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the policy of Theodoric during his last three years of
suspicion and resentment, was reversed, and that
something of a new impulse away from barbarian
freedom and towards Roman absolutism was given to
the vessel of the State.

Cassiodorus at the time of the death of Theodoric Offices
held the rank of Master of the Offices. How long he Cassio-
may have retained it we do not know, but it is pretty
clear from his own statement that his power and
influence at the Court were not strictly limited by the
terms of his official commission. Other Quaestors were
appointed ; Cassiodorus drew up the letters assigning
to them their duties : but he was himself the one
permanent and irremovable Quaestor, equipped with
an inexhaustible supply of sonorous phrases and philo-
sophical platitudes, ' ready,' as was said of the younger
Pitt, 'to speak a State-paper off-hand.' After having
for eight years, in one capacity or another, guided the

counsels of Amalasuntha, he was promoted to the I Sept.


great place of Praetorian Prefect \ and thus assumed
the semblance as well as the form of power. That

1 Cass. Var. ix. 24, 25.
VOL. III. M in

530 The Accession of Athalaric.

I50OK iv. dignity he appears to have held for four or five stormy
. years, until his final retirement from public life.

From the official correspondence of Cassiodorus 1 we

Fears as

to the infer that some anxiety was felt by the loyal subjects

('oti 1 / ^ ^ ie Amal dynasty as to the acceptance by the
Goths of so young a sovereign as Athalaric. The
emphasis with which the minister dwells on the
alacrity of the Goths in taking the oath of allegiance
implies that Amalasuntha and her friends breathed
more freely when that ceremony was accomplished.

Tuium. And the honours and compliments showered on the
veteran Tulum, who was introduced to the Senate
with the splendid rank of a Patrician, suggest the idea
that he was looked upon by some of his old companions
in battle as a more fitting occupant of the throne than
a lad of ten years old. A mysterious allusion made by
the courtly scribe 2 to the warrior Gensemund of a by-
gone age, ' a man whose praises the whole world sang,'
and who apparently might have been king, but pre-
ferred to guide the suffrages of his countrymen to the
heir of the Amal house, makes this conjecture almost
a certainty.

Troubles One of the first difficulties as to which the advice of

with the

Cassiodorus was needed by Amalasuntha arose out of
the news which reached her from Africa. A slight
allusion was made in the last chapter to the troubles
which had fallen on Amalafrida, sister of Theodoric.
Her husband Thrasamund, one of the best of the
Vandal kings, died in 523, and was succeeded by his
cousin the elderly Hilderic. This man, though a son
<iTic. of Huneric, the most rancorous of all the persecutors

1 See the first eleven letters of the eighth book.

2 Cass. Var. viii. 9.

Hilderic the Vandal. 531

of the Catholic Church, shared not his father's animosity BOOK iv.

/~4 1 O

against the orthodox. It was generally believed that
his mother Eudoxia had influenced him in favour of
her form of faith ; and Thrasamund on his death-bed
had exacted from him an oath that he would never
use his kingly power for the restoration of their
churches to the Catholics. The oath was given ; but
Hilderic, who could say with Euripides' hero

'My lips have sworn, my mind unsworn remains,'

devised a clever scheme for escaping from its obligation.
The promise had been that he would not use his Idngly
poii'er for the forbidden purposes. Therefore after Hilderic
Thrasamund's death, but before Hilderic had put on the Catho-
the Vandal crown or been proclaimed king in the
streets of Carthage, he issued his orders for the return
of all the Catholic bishops from exile ; he opened the
churches, which for more than two generations had
never echoed to the words ' being of one substance
with the Father ; ' and he made Boniface, a strenuous
asserter of orthodoxy, bishop of the city of Carthage ] .

Hilderic's entire reversal of the policy of his pre- Opposi-
decessor brought him speedily into collision with that Queen

predecessor's widow. The stately and somewhat im-
perious Amalafrida, who had been probably for twenty
years Queen of the Vandals, was not going tamely to
submit to see all her husband's friends driven away
and his whole system of government subverted. She
headed a party of revolt ; she called in the assistance
of the Moors, ever restless and ever willing to make
war upon the actual ruler of Carthage ; and battle
was joined at Capsa, about three hundred miles to the

1 Victor Tunnunensis, s. a. 523.
M m 2

532 T/ie Accession of Athalaric.

BOOK iv. south of the capital, on the edge of the Libyan desert.
Amalafrida's party were beaten, and she herself was

, taken captive. So long as her brother Theodoric

Defeat of

her party lived she was kept a close prisoner. Now that the
tivity and great head of the Amal line was laid low, the Vandal
526 or 527. king had the meanness and the cruelty to put his

venerable prisoner to death.

Angry The insult was keenly felt at the Court of Ravenna,

between 8 and produced a fatal alienation between the two

anTc kingdoms. A letter of angry complaint was written

by Cassiodorus 1 , and ambassadors were sent to demand

an explanation. No satisfactory explanation could be

given ; for the story which Hilderic endeavoured to

circulate, that Amalafrida's death was natural, seems

to have borne falsehood upon its face. What followed

we are not able to say. Probably there was a threat

Threats of war, replied to by menaces of reprisal from the still

powerful Vandal fleet against the Italian coast. At

least we know of no other opportunity to which we

can so suitably refer Cassiodorus' own account of his

services to the kingdom at a time when it was

Services threatened by foreign invasion 2 . ' When the care of

ofCassio- i > i 11-

dorus. our shores, he makes his young sovereign say, occu-
pied our royal meditations, he [Cassiodorus] suddenly
emerged from the seclusion of his cabinet, and boldly,
like his ancestors, assumed the character of a general.
He maintained the Gothic warriors at his own charges,
preventing the impoverishment of our exchequer on
the one hand, and the oppression of the Provincials on
the other. When the work of victualling the ships was
over, and the war was laid aside, he again distinguished
himself as an administrator by his peaceful settlement
1 Vur. ix. i. 2 Var. ix. 25.

Threatened hostilities. 533

of the various suits which had grown out of the sudden BOOK iv.

t? . , 10

termination of the contracts for the commissariat.'

We seem to read in this passage of a threatened ij,,^,^, s
Vandal invasion of Bruttii and Lucania, of Cassio- cou: 'i )Se -
dorus' preparations for defending his native province,
and of the sudden collapse of hostilities about which
neither nation was really in earnest. It was not from
the Ostrogothic nation that the impending ruin of the
dynasty of Gaiseric was to proceed \

Five vears after these events another of the Arian Fail of

the Bur-

and Teutonic monarchies of Europe received its death- gundiau
blow. The reader may remember that, after the de-
feat and captivity of Sigismund, his brother Godomar
raised from the dust the torn banner of the Bur-
gundians, and maintained the independence of his
native land against the Frankish invaders. Now 532534-
Godomar's turn also was come. Chlotochar and
Childebert again entered the land. They besieged
Autun. Godomar, after one or perhaps two cam-
paigns, took to flight. Theodoric, the remaining
brother of the Frankish partnership, was persuaded
to forget his relationship to the family of Sigismund
when the invasion seemed likely to prove successful,
but died before the conquest was completed. In the

1 In the early years of the new reign some operations were
undertaken against the Gepidae which were viewed with great
dissatisfaction by the Emperor, but did not at the time lead to
any actual rupture between the two states. This information we
get fiom Cassiodorus (Variae, xi. i). and it is confirmed by
Justinian's complaint (hereafter to be noticed) as to the sack of
Gratiana. From the same letter we infer that war was all but
actually declared between the Goths and the Franks in the year
526, but that, owing to the death of Theodoiic, the two nations
resolved to remain at peace.

534 The Accession of Athalaric.

BOOK iv. year 534 the kingdom of Burgundy, which had lasted
- for all but a hundred years since its settlement in
Savoy (443), was finally swallowed up in the vast
nebulous mass of the Frankish monarchy, Theudebert,
son of Theodoric, dividing the spoils with his uncles,
Chlotochar and Childebert \

Death of This is all that needs to be said about the affairs of
18 May, Western Europe during the reign of Athalaric. With

535 2 -

Felix in, the Papacy the relations of the Gothic monarchy
seem *o have been outwardly amicable. The ' mar-
530. t vrec [ ' J l in was succeeded by Felix III ; he by

Boniface J J J

ii. Boniface II, a man of Gothic extraction ; and he by

22 Sept. /

530, to 17 another John, the second of the name. There is

C/f*t" ^Q''

John ii, nothing in the short reigns of these pontiffs, at peace
2 s'lviayf with Constantinople and outwardly at peace with
Ravenna, which need occupy our attention.

Only, the election of the first of the series, Felix
III, should be noticed, since it seems to have been
ordered by the dying Theodoric and confirmed by his
grandson. This we learn from a letter 3 addressed by
Cassiodorus to the Homan Senate. There had evi-
dently been at least the threat of a contested election,
but the minister, speaking in the name of Athalaric,
exhorts all parties to forget the bitterness of the
past debate. He thinks that the beaten party may
yield without humiliation, since it is the King's
power which has helped the winning side. The latter

The materials for the history of the Frankish conquest of
Burgundy are scanty and contradictory. The account given above
is substantially that of Jahn (Geschichte cler Burgundionen,
ii. 68-78;, and not very different from that of Binding (270-271).

The dates of accession and death of each pontiff are taken
from Duchesne.
3 Var. viii. is.

Papal Election. 535

suggests the idea of a contest, the decision of which has BOOK iv
been voluntarily referred to Theodoric, arid the whole .
tone of it is extremely difficult to reconcile with aiiy
story of the death of Pope John I which represents
him as a martyr, wilfully allowed by a persecuting
king to perish in a dungeon. Had this been the
version of the story generally accepted at Rome, it is
hard to believe that in a very few months the rela-
tions between King and Pope would have been so
friendly as we find them in this letter *.

From this short sketch it will be seen that few
events of great importance occurred in Italy during
the eight years of the reign of Athalaric. Constan- 5 26 -534-
tinople, not Ravenna, was now once more the place to
which the chief action of the great drama was trans-
ferred, and already all Roman souls were aflame with
the reports of the splendour, the reforms, and the
victories of Justinian.

1 I cannot find in this nomination by Theodoric anything so
extraordinary as Baronius (vii. 116), and, following him, Bower
(ii. 320) and Milman (i. 326) have done. All these writers look
upon the nomination as an important enlargement of the royal
prerogative in connexion with the choice of the Pope, and one
which was meant to form a lasting precedent : and from their
various points of view they praise it or blame it accordingly. To
me it looks like the reference of one disputed election to the king,
and therefore nothing more than was undoubtedly done at the
time of the contest between Symmachus and Lauren tius.




sources :

BOOK IV. PKOCOPIUS : JOANNES LYDI T S, a civil-service clerk of Con-
stantinople from 5 IJ to 55 2 J whose treatise De Magistratibus

gives us valuable information as to the internal affairs of the
entry in which belongs to the year 628, in the reign of
Heraclius : JOANNES MALALAS, a writer possibly earlier than
the last mentioned, but whose date, not yet accurately deter-
mined, may be placed anywhere between 600 and 800 : THEO-

PHANES (758-816).

It will be seen from this list that, though we begin with
contemporaries, we come down to historians separated by a
considerable interval from the accession of Justinian. Any one,
however, who examines minutely the account given by all the
above authorities of such an event as the Nika-riot at Con-
stantinople will see that their stories, though full of animation
and variety, are in no important respect discordant ; and will
feel that probably the very latest of them had access to some
valuable contemporary memoirs which have since perished.

In quoting PIIOCOPIUS, I refer not only to his standard work,
De Bellis, but also to the Anecdota or Historia Arcana. The
fact that this is really the work of Procopius is, I think, now
carried to a high degree of probability, especially by Dahn in
his ' Prokopius von Ciisarea.' But the book is pervaded by
passionate, almost insane hatred of Justinian, Theodora, and
their favourites ; and we ought perhaps hardly to consider any
fact as proved which depends on the Anecdota alone. The
proper course seems to be to consult it, as we might consult the
Letters of Junius for information as to the reign of George III,

The Successor to Anastasnis. 537

but to accept its statements with all possible caution and to BOOK iv.
abandon them at once whenever they are found to clash with
any dispassionate historical authority.

There is one frequently quoted authority which I have
thought it best not to cite. This is the so-called ' Life of
Justinian by Theophilus,' of which Alemannus has made con-
siderable use in his notes to the Anecdota of Procopius. On
this authoritv rest the usual statements as to the barbarian


names of Justinian and his parents (Uprauda, Istok, Biglenitza),
the story of his hostage-ship at the Court of Theodoric, and
some other particulars of his life. The brilliant discovery of
this ' Life by Theophilus,' which was made by Mr. Bryce in the
library of the Barberini Palace at Rome, clears up what has long 1
been a mystery as to the source from whence Alemannus drew
his information. It docs not, however, enhance the value of the
document itself, which seems to be a somewhat late mediaeval
romance compiled from Slavonic sources. While awaiting
Mr. Bryce's publication of the document and critical estimate of
its value, I prefer in the mean time to draw my information
from sources of more undoubted authority.


I cannot touch even the outskirts of the forest of literature
that has grown up around the name of Justinian. My guides
have been Gibbon, never more worthy of his fame than in the
five chapters which he devotes to the reign of the great
legislator ; the two articles by Mr. Bryce in the Encyclopaedia
Britannica and the Dictionary of Christian Biography. Roby's
4 Introduction to the study of Justinian's Digest ' and Moyle's
Edition of the Institutes are strongly recommended to the

SOME time after his accession to the Empire, the Omen as

to the suc-

elclerly Anastasius was troubled with a restless curi- censor of

TT i i

osity to know who should be his successor. He had
three nephews, Hypatius son of one of his sisters, and
the brothers Probus and Pompeius, who were possibly
children of his brother. Inviting them one day to
dine with him at the palace, he caused three couches

538 Justinian.

BOOK iv. to be spread upon which his nephews might take their
- siesta. Under the pillow of one of the couches he had
secretly slipped a paper with the word REGNVM
written upon it. ' Whichsoever of my nephews,'
thought he, ' chooses that couch, he shall reign after
me.' Unfortunately when the time for the noontide
slumber came, Hypatius chose one couch, the two
brothers in their love for one another chose to occupy
the second together, and the pillow that had 'regnum'
beneath it was left undimpled. Then Anastasius
knew that none of his nephews should wear the
diadem after him l .

Early life It was not one of the three delicately nurtured
princes, but a man who had begun life in very different
fashion, who was to be clothed with the out-worn
purple of Anastasius. In the reign of Leo, three young
peasants from the central highlands of Macedonia,
tired of the constant struggle for existence in their
poverty-stricken homes, strode down the valley of the
Axius ( Vardar] to Thessalonica, determined to better
their lot by taking service in the army. They had
each a sheep-skin wallet over his shoulder, in which
was stored a sufficient supply of home-baked biscuit
to last them till they reached the capital : no other
possessions had they in the world. Being tall and
handsome young men, Zimarchus, Ditybistus, and
Justin so the peasant-lads were named had no
difficulty in entering the army: nay, they soon found
places in the ranks of the guards of the palace, an
almost certain avenue to yet higher promotion. Once
indeed Justin had a narrow escape from death. For
some offence probably against military discipline

This curious story is told us by the Anonymus Valesii.

of An

77/6' rustic Emperor. 539

which he had committed, he was ordered into arrest BOOK iv
and condemned to death by his captain John the
Hunchback \ under whose orders he had been sent
upon the Isaurian campaign. But a figure of majestic
size appeared to the Hunchback in his dreams and
threatened him with sore punishment if he did not
release the prisoner, who was fated to do good service
to the Church in days to come. After this vision had
been seen for three successive nights, the general
thought it must be from above and dismissed Justin
unharmed -.

Now, in the aged Emperor's perplexity, when with Destined
fasting and prayer he had besought from Heaven an
indication as to who should be his successor, it was
revealed to him that the destined one was he who
should be first announced to him in the sacred bed-
chamber on the morrow morning. The first person to
arrive was Justin, who had now attained the high
rank of Count of the Guardsmen 3 ; come to report
the execution of some orders given to him on the pre-
vious night. The aged Emperor bowed his head and
recognised his destined successor. So firmly was this
belief implanted in his mind that when, at some great
ceremonial in the palace, Justin, eager to set right
some mistake in the procession in front of the Em-
peror, brushed too hastily past him and trod upon the
skirts of the purple mantle, the Emperor uttered no
hasty word, but mildly said, 'Why such haste?'
which men understood to mean, ' Canst thou not wait
till thy turn comes to wear it ? It will come before

1 Consul in 499. l Procopius, Anecdota, 6.

3 Comes Excubitorum.

540 Justinian.

BOOK iv. These are the legendary half-poetical adornments
- of the prosaic story which was told in a previous

want of chapter, concerning the elevation of the orthodox
'' Justin, by means of the misappropriated gold of Ainan-
tius, on the death of the Monophysite Anastasius.
Whatever the precise chain of causes and effects
which brought it to pass, the result was that an
elderly Macedonian peasant l , unable to read or write,
but strictly orthodox as regards the subtle controversy
between Leo and Eutyches, was seated on the throne
of the Eastern Caesars. The difficulty arising from
the presence of an unlettered emperor on the throne
w r as evaded by making a wooden tablet containing
the needful perforations through which the imperial
scribe drawing his pen dipped in purple ink might
trace the first four letters of his name 2 . Proclus, the
Quaestor, composed his speeches and acted as his
prompter on all state-occasions. Upon the whole,
the elderly Emperor, good-tempered, clownish, and
of tall stature, seems to have played this last scene
in his strangely varied life without discredit, if also
without any brilliant success.

1 Justin was born in 452, andwas therefore two years older
than Theodoric.

2 This is Procopius' account of the matter : ' In order that the
documents which required the imperial signature might exhibit
it, the following contrivance was adopted. In a little piece of
wood was carved the shape of four letters of the Latin alphabet
[ivsxj. This tablet was placed on the document : a pen dipped in
the [purple] ink which the Emperors are wont to use was put in
his hand, and then the assistants taking the Emperor's hand and
guiding it so as to make the pen travel round through all the
perforations of the tablet, thus at length produced an imperial
signature at the foot of the document.' I suspect, as has been
before stated, that this is the origin of the similar story as to
Theodoric's signature.

Deat/i of ] r Italian.


It was seen, however, in the negotiations with the BOOK iv.
Roman See as to the close of the schism, and it
became more and more visible to all men as time went nephew,

on, that the real wielder of all power in the new
administration was the Emperor's sister's son Jus- '
TINIAN. More than thirty years of age ] at his uncle's
accession, and having, probably through that uncle's
influence, already filled some post in the civil service
of the Empire ; a man always eager for work and a
lover of the details of administration ; such a nephew
was an invaluable assistant to the rustic soldier who
had to preside over the highly cultured and polished
staff of officials through whom he must seem to govern
the Empire.

The influence of Proclus the Quaestor gradually Death of
paled before that of the all-pow 7 erful nephew, whose 520 .
servant he willingly became. A more formidable rival
was the stout soldier Yitalian, who had upheld the
standard of orthodoxy in the evil days of Anastasius,
and whose restoration to office was an indispensable
part of the reconciliation with the See of Rome. He
probably looked for the reversion of the imperial
dignity after the death of its aged possessor, and when
he found himself raised to the rank of Magister
Militum and created Consul (for the year 520), he
might almost seem set forth to the people as Emperor
Elect. To prevent any such mistake for the future,
Justinian, or some one of his friends, caused him, in
the seventh month of his consulship, to be attacked
in the palace by a band of assassins. He fell, pierced

Mr. Bryce considers 483 the most probable date for the birth
of Justinian. He would thus be thirty-five at Justin's accession
(Diet, of Christian Biography : Justinian).

542 Justinian.

BOOK iv. by sixteen wounds : his henchmen. Paulus and Celeri-

CH. 14.

'. ' anus, fell with him, and the triumph of the party of

Justinian was secure l .

In the correspondence with Rome, Justinian had
called Vitalian ' his most glorious brother 2 ,' and the
fact that the two men had solemnly partaken together
of the Holy Communion 3 should, according to the
feelings of the age, have secured for the Master of the
Soldiery an especial immunity from all murderous-
thoughts in the heart of his younger rival. The dark
deed was not in accordance with the general character
of Justinian, who showed himself in the course of
his reign averse to taking the lives even of declared
enemies ; but there seems little reason to doubt that
in this case he at least sanctioned, if he did not
directly instigate, the murder of a dangerous com-

Justinian In the following year Justinian celebrated his own
521. consulship with a splendour to which, under the reign

of the frugal Anastasius, the Byzantine populace
had long been strangers. A sum of 280,000 solidi
(168,000) was spent on the machinery for the shows
or distributed as largesse to the people. Twenty
lions, thirty panthers, and a multitude of other beasts,
appeared at the same time in, the Amphitheatre.
Horses in great numbers, and equipped in magnificent

1 Marcellinus Comes mentions the murder but does not ascribe
it to Justinian ; Victor Tunnunensis says that it was attributed to
the faction of Justinian the Patrician. Procopius, who is mistaken
as to the time of its occurrence, ascribes it to Justinian after he
had become Emperor.

2 ' Frater noster gloriosissimus Vitalianus ' (Epist. ad Hormis-

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