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APPENDIX TO DISCOURSE IX.
A SKETCH OF THE HISTORY
FIRST FOUR TRUMPETS.
In the Northern and North-eastern parts of Europe, bordering on the Baltic and the Euxine Seas, there were many barbarous nations which were never subdued by the Roman arms: such were the Saxons, the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Huns, the Alans, &c. and who were often associated in their enterprises. About the year 376, during the reign of the Eastern Emperor Valens, the Goths having been driven from their own country by the Huns and Alans a body of not less than 200,000 of them, besides women and children, under Alavivus and Fritigern, two of their chiefs, obtained permission to settle in Thrace, a province of the Roman empire. To the imprudence of admitting such a body of hostile emigrants, were added several instances of injurious treatment after their arrival. These first produced resistance, and that a battle, in which the Romans were defeated, and the emperor lost his life. By the prudent and energetic measures of Theodosius the great, who succeeded Valens, the Gothic emigrants were so far subjugated, as to be rendered serviceable to the empire. But after his death, the jealousies between Rufinus and Stilicho, ministers of state at Constantinople and Rome, under Arcadius and Honorius the emperors, afforded them opportunity to renew their hostilities.
Alaric, an Arian Christian, the successor of Fritigern, had been in the Roman service for several years, having commanded a body of his countrymen in the wars of Theodosius: but thinking himself not sufficiently rewarded by that prince, and perceiving as he thought a fair opportunity, he was disposed to carve for himself. To this he is said to have been encouraged by Rufinus, principal ruler under Arcadius at Constantinople, whose duty it was to oppose him. Marching his army into Macedonia and Thessaly, he laid waste the country as he went. Through the treachery of Rufinus the straits of Thermopyla were left unguarded, and so opened a free passage for him into Greece; where the villages were plundered and burnt, the males who were capable of bearing arms massacred, and the females led captive. His successes obtained for him a command in the eastern empire, which having improved to the strengthening of his own army, he resolved to invade that of the west. Having laid waste Epirus and Pannonia, he in 402 entered Italy. Italy however was for this time delivered from his depredations. The Romans under Stilicho, after twice defeating him, suffered him to quit the country, with the remnant of his army.
another vast army, composed of Goths, Huns, Vandals, Suevi, Burgundians, Alani, &c. under Radagaisus, a heathen, attempted the invasion of Italy. The number of fighting men is said to have been 200,000, besides slaves, women, and children, who are reckoned to have amounted to as many more. But neither were they successful. Radagaisus was defeated and slain, and a great part of his army either perished, or- were sold for slaves.
But though the capital of the western_empire was by these events once more saved, yet its provinces were reduced to desolation. Gaul was at this time invaded by the Vandals, the Suevi, the Alani, and the Burgundians, who, with the remains of Radagaisus's army, destroyed all before them. "On the last day of the year, (says Gibbon,) when the waters of the Rhine were probably frozen, they entered without opposition the defenceless provinces of Gaul. This memorable passage of the Suevi, the Vandals, the Alani, and the Burgundians, who never afterwards retreated, may
be considered as the fall of the Roman empire in the countries beyond the Alps; and the barriers which had so long separated the savage and the civilized nations of the earth, were from tha fatal moment levelled with the ground.—The banks of the Rhine were crowned, like those of the Tyber, with elegant houses, and well cultivated farms. This scene of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert; and the prospect of the smoaking ruins could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the desolation of man. The flourishing city of Mentz was surprised and destroyed; and many thousand Christians were inhumanly massacred in the church. Worms perished after a long and obstinate siege; Strasburgh, Spires, Rheims, Tournay, Arras, and Amiens, experienced the cruel oppression of the German yoke; and the consuming flames of war spread from the banks of the Rhine over the seventeen provinces of Gaul. That rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrennees, was delivered to the barbarians, who drove before them in a promiscuous crowd, the bishop, the senator, and the virgin, laden with the spoils of their houses and altars."*
Thus far events appear to answer to the " hail and fire mingled with blood" under the first trumpet, which, as they are said to be on the earth, correspond with the calamities which in those times were brought upon the continental parts of the empire.
Alaric, the king of the Visigoths, had made peace with the emperor Honorius, and been made Master General of the Roman armies in Illyricum. In the invasion of Radagaisus he took no part but was attentive to the recruiting of his own army. In 408 he made large demands on the Roman Government, accompanied with intimations of what would follow if they were not complied with, Stilicho persuaded the senate to comply with them, and four thousand pounds of gold were promised him under the name of a subsidy. But before the promise was fulfilled, Stilicho was disgraced and slain. Of the measures of his successors, Alaric is said to have had just cause of complaint. The result was, he determined
* Decline of Roman Empire, Chap. XXX:
again to invade Italy. Passing over the Alps he pillaged the cities of Aquileia, Altinum, Concordia, and Cremona, which yielded to his arms; increased his forces by the accession of 30,000 auxiliaries; and without opposition marched to the gates of Rome. Here, encompassing the city, he reduced it to a state of famine, of which many thousands died. To this succeeded a destructive pestilence. At length the siege was raised on a large sum of money being paid him but his terms of peace being rejected by Honorius, who had shut himself up in Ravenna, Rome was a second time besieged. After this it was taken, and for three days given up to the plunder of the besiegers. Vast numbers of the Romans were slain, not only by the Goths, but by their own slaves, 40.000 of whom being liberated, fell upon their masters.
About ten months before this terrible calamity on Rome and the lower parts of Italy, by the Goths, Spain and Portugal were invaded by the Vandals, the Suevi, and the Alani. These nations had already desolated Gaul, from whence passing over the Pyrennees they conquered the peninsula. Echard says, "The Vandals took Galicia, where they settled; the Suevi pushed their conquests farther; and the Alani fixed themselves in Portugal and Andalusia, From these barbarians, (he adds,) descended the ancient kings o Spain."
The calamities of this invasion are thus decribed by Gibbo from a Spanish Historian. "The barbarians exercised their indiscriminate cruelty on the fortunes of the Romans and Spaniards, and ravaged with equal fury the cities and the open country. The progress of famine reduced the miserable inhabitants to feed on the flesh of their fellow-creatures and even the wild beasts that multiplied without control in the desert were exasperated, by the taste of blood and the impatience of hunger, boldly to attack and devour their human prey. Pestilence soon appeared, the inseparable companion of famine; a large proportion of the people was swept away; and the groans of the dying excited only the envy of their surviving friends. At length, the barbarians, satiated with carnage and rapine, and afflicted by the contagious evils which
they themselves had introduced, fixed their permanent seats in the depopulated country."*
These events seem to answer to the "burning mountain cast into the sea," causing a third part of it to become blood, and destroying a third part of all which were in it, as described under the second trumpet. If Etna or Vesuvius had literally been thrown into the ocean, it could hardly have produced a greater effervescence among the waters than these things produced among the nations. The sea would also have a special reference to these calamities being brought upon the maritime parts of the empire.
After this the empire received another mighty shock from the Scythians, or Huns, a heathen nation, more barbarous and cruel than either the Goths or Vandals. Attila, their king and commander, was distinguished by his ferocity; affecting to be called "the scourge of God,” and declaring that "the grass would never grow upon those places where his horse had trodden!" About 441, he fell upon the eastern empire, where, bearing down all before him, the country was in a manner destroyed by fire and sword. Gibbon says, "The whole breadth of Europe, as it extends above five hundred miles, from the Euxine to the Adriatic, was at once invaded and occupied, and desolated by him." The government at Constantinople, after seventy cities had been rased to the ground, was compelled ignominiously to purchase his
In the year 450 Attila again declared war against both the eastern and western empires. He was defeated in Gaul with a loss (says Echard) of 170,000 men; yet in the following year he invaded Italy with a larger army than that with which he had entered Gaul. Aquileia, after a seige of three months, was taken, and so effectually destroyed that the succeeding generation could scarcely discover its ruins. After this Verona, Mantua, Padua, and many other cities, shared the same fate; the men were slain, the women ravished, and the places reduced to ashes. These devastations, however, were confined to those parts of Italy which border on the Alps. Attila threatened Rome, but was induced,
* Gibbon's Roman History, Chap. XXXI.