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on the contrary, and among them the Alani, possessed
a superior cavalry, and they were equally expert in
governing their warlike steeds, and using the bow and
arrow and other missiles. After these victories, Aetius
stationed a great part of his allies at or near Orleans,
under the conduct of their king Sambida, for reasons
which will soon be explained, and in consequence of
^vhich the Armorican confederacy were afterwards
obliged to a[)i)ly to St. German. Then Aetius de-
parted to Rome.

■ Prosper, Chron. ad an. 435. Montesquieu Esprit des
Lois, torn. ii.

= Prosp. ad an. 4.36. ^ Prosp. ad an. 438.


In his absence, Littorius Celsus, the commanding
officer of the Romans, urged bj the opportunity of
distinguishing himself, notwithstanding a treaty which
had been made with the Visigoths, made war upon
them. Let us hear Prospex'. ^ " Littorius, who acted
as lieutenant of the Patrician Aetius in the command
of the auxiliary troops of the Huns or Alani, desirous
of eclipsing the reputation of his superior, and trusting
in the oracles of Augurs and the promises of Devils,
imprudently engaged with the Visigoths. The event
showed that any thing might have been expected from
his army ; but a general was wanting. His troops
were beaten, but not till they had broken the ranks of
the enemy, and Littorius was taken prisoner ; and so
the defeat was decisive." This action took place near
Toulouse. Theodoric was king of the Visigoths. Lit-
torius was put to death. ^ After this fatal engagement,
peace was again made with the Visigoths, through the
instrumentality of Avitus, the * future emperor, the
father-in-law of the poet and scholar Sidonius Apolli-
naris, and a native of Auvergne.^

It was a difficult thing to find safe occupation for
the restless Alani. Do something they must. At a
loss for an occasion, they might turn and attack their
own employers ; but there was as yet no need for that.
It has already been stated in a previous chapter, and
supposed in this, that in the north-western parts of
Gaul, a large League or Confederacy existed, under
the name of the Ai-moricau Republic, to the standards
of which all the rebels of the Empire, who did not
join the Barbarians, flocked. The Armoricans were a

' Prosp. ad an. 439. - Dubos, torn. i. p, 374, &c.

^ Sidon. in Paneg. Aviti. vers. 297.


Christian anrl orthodox people, who inhabited the
second and third Lugdunensis : that is, the whole of
the country north of the Loire, as far as Orleans and
the Seine. ^ With the rest of the ancient inhabitants of
Gaul, they came into the dominion of the Romans in
Julius Cesar's time. They have always been noted for
that independence and energy of character which after-
wards were so often displayed in the annals of France,
and not long since evinced in the neighbouring plains
of La Vendee. Armorica did not obtain the name of
Brittany till after the conquest of Great Britain by the
Saxons, when great numbers of Britons, as is well
known, took refuge there. The Ai-morican confederacy
however embraced what is now called Normandy, a
name likewise of later use.^ In the early part of the
fifth centui'y the Armoricans were particularly known
for their spirit of insuboi-dination. Constantius speaks
" of the insolence of that proud people," and " their
presumption which required a severe lesson ;" and
again animadverts " on the changeableness and fickle-
ness which prompted a restless and undisciplined people
to frequent rebellions."^ And in the ninth century,
Hericus of Auxerre, whose masters Charlemagne,
Louis-le-Debonnaire, and Charles-le-Chauve, had to
deal with this people, describes them as " stem,
haughty, boastful, forward, imprudent, rebellious, fickle,
ever changing from love of novelty, profuse in words,
less ready to make them good ; esteeming it an honour

1 " Gens inter geminos notissima clauditur amnes,
Armoricana prius veteri cognomine dicta."
Hericus, vit. Met. lib. v. ch. 1. See also Tillem. xv. p. 20,
Dubos, p. 439 and p. G9.

= Dubos, p. 439. ^ Lib. ii. § 62. Lib. ii. § 73.


to promise much and perform little." Allowing for
considerable colouring on the part of advocates for tlie
opposite cause, yet it is not surprising if they were
such as they are described. In fact, the Armoricans
were nothing less than rebels ; their republic was not
of such long standing that Constantius could regard
them otherwise than as disobedient Roman subjects.
They were, if not the whole, yet the greater part of
that vast coalition of insurgents who went by the name
of Bagaudfe. It may seem singular to attempt to differ
with a contemporary wi'iter of such great claims to
respect as Constantius, but he himself, who bears wit-
ness to the fact, undoubtedly would have acknow-
ledged the justness of the reasons which palliate the
offence of these Insurgents. The very name of Ba-
gaudae, like that of Chartists in England, was expres-
sive of contempt and abhorrence ; and names have a
prestige about them, which it requires definition and
analysis to dissipate. But let us listen to Salvian,
another contemporary author.^ " It is the injustice of
the Romans which has constrained men, all over the
Empire, no longer to remain Romans. I am speaking
of the BagaudiE. Spoiled, harassed, murdered by
wicked and cruel judges, they have lost all the rights of
Roman liberty — they relinquish the honour of the
Roman name. We impute to them their misfortunes ;
we cast in their teeth the name which distinguishes
their misery — a name of which we are the sole cause.
"We call them rebels, we call them abandoned men ;
but their guilt is ours. What else has made them
Bagaudae but our iniquities, the crying injustice of our
magistrates, the proscx-iptions, the pillage exercised by

' De Guber, p. 108. ed. Baluz.


those who turn the public exactions into private extor-
tion and spoil, who make the assessment of" taxes the
occasion for plunder ; who, like ferocious wild beasts,
instead of ruling their dependants, devour them. Nor
are they content with plunder alone, but they feast, so
to say, upon the blood of their victims. Hence it has
happened, that men mangled and half killed by iniqui-
tous judges, have begun to assume a position like that
of the Barbarians — in fact, they were not suffered to

be Romans What do we see every day? Those

who are not Bagauda? yet, are compelled to become so."
The first great insurrection took place about 434.^
Prosper says ; " The northern provinces of Gaul
having been seduced by Tibato, seceded from the
Roman alliance, which was the first cause of that gen-
eral confederacy of the BagaudjE to which all the ser-
vile classes in Gaul acceded." Nothing more is known
of Tibato ; the spirit of rebellion which he inflamed,
spread rapidly, and concentrated itself in the country
of the Armoricans. To these all the slaves and op-
pressed tenants, and degraded burghers, and ruined
curiales, looked for protection, during the vast system of
oppression that was choking the last feeble breathings
of the Roman existence. And no more urgent motive
had Aetius the Patrician, in sending for troops from
the Huns and Alani, than to subdue the ever-increasing
numbers of the insurgents. Accordingly, as we have
seen, he stationed a lai'ge body of Alani near Orleans,
as being the frontier town. In all the wars with the
Visio-oths, a sketch of which has been given, the Ar-
moricans were sure to take a part, always siding with
the enemies of the Romans ; and in all the treaties

* Dubos, torn. i. p. 355.


which were made, the Armorican interests claimed due
consideration. It was somewhat strange to see the
orthodox Armoricaus combining with the heretical
Visigoths, at a time and in a country where Arianism
was such a distinct mark of separation. But it was
still more strange that the Christian Romans should
call in the Pagan Huns to conquer Christians and.
Catholics. As yet, however, Aetius and his generals
had not been able to make a regular attack upon the
Ai'moricans ; his efforts had been chiefly directed to-
wards the principality of Toulouse. But by means of
Sambida and his men, posted on the banks of the
Loire, he kept a vigilant eye over their movements.

In 446, a year before St. German returned from
Britain, an attempt was made against them, which has
been recorded by St. Gregory of Tours, in his life of
St. Mesmius, a disciple of St. IMartin. It appears that
Aetius was himself compelled to depart, to make head
against Clodion, the king of the Franks, who was ad-
vancing by slow but steady steps, in the north-east of
Gaul. Egidius Afranius, the same as Count Giles,
took the command of the army on the Loire, the Bar-
barian chief acting probably under his guidance. St.
Gregory, a native of those parts which previously be-
longed to the Ai'morican Confederacy, and accordingly
a favourer of the cause of his country, relates the fol-
lowing circumstance :^ " St. Mesmius came to Chinon,
a foi'tified place near to Tours, and there he founded a
monastery. Afterwards, Egidius besieged the town,
into which all the inhabitants of the district had fled
for refuge, and caused the well, which was situated on
the ridge of the hill where the besieged came to di'aw

1 De Gloria Conf. c. 22 See Dubos, p. 433.


water, to be filled up. The servant of God, who was
shut up Avithin the place, seeing with grief the com-
panions of liis fortunes dying for want of water, passed
a whole night in prayer. He implored God not to
suffer the people to perish from thirst, and to thwart
the designs of the enemy. St. Mesmius then had a
revelation. At the dawn of day, he assembled the be-
sieged, and said unto them, " Let all who have vessels
for water, place them in the open air, and ask with
confidence the help of the Lord. He will give you
abundance of water ; more than is necessary for your-
selves and children." He scarcely had ended, when
the sky became covered with dark clouds, and the rain
fell amid vivid streaks of lightning and the roll of
thunder. The besieged were doubly benefited. The
storm which gave them water, oblige<l the assailants to
relinquish their works. The buckets of all were filled.
Thus, adds St. Gregory, did the prayers of St. Mesmius
avail to raise the siege of Chinon. The rustics after-
wards retired without injury to their former dwellings."
Armorica then was a land of Saints. And Saints
stood up in the defence of the Republic. There is a
stage in oppression and injustice where insui'rection is
a kind of necessary consequence, and the laws of pas-
sive obedience seem suspended by the overpowering
guilt of the governing party, or rather when to violate
the duty of forbearance and patience has its excuse in
the human infirmity, which cannot but exist in large
bodies of men. No precedent or example may be
quoted to sanction any violation of duty, but in looking
back upon past times, a national sin, which is incurred
under peculiarly trying circumstances and imminent
danger, deserves, perhaps, some charitable apology.
The Church that denounces the living sinner, hopes


for the dead. To both Constantius and Salvian the
insurgents were Bagaudse ; but with the latter, the
excuse for them is explicit, with the former it is im-
plied, in that St. German interceded for them, as will
be seen.

The Alani or Huns were but too ready to second
Egidius in his attack upon the Ai-moricans. In 447-
448, when St. German returned from Britain, Eochar
had succeeded Sambida,^ as king of the Barbarians.
The same fierce and rapacious disposition was displayed
by this chieftain as by his predecessor. Valesius thinks
he is the same with Vitricus or Jutricus, Avhom St.
Prosper mentions as a Roman ally, in 439, and marks
out for his exploits at battle. ^ However, it would not
require much to induce the greedy Alani to rush upon
a prey so inviting as must have been the land of the
Ai'moricans, if we may trust to descriptions. Situated
along the Loire, on the confines of the enemy, the
least occasion would be seized for a plundering ex-
pedition. A historian of the time of Francois Pre-
mier, apparently a native of Britany, when relating
the early annals of the Armoricans, takes the oppor-
tunity to give the following picture of their country.'
As its primitive simplicity and antiquated French can
hardly be translated, the original will best serve to
give an idea of the local advantages of this province.

' Or Sangibanus.

2 Vid. Not. Bollan. ad locum Const. Recueil des Historiens,
torn. i. p. 632, ad notas. Dubos, torn i. p. 384.

^ Grandes Chronique de Bretagne, published at Caen, 1518,
and thus headed ; "The author of this book came into Eng-
land in embassage with Mr. Fran9ois de Luxembourg, S.
Charles Marigny, m. 4 raign 9 K. U. 8. vid. Fol. '220. Bodlei.


" Le royaume de Bretaigne qui jadis fut appelle
Armoricque est situe es extremitez d'occident vers la
fin de Europe, et est de la forme d'ung fer a cheval
dont la rotondite est circuye a soleil resconsant de la
mere occeane ; et de gros et dangereux rochiers qui
scut chascun tout convers et descouvers de la mer.
Lesquels rochiers nuysent aux navires d 'aborder a la
terre. Par le haust vers orient joingt a ce royaume le
bas pays de Normendie, Le Mans, Anjou, Poictou.
En ce royaulme ya plaines et montaignes, prez, forestz,
rivieers, et landes. Les plaines croissent bons fromens,
segles, avoynes, riz, saifran, poix, feves, aulx, oignons
et auti'es fruitz. Les landes et montaignes on engresse
force bestail. En aucuns lieux devers Occident on
faict le sel par singuliere Industrie. Car a ce faire ny
a que I'eau de la mer et la vertu du soleil, et de ce sel
toutes les contrees voysines et austres sont fournies et
pourvueues. A 1 'en\iron de ceste Bretaigne, sont en
mer plusieurs isles habitees qui sont de la dicte Bre-
taigne 6u il ya estangs et forestz et y croissent blez,
vis (?) et autres commodites. Les forestz de ceste
Bretaigne sont peuplees de venoysons et gybiers ^
foyson. Et ya en aucuns lieux raynieres de argent,
plomb, et fer. En plusieurs lieux y croissent vins en
abundance pour fournir les habitans sisz sen vouloyent
contenter. Par mer arrivent es portz et liavres du
pays toutes marchandises, &c." — Lib. ii. p. 34.

Such was the country upon which tlie impatient
Alani were now to be let loose. Aetius, the JNIagnifi-
cent, (this was the higli-sounding title of the Patri-
cian) irritated by the haughty conduct of the Armori-
cans, resolved to humble them by those, whom it was
as dangerous to employ as it was to leave inactive.
He gave orders to Eochar, king of the Alani, (the


fierceness of whose disposition did not belie his birth,)
to enter Avith his men the provinces north of tlie
Loire. ^ The command was readily obeyed ; and the
Armoricans were obliged to give way before the onset
of the Barbarians. As an only resource in their dis-
tress, they sent a deputation to German, who was now
returned to Gaul, to request his intercession with the
enemy. It will be remembered that twenty-nine years
before this event, German had himself been governor
of the provinces which desired his assistance, with the
title of Duke of the Armorican and Nervican district,
including five provinces, the two Aquitains, the second
and third Lugdunensis, and Senonia, in which Auxerre
was situated. '^ We are not strictly told that the applica-
tion of the Armoricans was founded upon any reasons
arising from this circumstance ; yet we can hardly
help conjecturing that some such consideration had its
weight. The exceeding holiness of his life was how-
ever the ostensible reason of the embassy. Old as he
was, for he was in his seventieth year, they deemed he
alone could check the Pagan and savage Huns. Ger-
man, confident in the all-powerful strength of Christ,
says Constantius, set out without delay. The Alani
had already begun their march. No time was to be
lost ; their troops and cavalry loaded with iron armour,
already filled the high I'oads. The Bishop of Auxerre
advanced to meet them. Passing through their ranks,
he penetrated to their king Eochar, who followed in

1 The Bollandists are evidently right in reading Alanorum,
not Alemannorum, with Surius ; both reason and MSS. prove it.
The Bodl. MS. of Constantius, and all those quoted by Boschius
have the same. So also in Salvian, p. 89, read Alani, not Al-
manni, and perhaps instead of Albani.

= Notitia Dignit. Imperii.


the rear. Fearless of tlie numbers that surrounded
him, German drew near, accompanied by an inter-
preter. He then began to adth-ess the king in the
language of a suppliant. But when he saw his petition
was disregarded, he proceeded to reproofs. At last,
when all was vain, stretching forth his arm, and laying
hold of the reins of his horse, he stopped his progress,
and that of the rest of the army. It was expected
this rash act Avould have cost him dear. But the king
was struck with astonishment and admiration. God
seemed to have moved his iron heart. Reverence and
awe, for which the wild and vague Scythian supersti-
tion offered no incentive, appeared, for the first time,
on the fierce visage of the Barlwrian, at the sight of
German's courage, his authoritative demeanour, his
august countenance.^ The result was, that the prepa-
rations for war, and the vast concourse of arms, were
converted into the more peaceful measures of a public
conference. The king consented to forego his own
desires and those of his men, and to adapt his conduct
to the proposals of German. It was agreed that a
truce should be observed, till the will of the emperor
or his lieutenant, Aetius, were ascertained. The forces
were then disbanded, and they retired to their respec-
tive stations. Thus, a second time, were the virtues
of God's Saints instrumental in averting the otherwise
inevitable fury of the Bar])arians. Tlu-ee parallel in-
stances occurred not long after, when the whole nation
of the Huns, inider Attila, invaded tlie unfortunate

' " Nectemplum apud eos visitur, aut delubrum, ne tugiirium
quidem, culmo tectum cerni usquam potest; sed ffladius Bat-
barico ritu humi figitur nudus, eumque ut Marteni regionum
quas circumcircant prajsulcm verecundius colunt." — Ammian
Marcell. quoted by Gibbon, iv. 238.


Gaul. St. Lupus saved Troyes, St. Anian saved Or-
leans, St. Genevieve rescued Paris. Like St. German,
however, they did not confront the Barbarian. It is
perhaps not unworthy of notice, that the same pens
which have consigned to memory the ravages of the
Barbarians, are they which have attested the miracles.
The history of these times is chietly dependent upon
Clu-istian testimony.

The learned Dubos seems to think this interview
between German and Eochar took place near Chartres,
one of the principal cities in the province of Senonia,
called in the Latin Tables Carnotum.^ But he is
wrong when he assigns the date of it to 443, unless
Constantius has totally disregarded chronological or-
der. The Bollaudists refer it to 447 or 448 with appa-
rent reason.

AVe have no certain information concerning the par-
ticular conditions of the truce granted by Eochar. As
a general fact, we learn that the Armoricans were to
send immediately to the court of Ravenna some one
entrusted with full powers to conclude an agreement
with the Emperor ; that measures should be taken for
a final conclusion of peace, and a suspension of arms
observed by all parties, till the pardon of the Emperor
was obtained.

He who had delivered the Armoricans from destruc-
tion, was now the person they fixed upon to carry their
cause before the Emperor. The combined reasons
which had made them select German in the first case,
would also mark him out for the present negotiation.
Republics, as well as other States, are governed by men
of the world. They are glad if skill can be found con-

1 Tom. i. p. 388.


nectecl with piety and good report, but they usually de-
termine their choice by the political talents of their
representatives, and their practical knowledge and pru-
dence. Grerman's long experience in the civil affairs of
the Empire, his previous profession of pleader and
magistrate, his acquaintance with the Ai-morican cha-
racter and condition from having been Governor of the
Provinces — these were circumstances not to be over-
looked in a negotiation rendered so difficult by the in-
trigues of the Court. It might have been expected
that the commissioner of the Armoricans would have
applied for pardon to Aetius. Aetius was in effect the
Emperor in Gaul, and he was very near the scene of
the transaction. Yet so it was not. There were good
reasons for avoiding him. Aetius was the special ad-
versary of the Armoricans ; he had introduced the
Alani originally with a direct intention against them ;
he had himself given the order for the late attack ; nor
would the frightful massacre of the Burgundians be
soon forgotten. On the other hand, the court of
Ravenna was likely to adopt measures ojiposite to
those of Aetius. Weak governments are wont to dis-
claim the acts of their delegates ; and expedients are
synonymous with changes and reversals. Then Aetius
had never been popular in the imperial circle ; feared,
while favoured, he was employed, because his genius
and the straits of the times pointed him out as the only
support of the em2)ire.

But it may be as well to explain the cause of that
influence which from the banks of the Meuse to the
coasts of the Adi'iatic, could, without any express de-
clarations, be so powerfully felt. The following por-
trait of tliis extraordinary man is given by Gibbon
from a contemporary author.


" His mothei" 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 militaiy 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 succes-
sively 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 admira-
bly formed for strength, beauty, and agility ; and he
excelled in the martial exercises of managing a horse ;
di'awing the bow, and darting the javelin. He could
patiently endure the want of food or of sleep ; and his
mind and body Avere alike capable of the most laborious
efforts. He possessed the genuine courage that can
despise not only dangers, but injuries ; and it was im-
possible either to corrupt or deceive, or intimidate the
firm integrity of his soul." To which original testi-
mony Giblion adds in a note, that this flattering por-
trait would have been more correct, had the author
not insisted upon his patient forgiving disposition.



The Invasion viewed hy Contemporaries.

AxD now before we follow St. German into the last
events of liis busy life, let us pause awhile, to consider
what Cbristians at the time thought of the Invasions of
the Barbarians, one tribe of whom we have just seen
exterminating on their entrance into Gaul, twenty
thousand peaceful Burgundian Colonists, and on the
eve of laying Avaste a rich province of that same coun-
try. Living as we do in an age of security, we have
the greatest difficulty in entering into the true feelings
of men who were placed in the midst of those frightful
scenes. No event in real life is like what we fancy it
to be in our studies ; no plan which we Iiave prepared
at home preserves its identity when thrown into the ac-
tualities of the world. jSlust we then take the contra-
dictory of our expectations for historical truth ? Must
we imagine that those who at first sight should seem
the most wretched of men, were in point of fact just as
well oiF as Ave are ? In history there is always a danger
of theorizing ; learning may be set off to advantage by
an ingenious scaffolding, but its usefulness depends on
the solidity of tlie materials.

However, it is certain from experience, that calami-

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanLives of the English saints (Volume 2) → online text (page 27 of 33)