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a fleet of one hundred ships, and an army of seven hundred horse and ten thousand foot. They landed at Mazara near the (June 13, ruins of the ancient Selinus; but, after some partial victories, Syracuse 98 was delivered by the Greeks, the apostate was slain before her walls, and his African friends were reduced to the necessity of feeding on the flesh of their own horses. In their turn they were relieved by a powerful 99 reinforcement of their brethren of Andalusia; the largest and western part of the island was gradually reduced, and the commodious harbour of Palermo was chosen for the seat of the naval and military power of the [A.D. 831] Saracens. Syracuse preserved about fifty years the faith which she had sworn to Christ and to Cæsar. In the last and fatal siege, her citizens displayed some remnant of the spirit which (Siege of had formerly resisted the powers of Athens and Carthage. A.D. 877-8) They stood about twenty days against the battering-rams and catapultae, the mines and tortoises of the besiegers; and the place might have been relieved, if the mariners of the Imperial deet had not been detained at Constantinople in building a church to the Virgin Mary. The deacon Theodosius, with the bishop and clergy, was dragged in chains from the altar to Palermo, cast into a subterraneous dungeon, and exposed to the hourly peril of death or apostacy. His pathetic, and not inelegant, complaint may be read as the epitaph of his country: 100 From the Roman conquest to this final calamity, Syracuse, now (May 21, dwindled to the primitive isle of Ortygia, had insensibly declined. Yet the relics were still precious; the plate of the cathedral weighed five thousand pounds of silver; the entire spoil was computed at one million of pieces of gold (about four hundred thousand pounds sterling); and the captives must out- (£600,000)
* The splendid and interesting tragedy of Tancrede would adapt itself much better to this epoch than to the date (A.D. 1005) which Voltaire himself has chosen. Bat I must gently reproach the poet for infusing into the Greek subjects the spirit of modern knights and ancient republicans.
>> (Hardly powerful; the important help which led to the capture of Palermo came from Africa in A.D. 830. The invaders tried hard to take the fortress of Heqja, but did not succeed till 859.]
106 The narrative or lamentation of Theodosius is transcribed and illustrated by Pagi (Crition, tom. iii. p. 719, &o.). Constantine Porphyrogenitus (in Vit. Basil. C 69, 70, p. 190-192) mentions the loss of Syracuse and the triumph of the demons. The letter of Theodosius to his friend Leo on the capture of Syracuse is published in Hase's ed. of Leo Diaconus (Paris, 1819), p. 177 899.-It may be well to summarise the progress of the Saracen conquest of Sicily chronologically : Mazara captared 827; Mineo 828 ; Palermo 831; C. 840 Caltabellotta and other places; 847 Leontini; 848 Ragusa ; 853 Camarina ; 858 Cefalù ; 859 Henna ; 868-70 Malta ; 878 Syracuse; 902 Taormina, Rametta, Catania.]
Rome by the Saracens. A.D. 846
(Capture of number the seventeen thousand Christians who were transported
from the sack of Tauromenium into African servitude. In Aug. 1]
Sicily the religion and language of the Greeks were eradicated; and such was the docility of the rising generation that fifteen thousand boys were circumcised and clothed on the same day with the son of the Fatimite caliph. The Arabian squadrons issued from the harbours of Palermo, Biserta, and Tunis; an hundred and fifty towns of Calabria and Campania were attacked and pillaged; nor could the suburbs of Rome be defended by the name of the Cæsars and Apostles. Had the Mahometans been united, Italy must have fallen an easy and glorious accession to the empire of the prophet. But the caliphs of Bagdad bad lost their authority in the West; the Aglabites and Fatimites usurped the provinces of Africa; their emirs of Sicily aspired to independence; and the design of conquest and dominion
was degraded to a repetition of predatory inroads.101 Invasion of In the sufferings of prostrate Italy, the name of Rome awak
ens a solemn and mournful recollection. A fleet of Saracens from the African coast presumed to enter the mouth of the Tiber, and to approach a city which even yet, in her fallen state, was revered as the metropolis of the Christian world. The gates and ramparts were guarded by a trembling people; but the tombs and temples of St. Peter and St. Paul were left exposed in the suburbs of the Vatican and of the Ostian way. Their invisible sanctity had protected them against the Goths, the Vandals, and the Lombards; but the Arabs disdained both the gospel and the legend; and their rapacious spirit was approved and animated by the precepts of the Koran. The Christian idols were stripped of their costly offerings; a silver altar was torn away from the shrine of St. Peter; and, if the bodies or the buildings were left entire, their deliverance must be imputed to the haste, rather than the scruples, of the Saracens.102 In their course along the Appian way, they pillaged Fundi and besieged Gayeta; but they had turned aside from the walls of Rome, and, by their divisions, the Capitol was
101 The extracts from the Arabic histories of Sicily are given in Abulfeda (Annal. Moslem. p. 271-273) and in the first volume of Muratori's Scriptores Rerum Itali
M. de Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. p. 363, 364) has added some im. portant facts.
02 (See the account in Gregorovius, Rome in the Middle Ages (E.T.), vol. 3, p. 87 sqq. Gregorovius describes the wealth of St. Peter's treasures at this time. Gibbon omits to mention that Gay of Spoleto relieved Rome.)
saved from the yoke of the prophet of Mecca.
The same danger still impended on the heads of the Roman people ; and their domestic force was unequal to the assault of an African emir. They claimed the protection of their Latin sovereign; but the Carlovingian standard was overthrown by a detachment of the barbarians; they meditated the restoration of the Greek emperors; but the attempt was treasonable, and the succour remote and precarious.103 Their distress appeared to receive some aggravation from the death of their spiritual and temporal chiefs; but the pressing emergency superseded the forms and intrigues of an election; and the unanimous choice of pope (A.D. 847] Leo the Fourth 104 was the safety of the church and city. This pontiff was born a Roman; the courage of the first ages of the republic glowed in his breast; and, amidst the ruins of his country, he stood erect, like one of the firm and lofty columns that rear their heads above the fragments of the Roman forum. The first days of his reign were consecrated to the purification and removal of relics, to prayers and processions, and to all the solemn offices of religion, which served at least to heal the imagination, and restore the hopes, of the multitude.
The public defence had been long neglected, not from the presumption of peace, but from the distress and poverty of the times. As far as the scantiness of his means and the shortness of his leisure would allow, the ancient walls were repaired by the command of Leo; fifteen towers, in the most accessible stations, were built or renewed ; two of these commanded on either side the Tiber; and an iron chain was drawn across the stream, to impede the ascent of an hostile navy. The Romans were assured of a short respite by the welcome news that the siege of Gayeta had been raised and that a part of the enemy, with their sacrilegious plunder, had perished in the waves.
But the storm which had been delayed soon burst upon Victory
and reign of Leo IV. A.D. 849
1* One of the most eminent Romans (Gratianus, magister militum et Romani palatii superista) was accused of declaring, Quia Franci nihil nobis boni faciunt, Deque adjutorium præbent, sed magis quæ nostra sunt violenter tollunt. Quare non advocamus Græcos, et cum eis fædus pacis componentes, Francorum regem et gentem de nostro regno et dominatione expellimus ? Anastasius in Leone IV. p. 199.
194 Voltaire (Hist. Générale, tom. ii. c. 38, p. 124) appears to be remarkably struck with the character of pope Leo IV. I have borrowed his general expression; but the sight of the forum has furnished me with a more distinct and lively
them with redoubled violence. The Aglabite,105 who reigned in Africa, and had inherited from his father a treasure and an army: a fleet of Arabs and Moors, after a short refreshment in the harbours of Sardinia, cast anchor before the mouth of the Tiber, sixteen miles from the city; and their discipline and
numbers appeared to threaten, not a transient inroad, but a (League of serious design of conquest and dominion. But the vigilance of ern cities) Leo had formed an alliance with the vassals of the Greek em
pire, the free and maritime states of Gayeta, Naples, and Amalfi ; and in the hour of danger their galleys appeared in the port of Ostia, under the command of Cæsarius, the son of the Neapolitan duke, a noble and valiant youth, who had already vanquished the fleets of the Saracens. With his principal companions, Cæsarius was invited to the Lateran palace, and the dexterous pontiff affected to inquire their errand, and to accept, with joy and surprise, their providential succour. The city bands, in arms, attended their father at Ostia, where he reviewed and blessed his generous deliverers. They kissed his feet, received the communion with martial devotion, and listened to the prayer of Leo, that the same God who had supported St. Peter and St. Paul on the waves of the sea would strengthen the hands of his champions against the adversaries of his holy name. After a similar prayer, and with equal resolution, the Moslems advanced to the attack of the Christian galleys, which preserved their advantageous station along the coast. The victory inclined to the side of the allies, when it was less gloriously decided in their favour by a sudden tempest, which confounded the skill and courage of the stoutest mari
The Christians were sheltered in a friendly harbour, while the Africans were scattered and dashed in pieces among the rocks and islands of an hostile shore. Those who escaped from shipwreck and hunger neither found nor deserved mercy at the hands of their implacable pursuers.106 The sword and the gibbet reduced the dangerous multitude of captives; and the remainder was more usefully employed, to restore the
105 De Guignes, Hist. Générale des Huns, tom. i. p. 363, 364. Cardonne, Hist. de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne, sous la Domination des Arabes, tom. ii. p. 24, 25. I observe, and cannot reconcile, the difference of these writers in the succession of the Agla bites. [The Aghlabid who reigned at this time was Mohammad I. (840856). For the succession see S. Lane-Poole, Mohammadan Dynasties, p. 37.)
[The battle of Ostia is the subject of a fresco of Raffaelle in the Vatican.)
sacred edifices which they had attempted to subvert. The pontiff, at the head of the citizens and allies, paid his grateful devotion at the shrines of the apostles ; and, among the spoils of this naval victory, thirteen Arabian bows of pure and massy silver were suspended round the altar of the fishermen of Galilee. The reign of Leo the Fourth was employed in the defence and ornament of the Roman state: the churches were renewed and embellished; near four thousand pounds of silver were consecrated to repair the losses of St. Peter; and his sanctuary was decorated with a plate of gold the weight of two hundred and sixteen pounds; embossed with the portraits of the pope and emperor, and encircled with a string of pearls. Yet this vain magnificence reflects less glory on the character of Leo than the paternal care with which he rebuilt the walls of Horta and Ameria ; and transported the wandering inhabitants of Centumcellæ to his new foundation of Leopolis, twelve miles from the seashore.107 By his liberality a colony of Corsicans, with their wives and children, was planted in the station of Porto at the mouth of the Tiber; the falling city was re- (Rebuildstored for their use, the fields and vineyards were divided among Portus] the new settlers; their first efforts were assisted by a gift of horses and cattle; and the hardy exiles, who breathed revenge against the Saracens, swore to live and die under the standard of St. Peter. The nations of the West and North, who visited the threshold of the apostles, had gradually formed the large and populous suburb of the Vatican, and their various habitations were distinguished, in the language of the times, as the schools of the Greeks and Goths, of the Lombards and Saxons. But this venerable spot was still open to sacrilegious insult; the design of enclosing it with walls and towers exhausted all that authority could command or charity would supply; and the pious, labour of four years was animated in every season, and
197 Beretti (Chorographia Italiæ Medii Ævi, p. 106, 108) has illustrated Centumcellæ, Leopolis, Civitas Leonina, and the other places of the Roman duchy. (Leopolis never flourished. For the walls of the Leonine city see Gregorovius, op. cit., p. 97 sqq. The fortification of the Vatican had been already designed and begun by Pope Leo III. “The line of Leo the Fourth’s walls, built almost in the form of a horseshoe, is still in part preserved, and may be traced in the Borgo near the pasarge of Alexander the Sixth, near the Mint or the papal garden as far as the thick corner tower, also lir the ta Pertusa, and at the point where the walis form a bend between another corner tower and the Porta Fabrica." Gregoro Tius, 16., p. 98.)