The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire
By Edward Gibbon
          IT was the opinion of Marcian, that war should be avoided as
          long as it  is  possible to preserve a secure and honourable
          peace; but it  was likewise his opinion that peace cannot be
          honourable  or  secure,   if   the   sovereign   betrays   a
          pusillanimous  aversion  to   war.  This  temperate  courage
          dictated his reply  to the demands of Attila, who insolently
          pressed the payment  of  the  annual  tribute.  The  emperor
          signified to the  barbarians that they must no longer insult
          the majesty of Rome by the mention of a tribute; that he was
          disposed to reward,  with  becoming liberality, the faithful
          friendship of his  allies;  but  that,  if  they presumed to
          violate the public peace, they should feel that he possessed
          troops, and arms,  and  resolution,  to repel their attacks.
          The same language, even in the camp of the Huns, was used by
          his ambassador Apollonius, whose bold refusal to deliver the
          presents, till he had been admitted to a personal interview,
          displayed a sense  of  dignity,  and  a  contempt of danger,
          which Attila was  not prepared to expect from the degenerate
          Romans.(1) He  threatened  to  chastise the rash successor of 
          Theodosius; but he hesitated, whether he should first direct
          his invincible arms  against  the  Eastern  or  the  Western
          empire.  While  mankind  awaited  his  decision  with  awful
          suspense, he sent an equal defiance to the courts of Ravenna
          and  Constantinople;  and  his  ministers  saluted  the  two
          emperors with the  same  haughty  declaration.  "Attila,  my
          lord, and thy  lord,  commands  thee to provide a palace for
          his immediate reception." (2)  But as the barbarian despised, 
          or affected to  despise, the Romans of the East, whom he had
          so often vanquished,  he  soon  declared  his  resolution of
          suspending the easy  conquest  till  he  had achieved a more
          glorious  and  important   enterprise.   In   the  memorable
          invasions  of  Gaul  and  Italy,  the  Huns  were  naturally
          attracted by the  wealth  and  fertility of those provinces;
          but the particular  motives  and  provocations of Attila can
          only be explained  by  the state of the Western empire under
          the reign of Valentinian, or, to speak more correctly, under
          the administration of Aetius.(3) 

          After the death  of his rival Boniface, Aetius had prudently
          retired to the  tents  of  the  Huns; and he was indebted to
          their alliance for  his  safety and his restoration. Instead
          of the suppliant  language  of  a guilty exile, he solicited
          his pardon at the head of sixty thousand barbarians; and the
          empress Placidia confessed, by a feeble resistance, that the
          condescension which might have been ascribed to clemency was
          the effect of  weakness  or fear. She delivered herself, her
          son Valentinian, and  the  Western empire, into the hands of
          an  insolent  subject;   nor   could  Placidia  protect  the
          son-in-law of Boniface, the virtuous and faithful Sebastian,
         (4) from the  implacable  persecution which urged him from one 
          kingdom  to another,  till  he  miserably  perished  in  the
          service  of the  Vandals.  The  fortunate  Aetius,  who  was
          immediately promoted to  the  rank  of patrician, and thrice
          invested with the  honours  of the consulship, assumed, with
          the title of  master  of the cavalry and infantry, the whole
          military power of  the state; and he is sometimes styled, by
          contemporary writers, the duke, or general, of the Romans of
          the West. His  prudence, rather than his virtue, engaged him
          to leave the grandson of Theodosius in the possession of the
          purple; and Valentinian was permitted to enjoy the peace and
          luxury  of  Italy,  while  the  patrician  appeared  in  the
          glorious light of  a  hero and a patriot, who supported near
          twenty years the  ruins  of  the  Western empire. The Gothic
          historian ingenuously confesses that Aetius was born for the
          salvation  of  the  Roman  republic; (5)  and  the  following 
          portrait, though it is drawn in the fairest colours, must be
          allowed to contain a much larger proportion of truth than of
          flattery. "His mother  was  a wealthy and noble Italian, and
          his father Gaudentius,: who held a distinguished rank in the
          province of Scythia,  gradually  rose  from the station of a
          military domestic to  the  dignity of master of the cavalry.
          Their son, who  was  enrolled  almost  in his infancy in the
          guards,  was given  as  a  hostage,  first  to  Alaric,  and
          afterwards to the  Huns;  and  he  successively obtained the
          civil and military  honours  of the palace; for which he was
          equally qualified by  superior merit. The graceful figure of
          Aetius was not above the middle stature; but his manly limbs
          were admirably formed for strength, beauty, and agility; and
          he excelled in  the  martial  exercises of managing a horse,
          drawing a bow,  and  darting the javelin. He could patiently
          endure the want  of  food or of sleep; and his mind and body
          were  alike  capable  of  the  most  laborious  efforts.  He
          possessed the genuine  courage  that  can  despise  not only
          dangers, but injuries:  and  it  was  impossible  either  to
          corrupt, or deceive, or intimidate the firm integrity of his
          soul."(6) The  barbarians,  who  had seated themselves in the 
          Western provinces, were  insensibly  taught  to  respect the
          faith and valour  of  the patrician Aetius. He soothed their
          passions,  consulted  their   prejudices,   balanced   their
          interest, and checked  their  ambition.  A seasonable treaty
          which he concluded  with  Genseric  protected Italy from the
          depredations  of  the   Vandals;   the  independent  Britons
          implored and acknowledged  his  salutary  aid;  the Imperial
          authority was restored and maintained in Gaul and Spain; and
          he  compelled  the   Franks  and  the  Suevi,  whom  he  had
          vanquished in the  field,  to become the useful confederates
          of the republic.

          From a principle  of  interest, as well as gratitude, Aetius
          assiduously cultivated the  alliance  of  the Huns. While he
          resided in their  tents  as  an  hostage or an exile, he had
          familiarly conversed with  Attila himself, the nephew of his
          benefactor; and the  two  famous  antagonists appear to have
          been connected by  a personal and military friendship, which
          they  afterwards  confirmed   by   mutual   gifts,  frequent
          embassies, and the education of Carpilio, the son of Aetius,
          in the camp  of  Attila.  By  the  specious  professions  of
          gratitude  and voluntary  attachment,  the  patrician  might
          disguise his apprehensions  of  the  Scythian conqueror, who
          pressed the two  empires  with  his  innumerable armies. His
          demands were obeyed or eluded. When he claimed the spoils of
          a vanquished city,  some  vases  of  gold,  which  had  been
          fraudulently embezzled, the  civil and military governors of
          Noricum  were  immediately   despatched   to   satisfy   his
          complaints:(7) and  it  is  evident,  from their conversation 
          with Maximin and  Priscus  in  the  royal  village, that the
          valour and prudence  of  Aetius  had  not  saved the Western
          Romans  from  the   common  ignominy  of  tribute.  Yet  his
          dexterous policy prolonged  the  advantages  of  a  salutary
          peace; and a  numerous  army  of Huns and Alani, whom he had
          attached to his person, was employed in the defence of Gaul.
          Two colonies of  these  barbarians were judiciously fixed in
          the territories of  Valence  and Orleans;(8) and their active 
          cavalry secured the  important  passages of the Rhine and of
          the  Loire.  These   savage  allies  were  not  indeed  less
          formidable to the  subjects  than  to  the  enemies of Rome.
          Their original settlement  was  enforced with the licentious
          violence of conquest;  and  the  province through which they
          marched was exposed  to  all  the  calamities  of an hostile
          invasion.(9) Strangers  to  the  emperor or the republic, the 
          Alani of Gaul  were  devoted  to the ambition of Aetius; and
          though he might  suspect  that,  in  a  contest  with Attila
          himself, they would revolt to the standard of their national
          king, the patrician  laboured  to  restrain,  rather than to
          excite, their zeal  and  resentment  against  the Goths, the
          Burgundians, and the Franks.

          The kingdom established  by  the  Visigoths  in the southern
          provinces  of  Gaul  had  gradually  acquired  strength  and
          maturity; and the  conduct  of  those  ambitious barbarians,
          either in peace  or  war, engaged the perpetual vigilance of
          Aetius.  After the  death  of  Wallia,  the  Gothic  sceptre
          devolved to Theodoric,  the  son of the great Alaric;(10) and 
          his prosperous reign  of  more  than  thirty  years  over  a
          turbulent people may  be  allowed to prove that his prudence
          was supported by  uncommon  vigour,  both  of mind and body.
          Impatient of his  narrow  limits,  Theodoric  aspired to the
          possession of Arles,  the  wealthy  seat  of  government and
          commerce; but the  city  was saved by the timely approach of
          Aetius; and the  Gothic  king, who had raised the siege with
          some loss and  disgrace,  was  persuaded,  for  an  adequate
          subsidy, to divert  the  martial valour of his subjects in a
          Spanish  war.  Yet  Theodoric  still  watched,  and  eagerly
          seized,  the  favourable  moment  of  renewing  his  hostile
          attempts. The Goths  besieged  Narbonne,  while  the  Belgic
          provinces were invaded  by  the  Burgundians; and the public
          safety was threatened on every side by the apparent union of
          the enemies of  Rome.  On every side, the activity of Aetius
          and his Scythian  cavalry  opposed  a  firm  and  successful
          resistance.  Twenty  thousand   Burgundians  were  slain  in
          battle, and the  remains  of  the  nation  humbly accepted a
          dependent seat in  the  mountains  of Savoy.(11) The walls of 
          Narbonne had been  shaken  by the battering engines, and the
          inhabitants had endured the last extremities of famine, when
          Count Litorius, approaching  in  silence, and directing each
          horseman to carry behind him two sacks of flour, cut his way
          through the entrenchments  of  the  besiegers. The siege was
          immediately raised; and  the more decisive victory, which is
          ascribed to the  personal  conduct  of  Aetius  himself, was
          marked with the  blood  of  eight thousand Goths. But in the
          absence of the  patrician, who was hastily summoned to Italy
          by some public or private interest, Count Litorius succeeded
          to the command; and his presumption soon discovered that far
          different talents are required to lead a wing of cavalry, or
          to direct the operations of an important war. At the head of
          an  army of  Huns,  he  rashly  advanced  to  the  gates  of
          Toulouse, full of  careless  contempt  for an enemy whom his
          misfortunes had rendered  prudent,  and  his  situation made
          desperate.  The  predictions  of  the  augurs  had  inspired
          Litorius with the  profane  confidence  that he should enter
          the Gothic capital  in  triumph;  and  the  trust  which  he
          reposed in his  Pagan  allies  encouraged  him to reject the
          fair conditions of  peace  which were repeatedly proposed by
          the bishops in  the name of Theodoric. The king of the Goths
          exhibited in his distress the edifying contrast of Christian
          piety and moderation; nor did he lay aside his sackcloth and
          ashes till he  was  prepared  to  arm  for  the  combat. His
          soldiers, animated with  martial  and  religious enthusiasm,
          assaulted the camp  of Litorius. The conflict was obstinate;
          the slaughter was  mutual.  The Roman general, after a total
          defeat,  which  could  be  imputed  only  to  his  unskilful
          rashness, was actually  led through the streets of Toulouse,
          not in his  own,  but  in an hostile triumph; and the misery
          which he experienced,  in  a long and ignominious captivity,
          excited the compassion of the barbarians themselves.(12) Such 
          a loss, in  a  country  whose  spirit and finances were long
          since exhausted, could  not  easily  be  repaired;  and  the
          Goths, assuming, in  their  turn, the sentiments of ambition
          and revenge, would  have  planted their victorious standards
          on the banks of the Rhone, if the presence of Aetius had not
          restored strength and  discipline  to the Romans.(13) The two 
          armies expected the  signal  of  a  decisive action; but the
          generals, who were  conscious  of  each  other's  force, and
          doubtful of their  own superiority, prudently sheathed their
          swords in the  field of battle; and their reconciliation was
          permanent and sincere.  Theodoric;  king  of  the Visigoths,
          appears to have  deserved  the  love  of  his  subjects, the
          confidence of his  allies,  and  the  esteem of mankind. His
          throne was surrounded by six valiant sons, who were educated
          with equal care  in the exercises of the barbarian camp, and
          in those of  the Gallic schools: from the study of the Roman
          jurisprudence they acquired the theory, at least, of law and
          justice; and the  harmonious  sense of Virgil contributed to
          soften the asperity  of  their  native  manners. (14) The two 
          daughters of the  Gothic  king were given in marriage to the
          eldest sons of  the  kings  of the Suevi and of the Vandals,
          who reigned in  Spain  and  Africa;  but  these  illustrious
          alliances were pregnant with guilt and discord. The queen of
          the  Suevi bewailed  the  death  of  an  husband,  inhumanly
          massacred by her  brother.  The  princess of the Vandals was
          the victim of  a jealous tyrant, whom she called her father.
          The  cruel  Genseric  suspected  that  his  son's  wife  had
          conspired to poison  him; the supposed crime was punished by
          the  amputation of  her  nose  and  ears;  and  the  unhappy
          daughter of Theodoric  was  ignominiously  returned  to  the
          court of Toulouse  in that deformed and mutilated condition.
          This horrid act,  which  must seem incredible to a civilised
          age, drew tears  from  every  spectator;  but  Theodoric was
          urged, by the  feelings  of  a parent and a king, to revenge
          such  irreparable  injuries.  The  Imperial  ministers,  who
          always cherished the  discord  of the barbarians, would have
          supplied the Goths  with arms, and ships, and treasures, for
          the African war; and the cruelty of Genseric might have been
          fatal to himself, if the artful Vandal had not armed, in his
          cause, the formidable  power of the Huns. His rich gifts and
          pressing solicitations inflamed  the ambition of Attila; and
          the designs of  Aetius  and  Theodoric were prevented by the
          invasion of Gaul.(15) 

          The  Franks,  whose  monarchy  was  still  confined  to  the
          neighbourhood of the Lower Rhine, had wisely established the
          right of hereditary  succession  in  the noble family of the
          Merovingians.(16) These  princes  were elevated on a buckler, 
          the symbol of  military command;(17) and the royal fashion of 
          long hair was  the  ensign of their birth and dignity. Their
          flaxen locks, which  they  combed  and dressed with singular
          care, hung down  in  flowing  ringlets  on  their  back  and
          shoulders; while the rest of the nation were obliged, either
          by law or custom, to shave the hinder part of their head, to
          comb their hair over the forehead, and to content themselves
          with the ornament  of  two  small  whiskers. (18)  The  lofty 
          stature of the Franks and their blue eyes denoted a Germanic
          origin; their close  apparel accurately expressed the figure
          of their limbs;  a  weighty sword was suspended from a broad
          belt; their bodies  were  protected  by  a large shield: and
          these warlike barbarians  were  trained  from their earliest
          youth to run,  to  leap,  to  swim;  to  dart the javelin or
          battle-axe with unerring  aim; to advance without hesitation
          against a superior enemy; and to maintain, either in life or
          death, the invincible  reputation  of  their  ancestors. (19) 
          Clodion, the first of their long-haired kings whose name and
          actions  are  mentioned   in  authentic  history,  held  his
          residence at Dispargum, (20)  a  village  or  fortress, whose 
          place may be assigned between Louvain and Brussels. From the
          report of his spies the king of the Franks was informed that
          the defenceless state  of  the  second Belgic must yield, on
          the slightest attack,  to  the  valour  of  his subjects. He
          boldly penetrated through  the  thickets and morasses of the
          Carbonarian forest,(21)  occupied  Tournay  and  Cambray, the 
          only cities which existed in the fifth century; and extended
          his conquests as  far  as  the  river Somme, over a desolate
          country whose cultivation  and  populousness are the effects
          of more recent  industry. (22)  While Clodion lay encamped in 
          the plains of  Artois, (23)  and  celebrated  with  vain  and 
          ostentatious security the  marriage  perhaps of his son, the
          nuptial  feast  was   interrupted   by  the  unexpected  and
          unwelcome presence of  Aetius,  who  had passed the Somme at
          the head of  his  light  cavalry. The tables, which had been
          spread under the  shelter  of  a  hill  along the banks of a
          pleasant stream, were  rudely  overturned;  the  Franks were
          oppressed before they  could  recover  their  arms  or their
          ranks,  and  their  unavailing  valour  was  fatal  only  to
          themselves. The loaded  waggons  which  had  followed  their
          march afforded a  rich  booty; and the virgin-bride with her
          female attendants submitted  to  the  new  lovers  who  were
          imposed on them  by the chance of war. This advantage, which
          had been obtained by the skill and activity of Aetius, might
          reflect some disgrace  on  the military prudence of Clodion;
          but the king  of  the  Franks soon regained his strength and
          reputation,  and still  maintained  the  possession  of  his
          Gallic kingdom from  the  Rhine  to  the Somme.(24) Under his 
          reign, and most probably from the enterprising spirit of his
          subjects, the three  Capitals,  Mentzs  Treves, and Cologne,
          experienced the effects  of hostile cruelty and avarice. The
          distress of Cologne  was prolonged by the perpetual dominion
          of the same  barbarians  who  evacuated the ruins of Treves,
          and Treves, which  in the space of forty years had been four
          times besieged and pillaged, was disposed to lose the memory
          of her afflictions  in the vain amusements of the circus.(25) 
          The death of Clodion, after a reign of twenty years, exposed
          his kingdom to  the  discord  and  ambition of his two sons.
          Meroveus, the younger, (26)  was  persuaded  to  implore  the 
          protection of Rome; he was received at the Imperial court as
          the ally of Valentinian and the adopted son of the patrician
          Aetius, and dismissed  to  his  native country with splendid
          gifts  and  the   strongest  assurances  of  friendship  and
          support. During his  absence his elder brother had solicited
          with equal ardour the formidable aid of Attila; and the king
          of the Huns  embraced  an  alliance  which  facilitated  the
          passage of the  Rhine,  and  justified  by  a  specious  and
          honourable pretence the invasion of Gaul.(27) 

          When Attila declared  his resolution of supporting the cause
          of his allies  the Vandals and the Franks, at the same time,
          and almost in  the  spirit  of romantic chivalry, the savage
          monarch professed himself  the lover and the champion of the
          princess Honoria. The  sister of Valentinian was educated in
          the  palace  of  Ravenna;  and  as  her  marriage  might  be
          productive of some  danger  to the state, she was raised, by
          the title of  'Augusta', (28)  above  the  hopes  of the most 
          presumptuous subject. But  the  fair  Honoria  had no sooner
          attained the sixteenth year of her age than she detested the
          importunate greatness which  must  for ever exclude her from
          the comforts of  honourable  love:  in the midst of vain and
          unsatisfactory pomp Honoria  sighed,  yielded to the impulse
          of  nature,  and   threw   herself  into  the  arms  of  her
          chamberlain Eugenius. Her  guilt  and  shame  (such  is  the
          absurd language of  imperious man) were soon betrayed by the
          appearances of pregnancy:  but  the  disgrace  of  the royal
          family was published  to  the world by the imprudence of the
          empress Placidia, who dismissed her daughter, after a strict
          and   shameful   confinement,   to   a   remote   exile   at
          Constantinople.  The  unhappy   princess  passed  twelve  or
          fourteen years in  the  irksome  society  of  the sisters of
          Theodosius  and  their  chosen  virgins,  to  whose  'crown'
          Honoria could no longer aspire, and whose monastic assiduity
          of prayer, fasting, and vigils she reluctantly imitated. Her
          impatience  of long  and  hopeless  celibacy  urged  her  to
          embrace a strange  and  desperate  resolution.  The  name of
          Attila was familiar  and  formidable  at Constantinople, and
          his frequent embassies  entertained  a perpetual intercourse
          between his camp  and the Imperial palace. In the pursuit of
          love,  or  rather  of  revenge,  the  daughter  of  Placidia
          sacrificed every duty  and  every  prejudice, and offered to
          deliver her person  into  the  arms  of a barbarian of whose
          language she was  ignorant, whose figure was scarcely human,
          and whose religion and manners she abhorred. By the ministry
          of a faithful  eunuch  she transmitted to Attila a ring, the
          pledge of her affection, and earnestly conjured him to claim
          her  as a  lawful  spouse  to  whom  he  had  been  secretly
          betrothed. These indecent  advances  were received, however,
          with  coldness  and  disdain;  and  the  king  of  the  Huns
          continued to multiply  the number of his wives till his love
          was awakened by  the  more forcible passions of ambition and
          avarice. The invasion  of Gaul was preceded and justified by
          a formal demand  of  the  princess  Honoria, with a just and
          equal share of the Imperial patrimony. His predecessors, the
          ancient Tanjous, had often addressed in the same hostile and
          peremptory  manner  the   daughters   of   China;   and  the
          pretensions of Attila were not less offensive to the majesty
          of Rome. A  firm  but  temperate refusal was communicated to
          his ambassadors. The  right  of female succession, though it
          might derive a specious argument from the recent examples of
          Placidia and Pulcheria,  was  strenuously  denied,  and  the
          indissoluble engagements of  Honoria  were  opposed  to  the
          claims of her  Scythian  lover. (29)  On the discovery of her 
          connection with the  king  of  the Huns, the guilty princess
          had  been  sent   away,   as   an  object  of  horror,  from
          Constantinople  to Italy:  her  life  was  spared,  but  the
          ceremony of her marriage was performed with some obscure and
          nominal  husband before  she  was  immured  in  a  perpetual
          prison, to bewail those crimes and misfortunes which Honoria
          might have escaped  had she not been born the daughter of an

          A  native of  Gaul  and  a  contemporary,  the  learned  and
          eloquent Sidonius, who  was  afterwards  bishop of Clermont,
          had made a  promise  to  one  of  his  friends that he would
          compose a regular  history  of  the  war  of  Attila. If the
          modesty  of  Sidonius  had  not  discouraged  him  from  the
          prosecution of this interesting work,(31) the historian could 
          have related with  the  simplicity  of truth those memorable
          events to which  the  poet, in vague and doubtful metaphors,
          has concisely alluded. (32)  The kings and nations of Germany 
          and Scythia, from  the  Volga  perhaps to the Danube, obeyed
          the warlike summons of Attila. From the royal village in the
          plains of Hungary  his  standard  moved towards the West and
          after a march of seven or eight hundred miles he reached the
          conflux of the  Rhine and the Neckar, where he was joined by
          the Franks who adhered to his ally, the elder of the sons of
          Clodion. A troop  of light barbarians who roamed in quest of
          plunder might choose  the  winter  for  the  convenience  of
          passing the river on the ice, but the innumerable cavalry of
          the Huns required  such  plenty  of forage and provisions as
          could be procured  only  in  a  milder season; the Hercynian
          forest supplied materials  for  a  bridge  of boats, and the
          hostile myriads were  poured  with  resistless violence into
          the Belgic provinces. (33)  The  consternation  of  Gaul  was 
          universal, and the  various fortunes of its cities have been
          adorned by tradition with martyrdoms and miracles.(34) Troyes 
          was saved by  the  merits  of  St.  Lupus; St. Servatius was
          removed from the  world that he might not behold the ruin of
          Tongres; and the prayers of St. Genevieve diverted the march
          of Attila from  the  neighbourhood  of  Paris.  But  as  the
          greatest part of  the  Gallic cities were alike destitute of
          saints and soldiers,  they  were besieged and stormed by the
          Huns, who practised,  in  the  example  of  Metz, (35)  their 
          customary maxims of  war.  They  involved  in  a promiscuous
          massacre the priests who served at the altar and the infants
          who, in the hour of danger, had been providently baptised by
          the  bishop; the  flourishing  city  was  delivered  to  the
          flames, and a  solitary  chapel  of  St.  Stephen marked the
          place where it  formerly  stood.  From  the  Rhine  and  the
          Moselle, Attila advanced into the heart of Gaul, crossed the
          Seine at Auxerre, and after a long and laborious march fixed
          his camp under  the  walls  of  Orleans.  He was desirous of
          securing his conquests  by the possession of an advantageous
          post which commanded  the  passage  of  the  Loire;  and  he
          depended on the  secret  invitation of Sangiban, king of the
          Alani, who had  promised  to  betray  the city and to revolt
          from  the  service  of  the  empire.  But  this  treacherous
          conspiracy was detected  and  disappointed: Orleans had been
          strengthened with recent fortifications, and the assaults of
          the Huns were  vigorously repelled by the faithful valour of
          the  soldiers  or  citizens  who  defended  the  place.  The
          pastoral  diligence  of   Anianus,  a  bishop  of  primitive
          sanctity and consummate  prudence,  exhausted  every  art of
          religious policy to  support  their courage till the arrival
          of the expected succours. After an obstinate siege the walls
          were shaken by  the  battering  rams;  the  Huns had already
          occupied the suburbs,  and  the people who were incapable of
          bearing arms lay prostrate in prayer. Anianus, who anxiously
          counted the days and hours! despatched a trusty messenger to
          observe from the rampart the face of the distant country. He
          returned twice without  any  intelligence that could inspire
          hope or comfort;  but  in  his  third  report he mentioned a
          small cloud which  he  had faintly descried at the extremity
          of the horizon  "It is the aid of God!" exclaimed the bishop
          in a tone  of  pious  confidence;  and  the  whole multitude
          repeated after him  "It  is  the  aid  of  God."  The remote
          object, on which  every  eye  was  fixed, became each moment
          larger and more  distinct; the Roman and Gothic banners were
          gradually perceived; and  a  favourable  wind, blowing aside
          the dust, discovered. in deep array, the impatient squadrons
          of Aetius and  Theodoric, who pressed forwards to the relief
          of Orleans.

          The facility with which Attila had penetrated into the heart
          of Gaul may  be  ascribed to his insidious policy as well as
          to the terror  of  his  arms.  His  public declarations were
          skilfully   mitigated  by   his   private   assurances;   he
          alternately soothed and threatened the Romans and the Goths;
          and the courts  of Ravenna and Toulouse, mutually suspicious
          of each other's  intentions, beheld with supine indifference
          the approach of  their  common  enemy.  Aetius  was the sole
          guardian of the  public safety; but his wisest measures were
          embarrassed by a faction which, since the death of Placidia,
          infested the Imperial palace: the youth of Italy trembled at
          the sound of  the trumpet; and the barbarians, who from fear
          or affection were  inclined  to the cause of Attila, awaited
          with doubtful and  venal  faith  the  event  of the war. The
          patrician passed the  Alps  at the head of some troops whose
          strength and numbers  scarcely deserved the name of an army.
         (36) But on his arrival at Arles or Lyons he was confounded by 
          the intelligence that the Visigoths, refusing to embrace the
          defence of Gaul,  had  determined to expect within their own
          territories the formidable  invader  whom  they professed to
          despise.  The  senator  Avitus,  who  after  the  honourable
          exercise of the  Praetorian  praefecture  had retired to his
          estate in Auvergne,  was  persuaded  to accept the important
          embassy, which he  executed  with  ability  and  success. He
          represented to Theodoric  that  an  ambitious  conqueror who
          aspired to the  dominion of the earth could be resisted only
          by the firm  and  unanimous  alliance  of the powers whom he
          laboured to oppress. The lively eloquence of Avitus inflamed
          the Gothic warriors by the description of the injuries which
          their ancestors had suffered from the Huns, whose implacable
          fury still pursued  them  from  the  Dawe to the foot of the
          Pyrenees. He strenuously urged that it was the duty of every
          Christian to save  from  sacrilegious violation the churches
          of God and  the  relics  of  the  saints;  that  it  was the
          interest of every barbarian who had acquired a settlement in
          Gaul  to  defend   the  fields  and  vineyards,  which  were
          cultivated  for his  use,  against  the  desolation  of  the
          Scythian shepherds. Theodoric  yielded  to  the  evidence of
          truth, adopted the  measure at once the most prudent and the
          most honourable, and  declared  that as the faithful ally of
          Aetius and the  Romans  he  was ready to expose his life and
          kingdom for the common safety of Gaul.(37) The Visigoths, who 
          at that time  were  in  the  mature vigour of their fame and
          power, obeyed with  alacrity  the  signal  of  war, prepared
          their arms and  horses,  and assembled under the standard of
          their aged king, who was resolved, with his two eldest sons,
          Torismond and Theodoric,  to  command in person his numerous
          and valiant people.  The  example  of  the  Goths determined
          several tribes or  nations  that seemed to fluctuate between
          the Huns and  the Romans. The indefatigable diligence of the
          patrician  gradually  collected   the  troops  of  Gaul  and
          Germany,  who  had   formerly  acknowledged  themselves  the
          subjects or soldiers  of  the  republic, but who now claimed
          the rewards of voluntary service and the rank of independent
          allies; the Laeti,  the Armoricans, the Breones, the Saxons,
          the Burgundians, the  Sarmatians  or  Alani, the Ripuarians,
          and the Franks who followed Meroveus as their lawful prince.
          Such was the various army which, under the conduct of Aetius
          and Theodoric, advanced by rapid marches to relieve Orleans,
          and to give battle to the innumerable host of Attila.(38) 

          On their approach  the  king  of the Huns immediately raised
          the siege, and  sounded  a retreat to recall the foremost of
          his troops from the pillage of a city which they had already
          entered.(39) The  valour  of  Attila was always guided by his 
          prudence; and as  he  foresaw  the  fatal  consequences of a
          defeat in the  heart  of  Gaul,  he  repassed the Seine, and
          expected the enemy  in  the  plains of Chalons, whose smooth
          and level surface  was  adapted  to  the  operations  of his
          Scythian  cavalry.  But   in  this  tumultuary  retreat  the
          vanguard of the Romans and their allies continually pressed,
          and sometimes engaged,  the troops whom Attila had posted in
          the rear; the  hostile columns, in the darkness of the night
          and the perplexity of the roads, might

          encounter each other without design; and the bloody conflict
          of the Franks  and  Gepidae,  in  which  fifteen thousand(40) 
          barbarians were slain,  was  a prelude to a more general and
          decisive action. The Catalaunian fields(41) spread themselves 
          round  Chalons,  and   extend,   according   to   the  vague
          measurement of Jornandes,  to  the length of one hundred and
          fifty, and the  breadth of one hundred miles, over the whole
          province,  which  is   entitled  to  the  appellation  of  a
          'champaign'   country.  (42)    This   spacious   plain   was 
          distinguished, however, by  some inequalities of ground; and
          the importance of  an  height  which  commanded  the camp of
          Attila was understood  and disputed by the two generals. The
          young and valiant  Torismond  first occupied the summit; the
          Goths rushed with  irresistible  weight  on  the  Huns,  who
          laboured  to  ascend   from   the  opposite  side:  and  the
          possession  of this  advantageous  post  inspired  both  the
          troops and their  leaders  with a fair assurance of victory.
          The anxiety of  Attila  prompted  him to consult his priests
          and haruspices. It was reported that, after scrutinising the
          entrails of victims and scraping their bones, they revealed,
          in mysterious language,  his  own  defeat, with the death of
          his  principal  adversary;   and   that  the  barbarian,  by
          accepting the equivalent,  expressed  his involuntary esteem
          for  the  superior   merit   of   Aetius.  But  the  unusual
          despondency which seemed  to  prevail among the Huns engaged
          Attila to use  the expedient, so familiar to the generals of
          antiquity, of animating  his  troops  by a military oration;
          and his language was that of a king who had often fought and
          conquered at their  head. (43)  He  pressed  them to consider 
          their past glory,  their  actual  danger,  and  their future
          hopes.  The  same  fortune  which  opened  the  deserts  and
          morasses of Scythia  to their unarmed valour, which had laid
          so  many  warlike  nations  prostrate  at  their  feet,  had
          reserved  the  joys   of   this   memorable  field  for  the
          consummation of their victories. The cautious steps of their
          enemies,  their  strict  alliance,  and  their  advantageous
          posts,  he artfully  represented  as  the  effects,  not  of
          prudence, but of fear. The Visigoths alone were the strength
          and nerves of the opposite army, and the Huns might securely
          trample on the  degenerate  Romans,  whose close and compact
          order betrayed their  apprehensions,  and  who  were equally
          incapable of supporting the dangers or the fatigues of a day
          of battle. The  doctrine of predestination, so favourable to
          martial virtue, was  carefully inculcated by the king of the
          Huns; who assured  his subjects that the warriors, protected
          by Heaven, were  safe  and  invulnerable amidst the darts of
          the enemy; but  that  the  unerring Fates would strike their
          victims  in the  bosom  of  inglorious  peace.  "I  myself,"
          continued Attila, "will  throw  the  first  javelin, and the
          wretch who refuses  to  imitate the example of his sovereign
          is  devoted  to   inevitable   death."  The  spirit  of  the
          barbarians was rekindled  by the presence, the voice and the
          example of their  intrepid  leader  and  Attila, yielding to
          their impatience, immediately formed his order of battle. At
          the head of  his  brave  and  faithful  Huns, he occupied in
          person the centre  of  the  line. The nations subject to his
          empire,  the  Rugians,  the  Heruli,  the  Thuringians,  the
          Franks, the Burgundians, were extended, on either hand, over
          the ample space  of  the  Catalaunian fields; the right wing
          was commanded by Ardaric, king of the Gepidae; and the three
          valiant brothers who reigned over the Ostrogoths were posted
          on the left  to  oppose the kindred tribes of the Visigoths.
          The disposition of  the  allies was regulated by a different
          principle. Sangiban, the  faithless  king  of the Alani, was
          placed in the  centre:  where  his motions might be strictly
          watched, and his  treachery  might  be  instantly  punished.
          Aetius assumed the command of the left, and Theodoric of the
          right wing; while  Torismond  still  continued to occupy the
          heights which appear  to  have  stretched  on the flank, and
          perhaps the rear, of the Scythian army. The nations from the
          Volga  to the  Atlantic  were  assembled  on  the  plain  of
          Chalons; but many  of  these  nations  had  been  divided by
          faction, or conquest,  or  emigration; and the appearance of
          similar  arms and  ensigns,  which  threatened  each  other,
          presented the image of a civil war.

          The discipline and  tactics of the Greeks and Romans form an
          interesting part of  their  national  manners. The attentive
          study of the  military operations of Xenophon, or Caesar, or
          Frederic, when they  are  described by the same genius which
          conceived and executed  them,  may  tend to improve (if such
          improvement can be  wished)  the art of destroying the human
          species. But the  battle  of  Chalons  can  only  excite our
          curiosity by the  magnitude  of  the  object;  since  it was
          decided by the blind impetuosity of barbarians, and has been
          related by partial  writers,  whose civil and ecclesiastical
          profession secluded them  from  the  knowledge  of  military
          affairs. Cassiodorus, however, had familiarly conversed with
          many  Gothic  warriors   who   served   in   that  memorable
          engagement; "a conflict,"  as  they  informed  him, "fierce,
          various,  obstinate,  and  bloody;  such  as  could  not  be
          paralleled either in  the  present  or  in  past  ages." The
          number of the  slain  amounted  to one hundred and sixty-two
          thousand, or, according  to  another  account, three hundred
          thousand  persons;(44)  and  these  incredible  exaggerations 
          suppose a real and effective loss, sufficient to justify the
          historian's remark that  whole generations may be swept away
          by the madness of kings in the space of a single hour. After
          the mutual and  repeated  discharge  of  missile weapons, in
          which the archers  of Scythia might signalise their superior
          dexterity, the cavalry  and  infantry of the two armies were
          furiously mingled in  closer  combat.  The  Huns, who fought
          under the eyes of their king, pierced through the feeble and
          doubtful centre of  the  allies,  separated their wings from
          each other, and  wheeling, with a rapid effort, to the left,
          directed  their  whole   force  against  the  Visigoths.  As
          Theodoric rode along  the  ranks  to  animate his troops, he
          received a mortal  stroke  from  the  javelin of Andaires, a
          noble Ostrogoth, and  immediately  fell  from his horse. The
          wounded king was  oppressed  in  the  general  disorder  and
          trampled  under the  feet  of  his  own  cavalry;  and  this
          important death served  to explain the ambiguous prophecy of
          the haruspices. Attila  already exulted in the confidence of
          victory,  when the  valiant  Torismond  descended  from  the
          hills, and verified  the  remainder  of  the prediction. The
          Visigoths, who had been thrown into confusion by the flight,
          or defection, of  the  Alani, gradually restored their order
          of battle; and  the  Huns were undoubtedly vanquished, since
          Attila was compelled  to  retreat. He had exposed his person
          with the rashness  of  a  private  soldier, but the intrepid
          troops of the  centre had pushed forwards beyond the rest of
          the line; their  attack  was faintly supported; their flanks
          were unguarded; and  the  conquerors  of Scythia and Germany
          were saved by the approach of the night from a total defeat.
          They retired within  the  circle  of  waggons that fortified
          their camp; and the dismounted squadrons prepared themselves
          for a defence  to  which  neither their arms or their temper
          were adapted. The  event was doubtful but Attila had secured
          a  last  and  honourable  resource.  The  saddles  and  rich
          furniture of the  cavalry were collected by his order into a
          funeral pile; and the magnanimous barbarian had resolved, if
          his entrenchments should  be  forced,  to rush headlong into
          the flames, and  deprive his enemies of the glory which they
          might have acquired by the death or captivity of Attila.(45) 

          But his enemies  had  passed the night in equal disorder and
          anxiety. The inconsiderate  courage of Torismond was tempted
          to urge the  pursuit,  till  he  unexpectedly found himself,
          with a few  followers, in the midst of the Scythian waggons.
          In the confusion  of  a  nocturnal combat he was thrown from
          his horse; and the Gothic prince must have perished like his
          father, if his  youthful  strength  and the intrepid zeal of
          his companions had  not  rescued  him  from  this  dangerous
          situation. In the  same manner, but on the left of the line,
          Aetius himself, separated from his allies, ignorant of their
          victory, and anxious for their fate, encountered and escaped
          the hostile troops  that  were  scattered over the plains of
          Chalons; and at  length reached the camp of the Goths, which
          he could only  fortify with a slight rampart of shields till
          the dawn of  day. The Imperial general was soon satisfied of
          the defeat of Attila, who still remained inactive within his
          entrenchments; and when he contemplated the bloody scene, he
          observed,  with  secret  satisfaction,  that  the  loss  had
          principally fallen on the barbarians. The body of Theodoric,
          pierced with honourable  wounds, was discovered under a heap
          of the slain:  his subjects bewailed the death of their king
          and father; but  their  tears  were  mingled  with songs and
          acclamations, and his  funeral  rites  were performed in the
          face of a  vanquished enemy. The Goths, clashing their arms,
          elevated on a buckler his eldest son Torismond, to whom they
          justly ascribed the glory of their success; and the new king
          accepted the obligation  of  revenge  as a sacred portion of
          his paternal inheritance.  Yet  the  Goths  themselves  were
          astonished by the  fierce  and  undaunted  aspect  of  their
          formidable  antagonist; and  their  historian  has  compared
          Attila to a  lion encompassed in his den and threatening his
          hunters with redoubled fury. The kings and nations who might
          have deserted his standard in the hour of distress were made
          sensible that the  displeasure of their monarch was the most
          imminent  and inevitable  danger.  All  his  instruments  of
          martial  music incessantly  sounded  a  loud  and  animating
          strain of defiance; and the foremost troops, who advanced to
          the assault, were  checked or destroyed by showers of arrows
          from every side of the entrenchments. It was determined in a
          general council of  war  to  besiege the king of the Huns in
          his camp, to  intercept his provisions, and to reduce him to
          the  alternative of  a  disgraceful  treaty  or  an  unequal
          combat. But the  impatience of the barbarians soon disdained
          these cautious and  dilatory measures: and the mature policy
          of Aetius was  apprehensive  that,  after the extirpation of
          the Huns, the  republic  would be oppressed by the pride and
          power  of the  Gothic  nation.  The  patrician  exerted  the
          superior ascendant of  authority  and  reason  to  calm  the
          passions which the  son  of  Theodoric considered as a duty;
          represented, with seeming  affection  and  real  truth,  the
          dangers of absence  and  delay;  and  persuaded Torismond to
          disappoint, by his  speedy  return, the ambitious designs of
          his brothers, who  might  occupy the throne and treasures of
          Toulouse.(46) After  the  departure  of  the  Goths,  and the 
          separation of the  allied  army, Attila was surprised at the
          vast silence that  reigned  over  the plains of Chalons: the
          suspicion of some  hostile  stratagem  detained  him several
          days within the  circle  of  his  waggons,  and  his retreat
          beyond  the Rhine  confessed  the  last  victory  which  was
          achieved in the name of the Western empire. Meroveus and his
          Franks, observing a  prudent  distance,  and  magnifying the
          opinion of their  strength  by the numerous fires which they
          kindled every night,  continued  to  follow  the rear of the
          Huns  till they  reached  the  confines  of  Thuringia.  The
          Thuringians served in  the  army  of Attila: they traversed,
          both in their  march and in their return, the territories of
          the Franks; and  it  was  perhaps  in  this  war  that  they
          exercised  the  cruelties   which,  about  four-score  years
          afterwards,  were  revenged  by  the  son  of  Clovis.  They
          massacred their hostages,  as  well  as  their captives: two
          hundred  young maidens  were  tortured  with  exquisite  and
          unrelenting rage; their  bodies  were  torn  asunder by wild
          horses, or their  bones  were  crushed  under  the weight of
          rolling waggons; and  their unburied limbs were abandoned on
          the public roads  as  a prey to dogs and vultures. Such were
          those  savage  ancestors   whose   imaginary   virtues  have
          sometimes excited the praise and envy of civilised ages !(47) 

          Neither the spirit,  nor  the  forces, nor the reputation of
          Attila  were  impaired   by   the   failure  of  the  Gallic
          expedition. In the  ensuing spring he repeated his demand of
          the princess Honoria  and  her  patrimonial  treasures.  The
          demand was again rejected or eluded; and the indignant lover
          immediately took the  field, passed the Alps, invaded Italy,
          and  besieged  Aquileia   with   an   innumerable   host  of
          barbarians. Those barbarians  were  unskilled in the methods
          of  conducting  a  regular  siege,  which,  even  among  the
          ancients,  required  some   knowledge,   or  at  least  some
          practice, of the  mechanic  arts.  But  the  labour  of many
          thousand  provincials  and   captives,   whose   lives  were
          sacrificed without pity,  might execute the most painful and
          dangerous work. The  skill  of  the  Roman  artists might be
          corrupted to the  destruction of their country. The walls of
          Aquileia were assaulted  by  a formidable train of battering
          rams, movable turrets, and engines that threw stones, darts,
          and fire;(48)  and  the  monarch  of  the  Huns  employed the 
          forcible impulse of  hope,  fear, emulation and interest, to
          subvert the only  barrier  which  delayed  the  conquest  of
          Italy. Aquileia was  at  that period one of the richest, the
          most Populous, and  the  strongest of the maritime cities of
          the Hadriatic coast.  The  Gothic auxiliaries, who appear to
          have served under  their  native princes, Alaric and Antala,
          communicated their intrepid  spirit;  and the citizens still
          remembered  the glorious  and  successful  resistance  which
          their  ancestors  had   opposed   to  a  fierce,  inexorable
          barbarian, who disgraced  the  majesty  of the Roman purple.
          Three months were  consumed  without  effect in the siege of
          Aquileia; till the  want  of  provisions and the clamours of
          his army compelled  Attila to relinquish the enterprise, and
          reluctantly to issue  his  orders  that  the  troops  should
          strike  their  tents  the  next  morning,  and  begin  their
          retreat. But as he rode round the walls, pensive, angry, and
          disappointed, he observed  a  stork  preparing  to leave her
          nest in one of the towers, and to fly with her infant family
          towards the country.  He  seized, with the ready penetration
          of a statesman,  this  trifling  incident  which  chance had
          offered  to superstition;  and  exclaimed,  in  a  loud  and
          cheerful tone, that  such  a  domestic  bird,  so constantly
          attached to human  society,  would  never have abandoned her
          ancient  seats unless  those  towers  had  been  devoted  to
          impending ruin and solitude.(49) The favourable omen inspired 
          an  assurance  of   victory;  the  siege  was  renewed,  and
          prosecuted with fresh vigour; a large breach was made in the
          part of the wall from whence the stork had taken her flight;
          the Huns mounted  to the assault with irresistible fury; and
          the succeeding generation  could scarcely discover the ruins
          of Aquileia.(50)  After  this  dreadful  chastisement, Attila 
          pursued his march;  and as he passed, the cities of Altinumn
          Concordia, and Padua  were  reduced into heaps of stones and
          ashes. The inland  towns, Vicenza, Verona, and Bergamo, were
          exposed to the  rapacious  cruelty  of  the  Huns. Milan and
          Pavia submitted, without  resistance,  to  the loss of their
          wealth; and applauded  the  unusual clemency which preserved
          from the flames the public as well as private buildings, and
          spared the lives  of  the  captive  multitude.  The  popular
          traditions  of  Comum,   Turin,  or  Modena  may  justly  be
          respected; yet they  concur  with more authentic evidence to
          prove that Attila spread his ravages over the rich plains of
          modern Lombardy, which are divided by the Po, and bounded by
          the Alps and  Apennine. (51)  When  he took possession of the 
          royal palace of  Milan, he was surprised and offended at the
          sight of a  picture  which represented the Caesars seated on
          their throne, and  the princes of Scythia prostrate at their
          feet. The revenge which Attila inflicted on this monument of
          Roman vanity was  harmless  and  ingenious.  He  commanded a
          painter to reverse  the  figures  and the attitudes; and the
          emperors were delineated on the same canvas approaching in a
          suppliant posture to  empty  their  bags  of  tributary gold
          before the throne of the Scythian monarch.(52) The spectators 
          must  have  confessed   the   truth  and  propriety  of  the
          alteration; and were  perhaps  tempted  to  apply,  on  this
          singular  occasion, the  well-known  fable  of  the  dispute
          between the lion and the man.(53) 

          It is a saying worthy of the ferocious pride of Attila, that
          the grass never  grew  on the spot where his horse had trod.
          Yet the savage  destroyer  undesignedly laid the foundations
          of a republic  which revived, in the feudal state of Europe,
          the art and  spirit of a commercial industry. The celebrated
          name of Venice,  or Venetia,(54) was formerly diffused over a 
          larger and fertile  province  of Italy, from the confines of
          Pannonia to the river Addua, and from the Po to the Rhaetian
          and the Julian Alps. Before the irruption of the barbarians,
          fifty Venetian cities  flourished  in  peace and prosperity:
          Aquileia was placed in the most conspicuous station: but the
          ancient dignity of  Padua  was  supported by agriculture and
          manufactures; and the property of five hundred citizens, who
          were entitled to the equestrian rank, must have amounted, at
          the strictest computation,  to  one  million  seven  hundred
          thousand pounds. Many  families of .Aquileia, Padua, and the
          adjacent towns, who fled from the sword of the Huns, found a
          safe, though obscure, refuge in the neighbouring islands.(55) 
          At the extremity  of  the  Gulf,  where the Hadriatic feebly
          imitates the tides  of  the  ocean,  near  an  hundred small
          islands are separated  by  shallow water from the continent,
          and protected from  the waves by several long slips of land,
          which admit the  entrance of vessels through some secret and
          narrow channels.(56)  Till  the  middle  of the fifth century 
          these  remote  and   sequestered   spots   remained  without
          cultivation, with few  inhabitants,  and  almost  without  a
          name. But the  manners of the Venetian fugitives, their arts
          and their government, were

          gradually formed by  their  new  situation;  and  one of the
          epistles of Cassiodorus, (57) which describes their condition 
          about seventy years  afterwards,  may  be  considered as the
          primitive  monument  of   the   republic.  The  minister  of
          Theodoric compares them, in his quaint declamatory style, to
          waterfowl, who had  fixed  their  nests  on the bosom of the
          waves; and though  he allows that the Venetian provinces had
          formerly contained many  noble  families, he insinuates that
          they were now  reduced  by  misfortune  to the same level of
          humble  poverty.  Fish   was  the  common,  and  almost  the
          universal, food of every rank: their only treasure consisted
          in the plenty of salt which they extracted from the sea: and
          the exchange of  that commodity, so essential to human life,
          was substituted in  the neighbouring markets to the currency
          of gold and  silver.  A  people  whose  habitations might be
          doubtfully assigned to  the earth or water soon became alike
          familiar with the  two  elements; and the demands of avarice
          succeeded to those  of  necessity.  The islanders, who, from
          Grado to Chiozza, were intimately connected with each other,
          penetrated into the  heart  of  Italy, by the secure, though
          laborious, navigation of the rivers and inland canals. Their
          vessels,  which were  continually  increasing  in  size  and
          number, visited all  the  harbours  of  the  Gulf;  and  the
          marriage which Venice annually celebrates with the Hadriatic
          was  contracted  in   her  early  infancy.  The  epistle  of
          Cassiodorus, the Praetorian  praefect,  is  addressed to the
          maritime tribunes; and  he  exhorts  them, in a mild tone of
          authority, to animate  the  zeal of their countrymen for the
          public service, which required their assistance to transport
          the magazines of wine and oil from the province of Istria to
          the royal city  of  Ravenna.  The  ambiguous office of these
          magistrates is explained  by  the  tradition,  that,  in the
          twelve principal islands,  twelve  tribunes, or judges, were
          created by an  annual and popular election. The existence of
          the Venetian republic  under  the Gothic kingdom of Italy is
          attested by the  same  authentic  record  which  annihilates
          their lofty claim of original and perpetual independence.(58) 

          The Italians, who  had  long since renounced the exercise of
          arms, were surprised,  after  forty  years'  peace,  by  the
          approach of a  formidable  barbarian,  whom they abhorred as
          the enemy of  their  religion  as well as of their republic.
          Amidst the general consternation, Aetius alone was incapable
          of fear; but  it was impossible that he should achieve alone
          and unassisted any  military  exploits  worthy of his former

          The barbarians who had defended Gaul refused to march to the
          relief of Italy;  and  the  succours promised by the Eastern
          emperor were distant and doubtful. Since Aetius, at the head
          of his domestic  troops,  still  maintained  the  field, and
          harassed or retarded  the  march  of Attila, he never showed
          himself more truly  great  than at the time when his conduct
          was blamed by  an  ignorant and ungrateful people.(59) If the 
          mind of Valentinian  had  been  susceptible  of any generous
          sentiments, he would  have  chosen  such  a  general for his
          example and his guide. But the timid grandson of Theodosius,
          instead of sharing  the  dangers, escaped from the sound, of
          war; and his  hasty  retreat  from  Ravenna to Rome, from an
          impregnable fortress to an open capital, betrayed his secret
          intention of abandoning  Italy  as soon as the danger should
          approach his Imperial  person.  This shameful abdication was
          suspended, however, by  the  spirit of doubt and delay which
          commonly adheres to  pusillanimous  counsels,  and sometimes
          corrects their pernicious  tendency.  The  Western  emperor,
          with the senate  and  people  of  Rome,  embraced  the  more
          salutary  resolution  of   deprecating,   by  a  solemn  and
          suppliant  embassy, the  wrath  of  Attila.  This  important
          commission was accepted  by Avienus, who, from his birth and
          riches, his consular  dignity,  the  numerous  train  of his
          clients, and his  personal abilities, held the first rank in
          the Roman senate.  The  specious  and  artful  character  of
          Avienus(60) was  admirably qualified to conduct a negotiation 
          either  of  public   or   private  interest:  his  colleague
          Trigetius had exercised the Praetorian praefecture of Italy;
          and Leo, bishop  of  Rome,  consented to expose his life for
          the safety of  his flock. The genius of Leo(61) was exercised 
          and displayed in the public misfortunes; and he has deserved
          the appellation of  Great  by the successful zeal with which
          he laboured to  establish  his  opinions  and his authority,
          under   the  venerable   names   of   orthodox   faith   and
          ecclesiastical  discipline.  The   Roman   ambassadors  were
          introduced to the  tent of Attila, as he lay encamped at the
          place where the  slow-winding Mincius is lost in the foaming
          waves  of the  lake  Benacus, (62)  and  trampled,  with  his 
          Scythian cavalry, the  farms  of Catullus and Virgil.(63) The 
          barbarian  monarch  listened   with   favourable,  and  even
          respectful, attention; and  the  deliverance  of  Italy  was
          purchased by the  immense  ransom  or  dowry of the princess
          Honoria. The state  of  his army might facilitate the treaty
          and hasten his  retreat. Their martial spirit was relaxed by
          the wealth and indolence of a warm climate. The shepherds of
          the North, whose  ordinary  food  consisted  of milk and raw
          flesh, indulged themselves  too  freely in the use of bread,
          of wine, and  of  meat  prepared and seasoned by the arts of
          cookery;  and the  progress  of  disease  revenged  in  some
          measure  the  injuries  of  the  Italians. (64)  When  Attila 
          declared his resolution  of  carrying his victorious arms to
          the gates of Rome, he was admonished by his friends, as well
          as by his  enemies,  that  Alaric  had not long survived the
          conquest of the  eternal  city.  His  mind, superior to real
          danger, was assaulted  by  imaginary  terrors;  nor could he
          escape the influence  of  superstition,  which  had so often
          been subservient to  his  designs.(65) The pressing eloquence 
          of Leo, his  majestic  aspect  and sacerdotal robes, excited
          the veneration of  Attila  for  the  spiritual father of the
          Christians. The apparition  of the two apostles of St. Peter
          and St. Paul,  who  menaced the barbarian with instant death
          if he rejected  the prayer of their successor, is one of the
          noblest legends of  ecclesiastical  tradition. The safety of
          Rome might deserve  the  interposition  of celestial beings;
          and some indulgence  is  due  to  a  fable  which  has  been
          represented by the  pencil  of  Raphael  and  the  chisel of

          Before the king  of  the Huns evacuated Italy, he threatened
          to return more  dreadful, and more implacable, if his bride,
          the princess Honoria,  were not delivered to his ambassadors
          within the term  stipulated  by  the  treaty.  Yet,  in  the
          meanwhile, Attila relieved  his  tender anxiety, by adding a
          beautiful maid, whose  name  was  Ildico, to the list of his
          innumerable wives.(67)  Their  marriage  was  celebrated with 
          barbaric pomp and festivity, at his wooden palace beyond the
          Danube; and the  monarch,  oppressed  with  wine  and sleep,
          retired at a  late hour from the banquet to the nuptial bed.
          His attendants continued  to  respect  his  pleasures or his
          repose the greatest  part  of  the  ensuing  day,  till  the
          unusual silence alarmed  their  fears  and  suspicions; and,
          after attempting to  awaken  Attila  by  loud  and  repeated
          cries, they at  length  broke into the royal apartment. They
          found the trembling bride sitting by the bedside, hiding her
          face with her veil, and lamenting her own danger, as well as
          the death of  the king, who had expired during the night.(68) 
          An artery had  suddenly burst: and as Attila lay in a supine
          posture, he was  suffocated  by  a  torrent of blood, which,
          instead  of  finding   a   passage   through  the  nostrils,
          regurgitated  into the  lungs  and  stomach.  His  body  was
          solemnly exposed in  the  midst of the plain, under a silken
          pavilion; and the  chosen  squadrons  of  the Huns, wheeling
          round in measured  evolutions, chanted a funeral song to the
          memory of a  hero,  glorious  in his life, invincible in his
          death, the father of his people, the scourge of his enemies,
          and the terror  of  the  world.  According to their national
          custom, the barbarians  cut off a part of their hair, gashed
          their faces with unseemly wounds, and bewailed their valiant
          leader as he deserved, not with the tears of women, but with
          the blood of  warriors.  The remains of Attila were enclosed
          within three coffins  of  gold,  of silver, and of iron, and
          privately buried in  the  night:  the spoils of nations were
          thrown into his  grave;  the  captives  who  had  opened the
          ground were inhumanly  massacred; and the same Huns, who had
          indulged such excessive  grief,  feasted, with dissolute and
          intemperate mirth, about the recent sepulchre of their king.
          It was reported  at  Constantinople  that,  on the fortunate
          night in which he expired, Marcian beheld in a dream the bow
          of Attila broken  asunder:  and the report may be allowed to
          prove how seldom  the image of that formidable barbarian was
          absent from the mind of a Roman emperor.(69) 

          The  revolution which  subverted  the  empire  of  the  Huns
          established the fame  of  Attila,  whose  genius  alone  had
          sustained the huge  and  disjointed  fabric. After his death
          the boldest chieftains  aspired  to  the  rank of kings; the
          most powerful kings  refused  to acknowledge a superior; and
          the numerous sons  whom  so many various mothers bore to the
          deceased  monarch  divided   and  disputed  like  a  private
          inheritance the sovereign  command of the nations of Germany
          and Scythia. The  bold  Ardaric  felt  and  represented  the
          disgrace of this  servile  partition  and  his subjects, the
          warlike Gepidae, with  the  Ostrogoths, under the conduct of
          three valiant brothers, encouraged their allies to vindicate
          the rights of  freedom and royalty. In a bloody and decisive
          conflict on the  banks  of  the river Netad in Pannonia, the
          lance of the  Gepidae, the sword of the Goths, the arrows of
          the Huns, the Suevic infantry, the light arms of the Heruli,
          and the heavy weapons of the Alani, encountered or supported
          each other; and  the victory of Ardaric was accompanied with
          the slaughter of  thirty thousand of his enemies. Ellac, the
          eldest  on of  Attila,  lost  his  life  and  crown  in  the
          memorable battle of  Netad;  his early valour had raised him
          to the throne  of  the  Acatzires, a Scyhlan people, whom he
          subdued; and his father, who loved the superior merit, would
          have envied the  death,  of Ellac.(70) His brother Dengisich, 
          with an army  of  Huns  still formidable in their flight and
          ruin, maintained his ground above fifteen years on the banks
          of the Danube. The palace of Attila, with the old country of
          Daciab from the  Carpathian  hills to the Euxine, became the
          seat of a  new  power  which was erected by Ardaric, king of
          the  Gepidae.  The   Pannonian  conquests,  from  Vienna  to
          Sirmium,  were  occupied   by   the   Ostrogoths;   and  the
          settlements of the  tribes who had so bravely asserted their
          native freedom were irregularly distributed according to the
          measure  of  their   respective   strength.  Surrounded  and
          oppressed by the  multitude  of  his  father's  slaves,  the
          kingdom of Dengisich  was  confined  to  the  circle  of his
          waggons; his desperate  courage  urged  him  to  invade  the
          Eastern  empire:  he   fell   in   battle,   and  his  head,
          ignominiously  exposed  in   the   Hippodrome,  exhibited  a
          grateful spectacle to  the  people of Constantinople. Attila
          had  fondly or  superstitiously  believed  that  Irnac,  the
          youngest of his sons, was destined to perpetuate the glories
          of his race.  The character of that prince, who attempted to
          moderate the rashness  of  his  brother  Dengisich, was more
          suitable to the  declining condition of the Huns; and Irnac,
          with his subject  hordes,  retired  into  the  heart  of the
          Lesser Scythia. They  were  soon overwhelmed by a torrent of
          new barbarians, who  followed  the same road which their own
          ancestors had formerly  discovered.  The Geougen, or Avares,
          whose residence is  assigned  by  the  Greek  writers to the
          shores of the  ocean,  impelled the adjacent tribes; till at
          length the Igours  of  the  North,  issuing  from  the  cold
          Siberian  regions which  produce  the  most  valuable  furs,
          spread themselves over  the desert as far as the Borysthenes
          and the Caspian  gates,  and finally extinguished the empire
          of the Huns.(71) 

          Such an event  might contribute to the safety of the Eastern
          empire under the  reign  of  a  prince  who  conciliated the
          friendship,   without  forfeiting   the   esteem,   of   the
          barbarians. But the  emperor  of  the  West,  the feeble and
          dissolute Valentinian, who had reached his thirty-fifth year
          without attaining the  age of reason or courage, abused this
          apparent security to  undermine  the  foundations of his own
          throne by the  murder  of  the  patrician  Aetius.  From the
          instinct of a  base  and  jealous mind, he hated the man who
          was universally celebrated  as  the terror of the barbarians
          and the support  of the republic; and his new favourite, the
          eunuch  Heraclius, awakened  the  emperor  from  the  supine
          lethargy  which  might  be  disguised  during  the  life  of
          Placidia(72) by  the  excuse  of  filial  piety.  The fame of 
          Aetius, his wealth  and  dignity,  the  numerous and martial
          train of barbarian  followers,  his  powerful dependents who
          filled the civil  offices of the state, and the hopes of his
          son Gaudentius, who  was  already contracted to Eudoxia, the
          emperor's daughter, had  raised  him  above  the  rank  of a
          subject. The ambitious  designs,  of  which  he was secretly
          accused, excited the  fears  as  well  as  the resentment of
          Valentinian. Aetius himself,  supported by the consciousness
          of his merit, his services, and perhaps his innocence, seems
          to have maintained  a  haughty and indiscreet behaviour. The
          patrician offended his  sovereign by an hostile declaration;
          he aggravated the offence by compelling him to ratify with a
          solemn oath a  treaty  of  reconciliation  and  alliance; he
          proclaimed his suspicions, he neglected his safety; and from
          a vain confidence  that  the  enemy  whom  he  despised  was
          incapable even of  a  manly  crime,  he  rashly ventured his
          person in the  palace of Rome. Whilst he urged, perhaps with
          intemperate vehemence, the marriage of his son, Valentinian,
          drawing his sword  -  the  first  sword  he had ever drawn -
          plunged it in  the  breast  of  a  general who had saved his
          empire: his courtiers  and  eunuchs ambitiously struggled to
          imitate their master;  and  Aetius,  pierced with an hundred
          wounds, fell dead  in  the  royal  presence.  Boethius,  the
          Praetorian praefect, was  killed  at  the  same  moment; and
          before the event could be divulged, the principal friends of
          the patrician were  summoned  to  the  palace and separately
          murdered. The horrid  deed,  palliated by the specious names
          of justice and  necessity,  was  immediately communicated by
          the emperor to  his  soldiers, his subjects, and his allies.
          The  nations  who   were  strangers  or  enemies  to  Aetius
          generously  deplored  the  unworthy  fate  of  a  hero;  the
          barbarians who had  been  attached to his service dissembled
          their grief and  resentment;  and  the public contempt which
          had been so  long  entertained  for  Valentinian was at once
          converted  into  deep   and   universal   abhorrence.   Such
          sentiments seldom pervade  the  walls  of  a palace; yet the
          emperor was confounded  by the honest reply of a Roman whose
          approbation he had not disdained to solicit. "I am ignorant,
          sir, of your  motives  or provocations; I only know that you
          have acted like  a  man who cuts off his right hand with his

          The luxury of  Rome  seems  to  have  attracted the long and
          frequent visits of  Valentinian,  who  was consequently more
          despised at Rome  than in any other part of his dominions. A
          republican spirit was  insensibly  revived in the senate, as
          their authority, and  even  their supplies, became necessary
          for  the support  of  his  feeble  government.  The  stately
          demeanour of an hereditary monarch offended their pride, and
          the pleasures of Valentinian were injurious to the peace and
          honour of noble  families.  The birth of the empress Eudoxia
          was equal to  his  own,  and her charms and tender affection
          deserved those testimonies  of  love  which  her  inconstant
          husband dissipated in  vague  and unlawful amours. Petronius
          Maximus, a wealthy  senator  of  the Anician family, who had
          been twice consul  was  possessed  of a chaste and beautiful
          wife; her obstinate  resistance  served only to irritate the
          desires of Valentinian,  and  he resolved to accomplish them
          either by stratagem  or  force.  Deep  gaming was one of the
          vices  of  the   court;  the  emperor,  who,  by  chance  or
          contrivance, had gained  from  Maximus  a  considerable sum,
          uncourteously exacted his  ring  as a security for the debt,
          and sent it by a trusty messenger to his wife, with an order
          in her husband's name that she should immediately attend the
          empress  Eudoxia.  The  unsuspecting  wife  of  Maximus  was
          conveyed  in  her   litter   to  the  Imperial  palace;  the
          emissaries of her  impatient lover conducted her to a remote
          and silent bedchamber;  and  Valentinian  violated,  without
          remorse,  the  laws  of  hospitality.  Her  tears  when  she
          returned  home,  her   deep   affliction,   and  the  bitter
          reproaches against a  husband  whom  she  considered  as the
          accomplice of his  own  shame,  excited  Maximus  to  a just
          revenge; the desire  of  revenge was stimulated by ambition;
          and he might  reasonably aspire, by the free suffrage of the
          Roman senate, to  the  throne  of  a detested and despicable
          rival. Valentinian, who supposed that every human breast was
          devoid  like  his  own  of  friendship  and  gratitude,  had
          imprudently admitted among  his guards several domestics and
          followers of Aetius.  Two  of these, of barbarian race, were
          persuaded  to  execute  a  sacred  and  honourable  duty  by
          punishing with death the assassin of their patron, and their
          intrepid courage did  not  long  expect a favourable moment.
          Whilst Valentinian amused  himself in the field of Mars with
          the spectacle of  some military sports, they suddenly rushed
          upon  him  with   drawn   weapons,   despatched  the  guilty
          Heraclius, and stabbed the emperor to the heart, without the
          least opposition from  his  numerous  train,  who  seemed to
          rejoice  in  the  tyrant's  death.  Such  was  the  fate  of
          Valentinian the Third, (74)  the  last  Roman  emperor of the 
          family of Theodosius.  He faithfully imitated the hereditary
          weakness  of  his   cousin   and  his  two  uncles,  without
          inheriting the gentleness,  the purity, the innocence, which
          alleviate  in  their  characters  the  want  of  spirit  and
          ability.  Valentinian  was  less  excusable,  since  he  had
          passions   without   virtues:    even   his   religion   was
          questionable; and though he never deviated into the paths of
          heresy,  he  scandalised   the   pious   Christians  by  his
          attachment to the profane arts of magic and divination.

          As early as  the time of Cicero and Varro it was the opinion
          of the Roman augurs that the 'twelve' vultures which Romulus
          had seen, represented  the  'twelve  centuries' assigned for
          the fatal period  of  his city(75) This prophecy, disregarded 
          perhaps in the season of health and prosperity, inspired the
          people with gloomy.  apprehensions when the twelfth century,
          clouded with disgrace and misfortune, was almost elapsed;(76) 
          and even posterity  must acknowledge with some surprise that
          the arbitrary interpretation  of  an  accidental or fabulous
          circumstance has been  seriously verified in the downfall of
          the Western empire.  But its fall was announced by a clearer
          omen than the  flight  of  vultures:  the  Roman  government
          appeared every day  less  formidable  to  its  enemies, more
          odious and oppressive  to  its  subjects. (77) The taxes were 
          multiplied with the  public  distress; economy was neglected
          in proportion as  it  became necessary; and the injustice of
          the rich shifted  the  unequal burden from themselves to the
          people, whom they  defrauded  of  the indulgences that might
          sometimes  have  alleviated   their   misery.   The   severe
          inquisition,  which confiscated  their  goods  and  tortured
          their persons, compelled  the  subjects  of  Valentinian  to
          prefer the more  simple tyranny of the barbarians, to fly to
          the woods and  mountains,  or to embrace the vile and abject
          condition of mercenary  servants.  They abjured and abhorred
          the name of  Roman  citizens, which had formerly excited the
          ambition of mankind. The Armorican provinces of Gaul and the
          greatest  part  of   Spain  were  thrown  into  a  state  of
          disorderly  independence  by   the   confederations  of  the
          Bagaudae,   and  the   Imperial   ministers   pursued   with
          proscriptive laws and  ineffectual arms the rebels whom they
          had made.(78)  If  all  the  barbarian  conquerors  had  been 
          annihilated in the  same hour, their total destruction would
          not have restored  the empire of the West: and if Rome still
          survived, she survived  the  loss of freedom, of virtue, and
          of honour.

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