the last tribute they shall ever have from Ger- 
many." Then the bag was opened before the astonished Hungarians, and out 
rolled a wretched, yelping, mangy cur. 

Can you fancy what an exultant shout went up from the delighted Ger- 
mans ? Ah, but this king of theirs knew how to rule them ! In that grim jest 
they saw their long humiliation amply avenged. They understood it all now, 
—all that Henry's slow patience had done for them, all the power he had 
placed in their hands, all the vengeance he had made ready. The king had 
the ardent support of every sword in Germany for the inevitable war. 

A great army of the furious Hungarians poured into the country. But the 
people had now Henry's walled cities into which to retreat and, in comparison 
with former raids, they suffered little harm. Henry's army met the Hunnish 
hordes at Merseburg (933), near the scene of his great victory over Conrad. 
He had taught his soldiers to regard this as a holy war,— Christianity against 
heathendom; and he had a great picture of the archangel Michael, the angel of 
victory, borne in front of his soldiers. But even with his improved army and 
the high spirit he had infused into his men, the struggle was long doubtful. 
At last, however, the Huns were defeated and fled in despair. The German 
peasants hunted them through the country like rabbits. The survivors who 
reached their own far-away home, declared that their srods had deserted them 


55 2 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

They recalled the magnificent figure of the winged angel Michael that had 
been borne against them, and they fastened huge golden wings on all their idols, 
hoping to make their gods equal to the Christians'. Later they attempted an- 
other invasion of Germany ; but their power had been broken forever at Merse- 

With those nine years of preparation, however, Henry had done a greater 
thing than defeat the Huns. He had set his stamp forever on the future, not 
only of Germany, but of the world. Two wonderful institutions sprang up 
under his hand, which have been among the most potent factors in modern 
civilization. With his tournaments he instituted knighthood, from which came 
chivalry, loyalty, devotion to woman, and all the fairest flowers of the Middle 
Ages. His order of knighthood took no regard of rank, but was planned to 
admit every one who could worthily pledge himself to a life of warfare in de- 
fence of country and king. Henry and his great lords discussed the qualities 
which should be required in a member of the new order. Legend makes each 
lord supply one demand. 

" A knight," said Henry himself, "must not by word or deed injure Holy 
Church." "Nor harm the Empire," added Conrad, the High Steward of Ger- 
many. " Nor injure any woman," put in Hermann of Swabia. " Nor break 
his word," inserted Berthold of Bavaria. "Nor," concluded Conrad of Fran- 
conia, "must he ever run away from battle." So these were the qualities re- 
quired of a knight. He was to be brave and truthful, a loyal supporter of 
women, of his king, and of his God. Thus the knights sprang into existence, 
true gentlemen from the start. Of course the order was by no means as pure 
in practice as it was theoretically, but it proved a mighty step in the progress 
of the nations. 

Even more influential was Henry's other creation, that of the walled cities. 
From them sprang the free world of to-day. The settlers within the walls were 
under no ruler but the king; in his absence they governed themselves. Later 
they elected their own magistrates, and became so many little republics in the 
heart of the kingdom. Gradually their power increased, until it was greater 
than that of the nobles. They produced the real rulers of the world to-day,— 
the great body of free "citizens," as we still call ourselves in remembrance of 
those cities. 


Signature of Charlemagne (Signum -f- Caroli Gloriosissimi Regis) 


s^f r ^^^nu^ 


(Otto the Great Triumphs Over His Dead Brother Thankmar) 

From the painting by the contemporary German artist, Albert Baur 

HENRY THE FOWLER left a strong and united king- 
dom to be inherited by his son, Otto I ; and men seeing 
the splendor of Otto's rule have conferred upon him a 
title which belonged far more rightfully to his father. He 
is called Otto the Great. But whereas Henry had won all 
men to love and aid him by his kindness and his wisdom, Otto 
by his arrogance estranged the hearts of his subjects. His 
coronation was a sumptuous affair. Henry had refused even 
to be clothed in robes of state ; Otto had the four chief nobles 
of his kingdom act as servants at his installation. The Duke 
of Franconia and his followers, the very nobles who had of- 
fered the crown to Henry, were soon in open rebellion. against 
Otto. In punishment for a slight offense he had compelled 
them to come before him submissively each carrying a cur 
dog in his arms. Their haughty spirits burned to avenge the 

The revolt was headed by Otto's own half-brother Thank- 
mar, who, when the rebels were defeated, took refuge in a 
church. Such sanctuaries were regarded as inviolable; but 
by Otto's command Thankmar was attacked at the very foot 
of the altar, and was slain after a desperate conflict. 

Otto, in his haughtiness, desired subjects not friends. He 
revived the "Holy Roman Empire" of Charlemagne, which 
had been forgotten in the days of misery. Journeying across 
the Alps to Rome Otto had himself crowned as Emperor by 
the Pope, with gorgeous ceremonies. 


Nobles Attacking Merchants in "Private War" 

Chapter LIII 

HEN this truly great Henry "the City-Builder" died, so 
potent had become his influence over the people that 
without question they chose as his successor, the son 
whom he had selected. So again a Saxon chief ruled 
the land. 

This son, Otto I. (936-973), possessed his father's 
resolute strength, but he lacked the ready wit and tact 
that had helped Henry through many a difficult situa- 
tion. Henry had treated his nobles as his friends, and the great 
dukes as his equals. Otto assumed a haughty superiority over them 
all. Hence where Henry had found loyal supporters and a united 
kingdom, Otto encountered rebels and rivals, and his rule was long 
crippled by civil war. 

At first, however, the spell' of Henry remained over the nobles. 
They assisted Otto in his gorgeous coronation ceremonies. He was 
seated on the golden throne of Charlemagne in the cathedral at 
Aachen. On his head was placed the jewelled crown, in his hand the sacred 
lance, which was supposed to be the very lance with which Christ had been 
wounded on the cross, and which is still preserved in the royal treasury of the 
Austrian empire. The nobles even submitted to Otto's decree that at his coro- 
nation feast one duke was to act as his cup-bearer, a second as his carver, a 
third as his master of horse, and so on. Some of them seemed even to regard 
such service as an honor, for the offices became hereditary in the various 
families. All future coronations were conducted with the same formalities, 

554 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

and thus the superiority of the king over his lords was positively acknowl- 

But what a storm of troubles this pompous coronation and his further arro- 
gance were brewing for Otto ! He was not Henry's oldest son ; there was an 
older half-brother, Thankmar, who had been excluded from the throne in Otto's 
favor. Thankmar rebelled and was joined by Eberhard, the great duke of the 
Franks, the same who, twenty years before, had stood by the death-bed of his 
brother, King Conrad, and waiving personal ambition, had carried the crown to 
Henry of Saxony. 

These two were dangerous foes ; but Otto was prompt to attack them before 
they could unite. He besieged Thankmar in the noted fortress of Eresburg 
and carried it by assault. Thankmar, a huge and muscular man, finding him- 
self surrounded by enemies, fought his way single-handed to the church within 
the fortress. He hoped there to find safety, for churches were regarded as 
sacred. But his foes were relentless, and persisted in their attack until Thank- 
mar, after a desperate struggle, fell dead on the steps of the altar. Otto, who 
had never loved him, viewed his dead body with grim satisfaction, and then set 
out to seek the other rebel. 

Eberhard had meanwhile drawn into the revolt Otto's younger brother 
Henry, a mere lad. Twice these two feigned submission, and twice returned 
to rebellion. The power of Otto was shaken to its foundations. At last 
Eberhard was slain in an obscure skirmish, and Henry was captured and im- 
prisoned. The next Christmas day Otto was attending divine service at the 
cathedral in Frankfort. Just as the choir sang " Peace on earth, good-will to 
men," a man garbed as a penitent pushed his way through the throng and knelt 
at the king's feet. It was Henry who had escaped from his prison and come 
to entreat pardon yet a third time. Once more Otto forgave him, and there- 
after the younger brother remained a loyal supporter of the king. He was re- 
warded by being made Duke of Bavaria. 

This policy of appointing his own relatives to the various dukedoms, Ott< 
steadily pursued wherever opportunity offered. In this way he managed grad- 
ually to consolidate his power. At last there was no one left with strength t< 
rebel, and the king became as secure upon his throne as Henry had been, 
But Otto held men's bodies by physical force ; Henry had controlled then 

As years passed, Otto came to be recognized as by far the most powerful 
monarch in Europe. He wedded Editha of England, a granddaughter of Alfred 
the Great. He subdued the Bohemians to the eastward, and, warring against 
the Danes, marched through their little peninsula from end to end. Standing 
wi its northern shore, he hurled his spear out into the sea, as a token of sover* 



(Otto's Younger Brother Henry Comes to Him for Mercy) 

From the noted historical series by Alexander Zick 

OTTO THE GREAT had another brother beside Thank- 
mar, a mere lad named Henry. Henry was also driven 
into rebellion, twice patched up a peace, and twice 
broke out afresh. The third time he plotted to murder his 
brother and was thrown into prison. Escaping, he came be- 
fore Otto in the midst of the Christmas services in Frankfort 
cathedral, and garbed as an outcast and stranger, he cast him- 
self at his brother's feet entreating mercy. Otto recognized 
him and pardoned him once more, and from that time Henry 
became the Emperor's strongest and most loyal supporter. He 
was made Duke of Bavaria, and his descendants afterward 
became emperors of Germany. 

With Henry's help, Otto firmly established his supremacy 
over Germany and then over Italy. They had next to meet 
renewed assaults from the Huns, whom they defeated in a 
great battle in 955 and broke their power forever. Henry 
and his Bavarians occupied much of the land which the Huns 
had previously captured, and the German race and power 
was thus extended into the land which we call Austria to-day. 
The Hunnish kingdom was restricted within the bounds of 
modern Hungary. 

Thus Henry repaid his brother's leniency, and extended 
German power farther south and east than it had ever reached 



Germany — Otto Re-establishes the Empire 555 

eignty even there. He began to think of reducing Italy to subjection and 
being crowned Emperor at Rome, as the successor of Charlemagne. 

At this moment, as if in anticipation of his plans, an appeal came to him 
from distracted Italy itself. Berengar was the name of the fierce chieftain 
who for the moment had established himself on the Italian throne. He had 
slain the former king, and now, to prevent further trouble, he sought to force 
a marriage between his own son and the young widow of the murdered man. 
Adelheid, the widowed queen, recoiled in horror from the step; but a woman's 
feelings were not taken into much account in those wild days. Berengar threw 
her into prison to compel her to consent. Adelheid escaped, hid in a field of 
corn while her pursuers galloped past, and then made her way to the castle of 
Canossa, where she had loyal vassals. There Berengar besieged her. 

In her extremity she had sent a letter to Otto, the mightiest king of her 
world, entreating assistance. The appeal fitted well with Otto's plans. He led 
an army over the Alps (951), forced Berengar to become his vassal, and rescued 
the queen from Canossa. He found the lady young and pleasing to his eyes, 
and, his own wife having died some years before, he married Adelheid at Pavia 
in the same year. 

Through this wedding he succeeded to whatever claims Adelheid possessed 
to the Italian throne ; but further rebellions at home soon withdrew him from 
pursuit of his Italian plans. He returned north in haste and chastised the 
offenders. Then came the last Hungarian invasion from which Germany was 
to suffer. Otto met the barbarians in a long-remembered battle on the river 
Lech and annihilated their army. The old ballads say that the German king 
led the attack in person, and that a hundred thousand Magyars were left dead 
on the field. 

Ten years passed before Otto was free to return to Italy. He was growing 
old; but the influence of his young and beautiful Italian wife was strong upon 
him. She was eager to see his authority firmly established in her native land, 
where Berengar was once more ruling as an independent sovereign. So again 
Otto and his troops entered Italy. Berengar was deposed, and at Rome the 
Pope crowned Otto as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (961). 

In our days, we have so many emperors that the word means to us little 
more than king; but in the times of which we are telling there could be only 
one Emperor, or at most two, — one in the far East and one in the West. Em- 
peror meant " ruler of the world. " In the Christian West, people felt that 
only the Pope at Rome could confer the title. It was therefore an exalted 
honor that was conferred upon Otto. Observe that he assumed the same title 
that Charlemagne had borne. Otto regarded himself simply as the legitimate 
inheritor of Charlemagne's throne and empire. 

556 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Really, however, it was a new empire that here came into existence. You 
must remember that there had been an interval of over sixty years since the 
death of the Emperor Arnulf, the last of the Carlovingians to be crowned at 
Rome. During those sixty years there had been no one to claim the title. 
Moreover, this new empire had nothing like the extent or power of the old. 
Charlemagne had held actual sway over all Europe from mid-Spain to the un- 
known wilds of Russia. The new emperors actually ruled only in Germany, 
and not always over the whole of that. Consequently most historians regard 
the crowning of Otto as the beginning of a new and lesser empire, which, in 
distinction from the older and wider one, they call the German empire. 

The fact that Otto was able, even in this lesser way, to assert his position 
above the other kings of Europe, led his people, and especially the flattering 
Italians, to call him in his turn, " Great." So it is as Otto the Great that he 
is known to history. Really it had been far better for him, and far better for 
his nation, had he been content to remain at home and set his own land in 
order. He had established an empire, and. his successors wasted their best 
efforts, sacrificed their lives, and drained Germany of its strength for cen- 
turies, in the effort to maintain the shadowy honor. One German army 
after another overran Italy, deluged the land with measureless misery, and 
then disappeared, wasting away under the fevers of the unhealthy climate. 
Germany might have ruled all Europe, had not Italy become the grave of 
her growing power. 

Otto, after his coronation, spent most of the remaining twelve years of his 
life warring in Italy, as his successors were to war, against rebellion, treachery, 
and pestilence, and leaving Germany, as his successors left it, to take care of 
itself. He was succeeded by his son, Otto II. (973-983). This Otto, the child 
of Adelheid, and hence himself half Italian, spent much of his life in the 
southern land, fighting with rebellious Italians or with the Greeks. He mar- 
ried a Greek princess ; and thus his son, Otto II., was part Greek and part 
Italian, and very little of good, old, stalwart German. 

Otto III. (983-1002) came to the throne when only three years old. At 
first his mother and his grandmother Adelheid ruled in his name; but when he 
was sixteen, he took everything into his own hands. His Greek mother had 
taught him to despise his Saxon blood; and he even used to sign himself in his 
royal proclamations " Greek by birth, Roman by right of rule." He was called 
the "wonder-child" because he was so highly educated and accomplished, be- 
cause so much was expected of him, and because he boasted that he would 
accomplish so much. Poor visionary lad ! he never acccomplished anything. 
He was crushed by the mountainous weight of work before him. He hestitated 
where to begin. 


«gr ^ 

vS ■" 




(His Followers Fight Their Way Out of Italy with the Lad's Body) 

From the painting by Prof. H. Rustige, of Germany 

GERMANY was now once more a powerful and fairly 
peaceful kingdom, secured equally against the sudden 
raids of the Huns and the slow, persistent invasion of 
the Sclavs. Unfortunately in reviving the forms of the f ' Holy 
Roman Empire," Otto the Great had involved both himself 
and his country in an endless strife in Italy. The German 
Emperors were forever disagreeing with the Roman Popes, 
and one German army after another made the futile march 
across the Alps only to come back, if ever it came back at all, 
depleted in numbers and desolated by fevers. The son of 
Otto the Great was Otto II, and he in his vanity as "Holy 
Roman Emperor," wedded a princess of the Greek "Roman 
Empire of the East," which still existed at Constantinople. 
Their son, Otto III, became Emperor of Germany as a mere 
child. His Greek mother had taught him to despise every- 
thing German and he used to sign himself "Greek by birth, 
Roman by right of rule." Nevertheless, his Greek airs and 
graces and childish elegances so caught the admiration of the 
ruder Germans that they called him the "wonder-child." 

This fantastic young emperor scarcely ever visited Ger- 
many. He devoted himself to the government of Italy, setting 
up and deposing Popes in opposition to the will of the Ital- 
ians, until the people barred him out of Rome. He laid siege 
to it, but died, probably of poison. So enraged had the Ital- 
ians become against his ill-advised interferences that his de- 
voted followers had to fight their way back to Germany bear- 
ing the dead emperor's body. 


Germany — The Year One Thousand 557 

Perhaps the approach of the year 1000 had not a little to do with his wa- 
vering state of mind. There was a belief, widespread throughout the Chris- 
tian world, that this year 1000 was to mark the second coming of Christ, the 
end of the world. This fancy was not confined to the ignorant ; nobles, priests, 
many of the highest rank everywhere, had thus misread the Scriptures. Nu- 
merous legal documents of the time began with the words, " As the world is 
now drawing to a close." In many places the peasants did not even plant their 
crops in the spring of the year 1000, so sure were they that there would never 
come a reaping time. 

Otto made hurried pilgrimages from place to place. He did penance for 
fourteen days in an Italian sacred cavern. He broke open Charlemagne's tomb 
at Aix, and descending into it, stood face to face with the man whom he desired 
to take as a model. In truth, he seems to have been half insane, always begin- 
ning some great work, never finishing it, wandering feverishly from one end of 
his domain to another, clamoring to everybody to tell him where he should 
begin to be great like Charlemagne. Poor, feeble, over-weighted mortal, he 
never did begin ! He died near Rome when only twenty-two. 

He had planned to make Rome once more the capital of the world. He 
had abandoned German for Italian life. Yet the unthankful Italians were in 
rebellion around him at his death, and even attempted to seize upon his body. 
His loyal German troops surrounded the corpse, and literally hewed a path for 
it through overwhelming numbers back to Germany, where the " wonder-child " 
was buried at Aix in the land he had despised. 

The chief who had thus valiantly brought back Otto's body succeeded him 
upon the throne. He was Henry II. (1002-1024), " the Pious " or " the Saint," 
the last of the Saxon emperors. In truth, he was scarcely a Saxon at all, ex- 
cept in the sense that he was the only surviving heir of the first Saxon king, 
Henry I. The grandfather of Henry II. had been that Henry, the younger 
brother of Otto the Great, who was pardoned after so many rebellions and made 
Duke of Bavaria. The family had thus been transplanted to Bavaria, and the 
father of this new emperor, and he himself, were both Bavarian born. Thus, 
though Henry II. is generally classed among the Saxon emperors, the Saxons 
did not regard him as one of themselves. They had come to feel that the em- 
perors must be chosen from among them, and were much inclined to resent the 
election of a Bavarian. Henry, however, had secured Otto's imperial treasures, 
and he had little trouble in purchasing support. He was formally crowned 
at Aix in 1003. 

The twenty-two years of Henry's reign were spent in a long and difficult 
struggle to rebuild the imperial power, which the two preceding emperors 
had allowed to decay. The dukes had regained the influence of which 

558 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Otto the Great had deprived them. Everything was practically in their 
hands, and their duchies were almost independent states. In opposition 
to them, Henry began building up the power of the clergy, a course which 
proved very successful in his own case. Its dangers developed only under 
his successors. 

His support of the clergy was partly what won Henry II. the title of " the 
Saint " ; though he was a good man in many ways, very generous and very re- 
ligious. It is told of him that he desired to abandon his crown, and actually 
became a monk, entering a monastery and taking the vows. But the first vow 
put upon him was that of implicit obedience ; and the abbot instantly took ad- 
vantage of this to order him to reascend the throne, — where he was certainly 
more useful to the church and to mankind than in a monastery. 

Henry and his wife Cunegunde were both made saints by the church, she 
having been accused of crime and undergone the ordeal by fire. This was the 
superstitious way of testing guilt in those still half -barbaric days. Having 
declared herself innocent of the charges against her, Cunegunde offered to walk 
barefoot over red-hot ploughshares. Had she been burned she would have been 
considered guilty ; but she passed triumphantly through the ordeal, though how 
hot the iron blades really were, and how miraculous the performance, each of 
us must judge for himself. 

Henry avoided Italy as much as possible. He recognized the mistake 
which all the Ottos had made, and he clung with loyal faith and affection to 
his German subjects. While in Italy in 1005, he was suddenly attacked in his 
castle at Prwia by a band of rebellious citizens, and only escaped by leaping 
from a high window. He was lamed for life by the fall, and naturally his an- 
tipathy against everything Italian was intensified. Indeed, he did not go to 
Rome to receive the imperial crown until 1014, and then only because he felt 
it was his duty to assert his authority in quelling the turbulence which was 
rampant there. 

There were still wars all along the eastern frontier of Germany. The 
Sclavic races of Bohemians and Poles, and the Magyars in Hungary were slowly 
becoming Christianized, and were beginning to accept the authority of the em- 
pire. They were, however, under no effective control, and frequently reasserted 
their independence and desolated the German border, much as the Indians did 
in America during the colonial days. 

Henry had also internal revolts to quell ; but in the main he was a man of 
peace, and ruled by peaceful means. He left the empire much stronger than 
he had found it, but poverty-stricken through his generous way of giving to all 
who asked. Many churches and monasteries owe their origin to him, and one 
great cathedral which he built at Bamberg was his special pride. Here he was 



By the contemporary German artist, Carl Weigand 

<The Empress Cunegunde to Establish Her Innocence Walks Over Hot 


IN the days of Otto the wonder-child, the influence of the 
Christian church had become very powerful indeed in 
Germany. There was a widespread idea that the world 
was to come to an end in the year 1000. So as the dread year 
approached people began to be very religious and to think 
much more of the next world than of this. Many people be- 
came priests or nuns, and timid folk schemed to buy salvation 
by giving all their wealth to the church. Splendid cathedrals 
were built with this money; great abbeys arose, tenanted by 
thousands of monks ; and it is figured that probably half the 
land and wealth of Germany passed into the possession of the 
Church. Even the fact that the old world continued its ex- 
istence beyond the year 1000 did not wholly check the re- 
ligious fervor; the end was still felt to be near. The Em- 
peror Henry II, who succeeded the wonder-child, was as 
religious as young Otto had been. Henry's wife Cunegunde, 
having been accused of sin, she offered to undergo an "or- 
deal," that is, she was to walk barefoot along a path made up 
of red hot iron plough-blades. It is difficult to say where 
religion divides from supersitition ; but the idea of the ordeal 
was that if she were innocent, God would prevent the plough- 
blades from burning her. 

However we choose to account for the fact, the Empress 
passed through the ordeal without injury, and she and Henry 
were both happy, and confirmed in their faith. 


Germany — End of the Saxon Emperors 


buried in 1024. He had taken the monkish vow of chastity, and died childless, 
the Saxon line of emperors perishing with him. 

This line had produced two able monarchs, Henry I. and Otto I., who raised 
Germany to great power, and did much to break down the old tribal distinc- 
tions. Then came the two feeble and youthful emperors, Otto II. and III., 
who lost all that had been gained. Next followed this thoughtful and pious 
Henry II., who partially restored the unity and strength of the nation. 

Henry III. Settling the Papal Dispute 

Portrait and Signature of Conrad ii. 

Chapter LIV 



O successor to Henry II. having been chosen during his 
lifetime, a great meeting was now held near Mainz on 
the Rhine, to elect a new king. There were present 
eight dukes, besides so many bishops, priests, lesser 
nobles, and free gentlemen that they numbered sixty 
thousand in all. 

It is worth while noting that the four old duchies 
of Saxony, Franconia, Bavaria, and Swabia had gradually been 
increased to eight. The additions were Carinthia in the 
southeast, Bohemia in the east, and in the west Lotharingia, 
or Lorraine, which now belonged permanently to the Germans 
and was divided into Upper and Lower Lorraine. 

Only the great nobles and churchmen really voted in the 
election; the others were there to give authority and impor- 
tance to their chiefs. These selected as king a Frankish 
noble, Conrad, who was descended from Conrad I. So the 
generosity which the earlier Conrad had displayed in sacrificing 
the interests of his house to the Saxons, was now to some extent repaid by 
the restoration of his line. Indeed, it was mainly his lineage which led to 
this second Conrad's selection, for he was not one of the great dukes. The 
duchy of Franconia was held by his cousin, another Conrad, and his rival for 
the throne ; but after the election, the Frankish duke became the new king's 
warmest supporter. 


(Emperor and Pope Unite in Consecrating the Cathedral of Bamberg) 

From the painting by the contemporary German artist, H. Prell 

THIS Henry II, who had shown his religious faith by sub- 
mitting his wife to the ordeal, ruled Germany from 
1002 to 1024. Through all his reign he devoted him- 
self to affairs of religion, chiefly to church-building, and the 
main boast and achievement of his life was the completion of 
the great cathedral of Bamberg. The building was opened 
with great ceremonies in the year 1020. The Pope himself 
crossed the Alps into Germany to take part in its installa- 
tion. Unfortunately while the Pope was in Germany he sue 
ceeded in convincing Henry that it was the emperor's re- 
ligious duty to drive all the Pope's enemies out of Italy. So 
again a German army crossed the Alps. 

The enemies of the Pope at that moment happened to be 
the Greeks, who had seized most of southern Italy. Henry 
defeated and expelled them, thereby leaving the land almost 
empty and an easy conquest for the ravaging Normans, who 
seized it next. Henry's own army was devastated by a pesti- 
lence and he returned almost alone to Germany. Rumor has 
it that he had secretly become a monk. He was certainly a 
good and pious man, but an unwise king. After his death 
he was canonized as Saint Henry. 


Germany — Conrad of Franconia 561 

Conrad II. (1024-1039) was a fine, majestic-looking man, who tried to do 
justice to all; and his election was soon generally approved. lie was the first 
German monarch thus elected who had not a duchy of his own to give him 
strength. Conrad began his reign upheld by nothing but the general good-will 
of his subjects. If you look back over all the rebellions we have recorded, you 
will realize that this was a most uncertain support; and Conrad must assuredly 
have been a man of unusual ability to succeed as he did. Early in his reign he 
went to Rome and was crowned emperor. He then announced that, since the 
titles and estates of the great dukes had been made hereditary, he would use 
his imperial authority to make the rights of the lesser nobles hereditary in the 
same way. The dukes could scarcely object, though they perhaps saw that 
this was a shrewd move to weaken their power, by making the lesser nobles as 
independent of the dukes, as the dukes were of the emperor. This course 
naturally brought Conrad into great favor with the class he had thus aided. 

The kingdom of Burgundy, which included Switzerland and the Rhone val- 
ley in France, became part of the German empire in 1032. Its last king 
bequeathed it to Conrad, who seized and held it with the sword. His own 
stepson, Ernest, Duke of Swabia, claimed to have a better right to Burgundy, 
and attempted a rebellion against the emperor. Then was revealed the strength 
of Conrad's hold upon the lesser nobility, the fighting men of the land. The 
vassals of Ernest refused with one accord to follow him in his revolt. They 
said they had indeed taken an oath of allegiance to him, but both he and they 
had taken another and higher oath to support the emperor. 

Ernest, thus rendered powerless, was imprisoned by his triumphant step- 
father. The fate of this hapless young duke of Swabia was long a favorite 
theme with the poets and story-tellers of German legend. Conrad is said to 
have offered him his freedom if he would betray a friend, Count Werner of 
Kyberg, who had helped him in rebellion. Young Ernest scornfully refused. 
He managed to escape from the court and fled to Count Werner. Together the 
comrades plunged into the vast Black Forest and defied pursuit. Gathering a 
band of outlaws like themselves, they became the Robin Hoods of Germany. 
A gloomy and deep-hidden tower was their stronghold, and from this they 
levied forced contributions on all the country round. Unfortunately, while 
like Robin Hood they plundered the strong, they neglected to pursue his 
excellent policy of sparing the weak, and finally the peasantry of the district, 
banding together against their exactions, waylaid and slew them. 

The general sympathy roused for young Ernest by his bravery, loyalty, wild 

life, and tragic fate have combined with the harshness of the Emperor, his 

step-father, to raise him to the rank of a hero of romance. The very peasants 

to whom he owed his death may have magnified his exploits to enhance their 


562 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

own victory; for it was around peasants' firesides that his story was first told. 
From there it spread, expanded out of all semblance to the truth, until he has 
become the favorite outlaw chief of German legend. 

As the Emperor Conrad grew old, he had his son Henry declared King of 
Germany. So when the father died, Henry succeeded to the throne without 
difficulty as Henry III. (1039-1056). He was the most powerful emperor of 
the Franconian line. The authority which Conrad had slowly and painfully 
built up, Henry inherited and increased. 

At the time of Henry's accession, the general condition of the populace in 
Germany was so bad that it is impossible fairly to describe it. The land had 
not yet recovered from the neglect caused by the expected ending of the world 
in the year 1000. Famine had long haunted the steps of the poorer peasantry. 
Then there came three years with such heavy rains that the crops rotted in the 
ground, and we are reliably assured that starving men slew their fellows to 
feed upon the bodies. None but an armed force dared travel through the land. 
All sorts of robbery went unpunished. The nobility had long claimed and 
exercised the right of private war. That is to say, each noble occupied a 
strong castle, built rather as a fort than a house. From this the chieftain 
sallied at the head of his men to attack any other noble who had offended him. 
Not even the Emperor could stop such an expedition; it was engaged in assert- 
ing the noble's "right of private war." If by accident the troops slew a few 
peasants instead, or stormed and sacked a feebly defended town, there was no 
one to reprove their master for such little mistakes. 

It was Odilo, the abbot of the monastery of Cluny in Burgundy, who first 
brought about an improvement in this terrible state of affairs. He and his 
monks began to preach what was called the "Truce of God." This peculiar 
institution was adopted first in France, and afterward in Germany. It com- 
manded that all private war should be suspended every Thursday out of rever- 
ence for the approach of God's day, Sunday. The strife must not be again 
resumed until the following Monday. This, you will see, left the nobles only 
three days in each week for fighting. They had resisted all attempts to forbid 
their wars, but to this half-measure they gradually agreed. In 1043 Henry 
III. proclaimed the "Truce of God " as a law throughout his dominions. He 
did many other wise things to relieve the miserable peasantry, and gradually 
their condition improved. 

Henry also undertook to reform the church. He and his predecessors had 
appointed many bishops and abbots for political reasons. Sometimes the 
wealthy church places had been openly sold for money. Henry put a stop to 
all this, turned out as many of the evil prelates as he could, and appointed holy 
ones in their stead. Gradually he worked his way up to the very top of the 

9H . 



il^ ills 

■ ■■; 








(The Outlawed Duke Ernest Slain by the Peasantry) 

Drawn from an illumination in an old German manuscript 

UNDER the next emperor, Conrad II, occurred the Ca- 
reer of Germany 's ' ' Robin Hood, ' ' the noted outlaw 
Ernest of Swabia. He was certainly an outlaw of 
highest rank, being the Duke of Swabia and the stepson of 
the Emperor. But the young duke wanted to be a king, so he 
claimed and attempted to seize the crown of Burgundy. He 
was defeated and imprisoned, but was released at the prayer 
of his mother, the Empress. Conrad even offered to restore 
the youth to his dukedom, if he would capture and give over 
to punishment his partner in rebellion, Count Werner of 

Young Ernest, however, was loyal to Werner and instead 
of betraying him fled to join him in the forests. Here the 
two gathered a band and lived as outlaws, plundering the 
rich. The neighboring peasantry, admiring the heroism and 
devotion of the young men, sheltered them for years. At 
length, however, the enforced contributions palled upon the 
neighborhood, and a company of the peasants assailed and 
slew the outlaws after a desperate fight. 

One form of the legend asserts that the assailants were 
really troops of the emperor sent to seize Count Werner, and 
that they slew Duke Ernest only by mistake. 



Germany — Power of Henry HI. 563 

church, aild then resolved to reform the papacy itself. You have read in the 
story of Rome how he deposed the quarrelling popes and appointed a German 
one instead, bringing the deposed prelates back to Germany with him as prison- 
ers. Two of Henry's popes died; but the third selected by him was his cousin 
Bruno, the justly celebrated Leo IX. 

Henry, Leo IX., and the reforming monks of Cluny worked together and 
really managed to do a great deal of good for the world. There was a vast 
improvement in the state of the church, as well as in that of the people. Only 
the nobility were dissatisfied. Henry's reforms, his aggressive strength and 
imperial will were gradually reducing the nobles' importance, encroaching on 
their sacred privileges. There was very little rebellion, but only because the 
Emperor stood, as one of his friends described him, "sword in hand before his 
throne, ready to strike down every foe." 

The King of France, Henry or Henri I., took advantage of the Emperor's 
troubles to try to wrest from him both Burgundy and Lorraine. After some 
skirmishing, an amicable meeting was arranged between the two monarchs at 
Ivois in 1056. The German Henry became so enraged at the evasions of his 
enemy that he snatched off his glove and threw it at the Frenchman's feet, de- 
fying him in the lofty style of knighthood to a personal combat. Henry of 
France refused the challenge, and the next night slipped away with his army 
back to safety in his own country. He gave the Emperor no further trouble. 

Henry III. was not yet forty when he died. Never was the empire in 
greater need of a stalwart guide and defender, and his loss was sorely felt. He 
had received the promise of the nobles that his son should succeed him on the 
throne. That son was a child, not yet six years old. 

You must see by this time that the story of mediaeval Germany was a piti- 
ful repetition of the same tragic tale. The imperial power, the one force that 
wrought for peace and unity in Germany, was being continually built up by 
one, two, or three capable emperors. Then, just as the land began to enjoy the 
fruits of their labor, the throne passed to a child or a feeble youth, and every- 
thing went tumultuously back into the old evil ways. 

The child who now came to the throne was Henry IV. (1056-1 105). His 
mother, the Empress Agnes, was appointed to govern for him during his child- 
hood. She was one of those saintly Christian women whose lives and charac- 
ters contrast so strikingly with the general fierceness and brutality of the age. 
The policy of the preceding warrior emperors had been to encourage the towns- 
people and lesser gentry, relying on them for support, while weakening and 
defying the great dukes. This vigorous and warlike course was impossible to 
the gentle nature of Agnes. She sought to win the friendship of the higher 
nobles. With this in view, she pardoned their outbreaks again and again. She 

564 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

even gave new provinces and appointed to higher offices the hereditary enemies 
of her house, the lords who had been most open in defiance of her husband. 
He had crushed them ; she restored them to their former power. So far was 
this spirit of conciliation or timidity carried that one nobleman, Count Rudolf, 
dared to seize by force Matilda, the young daughter of the Empress. Instead 
of sending an army to punish him, the mother pardoned him, wedded him to 
Matilda, and created him Duke of Swabia. 

The gentle policy of Agnes failed in almost every case to have the happy 
effects she hoped. Instead of being grateful, the nobles only despised what 
they considered her folly and weakness. The power she conferred was every- 
where turned against her, and against her son. Rudolf of Swabia became 
young Henry's most dangerous and most ambitious enemy. 

Unfortunate little Henry ! Even his mother's weak but loving guidance 
was soon taken from him. When he was twelve years old, Agnes and he were 
spending the Easter season at the beautiful island of Kaiserswerth on the 
Rhine, where they were visited by several nobles. The gorgeously decorated 
ship of the visitors lay out in the stream, and Henry, boy-like, stepped into a 
boat with two of his entertainers to get a nearer view of the wonder. It was 
the opportunity the lords had been plotting for, and they promptly sailed away 
with their young king. Henry, realizing that he was being abducted, threw 
himself boldly into the water to swim ashore, but one of his captors leaped 
after him and bore the struggling lad back into captivity. 

The unhappy Empress stood on the bank weeping and wringing her hands, 
and entreating them to give back her child. Her attendants shouted helplessly, 
and ran in aimless fashion along the shore. But her boy was gone. The 
broken-hearted mother could endure no further. She saw for herself that the 
qualities needed for the control of this rude world had not been given her. 
Even her mother-love seemed useless now, and abandoning the effort to regain 
Henry she retired to Rome, resigned all her imperial dignities, and became 
a nun. 

The instigator of this successful abduction was Hanno, the powerful Arch- 
bishop of Cologne. Hanno assumed the guardianship of the boy king, and 
governed in his name. He treated Henry with such harshness and severity 
that all the lad learned under his government was to hate his master with a 
vehemence, childish sometimes in its expression, but dangerous nevertheless. 

Another and far more crafty Archbishop, Adalbert of Bremen, seeing how 
matters stood, managed to get both Henry and the regency away from Hanno, 
Adalbert then followed a directly opposite course with his young charge. 
Whereas Hanno had been over-severe, Adalbert abandoned all restraint and 
discipline. The boy received no good training whatever, and every temptation 

I J 


(Henry III. of Germany Challenges King Henry of France to a Duel) 

From a painting by the contemporary German artist, Fritz Roeber 

HENRY III, one of Germany's very greatest and noblest 
rulers, came to the throne in the middle of this eleventh 
century. Henry sought to establish peace and order 
throughout the world. He raised his position as Emperor so 
high that it was accepted as meaning not merely the ruler of 
Germany but of all western Europe. His authority became 
acknowledged as extending over the kings of other lands. The 
Kings of Lombardy and Sicily in Italy, of Bohemia and Hun- 
gary in the east, of France and England in the west all bowed 
before Henry, not paying him tribute, but recognizing his 
superior authority and higher rank. Even the Roman Popes 
submitted to Henry's political power and wisdom. He de- 
posed an evil Pope and named a successor. Indeed, during a 
reign of less than twenty years, Henry appointed four Popes 
of his own choosing. 

Our illustration shows a characteristic incident of his 
strength and energy. During his absence in Italy, King 
Henry I, of Prance, had taken possession of some frontier ter- 
ritory. The Emperor invited him to a meeting that they 
might discuss pacifically their rights to the land in question. 
But the French Henry so angered him with evasions and sub- 
terfuges of argument, that the Emperor sprang to his feet 
and defied the King to a personal combat, casting his glove 
upon the ground in challenge. The King evaded that issue 
also, and the same night fled back to France in secret, aban- 
doning all claim to the disputed land. 


Germany — Youth of Henry IV. 565 

to idleness and folly was thrust in his way. Adalbert's court was poisoned 
with wickedness, and the impressionable lad was taught to revel in vice. The 
inevitable consequence followed : Henry became infatuated with his guardian— 
and ruined for life. 

It is idle to speculate as to what sort of king Henry might have made with 
a different childhood. He seems to have had good instincts, personal courage, 
and a generous heart; but he lacked the strength of mind to resist the evil in- 
fluences which wrecked his youth. He grew into one of the worst kings that 
have misgoverned unhappy Germany. 

When he was still only fifteen, a coronation ceremony was held, and the 
assembled nobles declared him fitted to rule for himself. The boy promptly 
proved their folly and his own by drawing the imperial sword, with which they 
had girt him, and flourishing it in the face of Archbishop Hanno, still by far 
the most powerful man in the realm. Henry then placed all authority in 
Adalbert's hands, and abandoned himself once more to the life of luxurious 
pleasure and sloth he had learned to enjoy. 

His favorite palace was at Goslar on the borders of Saxony. He had been 
taught by Adalbert to despise the Saxons for their rudeness, and to hate them 
as the hereditary enemies of his Frankish house. As a result he treated them 
so harshly and offensively that they rose in rebellion. Hanno was already his 
enemy. The better people everywhere in Germany were disgusted with the 
king's evil life. His mother had placed his enemies in the great dukedoms. 
Before he was twenty the young monarch stood almost alone in Germany. 

A party headed by Hanno attempted to reform him by force. They drove 
away Adalbert and compelled Henry to wed a wife they selected for him, Ber- 
tha, the daughter of an Italian noble. Bertha loved her handsome, wayward 
husband, and became the one true friend who never failed or deserted him. 
But the young king had at first only hatred for this unwelcome wife. He 
sought to divorce her, and there are sad and painful tales of the brutality and 
treachery with which he met her noble loyalty. 

Meanwhile, the quarrel between the king and the oppressed and insulted 
Saxons grew more and more bitter, until Henry was at last hunted from his 
castle, and driven to wander for days a solitary fugitive among the mountains. 
By great exertion he raised an army with which he returned and avenged him- 
self on the Saxons, defeating them in a merciless battle. The Saxon nobles 
fled, abandoning the poor peasantry, who, unable to escape, were cut down by 
thousands. For a moment Henry's power seemed re-established; but the Sax- 
ons appealed for protection to the Pope, — and thus steps into the story Gregory 
VII., the greatest of the rulers of the Church. 

You have already learned in Rome's story of what Gregory did. He sum- 

566 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

moned Henry to appear before him and explain the charges. Menry, still ? 
boy in mind and unable to realize his danger, was furious at what he considered 
the insolence shown by a dependent of his empire. He summoned a council 
at Worms, declared Gregory deposed, and sent him a message vowing to drag 
him from his papal chair, as Henry III., his father, had dragged former popes. 
The fact that his father had been in the right, and that he was in the wrong, 
does not seem to have occurred to the young Emperor as an altering factor in 
the case. It proved the decisive one. Gregory excommunicated the rash 
youth. Henry's subjects were only too ready to accept this as a reason for 
abandoning him. Every one dropped away from his side, and a national meet* 
ing was called to depose him and elect a successor. 

At last Henry realized that he was not, as he had been taught, the greatest 
personage in the world, free to act as he chose, and all-powerful in everything. 
This period must be considered the turning point of his life, the beginning of 
his belated manhood. Before the assembly gathered, he made his famous jour- 
ney to Italy and submitted himself to Gregory at Canossa. 

The rebellious Germans even tried to prevent his going. His passage over 
the Alps was like the flight of a hunted exile. Bertha accompanied him with 
their little child and a few serving-men headed by a single knight. It was 
mid-winter, and a year unusually severe. The mountain passes were difficult 
and dangerous. The fugitives had a sled for Bertha and the child, while the 
rest made their way on foot, amid the snowdrifts and threatening avalanches. 

From the moment Henry set foot in Italy his fortunes turned. The Ital- 
ians, being themselves at enmity with the Pope, welcomed Henry gladly as their 
Emperor. The pardon which he won from Gregory deprived the Germans of 
their excuse for rebellion, and led many of the better class to return honestly 
to their allegiance. Still, his more determined enemies persisted in declaring 
him deposed, and they elected Duke Rudolf of Swabia to succeed him. Ru- 
dolf, the same who had stolen and wedded Henry's sister Matilda, accepted the 
election, and once more civil war devastated the empire. 

Henry found his main support among the free cities, which were now be- 
coming an important element in the strength of the nation. You will remem- 
ber that Henry I. had founded them, all the emperors had encouraged them, 
and Henry III. had confirmed and added to their privileges. The great dukes 
despised the citizens, robbed them, and trampled on their rights wherever pos- 
sible. Thus the whole life and strength of the cities was intertwined with that 
of the emperors ; each rose and fell with the other. Naturally, therefore, the 
cities supported Henry. 

He conducted the war with ability and success. Sometimes his chances 
looked dark; but at last, in 1080, he settled the contest by defeating Rudolf 

*3ssr«r3r = 


(The Young Emperor Henry IV. Vows to Drag Pope Gregory from His Throne) 

As staged at the Berlin Theatre in the play by E. von Wildenbriich 

ALMOST all the influence which Henry III had wielded 
was lost by his weak son Henry IV, whose life presents 
a most pathetic tragedy of the dangers of high posi- 
tion without an even higher strength. The death of Henry III 
brought little Henry IV to the imperial throne as a child only 
six years old. Of course the laud was really ruled by his 
elders, and one party after another schemed to get the boy 
Henry into their hands so that they might govern in his name. 
This resulted in such general anarchy that all parties gladly 
let Henry rule for himself when he was only fifteen. Un- 
fortunately, the evil training he had received from his va- 
rious masters led him to plunge into a life of dissipation ; and 
soon he was quarreling with all his nobles and his priests. 

Meanwhile the very celebrated Gregory VII had become 
Pope in Rome. He commanded Henry, under threat of ex- 
pelling him from the faith, to enforce certain church reforms 
in Germany. The young Emperor received the message, as 
the dramatist here depicts the scene, in the presence of all his 
court. He was not unnaturally enraged by this reversal of the 
positions of Pope and Emperor, justified though he must 
secretly have known it was. He vowed in fury to do as his 
father had clone and drag this Pope from the Papal throne. 
He overlooked the fact that his father had been in the right 
against the other Pope and that now he was in the wrong 
against Gregory. 


Germany — Struggle with the Pope 567 

near that same old battle ground of Merseburg. Rudolf's right hand was cut 
off in the struggle, and as he lay dying the next day he cried, " God has pun- 
ished me rightly. It was with that hand I swore allegiance to Henry." 

Now came the Emperor's turn for revenge upon the Pope. Henry led an army 
into Italy (108 1), besieged Rome three years, captured it, was crowned Emperor 
by a Pope of his own making, and drove Gregory into the exile in which he died. 
The next few years form Henry's period of power. Germany was at peace 
under his foot, and tradition tells us, somewhat doubtfully, that he became a 
model king, watching over the interests of his people, and doing justice to all. 

His struggle with the Church still continued. The popes who succeeded 
Gregory adopted his policy and continued to preach against the Emperor. I lis 
excommunication was renewed. The real question at issue was as to whether 
Pope or Emperor should appoint the German bishops. The right and wrong 
of this matter are still in dispute, it is a burning question in Germany even 
to-day; nor can it be settled merely by inquiring how the appointments were 
originally made. You will remember that Henry II., "the Saint," had made 
his bishops very powerful, hoping to be defended by them against the dukes. 
The churchmen had now grown so strong that bishops like Hanno and Adalbert 
contended for control of the empire. Half the land of Germany is said to have 
lain in priestly hands. 

It is true that some of the emperors had been very careless as to the char- 
acter of the men they made bishops, thereby bringing great harm and shame to 
the Church. Henry IV. was particularly blamable in this respect. He had 
sometimes sold the bishoprics openly to whoever would pay the most for them, 
and sometimes he had appointed his own wicked and despicable favorites to the 
high and sacred office. Still, if the claim now advanced by the Church were 
allowed, and the bishops were appointed solely by the Pope, they would thus 
become entirely independent of the Emperor. The rule over half the empire 
would pass from its master to the Italian Pope. The power of the emperors, 
already waning, would disappear entirely. Henry IV. saw the danger plainly, 
and even in the time of his greatest need steadily refused to resign this power 
of appointment. 

The Crusades, which began in Henry's reign about the year 1096, added 
vastly to the power of the popes. The whole story of the Crusades fits in more 
readily with that of France, and will be told you there. They were, however, 
regarded as holy wars ; and the religious spirit roused by them did much to 
widen the gap between Henry and his subjects. In the far-off Holy Land 
many of Germany's best and bravest were sacrificing life and fortune fighting 
for the Church; while at home in their native land, their Emperor was warring 
against that Church's head. 

568 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

There is no question that in his later years Henry grew to feel keenly this 
isolation. The punishment brought upon him by his early life was heavy in- 
deed. Even his own family turned against him. His older son, Conrad, de- 
clared that he could no longer imperil his own soul by supporting his excom- 
municated father. He raised a rebellion; Henry crushed it, and Conrad died 
in prison. 

Then came the turn of the Emperor's younger son, another Henry, the 
centre of all his father's hopes, the child born after the Emperor had learned 
truly to love his devoted wife. But this young Henry was cold and crafty and 
treacherous, a cunning liar, a shrewd dissembler. He did not rebel until he 
was sure of the support of both dukes and bishops. Then he raised an army, 
and when the Emperor marshalled the imperial troops against him, the leaders 
of the royal forces suddenly deserted the father for the son. Henry IV. was 
compelled to flee; but his old friends, the cities, rallied to his support and 
enabled him to renew the contest. 

Once more the younger Henry substituted treachery for force. A meeting 
was arranged between father and son, and the heartbroken old Emperor threw 
himself at his boy's feet crying, " My son, my son, let God punish me for my 
sins! Stain not thy honor by presuming to judge me!" The younger man 
pretended deep remorse, and took advantage of the reconciliation that followed 
to seize and imprison his father. 

The Emperor was commanded to abdicate and surrender the crown jewels. 
He refused, and dressing himself in the regal robes, with the diadem of Charle- 
magne upon his head, and the sceptre in his hand, he majestically defied his 
jailors to touch the person of the Emperor of the world. It was a pathetic 
shadow of his old, childish belief in his sacred right and indestructible author- 
ity. The jewels were torn from him with scornful force, and he was compelled 
by threats to sign his own abdication (1105). He was then released, but re- 
tained within reach of his captors, and so poorly cared for that he begged to be 
allowed to earn his own living by working in the cathedral of Spires. His 
prayer was refused, and there is a story that tells of his even having to sell his 
boots for bread 

Meanwhile, his friends continued fighting in his name, and at last he es- 
caped and joined their forces, but died the next year (1 106). His last act was 
to send his sword and signet ring to his wicked son, in token that he forgave 
and still loved him. 

The reign of the rebellious son, Henry V. (1 105-1 125), fitly closes the mis- 
erable tragedy of his race. He was the last of his line, the last of the Frankish 
emperors. The same qualities that had won him the throne enabled him to 
retain it Cold and cunning, strong and savage, he managed to hold and even 







(The Emperor Rewards the Burghers of Worms for Upholding His Cause) 

From the German historical series fainted by H. Prell 

THE first effects of Henry IV 's defiance of the Papal 
power must have surprised him exceedingly. His 
nobles had long been discontented with his arbitrary 
rule, and they readily accepted the opportunity for rebellion. 
They refused to follow a leader who had been cursed by the 
Church; they even held a meeting in which they threatened 
to declare Henry deposed, and they invited Pope Gregory 
to join them in getting rid of their evil ruler. Henry found 
he could get no army to march against the Pope ; and it was 
then in haste and fear that he took his celebrated winter jour- 
ney over the Alps to Canossa and entreated Gregory to for- 
give him. In this way he saved his crown. Then, in no way 
repentant at heart, but awake to the danger of his position, 
he set himself to overcome both his nobles and the Pope. 

The great contest between the imperial and the papal 
power which thus began, continued with scarce a pause for 
two hundred years. The means by which Henry strengthened 
himself for the struggle was to appeal to the common people 
of Germany for help against the nobles. It was thus that the 
great German cities rose to power. Henry IV became, as 
Henry I had been, their friend and champion. Beginning 
with Worms, the city which had sheltered him against the 
nobles, he granted the towns charters and privileges. He en- 
couraged them to strengthen their walls and drill their citi- 
zens for war. 


Germany — Extinction of the Frankish Line 560 

to increase his power in the face of all his enemies. He had defied his father 
in the name of the Church ; but after that father's death the son also refused to 
grant the Pope's claim in the matter of appointing bishops, so the strife went 
on. Gradually the war became one of Frank against Saxon; and at last some 
partial concessions to the Pope brought a temporary peace in 1 122. 

Henry's life was unloved and childless; his death, in 1 125, was unregretted, 
and men have pointed to these things as his punishment, — whether they con- 
demned him for his sins against his father, or for his wars against the Pope. 

When Henry V. died, another imperial election became necessary. The 
chief of his party was his nephew Frederick, Duke of Swabia, who hoped to 
succeed him. But all the influence of the Church was thrown in favor of 
Henry's bitterest enemy, — the Pope's strongest supporter, — Lothair, Duke of 
Saxony. The Saxon was elected as Lothair III. (1125-1137). He immedi- 
ately surrendered all claim to appoint the bishops, or control their lands. 
When he was crowned Emperor at Rome, he knelt humbly at the Pope's feet, 
accepted the empire as a papal gift, and swore to govern it as a vassal of the 
Church. The first period of the papal wars was at an end, and the victory of 
the popes complete. 

The Frankish dynasty had thus supplied four emperors whose combined 
reigns cover just a century (1024-1125). The first two sovereigns of this 
line, Conrad II. and Henry III., built up the strength of the cities, greatly in- 
creased the imperial power, and dominated the Church. Then came the child, 
Henry IV., and the folly of his early reign destroyed his authority utterly, and 
built up that of the great nobles and the Popes. During his later years Henry 
IV. partly regained his ascendancy, and both he and his son, Henry V, clung 
tenaciously to what they considered their rights, through long and bitter civil 
wars. Then came the Saxon, Lothair, who sought peace with the Church, and 
thus managed to restore something of peace to distracted Germany, and some- 
thing of respect and dignity to the imperial office. 

Papal Insignia 

The Tournament of Barbarossa at Mainz 

Chapter LV 

E come now to the famous line of Swabian emperors, the 
Hohenstaufens. Let us therefore turn back for a mo- 
ment to trace the rise of this remarkable family. You 
will remember that when Henry IV. journeyed over 
the winter Alps to Canossa, he was escorted by one 
loyal knight. This knight was called Frederick of 
Buren. In reward for many faithful services he was 
given the Emperor's daughter as a wife, and appointed 
to succeed the rebellious Rudolf as Duke of Swabia. 

To command his new domain, he built himself a strong castle 
on the summit of a steep volcanic hill, just where the highlands of 
the Alps open out into the plains of Germany. The hill was known 
as Hohenstaufen, and the castle-builder thus became Frederick of 
Hohenstaufen. He proved the ablest and staunchest of Henry's 
supporters, and it was not until after Frederick's death in 1104, 
that the nobles and bishops dared start their revolt against the king 
under the leadership of the unfilial young Henry V. 

Frederick of Hohenstaufen left two sons. The elder was the Frederick, 
Duke of Swabia, who disputed the crown with Lothair of Saxony Lothair, 
after his election, determined to break the power of his dangerous rival, and 
civil war desolated Swabia. Frederick's younger brother, Conrad, was away 
upon a crusade. When he returned, he went to his brother's assistance, and 
at last Lothair was compelled to grant them terms of honorable peace. Conrad 
became recognized as the ablest general of the day; he was made standard 
bearer of the imperial army. 


, ' -- ::- 



(The Pope's Legate Insults the Emperor Barbarossa) 

From the fainting by the German artist, H. F. Pluddemann 

NO other of the mediaeval German emperors has so at- 
tracted the fancy of the world and become snch a fig- 
ure of legendary fame as the celebrated Frederick I, 
popularly called Barbarossa or "Red beard." Frederick 
ruled during the latter half of the twelfth century. A series 
of feeble emperors, such as Henry IV, had sacrificed most of 
the power of their high office, until, instead of Emperors nam- 
ing Popes as Henry III had done, Popes now appointed Em- 
perors. Barbarossa at first obeyed the Pope that he might 
gather strength in his own land ; but the tragical conflict of 
authority between church and state soon broke forth afresh. 
Barbarossa was holding a royal court at Besancon. To it 
there came ambassadors from almost every land of Europe, 
all submitting to his imperial authority. Then there came 
also an Italian cardinal, as envoy from the Pope, and ar- 
rogantly delivered his master's orders, declaring that great 
though Barbarossa might be he was but a vassal to the Pope. 
So enraged were the German nobles at the cardinal's haughty 
tone that one of them, Otto of Wittelsbach, a devoted friend to 
Barbarossa, would have slain the cardinal on the spot had not 
the emperor himself interfered. Frederick refused to bow 
before the Papal dictate— and so the old struggle re-opened. 


Germany — Welf and Waibling 571 

Lothair had no son of his own, so he planned to leave the empire to his 
son-in-law, Henry the Proud, Duke of Bavaria. With this object he made 
Henry also Duke of Saxony, and when dying, sent him the famous crown jew- 
els and all the insignia of sovereignty. The Church had also been supporting 
Henry, and his election seemed assured. But his very power led to his defeat. 
The Pope distrusted him, the nobles feared him. He was not called Henry the 
Proud for nothing, and they had no desire to place themselves within the grasp 
of a man whose strength already so far exceeded their own. Three months be- 
fore the appointed public election, many of the*nobles and bishops met in secret ; 
and, choosing the only man that could stand against Henry, elected Conrad of 
Hohenstaufen to be their Emperor, as Conrad III. (1138-1152). 

It was a trick, and of course it meant a civil war with Henry. He seems 
at first to have sought peace. He acknowledged Conrad's authority and surren- 
dered the crown jewels; but his tone grew insolent and menacing. Conrad 
attempted to deprive him of one of his two duchies, and he rebelled. Then 
began the long wars of Guelph and Ghibelline, of which you have already heard 
in Italy. The German forms of the words are Welf and Waibling. Welf was 
the name of Henry's family; and the Hohenstaufens, particularly Conrad, were 
known as the Waiblings, from the Swabian town of Waiblingen, whence they 
sprang. The two names became the war-cries of the contending factions. 

Henry himself maintained the war in Saxony. In his other duchy, Bavaria, 
he entrusted the command to his brother, Count Welf. The well-known story 
of the women of Weinsberg belongs to this Bavarian portion of the war. The 
Emperor Conrad besieged Count Weif in Weinsberg, and met with such sturdy 
resistance that he vowed in his anger to slay every man in the place. At last 
the heroic defenders were exhausted and begged for mercy. Conrad gave only 
the ominous answer that all women might leave the town unharmed. When 
the Welf leaders pleaded that the women should not be driven empty-handed 
into the world, he relented so far as to say that each might carry away what 
she could of her belongings upon her back. The next morning, a strange pro- 
cession filed out of the doomed town. First came the Countess Welf, bearing 
on her back her burly warrior husband ; and each woman in the long, staggering 
line bent in similar manner beneath the weight of husband, son, or sweetheart. 
Conrad's followers were angry at the trick and would have slain their foes as 
they came ; but the Emperor was touched by the devotion of the women, and 
declared that his word should not be broken. Historically it is perhaps uncer- 
tain whether Count Welf and his wife were really in Weinsberg at the time, 
but the main part of the pretty story is undisputed fact, and to this day, the 
Bavarians say, when a man chooses a specially sturdy and hearty wife, "he 
thinks of the women of Weinsberg." 

572 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Henry the Proud died, but his courageous wife carried on his war against 
the Emperor, in the name of her ten-year-old son, Henry, afterward known as 
Henry the Lion. Finally, peace was agreed upon, the young heir of the Welfs 
surrendering Bavaria, but keeping Saxony. 

This compromise was really arranged by St. Bernard, a wonderful preacher, 
who was drawing all Europe into another crusade. Even the Emperor Conrad 
joined the crusaders and marched for the second time to the Holy Land. Con- 
rad added much to his own personal fame as a fighter ; but the crusade was a 
failure, and scarce a thousand out of his great German army returned with him 
to Germany. In one respect this disaster was a gain to the land, for the cru- 
saders were largely turbulent nobles, and their death left other people in com- 
parative peace. 

It was Conrad who introduced the double-headed eagle into the coat of 
arms of the German Empire. He saw it on the shields of the Emperors of 
the East, at Constantinople, where the two heads were used in remembrance 
of the double empire which Constantinople had once held over both East 
and West. Conrad thought that he had now a better right to the double 
eagle than these feeble Eastern Emperors, and he placed it in the arms of 
his country. His people said it meant that they were victorious on both' 
sides, against the Sclavs to the east, and the Romans, that is the French and 
Italians, to the west. 

When Conrad died, he left a little son as his heir, but the Germans had at 
last learned something from their bitter experiences, and refused to make the 
boy Emperor. Indeed it seems that Conrad himself counselled them to pass 
his son by, and give the crown, to another member of his family, a young man 
of thirty, who had already won distinction as a general and a crusader. This 
was Frederick the Red-beard, Duke of Swabia, Conrad's nephew. So Fred- 
erick was unanimously chosen. 

Frederick I. (i 152-1 190), or Barbarossa (Red-beard), as he is better known, 
was a man not only of remarkable ability, but of winning manner and majestic 
mien. Of him people truly felt that he was born to be a king. He became 
one of Germany's most famous emperors, ranking with Charlemagne and Henry 
the City-builder and Otto the Great. Conrad had been building up a strong 
government, which Barbarossa inherited and improved. ' 

The strife between Welf and Waibling had broken out again, but for a 
time it seemed that their wars would be permanently ended by Frederick's 
election. He and Henry the Lion were cousins and warm personal friends. 
One of Frederick's first acts was to arrange for giving back Bavaria to Henry, 
thus restoring to the Welf chieftain the former power of his family. For a 
time all went well; Henry devoted himself to extending his rule over the 


(Henry the Lion Refuses to Aid the Emperor in Crushing Italy) 

From the 'painting in the Maximilian Museum at Munich, by the German 
artist, Phillip Foltz 

SIX times did the Emperor Barbarossa lead a German 
army into Italy against the Popes. Of his struggles there 
you have already heard in Italy's story. The Italian 
cities most of them upheld the Pope, and Barbarossa de- 
stroyed the chief city of them all, Milan. He also deposed two 
Popes and set up others. Yet the struggle continued; the 
imperial armies wasted away. Then began Barbarossa 's cele- 
brated quarrel with the most powerful of his subjects, the 
Duke of Saxony, Henry the Lion. 

Henry had been among the most loyal supporters of the 
Emperor's early reign, having even on one occasion saved 
Barbarossa 's life while they were battling in Rome. But 
Henry had many friends and allies in Italy • so he wanted all 
this warfare stopped, and even went on a crusade to the Holy 
Land to escape taking further part in the strife. His return 
found Barbarossa sadly in need of men, and the Emperor en- 
treated him for help, even kneeling before him in desperate 
appeal. When Henry refused his aid, the Emperor's friends 
and especially the Empress cursed the Saxon Duke bitterly 
for having broken his allegiance. Barbarossa 's little army 
was completely defeated by the Italian cities, and he himself 
was supposed to have perished upon the field, but he escaped. 


Germany — Court of Barbarossa 573 

Sclavs along the Baltic Sea. He built cities on the conquered lands, made 
Lubeck a great commercial centre, and proved himself an able ruler. 

When Frederick went to be crowned Emperor at Rome, Henry was his 
chief supporter. Frederick was by no means so ready to submit to the Pope 
as his immediate predecessors had been, and there was much friction before ha 
was crowned. Finally the Romans broke into open insurrection against this 
new Emperor; there was savage fighting, and over a thousand of the citizens 
were slain in the streets. Frederick himself was unhorsed in the confusion; 
and only the courageous defence of his friend, Henry, saved his life from 
the mob. 

A glimpse at one of Frederick's early court assemblages will show you the 
real power he held, and his position at the head of all the princes of Europe. 
The red-bearded Emperor sits upon the golden throne of Charlemagne, in the 
great hall of one of his many palaces. Dukes, bishops, and lesser nobles be- 
yond numbering, are ranged around him. The massive doors are thrown open, 
there is a ringing flourish of trumpets, , and one suppliant enters after another. 
First, perhaps, comes a deputation from some little city, complaining of the 
depredations of a neighboring knight, secure against their vengeance in his 
high stone castle. As the Emperor listens to their woes, his blue eyes begin 
to burn, till at length he gives a sharp word of command, a body of imperial 
troops rides jangling forth, and soon there is one robber stronghold less in the 

Next it may be the ambassadors of Denmark, who enter to entreat the Em- 
peror to decide between two claimants to the Danish throne, either of whom 
will hold his crown as a vassal of the Emperor. Then comes a messenger from 
the English king, Henry II., with a letter saying: " England and all else that 
belongs to us, we here offer to thee, that everything may be ordered according 
to thy wish. Let there be between our nations concord, union, and amicable 
relations, but in such a way that thou, as the greater, may retain the right to 
command; and on our side shall not be wanting the will to obey." 

Perhaps it is the gorgeous ambassadors of an Asian sultan who appear next, 
asking a princess of the imperial line for their master's bride, and offering from 
him his acceptance of the Christian faith. Then comes the King of Hungary 
to renew his oath of vassalage, or perhaps the defeated King of Poland, bare- 
foot, his sword tied round his neck in sign of submission, presents his tribute 
of five hundred pounds of silver. Then it is the turn of the Duke of Bohemia, 
who entreats that like these, his neighbors, he be given the title of King, which 
none but the Emperor can bestow. 

At one of these assemblages originated the romance of Frederick's life. 
There came a messenger in hot haste from Burgundy. Its countess, Beatrice, 

574 The Story of the Greatest Nations 

had been seized and imprisoned by her uncle, and robbed of her rights. Would 
not her Emperor save her? The Emperor would and did, with an army at his 
back; and when the poor released princess knelt before him with thanks, he 
saw how fair and queenly she was. An Emperor's wooing, they say, is short 
in doing. Beatrice became Frederick's bride, his devoted wife, and the mother 
of his five sturdy sons. 

At another royal assembly in 1 157 at Besancon, an Italian cardinal asserted 
that the empire was a papal fief, held, as Lothair had held it, by gift from the Pope. 
It required the personal interference of the Emperor to save that cardinal's life 
from the angry nobles. So the fatal strife with the Popes, which had destroyed 
the Frankish line of emperors, opened again. The rich and powerful Italian 
cities leagued with the Pope ; and thus began Frederick's long Italian wars, of 
which you have read in Rome's story. Even on Barbarossa's first trip to 
Rome, the Italians had done all they could to destroy his army by underhand 
means. Once on his return march toward Germany, huge rafts of logs swept 
suddenly down a swift river against a bridge he had to cross. Luckily, how- 
ever, the bridge held until all his troops were safely over. A force of Italians 
held the roads through the Alps against him, and for a time made the homeward 
passage impossible by rolling down huge rocks. 

There seemed no way to dislodge the foe, and disease and death were 
threatening the weary army on the plains behind. Otto of Wittelsbach, 
the knight who had led the attack on the arrogant cardinal at Besancon, and 
whom the Emperor had appointed imperial standard bearer, made himself famous 
by scaling the precipitous heights. Where even the mountain goats could 
scarce find footing, Otto and a band of chosen followers climbed, until they 
stood above their enemies, drove some to flight, and captured the rest, who 
were hanged as rebels. 

There is no need to repeat to you again the long and miserable story of this 
unfortunate strife. Frederick led army after army into Italy to waste away in 
battle and pestilence. Milan, the leading city in the struggle, was destroyed 
and rebuilt. The warfare ended with the treaty of Constance in 1 183. Fred- 
erick was nominally successful in that the cities acknowledged his authority, 
though they were really free and retained all practical power in their own 

The lowest ebb of Frederick's fortunes came in these wars at the battle of 
Lignano, 11 76. He had called Henry the Lion to Italy to help him, but 
Henry tried to make conditions, and win concessions from his sovereign's need. 
Among the Italians the strife had become one of Welf against Waibling, and 
the great Welf leader was naturally unwilling to fight against his own faction. 
Frederick threw himself on his knees before his mighty vassal and besought 


(Henry the Lion is Overthrown and Begs for Mercy) 

From the painting by the Dutch artist, Peter Jannsen 

EVEN from this crushing bJow the resolute genius of Bar- 
barossa rose again. He made peace with the Pope and 
the Italian cities and went back to Germany filled with 
the determination to avenge himself on Henry the Lion and 
break the power of this overgrown Duke of Saxony. For 
three years there was civil war between the two great antago- 
nists ; and in the end the military strength of the Saxons was 
completely broken. Henry came and knelt for mercy at the 
feet of ■ the Emperor, even as that Emperor had previously 
knelt to him. Barbarossa deprived him of all his estates and 
exiled him for three years, but ultimately pardoned him and 
restored a small part of his domains. 

This defeat of Henry meant far more than a mere per- 
sonal victory for Barbarossa; it meant the disappearance 
of the old Saxon power. Saxony was divided into several 
smaller principalities, and neither Saxony nor any other duchy 
was ever allowed again to reach to such size and power. Bar- 
barossa established the imperial principle "divide and reign." 
After Saxony's downfall he became stronger than any em- 
peror had been before, or ever was to be thereafter. The 
last years of his reign mark the zenith of the imperial power 
in Germany. Hence he remains forever in men's minds as 
the typical figure of imperial splendor. 

II 1-96 

Germany — Death of Barbarossa 575 

aid. Henry, torn by conflicting emotions, remembering their early friendship, 
remembering all the Emperor had done for him, wavered ; but at last turned 
resolutely away in refusal. 

His Welf followers were wild with exultation. "The crown you now see 
at your feet," said one, "you will soon see on your head." Frederick's faith- 
ful wife, Beatrice, raised him from his knees. " God will help you," she said, 
"and at some future day things will change. Then we will remember the inso- 
lence of this Welf." 

Henry withdrew his forces, and the Emperor's weakened army was terribly 
defeated at Lignano. The imperial standard was captured; Frederick was 
hurled from his charger, and disappeared beneath the feet of the contending 
forces. His fleeing followers declared him dead, and the Empress and all the 
court put on mourning for him. Three days later he reappeared among them, 
resolute and persistent as ever. 

He returned to Germany, and proclaimed the ban of the empire against 
Henry, that is he declared him outlawed and his possessions forfeited. Bava- 
ria was given to the faithful standard bearer, Otto of Wittelsbach ; Saxony to 
another noble. Henry resisted for two years, but was at last overcome. He 
came in his turn, even as Beatrice had predicted, to kneel a suppliant at the 
Emperor's feet. Frederick bethought himself of the old boyish days together 
and, forgiving Henry, restored to him a small portion of his possessions. This 
smaller duchy, Henry, with his old ability, proceeded to make happy and pros- 
perous. But his power was gone, and the wars of Welf and Waibling at an 
end in Germany, though in Italy Guelph and Ghibelline continued the strife 
for centuries. The present royal house of England is descended from these 
Welfs, and from Henry the Lion. 

When Frederick was nearly seventy years old, he held a last splendid tourna- 
ment at Mainz, the greatest that chivlary had known. Europe was soon after 
roused to another crusade ; and the aged Emperor, who had regained all his 
former importance, led the crusaders in person. The skill and energy with 
which he conducted the dangerous expedition enhanced even his high repute. 
But while his troops were crossing an Asian river, that came swift and cold from 
the mountains, Frederick, impatient of waiting for the boats, dashed his horse 
into the stream to swim to the other bank. The chill current swept down 
horse and rider, and the Emperor was drowned (1190). His body, recovered 
by his followers after long search, was buried in the Asian city of Antioch. 

The glory of the empire died with Frederick Barbarossa. No succeeding 
Emperor held anything approaching his power or his authority over the other 
European states. It was this fact, combined perhaps with his burial in a foreign 
land, which led to his becoming such a centre of legends among his people. In 


The Story of the Greatest Nations 

Germany, they refused to believe that he was dead and kept watching for him 
to return home, to appear again among them as he had after his overthrow at 
Lignano. They say that he is still living, deep in a magic cave beneath the 
Kyfhauser mountain in Thuringia. Here he sits asleep before a stone table, 
through which his long beard has slowly grown to the ground beneath. Ravens 
are forever flying around the mountain, and when the last of them disappears, 
the mighty Barbarossa will wake, and come forth to restore to Germany the 
peace and power which it once enjoyed under his majestic rule. 

Frederick Barbarossa