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PAGE.

463 465 468

A.D.

692-698 Conq est of Carthage
698-709 Final conquest of Africa

Adoption of the Moors
709 SPAIN. First temptations and designs of the

Arabs

State of the Gothic monarchy 710 The first descent of the Arabs 711 Their second descent

And victory

Ruin of the Gothic monarchy
712-713 Conquest of Spain by Musa
714 Disgrace of Musa

Prosperity of Spain under the Arabs
Religious toleration
Propagation of Mahometism

Fall of the Magians of Persia
749 Decline and fall of Christianity in Africa
1149 And Spain

Toleration of the Christians

Their hardships
718 The empire of the caliphs

469 470 472 474 475 477 480 485 488 491 492 493 406 498 499 501 502

THL

HISTORY

OF THE

DECLINE AND FALL

OF THE

ROMAN EMPIRE.

CHAP. XLVIII

Plan of the four last volumes Succession and

characters of the Greek emperors of Constantinople, from the time of Heraclius to the Latin conquest.

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XLVIII.

tine bis

I

HAVE now deduced from Trajan to Constan- CHAP. tine, from Constantine to Heraclius, the regular series of the Roman emperors; and faithfully Defects of exposed the prosperous and adverse fortunes the Byaanof their reigns. Five centuries of the decline tury. and fall of the empire have already elapsed ; but a period of more than eight hundred years still separates me from the term of my labours, the taking of Constantinople by the Turks. Should I persevere in the same course, should I observe the same measure, a prolix and slon

VOL. IX.

B

XLVIII.

CHAP. der thread would be spun through many a vo

lume, nor would the patient reader find an adequate reward of instruction or amusement. At every step as we sink deeper in the decline and fall of the eastern empire, the annals of each succeeding reign would impose a more ungrateful and melancholy task. These annals must continue to repeat a tedious and uniform tale of weakness and misery; the natural connection of causes and events would be broken by frequent and hasty transitions, and a minute accumulation of circumstances must destroy the light and effect of those general pictures which coinpose the use and ornament of a remote history. From the time of Heraclius, the Byzantine theatre is contracted and darkened : the line of einpire, which had been defined by the laws of Justinian and the arms of Belisarius, recedes on all sides from our view : the Roman name, the proper subject of our inquiries, is reduced to a narrow corner of Europe, to the lonely suburbs of Constantinople; and the fate of the Greek empire has been compared to that of the Rhine, which loses itself in the sands, before its waters can mingle with the ocean. The scale of dominion is diminished to our view by the distance of time and place: nor is the loss of external splendour compensated by the nobler gifts of virtue and genius. In the last moments of her decay, Constantinople was doubtless more opulent and populous than Athens at her most flourishing era

when a scanty sum of six thousand talents, or twelve hundred thousand pounds sterling, was pos

"XLVIII.

sessed by twenty-one thousand male citizens of CHAP. an adult age.

But each of these citizens was a freemen who dared to assert the liberty of his thoughts, words and actions; whose person and property were guarded by equal law; and who exercised his independent vote in the

government of the republic. Their numbers seem to be multiplied by the strong and various discriminations of character; under the shield of freedom, on the wings of emulation and vanity, each Athenian aspired to the level of the national dignity: from this commanding eminence, some chosen spirits soared beyond the reach of a vulgar eye; and the chances of superior merit in a great and populous kingdom, as they are proved by experience, would excuse the computation of imaginary millions. The territories of Athens, Sparta, and their allies, do not exceed a moderate province of France or England: but after the trophies of Salamis and Platæa, they expand in our fancy to the gigantic size of Asia, which had been trampled under the feet of the victorious Greeks. But the subjects of the Byzantine empire, who assume and dishonour the names both of Greeks and Romans, present a dead uniformity of abject vices, which are neither softened by the weakness of humanity, nor animated by the vigour of memorable crimes. The freemen of antiquity, might repeat with generous enthusiasm the sentence of Homer, “ that on the first day of his “servitude, the captive is deprived of one half “ of his manly virtue.” But the poet had only seen the effects of civil or domestic slavery,

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