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field of battle. In the time of Cæsar, Soissons would have poured forth a body of fifty thousand horse; and such an army might have been plentifully supplied with shields, cuirasses, and military engines, from the three arsenals or 2 manufactures of the city. But the courage and numbers of the Gallic youth were long since exhausted; and the loose bands of volunteers or mercenaries, who marched under the standard of Syagrius, were incapable of contending with the national valour of the Franks. It would be ungenerous, without some more accurate knowledge of his strength and resources, to condemn the rapid flight of Syagrius, who escaped, after the loss of a battle, to the distant court of Thoulouse. The feeble minority of Alaric could not assist or protect an unfortunate fugitive; the pusillanimous Goths were intimidated by the menaces of Clovis; and the Roman king, after a short confinement, was delivered into the hands of the executioner. The Belgic cities surrendered to the king of the Franks; and his dominions were enlarged towards the east by the ample diocese of Tongres, which Clovis subdued in the tenth year of his reign.
The name of the Alemanni has been absurdly derived from their imaginary settlement on the banks of the Leman lake. That fortunate district, from the lake to Avenche, and Mount Jura, was occupied by the Burgundians. The northern parts of Helvetia had indeed been subdued by the ferocious Alemanni, who destroyed with their own hands the fruits of their conquest. A province, improved and adorned by the arts of Rome, was again reduced to a savage wilderness; and some vestige of the 3 stately Vindonissa may still be discovered in the fertile and populous valley of the Aar. From the source of the Rliine to its conflux with the Mein and the Moselle, the formidable swarms of the Alemanni commanded either side of the river, by the right of ancient possession, or recent victory. They had spread themselves into Gaul, over the modern provinces of Alsace and Lorraine; and their bold invasion of the kingdom of Cologne summoned the Salic prince to the defence of his Ripuarian allies. Clovis encountered the invaders of Gaul in the plain of Tolbiac, about twenty-four miles from Cologne; and the two fiercest
nations of Germany were mutually animated by the memory of past exploits, and the prospect of future greatness. The Franks, after an obstinate struggle, gave way; and the Alemanni, raising a shout of victory, impetuously pressed their retreat. But the battle was restored by the valour, and the conduct, and perhaps by the piety, of Clovis; and the event of the bloody day decided for ever the alternative of empire or servitude. The last king of the Alemanni was slain in the field, and his people were slaughtered and pursued, till they threw down their arms, and yielded to the mercy of the conqueror. Without discipline, it was impossible for them to rally: they had contemptuously demolished the walls and fortifications which might have protected their distress; and they were followed into the heart of their forests, by an enemy not less active or intrepid than themselves. The great Theodoric congratulated the victory of Clovis, whose sister Albofleda the king of Italy had lately married ; but he mildly interceded with his brother in favour of the suppliants and fugitives, who had implored his protection. The Gallic territories, which were possessed by the Alemanni, became the prize of their conqueror; and the haughty nation, invincible or rebellious to the arms of Rome, acknowledged the sovereignty of the Merovingian kings, who graciously permitted them to enjoy their peculiar manners and institutions, under the government of official, and, at length, of hereditary dukes. After the conquest of the western provinces, the Franks alone maintained their ancient habitations beyond the Rhine. They gradually subdued and civilized the exhausted countries, as far as the Elbe and the mountains of Bohemia; and the peace of Europe was secured by the obedience of Germany.
Till the thirtieth year of his age, Clovis continued to worship the gods of his ancestors. His disbelief, or rather disregard, of Christianity, might encourage him to pillage with less remorse the churches of an hostile territory: but his subjects of Gaul enjoyed the free exercise of religious worship; and the bishops entertained a more favourable hope of the idolater than of the heretics. The Merovingian prince had contracted a fortunate alliance with the fair faith;
Clotilda, the niece of the king of Burgundy, who, in the midst of an Arian court, was educated in the profession of the Catholic faith. It was her interest, as well as her duty, to achieve the conversion of a Pagan husband; and Clovis insensibly listened to the voice of love and religion. He consented (perhaps such terms had been previously stipulated) to the baptism of his eldest son; and though the sudden death of the infant excited some superstitious fears, he was persuaded a second time to repeat the dangerous experiment. In the distress of the battle of Tolbiac, Clovis loudly invoked the God of Clotilda and the Christians; and victory disposed him to hear, with respectful gratitude, the eloquent Remigius, bishop of Rheims, who forcibly displayed the temporal and spiritual advantages of his conversion. The king declared himself satisfied of the truth of the Catholic
and the political reasons, which might have suspended his public profession, were removed by the devout or loyal acclamations of the Franks, who showed themselves alike prepared to follow their heroic leader to the field of battle or to the baptismal font. The important ceremony was performed in the cathedral of Rheims, with every circumstance of inagnificence and solemnity that could impress an awful sense of religion on the minds of its rude proselytes. The 4 new Constantine was immediately baptized, with three thousand of his warlike subjects; and their example was imitated by the remainder of the gentle Bartarians, who, in obedience to the victorious prelate, adored the cross which they had burnt, and burnt the idols which they had formerly adored. The mind of Clovis was susceptible of transient fervour: he was exasperated by the pathetic tale of the passion and death of Christ; and, instead of weighing the salutary consequences of that mysterious sacrifice, he exclaimed with indiscreet fury, “Had I been present at the head of my valiant Franks, I would have revenged his injuries.” But the savagé conqueror of Gaul was incapable of examining the proofs of a religion which depends on the laborious investigation of historic evidence and speculative theology. He was still more incapable of feeling the mild influence of the gospel, which persuades and purifies the heart of a genuine convert.. His ambitious reign was a perpetual violation of moral and Christian duties: his hands were stained with blood, in peace as well as in war; and as soon as Clovis had dismissed a synod of the Gallican Church, he calmly assassinated all the princes of the Merovingian race. Yet the king of the Franks might sincerely worship the Christian God, as a Being more excellent and powerful than his national deities; and the signal deliverance and victory of Tolbiac encouraged Clovis to confide in the future protection of the Lord of Hosts. Martin, the most popular of the saints, had filled the Western world with the fame of those miracles which were incessantly performed at his holy sepulchre of Tours. His visible or invisible aid promoted the cause of a liberal and orthodox prince; and the profane remark of Clovis himself, that St. Martin was an expensive friend, need not be interpreted as the symptom of any permanent or rational scepticism. But earth, as well as heaven, rejoiced in the conversion of the Franks. On the memorable day when Clovis ascended from the baptismal font, he alone, in the Christian world, deserved the name and prerogatives of a Catholic king. The emperor Anastasius entertained some dangerous errors concerning the nature of the divine incarnation; and the Barbarians of Italy, Africa, Spain, and Gaul, were involved in the Arian heresy. The eldest, or rather the only, son of the Church, was acknowledged by the clergy as their lawful sovereign, or glorious deliverer ; and the arms of Clovis were strenuously supported by the zeal and favour of the Catholic faction.
Under the Roman Empire, the wealth and jurisdiction of the bishops, their sacred character, and perpetual office, their numerous dependents, popular eloquence, and provincial assemblies, had rendered them always respectable, and sometimes dangerous. Their influence was augmented with the progress of superstition; and the establishment of the French monarchy may, in some degree, be ascribed to the firm alliance of an hundred prelates, who reigned in the discontented, or independent cities of Gaul. The slight foundations of the 5 Armorican republic had been repeatedly shaken or overthrown : but the same people still guarded their domestic freedom ; asserted the dignity of the Roman name ; and bravely resisted the
predatory inroads and regular attacks of Clovis, who laboured to extend his conquests from the Seine to the Loire. Their successful opposition introduced an equal and honourable union. The Franks esteemed the valour of the Armoricans; and the Armoricans were reconciled by the religion of the Franks. The military force, which had been stationed for the defence of Gaul, consisted of one hundred different bands of cavalry or infantry; and these troops, while they assumed the title and privileges of Roman soldiers, were renewed by an incessant supply of the Barbarian youth. The extreme fortifications, and scattered fragments of the Empire, were still defended by their hopeless courage. But their retreat was intercepted, and their communication was impracticable: they were abandoned by the Greek princes of Constantinople, and they piously disclaimed all connection with the Arian usurpers of Gaul. They accepted, without shame or reluctance, the generous capitulation, which was proposed by a Catholic hero; and this spurious, or legitimate, progeny of the Roman legions, was distinguished in the succeeding age by their arms, their ensigns, and their peculiar dress and institutions. But the national strength was increased by these powerful and voluntary accessions; and the neighbouring king loms dreaded the numbers, as well as the spirit, of the Franks. The reduction of the northern provinces of Gaul, instead of being decided by the chance of a single battle, appears to have been slowly effected by the gradual operation of war and treaty; and Clovis acquired each object of his ambition by such efforts or such concessions as were adequate to its real value. His savage character, and the virtues of Henry IV., suggest the most opposite ideas of human nature; yet some resemblance may be found in the situation of two princes, who conquered France by their valour, their policy, and the merits of a seasonable conversion.
The kingdom of the Burgundians, which was defined by the course of two Gallic rivers, the Saone and the Rhône, extended from the forest of Vosges to the Alps and the sea of Marseilles. The sceptre was in the hands of Gundobald. That valiant and ambitious prince had reduced the number of royal candidates by the death of two brothers, one of whom was the father of Clotilda ; but his